Within 5 days of each other two newborns with cleft lips and palates were admitted to the Children’s hospital. You have followed the story of one of them. Let me tell you a bit more about the other one.
A week ago I was called by an obstetrician that he delivered a girl with a cleft lip and palate by C-Section. I told him I would see the family first thing Monday morning. However, that morning there were no relatives around and I didn't want to break the news to the mother (on the maternity ward) without a support structure around her. You see, she had not yet seen her child and no one had mentioned the defect to her. Finally on Wednesday, the father and aunty came while I was at the hospital. I talked to them first. They had seen the child right after birth and already accepted the child as theirs. The next step was to tell the mother. She is only 16 and this is her first child. Obviously, she was heartbroken. It was a difficult conversation but we tried to encourage her. I saw her again on Thursday on the maternity ward. She smiled and I sat with her for ten minutes. We talked. She was still unsure.
On Friday, I met with the first family, with the little boy who was almost rejected. I had taken them to the Special Care to weigh the little boy. It just so happened that the 16-year-old mom was also in the Special Care unit. So, the moms had the opportunity to meet and, for about 30 minutes, we all sat there and talked. The little baby boy and the little baby girl, both with cleft lips and palates, were there, side by side. One already accepted by his parents, the other one still waiting for acceptance from his mom. I was hoping that this would bring her one step closer.
A few hours later, the family told me that the little girl had been discharged. I asked them to come back on Monday to see me. The other family was also due to come back. These children need good follow-up.
However, today, this little girl’s father called me. He had clearly accepted his daughter and sounded very concerned. She had a fever. I told them to go back to the hospital, which they did. He then called me to say they hadn't been seen yet. I told them exactly what to do. A few hours later he called me and said that she was being treated. Sadly, at 22:30 this evening my phone rang again. It was her father and right away I knew what he was going to tell me. His little girl died only minutes earlier. He is heartbroken. The mother is in shock. Tragic. A very young couple trying to accept a child into their lives with a very stigmatized defect, only to lose her a week later. My heart breaks for this family. I am at a loss for words. I still hope to see them on Monday and pray that I can offer some kind of encouragement and hope to them.