On August 23, 2013, the first glimpse of our daughter Brynn brought tears of love and worry. To our complete surprise, Brynn was born with a unilateral complete cleft lip and palate. As we held our sweet girl, our hearts overflowed with emotions. We were finally had the baby we had dreamed of—but we questioned what life was going to be like for her.
Sitting in the hospital room with Brynn wasn’t what I had thought it would be like or what I had planned on. I didn’t want visitors, I didn’t know what to tell people when they asked, and I didn’t want to share the first photos of my baby girl. To us she was beautiful and perfect. But the thought of what others would think consumed me with worry and anxiety.
The first week at home was very challenging as we battled feeding issues. At ten days old, Brynn had her first appointment with a wonderful team of doctors at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. The day was filled with countless appointments. It was a long, emotional day and we were overload with information but we were willing to do whatever it took. In the end, all of our questions and worries were put to ease.
We spent countless hours at Gillette with Brynn during her first six months preparing her for surgery. We went to our weekly orthodontic appointments with Cheryl Anderson-Cermin, D.D.S to address a number of issues. This included being fitted for the Gillette OrthoCleft® retainer, a presurgical device that results in improved outcomes when worn in the months before surgery. We also saw a feeding nurse, an audiologist, and an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. In December, 2013, pediatric craniofacial surgeon Robert Wood, M.D. performed Brynn’s lip repair surgery and did an incredible job. I knew then that all the time, stress and appointments were worth every second.
Although Brynn’s journey was overwhelming at times, it led us to a beautiful destination. We created Brynn’s Smile Box Foundation in the hopes that we can help other families whose babies are born with a cleft lip or palate. Brynn’s Smile Box gives families a convenient box to hold all the supplies needed while their child is using an OrthoCleft retainer, along with a flashlight, scissors, toothbrush and a gift card to Gingko Café, which is located right inside Gillette. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Brynn’s Smile Box!