September 15, 2010, just before noon, Ryker Knox was born. He was 7lb, 9oz and 21 inches long. The delivery was perfect. Smooth, with no surprises. I felt as ready as I ever would be to meet our little boy and finally see what we would be up against. I was so completely excited and thrilled, and though I hate to admit it, scared. Not of the delivery, not of the pain, but scared of how severe the cleft was actually going to be, and how I would feel once I actually saw it.
I had set myself up for the worst case scenario. Meaning a wide cleft through the lip, palate, and gum line. I looked at millions of cleft photos in weird attempt to desensitize myself, which, I actually recommend. I was preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best. That way, I thought I would be pleasantly surprised when it wasn't as severe as I had planned for.
Well, It was EXACTLY what I had planned for. Ryker had a relatively wide cleft....all the way through. Lip, gum line, and full palate.
I am so grateful I did what I needed to do to prepare myself, and really, it made a HUGE difference for the better in how I felt. But I still couldn't escape the fact that my heart was broken when it was confirmed that it was indeed, exactly what I had expected.
I desperately wanted Ryker's Birth Day to be a celebration, not a day for mourning. But in truth, it was a day for both. I knew what the full cleft would mean to my precious little baby and my family. It meant more procedures and surgeries over a longer span of time, more heartache for Ryker's discomfort and pain, and more struggle for my family as a whole. But it was what it was, and we were a team from day one. And a strong team at that! It wasn't what I had hoped for, but we were ready.
These feelings lingered the entire time I was in the hospital but quickly were overshadowed by my absolute, unconditional love for this perfect addition to my life. He really was darling, EXTRA wide smile and all. We were so excited for our little man to finally be here! We were so grateful for him and couldn't wait to be his advocate.
I was not thrilled by the situation, but emotionally, I was at a point of absolute assurance that I could handle it. WE, could handle it. And we could handle ALL of it. Whatever IT was.
I knew Ryker would be a rockstar. And he has been.
Okay, so here are the nitty gritties. I think emotionally preparing yourself, as best you can, for the unexpected emotions, and situations you might face, is an absolute must. For me, I did this by learning about the worst case scenario, and then preparing myself for that, by expecting just that. For me, that worked well. We had a plan of attack all set up, and somehow that was extremely calming to feel like I had some control in an uncontrollable situation.
This is our muffin Ryker Knox, and this is what a full unilateral cleft looks like.
I asked the surgeon where Ryker's fell in severity. He said it was about a 6-7 with 10 being the worst. Bilateral are typically the absolute most severe. A bilateral cleft is where a cleft is on both sides. Almost always they can tell in the ultrasound if it is bilateral or unilateral as well as what side it is on.
Fun Fact- Guess who had a cleft? Tom Brokaw! Yep! Crazy right? And that man is like 100 years old! Think of all the amazing new technology and procedures we have since he got his repaired! King Tut also had a cleft palate. Weird.
Anyway, more pictures...
So pink and perfect. I was in love.
Me. One proud, excited, scared, nervously thrilled, ready for an adventure, mama. Hold on tight, here we go!
Okay. So I couldn't help it! I had to give you a sneak peek of our little stud at 7 months old. Don't you just want to squish him!