The ride to Boston could have been mistaken as a trip to a baseball game. Nick recently started a new job and has been working a lot. So even a car ride before the sun was up was something I looked forward to. Based on how much I dislike the morning, that should tell you how much I actually like my husband. I think there's a difference between like and love, and I think it's important to have both! I obviously looooove my husband but I still just really like him. Does that make any sense? Anyways, so we have this long car ride where we are just chatting away about anything and everything but not the thing. I actually don't think that the purpose of the trip came up once? *This might be a good place for a disclaimer that pregnancy brain is real and this might actually be false, but I am pretty sure it is true.* What I remember is pulling into the parking garage at Boston Children's Hospital and thinking holy shit this is a really big deal. Another all to familiar moment where I feel like all the air is taken from me. We had given ourselves lots of extra time to allow for Monday morning traffic and got to the hospital with enough time to grab some breakfast. I've never more fully understood the feeling of having "knots in my stomach." After seeing the first sign with this bright-eyed little love and the saying "until every child is well" I knew that reality was sinking in. I ordered my smoothie and the tears just started streaming. I couldn't even understand where they were coming from, other than its pretty completely obvious. But 4 hours of chit-chat with my husband on our drive to Boston completely sidetracked me from what was about to happen. I also completely believe our mind and body protects us. What good would 4 hours of panic and fear on that ride done for me? Nada. But there it was. First I was so embarrassed as I stood there with tears just streaming away as this lovely woman made my smoothie, but then I started thinking about how many tears she probably sees. Everyday? For sure. Every hour? Likely. Every single order? No, some people are more composed than me for sure. Plus the Dr's must order smoothies and they surely aren't walking around crying all day. So I felt better that she had some customers that held it together.
Our walk through the hospital to our first appointment of the day felt like a walk through an airport. Everyone has a story. It was a Monday morning hustle and bustle. I couldn't help but wonder what everyone's place was here. Were those young dr's here coming up with some innovative new cancer curing drug? Were they sleeping with one another in the on call room? (I watch too much Greys). Could I please have Karev as our Dr? How is that mother not crying? How is that mother not crying? Look how happy that little guy is. Look at the stairs that are like a piano. Does that woman run around this hospital all day long in those 4" heels? So many thoughts. So many that I walked us directly into the wrong office for our first appointment, despite the fact that in my hands I of course had meticulous notes about where we needed to be when. Something about my appearance must have clued in the lovely receptionist because instead of just giving us directions to where we needed to be, she walked us there. Bless her.
We sat in the waiting room and it kind of hit me that I've never actually had an MRI before, should I be nervous? My bladder decided yes so I headed to the bathroom again. Walking down the same hallway with me was this little peanut- bald and beautiful, clutching his IV pole as he headed to his MRI. No Chelsea, you don't get to be nervous. I gave myself a little bathroom mirror pep talk along the lines of get your shit together woman. It wasn't long after my return to the waiting room that this nurse I can only describe as jolly came to get us. We walked through hallways, up elevators and more hallways till I couldn't imagine we were in the same hospital anymore all the while happily chit chatting away. Then we had to pick our scrub sizes because Nick and I both had to put on scrubs! Dress up, how fun! I secretly really wanted to take a picture and wish I did. But I was afraid of making light of the situation. So we're all scrubbed up and they get me into the tube. I'm not particularly claustrophobic so I wasn't really concerned about this. They had me lay on my side (the only way the Internet tells you that you can sleep while pregnant without suffocating your child) so I thought oh maybe I'll nap in here! It was quite cold in there at first and since my internal temperature only really ranges from hot to on fire, I was almost enjoying this. Not long after they pulled me out and I was thinking how good I was at this MRI thing because that was nothin! Well turns out little mans head is already wayyyyyy down there so they actually just couldn't see anything. So they needed me to try laying on my back. I made them reassure me that it was safe because again the internet said my child would die. So now I roll back in and realize that for some reason this time I've kept my eyes open. Shit. That was a bad call. The top of the machine is right there and for some reason the arctic blast I was enjoying was gone. It was freaking hot and I felt like I was trapped in a drain pipe or something. I started to understand what all this fuss about MRIs were after all. I tried giving myself another pep talk that this wasn't optional. They need to see what's going on in there and this is what I've been waiting for. I won't even throw a number out there as to how long I made it because this time I know it would most certainly be false. You cannot possibly comprehend time inside that thing but after some amount of it I knew I had no choice but to squeeze the save me thingamajig. Twice. Because I was actually on fire and couldn't breathe. You'd think I would be getting better at that feeling, untrue. I looked over at my husband all cute in his scrubs and said I'm going to puke. The drs or nurses or whoever made a quick dash for a bucket and that's exactly what happened. I think there was a little more surprise in their eyes than I expected and all I could think was "Happy Monday morning everyone!!" Thankfully they had gotten enough from that angle and sent me back in on my side. Eyes closed, little fan in hand I was feeling confident again. I'd already panicked and puked, I couldn't really impress them anymore could I? Now I'm pretty sure this next part went on for about an entire hour. Not that I could tell you but because I asked when I got out. It was thus far the longest, most torturous hour of my life. Get back to you after labor, I know. But so far this takes the cake. Yes it was hot and uncomfortable but the sirens and alarms and whatever the hell else they play in there had me feeling like I was having flashbacks to a previous life in Nazi Germany or something. I tried to walk myself through every happy place I've experienced. I tried to distract myself with any single story or tv plot or book I've ever read in my life. However, I couldn't help but get distracted by these insanely loud sounds that I could only reason that their purpose was a test of my sanity. We weren't here to visualize the baby's palate, they were actually testing to see if I was keeping it together through this pregnancy and if I was actually fit to be a mother. That or an international spy. It felt like the absolute definition of insanity. When they finalllllllllly released me I thought for sure I had just leaked all of our nations secure intel to our enemies. I actually wish Nick could tell me what my face looked like when I came out, but he was sleeping. Sirens didn't drive him to insanity, just lulled him to sleep. So clearly he's actually the insane one.
