Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Being "Okay" With It

I love being Prego. Really, I do. I don’t get sick. I don’t throw up. I don’t get too uncomfortable.

Me and pregnancy, we’re buds.

Okay, all of you who pregnancy is your mortal enemy, take a moment to hate my guts so we can move on. If it makes you feel any better, I may have been dealt the “great with pregnancy” card, but I was apparently absent when the “nice butt”, and “tolerance for others” cards got handed out.

Anyway, I was sad to discover that after I found out about the baby’s cleft, a little bit of my enjoyment about being pregnant seemed to vanish. And in its place, a flavor of bitter-sweetness soon took over.

Though physically I was still having a rock star pregnancy, emotionally I was in mourning. Every time I would get excited about the baby, the sweet. I would quickly remind myself of what we were going to have to go through with him, the bitter.

I was mourning to loss of the option to nurse. I was mourning the loss of a husband only excited about his littlie buddy, not worried about him. I was mourning the loss of the idea I had in my head of what it was supposed to be like. How would this affect my child in this already sucky world? I was mourning the idea of a “perfect” birth day, because now it was slightly spiked with the reality of the situation. I would actually, finally see how bad Rykers cleft was. Was it just the lip? One-two surgeries. Was it the palate too? 4-5 surgeries. I was so concerned about what this would mean for Ryker. And, oh my gosh, how scared I was at how I would react at seeing my little man for the first time. How my husband would react. How we would both feel.

I knew how I wanted to be, I knew how I wanted to feel. And I was dead set on “being okay” with the situation. And after a bit of time and a dose of reality, I really am.

The day I found out I was a wreck. God and I were NOT on speaking terms. I was mad. I was sad. I was scared.

I cried. I wallowed. I had a rather good pity party.

These were real emotions. And you know what? They were justified. But by day two things started to shift. I started to accept my newly changed reality.

I got active. This was the situation, and I wanted a plan of attack. So where do we all go for information overload? Why, the Internet of corse!

I started researching anything and everything I could about clefts. I wanted to know it all. And yes, some of it was scary, but If we were going to deal with this I was going to be grossly over prepared.

So at this point I’m sure it won’t shock you to find out I’m a bit of a control freak.

HOA president, own my own business, alphabetize my kids toys, yup, you know the type. So let me tell ya, this little unplanned event was just what the doctor ordered. Really! I couldn’t control it. In fact this whole cleft ride is all “play it by ear.” And its good for me…I guess.

Anyway, about a week after we found out about Ryker, my husband and I went away to Mexico for a week, just the two of us. We had had this trip planned long in advance, but the timing turned out to be a blessing. We were able to get away and clear our heads. It was on this trip that God and I made up, and I made my peace with our new adventure. It was also on this trip that I recognized the immense blessings I had surrounding me on a daily basis. I felt the breath returning to my lungs.

A month later we sat in the waiting room at Primary’s Childrens Hospital. We were there to interview a surgeon who does cleft repairs. There is nothing more humbling then sitting in a waiting room at a children’s hospital. We sat with families who were there for all kinds or reasons. It was there, in that waiting room, that I realized I had a child with a temporary, correctable situation. How lucky was I? This was not the case with so many of these families. That was the day that I made the complete shift in my perspective.

I realized that yes, having a child with a cleft really sucks. It does. And yes, it’s going to be really hard on me, on my family, and on my child. But I can handle it. We can handle it. You can handle it. And I plan to do it with a little grace and a lot of flair.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Honey, I’m Home…

I walked in the door of our home with eyes red and swollen, from bawling the whole drive home from the Doctors office. I’m kind of surprised I made it home alive, considering I couldn’t really see through the flowing tears. You may have thought I would have called my husband, Allan, and told him as soon as I found out about the baby. But I didn’t.

I couldn’t.

In some weird way I felt like I was protecting him, even if it was only for a small time.

If he didn’t know, it wouldn’t hurt him.

Funny how the knowledge of something can cause actual physical pain.

Plus, I was scared to tell him. Would he be mad? At me? Or would he just be sad and worried and disappointed? Would he think I had done, or not done something to protect our precious cargo? Would he think it was my fault?

Was it?

I couldn’t answer his questions, because I couldn’t even answer my own.

On the way home I thought about how I would tell him. I would cry my eyes out, pull myself back together, and calmly inform him in the small change of plans.

Yeah right! …That is soooo not what happened.

I was a major wreak when I got home. I sat in the car for a long time, trying to calm down, but I just couldn’t.

