Eight months old.

I remember the moment I knew that I was pregnant. It was late January of last year and I was in Atlanta with my husband and our then 2 year old daughter, Adriana. We had gone for the weekend to take her to the zoo and aquarium. I must have only been 3 or 4 weeks along, but I remembered that sick feeling in my stomach and I just knew. I kind of laughed about it with our friends that had joined us but I’m not sure if they believed me and I think my husband was in denial. I had no idea that the next time we would go to Atlanta would be when our new baby was only 7 weeks old….and we would be taking her to see a specialist.

After the pregnancy was confirmed by an ultrasound at my OB’s office I began to grow very excited that we would be a family of four in September or October. I felt like it was my first pregnancy all over again…I had to try to think of all of the things that I was supposed to do and not supposed to do. I started taking my prenatal vitamin immediately and tried to eat as healthy as possible. I was constantly thinking of the precious life growing inside of me. My pregnancy was pretty easy…not as much morning sickness as with Adriana. I was just tired all of the time. I kept counting down the days until we would know if Adriana would have a baby sister or a baby brother….we were convinced we were having a boy because the pregnancy felt so different. The big day finally arrived and my husband took the day off work so that he could be with me. When the technician said “it’s a girl” I just looked at my husband in shock….I couldn’t have been happier. She appeared to be healthy and growing well – they weren’t able to get a good image of her face because she kept her hands covering it the entire time. No big deal…they would check again 2 weeks later at my next appointment.

My mom offered to watch Adriana for me the morning of the follow-up ultrasound since it would just be a quick checkup….or so I thought. That day ended up being a bad dream that I kept thinking I would wake up from. I still remember everything about that day and how I cried the entire 2-3 hours that I was at the OB’s office (and many days, weeks and months after that as well) having things explained and having 4D ultrasounds done to confirm that our baby girl did in fact have a cleft lip and palate. I remember when I laid down on the table and the technician began to try to wake baby girl up to do the anatomy check on her face. I was just thinking I would be there for maybe 10 minutes and then I’d go back and pick up Adriana from my mom’s house and go about my day… There was silence and I asked her if she would be looking for a cleft lip since I was born with one and she said that she thought she saw something…and the tears started.

I kept telling myself it could be so much worse though – but doesn’t every mother want their baby to be “perfect”? I didn’t know that 3 months later when I would finally see Soraya for the first time that she would be perfect…and that 4 months after that when she had her cleft lip repaired that I would cry because I missed the cleft that I had grown to love so much. I missed that huge smile. Now when I look at her it’s sometimes hard for me to remember exactly what she looked like with the cleft…and that makes me sad too.

One day old.

It’s been a difficult year but it’s also brought so much joy and I can’t imagine our life being any different. I feel very blessed and God answered so many prayers – the maternal-fetal specialist said that she would have a complete cleft lip (meaning all the way to the nose) and that the palate was involved but he wasn’t sure how severe. It was the best surprise when she was born to see that she only had an incomplete cleft lip and her palate was fine. I’m so thankful for Soraya and that she’s a happy and healthy girl.

Holding her right before her surgery at 4 months old.

From Jessica of Life With My Owlets.

P.S. — Craving another birth story? Read about Kate’s homebirth here.


Note from Design Mom: throughout my pregnancy, I posted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. My baby has now arrived — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at gabrielle@designmom.com.