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Cleft Lip and Palate
“Overall, having a cleft lip and palate has been a good thing for me. It has helped me realize at an early age that everything in life isn’t that easy but that if you’re positive and have a loving family, everything will be fine.” — Peyton Hutchins
When I was asked to write about my experience with having a cleft lip and palate, I really did not know where to start. It may sound kind of ironic, but I have pretty much had a good experience with having a cleft lip and palate. I mean there are always those kids that come up to you and ask 'What happened to your nose' (before I had my fourth surgery) or 'Why do you have a scar on your face?' and you get that awkward moment when you're not sure if you want to explain the whole thing or you just say, 'Well I just do' and not have to deal with it. But apart from that, I’ve never had trouble being teased or anything because of my cleft lip and palate.
Maybe I should give you an explanation of my whole situation. I was the first child born to my mother and father. When I was born I had a unilateral cleft lip and palate. Obviously, since I was the first child, my parents were very worried about me and I had two operations, one for the cleft lip repair and one for the cleft palate. I then acted as a normal child and I was lucky enough not to have to have tubes in my ears or any of the other problems that can come along with clefts.
I went through pre-school perfectly normally and then it was time to go to elementary school. My parents were choosing between the public school in my area and one of the private schools and ultimately they chose the all-girls private school because they thought I would fit in better and not be teased as much. Sure enough, they were right and I went through most of elementary school without even realizing that I had any sort of difference from any of my friends. I did have to have a bone graph in the summer after fourth grade which, since it was in the summer, was not really an issue with missing school or anything. So it wasn’t really a problem.
Middle school was the same kind of situation. I didn’t really even realize that I had a cleft lip and palate and I just acted like a normal teenage girl! By high school, after becoming a little bit more mature, I did realize that I was a little different than everyone else, but it didn’t really matter to me. My friends liked me for who I was and barely even noticed my scar.
The fall of my freshman year was kind of hard for me though; that was when I had my fourth and final operation — a revision of the cleft lip and rhinoplasty. I had the surgery around Thanksgiving time and had to miss a substantial amount of school, which was a little challenging. I also could not play sports for a while, which was upsetting for me because I am a very active person. Another reason that I think that this operation was the hardest of all was that, since I was older, I was cognizant of what was happening and that made me more nervous about going into the surgery than any of the other surgeries before.
Overall, having a cleft lip and palate has been a good thing for me. It has helped me realize at an early age that everything in life isn't that easy but that if you’re positive and have a loving family, everything will be fine. I think that the difficulties in life are the most important parts because that’s when you learn everything, and if I had gone through my first 17 years without any problems when something happened, I might not have any idea what had hit me
The Johns Hopkins Cleft and Craniofacial Center offers a comprehensive approach to numerous facial and cranial conditions, from facial paralysis to moebius syndrome. We provide expert and compassionate care to address the physical and emotional needs of our patients and families.Learn more about the Cleft and Craniofacial Center
Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common congenital facial differences (or birth defects) in children.Learn more about treatment for cleft lip and palate.