Harvey 18 monts later

**This post is a duplicate of one I posted over on my An Everyday Love Project, But as his 2nd birthday is approaching, I decided I really wanted it to be here too so I could see it along with all my other Harvey posts! So here is Harvey at 18 months, just posting a few months late!

Dear Harvey,

18 months ago you were born.  The months leading up to that day had been filled with uncertainty because we knew you would be born with a cleft lip.  We were told all of the possibilities and knew that we would have to wait until the day you were born to know the extent of this thing that they call a defect.  We don’t see your cleft as a defect though, but instead we see it as an opportunity for you to one day, tell the world what you overcame.  When picking your name, I looked up the meaning before settling on it.  It means “ready for battle” and we know you came into this world ready to be fighter!

We love your curious personality and love for an adventure.  You keep us on our toes with your “go, go, go” speed. If mommy had to pick her top 3 things right now, it would be your snuggles, kisses, & your giggles! You put a smile on all of our faces and you are so adored!  Your big sisters & brother are your biggest fans and I know they always will be!

Harvey7

I realize when you look back at your pictures, you may wonder why you are always in pajamas.  Well, as a homeschooling family, we end up staying in our PJ’s until lunch…. a lot!  You don’t say a lot of things that we understand but one of our favorites is “where’d it go?”  When someone leaves the room or plays hide-n-seek, you will put your little hands out and ask “where’d it go?”

Harvey8You love to play with firetrucks, of course- just like daddy (and grandpa & uncle!). When you wake up you have to bring your night-night with you.  You are very attached! Getting tickles from mommy is routine because those giggles are contagious!  (photo on the right- credit to big sister Jade!)

Harvey5

Often times, you have a shadow, following you around and making sure you do exactly what the shadow thinks you should do.  You two jump together, play together, and then at times, you decides that the shadow has made you mad! I try to explain that big sisters are a treasure and she will always have your back, but even though there will be times you don’t love that overbearing shadow, you have to remember how much she loves you!

Harvey6

Exploring outside is one of your favorite things to do!  You love to dig in the dirt, find rocks, sticks, ride the tractor or even just ride in daddy’s truck.

Harvey3

I love watching you play and seeing your imagination come alive!  You are very observant and learn quickly how to do things.

harvey4Harvey1

DSC_5028bwThe front porch is where we spend most of our mornings.  You love to blow bubbles, swing, attempt to ride the tricycle, and of course, climb everything you can.  You always have a few bumps and bruises to show how brave but uncoordinated you are!

DSC_2467bw

Sweet boy, I love to watch grow and learn, but pray you will always be my little boy!

Love,

Mommy

Advertisements

Harvey, 365 days later

DSC_2981cc

Harvey is ONE! I never shared his birth story, even though I typed it out a few weeks after he was born so I have decided to share it now!

DSC_1930ccMarch 31, 2014…. It is Kamden’s birthday!  I woke up feeling a little like labor was in the air.  But I wasn’t really sure.  I had been in pain for weeks and sweet baby boys position had just made me miserable.  I had an appointment that morning.  I found out at the appointment I was progressing, and was in between a 3-4 and 50% thinned. (sorry for all of you who that is way too much info for, but this a child birth post).

I left and went to pick up a few last minute birthday gifts for Kam.  Then I ran to Walmart and picked up a few groceries.  By the time I got to the house to eat lunch with the fam, I told Joel I  was really thinking I might go into labor that day.  He reminded me that I had all the others at 38 weeks and 2 days, and waiting until Friday (it was Monday) was much better for his schedule.  Of course we both laughed at that, knowing we don’t have any control. 

