When BOY was born with a cleft lip, we knew that our lives would be just a little different. Here we were, parents for the first time, and with the added stress and blessing of being adoptive parents. The cleft lip was a surprise. It had not been revealed in previous ultrasounds and if it had, it would have only made us worry. More. And we were worried enough. As confident as we were in our birthmother's decision for us to become BOY's forever parents, you can never be 100% confident that life will go that way. But, deep down, I truly believed that all of this would go forward and we would finally become parents.
It was scary, because we knew nothing of cleft lips. We never once considered not moving forward with the adoption. This has been asked of me before, and I find it an odd question. Perhaps it isn't. But, for us, there was no other path. The minute BOY was placed in my arms in the nursery, I became his mother. I was so ready. And here was our little miracle. The baby who started kicking the moment his birthmother began reading our letter on the adoption agency's web site. There are no accidents. This was meant to be. The nurses were quick to tell us that a cleft lip was nothing. Merely cosmetic. We were concerned, but one of the blessings of becoming a parent of an infant is that you have to just keep moving forward. Your entire focus becomes ...feeding, changing and awakening at all hours of the night for this tiny, most precious being.
BOY had no problem taking to a bottle. He polished them off like he was downing pints at his very own Oktoberfest. His personality was clear from the beginning. He was active and eager to get on to the next thing.
By the time he was 7 weeks old, he was over 10 lbs; the weight requirement for surgery. I will never forget having to hand him over to the nurse and watch her carry him, crying, down the long hallway toward the O.R. I grabbed E and just held on for dear life. The surgery took over 4 hours. We were there just after he awakened from the anesthesia, and that was difficult because BOY was covered in wires and was very confused. We were able to pick him up and give him a bottle right away, which helped to calm him. The surgery had been successful, but we noticed that his upper lip pulled up slightly.
On our follow-up visit, the surgeon pointed out to us what we had noticed. The slight pull up of the lip, instead of it being a smooth line. Also, the scar was a bit red in color. At our appointment 6 months later, the surgeon continued to be concerned about the redness and the pulling up of his lip. We were to come back again in another 6 months to assess his lip once again.
Meanwhile, he continued to astound us with his physical abilities. At 4 months he was pushing himself across the floor on his stomach. At 6 months he did the army crawl. During playgroup picnics, he was the only one who wouldn't stay on the blanket. He was always focused on something at a distance that he could zero in on, and did, by crawling over the rest of the babies and moms to get there. By 10 months (when GIRL was born) he started walking. He has always been on the move and is curious about everything.
When BOY was 18 months old, he had his 2ND surgery. We were a little reluctant as by then he looked perfect to us. And would it really make a noticeable difference? But, the surgeon, being a perfectionist as all good surgeons are, explained that each surgery is a new experience. A new opportunity. His hope was that the new scar tissue would heal differently, not be as red in color and that the scar tissue beneath the incision would be softer. This surgery was called a lip revision. Because he was so active, they thought it might help to give him a drug to relax him beforehand. The nurse explained to us that in 5% of children, it didn't work. And...it didn't work. So, he was quite scared, being more aware of his surroundings when the hand off came this time. The surgery, although less complicated, still took quite a long time - from what I remember over 2 hours. He was very agitated when he awoke and cried until we literally walked out of the hospital.
The surgeon was right, as this time his lip was beautifully aligned, the scar tissue less red and it has continued fading to white over time. Today, you can hardly see it. For people who didn't know BOY back then, the scar escapes their notice. They assume it is from a fall or accident, if they notice it at all. It will always be a part of him and if anything, those experiences melded him to our hearts even more. He will make the girls swoon with that little scar. There's something Sexy... something Rough & Ready about a man who has a scar. A little dangerous, perhaps? Definitely intriguing. That's how I like to see it.