I first want to thank you all for the encouraging words on my last blog post! It really took a lot for me to post the pictures of Emma on the internet. In my post I am going to attempt to explain more about a Cleft Lip and Palate.
So onto the questions about cleft lip and palate…
So onto the questions about cleft lip and palate…
Cleft lip and cleft palate are facial and oral malformations that occur very early in pregnancy, while the baby is developing inside its mother. Clefting results when there is not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area, and the tissue that is available does not join together properly.
A cleft lip is a physical split or separation of the two sides of the upper lip and appears as a narrow opening or gap in the skin of the upper lip. This separation often extends beyond the base of the nose and includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum.
Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur on one or both sides of the mouth. Because the lip and the palate develop separately, it is possible to have a cleft lip without a cleft palate, a cleft palate without a cleft lip, or both a cleft lip and cleft palate together. A cleft palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth. A cleft palate can involve the hard palate (the bony front portion of the roof of the mouth), and/or the soft palate (the soft back portion of the roof of the mouth).
In Emma’s case she has a unilateral cleft lip, which means it occurred only on the right side of her mouth, and she has a cleft palate.
(from today of her sitting in the chair at the hospital)
What causes a Cleft Lip?
In most cases, the cause of cleft lip and cleft palate is unknown. These conditions cannot be prevented. Most scientists believe clefts are due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There appears to be a greater chance of clefting in a newborn if a sibling, parent, or relative has had the problem.
In Emma’s case we are unsure of what caused her cleft lip. We dont have a history of this in either side the family, nor was I taking any medications or anything while I was pregnant or prior to finding out that I was pregnant.
As of right now, we know that Emma has to at least have two surgeries-one for her lip and one for her palate. The lip portion will take place around 3-4 months for her, and the palate surgery wont take place until she is close 1 years old. They wait for the palate surgery because it is still developing and if its done too early they may have to go back and redo it later. We were told she has to have an impression done to help with her nostril that is involved in the cleft lip, and that should be done fairly soon so it can help push her nostril up so it will be in place until she has her first surgery.
Currently, at the hospital she is at there is a full team that works with babies born with Craniofacial abnormalities.
- Plastic surgeon to evaluate and perform necessary surgeries on the lip and/or palate
- An otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor) to evaluate hearing problems and consider treatment options for hearing problems
- An oral surgeon to reposition segments of the upper jaw when needed, to improve function and appearance and to repair the cleft of the gum
- An orthodontist to straighten and reposition teeth
- A dentist to perform routine dental care
- A prosthodontist to make artificial teeth and dental appliances to improve the appearance and to meet functional requirements for eating and speaking
- A speech pathologist to assess speech and feeding problems
- A speech therapist to work with the child to improve speech
- An audiologist (a specialist in communication disorders stemming from a hearing impairment); to assess and monitor hearing
- A nurse coordinator to provide ongoing supervision of the child’s health
- A social worker/psychologist to support the family and assess any adjustment problems
- A geneticist to help parents and adult patients understand the chances of having more children with these conditions
Now we are unsure if she will actually need all these people but they are available if we need them! I think the team of people to focus on these patients is excellent because they are all working together. We have been also working with the occupational therapist to help in the feeding process with Emma.
Whew! This was a lot to explain…thanks to WebMD for helping me in the process! Its crazy because at one point I didn’t want to talk about all of this period, and honestly some days are still better than others. I guess I was in a denial stage, but now that I know whats going on I feel like explaining is sort of therapy for me! We love Emma so much and whatever it takes to make sure she has the BEST care, and she is well taken care of is our only concern! Reading all the blogs and websites I feel like this is a minor hurdle for us to jump at the moment. I am realizing that God has put us in this place for a reason, BECAUSE HE FELT WE COULD HANDLE IT! And although there have been many days when I felt like it was too much to handle, I look at that little girl and watch her smile at Darrick and I and I know that’s just God reassuring me that He is by our side through all of this! We all have up days and down days, but God is still in Control!
More of our Cleft Journey