Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pregnancy Story from Chelsey Paul

Pregnancy for me is something I have always wanted. I love children and have known for quite some time that I would love at least four children. Who knew that each pregnancy would be an adventure in itself? When I became pregnant for the first time I had a blast nesting and just enjoying my belly — of course, I had no idea that at 31 weeks I would be giving birth!

We were visiting my parent’s home two hours West of Minneapolis in little town called Osakis on December 17, 2005. Prince, my husband, and I had met a friend for dinner in a neighboring town and right before the entrée came I knew something was up. I excused myself to the bathroom and immediately called my OBGYN because I had clearly had lost my ‘plug.’ Within the next two hours I was on a helicopter being transported back to Minneapolis, the nearest NICU, with my husband and mother left to trail in the car, worried and scared. We held off labor until January 2, 2006 and on that day we welcomed our daughter Riah Elizabeth. 4 pounds 14 ounces, big for a preemie, but we spent a little shy of a month in the NICU.

That experience alone could fill a blog, but I need to proceed... In June 2007 I found out that I was pregnant with my second child, we were beyond excited and with my previous pregnancy knew that we needed to take precautions. I began receiving progesterone shots weekly at home and started taking it easy. My biggest fear was having a premature child, little did I know I was about to start worrying about much more.
We went in for our 20 week ultrasound and the technician began and then she suddenly stopped. My instinct immediately told me something was wrong and she mentioned needing to get the Dr before we switched over to 3D. All the things I didn’t want for my child ran through my head, missing organs, four legs, and worse dead. When my doctor came in he said, “Well we’ve got good news and we’ve got bad, good news it’s a boy and he’s growing well and has ten fingers and toes…bad news, he’ll be born with a cleft lip and we are not sure about the palette.” I sat in silence. What the hell is a cleft lip? Where do I learn more? What do I do? What does this mean? I made the mistake of Googleing “cleft lip” and made myself sick for days.

The problem I ran into was finding accurate, solid information on what to do , what to prepare for. How will feed this child? What should I get? I let anxiety get the best of me. So I went to my blog and wrote this letter to him:

"I vow, to my son, from this post on to be stronger. To be the mother he needs me to be and that I need me to be. This isn't the end of the world, this is the beginning of the beautiful life of my son. Things won't "look" as I had hoped (but that is me being vain) we will struggle and I will cry more (for the good and bad times.) But I vow to my son that no matter what it takes I will be there and be there with a strong force driving me. I will pray everyday not only for him but for my family that this will only make us better and that we will form a great team unit. I vow, that until you are born I won't fret as much or cry (as much) and I will enjoy every minute that you are in my womb until you are in my arms. I will be happy for you and me. I deserve that, you deserve that. I love you.

Things are uncertain about what to expect, but the one thing I know for certain is that he is my son and I am his mother who loves him...and that is all that matters."

The rest of my pregnancy was spent meeting with specialists, researching, getting more 3D ultrasounds, preparing for the best and worst. I spent time in the hospital for preterm labor and remained on medication until 35 weeks.

At 37 weeks, on February 29, 2008, at 3:08 in the morning, a leap year baby boy was born. His name is Thaddaeus and from that moment I knew that cleft or no cleft he was beautiful and he was mine. I needed to be strong for him, it no longer was about me and my fears and perceptions. Because of my research, feedings and care were easy and we went home the next day. Since then Thaddaeus has had 4 surgeries and will have his next one at the age of five. He’s healthy and active and most days I forget that he was even born with a cleft lip and palette.

Our surgeon is amazing, God is amazing. Through my blog I have posted information on our processes, methods, joys and fears so that hopefully a new parents finds community and strength by knowing they’re not alone.

From Chelsey of Chelsey Paul.


Note from Design Mom: for the duration of my pregnancy, I'll be posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here. I'd love to hear your story or memory or advice, feel free to submit it to


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great post -- my nephew was born with cleft lip/palate and has undergone 3 surgeries so far. He is an amazing little boy in our touching.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 12:30:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Jenny said...

What a beautiful post and a beautiful boy. Thank you for sharing this story!

