9 days old - back together at last

Just a quick update.  Yesterday at about a week old the twins finally got back together again.  Julija asked one of the NICU nurses to help her and Z&Z got to sleep next to each other for a few minutes.  This is not too common while you're in the NICU so it was a treat,  but think about how it must have felt to them.  9 months of growing up right next to each other and then a ride down the birth canal and your best friend is gone.  Not anymore -- back together again!!!

Everything has happened pretty quickly for the last day or so -- especially for Zander.  He has mostly caught up with his sister and they are [developmentally] about in the same place.  Only bad thing happening is a rotten rash on Zella's tiny butt... but hopefully we can get that under control.

Zella BIG Yawn 
Zander cool hat....


Love to all.


Life Week 1 -- NICU Schedule @ SMH

Here we are -- about a week into life.  Julija and I just left the NICU and the two little ones.  Man it's great being Dad!  This week started off a little tough.  Do you think it's possible to be full of joy and heart broken at the same time?  I think there might be something like men’s postpartum syndrome or something,  but I sure had it.  Monday was my first day back to work since the long weekend and it felt like someone punched me in the stomach all day -- like my heart was broken from some loss.  It was really an effort to stay engaged in the office and not day-dream of the twins back at the ICU. Thankfully whatever that was passed in 24 hrs and excitement has consumed me.  

Now we're on a temporary schedule that bridges the gap to the day they get to come home. Check this out for a weekday schedule:
  • 6:45 am pick up my Starbucks but don’t drink it. 
  • 7:00 am arrive in the NICU
  • 7:00-7:30 play with Zella.  Do whatever is needed including cleaning her face, taking her temperature, changing the diaper, holding her if I’m lucky, and moving sensors around.  About the time I’m done she has also been fed and is mostly falling back to sleep. 
  • 7:30-8:00 play with Zander.  He is 30 minutes behind schedule-wise so I run thru the same routine with him.  
  • 8:00-8:30 drive to the office and enjoy my Starbucks that is now perfect temperature.
  • 8:30-5:30 in the office. 
  • 6:00 pm back home with Julija to eat a quick dinner
  • 7:00-9:00 pm Julija and I are back in the NICU
  • Zella Sleeping
  • 9:30 Take the dogs out, read the mail and go to sleep. 
What you aren’t seeing is while I’m in the office or sleeping,  Julija has been pumping at least 10 times a day (even at night) and arrives at the NICU around 9am.  She does the same routine with the kids as I do,  but thru a couple of cycles and usually gets home around 3 or 4pm.  She also gets a lot more hands on during the day. 

At this point -- 6 days old,  the kids are doing very well. 

Zella Izabella started sleeping in a crib last night and should have her IV taken off this afternoon.  That will only leave her feeding tube (that she pulled out today) that should stay until she’s eating by bottle/breast full time.  She is very reactive and absolutely knows the two of us by voice, scent and maybe even sight.  
Zander Kangaroo-Style
Zander eating and snoozing

Zander Jackson is still in his incubator but the doc thinks he will be out in the next few days.  He’s also on a puffer (assisted breathing) with no extra O2 that should be off in the next day or so.  He will also lose his IV this afternoon.  

Zander... out.
All in all both kids are doing very well.  I can’t say enough about the doctors and nurses in the NICU at SMH.  They are top class... so much I can’t really imagine anyone more attentive to the kids.  You can really tell how much they all love our kids (and all of them). 
 UPDATE: Both kids got their IV taken out today.  Zella did a little bottle feeding too... just to test the waters.  Zander will go down on his breathing ZPAP tomorrow and should have it off in a few days.

We got home and there was a voicemail from one of my life-long-best-friends: Richard Merchant "Merch".  I love the guy and the first thing he says is "TWINS? You are the luckiest guy in the world!" Love him!

So much to tell... 


Week 33 - Twins Born!

