“Over the weekend, I was brought into a group text with a couple of old friends. One that I talk to on a fairly regular basis that I met in college, and one that I met at work who I talk to sporadically (he’s in and out of rehab among other things). I introduced the two many years later. The relationship between all of us is weird and I try not to give too much time to it, but the discussion this weekend really opened up a lot and ended one friendship.
As with a lot of people these days, politics got brought up. None of us in the group chat have the same views and things unfortunately got heated fairly quickly. The topic of abortion came up, and I won’t get into that, but I did bring up how I think we’re getting into a not so great spot with abortions. For example, due to genetic testing, babies with clefts are being aborted three times more in some countries and even HIGHER in others. The people want a baby, just not that baby. Having a cleft baby of my own, I strongly feel that that isn’t right.
My ‘friend’ said, ‘Come on, of all people, you should get why someone would want to abort a cleft baby.’
That shocked me. Why would he think that? Why would someone think I would agree that babies like my son shouldn’t have the opportunity to live, simply because they’re different? Not long after that statement was made, I spoke my last words to him. BUT, I thought, maybe this could lead to great opportunity to share my son’s story (so far) and hopefully shed some light on clefts. So MAYBE, when a mom and dad go to get a sonogram or get blood work done and find that they’ve got a beautiful cleft baby, they won’t think their world is over. That it’ll just be a little different.
On April 3, 2018, at 10:46 a.m., my son Jack Carson Martin was born via C-section. The nurses cheered, and the doctor congratulated us. ‘He’s so big and perfect,’ one nurse said. Tears of joy streamed down my wife and I’s face.
Exactly two minutes later, my son Cam Dawson Martin was brought into the world. As the doctor held him up, the room went silent. Something was different. The doctors were worried. My wife’s doctor leaned over to a nurse and asked her to call the NICU.
‘What’s wrong?’ my wife asked.
‘I don’t know,’ is all I could say.
I stopped taking pictures. I let go of my wife’s hand. I made my way over to the babies. Jack was laying on his bed, already wrapped up. Nurses were crowded around Cam, so I couldn’t get to him.
Jack’s nurse pulled me over to him. ‘8 pounds, Dad! He’s a big boy!’
I leaned down and kissed my son.
‘What’s going on with my other son?’
The nurse, uncomfortable, looked over at the other nurses. She whispered to them. After what seemed like forever, they all turned to me. ‘He’ll be okay.’
It was a shock. I didn’t know what I was looking at. There was clearly something wrong on his face, but I had never seen something like that before. Nobody said anything. The nurse put him in my arms. He cried and cried, and all I wanted to do was help him. I have never in my life felt so helpless.
After what felt like two seconds, the NICU team rushed in and took him from my arms and out the door they went.
My wife looked over at me. ‘Is he okay?’ I shook my head. No words could come out. My wife didn’t even get to hold him.