ACPA Family Services

Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

The Pertgen Family

My name is Jennifer, and I am the proud mother of an eleven month old boy who was born with a cleft palate and a minor birth defect of the heart. I actually had no intention to write our story; however, after reading some of the stories, I realized that there were very few stories posted that pertained to just cleft palates. So, perhaps by sharing our story, other parents will feel they are not alone.

When my husband and I found out we were having a baby, we were overjoyed. We knew something big was going to happen when we both kept seeing the numbers “9” and “11” on receipts, clocks, etc. We joked that he would probably be born on September 11th or that he would be born at 9:11.

While flipping through the channels one day, my husband and I came across an infomercial with babies who were born with cleft lips and palates. We watched in devastation for both the children and the families. We never thought or even considered that our own baby would be born with a cleft lip or palate.

After a horrendous labor and emergency cesarean section, our son was welcomed into the world on September 24, 2005 at 9:11am. I was unaware that my son was born at 9:11am. When I found out, I was in complete shock, but elated to know that he was healthy. I had only seen him in the delivery room for a second before they whisked him away. He looked wonderful. I had no idea that he was missing part of the roof of his mouth. My husband and I were devastated. How could this have happened? We were unaware of any one in either of our families with this birth defect. I went to all my doctor appointments, took my prenatal pills, ate healthy foods, and did not smoke or drink. We were angry. We understood that it could have been worse. It could have been his lip too, but it still didn’t make us feel any better. Our child would still have to go through the pain of surgery and speech therapy like any other child born with both cleft lip and palate.

He is now 11 months old, and just recently, we were able to come to terms with it. He under went surgery on Monday to repair his cleft palate. He is healing quite fast, and everyone is amazed by his spirit. I realized we did not do anything wrong and that in fact God has given us a wonderful gift in the form of our son. He is our little hero.

Thank you for allowing me to share our story with you.

Jennifer Pertgen

Last Updated: Aug 29, 2007