I had already been praying that I could wait until AFTER Kamden’s birthday.  I did not want to miss his day.  I was able to go to dinner and Goody’s for dessert.  I was having a few contractions throughout the evening but they were not consistent however by 8:45 when we were at Goody’s they were pretty strong.  When we got home we got the kids ready for bed and I went ahead and made sure all the bags were ready.  By 11:00 I laid down hoping that I could just sleep.  I had contractions 10  min apart for an hour and decided I should wake Joel up.  By the time he was awake enough to know what was going on, my contractions were now 3 minutes apart and we both knew we had to hurry!  We got to the hospital at about 1:00am (had to wait for someone to get here, then we had to drive to the hospital)

It was a very rushed process with lots of skipped procedure (like being admitted before stuff starts happening) But I was between an 8 and 9.  They called my doctor and by the time he got there I was ready to have a baby!  We will skip all the fun stuff, and jump ahead to 2:20am, when this perfect little boy arrived!  He was so gorgeous and wonderful!  Funny how all the chaos disappears and you just fall madly in love with this tiny baby they just laid on your chest!  He came into this world 2 hours after his big brothers birthday ended, on April fools day!  We didn’t text too many people at 2am but I just knew when we told people the next day they would think it was a joke!  We sent photo proof with our text the next morning! 

DSC_3647cc

For those of you who may not know, Harvey was born with a incomplete unilateral cleft lip and a notch in his gum line.  He had surgery July 2014 to repair his lip.  He was so incredibly perfect before and I love looking at all of these pictures of him before his surgery!  He is just as perfect now though and I kind of feel blessed he has two smiles!  Melts my heart!

DSC_3015cc

This boy is so funny!  He loves to play with his big brother and sisters!  Everyone spoils him rotten though!  He is not walking yet, but crawling and climbing on everything he can get to.  He has not been a big fan of baby food, table food, bottle OR sippy cup (mom is his favorite!) but he is finally coming around to table food as long as we let him feed himself.  He loves pizza, peanutbutter sandwiches, and ice cream. He is obviously a health nut!

DSC_2995cc

I have said it so many times over the last year, but this boy has taught me SO much about life!  I don’t know if I will ever be able to express all of the things he has helped me to see.  All I know today, is that I am honored to be his mommy.  To watch him grow and learn.  To be his teacher and guide through life.  I look forward to holding his hand as he walks, helping him memorize scripture and showing him what it means to love Jesus.

DSC_2982bw

My prayers are big for this little guy.  I pray God gives me all the strength and wisdom I need to be the best mommy I can be for him.  That he knows our love for him always and knows he came into this world perfect in our eyes.  I pray that he knows Jesus deeply and knows how loved he is by Him.

DSC_2956cc

I’m ending it with this picture, because right now, he points at everything and says “dat” but it is also a good reminder that he is really ONE!  Look how smart he is, holding up one finger- hehehe!

Post Op Update (better late then never!)

We are now 11 weeks post surgery.  Harvey has recovered nicely and his scar is healing well.  I am so happy to have the surgery behind us and to just be able to enjoy this sweet boy!  He brings so much joy to us every day!  He is almost 6 months old (just a few days away from it!)  He is rolling around and already trying to crawl. He has been completely healthy and at our last check up on his lip, they had no concerns and said he was doing great!

Because I have had a few people following us that are going through their own cleft journey, I wanted to just share a little more about how things went after surgery  (I meant to share sooner, but just haven’t gotten around to it!)

The first week was really rough and a little bit harder than we anticipated.  Eating was a challenge.  He was in pain and just didn’t want to eat.  He was very fussy and did not want to be put down either, not even when he slept.  All of this is understandable after having surgery and having around 50 stitches in your lip!  It was a long week, but  the day we got the stitches removed Harvey returned to his old self, happy and eating like a champ!  If you are interested in seeing all of our posts about this cleft journey you can find them here or by clicking on the category “cleft lip”.  If you are just now starting to read, you can see some before pictures too.

Here are a few pictures to show his journey after the stitches came out!  Most are just from my phone because with 4 kiddo’s I just don’t seem to pull out the real camera regularly, but you can still see how wonderful our team did!  Arkansas Children’s Hospital is simply amazing!

photo 2-1

Harvey was super flirty with the nurse that did his admission vitals. He smiled at her the entire time!

photo 1-1This was right before they took him back for the suture removal.  It was still hard for them to take your baby to do anything, but knowing the anesthesia was light and it was going to be so quick made it a lot easier! photo 1

This is the first picture of his lip after the stitches were taken out.  I couldn’t believe how good it looked!

photo 3This one is probably about 5 weeks after the stitches were taken out.

