Within the same week I have been told that Porkchop is "special needs" and "you really shouldn't worry because it's such a minor cosmetic thing". Nothing against children with special needs, but we don't even know that yet. As of today his special need is that he is special and he has needs. And just a cosmetic issue? How about this? Next time you have a baby please check the box next to "Life isn't hard enough, lets add a little spice just for kicks". Freaken geniuses the both of 'em but on opposite ends of the spectrum! Hey, guess what folks? You're both wrong, but more similar than you'd think. You looked at my kid, assumed, and all you saw was ICD 9 code 749.20- left unilateral cleft lip and palate. How 'bout next time you avoid making an ass out of u and me and get to know me or my kid before you start offering advice?
If I were of a different culture my totem might be a bear. Husband says dragon because it's scarier, but I'm sticking with bear. There is something deep, visceral and almost instinctual that makes me a scary beast when it comes to my babies. There is something deep in the psyche of a mother bear that makes her a scary beast when it comes to her cubs. She'll lay everything on the line to protect them from even perceived danger. Even those exhibiting just mere curiosity will get laid flat if they're not careful. Don't get too close. You shouldn't even risk looking cross-eyed at a baby bear cub or you risk a swift blow to the head from her giant mother paw. It is her instinct. She couldn't even help it if she wanted to.
Over the past weeks I've felt that mama bear urge to smack upside the head anyone who comes too close swell. Anyone who might not be able to get past the cleft and on to his eyes, his cheeks, and his fuzzy duck hair!
"Reach down and touch your baby's hair," Marlene instructed.
I'm sorry. Huh? What? I was kind of in the middle of pushing.
"He has hair?"
"Yup. Lots of dark hair."
Suddenly I found the strength to push a few more times. I just had to see this. A baby with dark hair? Never in a million did I think our offspring would even have hair, much less dark hair. He came out, I scooped him up, and looked at his scrunched little face.
"He has a cleft lip and palate," she gently told us and then stood back to gauge our reaction and let us love on our baby.
"I know. It's okay. Really, it's okay. I know."
Call it an instinct. A premonition. A blessing. Call it whatever you want.
During my pregnancy, I confided in a few close friends that I felt like there was something not quite right. I felt strongly that I would carry a baby to term, but there was something off. A feeling that I needed to prepare myself. Their responses were that every mom worried about that. I'm glad I told them out loud. They can now vouch that I wasn't nuts. When I told Marlene and Kaleem that I knew, I wasn't trying to make them or myself feel better. Even though I didn't know exactly what it would be, I knew. When I saw him, I knew it was him. I recognized my son.
The funny thing is that even though it was really obvious (and still is), it's not what I saw. I saw his dark hair and his eyes. And his cheeks! I'm in love with his cheeks. Of course I see it! I'm not an idiot. I am a nurse for crying in the night! One who has been complemented lots and lots on her assessment skills. What kind of dumb-a would I make if I missed assessing a cleft lip and palate? It's not that I don't see it, it's just that as his mama I see so much more than that.
Sucks to be you if you can't see past it because at five weeks the little dude rocks and I have a mean left hook.
My sister was also on the receiving end of a dumb shmuck's comment. After a long, hard week it was really un-necessary and mean. Most tragic of all was that she didn't know what I was talking about when I referenced Tom Petty. Jess, this is for you.