If I had a magic wand the first thing I’d do is...remove every trace of my children’s cleft lips and palates.
A cleft lip/palate is a birth defect that occurs when the tissue in a baby’s lip or mouth does not join completely during the first six to nine weeks of pregnancy. The cause is unknown.
All three of our children were born with a cleft lip and palate. All three were adopted from China.
All of our children are regularly evaluated by a team of specialists at a hospital in Chicago. The team consists of a craniofacial surgeon, a dentist, an orthodontist, ENT, speech therapist, and a psychologist.
Our children have already undergone a combined nine surgeries. Five of those on my oldest, almost nine-year-old son. Our seven-year-old has had regular visits to the orthodontist since he was four years old. He is currently on his third dental appliance, in preparation for a bone graft surgery approximately six months from now. For this surgery they will remove a piece of bone from his hip and implant it into his palate. He currently still has a large fistula (hole) in his palate going directly to his nasal cavity. Food gets stuck above the appliance every time he eats and we have to use a Water-pik to shoot water into his palate to remove the food. The water and food go into his nose every time we use the Water-pik. He hates the Water-pik. Hates the Water-pik.
All three children are currently in speech therapy and all will require further surgeries and orthodontia that our medical insurance always refuses to cover, claiming orthodontia is not medical…even though orthodontia is required to prepare our children’s mouths for surgery. We will continue to fight them.
These are some of the difficulties and challenges that accompany a cleft lip and palate. But the most heart-breaking situation to me is when one of my children looks in the mirror and says, “I’m ugly. I don’t look like everyone else. My nose is crooked.” I remind my child that they are beautiful and that they have a beautiful smile. I look in the mirror with them and show them how their smile lights up their whole face. That helps for a short while, but the pain is still visible in their sad eyes. It’s at that point, if I could, that I would take a magic wand and erase every trace of their cleft lip and palate.
|My three beautiful munchkins.|
Sentence for next week: My best summertime memory this year was…