I'm piggybacking Wordless/Wordfull Wednesday this week, as Diamond Potential has started "Awareness Wednesday....and I thought the two would fit together nicely!
So, for my part this week, I want to talk about Craniofacial Awareness.
I am a Pathfinder for Ameriface. My daughter was born with an orofacial cleft, specifically a wide unilateral cleft lip and palate. My daughter is in good company though.....according to the CDC, orofacial clefts are the most commonly occurring birth anomaly, surfacing in approximately 1 out of ever 600 births.
The thing to keep in mind though, is that at ANY time, ANYONE can become a craniofacial patient! Ameriface not only helps those with congenital anomalies, buy also those of us who have become craniofacial patients due to accidents, diseases, animal bites, etc....
What is a Pathfinder, you ask? According to Ameriface's website, "The Pathfinder Outreach Network is a system of networking families and individuals whose lives are touched by congenital and acquired facial differences...and much more. Pathfinders work closely with medical and other professionals to bring support and information to families of craniofacial patients. Volunteers offer a shoulder to lean on, educational materials, and referrals to local, state and federal services designed to enhance the care they get from their medical teams. Most of all, they understand what it's like to make this journey."
So, are you surprised, with the statistics so high, that you don't know anyone who was born with a cleft? Well, I'm sure there's a few people you might be familiar with!
as was Cheech Marin
Rev. Jesse Jackson
as well as some people in history
and Abe Lincoln's son, Tad
The thing with clefts is, the cosmetic aspect is just one part of the equation. Clefts affect speech, eating, and breathing..... things we often don't think about. Our kids have incredible strength, and go through countless surgeries and years upon years of orthodontia all before they are fully grown.
So, with that, let me encourage people to...
Please! Come up to me and smile at my baby. Her anatomy may be different, but she's a little person, and my pride and joy.
Please (kindly) ask questions! Don't just stare at her cleft, her appliance, or her scars! When she has to wear arm immobilizers after a surgery, don't glare at me! I swear, her arms aren't broken....she's just recovering from a surgery and can't be allowed to touch her mouth!
A beautiful older woman in our local supermarket brought me to tears one day when S was laughing at my silly faces. All she said was, "My! What a beautiful smile she has!"
Sometimes a simple act of kindness can mean more than you can ever imagine to someone else.
Thanks to Diamond Potential, Live and Love Outloud, Seven Clown Circus,and A Beautiful Mess for hosting!
Oh yeah, and Happiness? Oh I know what Happiness is!
Watching my children learn...
Seeing them learn to appreciate their Grandparents....
Afternoon sibling giggle-fests!
Random upside-down Spiderman kisses...
and, of course.... PIGGYTOES!