During an ultrasound at 18-weeks, Lacey Buchanan and her husband Chris were told their baby boy, Christian, had a cleft palate.
‘We were just clueless and kind of hoping for the best,’ Lacey recalls in an interview with WGRZ.
‘We were just thinking, ‘We are so in love with this baby.’ We just want him to be OK.’
Because doctors weren’t sure what to expect, or what level of care Christian would need when he arrived, the delivery room was abuzz for Lacey’s c-section.
When Christian was born Lacey heard his cry and was ecstatic that her boy was breathing on his own, but something wasn’t right.
‘All the doctors were really quiet. Then they asked me if I wanted to see him.’
‘I called my husband over, and I could tell by the look on his face that he was really upset.’
Lacey says it wasn’t until later that she realised just how serious her son’s cleft was.
Christian was born with a cleft palate, but he also had a Tessier cleft which affects the formation of the eyes and face.
He had no eyes, just sections of stretched, delicate tissue. His ear canals were poorly formed, and he needed to eat through a feeding tube.
His first few months were a flurry of surgeries which left him in constant pain.
‘He screamed for 24 hours. No sleeping, just screaming,’ says Lacey.
‘Finally, after 24 hours of me begging, they gave him morphine and he was able to rest. It was just torture.’
Now 6 years old, Christian has had seven surgeries on his ears, palate, and roof of his mouth, and despite the challenges his parents are determined for him to live a full life.
She also shares some wisdom for families that face similar challenges:
‘Don’t worry about comparing them to kids who aren’t facing challenges that you are facing… My child is still a gift, he just came in different wrapping paper.
‘Now I look back, and I would go through that a million more times if it meant I got to have Christian. I’m so thankful I get to be his mom.’