Friday, August 29, 2008


The Haberman bottle came today and I just tried it with Aidan. It's AWESOME!!! Just like the pigeon, where he can self-feed... but much slower flow. No cries, no fuss, no leaking. And I have a ton of those Medela 5oz. containers to use with it. I'll just have to clean the nipple everytime, but that's ok. I'm so happy!! AND, the best part? He was done with 4oz. in less than 30 minutes - maybe less than 20! And my hand isn't cramped up and hurting either! Phew. Who knew a bottle could solve so many problems? I'll have to get Chad to take a picture of it later (for my non-cleft friends who don't know what it looks like).

Yippeeeee! Thanks everyone for the bottle advice and for convincing me to give the Haberman a try.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to school... but not for me

I went to my first staff meeting of the year yesterday... and it finally sunk in that I'm not starting school next week. It's a relief that I'm not madly planning music lessons right now, but I know come Tuesday, I'm going to have a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I decided I'm going to take the pod with me to the Back to school BBQ next Thursday evening... so I'll be able to see the kids who come and my principal will introduce me at the informal assembly, so parents/kids will remember I AM indeed coming back.

The other part of it is I'm only going back part-time, which means I had to decide on primary (afternoons) or intermediate (mornings). Ultimately, I'd love intermediate in the afternoons, but I'm stuck with mornings. I'm SO not a morning person, but at least that way I'll be able to avoid traffic.

I met with the girl who's taking my place this fall and then teaching afternoons in January. Valerie's great and I have full confidence in her, which is a big relief! It's hard for me to let go!! I stayed until 9pm last night, cleaning my room and getting it organized for her (remember, I had Aidan 3 weeks early, so I never really got my room ready for someone else). And I was so proud of myself... I was in a super throw-out mood, and chucked stuff I inherited from the last music teacher!! I'm an eternal pack-rat, so that's a big accomplishment!

The best part was Chad had to spend the entire day with Aidan... and despite the fact that he's always telling me how great I am for taking care of him all day, he got to experience it first hand. I think it was an eye-opener! : ) Now if I can just get him to bathe Aidan alone... hmmm...

I put Aidan in his crib last night for the first time since his surgery. He did fine! I put him on one of those incline positioners and he snuggled right up to the side.

Oh, and the final word in my bottle saga... I ordered a Haberman and it's coming tomorrow. I'm super excited to try it out!! I tried the pigeon nipple again and it was still too fast for him. And I ripped my hair out trying it on a Dr. Brown's bottle. I just couldn't get it to stop leaking!! Hopefully the Haberman will do the trick, because my hand's going to fall off squeezing the Mead Johnson!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Day 5 after surgery... "Get me outta these restraints, Mom!!" We've actually given them up... he's been sleeping with us in bed (yes, I know), and he only goes for his face when he wakes up (which wakes us up). And he seems to only hit his nose, which will be a problem for another month and a half anyway until the stents come out. Yes, I feel guilty... but NO, I'm not putting them back on!

He's been doing this with his left fist lately... we call it his, "Give me knuckles" pose! : )

Staring at my Cool Whip container (that had leftovers in it - no, I wasn't eating straight Cool Whip... um, although I have before). He REALLY liked the bold writing! : )
New smile!!
Bald head, saggy drawers... that's my boy!
Day 7 - "Look Ma, no stitches!!" His face seems sweaty these days. The only thing I'm worried about is how his left nostril will look once the stents are out. You can see the right nostril curves in like a "C" and the left still curves wide. But pretty amazing anyway!!
Funny how his BOTTOM lip used to be the small one!
Sporting his cool threads...
I remember when I thought this onesie would never fit!
He's a droolykins lately! He's even drooling through his bibs!!
Day 9 - he LOVES standing and makes those tight little fists. Look at those chubby legs! And his poor umbilical hernia is still huge!
A non-Aidan picture - my new window box Chad hung this weekend! It's right outside my kitchen sink, so I can look at it while I make bottles! Unfortunately this spot never gets any sun (I realized quickly), so after these die, I'll plant impatiens or other shade lovers.
Aidan's new face... : )
My mom said tonight she's glad I update my blog, because that's the only way she's keeping up on things! I guess I need to e-mail her more!! : )

