Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Zachary's Story

I have come to realize that since Zachary was born, 5 years ago, 
I have never really shared the story of his birth.
Many of you followed the journey through the website
which Brian created when we were in the hospital at the time,
but I don't believe I have ever told it myself.
Seems like a good time as any...
(I know this will be long... bear with me.)

immediately after birth

Brian and I started trying for kids in 2003.
Between 2003-2006 we had 2 miscarriages.
It was a much more difficult dream 
than we had ever thought it would be.
We moved to PA in 2004 so Brian could attend Seminary in Gettysburg.
In 2006 we moved to Edgewater, MD for Brian's internship.
During this time, 
I was fortunate to obtain a Kindergarten Teacher position. 
My insurance was really amazing as it covered a lot of infertility avenues.
I was so sure this was where God had sent us so that we could get the help we needed.

Well, The Tuesday before Thanksgiving of 2006, 
Brian and I had our consultation with a great clinic in the area. 
Went home to PA for Thanksgiving.
Got sick.
Found out I was pregnant!

I can't really share adequately how I was feeling at the time.
It was a mixture of excitement and horror.
All I could think about was having another miscarriage.
The next several weeks were emotionally rough.
The day we went in to hear the heartbeat
 will be a day I will never forget.
You see, the miscarriages I had were not natural.  
Each time we went in to hear the heartbeat we discovered something was not right.
As you can imagine,
When Brian and I heard that beautiful sound, nothing could be said.
Only tears came.  We cried and held each other and cried a lot more.

My favorite pic.  
This was before they hooked him up to everything.

So the pregnancy was "normal".
That is, as normal as I thought a pregnancy could be...
morning sickness, food aversions, exhaustion, 2nd trimester golden days...

Then Easter came.
(Which was also April 8th in 2007!  Z was born on a Tues morning 5 years ago.)
On Maundy Thursday I began to bleed.
At first a lot, but it subsided.
It scared us terribly.
Thankfully Zachary was fine.  I could still feel him moving around.
After some tests on Monday they determined all was fine, but I was put on 2 weeks bedrest.
At the end of those 2 weeks, I went into labor.
Did not even realize what it was at first.
Brian and I were watching a movie and 
I mentioned to him that I thought I could be in labor.
Off to the hospital we went.  It was Friday, April 20th.
My beautiful nephew was born on that day!
I was dilated to 1cm.  They wanted to stop the labor.
So they did.  It was not a fun med to be put on, but it worked.
My mom drove down to MD that weekend to be with me.
On Monday a special ultrasound was done.
Z was fine, but I was loosing fluid.
They determined that somewhere along the way my water had broke.
Because of that, I was going nowhere. 
Whether he came in a week or 10, I was hospital bound.
They had given me a steroid for Z's lung development which needed 24 hours to really take hold.
Thankfully, I held on that long.

Later that day I went into labor again.
This time they could not stop it.
It was the most terrifying time for us,
and yet there was also such an amazing sense of peace.
We believe it came from the prayer that was surrounding us.
By this time, Brian had started the website to keep family and friends informed.
We shared Zachary's name and asked for prayers.
We were stunned at the response, the love...
There are no words there.

I had amazing doctors and nurses.  Just amazing.  
After many hours, my doctor recommended a C-Section to me
as Z was showing signs of distress.
I was ok with that.  
I truly believe the C-Section was a gift to him.
I can not imagine his little body going through the stress of natural delivery.

Zachary Brian Spahr was born on Tuesday, April 24th at 3:47 AM.
He was 2 lbs 1 oz.
The most amazing part of it all...
He cried!!!
Everyone was stunned.
I remember a nurse coming up to my face saying,
"Did you hear that?  He is crying!!!"
A 26 week old being born crying was definitely a rare thing.
It was amazing.

He was beautiful!

Of course they needed to wisk him off to the NICU.
I sent Brian with him.

Holding Daddy's hand.

