The Jennings' Jabber...a few of our moments, at least...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

So, it's Christmas Eve morning...I have no presents wrapped, and still could do some shopping, but what's done is done. I do not want to go back out...I want to stay inside with family, have a present wrapping party and relax!

Grandma and Grandpa flew in yesterday from Maryland, we are all happy they are here!! Caydree loves them SO much, and Grandma always takes lots of pictures, so get ready?!

No special plans this year, just trying to stay healthy for Calder's lip surgery Jan. 12

We went to our pediatrician on Tuesday to get our medical clearance, and check his weight. He did gain 13 ounces, but he dropped a little bit more on the growth chart. He was at the 5th percentile, and now he is only at the 3rd. Shane and I were both small as babies, and young children, and Caydree was/is too...but this is a bigger deal for him. If he didn't have to have surgery I wouldn't even be talking about it!! There is a good chance he will have some new struggles with feeding after the lip surgery, so we need him to weigh as MUCH as possible, in case he loses a bit. Since he gained 13 oz in about 2 weeks on the 22 calorie diet, we bumped him up to the 24 calorie diet, and I'm hoping that he will gain 21 ounces in the next couple of weeks. Maybe a lofty goal, but I'd love for him to weigh 11 1/2 pounds for surgery!

Will keep you posted, and be adding some more Christmas pics soon!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Calder's 1st Christmas photo shoot

So, I'm not a great photographer, and I don't have a fancy camera,
but I LOVE these pictures of my sweet boy!!!
I guess maybe it helps that he is so darn cute?!

To me, he looks a lot like Caydree did in this one!

Caught him just before the big smile....

Love the crazy this was not after the Santa hat came off!! Too long for a mohawk, and mommy didn't want the big boy part/comb-over!

"Are we almost done mommy? I'm gettin' tired..."
Did I mention that he loves to chew on his fist? Poor thing, I don't know what he's going to do when he has to have arm restraints on after surgery... :(

OK, I'll add a couple of big sister too...although she was supposed to be resting
during our photo shoot...she talked to herself, read books, and put on her princess jewelry for almost 2 hours instead! These shots were from last weekend.

Here she is in front of "her" trees. She gets to decorate them with her special ornaments. She is wearing her "fancy" dress that Grandma sent her!

I think my friend Deanne said it best, and I hope she doesn't mind if I quote her,
"What time is it? Whatever time Caydree wants it to be!" Dang she is a sassy pants!
Don't know where she got that...

Stand by for more pictures and holiday news!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Daddy and Calder watching the ARMY/NAVY this picture!

Mr. Smiley just hanging out in the Boppy

"I see you mama..."

Christmas outfit #1

Mommy has trouble with pictures sometimes...

Caydree and her friends at Bailey's "princess" birthday party

Happy Thanksgiving!

Did the pilgrims make faces like this?

my cute turkey hat

I LOVE these two...can't really say much more!

The latest...

Well, it's been a crazy, hectic couple of weeks for me, getting back into the routine of school! I won't claim to be doing a good job, but there is only one week left before our winter break, so I think I can make it!

Calder is doing well...we had our 2 month check, and he dropped from the 27th percentile in weight down to below the 5th, so we are on a 22 calorie diet...adding 1/2 teaspoon of formula to every 3 ounces of milk. Hard to believe that it will really make that much of a difference, but I guess it does?! We go back to check weight again on Dec. 22, and will hopefully get our medical clearance for his upcoming lip surgery. We got our date, it will be Jan. 12. I have read, researched, and talked to others about the whole surgery experience, and I still feel like there are so many unknowns...I'm not a wreck about it yet, but give me time...

It IS the best thing for him, and he will not remember this part, but obviously harder for us as parents to have to go through. I just love him so much exactly the way he is, it will be an adjustment. The surgery is my first day back to school after our break, so I will be taking at least one week off...maybe 2, we'll see how things go. I think my biggest fear is the recovery process. We've finally hit our groove, and I feel like we've been doing so well!! This is just going to start that whole process over again. We'll see, maybe it won't be as bad as I'm thinking...I can certainly hope!!

Well, it's extremely early on a Sat. night, and since everyone else is in bed, I think I'll go too! Hope to have a good news update soon!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Back to Work

So, after being off for my almost 11 week maternity is my 1st day back to school. Don't exactly know what I need to teach, so we are all going to be doing some catch up today! Being off has been amazing, to have the most wonderful bonding time with my baby was truly a gift...although now I really know that I am not cut out to be a stay home mom. :) I am glad to be going back to the routine of things that working gives...and it helps that I love my job teaching. My kids at school have missed me, which makes me feel pretty great too, and I know that Calder will be in good hands at Mamma's house.