So we changed back into our real clothes and took a much quieter escorted stroll back through the hospital with a different nurse. So I was either in there so long that shifts changed or my puking scared away the jolly guy, who knows? But the long stroll was all it took to snap me out of my MRI induced spy situation.
If you're still reading you're a trooper. KGB if you happen to be reading and made it this far, my apologies. I know I've broken every blogging rule you taught me.
So now onto the ultrasound. I guess I half expected some results after the MRI but they didn't come. So onward we go. Baby B has had what feels like a million ultrasounds at this point and the long story short (ha!) is that from the 18 week ultrasound on, the potential diagnosis got more and more severe. Instead of exciting opportunities to get a peek at him, ultrasounds have been a stressful experience where I'll get more bad news. Also, Baby B is NOT interested in giving any sneak peeks of his cleft. He keeps his hand, or foot, or cord or anything he can possibly find over the right side of his face every.single.time. He knows exactly what he's doing, I'm certain of it. I didn't think our change in geography was going to change that and it didn't. The tech was great, as every single person at Boston was. One of my most favorite things? Each person would ask if we had a name for the baby. We do. And I'm not telling you now but I would tell them and from that point on, they would call him by name! That seems really simple and maybe even insignificant but it felt so personal and compassionate and well, different. It hasn't happened in all my bazillion appointments here and I just so appreciated it. So anyways, about halfway through our ultrasound a Dr came in and introduced herself. She said that she was the Dr that viewed my MRI. She asked for a bit of what our story had been thus far and we gave her the run down of the 18 week incomplete cleft lip diagnosis, to the 22 week suspected complete lip, to the 26 week suspected complete lip and nose and palate and so on. I noticed that she kind of had a smile on her face and I thought that was weird. I wasn't exactly telling a pleasant story here. But like a little kid that couldn't keep it in any longer, she informed us that we would be meeting with the cleft team after lunch but she was completely certain from the MRI that the palate was not effected. I think I looked at Nick dumbfounded because I thought I must be just delirious at this point. I haven't gotten very medical about all of this on here but it's kind of as simple as this. A cleft lip is a mostly cosmetic issue that gets fixed with 1, maybe 2 surgeries and that's pretty much it. It usually doesn't cause too many other complications. When the palate gets involved (the roof of your mouth) feeding becomes a very unknown battle, as does speech and orthodontics and hearing and a whole bag of other things that can involve surgeries and revisions and appointments and therapy and just really involved treatment all throughout childhood and even adulthood. That's the simplified gist but Nick and I thought our trip to Boston would give us a confirmation of all these suspected issues and the opportunity to meet with a more experienced team. Not once did either of us let our minds wander to a place where a lesser diagnosis was an option. Where this absolutely thrilled to deliver this news Dr could be saying these words. You better believe that tears were shed on that exam table and I'm pretty sure each one held 10 pounds of relief in it We probably asked her to repeat her findings quite a few times and Nick asked her how sure she was. She was positive. She also didn't believe the nose was involved and thought the cleft on the lip was oh so little. I can't remember if I had even said any words yet. I have no idea at all but as they walked us out of the office for our little lunch break I am fairly sure I thanked her about 47 times. Come to think of it I'm shocked I didn't hug her.
You could probably have driven to Boston in the time it's taken you to get this far!
So then Nick and I headed to lunch where I think we just repeated over and over "Did that just happen?" Because it really wasn't an option. We were far beyond this scenario being an option, yet here were the best Dr's in the country telling us it's true. After lunch we met with the actual surgeon who will be doing the operation and his nurse. They were beyond helpful in answering all of our scattered questions and again reassuring is that this really was what they saw! They were the perfect mix of confident, compassionate, serious but light. We knew without a doubt this was whose hands we wanted or child's face in.
I have to admit that I am almost afraid to put this in writing. There's a chance of course that they are wrong. There's a chance that all of this is wrong and the same challenges lie ahead. But I can be ok with that because of this. We had already spent the last 16 weeks preparing for all of that. So what Boston really gave me that day was the permission to go enjoy the rest of my pregnancy! Without so much fear and second guessing and research. We had a plan A and a really exciting possibility of a plan B! Plan B, Boston for Baby B. Extra cheese please.
Boston I love you! As we drove out of Boston I considered that maybe I should run the marathon some day to show my appreciation for this magical place. That was probably just the aftershock of the MRI though, don't hold me to that.