Our Journey Continues…

As with anything that has to do with a child, time is flying and we are rapidly approaching Isabella’s second surgery. No, not in a few weeks, more like in a few hours.  It will be Wednesday midday. We aren’t exactly sure of the time yet, but we know we are the second case of the day so we are already looking forward to dealing with a screaming hungry child as we go through registration. As always, my goal with this post is to educate not only our family and friends, but also others who are on this cleft journey as well.

Recently, I was contacted by a good friend of mine who recently found out that a friend of hers had just found out that their child would be born with a cleft lip and palate. She knew to come to me because of this blog and that made me really happy. This blog has been a way for me to get some feelings out as we go along the journey, but also to educate people on not only what we are expecting, but what they can expect as well. My hope is that the emotions that you feel the day you find out quickly change to the ones that you feel when you finally get to put that little bundle of joy into your arms.

So back to Wednesday…

This Wednesday we are going to be back at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for another procedure. We’ve already gotten good news about this one as the ENT’s won’t be involved because her hearing and the tubes look great!

So what will they be doing? Here’s the easy way…let’s begin with what has been done and an old photo of the cleft inside of her mouth.


In this photo you can see the full unilateral clefting of the lip and palate. If you look closely you can see two little white spit bubbles attached to the palate where it is separated. In the first surgery, they attached the lip and fixed her nose with quite amazing results.


Now in this surgery, they will be creating two cuts on the outer part of the palate (think close to where your molars are in the upper, back part of your mouth) which will help prevent the palate from separating once they stick together (similar to what you can see done above for the lip) the cleft areas of the palate. Obviously there is pain and possible swelling involved and since they are close to the airway, we’ll be staying overnight at the hospital with her.

In addition to the palate, our amazing plastics team will be doing Isabella’s first “revision” and building up the interior portion of her left nostril and correcting the vermillion border and making both sides even. (Could you even really tell that they weren’t already?)


This is probably one of the few photos that you can really see both the nostril and that slight raising of the border. (And why would I not want to use this photo again?!?!?!?)

The doctors told us this should be very similar timing to the first surgery so we should have about three hours or so to wait, but with some friends from the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic who went through this last week, we feel like we are prepared and know what to expect.

Again, my hope is that this blog not only helps my family and friends understand what is going on (without repeating the same stuff over and over again) but also helps people who I may never meet, know, or talk to. However, with that said, if you have found out that you are going to be starting this crazy journey (either with fertility issues or with a cleft affected child) please never hesitate to reach out or send your friends my way. I want our family to be an asset for everyone.

I don’t normally ask for people to comment, but on this post, please let me know how this blog as a whole has affected you. Has it helped you understand what Isabella is going through? Simply kept you entertained with my amazing writing skills? Have you been able to share it with someone else who is on this journey and going through the same things? Let me know in the comments I’d love your feedback.


It’s been a year…let’s recap.

So I’ve been trying to figure out exactly when and about what I want to post on the blog. Life has been crazy and I’ve sort of gotten away from posting, but I’ve had several people mention to me about posting more to the blog so I think I’m going to try to do a few more posts in the coming weeks.  We have a lot going on and in our cleft journey this is going to be one of the most interesting parts.

It’s currently 10pm on Thursday, April 12, 2018 as I’m writing this. Erin is working on cleaning up the dishes from today and Isabella is in her crib sleeping. At this point, our hope is that she remains sleeping for the night. Not that she’s a bad sleeper, but in the past month or two she’s struggled from time to time and I think we are still recovering from our night that resulted in her waking up at 9pm and staying awake until 1am. I think that happened Tuesday..or Monday…at some point this week it happened.

As I’m sure anyone who has gone through the first year with a new baby can attest, the days are long at times, but the weeks and months fly by. Erin and I were just talking a little bit ago and discussing the past year. Did we miss it? It seems like just yesterday we were in the hospital with this new baby and now she’s walking, talking, and has one of the most insanely awesome personalities ever!