Ok, cleft friend question: does anyone know the difference between the pigeon nipple and the Haberman? If he's not doing well with the pigeon, would the Haberman be any better? I know a lot of you said it's not too late to try it, but I don't want to buy one unless it's different than what I have (the pigeon). Sorry if I'm obsessing on bottles, but I'm dying to get away from that squeeze bottle!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Stitches, sneaky arms, and "snot syringe"

It's midnight and I managed to catch up on everyone's blogs... but commenting takes brain cells and I've run out at the moment! Hopefully I'll find a minute tomorrow. Here's a quick recap of our day... it'll have you in "stitches"... (haha - see? No brain cells!!!)

Drove to Children's, just me and the pod. He decided to nap ALL the way, thankfully. He seems to not mind the restraints so much when he's in his car seat. And I rolled his sleeves over the ends, which seemed to help (or so I thought).

They saw us ON TIME, again!! Wow! The nurse answered all of my questions... I actually had a list with me!

1) saline & Q-tips - I wanted more, and she gave me a bunch. I'm doing the saline with almost every feeding... is it possible to do too much? I wonder if that's why he's congested? The Q-tips work great for wiping around the area, but they don't fit inside. I've used the stick ends.

2) Haberman bottle - some of you have suggested the Haberman. Nurse said it's probably too late to start it... more of a newborn thing. Said I should keep using the squeeze bottle for now, but get a faster flowing nipple. (back info... we had switched to the pigeon a month ago, but he always seemed to cry at the start of each feeding. After surgery, he really didn't like it. Loves the squeeze bottle, but WE hate it). So no Haberman, I guess.

3) Snot removal - she gave me a syringe thing that works like an aspirator. Aidan seems to have a TON of snot! I had fun squeezing it all out when I got home. : )

4) Tummy time - she said I could try tummy time now. When did you all start after lip/nose surgery? Do they hit their faces?

5) Big tears - she said his big tears in his left eye were indeed his blocked tear duct acting up again. Ugh!

So... Aidan's crying started when she used a vacuum-type thing to suck out a bunch of gunk from his nose. He was NOT happy about that. Then came the stitches...

I guess I've discovered I'm not a mom who cries about my child's pain... at least not in front of doctors. At home? Yes. Or when he got that lip tape and it made him look funny? Yes. But when another nurse came in, held Aidan's head, and the main nurse took his stitches out (no anesthesia/meds, etc.), I did ok. He was crying his poor little head off, but I managed to stay dry. After she pulled the last stitch and cleaned up a little, I picked him up. He immediately pooped and fell asleep. This was one diaper I was NOT going to change right away. : )

The only thing surprising was one of the incisions wasn't completely closed. But she said it would close just fine. Hmmmm. It had a little blood and I have to keep ointment on it. We go back for post-op on Sept. 15th.

I think my baby pain tolerance started when Aidan had to get his foot pricked a bunch after birth due to my diabetes. I just got used to him being poked and prodded. But when they made him look weird from tape? That's when I bawled! I'm so vain!! Anyway, I had to keep it together today because I didn't have Chad with me. I guess the guys at work were giving him slack for not going... but he had to interview a guy for his company that he ended up hiring.

Anyway, it's bedtime. Pictures of new stitch-free lip tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Restrained by restraints...

This morning, Chad said, "I see you haven't posted a blog since Friday!" I told him I'd get right on that. : ) Thank you, everyone, for your great comments. I am planning to respond to them (and comment on YOUR blogs), but I feel busier than I did when Aidan was first born! I want to go back and read my cleft friend blogs about how the lip surgeries went for you... I'm sure I'm experiencing the same issues!!

First of all, after a bad night on Friday night at the hospital, I was sure we wouldn't be leaving Saturday. But Saturday morning, Aidan woke up a different baby. He was smiling (trying to) and started eating a lot. By 10am, they took him off the IV and we started the discharge process. After eating lunch and feeding Aidan and getting packed, we left around 2pm for home.

