*Please read all the way through. Don’t Google it!*
We took three essential pieces of information away from our 18-week ultrasound. First, and most importantly: It’s a boy! Again. Second, in keeping with Walker tradition, our baby is as healthy (and large) as a baby ox! His spine is beautiful, his heart is perfect, his kidneys are both present and accounted for. He has two arms, two legs, ten fingers and ten toes. We are unbelievably grateful for that news.
Third, the doctor at the ultrasound facility, Dr. Russell, was suspicious that our baby may have a cleft lip. She couldn’t call it for sure. Even after two hours of poking, prodding, having me hang upside down and a variety of other creative tactics this little guy wouldn’t show his face, keeping it well hidden behind two tiny fists.
The first — of course a girl would have been more exciting news but we were thrilled at the idea of welcoming baby boy #4. The second — was awesome news which we have learned not to take for granted.
The third — we weren’t to concerned. I mean come on, this is America, not some third world country. I took my prenatal vitamins every day since before I was pregnant, I’m not taking any risky meds, drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs, there is no history of clefts on either side of our family and they really didn’t get that good a look at the baby’s face. Unlikely.
BUT, on the off chance our baby really does have a cleft, we decided, it can’t be an accident. We have every confidence that Heavenly Father meant to send this baby our way. That this baby who is coming to our family needs us and we need him. That our little boy was constructed precisely to His specifications.
We felt pretty good about whatever outcome awaited us and anxiously counted down the days until we’d get to see our baby’s precious face.
Yesterday, after six long weeks of waiting, another hour in a waiting room and yet another hour poking, prodding, and even zapping baby with this awful fetal cattle-prod type instrument, we caught one semi-decent glimpse of our baby’s face and his complete unilateral cleft lip.
Dr. Russell was out sick so we got to chat via web cam with a doc from another facility about the limited images we were able to get. Yes, his lip has a cleft. No it doesn’t appear that the palate is affected, but more images are needed to get a better idea.
We have a long road ahead of us. We will meet with a special cleft team or surgeon some time in the third trimester and we may go in for another ultrasound to get a clearer picture. Only when he arrives will we know for sure if it is just the lip that is affected (bodes really well for breastfeeding) or if the palate is involved which can mean special bottles, feeding positions, potential ear tube problems, speech, dental and orthodontic issues, etc. Although our midwife has assured us that breastfeeding may be possible depending on the type of cleft palate, based on the ultrasound pics she thinks our odds are good!
At each ultrasound, our baby’s body has been scoured for any other markers of syndromes associated with clefts but everything looks perfect. They will continue to keep a close eye on his heart just to be sure but the cleft seems to be an isolated incident.
As for what may have caused the cleft — no clue! It is usually a combination of genetic and environmental factors. None of them seem to apply but from what I have learned, that’s often the way it goes with clefts.
If you are looking for more information, please DON’T GOOGLE IT!!! I’ve been assured that that’s a really bad idea. Instead, I would refer you to the websites listed on this message board. Or to Cleftline.org.
We have wonderful family and friends and are very sure that we will have tons of support as we navigate this new adventure. We are positive that our baby will be fine in the long run. It’s just a question of how much work it will take to get him there.
We are so grateful for the three perfect, healthy boys we already have in our home and that we are blessed to be joined by another perfect little spirit. We are so grateful for his health, his growth, all of his perfect functioning parts and for his feisty personality that is already showing through. We are grateful that if we have to go through something like this that it’s doable, fixable and will be nothing but a scar by the time this kid reaches preschool. And we are grateful that our family has been deemed a worthy home for this special little boy.
We are waiting on a photo of our baby’s darling face from the ultrasound place and will post that and updates as often as we get them and we thank you all in advance for your love and support.
**Got the photo! You can see it here.**