The doctors and nurses didn’t hesitate, this was a lot more complex than their usual delivery. The man was standing beside the bed, clutching his head in his hands as he prayed that his wife and daughter would survive.
He was in the middle of his prayer when he finally heard it. The small cry was the light at the end of the dark tunnel. When he looked up, his eyes instantly locked on the most beautiful baby he had ever seen. He quickly moved closer, and that’s when he saw it. His jaw dropped as he froze in his footsteps.
Fran and Leila had always wanted to have kids. After being a couple through grad school, the two of them decided to marry, thus beginning their life journey together.
Frank and Leila wanted to have a big family. This was always their dream. They tried to get pregnant as soon as they could, and it wouldn’t take long before receiving the news they expected to hear all their married life.
Wanting A Big Family
The two of them had always discussed having children. Even before they got married, they would share their dreams and thoughts on the matter, and they both were on the same page. They also both came from big families.
For Leila, having kids running all over her home and leaving chaos behind was a dream come true. She had no idea what her future would look like with her husband though.
Like a lot of other new parents, Frank and Leila took every safety measure during the nine months of pregnancy. They went to every parenthood seminar and took part in most pregnancy programs at their local hospital.
They went to all the appointments with the obstetrician and always checked in with the doctor whenever they thought something was off. But all these measures meant nothing when people have to deal with what they would have to go through.
Ready To Meet Them
Frank and Leila were the most excited parent. They couldn’t wait for the day of the delivery. They ran off to the local hospital as soon as Leila’s contractions began.
Like any other parents, they had hoped and expected that the delivery process would go smoothly. They thought they were prepared for every scenario possible. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Time To Push
Frank was along with his wife as the delivery began. Leila was squeezing his hand hard whenever the doctor told her to push. The couple had already been in the hospital room for more than five hours, with no end in sight. Was everything alright?
Frank knew things could go wrong and all these crazy scenarios ran wild through his mind. He tried his best to stay positive, bud deep down, he had a feeling something was terribly wrong.
Had had always been an optimistic person, but the tension inside the delivery was getting to him. It was enough to change all his principles.
The man didn’t want to think that things could go bad, but then out of nowhere, the doctor asked him to give the medical staff some space. The doctor also called for more nurses and asked for more equipment as well. What was going on?
“There has been a complication,” the doctor said suddenly. “We need to perform a C-section right away.” The worry and dread took over Frank instantly, reeling him against the wall. He couldn’t contain his tears.
“A C-section?” He heard Leila ask and saw her try to sit upright. She was starting to worry as well. But she was the strongest woman Frank knew. He had hope that everything would go well in the end.
The medical staff didn’t waste any more time. It had all been much more complicated than anticipated but it was finally over. Frank prayed all the way that his family would survive.
He was still lost in thoughts when he finally heard the squealing cry of the baby. This was a ray of hope that he prayed for the entire time they were stuck in that delivery room. But when he got closer to the child, he noticed something that made him step back.
Frank and Leila’s baby was fine and everything appeared to be going well. She cried her lungs out while the nurses inspected her tiny body. But there were two birthmarks on the sides of her mouth that made her look like she had a permanent smile.
Even though everyone in the delivery room was taken aback, they all got to work quickly. They took the newborn away, with Frank following the doctor as she explained to him what exactly was happening.
In The Waiting Room
Frank paced in the waiting room as the doctor went to run tests on his baby. He had never seen anything like what he’d just witnessed and needed all the explanation he could get.
What was happening to his child? Was her life in danger? Did she have some congenital disability stemming from Frank as her dad? Frank wouldn’t be able to forgive himself.
After waiting thirty minutes, the doctor finally walked out of the office. There was a constant worry in her eyes, her fingers fidgeting with the test results.
She invited Frank into her office and asked him to sit. But Frank couldn’t bring himself to sit down. He started pacing as he had in the waiting room. He needed answers fast.
“Bilateral microstomia,” the doctor answered with surety. “It is an ultra-rare condition that affects the function and aesthetics of the oral cavity.”
“What?” Frank asked. All the energy in his body seemed to leach away, leaving him tired. He wiped the sweat on his forehead and sat down. “Please, tell me more, doctor.”
The doctor sat down as well. “Well,” she began. “Microstomia is a condition with a small sized-mouth that results in functional impairment such as difficulty with food intake, pronunciation, and cosmetic problems.”
“What we have here is a special kind of microstomia, where the condition manifests itself in the form of bilateral slits,” she added. Frank couldn’t even speak.
The Perfect Child
Frank sank to the patient’s seat with his head in his hands. He let out an exasperated sigh, “Leila will be heartbroken when she wakes up.”
