{11 weeks}

Ok, my bad.  I previously posted this picture as 12 weeks.  It seems I have completely lost track of time.  My little man is a mere 11 weeks old, not 12!


1st grade

Somebody is a little excited for 1st grade!  

I am sure it doesn't help that his best bud, Colin, is in his class!
Watch out Mrs. Conklin... Here they come!

PS.  For the record, I am not suite sure how I came to be the mother of a first grader already.



A day...

That's all it is right?  A day.  So why do I feel sad?  
We got Graham's surgery date and I am having mixed emotions.  While I am excited that the taping, the NAM, the fighting to put it in, it's all going to end.  But to do that, my little baby has to go into surgery.  Being a nurse I know what that means... IV's, sedation, intubation, pain.  It scares me.  It's just one more thing that my sweet little baby has to endure.  It's hard to think that there is anything that NEEDS to be fixed.  Graham is beautiful, his cleft is who he is.  I actually can't imagine him without it.  Will he look like a different baby?  Will he still look like Graham?  All these questions are floating in my head.
I know this is the right thing, but that definitely does not make it the easy thing.  

We met with Dr. H and some plastic surgery fellows on monday.  Funny thing is, the fellow that will be working with Dr. H is actually the plastics fellow that I insisted come to the ER to stitch up Alex's lip the month before G was born.  Dr. H is very happy with Graham's progress and a little surprised that it went so fast.  They rarely are ready to do surgery before 4 months of age on clefts.  We may have been able to do it even sooner but the risks of putting a baby under 3 months under anesthesia are far too great for an "elective" surgery.  We will have one more adjustment of the NAM with Dr. K prior to surgery to get just a bit more lift to his nare.
Wow, I just can't believe we are already here.  It seems like yesterday Dan and I were sitting in the office, just having gotten the diagnosis, waiting to meet with Dr. C.  Now, the consent paper have been signed and our sweet little guy is ready for surgery.

September 22nd, 2011
Keep us in your prayers.



Graham {10 weeks}

This week G is 10 weeks old!
He slept through the night twice, found his hands, started cooing, took a bottle and napped in his bed... all in one week.  Phew, what are we going to do next week?


Life with a 6 year old

"Mom, where was God buried?"

...the questions never end.


NAM week 4

The last two weeks have been relatively uneventful with Graham's NAM process.  We have seen Dr. K twice.  He has adjusted the NAM, each week providing a bit more shape to his left nare, and sends us on our way.  Graham is tolerating the whole process exceptionally well.  He hasn't had any of the dreaded mouth sores, nor has he been irratable or fussy due to the NAM.  For this I am grateful.  It makes doing all of this to him just a little more tolerable.  He has, however, figured out how to get the tape off and the NAM out.  I have woken up twice to find him with the NAM hanging off his face, only attached by one side of his taping.  He tried to demonstrate his abilities for Dr. K this week at our clinic visit.    
While this process is going well and Dr. K is very pleased with our progress, we are still in waiting to hear about surgery.  We will meet with the surgeon on monday and hopefully develop a plan.  This will help immensely as I am trying to plan my return to work... which I am not crazy about.

While the NAM process has seemingly gone well for us, it hasn't been without it's bumps in the road.  We were told at one of our prenatal visits that the entirety of this process would be able to be billed under medical as even though we are being seen by a dentist, it is due to a medical condition.  Well, after 2 months we have finally received a statement showing a dental claim.  While it is fine for the time being, it's not going to be fine when we hit our very low maximum and then have to start paying out of pocket. So now begins another journey in all of this... fighting the insurance companies.  After doing a little research this seems to be a common issue with cleft lip treatment.  However, in the end, after much time, energy and bickering, the medical insurance should cover the cost of his "dental" treatments.  I don't see why it should take all of this though.  I can say from first hand experience that the parents going through this have much more important things to spend our time and energy on.



2 months

2 month stats:
10 pounds 10 ounces (25th percentile)
22.5 inches long (25th percentile)

Graham Baby,

I am not quite sure where this last 2 months has gone.  You are a complete joy and have quickly made your place in our family.  We couldn't imagine life without you.  Like you brothers were, you are generally a pretty easy going baby, despite all you have to endure.  Daily taping, the NAM, weekly doctor's/dentist appointments, reflux, two older brothers, none of it seems to phase you.   

You continue to nurse well and tend to eat about every 3-4 hours.  Night times are a little more tough because once you eat, usually around 2 am and 6 am, we have to replace your NAM, which always seems to wake you up.  Thus far we have you sleeping in your bouncy chair in our room but Dr. C wants us to put an end to that.  This is something I would have never done with your brothers.  I guess I have softened in my old age.  We are starting the transition to the flat co-sleeper so hopefully the move to your room (once it's done) will be a little easier.  During the day you are still very much a sleeper.  You spend about an hour to hour and a half awake before dozing off to sleep whether it be in the car seat, swing or in my arms.   Your fussy times are usually solved with a good swaddle and a binky. 

You are all smiles and I LOVE it.  As long as you are well fed and well rested you dole them out freely. You have even started to give a little coo in the past few days.  We got your play mat out last week and although at first you were not a fan of being put down, I think you are beginning to warm up to it.  You get your little legs and arms going like you are going to take off.  I could sit and watch you for hours. 

