Baby Born With Cleft Palate Smiles For The First Time Thanks To Surgery
One of the most memorable moments for a parent is when their baby smiles for the first time. But for a family over in Texas, this milestone was made all the more special thanks to a life-changing surgery.
With her partner Matt Marti by her side, Sara gave birth to Cam on April 3 just minutes after having his twin Jack.
However, unlike his brother, Cam was born with a cleft palate, meaning his upper lip, the bones of his upper jaw and his gum were split. So severe was it, that the poor little tike couldn't even suckle and had to be fed with a specially-designed bottle.
Sara said: "I just knew something was wrong. Because his face, it just didn't look like Jack's.
"It was just a blur. The doctors whispering above me, and I was just like, 'What's wrong? What's going on?'
"It took them a while, but the doctor was like, 'It's OK, he has a bilateral cleft lip and palate. He'll be OK.'"
While this was the case, Sara and Matt knew they had a long road ahead. Plastic surgeons told the couple that their boy would need numerous operations in order to correct his mouth.
It wasn't until July that Cam went in for the first surgery, leaving the pair understandably worried.
Matt said: "It was really hard to hand him over for surgery.
"When the nurses gave him back, he was screaming. They had him on morphine and his face was swollen and bruised and bloody. It was like we had been given back a different baby.
"I hated knowing that something we had chosen, the operation, had caused so much pain for our son."
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Although it was a tough moment for the whole family, when the stitches healed, Cam was back to his happy self. And it showed - as you can see by the pictures, the surgery allowed him to smile for the first time in his life.
Matt went on to state: "Sara was changing his diaper and I was watching TV. She started screaming: 'Come in here, he's smiling!'
"I rushed in. I couldn't believe it. In my darkest moments, I thought I'd never see him smile with a healed top lip but here he was beaming at me.
"It was a full face smile. He was giving the biggest grin he could.
"Sara and I cried because we were beginning to think we'd never see him smile.
"The beam was in his eyes and in his cheeks. He was saying: 'I'm still here, I'm still the same baby, everything's OK.'"
Amazing news all round. While the first operation was a success, Cam will have to endure a couple more to fully heal his cleft palate.
The second will come when he's a year and a half and will involve the reparation of the roof of his mouth, while the final op won't need to be done until he's between the ages of four and seven in order to rebuild his gums.
In the meantime, Sara and Matt can sit safe in the knowledge that they're doing best by their son and are sharing their story in a bid to offer hope to parents in the same boat as theirs.
Matt added: "It is terrifying but the scariest part is before you go and talk to surgeons.
"Once you get your doctor and a solid team in place, it gets a lot less scary.
"You fall in love with your baby and it doesn't matter whether they have a cleft palate or not."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS/Matt Martin