Living with Cleft Lip and Palate, Pablo

Pablo’s Story – Written by his mom, Michele

Pablo as an infant and young child

Pablo was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate.  He is a brave and strong little boy who is growing into a wonderful role model for other kids with this condition.  His mom, Belen, shares Pablo’s story below.

Pablo is a bundle of energy. He can spend hours with his Legos, and he is a proud Cub Scout. He loves video games, bike riding, and taking care of his dog. In school, his favorite classes are P.E. and math. He has a really fun personality—at the start of the new school year he said he was only going to speak Spanish in class so that the teacher would not give him homework. As you can guess, that did not work. He can be mischievous, too. Once he brought home a book from the school’s library titled How to Drive your Sister Crazy. And even though he teases his big sister, he believes she knows everything and is always asking her to explain things to him.

As much as he is like any other boy, Pablo is also different. He was born with a cleft lip and palate. During my pregnancy, I had a hunch the baby in my belly was a boy and that he had a disability. Still, it was hard to hear that news. While still pregnant, I had to see many specialists and received so much information that overwhelmed and depressed me.

Many people believe that kids like Pablo only need plastic surgeries to be okay. Depending on the severity of the cleft, these kids see other specialists too. In Pablo’s case, we started with an occupational therapist and a speech therapist (who he still sees weekly). We also meet with a speech pathologist regularly as well as an ear, nose, and throat doctor, a dentist, an orthodontist, and a plastic surgeon. By the age of five, Pablo had multiple ear tube surgeries and dental procedures that required him to be put asleep. When he was younger, it was his constant earaches that worried me the most, but now it is the orthodontic work. He is brave and strong, but at his age, he does not accept all medical procedures and treatments well. And when he feels frustrated and in pain, he often blames me. But, he is also starting to understand that all of his wonderful doctors want the best for him. That part makes me happy. He is starting to ask doctors questions, and he is starting to ask about options. I know that one day he will be a wonderful role model for other kids with cleft lip and palate. And I love watching him grow and foreseeing the man he will become.