Day 2 - The "ginormous worm" we bought in the gift shop! heehee
Problem #1: Codeine is constipating! Oh boy, as if Aidan wasn't in enough pain, he had constipation on top of it! Normally he poos at least once a day, and he hadn't gone since Thursday. But he's pooing now, thank goodness!

Problem #2: Arm restraints do NOT fit infants! Aidan gets his arms out of the restraints every 20 minutes, which means I can't take my eyes off him!

Problem #3: Nothing to soothe... now Aidan can't use a pacifier OR his thumb. And we can't throw him over our shoulders and walk around because he will bonk his face. Entertaining him has been challenging.

Problem #4: Snot, snot, everywhere! Keeping the stents snot-free seems pretty easy, but what about the area around the stents? The stents don't completely fill his nostrils, so the open space is filling up with gunk!

Problem #5: The sad factor has been upped 100%! Why is it that he all of a sudden is pouring big tears out his eyes? And his cry sounds sadder than before? I think his throat is still sore from surgery and sounds hoarse, which makes it worse. It definitely hasn't helped keep back MY tears!!

Day 3 - looking better!

Is that a smile?
YES, I was worried about this sleeping position... but they managed just fine. (YES, I watched them the whole time). : )
Here is it Day 5 and we're doing better. He's still getting out of the restraints, so I pretty much have to watch him sleep (which means sleeping next to him on the couch or the bed - no crib yet!). And trust me, we've put them on tight! Maybe there's a secret? I see why people don't use them for the full 2 weeks! We've been taking them off for long periods and playing with him. He definitely does NOT like them on.

He's back up to his 5 ounces, but seems to like his old squeeze bottle over the pigeon nipple. So each feeding takes about 45 minutes! Ugh!! But if he's happier, then it's worth it!

We did the codeine for the first day, and then we switched to regular Tylenol. And now we've pretty much stopped. He really doesn't seem to be in pain... just crying from the gas that's shooting out his butt with full force! And for a kid that only poos once a day, he's had about 10 poopy diapers since Sunday morning! And (this may be TMI for some) what's with the clear saliva-looking stuff coming out in his diapers? I assume that's from the Tylenol? Or maybe residue from the suppository pills they shoved in at the hospital?

His face is almost back to normal and we are SO IN LOVE with his lip. It's beautiful - really. Dr. Birgfeld did a great job and I couldn't be happier. His nose to me still has a little bit of the piggie look - with upturned nostrils. But it's getting better. Chad thinks it's perfect. : ) And thank goodness the swelling has gone down in his eyes and cheeks!

Day 4 - Smiling at Dad! I miss that wide smile, but this smile's pretty cute too, when it doesn't hurt him! : (
Look at that beautiful lip!!
So if we can actually make it till the 29th with the restraints, I'll be amazed. He gets his lip stitches out on Thursday... and for once, I'm making the trek to Seattle by myself. We'll see how that goes!

I can't wait to hold Aidan tight against me again. How long does it take before you don't have to worry if they bonk their face? Seems like once the restraints come off, he'll still hit his nose stents. I guess I'll ask the doctor on Thursday. If I have any other questions the doc can't answer, I'm sure I'll be e-mailing some of you experts!

Friday, August 15, 2008

"I'm happy to say... the POD is fine!"

Well, surgery's over... now we're onto the hard part: recovery!

Quick version: Aidan did great, but he's not eating much yet. Mom and Dad are getting used to his new face and wondering how they'll take care of him once they leave the walls of the hospital!

Lip surgery recap: Thursday

We got the call that surgery would be at 8:30am and his last bottle had to be before 12:30am. He's NEVER gone that long without eating, so I was completely dreading the night. We decided to stay with my mom, which was a great idea. We didn't have to deal with Aidan crying and waking up neighbors in a hotel, and my mom got to cuddle him one last time before surgery. : )

Aidan had a bottle at 10pm and then completely zonked. I was hoping to get another feeding in at midnight, but he was not having it. I got about an ounce in him and he was out. But, the great news is he slept straight until 5:30am, when we loaded him in the car! No fussing whatsoever! Thank goodness!

Friday morning...

