The Day I Was Born

A Shocking Discovery

Before I was born, my mother was unaware that an operation and some medicine she took would change the course of my life, even before I was born, a fact not discovered until the day she gave birth. I was born with three birth defects. I had a cleft lip, cleft palate and a webbed left hand. Medical technology had yet to advance to the level that it is today. Consequently, there was no way of knowing that I had these birth defects until my mom gave birth to me.

After a long and difficult labor, I finally arrived. It was a rough pregnancy complete with multiple bouts of morning sickness, so my mom was glad I showed up when I did. When I was delivered, the doctor decided not to allow my mom to see me immediately. He felt that the shock of seeing her new son with the multiple birth defects might be too much given the long, painful experience of giving birth she just had endured. Instead, the doctor decided my mom needed to rest and he would discuss the matter with her later. She spent all night not knowing what happened to me. Instead, she lay in her bed wondering if I was okay and what I looked like.

Unfortunately, the doctor failed to tell my pediatrician, Dr. Scully, his decision not to tell my mom right away. He assumed my mom already knew about the birth defects. The next day when Dr. Scully found out that my mom was unaware of my condition, he realized what a shock seeing my birth defects may be to my mom. He decided to bring in photos of me to show my mom the birth defects. This way it would ease her into understanding what had happened. For the first time, my mom saw her first-born son with his cleft lip, cleft palate and webbed fingers. By showing her the pictures first, it allowed her to digest what had happened. Then the nurse brought me to her, and she welcomed me with open arms.

Later, during the first visit to Dr. Scully, my mom asked him about what kinds of protective care I would need based upon the diagnosis. The advice he gave played a very significant role in my life that positively shaped my future. He told her to treat me like any other kid and not to overprotect me. His words meant so much. What he told my mom, was not to set limits for me, but let me discover my own limits, if there were to be any. I am passed on the same advice forty years later to my own daughter, Faith. I still apply the same philosophy today. Because someone allowed me to discover my own limits, I knew that Faith should be free to discover those limits herself.


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