Well hello again! It’s been a long time since our last update but it’s been a VERY eventful month. The Little Ones are still in the NICU at Santa Monica Hospital, but they are progressing very quickly. Below is a snap-shot of the past few months.
The AMAZING quad-mom is on her feet and behind the wheel again. Amy came home on Sunday, April 1st. It was actually a pretty rough recovery for her. She suffered from both Clampsia and hypertension. That basically means that her blood-pressure continued to stay very high and was accompanied by blurred vision and fatigue. Early on, we had to take her to the ER and to see her physician due to symptoms accompanying her high blood-pressure. But thankfully, her blood-pressure is now stable and she has eagerly started her new job… taking care of the Little Ones.
Amy now visits them every day, monitors their care, and pumps gallons of breast-milk every day. If you don’t believe me, just look at the picture below.
The life of a premature baby…
The Little Ones aren’t as little as they use to be, but they’ve still got plenty of growing to do before they come home. There are three specific categories that need to be checked off before they come home: 1) Weight 2) Breathing 3) Bottle. These categories are all connected and need to be in-sync prior to the trip home.
Weight - Early on, each baby had IV’s connected to their belly-button to simulate the umbilical cord. But they belly-button IV was only temporary, giving their veins time to strengthen. At that point they were given what’s called a “pick-line.” This line goes through the arm and leads all the way to the heart. You can see the line on Jordan's right arm about a week after birth.
Don’t worry! It’s was a normal part of the process, and necessary to provide them the nutrients and calories they needed for the next couple weeks. On April 6th, the Little Ones then began to receive some of mom’s milk through a feeding tube in their mouth. They began with 1 to 2 cc’s of milk to see if their belly’s could digest it. At just over a couple weeks, each baby was receiving close to 30 cc’s every three hours. As a result, they had their “pick-lines” removed because 100% of their nutrients and calories were coming from the milk. Also during this time, their feeding tubes were removed from their mouths and placed through their nose because their breathing had dramatically improved.
Breathing – Jeremiah was the only baby to not need a respirator. Although their lungs had developed well, Jonah, Jordan, and Cedar needed some help. But not much. Cedar was on the respirator the longest at about 4 days. After the respirators came off, each baby continued to receive oxygen through their nose. The air you’re breathing right now is “room-air”, 21%. At first our babies were given an extra dose, as high as 60%. Now, they are simply breathing room air. They still have retained the nasal-tubes to give them what the nurses call “vapo-therm.”
The “vapo-therm” just pushes the air they are already breathing into their lungs to help them out a bit. For a time, all four Little Ones were completely taken off the nasal-tubes. But as their feedings have increased, it has become more difficult for their little lungs to keep working. As a result, they were placed back on the “vapo-therm.” Again, it’s all part of the process. They will completely loose the “vapo-therm” once they can completely sustain their feedings without having “Bradycardias” or “Apneas.” “Bradys” and “Apneas” are medical terms that basically mean the babies forget to breathe, and their heart rate or oxygen level drops way down. Sometimes the babies will then remember to breathe and self-recover, and sometimes the nurses have to come over and tickle their feet to remind them to breathe. For the most part the Little Ones don’t have “Bradys” or “Apneas” any more, unless they are feeding. That’s right, our babies are feeding!
Bottle – Jeremiah had his first bottle almost two weeks ago. All he knew was that if he suckled he would get milk. But one problem… he forgot to breathe. In the womb, a baby neurologically begins to learn how to suck, swallow, and breathe at the same time around 35-36 weeks. Our babies are going to have to practice. Jeremiah’s first feeding knocked him out for days. He had several “Bradys” and “Apneas” afterwards. But in the past few days he has started to figure it out. Jeremiah, Jordan, and Cedar all had bottles yesterday and did very well. Jonah is VERY much ready for a bottle but will be delayed about a week due to a small stomach infection.
In the next month we will be looking forward to the Little Ones bottle-feeding regularly. gaining wait, and leaving their breathing problems behind. At this point they will have reached 5 pounds, and will finally come home. This will likely happen around their due-date, June 6th.
