Guest Blogger and Author of I See a Smile, Tasha Reinhardt from Cleft Care for Caregivers
Based on True Events
The content is NOT intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your pediatrician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
From One Cleft Mom to Another
When my son Asher was born and we brought him home to meet his big brother I was an emotional wreck. I was so worried that Theo would be scared of his baby brother because he looked different. To my surprise Theo never once pointed out Asher’s cleft, NOT ONCE. Even to this day over a year later! My Mama heart was overwhelmed with joy and relief. Theo didn’t care about differences, he just saw his brother, and he was perfect to him! I knew this was a message I needed to share with other Moms like me. This is how I See A Smile was born. I wanted to provide a resource for siblings, families, and parents of cleft affected babies. Something that touched on the whole first year of a cleft child's life. Including pregnancy, birth, taping, surgery, arm restraints, and recovery!
This book is intended to be a starting point for conversations with family and friends about a child’s birth defect. However, it is also intended to reassure parents that children are so pure, and there is a good chance they won’t even see a difference in their sibling– they may in fact, just see a smile! Oh how I wish I had heard this message while I was pregnant. It’s really all I wanted to hear actually! To know that it would all be okay. So I wanted to give this gift to families who just received the diagnosis of their child’s birth defect. To help provide some peace in a time of overwhelming unknowns.
But my work wasn’t finished. I started an Instagram page to document and share our journey with the goal of giving hope to other cleft families. I was astonished by the overwhelming responses I started getting. People from all over the world started reaching out and saying how Asher’s story had helped them! My inbox was overflowing with questions. Questions about, feeding, lip surgery, recovery, baby led weaning, transitioning to an open cup, palate surgery, and so much more. I started noticing a common denominator. Families were unprepared for surgeries, simply because there is next to no information available! So this was my next mission. Providing practical guides helping families prepare as much as possible for surgeries.
I started working on my first online course targeted at palate surgery. I made a packing list, which includes a CozeeCoo for some extra comfort on your little love's healing journey (this worked wonders for Asher as it was the only way he would sleep after his palate surgery), questions to ask the Doctors prior to surgery, tips on weaning from the bottle, pain management, recovery, including siblings and much more. It was so well received by the cleft community and it felt so good to be helping others prepare for something so daunting. There is a small cost associated with the course to help cover the cost of website fees, however, If a family is facing economic hardship the courses are free. Always. I am also so grateful to have partnered with the amazing cleft charity Smile Train. A percentage of all proceeds from I See A Smile, and my courses through Cleft Care for Caregivers, is donated to Smile Train. This donation helps fund corrective surgeries in 87 countries!I know how overwhelming the cleft diagnosis is. I know nothing about it is easy. But, I also know that God chose us specifically to be these sweet babies parents and there is truly no greater blessing. While I never would have chosen this journey for Asher or our family, I wouldn't have it any other way! Asher has taught us so much through his strength at such a young age is touching people all over the world with his story. Stay strong cleft families! There is such a wonderful community out there full of love and support, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.