Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cheesy Magic

This past Thursday marked 25 weeks pregnant - 15 weeks or 102 days to go. Everyone says pregnant women have a glow about them that makes it impossible to miss. I always thought that was kind of ridiculous - I mean, who is really glowing amidst the nausea, back pain, weight gain, etc.?

I don't know if I am glowing this time around or not, but I can say as I near my third trimester - pregnancy really is magical. Every time I feel this little man move it amazes me. I could sit and watch my belly jump around all day.

I am more excited than I expected to bring another little human being into this world. I think I appreciate the gift and it's miraculous qualities much more this time around.

Maybe it's the fact that because of Ella, I know just how much this can change our lives for the better. Even during the most trying days - Ella has made our lives so much better than I could have ever imagined and this new little boy will be the same, if not better because we will get to witness Ella experience being a big sister also.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Practice makes Perfect

The majority of cleft kids will go through some sort of speech therapy since the cleft affects the production of sound in some way, shape or form. In Ella's case we started Birth to 3 in the Summer of 2010. That program provided a dedicated therapist who met with Ella on a one-on-one basis approximately every two weeks. The first therapist we were assigned wasn't a great match so we wasted quite a bit of time trying to find the right fit. We were eventually reassigned a fantastic new therapist, however we didn't have a lot of time remaining with her before Ella turned 3.

At that point we were turned over to the Madison Metro School District. After Ella was evaluated, we met with our case manager and went through our various options; we could send her to our home school where she would meet one-on-one with a therapist once a week for 30 minutes - OR - we could enroll her in a Phonology Clinic that was more intense. She would be one of 12 kids who attended 2.5 hours per day for 4 days a week, for 6 straight weeks. After weighing all of our options we felt like the highly focused, consistency of Phonology would be the best thing for Ella.

We were told that most kids attended anywhere from 3-6 sessions (a session = 6 weeks on & 6 weeks off) before they no longer needed Phonology. We started our first 6 week session in November '11. The teachers were fantastic and we were able to notice a difference right away. It seemed like Ella was talking more (not sure how that's possible) and clearer than she had in the past. Every Friday she looked forward to her homework and everything was positive.

Within the first 6 week session Ella coincidentally had her hearing evaluated by one of the school audiologists - which she failed. When the teachers informed me I really didn't worry that much since most of those tests are based on audio cues and she typically doesn't do well due to lack of focus. I wanted to be safe and not sorry so I immediately set up an appointment with our ENT to have her ears looked at. Long story short - the tube in her left ear had fallen out and there was quite a bit of fluid built up, which had lowered her hearing levels in that ear.

We scheduled tube replacement surgery for February 1, 2012. For some reason I was super nervous, maybe because she was big enough to tell me how she was feeling - but everything went fantastic and we were in and out before we could blink. She even threw two thumps up on our way home from surgery ----->

After our first 6 week break, March 6th marked the start of our second 6 week Phonology session. I was looking forward to it because I hoped that with her hearing in tip top shape, we would see even more improvement - and we did! This second round wrapped up last week and this past Monday we had Parent Teacher Conferences to talk about next steps.

Of course I was traveling the first portion of this week so Joe went alone (other mothers reading this will know why this is an issue.) After 2 complete sessions, the teachers feel that Ella has gained all she can from Phonology Clinic and have recommended that she get some one-on-one therapy from our home school. She has mastered all of the sounds that typically developing kids her age do - with the exception of "S." They feel that meeting with a dedicated therapist, even for 30 minutes a week will help her to focus solely on that sound and improve upon it.

I have very mixed feelings about this recommendation. While I'm all for one-on-one therapy - if we get a bad therapist through the school system, we're kind of stuck. I also feel like 30 minutes once a week isn't nearly enough time, especially in comparison to the intense phonology setting we were doing. That being said, I am open to trying a new therapist - I just want the option to go back to Phonology Clinic if needed. In my mind, Practice makes Perfect - so why not continue going, even if the only goal is repetition?

