My daughter, Ashton, was born 7 years ago with a cleft palate. We did not know while I was pregnant, but quickly learned after she was born when she had trouble latching. It was a big shock to us, but Ashton showed strength and determination since day one, which reassured us she would be just fine.

We saw a local plastic surgeon to talk about palate repair, but ultimately got a second opinion at Duke Cleft and Craniofacial Center and felt much more comfortable there with the care and team approach. I also got connected with some local moms going through the same journey and that helped us all bounce medical opinions off each other and have someone to relate to what we were going through. Ashton is now a thriving 7-year-old, and her surgery is a distant memory. We continue speech services, and she will start orthodontics soon to widen her palate and correct some crowding.

To any parent that is welcoming a baby with a cleft I want them to know it will be OK! Your baby is strong and so are you. Find doctors that you are comfortable with and a support network you can lean on. Trust your gut with feeding and doctors – Mom always knows best.

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