A Cleft Lip and Palate occurs in one out of every 700 births. However, one theme that unites people with Clefts is that the condition can be isolating. Most people with the condition are the only ones who have it in their circles of friends and family and the related challenges can be hard to navigate without the help of those who have truly been there. Clefts bring so many different life experiences, good and bad. Bullying, surgeries, recoveries, and so much more. All Cleft stories are totally different for each person, yet it is so important to share our stories so we can relate, connect with, and support each other.
According to the CDC, a Cleft Lip and Palate is a birth defect that occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly during pregnancy. I think there are so many better definitions than that. A Cleft is not just a physical difference but also defines who you are as a person. Not only does it make you unique, but I believe it can make you a better person; someone who doesn’t take things for granted; someone who gives others a helping hand when no one else does; and, someone who looks at life with just a little more love and gratitude.
Getting to a place where one can be thankful rather than resentful for a birth defect is a journey. And that is an understatement. Having a Cleft is probably the hardest thing you will have to get through in life, and I think because it causes you to have so many “downs” in life, you look at the “ups” with a little more happiness and thankfulness than if you didn’t have a Cleft. I am CleftProud.