DSC_4969cc All of these pictures are recent, taken last week.  DSC_4974bwHarvey is very expressive.  His smiles are big and his serious face is also very priceless!

DSC_5064cc
DSC_5068cc This is classic Harvey!  Smiling big with his tongue sticking out! DSC_5070cc

I think you can see his lip best here.  We still have some scar tissue to get rid of but over all, it looks amazing!  We have one gorgeous boy!

Harvey’s New Lip

Walking into to Arkansas Children’s Hospital at 5:30am for our sons surgery seemed surreal. I looked around at all the other families who had gotten up early, not fed their child breakfast to come and sit and wait on surgery. I wondered what their stories were and why they were there. I was handed a pager and told that it would buzz throughout the day as they needed us. We took a seat to wait, and then we bowed our heads and prayed in the waiting room.

A few minutes would pass and then the pager went off. It was just admissions. It was just paper work. I finished and took a seat again. It wasn’t long before the pager went off again. This time, it was a nurse who needed to start the pre-op process. Weight, length, blood pressure, and so on. Then we were taken back to a room where we would be given more information, changed into a hospital outfit and we would wait some more. Here, in that moment of waiting, I think my nerves really started to rise. I wasn’t a mess yet, which surprised me but I think reality was sinking in. They came in and pricked his foot to get some blood. It was a difficult process. Lots of tears, screaming, fighting and in the end, the sample clotted leaving them no choice but to do it again. My heart sank and I was sick. I watched him in pain already once and didn’t want to see it again. I prayed. The second time was actually no big deal. It was fairly quick and easy with only a few tears.

Doctors and nurses flooded in giving us more information and explaining the process and of course the risks. It was almost time for the surgery to start and I knew it would be happening soon. The wonderful nurse who is the cleft team coordinator was in the room talking with us. She is the one who takes him back to the OR. She always makes me feels so at ease. She was telling me not to worry. She then said “next time you see him he will have a new lip” and I lost it. I cried hard “But I like this lip!” I kissed all over him and squeezed him tight and walked away from our baby.

IMG_9814IMG_9807

I know that they do this all the time. I know that this surgery isn’t the scariest surgery. But he is mine. My baby and regardless, It is heart wrenching handing him to someone and walking away, knowing they will put him to sleep, cut, and stitch him. The emotions were high for me.

IMG_9820 IMG_9817

We were told they would let us know after he was asleep and intubated. It was about 30 minutes in the waiting room but it seemed much longer. When I saw her (the nurse) coming to talk to us, my heart jumped. “He is fine, he is doing great!” Relief! She explained that they had just got everything done and had started the actual surgery. She stayed and visited with us for a while and my mind was eased. We would get updates every hour so we were just waiting for the pager to go off. I was anxious and wanted time to pass quickly. I was able to keep the tears inside while we were waiting.

IMG_9821

3 hours after we handed our baby off, they paged us to tell us the doctor was ready to talk to us. He tells us how great it went, a little bit of what to expect when we see him, and some of the care instructions. I was somewhat relieved but he wasn’t awake yet and we hadn’t seen him, so I was still anxious.

Another 30 minute wait in the waiting room, we were paged to recovery. I wasn’t prepared for the flood of emotions that I would have. He had woken up too quickly (not during the procedure but when they started waking him up), so they had to give him another drug. When we were seeing him he hadn’t fully woken up. He was swollen, red, stitched up, and he looked so sad. The water works were on. When he woke up screaming my heart was breaking and I couldn’t keep it in. I am pretty sure the nurse thought I was nuts. She kept saying “oh he looks so good!” I kept saying “he looked so good before!” I realized that there was some resentment towards her- Does she even know how beautiful this baby boy is? How gorgeous he was when I walked in this morning? She is saying he looks so good and all I can think is my baby looked wonderful before and now he is in pain.

I wasn’t truly prepared for the emotion that would come from his lip being different. I knew the actual procedure would have me nervous and concerned but seeing him look so different was was so difficult.

