Meet Brody’s Buddy, Samuel!

Brody’s Buddies is a way to feature stories from parents of cleft lip and palate babies. Every smile has a story – let’s share your child’s story, too!

This is Sammy! Sammy was born August 23rd, 2016. He was born with a surprise cleft palate. Here is our story!

I had a normal pregnancy. This was my 5th time doing this, so I knew exactly what to expect! I knew what recovery from delivery would be like, I knew how to breast feed, and I knew what life with a newborn was like. We did not find out Sammy’s gender before birth, so the big gender reveal was the only surprise we were expecting!

I had to have a c-section with Sammy (because of previous c-sections and a thin uterine scar). I went in to the hospital early in the morning on August 23rd, calm, and ready to meet my newest son or daughter! We were very excited, and felt completely prepared.

All went smooth with the procedure, and I was able to watch the OB lift him from my stomach. He was facing me, and I think I was the first one in the room to see he was a boy! We were so excited, another healthy baby, he looked perfect!

The pediatric nurse at the birth took him to the other side of the room to make sure all was well.

That's when I heard it for the first time. "He has a cleft palate!!" She announced to the room. 

Cleft palate? What is that? Is he okay?!

So many questions ran through my head, I had no idea what to expect, I didn’t even know what a cleft palate was!

Over the next few days I learned everything I could about cleft palates. I learned that my little baby would require a surgery to close the hole in his mouth. I learned that cleft lips/palates are the most common birth defect, affecting 1/700 babies. I learned that cleft babies often times can not feed like other babies. And hardest of all, I learned that no matter how hard I tried, Samuel was not able to get any milk from my breast to breast feed.

Some babies with cleft palates have been able to breast feed, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do it. This was one of the hardest things for me to face. I cried many tears coming to terms with not being able to breast feed.

No matter how much I wanted him to be just like my other newborns, I realized some things were going to be different.

I scheduled an appointment with a cleft team at our local Children’s Hospital a few days after we were discharged from the hospital.

Samuel will have the procedure to repair his palate between 10 and 12 months of age. He may also need ear tubes placed to help prevent ear infections.

He also has needed to be followed closely by his pediatrician and other doctors, specifically to watch his weight. I have been able to pump and feed Samuel my breast milk with the Dr. Browns special needs feeder. Because of frequent spit up, and cold and flu season, Samuel hasn’t gained as much weight as the doctors would like. But thankfully he has gained just enough that we haven’t needed to supplement formula, and I am able to feed him the milk I have pumped. I struggled in the beginning learning to schedule my days around pumping and bottle feeding. But I now have a routine, pumping 4-6 times a day and feeding every 3 hours or so.

Although some things are different with Sammy, in many ways he is just like any other baby.

Sammy is full of joy! He loves other kids, especially his 4 big siblings. He loves to be talked to, tickled, and laugh!

His siblings adore him as well. He loves to be worn in carriers, and wants to be in the middle of everything going on.

I know there will be challenges ahead, and I am not looking forward to his palate repair surgery, but he is the perfect little baby for us. I used to wonder why, “Why God is he different than other babies? Why did you let this happen?”

But I know that Sammy is special.

He is an inspiration to me, and he amazes me every day. He is a blessing. He is imperfectly perfect.

God knows what he is doing, even if I don’t always understand. He knew Sammy needed us, and we needed him. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Love you my little wild man. So grateful God picked me to be your mommy!