Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's Time

Very early tomorrow morning, I will bring David to Shriner's Hospital in Chicago for his cleft lip repair surgery.

It's time.

I've tried to explain what will be happening in the best way I think he'll understand. What he has taken away from our discussions is that his lip will look like everyone else's in the family instead of going up in the middle. And that he'll be able to learn to whistle.

Al and I have noticed fairly recently that the stares he has been getting in public are much more frequent. I think it has to do with the fact that as he gets older and bigger, his personality is getting "bigger", too, and he's just noisier, more exhuberant, and draws more attention to himself in general.

Children will often come up to us and ask, "How did he hurt his mouth?" or "What happened to his lip?" I carefully explain what a cleft lip is, that he was born with it, that he can eat and talk just like anyone, and most importantly, that it does not hurt. Lately, he is more aware that these questions are being asked, and sometimes participates a little in the answers.

It's time.

A few weeks ago, Shi Shi and I visited a lovely preschool where he will attend two mornings a week this summer. While we visited, he got to participate in their Circle Time, and then did a little painting of the sun with the children. I stood to the side and watched, lump in my throat, as two little boys backed away from him and would not sit in the empty seat next to him (fortunately, David was oblivious).

It's time.

I hate, hate, hate surgery. I've only had a few procedures done, mostly outpatient, one with a two-day stay. But I hate the feeling of anesthesia, the drugs, the IVs, the discomfort, the trying not to stretch sutures, the sterility of the hospital, the simply not being home when you most want to be. And I hate, hate, hate having to put my little guy through that, too. I know the doctors, nurses and other staff at Shriner's are top-notch and will do the very best for him, keeping him comfortable and entertained in addition to providing him with the very best medical treatment. But I sure wish he didn't have to experience any of it. David can eat neatly, drink from any straw or open cup, and his speech has made remarkable progress in just the last couple of months. Function-wise, he's doing just fine. But those stares, those comments, those questions from others...

It's time.

Sometimes, as I tell friends that he's functioning just fine, that his cleft does not affect his everyday life, that I wish I didn't have to put him through surgery, they respond, "But of course you have to! You have to do this for him!" Yes, of course we do. We understand that life isn't just about functioning. That it is human nature to treat those who are different, well, differently. But I can still wish he didn't have to go through surgery. That he could simply be appreciated for the essence of who he is (smart, funny, silly, energetic, strong, stubborn, loving, tender, active), not what he looks like. But my emotional ambivalence aside...

It's time.


Allison said...

Hugs to you and your sweet boy, and prayers to the Father on your behalf~

Sara said...

Oh neighbor, my heart is just stretching, stretching across an ocean and two continents to feel with you and be with you right now. Thank you for sharing with us. I wish there were some way I could bring you a casserole.

Michelle Irwin said...

Jeremiah 29:11- “I have a plan for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

You are a brave Mom (and Dad)!

I will say prayers to David's future and your present.

(This is the verse that got me through referral to finally meeting our sweet little Genevieve too!)

Good Bless you all right now.

Mindy said...

Prayers being said this Easter weekend for your family...can't wait for David to be home!