Two Weeks from Tonight…

In just two short weeks (as long as little Miss Isabella Grace doesn’t decide to be a total diva…shhh don’t let her know that’s an option) we’ll be making final preparations in the house, going out to dinner together, and HOPEFULLY getting some sleep on our final night as a family of two. Then on the morning of April 12th…we are heading to the hospital to meet our daughter!

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With that said, most of the “preparing” is over. We’ve completed the nursery, the car seats are in and we’re finalizing the “go bags” tonight. In the last few weeks we’ve definitely noticed that the animals know something is going on. They’ve become very cuddly. They check out the swing and highchair and other baby stuff, but they have been very good about not messing with anything.

We’ve been using this time as a time to reconnect, a time to simply enjoy “us” as us. We’ve been talking to Isabella every night. It’s crazy to already know that this girl is going to be sassy and love to dance. The second that “The Voice” comes on the TV she’s rolling and moving around for two straight hours. What can I say? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I think it’s also been a time to reflect. At least it has been for me. Back in December when we found out about the cleft lip and palate we were obviously taken back by the news. But now, with time to think and reflect on everything, I think we are prepared. We have friends who had to deal with life changing baby news within minutes of their son being born, and I’m still in awe of how well they’ve handled everything. I feel like we are lucky. We’ve been able to learn over the second half of the pregnancy and there is already a plan in place. It’s comforting.

With only one more appointment scheduled (possibly another one next week too) we are in the home stretch with our prenatal team at Hershey. The entire staff, from the doctors to the nurses to the people checking us in and out of appointments, they’ve all been incredible throughout. This will likely be our final post before sharing the news that Isabella has arrived and we’ll be sure to share a photo of her as well.

The pregnancy journey is almost over…but our family journey is about to begin.


Seriously? Only 5 more weeks?

It’s been a crazy journey so far. From those first little pictures of basically just a black hole, to the 3D ultrasound where we can finally see her, it’s been crazy. But we both know that the crazy is just about to get started.

Over the last few weeks we’ve really been able to see the changes. Isabella has gotten A LOT stronger. She’s also gotten a lot bigger. We have been going in for growth checks every three weeks and when we went in for the last one on February 27th we got some pretty crazy news.  On February 6th, Isabella was estimated to be 2lbs 10oz and about 58th percentile. Now, just three weeks later she’s being estimated at 4lbs 10oz, and 93rd percentile. She’s definitely hit her growth spurt and Erin’s ribs have the bruises to prove it.

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Copyright: Megan Huppman

We also had a great time on Sunday even though it was only about 40 degrees outside with our friend Megan who is learning more and more about her camera and wanted to do a maternity shoot with us. We explored Pinchot State Park and got a few great shots. You can see all of the pictures here. Thanks again Megan.

We’d also like to publicly thank everyone who had to do with planning, setting up for, or even simply just attending Erin’s shower. It was incredible to see and feel the love in that room for Isabella already. We’ve gotten her nursery just about completely set up at this point, and just have a few more odds and ends to pick up before the big day.

Speaking of the big day, we know exactly what day that is now.  Officially, April 12th is our c-section date. Obviously Isabella could have a mind of her own (and if her personality is any indication, SHE DOES) and push that date up but we’re on the schedule for that day. It’s only 5 more weeks. It’s crazy.

I think I speak for both of us in saying that we feel extremely blessed to be at this point. Last year it felt like it would never happen, and then it did. We actually just heard from a friend of ours that they are now expecting too. They were one of the first people to reach out after we started this blog and let us know that they were thankful for us putting it out. They were only beginning their journey toward parenthood but it gave them the hope to know that eventually, it would happen. For anyone who is still out there struggling. Just keep with it. It will happen in due time.

p.s. I can’t wait to do this picture again, and have my daughter sitting next to me.

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Thank You For The Overwhelming Support…and not just for us!

Since we began this blog it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. The high and lows of struggling to conceive…finally getting that positive test…going to the doctors for weeks on end to make sure it’s a “good pregnancy”…finding out we’re going to have a daughter…finding out she’s going to need surgery…it’s been a whirlwind to say the least but no matter what post we’ve made there has been an outpouring of overwhelming support.

We’ve heard from family, close friends, people we probably haven’t spoken to since high school and even complete strangers but no matter who reached out it’s been an abundantly clear that Erin and I have the strongest network of support we could ever ask for.

