Little One’s cleft palate repair

What a lot can change in a matter of days!
We left state last Thursday and arrived at The Ronald McDonald House for a night. I just can’t get over how incredible that place is and what they provide for families. I had no idea until I became a parent in need of a place to stay. I purposely am not posting my pictures from our time there, so that it will remind me to share more later. We were there on the evening of July 4th. Driving there I was bummed to be missing all the holiday celebrations with my family, turns out that was the exact place I needed to be before this surgery.

We ate good…and they passed out popsicles to the kids. Little One attempted to taste one. She chose blue, which quite nicely went with her outfit.

After being in the car for 4 hours, she was ready to explore and climb. So we did…a lot.

Shortly after we arrived, we met another mom who was there with two of her kids. Both of her kids had been adopted from China and her son previously had a cleft lip and palate. Being older, he was several surgeries ahead of us so I quickly took the chance to ask her some questions. I was so nervous about the palate repair surgery the next day. Anyway, through the course of conversation I eventually realized she was the mom I had met in a yahoo group about a year ago. THE MOM that had originally referred us to our surgeon. We love our surgeon – he has been incredibly perfect for our family and our daughter. I had lost contact with this mom several months ago due to some email issues. What a gift…to be there the night before surgery with her. God used her to calm my anxious heart.

I didn’t sleep much that night. I tried. But I couldn’t.

Morning came fast. Or slow. I’m not sure.

Surgery wasn’t scheduled until 1:30pm and Little One hadn’t ate since the night before. If you’ve ever tried to keep a 2 year old from eating for that long – you know how horrendous it can be to have to keep telling your child “no”. We tried lots of distraction. She did so amazingly well. Miraculously well.

Eventually it was time to get her gown on and prepare to be called back. We waited some more. Then we made 5 million circles around the floor with the wagon.

Then we were told it was time.

Oh, wait…sorry the surgery has been delayed longer.

She was such a trooper. This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip. This girl is amazing.

Surgery ended up being delayed nearly 2 hours. Eventually, we found ourselves in the waiting room. My sweet friend Emily brought us coffee and flowers. And we waited. Then all of the sudden (much sooner than anticipated) her surgeon arrived in the waiting room. Surgery was over. Went smoothly and perfectly. We could go to recovery to see her.

They asked if I wanted to carry her to her room or sit her in the crib. I wasn’t letting her out of my arms.

It is hard to put into words what her surgeon did. She left my arms that morning with a cleft palate – a complete opening in the roof of her mouth from her gum line to her throat. He gave her a palate – a roof to her mouth. The inside of her mouth is gnarly and looks so very painful to me. It puts the pain of teething into a whole new perspective….though she is also cutting two teeth right now too.

It was a long, restless first night. Then she woke up perky and with a slight smile. This girl – a fighter. A warrior. A brave, tough tiny thing. The doctors needed to see that she could swallow before she could be released from the hospital. Many patients stay several days in the hospital after this surgery. By Saturday morning she had already drank 3 smoothies. We were released before lunch on Saturday. So shocking – in the best way.

She got home in time for stories from her brothers and woke up Sunday morning to celebrate her big sister’s birthday! Siblings really are the very best medicine for recovery.

She is doing so well. Far better than I would if I had just endured that surgery! We are making sure she is getting all she needs to handle the pain and heal. She’s not back to herself – but we are shocked at how well she is already doing. As long as her siblings are nearby, she stays pretty content. If they leave…well, that is a different story.

I do want to point out – because I know some people will read this post just for info about cleft palate surgeries – our doctor is a little ‘against the grain’. Chris and I joke that he is the ‘rogue’ surgeon. The nurses at the hospital all seem to really like working with him, and they also comment about how he does things totally differently than others. His philosophies on post-surgery care and even some surgical stuff isn’t necessarily the common approach. Many surgeons handle the post-surgery care very differently with a lot more constraints. I am not going to get into all the reasons why we chose him or why his approach works for us. I am not saying one way is better than the other – I just want to point out that every cleft palate surgery and surgeon is different. We found a surgeon that we are so pleased with and thankful he will be guiding our family through years of surgeries. I would highly recommend him to anyone remotely near the Dallas area needing a craniofacial surgeon. I can’t imagine using anyone else. Ultimately though, I recommend that families find surgeons that are a good fit for their family.

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  • Samantha - Oh – PRAISE to the DOer of miracles! Thank you for sharing with us! Love & blessings & more miracles for you, dear one!

  • ari - So wonderful. God is good to make even the toughest things a little brighter. You are right, your little one is a fighter.
    I am curious about another topic…does she talk a lot? I have wondered for a while if she is picking up English easily.

  • Lisa Efaw - Praise God for a surgeon that can fix such a difficult problem. Praise God you all were pointed to him. Thank you for posting. I will continue to pray for Little One’s recovery!

