Monday, February 9, 2009

A letter to new moms


Welcome to a new world. I don't know if you just found out about your baby on ultrasound, if you've just come home with your new baby, adopted your child who was born with a facial difference, or if you're a mom who's just found our site. It really doesn't matter. It's a new world every day.

You probably didn't bargain on this. I know I didn't. And it's scary. Probably the most scary thing you've done in your entire life. But you can do this.

I didn't find out about Rowan's cleft until we met him in the delivery room. I was overwhelmed, awestruck, and disappointed. And I felt extrememly guilty for feeling disappointed. I'd waited for nine long eternal months for this perfect, pink baby. What if he could feel my reservations? What if his cleft was caused by something I did/ate/drank? Why didn't I feel that mythical rush of love the first time I saw him? Why was I robbed?

I felt robbed of everything I'd been waiting for. I went so far as to wish I was pregnant again. You see, when I was pregnant, Rowan was still my perfect baby. I didn't know so it didn't exist. I could live in that dream world instead of my reality. And this lasted for a while.

I felt like I should know better than to feel this way. I'm a nurse. I should know. People don't feel this way about their children, do they? What was wrong with me?

Now I know that nothing was wrong. All of those feelings were my reaction, honest and brutal, to a real disappointment. I didn't get over it all right away either. It took some time.

It's not your fault. You may never know what caused your baby's cleft. In time you will see that it really doesn't matter what caused it. And you will fall in love with your baby. It might take a while. You might need to talk to some other people about your feelings. This doesn't make you a bad person or a bad mommy. Do what you have to do.

Get information. You will be able to do so much more for your child if you know about what's out there. Do not go on a marathon run. There is so much out there, it's easy to get bogged down. Take it a little at a time. When Rowan was born I was flooded with books, pamphlets, instructions, resources... I can't name them all. I was looking at information about dental work that I wouldn't need to worry about for years. It didn't make me an informed mom. It made me cry. It was too much all at once, and made me question myself and my ability to handle everything. Silly, your baby won't be doing everything all at once; why should you?

Ask for help. It's not going to be easy. It might take you a while to learn how to feed your baby. If you decided to pump, you'll be suprised at how long it takes at first. Things will get better, but there's no need to wear yourself out in the meantime. If someone says, "what can I do?" point to that stack of laundry, send them to the grocery store, give them your baby and go take a bath or a nap. You don't need to take it all on yourself.

Where should you start? The best source of information I've found is Cleft Advocate. Look at what you need to know. Read the inspirational links. Best, look at the photo gallery at all the wonderful children who have come before your own. They are all beautiful. If you can find some before and after pictures that's even better. Somehow seeing another child transformed can help build hope in your heart.

With love from


John 9:1-3

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

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