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What is a Cleft?

To kick off Craniofacial Acceptance Week I thought why not start at the base. To accept something one must first know what it is they are accepting. So what is a cleft? 

Webster’s dictionary defines a cleft as “1: a space or opening made by or as if by splitting. or 2: a usually V-shaped indented formation : a hollow between ridges or protuberances”.
 
Now reading this, it makes since as to what a cleft lip/palate is because when you see a child born with a cleft there is an opening in either the lip, palate, or both.
 
However, to be more specific a cleft lip is “a birth defect characterized by one or more clefts in the upper lip resulting from failure of the embryonic parts of the lip to unite” (Webster’s Dictionary). A cleft palate is “a congenital fissure of the roof of the mouth produced by failure of the two maxillae to unite during embryonic development and often associated with cleft lip” (Webster’s Dictionary). http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cleft+lip?show=0&t=1368498853 
 
I know some of you might have gotten to this point and thought to yourself “I’m sorry, what? That’s a mouthful”. I would say that you aren’t crazy for thinking such things. I like to give the ABC version of in my instance what a bilateral cleft-lip and palate is. 
 
You see, when I was in high school I spoke to an elementary school about my cleft and overcoming obstacles. So how do you explain being born with a cleft to second graders, to kindergartners? My explanation to kiddos or anyone who might not have a clue of what a cleft is fairly simple. When I was in my mother’s belly being formed, a piece didn’t come together, like a missing piece of a puzzle. I had an opening where my mouth was and at the roof (top) of my mouth. Doctors fixed me to make me complete/whole.  Pretty basic huh? 🙂 at least I think so.
 
Although I think my description is a good one (tooting my own horn here) it is always good to see a visual. Am I right? The picture below is so informative when showing children or even adults. 
 Image
P.S. I got the picture from the following website, it is a very informative website in general. http://nursingcrib.com/nursing-notes-reviewer/maternal-child-health/cleft-lip-and-palate/ 
 
~ Becca

Support

Since it’s Mother’s Day I wanted to take this blog to talk about the support I’ve been given by my mom.
 
From the moment my mother saw me she loved me, no questions asked. Even though she hadn’t met a cleft child or even really knew what that was she accepted the responsibility. I am so fortunate in that because there are some countries who frown upon children with clefts and give them away. 
 
My mother has been loving, caring, and supportive. No matter what I wanted to do, she has been my cheerleader. Well except for singing, that’s not my thing and she’s made sure I don’t have the American Idol judges tell me that on national television haha.
 
Whether you have a mother or maybe your support system is your father, a sibling, a relative, or a friend it’s very important to have that support for those of us clefties because we have hurdles we need to get over along the way it’s nice to have someone there to “hold your hand”.
 
ImageI’m happy to say that I have a huge support system and just because I mainly mentioned my mom on my post (after all it is Mother’s Day) my father, sister, family and friends have always been on the sidelines cheering me on no matter the mountain I have to climb.
 
Today I am thankful for moms, parents, family, friends, and my support system. 
 
~Becca

 

 

 

Beautiful You

As a cleft kid I’ve had my share of “pity” feelings. I’m sure those of you that read this regardless of whether or not you are a cleft kid or parent of a cleft kid have had a “pity” feeling. The “pity” feeling that I feel most closely relates to those of us with clefts or parents to those with clefts is the “Am I beautiful/handsome?” or “Will society accept my child as beautiful/handsome?” Don’t worry, you’re not a bad parent or the only child that has thought this. I know, you just had that sigh of relief huh? 🙂

For those of you, like myself that have had those types of feelings I wanted to encourage you today with music….don’t worry I won’t be singing for you 😉 (refer to previous post to see why). I think that music can portray almost every emotion that we as human beings feel and sometimes the music can even express our emotions better than we can. With that being said, I’d like to give a you a list of songs with some of their lyrics or why I like the particular song that is an encouragement when you are doubting just how beautiful and amazing God made you. Let’s get this party started shall we….

1. Beautiful by Mercy Me – “All you hear is you’re not worth anything, wondering if you ever could be loved and if they truly saw your heart they’d see too much. You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful. You were made for so much more than all of this. You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful. You are treasured, you are sacred you are His…” The lyrics go on referring to all of these feelings one could feel and that to Him, to God you are beautiful. So you, yeah you, reading these words, “You’re beautiful!”