That is the big news for the week, Calder has his 2 month well-baby appointment on Friday...where is the time going?!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

A lot to be thankful for this year...
our home
children...especially the new one!
just to name a few!

The year ahead may have some hurdles, but we have overcome so many of them already. SO looking forward to what life will bring! Love you all!


So our appointment went well! We hadn't really expected to get any news that we didn't already know, but that underlying fear was still there for me...

Bottom line is that Calder's cleft lip and palate are an isolated case. There could be many reasons why, but quite honestly, none of those really matter to us. Most likely just the "right" combination of genes from both Shane and me, at just the right time. Once you have a child with a cleft your risks are slightly elevated of having another...3-4%, but since we don't plan on having anymore, that doesn't concern us either. When Calder is older and ready to start his own family, his risk will be only slightly higher than that. The geneticist told us that advances in the next 10 years will be pretty amazing, and that by the time Calder is having kids there may not even be anything to worry about. Genetics is amazing and baffling to me, I really don't understand much of it!

Only other thing the doctor told us was how shocked he was by Calder's "social smile", eye contact, and strength. He was 8 weeks old at the appointment, and the doctor said that his big grins, intense eyes, and physical ability would put him in the "advanced" category. I chuckle, he may put his big sister to shame!

Once again, I am thoroughly pleased with our sounds cliche, but they all just really seem to care. I know it's their job, but they have all been so personable and sensitive to any issues. This is something I didn't really expect...I feel like they already love my child as much as I do!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Genetics Appointment today

So, we are off to the geneticist this morning, part of the routine cleft lip and palate process. Not exactly sure what they will be doing, other than taking another family history and checking out the little I will update when we get home!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Midnight Milk Diaries

OK...another breastfeeding blog? No, although it is tempting! My title is fun...

Definitely have to say that this pumping thing is not really something that I would want to do forever! I've decided that my right side just can't keep up, and it has decided to clog again. :( If you are a woman who has breastfed or pumped and experienced a clogged milk duct you know what I am talking about...hard as a rock, painful boob...NO GOOD. Thankfully, since it happened before, I knew what it was, and how to "fix" it, and we are feeling much better. I'm going to try taking this supplement called lecithin to prevent it from happening again. I'm also back to the strict pumping schedule...think I got a bit lazy this last week! Going back to school will help keep me on a better schedule too.

So, this round of pumping done, I'm off to bed! GOODNIGHT.

Friday, November 20, 2009

figuring this out...

OK, so I figured out how to add I'm content for awhile! :)

Today is my last "official" day of maternity leave, and I go back to school in about a week. Looking forward to it, but a little sad too. Time just goes by too quickly these days...little man will be 2 months old on Sunday! Got nothing done, but that is ok too, quality time with my baby was the best.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

thought I'd try adding some pictures...

Calder Saben Jennings, born 9/27/09 at 1:53 PM, 8 lbs and 21 1/4 in

Big Sister Caydree holding baby "brudder" at the hospital

Sleepy snuggle-saurus

BIG eyes...always checking things out

Thumbalina and Calder

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

blog mini-vent

So, once you enter the world of's really hard not to constantly peek at other blogs and compare them to your own. I'm super addicted, and mine absolutely does NOT compare...but I want to keep it going as lame as it may be, to chronicle our journey and update anyone not on facebook!

I want a fun layout, and to know how to add pictures that face the right direction! How do you make those little videos and put them on there? Music? There are just too many cool things about blogging that I don't know. So, if you are reading this, or if you are debating on whether or not to "follow" us...please don't judge me by my blog!

Monday, November 16, 2009

first smiles (take one)

The past couple of weeks, Calder has been figuring this out, and we just couldn't love his smile anymore!! There are periods of time when he will just sit and grin like a mad fool, for no apparent reason! (we do not think it is gas...he's not so happy when that happens!)

Shane may tell you otherwise, but I think he is just the sweetest, and well-tempered baby. He definitely has his moments, but unfortunately I think he just inherited my tendencies to be a bit particular. Is it too much to ask for a clean, dry diaper, a little milk, and to be warm and snuggly?!

So here is my favorite smiley picture so far...I love this little boy!!! I'll figure out one of these days how to get the pictures going in the right direction!

