A New Face
On the day of the operation, Jenny and Brad sat nervously in the hospital's waiting room as Dr. Sloan closed the gap in Reece's lip, a three-hour procedure. When the couple saw their son for the first time afterward, they felt both joy and sadness. "We were so overcome by the fact that his face looked different," Brad recalls. "Don't get me wrong -- it was beautiful. But even though we knew we couldn't keep it like it was when he was born, we still loved that face."
Of course, they loved his new face, too -- and as soon as his stitches came out, Jenny documented it with another set of portraits, which hang side by side with his preoperative photos in the couple's home.
Even with one operation behind them, Jenny and Brad still had to deal with a series of medical problems related to Reece's cleft. He had reflux (frequent spitting up after eating), a problem that sometimes occurs in babies with clefts, probably because they swallow so much air. He also had repeated ear infections, stemming from the abnormal positioning of his eustachian tubes in his malformed palate.
But in every other way, Reece was just like any other infant, smiling and learning to roll over and sit up. By Christmas, he was even eating solid food. In July 1999, Dr. Sloan closed the hole in the roof of Reece's mouth with another successful three-hour operation.