Falling in Love With a Smile {Birth Defect Awareness}

Finding out I was pregnant was the best thing that has ever happened to me! It’s an emotion you can not explain. I think I took eleven tests I was so shocked! We immediately started thinking of names, nursery ideas, all the fun and exciting thing that come with the excitement of pregnancy. We found out the sex with early blood work we did at the first trimester screening that was offered to us. It was a girl, and her name would be Adley!

I had lots of morning sickness early on, as well as a terrible stomach virus at nine weeks and a sinus infection at 18 weeks. But other than that, my pregnancy went smooth. I am one of those super happy pregnant women, and I loved every minute of being pregnant! We went in for our 20 week ultrasound and anatomy scan and everything was great. At the end, my doctor had asked me to do another ultrasound in four weeks because she didn’t get a good look at my daughter’s face because she was sucking on her hands the whole time. I said, “Sure. Why not? I love ultrasounds!”

Four weeks later, I was headed to the doctor with my grandmother since my husband had an important meeting to be at for work. I laid there on the table watching the screen as my doctor kept looking carefully. My doctor is a very sweet lady. She kept calm through the whole thing, and I never thought she was going to say what she was about to say. I remember her words – “Brittany, I am pretty sure your daughter is going to be born with a cleft lip. I would like to send you for a more in-depth ultrasound to make sure though.”

My heart sank! I did really well for about 2 minutes, and then the water works were on. I cried my little heart out. I remember thinking how was I going to walk out of this building and hold it together. After that, the next few days were pretty much a blur. I called the maternal fetal medicine doctor five times trying to get an appointment in. Of course, they could not see me for three weeks which kept my brain working.

I Googled {which was horrible}, I researched, I had a small book of questions I took with me. I was ready, but I kept remembering my doctor only said she was pretty sure. She was only 90% sure. What if we are that 10%, and I am stressing over nothing? I also read online that a cleft lip can be markers for other syndromes. So I then started to worry if there would be anything else that we were not prepared for.

Well, the day finally came! We got to meet with the maternal fetal medicine doctor. The ultrasound they did measured everything you can think of. When she got to my daughter’s face, from all the research I had done, I immediately spotted the cleft. It was there! We were not that 10%. She would be born with a cleft. Now I had to get it together so I could ask this small book of questions I had.

The doctor walked in and confirmed that what my doctor had seen was right – Adley would be born with a bilateral cleft lip, and because it went as high as it did in her nose, she was 90% sure that it would also involve her palate. I started bombarding the poor lady with questions. She told me that she could unfortunately not answer many of them though. I would need to meet with a cleft team, and they should be able to answer the questions for me. Well to say the least, I was not going to play the waiting game again. She told me the team would contact me to set up an appointment, but I called the team on my own before I left the parking lot. I spoke with our team coordinator and set up an appointment for two weeks later. I also called another team, but I was kind of getting the run around from them. So after we met with our team at Children’s Memorial Hermann, I knew we had the perfect team for our little girl who would be here in a matter of weeks. They answered all of my questions, they showed me pictures of the surgeon’s work, and they explain my daughter’s cleft a little further to me. When I left that office, I felt prepared. I was ready, and I was going to face this head on…and I knew I could conquer anything I set my mind to!

My daughter arrived a few weeks later, and she was perfect! All the worrying, stressing, and crying I had done was for nothing because this little girl stole my heart the moment she was handed to me. She was a healthy 8lb 5oz beautiful little girl who just happened to have a cleft lip and palate. Little did I know, I was going to fall in love with that big cleft smile and miss it everyday!


Dr. Teichgraeber at the Texas Cleft Team and Dr. Acharya at the UT Dental School helped us through the first five months Adley’s life using a device called the NAM which helped move her lips into the right place for surgery. At five months, they did surgery to repair her lips. Then, at 11 months, she had surgery to repair her palate. She still has surgeries ahead, but we are currently done until she is around five!


I have met an amazing online support system and a Facebook group along the way. In this group, I have made friends that will last a lifetime. I have also helped some amazing families too. Chris Myers, our very own Houston Texans center, and his wife Jenny delivered a cleft baby named Keane last year, and they have been amazing in helping raise awareness for cleft affected families. It is a very common birth defect as 1 in every 700 babies are born with a cleft each year. With over 400,000 babies being born in Texas each year, that means about 571 kids are born with a cleft in Texas alone each year. It is unknown what causes a cleft. Some are genetic while some are not, but in our case there was no family history on either side of anyone with a cleft. I have documented our journey in my own blog, and I welcome you to come read more.

Today Houston Moms Blog is dedicated to spreading awareness about birth defects, and Aria’s story is just one of many that we plan to share with all of you.  Please join us as real local moms open up and tell the stories of their little miracles all throughout the day.  Our hope is that we can open the eyes and open the hearts of the moms in our community and that our little fighters will become the brave faces of birth defects here in Houston.  To read more, please click here.

[hr] BioAbout Brittany N.

Brittany is a mother and wife, and she feels the dear Lord chose her to be a Cleft Mom for a reason.  She says it has changed her life for the better, and it has become her passion to help other moms with cleft affected children. She welcomes anyone to contact her at [email protected] for any cleft help, and she promises to try her best to assist.



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