You have graduated from newborn diapers to size 1!  Mommy is also in the process of putting away your newborn clothes and moving you into your 3 month clothes.  You have just about grown out of your "coming home outfit" and it makes me sad.  But I do love seeing all the new things you are doing.

You have finally discovered your brothers.  You could sit and watch Alex for a whole 5 minutes.  He moves so fast you sometimes have a hard time keeping track of him.  He loves you though and showers you with loves and kisses, whether you like it or not.  

In your short 2 months you have had your fair share of travels.  At 4 weeks we headed out to Suncadia for our family vacation.  You were a champ and loved the constant attention.  This weekend we are spending it relaxing on Camano Island with the Hirst family.  You seem to like the changes in scenery. 

We love you G baby.
Thank you for being you!



Oh Alexander...

You test my patience in every way possible...

But you melt my heart daily!

I vividly remember being in tears because I thought Tyler was such a hard 2 year old. Well, I didn't know nothing! Alex takes the cake... and eats it too. He is 2 going on 12 thanks to his brother. He is the most head strong two year old I know. We have tried many different discipline techniques with him and have yet to fine "the one". With Tyler the 1-2-3 method worked without fail. He never once ventured to find out what the 3 meant. With Alex he could care less. He looks at you as if to say "Whatcha gonna do?". He challenges me every day to be a better mother. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail, but at the end of the day he always give me the biggest hug and "I yuv you mommy." He's the best, even when he is pushing my buttons.

Alex says the darn'dest things...

I'nt know what to do
Mama, I goin to cool tomowow
Not fa-ya (Not fair)
Hold you? (Hold me?)
Gam Cacker or baby Gam
I yike it
I keen up mommy
Dessert now?
Too ba-yd!
I have some M's and M's?
Nease and Nank you (please and thank you)
Ayex do it
I pay da phone?



NAM day 15

Graham is surprising me every day with his strength. He has definitely acclimated to the NAM and seems to not even notice it anymore. Although he does still hate to get it taken in and out. He still refuses to eat with it, so we have given up trying. Dr. K said that it's not big deal. While at his appointment we took a look at the molds that were taken at our very first appointment in the dental clinic. Wow! What a change. Graham's alveolar ridge (aka. gum line) is completely closed where as when we started it was wide open and turned upward. Although you can still appreciate where the cleft is on the ridge, the right and left sides have moved together. Dr. K is continuing to change the NAM plate to get the best possible placement of his alveolar ridge. Because his mouth is responding so well to the taping and NAM Dr. K decided to "activate" the nasal stent. In other words, repositioned the stent so that it is actually causing some pressure and molding rather than just sitting in his nare. Graham hardly noticed it.
I was so worried about adding the nasal stent but he proved me wrong once again. The little guy flashes the biggest grins, even with the NAM in these days. He is such a love bug.
We are planning a meeting with the craniofacial surgeon in the next few weeks so he can see the progress and give us a better idea of when he thinks surgery may be. Yeah!

Although Graham is doing exceptionally well, I do struggle with my own worries and feeling surrounding the NAM. I am naturally an out and about kind of person. I love to be on the go. With Graham I have continued to be that way, to an extent. To me, there is nothing wrong with him. To me he is perfect. It is not until I am out and get the double takes and the odd looks that reminds me that to others that might not be true. It makes me sad. People will see him in my arms, facing away from that and start in with the "oh, he is so tiny and cute". Then they will move in for a closer look and you can see the shock in their face. I know they don't mean to and i try to remind myself that it is natural, but I can't help wonder what is going through their minds. I want them to ask, to acknowledge that there is something there, but they never do. They usually quickly turn and leave. And when they do choose to say something, which isn't very often, it is usually "Oh, they can fix that. At least it's not something bigger." Well, to me it is bigger. This isn't nothing! It is months on end of doctor's appointments, years of surgeries, putting tape all over my beautiful baby's little face, listening to him scream as we force a hard piece of plastic into his mouth numerous times a day, watching him struggle to breathe. Yes, I do realize that there are harder things out there to endure, I mean come on, I am a nurse. But right now this sucks, not for me but for my baby. I hate that he has to go through this and I am pretty sure that to him, this is not NOTHING.


We may be big, we may be a little crazy,
but we are family and we love each other (most of the time).
And that's pretty awesome!


Lake Chelan 2011

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to be guests of Lolo and Jeff at the lake house. It was the most amazing, relaxing 2 days we have had in a long time. There was a lot of beach playing, water balloon fighting, maybe a little wine drinking, some dinner making, fishing, jet ski riding, paddle boarding, otter pop eating, big boy bed sleeping, of course a little whining, and a ton of picture taking, but most of all a lot of having fun. We couldn't have asked for a more wonderful weekend. We can't wait to do it again next year.



One summer night...

...my most favorite six year old passed the beach club swim test!
I am pretty sure Tyler tried the test no less than a dozen times last year. The life guards got to know him and wouldn't even get out of their chair when he asked to take it, knowing that he would only make it a few feet before turning around. Poor guy, all he wanted was to get beyond that rope. Although he had graduated from Children's swim class with flying colors, swimming the full length of the pool and back, when he got in the lake everything he knew about swimming went out the window.
Well, not anymore!
Way to go Ty, we are so proud of you!
Next up... the high dive!