I recently got an information packet in the mail from an organization that does cleft repairs for free across the globe. They do incredible work. They change lives. And I will support their work for as long as I can. And, yet, there was something so very hard for me as I read through their information about clefts.
“Shunned from society”
“Believed to be cursed”
“Unable to speak”
“Unable to eat”
“Not allowed to attend school”
“A lifetime of emotional pain”
I read those words and many more with my beautiful daughter on my lap. Words that are true. Words that describe what many children and adults around the world with un-repaired clefts know as a way of life. I can’t explain how strange that was…to read those words with my silly, happy, sweet daughter in my arms. Right now she doesn’t know her lip was created any differently. She is full of joy and life. She is surrounded by love. She is celebrated. She is adored. She is cherished beyond words.
There are an estimated 150,000+ babies born each year with a cleft lip or palate. Because of poverty, most are unable to have surgical repairs and they face great hardship and pain. It breaks my heart.
What shatters my heart the most is that so much of their pain is because of how others view their cleft, not the actual cleft itself.
Right now I am celebrating and rejoicing in my daughter. I will soak in every single sweet clefty smile I can get before surgery in January. And when the day comes that I have to kiss her sweet lips one last time before a doctor changes them, I will bawl like a baby. And then I will walk in gratitude that we have the means to provide surgery for our daughter because in my head I know that is best for her. I just wish I my heart felt the same. Bittersweet….gloriously made.