2. Beautiful You by Charles Pikes – This song gives scenarios related to females. Girls comparing themselves to magazines, having sex with boys because they think that the boy will love them for it. The chorus though, oh it’s good too… “There could never be a more beautiful you. Defy the lies, disguises, and hoops they make you jump through. You were made to fill a purpose that only you can do. So there could never be a more beautiful you.” Good stuff huh? 🙂

3. F*ckin Perfect by P!nk – This song isn’t Contemporary Christian incase you were wondering but I love the lyrics. It talks about the bad decisions, and that we are wrong to talk bad about ourselves, because let’s be honest we all do that and we should STOP, it’s not healthy for us. I do it too. “Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel like you’re less than, less than perfect. Pretty, pretty please if you ever ever feel like you’re nothing, you are perfect to me.”

4. I Am Not My Hair by India Arie featuring P!nk – This song has a good beat and the words are so spot on with not caring what people think. I think it’s also a great song with anyone, especially children going through cancer and they are losing their hair. I know it seems like hair makes the person, makes the female but as India Arie says “Hey, I am not my hair, I am not this skin. I am not your expectations, no….I am the soul that lives within”… “Does the way I way I wear make me a better person? Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend?” This is a good “Don’t judge a book by its cover” song.

5. Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars The chorus alone is great, “When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change because you’re amazing just the way you are. And when you smile the whole world stops and stares for a while, because you’re amazing just the way you are.” This song just makes me smile.

Anyway, that’s my list of five of my fave songs relating to loving yourself and knowing your beautiful just the way you are and you were made for so much more than all of this. There are many more songs out there and I have a list of others I would like to share some of the words to, but for now this should be a good start for you to listen to or just check out the lyrics online.

~Becca~

Voices

You know everyone regardless of their age or gender all has a distinct voice. Some voices are raspy, some voices are high pitched or low like Josh Turner 😉

My voice has its own distinct feature that stems from my cleft-lip and palate. You see, until I was 24 I had a hole in the roof of my mouth. There is a proper term for this “hole” but I don’t want to bore you with all of the specifics.

When I was a little girl I used to sit in front of the tv and watch CMT, when they ONLY played music lol. I would sing along to every song, especially Reba! My dream was to be a singer, however I soon realized that I could barely carry a musical tune. 😦 Who knew! Now my musical talents are left for a small audience of me, myself, and I when I sing at the top of the lungs in the shower. 😉

My voice has “matured” over the years though, at least in my opinion. I used to be shy so I was quiet, and then I became a girl with a loud mouth that wouldn’t shut up, perhaps that’s why I made a great high school cheerleader! Haha.

However, I’ve never really known how my voice sounded to other people, I mean after all I can’t necessarily hear what they hear. That being said, I’ve had a few instances where I have gotten some idea of how some people think I sound.

I work as an HR Specialist and therefore I’m on the phone I would say at least half of my workday. To get an idea of how I “sound” let me give you an example of a conversation. “____ Office this is Rebecca.” “Oh you poor thing you must have a cold, you sound awful” or “Oh no, your allergies are getting to you too huh? Sounds like it.”

Now the first time or two you shrug it off, but after the one hundred and fifty-fifth time (number exaggerated obviously), it’s like “REALLY?” Lol I mean some days I feel A-mazing and then I get that and it’s like “Crap, do I sound like I’m sick?” Most of the time I truly do shrug it off and just say “Yea it’s my allergies” and quite honestly I do have those lovely seasonal allergies. However, more often times than not I just don’t have the heart to tell the person “No, I’m not sick at all!” Lol, there have been a couple of instances where I just laugh and say “No, I’m not sick, I just have a raspy voice.”

My main point with this rant is that we are all unique in our own way maybe by shape, size, facial appearance, or even voice. It’s better to not assume you know what’s going on with a person than to say something that if corrected you might regret, at least that’s my opinion. However, if you do happen to get those instances like mine or similar just shake it off, smile, and remember the person doesn’t know and more than likely they don’t mean to be hurtful.

~Becca~

Accepting My Cleft

I realize that it has been awhile since my last post and for those that read my blog, I apologize for that. I will try to post more frequently. That being said, I hope you enjoy the following post. NOTE: I will be mentioning God and my belief in him. If this offends you then please do not read.

For those of you that are parents of cleft effected children, especially those with cleft palates, there will more than likely be thoughts of “Why was I born this way?”. I know from time to time throughout my childhood and teen years I asked myself that question. I would look at my parents, my sister, and friends and to me it didn’t make sense that I was the only one who looked like I did. As a child it was very confusing, however I have been very fortunate to have family who have always told me that I am beautiful on the inside and out, therefore I never felt “ugly” or whatever other word I might have heard.

