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Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

T. Marie Nicaise

Hey, my name’s Marie, and I’m 21 years old. I was a normal child, but I was also born with an unilateral cleft lip.

I’m sure my parents were surprised when they found out their little girl had to have surgery at three months old, not to mention wearing splints and not being allowed to suck her thumb. But as I researched the different causes of cleft lip/palate, I wasn’t as surprised. My mother smoked before she knew she was pregnant with me. I only had one surgery and around 4 years worth of speech therapy.

I was teased horribly in school, being called the usual “hare lip” and “fat lip.” I felt very self-conscious and had low self-esteem up until my high school graduation. I was angry that people treated me less than human and scared that I would always receive the same kind of treatment that I did in school. This wasn’t the case, fortunately.

I excelled in college and am successful to this day. I have close friends and acquaintances. My speech has really improved since I first went into therapy. I started singing in second grade and have since been in at least four choirs. I also learned to speak some Spanish and did very well.

At one time, I considered my cleft lip to be a curse and that I was some kind of monster. Now I see it as a blessing and that God taught me about being kind to all sorts of people, not just a few.

When I was younger, I hated smiling and I hated my smile, since it was crooked. I can’t help but smile now, and I don’t mind the crooked smile as much as I used to. I have seen quite a few kids with clefts, and they all look beautiful. After all, God doesn’t make junk. His creations are perfect.

Last Updated: Aug 31, 2007