When we first launched the blog announcing our pregnancy, but also announcing the tremendous journey it had been to even get to that announcement we received messages from many of you. It was amazing to see not only the support, but how open people were to share their stories as well.  This blog was first started as a way for us to hopefully find a baby to adopt. Now, it’s not only a support system for us (and a therapeutic release for all of my anxieties as we sprint faster and faster toward that mid-April timeline), but it’s also beginning to become a place that others are feeling support as well.


Erin is feeling good at almost 27 weeks.

Struggling to conceive is hard. Not just from an emotional standpoint for each of the parties involved, but as a stress on you as a couple. And if your closest friends or family do know that you’ve been not been able to conceive, it’s an added stress on that relationship as well. They want to hear the good news from you just as bad as you want to hear it for yourself.

As we continue to share our story with this blog we hope you find something positive from it. No matter the journey, you’ll eventually get to where you need to be. It may not make sense at the start, or even along the path, but keep on moving forward. You have no other choice.

Again, thank you to everyone who has reached out. In addition, those of you who who haven’t reached out or commented but have read and taken comfort in knowing that what you are going through isn’t uncommon and isn’t anything you can control…thank you for taking a more silent part in our journey. Let us know if we can ever do anything to support you, because all of you have been supporting us throughout this journey so far.

Overall Everything Looks Great…

This post has been a long time coming. Over a month to be exact. We were never really sure how or when we would share, but we knew that eventually we would. Warning: This post is definitely on the longer side, but we truly appreciate your time and energy in reading this blog. You’ll see why once you get there.

Back on December 8th we had our anatomy scan. As I mentioned in the previous post Isabella wasted no time sharing with us that she was a girl. But, not unlike her mother, she’s stubborn.  She wouldn’t give us a solid view of her face. At this point we’ve now had two additional 3D ultrasounds since the anatomy scan and each time she likes to hide. Erin has even tried to bribe her with presents…still no luck.

Here’s the closest we’ve gotten to truly seeing our daughter’s face.


Of course she’s cool enough to give us a little “thumbs up” to let us know she’s all good in there, but this is the best we’ve seen.

You may be asking yourself…”So what if she didn’t give you a great view of her face, why did you have two more 3D ultrasounds?”

We’ll get to that soon I promise.  So back to the title of this blog, “Overall everything looks great…” I struggled to try to find a launching off point for this blog, so I decided to use the exact same phrase our doctor used when she walked in after the anatomy scan. “Overall everything looks great…but…”

As soon as I heard that “but” my heart dropped.

I immediately started thinking, “What was wrong with my baby? What did you see? I didn’t see anything during the scan. Everything seemed fine. I didn’t notice our ultrasound tech mark anything or take any extra pictures. What is happening?”

“…but we noticed that she has a cleft palate and cleft lip.”

We both stopped. Stunned like we got kicked in the gut. Neither of us really sure what to think, feel, say, do.

Our doctor continued to talk to us and let us know a brief overview of what we could expect in the coming days/weeks. We were moving back from “normal pregnancy” to working with the Maternal Fetal Medicine team. Ok…that’s not a big deal…it just means that we have to drive to Hope Drive a few extra times. Once we scheduled our meeting with them they would advise us on what else we could expect.

We were planning our gender reveal for two days later and just got this news. We had planned on going to Babies ‘R’ Us to pick out a cute outfit for our boy or girl once we knew what our baby was just because we finally could. Should we cancel everything. Just keep to ourselves and try to figure out all of this cleft lip and palate stuff?


Ok, well maybe sorta, but eventually the answer was NO!

We drove home, both almost in tears. Not really sure if we were ready for this but by the time we drove down our street we decided to keep going and go to Babies ‘R’ Us anyway. We found the cutest little outfit for Isabella. (Yes, I know I’m screwed and need to find about 3 extra jobs just to pay for all of the cute clothes Erin is going to be buying.)

We talked to our parents about it, and shared with my siblings but that was it. Since then we’ve told a few other people. But for the most part, we’ve been keeping it to ourselves. Mostly because we wanted to be educated on what exactly to expect and for how long.

It was yesterday that we finally got a TON of answers. We also found our guides through this entire ordeal. We met with the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic and now feel like it’s time that we can share this information with the world. Again, at this point we are in no way experts (and please do not take any of this information as 100% accurate as I’m going from memory, notes, and what I can find from fairly reputable sites on the internet.)

So first, here’s a little bit of information on cleft palate and cleft lip.

