ACPA Family Services

Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

It’s a Boy

By D.L. Mann

It was the third time, and the woman and her husband were ready. They no longer lived in an efficiency apartment. They had health insurance. Their back yard had a swing set, and trees for climbing. Most importantly, it might just be a boy.

In the middle of a Wednesday, when the sun shone in a sea-blue sky, the long awaited labor pangs began. They came like a quick summer storm.

“Let me wheel you up,” her husband said as soon as they entered the hospital. No sooner had they reached the birthing room, was it time to push. One strenuous groan, then two, and her baby’s head was out.

The woman heard the baby crying. What a sound!

She strained to see. Is it a boy?

Then a strange sort of dream took over her—a kind of nightmare that erased the pains of labor.

“What’s wrong with my baby’s face?” the woman said. The doctor turned the baby away.

“It’s a boy,” the doctor said.

The baby was crying. Still, the woman was sure she had seen something. She turned to her husband. “Is there something wrong with his face?” Her husband shrugged casually.

“Do you want to cut the cord?” the doctor asked her husband.

“Of course,” he said. “A boy, I finally got a boy.”

The nurse began to wipe the baby. “What’s wrong with his face?” The woman wondered if her voice was real. Why wouldn’t they answer?

The nurse weighed the baby, and then swaddled him in a blue blanket.

“What’s wrong with his face!”

The nurse walked over. The baby was quiet now, and the nurse placed her hand on the woman’s arm. “Your son has a cleft lip.”

A cleft lip? My baby has a what? A cleft…a cleft…a cleft lip?

Put him back and fix him! She wanted to shout. And she began to shake, and tears began to pour.

“Do you want to hold him?” The nurse’s voice was kind. But the woman did not take her son. Not yet. “Did wallpaper glue fumes cause it? Should I have eaten more vegetables?” She wasn’t making sense.

The nurse just smiled and said, “It’ll be okay, you’ll see.”

No! It will not be okay! There’s a perfect room waiting at home for a perfect little boy. It’s not okay! Sobbing gasps erupted from deep inside the woman, for she knew she should not have such awful thoughts

“It could be worse,” the doctor said.

Could be worse? The woman hated the doctor now.

Her husband came over and held the woman’s hand. “It’s a boy,” he said.

The woman closed her eyes—a thousand questions whirled inside her head. This child is the same child that kicked and grew inside me these past months, isn’t it? The same one I’ve read stories to, sang to? The one I’ve already grown to love?

The answer came. It is the same one.

The nurse placed the infant in the woman’s arms.

The woman was shaking only a little now, and she began to hold her son, deep in her arms. She stared into her son’s eyes. What beautiful brown eyes. She rubbed his hair. What soft brown curls.

The woman, no longer crying, loosened her gown and placed her baby to her breast. He tried his best to suck.

And then, in the quiet of the room, mother and son’s eyes locked, and she kissed her son’s beautiful face and whispered, “A boy. You’re a boy.”

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2006