Our baby boy {Part 1 of our Cleft Journey}

Its been 4 months since the birth of our fifth child.  Our sweet little baby boy. He is the light of this house.

Constantly loved upon.

Our baby was born with cleft lip and palate, which we found out about at my 20th week of pregnancy.

When I found out, I was crushed.  Hysterical actually.  Scared to death.  How would he eat? What would he look like? What would others think? Where would he have surgery? How many surgeries?

One worry after another.  This went on for months.

Eventually this faded.  I stopped thinking so much about the cleft, and wondering more about how much hair he would have, what color eyes.  Actually at this point we didn’t even know he was a boy, we didn’t find out until birth.  This was amazing in itself…we have 4 daughters and when my husband told me we had a boy…oh my, we were so excited.  I had a C Section, so I wasn’t able to see him right away.  I could hear him screaming, and my husband was pacing around the operating room, grinning ear to ear.  I asked him, “how bad is it?”

He looked at me and said, “when you see him, it is not even going to matter.”

He was right.

Our baby boy was perfect.


Later this month, he will have his first surgery to repair his lip and nose.

All of those questions I had were answered so quickly after birth.  He nursed from a special bottle made specifically for babies with cleft palate.  I squeeze the bottle to help him out because he cannot create a suction as a non cleft baby would.  We tried breastfeeding, but I ended up pumping for these 4 months.  What do others think? Well, quite honestly, we don’t care.  We think his is gorgeous.  We are lucky enough to have an excellent surgical team within 1/2 hour of our home. He has one more surgery later this year to correct his palate, after that, it will depend on his development.  We will do whatever needs to be done for him, love and cherish him through it all.

I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of him.  Recorded video of his first smile and the first time he ate rice cereal (straight out his nose! 🙂

Truth be told, I will miss his little cleft.  This was the face we fell in love with.  His big smile brings tears to my eyes.

 My life has been so very full lately.  Very full of blessings and happiness, but also full of disappointment & uncertainty.

But this baby boy, who is so precious and content.  Who sleeps all night long and loves his big sisters, even when they put headbands on him and take his picture.  He has given us so much hope, just when we needed it.


Grandma’s Bakery.

I’d been promising my munchkins cupcakes for going on 3 weeks and finally I had the time to make them. Grandma was over playing with the babies and complaining about my inability to keep up on laundry. She couldn’t understand why on earth I was using a pastry bag to ice my cupcakes. “It would be so much quicker if you just spread it on with a knife! The kids won’t know the difference.” I told her it was because of her.

I grew up spending the night at her house often, and oh how I loved it there. We’d play tic-tac-toe, watch movies & she’d make me fried dippy eggs anytime of day. Grandpa would sleep in the guest bedroom so I could sleep with Grandma in her big bed. She’d yell at me all night for tossing & turning, keeping her awake. We’d go for rides in her little red Tempo to buy produce at the swamps or to the dollar store where she would buy me tiny bottles of nail polish.

She worked at a bakery two doors down and had to leave very early in the morning to start baking. When I’d wake up, Grandpa would watch me walk across Mrs. Mazerka’s yard and through the parking lot to the bakery. You could smell the donuts before you reached the glass door and a bell would announce your arrival as it swung open. Grandma would peek around the corner with a big smile on her face. “Mornin’ Sweetie!” she’d say, wiping the flour off her hands onto her white apron. I’d spend the day rolling sugar cookie dough, wiping down the glass windows and cases full of cakes, pastries & cookies. And that bell would ring all morning, townspeople leaving with little wax bags of cheese danish, an apple turnover or a white box full of donuts. They’d all talk to Grandma over the counter, asking about our family or just how beautiful a day it was going to be. She’d hand them their confections and they’d sometimes smile & say “bye” to me as I’d peek at them around the case.

We’d go back to the big kitchen where she would tie an apron around my waist, folding it up because it was so big on me. In the kitchen there were tall racks holding sheet pans, a silver mixer that was bigger than I was, and the long wooden table stretching across the middle where I would stand on a bucket to watch her roll dough, ice cakes & fill creme sticks. My favorite treat was a cake donut – with chocolate frosting & sprinkles. “Googlies” is what I called them. My dad would stop in to pick me up around lunchtime and I was always so sad to leave.

All those donuts were beautiful. Perfect little creations made especially for one to enjoy. When I make treats for the girls, I like them to be perfect too. Because they’re worth it, they’re worth having something made & presented with love.

We don’t have a bakery like that around here anymore, and it’s always been a little wish of mine to have one of my own. I’d need grandma there of course too! Until then, I’ll make little cakes for my little girlies, and she can come over & critique all she wants. I love you, Grandma.