This kid has been the epitome of badass coming through her first surgery back in August like it was nothing and is prepping for surgery number two in just a few weeks (April 25th to be exact). For this one, the doctors will be fixing the cleft of her palate and will be doing her first nose/lip revision. Not that it’s overly easy to see in photos, but there is about a 1mm rise in her lip where the cleft lip scar was and the doctor wants to fix it. It’s crazy to think that 1mm is going to make that much of a difference, but knowing that our doctor is THAT particular about making sure it’s done right is reassuring. He’s also going to work to build up the interior wall of the left side of her nose as it’s caved a bit. Again, it’s something that is relatively hard to tell unless you look for it, but is both cosmetic and structural for her.

For this surgery we will have to stay overnight at Hershey so that they can monitor her throughout the night. Rarely if ever do they run into issues, but because the surgery does get very close to her airway they want to be the ones on high alert rather than us staring at her all night making sure nothing happens such as swelling that could block the airway. It’s going to be a long day and night, but like we did before, we’ll get through it and our little badass will prove once again that she is tougher than me.


I may be able to lift her with one hand (not gonna lie, my arms look awesome in this picture), but my strength has been coming through her since the day she was born.

So while that surgery is coming up soon, today is what I started the blog about and want to recap parts of the last few months.

Since her surgery she’s gone from crawling on November 3rd to pulling herself up to standing on December 20th, taking a few steps on February 6th and has been walking (and sometimes I swear she’s running) since March 7th.

She’s popped through eight teeth so far (we’re pretty sure it would be nine but the cleft may have prevented one baby tooth on the top left) including her first molar on April 1st. I know everyone says that teething is the worst, but no…they lie…teething isn’t THAT bad…until its a molar. THAT. WAS. HORRIBLE.

Speaking of that cute little mouth, she’s talking…well at least a few words so far…but the one that hasn’t come yet is the one that is killing me.  Still no “dada” at all! I swear if she calls me “mama” and then points at me and laughs one more time, I’m going to go crazy.


Here’s Isabella in her favorite chair. It’s super special to me because my grandfather hand crafted this awesome little rocking chair for her and surprised us with it. Not only is it special because he made it, it’s special because it’s a piece that Isabella will be able to keep with her for my future grandchildren as well.

I want to wrap up this blog before it starts to get out of hand and just rambling on (yes I know, the fact that I’m saying that probably means it already has) but whatever, I’m a first time dad with an amazing little girl. (Definitely not a bias statement at all!)

Life may not have dealt us the easiest hand over the last year or so, but we just simply adapt and overcome no matter what happens. Isabella has helped me through some rough times and my job is to help her through hers. Here’s to one year down and a million more to go. I love you Isabella Grace. You keep your momma and me on our toes and we wouldn’t have it any other way!


I just had a bit of a sad moment…

As I was working in my office (aka our bedroom), I had the TV on and when our Apple TV goes to screen saver it scrolls through a bunch of photos. With an almost 8-month old at this point as you can imagine most of the photos involve Isabella.

What I noticed though is that as some of the older photos of her (pre-surgery) came up, I realized that I don’t really “remember” her with the cleft anymore. While obviously we are truly thankful for our team in Lancaster and our amazing doctors and staff at Hershey, it was sort of sad.

For a few moments I questioned myself as I looked at the screen, continuing on with photos. “Why Don’t I remember her that way?,” I asked myself. I didn’t have an answer. It was weird and sad, and honestly, a little overwhelming. I felt all of those feelings from before her surgery again.


This is the photo that did it for me. The comparison. With the discovery of her 6th tooth this morning, I looked at this photo and realized how different it was now. Her 6th tooth is the top left. Right next to the cleft. We weren’t really sure if she was ever going to get it as her other top tooth was #3 and this one didn’t seem to be anywhere close. It is also really hard to get her to open her mouth up enough (and not bite down) to even see the cleft in her gums / palate now. As you can tell in that before photo, seeing where that tooth just came through would have been super easy.


So with all of that said, every once in a while I want to make sure that I’m going back to those first three months of this little fireball’s life (Wow! her personality is truly starting to show through) and make sure that we never forget where we came from. We are beyond thankful for this little blessing. It might have been a crazy journey to get to this point, but the trip is just starting.

Next April will be Surgery #2 just after Birthday #1. It’s the palate repair surgery so this one is an overnight and probably going to require a few days off of work to help her recover, but if she continues the way she’s been with both surgery #1, shots, and even getting her ears pierced…she’ll be back to normal in no time at all.


Holy Crap My Kid is 6 Months Old!

Six Months? Seriously?

