Like Mother, Like Daughter

Alexis GiannattasioAdult, Community Stories, Family Stories, Teen

My name is Amber Schmotzer and I was born with cleft palate, as well as my mom. I wrote this story because my school has a class called Grad Project and I did my project on Cleft Palate. I wanted to bring awareness and educate my classmates on this topic. I wrote it from the perspective of someone who interviewed my mother.

Anna Schmotzer was born with cleft palate and didn’t get surgery until the age of 2. Doctors gave notice to her mother right away and kept them there for roughly 2 weeks. Since she was 2 years old when she received her surgery, there were many complications before and after. From the day Anna received her surgery, she had to go to speech therapy for a long time. She was 19 years of age when she stopped going to her speech therapist. Although Anna had a long road of a successful recovery, her doctors wanted her to get a second surgery. Due to getting the surgery done so late, her tongue formed differently than most people. Years later after Anna recovered and prepared to have a child, doctors warned her that because she had a cleft palate, it may pass down to her offspring.

After Anna had her first child without any complications, they were ready to expand the family. Anna had her second child five years after having her first. She went into labor on June 11, 2001, and was told by doctors that everything was fine, and there were no complications. As she began trying to nurse her daughter, she couldn’t get her to latch on. She thought that it was something little and after two days of being in the hospital, Anna, her husband, and their baby were sent home. The first day of being home with their child, Anna again realized she couldn’t feed her baby. She called her brother-in-law and asked if he could come over since her husband, Randy, was back at work. Once Anna’s brother-in-law walked in, she asked if he noticed anything. After looking at her daughter for a while, her brother-in-law noticed the gaping hole in the roof of his niece’s mouth. Immediately, Anna called the hospital and Randy and they rushed over to the hospital for answers–a mother and father, both angry at doctors and concerned for their newborn baby. They received the news that their daughter was born with cleft palate and they were going to do everything in their power to fix it.

After 10 months of hospital visits, doctors received the okay to go into surgery. Although the surgery was a success, Amber, Anna’s daughter, had a long road of recovery still to come. Her daughter had to receive her first set of tubes at a very young age. The tubes fell out after a year and then her second set of tubes were put in directly after. After having two sets of tubes, she received one last set and then she was good to go without them.

During Amber’s recovery, getting braces was next on the agenda. Anna’s daughter had several teeth that were out of place. She received braces at the age of 11 in her 6th-grade year and they didn’t come off until the end of 10th grade. Although the process was difficult, it had its perks. Due to Anna’s child having a cleft palate, her insurance paid for everything. Having a child with cleft palate wasn’t an easy process, but it was a blessing to have all the medical enhancements at the time.