Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Cleft Lip and Palate

I just tend to write about what ever I feel like.

I thought I would write a more about my son, who was born with a cleft lip and palate, and which is a subject I know quite a lot about. Although I do smoke and drink now, I most definitely did not when I was carrying him so why he had it is just one of life's little ironies.

As his cleft was not picked up on the scan his birth was actually quite dangerous a lot of fluid had gone into his mouth and he had to be resusitated. I was on gas and air and awa with the fairies but I remember Mark frozen in his chair by my side and I remember wondering why he had not followed the team but he must have seen what he looked like, and it must must have been a shock. They rushed him away and Mark went with him. Such was the quality of the gas and air that when they brought him back I couldn't see there was anything wrong with him.

Of course I loved him straight away regardless because he was my baby and one of the happiest period of my life was waiting for him to be born and we had quite an idyllic time living in a little cottage with me walking the dog, spending time making elaborate healthy food and reading books about childcare. I always like to read around subjects and enter imaginatively into them lol

It is a very good provision for Cleft Lip and Palate in Hull and two hours after he was born the Consultant Orthodontist Mr Coope was by my bedside with a photo of his sister on her graduation day who had had a cleft and was the reason he had gone into orthodontics. It was a Sunday and he was on his way to Church. On the same day Mr Hart the Consultant Plastic Surgeon also arrived, who has a special interest in the condition and who climbs mountains to raise money for children with it in the Third World. So we had two very committed professionals with us at the outset.

I had wanted to breast feed Jack but made do with an electronic pump 'Daisy'. Enough said. However, Jack got his mother's milk for six months, supplimented with 'Aptamil', which is the baby milk with all the essential fats for brain development. (I had read all the baby books lol)

We also had Mark's Grandma who was living next door and who had been around children all her life. Very old people have a special relationship with the very young and tend not to give a hoot about things so she took him around in a buggy (looking rather odd) to all her social activities among all the other old ladies without a care in the world. She was nearing the end of her life and she had a last golden summer with her baby great grandson, I have always liked to think, the son of her favourite grandson.

We had top quality NHS plastic surgery and orthodontic treatment over seven operations, including a bone graft (cost us nothing) which made Jack look like what he does today. If he wants he can have a final op at fifteen to straighten his nose, but he really is not bothered, and says he doesn't want to be 'like Michael Jackson' (though all this may change when he discovers girls).

Jack has not always been the exhuberant person he is today. When he was four he could hardly say boo to a goose, had barely intelligible speech, and a stammer. For his first photo at school I had to go in with him because he was nervous of having his photo taken. However, again he had five years of first class speech therapy with senior speech therapist Liz Buckles, and apparently features on training videos.

I am quite a retiring person but I knew it was imperative that I went against type and got him out into the world, mixing and making friends. We moved when Jack was three to where we are now and Mark was out working a lot and we were quite isolated. Quite a predicament.

Because I am a little odd there are sometimes issues of trust about myself and other people's children. It is hard to get past this sort of thing but the fact is when Eleanor was a baby I was up to thirteen hours on my own with her and Jack, with the bare minimum of help, except for fortnightly visits from my Mum, and Mark's Mum who came once every Thursday morning. What happens nowadays is that people look at the kids and know that I am OK, but then it was quite different. However, we started to get friendly with our next door neighbours Mike and Claire and their little girl Ellie who started to come round to play with Eleanor. I put a lot of effort into buying toys and setting up games, blowing up paddling pools, climbing frames, sandpits, wendy houses, crafts and generally making the house a great place for kids.(I actually know quite a lot about how kids play as a result of this). Other kids must have heard the three of them having a whale of a time in the back garden and soon this house was a Mecca for kids, many anonymous off the streets LOL I forced myself to go to all the Toddler Groups in the area (even when secretly I hate things like that), got friendly with a Social Worker whose son had also been born with a cleft and ran a Toddler Group with her for two and a half years. (I was even seriously considered as a childminder for her twins (LOL)) I have actually been an informal childminder.

Gradually Jack got more and more confident because I had pushed him out into the social world and because his speech therapy was starting to yield results. He also attended an excellent free nursery near here in quite a deprived area. Hull City Council always do good nurseries in areas like this to give kids the best possible chance in life. Also round here kids tend to play out on the streets, which I think is a very good thing for them, so when they were old enough I let them and now they have a lot of freedom to do what they want. Jack also made a very good friend at school, Alex Lyon, who is a very strong character, to say the least, whom he has now been friends with for eight years.

At the moment I am merely a shadowy bumbling figure in the kitchen, needed mainly to provide drinks and sustenance for themselves and assorted friends, but I take great pleasure in seeing them enjoy themselves. I probably let Jack get away with murder (as you can probably tell from some of the photos) but then I can remember the pathetic little waif he started out as. Lots of things came together very well for him in his life story, so far, I think.


Frances said...

I enjoyed reading about that, it did make me a bit trembly about the lips and damp in the eyes, but none the worse for that. You have written about Jack's cleft palate and harelip in the past, but it is lovely to have all the details and to hear about your struggle for acceptance. Being something of a shy troglodyte myself, I appreciate the effort you must have put in to develop his social skills and to give him all those chances.
I think he seems fine to me, lively and cheeky as he should be and seems to be happy and loving as well. Both your children seem well-balanced.
Sometimes having mad parents is a useful alibi, certainly my daughter doesn't want to grow up to be like everyone else, any strangeness about her can just be explained by introducing her Mum or any other member of the family. We are all strange, or so I am told. We seem very normal and well-adjusted to me.... but what do I know? I'm very strange after all. LOL
I am so glad you are blogging again, Bev.

John said...

Sweet, good mother.

Sorry your Mr. Murray got beaten in the US Open - he was amazing against Nadal.

Lately I have been listening to the Kinks (BBC CD set, Lola, Arthur, etc) - it is clear Ray Davies truly loves his old England.

Irene said...

It sounds like you did a wonderful job with Jack and that he turned into quite a confident young man. All moms are crazy, didn't you know? Some of us display it better than others. You're doing alright, Bev, don't you worry.