All the fears, the worries, the concerns — they had a place, somewhere. But right then, I was going to meet my gorgeous son and love him with all my heart.
here were mountains of medical gobbledygook. Our parents, the only ones who knew about the cleft lip, helped us sift through it. We found out about a doctor right near us in Yerushalayim, Dr. Alexander Margulis, and scheduled a consultation.
“You’re far from the only family dealing with this,” the doctor told us, explaining that approximately one in every two thousand babies is born with the condition. He pulled out stacks of photos and spread them across his desk.
There were cute babies, some presurgery and some post. Squealing toddlers and sulking teenagers. Many had visible scars, but one thing was clear: They’d been born with a cleft and were living full lives despite it.
He also let me know I’d be able to nurse, even though it might be difficult. That was huge for me. At least that part of my dream — where I nursed my sweet-smelling newborn — at least that part was still intact.
We arranged to come to Dr. Margulis’s clinic straight from the hospital, once the baby arrived. It was our way of saying, “Hashem, we’re doing our part by making a plan. The rest of our child’s care is up to You.” Other than giving us more reassurance and information, there wasn’t much the doctor could do before the baby was born.
And there wasn’t much we could do either.
The pregnancy was good practice in faith, patience, and letting go. We had a birthing plan, we had medical guidance in place. The next step? Release the reins and let Hashem take full control. We had nothing to do but wait.
I was so nervous about meeting our son. Mothers are supposed to think that their child is the most adorable in the world, but would I think he was cute? What would it be like to see him, this child I’d prayed for? The one to be born with a wound on his face?
After our son finally arrived, my husband came toward my bed holding the white bundle and I shivered. I was petrified.
As long as I hadn’t yet seen my baby, I could imagine his face as perfect. I could convince myself that the soft cooing sounds came from a snuggled newborn who looked just like any other.
“I don’t know if I can look at him,” I told my husband.
“He’s cute,” he answered. “You’re going to love him.”
With every step that my husband took closer, I prepared myself. All the fears, the worries, the concerns — they had a place, somewhere. But right then, I was going to meet my gorgeous son and love him with all my heart.
My husband was right. One look at our son and I understood what people mean when they say their heart melted. This teeny baby, with his perfect toes and pointy little fingers, with his soft cuddles and split lip, he was all mine. This is the child I prayed for and this is the child Hashem gave. Mizmor l’sodah. We had so much thanks to give.
I was in love with our son and I was grateful to Hashem, but I was still conscious about his appearance. When the first few visitors came, I covered his lip with a blanket. But after it slipped away yet another time, I finally let it be. Our guests could see our son in all his glory. This is who he was and this is who he would be. Somehow, for some reason, his cleft lip was part of the package from Hashem.
Still, much as I thought he was adorable, I dreaded the stares and comments that I knew would be coming. And sometimes, as I stared down as his bassinet, I would ache that he wasn’t the picture of perfection.
to be continued…
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 726)
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