Finally I walked in the house. Allan heard me come in, and met me at the door. When he saw the mess that once was his wife, he grabbed me and held on.

“Is something wrong with the baby?”

He got his answer when, for a good five minutes, I clung to him and sobbed.

It felt really good to get it all out. So when my tear ducts were empty, I told him.

It was SO hard to tell him.

He had mountains of questions, just like me. He was shocked and upset and concerned. But he didn’t break. And I really need him not to break that day.

He was strong for both of us.

Allan is a very even keeled kind of guy. We balance each other out. He is the perfect yin to my yang. Not super emotional, rarely yells or freaks out, and almost never will have a meltdown. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and calls it like he sees it. He’s calm, funny and very chill. He takes his cards, and does the best he can with them. He is the perfect person to handle any kind of situation, because he is adaptable. I couldn’t imagine going through this challenge without him. We really do make a great team, but even so, this little adventure still sucked for him as much as it did for me. And as much as I saw on the outside, I wasn’t in his head. Many of you have husbands/wives or significant others going through this right along with you. How are they doing? Ever wonder what they are really thinking and feeling? Well, stop wondering.


You are a team in battle for the good of your child! Cheesy, I know, but true. Talk openly about it and be each other cheerleaders and shoulders to cry on. Trust me, you'll need both.

Friday, January 14, 2011

“I think this baby has a cleft lip…,”

“I think this baby has a cleft lip…,” said the doctor in a very calm, nonchalant tone. I was at my 20 week ultrasound, all by myself, and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breath. Sound familiar?

Let me back up a bit.

My husband and daughter had come with me a week prior to my FIRST 20 week ultrasound. Everything looked good, but they couldn’t see the baby’s face. They could see the profile, the top, and the view from underneath. But they couldn’t get a straight on shot. Baby boy just wouldn’t cooperate. Because they had seen everything else they needed to see, and what they did see looked perfect, they almost didn’t have me come back. But when they decided to do a follow-up ultrasound, I didn’t complain. I was thrilled at a chance to see my baby again. It never crossed my mind that there might be a problem.

A week later, I went back in for my follow-up, minus one husband and one 2-year-old daughter . There was, after all, no reason for them to come with me.

The nurse did her thing. We got the view we needed and she casually said the doctor would be right in. The doctor did his thing, and then very casually dropped a bomb on me. (Refer to the above) The first thing I said, in a very weak voice was “Are you kidding?” He responded with a casual, "No", and tried to point it out to me in the blur of back and white on the screen.

I did pretty well… for the first few minutes anyway. I was very calm. I immediately bombarded the doctor with questions. As far as I was concerned cleft lips were 3rd world country problems. Did he not realize we were in AMERICA? I mean really, my only knowledge about clefts came from the operation smile infomercials. It definitely didn't happen here, and it absolutely did not happen to MY baby.

He proceeded to tell me that, in fact, he sees a cleft about 2-3 times a month and that it’s the most common birth defect. Okay, that explains the casual attitude, but didn’t he realize that this was MY baby he was talking about? MY child? And then I asked the question that every Mother who has shared a similar experience desperately wants the answer to be “no”.

“Are you sure?”

And like all the responses to all those Mothers in mirrored experiences, “Yes, I’m sure,” hit me like a ton of bricks.

That’s when I lost it.

The doctor left, explaining that the grief counselor would be right in. There I was, in a dark room, all alone, sobbing so hard I simply couldn't catch my breath.

For those of you reading this, I may have just hit a nerve. This account may be all too real for a few you. And it’s in part because of those few of you, that I started this blog.

Also, I wanted to have someway to document our personal journey with Ryker, our son. I wanted something for him to look back at and read, so he could never question how much we love him. We have, and will do anything for him.

It is my deepest desire that this blog will be a useful tool in your personal journey. I warn you, I am not a doctor, and I’m not a specialist. I’m just a Mom who thinks that just maybe, I can offer some insight, information, tips and camaraderie to those of you just starting your unique path.

There is something that binds us when we feel the same pain. We like to know that there are others out there have the same battle scars that we have. It gives us strength to know that we are not alone in our struggles. And to you, you are not alone. You are among some of the strongest women out there. It was some of these women, sharing this same journey who gave me strength when I needed it.

You will get through this. HOW you get through this is up to you.

I promise you one thing, you are so much stronger then you think you are, only someone like you could handle this.

I don’t know if what I have to say will actually help anyone. I’m completely a spaz, I talk way to much, and most of that is out of my ass, but even if this blog ends up being just for Ryker. I know my time journaling will be well spent.