As I sit here, our little Henry just fell back asleep in his swing after pulling out his NAM (nasal alveolar molding) and now I am getting new tape, rubber bands and glue together so when he wakes up I can put it back in. It’s also my birthday, and about 6 weeks before his first surgery to repair his lip,nose and gums.
Henry was born with a Bilateral Cleft Lip and Palate. We found out at our 20 week anatomy scan. We could tell something was wrong when the Ultra Sound Tech left and was gone for what felt like forever and my OBGYN returned with her. She proceeded to tell us that they think our son has a cleft lip and possible palate and they wanted to do a 3D to confirm. I was in shock and of course I was upset and started crying. I have seen the commercials of little kids with clefts but I knew nothing about them.
It was confirmed then and throughout the day I was still upset. And then someone said to me, I don’t even remember who, “It’s okay to be upset, you need to grieve your idea of “the perfect baby”.
My husband was a godsend, in the Dr’s office he was comforting, and positive. His reaction? “As long as he has two arms, two legs and a beating heart, I’m happy.”
I vowed not to let my curiosity get to me and I banned myself from googling. Instead, I looked for support from parents who have gone or are going through the same thing. I found the Baby Center, cleft forum, and many Facebook groups of parents of cleft children including one just for parents that live in NY/NJ/PA.
These groups were amazing. They really eased my fears and I saw so many adorable, smart, thriving children.
We decided to go with the Cleft Team and Surgeon at NYU. We met with them when I was around 34 weeks. They talked about what was ahead for us, the different surgeries, how to feed our child, what to expect in delivery and how to talk to the Nurses/Drs who might not have experience with cleft babies.
They also use an appliance called the NAM (nasal alveolar molding) the team actually invented this device 21 years ago as a less invasive way to bring his lips and gums together, and shape the nose so there only had to be one surgery for those elements instead of 3.
With this device also comes a huge time commitment. We have to travel to NYU every week for adjustments to the device as he grows and everything starts moving. It’s also a lot of work at home with keeping it clean and taping. But seems so worth it for him to go though as few surgeries as possible
I knew we made the right choice.
Leaving the meeting with our cleft team I was confident, relieved and ready for this baby to arrive…but first I had to order all of the special bottles…