“Motherhood was one of those immense callings I have had my entire life. I knew I wanted to be a mom ever since I was a child myself. This is a feeling I feel is so vigorous and powerful. Growing up, I had my future baby names picked out at 7 years old. I had Pinterest boards of nursery room themes and ‘First Birthday’ party ideas.
My high school sweetheart, Jake, and I married each other just a year after graduation. We waited over a year to start trying to add to our little family. Unfortunately, we were not successful for a couple of years. I was heartbroken. How could this be? I know my role on this earth was to become a mom. Why is this so difficult to achieve? I waited my entire life for this moment but instead, I face several negative pregnancy tests.
After almost 4 years of trying, we ended up getting a positive pregnancy test! We were so ecstatic and couldn’t wait to tell the world. Our family and friends were thrilled for us, especially rooting for us after all of these years.
You know that same feeling I described earlier about motherhood? How I absolutely knew becoming a mom was my calling, that it was what I was meant to be? Well, I had that same feeling around 11 weeks or so about my unborn son. I had such a strong intuition he had a cleft lip. I’ve never personally had met anyone with a cleft. I’m not sure if I had seen one in person either. I had no knowledge of them and I don’t even know if I knew it was called a ‘cleft lip.’ But I absolutely knew my son had one. I started doing my own research just to start preparing.
I was ecstatic to check on our baby boy at our 20-week anatomy scan. I couldn’t wait to count his toes, hear his heart beat, and make sure everything else looked great. I also was curious if he had a cleft. My husband at this point was not allowed to come to appointments anymore, due to Covid. I was a little bummed and nervous to be by myself. I sat down on the ultrasound chair and the tech started scanning him. We were able to cover everything except for his face. Our son, Patton, was face down the entire time, facing my spine. She asked if I could come back in 2 weeks, which was no problem.
2 weeks went by and I sat back down on that ultrasound chair and we came to the same circumstance. He was face down and away from the camera. The tech brushed it off and said, ‘He is probably fine, there is nothing I can do about this.’ That didn’t settle well with me. At this point, I had a strong feeling he had a cleft for over 2 months. I needed to get a good look at his face, whether he had a cleft or not, I just need to make sure everything is going well for him.
Due to Covid and hospital visitation restrictions, I wanted to deliver at a hospital my husband’s aunt works at. If I can’t have family be there, at least we can have his aunt be there since she works on the postpartum floor and help if we needed her to! I also had heard this specific hospital is the best for NICU care on this side of the valley, which is awesome because if anything went wrong, we would just have to go to a certain floor instead of flying a helicopter to another hospital. To be able to deliver at her hospital, that required me to change obstetrics care. That was not a hard decision to make, considering I had such a strong intuition something could be wrong with my son and I felt they were okay to just ignore how I was feeling.
It took a couple of weeks to be seen at my new OB office, In the meantime, I scheduled an elective ultrasound so I could take my husband and my parents to see our baby boy. I let the tech know I wanted good shots of his face since we haven’t seen him before. Our appointment went great! We finally got some good shots of our son, Patton’s face. On our way home, I was looking closely at the ultrasound, and I noticed a cleft lip. I brought it up to my stepmom and she said, ‘The ultrasound tech would have mentioned something if she thought it was a cleft.’ I felt like that could be true. I spent hours looking at every detail of these photos. Some had fluid in front of his face. Some had the umbilical cord in the front, too. Who am I to say he has a cleft in an ultrasound? I never went to school for this. What if I’m looking too into it?
I had my new patient appointment at the new office and I addressed my concern to my provider. They scheduled my ultrasound appointment a few weeks out, even though it was the soonest they could fit me in. At this point, I was 31-weeks and 4 days along in my pregnancy. I was greeted by the sweetest ultrasound tech. We got to talk and she had asked why am I asking for an ultrasound so late in my pregnancy. I explained I have not received a good and clear picture of his face. I also asked her to check to see if he had a cleft. She kind of laughed it off and said, ‘Oh you’re just a worried mom! I’m sure he is just fine.’
She let me know she needed to check his organs first and then we can check his face last. My appointment was going great and extremely stress-free. It felt like I was just talking to a friend. It wasn’t until she had placed the probe on my lower belly and gasped. I will never forget the sound of her gasp. I’ll never forget the look on her shocked face. She turned to me and said, ‘How did you know?’ And the answer is, I just knew. I began crying. What did I do wrong? How did this happen? Why did this happen to my baby? Was it something I ate? Did I not take the right prenatal vitamins? The tech gave me a big hug and told me, ‘You have a powerful gift. A strong mother’s intuition.’
I sat in my car for over an hour feeling so afraid. I asked myself, ‘What does this mean? How do I get the best care for my son? How severe is his cleft?’ I called my husband and I couldn’t even speak. He had known I had a feeling for several months at this point. Everything else that happened that day is such a blur. I felt ashamed of potential judgment from family, friends, and even social media acquaintances. I felt like I let my husband down, even though he never made me feel that way.
A week went by and I was scheduled at a place that specializes in high-risk pregnancies to have additional imaging done to look more into his cleft. I asked the doctor all of my questions on how his cleft happened. I asked for any possible scenario. He simply said, ‘It just happens, and it’s no one’s fault.’ I felt like that’s all I needed to hear to feel better about this situation. That completely changed my mentality and I knew I was ready to tackle anything that could happen. I knew I needed to be the best for our son and to keep it together for him.
Our boy suddenly wasn’t shy and was super photogenic because we got some awesome pictures of his face! His diagnoses: Unilateral Cleft Lip and Palate. I joined a few Facebook groups that included other Cleft Moms. I received great advice from others explaining what bottles to buy, since having a cleft palate will be difficult for him to eat.
By the time I was almost 36-weeks in my pregnancy, I was hospitalized with preeclampsia. The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver. We were all so fearful. We were expecting Patton to have NICU care being full term due to his cleft, now we definitely knew he was going to have some time in the NICU being 4 weeks early.
Patton Jake Simmons was born October 4, 2020, via emergency c section. Our doctor let us know Patton’s palate was not affected, only his lip and alveolar. Our son was able to latch on and eat right away. He did not need to go to the NICU either. He had a ton of odds against him and he ended up beating them all. We were so relieved he was healthy as can be.
Patton received his forever smile at 3 months old on January 4, 2021. The surgery went smooth and much easier than I expected. He had such a great doctor and she did an amazing job. I do miss his little cleft smile so much! He will be having his cleft alveolar surgery at 7 to 9 years old. I will continue to stand up and say something when I feel my mother’s intuition. I’m forever grateful to have such a strong one.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Alexa Simmons. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more touching stories about mother’s intuition here:
‘The doctor said, ‘Cut off his connection.’ He urged me to stop the blood flow to my twin’s heart. My organs shut down. I was bleeding out internally.’: Twin preemie warriors beat death multiple times, ‘Never doubt a mother’s intuition’
‘It hurts,’ she’d cry telling me. I noticed a significant change in my daughter’s posture. My mother’s intuition told me to seek a 2nd opinion.’: 12-year-old girl endures 8-hour surgery for scoliosis, ‘This girl’s strength amazes me’
‘Does he sleep in his own bed?’ The question makes me cringe a little. I lie about it, but I shouldn’t have to.’: Mom urges us to ‘trust our intuition’ with meeting milestones and ‘answer shamelessly’
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