I remember sitting down in the ultrasound room and getting ready for it to begin. I was so excited but so nervous. I kept feeling like something would be wrong. She started the ultrasound and I kept feeling incredible relief everytime things checked out okay. I remember her pointing out the spine, and I thought for sure she was going to tell me the baby had spina bifida. But he didn't. Thank goodness. I thought, ' why do I always worry? Things always turn out okay.' Then we realized that we were having another boy!! Excitement and joy erased any nervous feelings I had. I was floating on mommy cloud nine. She mentioned an issue with his kidneys, but insisted it wasn't a big deal. The ultrasound was wrapping up and I was feeling so happy and so grateful that everything was okay. And then. . .
"Oh. This baby has a cleft lip."
It was said so casually. As if it didn't matter one way or another. But at that moment, my world had changed. It mattered.
I still remember the sick feeling that overcame me. "What?" She pointed out the cleft, told us how common it was- as if that made it any better- and then dismissed us to meet with the doctor.
I remember waitng with Greg. Not really knowing what to say. I kept looking at him, trying to read his thoughts and feelings. I remember putting on a brave face and saying, "It's not really that big of a deal. There are worse things."
I remember willing myself to believe that was true.
I held back tears as we talked to the doctor. I tried to be calm and collected as we talked about what this would mean for us and our baby. He said they fix it so fast, usually by six months, and I remember thinking, 'my baby will have a cleft for 6 months?!' It was almost too much to handle.
I kept trying to call my dad. Since he's a medical professional, I felt like I needed to tell him. I needed to hear what he had to say. I needed him to tell me it was okay. But I couldn't get ahold of him.
We went to pick up Hunter from our brother and sister-in-law's. I took a deep breath as we got out of the car and told myself I would hold it together. 'It's not a big deal'. My sister-in-law had an excited and expectant look on her face when she opened the door. "It's a boy!" I told her, as cheerfully as I could. When we got inside, she asked, "And everything is okay?"
That's when the tears came. I couldn't hold them back any longer. "He has a cleft lip," I choked out. She cried as I cried and gave me a hug. At that moment, it had become real.
The next few days were a whirlwind of emotions. I went from being fine one moment to sobbing the next. I would wake up in the morning, and for an instant I would think it was all a bad dream. And then reality hit, and I cried all over again. I couldn't picture having a baby with a birth defect. I didn't understand why my baby wasn't going to be perfect, like everyone else's. Greg and I looked up pictures and information online. It didn't help. It scared us. I just couldn't believe this was actually happening.
One year later, I look back at that day. The emotions I felt that day are still there. Whenever I hear results from ultrasounds, I still cry. All those emotions I felt on that day come rushing back so easily. Realizing that something is wrong with your baby. A crushed dream. There are no words to describe what that feels like. I don't think I'll ever really get over that.
But, my January 2012 self looks back at that day with a whole new perspective. I wish I could go back and say, "It is all going to be okay! It all turns out fine." I would have never been able to guess that I would LOVE my baby's cleft lip. I would have never been able to guess that I would be so heartbroken when it was time for his repair. I would never have been able to guess how kind everyone would be about his defect,about his looking different. I would never have been able to guess the friends I would make, as a whole new world of cleft lip families opened up to us. And I would have never been able to guess that a year later, the cleft remains only as a memory. Who knew that in one year, something that seemed like such a huge deal, is already gone.
That part of Dallin's and our life is over. Most people who see Dallin now don't even realize what he has been through. I realize now, more than ever, that the cleft was never meant to be Dallin's trial. It was always meant to be ours.
I look back over this past year and see how much I have grown, as a person, as a mother. I see all the times I fell to my knees and pleaded with my Heavenly Father to heal my baby. To remove this defect from him. I see the growth I went through as I had to have faith, and rely on my Heavenly Father's plan, and trust that it would work out as it should. I see how my testimony was strengthened as we witnessed a miracle- no cleft palate. I see how I have developed more charity,as I look at babies with defects differently now. I have such a special love for them. I see the strength I gained as I watched my baby have surgery, and then go through a rough healing period. This "trial" ended up not being a trial at all, but a major blessing in our lives.
We are going in to PCMC next week to check again on Dallin's kidneys. I am nervous, of course, wondering what we might find out. But I am also filled with faith and hope, gained from all our experiences so far. And I just know that my January 2013 self is looking back and telling me, "It's all going to be okay! It all turns out fine."
I want to thank each of you for your love and support. I needed it more than you will ever know. I recognize that this trial was minor in comparison to so many other ones. But when going through a trial, I think it's hard to have that perspective. It was hard for me. And I so appreciate all of you who comforted us and mourned with us. I will never forget the love I felt from everyone during this period of time. It is the love of our Heavenly Father, being expressed through all of you.
2011 started out rough for us. But looking back, it was a year full of tremendous blessings! I have such a grateful heart for being able to witness the hand of the Lord in our lives. So as we start 2012, I look back at what we've been through with gratitude, and optimistically look ahead at what's to come. I know that the Lord cares about us. Each one of us. I know that He is involved with our lives and that things work out for the best.
"The Lord will not forsake us. . . if we put our trust in Him, if we pray to Him, if we live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers." Gordon B. Hinckley
Thank you, everyone, for being a part of our cleft story.