this is the second part of a behemoth blog i broke up a while back. while there have been further developments since this, i wanted to get this part out for posterity sake. shalom.
we have a saying in the montgomery family along the lines of "life is never normal, which is good b/c if it was it would be boring." pretty much from the moment he was conceived, isaac has been bringing us abnormality, excitement, and adventure that sometimes borders on sheer chaos.
now given my contribution to the gene pool, i didn't expect to be taking home a kid that belonged in ads for baby gap or even kmart for that matter. but i also didn't expect to be taking home a child with an obvious physical defect on his face. the doctor tried to be comforting, assuring us that the rest of him: his heart, his spine, his limbs, (you know, the important parts) looked great, but we were still a little bit thrown.
driving to dinner, we both sat, heavy with the news, which took a while to digest. we then began to talk and process, largely reassuring ourselves that everything was going to be ok. a cleft lip would mean surgery and probably a scar, but nothing life threatening. we talked about finding nemo, about how his dad helps him see his smaller fin as his "lucky" fin, and about how we as parents will have an immense privilege in helping our children receive the world through a healthy filter.
as we bought him his first outfit (a short-sleeved button down plaid shirt and cargo pants from baby gap, go figure), i decided my mantra for him will be "chicks dig scars". we laughed about how if and most likely when we take him to the emergency room his defense will probably be, "but mom, dad says chicks dig scars!" our moods began to lighten, and then, waiting expectantly with our cheesecake factory buzzer, hope started to sprout.
i have a barely visible scar on the left side of my face, the result of 36 stitches i received after being kissed by a german shepherd when i was 7. this scar is now something annie and i are grateful for, something i will forever hold in common with my son, something we now see redemption in.
as much as i hate it, i know that at some point isaac will probably be made fun of b/c of his scar. i can only hope i am wise enough to capture that moment, to help him remember what it feels like to be hurt by another person, and to help him understand that although his are more visible than some, we all have scars, we all have wounds, we all have places we hurt. even now i imagine telling him, "we wear our scars on the outside, other people wear theirs on the inside. but remember, just b/c you can't see them, it doesn't mean they hurt any less."
it is my great hope that our son will allow his scars to make him a more compassionate person, able to feel and walk with others in their pain. similarly, annie hopes they give him character, b/c, as she says, "there are so few men with character these days. i want to raise a son with character." it is a strange tension, to have hopes for your kid, but not wanting to let them develop into unhealthy expectations that will distort who he was created to be, especially since he hasn't even been born yet. we are trying to hold things loosely.
our friend joe told us early on that God would give us what we need. although he was referring to the sex of the child, i think it applies to deeper realities as well. in recent years, i have come to realize that one of the greatest needs in my life, aside from regular visits to in-n-out , is the need for healing. isaac's presence in my life, even in utero, has begun to split me open to new ways in which God wants address wounds i have held onto for far too long, wounds that at times have festered, and at times have superficially healed, wounds the scars of which i will always carry with me.
a few months ago, i emailed the people i work with that although we were hoping for a normal, healthy baby, what they could pray for is the strength and grace to handle whatever came our way. this strength and grace has often come through the people that have trod the way before us, who now surround us, and are helping us step on firmer ground. in this case it is annie's friend adrienne, whose daughter was born with a cleft lip nearly two years ago. adrienne has faithfully emailed annie, connecting us with an amazing doctor in la, and providing much needed support in the myriad of medical options.
ironically, all of this may come to naught. although we are not expecting it, isaac may emerge from the womb with a complete lip, no cleft to be found, for this sort of thing inhabits the realm between crystal balls and death/taxes which is to say nobody is sure of his precise condition. he may never have a scar, for we live in southern california, and as annie has noted very matter of factly, the plastic surgery doesn't get much better anywhere else. who knows, he may be a kmart model yet.