IMG_9834

I would like to say that my emotions calmed and Harvey was just as calm. But the hours that followed were hard. He would just scream and cry. Nothing made it better. They were giving him pain meds and it would help for a little while but he would just frail about and cry. There was a baby bed beside the chair in his room but if I laid him down he screamed even more. I held him the entire time we were there. He wasn’t wanting to eat (who could blame him) so I was pumping milk and trying to feed him with a syringe. But he didn’t like that either. This was so sad to me as well.

IMG_9845

I was exhausted from lack of sleep, the heightened emotions, and caring for our baby. Harvey did eventually eat twice the first day. We were able to go home the next day around 10:30am. We were so thankful that he was getting that IV out and all the wires were unhooked. We could go home and care for him in comfort!

IMG_9846

We have now been home a little over 24 hours. Harvey has given me a few smiles today which has totally blessed me! Today is much better then yesterday but he is still uncomfortable. He wants to be held and rocked or wants to lay on my chest while I pat his back. His swelling is down and he looks much better. I know with the coming days it will just get better and better.

IMG_9895

This experience has opened my eyes to how much kindness I am surrounded by. From the wonderful friends who let our older kids stay with them for 2 nights, to the amazing friend who surprised me and cleaned my ENTIRE house and washed my sheets so I could come home to a clean house, to the friends bringing meals so we don’t have to cook these first few days home with him, the guys who came and took care of all of our animals, to the outpouring of prayers, comments, and encouragement that have come from Instagram, Facebook, text messages and phone calls.

I am so thankful that ACH is such an amazing hospital with an amazing staff. Our experience with the hospital was great! I am happy that this is behind us and we can move forward. I am happy that God is so good and gave us just what we needed when we needed it throughout the entire process.

Here is to Harvey and his new lip!

IMG_9883

Heres to the change!

IMG_9754

It is the night before surgery. I have stared at him all day. Recorded smiles and coos. Taken a million pictures. Driven 150 miles. Ordered pizza in hotel room. And then stared at him some more. He has been so happy tonight. Smiles galore! I am pretty sure he is blessing me with all this sweet lovin’ knowing mommy needs it!

04

It is so crazy that 6 months ago I was nervous about meeting my son who I knew would look different and now I am nervous about having his “different” fixed. I feel blessed that so far, his cleft lip hasn’t caused any problems and we haven’t really faced any of the difficulties that we could have. So far we have had a very healthy baby.06

I can’t help but stare at him. I love him and his lip. I love the way he looks when he is about to fall asleep and his lips pooch out. It always makes me smile when he lights up and that big grin spreads out over his face. I love watching that lip moves back and forth as he is sucking on his tongue in his sleep. Melt……

18

Tomorrow will change things. I have cried a few times today. I am sure tomorrow there will be more tears. I know I have said it before, But I really love him just the way he is.

19

Today I am realizing how many wonderful people we have in our lives. Today I have been overwhelmed with text messages, phone calls, emails, instagram comments, all letting us know that people were praying for us, thinking of us, asking if they can help, offering to bring meals, help with our older kids, encouraging me, and really just blessing my socks off!

21

So thank you all, for loving and supporting us through this journey. Tomorrow will start a new page…….

Lessons from Harvey

Image

When I was 22 weeks pregnant and told that our baby would have a cleft lip, I was devastated.  Emotions and thoughts flooded my mind in the days that would follow.  I vowed not to google anything that day and stood by that for a few weeks.  To be honest, at first all I could think about is how different he would look.  My other 3 babies all looked so very similar at birth and we would get told over and over “oh that is a Meinardus baby”.  I feared that he would be different. Would I fall instantly in love with him?  Would people stare at us at Walmart?  Would I need to constantly defend my child?  Will his siblings care that he looks different?  Those were really my first thoughts.  Vein, insecure, selfish thoughts.

A few weeks after our initial diagnosis, we met with my OB and he suggested we research a surgical team.  So that is when I started googling.  I soon found ACH had a cleft team and made a few phone calls.  After a phone consult, my emotions suddenly shifted.  I was overwhelmed by the information given.  Suddenly, my thoughts were flooded with concerns. Now I am reading blogs and forums of parents whose children are on their 7th, 8th, 9th surgeries and still have more to go.  These children have to undergo so much pain.  My heart started to break.  I couldn’t even imagine my child having to have one surgery, let alone 10.  I had already been praying but now I was praying even harder.  I knew I needed to rely on my faith now more then ever.

