It was the Friday before Sophia's surgery:
I was desperately trying to get all my errands done for the week because I wasn't sure what was gonna happen once she had the surgery. So I had the girls with me and we did some grocery shopping at Walmart. I went into the check out line and was greeted by a young girl, wearing a high school hoodie and a sweet smile. It was an extra sweet smile because I could see a very distinct scar across her lip and I was very aware of that meant I tried not to stare... but it was really hard. I wanted to ask her about her scar, ask her if she gets teased in school or did she have to go to speech therapy as a kid, did she have to do genetic testing, who did her repair, was she insecure about it, did people ask her about it all the time... a million things were racing through my head. I thought maybe I could bring it up by moving my strategically placed blanket in Sophia's car seat and exposing her mouth... and making it seem like I didn't notice HER scar... slower and slower I placed things on the conveyor belt, panicking.
And then she asked, "How old is your baby?"
"Uh.... 3 months." Just then I reached in the basket as she watched and rearranged the blanket that was near her face. The young girl locked eyes with Sophia, smiled, and with out flinching, without even seeming surprised, began telling me how beautiful she was. It was strange, yet comforting. She didn't acknowledge the lip verbally, yet I kept hearing "it'll be ok" in my spirit.
God is so good.
I have never seen that girl at Walmart before, and almost a month later, I still haven't. I look for her every time I go.
The evening of the surgery we struggled. 11 pm was the cut off for her feeding and she was not to eat until the following day, AFTER her surgery. I was a nervous wreck as to how I was suppose to deny my infant food for 9+ hours... but we had a lot of people praying for her, and let me tell ya.... not a peep.... at all... the whole night....
The following morning I handed my infant over to the nurses as they walked her in their arms down the hallway, through the double doors and around the corner. I cried. This was the 6th time in the last 2.5 years that I had handed one of my children over to a surgeon. I tried not to think about a knife approaching my daughters sweet and precious face. It was overwhelming.
2 hours in the operating room and a lot of prayer between myself, my husband and God.
Some small talk.
"Do you think shes gonna look different?" I asked my husband.
"Yeah. I think shes gonna look a lot different. A good different." He said.
I was so anxious to see what she looked like and after 2 hours in the O.R. it was time...
I had been reading on the internet about these parents who would go through a sense of mourning after their child's cleft lip repair. Some said it was like seeing their child again for the first time. Others were kinda disturbed by holding a child that they knew was theirs but looking nothing like the child they knew.
They wheeled her in on this giant bed. A tiny baby with a very horse cry and swollen face. The nurse said it was alright to pick her up, and so I did, sat in the chair and studied her. It was very difficult to process....
I think back to when Sophia was first born. I remember holding her and staring at her. While I was processing what I was looking at, all the nurses just kept saying over and over- "The lip isn't that bad." and "They are gonna fix her up and you wont even tell." I could hear the chatter bounce around the room and at the same time was trying to understand what I was feeling. I guess unless you have been through something like this you cant really understand. I'm having a hard time even explaining. But it again felt kinda like that.
"She looks totally different." I said, in shock.
"Oh, wow. She looks like a completely different baby." My husband said, surprised himself.
"It doesn't look like her." I said as I looked at her swollen and bruised face. "Wow, this is weird..."
The nurse said that everything I was saying and feeling is completely normal, that "Everyone reacts differently, but you are not out of the norm. You will get used to it."
I spent the next 36 hours by her side. Staring at her like I did when she was first born. Reflecting on the journey that was "Sophia!" Reflecting on God's goodness and favor, even in the less favorable of situations. Starting to feel a sense of purpose from that initial pain.
This repair represents so much more than just a cosmetic, elective surgery. The repair to her lip caused a major repair in my relationship with God. As I struggled in my day to day life with the challenges I faced, this one shook me to the core, from conception till repair. I lacked faith, greatly, and that has been restored. And as I lead this special kind of life, I have gained new perspective. And that God is the only person who could possibly love our children more than we do, and a love so great has no ill will.