  • Sharon @ Discovering Blog - Thank you for sharing this with us. She is so beautiful, and I’m gald she is recovering so well. I hope you are able to breathe, too.

  • Danielle - I am so glad it went well!

  • Amy Cornwell - I’m so happy that she’s done so well. Thank you for sharing your journey with us and allowing us to come alongside you all in prayer. God is so good! Hugs!

  • Patti - I am happy that everything went well. She is such a little trooper. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  • Carrie - Well done Little One, so brave…sending love to you all

  • Erin - Dear Ashley and Family–so glad you are all doing so well this quickly after surgery! May God continue to bless you all. Thanks for having the courage and dedication to share your life with all of us. I am grateful for your blog. Sending lots of love and prayers!

  • anne c - praise Jesus! prayer works and we are all praying for Little One and your family! You continue to be a positive influence on all of us…and I know that is because you allow Jesus to work through you. praying for a quick healing and peaceful week!

  • creole wisdom - So good to hear it all went well. She is a trooper. So are you. Sending you more prayers for a speedy recovery!

  • Celia - Oh how happy we all are to see that sweet girl doing so well!!! The Lord has answered your and all of our prayers so far. 🙂 Thank you for sharing these photos and how she is doing. She sounds so incredibly strong!!!

  • RobyGiup - Poor dear little girl! My heart tightens every time I read of her surgeries. She’s great… and you too… she has been so lucky to find a family like yours!
    A big hug to you all and one bigger to Little One!

  • Leah bunger - Thank you for sharing this as it was a great encouragement to me as my son (almost 2) was born with a craniofacial disorder, metopic craniosynostosis. He had a major surgery at 7 mo which was overwhelming for us but God was faithful and he had a quick recovery, we just found out he will possibly need another corrective surgery which was disappointing to hear. How resilient these little ones are. She is an inspiration to us!

  • Jacci in Ohio - So, so thankful, Ashley. And still prayerful. The Lord put LO on my mind and lips first thing this morning. She even made a cameo in a dream, lol. Putting little notes with her name around the house today as constant reminders 🙂

  • Emily - So glad to hear!!! It always amazes me how resilient kids are! She couldn’t be any cuter!

  • Sara W - Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!

  • Jennifer in San Antonio - SO Happy to hear that everything went smoothly. Praying Little One’s recovery continues going so well.

  • SueB - Great post. Little One is so very adorable. Prayers, now for healing.

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - So happy that all went well. I love seeing the Lord’s sovereign care in your lives. He is good!

  • Jenny - So glad to see that she is doing so well! And what a blessing to meet this mom! I just LOVE how God does these things for His children. Oh how He love us! 🙂

  • carrie - Praise the Lord! You are on the other side now!

  • Jeni - I’m so glad she is doing so well!!!

    I have been following your blog since we started our adoption process last August. Thank you for all your posts! We are getting ready to travel next month to pick up our two girls, one with a cleft palate. I’d love to get the name of your craniofacial Dr. as we are in the Dallas area and will be needing to set up some appointments soon. 🙂

  • Sarah T - So glad to hear things have gone better than expected! Thank you God!

  • Robyn - I didn’t realize you guys were in the Dallas area for the surgery! We live in Dallas – we would’ve gladly brought you dinner, coffee, whatever you needed at any time! My 4-year old has been through several major surgeries on his arm for a brachial plexus injury at birth – nothing is as nerve-wracking as your child being wheeled away from you for surgery. So glad your stay was short!

  • Jami - Little One!! You are amazing… and you help me feel brave!

    I’m so glad the surgery went well. Finding your blog has been an incredible blessing.

    Love from Texas.

  • Natalie F. - Wow! How is she doing so well so quickly? That’s incredible! She is a tough little girl. And I would have been pretty cranky to not get any food for that long so she probably handled that better than most adults. What a brave little girl!

  • Tammia - So happy to read that everything went well. Your note at the end with the advice to find a surgeon who “fits best” with your family is such great/true advice. We were recommended to a surgeon at a well-respected institution…but the treatment plan was vastly different than I expected and my mama’s intuition told me to keep searching. We did and we found a surgeon/hospital/city we all love. It makes all the difference.
    Best of luck to you all with Little One’s recovery. Resilience is amazing.

  • Jenni - Soo glad it went well! Her brother reading to her! Ahh! Just killer!!

  • Sarah Wolfe - So glad she is doing great!!! What a strong little girl!

  • Casey - I’m so glad her surgery went good and she is doing well!

    I have to agree about the Ronald McDonald House. Years ago, I found a woman online staying in the one in our city, she needed some baby things that I gave to her. While I was there, I saw how amazing it was. I now routinely ask if they need help or anyone staying there does. It’s a great place.

  • Kirsten J - So many small blessings! My 13 yo daughter and I read a few blogs together at bedtime, and yours has been one of those for so long….I think since Firecracker was in the hospital? Nowadays she asks me, “how is Little One doing?” We are relieved that she is doing so well. Kids are amazing healers, and I’m sure being home with her family is the best medicine. And dude, that picture of you carrying her down the hall? Wow.

