Saturday, December 3, 2011

Smiles

Two years ago this month we had our "big" ultrasound of our daughter Bailey. I was 24 weeks pregnant. I already had a love/hate relationship with ultrasounds. On one hand, they are simply amazing because you get to see your tiny, little, alien-looking baby kicking around inside of you. But sometimes you get devastating news instead - like a miscarriage in the case of our first pregnancy.

This particular day in December was the day we learned that our child would have a cleft. To a pregnant woman, it can feel like the end of the world if the grocery store is out of your favorite kind of ice cream, so it is no shock that I was devastated. Jared was also upset, but he held it together much better. [I attribute part of that to the lack of crazy hormones raging through his body.] Since the OB doctor told us there was still a chance our baby could have a cleft as a part of some other syndrome, I went into worry mode. I was a hot mess. Like a crying at work hot mess. (In hindsight - definitely should have used up a sick day on that one.) It took a good two weeks for me to chill out and stop crying at night.

Our family, friends, and coworkers would tell us things like, "At least they can fix it." (I even had my manager tell me, "It's not a big deal. You can be glad it isn't worse." She also did/said some awesomely not-cool things later, but that is a story for another day...) Everyone had good intentions. All those comments were basically true, and I knew that deep down, but I didn't need to keep hearing it over and over. {Remember the pregnancy hormones, people!}

A co-worker at the Med Center gave my email address to someone she knew. This friend of hers had just given birth to a sweet baby boy with a cleft lip and palate. Her email to me was like a blessing. It felt so nice to have someone to talk to who understood what we were feeling and could reassure us that everything would turn out okay.

And it was. We have a precious daughter who was born with a different smile than most babies. We only had that unique smile for 3 short months. I look at pictures and can't believe that was her. God bless all the wonderful strangers who approached us in stores and told us how beautiful she was. God bless the people who commented on our Facebook pictures and saw past her cleft just like we did. Those first months were hard, hard work. But we are lucky to have had the means and resources to help Bailey get the surgeries she needed.

Not everyone does, especially in other countries. That is why I love these sites: Smile Train and Operation Smile. {I seriously doubt you can watch the videos on these sites without tearing up. Just try it.} Just $250 for one surgery and a child's life is changed forever. They are no longer outcasts in their own communities. They truly get a second chance at life. Right now is the season for giving. Many television commercials ask for your help for abadonned animals, premature infants, domestic violence victims, the poor, the hungry. If you ever feel motivated to donate to a worthy charity, keep Smile Train and Operation Smile in mind.


***And if anyone reading ever wants to talk about having a child with a cleft, or if they have a friend who is having a child with a cleft - whatever, feel free to leave a comment and I will write you back. I am grateful for the help when I needed it, and I am happy to pass it on. ***

1 comment:

  1. Vanessa, since meeting Bailey we have donated to Smile Train every year! Your girl was beautiful before her surgery and she is beautiful now!!!

    ReplyDelete

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