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My Baby Was Born With A Cleft Palate

Updated on March 6, 2015
New Baby a challenge to feed!
New Baby a challenge to feed! | Source
this photo taken 19 days before the baby was born.
this photo taken 19 days before the baby was born. | Source
Because of her cleft palate, she had to be bottle fed.
Because of her cleft palate, she had to be bottle fed. | Source
What a cleft palate looks like
What a cleft palate looks like
Special bottles for cleft palate babies.
Special bottles for cleft palate babies.

The Birth Of My Daughter

When I was 29 years old, I gave birth to my first child. I had toxemia in the last month of my last trimester, with ankle swelling and hypertension. I was instructed to lie down on my left side always with no activity issued except toileting, bathing and going to the doctor. My pregnancy was full term and two days prior to the date, the doctors on the Obstetrics team decided to induce my labor.

They also planned doing a Caeserian section should I have difficulties. I was scheduled to come in on a Wednesday for induction of labor with IV Pitocin. When I arrived, the Obstetrics Ward was overcrowded with women on stretchers in all the hallways, and no labor rooms were available. I sat in an office next to the labor ward for over an hour, with my blood pressure sky high, they actually told me to go home and wait till the afternoon. Of course I was upset. I did what was instructed, but was going to call them as soon as I got home.

I finally did go back to the hospital. The process of inducing my labor with IV Pitocin took 30 hours! I never thought I would have to wait that long to have a baby. The Caesarian section that was to be done was cancelled. The obstetrician of my choice was on military duty away, and the on call doctor had many other babies to deliver. The doctor that was available to deliver my baby couldn't stop telling everyone he was ready to go on vacation.

On the night before my daughter's delivery, I was able to sleep in a regular hospital bed. I could feel the contractions even though the doctor slowed down my labor process. At 6:30am on that Friday in June they brought me back to the labor and delivery room and started the process again. This time, my water broke and I was ten centimeters and fully effaced by 1:30pm. Time to have this baby!

I wish I could remember the name of that kind and patient nurse who coached my every push.

Finally, at 4:24pm of that day, my daughter was born! I knew my baby was a girl for nine months. She cried to the top of her lungs when she came into this environment, and she put her hand in my mouth when I held her. But something was wrong. I never had heard a newborn with such a big trachea for air to do all that screaming.

At 7:35 pm that evening, the pediatrician came into speak to me about my daughter. "Your daughter was born with a cleft palate." I knew a lot about this because my mother in law had just told me a few weeks before about her other son who was born with a cleft palate. I had already been educated about that condition in nursing school, as it was that I was a nurse.

I needed special feeding bottles with enlarged nipple holes to feed her while holding her upright. She had numerous checkups to make sure she gained weight, that she was infection free, and did not aspirate while feeding and learning to eat.

When my little girl was at the age of 9 months and 5 days, the operation took place. They did a Flap procedure inside her tiny mouth to close it up and then stitched it.

I stayed with her as she intolerably slept and was fed in an oxygen tent for two nights. I prayed and never slept until the third day in the hospital. That day, the tent was removed and she was ready to play! When the surgeon saw how she smiled and jumped up and down in the crib he dismissed her from the hospital. The following two weeks were a challenge as her mouth began to heal. "Nono" splints on the baby's arms, and having to feed her pureed cereal and formula through a syringe were challenges to face. Allergies to antihistamines added to the other problems.

At the two week follow up she was given a great report that her mouth was healing well. There was a concern with fluid building up in her ears, but that was dealt with as she got older. "When can she go back to her baby bottle?" I asked. The okay was given right away. But she never wanted it! I actually found a sippy cup that was small enough for her hand, and at less than ten months, she was weaned from the bottle forever.

Now my daughter is a young adult, and with no recollection of this experience, except the scar in her mouth and a double uvula in her throat (surgically-created). She is very healthy and beautiful.

copyright @ 2010 CMCastro


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    • CMCastro profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina M. Castro 

      5 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      Thank you, Lord De Cross. The true story is amazing. The surgical procedure they perform to close the roof of the mouth is remarkable technique that is to be grateful for. As you can see the perfect end result!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      5 years ago from New York

      Amazing true story!

    • sen.sush23 profile image


      8 years ago from Kolkata, India

      I have several family friends who had cleft lips and palate. Since I saw them all after constructive surgery, I never got to know of the special feeding or any other needs. I did know one girl, a close friend, and brilliant person, but who did have some speech difficulty and hearing problem. That was nearly 40 years back, and so I guess maybe the latest medicine facilities were yet not well known. Such informative medical hubs are much needed. It is very well written with all necessary information, driving out any misconceptions and with the personal warmth being an incident out of your life. Wish your daughter a long, happy life. Voted up.

    • CMCastro profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina M. Castro 

      8 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      Thank you so much Epi, for your comments. It is common experience that draws us closer in words here on the Hub. I really have enjoyed reading your hubs since the first time you commented on mine. So I enjoy saying that you are my most favorite fan. Merry Christmas.

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      I was born with a clef palate too Christina and I have an operation at the age of 4 to correct it. I am 54 now. Also at Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto I went for speech therapy as well so naturally I was quite interested and involved in your story here. It makes the world a truly smaller place doesen't it when you meet other people in different walks of life (like the Hub) where we share the same types of stories and background . Peace be with you during this holiday season and sending you Christmas wishes from lake erie time canada ontario 11:45pm

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      8 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      this is an amazing story. I am so glad I found it.. I am so honored that you are following me.. You are a special person and writer.I know Your daughter is very awesome herself.

      God Bless you


    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Interesting hub about cleft-palates!

      I was born with clubfeet. I can't remember where I've read this, but apparently the defective gene causing cleft-palates also causes clubfeet and some other deformities in the mouth and limbs. But as we all know, knowledge about genetic factors is still patchy.

      Voted up and interesting!

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      Awww! As I read through this awesome hub, I remember my own- natural delivery but long hours of bloody dry labor twice with my 2 daughters. I was operated on after 2 months delivering my second daughter to remove lumps of blood in my tummy. My placenta was manually removed because it was so tight that the doctor had to get it out with his gloved hand.

      No one can tell what expectant mothers feel about their babies- how they would look like when finally they are out! It could have been too hard for you to learn, she had cleft palate. But as a nurse, you know it could be remedied. Thank God! Say "Hi" to your lovely daughter from me-Lita.

    • Verobison3 profile image


      10 years ago from Ohio

      Wow, sounds like you had the short end of the stick with your first kid. It does get harder the older you get. They say after 35 yrs they suggest trying not to have kids because of the problems. I am lucky. i was in labor for 12 hours, 10 minutes push and my son was born.

    • kaltopsyd profile image


      10 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      Thanks for sharing. I'm glad all is well with your daughter.


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