Simply Slim - Part 1: The Discovery

We knew Slim was going to be special even before he was born.  At twenty weeks, my high-risk perinatologist doctor (the loveliest, smartest doctor I will ever meet) told us that Baby B had "a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate" in a tone that might have suggested that she was merely telling us it was raining outside.
I always thought this ultrasound picture, taken at about 16 weeks,
looked strange.  I realized later that his cleft lip is visible in this

Seeing the terror and confusion in my eyes, she turned to Hubby, and they began speaking in "doctor talk" while I listened as if at the end of some long, garbled tunnel.  I didn't know what it meant, but I began to realize how grateful I was that she had kept insisting that I bring my oral surgeon husband to our appointment.

She left us alone in the room to absorb the information, but soon returned to deliver another blow: I was in preterm labor and would have to spend the remainder of my pregnancy on bed rest.

Luckily (and I use that term loosely), I could remain at home.  I remember calling my mother and trying to maintain my composure when telling her about the bed rest, only to break down sobbing hysterically when I told her about Baby B, "And there's something wrong with one of the baaabieeess," I managed to get out between sobs.

I had heard the term cleft lip (sometimes referred to as a "hare-lip," an antiquated and rather insulting term), but I didn't really know what it meant. And I couldn't even begin to imagine what Baby B would look like when he was born.  But Hubby, being in the midst of his oral and maxillofacial surgery residency, knew exactly what it meant and what he would look like.  He explained it all to me - his palate (the roof of his mouth) would be open all the way back, and his lip would be open on both sides as well.  He knew of websites that would show me pictures, adding gently, "...when you're ready to see them."

Initially, I cried for about three days  After fourteen months of trying, three rounds of fertility treatments and a miscarriage, I had been ecstatic to learn I was pregnant with twins.  The news of Baby B's birth defect (which is the third most common behind heart defects and neural tube defects), coupled with the bed rest, just knocked me back into my pit of helplessness.  But somehow in that three days, I pulled myself up and let my stubborn side out.  I knew there was no way I would have healthy babies if I sat and cried for the next twenty weeks.

So, I scrap booked and watched Birth Day on the Discovery channel and enjoyed the wiggles and kicks of the two babies growing inside me.  And eventually, tentatively, I asked Hubby to show me the picture of what Slim would look like.

Instead of the deformed, tiny monster I had originally feared, I saw picture after picture of darling babies with adorable wide smiles.  Smiles that were fixable, and I began to see that Baby B's fate wasn't as dire as I had imagined.

Then, at 34 and a half weeks, the babies wanted to make their appearance in the world.  Joey was born at 5:25 p.m.  They held him up, then whisked him away to the NICU before I even got to touch or kiss him.  Then my cervix closed and wouldn't let Baby B out.  And true to what I now know his personality to be, he didn't mind.  He just stretched out and enjoyed the room, probably finding something to do to distract himself while he waited.

At about 8 p.m., I began to see the look of concern on the doctor's face.  She wouldn't let me even eat ice chips, fearing she'd have to perform a C-section to get Baby B out.  But then, at 8:27 p.m. he finally arrived.  The nurse held him up to me and the first thing I said was, "He doesn't look that bad."

In fact, he was darling. And she let me kiss him before he too was whisked to the NICU.

In the NICU, he had to have an NG (nasal-gastric)
tube because he was unable to nurse.

The more I watched Slim, the more he fascinated me.  It was his eyes.  Beautiful, blue, knowing eyes that seemed to search the corners of the room.  I would whisper to him, "Do you see the angels?" because I was convinced angels were watching over him.

I knew, even back then, that there was something special about Slim.  Something amazing.

Watch for Simply Slim - Part 2 tomorrow.

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