Conall's Cleft Lip and Palate

Conall, our youngest son, was born October 31, 2002 with a wide unilateral cleft lip and palate. Conall weighed 10lbs, 10oz! Not such a little guy! Over his lifetime, he will have several procedures and surgeries to bring the separated parts of his mouth together. We're using the blog as a place to share our experience with others who are seeking information and, perhaps, some reassurance.

January 04, 2007

Lip Surgery - February 2003

February 26, 2003 - 8:30am Sick Kids Toronto. Mommy takes Conall to check in for his lip/nose repair surgery. Conall had his last bottle of breast milk 4 hours ago. There are so many new people and things to see that he doesn't even notice he's hungry!


Alison, the cleft nurse, weighs and measures Conall before surgery. He doesn't seem to mind!

10:30 am - Conall's anesthetist and surgeon meet with Mommy and Daddy to describe the procedure. Conall will be under general anesthetic for the surgery which should last 3 hours.

Here is the last wide smile we will ever see!

A nurse takes Conall to the operating room.

2:00 pm - Waiting for 3 hours wasn't as difficult as we had thought it would be. Our friend Jane who works at the hospital was a great help and stayed with us the entire time. Finally, Dr. Fisher (plastic surgeon) came into the waiting room to inform us that the surgery was a great success. A half hour later, we go in to see Conall in the recovery room. We may only stay long enough to take a few pictures.

Nothing can prepare you for the first time you see your baby in a recovery room. He looked so helpless. We were very moved by the change in his face. It was easy to see right away that Dr. Fisher had done an amazing job.

3:30 pm - Conall is wheeled up to his room. By this time, there is some bleeding around his mouth and he looks pretty beat up. He will have morphine for the next 24 hours.

Conall wakes in obvious discomfort every so often - Niall finds laying a hand on his chest calms him.

Conall takes his first bottle of breast milk 3 hours post-surgery. He manages six ounces! This is a very good sign.

8:00 pm - It is a bit difficult to get Conall out of bed with his IV, but he seems to really like the rocking chair.

Day 2 - The nurses remove Conall's IV because he is eating so well. We are also told he may go home today. He is looking much better after a good rest. His nose is still a bit misshapen from the surgery, but we are told it will "relax" into shape. His skin is shiny from cream to help where the tapes had been for his mouthpiece. He is discharged later that day

Day 3 - Back at Jane's house in Toronto. Conall is taking tylenol and codeine now, but he seems very happy.

Day 4 - Three days after surgery Conall is looking amazing! He will have his stitches out in 5 days...

What an incredible transformation! Here is Conall over the 4 months of his life:

Day 7- Conall returns to the hospital for his stitches to be removed. Once again, he has to be under anesthetic but only for half an hour. The doctor inserts a "nasal splint" into Conall's nose which is held in place by tapes. The splint will help his nose keep it's shape and should be worn between 3 months and one year*.
* Note: we chose to discontinue the use of Conall's nasal stent after he wore it for just over one month - his skin had had enough of the tape!

Day 35 - Conall's follow-up appointment is held outside the hospital in our Van! All appointments were cancelled in the hospital due to the pneumonia illness (SARS) spreading around the world. Dr. Fisher (with Conall in the car seat) says Conall is doing great and teaches us how to massage the scar.

Conall's palate surgery is scheduled for the following fall.

Click here for the next post about Conall's journey.