“Oh, I don’t care as long as it is healthy and has 10 fingers and toes.” How many times have you heard an expectant parent say that in answer to the question, “Do you want a boy or a girl?”
Most pregnant women answer that question automatically, almost flippantly, really without a thought as to what would happen to her world if anything other than that did happen. I said it many times while pregnant with my twins. Never in a million years did I think to say, “I don’t care as long as they have palates and lips that are intact.” I was going through pregnancy on blind faith that everything would be just perfect.
My pregnancy with the twins had not been easy. Between extreme nausea, growth concerns about my son, and being placed on bed rest, I was ready for a happy ending—two healthy babies. In the end, I did get my happy ending, but the path there wasn’t how I had imagined it in my mind.
Even though many ultrasounds had been done on the babies, the doctor failed to see that both my son and daughter had clefts. It wasn’t until I was in the delivery room – 6 weeks before their actual due date – that I found out. My first reaction was fear and then anger…lots of both. I knew nothing about clefts and in my naïve mind, I thought that maybe the doctor could’ve done something to prevent this. My reaction to the news would vary between yelling at my doctor (it wasn’t one of my finer moments) to praying that if they weren’t going to live, that God would take them quickly because I didn’t want them to suffer. And always, without fail, there were tears – lots of tears.
During the days following their birth while we spent a lot of time in the NICU, I began to have a shift in how I looked at this mountain we needed to climb. As I began to learn more about clefts, I wasn’t so overwhelmed and scared. As I looked around the NICU at babies who were very sick, my fear and anger turned to thankfulness. There were people in the world that had children who died. Mine were alive. There were people whose babies died shortly after birth. Mine were growing stronger every day and were feisty, tiny, little creatures determined to live. We brought them home and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, the overwhelming feelings we experienced weren’t due to them having clefts, but instead were due to sleep deprivation and having two crying, needy babies that needed us 24 hours a day!
It’s been 6 years since I heard the news that would forever change my life. Whether you’re just starting on your journey, or you’ve been on this road for awhile, the future doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just reach out for help; many hands will be there to help you through.
Guest Blogger Heather Wilson
Visit Heather's Blog at The Opposite of June
Read more at cleftAdvocate, a program of AmeriFace