Based on simple genetics, it is a good bet that Joshua will need braces on his teeth and glasses for his eyes. Those things we knew before ever getting pregnant.
"We've got one little surprise here."
That was the doctor's way of bringing up Joshua's cleft upper lip before handing him over to Renee in the delivery room.
And so we start off a journey that will include at least one surgery to straighten that up and a whole lot of deeper questions about what role physical ideals play in life.
First, let me say that in the grand scheme of birth defects, this is relatively minor. Last year I got to visit with some parents whose son had half of a heart. Multiple surgeries and amazing medical advances will allow him a shot at a relatively normal life.
Lots of other parents go through the agony of losing a child to cancer, heart defects, genetic disorders ... lots of things. The fact that those parents would gladly deal with something as minor as a cleft lip is not lost on me.
But nothing is really minor as a first time parent, is it?
What has been most interesting at every step in researching the treatment of cleft lip has been a discussion of the social implications once Joshua hits about second grade. Effective teasing begins then apparently.
So is he doomed to torture, ridicule and some sort of personality complex that will haunt him his whole life?
I can only think that a big part of parenting is turning the unique imperfections (physical or otherwise) of each child into a point of strength and empathy. Of course, that has to be modeled first by Renee and me before Joshua will get it.
So are "Wood-eye / Harelip" jokes still funny? Hmmmm.
We will have the initial surgery in August... If you have experience with that, I'd love to hear your thoughts and experience. Of course we will share ours along the way.
In other news, Joshua is doing great– eating, sleeping, pooping as any happy baby should be. Friends and family, thank you for all of the encouragement, kind words and good humor to keep us going through the sleep deprivation. He has been sleeping for longer intervals and we are getting out of the house more.
Until next time, more coffee.