Wow. Six months has truly flown by. At this time six months ago, we were getting settled back in Erin’s room and Isabella was wrapping up her echo and about to come back to see us. It’s crazy to think how much has changed in these six months.


Our first family selfie! (April 12, 2017 @ 10:21 AM)



Our most recent family selfie! (October 8, 2017 @ 3:09 PM)

She’s grown so much in such a short period of time, but so have we. As parents, this whole thing hits you like a ton of bricks. Not all at once, it’s not the full ton at once, but like each individual brick at random moments. Sure, just after she was born, it hit hard, maybe like 10 or 15 bricks in a row, but now it’s more like one brick here, and then not another one for a few days. It’s the little moments that I’m talking about. It’s a conversation, a look, a smile. It’s a random thought at 5:30 in the morning when you REALLY don’t want to get out of bed, but you hear her crying. Those are the little bricks.

I know we are no where near done being hit by them, but let me tell you about a few of my favorite bricks so far…



Our trip home from the hospital.


Losing her cord!


Mother’s Day


Just randomly grabbing my face while she was sleeping.


Her first trip to the beach.


Father’s Day




This smile…oh how I miss it sometimes.


Hearing the pain and wanting to take it all away.


Knowing that she was comfortable and made it through surgery.


Toes in the sand for the first time.


This face…




and again….(This girl’s looks kill me)




Trying to steal my phone.


Game face!


My girls!


The look you get when she’s done being photographed for the day.

If you’ve made it all the way down here…thank you! You’ve seen just a glimpse of how much joy this little girl brings to not only me, but the world in general. Each one of these little moments have changed me for the better. I cannot wait to see where the next six months go. From finally crawling (instead of just scooting her face across the carpet) to walking and talking, I have a feeling I’m in for alot of trouble with this one. So who wants to help finance the trail cameras that alert me via phone when there is movement for when her and the little neighbor boy get older?

Teething Sucks

I think all parents would agree, teething sucks. From the constant drooling, crying, and now razor blades in her mouth, teething has been an experience to say the least. 

It wasn’t long after our last post that Isabella cut her first two teeth…on the same day. 

As you can tell it was both of the bottom teeth at the same time, and already we are awaiting the next appearance(s) as the drool level has skyrocketed again and we can see them getting close. Both on the top and bottom. 

Speaking of those top teeth that’s where things will get interesting with her cleft. I’ve had a few people ask me about it so the easiest way to explain is to show you a photo. 

Down the line she will probably kill me for sharing this picture again, but if you look at her top gums you can see a little line where the arrow is pointing. If you reach into your own mouth you will find that little string thing in the middle of your mouth just under your nose. For her that’s a little off center in the photo above but it’s the same thing. Based on that, we can assume that she will get her two front teeth and possibly a second one on the left side.

While she may end up missing some where the cleft happened; down the line her adult teeth will still drop in from above. That will be the reason for a bone graft somewhere between ages 5-9 so that her adult teeth have a place to anchor. 

In other news this kid is continuing to grow like crazy. She’s rolling all over the place and just about sitting up without help. 

She’s also learned a new face in the past day or so. We can’t stop laughing…

As always we thank everyone for their continued support and love. We can’t wait for her to experience her first Halloween and if you know Erin you know this costume is going to be nuts. Just wait until you see those pics. 

The Recovery

It’s been a week since our beautiful Isabella had her primary lip/nose repair. All I can say is WOW. What a difference!


This photo was from Sunday. Since then the glue has come off the outside of her lip and basically the only thing left is just a little bit of a blood booger that is stuck to the dissolving stitches on her nose.

She has been sleeping fairly well and eating basically just like she did before surgery. She had a bottle within an hour of surgery being done and with the exception of a few bad feedings here and there on Thursday night and Friday, she’s been back to basically normal since Saturday afternoon. Don’t get me wrong, she still had her moments, and still needed a ton of cuddle time, but for having a MAJOR surgery, it was incredible to watch.

While she’s obviously looking a bit different, her personality is still 100% there…I mean look at this picture of her…


She’s totally giving me a “Dad, please stop taking so many pictures of me…I’m just trying to enjoy my fingers and make this pain in my bottom gums stop. I’m teething…leave me alone.”

Or her super dramatic sleeping position…


So one thing I wanted to try to explain with this blog is what is to come in the future.

