On November 26th Ella will be 3 years old.
When we found out we were expecting our first baby - a girl to be born with a cleft lip and palate, we were terrified and began to prepare for the worst. Then Ella came and she was amazing. She was so beautiful, resilient and stronger than we could ever imagine.
Our first surgery to repair her lip was easy, as easy as handing over your 4 month old can be, but we didn't have any real issues with feeding or restraining her from touching her face. Our second surgery to repair her palate was pretty hard, but when looking at all the issues most cleft kids face, we felt blessed.
We didn't have weight gain issues. No hearing loss. Speech for the most part, was on track. Learning was never an issue, she was too smart for her own good and she definitely didn't have issues with projecting sound! We were defying all the things that most parents forewarn you about. How lucky!
I haven't seen that letter in over two years. Why would I need it? That would never happen to us. We defy odds. Ella is very confident. In fact, every morning after she is dressed she looks in the mirror, spins and says, "I bootiful."
Until now. Tonight while putting Ella to bed I noticed she was pulling on her lip. I asked if something was bothering her and she replied, "It won't come off." I didn't know what she meant so I asked once more. Again, she pulled on the extra flap of skin on her lip, an imperfection from her lip repair, and said "I don't like it on my lip."
Joe and I have been debating on when it's the right time to have another surgery for quite some time, so I asked if she wanted mommy & daddy to fix it and she said, "Yeah. And my silly nose too."
Worst. Feeling. Ever. I could have never been prepared for something like this. I couldn't believe Lori's story that Myah was noticing things at such a young age and yet, here we are.
Is Ella's cleft noticeable? Yes, of course! It's hard for Joe and I to see it, because we only see our beautiful little girl, but we know it's more obvious for other non-biased parties.
On one hand this makes our surgery decision much easier, but on the other hand it all goes back to my theory that you can try to raise your kids the best you can, but parenting is hard and there are no guarantees!