We woke up at 5:30am and left for the hospital around 6:15am. I sat in the backseat and had the binky on-hand, which we ended up needing at the hospital. I knew he was hungry, but he happily took his binky instead. To bink or not to bink? TO BINK!!! : )

First tears - As I was sitting at the check-in desk, I looked over and saw Chad looking at Aidan, in his carseat. I could see emotion coming over Chad's face, knowing that he was probably studying his face that would soon change. Ahh, still makes me sad! But overall, Chad and I were in pretty good spirits, despite the sleep-deprivation and the stress to come.

We got Aidan all checked in and they took us back to a little waiting room, where they changed the pod into the cutest, tiniest little hospital gown ever!!! It was even open in the back, "like Mommy's gown when she had you," said Chad. : ) We took pictures of his wide mouth and were feeling ok. A young girl in the area next to us had just been told they were going to take her nail polish off for the finger monitor and she was devastated. Heaven forbid her "mani" gets ruined! heehee

When the anesthesiologist came at 8:30am and finally took Aidan in his arms, I didn't feel sad. In fact, it was hard to believe he was going to surgery at all. We didn't see an IV go into him, he wasn't wheeled off on a bed... with the exception of the mini-gown and the ankle bracelet, it seemed like a perfectly normal doctor's visit (where the doctor takes your son and changes his face!! Just kidding).

Chad and I got breakfast in the cafeteria... yum, Cream of Wheat with brown sugar!! Hello diabetes!! : ) We got a page from the research nurse who is performing a clinical study on clefts and the causes. We had agreed to take part in the research, which meant blood drawing and a family history survey. I think it was a very good distraction, especially watching Chad be a wimp getting his blood drawn!! heehee Sorry Chadly.

At 10:30am, we got a second page, letting us know that Aidan was doing fine... but surgery was going to be another hour or hour an a half. My immediate thoughts were, "Why was it taking so long??" But I knew better than to let silly worries fill my head. Instead, Chad and I went back to the cafeteria and relaxed.

Final page on the beeper... surgery was done! It was 12:15pm (4 hours later!) and the doctor was going to meet us for a surgery review. After Chad entertained me with stick figure drawings (he's so funny!!), the doctor came in and gave us the good news... Aidan did great! He said he went down easy and woke up easy. He was really happy with how his lip and nose turned out. And we found out more about his cleft... apparently he DOES have a cleft in his hard palate, but there is a bridge of palate right behind his gumline, so it's an incomplete (which we knew, but we thought it was in his soft palate only). I guess Aidan is kind of unique in that he has an incomplete lip and palate, but also a cleft gumline. Usually kids with an incomplete cleft lip have a normal gumline. So when his crooked teeth come in, I'll have to remember,"He's just unique!!" : ) I was getting more and more anxious to see him, but the doctor said we had to wait until he was out of recovery. We grabbed some quick lunch and trekked it to the "Giraffe Zone" to his room.

Seeing our new boy...

Aidan was wheeled in about 1:45pm. I almost didn't recognize him. His face was swollen. His nose looked completely different... the surgeon had straightened out his nose and propped his left nostril up with the nasal stents. And the biggest change of all: his lip. Despite missing his old lip and how his mouth was open all the time, his lips looked beautiful (even swollen!). Dr. Birgfeld did a great job keeping his top lip full and I could tell it will heal nicely. But it was sad, seeing his lips closed, hiding that cute little gecko tongue of his.

He slept until about 6:30pm, waking up here and there during diaper changes and blood pressure checks. Poor thing looked like he was in so much pain (and probably was!). My mom came to visit around 5:45pm and my friend Melissa came at 6:30, just as Aidan was waking. She was so sweet... she brought us dinner & dessert (and presents, which I discovered after she left!!!). My mom stayed until 8pm (we watched some re-runs of "So You Think You Can Dance," which we saw together in concert!) and now we're watching the Olympics while the pod is sleeping.


So far, Aidan has taken in 8ml's, which is no where near his usual 5 oz (150ml's!!). He didn't like the pigeon nipple, so we've been using a syringe. We tried Pedialyte first, but then switched to his formula. But he seemed really unhappy, so they gave him some more morphine (which is probably why he's sleeping now). I got to hold him while we were trying to feed, which felt REALLY GOOD. I wanted to fling him over my shoulder and rub his back or get up and walk around, bouncing him. But that'll have to wait. The nurse said we could take the IV pole with us to walk around... maybe we'll try that later.