Below is an update on each baby…
-Born 2lbs. 11oz, 15 ½ inches…weighs over 4 lbs now!
We thought he was going to be our little girl “Hope”. Since we couldn’t name him “Hope,” we chose “Jeremiah” as his first name because it means “God will uplift.” And we choose “Emmanuel” as his middle name because it means “God with us.” His names are a reminder of the miracle we experienced when we heard ALL 4 of our kids cry at birth, knowing they were able to breathe and that they would be alright. Looks like he will be the typical “eldest child.” He was born at 2:38pm, a minute before his siblings. By 18 weeks, he sat head-down, right above Amy’s cervix and was ready to meet the world. Amy thinks he will be the first baby home. He always has his eyes wide open to take in everything around him. He knows how to get attention and goes straight into his “mad” cry. He quickly learned that Nurse Schnezena will pick him up to soothe him if he makes some noise. He looks just like his Uncle Todd, Amy’s brother, with his blond hair and fair skin.
He loves his pacifier and is a champion "suckler." He is well known by the nurses for his regular “poop explosions” that happen when you take his diaper off. Nurse Cece told us that a couple weeks ago he “projectile-pooped” right out of his isolette. A few nights ago he sprayed the hood of his isolette, all his bedding, and his stuffed-monkey with one of his explosions. Poor monkey...
Please pray for his eyes. Premature babies can often have eye-problems. He’s doing fine, but there is some slight rippling in the blood-vessels forming around his eye-balls. Please also pray for his acid-reflux. Hopefully he will grow out of it and will be more at peace while he is eating. May be this will also curtail his explosions.
-2lbs 10 oz, 14.7 inches…weighs over 4 lbs now!
His head was a bit miss-shapen after birth because he was crammed into Amy’s right hip. It’s rounding out now. Jonah is named after the brave missionary that was swallowed by the whale and finally went to Ninivah to do God’s will. At the time, Ninivah was the home of the Assyrians. To round out the nice cultural connection, his middle name belongs to my father George. Amy thinks he looks like me, especially when he sleeps with his mouth wide open which I tend to do! He’s our most easy going baby and hardly ever cries.
His forehead is often wrinkled with “worried lines.” He always looks like he is taking everything in…and seems very serious.
Jonah came out looking like “Esau!” The kid is so hairy! The hair on his head connects to his facial hair which then connects to his shoulder hair (Just like my buddy Dan Kepper)! He’s a great suckler and often licks your chest while you hold him “kangaroo style." Please pray for his digestive system. He has a small infection in his intestines. He is on 3 different antibiotics, and back on the pick-line. He had to be taken off breast milk and returned to an IV for 10 days. He’s going to be just fine. Nurses Tiffany and Lindsey seem to have a soft spot for him so he’s in good care.
-2lbs 13oz, 15 inches…weighs over 4 lbs now!
His name comes from the river Jordan…or maybe my love for Michael Jordan. OK.. it’s both I admit it! He’s our little “beef-eater!” He is fattening up fast and has a great double chin growing. Jordan looks just like my Dad...Amy thinks he has a puppy dog face with his sweet and sad looking eyes.
He can go from crying to looking to a pleasant look in a second. He is bit of a cry baby, but easily can be distracted and comforted. Please pray for his lung development as he has been the slowest of our kids to progress when it comes to breathing.
-2lbs 4oz., 13.8 inches…now almost 4 lbs.
Cedar’s name comes from the Cedar trees in Lebanon. Amy came up with the name and I loved it immediately. I thought it sounded like a “feisty” girl’s name. Well, she sure has lived up to it! She has a determined and energetic personality. Cedar moved around all the time inside Amy and was famous for running away from the heart monitor daily when the nurses monitored for a heart beat in the womb. Amy’s worried that she will have no time for tea parties and dolls since she'll be to busy bossing her 3 brothers around. Maybe Jordan will be a mamma’s boy. She’s tough…she only cries if you try to confine her wiggling and stretching.
