Goodbye Sweet Cleft


Well, here we are. The day before Finch's cleft lip surgery. It feels like no time has passed and just like every mom I've heard from, I'm not ready to see the cleft go. But I will be very happy not to deal with the NAM anymore. I'm sure Finch would be thrilled if he knew what was going on as he's gotten pretty damn good about pulling it out.

The actually feelings around the surgery itself didn't hit me until yesterday when Finch had his pre-op appointment. I had been pushing the emotions down as we prepared, but the moment I started talking to the surgeon, a knot started forming in my throat. 

I'm not nervous, per se. I trust the surgeon, the anesthesia team, and Finch's care team. But I feel all kind of emotions around waiting around those 4+ hours while Finch is under anesthesia and going through surgery. I've been away from my baby for more than 4 hours at a time, but not in this way. I'm not sure what we'll do or how we'll pass the time, but I have a feeling it'll be hard not to think about my kiddo. I'm so grateful to have such an informed and composed partner to ground me during that period of time.

What to Expect from the Surgery

While I thought I knew all that was going to happen during the surgery, I learned a couple new things during the pre-op appointment. The main thing, though, is that they will only be closing up the cleft lip which will require three layers of sutures. I initially thought that they were going to correct the alveolar (gum line) cleft, but it turns out that he'll keep that for some time. I'm honestly not sure how I missed that part and the news about that was probably when the knot in my throat started. This means that Finch will most definitely have to have surgery a few years down the line and his little teeth will come in kinda wonky (if they come in, as sometimes there aren't even front teeth that come in).

I wasn't terribly happy about this news that we'll have to wait 8-10 years for that, but it all could be worse. He's a happy, healthy little guy and we'll just take it as it comes teeth or no. 

We'll check in for Finch's surgery around 7:30am with an anticipated start time of 8:50am. Finch won't be able to have any breast milk after 3:30am, so we may have a fussy baby on our hands.

Before the surgery, we'll go to the prep area with him, but we'll be out in the waiting room when they put him under. We'll be notified about his progress with a pager. Once he's awake, they'll take us back to him when he'll probably be very ready to eat. He should be able to nurse just fine. He'll also be pretty fussy from the anesthesia which will likely throw his sleep off the next few days. Although he's going through a sleep regression anyway, so who knows how different it'll be. I'm preparing myself for going back to that newborn stage for a bit.

All of the sutures are absorbable and the most visible ones will start to dissolve within a few days. The others under the upper layer of the skin may take some time. He'll be red in that area for a couple months. Also, he'll have a nasal stent implanted (which we'll have the fun job of cleaning multiple times a day) in the nostril to help train the cartilage so his nose will look more even. It will essentially do the same thing as the nasal stent attached to the NAM, just in a different way. He'll have that removed after 3 months.

So, How Are We Feeling?

Cory seems to be just fine. He's much more composed in these scenarios than I am. I'm, well, emotional, but feeling good about everything. I'm so sad to see his cleft go. I'm anxious to have this part behind us.

I know I'll get used to my baby's new look quickly. I'm attached to the cleft, but I see his face both with and without the NAM every day and he's my baby both ways. 

So, that's what's going on with the surgery.

Thank you all for following along and supporting us. Finch is going to do amazing and he we know you are all sending him love and support! Stay tuned for more details about the post-surgery outcomes and recovery! 


Finch's Latest Milestones

And, since I haven't updated in awhile, here are some other fun developments in Finch's life. 

The kiddo loves his toes! The moment we stick him on the changing station and undo his diaper, his feet are in his mouth. He's also grabbing just about everything he can get his hands on and putting it in his mouth. He drools like crazy soaking through 1-3 bibs a day. He's always been a kicker, but he does it with much more force now and he LOVES when you stand him on a hard surface. The kid can't even roll over yet, but I think he wants to start standing.

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Speaking of rolling over, Finch is making motions towards rolling over making it about halfway, but he doesn't seem to want to make the extra effort to roll himself over. When you give him an extra little push, he sticks his landing. 

He's talking a lot in his own way. Lots of coos and goos and bubble blowing. A lot of giggles and squeals. We have little conversations and he has a great time looking at himself in the mirror. He loves looking at people and smiling. He's a charmer, I tell ya. He also loves food. We're starting to give him little tastes of what we eat, mostly fruit. And boy will he be ready for solids in a month or so!

Finch LOVES the front pack where he can people watch and look at the sun reflecting off the leaves. I can never tell if he's asleep or awake because he's always so quiet just observing the world. We took him to the Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle a couple weeks ago and the kid did amazing just checking out what was going on with his noise-canceling head phones on.


In a nut shell, he's a pretty fun kid to hang out with.

An interesting piece of irony is that the little booger has decided to refuse the bottle. Oh Finch. This has been my main frustration as of late given that it gives me less freedom. I can't help but smile at the irony, though. I was so worried not to nurse at all and now that's all the kid wants to do. Luckily he's able to go a few hours without eating and without freaking out as we've had to test with a nanny a couple days a week. But with the hot weather, we've been making sure I can come back to feed him so he doesn't get dehydrated. 

While it's been annoying, I'm going to hold off on figuring out a long-term solution until he has his surgery and we can see if he can try a different kind of bottle. Or if he's willing to try another bottle. Once he's recovered, we'll move towards bottle boot camp.

And now, here's the latest from the photographic Finch chronicles:

Elizabeth Doerr