Hey y’all,

My name is Melissa. My daughter, Paisleigh, was born with unilateral cleft lip and palate. We went in for a 3d/4d ultrasound at 15 weeks and later at our 20-week anatomy ultrasound, they told us what the technician found. Then they confirmed it themselves. The day I found out was one of the most heartbreaking days I have ever experienced. I was left wondering what I did wrong and what I could have done differently…the answer to both of those questions was simple; it’s one of those things that just happens.

Paisleigh was fitted for the Nasoalveolar Molding (NAM) at one week and wore it for 12 weeks. We went to Duke weekly to see Dr. Santiago for adjustments. On October 14, 2014, she had her lip repair done. That day was the day that my little cleft cutie would get her forever smile. I was not ready to lose her wide smile and to this day, I still miss it. When we were waiting for Paisleigh’s surgery to be completed, I kept saying to her dad, “I wonder what she will look like?!” Let me tell you, the feeling you get when you see your child after surgery is indescribable. She had the prettiest smile I have ever seen. Since lip repair we have had 5 additional surgeries. We have had altogether 6 surgeries to include lip repair, palate repair, 2 dental, tonsils and adenoids removed, tubes placed in her ears, and the last being palate reconstruction. We are currently starting to hear the words bone graft surgery and as a mother, I am not ready. I truly don’t think any parent is ever prepared for their child to have surgery–no matter what kind it is.

Paisleigh is now almost 6 years old. She is a very happy, healthy, and energetic little girl. We take speech twice a week due to her still having speech delay. She is going to 1st grade next year. Paisleigh loves to dance, play t-ball, go to the beach, and go fishing with her daddy and siblings.

We have the most amazing team and have had the best experience with our ACPA Approved Team at Duke. Paisleigh is known as the “Duke model baby.” She has been included in many things throughout the last 5 years. She was used for someone’s senior project at Duke University, she’s been featured in a video for the Duke website and a few other things. Dr. Marcus, whom is one of the best plastic surgeons I know, has her photo hanging in his office. He is one amazing man with a God-given talent to repair our children. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her wide smile, but when they get their forever smile, it’s like you just fall in love all over again.

-Melissa Hamilton