Texas Baby Born With Cleft Palate Can Smile for the First Time

A Texas baby born with a cleft palate can now smile for the first time.

It was the silence that gripped Sara Martin's attention. Doctors had just pulled her second son, Cameron, from her womb, via cesarean section, and the delivery room became hauntingly quiet.

Just minutes before, the first of her twins, Jack, was held up and every one smiled. But when her second boy was held up, "I just knew something was wrong," said Sara. "Because his face, it just didn't look like Jack's."

"It was just a blur," the mother said. "The doctors whispering above me, and I was just like, 'What's wrong? What's going on?' It took them a while, but the was like, 'It's OK, he has a bilateral cleft lip and palate. He'll be OK.'''

But Cameron wasn't OK. His gums, lips and upper jaw were split. He couldn't suckle and had to be fed with a special bottle. But this summer, in a grueling, five-hour surgery, physicians were able to rebuild his mouth and lip.

“It was really hard to hand him over for surgery," said his dad, Matt. "When the nurses gave him back, he was screaming. They had him on morphine and his face was swollen and bruised and bloody. It was like we had been given back a different baby."

But after the stitches healed, Cam could smile for the first time in his very young life.

“Sara was changing his diaper and I was watching TV," the new father recounted. "She started screaming, ‘Come in here, he’s smiling!’ I rushed in. I couldn’t believe it. In my darkest moments, I thought I’d never see him smile with a healed top lip but here he was, beaming at me.” 

Sara says Cam is much better now. "He’s the happiest baby!  He just talks and talks! He has the biggest smile," she said. "He eats so much better now. It’s so much better for him and he’s just so less frustrated now." 

Gesturing toward Jack, she added: "He’s catching up with big boy here and he’s doing awesome."