Well, I said this was going to be about the challenges of raising 3 cleft-affected children. Here's the newest one.
We went to the craniofacial clinic yesterday--you know, my 3 for 1 deal. Last week when we saw the dentist, she mentioned it was time to start talking about palate expansion on Julia. Well, I know that the orthodontist was going to be at clinic yesterday, so I made a request to see him. Great guy--young, soft-spoken, likes the kids. We brought in Julia's xrays--the full one that shows all the adult teeth squished up in her gumline. So, he took a look at both and said yep, time to start the palate expansion. And then he started talking about her adult teeth--in particular the one where 3 adult teeth are where there should only be 1 adult tooth! And where there should be an adult tooth (noncleft side) there isn't one. So, she'll need to see an oral surgeon soon to have some work done there. Now Julia is no dummy. She knows exactly what is going on. So, while I spent some time discussing the $ issue (after all I have 3 kids all in a row that are going to need work and this isn't covered by insurance) Julia digested all of this. We left then and took the kids to the Daisy cafe and cupcakery (which is super yummy). On the way there Julia started crying a bit and wanted to know "when is the bad stuff going to stop happening". Now if that didn't break my heart. I wanted to start crying with her. This tough little girl who has endured so much, who falls and gets right back up again and still has more empathy in her little finger then most have in their whole body--she just wants to be done. How do you explain to a 7 year old that this is something that has to be done, so she can talk, eat and look like other people? I tried to tell her that this was actually good. If she was still in Russia things wouldn't be fixed and here she has a family that will help her and a medical team that will bend over backwards to help her grow up healthy and so everything works right. And that mommy and daddy will always be there with her. I think it was some comfort--for her. I'm still reeling from it. I probably am not much good at helping her through all of this since I am too close to the situation. I contacted the social worker on the craniofacial team and I'm going to see what I can do to get a counselor for her. Someone who she can build a relationship with who can guide her through the next 10 years of her growth. And maybe help keep me sane.
I hope what how we've handled it is right and someday she'll understand all that has happened. How does a parent know what to do? How do we know what is right? Each child is so different, but some of the same challenges remain. Deep breaths mommy and just keep going.