This year was a whirlwind of goodness. It wasn't all smooth, but it was a year to be extremely grateful for. I wrapped up a school year of teaching and had our daughter Penelope the last day in May. We fell in love with her right away, but the feeding was such a struggle. During her very first feed, we just knew something was off. I kept saying "she is just not sucking." She looked like she was doing it right, but I could just tell nothing was going to happen. We syringe fed her for weeks taking hours at a time to just get ounces of food in her. I spent months hooked up to a pump. The other hours of the day were filled with hour long feeding sessions. In order to feed her, we needed to walk around the house, take the bottle out, try again, lay her on the floor, squeeze the bottle, change the nipple, etc. I felt shame for being unable to feed her, like it was all my fault. A nurse who came to our house said, "She is the worst sucker I've ever seen." Yet, no-one looked in her mouth.
Taylor would come home from work, go to bed at 7, and then get up at 2AM so that I could sleep for a few hours before he left again for work. When she was born, I remember seeing a little hole in the back of her throat and actually thought, "How cool is it that babies have such small throats to only let a little bit of milk in?!" I never even thought to bring it up to her doctor because I thought, "Of course they have looked in her mouth." One weekend when she was 5 months, I used a tongue depressor and started looking closer at her throat. I started googling and became more concerned about the "hole." I found an exact image of her throat on google and the heading was "soft cleft palate." We brought her in the next morning, and met with a specialist the following week.. Penny has a soft cleft and submucosal cleft palate. Basically the muscles in your palate that come together never did when Penny was like 5 weeks in my belly. We were given special bottles and from that day on and Penny has been able to eat. Her feedings are now 30 instead of 60 minutes, and she can have her palate fixed before she starts talking so that she can learn to speak correctly (and we don't care if she doesn't).
above photo taken by Kelsey James Photography
This post isn't to complain or feel bad about ourselves. Penny is the greatest gift I could ever imagine. I am forever grateful that I was able to have a baby. I love her an insane amount. I can only imagine what moms who go through much more difficult things have to feel everyday. My heart absolutely breaks for them. I have tears as I write this thinking of other moms. We are so incredibly thankful for our little girl and can't wait until April is here so that she can have her palate repaired. We can't wait for her to suck on a straw someday and be able to make all the sounds that she never could have made without surgery. We are thankful today that we live in a country where Penny can actually get the help that she needs to literally survive. I'm thankful for formula and breast pumps as Penny may have been in the "failure to thrive" category. So thank you to Jesus for our sweet gift. Moms, trust your instincts. I swear moms were given superhero powers to know what's going on with their children. Oh, and I will also never complain about being tired again. :)