I was just reading an email from a friend whose daughter is now 15. Her little girl was born with the same medical issues as Ally, but more severe.
While reading her email, I thought back to the time when Ally was born and she was just diagnosed. Turns out the cleft palate was the least of our worries. She soon adapted to not having one and even ate solids better than Max who is not cleft affected.
Ally could not and did not know how to blow a candle till she turned 2. We tried teaching her early on, blowing tissue paper across a table so she could watch. She started speech therapy at 6 months to help develop her weak muscles. Without her palate it was impossible and even after surgery, the concept was just beyond her. On her second birthday, she blew out her own birthday candles unassisted and it brought tears to my eyes. We celebrated that huge milestone with family and friends who meant the world to us which just made it extra special.
At age 2, she could barely make a 3 word sentence. Now she has an extensive vocabulary and would chat your ears off given a chance. I always find it ironic that the one child in her class who is attending speech therapy is the child who cannot seem to stop talking.
In her 3 years, she has gone through 2 surgeries and amazed us each time with her determination and mental strength.
It could be her innocence but she took everything in her stride and bounced back from both surgeries very quickly.
We took her arm splints off on the 2nd day and she never once touched the wound. By day 3 her appetite was back to normal and her wound healed beautifully. A lot of credit has to go to her amazing surgeon and nurses.
I truly believe that all her experiences have shaped her to be who she is today. She’s emotionally very mature, very compassionate, extremely determined and a real fighter. I say all this not to boast, but as a reflection of how far she has come. From the tiny baby that stopped breathing every so often, she is so full of life and spirit.