It’s fun to pretend that you have no weaknesses that can be exploited on the internet. Then someone (accidentally in this case) finds a chink in the armor and the knife cuts deep. This happened yesterday on the Twitters, and I won’t go into too many details but the whole thing was a misunderstanding. My emotional reaction to the event, however, took me by surprise. My dog woke me up at 2:30 last night cause he’s a jerk, and I had time to think about things. These are my thoughts.
My youngest daughter was born with what’s called a microform cleft lip (possible a submucosal cleft palate too). Something happened while she was developing that didn’t go quite right. Her lip and nose didn’t form right. She has a notch in her gums and we aren’t sure if teeth will grow there.
We don’t know what caused it. We’ll probably never know what it was. It wasn’t something that they could see on any of the ultrasounds, so we didn’t know until she arrived. I didn’t want my first thought when I held her in the delivery room to be “what’s wrong with her little lip?” but it was.
I thought I was a person who didn’t care about physical appearances, but I was wrong. What would people think? Would they ask questions? Did we do something wrong? Would people make fun of her when she got older? The joy of welcoming my daughter into the world was mixed with this disappointment and uncertainty.
We didn’t post any pictures to Facebook of our new baby like we did for the first. I told myself it was because of privacy concerns, “Facebook is evil and steals your photos!” I know the real reason. I didn’t want anyone asking “what’s wrong with her?” That would make it real. Denial would no longer be an option.
She had surgery when she was almost six months old to correct her lip and nose. Seeing a child on a bed, drugged, with stitches, tubes, and bloody gauze coming out of her nose while she sobbed in pain is not something anyone should experience. We fed her with a squirt bottle for two weeks because she couldn’t use her lips. She screamed every time we fed her until we were done. She might need more surgeries. We won’t know until she continues to develop.
She has always been a sweet and loving girl. She blows kisses and gives hugs. I smile whenever she is around. Whenever I see her and the scar on her face I am also , however, reminded of my cowardice and uncertainty when she came into our life. It is my shame. I hope when she is older if that she can forgive me. My life would not be complete without her.