This is a very interesting perspective that my very dear friend, Lynn, was able to give us as parents...I, personally, found this fascinating and encouraging all at the same time.
"The Way I Am
I was born with a profoundly cleft palate. What this means is that the entire roof of my mouth, including my uvula was missing. At the time, there was a new surgery to repair what was missing. I was actually the very first child in my hometown to have a successful repair using this method, which is now the medical standard. I had two surgeries, one at 17 months and another at 3 and a half, which I still remember. By the time I was 4, all the worry and work was over with and aside from some extra dental work I would need, I was mostly just like every other kid, medically speaking.
Now that you know my medical story, I'll let you in on how it really affected me. I didn't know any different. I had never been a child without a cleft so I missed nothing. I wasn't sad that I had to be weened and drinking from a straw by the time I was 16 months old. Sure, it was hard on my parents, but to me, it was just how life was. I had my last surgery right before Easter which meant no chocolate bunnies for me, but my hospital room was filled with stuffed bunnies that friends had sent. They were more comforting and lasted a good bit longer than any chocolate bunny. I was thrilled. I do not remember any pain. I remember my parents insisting that my medical care be perfect. I remember being loved and cared for. I do remember being afraid of people in white uniforms like nurses, split toilet seats like hospitals have, and plain rectangular band-aids, but those fears quickly vanished, thanks in part to my grandfather bribing me. I wasn't afraid of doctors and hospitals because they make you feel better.
Things were actually more difficult for me when I started school. My voice was more nasal than everybody else so I got picked on by the mean kids. My friends stood up for me until I was ready to stand up for myself. It was a bit of a shock to me because every time I went to a doctor they marvelled over how well I spoke. I chose to believe the doctors knew what they were talking about and that kids were just uneducated on how special I was. I had worked hard to learn to talk and no one was taking that from me. It also helped when I noticed that every child was picked on about something, even the kids that had born perfectly normal. I just had a doctor's note for mine.
Now that I am an adult, having a cleft is almost never an issue. Mostly it comes up in doctor's offices because it is kind of hard to miss when you look in my mouth. In short, all the bad is gone and the good remains. To me, although it was my cleft, it was my parent's battle. They were the ones who knew how different my life was. They were the ones who had to deal with all of the special issues. My parents had to come to terms with my birth defect. I wasn't different to me, I was the way I had always been."
To enjoy more of Lynn's thoughts on life in general, follow her blog The Life and Times of Rixie the 4th. She is always a pleasure to read!