My 20 week ultrasound this pregnancy fell on Valentine's Day. It was a very busy day! I dropped off my 4 year old at preschool, came home, and started on my lengthy to-do list. We were having my sister-in-law and her family over for dinner after our ultrasound so I had to start making my fabulous dinner of pot roast, homemade rolls, and delicious sides. The day passed semi quickly and before I knew it, we were on our way to the ultrasound. I had been asked at least two dozen times that day if I was excited, and I was, but I couldn't shake a feeling I had been having all day... not an impending doom kind of feeling, but I knew something was off.
We made it to the doctor's office with plenty of time to spare which almost never happens (we're late a lot, lol). The ultrasound tech called us back and we told her that once she got a good gender shot, we wanted to guess before she told us if the baby was a girl or boy. As soon as she put the magic wand on my tummy, we saw our baby's nose and mouth for about half a second before he moved and went face down. In that half a second, I saw the cleft. It was so small and just looked like a dark line on his upper lip. It was such a short glimpse that I kept questioning what I had actually seen. We watched our baby do baby things, got measurements, and got the gender shot - we are having a boy! We were so excited! I thought the appointment was running a bit long and realized the tech was pretty focused on getting a better shot of our son's face which was when I realized my initial thought was correct though she never said anything about it. We finished the ultrasound and went to meet with the doctor for a usual check up. After the appointment, he confirmed my cleft suspicion and referred us to the Maternal Fetal Center of the hospital for a follow up ultrasound a week later.
I left his office in shock. I wanted to call my list of friends and family who were eagerly expecting a call to know if the baby was a boy or girl but I couldn't pick up the phone. I wasn't in despair but didn't feel the joy I was so hoping to. I tried talking to my husband about it but he's so not a worrier. He just kept telling me that everything would be ok and not to worry... but I couldn't help it! We finally made the first phone call to a friend who I knew would be so excited and comforting about the situation and she was. Then I called my mom and my sister in law. The more people I told, the more real everything became.
We got back home and started dinner with my other sister in law and her family where the conversation about the cleft came up. We were talking about cleft lips, palates, what clefts meant, other complications that could come with a cleft... it was an emotionally exhausting conversation for me. After dinner, we all headed off to church for a Valentine's dance which is where it really hit me. My husband and I had gotten into really the smallest disagreement which just pushed me over the edge. I ran outside and just let it all out. I didn't understand how this was happening. I had been having a picture perfect pregnancy, I was doing everything right, we had no family history of clefts. I was frustrated the my husband was so nonchalant about the whole thing. I was worried about my unborn son and how his cleft would affect breastfeeding (something that is hugely important to me). I was worried about other possible complications and future surgeries. My husband held me while I literally sobbed in the parking lot.
I wish I could say that was it, that I was stronger after that moment and was ready to face what all of this meant after that but I wasn't. I still had moments of "why me? why my baby?" I gave myself a day and a half to "grieve" our son's diagnosis. I laid on the couch, watched TV, snuggled my older two kids and just spent time with my family - they were the only people I wanted. I didn't go anywhere or really do anything. I just existed and that was ok. I just needed to process everything and start preparing. Two days after my initial ultrasound I woke up and was ready to move on. I made the choice to start learning everything I could and prepare myself and find out exactly this meant for our family. I posted it on Facebook (people probably thought I had died because I went from talking about being excited for the ultrasound to not responding to anything at all, lol) and started answering the questions that followed.
I scheduled the follow up ultrasound for 1 week from my initial ultrasound and focused on getting to that date to learn more.