  • Lori - Awwwww. How awesome of you to meet up with that MOM again? God is so fun sometimes. He lets us know HE is in control. Love you. Love Her. Love the whole fam! So many sweet pics of her in this post. She is just a little doll.

  • Ashley - She must get her bravery from you! Glad everything went well!

  • Victoria - I’m so relieved for you and your family. I cannot imagine the sort of stress involved in every part of that procedure for you guys, and I’m so happy it seems to have gone as smoothly as possible. Here’s to a quick healing for your little one!

  • Sam Y - So glad to hear surgery went well! Little One is such a trooper. I’ll be praying for you guys and thank you so much for sharing!

  • alison - God is so good. I am so thankful that your little one is doing well. xo

  • Jenny B. - So thankful all is going even better than expected.

  • Jessica P - She is so precious! I’m so glad you posted updates. We’ll continue praying for a full and speedy recovery!

  • kelli - Praise the Lord! So glad it went well, and that Little One is recovering so beautifully! She is a trooper! I know we don’t know each other, but my daughter is a couple months younger than Little One, and we live in Dallas. If y’all ever want to get together when you are here, or if you ever need anything at all, we would love to meet up!

  • kristin - I follow you on Instagram and I had been keeping up with your weekend…. so I’m not sure why reading this post brought me to (happy) tears!? What a Wonder Woman… appears the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 😉 Bloom where planted, little one. Bloom, thrive, flourish….

  • amber - I love that. God is so great. What a tremendous answer to prayer. I love when He’s so obviously involved:). So glad she’s doing so well; although, I’m sure it’s no walk in the park. Wish I could give that sweet baby a big squish!! Thanks for sharing…

  • MG - Oh happy days! this as many of your posts brings tears to my eyes. such a long time to make a little one go without food! Your girl is amazing!

  • elizabeth H - SO very grateful Little One is doing so well!
    SO happy for Firecracker … the years are flying by!
    SO blessed beyond words to know how true “siblings are the best medicine”

    God is SO, SO good!!

  • Dharlia - I cried upon reading this beautiful post. She is so brave, you are so brave. Thank you for sharing Little One and your amazing journey.

  • Angela B. - I’m so thankful!! I prayed for you all.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Do you wonder – did He use her love and familiarity of smoothies to get her swallowing faster? 🙂 It’s those little things that make my brain happy.

  • Phanie - PRAISE GOD!!!!!!

    your posts bring so much life into my heart.
    i am so glad (though not entirely surprised) that she is such a trooper.

    keeping you in my thoughts and praying for a fast and easy recovery!

    fave photo is the black and white of her and her lambie <3

    take care

    xoxo Phanie

  • anon, all the way in Switzerland! - Not sure how I came accross your blog, it was some time ago but your kids/lifetyle/photos appeal and reflect me in some way which keeps bringing me back to find out how you’re all doing and I’m so relieved to hear about your little one. Sending you all good healing vibes! Much love.

  • nerea - i’s amazing how you make us all feel as part of you family, and be worried and happy for this brave little princess. Congratulations for such a lovely family, and thank you for sharing your love and the way you see life!

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - What a wonderful story about the woman you met! That is totally great that God wanted to help calm your heart a bit!!! I am glad that things went well!

  • Kate - Go little one 🙂 I’ve been following your journey from scotland and am cheering you all on from across the pond. I lived in ok for a while over ten years ago and loved it. So different to where I’m from but you realise that everyone’s really the same 🙂

  • Terisa - crying tears of joy and celebration! thank you for sharing this intimate moment. You are making God FAMOUS!!!

  • Cassie - Oh mama, I remember not being able to feed our two week old little baby for 12 hours before he had brain surgery, it was awful! So glad to hear it went so well!

  • Jessica - So glad her surgery went so smoothly!! What a joy to have her home so soon!

  • Marci - Holy cow she is cute! I just want to squeeze her! Give her one for me. 🙂 Love that 3rd black & white…so precious!!

  • Emily - I just wanted to say “thank you” so much for documenting your journey through adoption, to China, and home with surgeries and recovery. My husband and I travel in March to get our little boy, Kreede Zhi. He has a cleft lip and palate and I am so anxious about the future. I am also nervous about leaving a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 2 year old home for 16 days! I feel connected knowing we are sharing in this journey. Thank you for your openness, for sharing your heart and for comforting mine.

  • Keri - Can you send me your doctor’s info? We are from the Austin area and don’t have much choice in cleft surgeons. I’ve been considering another doctor and would love to hear more info about this “rogue” perspective as it sounds right up my alley. 🙂

  • Megan - I’m remotely near the Dallas area and would really love his info. I know I’m commenting on a really old post, so I’m hoping you’ll see it. Thanks. 🙂