  • It’s the most common birth defect, affecting 1 in 700 babies.
  • There is no known reason why a cleft happens.
    • There are certain syndromes that clefts are associated with.
    • Most often a cleft happens with no family history or syndrome.

For more information check out Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic’s website.

Here’s a rough overview of what we have ahead of us:

  • Isabella will need special bottles and nipples and will need to be held upright in order to eat.
  • Lip Surgery – 3-4 months, once Isabella reaches about 10lbs.
  • Cleft Surgery – About 1 year.
  • Speech Therapy – As needed, but constantly monitored.
  • ENT Specialist – Babies born with cleft palates and lips can develop hearing issues and often have multiple ear infections and require tubes in their ears. (Often put in their ears during the cleft surgery).
  • A bone graft from her hip into her gums to assist with her teeth having somewhere to anchor.
  • And much more.

With that said, both the team at Hershey and the team at Lancaster Cleft have made us feel extremely comfortable and while I doubt we will ever be truly “ready” for all of this. We are as close as we can get. We met with our feeding specialist already and met the Executive Director and many others at the clinic. It was comforting to finally find out how feeding her will work. As we filled out the registries we had been unable to select any bottles or other feeding items.

The “TEAM” that we now have includes:

  • Plastic Surgeons
  • Feeding Specialist
  • Orthodontist
  • Speech Therapist
  • Audiologist
  • ENT
  • Pediatrician
  • Dentist
  • Prosthodontist
  • Social Worker

When I started setting up and writing this blog we thought our Family Journey would go in the direction of Adoption and possibly IVF. But as life tends to do, it threw us a curveball. We ended up getting pregnant naturally and are now on a completely different journey than what we imagined.

I’m going to do a special blog next week with some thoughts on our first few months of blogging and some of the amazing feedback we’ve gotten so far. Stay tuned.


Our not so fun end of 2016…

Typically when you get out of work 4 hours early, you arrive home 4 hours early and get to enjoy some extra time relaxing and together.  Unfortunately, on December 30th, that wasn’t exactly how everything played out. Here’s the story of what happened to end the crazy year that was 2016.

Erin’s day, like most state workers on the 30th, was ending early and she was heading home around 11:15 a.m.  Driving up State Street with relatively heavy traffic for the time, but it was New Year’s Eve eve and that meant an early dismissal for everyone.

At the same time at home, I’m working on a few things around the house expecting Erin to be home soon. We’ve made plans to go see a movie at 1pm. We figured there would be plenty of time to grab some food at the theater and enjoy a movie with the extra time together. Especially since we won’t have that 1:1 time as much once Isabella has made her arrival.

It’s now 11:30 and I’m on the phone taking care of a bill payment issue and see three straight calls from our friend Stacy, Erin’s co-worker. Figuring something is going on, I quickly get off the phone and call Stacy back. I’m out the door and in the Jeep before she even told me where they were.  Erin has been in an accident and the Police, Firemen and EMTs are all either on their way or already at the scene.  I find out that I’m heading to 16th and State Street and make my way there as quickly as possible.  Stacy reassures me that Erin is fine and the accident is minor, but in my head (and I’m sure any other expecting parent would agree) there is no MINOR!

I arrive at the accident scene and park. I notice one of the responding officers is a guy that I went to grade school with and played on the same peewee football team. I think to myself, “Ok whew, at least there is someone I know here and if I need anything he’ll be able to help me.” They seem relaxed and I look around to figure out exactly where Erin’s car is. He directs me over to Erin’s car.  Erin is just sitting in the driver’s seat sipping on her water and looks up at me, “I’m fine, it wasn’t bad. I just want them to check on the baby, but I’ve felt her moving around.”  WHEW! Ok. My heart has now resumed beating at a semi-normal rate. The EMTs come over and take Erin to the ambulance. They check her out but still recommend that we head to the hospital for the doctors to check everything out.

I tell her I’ll meet her at the hospital and they are off. By about 12:30 they’ve already gotten her back into an ER room and the waiting game begins.  With no apparent injuries we likely got moved to the back of the line in terms of service at the ER.  They’ve checked her blood pressure and they used the doppler to listen to Isabella’s heartbeat and everything sounds good…but we are waiting for a doctor to come in to check her out.

And we wait…and wait…and wait….it’s now about 3pm and they’ve come in once again and taken Erin’s blood pressure and checked Isabella’s heartbeat. Again, all sounds good but still no doctor.  About 3:15 the ER doctor comes in, look at us, asks a few questions and then says, “I think we are going to send you up to Labor and Delivery for monitoring just to make sure everything is good.”