1st Visit to the Plastic Surgeon

SO, we went to the plastic surgeon on Nov. 6th. We had met with him at the hospital, so it was pretty informal, and not as "educational" as I had hoped...but only because he had already told us most of what was to come! Dr. Sinow is a really funny guy, and Shane and I feel so blessed to once again have such great doctors taking care of our little man.

I had a ballpark of when his lip surgery would be, but we were hoping to get an actual date. That didn't exactly happen, but we've narrowed it down to Jan. I'm hoping early January so it will happen during my vacation, but I guess that is a bit selfish, and I'll take the time off when I need to!

We will have one more meeting with him before we really get a date and know complete details. They have mastered many methods of surgery for cleft the surgery itself is pretty common, and "easy"...although on a baby, with itty bitty needles, and hundreds of small little stitches in 3 layers, it is very intricate and "complicated". (If that makes any sense!?) I feel confident that we will get a great result, and that Calder will be on his way!

I've become friends with some amazing ladies on the "cleft lip and palate" babycenter board I am on, and they are always talking about their own of which is the grieving period after lip surgery. The cleft itself...the thing that was initially so scary and such an unknown, becomes such a big part of who your child is...not in a bad way...but their beautiful "wide smile" is the only smile you have known, it is what you love about them, and you really will miss it when it is gone. You obviously want your child to have the surgery and have a "beautiful and normal" smile like everyone else. Problem is, that when you have a baby with a cleft, their smile is already beautiful and normal to you...cleft or not, they are the baby you fell in love with when you first found out you were pregnant, and then you fell in love with them again when you heard their heartbeat for the first time, and then when you saw them on the ultrasound, and felt them move, and when they were could you not absolutely love them exactly as they are???!!! So these mommies I know all say that we are the luckiest mommies in the world because we get the joy of having 2 "first smiles", and I think that is a pretty amazing way to look at it.

I'll keep you all updated on appointments as they happen, and our latest news!

Monday, October 19, 2009

How funny that my last post on here was the day I went into labor!! Here it is...

Calder’s birth story began on Saturday, Sept. 26, around 10 PM. My water broke…literally…just like they say it does, very strange! I could feel it pop, and the leaking/gushing began! Because my experience with Caydree was so different, and happened so quickly, we decided to head to the hospital right away. We got there about 11:00, and they monitored me for an hour before putting us in a labor and delivery room. The contractions weren’t bad, and I was about 3 cm…very do-able, I thought. Started to walk around some maybe 1ish, tired of lying in the bed, and not making a whole lot of progress. Around 4:30, I still was not making very much progress…barely 4 cm, so they asked me if I wanted to start some pitocin. Usually, along with pitocin comes the epidural, so I opted for both! I got those before 6 AM, so I was feeling pretty good about things, just a bit tired. My contractions remained fairly irregular until about 10 when things started moving faster. By 11ish we were finally getting ready to have a baby!

Pushing without an epidural (Caydree) was much easier than pushing with one…because we didn’t seem to be making much progress with that either. After about an hour of what seemed like “fruitless” work, the doctor started to check other things. She found that the baby’s head was pretty much stuck—pushing wasn’t helping, she couldn’t move it herself, it was too high for a safe vacuum…and his heart rate had started to show some early signs of distress. We tried for maybe another hour, they brought another doctor in to check, but by now the heart rate was decelerating with each contraction, whether I was pushing or not. He was not coming out! They assumed that the cord was compromised somewhere, kinked or wrapped at some point, which isn’t the best scenario for the baby. The next offer was a difficult decision, and the easiest one, all at the same time. We could try for a bit longer, risking unknown stress, and an emergency c-section, or we could just go with the c-section then and cause less stress for the baby. We went with the “lower stress” c-section option, which I must say wasn’t really low stress for me!

For those of you who did not already know, we found out that the baby would be born with a cleft lip and palate at our 20-week ultrasound. Testing had ruled out pretty much all of the other health problems and syndromes that can come along with a cleft, but we still had the anxiety of not knowing until his birth just how severe it would be. Knowing that there was now another potential problem with the heart decelerations and the cord…getting him out as quickly and safely as possible was all we wanted.

Back to the c-section…YUCK! Why anyone would choose this option is far beyond me, and I’m a planner, and a control freak. That was too scary. I felt like what should have been a happy time was wrapped in panic, unknown, and stress on my part. Much better for the baby, I know, and I’m super thankful for that, but it was not fun for me. I couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe well due to the epidural and the oxygen (I know it sounds strange…), all of the sudden I was claustrophobic because of the blue sheet in my face, and I pretty much had to convince myself the whole time that I wasn’t going to have a panic attack…got the shakes in recovery, 15 staples and a 6 inch scar later…I hated it. Did I mention that c-sections are not for me??