Zella Izabella Ribar - 1 minute old
Zander Jackson Ribar - 1 minute old
A few hours ago I finished my post about bedrest for Julija -- they sent us home, but guess what?  her body said "yeah, right" and we now have two new babies in the family.  Here's how it went::
  • Wed Sep 19 11:00am Discharged from SMH. Go home and cook the babies for a while.  1.5 cm dilated at this point. She got home and we set her up in the bed. She only moved to go to the bathroom. Nothing Else.  While she was resting I went to Publix to stock the Kitchen. 
  • Wed Sep 19 8:00pm Somewhere around 7:45 or so she said that she had had a really strong contraction and had to go to the bathroom 'cause sometimes that helped. A few minutes later she was calling me from the bathroom and said words I'll never forget:  "Dan! There's a jellyfish in my underwear!"  Ha ha -- her water broke.  We called the doc and headed back to SMH.
  • Wed Sep 19 8:20 pm. We got checked in with Julija at 4-5 cm dilated. Our nurse was Cindy -- our friend from Suncoast Church. How cool. 
  • Wed Sep 19 10:30 pm. PAIN!  Lots of painful contractions so Dr. Cohen said "get her an epidural".  A few minutes later we were both resting as the contractions happened quietly on their own.  
  • Wed Sep 20 0:00 am. Cindy has us resting so we could "get ready" for what was to come.  Nice quiet dark room ... I think Julija fell asleep. It was also at that moment we learned that it was also Cindy's 9th marriage anniversary. Awesome.
  • Wed Sep 20 1:00 am. 10cm and ready to go to the OR for some Labor. they wheeled us into the OR#3 and all of a sudden there were about ten people all getting ready to support Julija and the babies arrival.  One of the nurses said "hey! We're all Christians here" and put on some Chris Tomlin or something.  All of a sudden everyone was humming or singing "Our God, is an awesome God." Tears....
  • Wed Sep 20 1:30 am. Push. Labor. She did great. 
  • Wed Sep 20 2:19 am. Zella Izabella Ribar was born. She weighed 4lb 11 oz at birth and scored 9 and 9 on her apgars.
  • Wed Sep 20 2:30 am. Zander Jackson Ribar was born. He weighed 5lb 0 oz at birth and scored 9 and 9 on his apgars.
  • Stop. Thank you God. You are all powerful and most generous with your gifts. 
  • Julija stayed for completion of the delivery and I went off with the little ones to the NICU. 

Zella after her first bath
As I write this,  36 hours have past and we're getting into a near routine with Julija pumping every 2-3 hours, and us visiting the NICU on their "handling" schedule so we can get closer to the twins.  I got to help bath both of them and changed Zanders diaper today.  By the time the kids leave the NICU (~37 weeks of age) we will be doing almost everything as far as the kids go -- bathing, feeding, diapers, everything.
Zander after his first bath
Zander is having a little harder time adjusting to life outside the womb then Zella but is still doing very well. When he gets upset, a warm hand cradling his head, and one covering his legs combined with a soft voice will calm him down. How cool.  He actually was having a hard time with his IV yesterday and they put in a scalp IV today that will be replaced with a PICC line later today.  The IV is very important because a lot of nutrition and medicine goes in that way.  The little veins on a guy like Zander (or anyone 33 weeks in the womb) are fragile. 
Julija did the kangaroo-care with Zella (skin-to-skin) and Zander will be next as soon as he's feeling a bit better. Things were very cute today, but Zella seems to hear us and wake up with eyes wide open when we get close and talk to her.  See if you can see her open eyes in these pics below.  That only happens when Mom or Dad are talking to her.  If that doesn't make you tear up, nothing will....

I can't begin to name and thank all the people that helped us thru this from the nurses, doctors and staff at Sarasota Memorial to the friends and family at Suncoast Community Church and everyone in between.  We are so blessed for no reason except that our Father God loves us.  Thank you everyone.  

Dear Julija - You did a fantastic job through all of this and the babies love you like crazy.  You had all the pain and suffered thru it all without a complaint, but just the look of a Mom wanting to take care of and deliver her children.  I am so amazed by you and love you with all my heart.


Week 33 - Bed rest at home.

Whoa Momma!
 Today is Wednesday,  day 0 of week 33.  I really didn't think we were going to make it this far after the scare last Friday (5 days ago) but the docs and nurses at SMH did a fantastic job and now Julija is back home resting.  She taking a pill every 4 hours to keep the uterus relaxed -- same thing she was taking in the hospital.  I'm working from home for a few days to make sure she stays in bed.

