Thursday, March 29, 2012

We Are Not Alone

On July 15th, 2008 we had Ella's first ultrasound where we learned that she would be born with a cleft lip and palate. That was almost 4 years ago and even though the 2010 Census showed that almost 235,000 people live in Madison Wisconsin - we have yet to meet another parent or cleft kid in the area. I can't count how many times we have felt like the first people to have a child born with a cleft lip and palate.

Tonight that all changed. Holy Hannah - there are other people born with cleft lip and palate! A while back I was fortunate enough to connect via Cleft Awareness with another mom (Nicole) here in Madison who's first born son, now almost 9 years old, was also born with a cleft lip and palate. I was super pumped and hoped to line up a time that we would be able to meet in person.

It just so happens that not only does Nicole have a cleft child, but she is also a rockstar photographer. So when she contacted me earlier this week to see if we would be interested in having Ella's photos taken - we jumped at the chance. Not only am I crazy about photos, but I love her work and I was really excited to meet her.

She is one of those people that you feel like you know, yet you have never met. I could tell that I would like her just from following her on social media. Making new friends since having Ella has been a bit challenging. Don't get me wrong - we have lots of great friends that we love dearly, but it would be nice to have more friends who are able to relate to having children. Most parents we know - through daycare, swim lessons, dance class, work, etc. - typically have different interests and parenting styles than we do making it hard.

Even though tonight's photo session was rather impromptu the meeting was very natural and I felt like we hit it off right away. She is super chill and her boys (she has 3) were awesome! Ella was kind of a mess and refused to let me fix her hair, but the photos turned out great. Thank you Nicole Hansen Photography and hope to connect again soon!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


When Joe and I had first decided we would try for Baby #2 I kept a calendar so I could track ideal times to try and more importantly how soon I would be able test so that I wasn't risking drinking while being pregnant. For those of you who use Google Calendar - you know you can name it whatever you like. Since the nature of the calendar was a bit awkward I kept it vague and titled it, BBL - Baby Boy Leschisin. I figured it didn't hurt to try and will us a baby boy through the power of mindset.

Those were my thoughts before I was pregnant and then when we found out we were expecting on December 15th, 2011 they turned to whether or not the baby would be healthy. As the baby became a reality I didn't care if it was a boy or a girl; a healthy baby was the only goal.

We had our 20 week ultrasound this past Thursday and we couldn't be happier with the outcome. After an hour of scanning and gathering the necessary measurements and images we needed the doctor finally came in and said everything looked great and that there were no signs of health problems. Talk about a different feeling than the first time! I have never been so happy and grateful for anything in my entire life.

While I knew I could handle another child with a cleft I really just wanted to know what it would be to like to have a "normal" pregnancy. What would it be like to not see my doctor every week? How would I feel not having to think about impending surgeries? What do you mean I don't have to transport two children to numerous dental and speech appointments? I don't have to think about insurance coverage at every second? What do I do with all that extra time?

After we had got past the important stuff, the perinatologist was ready to announce the sex of the baby. We had all placed our bets ahead of time - winner received a candy bar. Ella was dead set on a girl and not accepting anything but, Joe voted boy and I had mentally prepared myself for a girl with a cleft. The OB had an image on the screen and was showing me as if it clearly spelled out the gender of the baby, but I was a bit clueless so I told her she could tell Ella. As she said, "It's a boy" Ella's little nose crinkled up and she immediately said, "I not want a boy!" I am sure her future brother will love to hear her immediate reaction but I guess she's nothing if not honest.

I couldn't believe she said boy! How exciting - a HEALTHY baby BOY. Maybe my calendar BBL helped us out more than I realized. The technician printed out some pictures for us to take home and we were on our merry way. We go back in 6 weeks to double check that everything is okay and we have already successfully changed Ella's mind on how cool boys are.

Now onto other decisions to be made - what do you think people would say if we sent these birth announcements?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's a Big Day

Today is the biggest day of my pregnancy, with the exception of the day we will deliver. March 22nd marks the halfway point and the day we have our 20-week ultrasound. When most people find out they are pregnant they immediately begin thinking about the gender, what names they like best or how they can decorate the nursery.

When we first found out we were expecting baby #2 all I could think about was how soon we could find out whether or not this baby would have a cleft. I hoped that since my last pregnancy was high-risk that it would mean we would find things out sooner this time around, but no such luck! So since we were forced to wait, I told myself it was no big deal and that we could handle whatever outcome we were given.

In actuality, I feel anxious. I don't want this baby to have a cleft, but I also feel silly that I would even worry about that. We have proved to be able to handle the cleft-related issues and are definitely capable of doing it again...but, what if it's something worse?

Back in January I was privileged to attend a Wisconsin Warriors Sled Hockey game and had a blast. A friend of mine's son plays on the team and invited us to come watch. While sitting in the ice arena I was humbled by how amazing those kids are and I thought about how much more they and their parents go through every single day that most could never imagine. At that moment I felt ridiculous to have focused so much of my thoughts on whether or not this baby would have a cleft. A cleft is no big deal in relation to what those kids deal with on a daily basis. Every parent in that arena, including me is lucky to even be able to have babies!

So today is a big day and yes - I'm anxious but more than anything, I am excited to find out whether or not Ella is going to have a baby sister as she predicts or if we will be the first, in a long time to have a boy and break the long running streak of girls within my family.

In other news - Ella tells me she is "getting bigger and bigger every day so that she can be a big sister." Yesterday was no exception as she learned how to ride her bike all on her own. Check it out:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Here We Go Again

I turned 29 on December 15th. I don't really love birthdays, they have always seemed a bit forced and I hate getting gifts so I could definitely live without them coming every year. Besides, who likes getting older anyways?

This year was a different story. Yes, Joe still ran out at the last minute to get my gift (<--a guitar) but the day started out much more exciting than normal. Ella had been asking for a new baby for quite some time. She would say things like, "Mom - you pick me up from daycare, we get our hair cut and then we go home and make a baby." I'm sure as a teen she will look back on that statement and be very disgusted.

After many more hints from Ella around mid-October Joe and I had decided to pull the goalie and longer prevent a baby from joining our chaotic lives, but we also weren't going to drive ourselves insane trying to get pregnant.

Fast forward to December 2011. My co-workers were nicely planning a birthday dinner/drinks in my honor so I thought I better take a test just to be sure. I was convinced I wasn't pregnant, especially since a month before all signs pointed to pregnancy - and the test was negative.

As the clock struck midnight and it officially turned my birthday- I was given the best gift a girl could ask for....a baby! The test was positive. Even though we were "trying" it was still shocking. A mix of so many emotions! Excited to add another baby to our family. Nervous that he/she will be healthy. Anxious for Ella to get past the terrible 3's so we can all coexist in harmony.

It's hard to believe I am already halfway through this pregnancy. In exactly one week we find out the gender of the baby and more importantly whether or not he/she has a cleft lip and/or palate. I have tried to not think about March 22nd as much as possible so that the day doesn't take forever to come and so that I don't have to worry leading up to it. No matter what happens next week - we are ready.

The first time we met with the perinatologist the experience was really challenging. It felt cold and rushed and the tears streamed down my face as she showed us Ella's face for the first time. I thought about requesting a different doctor this time around but I recognize that my emotions might have clouded my judgement of her and I think we are more than prepared this time. If the ultrasound does show that this baby has a cleft - we have done it before and can do it again. Of course I want a happy and healthy baby, but there are so many worse things that could happen.

Besides, look at how happy that little girl is!