ACPA Family Services

Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

The Jeffers Family

Hailey in the NICU.

My little girl, Hailey Nicole Jeffers, was born on December 22nd, 2006 at forty two weeks gestation; eight pounds and fourteen ounces. She was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) due to breathing and swallowing difficulties. While she was in the NICU they discovered she had a cleft palate. To be honest I never heard of it before. I always heard about cleft lips. I didn’t know what it was. I knew what a palate was, but being out of it from the anesthesia, having a one hundred and three degree temperature, and passing out backwards over my bed caused the words “cleft” and “palate” to go in one ear and out the other. At that moment, you might as well have been speaking to me in a different language. All I did was begin to cry because it didn’t sound good. After I was better educated on the issue and had seen the palate when my daughter was crying, it wasn’t so bad.

Hailey at one month.

I remember experiencing one difficult conversation with a woman in a waiting room. During our conversation about the little ones she said, “Isn’t it a shame? You go so long thinking your baby is going to be this perfect little angel and little do you know that they are going to be born like this.” I kind of knew what she meant deep down. But I took it the wrong way – I put my daughter back in her car seat and sat the seat in her stroller. Before walking away I said to the woman with a bit of anger to my voice, “My daughter IS perfect.”

One month old.

One month old.

Hailey had her surgery when she was four months old. She had to wear casts on her arms – I called them her wings. After about a week of those we put mittens on her hands during play time so she could bend her arms. At the same time, when her hands were in the casts, she would ball her hands into fists so they couldn’t fit into her mouth. At night time we put the little casts on. She was groggy for two days. Not much crying at all. And then, after those two days she seemed fine. Everything healed up nicely. She is eight months old now and she can say “mama,” “dada,” and “no night night.” Oh…she can also say “arff” – she uses this word with her stuffed dog. If I have another child with a cleft palate, I will definitely be more prepared.
– Jillian Jeffers

Two hours after surgery.

Three months after surgery.