About a month ago a journalist reached out to do an interview. There ended up being some things about it that didn’t feel right, so we decided to scrap it. I had spent some thoughtful time putting together answers though, and we get some of these questions still, so I’ve decided to share!
Please give the names and ages of everyone who lives in your home –
My husband, Shannon, 30. Me, Nicole, 26. Our son, Asher, 3. And Winry, our daughter, 6 months.
How long have you been married?
This September will be 5 years!!
Did you always know you wanted to be a mum/ parents?
Yes! I always had several ideas for career paths, but I knew without a doubt I wanted to be a wife and mom. Before we even started dating we had shared that we both wanted a big family. We’ve always thought we’d like to have four or five children.
As we are able, I also hope for our family to become bigger supporters of the foster care parents in our community, and possibly become part of the program ourselves someday. (For locals or Anyone interested in helping out , this is their current wishlist: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1YBODENC9TQ2O?ref_=wl_share&fbclid=IwAR0yF-SricqNzqLkbWW7m0GI1lpa2Ac_sz1bIRlsMCmbLjXdFVLMLi9ADqs)
Tell me about your pregnancy with Winry please –
I was lucky to have a pretty average pregnancy! I had morning sickness from about weeks 8-14, but as soon as that let up I felt great until the tiredness kicked in the last month. Except for those last two weeks, this pregnancy seemed to fly by – I’ll give credit to my toddler for keeping me busy.
How did you find out you were pregnant?
We had actually been trying for a little over a year, so I’d been paying really close attention and taking pregnancy tests regularly. I had to have taken one the first day possible to get a positive.
Did you share the news with your family in any special way?
They knew we had been trying for a while, so we went over to both families’ houses to tell them in person! Nothing fancy. When we announced to extended friends and family, we had a little photo shoot with Asher.
Did you know you were having a girl?
Yes! We did mail-in test kit at home called SneakPeek and got to find out at 9 weeks! We always joked we wanted a girl last, but pretty exciting to have one of each! We did a mail-in test kit called SneakPeek with both Ash and Winry! We did Ash at 9 weeks, and Winry at 8. It was super simple, cheaper than the hospitalv($65), and fast! Affiliate link + coupon>> Get $10 off SneakPeek DNA test and discover BOY or GIRL as early as 7 weeks!
When she was born what was her weight please?
She was 6lbs 12oz – the exact same as me when I was born! I was really excited about her weight, at one point they were worried she was measuring small, so she was perfect!
Was your son excited to become a big bro?
Asher was made to be a big brother. We found out I was pregnant right after his 2nd birthday, and we started talking to him immediately about momma having a baby in her belly. We got him a baby doll so he could practice how to hold her. We had a handheld doppler for home, and he asked a few times a week to help hear her. By the time it was time for us to go to the hospital he knew her whole name and had songs picked out to sing to her when he would get to meet her (”wheels on the bus” was his go-to). Since she’s been home he is extremely attentive, loves to help “watch” her, begs to hold her, and is so ready for “his sweetie” to be big enough to play.
How did your family adjust to being a family of four?
It is almost hard to imagine home before she was here! I have gotten used to less sleep, and a bit busier of days, but things really aren’t too different – we’re doing all the same things only with a baby in my arms!
When was the CMN first spotted? By you or by doctors? Did you have any immediate feelings about the mark?
I am assuming her CMN was first spotted by our doctors and nurses upon delivery – I say assume because nothing came out of their mouths besides cheering and congratulations for such a fast and smooth delivery, and reassurance that her vitals all seemed perfect. She was immediately handed to me to begin skin-to-skin, and in that quick moment I remember thinking – maybe saying, labor was so fast and kind of a blur! – “aw, poor sweetie got bruised up during delivery”. Trying to recall those first moments all I can really remember is amazement at how fast pushing went, relief that she was finally here, and such happiness that I was getting to hold her so soon (my firstborn was a c-section, and I didn’t get to see him for an hour or so).
As/after I’d nursed her some, Shan and I got to really look her over, and it was obvious it wasn’t just a bruise. Some of the excitement of labor had passed, and I would say worry was the main emotion I felt – I recognized that it resembled a mole, but I had never seen anything like it, and I was worried it might be harmful to her. None of the nurses had said anything about it at this point, but I wasn’t sure what to ask so I just held her tight and loved on her.
Once we were moved to our recovery room, we were very quickly visited by a pediatrician that told us the terminology – CMN, congenital melanocytic nevus. She gave us a quick overview, and reassured us that there are not typically negative health associations, but that to be thorough they would like to do several examinations. Knowing it usually wasn’t dangerous was comforting, but we were still eager to learn more about it. So now instead of the health implications, the concern was shifted to how this would affect her – specifically her self-image. I’ve never worried about what others would think, but how it could cause them to treat her, and (my biggest concern to this day) how she will view herself. With each day that goes by, though, I am more and more sure that she’s going to grow up confident, happy, and knowing she’s loved.
Did Winry need lots of appointments initially about her birthmark? How was that time?