A Grocery Store Tale

This is a tale of a crazy woman (me) who takes her four small children
to the grocery store.

Part One – Peeping Tom

The Baby is hungry and needs to nurse before going into the store. So I left the beasty SUV on and A/C on high as it was 88 degrees, and went around to the back seat with the tinted windows, locked the doors and started feeding the baby. So far so good. A man, undoubtedly figuring someone left their car running with no one in it walks over and looks inside the driver side (untinted) window where there was obviously no one there. Then he puts his hands up around his head and smooshes his face against the glass to look inside the back seat, tinted window, where I was sitting breastfeeding the Baby. “Hello!” I say very annoyed. He looked at my face, he looked at my boob, he looked at my face again, he quickly walked back to his car and drove off. I finished nursing, put the baby back into her seat, and tried to open the door. I forgot that the back seat had a child safety lock and you cannot open the door. I started to freak out, how were we going to get out of the car????? OK, deep breaths, calm down Bess. I climbed over two rows of seats in my big bus to the front and opened the doors. The girls thought this was the funniest thing they’d ever seen in their lives.

Part Two – Shopping

My oldest pushes one cart with the baby in her carrier, I push the cart with the groceries and the little Animal, the Tiddlywampus walks along side. We got our produce, baking needs, meat and dairy; then The Animal started getting claustrophobic with her cart buckle up around her armpits. She started wriggling around and grabbing groceries out of the back of the cart and throwing them onto the floor. She took the bread and squished it, then threw it on the floor. She tried to eat the dog treats. I gave her some ham to keep her quiet. This worked till she started spitting it out onto the floor. Tiddlywampus was on cleanup patrol, she put the regurgitated pieces of processed meat back into the basket. We decided on an ice cream flavor, always a big issue, and proceeded to the checkout. There were 3 isles open: express, self-checkout, and one traditional checkout line with 5 people waiting. Mad, the oldest says she is “experienced in self-checkout because she did it once with Auntie Clara! Really Mommy it’s easy lets doooooo it!”

Part Three – The Self-Check Out.

I do not recommend this option. Here’s how it went down: Mad starts taking things out of the basket and scanning, I get all worked up because I wanted to verify the machine was charging the correct amounts. The Tiddlywampus was putting the squished bread up on the conveyor belt without scanning and the Self Checkout Security Person, a 17 year old girl, came over and reprimanded me. I push Mad down to bag the scanned items, she gets mad and says “NO Mommy I Wand to SCAN!” I give her The Look, she puts her head down and goes over to bag. Tiddlywampus pushes a button that reverses the conveyor belt and the groceries start coming back to me, piling up and falling on the floor. The self-checkout machine starts talking to me and says, “Help is on the way.” The 17 year old Security guard comes over and fixes the belt. I give the Tiddlywampus The Look. She starts helping Mad bag up. There are pieces of chewed up ham on the belt. The Animal starts crying, and I mean really crying. We were starting to get looks, the kind where people are saying with their beady eyes “make your kid shut-up woman.” I give her a piece of ham. She smiles, chews it, spits it out on The Baby. I accidentally charge myself 5 times for a head of red lettus, I call over the 17 year old again. I finish scanning, begin to pay, and the machine says in way too loud a voice: “There are items that you did not scan!” More looks from people who think I’m stealing. Then the voice says, “Items that didn’t scan: Always Infinity, Pork Loin, Gallon 2% Milk.” Oh my God people know I’m buying Feminine products, pork loin and milk. 2 kids are crying now, the cart is full of half bagged half not bagged products. Here comes the 17 year old security, she fixes the problem. OK, I had my purse, as many kids as I had when I came in, all my groceries, two carts…lets head out to the car. I smell poop.

Part Four – Loading the Car

Put Baby in. Put Animal in, she cries, but can’t tell me what’s wrong because her 1 1/2 year old vocabulary inhibits her. I unload one cart, Oh, she wants a “Geek” – I give her some water. Fighting coming from back seat, it’s hot…I roll windows down. I unload the other cart. Cart boy comes and takes carts for me….the best thing this whole darn trip! He waves to crying babies, makes them cry more. Thanks cart boy. We’re on the road, The Animal opened a pack of strawberries and is covered in juice. The oldest is throwing the tops out the window, is that littering? We arrive home, babies nap, older two play, crazy mom woman wishes she could take a bubble bath and have a cosmopolitan, but instead I unload smooshed bread and chewed up ham and strawberry mush, and tell this tale to you.