“Why couldn’t you have done that three hours ago?” we both said at the same time after the doctor had left the room.

We got up to L&D and they once again check Isabella’s heartbeat with the doppler. It’s again all good sounds. However, this time the speaker is set little louder and we’ve figured out that Isabella is a bit of a drama queen when it comes to hearing her heartbeat.  She tries to kick the doppler wand off of Erin’s stomach every single time.  (Even when they hooked up a doppler to someone else for monitoring in a nearby room and we could hear the heartbeat she was still trying to kick it away.  It’s those little things that put a smile on my face.)


By about 4pm they hooked Erin up to the fetal monitor just to ensure that there are no contractions to be worried about. At the time they told us it would be about an hour so I went down to get us some food while Erin downed about a gallon of water since the ER didn’t give her anything at all to eat or drink.

We figured we would make the most of our trip to the hospital and enjoyed some food from the “Hidden Door Cafe”. It’s sort of a Knode family tradition that if you go to the Harrisburg Hospital you have to eat there. Hell, that’s how Erin’s cousin let the family know that their baby had arrived in December. We all got a text message that simply said, “Anyone up for some corn nuggets?”

Finally at about 6:15 pm we got the all clear and began to make our way back to the Jeep.  Erin’s car has only minor damage but it’s truly the fear of the unknown that made the 30th so crazy for us.  What was supposed to be an extra 4 hours together was still spent together, but not in the way we had planned.

We’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been reading this blog and following along our crazy journey. We’ve had some amazing support and we know that support will only grow stronger as the journey continues.  Thanks everyone!

Merry Christmas…just for Kicks

Since our last post we’ve seen alot of changes. Not only has Erin finally felt like the bump is harder to hide but Isabella has been super active and we’re really enjoying our “family of three” time.


Erin has begun to feel her kicking and punching throughout the day, but she seems to get especially active first thing in the morning, when Erin gets home from work, and then again as we settle into bed.  Last night we decided to check to see if we could actually see her moving rather than just feeling her.  WOW. I wish I could capture video of what I could see. It’s incredible. People always tell you that its really cool when you can feel the baby move, and that you can eventually see them moving a foot or hand across the stomach, but last night I swear she was just showing off. She seemed to push her entire side outward and I think I saw basically the entire arm from her shoulder down and then her hip and entire leg.

On another note, the reality of everything is setting in. We are under 16 weeks from when we may get to meet Isabella. Her nursery is slowly coming together, but with Christmas just days away and New Years Day shortly behind we know we still have a ton of work to get done in a really short time. We took some time on Sunday and had some fun registering at Pottery Barn Kids, and plan to hit Babies R Us later this week or early next week. I’m in complete research mode now since I have several days off of work so if you have any recommendations on “must haves” for new parents feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll definitely check them all out.

With that said…MERRY CHRISTMAS…for the last time as a family of two.  Wow…that’s weird.  Here’s to 2017 and big changes coming!!!

It’s a….

What? You thought I would tell you in the blog title? Come on. That’s too easy. Now I just need to take up enough characters that you can’t even tell from the text preview…Ok. I think that’s enough.

On Thursday we had our anatomy scan. Going into the scan we were excited and anxious because of course whenever you check the internet for anything you always hear the worst case scenario. Would the baby face the right direction? Would we get a clear picture? With Erin’s history, would a fibroid get in the way of what we needed to see?

Well…the answers are Yes, Yes, and No, respectively.  With that said we didn’t quite expect to get the news on if it was a boy or girl quite that quickly (I’d say within the first 15 seconds of the ultrasound picture coming up on the screen) so now I feel like I have to make you wait longer. You know, raise the anticipation levels. Did you seriously read all of that and not skip ahead? If you did call yourself out in the comments.
Ok fine, I’m done messing around…

Please welcome…

Isabella Grace Hannaford. It’s a GIRL!!!!

We’re beyond excited…although the reality of having a daughter is slowly starting to creep in for Matt but it’s definitely exciting.

Thanks to everyone who picked Team Pink or Team Blue last week. We’re looking forward to everyone meeting Ella come mid-April!

The Bump Begins…and a kick?

For weeks now, Matt has been able to tell the beginnings of the bump but with Erin’s clothing style it’s likely that if you’ve seen her in person, there is no way you would know she was pregnant from looks alone. However, that is starting to change.

