My husband Nate and I feel like we are the luckiest parents in the world. A year ago, we found out that a birthmother had picked us to be the parents of a sweet little boy. We had just over three weeks to prepare for Elijah’s birth and to learn all about caring for a newborn with a cleft lip and palate. Those weeks were exciting, but the cleft research was overwhelming. I learned about naso-alveolar mold-ing (NAM). NAM is a pre-surgical treatment done in the first 4-5 months prior to the lip/nose repair through a molded device with weekly adjustments by craniofacial orthodontists. I was excited to learn how much NAM helped shape the gumline and nose prior to surgery, which would ultimately be to Elijah’s benefit in the long run. However, my heart sunk when I found out no one in Indiana could do NAM. I contacted Margy at NYU’s Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery (IRPS) to find out where else we could go near home, and then everything changed for us. She put us in touch with Carolyn Spector at myFace who gave us the exciting opportunity to fly back and forth weekly to receive NAM for Elijah at IRPS. Not only was NAM going to be available to us now, but we were going to get it from the team that invented it and had the most experience! Carolyn explained that Southwest Airlines generously provided vouchers to my-Face, and myFace used them to allow families such as ours to have access to the best craniofacial team.
Our experience traveling weekly from Indianapolis to NY and back in one day with a newborn for 5 months was incredibly challenging, and yet one of the best experiences of my life. When we were overwhelmed, tired, and cranky, the IRPS and myFace staff would bring us so much peace and encouragement. They cared for us above and beyond your average or even above average medical team. They truly became a family to us and carried us through those difficult trips. The generosity of myFace and Southwest to provide flight vouchers, not just for me but also for an extra travel companion. feels so undeserved even today. We are so very grateful to them and to IRPS for taking us under their wings. At 10 months, Elijah has now undergone two surgeries by IRPS’s Dr. Roberto Flores who, at the time of Elijah’s surgeries, was in Indianapolis. Elijah had a beautiful face before NAM and his surgeries and has a beautiful face now. Not many parents get to fall in love with their baby’s new face more than once, but we did thanks to the amazing collaboration of IRPS, Dr. Flores, myFace, and Southwest.