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

This one is about: What's it Like, from the Mother's Perspective?

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What's it Like, from the Mother's Perspective?

Nikki is 19 and preparing for yet another surgery for the correction of her cleft lip. She noticed some changes in her mother's behavior in preparation for this surgery, and wondered... what is it like, from the mother's perspective? The following is the answer she got from a mom of three with
cleft.

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Nikki...

What's it like for the Moms? Well, it's like tearing your heart out and watching it go on beating... It's like denying everything that is maternal inside of you. It's like standing between a rock and a hard place and then feeling a boulder come crashing down on you head. It hurts.

It is our jobs as moms to protect our children from everything... from immunizations, to warm coats and mittens, to training wheels to curfews...We spend our lives protecting our children.. and loving them.. perfectly, completely, just as they are. And then we have to voluntarily make arrangements to hand our child over to someone who will -- in our eyes anyway -- take our child to the very brink of danger, inflict pain on our child, and ultimately CHANGE our child... and we let them do it over and over again.

But we don't WANT our child endangered. We don't WANT our child hurt. And we don't WANT our child changed in any way. Yet we know we have to FOR our child.

It's like taking the momma bear that lives inside us and chaining her to a place where she can no longer protect her cub, and watching her cry. It's like total and utter helplessness at a time of our child's greatest need.

What is it like?? Pull your heart out -- throw it on the ground.. step on it..grind it...then put it back into your chest. THAT's what it's like.

And every one of us does it.... over and over again....Why??? Because we know that to NOT do it would be worse.

Moms find a switch, when the time comes, to turn themselves to "autoparent", and they find that they can go through the motions and get the thing done. But it is never easy. I have waited in the little room now, with my child behind the big doors, 16 times. It never gets easy. It only gets more familiar.

It may very well be that the pain of letting go of your child at a critical moment is compounded by feelings of guilt. I don't know -- I did not give birth to my children. But there is also a tremendous fear that what we do for our child will somehow be unforgivable later. Will they forgive me for making them hurt so badly?  Will they understand?

What's it like??? It's hell. But...I walked into it voluntarily. And I know that I have accepted these few weeks or so of hell, for a lifetime of joy with a child I deeply love.

How do we get through it?? We do. We turn on the autoparent. We walk through the steps. We hold on to the trust we have in our doctors, to the faith we have in our Higher Powers and to the support we get from family and friends. We keep our heads above water because our children need to see us swim. They need to know that we are there, a strong and ready advocate for them at their time of greatest vulnerability. We do it, and we get through it, and we go on. It's not easy by any means, but it is also not impossible. It is do-able because it HAS to be done, and so we do it, and we do it well, FOR our baby, with an eye to the end result and our child's ultimate gain.

Joanne


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