More surgeries – at a minimum…2…more likely…way more.

This surgery simply attached the lip together and formed her nose. Nothing else was done during this surgery (well technically she got tubes in her ears…but that was easy.).

At about a year old she’ll have her primary palate repair surgery. This will bring together the upper part of her mouth and cut off her mouth from her sinuses. If you haven’t googled what a cleft palate looks like just imagine eating and absolutely everything going up your nose (and then out your nose) without a laugh required. They’ll bring those two sides together and she’ll have a full roof of her mouth.

Sometime between 5 and 9 years old she’ll have a bone graft using bone from her hip and they’ll connect her gums (take a look at the split screen shot above and you can see the right side of her gums…those are still not attached to the left side) and place the bone within it to ensure that her adult teeth have a place to anchor.

In addition, every cleft cutie is a bit different when it comes to growing and revision surgeries. I’ve seen stories of 16 surgeries by age 16, and some that have way fewer. That will all depend on her, both physically and what she wants for herself down the line.


One of the things that we heard a ton of at the beginning was “Well modern medicine is incredible and they can fix that easily.”  While it is accurate (I mean look at that picture…she’s amazing and I can’t believe they did that.)…it’s also a very simple way to look at it.

While yes, her lip and nose are now formed together and the surgery went great, the road is just starting. This is something that won’t occupy our lives at all times, but will occupy our lives for a very long time…likely 18+ years.

I’ve had so many people ask me in the last week, “Oh, now is she done with surgery?”

It’s not that people are minimizing the issues, it’s that there is a total lack of knowledge by anyone who hasn’t been personally touched by a cleft, or someone within their inner circle of family or friends. Think about it…how many “friends” did your child have at 3.5 months old? Not many…you weren’t introduced to other parents because of dance class or soccer yet. If there hasn’t been a cleft within your family, or that inner circle of friends you’ve likely never seen a baby in person with a cleft lip, you’ve seen the scar from surgery afterwards. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that but I want to change it moving forward.

The internet is helping to change it, and I want to be a catalyst for that change. My ask of you, if you’ve read this far, please share this post to your network. Tag me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, anywhere you share it. July was craniofacial awareness month, but let’s make it every month. Help me help explain the journey.


Do I know everything about cleft lips and palates? Hell no! Can I explain what is going on as we go through it. Of course. We are blessed to be so close to the amazing team at the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic…if you are moved to do so…make a donation in Isabella’s name. Every time we go there I see kids from infants to young adults that are so happy and full of life. Help me help them.


Isabella is trying to break into mommy’s wallet to donate!

What a difference less than 12 hours can make.

Thursday, August 3rd – 6:00 AM – We pack up the Jeep and head to the hospital.

We know that today is the day. Isabella is going to have her lip/nose surgery. We know going in that it’s going to be a long and likely VERY emotional day. There is going to be a major change in our daughter…the biggest question in my mind…”How am I going to feel about the change in her smile?”


6:30 AM – We arrive at the hospital and check in. By 7am we are in the waiting room waiting to go back to our pre-op room. We already took a final family photo (above) the night before celebrating Erin’s birthday but I grab a quick snapshot of my two favorite girls.


8:15 AM – We’ve gone through all of our pre-op stuff and are getting ready to escort Isabella toward the OR before being swept back to the waiting room. Isabella finally fell back asleep for a few moments after crying most of the morning since she wasn’t allowed to eat. This is the final pre-surgery photo.


8:34 AM – Isabella is officially taken back to the OR. However, as the doctors said, “She’s feisty” and the actually surgery didn’t get underway until much closer to 9:15 or 9:30.

12:30 PM – Isabella is done with the first procedure on her lip and nose and is now getting the tubes done in her ears. Our amazing doctor, Dr. Samson, comes out to the waiting room and talk to us about the procedure. He told us that everything went great and he was very happy with everything. We now know that we’ll soon be able to see our daughter.

12:55 PM – After the longest 25 minutes of my life (narrowly beating out the 33 minutes I had to wait for Erin’s C-section prep before I was allowed into the OR), we are escorted back to the PACU. There she was, our daughter….crying. Well of course she was crying, it was almost 10 hours since she had last eaten, and someone was just doing surgery on her mouth. You’d be crying too!