She did have more appointments and tests those first few months – at least compared to what we did with her brother. We were extremely lucky that her birth hospital was so on top of everything. It was a little overwhelming, but before we left the hospital after birth we had all of the regular newborn screenings, some extra exams by pediatricians, dermatologists, and an ophthalmologist, and three MRIs. This was all within a day of her being born, and I also had a hemorrhaging episode squished in there, so to say the day was a lot would be an understatement. It was the most tired and anxious either of us had ever been – waiting for all the doctors to coordinate and let us know that there weren’t any health threats. The MRI results took the longest and was the scariest part, but thankfully all of her screens came back with no flags. I cannot applaud the hospital enough for how well she and I were taken care of, and how they handled our entire visit. But we were finally ready to go home able to relax, better enjoy her, and finally meet her family.
Did the appointments give you any cause for concern or anxiety? I know you saw a dermatologist, ophthalmologist and had mris – will there be any further follow ups needed now that you have been told the mark is only aesthetic and not of any medical concern?
Since the exams in the days right after her birth, her appointments haven’t been a source of any concern! She seems as happy and healthy as can be, and hasn’t been behind on any milestones, so we have had no reason to believe anything otherwise!
We just had our second dermatologist visit as outpatients, and he is wonderful to meet with. They took several measurements and pictures so that we’re able to compare and monitor for any changes, but after an appointment near her birthday, we will only be seeing him once a year. We also have met with her ophthalmologist again to screen her eye pressures, as there has been some correlation between some kinds of nevus and glaucoma – this is us and doctors being on the very safe side, they do not anticipate her having any problems with her eyes. This will most likely also be an annual visit while she is young, but could potentially be spaced out more as she ages.
Will Winry need extra cover ups or suncream in the sunshine?
We have been told that her birthmark can be extra sensitive to the sun, and her melanoma risk is slightly elevated, so we are a little more vigilant in making sure she wears sunscreen and/or hats when we are outside – but honestly we probably all need to wear more sunscreen, so it is something I do better now with both children and myself!
Have doctors ever said why hair may grow faster on the side of her CMN?
We have been told that the high concentration of melanin is thought to stimulate hair growth.
I saw your one tiktok/reel that said a commenter wrote “get it removed” – how do you respond emotionally to any mean or ignorant comments?
When people ask ignorant questions, or are genuinely curious, we do our best to respond as accurately as we can without getting worked up about it. We had no knowledge ourselves before she was born, so we can’t be surprised when others haven’t had a reason to learn about it themselves. As far as mean comments go, we usually try to go the “kill them with kindness” route, as usually those people seem to be trying to get attention themselves, or see if they can get us to be hateful back. Overall, I think we have pretty high tolerance for any of the negative ones – you have to when you’re sharing online. It also helps that for every negative comment, there are hundreds of positive ones.
With your raising awareness what are your hopes for Winry? Is it that her CMN is already known about by her peers and therefore she will face less questions or looks?
This all started very simply – us sharing our daughter. I wanted our family and friends to see our beautiful family all together! But when one of her videos really took off, it was actually her dad’s idea for us to quickly put together an info video about CMN in general.
And we’ve just kept sharing since! Of course it’s fun to share her, but we thought together, how neat would it be if this helped make birthmarks a little more seen, or helped another person with one not feel so alone. I would love for it to spark conversations with parents and their own children as to what birthmarks are so they aren’t so surprised the first time they see them. I would be happy if others shared more as well! – I would love for her if she wasn’t always the first time someone had seen an individual with a birthmark.
It’s great about the modelling agency that was mentioned in the NowThisNews video. Do you think Winry will have modelling jobs in her future now?
We thought it was so neat when Zebedee reached out, we really like what they stand for. We agree that inclusivity is very important, and we applaud them for their efforts to make sure it happens. I do think that body positivity and self-love is really having a big movement right now, so if she ever wanted to pursue it, I think she would definitely have a chance to be successful.
Your content together is so adorable and loving!Please tell me about your joy to be Winry’s mum.
Thank you so much! We are really just having a lot of fun together. I am so privileged to have been able to stay home with Winry and Asher – they and Shannon are my biggest joys. I am so excited that she’s here now, it’s amazing how she already has been a different experience than her brother, she has her complete own personality. I am trying to soak up this baby time, I know it goes much too fast. And at the same time I’ve seen Asher just get better and better, so I’m excited for her to grow too.
Is there anything you will tell her as she grows up to give her resilience in case she ever has ignorant comments to deal with?
We will, and do already, tell her she is loved everyday. We already do affirmations daily with Asher:
I am smart, I am kind, I am brave. (Lately he’s added in capable and unique (credits to Lia’s Kind Mind) and his personal favorite, I am ridiculous 🤪)
Mommy and daddy love me.
Jesus loves me.
And until she can say them herself, I do them for her every night. I know not everyday will be easy, it’s not for any kid, but I am very confident that she will know she has a great support system. We plan to make sure she knows enough about it to answer basic questions, as that’s usually enough to get anyone to move on. And as she gets closer to school age we will have conversations with her and Ash about how to handle rude people or even bullies (about any topic, not just her CMN). Other than that we really plan to just take everything day by day!
What would you like Winry to know about her CMN?
I want Winry to know that her CMN does not define her. While it may be a part of her that makes her unique, and is the reason for this extra attention, I know it will not be the most special thing about her. I am so excited to watch her grow and discover what those other things are – her mind, sense of humor, bravery, kindness – but whatever they are, I know there will be many things about her that are much more remarkable than a spot on her face.