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 12:30:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What beautiful babies they are!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 12:37:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is absolutely beautiful, in both pictures. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I hope it will encourage other parents who face fear about pre-natal diagnoses of all kinds.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 1:01:00 PM EST  
Blogger Ginna said...


Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 1:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Rachel said...

What a beautiful boy! I was born with a cleft lip and palette and it has turned out to be one of the biggest blessings in my life. I'm sure you're family will all continue to learn and grow with your darling son.
P.S. He does have a wonderful doctor.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 3:50:00 PM EST  
Blogger sportyrls said...

Thank you for your beautiful story. Our second child was also born with a celft lip and it has been quite a journey. She has always been so beautiful, both before and now after her surgery. Thad is beautiful too.

I agree: don't google clefts right after a diagnosis, it did nothing but terrify me.

Also, can I ask- are you still planning to have four children or has this experience detered you in anyway? It is somewhat of a struggle for us, so I'm just curious about your perspecitve. Thanks for the great post!

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 5:55:00 PM EST  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

Oh my goodness I am so choked up! This is beautiful. HE is beautiful. Oh my.


Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 6:51:00 PM EST  
Blogger Chels said...

Thank you all for the kind comments! It has been quite the adventure! As for the question about more children,it honestly scares me only because as a mother seeing your children before and after surgery is so scary and heartbreaking. But because of our experience with Thaddaeus, I would not stop from having more because of the cleft. Thaddaeus for me, is one of the more severe cases but he has shown me that he strong, mighty and resilient! The only thing hindering me from having a child right now is the amount of work it would be with a 3 and 1 year old, school and my business...we're on lock down for awhile ;-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 8:16:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Courtney said...

That is such an amazing story! My dad is dating a very special lady, who adopted a very special son, who was severely premature with cleft lip/palate. At the beginning, they were worried about his survival because they were having so much trouble getting him to eat. Now, he is a healthy, extremely energetic 9 year old, who has undergone 9 massive surgeries. My dad calls him the medical miracle. . . both he and his mom are such an inspiration. . . and so are you. Your son is absolutely darling!

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 9:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kate said...

That brought tears to my eyes. Your children are both so beautiful and you are so blessed. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 11:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Lahni said...

My second son was also born with a cleft lip and palate that was diagnosed at my 20 weeks ultrasound. He's almost three now and has only had 2 surgeries with at least three more to go, but like you, I quite often forget he ever had it!
Your story sounds exactly like mine (except the pre mature birth thing, mine hung on until 42 weeks...). I was terrified when I first heard the diagnoses but once the baby came I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and normal he was to care for. In some ways he was easier than my first because he couldn't nurse so once my family learned how to feed him, I always had willing volunteers to feed the baby. My husband took some of the night-time feedings on the weekend and I was able to get more sleep than I had with my first.
As long as there are no other complications, a cleft lip/palate is really no big deal. Thanks for sharing your story!

Friday, December 11, 2009 at 9:26:00 AM EST  
Blogger Alisa said...

I loved reading this beautiful documentation of your experience. I too had a boy born with a cleft lip and palate, our third child. He has had multiple surgeries and we will be having another one in about a year. We did have a 4th child- Luke's cleft did not stop us from having another one. Love your story!

Friday, December 11, 2009 at 10:24:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Leisa Hammett said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I am also a mother of a special needs child and I know and understand this courage. I have shared this with a social media site I help moderate.

Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 11:44:00 AM EST  
Blogger Jennifer Wilkinson Photography said...

Thanks for sharing myself and both of my kids are cleft affected. I was also on bedrest and meds with both of them too. We are planning on trying again next year and our biggest worry is the bedrest; with two kids 6 and 3 I don't know how well it will work! Thanks again!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 8:27:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

What a beautiful story, What a beautiful boy. And what a beautiful heart his mama has. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 11:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger MoDLin said...

Thaddaeus is such a lovely boy! This is a great post - and so important. Information can be scary, but it also can really help prepare you for what lies ahead. I'm so glad you were able to take him home so soon and that feeding and care was easy. You're a great mom.

Monday, December 21, 2009 at 4:15:00 PM EST  

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