Warning, serious post ahead, as I reflect today.
The Little Jerk is…not so much a jerk anymore. Once she started walking, she became this adorable, funny, witty, goofy kid that is just captivating. She’s still a jerk to strangers, but you know, that’s ok. Once I was lamenting that it’s frustrating that The Older One, aka Angel Baby, would go to anyone, but The Little Jerk? Still won’t even go to my father. Someone reminded me to remember my annoyance down the road, because soon, Angel Baby will be a teenager, and the obedient, “never met a stranger” qualities won’t be a great thing.
Most of you know, unless you happened upon this site from somewhere far away, that The Little Jerk was born with a cleft in her soft palate. If we’re being honest, during my pregnancy, I worried about miscarriage or complications, but it genuinely never once occurred to me that she might have any birth defects. Funny side note, when she came out, she had the most gigantic, horrific looking nose I had ever seen. It was ghastly; in fact, I think I gasped. I remember thinking “Oh…my. What on earth?!” And seriously, before you say “Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t bad”, let me show you Exhibit A:
Mind you that this baby is 5lbs, 6.2ozs, so that is a BIG nose on a little face. I fell in love, though. I was so miserable pregnant that I was convinced she was going to come out the biggest baby ever. Nope, but at 19″, she resembled a green bean more so than one of those green ticks you have to pluck off the dog in the summer. Luckily, it was either swollen that day or it was adult size and the rest of her head has grown, so it’s a perfect little nose now.
It wasn’t until the next day that a Lactation Consultant saw her cleft palate, and when she said it out loud I was in shock. All these things you prepare for, and we were stunned. What did this mean? The short version – it meant a very different first year than we had ever anticipated.
Her cleft palate consumed the first year. We saw the cleft palate team in our area, which was comprised of an audiologist, an ENT surgeon, a geneticist, nurse, pediatric dentist/orthodontist, a pediatrician, two plastic surgeons, a psychologist, and a speech pathologist. We also saw her pediatrician, so the first year was rough with doctors visits and prepping for her surgery, which took place in January 2012. I truly do not know how people get through having a child in the hospital, because her surgery was the worst experience of my life. The next few months were consumed with dealing with the surgery fallout; she had a ton of unexpected side effects, and we were really just in survival mode.
And then, just as quickly as our world changed upon hearing the news, it was over. The cleft team cleared her and said she didn’t need to be seen for six months. I felt elated and thankful, while somehow also feeling empty and abandoned. How was it that a major birth defect that had consumed nearly every thought, every aspect of our lives be suddenly…gone?
That was earlier this year. We went for another checkup today (the picture below was captured post-appt in the elevator), and she is cleared until next year. She’s doing remarkably well, and we are so proud of her. The problem lies in what her new nickname should be – I obviously can no longer call her The Little Jerk, so I’m open to suggestions!