Photo one is my first professional picture I ever had done. You can clearly see my unilateral cleft. As an infant, I had feeding issues and wore a dental appliance for much of my life.

I had my lip repaired at 3 months old, and my palate repaired at 14 months old. My palate currently features a remaining anterior fistula, about 2/3 of the way back on my hard palate. (Essentially, this means that there is a hole in the roof of my mouth)

Photo 2 was taken right before I had my palate repaired, I’m about a year old in that photo. You can see how the left side of my nose is a little more flat, but as I grew that became more prominent.

Photo 3 shows me at about 2 and a half. Comparatively, you can see more of a crease on that part of my nose, and the scaring on my lip is starting, because my teeth were coming in, and rubbing against my repaired cleft, creating scar tissue. 

Photo 4 shows me at about 3 and a half. (It was the early 90s, don’t judge my outfit!) This photo shows that my outer scar on my lip is almost invisible, but it also shows the crowding of my teeth. As a result of being cleft all the way through, my jaw bone was also clefted and my teeth crowded on either side of that. Inside my lip during this time, I also had a protruding flap of scar tissue.

When I was 10, I had a bone graft in which they took bone marrow from my hip, and injected it into my jaw bone to fuse that together. After that I had braces for 3 years, the results of this can be seen in photo 5.

Photo 6 represents my smile post braces, with wisdom teeth. My wisdom teeth actually grew in impacted and pushed some of my teeth back in. This photo was taken at the end of 9th grade, so I was about 15.

It is one of the last photos that was taken before I had my rhinoplasty three days before junior year of high school. My plastic surgeon reshaped the end of my nose, evened out my nostrils, and removed the protruding flap of scar tissue. 

The last photo was taken today. I am 23, and unless you are in the know about cleft palate and cleft lip, you can’t even tell that I was born with any cosmetic defect. 

My mother says that in the grand scheme of things, to have a cleft baby, is not the worst thing that can happen. It is repairable, and most kids can lead a full and happy life. She says that it hasn’t always been an easy road, but in the very least, 23 years later I’m happy, healthy and thriving on a path to help other people much like myself. 

This is me. I have a cleft lip and palate. It kinda sucks, having to spend every day constantly checking how you look because you’re so paranoid that you someone will see you how you see your self, terribly. What I have noticed about people with cleft is that they don’t moan. They don’t bring it up. They are brave and suffer silently and don’t wish to burden the people around them with their problems. I wish I knew more people with a cleft, I feel it would make me feel more comfortable, stronger even. I’m in my last year and a bit of surgeries and appointments and I feel like the only guy starting university with braces. We need to stick together and be strong. I’m here for anyone if they want a chat and I wish I had more people to chat to, we don’t have anyone else really..

anonymous said:

I have to start college again soon and as a female with a cleft lip and palate, I am scared of how others will judge me. I've felt nervous about first days of school before, but it has never been this bad. I am not looking forward to the gawking stares or the unfriendly comments I might receive. Its really stressing me out and I feel really low at this point. I absolutely do not like the way I look and can't help but to compare myself to other girls on campus. Please, any advice?

I totally know how you feel. It’s really hard to make a good first impression in your new classes when you’re worried about how you look and sound. You’re going to have to go through your like “Cleft Palate in 30 Seconds” speech to explain things to classmates and strangers.

I think the comparing yourself to other girls thing is really hard to give advice on because we all do it. Cleft or not. It’s harder on us clefties. But still. The way I’ve dealt with it is the fake it till you make it thing. I acted like I liked the way I looked and tried to educate everyone on what a cleft was so they weren’t ignorant anymore (that separated the tactlessly curious from the genuinely mean spirited) and just owned it.

I mean that’s not really helpful when you’re at the stage in your life where you don’t like the way you look and you are unhappy. But the fake it till you make it stuff really does work. When I started faking positivity and faking that I thought I was pretty my confidence got a huge boost until I wasn’t faking anymore.

Just be kind to yourself. Don’t add to the negativity. Try to be positive. Comparing yourself to others is toxic for anyone. 

Followers! Please chime in with real, substantial advice where I have failed!

Wishing you the best of luck back at college, my friend <3