Cleft of the Month

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Anna's Story - March 2002


In life, there is a certain way we want events to unfold. Expectations begin before we breathe on our own. As our motherís stomachs grow each month, before we gleam our first smiles, and before we utter our first word, their dreams for us mount.

For nine months my parentís waited with anticipation. The pregnancy progressed normally and my mom went into labor on time. As I entered the world faces became long and hearts dropped. Their dreams were instantly shattered, and shock filled the air of the delivery room. My parentís lives were turned upside down as they realized my life would not unfold the way that they had planned. There was a gap that began just below the tip of my left nostril and that extended to the back of my throat. The official diagnosis my parents received: complete unilateral cleft of the lip and palate. Questions raced through their minds, like will she ever be normal? What will people think? What did we do wrong? Are there other things wrong with her? Suddenly nothing seemed normal.

My life has not been normal. Not many things have unfolded the way my parentís had dreamed and it all seemed so unfair to me growing up. I have cried, ďWhy me? Why me?Ē Over and over I have wondered if there is something Iíve done to deserve such pain. I have blamed God and myself for it all. If God loves me, why was I made in a way that people would tease me, that I would have to have my bones hammered out of my hips and my jaw cut into six pieces? Why? Why? Why? How does one have joy, while enduring such pain?

Having a cleft lip and palate, undergoing 24 surgeries, 8 years of physical and speech therapy, 9 years of orthodontic treatment, a circulation disease and chronic back pain are all challenges that I have had to face. At times it seemed unfair and I wanted to run from it all, but instead I faced the challenges head on. It has all been a blessing in disguise - because in me, these struggles have produced perseverance, character, and hope.

What once devastated my parentís and what I once viewed as a curse from God, is now what I am so grateful for. If I hadnít been born with a cleft lip and palate I wouldnít be who I have grown to be. My parents have been an amazing support and God has never left my side. Through it all God has taught me to cling to him and trust him. When I have been ready to give up because the physical and emotional pain was too overwhelming, God has rescued me and assured me of his promises.

I have a joy that will never fade. No physical trial is strong enough to take away my ticket to heaven through Jesus Christ. It is the pain that has given me a passion to help others face the challenges I have had to face. There was a time in my life that no one thought Iíd ever speak in complete sentences or clear enough to be understood, but now I am a junior in college pursuing a degree in Speech Pathology. Someday I want to help children become confidant in who they were made to be whether they have a cleft or not. I donít know exactly how it will all pan out but I cling to this one verse, ďTrust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straightĒ Proverbs 3:5-6. Though nothing has unfolded as my parents dreamed or I have expected, everything has unfolded just as God planned all for my good. It has been a long process but through it my attitude has changed. I know there are people that have it much worse than I did or ever will, but it was still my struggle. God cares about everyone and every part of our lives no matter how big or small the problem seems.

I hope this helps you face whatever it is that you face and know that you are not alone. We are never abandoned nor forgotten!