Hard lesson learned

There are moments in motherhood where you want to pat yourself on the back.

Yesterday wasn’t one of them.


We found it.  The imaging center where we were getting the MRI. 

Craig, confident as always, distracted himself with work.  I looked at my phone repeatedly – checking the weather, news, Facebook – trying to keep myself occupied until it was my turn to be called back.

I heard someone getting rolled down the hall.  Turned my head and then immediately wished I hadn’t.  It was like scene from “Grey’s Anatomy” – a man with all sorts of tubes coming out of him – looking like he was knocking on death’s door.

And then Baby kicked.  I rubbed my belly and whispered, “I know…I can’t believe we’re here either.”

My name was called.  The tech asked if my husband would be coming back with me. If he was, he needed to put up the netbook, take off all metal, etc.  I looked at Craig – shrugged my shoulders – and turned back to the tech and said, “No, its alright.  I’ll be fine.”

We moved to a different waiting are which was next to the dressing rooms.  I undressed, still could not believe I was about to go through this…


It’s the tech.  “Mrs. Hounsel…I think it would be best if your husbands goes with you during the procedure.  It will help keep you calm.”

Ok – now I wasn’t feeling good about things.

Craig put up his things and we were escorted back to the MRI room.

It was cold, there were loud noises, it all seemed so wrong…

“We’ll have you lay down and we’ll lay this over your belly so we can get good pictures of the baby.  Stay as still as you can.  If you need to come out, feel sick, feel claustrophobic, remember that you can squeeze this ball and I’ll come in – or you can crawl out.   You’ll be in there for about an hour.”

Here goes nothing.

With ear plugs in place, I laid down on the MRI machine.  I was strapped down and Baby started to kick.

He wasn’t happy.

The tears started to fall.  I started to panic and cry.

“Mrs. Hounsel  – are you ok?  Are you nervous about the procedure or worried about the baby?”

“I’m worried about the baby.”

“Well – save those tears.  More often than not – we get good results after these things.”

The machine started to move me in the tube.  The suffocating tube.  I closed my eyes but I could feel the machine only inches from my body…all around me.  I couldn’t breathe.

Then, I felt a hand on my head.  A reassuring hand.  And then the voice that has kept me steady through all this.

“Just close your eyes.  Just close your eyes.”

I took deep breaths.  Tried to ignore the sounds.  Tried to ignore Baby moving – constantly wondering if this was hurting him.  But, we needed to do this.

The hand again – smoothing my hair back.  Reminding me – we’re doing this for our son.

About an hour in – we were done.


Dr. Drixler – the radiologist – sat us down in her office about 20 minutes after the procedure.

I grabbed Craig’s hand.  She reminded me of a grandmother.  Kind eyes…but cautious at the same time.

“You’ve been through the ringer with this pregnancy?  I’m so sorry.”

I just nodded.  Needed to know – good or bad what they found.

She said they took pictures from different angles, trying to get the best images of the face to investigate the cleft lip and palate.

She started at the top of the of Baby’s head.  Started talking about the brain.

The brain.



The eyes.



The sinuses, cheeks and nose.



The hard palate.

A deformity.

Can’t breathe.

The upper part of the jaw.

A deformity.

Can’t breathe.

The upper lip.

Major deformity.

Can’t breathe.

She went through all the pictures.  Showed us that it would definitely be bilateral – both sides of his face. His dear, sweet face.  And to prepare ourselves for what’s to come – how he will look and the extensive amount of reconstructive surgery, feeding challenges, speech delays…but yet…  reassuring us that it is all fixable.

I was heartbroken.  What else is my boy going to have to go through?

Then the news I was waiting on – the rest of the body – intestines, lungs, kidneys, bladder…

“Say it…say it…” I prayed in my head.

And Dr. Drixler did…

“It all looks good.”

Breathe. Breathe.

We were done after a few questions.  And then she walked us out.  Through my tears, I looked at Dr. Drixler and said, “You may not realize it – but today – you gave me good news.”

Small victories.

You’d think I’d be ecstatic – knowing that everything else looked good.  Since I’ve asked everyone to pray for that (funny – asking you to pray for JUST a heart problem and cleft problem…).
But, I wasn’t.  I started to cry.  I was ashamed.  I was scared to deliver my son and see his face.  Hate me.  I’m his mother.  I love him but I’m scared of how I’ll react – how Craig will react.
And what’s crazy – is that I am so proud of him at the same time.  He is a fighter – he wouldn’t get to this point if he wasn’t.
You dream about a baby you carry for 9 months and expect to have a bundle of perfection to hold and I know he won’t be that – on the inside or the outside.
What a terrible thing to feel for your own child.  A child that was created out of love.  I child I love to the moon.
I was angry at myself for feeling this way.  Upset about how he would look.  Talk about shallow.  It’s this world we live in – with so many making judgments about who you are based upon how you look – myself included.  What a wake up call.
Sure he’ll have surgery to get his face repaired.  But he’ll carry those scars in a place that’s not hidden – a place for the world to see.  And he may be teased by those who don’t get that those scars are just fraction of what he’s fighting for…little do they know he’ll have scar on his chest…real proof that he’s a warrior.
Craig is upset too.  Sad he’ll have to face more surgeries and worried about how his little heart will handle them.  Worried that the deformity is so great that he’ll have to wait to get the surgeries until he’s older. That his boy will be teased.  Will be bullied.
But, we talked about it.  After the tears.  After the self reflection – realizing we were buying into the world’s perception of beauty – and deemed any scars our boy would have as signs of a fighter.  He’d be tough.  No one would mess with him.  He’d find a wife someday that would love him – look past the scars – and love his soul.
He’d be an example to Iz.  He’d show Iz that appearances aren’t what define you.  That you learn to love the person for who they are – and not what they look like.
Who am I kidding…he’d be an example for me.
Hard lesson learned…I just got schooled by a baby that hasn’t even been born.


  1. You are both amazing. Our society is so beauty oriented and to know your son will face ridicule is hard for any parent. Your son will be an inspiration for so many people…thank you for sharing your story.