The guilt they both felt, that their baby would have to embark on a journey of multiple surgeries and months of healing, was immense. Thankfully, Brandon and Sammy were able to gain acceptance and peace through the help of many support groups. With copious amounts of encouragement, they were able to enjoy the journey to meeting Squishy without feeling alone or afraid of what was to come. Knowledge is powerful, and it certainly helped these parents feel prepared for their baby's birth day. They graciously offered up the following advice for parents that might receive the same diagnosis for their baby
1. Find support right away. Cleft Mom Support Group on Facebook is an excellent place to start. The more support you have around you of people that are either cleft affected adults or have cleft affected children the better. (Sammy suggests visiting www.cleftopedia.com for clear, accurate information as well.)
2. Allow yourself to go through all of the emotions. Be angry, sad or whatever you need to feel. This all part of coping and will allow you to process it and finally go back to enjoying your pregnancy.
3. Remember the love. This is still the same baby you fell in love with and got excited about when you found out you were pregnant! The baby never changed, the only thing that changed is what you learned about your child.
4. Document everything. Try to do everything you can to enjoy your pregnancy. Take photos of your bump every week. Buy those irresistible outfits and register for your shower. Decorate the nursery. Write a journal to your baby. Do everything you can to connect with your baby. It's okay to feel emotional about the diagnosis at any time but documenting these little moments will help you replace any sad emotions with happy ones.
5. Breastfeeding support. If you want to breastfeed, find hospitals and lactation consultants that will support you through your journey. It is possible, but not nearly as successful without the encouragement and support of those professionals around you.
6. Everything will be okay. It may not seem like it at first, but it will be. Any anticipation and fear you may feel at first will subside the moment you meet your beautiful baby.
Squishy was chosen to be born with a cleft. Chosen to show the world just how beautiful it is to have a cleft. Chosen to educate others on this 1 in 700 statistic. So without further ado, the beautiful birth of Squishy.