Our insurance provides us with 4 speech therapy visits per year (a whole different story.) I have taken Ella in before basically just to have a second opinion. At this point I plan to set up another appointment to see if they note any improvements and have recommendations on how we can best move forward. I'm also hoping they will be better equipped to weigh in on whether or not any surgical procedures can improve Ella's speech production and hyper-nasality. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

16 to Go

I can't believe I'm 24 weeks pregnant already, it seems like yesterday I was holding the positive test in my hands! Even though we have 16 weeks (give or take) to go it seems like we have 1,000,000 projects that need to be handled before our little man is here. I have yet to purchase a single piece of boys clothing!

We were able to select paint colors for the nursery and have moved most of Joe's office items out of the room, now we just need to actually make the time to paint and tape the perfectly symmetrical stripes I want to go throughout the room. I don't think Joe is looking forward to it :D

When I was pregnant with Ella I was scared senseless so I reassured her everyday that she could stay in as long as she liked. It was a pretty easy pregnancy and I tell her all the time how grateful I am for how nicely she treated me. Little Will is a bit different. I'm not sure if it's because he is a boy or if it's the fact that it's my second pregnancy, but he is definitely not as nice.

He sits MUCH lower than Ella which has been causing a lot of pain in my lower back (already). I tried going to the chiropractor for the first time ever, but it required me to go all the time and I wasn't sure it was helping so I stopped and am trying to manage it on my own. I have had constant headaches almost daily - which probably has something to do with my back issues too. Whatever way you look at it, I'm a mess!

I am fortunate to not have had morning sickness with either baby.... but that doesn't mean I haven't felt ill. With Ella I wouldn't have known I was pregnant if it wasn't for the extra 40 lbs. I was carrying around. With Will I can barely eat a thing without being in discomfort.

I have a doctor appointment tomorrow afternoon and I am looking forward to seeing how much I'm measuring and how the little man is doing. I definitely know he is still in there based on how often he kicks me! Don't get me wrong - I am not complaining. I like the continuous reminder of how lucky our family is to have him and the reassurance that he is doing well.

<-------------Ella in the bathtub drawing a picture of her and her new brother :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

March for Babies

Where has this year gone? April is almost over and May is right around the corner! May is a busy month in our household right from the start. Our follow up ultrasound is set for May 3rd and Joe's birthday festivities begin the following day. Hopefully we will have plenty to celebrate!

Then the following day, May 5th, we are participating in the March of Dimes - March for Babies Walk. The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The March of Dimes provides grants to researchers, with the goal of understanding the causes of birth defects and developing new ways to prevent and treat them.

As a cleft parent I can definitely spare a few hours of my time in hopes of providing some well-deserved funds for this great organization. I also think it's important to raise Ella in an environment where she knows giving back is something that everyone should make time for and that a little bit can go a long way!

If you can't walk with us, please help by donating to our team. You can do so by clicking 
HERE. Thank you for helping us give all babies a healthy start! 

Go Team Cleft Awareness!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baby Ferdinand

When we first found out we were pregnant we created a short list of names for both boys and girls, but if we had a boy we were pretty sure we were set on one name. That was until we found out for sure we were having a boy. Once it became a reality I started to doubt my choices and wanted more time to think it over.

We joked with Ella (once known as Norma) we would name the baby Ferdinand, but I think she started to take us seriously because now when we ask her to tell everyone the baby's name she responds, "Ferdinand!" It's quite impressive since she enunciates it so clearly that you can understand her, which is a rarity for her.

When Joe started to refer to the baby by his potential name- I knew we were done with the selection process. So come August we will welcome little William Robert Leschisin. We won't call him William or Willy or Bill or Billy Bob - just Will. It's simple and strong and just the right fit for us and hopefully him. 

From today we have exactly four months to go and we will need that time - not only to finish the 1,000 projects we have left, but to talk Ella into what a great name Will is. While she might also be joking about Ferdinand, she really does want to name him Henry. Every time she tells people Ferdinand we correct her and say, "No honey what's the baby's real name?" to which she replies, "Henry." We then follow it up with - "No... honey that's not his name." She then puts her hands on her hips and replies, "Why not? Henry's a good name!"

*Side note: The above image is a tool from BabyZone that I used when we were expecting Ella. I dug all night long trying to find it and when I finally did it returned the same definition as it showed for Ella. I assumed it was broken and wasn't going to use it however I tested 10 different name variations that all returned different results. That can only mean our name selection is more perfect than even we realized and more importantly, we are doomed because it seems this child will be just like Ella!!