Her contractions at SMH had been "not more than three an hour" which is still within guidelines. She has her cool iphone app to keep track here along with the 4 hour countdown timer for the drugs.  Should be good.

Healthy Mom & Baby Magazine
Every day the RN would come into the room and write on this little board: "Goal: Stay Pregnant"...  So guess what,  she's still pregnant.  A few more weeks would be great but like my [most awesome] Dad would say -- it's nothing that is in our control.  We just have to rely on God's great timing.

Since we didn't get to take our normal picture this week,  I've included the hospital version.  Still very cute.  Thanks everyone at SMH, SCC and WesternPine for taking such good care of Julija.  Love the lovin!

One other cool thing that happened at SMH.  We found one of the magazines they have put out there is called Healthy Mom & Baby.  The editor: Carolyn Cockey is one of Julija's best buds and a non-stop source of great information.


Week 32- Preterm Labor, "oh crap"

Watching Pastor Larry :)
Here I sit on the second floor of Sarasota Memorial Hospital in the Retter building listening to two fetal monitors boomp bluub bloop, and watching the contraction monitor go up and down. In labor? Nope... But it almost happened a few days ago.

Julija went to her weekly Friday OB appointment and heard "oh crap!" from the doc. A few minutes later I had a 911 page and she was headed to Sarasota Memorial Hospital. At that point she was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Not good for 32 weeks. When she got to the hospital they put her on a magnesium drip to get the uterus to stop acting up, and also gave her a couple of steroids shots to boost the development of the babies lungs in case they make an early appearance. After about 24 hours of the "mag" she switched to a pill to keep the uterus quiet. She continues to have contractions at a rate of about three an hour but with no pattern so they are thinking she is not birthing today (Monday).

The cool nurses all keep saying the goal is to stay pregnant. Dr Sullivan coined a great phrase: keep your low beams on... Just focus on us getting thru the next eight hours. Awesome approach and it's working.
Favorite-Oldest-Daughter :)

Sunday morning we watched church on the Internet from Julia's bed & iPad. Our church, Suncoast Community streams the 10:30 am service. How cool is that? Then Jessica (favorite oldest daughter) came up to the room. LOVE LOVE LOVE

Now today (Monday) she is at two cm but paper thin (fully effaced). Wow. She might be staying here in the hospital for a while. Yesterday we took a tour of the NICU since the babies seem to be coming early. Amazing how compact and energetic that place is. Julija has a steady stream of wonderful ladies coming to offer help, bring food to my fat belly or just come to the room and play cards and talk. Wow. She is one lucky lady.

Ok - gotta get in my recliner / dad bed and watch a movie. Low beams.....

Thank you everyone for the lovin.


Week 31 - Best Breast Feeding Class

Week 31 has been fun with the twins -- except for the attempted sleeping.  I found Julija this morning on the couch in the office.  She was almost in tears while she told me how she tried the bed... then the recliner... then finally landed in the office.  Now the recliner has been the sleeping-savior up until now... but no more I guess.

This week we went to a great Breast Feeding class.  Being a long-time connoisseur of breasts, I didn't expect much but ended up learning a lot.  There is so much to it that any man and most women will get a lot from it.  We took the class at Sarasota Memorial Hospital called "Breastfeeding Basics" part of their B.A.B.I.E.smh set of classes.  You can email them at child-birth@smh.com.  Our teacher's name was Jamie and she was AWESOME..

We also had a great ultrasound this week at Dr. Hill & Baron's office.  Same place we've been going but it's always great to see the twins.  Here's the info:  Zella is still heads down on Mom's right side and Zander is back to being transverse -- read on the top right with legs going across her abdomen.  The doc said there is still a lot of fluid so they can still move and they are weighing in at 4.1 lbs for Zella and 4.5 lbs for Zander.  That's more then 8 lbs, up from 5 lbs 4 weeks ago.  WOW!  Anyway, all is perfect in baby-land.

One last thing for the week:  Julija has been doing some progression pictures and got me to visit the studio this week for a few pics.  All I can do is show you one teaser....  Is she amazing or what?   The studio was Jenny Waring Photography in Venice, FL.  Highly recommended.  Here is her facebook page

Blessed and Favored I am