As always, Isabella drew a crowd near her bed, so there were at least six nurses and doctors checking her out and seeing the massive change in her appearance. She looked amazing. Even crying and being super upset, she looked incredible. I guess I should just show you.


Not the best face, or angle, but it was what we walked back to. Our incredibly amazing and super strong Isabella Grace.

3:30 PM – She’s eaten about 1.5 oz and fallen asleep on Erin. Each of our parents and my brother Steve have made their way back into the PACU individually to see her. We now know that all that is standing between us and going home is her waking up and eating enough to prove that she will eat and not need any IV fluids.


3:45 PM – We wake her up and begin to feed her. She eats another 2 ounces and we are cleared to get ready to head home!

4:30 PM – We leave the hospital and head home. Isabella slept the entire way home. It was amazing. I wasn’t sure if we were going to end up having a crying baby but instead after eating she immediately fell back asleep and enjoyed her ride.

5:00 PM – We arrive at home and she continued to sleep until about 6:30 PM and then ate another 3.5oz of milk. That appetite we all know and love is coming back quickly and this girl is going to act like nothing happened by tomorrow.


It’s been a very emotionally draining day. I cannot believe that such a massive surgery yields results this quickly. Just a little black and blue dot on the right side of her nose, a few stitches and some glue. The red directly under the middle of her nose is just some dried blood residue but this is it. This is the result. I cannot begin to thank everyone who has sent a message, our families who sat with us today, and the doctors who made this magic happen.

Before and After


Isabella’s 3 month photo (July 12th) and today’s post surgery photo.

3 Months…where has the time gone?

It’s been far too long between posts. Between life and baby and work and everything else the blog has fallen a bit by the wayside, but I want to try to change that back.  I had ideas for posts about Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day and numerous other things, but sleep always ended up seeming like a better idea.

My last post was exactly 3 months ago. April 19th. Wow. I thought that week flew by and all of the sudden my baby is rolling over, standing up with help and getting HUGE!


All dressed up for Memorial day and super alert. 

The summer is flying by and we are almost to August, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve been home the whole time.

Isabella loves the car and loves being outside. For Mother’s Day, we went to the Hershey Gardens in the morning for Erin’s first Mother’s Day and my girls seemed to really enjoy it.


She didn’t really want to wake up much, but it was the start of a pretty busy day, so getting her rest was definitely a good thing!

As she’s become more and more alert her personality has come out in ways that can only be described by this next picture. Let’s put it this way. I had just fed her and was looking at my phone…this was her response to not paying attention to her.


She wasn’t overly amused.

The tap on her lip in that photo was to help pull the two sides of her lip together until her first surgery. Unfortunately, as you can tell from the pictures below, she wasn’t a big fan of that and ripped it off a lot so we stopped taping. It won’t impact the future, but if it can be done (and the child cooperates) it makes the first surgery just a little easier for the surgeon.

Before heading back to work. We took a few days to go to the beach. Isabella absolutely loved it even though it was a little cooler than we would have liked.


She’s even begun to enjoy the pool. Well, truthfully, the girl loves water and loves bath time so it’s no surprise that she loves kicking her feet and splashing around in the water.


As you can tell there is no shortage of photos of Isabella. Erin and I both think that when we get new phones we’re going to have to upgrade to a larger storage capacity to account for the photos and videos.

When people tell you that your child is going to grow up in a flash and time passes so quickly there is no way to truly understand it until it happens. This is about as close as I can get to explaining it.


And like any good dad, I had to make sure to take a few pictures that I could use against her when she was older…



But as we approach the August 3rd date of her first surgery things are getting a little more anxious. That huge smile is going to change.


And honestly, that scares the crap out of me. I don’t even think it’s the surgery that I’m worried about. It’s my daughter changing. It’s not that she’s defined by the cleft, but by that HUGE smile and bubbly personality. She smiles at everyone. (Well except my sister one day…that day as soon as Tracie got near her she’d just start screaming.)

Don’t worry. I’ve got plenty of photos to share, and as we get to the surgery and follow ups and everything we’ll be sure to share more often. It’s just been a crazy 3 months and as anyone who is a parent can attest…time flies.

So to recap the first three months…we’re eating, growing, pooping, sleeping, standing (with help), almost crawling, rolling over, talking up a storm (when the words come please help us all!), and overall sleeping amazingly.

