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

This one is about: A Child, Not a Cleft

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A Child, Not a Cleft by Ellen

When I found out I was pregnant at age 39, I was overjoyed. Ten years before I would never have believed I would be married and have one child, let alone two! It had been a rough road for me over the years. I was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate and though my family has always been loving and supporting, I was extremely self-conscious. Not because of how others treated me, but because of how I perceived them to view me. I felt people were looking at my cleft scars, not me.

However, in my early 30's I met a wonderful man at a singles' party, we married and had a beautiful daughter Emily within a year. Life was so fulfilling and I had never felt so happy and content. My cleft was at last insignificant. When people complimented my baby, I felt beautiful too. After all, she was part of me.

Now five years later I was pregnant again. Prenatal testing told me it was a "normal girl" and I knew she would be as perfect as her sister.

But my rosy world came crashing down with one sentence during an ultrasound test. "Your baby has a cleft." The news was devastating to me. I grieved for months as if the dearest of loved ones had died. I never felt such overwhelming sadness, despair, and anger. Just when my life had finally come together. Just when I had come to accept my cleft as just one small part of who I was. Now I would have to deal with cleft issues all over again, this time as a parent. The unfairness of it all!

During the rest of my pregnancy I was unable to think of the growing life inside me as a baby. My thoughts were only of the cleft and I was consumed by them.

How severe will it be? What other problems will she have? How will it affect her hearing, teeth, speech, feeding, self-esteem? How will it affect us financially? How will I go back to work? What will I tell my family and friends? Most importantly, will I love her as much as every baby deserves to be loved?

On February 7, 1996 Sarah Rose was born. Seeing her at last brought indescribable relief. Not only had the weight of the baby been taken from me, but the weight of all my worries and doubts. She was truly beautiful---big round eyes, dark silky hair, rose petal skin. And yes, a bilateral cleft lip and palate. But she was so much more. No longer was she a cleft in my mind, she was my beloved child asleep in my arms.


Please take a look at my lovely girls in the Wide Smiles Photo Gallery, under "Sarah Rose"

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