Needless to say, “Baby Boy Jennings” later to be named Calder Saben (chosen by big sis Caydree), was born at 1:53 in the afternoon, with the cord tightly around his neck, but otherwise healthy! They basically determined that the cord was holding him up inside, and it was a very good thing we went with the c-section. I just won’t be doing that ever again!!! He was a whopping 8 lbs, and at the hospital measured 21 in., but the pediatrician could only get him to stretch to 19 ½, so he is somewhere between that it length! Too funny, in my opinion...

As luck would have it, the retired lead doctor from the hospital’s cleft team just happened to be working that weekend, and was able to be there for our delivery. So she was able to immediately assess Calder and let us know that he was doing great. She also got the ball rolling with all of the other doctors and components of the team. God has been very present for me throughout this pregnancy experience, and I know he was hard at work putting everything into place during and after the birth as well! While we were in the hospital we were able to meet with almost all of the amazing doctors who will be taking Calder through his journey of surgeries, therapy, etc. Our worries and most of the unknowns were replaced with answers, timelines of what to expect, and the reassurance that we needed to start feeling like we would be able to handle things.

I know this is long, but if you know me I talk way too much so it shouldn’t surprise you! BUT I’m finally to the part where I’ll tell you a little more about Calder and his cleft.

The initial ultrasounds led us to believe that he had a bilateral cleft lip and palate, meaning both sides of his lip underneath his nose, and both sides of his palate would be affected. It is the more severe type of cleft, and although we were worried, it is still absolutely “fixable”. When he was born, we were surprised to find that his cleft lip is unilateral and only affects the right side. The palate does have a bilateral cleft, but it’s a little different. On the right side of the palate the cleft is complete—meaning that the separation runs the entire roof of his mouth, even through the gum line. On the left side, the cleft is incomplete, and only affects the back part of the palate. This is my understanding of it…and I’m sure we will find out more about it as things progress.

We were very concerned about feeding, as this is usually the biggest challenge for cleft babies initially. With some help from the occupational therapists who specialize in feeding, we left the hospital with Calder eating much better than we anticipated…we really are fortunate. It is often difficult to breast feed when there is a cleft palate (because he can’t get a good enough seal to create suction), so we are using a special bottle that we are able to squeeze and I am pumping. It’s going really well, and although it takes a little more effort and attention than a regular bottle, he is handling it like a champ! Babies are so resilient and adapting…it is truly amazing. He obviously doesn’t know any different, but it’s awesome to just watch him figure out what works!

As far as we know, he will have at least 3-4 surgeries…possibly more to correct the cleft lip and palate. The timeline is very dependent upon other things falling into place, but his first surgery will be to fix his lip (which is so cute I almost don’t want to get it fixed…) when he is about 3 or 4 months old. His palate surgery will be later, when he is between 9-12 months. After that the big one won’t be until he is older…a bone graft to fill the space in his gums, when his baby teeth have fallen out and the permanent teeth are ready to come in. Also scattered in there could be other things like nose and scar revisions…depending on growth and how the other surgeries go! It is definitely not the road we had planned, but we are ready to take it. Our journey so far has definitely had ups and downs, but it has been an amazing, life changing experience. There is a great piece by Emily Perl Kingsley called “Welcome to Holland” that I will post on here as well that kind of sums it all up…read it if you’d like.

SO, we have an adorable new addition (please check out his pictures) who couldn’t be a sweeter or happier baby! Caydree is a very proud and so far mostly helpful big sister…we’ll keep you posted on that one!

I’m trying to get this blog going on a more regular keep people posted instead of putting it all on Facebook…so bear with me as I will be hit and miss for awhile.

We love you all, and hope that this clarifies questions or concerns anyone might have. Feel free to call us anytime, and we will keep you posted on the little man!!

Kalissa and Shane

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Waiting for the little man...

So, I sit here and wait, rather impatiently...for the little man to make his debut.
Quit working earlier than planned, because I was sure he was all ready...nothing.
Grandma came earlier than planned...nothing.
Daddy canceled a work trip to Reno...nothing.
Figures--don't they make the decisions most of the time anyway?! Maybe it will be this weekend, or maybe he will actually decide to be a due date baby!?

