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Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

The Fryman Family

I was very shocked when my second child was born with a cleft lip and alveolus [gum]. The pregnancy had gone so easily, and then the delivery was so quick, I thought the hardest part was over. I had gone through three ultrasounds without seeing the cleft lip, so my husband David and I didn’t find out until our son was born.

I felt as though I needed to talk to all our family and friends and tell them exactly what my son looked like before they saw him, as though he was going to scare them. He seemed so raw, swollen and red. For the first day his face was all I saw. I even wanted to skip his hospital pictures. I thought no matter how cute his outfit was, the pictures wouldn’t be as good as those of the other babies in the hospital that day. A good friend encouraged me to get them done, though, saying that one day my son Wyatt would look back on them and not think his cleft was that important.

After I was honest about all my emotions of sadness, disappointment, and fear of what everyone else was going to think of my new baby, I realized he had the same cute little newborn cry that his older sister had. He was soft and had the same sweet baby smell. He cuddled right into my neck just like his older sister had done, and I knew he was still my precious gift that had been given to me for a reason. I prayed then for the strength and ability to help my son through everything.

Before leaving the hospital, we were told that we were going to be seen by a specialist to help answer any questions. We all had a laugh when the specialist was a neonatologist. My son weighed in at 8 pounds, 5 ounces, and this doctor was used to working with premature infants. He couldn’t answer any questions, but he did give us the number to the nearest children’s hospital. David called that day, and Wyatt had an appointment for the very next week.

We were very lucky to have been set up with a craniofacial team so quickly. At Wyatt’s first visit, I was handed tons of info on different nipples to use to make bottle feeding easier and faster, on how to care for his cleft lip, and on what to expect in the treatment. Also they gave us lots of support group phone numbers. One of the first ones was the number for the Cleftline (1-800-24-CLEFT). David and I went home knowing that our son was going to be taken care of medically and that our family as a whole had so much support and care too.

Wyatt was scheduled for his first surgery when he was three months old. I was very excited and very sad at the same time. My son was going to lose the face we had gotten use to. He had just started to smile and had such an outgoing personality. We knew the surgery was the best thing for him, though. The two weeks in arm restraints after the surgery were stressful. Wyatt was so strong and smart that by the end of the first week, he had learned to wiggle his shoulders and get out of the restraints. He would also pull his arms forward, breaking the strap in the back, and end up hitting himself in the nose. I remember thinking that he was never going to heal, but he did. After two weeks, it finally happened…he smiled!!!!!

Wyatt is 17 months old now, and he has at least two more surgeries in the future. I have watched him go through more things than most adults have, and right now he doesn’t even know the difference. When he gets older, I can’t wait to share his birth picture with him and explain the cleft he was born with that was fixed so easily and so beautifully. No matter what we have to deal with in the future I know we have lots of support. My husband and I are very thankful for our faith, our families and friends, our craniofacial team, and the Cleft Palate Foundation for all the help and support. Wyatt is such a happy child and he has a beautiful smile.

Kelly Fryman, kjdwfryman@msn.com

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2006