Tense for a Reason

July 28, 2007

My Cleft Story and Anu’s (Post #4)

Filed under: Smiles — Tense @ 9:30 am

Anu before Anu after

Look at that beautiful smile! This is what The Smile Train does. I don’t have a story to go with Anu’s pictures, but I think they speak for themselves.

I wish I had pictures of myself with my cleft to show y’all here. I had hoped to make it down to my grandmother’s before the Blogathon began to get some of my baby pics and scan them, but I ran out of time, as usual. My cleft lip wasn’t as severe as Anu’s; in fact, my mom remembers that many people asked her why I sneered so much. (My dad called me Elvis, hardyharhar.) Mom said it didn’t take me long to learn to suck from a bottle on the left side of my mouth; in fact, my husband pointed out to me not too long ago that I still suck from a straw on my left side exclusively. I guess some habits never die.  My mother also told me that she had grown so accustomed to the way I looked with my cleft lip that she really didn’t want me to have the repair surgery; thank goodness, she thought about the future and went ahead with it.  Imagine the teasing I would have had to endure in elementary school and beyond.

I had to have 2 surgeries to repair my cleft; the first was when I was only 3 months old and I had another when I was 7 years old.  I still have a scar, but it’s not too noticeable.  Some people see it right away, but most of the time, it’s years before people notice it, or maybe it takes them that long to get the courage to ask me about it.  I’m not sensitive about my scar at all; the only thing that really bugs me is how long it takes me to put on lipstick — I have to draw my top lip to be even.  The only other thing that even remotely hints that I once had a birth defect is my uneven nostrils; that’s where my surgeons found a skin match to build my lip. But on the rare occasions when I feel sorry for myself, I just think about the fact that I was blessed to have parents who had the resources to give me a normal life.  The children whom The Smile Train helps do not, and I recently read that approximately one in every 650 children born has a cleft lip and/or palate.  And I’d be willing to bet that the majority of those born with clefts are born in poverty-stricken nations.  The Smile Train is usually able to do for these children what my plastic surgeons did with just one surgery, and in most cases, it only costs 250 dollars. Isn’t that amazing?!

I feel honored to be able to do my small part to help bring awareness to this all-too-common birth defect, and I’m so thankful to those of you who are also donating your time and/or your money to this project.  We’re doing a good thing.



  1. That’s fantastic! I can’t remember what I was watching, but it documented a young man’s journey during his cleft surgery. When he saw his face after, he cried. Definitely worth the cause!

    Comment by chattybtawkin — July 28, 2007 @ 9:36 am

  2. My brother had a hair-lip and cleft palette when he was born. The lip is fixed, but he still, even after 3 surgeries, has a few problems with his palette (it never healed right after the surgeries).

    Good luck with Blogathon 🙂

    Comment by Sarah — July 28, 2007 @ 9:37 am

  3. Oh I had no idea that this was why you’d chosen Smile Train. Great choice!

    Comment by Kizz — July 28, 2007 @ 11:35 am

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