Where it all began...
My mom and I sat in a dark room as we waited for the ultrasound tech to find the face of my baby boy. It was mine and my husbands first child and it would be my mom’s first grandchild. We were excited to say the least! It wasn’t the first time I saw him on the screen though. Curtis and I decided to pay the extra $150 for the 3D ultrasound which was completely optional and just for fun. I told him we had to do it for our first and for the rest it didn’t matter. We were in the middle of buying our first home and living at my grandparents at the time and money was tight. Even though he couldn’t make it to the appointment he agreed to it and my mom was more than happy to be there with me.
We “ooed” and “awed” at the little being on the screen. We picked out whose features he had and laughed when he covered his face with his foot and then finally turning his back to us. The tech asked me to lay on my side to see if he would turn back around and then left us alone in the room. When she returned 15 minutes later the doctor followed in behind her. I immediately knew she was concerned about something. My eyes grew wide as the tech searched for my baby’s face. I thought of everything that could possibly be wrong with him. She showed the doctor the screen who then began to tell me my baby would be born with a cleft lip. My heart sank, tears filled my eyes, and my throat began to burn. I felt as if I was watching the scene through someone else’s eyes. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me! I’ve lived an ordinary life. These are the things you hear about from someone else. It just wasn’t real. I tried my best to sound normal as I asked questions and made my next appointment. The doctor couldn’t tell the extent of the cleft but told us that a level 2 ultrasound would tell us more. For a small fortune of course.
I gave my mom short answers as I drove her back to work in fear I would burst out in tears. She gave me a hug and walked back into her office. I knew she was heart broken for me. I tried to drive back to work through my tear filled eyes. I knew I would again have to choke back tears as I told the girls at work what the ultrasound had found. I felt sorry for myself. I was fortunate enough to drive home later that day to my loving grandparents instead of an empty apartment. I was anxious to tell Curtis the news that night and it was his reply that I needed to hear.
He was still excited for his son no matter what. With many, many other reassurances from family and friends my feelings about the situation had change 100% by the next day. As I realized how everything fell into place for us to receive this news and with my faith in God I knew that’s who our son was suppose to be and that we were his lucky parents.
Of course when we first laid eyes on our little Hudson the evening of January 16th 2012 "perfect" was all we could think of. He was born with an incomplete unilateral cleft lip and palate and we instantly fell in love with that sweet face and his smiles. We were lucky indeed. But to say it was smooth sailing form there would have been a lie. We struggled with his feedings in the first few weeks of having him home. Learning how to feed him was very frustrating but it taught us patience. We first met with his surgeon, Dr. Stephen Beals, when he was 3 weeks old and many more appointments followed as we then met with his Orthodontist, Dr. Glick. When he was 5 weeks old we started the tapping and at 7 weeks old Hudson received his NAM (nasoalveolar molding) which was to be worn 24/7 for the next 8 weeks. He had his first surgery for his lip and nose repair when he was 4 1/2 months old on June 9th, 2012 which he amazed us with! On April 5, 2013 was the end of Hudson's cleft as his palate was repaired. The next few days were rough but we all pushed through. Despite all he has been through nothing has slowed that smile down! He has been a strength to his own parents! He continues to amazes us with everything he has overcome. Although we still have another surgery in the near future to repair his palate and a long road ahead of us we are thankful for our healthy little boy and still count our many blessing. I know we would not have made it this far with out our faith in God and the support of our friends, family and Hudson’s amazing Cleft Team. He is truly built to handle what life has given him.
Barrow Children's Cleft and Craniofacial Center is where Hudson's cleft team is located. His surgeon Dr. Stephen Beals is a pretty impressive guy! He is a world recognized leader in skull base and craniofacial surgery! He is the founder of Southwest Craniofacial Center, The Craniofacial Foundation of Arizona, and co-founder of the Skull Base Team at Barrow Neurological Institute. He was one of the first to recognize that a number of serious head deformities in children could be treated with helmet remolding rather than surgery.
Needless to say we were very pleased with our decision in choosing a surgeon who will play and important role in our lives and especially Hudson's. We are so very please with the work he did on Hudson's lip and nose and the outcome. He didn't lie when he told me that his goal was to make it look like Hudson's cleft had ever existed. We've had to trust him with all that we have and are, our son. The cost of his surgeries mean as much to us as the dirt under our feet. And we would pay 10x that amount if we had to. With something so precious as your child, you would go to the ends of the Earth if it meant they were in the care of the best hands out there. We certainly feel blessed to live in this country and in this decade of time.
A few of my favorite places: