My name is Brooke, and I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate! When my mom was pregnant, technology was just coming around to where they could identify clefts from ultrasounds. My parents knew ahead of time I’d have a cleft, but they weren’t prepared for the severity of it. 14 surgeries, braces, a 6-tooth bridge, and numerous oral procedures later – here I am, proud of my cleft and tough as ever!

Fast forward 28 years, and my husband and I have our first child. We found out at our anatomy scan that he would be born with a unilateral cleft, with an unknown stance regarding his palate. I was devastated. I knew everything I went through, and I never wanted that for my child. After leaning on my family for support based on their experiences with me, I knew my son would be ok. My husband was excited. He said a scar would make him look tough.

When Slade entered the world, we fell in love with his cleft smile! Man, did everyone melt when they saw his smile. We didn’t want to fix it, we loved it so much. At two months old, Slade received his new smile. I will say, I’d rather be the patient than the parent any day! I promise you, your little one is tough as nails! Having a cleft makes you stronger and braver than you thought possible. It’s definitely harder on the parents than it is on the child. So, mamas and dadas, you’re doing a great job. It’s hard, but it’s so worth it. Your kiddo is going to be just perfect, keep being their support system and all will be amazing.

— Brooke

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