Thursday, December 31, 2009

A few more photos from the gift drive

These are from Misty of Alta Bates.

Marching down the hall:

With Nurse Margaret:

Director of Women and Infant Services Katie Tobin thanks Mom:

Nicole gives flowers:

Nurse Blanca gets a laugh:

With Debbie and Brett of the NICU staff:

With social worker Misty:

Most families have this shot as they are discharged from the NICU. We never had that opportunity:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Loki's First Christmas Home! (with photos and video)

Besides the gift and fund drive, this Christmas was very special because it was Loki's first holiday season at home. We all had a wonderful couple of days. On Christmas Eve, we delivered the gifts in the afternoon, and in the evening, a friend (and former colleague) of Mom and her family came over for dinner and some gift exchanging. It was crazy, as this included Mom, Loki, Rebecca, and I, and the family's two parents, twin two-year-old-girls, and the friend's mother.

On Christmas day, we started with some gifts, of course. We, especially Loki, got lots of wonderful gifts, and we are very grateful for all of them. The highlight was a Radio Flyer walker-wagon for Loki from Nana. We were joined by Freya and had a wonderful brunch at the apartment of Chris and Christine, who now live in our complex. Freya, Mom, Loki, Rebecca, and I then went to the Golden Gate Bridge, which was packed with families. Finally, we watched a Christmas-themed movie.

Below, photos first, video last. (Email subscribers: Here's the video link.)

Our tree and gifts:

Mom's friend on Christmas eve:

Her husband and one twin:


Christmas morning, with finger in nose:

Thanks Nana!

On C & C's porch, joined by Freya, toasting the warm day with champagne (that's our building in the background):

California family Christmas:

Rebecca, Loki, and Dad:

Rebecca at the bridge with SF in the background:

Two pretty ladies, at sunset:

Christmas evening:

We forgot to mention that the Alta Bates NICO gave Mom a huge bouquet of flowers:

Loki's new game, "stick your tongue out" (from a few days ago):

In these four clips (1) Loki and Mom play, he points at things when asked (not always successfully), and enjoys the lamp; (2) he first meets his new wagon, and is a bit intimidated; (3) he dances to the music card from Nana and Papaw; (4) Loki dances again, with the wagon, and almost cries. It was a long day.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Beautiful Christmas

We had a beautiful Christmas. I dare say that for me it was perhaps the best Christmas I have celebrated in my 36 years of life. Of course the explanation is easy. First, Loki is here and he is doing well. He enjoyed tearing the paper off gifts and absolutely loves his walker wagon from Santa Nana and her Elf Papaw. Second, we were able to organize the Loki Sky Holiday Gift Drive and Fund. As said before, it was an incredible success and going to the Alta Bates NICU to deliver the gifts and gift cards was nothing short of amazing. Please allow me to share my recap of the experience.

After much anticipation, and an incredible number of hours collecting, sorting, wrapping and buying gifts and gift cards, we made our way to the Alta Bates NICU in Berkeley on Thursday December 24th Christmas Eve (which is in the US is almost equal to Christmas day in its "holidayness"). We were met downstairs by Misty, who used to be our social worker and has been instrumental in making this drive happen at Alta Bates, and one of her social work colleagues. We unloaded all gift bags from the car onto carts and were able to get it all up to the NICU in one trip. I must admit that I started to feel a bit nervous. I wanted it to be perfect for all the parents and wondered if I had divided the gifts in the best groups possible. In fact, I had barely slept the night before thinking, rethinking, and overthinking the division of gifts. I got up early in the morning, opened everything up, and made a bunch of changes! Those who know me will not be surprised by this.

We made it up to the 4th floor where we were met by some of our very favorite NICU folks. Although the actual handout of the gifts was an absolute highlight, Loki's meet-and-greet beforehand was fun, overwhelming, and heart warming as well. Among the greeters were Dr. Sandhu, the amazing NICU medical director and perhaps one of the most compassionate doctors one could meet. Our wonderful first neonatologist Dr. Goldie Dudell, who will always have a special place in our hearts, as she was the most gentle messenger of the difficult road ahead before Loki was born. She also was Loki's first neonatologist during our Alta Bates days, and she is one of several amazingly skilled and knowledgeable doctors. We were very excited to see Blanca, nurse practitioner and Loki's team leader extraordinaire. She supported us through some very, very rough patches during our NICU days with her optimistic, calm and always patient demeanor. Of course we saw many of our favorite nurses (see pictures). Perhaps one of the most surprising and humbling meetings was with the Director of Women and Infant Services, Ms. Katie Tobin. She came out to shake hands and was very, very sweet and outspoken about her gratitude for the outpouring of generosity on our friends' and families' part.

Throughout the first meet-and-greet Loki was a bit overwhelmed and often did not know whether to laugh or cry. Dad, Rebecca, and Loki left for a walk as I started the actual delivery of the gifts to the babies. Misty and Nicole (assistant to the nurse manager) were incredibly helpful during the handout of gifts and basically functioned as my brain. (As you all know, part of my brain has been missing ever since Loki was born.) There was a list with room numbers, sex, and weight of the babies. We approached it approximately three rooms at a time. I just grabbed bags from the stack, but Misty and Nicole kept track and knew what would go where. They were amazing and made the Loki Sky Holiday Gift Drive and Fund an actual smooth and successful experience within the NICU.

It is hard to describe what it felt like to walk around the NICU being able to briefly meet some of the parents and leave a gift for every tiny new person. I had the chance to talk a little bit with some of the parents. It was one of the most beautiful experiences to see the smile on some of their faces. I so very well remember what it felt like to be at the hospital with Loki. Seeing these parents at their baby's side, knowing and thoroughly understanding their worries, fears and pain but also their hope and love for their children made me very committed to the cause. Being a NICU parent is a very intense and often very traumatic experience. No gift, financial support, hugs, or words can make the path easy. But I do believe a gift offered through compassion can shine a light. I felt that during our stay and I could see it with some of the parents I met.

