Bubby was born with a cleft palate. We did not know about it right away. It was almost 16 hours after his birth before everyone figured out why it was so difficult to get him to feed. To be completely honest, I knew about cleft lips however I had no idea there was a cleft of the palate. No one in either of our families was born with a cleft palate nor lip.
We were very lucky. Bubby could have been born with a cleft lip and plate. The cleft could have come through his gums and caused the need for major orthodontic work. It could have been much, much worse.
After bringing our sweet boy home from the hospital, I spent what little free time I had as a new mother immersing myself in any cleft information I could find. When you add in all the extra pediatrician appointments to monitor his eating and weight gain, sick baby visits for ear infections, and appointments with the plastic surgeon who specializes in cleft repairs, my brain was a frazzled mess those first few months.
Bubby's cleft repair was not his first surgery. We got a practice run for that big surgery at five months when he had ear tubes inserted. The cleft repair came at 18 months. The repair was a success - the surgeon was able to close his palate and it healed perfectly. Again, we were very lucky. For a cleft kid to have their FIRST surgery at 18 months is pretty unlikely. Most kids have had multiple surgeries at that point. He was scheduled at 12 months, but they needed to give his mouth more time to grow. Bubby did not require another surgery until last August. He was not progressing as he should have with his speech therapy and he was very nasally when he talked. This second procedure was elective. It was hard to make the choice to put him through another procedure, however it has paid off immensely. His speech has drastically improved in this last year.
It is inevitable that there will be many more doctor visits to come. There may even be more surgeries, depending on how his mouth grows and the previous procedures hold up.
I wouldn't trade these last seven years for anything. I can't imagine a different road with this child. He has taught 374 and I both so much about life and what is really important. The strength he has shown has taught us that if this little boy can do it, so can we. He is our little fighter, and we couldn't be more proud.