As we head toward the end of week 18 and move onward to week 19 on Wednesday (and finally getting to the anatomy scan on Thursday), Erin’s beginning to notice that some of her clothes aren’t quite fitting as they once did. As she put on a sweater this morning, she broke down and wrote a post on Facebook…

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It’s there. Others can sort of tell now. Well, depending on what she’s wearing. That bump is there and we’re getting even more excited now. It’s one more step in this journey that just makes it feel that much more “REAL”.


If you look close you can see it there. It might be small, but it’s an outward sign of our growing family.

With the bump beginning to show there is also another sign of our growing family.  In the last few days, Erin felt our little fruit ninja moving a few times now. At first she wasn’t quite sure if that was really it, but after talking to our doctor last week about it she assured us that it was what Erin was feeling. Matt thinks he might have felt it, but we’re pretty sure that’s just wishful thinking.

It’s just one more sign that this journey happens fast. People keep saying that it flies by, but it doesn’t really hit you as to how fast it really does until someone says, “You are halfway now.” Wow. Yes, 18 weeks isn’t usually halfway, but when we’re only heading to week 37 or 38…we’re right there at that halfway mark already. It’s flying. It’s crazy. But it’s incredible and we couldn’t be more excited.

Coming up on Saturday we’ll be sharing the results of our anatomy scan. Pink or Blue? Leave your guess in the comments.

The Registry…

When you get married many times you do a wedding registry for things to start your life together. Sheets, knives, a coffee maker, maybe even a toaster. But when it comes to a baby registry…or even just walking into the baby section of the store (or a speciality baby store like Babies R Us) can be downright intimidating.

When you registered for your wedding, you typically have a clue about the products. You’ve probably used a toaster and coffee maker before. But have you ever used a baby bottle? Sure…maybe you helped feed a friend or family members baby but just wait until you realize that not only are there 30,000 brands of baby bottles, but each one of those brands have 3-10 different “versions” of not only bottles, but also nipples for each of them. Talk about overwhelming. And don’t even get me started at how fast my head started spinning when we looked at car seats and strollers.

Erin is definitely a planner, and while I’m a little better with short deadlines, when it comes to this baby, both of us are trying to stay as far ahead of the game as we can. However, until December 8th we are at a bit of an impasse. We’ve realized that not only is it hard to find truly gender neutral things, we really want to know before we get going too much into the registry. With that said, the first few things have been purchased…a small stuffed animal, a carrier, and probably the most exciting (and it’s definitely making everything more “real” again) the crib and mattress have been purchased. (And put together in 13 minutes! — Small victories for Matt.)

It’s starting to feel more and more real each day. Now we just need to sit back, relax, and try to get through the next three weeks until we find out what we are having. (And don’t worry…we’ll be sharing that information here on Saturday the 10th.

So for now…feel free to let us know what did you feel when you first walked into the store to set up your register and realized just how many options are lining the walls.

Hiccups – Nope, nothing bad…the cute kind.

So we’ve gone for two more appointments since the last post.  We had our genetic testing exam / blood work and then just our “normal” check in.

During our genetic testing ultrasound we were shocked at how quickly the baby is growing. I mean it was only about 2.5 inches at the time, but after seeing everything from the faintest of circles in a black hole, it’s incredible.

The ultrasound nurse held the scanner over the baby for a few seconds before zooming in and doing the actual measurements for the test and let us see the baby. It hit us when we first saw the little kick before, but now, it was really real. As we left the doctor Erin called her mom and said, “Mom, it actually looks like a baby now.” And it did. We saw our little baby relaxing on it’s back, knees tucked up and legs crossed. And we all had a nice little laugh as we saw a few little hiccups.


Check out that cute little face. It’s crazy to think that over the next few months we’ll only be able to see our little “fruit ninja” a few more times. But again, we’ll likely see more than most because of needing to monitor the baby’s size so that we can plan the c-section.

Now comes the part that isn’t as much fun. We’ve had so many ultrasounds up until this point that we’ve gotten used to being able to actually see our baby developing. Now we wait. We won’t see the baby again until December. It will be about 6 weeks since we last saw our little one. Every time we’ve gotten a new photo there has been such an obvious change. Now we can’t wait to see how big our baby will be by the beginning of December. They told us once we were released from “high risk” that we might feel some ultrasound withdrawal. Matt definitely does.

We’ll have another appointment in between but the date has been set… December 8th. Finally on December 8th we’ll have our anatomy scan!

While you are here, (and thanks for reading this by the way), leave some feedback and thoughts on the first three posts.