Slowly, my fears eased and I started to feel at peace with everything.  We went to Children’s for a prenatal consult where we were given even more information.  We left overwhelmed again but were glad we had all the information.  We knew he would be having surgery at around 3 months of age and that was about the only thing we knew for sure until he was born.

That day at Children’s they told us that after surgery, parents often will morn their child’s appearance.  That they miss the way their babies looked.  I remember thinking then, “I can’t imagine that.  I am sure we will want to have that fixed for him so he will look normal.”

But……. Harvey Powell has changed everything.  This boy has shown me so much.  He has shown me what perfection is all about or maybe what it is not about.  Harvey has shown me that what some people see as a flaw, is actually the most beautiful thing imaginable.  He has taught me that joy can be found in the most unsuspecting places.  He has, more times then I can count, brought me to tears with his beauty.  Harvey is truly a gift.  Image

Now, looking at him, I can’t imagine him any other way.  I can’t even picture him “normal” and I really don’t want to either.  His smile is enough to melt the polar ice caps!  When he is sleeping and that sweet lip is split, it is all I can do not to just kiss him all over!  When his tongue comes through that sweet cleft it puts the biggest smile on my face! I am telling you the joy that flows from him is incredible!

Image

When I think about how I see Harvey, I can’t help but think about how God sees us.  I know I see myself as a flawed, imperfect human. Some days, I pick myself apart so badly it doesn’t even feel like there is anything left to pick at.  I see physical flaws every time I look in the mirror.  I often wonder what others are seeing when they see me and I assume they are seeing the flaws.  But when God sees us, I don’t think he sees our flaws, I think he sees our beauty.  Isn’t that amazing?  Harvey is teaching me to see the world differently.  With eyes that look past flaws and see beauty.  When I see Harvey, all I see is beauty.

Image

Tonight as I write this blog, I have been looking through some pictures that I have taken to preserve these precious memories.  In a few weeks, Harvey will have a new look.  Not a better look, but a new one.  I have so many mixed emotions but tonight I am just plain thankful.  Thankful for him and for the perspective he has given me.  Thankful for cameras (and good friends who let you borrow macro lens) that allow me to capture his natural beauty.  Thankful for a God who never leaves us. Thankful for loving and supportive friends and family.  Just thankful.  I hope you enjoy these beautiful photos as much as I do!

Image
Image

Harvey gets the go!

Yesterday we went to our monthly checkup with our Doctor at Children’s.  (We got to go to Lowell again though!)   I can’t say enough about how wonderful they have been already!  Feeling blessed to have them!

We were told last month that they would not be able to schedule surgery until closer to time.  Probably would be June before Harvey was cleared for surgery.  Well yesterday, after seeing how big he had gotten, how great he was eating, and that there had been zero issues so far, they cleared him yesterday!  So now, we won’t be going back to see them until the day of surgery!  That is such great news and a huge blessing!

Harvey weighed 6.13 at birth and 6.5 when we left the hospital.  He weighed 9.14 yesterday!  Almost 10 pounds already!  I am so happy that he is nursing without problems and gaining weight so well!  We feel so incredibly blessed by him!  He is beating all the “norms” for a cleft baby and I know a lot of that has to do with the fact that his lip is not as severe as it could be, and that his palate was not affected, but that in itself is a HUGE blessing!

So now they will call us with a surgery date.  We will go to LR for surgery, then have several follow ups for suture removal and to check his lip.  We are just praying for all of this to go smoothly.  It is always scary when your child is being put to sleep and having surgery.  The surgery will last about 3 hours.

Now we are going to just enjoy this sweet boy and that adorable lip for a few more months.  I am going to take a million pictures of him before they fix it.  I love it just the way it is- but know we have to fix it.  So until then, I am going to just document him like crazy! And who am I kidding, I will document him like crazy after the surgery too, I mean, its just what I do!  Here is a few pictures (just from my phone) that I took before we went to the doctor.  He got all dressed up with his bow tie 🙂 Image