I think the anticipation of having a baby is enough in itself, but all of the other unknowns we face because of the cleft are making us that much more anxious. All that I know is that I can't wait to have him in my arms and bring him home!! Caydree is very ready to be a big sister too. Yesterday when my mom took her to daycare she came over and kissed my tummy and said, "I'll see you later...", it was SO sweet, and you can just tell she already loves him.

Needless to say, since I haven't been on here in awhile, I thought I'd post an update. Hopefully my next one will be his birth! Until then, we wait... :)

Friday, July 31, 2009

I'll start from the beginning...

Our biggest surprise of 2009 was finding out we were pregnant! Some things are just meant to be...and God definitely had this pregnancy in our plan...even if we didn't! :) Aside from being sick pretty much ALL day long during my 1st trimester, things were great. It was very much like my first pregnancy with my daughter Caydree, who is nearly 3.
All of our doctor visits were going well, and we were able to find out at our 20 week ultrasound that we were going to be having a boy!! We couldn't have been more excited, one of each sounded just perfect. So the day after our 20 week ultrasound, I was a bit surprised to get a phone call about a follow-up the next week. The nurse explained to me that they couldn't really get a clear picture of the face or the heart. At her words, I knew immediately that there was something going on, so I started to ask her a bunch of questions...which led her to tell me that my baby boy may have a possible cleft lip and/or palate. At this point in the conversation it got a little foggy, but I'm pretty sure her next words were, "...don't worry too much, maybe it is a mistake and they really just couldn't get a good picture..." Too late, I was already swimming in a sea of worry. The shock of this lunchtime phone call, and the uncertainty of what was to come weren't really a good combo to get me through the afternoon with my 3rd graders...not to mention the whole week I would have to wait until my follow-up for more answers. So we waited, and I started my research.
Of course, we prayed the whole time that it was a "mistake", but as I spoke with my nurse practitioner the next day, I pretty much knew. Next came the slowest and most stressful week of my life. Sadness, guilt, fear, anger...they were all there, even without really knowing what was going on yet. Finally we had our appointments with the geneticist and perinatologist. The genetic counseling offered us statistics, more uncertainties, and the option of having an amniocentesis. The perinatologist gave us more answers, with a higher level ultrasound and fetal-echo, to check the heart. Yes, our little boy would be born with a bilateral cleft lip, and it did look like the palate was involved. The heart on the other hand looked fine...thank God! Everything else in the ultrasound appeared to be "normal" (a word I've almost come to hate), but they still suggested we have an amnio to rule out the countless syndromes and chromosomal disorders that are sometimes related to clefting. We had discussed this possibility before, and decided to go ahead with the amnio, as frightening as the results might be. If you know me at all, I'm a planner, so regardless of the results, I had to know so I could be prepared. The amnio itself was scary, but the 2 weeks of waiting for results were just as bad! I consumed myself with more research, preparing myself for the worst, while hoping for the best. More news via telephone...our results were in and they were all normal. Thankfully this meant that the baby should be fine, other than the clefting, and it appeared to be an isolated case, meaning that only the lip and palate were involved, and for an unknown reason.
Knowing that your child will have a birth defect is hard. Finding out that the birth defect is correctable and not life-threatening is a relief...but the realization that the road ahead will be different and more difficult than expected is still a big pill to swallow. SO, here we are, 2+ months later...

I am 31 weeks pregnant, and absolutely cannot wait for my baby boy to arrive!! I am fortunate to still be seeing my regular nurse practitioner and OBGYN, as the perinatologist doesn't need to see me for anything else. :) I am scheduled to have a nonstress test every week starting next week, because my doctor knows I'm a complete psycho about my amniotic fluid levels. Babies with cleft palates sometimes have difficulty swallowing, so that can be one of the complications during pregnancy...but so far we are looking good.

Life is unpredictable, but we are ok with that. I am also a firm believer that God only gives you as much as you can handle, so I've been trying to take that as a compliment. :) We are so fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends who are a great support system...that has already proven to be AMAZING, and I know we will be relying on all the help and prayers we can get! We will take one day at a time, and keep you all posted...

(hopefully I can keep up with this blog thing, it's kind of fun to just sit here and ramble, but I'm guessing my days are numbered!)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Starting the blog...

So, here goes nothing...we will see how this works out. As much as I'd love to be able to devote the time this might take, I'm not really sure if I have it! With 2 weeks left of summer, why not try it?!

I'm trying to get this started to be able to share our journey with baby's a BOY...and so the journey begins...