I want do this again; you may not be surprised. The format may change a little bit, but I will do this again. We do not know how much longer we will be living in the US. Next Christmas we may live in the Netherlands. Who knows? But I have thought about ways to make this work, even from a distance.

I want to wrap up this lengthy post by thanking all of you who so generously donated gifts, money, time and energy. It simply would not have happened without you. I want to thank Baby Batman's mother Nicola, for sharing the idea of a gift drive. I want to thank Misty for all of her support and helping me coordinate all the logistics. Of course I also want to thank Nicole for her wonderful help. In addition, if Loki would not have received the amazing care from nurses and Doctors at this NICU there would most likely not have been a gift drive at all, so thank you Alta Bates NICU staff. And finally, most of all I want to thank Loki Sky, the wonderful inspiring ever-growing human being who entered our lives in such a scary yet beautiful way.

It was an event to remember!

These photos are from our camera and phone. [Jan. 1: Post now includes Misty's photos.] Christmas photos coming soon.

Some of the gifts ready:

About $1200 in gift cards, plus five certificates for 75-minute post-natal massages!

Card with a gift (the "from" name would vary by who gave the gift):

Card with a gift card:


Mom unloads:

Rebecca holds Loki:

The team is ready to move the gifts:

Marching down the hall:

Director of Women and Infant Services Katie Tobin (in the read sweater) thanks Mom:

Tobin and Mom:

Blanca and Dr. Dudell:

Nurse Danielle always makes Loki smile:

Nurse Margaret, Loki, and some gifts:

Blanca, Social Worker, Dr. Sandhu, and Dr. Dudell:

Nurses Janet, Jeneise (sp?), and Margaret:

Margaret and Loki again:

With Nurse Margaret:

Nurse Blanca gets a laugh:

With Debbie and Brett of the NICU staff:

With social worker Misty:

Nicole gives flowers:

The NICu gave Mom a huge bouquet of flowers:

Most families have this shot as they are discharged from the NICU. We never had that opportunity:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas letter

Today we dropped of the gifts at the NICU. It was great. Thanks to all who contributed! We'll have a full report with photos soon.

You may received this by mail, or email, or on Facebook. But here it is! This letter can be viewed as a printable PDF here.

Dear Friends and Family,

What a difference a year makes!

On October 18th, 2008, Loki was born at 24 weeks 3 days gestation. As you know, we spent last holiday season at the Alta Bates NICU. Although we were very grateful for being surrounded by the best nurses and doctors, we would have preferred to be at home, celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s with our handsome boy.

At this holiday season, one year later, life looks very different, better and filled with hope. A year ago we feared for Loki’s life. This year, we are watching him crawl around, laugh, and get into trouble. We are confronting how to childproof our house from this trickster.

Loki has had a rough year with several hospital stays, six surgeries, dozens of doctors’ visits, early intervention, feeding therapy and a feeding tube. However, if we would have known last year that he would become this sweet, energetic, smart and generally healthy, we would have taken a much greater number of deep breaths and slept through the night so much better.

Regardless of the disparity and all the worries of this past year+, we have learned a great deal about Loki and ourselves. We have learned who we are as parents, and are slowly figuring out how to find time for ourselves, to be just ourselves, and husband and wife, again. We have learned that small gestures can go a long way, and thus are very excited about the overwhelming support of Loki Sky’s Holiday Gift Drive for the Alta Bates NICU. We know we have a family who is ready to step in when and where we need help. And finally, we learned what it feels like to be carried by the love of a community of old friends, new friends, unexpected friends, and friends unknown to us (e.g., Loki blog followers), who have all sent support in ways of which we never would have thought before.

Below: Same Christmas hat, but what a difference a year makes!

Our gratitude stretches beyond what words can describe!
With Love, Mom, Dad, and Loki Sky
December 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December photos and video


Loki with Dr. Ahsan, Mom's Ob/Gyn who delivered him:

With Laureen:


With his fellow NICU graduate. He's the one that Loki bullied a bit at our house. But as a guest, Loki was more polite (photo by friend's mom).

Gift drive madness:

In these four short clips, (1) Loki points to the Christmas tree, his toys, Rebecca, and the lamp upon being asked; (2) Loki crawls quite rapidly, and then solves the problem of how to get the shoe [which has never been worn, by the way] by going under the table; (3) Loki sticks out his tongue and shares his pacifier when asked; and (4) some typically strange babbling via the audio monitor. As always, those reading via email will need to click on the headline or here to view this on the web.

About Loki Sky

Loki Sky is a special little man. He was a very early micropreemie, weighing only 610 grams (1 lb, 5 oz) after 24 weeks, 3 days gestation, born to an American Father and a Dutch Mother in Berkeley, California on October 18, 2008.

On January 11, 2009, while still in the hospital NICU, his one kidney stopped working. It was repaired after three surgeries. After spending time in three hospitals in three cities, Loki came home on February 17. He struggled with eating, and then stopped in July, leading to 8 days in the hospital, a failure-to-thrive diagnosis, and a NG feeding tube. On October 10, a minor surgery installed a G feeding tube. Another procedure replaced it with a new one, and then again with a Mic-Key button in Jan. 2010.

In August 2010, he and his parents moved to the Netherlands.

Read about his first name.
Read & hear about his middle name.
See photos.
See videos.

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Loki's Holiday Gift Drive

Please consider donating to Loki's Holiday Gift Drive for the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center NICU. You can donate by Paypal or credit card here:

Click here for more information, including how to pay by check. For all posts on the Gift Drive, click here.