Tuesday, April 12, 2011


So in the past year I have been experiencing a guilt that plagues me. I know that no one understands why I feel this way except other mothers who have experienced the same things I have. I can't help but feel like I did something to cause my child to be born with a birth defect. Sure I can tell myself that I did everything I was supposed to as instructed by my doctor, but that doesn't take this guilty feeling away. My son has already had the 2 major surgeries to repair his clefts, but he will still have a scar on his face for the rest of his life. The scar isn't prominent and will fade over time, but it will always be there, staring at me as a constant reminder. I can hope that I am able to raise him to not be self conscious about it, but that's going to be a challenge due to the fact that I am self conscious about it. When he was born I was very uneducated about clefts, as I have mentioned before. I thought this was something that happened to mothers that don't take care of their bodies during pregnancy or because it's genetic. Since genetics have been ruled out, this leads me to be self conscious that other people blame me. I constantly feel that I am being judged as a mother when they discover my son was born with clefts. Like I did things I wasn't supposed to do during my pregnancy. Sure I had some caffeine (one cup of half-caf in the morning), approved OTC medications and a glass of wine here and there, but I certainly did not abuse my body in any way. Before I discovered I was pregnant I did take a vacation with my husband where we did some drinking, but had I known I was pregnant, I would not have drank. Plus, drinking isn't one of the known causes for clefts. Drinking while pregnant causes fetal alcohol syndrome and low birth weight, neither of which Jesse had.

I have talked to other mothers who's children were also born with clefts. These women also feel this guilt. These are women who also didn't abuse their bodies. In talking with them, they also have no one support to this feeling except with each other. Everyone around us gives the "get over it" attitude or get told "you didn't do anything wrong". But the feeling still lingers for us. I created a life, a child, who was made from me and inside me. If this little person is flawed, how can I blame anyone else but myself? Even if it was something beyond my control, I still created him. It seems that the fathers don't feel this. My husband certainly doesn't. I'm venturing to guess it's because they didn't carry this life inside their bodies for 9 months while it grew, while the cells became a body, while the body developed a face, organs, fingers and toes.

Am I depressed? Yes. I'm sure this feeling of guilt is not the only cause for my depression. With so many other challenges I have been facing in my life, it's no wonder I am depressed. My husband, once a very able bodied man, is now disabled. He can't even take out the trash or pick up his 1 year old son and hasn't been able to since he was a newborn (because he weighed less than Paul's 10lb weight restriction). The money is a factor too. Paul was making a decent salary before his injury. Now he's only making 2/3 of his regular pay from workers compensation benefits. Note regular pay. Workers compensation does not account for his overtime or tips. So essentually his pay is less than half of what he was making before his injury. This has put a huge strain on us. I really thought that once we started a family that I could get some money saved and switch to part time to spend more time with my child. Now that is just not possible. Paul is home, not working and even he can't spend the day with his son because he's unable to take care of him. So it's disheartening to know that someone else is essentually raising our child for us while one parent is home, doing nothing and dwelling on this. Not only dwelling on the fact that he can't take care of his son, but dwelling on the fact that he can't do all the things that make a man a man. That wears hard on him and it reflects on me.

Had I known we would be in this situation, I would have never gone off my birth control pill. I am not stating that my son was a mistake. I am saying I would have probably waited to start my family. Had I waited, I would still be waiting and my biological clock would be ticking away. So I am not even sure waiting would have been a better choice. Not that I knew all this would happen. Jesse was conceived a week before Paul injured his back, but that's also a guilt I carry. I brought this kid into a messed up home situation. And here I am trying to keep it all together. Not just my feelings but making life as best it can be with what I have. I am not against talking to someone or getting professional help for my despression, but I don't even know how I can make that happen. I definitely don't have the finances and I have very limited time. It's not like I can just leave Jesse with Paul for a few hours a week while I go meet with someone. Whatever I do, Jesse has to join me. I only get to spend about 2-3 hours a day with the little guy, I don't even want to give up one evening with him. So here I am, working through my thoughts on a daily basis and hoping I can become at peace with myself.


  1. I can not relate. I can not understand what you are going through. But I can tell you 100% honestly that I have never ever thought that you did anything to cause the cleft and I know nothing about them other then what you have taught me and some tv and internet has showed me.

    Life is messed up and strange things happen. I'm not sure why Jesse was born with it. But I really really really don't think it's anything you did. I feel very strongley about this. Why? Because I can't have babies. Yet crack heads who fill thier bodies with horrible chemicals and never eat have had healthy babies on a regular basis.

    So if it was anything you did, thier babies would be born with clefts too.

    A little caffiene, or a few drinks, or a cigarette isn't going to cause a defect. In the 70's women smoked thier entire pregnancys and most of us kids were all born 100% healthy.

    A while back I think it was your Aunt (I remember you telling me) said that you were given Jesse and the cleft because you could handle it. I don't think that's exactly right but I think it was more dead on then anyone else. You know I'm not religious but I feel like you have the power to do so much good. Your experience with this with only benefit others. You are a powerful woman. You have the ability to affect so many people.

    There are so many situations that I would not have made it through with out you! I'm def. not a great friend. I'm probably one of the shittiest friends a person could have, yet you always have been my shoulder. You have always kept me up when no one else was there..

    So it's not much, but my shoulder is hear to you. If you need me you know how to get a hold of me. I can always be over in 10 minutes. Be a walk or a drive or just sitting in your back yard. I'm here.

    I love you my big sister I always wanted.

    PS: Jesse is so damn cute that all your self conciousness (word?) still won't cause him to be. No ones gonna even notice. With that smile and those eyes and his hair you are gonna be batting the girlys away from him!!!

  2. Thank you for this comment. It means a lot to me.

  3. Good because it's all true. You still owe me a makeup date. I was thinking olive garden. I get paid the first and should be able to afford some soup and salad.