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“A Mother’s sin”. This is the title of a book written by Mia Henry of Port Elizabeth. I haven’t read the book, but I heard the author’s interview on local radio when the book was published, and I immediately identified with it. As mothers of children born with congenital defects, we beat ourselves up with the guilt of what we could have done differently to avoid the hardship of hospital admissions, surgeries, therapies and teasing that our children will need to face. This guilt is a Mother’s sin!

My son, Thomas, turns thirteen this year! Thirteen! I wish I could say I wouldn’t have had it any other way, but honestly, the emotional turmoil the last thirteen years have brought have not been easy. My son was born with a soft palate cleft which was not diagnosed until he was four months old. I endured being told by a paediatrician that the quality of my breast milk was the reason my son wasn’t gaining weight to trying every teat on the market to get him to drink more than 25ml in an hour. My son had had seven hospital admissions by the time he was seven years old, for cleft repair, two inguinal hernia repairs, 2 MRI’s, a Baker’s cyst and several sets of grommets. Do not underestimate the toll that these hospital admissions and doctor visits take on your little ones. My boy was a ball of anxiety and still struggles with change, but we have learnt to manage it together.

📷 Jeff Latham photography

Despite these hardships, he has excelled academically at school and represented Nelson Mandela Bay in chess since 2014. In Grade 4 he passed the test for musicality at school and was offered the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. He chose the flute! I remember crying when I told the music teacher that he really wanted to play the flute, but I wasn’t sure he would be able to get a sound out because of his cleft palate. She agreed to give him the opportunity. After 8 weeks of trying to get a sound out, she called me to tell me he should probably forget about flute and take up guitar. I asked her to persevere for one more week. She did and at the end of 2019 he achieved 89% for his Grade 2 flute exam with the Trinity board of music.

He is my miracle boy, my pride a joy and this year he enters his teens. A whole new set of changes and challenges, as braces are fitted and high school looms, but the last thirteen years have groomed him into a young man that will be able to overcome any adversity put before him.

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

This May Cleft Friends is celebrating 10 Years! Whoop! Whoop! If you or your loved one is cleft affected feel free to email your photo and story to us at info@cleftfriends.co.za. We want to share encouraging stories and create awareness about cleft lip and palate in South Africa. You are not alone!

#cleftfriends #smilefoundationsa #closingthegap #youarenotalone #cleftlip #cleftpalate #cleftstrong #cleftmomsSA #cleftcourage

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Contact Details

Email: info@cleftfriends.co.za
Phone: (082) 393 1206

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