Thursday, 25 September 2008

How I / we feel

This post has been a long or relatively long time coming. There are a couple of reasons, the first being that we've been a bit busy of late, looking after Jake and everything and the second is that I wanted to make sure that how I felt was actually how I felt and not post-birth euphoria.

Jake is 2 weeks and 3 days old today at lunchtime and it's gone in a heartbeat yet feels like he's been a part of the family for ever. Odd, if understandable.

Anyway I think that the emotional roller coaster which we started in earnest back in January when Clare told me she was pregnant and which took several twists and turns along the way, has, I believe made its last turn and is slowly coming to a halt. Sure, we will be getting off of the 'pregnancy with a twist' roller coaster and and climbing on board the much faster, scarier 'the next 18 or so years' roller coaster but we can now do it with much clearer heads.

Between the 20 week scan and when he was born, I saw cleft(s) first and our child second when I shut my eyes. It was almost all consuming and evoked all sorts of emotions both positive and negative. It was a bit of a battle between staying positive and without sounding overly dramatic, breaking down at regular intervals. As I've mentioned we had up and down days, normally separately and each would cheer up the other or rationalise with them until it was their turn to get on the therapy couch and the situation would reverse. I remember way back at the beginning of this blog worrying about other people's reactions to the cleft, now that just seems completely selfish. I was worrying about what other people think because of how it would make me feel! What a difference a day makes!

The birth itself was a stressful time, although we look back and feel lucky that it came two weeks early as it didn't give us too much time to work ourselves up. The most significant part, for me at least, was the bit we went from going in for a cautionary check to being escorted to the delivery suite. There wasn't much time to freak out but if there had've been I would have. It was like the denial of the birth got stronger the closer we got to the date and it was only at the very last moment did I actually realise we were about to have a baby!

I remember looking out of the window in the delivery room watching the world go by and people going about their business. People waiting at the bus stop, drivers on the A3, visitors coming and going and all the while Clare was trying to push Jake out. I'll always remember to look up at the maternity ward when I pass the hospital from now on as a nod to the significant events unfolding for the people inside.

Of every feeling I have or have had in my life, I'll never forget the emotional outpouring when they pulled Jake out and held him up for us to see. Throughout the birth and in fact the latter part of the pregnancy I'm not afraid to admit to being somewhat more emotional than normal. I'm not a typical alpha male and happily wear my heart on my sleeve to a point but I had turned into something of a girl of late. Anyway when Clare started pushing the midwife seemed very happy with the progress and I calmed down. I was even beginning to worry if I would be emotionally affected when the baby was born. Well suffice to say, I was and needn't have worried as I was probably 7 or 8 years old the last time I cried uncontrollably like that!

They put him in my arms after they'd cleaned him up and swaddled him and obviously I looked at the cleft to see its extent but didn't dwell on it for more than a second or two. Given the distress and worry the cleft(s) caused before we'd even seen them, it seems incredible how little they cause now we can see them. Incredible in a good way, a brilliant way in fact. I wrote an entry about how I wanted Jake to change me and it happened just as I wanted even though I thought it was a pipe dream.

Jake has a cleft lip and cleft hard and soft palate. We knew about the lip but not about the palates. They told us that the palates were affected in the delivery room and it was no more significant news than them telling us the colour of his eyes. Seriously, all that we were worried about in respect of the 'defects' disappeared as insignificant detail.

I don't mean to be flippant, obviously these are major things which will need to be fixed by reasonably major surgery, however we can deal with them with clear, level heads as opposed to messed up, neurotic, overly emotional heads.

Jake sleeps well some nights and less well others. He feeds, poos and sleeps just like any other baby and we're so grateful that there are no other issues (touch wood). Clare's been getting used to her new life, seeing visitors, hooking up with the NCT girls (a great decision it was to go to NCT, highly recommended, despite my misgivings!) and enjoying the moments of quiet while he sleeps in the daytime. I get to go home every lunch time and chill with my boy and then spend some time with him in the evening and it's very, very cool.

I am committed to this blog and will continue to document Jake's journey at least until his cleft palate operation which will be sometime in Summer 2009. We are meeting with Professor Haers on October 17th and we'll get a date for the lip operation but it's likely to be in early January.

I feel very lucky to have had such a wonderful son. I wanted a boy all along really!

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