The First Three Months
It's official, our little nugget has emerged from the 4th trimester! He's no longer a sleepy, poopy, crying blob and has transitioned to an alert, active, smiley little baby. I know, I know, he was much more than a blob before, but there's something to be said for the gradual (and quick!) developmental milestones that are particularly heartwarming to see as a parent.
I can now understand why parents are inclined to talk about all those little milestones. Pre-baby, I admit, those kind of things didn't mean much to me and I'd indulge my parent-friends before tuning out. Now Cory often warns me as well not to bore everyone I talk to with every little detailed Finch update. And I get it, only a parent really cares about their own child's little milestones (aside from maybe grandparents, aunts, and uncles, etc.), but since this is a blog about my kiddo, I feel I can indulge in a little milestone update as well as cleft-centric updates.
Note: If you are here just for the cleft update, you can scroll past the milestones. I won't be offended :)
The smiles! Those were the best part of Finch's early development. He started smiling around five weeks (see previous updates). While the first month goes fast, it's also a slog of waking up every hour during the night, constant feeding, muscle soreness from getting used to holding a 7-8 lb weight constantly among, and a growing realization that your life as you knew it is over. While it's so fun to watch the little human you created, it's exhausting and thankless (welcome to parenthood, I guess). So when is huge lips started to turn up into an undeniable smile, I couldn't help but tear up. Partly because nothing's cooler than seeing your baby grow, but also because I could tell that he actually acknowledged our existence! He may never thank us for all that we do for him (again, welcome to parenthood), but I can at least revel in the fact that he has some kind of appreciation that we exist in the first place. And since that first early grin, his smiles have grown bigger and wider. He most definitely has earned the title subject of this blog!
The other things that Finch has been getting up to lately include, but aren't limited to: holding his head up like a champ, rolling over during tummy time, smiling with his whole body, making eye contact, discovering (and trying to eat) his hands, looking curiously at his toes, and drooling (oh my is he drooling).
The Cleft Update (Surgery and the Nasal Stent)
To start, the most important update is...WE HAVE A SURGERY DATE! We have scheduled Finch's surgery for Wed, August 9th! I am both relieved to have the date set so we can plan our summer and nervous-sad-trepidatious about it.
When we found out about the cleft when I was 20 weeks pregnant, my first thought was that I'd want the surgery as soon as it could possibly happen. I still kind of feel that way if only to get it behind us, but I'm also conflicted about it. The cleft is so much a part of Finch that I get teary just thinking about it being gone. I'm not wistful about it to the point that I'd ever consider not having the surgery, but I already know I'm going to miss it. When I see pictures of other babies with cleft lips, I have a heart-melting feeling even with that passing resemblance to my baby. I think his cleft is charming and I adore his enormous smile.
Of course, I also have the normal nerves about the surgery and recovery itself. I have complete confidence in Finch's surgeon and cleft team that I know the outcomes will be amazing. It's more for myself. It will be very hard to sit in that waiting room while my baby is in a 4-5 hour surgery and then having to help him recover from both the anesthesia and the surgery itself. That, I'm sure, won't be easy. But knowing how adaptable Finch has been throughout this whole process, I know he will be just fine.
At the moment, I have very little understanding about the recovery process, but will have more details in a couple weeks after he has his next appointment with his nurse, Maureen.
In the meantime, we're down to biweekly appointments (instead of weekly) with his dentist, Dr. Garfinkle for NAM adjustments. A couple weeks after Finch got the NAM, he also got a nasal stent. We've been dealing with it for awhile, so it's old hat for us, but I realized I didn't bring it up on the blog yet.
The stent is attached to the NAM and it serves to reshape the cartilage in the nose slowly. The cleft causes flattening to Finch's left nostril and the stent helps to make adjustments prior to the surgery. This will hopefully improve the outcomes of the surgery in the end. Like anything with the NAM, it took a few hours for Finch to adjust to it, but now it's pretty much all he knows.
One friend noted that the stent just helps Finch blend in to Portland culture with his cool "piercing." He's ahead of his time, I tell ya :)
Everything's going pretty well with the NAM in general and Dr. Garfinkle says he sees good improvement with bringing everything closer together. Makes all the contraptions worth it. I've become a pro at taking it out and putting it in and Finch has absolutely no problem eating with/without it from the boob or the bottle. The kid loves to eat. I am definitely looking forward to not having to deal with the NAM in the future, though, and look forward to eventually transitioning to a bottle that is less work for the adult.
All in all, our little kiddo is doing amazingly and we feel so grateful to all the people in his life who love him as much as we do.
Stay tuned for another post coming up shortly where I don't write about the cleft at all, but at Finch's many travels in his short little life.