Our son, Patrick Cole Lucas was born less than 6 weeks ago, and has been our blessing and joy since we found out we were pregnant. We found out at the 22 week old ultrasound that he would be born with a cleft lip and palate. Having, had 2 prior typical pregnancies,this news came as quite a shock. However, the doctor let us know that this is the most common birth defect and can be fixed easily by a skilled team. We wrestled with having an amniocentesis to make sure there were no other issues with the pregnancy, and opted against it. For the next few weeks and months we immersed ourselves in everything cleft lip and palate. I did many internet searches and called different specialists and even met with the surgical team at CHOP at 30 weeks pregnant. Eventually, we came to accept and understand cleft lip and palate diagnosis. I had conversations online with other families who have children with this diagnosis and shared with family and friends so we could be prepared for Patrick’s birth. I met with the neo-natal team at the hospital and made sure that they would have specialized bottles for feeding as I knew that feeding would be especially challenging and wanted to make sure we had different options in place.a
On October 12th Patrick Cole Lucas was born. He was 9 pounds 4 ounces and 22 inches long at birth. He took right to feeding with a pigeon bottle with support from the NICU nurses. He also qualified for speech services through early intervention and by week 2 of life he started receiving these services in the home to support his feeding and swallowing needs. Patrick is a handsome, thriving infant with a beautiful smile. He is undergoing NAM (nasal alveolar molding) therapy right now, which is a challenge, but moving us towards our goal of repairing his cleft with as few surgeries as possible. His brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors and friends are absolutely infatuated with him. He will have his first surgery to repair his cleft lip around February 2012 and then the palate repair at 8 months old. We are truly blessed by Patrick and everything he has taught my family and I about the power of patience, acceptance and love. We will have a long journey but it will be one that makes us all stronger along the way. His needs have shifted my priorities and reminded me that family is and always should be our true focus. I will be taking a break from my full time job in the area of special education to focus on my family and getting Patrick the best care possible as his number one advocate and mom. He is truly our special gift.