Dr. Birgfeld stopped by and said that Aidan (who was his first surgery) was the best baby of the day. The anesthesiologist had asked Birgfeld [regarding their last baby], "So will this baby wake up as easily as that one from this morning?" Apparently that baby screamed and screamed! So Aidan was a champ. : )

He'll have to wear the arm restraints for 2 weeks (hopefully!) and keep the nasal stents in for 2 months (they're a size 3). Let's hope it all goes smoothly! The stents are purely to mold the nose in place... not really for breathing purposes.

I'm going to get my pictures uploaded and then call it a night. Chad's trying to feed him right now and we actually heard him toot! Yay for passing gas!!!

Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers. I've said this before - it's so nice to be a part of this cleft family! You can understand exactly what we're going through. And thanks to our non-cleft friends too!!! : ) I'll try to update later this weekend.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Family in surgery

Just a quick note, as it's past 1am (although Aidan is quite awake and showing no signs of the zzzzzz's!)...

So Chad's parents left for Germany today, and won't be back until Aug. 30th. Chad's mom is having disc surgery on her back in Germany on Friday, the same day as Aidan's surgery. Ironic, huh? I guess it's a surgery they won't perform here in the U.S., but they will in Europe. I'm hoping it fixes her back problems - she's an avid hiker and hasn't been able to move without pain for awhile! I'd love for her to be able to pick Aidan up without killing herself!! We're wishing her well and will be updating each other on surgery outcomes!

Here are the [tall] Stokers when Aidan was born... no wonder Chad and his mom both have back problems!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Growing a chunk potato...

We had our dear little pod weighed today - my goodness!!! No wonder my arm is killing me! He weighed in at 14 pounds! Now, if you've figured this out about my personality, I am obsessed with comparisons. Silly, I know. But I just find it interesting - not like I'd put Aidan on a diet over it! So Aidan weighs more than Andrew, who was 9 lbs 1 oz and born 2 weeks earlier. And he weighs more than Sophia (my friend Susan's daughter), who was 8 lbs 1 oz and born 1 week later. Apparently formula fed babies really do pack on the pounds! He's now in the 75% for weight and 50% for length (his length last month was higher than weight, so he's definitely chunking out). : ) And YES, I know percentiles don't mean much as long as he's healthy and outgrowing his clothes properly. Like I said, I'm not running out to put Aidan on Jenny Craig. Don't worry!! : )

We had our pre-op today at Children's. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the pager go off at 12:15pm and our appt. was at 12:00 - only 15 minutes late (compared to 2 hours last time!!). We were in and out by 2pm and missed Seattle traffic. Woohoo!! We met with Dr. Birgfeld (our plastic surgeon), a nurse, and the anesthesiologist. I guess nothing surprised me, as I've been reading enough about cleft lips around here! But 3 months ago, they weren't sure he'd have to have nose stents, and he will (for 2 months). I guess I'm gonna learn quickly about those! What surprises me is that we still don't know what time his surgery will be. They'll call Thursday afternoon to tell us, which I think is weird. We're on the wait list to stay at the Ronald McDonald House by the hospital on Thursday night. Hopefully that'll work out, since they're a lot cheaper than a hotel. Chad and I (and the pod!) are going to hang out in Seattle Thursday evening and try to enjoy ourselves before surgery.

I already warned Chad that I want to document his surgery through pictures... I want him to be able to see what he went through when he's older. And I want to show all of you, of course!! I was up last night, sleep deprived, and feeling very emotional about this surgery, and I started crying when Aidan smiled his cute smile at me (although I was also crying because he was smiling, which meant he was NOT going back to sleep anytime soon!!!). Ugh! I know I've said this before, but it's ironic that I couldn't wait for this surgery when he was first born... and now I'm dreading it. I hate change and this will be big! I hate when people get drastic haircuts and look different, I hate when people move away or leave work (Stacey!!!), I hate when I'm watching a stupid reality show and Chad changes the channel. I hate change!!! : ) heehee But whether I'm ready or not, it's happening and ultimately it's for the best - I know that.

