Hello, My name is Natasha. I have 3 beautiful children one of whom was born with a bilateral cleft lip and bilateral cleft palate. After our second child was born we decided that we weren’t going to have anymore children. We had our son and daughter that was perfect for us. I was going to get my tubes tied but at 23 years old they said i was too young and wouldn’t do the procedure, so we decided to go with the mirena iud. I had the Mirena placed in September of 08 when my daughter was 2 months old. In October of 09 i started getting heartburn often which i never get unless i am pregnant. I had even got sick a couple of times. My husband jokingly said you better not be pregnant, I assured him that i wasn’t. Well, a few days later i was walking through the store and out of nowhere got sick so i decided to buy a test just to prove to myself that i wasn’t pregnant. I came home took the test and glanced at the results as i was pitching it into the garbage because i knew it was going to read not pregnant. I had to do a double take because i swore that it read PREGNANT in big bold letters (it was a digital one) but certainly i must have just missed the word NOT. Nope sure enough pregnant i was. I called my doctor and got in right away the next day because of having the Mirena in they wanted to do an ultrasound. Well they did the ultrasound and all they seen was a sac but no sign of baby. he went through the it could be tubal, early miscarriage, never formed etc. BUT i knew that it was just too early to see the fetal pole even. The same thing happened with my oldest daughter scared me to death we had 3 weeks of ultrasounds before we could see anything so I knew this time around it was the same thing my body just picks up on the hormones so fast that i test positive at only 2 weeks pregnant.
That I was just 2 weeks pregnant with our “surprise” baby. At about 5-6 weeks into the pregnancy i came down with H1N1. They put me on tamiflu and Robitussin with codeine in. I had never felt so sick in my life. Two different doctors ok’d the medicines and with a 4 year old and a 1 year old at home i had to get better and fast so i took the meds. At our twenty week scan we went in excited to find out what we were having. Our baby of course was being stubborn and after an hour of a 3d ultrasound still we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl. Our doctor came into the ultrasound room and told us everything looks great. the baby’s heart and brain were developing nicely and he seen no cause for concern. Then he asked if we would stick around for a routine appointment and to meet him in the exam room when we were finished. We did! This was in January of 010. He came into the exam room and said that everything looked good but he did detect a cleft lip. I was pretty shocked that i don’t even think it registered really. I just nodded my head and said OK.
My husband on the other hand started questioning everything. What do you mean cleft lip? How bad is it? What’s it going to look like? The doctor said once they fix the lip it will be just a small scar you know like Joaquin Phoenix. My husband asked who? That’s when i piped in finally and said you know Johnny Cash in the movie. Well that set him off again, that’s not a small scar he said you can see that from a mile away! He was pretty upset at the point so i just ended the conversation and we left. Then i got home and bamb! It hit me. I jumped online and started researching EVERYTHING! Worse case scenarios best case scenarios i mean everything. We went in 2 months later for another ultrasound to confirm the cleft. Yep! it was still there. A unilateral complete cleft even the palate looked good from what they could tell but no promises on that because it’s hard to detect the palate. So i thought for sure it was a boy. Unilateral cleft lip without palate involvement is more common in boys so that must be what we were having. The nest ultrasound we had suggested that we were having a little girl. That couldn’t be because the research (as you can tell tons of research going through my head) the research states that just a cleft lip without palate involvement in girls isn’t very common. Cleft palates in girls is what is common. Nope they made a mistake I’m having a boy i kept saying. I bought all girl clothes knowing i would have to return them and i bought the baby gear in gender neutral because i was having boy. Which we went through the normal feelings of how am i going to look at my baby. Will he/she be cute to me? Will i want to take pictures? those type of questions. My husband didn’t really talk about it. If you don’t mention the elephant in the room then it must not be there right? So i even thought well if it’s a boy that’s better than a girl right? Scars on boys look dangerous and attractive (I’m thinking adulthood at this point) but would a little girl with a scar get asked to prom? I know shallow i felt so guilty for this but it’s what i thought.
Well on June 8th 2010 I started having contractions at about 1 am so at about 4 am i woke up my husband and said it’s time to head to the hospital. As soon as we got to the room i told all the nurses our baby has a cleft lip and we’re not sure about the palate. I wanted everyone informed. Surely they would whisk our baby away to the NICU like i had been reading about. I was prepared for this. At 10:22 am our little girl Addison Paige was born weighing in at 8 lbs 14 oz. Not only did she have a unilateral complete cleft lip she also had a unilateral incomplete cleft…….yep that’s right she has a bilateral cleft lip one side is complete the other is not and the nostril is intact on that side. i’ve been told by several that it is a “unique” cleft. So they took her away to weigh her and clean her up.. They were shouting her weight to me and her height and that she had red hair. All i wanted to know is if the palate was ok. The nurse looked at my husband and I and said it’s in her palate too. We cried then they brought us our little Addie. OMG! she was beautiful and perfect in every way. The cleft that had bothered me my whole pregnancy did not bother me one bit now. By this time everyone was leaving the room and i asked if they had to take the baby to the NICU and they said no they were going to go give her, her shots and just look her over more thoroughly and bring her back within the hour. WOW! i was expecting to be apart from my Abby for longer than that. This was great news. They brought her to me and showed me how to use the haberman. They and her both were great at it and i felt somewhat comfortable with it. The next morning i had my tubal ( it was allowed this time) and later that evening Addie and i both were released from the hospital. When Addie was 8 days old she spit up for the first time and choked on it she started to turn blue and i of course was a wreck who didn’t know what to do. i got her suctioned out and breathing but i was still so scared. I called my husband and we rushed her to the hospital. They did chest x rays on her and kept us overnight to monitor her. Everything was fine thankfully, she just wanted to scare me and keep me on my toes. I did request to be sent home with a sleep apnia machine to ease my mind. If i was ever going to sleep again she needed this machine. They humored me and sent us home with one. When Addie was 10 days old we made the 15 hour trip to Chicago from South Dakota to meet with the Shriner’s team. We went over everything and they said they were happy with how she was doing but we needed to monitor her weight. She went from 8 14 to 8 3 and had stayed there. So i kept pushing the formula and at her 1 month check up she was 9 lbs. Doing great they said. Addison just turned two months and she is now a whopping 11 lbs 1 0z and in the 75th percentile for weight. She is such a happy baby who is always hungry and smiling. We took her off her Apnia machine about 2 weeks ago because we had never had an incident like that since the first one. I now feel completely comfortable with her and she is not as fragile as i had thought. She is scheduled to have her first surgery (lip repair) on September 30th. I am excited and scared at the same time. I can’t wait to see her new smile but my husband (who also is completely comfortable with his little princess and now has no problem addressing any concerns about her cleft) my husband and i also know as much as we will love her new smile we will most definitely miss her big beautiful smile she has now.