Dr. Ruas is a one of a kind plastic surgeon. We were recommended three different doctors who specialized in cleft lip/palate correction after Sebastian was born and because Dr. Ruas was much closer to us we picked him.
Good thing we did to, because he was amazing! He made Nick and I feel so confident in him and made sure we new exactly what was going to happen. Every time Nick and I would take Sebby somewhere, usually in a medical setting, people would ask us who did his lip surgery and when we would say Dr. Ruas, they immediately, without hesitation, would reply and say great things about him.
After Sebastian’s first surgery, Dr. Ruas told us not to put anything on his scar and messaging it was not mandatory. He did recommend keeping him out of the sun and to use sunscreen daily on it. I’m apart of a cleft Facebook group where I see and read stories from families all over the country, if not world. I bring this up because most of them talk about messaging their babies lip daily after surgery with different oils and things. I want to share with everyone (especially parents that are going through this process) that Dr. Ruas did not recommend this because he believed it did not make any change to the scar or its healing process.
Sebastian and Dr. Ruas at his check up a few months after his first surgery
On May 15, 2017 Sebastian went under for his palate repair surgery. (We just passed our 1 year mark!) We followed same protocol as last and of course had Dr. Ruas work on him. I gave the nurses Sebastian as he slept peacefully on my chest. This time around I wasn’t as nervous. I had been through it once and I trusted Dr. Ruas and his team. I knew my baby was in good hands and prayed that surgery would go smoothly.
To fix the roof of his mouth they had to take tissue from each side of the hole, cutting one slit on each side, and basically pulling them together. I don’t know the right terms, but you get the idea. He was also getting a steroid shot into his lip to loosen the tissue a bit on his scar. This surgery was much more extensive. When we saw him afterwards it was definitely worse then the last. His entire face was swollen and his body was on fire from all the medications. He was dosing in and out and was just totally uncomfortable. He had the”no-nos” back on and to our surprise his tongue had a tiny hole in it to put string through and tape to the side of his cheek. He had this in for a full day or two to make sure his tongue didn’t choke him.
Sebastian right after palate repair surgery
We were there for I think 3 nights, 4 days and used the hospitality of one of the Ronald McDonald Houses they had a few streets down from the hospital. Nick and I switched on and off nights so Sebby wasn’t alone. They give you a room in the house to basically get some sleep in, shower, and provide you with food, etc. This house is more so for families out of state or out of area whose children are undergoing treatments for long periods of time. Staying there really put our situation in perspective. Having a child with a cleft lip and palate is saddening, especially when you never expected it or haven’t gone through something like this before. It is a usually fixable birth defect though. Most families that were staying there and on Sebby’s floor while he was in recovery, were going through much worse situations than us. It doesn’t take away from how I felt, but I am very grateful that he is a healthy baby otherwise. I couldn’t imagine what some families have to endure.
Sebby recovered from this palate repair surgery in believe it or not, one week! The day we left the hospital he drank almost 8oz of his bottle (he wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital until he drank most of a bottle) and was finally smiling again. Of course he wasn’t 100% and was on pain meds around the clock, but the inside of his mouth was healing so well. They say that you really need to keep an eye on the roof of their mouths incase a hole were to reappear. I didn’t see anything alarming though. He was eating solid food not long after that, and then went on his first trip with me to Michigan to visit family and friends.
Sebastian smiling and laughing in my mom’s arms
Sebastian has most of his teeth now including the one where his cleft was (front left tooth). They say cleft babies might not have a tooth where their cleft was or their enamel is really weak on most of their teeth. They also will most likely have to get if not one, but two sets of braces throughout their adolescents depending on how they develop. Cleft babies will most likely have to have speech therapy too. They possibly will have to get tubes put in their ears because they are more prone to ear infections. Thank God, Sebastian hasn’t had that many. Sebby has a whole team of doctors who have since his surgeries checked his teeth, hearing, eye sight, and are ready for him when he begins to talk. He is 18 months now and starting to say words and babble sentences. I can’t really tell yet if he’ll need speech therapy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. He also might get some cosmetic plastic surgery when he’s older, but for now that is a distant thought. These are all things that are fixable and Nick and I will be there for him through it all as he gets older.
Sebastian in Michigan a few weeks post palate repair
Sebby is the strongest little guy I know and he’ll always be perfect in my eyes. He’s always been such a good baby (people tell me this all the time too) and so happy. Through it all, this has been such a humbling experience for me and has shined a positive light on medicine and appreciation for family. I thank God for blessing me with this life and it’s obstacles, the amazing people I’ve met along the way, and the friendships it’s created. Nick and I are excited to see what life has in store for our little boy. He now has nothing holding him back from doing anything he wants to achieve in life.
Thank you so much for this post! I don’t know exactly how I stumbled upon your blog but I am glad that I did! I also live in the Tampa Bay area. I am 34 weeks pregnant with my 4th child. Back in July at a 3D/4D ultrasound I realized that my son’s face/mouth area looked odd. I knew right away it was a cleft lip. We have another ultrasound next week to determine if it is his palate too. Before this, I never realized how common a cleft lip or cleft lip/palate combo until going through this journey (that hasn’t really even started yet) on my own…Your blog gives me hope that everything will work out and be okay. Thank you!