Ashton was born with a one sided cleft lip and I learned love and kindness all over again.
Not many people know that Ashton will be a cleft baby. Honestly because I only contacted the people whom I thought can guide me and be with me through the news. I didn’t know how to write about this issue, it had seems like a very long time ago and perhaps I won’t be able to remember all the details we went through. It tested me, was exhausting but most of all Ashton taught us plenty of lessons in life.
You see, I can remember that check-up in the hospital very clearly. My husband, Julio came with me which wasn’t frequent so I am forever thankful for his hands to hold onto as we heard the news.
To be honest, I always felt a little off during the pregnancy with Ashton. I’m not sure what, but the pregnancy always kept me on my toe.
People would ask me how I am, and I would answer that I’m feeling fine, when really everyday when I wake up I would ask myself if I felt the baby kicking last night. If his position felt right. If my belly size seems right when compared to online articles. If you know me, I’m nothing like that all my life. I am pretty laid back and chill, and my first pregnancy went through in a breeze and I was very confident that my baby would be strong and healthy. But I push those feelings aside anyway, telling myself it’s probably because I’m older now, with more responsibilities and stress to manage.
So that day in the hospital, as I lay down there on the medical bed looking at the doctor press harder on my stomach while squinting her eyes to look closer. I kind of told myself – oh no, it’s happening. Something is wrong with my baby. It must be something bad, was it because I worry too much? Is it something that I did? Is my baby having a serious health condition? Is my baby born incomplete?
I know it wasn’t just me, I could feel my husband too was starting to get nervous with the long scan. And when the doctor went to get another doctor, I could literally feel my heartbeat speed up.
‘Puan, baby ini kemungkinan besar mempunyai cleft lip ya’
(Miss, this baby might be a cleft lip baby)
The second doctor who came in and pressed harder on my tummy speak up after awhile of mumbling with the first doctor. That was how we got to know the news – a part of me angry that the way they mentioned it seems so normal, and a part of me felt a whole big load of guilt fell upon me.
We asked further about the possibility – quite sure one sided cleft they said, although the scan cannot show how serious or not it might be, if it would come with cleft palate, and if it would affect the baby in another way. Quite simply, we don’t know anything at all. It could be nothing, and it could be everything.
I remember my husband being silent and I remember trying to convince myself it wasn’t my fault silently. I look up to Google to see how good or bad the situation might be, if there is anything I can do to make this go away, how did it happen and so on so forth. The doctors weren’t really being helpful when they say it could be anything, and there is literally nothing I can do now other than to wait for the baby to come out and see what we are dealing with then.
I guess it took us awhile to digest the news as we sat at the waiting room in the hospital. I called and ask a handful of family and friends after that, and they were all very patient and kind to answer and reassure me.
When everything was done, I remember walking a distance to the hospital cafeteria to take a bite.
That walk was the best thing that happen to me.
You see, we are facing this challenge – with a baby that is most likely to be healthy but a condition which is curable. At that moment, a small challenge like that might have been made larger than it really is.
But that walk, was different – I saw an elderly couple waiting for their turn in the emergency. A young man sitting on a wheelchair. Kids that seems very sick. Families that are worried.
And I thought to myself, how lucky we are? How grateful we should be, to be faced with but a small challenge that is fixable, that most likely will not affect the rest of the baby’s health.
Of course it took me a couple of days to truly embrace that fact – but that walk reminded me to ALWAYS be grateful.
And the journey have been filled with love and care throughout since then.
Of course there are downs as there are ups – I remember asking myself IF I can take on this challenge for the extra work we will need to put in to grow this baby up. How I will need to push my work schedule back in order to be with my baby throughout his healing process. IF he were to be born with very bad cleft condition will I be able to take it. IF I will be able to accept Ashton as he is when he come into the world. IF I will be able to love him as he is.
To me, Ashton taught me lessons in life way before he came to us.
On that day that Ashton was born, I say a little prayer to give my thanks for letting us know the news during my pregnancy, for that extra time given for me to truly come to accept and embrace and to let me love my son for who he is even before he arrive.
You see, I learn something through Ashton’s cleft – that he is a strong baby and that this world is filled with great people and great love.
When you are faced with challenges, if you just take a step back and look, you start to realise how many things you are blessed with, how many great souls you have come across, and how majority of the people in this society we live in are great, amazing people.
And that made the challenge simply a badly wrapped present.
My amazing family members provided me with a generous fund to provide for whatever is needed for the situation. My amazing grandma and parents stayed and guided me for as long as it took. My amazing siblings provided us love and warmth. Far distanced family member who saw or heard the situation came to us and blessed and prayed for us.
My amazing cousin even found an amazing friend who introduce us to an amazing doctor whom decided to do the operation for us for nothing. My younger cousin gave me a red packet filled with her loving gesture which I kept and hold on dearly till today.
My amazing friends took extra caution and love when visiting and provided us with generous gifts. And so many amazing people whom I’m not even that close to come to me and ask if I needed anything or if they can help us with anything.
Even all the doctors and nurses we come across were all super friendly, loving and genuinely cared for Ashton throughout all the check-ups and operations that he needed to go through.
And as we have arrive to this point, seven months after Ashton’s birth and I looked back – to realised that we are truly blessed in many many ways at how everything have worked out for us.
As Jasper, my first son had commented to the first time he saw his baby brother ‘Ashton looks a little different. But he is STILL SO CUTE and I LOVE HIM SO MUCH’
And Ashton, that little warrior, he received so much love for being who he truly are.
“Thank you for keeping us in your guidance. Thank you for today, for the chance for us to grow and live.Thank you for gifting me with my two lovely and healthy child. Thank you for my husband who is kind and loving. Thank you for gifting my parents health and strength in their life. Thank you for the health you provide to my grandma. Thank you for my two in laws who are always there to help me. Thank you for my siblings and cousins. Thank you for my loving family, aunties and uncles. Thank you for my kind and lovely friends. And for whomever that might be in pain and in face with challenges right now, my prayers are with them. Thank you for everything you have provided for us today. Thank you for all the challenges and the lessons we will learn through them. I entrust myself, my family and my loved ones to you as I promise to live my best today.”
If your baby is a cleft baby, these are some groups with helpline and information that helped me and I hope it will help you too :