Zachary was on a ventilator for only 1 hour. 
He was breathing so well on his own that he only needed a nose tube.
They gave him one for breathing and inserted one for feeding.

After recovery and some rest,
I was able to come and see him.
It was an emotional encounter.
I wanted so much to hold my baby.
But I needed to trust him completely 
to the care of the doctors there and to Jesus.
I cried so hard as Brian wheeled me back to my room.
There was such a long journey and a huge battle for Z to fight now.
I vowed I would do everything I could to help him fight.

Brian an I spent so much time with Z. 
As much as we could.

We talked with him, read out loud so he could hear our voices.
And we held him as much as we were able.

Kangaroo Care was the most beautiful time.
We held him skin to skin. 
It's amazing the research that shows how vital this time is for babies, 
and especially these little ones.

It was a beautiful time for us as well.

The nurses in the NICU were so wonderful.
They wanted us as involved as possible in his care.

We "bathed" him.

We "fed" him

All of these things were little ways to help him learn skills.

He was beautiful, tiny, fragile and so strong.
He was a fighter.

This is our favorite pic.
Brian's wedding band is on Z's arm.

Daddy's Hands


The NICU was quite an experience.
We were blessed with a beautiful, private room NICU,
but you still could hear all the beeps and alarms.
Zachary made it through the NICU with no brain bleeds 
and only 1 minor infection that a nurse noticed very early on.
Our main nurses were Christian and blessed us daily with prayers, gifts and God's love.

One of the most difficult parts of this journey 
was leaving Z at the hospital.
It was necessary.  For him and for us.
He needed rest.  We did too.

When I would wake up in the middle of the night 
and first thing in the morning,
I always called the NICU to check in on Z.
We were allowed to any time.
They always updated us and assured us that he was doing well.
There is a beautiful giftedness to those who work in the NICU.
Amazing skills, compassion and care.

The other most difficult part of this journey were the Bradys.
(bradycardia - basically sleep apnea)
Preemies were very prone to stop breathing.
Alarms would sound and someone would need to touch him,
massage his back or tummy and literally revive him; remind him to breathe again.
Every day, over and over,
doctors, nurses, mommy and daddy
would save Z's life...again and again.

Thankfully he began to grow out of them, 
enough to come home.
He had to come home on a monitor,
but that was more as a precaution.

Zachary grew stronger and bigger each day.

Until finally, he came home at 5 lbs.

Zachary saying good-bye to many of his nurses.

We only took around 500 pictures of that time in the NICU.
Seriously, we did!
But this post is long enough as it is.
One day I will do a post with just pics of his journey.
They are all beautiful.

We are so thankful for the miracle of Zachary.
What an amazing thing our bodies can do in having children.
How amazing our bodies are to grow and heal and fight.
How beautiful God created us with a spirit for life and a will to live.

Brian's Wedding Ring

Zachary is 5 this year.
Strong, healthy, vibrant, smart...

Thanks for allowing me to share this story with you.
And thank you for walking with us through it all.

I do not mean for this post to end by asking for money.
However, I can not help but share our March of Dimes Team with you.
It is something that we believe in.
We appreciate your prayers for babies and families even more than financial support.
If you live in the Charlotte Area, come walk with us!  
It's amazing and we would love to share the experience with you.

We walk every year for the March of Dimes.
They support research to prevent premature birth 
as well as support families who are going through it.
The financial part of this kind of journey is staggering.
We were thankful to have had great insurance 
through my job at the time
as well as the amazing generosity of friends and family.

Please consider joining us as we continue to raise awareness 
and support those who travel this road,
through prayer, walking with us,
 and/or your financial support.

Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Oh michelle! What a beautiful story. I am in tears for the young scared parents you must have been. I laugh through those same tears thinking of the feisty super-hero web spraying ALL BOY Zachary has become. Happy Birthday Z! Wish we could be there, we are sending something gin leu of;)