Denver Birth Story {Baby Richardson}

1 in 700.

That is the number of babies born cleft (lip, palate or both) affected every day. If you are like me, you may be stunned to learn how common this birth difference is. 

It was at a routine 20 week ultrasound that Sammy and Brandon first discovered their baby would fall into this statistic. And as with any unexpected news, there was confusion and many questions. What did this mean? What will happen to him/her? Why us, why our baby? What did we do wrong to cause this? 

We were overwhelmed with emotions of fear and grief but yet so grateful that our little one was still healthy. We felt angry, sad, heart broken and questioned if we would be strong enough for our baby. We also felt ashamed that we kept crying over this news when we should’ve been focusing on the fact that our baby was still healthy.
— Sammy

The guilt they both felt, that their baby would have to embark on a journey of multiple surgeries and months of healing, was immense. Thankfully, Brandon and Sammy were able to gain acceptance and peace through the help of many support groups. With copious amounts of encouragement, they were able to enjoy the journey to meeting Squishy without feeling alone or afraid of what was to come. Knowledge is powerful, and it certainly helped these parents feel prepared for their baby's birth day. They graciously offered up the following advice for parents that might receive the same diagnosis for their baby

1. Find support right away. Cleft Mom Support Group on Facebook is an excellent place to start. The more support you have around you of people that are either cleft affected adults or have cleft affected children the better. (Sammy suggests visiting for clear, accurate information as well.)

2. Allow yourself to go through all of the emotions. Be angry, sad or whatever you need to feel. This all part of coping and will allow you to process it and finally go back to enjoying your pregnancy. 

3. Remember the love. This is still the same baby you fell in love with and got excited about when you found out you were pregnant! The baby never changed, the only thing that changed is what you learned about your child. 

4. Document everything. Try to do everything you can to enjoy your pregnancy. Take photos of your bump every week. Buy those irresistible outfits and register for your shower. Decorate the nursery. Write a journal to your baby. Do everything you can to connect with your baby. It's okay to feel emotional about the diagnosis at any time but documenting these little moments will help you replace any sad emotions with happy ones.

5. Breastfeeding support. If you want to breastfeed, find hospitals and lactation consultants that will support you through your journey. It is possible, but not nearly as successful without the encouragement and support of those professionals around you. 

6. Everything will be okay. It may not seem like it at first, but it will be. Any anticipation and fear you may feel at first will subside the moment you meet your beautiful baby. 

Squishy was chosen to be born with a cleft. Chosen to show the world just how beautiful it is to have a cleft. Chosen to educate others on this 1 in 700 statistic. So without further ado, the beautiful birth of Squishy.

The days leading up to Sammy's due date, I was sure I was going to miss this birth. I was booked for a wedding on July 24, and all signs pointed to her having an early delivery. However, Squishy held tight for a few extra days and on the evening of July 26, I finally received the call. The Richardsons were heading to the hospital.

When I arrived, Sammy was in the bathtub. She was smiling, peacefully working through her contractions, and Brandon was by her side tending to her every need. She was focused and determined, yet still had some calm moments to Facetime with her family. :)

Then, transition. Contractions picked up quickly and intensely. Focus increased even as those moments of doubt started to creep in. Brandon was her rock during these tough hours, encouraging and supporting her in every way possible. Her sister was running in and out for ice chips upon request. Her mama eventually requested in for that maternal love and support. Everyone in the room was there for her. In this with her and Squishy 100%. 

And then, at just a little after 7:00 in the morning, Sammy and Brandon finally got to meet their baby. Brandon had requested to be the one to tell Sammy if Squishy were a boy or a girl, and he did just that. Logan Bauer Richardson was born right into the loving arms of his parents and a room full of happy tears. {Gosh I tear up just thinking about it!}

His smile? Absolute perfection. 

The moment I saw him for the first time was the single, most amazing moment of my life. I have never felt happier. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful Logan was and wondered why I ever felt worried.
— Sammy
People try to tell you what it’s like having a child but you truly don’t understand until you see that face and your heart explodes with love. The first moments of his life, I remember staring at him laying on Sammy’s chest and thinking that no matter what else happens around us, this is what it’s all about.
— Brandon

Thank you Sammy and Brandon for sharing your story with me and the world. You are incredible parents, and Logan is one lucky little guy to have such an amazing example of true love and strength!