A Christmas story for all of us in the cleft and craniofacial community:
Once upon a time, a couple received some blessed news from their doctor. They were going to have a baby girl! This couple was filled with joy and knew it was a real blessing because this baby was going to be due around Christmas time.
They both thought what joy and comfort this little child will bring to their lives. Both of them reached out to their families and told them of the great news. Fathers and mothers giggled excitedly, hugged and kissed them both, and let them know that anything they needed then they could count on them.
For the next few months, the mother’s belly continued to expand as the baby was growing. The father, who made sure to be home for his wife as much as possible from his busy work schedule, made sure that he was always there for her.
One day, the doctor’s office called the mother. She answered the phone and heard the nurse say, “The doctor would like to see both you and your husband sometime this week. He feels that it’s important for you both to be there.”
The mother was a bit taken aback, yet really didn’t give it much thought. “OK, I’ll make sure we are there. Thanks,” she said and hung up.
She called her husband and told him about the phone call. “Don’t worry, honey, I will be there with you and we will listen to the doctor,” he said.
“But what if it is bad news?” she said.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, OK. We will go to the appointment together and see what he says,” he said.
So both of them get to the doctor’s office and, upon their appointed time, are directed to the doctor’s office. Not a patient room, but his own office.
They both sat down in front of his desk. The doctor arrived just a minute later, and encouraged both of them to come over and sit on a sofa together away from the desk.
Once they did, the doctor sat down next to them and started talking.
“After reviewing some of the recent sonograms that we made, we’ve discovered that your child has something going on with it that you might want to know about,” the doctor said.
The couple looked at one another and grasped their hands tightly. “We just want our baby to be OK,” the mother said.
“I know you do,” the doctor said. “I’ll put this very gently. Your child has a congenital anomaly that is commonly known as a cleft lip and cleft palate. I noticed it just on her left side, so it’s not what is commonly called a unilateral cleft and palate.”
“What does this mean, doctor? Will our baby be OK?” the father asked.
“Are you asking if that can be repaired? Oh sure, it’s done by hospitals across the world,” the doctor said. “I should say pretty much all of the hospitals in the United States can handle it. Yet sometimes, there have been cases where children born with cleft lip and cleft palate anomalies have other issues going on in their bodies. Now I have not determined if there are other conditions yet with your baby girl, but for now I can say that the cleft lip and cleft palate are things that will need to be addressed.”
The wife looked at her husband and asked, “What are we going to do?”
The husband said, “We are going to love and care for this child, no matter what. We have both wanted a baby for a long time, so we are now going to have this child. It is a Christmas child and it will have a Christmas smile for us and our families.”
The doctor interrupted. “So I want to let you both know one other thing, and I’m simply doing this from a medical standpoint. Sometimes, when I tell couples this news, some of them don’t want … ”
“Stop right there, doctor!” the mother said. “We are not going to even discuss that matter at all. I appreciate you wanting to bring it up, but that’s not even a consideration. I’m giving birth to this child and will love her no matter what.”
“Very well,” the doctor said. “I just wanted to be upfront with you both. Please know that I will do my best to make sure everything goes well with your child. There is a wonderful craniofacial team here at the hospital, and I would encourage you over the next few weeks to meet with them. The more pre-birth preparation you can do, then the better opportunity you will have to enjoy being with your child and making sure she gets the best care possible.”
The couple left the doctor’s office and got back into the husband’s car.
While being brave inside with the doctor, both of them looked at each other and started to cry. They both knew what was ahead of them … and simply wanted to have a healthy, wonderful baby girl.
The husband reached over to his wife, took her face in his hands, looked her in the eyes and said, “Honey, I will be with you all the way. I’ll make sure our baby gets the best care possible. Whatever happens, you and I will walk through this together. We’ll have our Christmas baby and make sure you and I fall in love with her Christmas smile. I love you, baby.”
“I love you, too,” the mother said between sniffles. “I don’t know what I did wrong.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” the husband said. “Not one thing. Now let’s go home.”
To be continued …