Did you know my son had a cleft lip?
First, let’s start off with some definitions.
Cleft lip: a congenital split in the upper lip on one or both sides of the center, often associated with a cleft palate.
Cleft Palate: a congenital split in the roof of the mouth.
My son had a cleft lip not a cleft palate although the specialist ultrasound doctor we had gone to originally said that Liam had both a cleft lip and cleft palate. As a 21 year old woman that had terrified me.
All I could think was that my son had a hole in his lip and roof of his mouth. Fortunately, at birth, the nurses found he only had a cleft lip.
But what does that actually mean?
There was a lot of research I did at that point. A lot of different doctors. And after birth? We had to go down to Atlanta to CHOA (children’s hospital of Atlanta) craniofacial surgery to meet with a team.
We had a coordinator, craniofacial surgeon, occupational therapist/feeding specialist, Speech pathologist, and orthodontist.
At this meeting, we learned the next steps. Liam had his surgery at 5 months old. The craniofacial surgeon had us use this piece of tape to train the two sides of the split in his lip closer together before the surgery.
At five months old, my little baby went back for a 45 minute surgery. I was an absolute wreck. When he came back from surgery he was a mess. He had stitches in his lip, a broken nose, an IV in his arm. He was screaming and crying and I couldn’t handle it. I had to leave the room. Thank God my mother was there to hold my crying baby and comfort him in my absence.
Then the long process of healing. In reality it was only a few weeks, but it felt like months. Liam had to wear arm braces to keep him from being able to touch his mouth for about two weeks. We had to keep the area clean and as dry as possible (Which was hard considering its the mouth and he was a baby). But we did it. And he healed beautifully.
I had just graduated college with my bachelors the week before the surgery, and I started my first big girl job two weeks after the surgery. It was a lot to handle. But now, my handsome boy is turning three in December. He only has one last “surgery” to go…The one where his surgeon lasers off a little bit of extra skin on his lip to make it look normal.