For everyone who has helped us…thank you. For everyone who is inspired by this…keep it going. You’ll get there. For everyone who is figuring this whole parenting thing out…it’s fun right???? (The answer is always coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee!) For everyone else…thanks for reading all the way down here.


Look at her just pushing me away saying “Daddy, I’m not a baseball…get me out of your glove!”

It’s been a week…

It’s official…as of 9:45am this morning Isabella Grace is 1 week old. To us, its crazy. Not so much that she’s a week old, but more that we are parents for a week now. So far it’s been all everyone says it would be and probably more. It has been fun, crazy, scary, loving, tiring, inspiring, incredible, and so many other words that I can’t even think of right now.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 1.05.20 PM

Once again, before we get into our experiences so far, we have a few thank you’s to share. To both of our sets of parents, they’ve been extremely supportive and helpful through the first week. To my siblings and our friends, thank you so much for your support and caring. We know Isabella is loved beyond words.  To the staff of PSU Hershey Medical Center, from the doctors, the nurses, our amazing speech therapist Lori, and everyone else, a heartfelt thank you. We had such an amazing experience even with some testing situations along the way. And finally, to Megan.  Thank you again for coming out and taking photos of our journey. Every photo you see in this post, (and likely others to come after it) are courtesy of the amazing Megan Huppman. Check out all of the pics HERE.


So now for the 1-week recap…

Above you’ll see the final photo of Erin pre-baby. Obviously still looking amazing and barely showing that tummy off at all. Shortly after this she got her IV and then walked to the delivery room. They continued to prep Erin for the c-section as I stood and paced in my jumpsuit. That may have been the longest 33 minutes of my life.


Finally the nurse came and got me to make that same walk that Erin just made to the delivery room. I walked in and saw all of the people that would be participating in the procedure. And as soon as I was safely behind the curtain they began.

Things progressed but did take some time and I could tell that Isabella wasn’t going to come out without a fight. We later found out that she was transverse with her head to Erin’s left side, and her back facing outward. As the doctor said, “One of the hardest positions to deliver.” Of course she was. Why would we ever expect anything different?

About 11-12 minutes after they started I was told that if I wanted to stand up and look that it would be the time to do it. I did and while what was happening at first wasn’t exactly what I expected, a short time later I saw something that I’ll never be able to unsee. My beautiful daughter for the very first time. There she was. In living color, sound, and everything. It was intense to say the least. I looked down at Erin and said, “She’s here” and then immediately sat down. Not because of blood or anything surgical…but because when all you have is a small rolling stool to sit on and that emotional of a moment happens…you don’t want to miss when you do sit down.  Not to mention…knives.

IMG_3768We immediately heard the cry. It was small. Almost a coo, but within a few seconds and with the assistance of the amazing nurses who suctioned all of the fluid out of her mouth she was crying like the best of them. I walked over and saw her up close for the first time and quickly took a photo on my phone so that Erin could see our daughter’s face.

IMG_3770That was intense too. Showing Erin her daughter while she’s still in the middle of a MAJOR surgery. But it didn’t matter. The curtain separated us from them. That other room was so far away. We had our little family space and soon Isabella would be ready to join us there…after being cleaned up and measured of course.

7lbs 8oz, and 19 inches long. That’s crazy for 37 weeks and from a girl who just about anyone who didn’t know her would have probably thought her due date was in July or later. But that was our girl.

Just before Erin’s procedure was finished Isabella and I made our way down the hall and back to Erin’s room. It was sort of surreal. I just walked out of the delivery room with my baby in a bassinet and that was that. NICU and the Pediatric teams all cleared her almost immediately. After a LONG procedure and additional fibroids needing to come out just to close her up Erin joined us in the room. Now Erin got to truly hold our baby for the first time. IMG_3788

Later in the day our parents all came in and met Isabella for the first time. We had several visitors throughout our time at the hospital and it truly showed just how loved Isabella is not only by us but by many.

Things got a little interesting later in the evening after everyone headed home. We were told that with a “normal” delivery much of the amnionic fluid is pushed out of the baby due to the birth canal. But with the c-section that doesn’t happen. Isabella, while in my arms, spit up some of that fluid and began to choke on it a bit and held her breath. The nurses immediately swooped in and helped remedy the situation. While extremely scary for a guy who’s been a “dad” for about 12 hours, the nurses said it was something they’ve seen before. We decided to send her to the newborn nursery that evening just because we knew that neither of us would sleep.

