• Happy Birthday Zachary

    Date: 2012.08.05 | Category: Zachary | Tags:

    Sometimes in life something that scares us to death, turns out to be the best thing in the world that has every happened to us.  Twenty-four years ago today was that start of a wonderful blessing and that blessing was Zach.

    I was so afraid when I found out I was pregnant with Zach.  We were still in the hospital with Codey.  I thought I had the flu and someone in the NICU asked me if I thought I could be pregnant.  I laughed and said, “No, we are taking precautions.”  – which meant I was on the pill, I took it every morning without fail.  I could not even fathom what being pregnant while having a son still in the hospital would mean.  We were barely scraping by the way it was.  There were times my mom showed up with food and I was so grateful.   When you can’t afford toilet paper, you know things aren’t going especially well.  We were living in married student housing at Drake.  Dan worked weekends at the hospital.  I worked temporary work at law firms downtown.  Temporary work allowed me to miss if I needed to be with Codey, which happened fairly often.

    I remember the PICU wanting to call the news station to do a story about Codey and the fact that he would celebrate his first birthday in the hospital without having ever gone home.  I thought there was no possible way that a news station would want to do a story about this subject.  Boy was I wrong.  So there I was in all my pregnant glory, about 5 months along.   There was no hiding the fact that I was pregnant. I remember being so nervous and so upset because everyone sitting at home would wonder what in the world I was doing.  I know I would have wondered the same thing about someone else.

    Everything felt overwhelming.  We had no money.  We had to figure out what to do about a car because when Codey was able to come home we would have a ventilator, car seat, oxygen, suction machines, apnea monitor.  There was no easy way to get all of that and a second car seat into a car.  We had no idea what we were going to do.  We could barely afford groceries, not to mention medical bills, special formula, g-tubes, suction tubes, trachs, and now we were going to add on more diapers and formula. I tried so hard to trust in God’s plan but it really didn’t feel like there could possibly be a plan at that time.

    Codey went home for the first time at 14 months.  It only lasted a few days.  Codey was in and out of the hospital a lot the summer of 1988.  Then on August 4th, Codey was admitted to the hospital again.  The nurses in the PICU asked when the last time Dan and I had gone out.  We laughed.  They asked how many more weeks I had with the pregnancy and I said five.  A couple of the nurses who did care at our home were on that night and since Codey was admitted for something not overly emergent, we decided to actually go see a movie.  We trusted these nurses and were as comfortable as we could ever be with leaving him.  We laughed while we went out about having babysitters for Codey and it was too bad I wasn’t farther along.  Don’t every laugh about what could be….while at the movie – my water broke.   (That was a fun one to tell the theater manager.)  🙂   Zachary was on his way.   Ready or not!

    From the moment he was born, we knew he was different.  Zachary was being examined by the nurses and he arched up on his shoulders and his heals and flipped himself over on the warming table.  In all the deliveries Dan has been at, he’s never seen it happen again.  Zachary was the sweetest baby and he was such a comfort to me.  It was hard to not hold Codey all the time and do the normal baby things.  It was hard to lose every dream for Kyle and to have to start dreaming new ones for Codey.   Zachary healed so many of those hurts.

    Zachary and I were home alone a lot with Codey while Dan was in medical school.  I couldn’t go out and see friends.  I rarely got out of the house except to work my midnight to 6 shift on the weekends.   I was isolated so Zach and I kept each other company.  He was the funniest boy from the very beginning.  He asked questions way above his age level.  He questioned everything and we would talk about everything.   People would look at us like I was crazy with the way I talked to him, but he understood way above his age level.  When he was two he asked me why the sky was empty and it took me a while to realize that he meant there were no clouds.  When I miscarried before Cassie, Zachary held my hand and comforted me and told me that God had a plan.   I remember thinking you are three you are not allowed to be more mature than your mama.  He even quoted scripture.  When I was pregnant with Cassie, he kept asking questions, until I explained exactly how it happened.   I remember constantly calling Dan and saying what do I do Zach just asked me this question and Dan would laugh and say give him the answer but don’t give him more than he needs to know.  If he wants to know more, he will ask.  He asked questions and more questions and even asked to see pictures until he understood it all.

    When Zach was four, I drove a paper route in the afternoon with all the kids in the van.   I had to have a job to be able to afford a car and it was the only job I could do with all three kids.  We would drive around and sing rhyming songs and do math problems.  Zach loved to do math problems.   We sent Zach to school for kindergarten because he really hadn’t been around a lot of kids.  We thought even though he was way ahead, it would do him some good to be around others.  In first grade he would come home crying because he was bored and they would only let him add and subtract to 12.  The teacher finally gave in and had a 6th grader come make up problems for Zach, but Zach got upset because the 6th grader would make a mistake and get mad when Zach corrected them.

    I really had no idea that Zach was as bright as he was.  I thought every child was like this.  We took him out of school to home school him when he was in 4th grade.  Zach loved learning everything he could at home.  He dreamed of being an engineer.  We found out about the Belin Blank center in Iowa City and Zach was allowed to take the ACT in 6th grade.  He scored a 24 and beat 99% of the smartest kids in his age group.  I remember being blown away and thinking how is that even possible? Because I truly believed he was just a regular kid.  In 9th grade he scored a 35 – an almost perfect score.  He started getting college letters from MIT, Stanford, all over the country.  He has a binder of all his letters and where did Zachary go to school?  Iowa State.  Why did Zachary choose Iowa State?  Because they had a good engineering program, it was 40 minutes from home, and I was pregnant with Gracie.  He didn’t want Gracie to grow up and not know him.  Zachary chose to live at home and drive back and forth to Ames.  Zachary has always chosen family over what the world thinks he should do.  Many of Zach’s friends gave him grief about living at home, but he always said that coming to the door and hearing Gracie yell his name made it all worth while.  It happened again this past year when Zach found out about Benjamin and Maisey.  He was doing an internship at EA Sports and he turned down a job offer with them to come home to get to know his new siblings.  He said flying home once a month wasn’t enough.  He wanted to know them both, but especially with Benjamin’s heart and not knowing what was going to happen.  When Grace got sick, that cemented the deal.  Grace and Zach have always had an extra special bond.

    Zachary is such a sweet, compassionate soul.  He is fun and jokes and loves playing games.  He is kind and quiet, and so very, very bright.  He is just truly a wonderful man.  We would talk about what was most important when he was growing up.  My number one goal as a parent was his salvation.  My number two goal was building his foundation as solid as I could so he could be strong and handle whatever life threw his way.  We called this MOIH – growing to be a Man of Integrity and Honor.  Zachary is that and so much more.   I couldn’t be happier to have him as a son.  He has blessed my life in ways too numerous to mention.  I look forward to seeing what his future is. God has plans for this boy and I love watching them unfold.  Someday he will make the best father and husband and I look forward to the day he finds his soul mate.  I have been blessed over and over again by this child who was not planned – at least not planned by me – God knew exactly what he was doing.  As always, God’s plan is perfect!