I'm a published wedding and portrait photographer located in a small town outside of Charlottesville. In addition to capturing beautiful images, I love spending time with my family, am freakishly good at word games (Hey Wheelmobile!), love an ice cold can of Coke or Dr. Pepper, know every line to Hocus Pocus and can never pass up a Chick-fil-A waffle fry or a trip to HomeGoods. 

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February 3, 2022

Welcoming Hensley Bernice

Hensley Bernice arrived on her due date, Thanksgiving! I honestly was hoping she’d choose any other day because I love Thanksgiving and was really looking forward to my turkey dinner, but she had other plans.

I woke up at about 3 a.m. because my water had broke. When I called my parents to tell them, my dad thought I needed to find a plumber on a holiday. Nope, not that kind of break. By 5 a.m. we were in the hospital being admitted.

After hours on Pitocin because my contractions never sync up on their own (same thing happened with Hartley), an epidural at 8 centimeters (don’t wait that long and don’t have my anesthesiologist because I think she was mining for gold back there or something) and VH-1’s excellent holiday movie lineup (Titanic, Dirty Dancing and the very beginning of Coyote Ugly) Hensley made her appearance at 4:53 p.m. She was 8.8 lbs with a head full of hair and due to being born in all of about 12 minutes once pushing began, was whisked away to the nursery for some extra oxygen. She came off it later that night.

I even got my turkey dinner. Don’t hate on the hospital’s holiday meals. They had both turkey and ham, plus all of the sides, for $7. If your turkey dinner goes south, head to the hospital cafeteria.

Overall, my labor and delivery with Hensley was much easier, and shorter, than the one I had with Hartley which took days. The pregnancy itself wasn’t horrible either, despite a little surprise at our 20-week ultrasound.

Hensley is one in 700. At our 20-week ultrasound, which is the big anatomy scan in which every piece of the baby’s anatomy is checked, doctors found that Hensley would likely have a cleft lip and possibly a cleft palette. One in 700 babies worldwide are born with the unique trait, which can sometimes be indicative of other health conditions. We were referred to Maternal Fetal Medicine at UVa for a more in-depth ultrasound.

Weeks later, we had our scan at UVa and the lip and palette were confirmed. The lip can be seen on the ultrasound, but the palette cannot so it’s really just a guess until the baby is born. Thankfully, everything else looked perfect. A second in-depth ultrasound at around 32 weeks confirmed it. From there, we met with the cleft team, which consists of various specialists who work together to correct cleft lip and palette problems.

Hensley will have surgery this spring to correct her cleft lip, followed by surgery this fall or winter to correct the cleft palette. It’s scary, but we’re very fortunate to have a great hospital and team so close by. Plus, we’re even more fortunate that she has no other concerns. She actually eats really well and it doesn’t seem to bother her. She did fail her hearing test on one side so we’re retesting that next week. Sometimes cleft babies have hearing problems, so we’re praying it was just a case of her not wanting to settle down enough to do the hospital test, which apparently happens often.

We have no idea why Hensley has a cleft lip and palette. It’s not hereditary; I didn’t drink and I’ve never smoked in my entire life or taken drugs. I also didn’t eat anything weird or do anything out of the ordinary. Vitamins were taken. Hers is labeled an isolated cleft because there’s no cause and it doesn’t correspond with any other health issues. I guess God just chose to make her that way. Hartley says that God makes everything unique; she also says how cute her baby sister is, when she’s not subtly waking her up of course.

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