One Of This Month's Featured Families!
November 2002

Mom Pauline - Unilateral Cleft Lip
Daughter Marissa - Unilteral Cleft Lip and Palate
Son Bryson - Bilateral Cleft lip and Palate
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
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Hello!  My name is Pauline Calley, I live in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, but my real home is in Florida with all our family.  I have been married to my husband for 12 Years.

We have three beautiful children...Marissa is 11 years old, Sierra is 6, and Bryson is 4.  We are really blessed with these wonderful children!

I am 36 years old I am the youngest of the five children in my family and the only one that was born with a cleft lip.  The right side of my nose was just flat, but my palate was fully intact.
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I went through quite a few surgeries for repair.  Most were done at UCLA Hospital in California; however, the last sugery was done when I was 16 when I lived in England.  I am really pleased with all the operations I had and the work they did on me.  They just tried all different kinds of things on me, for instance taking a piece of one of my rib bones and putting it up in my gum line.  Not even a year later, it started cutting though my gums like a tooth was coming through and they ended up having to take it out.  I guess that just wasn't meant to be, but I have a nice scar under my arm as a reminder!  That's okay...any thing to help me!  They also took some tissue from behind one of my ears and used it to build up my nose (thank goodness that one stayed!).
I was a very quiet child, shy and afraid to talk to my parents about my cleft lip. I never knew too much about it . I was afraid I guess to talk to my parents because I didn't want them to feel bad for me.  The things I wanted to talk to them about was...why me ? Why not my sisters or my brother?  Why are the kids at school so mean to me?  How do I deal with these kids?  But I never did go to my parents with these questions and I'm not quite sure why I didn't.  I was a sensitive child, so I think I was afraid to show my emotions about the situation. I sure wish I could go back in time and confront my parents because I know it would have helped me alot with my self-esteem and with my education.

I know for a fact that my education was hurt real bad over my emotions.  I was always worried about things like...Is someone looking at me...Who will be the next one to come up to me and say "Eww, what is wrong with your nose and lip."  I was always tired explaining what was wrong with me, and honestly I had no idea what was wrong with me except I had a cleft lip and then they would say "What's that?"  Well  I would just tell them I was born like this (and not want to get into it  with them).  I don't blame my parents at all because they were always there for me.  But they had no idea about what happened in school.  After school, I would put on a front and come though the door with a big smile on my face and pretend the day went great.

Well elementary school was hard, but middle school seemed to be easier.  I seemed to be alot stronger with my feelings and could handle it much better.  Then on through my adult life I have done just fine, my self-esteem got stronger and stronger.
I never had problems as a teen getting boyfriends  They were great and they seem to look right past anything that was different about me, which I was so happy about!  Especially my husband David.  He made me feel real comfortable dating and he was probably the first one ever who never asked me what was wrong with my lip or nose.  He made me feel pretty because he never asked me; I don't know if that sounds strange, but the reason is, every time someone would ask me, I would feel down and very ugly and it would remind me of the dreaded elementary days.

Well after a few months of dating, I think I brought it up to him and explained the whole cleft lip thing and it felt great for telling the story before someone asked!  Anyway, I love my husband so much for loving me for who I am and seeing the real me!  We dated for a year and then we were married in 1990.
A year later we recieved  the most wonderful gift of life...our daughter Marissa was born!

Marissa was born with a unilateral cleft.  She was a beautiful baby. She had most of her surgeries done in Gainesville, Florida.  What a great team of doctors they had there!  What a great job they did on her!

Her last surgery was performed in Salt Lake City, where she had a bone graph to her gum line.  That was a hard one, right up there with the first surgery!  The cleft palate team here in Tulsa wants to wait until she becomes a teen when her face is fully grown to do any touch ups that should be done.

Marissa is now 11 years old, and what a stong girl she is!  She has lots of self-
esteem and she really knows how to handle tough situations when it comes to being teased at school or being asked over and over what is wrong with her nose and lip.  She is not embarrassed at all to let them know, BUT she does get tired of telling the same story over and over.  Marissa is the type of girl that I wished I was like when I was her age.  I am so so proud of her!

Sierra is my second child, and is now six years old.  She did not have  problems at all when she was born, which has got me wondering why??  Why the two other kids and not her?  She even asked me that same question...I kinda chuckeled and said well one of you had to look like your Dad!
My third child, my son Bryson, has just celebrated his fourth birthday.  Bryson was born with a bilateral cleft.  His nose is perfect, though his palate needed repair.  He has had two surgeries since he was born, the lip repair and then the palate repair . He only had to have one surgery for his palate, thank goodness.  He is doing great!  He goes to the local elementary school for speech twice a week.  I think I'm the only one that really understands what he is saying most of the time, but each week his speech is improving more and more!  Bryson is a tough little guy.  Definiely a future football player, he is all BOY!
Well, I appreciate being able to tell our story, and I hope you enjoy the pictures.

I just want to say that I thank God every day for the gift he has given us, and I really believe that we were made different for a good reason.  Like my favorite song says...One Day We Will All Have Perfect Wings!

Thank you!


Pauline Calley
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