Since my obstetrician was out of town, her associate was on call. He came in to talk to me to let me know I would be staying at the hospital, and that we needed to talk about delivery. He checked me and found that I was nowhere near ready to deliver, and I had not dilated at all. He told me that I could be admitted and given Pitocin to induce labor, but it would be a good 24 hours before active labor would begin. I had told Dr. Jones that Dr. Grant, my maternal fetal medicine doctor, had told me with the single vessel cord that Mason had, I would probably end up having a cesarean section. Dr. Jones thought that this was the best way to handle delivery. Kevin and I were given 15 minutes to call our parents and prepare them for the fact that Mason was coming TODAY.
By 1:40 p.m. our parents had been called, and I was prepped for surgery. By 2 p.m., I had changed into a hospital gown, an IV was in place, and I walked to the operating room. By 2:05 p.m., my spinal was administered and my husband was brought into the room. By 2:10 p.m., Mason was born! Half way through the procedure, I asked the doctors if they were starting yet. The nurse spoke up and said, “Honey, in less than a minute you are going to have the baby!” He was born a healthy 7 lbs. 13.5 oz., and 20 inches long. When he was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice. Mason’s head was so big and the umbilical cord was flimsy, so the doctor said I would have not been able to deliver him naturally. Hearing Mason cry was the best sound in the world. I knew he was here and that he was fine.
When I first saw Mason, I honestly did not see his cleft lip. He looked perfect in my eyes. I guess because I knew what to expect when he was delivered, I looked beyond his beautiful wide grin. I loved him from the first time I discovered I was pregnant, and nothing was going to change that. I remember a moment from our first night in the hospital. After my husband had fallen asleep in the other bed, I picked my son up from his bassinet that was placed beside my bed, and just held him and cried. I was so filled with love and awe of this little person my husband and I made.
Feeding Mason for the first time in the hospital required very little effort. He had tried to breastfeed, but found it very difficult, so I went ahead and gave him formula. He was able to nurse from the Mead Johnson cleft lip and palate nurser without any problems. I was able to pump breast milk for a couple of weeks after he was born to make sure he received some nutrients from me. Mason has never had any problems when eating such as spitting up or having food come out of his nose, all of which is common with a baby born with a cleft lip or palate. Mason has always been a wonderful eater and sleeper. He began sleeping through the night at about a month old.
The Beginning of Change
Mason with his cleft palate foundation bear at his first appointment at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.
One month after Mason was born, on Dec. 20-22, 2005, we made our first trip to Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis to meet the Cleft Palate team. We were impressed with the caring staff who made sure we were comfortable and all our questions were answered. At this time, we were fortunate to meet Dr. Michael Carstens, who would become Mason’s plastic surgeon. He knows firsthand what it was like to be born with a cleft lip and palate. Dr. Carstens is a pioneer in his field by developing new techniques to help children with craniofacial deformities. Dr. Carstens, along with Dr. Richard O’Brien, prosthodonist, developed a plan to help us begin Mason’s facial transformation. Dr. O’Brien molded a mouth appliance for Mason to wear, which was just like a retainer, to help continue to form his mouth in preparation for future surgeries and to help make feedings easier. Mason adapted well to his new appliance and would be mad when we would take it out to clean it. We continued to make several three-hour trips to St. Louis to have Mason’s mouth appliance checked for proper fitting with Dr. O’Brien every month until his first lip adhesion surgery was scheduled.
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