Entry #14 - Grady McMahan
Do you ever get those gut feelings about people the moment they walk into the room? Like your gut is screaming at the top of it's lungs that THIS encounter will move you. I try my best to listen to that instinct we have inside. Over the years, it has become more and more clear that this voice will not steer me wrong. I knew from the moment I saw her; Melissa McMahan was exactly the type of person a cleftie like Grady needs for guidance and love. I just knew it.
It was, yet again, a moment of clarity. We are here, in this moment, right now, for a very specific reason. I was about to be blessed with a story of fear, preparation, and conscious resilience. Melissa and her husband were about to join the community that would help her through it.
At her 20 week ultrasound (which a common time period to identify if your child is cleft affected) Melissa sat prepared for more exciting news. Everything was going pretty well with the pregnancy, minor medication, maybe something for nausea here and there. A morning routine of prenatal vitamins and folic acid assured her each step she was taking is correct.
Now, I'm not a mother, but I have heard enough stories to find a common denominator and I am going to try my best to explain it.
It's that moment you hear the doctor take a deep breath after giving you the good news first. Although only seconds pass, each and every possibility rush through your brain. Shivers run up your spine and your palms sweat. Did that tiny bit of medication I took harm my baby? Did I do this? I can't even begin to comprehend the magnitude of weight a mother and father must feel in those few moments. The unknown. The scariest thing in the world to most. Your grip tightens, wherever it is, and in those short few seconds, you ready yourself. I have seen this in the eyes of each cleft mother. The welling up of strong arms, steadying your eyes, ready to receive and conquer whatever it is that is about to come your way. I admire this so much about cleft affected mothers like Melissa. You shine so bright and you have no idea.
Melissa and her husband live in a very rural area and have always stayed rather private. The social media world simply just, wasn't their thing. Like most mothers do when learning of their child's cleft, Melissa turned to the internet. Not so much social media at first, just preliminary research on what her husband and herself were about to face. It was to her understanding (like a lot of other folks in the U.S.) that this condition was primarily a third world country issue.
With guilt building inside this mothers heart, she finally found a few women's groups on Facebook for cleft affected mothers. There she found support, reassurance that this was NOT her fault, rather she was being gifted with a very special child and he with a very special mother. Baby Grady would also have a life long companion, his twin brother Berg. Although Berg doesn't have a cleft, he will undoubtably be by his side every step of the way.
Photographing these guys was some of the best cardio I have had in a while (and I like to think I'm rather fit). I have hung out with a single two year old or a pair of older brothers, but I am just not sure how Melissa balances twins so gracefully. Props again to you Melissa!
These boys show their love for her so freely, it's beautiful. No shame in being mommas boys when your mom is THAT amazing. Needless to say, we had a wonderful day. I got a workout and some really great photos.
Plus, hanging with twice the cuteness totally worked for me.
So here we are, again to notice, celebrate, and thank another family for their contribution to "1in700." You are appreciated and will forever be a part of this timeless piece of education. Stay cleft strong :*)!