A Nebraska couple in their 24th week of pregnancy learned their son had a cleft lip and likely a cleft palate, but chose to continue the pregnancy. Since then, they’ve cataloged their son’s health journey on a blog and Instagram, to help others learn about the condition.
Sara Heller, 26, and partner Chris Eidam, 30, of Omaha, welcomed baby Brody William on Oct. 7, 2016. Brody was born with a cleft lip and palate and a rare deletion of chromosome 9 that may cause significant intellectual and physical disabilities.
Every day, the couple posted pictures of their son on Facebook until one comment caught them off guard: “What’s wrong with your son’s face?”
"He's three months old and being bullied?" Heller told WOWT. She responded by attaching a link to an explanation of what a cleft palate was. "My job as his parent and his advocate is to tell his story,” she told the news channel.
Shortly after the incident, Heller was out at dinner with friends when their server brought them a gift from another table— a check with “For your beautiful baby” written on the memo line.
On Jan. 3, Brody had his second lip surgery and is healing well, Today.com reported. He requires a gastrointestinal tube to receive nutrition, as eating is a challenge and will require surgery to repair his palate when he’s between nine and 12 months old.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year about 2,650 babies are born with a cleft palate and 4,440 babies are born with a cleft lip or without a cleft palate.