His wife had always wanted the perfect child. She’d prayed for one, asking the heavens to give her the most beautiful kid in the world. Frank promised her that their child would be just that. How could he face her now when he couldn’t deliver on that promise?
Going To Leila
“Let’s go share the news with her,” the doctor’s voice pulled him out of his thoughts. “It is imperative we do it now, while the information is still fresh.”
“Certainly,” Frank said almost immediately. But that was only an automatic response. He didn’t even have the energy to get up. But then he thought of something that changed everything.
We’ll Do The Best We Can
“Let me see her first,” he whispered, and the doctor nodded. She told him that such medical occurrences were common and to take heart. She and her team would do everything possible to help his daughter.
Her words made Frank’s lips curl, though his eyes were wet with tears. But when they walked out of the office, he didn’t follow her to her wife’s room. He was going the opposite way.
The doctor was confused at first. What was Frank doing? Didn’t he want to share the news with his wife? Then she realized what was happening.
Frank was headed to the neonatal intensive care unit. The doctor didn’t comment on this, choosing instead to follow him to the room. She knew that this was as important as breaking the news to Leila.
I Have To See Her
Frank pushed the door to the neonatal intensive care unit slowly. But he didn’t step in. He stood outside for a few minutes, his tears flowing freely as he searched for the strength to continue.
After a few minutes, he wiped his eyes and turned to the doctor. “Enough tears,” he said, telling himself as much as he was talking to the doctor. He straightened his back, broke a shaky smile, and walked in.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
The neonatal intensive care unit was divided into several rows lit with blue light, with tiny babies napping all over. Each of them was beautiful, their scent an incredible, overwhelming smell that made Frank’s eyes water again.
But he didn’t cry. He needed to be strong for his wife and baby. He would be their pillar against whatever storm was coming their way.
A Quiet Room
The doctor showed Frank where his daughter was, and he walked to her, his heart beating so loudly he feared it would wake the entire room.
He’d seen how his baby looked in the delivery room and didn’t know how he’d react now. But as he neared her crib, he felt something he’d never felt.
The Most Beautiful Baby Girl
Frank’s heart swelled the closer he got to his daughter’s crib. He focused on her, the most beautiful baby girl he’d ever seen. She had his mom’s face while asleep, which made his eyes grow wet again.
Seeming to sense her dad lurking over her, the baby opened her eyes, and Frank choked on a sob. She had his wife’s big blue eyes. She smiled, and his heart melted.
He’s In Love
Frank said hi to the baby. He didn’t know how his wife would react to her, but he knew he’d fallen in love. The baby reached up to him, and Frank offered his thumb, which she held on to.
“I will always love you,” he said. “I will never leave you, and I will forever fight and protect you.” When Frank turned around, he saw something that made him step back.
The Best Dad
The doctor was quiet at the door. She was crying and smiling at the same time. “You will be the best dad to that little angel,” she said, and Frank believed her.
They walked out of the neonatal intensive care unit, keen on telling Leila what was happening. Frank felt stronger now that he’d seen his daughter. He hoped Leila would love her just as much as he did.
Going For Files
But before they could go to Leila’s room, the doctor requested they take a detour to her office for some files. She hoped some tangible information could help Frank’s wife accept their situation.
After collecting the files, they hurried to see Leila. Frank led the way, eager to see the love of his life and tell her what a beautiful daughter they had. They didn’t know they were too late.
They’re Too Late
In the split minute that Frank and the doctor had taken to go for the files, a nurse had wheeled Frank’s daughter to Leila’s room.
The two walked in, finding the nurse leaving. She greeted them at the door, asking them to be quiet because the baby was inside. After a quick congratulation to Frank, she left. Frank sped into the room.
Frank and the doctor rushed to Leila, who was just awakening in her room. They found her cradling the baby, a smile on her face as tears lined her cheeks.
“You’re so pretty,” she whispered to the baby before looking up at Frank. “Leila,” Frank’s voice had never been this broken. But his worry began dissipating as he got closer to his wife and child.
His eyes teared again as he reached a finger down, and the baby lurched on as she did back at the neonatal intensive care unit. Her smile was still holding even though her eyes were closed.
The days that followed were difficult for Leila and Frank, given that they were treading a path very few parents ever walked. Could they find a way to help their daughter before it was too late.
Correcting The Condition
The doctor promised Leila and Frank that their baby, whom they’d named Emma, could receive a series of reconstructions to help correct her condition.
The young parents agreed. They loved their child very much and would do anything to see her live a normal life. But the journey would be the most challenging thing they ever embarked on.
Emma is still undergoing her set of surgeries. To create awareness, her parents shared her story on social media, creating a cult following for the baby.
They are thankful for all the love and support they receive daily. They hope that anybody in the same boat as them knows that they are not alone.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.