Jeremiah and Jordan cry when they get stuck by a needle…but Cedar doesn’t say anything…just tries to wiggle away. She loves to pull out her feeding tube and holds onto it until the nurses take it out of her fist. OK… so I have a HUGE soft spot for his little girl. She is so beautiful (of course she is…she looks like her mother)Please pray for her head-growth. There is some indication that her brain is growing quicker than her head. Please also pray that she continues to gain weight amongst all her calorie burning activity in the isolette (ie thrusting herself into different positions, always grabbing things, and constantly stretching and flailing her arms).
What about Phil???
Many friends and family have been asking for an update on what’s been going on with me. Well, I’m a tired guy that’s for sure. I’ve been driving back and fourth to Santa Monica Hospital since January. Now that Amy is on her feet, she visits the kids every day and I go with her every other day. Unfortunately, I still have to stay home and earn a living. My time primarily goes to two different areas. 1) I am still acting and auditioning regularly. This August you can catch me co-staring with David Duchovny on his new comedy TV show. And if you play video-games, I play the main voice on a new game called “Assassin’s Creed” for X-Box 360 and Playstation 3, also due in August. 2) I’m officially a real-estate agent. I got my license a few months ago and began working for Anthony Wright and Company Real Estate Services last month. I already have three properties in escrow. So if you’re looking to buy or sell a home, or if you have any referrals please let me know.
Many friends and family have been asking about ways to be involved and how to help. Thankfully, we have an amazing Volunteer Coordinator that’s come up with some creative ways to lend a hand.
A Shower of Resources
We are inviting you to a different kind of shower that is a response to the unique and bountiful blessings in the life of Phil and Amy. In an effort to organize the type of help that is needed to usher four little ones into the world, we would like you to consider joining one of the following “Clubs” to support the Shahbaz family in the coming months. Sign-ups for these clubs will be made available at the shower. Please allow these suggestions to spark your creativity for practical, loving responses to this growing family.
Dinner of the Month Club
Friends who sign up for this club will be scheduled to bring a dinner to the Shahbaz family once a month starting when Amy’s bed rest begins. You may sign up for a one-time meal, or for 3 months, 6 months, or a whole year of monthly meals! You don’t have to live in the neighborhood to be a part of this club. If you can order a pizza or use www.vons.com then you’re all set!
Did you know that a newborn baby can soil up to 12 diapers per day?! So… in the Shahbaz home, that’s 48 diapers a day, 336 diapers a week, 1344 diapers a month. It’s enough to make your head spin! You can become a diaper sponsor by giving a designated amount of money to go towards this specific need:
$15.00 buys diapers for a day
$100.00 buys diapers for a week
$400.00 buys diapers for a month
Loving Arms Club
Four babies means that additional loving arms will be needed at most times, and in the early months will sometimes be needed for the night shift. If you love babies and would like to be assigned to a once-a-week or once-a-month schedule, then this is the club for you!
Phil’s Grab Bag
These babies are going to affect every aspect of the Shahbaz home. At times Phil’s To-Do list is going to seem endless as he tackles the challenges of career, home maintenance, lawn care, closet organizing- you name it! This is the club that schedules you for some excellent quality time with Phil while helping him with whatever task is at hand. You can sign up for a one-time “Phil session” or you can be scheduled once-a-month for a series of months. And when the work is done, it might not be a bad idea to take this new dad out for a cold beverage!
The Strong Silent Type
So, maybe you’re not into the Club scene. You weren’t on the yearbook staff in high school, you never dressed up on “Spirit Day” before the homecoming game, and making a commitment to a monthly meeting is out of the question. We still know that your heart is big and you have the best of intentions of supporting Phil and Amy! For this “UN-Club” Club, please consider giving gift cards or cash that could be put towards some costly items needed to accommodate the quads.
Sign ups for all Clubs will be available at the shower, or you can email you interests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Until the next update, thank you for all your love and support. Pray for the Little Ones! They’ll be home before we know it.