You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on .

This one is about: Reylene's 1st Surgery Memories by her Parents

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There seems to be a lot of parents with questions about first surgeries, I would like to share our experience with you. Our little girl Reylene was born with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate. She is now 2.5 yrs. I remember going through her first surgery and being a complete basket case for 2 weeks before. Prior to that I think I was still in shock. This was my first child, and of course there was so much to learn in that first 3 months. The worst time for us was the night before we went to the hospital. I think I cried for hours that night, I would go and pick her up, just hold her and cry not knowing what to expect. The day we arrived at the hospital the staff was very good about accommodating both my husband and I. Usually they only accommodate one parent overnight, but they let us both stay, thank god, we needed each other. (We live in Edmonton, Canada, it might be different where you are.) We got all settled in the night before and they did their pre-op work with her. Surgery was first thing in the morning. We shed more tears that night. The next morning arrived and they let us take her to the holding room, outside O.R.. She was fussy because of course she was hungry, the nurse came to take her and without even realizing what I was doing I started to walk the other way. My husband followed, and calmed me down. You see at this point I had decided that I could accept the way she was and she was not going through all this. My husband explained that she was going to have to go to school with other kids, and live in the world, so we have to give her the best possible chance at living normally that we could. Then he gave her to the nurse and off she went for surgery. I anxiously waited for the next five hours, we were told she was doing okay and that this was a very complex tedious surgery and not to worry about the length of time it was taking. Finally she returned, I had to sit down because my legs gave out. I haven't spent much time in hospitals and so I haven't seen much. She came back and there was a little blood around her bandage on her lip and the stitches were not completely covered so you could see what looked plainly like a piece of sewing. She also looked very pale. Prepare yourself for that. She was given codeine every few hours, I can't remember now how often, just that they usually overlapped the doses by a few minutes so that she would not cry or be in any pain. We spent the day just holding her and I started to feel calm again. The nursing staff was excellent, once I reminded them that it was time for her medication and was told I would have to wait, she was crying so I was quite adamant, and said no you will get it now, they were in the middle of shift change, other than that they were great. It was very important we were told by our surgeon that she doesn't cry or have her soother. The nurses and us would feed her with a syringe or tube for the first day or two. The ordeal was over she was eating pablum, and drinking her bottle on the second or third day. I was amazed at how quickly she could have a bottle again. After her lip repair she no longer wanted her soother. We were sent home with codeine if needed but a decreased dosage. I think we gave her maybe two dosages at home. There were no more tears and I was just so happy that that one was over with. They put her out again for about five minutes to remove the stitches, I think a week or 10 days later. She looked great, just some redness that seems to take forever to go away into little white scars. Now we would know more of what to expect for the next surgery. I think the babies come through it much better than the parents, they are really a lot tougher than you think. We also had an excellent surgeon and we met with the anesthesiologist before and gave I him the third degree on his history of experience. I did lots of praying and lots of crying and I know it is hard but just remember it is like my husband said you are doing it for them, you have to. It isn't fair if you don't. Reylene has also had her palate repaired, that was at a year, I did the same again, lots of praying, lots of crying, but you just know a little better what to expect. I hope this helps you a little bit with your fears.

Good luck to all! Charlene & Claude (Reylene's parents)

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