Ok, now for the pictures of the day... I caught my boys both playing on the laptop this morning... so cute!! Luckily Chad had his waterproof soft keypad out, because Aidan was drooling up a storm! The funny thing was Aidan accidentally hit some button that made something happen that Chad has never figured out how to do! He's a smart boy already!!!

Playing Superman... luckily Aidan has good neck control! : )
Go Huskies!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thank heaven for little boys...

We had a great visit today with our friends Melissa & Keith, daughter Hannah, and their 3-month old son Andrew. It's so fun to hang out with new parents and compare notes! Andrew was a hoot! He's about 2 weeks older than Aidan and is progressing along nicely! He coos (I finally know what a "coo" is and Aidan's definitely NOT cooing yet - but soon!) and smiles non-stop, and is SUPER wiggly! And he has the biggest blue eyes - so cute! What I couldn't believe is Aidan was heavier than Andrew... and Andrew was born BEFORE Aidan and weighed 9 lbs (Aidan was 6 lbs 5 oz). I thought for sure Andrew would be bigger!!!

Chad had a great time entertaining Hannah - he's always the cool Dad with the video games. : ) But seriously, he's great with kids - at least kids who can talk and play. 1-year-olds? Not so much. He even brought out my "Sorry" board game, which I'm always bugging him to play with ME! No fair!!!! Hannah is an amazing big sister and really great with adults too. Quite the character. And Melissa and Keith seem like very relaxed parents. It was just fun visiting! And nice that we didn't have to make the drive to Seattle!!!!

Aidan and Andrew - such cute little couch potatoes!

Mommies stepping in!

Hannah and her baby brother
Taking a nap after his friends left... look at those chubs!!!!
Ok, although we never went in the pool, I STILL needed a picture of his cool swim gear! Looks like a mini superhero!
heehee : )

"I am Aidanpod - watch out!!!"

Friday, August 8, 2008

Inflating the pool, switching formulas, and more pictures!!

So my good friends Sue and Laurie were very creative with their baby shower gift: it was a pool theme. I got an inflatable pool, shark towel, swim trunks, swim shirt, hat, sunglasses, and little baby crocs. So cute!! It's been super hot lately, so Chad and I decided to inflate the pool and try it out. It's been up for 3 days now, collecting bugs and dirt, and is now a giant kitty water bowl!! I thought the sun would heat up the water, but it's still freezing!!! Anyway, here are some pics of the kitties enjoying it! At least someone is...

Sasha looking in...
Peaches checking it out, probably poking little tiny holes everywhere!
Sasha found a spot she liked!
Peaches, after being scolded by me for almost clawing it, resorted to the chair. : )
Aidan's cute crocs... I think this is my new favorite pic!
He's still in that closed-fist stage. : )
More BabyLegs! These are the "Heather rainbow" pair my friend Marie first gave me!

Thanks for everyone's comments about BabyLegs - yes, they can be for boys!!!! If you go to their website (, they have pictures under "community." They also have a forum ( where you can enter for a daily BabyLegs giveaway. You should see some of the pictures people send in - pretty cute and creative!! I don't see them being super practical right now, since I have to take them off during a diaper change (I don't want them to get poopy!!). But I think I'll be using them on his arms after his surgery!

Formula issues

Aidan's been drinking Enfamil Gentlease for awhile now (the regular Lipil seemed rough on his system), but he still always seems constipated and grunts through the night, although his diapers are normal. So I've been hearing great things about Nestle Good Start and decided to give it a try. I switched him cold turkey on Tuesday (big mistake!), and he seemed to like it until he had to poo. It was like a scene out of the Exorcist!! I felt so bad for him. But I thought by now it would've worked through his system and things would be great. They're NOT. : ( He screeched from 2am-6am, after Chad gave him a bottle. So I'm not sure what to do!! I gave him a bottle of the Gentlease again this morning, in the hopes to GRADUALLY switch him back (before his surgery!). At least he was only grunting and not screeching!! And he seemed to have an easier time pooing before, at least compared to now. Or should I still give the Good Start a chance? Does it take awhile when you switch to see the good effects?