My revelation of accepting my cleft/scar came around the summer of 9th grade. I was reading my Bible like I sometimes do. I don’t remember if I was reading a devotional that told me to be in the book of Psalm or if I just decided to read it because it’s my favorite book of the Bible. Regardless of the reason, I was reading Psalm 139. If you have read this particular chapter, I would suggest it to anyone.

There was a few verses that stuck out to me, like an “Ah Ha” moment.

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
~Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

“Wow” I thought, “God knew I would have a cleft before I was born. He had a plan for me being born with a cleft. He sees me as wonderfully made!” It was at that moment I could truly accept my birth defect. I finally realized that no matter what I thought previously, I was/am beautiful to God and with that realization I finally saw myself as beautiful.

If you don’t get anything out of this post, please know that your child is special and beautiful and no matter what he or she goes through, there is a purpose on why your child was born with a cleft. As I have said before, I truly believe that I was born to tell my story, to show that you can be a confident, successful, and dare I say beautiful individual. If you are a “cleftie” reading this post, you have to first accept yourself and your beauty before you can let others fully accept you. Regardless if you were born with a cleft or not and your are reading this, know that God made you in his eyes and you are BEAUTIFUL/HANDSOME!

Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made!!

~Rebecca~

Cleft Power

If you read my previous blog, you know that I went to go visit five year old Ella and her family this past weekend; I had a great time. My mom got to meet Ella and her siblings, it was a great trip for all of us. The picture above is us with shirts, iron-ons made by ClefTees Designs. You can check the designs out on their Facebook page. The dolls pictured below were made by Tiny Wide Smiles – Doll Clinic, who is also on Facebook.

Ella LOVED her doll, her reaction was more than I could ask for and Melody (her doll’s name) is being loved by such a sweet little girl. I wanted to post some pictures from the trip for you all to see. Enjoy! 🙂 P.S. If you click (or double click) on on of the pictures below it will get bigger and then you can click the next arrow to see each picture after that.

~Rebecca~

It’s The Little Things

 

 

One thing that I get to do this weekend is go to Texas. In Texas is a five year old little girl who was born with a unilaterl cleft lip and palate. Her  mother and I “met” in the beginning/mid of 2009 on Yahoo! Cleft Chat group. Her mother is so sweet and one of my good friends now. I was going to meet Tina (mom) and Ella (daughter) in summer of 2009 as I have family in Texas but things got in the way and it never happened. I could rarely reach Tina on the chat group and I thought I might never get to meet her and her precious daughter.Close to the end of April 2010, I received a friend request and message from a Tina. At first it just didn’t click, until I read her message. The two of us never knew each other’s last names, however through Facebook we had ONE mutual friend. How CRAZY/AMAZING is that? So it was set that I would meet everyone in June of 2010, and it’s been absolutely amazing since then.

Ella was three at the time and I instantly became smitten with this sweet little brown haired, brown eyed girl. Not only did I instantly love her but I instantly fell in love with the whole family. I have gotten to see them all a handful of times now and this Saturday will mark another time.

The first or second time I saw Ella I gave her a cleft bear from Cleft Palate Foundation. She loved it and it made my heart happy. Of course since I don’t have children yet, I love spoiling cousins and friend’s children so I usually bring something with me each time I go. Last visit in February it was going to be Ella and her sister, Audrey’s birthday so Ella got a talking Minnie Mouse doll.

This time however, I’m ecstatic to be bringing a cleft doll made by Kate from Tiny Wide Smiles – Doll Clinic and a cute t-shirt from ClefTees designs by Darcie! I asked Tina if she thought Ella might like the doll and we think she is going to go crazy about it!

I’m so blessed to have found people that understand what I went through but also who I can give encouragment to. Ella is little miss AWESOME! I am also happy that I’ve met other people born the way I was and I got to meet a wonderful family who live in Washington. I spent a few days with them a few summers ago and they took me sight seeing and they too are a family I instantly fell in love with. I love my Texas and Washington (state) families 🙂

At the beginning of this blog is a picture of Ella and I. Below is a picture of the cutest dolls. After Saturday I hope to have a picture of Ella and I with our dolls together…Also be on the lookout for a new page to my blog that will show pictures of some of my cleft friends, including Ella. ❤