ACPA Family Services

Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

Ella Yvonne Ramos

You can find an update on Ella here!

August 9, 2005 is when the contractions started to come a little more regularly.

My husband and I walked up and down the street to see if the contractions would come a little stronger and a little closer together.

I finished packing my bags, ate watermelon, and jumped in the shower. Ella Yvonne was on her way!

We finally decided to go to the hospital at 8:00 that night and I was hoping they were going to say, “False alarm, you can go home.” No such luck. I was going to have a baby!

Ella was born on August 10th. 7lbs and 20 inches. Such a healthy little bundle! Being in labor wasn’t something new to me. She is my fourth daughter. It was such a long delivery and I couldn’t wait to see that little face and those legs that had been kicking me for 39 weeks. My husband and my father were in the delivery room with me and she was finally coming. The doctor looked at me and said, “She might look a little different. She has a cleft lip and palate but it’s ok. They can fix it.” I cried. I remember apologizing to my husband and asking my dad what I had done wrong. My husband, Steven, had never heard of a cleft lip or palate so it was all new to him. It didn’t matter in the least. That was his baby and to him, she was his world. They cleaned her up and brought her over to me and I didn’t know how to react. How do you feed her? Does it hurt? When are they going to “fix” this? Did I do this to her? What will other people say? What about school, will other kids tease her? I had so many questions going through my head. One of her first visitors was my mom. I remember her walking into the room and saying, “Let me hold my granddaughter.” I bundled her up, covering some of Ella’s cleft. My feelings of guilt were so strong that it seemed, at the time, if I covered her little nose and mouth nothing was wrong. She removed the blanket from her face, looked down and said, “Kerri, she is so beautiful.” I’ve learned that a mother is ALWAYS right!

The feedings, to me at least, were the hardest things to deal with- worrying if I was giving her enough and making sure I was doing it the right way. A nurse came in to my room in the middle of the night and turned the light down, opened her little mouth, and shined a flashlight in to show me her cleft palate. What a help this was! Now I knew where to put the nipple. She was so patient and took so much time making sure I was comfortable with her feedings. The next issue I had to deal with were the pictures. Her first picture was taken with a cell phone, cleft side down. There was so much going on and I didn’t know how to deal with my feelings at that time. 4a.m I called the nurse in and told her that I needed her picture taken. It felt like such a big step for me. I wanted to show her off! Off they went and a few hours later the proofs came back. I cried. I have never seen a more beautiful baby! She was absolutely perfect! My husband was at home taking care of Ella’s sister and I called him as soon as I got the pictures back. What an emotional time. I looked down at her face, watched my tears fall on her forehead, and told her that we can do this. What an amazing little person I was holding in my arms!

Our first appointment with our cleft team was about a week after she was born. Sitting in the waiting room I noticed a teenage girl. Braces, flip flops, and her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She went and sat down by her mom and dad across from us. The nurse called our name and we started to go back into the room. The girl’s mother stopped me and said, “It will be O.K mom.” I still tear up thinking about it. Her husband reached in his wallet and pulled out a baby picture of his daughter. Their gorgeous daughter who was sitting beside them was born with a cleft lip and palate. WOW! We weren’t alone! Other people go through this too! It felt so good to meet other families that are going through this. We went into the room and I was already emotional. At one point I had to leave the room because the reality of it was setting in. At home she was just Ella. At the clinic she was Ella, who happened to be born with a cleft. It was so overwhelming. It was a lot to take in and I’m so thankful my husband and father were there to help me absorb all of it. We set up her first surgery for February 7th, 2006. I thought the day would never arrive, but time has a way of flying by!

During her second cleft palate clinic, a mother of a little blonde girl in a stroller came up and sat by us. We started talking and I had asked about their experience. Her daughter was born with a cleft lip and had surgery a few months before. She told me that they found out her daughter would be born with a cleft through an ultrasound and I had told her that my daughter was our little surprise. We continued talking and she asked her name and I told her Ella. She gave me a huge smile and asked if I knew what Ella meant and I had no idea. I just thought the name was such a pretty name. Her daughter was named Ella, too. She continued on by saying, “We named her Ella because when we found out through her ultrasound that she would be born with a cleft lip, we wanted a special name. Ella means ‘whole and complete.’” Goosebumps went up and down my arms! What a PERFECT name! Every time we go to the clinic we meet such wonderful people.

I can’t stress it enough, the support of my husband and family and meeting and talking with other families has made the beginning of this journey so much easier. The emotions, the questions, crying, sharing pictures, sharing stories, and just being able to talk about all of it has gotten me through this. I needed to talk about it and share my fears, my emotions, and her pictures. Which brings us to where we are today, 2 weeks post surgery! They closed her lip and nose, put ear tubes in, and clipped a little extra skin under her tongue. She’s a trooper! She is recovering wonderfully and even gained 2 lbs. in 2 weeks. Her surgoen and her cleft team did an AMAZING job. I didn’t know how I could let go of her little “notch.” I didn’t know how to let go of her “2 for 1” kisses, the snoring, the tongue through the nose smiles, the HUGE gummy smiles, talking through her little notch, putting a corner of a blanket in her cleft to soothe her. But here we are! The bolsters and stitches are finally gone and she still has the most amazing smile. One mother told me it’s not the cleft, it’s their spirit. She couldn’t have said it any better. In a 6 month period, the emotions were like a rollercoaster. We went from how do we do this, to crying before her surgery because we were going to miss the face we first fell in love with. I’ll always miss her notch but, the woman I talked with was so right. It’s their spirit. And what an amazing spirit our little Ella Yvonne has. We’re never given more than we can handle and I will forever believe that. Thank you to my husband Steven, our family, and to all of the medical staff, and our wonderful cleft team. There is so much support for families like ours and this was the first place we turned to! We’re not alone!!

Last Updated: Aug 30, 2007