We scheduled the initial consultation with the surgeon for right around 34 weeks pregnant. When the day finally came, I was anxious to meet him. I had heard great things about him and his team and was particularly looking forward to seeing some before and after shots of his prior patients. As we were sitting in the waiting room, I was looking around and it seemed like a regular pediatrician's office. I picked up a pamphlet from the table next to me which was when it hit me like a ton of bricks - this doctor was a surgeon. My baby would, at a very young age, be put under anesthesia and would undergo surgery. I almost lost it. I obviously knew the procedure for fixing a cleft lip but it was at that moment when I realized MY baby would be going through all of that. It was a bit sobering. Upon meeting the surgeon, I was put at ease. He's a younger man with seven children of his own. He told me that he understands the emotions of putting your child through surgery - He treats every patient as if they were his own and makes sure to get the best results possible on the first time. We also met with the nurse practitioner on the cleft team who showed us the before and afters (which were remarkable) and talked to us a bit about feeding after the baby is born and post surgery. I left the appointment feeling like we were in very good hands.
As I was going through the last trimester of my pregnancy, our son's cleft remained at the front of my mind, yet it became a non-issue at the same time. What I mean is that I was constantly thinking about his cleft - yet the worry was subsiding. I constantly wondered what his cleft would look like and hoping breastfeeding would work out. My husband and I would try to talk about names for the baby but I felt like I couldn't decide on one because all I could think about was making sure his health was unaffected by his cleft. His cleft became all I thought about when baby was the topic.
At my 32 week appointment, my OB told me he wanted me to start going for weekly Non-Stress Tests (NST's) because cleft affected babies sometimes have difficulty swallowing and cycling fluid causing a build up of fluid. I didn't like the idea of constantly being monitored - having a more hands off view of pregnancy, labor and delivery, I felt like by having weekly NST's that we were just looking for something to be wrong. I went to my first NST which went great and baby was looking good.
My last few weeks were physically uncomfortable. I continued working out everyday which I'm so glad I did as it gave me a little bit of "me time" every day and helped me prepare for labor. But I was also exhausted and ready to be done. I passed the time by deep cleaning and organizing our house, taking our older kids to the pool and day dreaming of our sweet little baby soon to come.
My last OB appointment was on July 3rd - my due date. My OB was out of the office so I saw one of the nurse practitioners. Baby's growth was right on track and I was looking good. I was already dilating so I asked her to strip my membranes and see if things would go anywhere. As my husband and I were on our way to pick up our kids, my mother-in-law suggested Jason take me out for lunch since I would be having a baby any day and "I deserved it" (being treated to lunch). Over lunch, I had a mild panic attack realizing that our new little one would be here soon and that all the mystery surrounding his cleft would be revealed - could we successfully breastfeed? Would his palate be affected after all? Would he be healthy? I confided my fears in my husband who helped me calm down and realize that whatever was going to happen would be exactly how things were supposed to go and that we would make it through just fine. Jason was never worried through this whole process and I envied him for that. I feel like it was my fear that drove me to do all the research that I had done over the last few months and I felt better prepared for it.