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Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

Angelo Stallone

It’s amazing how time really does fly. My husband Billy and I met on New Years Eve 2000. We started dating and got engaged that August. We were married the next September, and I became pregnant in December. Our wedding was on September 15, four days after 9/11. I worked in the World Trade Center. I won’t go into the details of that day, but I often wondered why I was saved, and now I know why. I truly believe God saved me to take care of our son, “our Angel.”

Angelo William was born on September 13, 2002. We did not know he was going to be born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. It was never detected on the ultrasound, although the technician at one point said he looked like he was puckering his lips. But we did know he was a boy!! Everyone was so excited. We had already decided to name him after his grandfather, my husband’s father.

I had every symptom of being pregnant except for morning sickness. Each week was something new, but all in all, I loved being pregnant. The best was when I was about seven months pregnant and Angelo would get a kicking fit every night between 11pm and 1am. It was the greatest feeling, watching my stomach roll back and forth. I couldn’t sleep anyway, so I guess he stayed up with me. I knew from then he was a fighter.

Angelo was born by C-Section, weighing 9 pounds, 6 ounces. I was not prepared for what I saw. The nurses pulled Billy to the side and told him that our son was born with a birth defect. When the nurse brought him to me, I thought I was seeing things. I couldn’t understand what had happened to him. Billy was able to see him that day. I didn’t get to see him again until the next day. We were very scared.

The nurses fed Angelo with a bottle called the Haberman Feeder. Billy and I both had to learn how to feed him, too. He caught on pretty fast, and so did we. Angelo was kept in ICU for the remainder of our stay. They wanted to make sure we were comfortable with feeding him before we took him home. The surgeon had visited me in my hospital room and explained all about a cleft. I still couldn’t comprehend everything. We met with the surgeon again a few days later after we all came home.

When Angelo was 3 ½ weeks old, he went in for his first surgery to have a palatal prosthesis placed in his mouth. It had a screw that we had to turn each day to bring his palate and gums closer together. During that time, we thought Angelo had colic. He cried every night for hours. When Angelo was 10 weeks old, they removed that plate, closed his lip, and worked on his nose. After his recovery, he was able to sleep and didn’t have his crying spells at night. At 8 months, his palate was closed. He still has to have more procedures, but I guess the worst is over.

Angelo is a strong boy and very tough. He recently had his first birthday, and we can’t believe we already made it through the first year of treatment!

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2006