Dear Grandma, Granddad, Nan and Pop,
It's been a while since my last update, so I thought you might like know how your great grandson is growing.
It's been six (long) weeks since he was born, and let me tell you he has grown and changed so much over that time. Tristan and I visit him at the hospital everyday, and he is bigger and stronger every time we see him.
Initially, Zac was so tiny and he had tubes and machines connected up to him everywhere. It was so scary and intimidating. On the few opportunities I had to hold him I was terrified that I was going to drop him. He only reached from my chest to the bottom of my ribs and I had to be so careful when I held him so the cords wouldn't pull. Janette and I would laugh that he looked like a spider monkey - small and skinny with long arms and legs that (tried to) grab on to me. His head and face were so petite and pixie like. Adorable, but so small it just didn't seem real.
As Zac grew into his features he began to look like Gollum from Lord of the Rings (the cute curious creature that helped the hobbits - not his evil split personality). His color improved, his movements became less disjointed, and he slowly started to act like a little baby. Holding him then was easier as he was a bit bigger - but still less than 3 lbs - and there were less bits and pieces connected to him. Our cuddles got more frequent and longer. Even Tristan and Janette got to hold him.
Finally, between Christmas and New Year he started looking, acting and sounding like a real baby. His head started to grow, and fine hair started to cover it (Tristan and I are debating the color - I'm certain it is red and he thinks it's blond darkening up to brown). His body grew a bit longer, making his arms and legs look more in proportion, and everything started to fill out. He now has an adorable tubby tummy! When the nurses do their checks every three hours he grizzles, grunts and cries like other babies do - especially when they put a cold wet wipe on his bottom or play with his feet.
While he is still very small (1690g or 3 lbs 11 today) its not so scary to hold him. He only has a few cords left connected to him, so we can pick him up much more easily. When he lays on my chest he now almost reaches my belly button when he stretches out. The doctors say that once he is about 1800g he can move out of the isolette (humidicrib) and into a real crib as he has learnt some temperature control - Yay!!! We can't wait for that day.
Because Zac has grown the nurses and doctors have started to begin his physical development. He has physiothearpy 3-4 times a week where he learns to move his muscles correctly. He is doing very well and I am starting to learn the exercises so he can continue his routine when he eventually comes home. He will continue this therapy until his growth rate catches with his age - so likely until he is 3.
His breathing also continues to improve. Because his lungs are so immature he is connected to an oxygen machine that helps to inflate them. But he has moved to the lowest setting and is breathing very well. He will likely need to come home with oxygen due to the altertude. This is not unusual in Colorado and he will probably grow out of it in a couple of months.
I am most excited that Zac has started to learn to suckle. He is still fed through a tube (30mL every three hours), but once a day we sit down and spend some mummy-baby time where he learns to breast feed. It is the most wonderful experience. I could swoon about it for hours. Next week the nurses will start him on the bottle as well. While he will be drinking breast milk it is infused with formula for added calories to help him grow big and strong.
Once Zac is able to sleep in a crib without having any breathing hiccups and feed properly from a bottle he will be ready to go home. All of this will still take a couple weeks. We are aiming to have him home for his due date of 20 February - keep your fingers crossed.
All in all, your littlest (great) grandson is doing very well. We are so proud of his fighting spirit and that he has grown and developed so well. Everyone's love, thoughts and prayers have paid off.
Well, it's time for Zac's next feed so I have to be off. Give our love to everyone. We miss you all so much and can't wait for you all to meet our little man later in the year.
Lots of love
Penni (and Tristan and most importantly Zac)