Apparently overnight she did it again and the NICU and Pediatric teams got together and decided that even though her oxygen levels dropped for only an instant both times and they couldn’t replicate what had happened that she would be heading to the NICU for observation.

IMG_3808Just seconds before we found out that Isabella was going to be heading upstairs for the NICU observation Erin was going to need two units of blood due to her levels. Luckily we were able to go with Isabella to the NICU so that we at least knew where she was exactly and then headed back to Erin’s room for blood and lunch. Well just lunch for me.

After a solid day in the NICU, Isabella was moved to the Continuing Care Unit (think, NICU light) for continued observation but she was looking good. Feeding her with a bottle was still a task, but we were getting there. By Saturday evening, Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 1.05.45 PMIsabella was literally “kicked out” of the CCU because they needed the bed and she was stable and looking good. We were overjoyed. Isabella was back with us, and Erin was making the progress that she needed to get discharged as well. Easter Sunday was going to be our release from the hospital.

Megan came Sunday morning and took a ton of photos. If you haven’t already, please click that link above and check them all out. I don’t think we could have asked for more amazing photos of our journey. Our daughter was coming home.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 1.07.37 PMWe got in the car and started home. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more pressure while driving. We got home and were on our way as a cute little family.

Sunday was good, Isabella ate, and the dogs welcomed her home. Honestly, it was like they knew she was coming and were super happy to finally meet her. It was awesome to see. Chase still whines whenever Isabella cries. It’s like he’s trying to sooth her. (It doesn’t work.)

Since Sunday, we’ve had two doctor appointments, mostly just weight checks. No concerns, just trying to get her to totally rebound on weight and start packing the pounds back on. Feeding with a cleft lip/palate baby is Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 1.06.59 PMtough. For now, it will only be Erin and I feeding her since there is such a learning curve not only for the person who has to hold the bottle, but also for Isabella to learn how that new person will be holding and aiming the bottle. It’s not like a typical baby. You can’t just hold them and keep the bottle in their mouth and have a conversation with someone else. You can’t watch TV. It’s a full time 100% concentration event. For any other cleft palate/lip parents…stick with it. It’s HARD. REALLY HARD. You’ll get there.

But to wrap up this whole crazy thing…She’s a week old. She’s been here for a week! Thanks again to everyone who has helped us in week 1. Here’s to a million more weeks!!!!


Isabella Grace Has Arrived…

She’s here! Finally! At 9:45am this morning after putting up a heck of a fight to stay inside, she’s here! Ok fine…I won’t delay…here’s the three of us still in the OR this morning.


Ok…so for the details.


We got here at 7am and got our room and things got underway. After getting a slight delay for the NICU team to be ready in case it was needed they took Erin back to the OR at 9am to get her going. I got escorted back at 9:33 and things got underway. Within 15 minutes our beautiful baby girl was here and making all kinds of noise.  But of course…like she would…she didn’t make this easy either.

Her official birth time was 9:45…but it likely could have been about 9:41 or 9:42 if she didn’t put up such a fight.  She was transverse and had her back facing out. The team we had with us was amazing and kept everything calm and moving forward despite the difficult baby that refused to help.

So…for everyone who put in an official guess the other day on Facebook…you all lose.  Some were close…guessing length but not weight, or weight but not length, but no one was dead on for both.


Isabella Grace weighed in at 7lbs 8oz and 19 inches. For being 37 weeks, we are beyond happy with her size and can’t image how big she would have been at 40.

It’s been a crazy day with lots going on but we definitely want to thank both of our sets of parents and families that offered support throughout the day. We’ve had amazing care and amazing support from everyone at PSU Hershey Med and know that they will continue to take care of us in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

It’s taken a while for me to get a chance to sit down with the laptop and share all of this, and we even considered just making a quick post on Facebook and doing a blog post later, but that didn’t seem right. We’ve created this blog so that people beyond our Facebook friends can follow. This blog is for everyone who has ever struggled to conceive and/or have a cleft palate/lip baby. We are sharing our story to help each and every one of you and we truly appreciate your support!


Once again….ISABELLA GRACE IS HERE!!!!!!