Share Your Smile: My daughter, Shierry
We found out about one of my daughter’s clefts at our 20-week sonogram appointment. They told us that the cleft was very deep, on the left side of her face, running from her mouth to her eye. They told us it was bad, but they couldn’t tell us how bad. Several specialists later, we learned that the cleft would cause the malformation of her left eye, but that a craniofacial surgeon would be able to repair much of the damage once she was born.
On the day she was born, every single member of her family was there, supporting her and us, and, in the midst of us all taking turns visiting her in the NICU, we received a couple more surprises. Turns out, the palate cleft accompanying the facial cleft was, in the actual words of her surgeon, “crazy bad.” To add to the mystery and unique beauty of her tiny face, she was also born with a facial cleft on the right side of her face. We spent the first weeks of her life running around like crazy people to seemingly every type of pediatric subspecialist, operating on pure adrenaline and a primal desire to keep our daughter alive.
No one could help us figure out how to feed her; she was losing a dangerous amount of weight. Delirious and desperate one night, we pulled out a weird bottle from a box of random stuff that they sent home with us from the hospital. There were no instructions, but it was the last thing we had to try. My husband learned how to use that bottle from a Chinese youtube video, and it saved us.
To determine the extent of the damage to her vision, Shierry underwent her first procedure under anesthesia at two weeks old. And with that, we learned to acclimate to overnight stays at the hospital. We also learned of our daughter’s grace and strength and the miracle of modern medicine. Her surgeons put her face together. They gave her a palate and a left cheek. We couldn’t be more grateful. Every cleft kid deserves the quality of care that she’s received, care that has allowed her to become the most thoughtful, hilarious kid on the planet.
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