Born in a country where having a cleft lip & palate is a label, a stigma.
A sentence to a life less-lived, less-worthy.
I would give anything to have held her then and kissed that sweet face.
To tell her that the cleft will not define her or hold her back.
She had her first surgery on her lip in China.
The skin tore back open and a tooth is exposed.
We later find out she would require extensive revision of the lip area,
along with closure of her open palate.
At 13 months, she was in our arms.
For 4 months, we love on her, feed her and get to know her.
Finally, the day comes, Surgery Day.
Also the first day of spring, which is very fitting for new beginnings.
Day Before Surgery
The Big Day - March 20, 2014
Waiting in Pre-Op
The surgery was long, longer than we expected.
A complete palate closure.
Rotation of the top gum-line down into the right position
(and saving that crazy tooth-a MIRACLE!)
Nose revision and upper lip revision.
Removal of a sponge stuck in her palate from China surgery.
5 hours of waiting and wondering.
How was it going?
What would she look like?
My tears flowed down onto her beautiful face as I held her.
What a difference already!
One of my most vivid memories of those 2 nights in the hospital was the way she would lay wide awake beside me in the night and just stare into my eyes. No sounds, just face-to-face. It was as if she was asking me, are you going to stick around and take care of me through all this?
I'm the luckiest momma to walk alongside her through that time.
She really was a trooper.
Those first few weeks & months were a blur:
Arm bands to restrict movement to mouth.
Liquid diet fed by syringe.
Nose stents that never stayed in.
Another minor surgery a week later to remove stitches.
Constant fear that she would fall, bump her face, poke a hole in her palate.
Absolutely worth every second.
2 Days Post-op
One Week Post-Op
Three Weeks Post-Op
5 Weeks Post-Op
2 Months Post-Op
3 Months Post-Op
4 Months Post-Op
5 Months Post-Op
6 Months Post-Op
7 Months Post-Op
8 Months Post-Op - Sleeping Beauty
9 Months Post-Op
10 Months Post-Op
11 Months Post-Op
One Year Post-Op!!!!
Cleft? What cleft?
Look out world, here comes Maggie Fei.
For a more detailed look back at the surgery & recovery: