The Good, The Bad, and The Baby

2

I Never Saw The Hardest Part Coming

Cleft Lip Scar the Next day

After Surgery

It’s been a long year since Victoria had her lip repair surgery but it looks like we are past the worst of it for now. By ‘the worst of it’ I mean the surgery and the post-op care. Looking back I feel like we were well prepared and focused on the surgery, but only prepared for the post-op care in theory. I mean, we had been told the steps to expect. I guess there was really no way of preparing for what was to follow.

In December 2013 Victoria had her lip surgery, the stitches were removed a week later, and we then spent the next few weeks in hospital for feeding problems.

The real work of post-op care started a month later. Once the lip had healed enough it needed to be massaged to help relax the scar. I wasn’t too worried about this part because it seemed like such a minor afterthought when compared to the surgery. And who doesn’t love a massage?

Victoria. Victoria doesn’t. At least not the lip scar variety. As the scar healed it tightened and pulled the entire lip upwards. To counter this you ‘massage’ the lip back into place by squeezing it between thumb and finger until your nail bed goes white while pulling down. It’s about as fun as it sounds and they recommend you do it as frequently as every bum change.

It sucked.

Cleft Lip Scar 6 Months Later

Halfway

We did this for the next twelve months. The doctor seemed surprised that we followed his advice so closely. I guess other parents find it hard to do and can’t bring themselves to do it often enough.

I can understand the thoughts of quitting but I’m glad we persevered. Victoria hated it. She screamed, flailed, cried, clawed, and bit through it all. I knew it was hurting her but I also knew it was an essential part of her care. Some days there was as much conflict happening on the inside as there was on the outside. It was heartbreaking. Andrew and I cried a lot too, but we kept going.

It was a good thing we did though because it seems Victoria is prone to thick scarring. We spent the first three months watching it get worse. It felt pointless as we watched her lip rise higher and higher. Then, finally, it started to descend. Sadly that was also around the same time she started to get teeth, which is when the biting started. It was such a relief to see the improvement but let me tell you diaper changing became hell.

I won’t say it got much easier, but I was able to stop crying as I did it. I guess that was better.

Cleft Lip Scar

Eleven Months Post-Op

Now that the year is over I’m glad we pushed through. The surgeon said it looked good and gave us the all clear to stop. Like with everything we’ve gone through we didn’t treat this as a choice. I’m always surprised when parents feel things like this are a choice. Do you feel it’s a choice to help you child when they are sick or teething? Probably not. Anything I do to help my daughter through her medical issues are not a choice. Not until she is old enough to make those decisions herself.

It’s been a long year post op but we made it through. You will too, no matter how impossible it feels some days. I didn’t do it alone; Andrew massaged just as much as I did. Never be ashamed to ask for help. It will get better.

-Jen

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Cleft LipCleft Lip RepairCleft Lip Scar MassageCleft PalateCleft Palate ClinicPerseveranceUnilateral Incomplete Cleft Lip

Jennifer • 4 February 2015


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  1. Jillian 4 February 2015 - 9:22 am Reply

    This beautiful little girl is very lucky to have parents like you and Andrew that care so much you do what’s necessary even when it’s hard. It sounds so simple but not everyone understands how important it is.

    • Jennifer 4 February 2015 - 4:21 pm Reply

      Thanks. It was definitely not easy but we made it through. Our plastic surgeon did try and hit us over the head with the importance.

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