Roselin was 18 weeks pregnant when she first heard that her daughter, Mila, would be born with a cleft lip and palate. She wondered if she had done something wrong to cause this and her biggest fear was that her little girl was in pain. As the doctors explained her options and what the road ahead could look like, Roselin felt alone, overwhelmed, and confused.
After Roselin and Mila’s dad Jason sat down with Dr. William Austen, a plastic surgeon on the cleft and craniofacial team at Shriners Children’s Boston, they quickly realized this team would be the best option for Mila’s care. Dr. Austen was calm and confident, and assured them that he had an amazing team working with him to give their daughter the best treatment possible. Dr. Austen’s reassuring words provided comfort. He told Roselin, “It will be alright Mom – you work on making sure you have a healthy pregnancy and we will give you your daughter’s perfect smile.” From that day forward, whenever Roselin found herself anxious, she replayed his words until the worry went away.
To Roselin, Shriners Children’s Boston is unique because the staff makes sure Mila is not just a number; walking out of the hospital feels like they went to visit friends. As Mila grew older and continued her treatment at Shriners Children’s, the staff made a point to incorporate her concerns and speak to her directly, giving her a voice and putting her mind at ease. In particular, their care manager Sandy Barrett always puts her at ease and gets answers to her questions. Mila also will get a look of relief when she sees the staff walk through the door. “They may not realize this, but they help ease things for us as parents, too. I often feel that I am getting my own ‘pep talk’ when the team is speaking with Mila,” said Roselin.
Coming from a Spanish-speaking home, Roselin and Mila recall the times music therapists came into their room and played whatever songs Mila requested, even managing to sing her Spanish lullabies to help her feel at home. Roselin said, “We’ve had such wonderful interactions with everyone at Shriners. It is almost impossible to pick one staff member as a favorite. All the nurses seem to have invisible angel wings and wands at all times.” Mila always looks forward to playing music and doing arts and crafts with the child life specialists. “Remember the fun time we made pillows, Momma?” she recalled.
Today, Mila is 8, and she has let her challenges help her grow and become strong and resilient. She even dresses up as a superhero for every surgery. She loves music, art, and adores animals. Roselin knows Mila has grown into the person she is today because of the time she spent at Shriners Children’s Boston. She shared this about her daughter, “Mila is one of the most assertive and radiant little girls ever. She is an old soul, wise beyond her years and stronger than I could ever be. We are so grateful to Shriners for providing her with tools needed to feel empowered, and together we are embarking on a journey to continue building her self-esteem. To know Mila is to see light and love – her energy is something out of this world.”