Pirate FM News 9 minute read

PHOTOS: Dad of Cornish baby born with cleft lip writes heartfelt poem

PHOTOS: Dad of Cornish baby born with cleft lip writes heartfelt poem

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:21am 11th November 2018.

A Bodmin dad has written an emotional poem, after his little girl was born with a hole in the roof of her mouth and two splits in her top lip.

Luke Howe's daughter Matilda has a bilateral cleft lip and palette, which has been hard for his oldest daughter to understand.

He wishes there was reading material to help Meghan get to grips with complications in her sister's growth and future operations once she was born.

That was his reason for writing the poem, which he now hopes to turn into a children's book.

Luke's aim is to have it appear in information packs given to other families, with the profits going towards SmileTrain.

That is the charity that helps children born with clefts in third world countries get the treatment they need. 

matilda - bilaterla cleft lip and palette
Luke Howe from Bodmin has written a poem after daughter Matilda was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palette.

He told Pirate FM about the moment he and his partner Kath found out at an early scan: 

"We were shocked, it was upsetting to find that there was something wrong because you start blaming yourself. 

"Kath was thinking have I not taken the right tablets and so on but ultimately we threw ourselves into thinking yes the baby will look different but rather than seeing it as a negative we just started thinking a baby is going to be born and that's amazing".

A year before Kath was pregnant with Matilda, she had a miscarriage and Luke added:

"Immediately Meghan's biggest worry about this pregnancy was is this baby going to die too.

"So, when we told her that there was a complication that had been spotted in that early scan it sent Meghan into worry mode.

"She wasn't fazed at all by the idea that Matilda's mouth would look different she just wanted the baby to be born and survive the pregnancy".

matilda 6
Luke's eldest daughter, Meghan, was worried when she found out her younger sister had to have surgery.

Luke describes his daughters as 'absolute angels'.

When Meghan was eagerly anticipating her baby sister's arrival, she had a lot of concerns.

Luke feels she would have benefitted from helpful resources like the information pack he and Kath received. 

"From when I worked in bookshops, I know there are various books available for children for example; whose mum is having another baby, or are the child of two gay parents and there are books which are available when a child is about to be born with down syndrome.

"All of which are clearly fantastic books to be out there but there wasn't one that I'm aware of for children who are about to have a sibling with a cleft lip and palette".

matilda 8
Luke wants to write a book for children expecting a sibling with a cleft lip and palette - to help them understand.

"The moment Matilda was born, the fact that her mouth was slightly different wasn't even something Meg was worried about, she came running in and she picked her up and sat with her and absolutely adored her straight away. 

"It's the fact that she clearly loved her so overwhelmingly from the moment she saw her that she's obviously worried at various points when Matilda has had to go in for her operations.

"Time will tell on that really because Matilda will have more operations when she gets older as her jaw and her mouth grows so it's going to be an ongoing journey for all of us".

Matilda had her lip repaired when she was four months old and six months later, had her palette done too.

matilda - bilaterla cleft lip and palette
Luke describes his daughters as "two peas in a pod, absolutely inseparable."

"Meghan is from a previous marriage so she's with me fifty per cent of the time, as soon as Meghan comes through that front door Matilda goes crazy, she's shrieking her name and running around they are such a lovely pair together.

"They are two peas in a pod, absolutely inseparable.

"On the nights Meghan isn't here I will phone her and try to Facetime Meghan as much as possible so Matilda can sit and talk to her and often Matilda will run off with the phone and will be hiding somewhere talking to Meghan and kissing the screen".

Matilda may need to have speech therapy and even false teeth when she's an adult but Luke said that they're lucky to have received all the support they have from the NHS, "as in other parts of the world children don't have that amazing service".

matilda - bilaterla cleft lip and palette
He plans to raise money to fund the children's book

"One of the strange things about it is when she was born, we were just like 'that's her face' and there was a part of us as we got closer and closer to her having her operation that we didn't want her fact to change because it was a case of this is what her smile is... this lovely big beaming smile.

"Obviously she had to and needed to and you love her no matter what she looks like but you just fall in love with how she was when she was born.

"She's still a beamer she's got a little cheeky pirate smile now".

This is the poem Luke is hoping to turn into a children's book:

The Unusual Smile

By Luke Howe

Our story begins in a small little house
Halfway up a steep hill
It is the story of a lovely family
So listen closely if you will

There were two small rooms at the bottom of the stairs
And two on the second floor
The people that lived there were happy enough
Not needing anything more

There was a Mum and a Dad and a little girl
So really nothing strange
In a very nice and pleasant way
Their lives were about to change

The lady had shoulder length wavy hair
And a big and swollen tummy,
Inside her was a quickly growing baby,
Who would eventually call her Mummy

The baby inside her was different
In a special and intricate way
What this baby would look like
At this point no-one could say

They called their daughter down the stairs
She bounded down in a hurry
They had something important to tell her
But didn’t want her to worry

They sat her down on the sofa
It was old and let out a creak
Daddy smiled at her warmly
Sat next to her and started to speak

“You will be a big sister soon
So you need to carefully prepare,
You will have the important job
Of providing extra special care.”

“Sometimes things can happen
As a baby starts to grow
Our baby has developed in a different way
And it’s important that you know”

The little girl listened carefully
“Will the baby be in pain?”
“There’s nothing to worry about sweetheart,
I’ll try my best to explain”

Daddy repeated the doctor’s words
“She called it a bilateral cleft,
There will be a split on the right of the mouth
And another one just on the left”

“It might look a little different
But it won’t be that way forever
The baby will have an operation
And the doctors are ever so clever”

The little girl thought very carefully
About babies, daddies and mothers
She didn’t mind if the new baby
Was different to all of the others

Time went by in a heartbeat
The little girl wanted to cheer
When the day finally arrived
That the baby would appear.

She ran into the hospital
To lay eyes on her baby sister
As soon as she saw her, her eyes lit up
She hugged her and gently kissed her.

She had a good look at her tiny little face
And with her fingertips
She traced the line of her sweet little nose
And the shape of her wonderful lips.

There was a lovely soft lip in the middle
With a gap on either side
Her smile was unique and beautiful
It was happy, broad and wide

Over time she played with her sister
She would hold her tiny hand
Sometimes she would worry
That people wouldn’t understand

If people stared a little too long
At her mouth, her lips and nose
She would glare back at them as if to say
“She is as beautiful as a rose!”

Her smile gave her face character
It was like a charming pirate’s smile
She thought the smile the most fabulous
For many a country mile!

But the day finally reared its head
When she would have her operation
The little girl wasn’t sure about this
And approached with reservation.

“What if she comes out different?” She thought
“She might look very strange!
I already love her gorgeous face!
I don’t want her to change!”

Her Mum and Dad reassured her
That it was definitely for the best
“She’s a beautiful little girl” they said
“There’s no doubt that we’re blessed”

As they took her to the hospital
The little girl tried not to cry
She didn’t want the doctors to hurt her
She waved and said goodbye

She sat at home and worried
She waited and waited and waited
She knew that her sister was in safe hands
As the surgical team operated.

When she finally came out of surgery
She was so pleased to see her sister
She loved this baby so very much
It was amazing how much she had missed her!

The splits in her mouth were no longer there
But her eyes still sparkled with light
Her baby sister looked wonderful
Her new smile glowed so bright

Her mouth had already been perfect
What a beautiful stunning girl
She was different but lovely with her cheeky new grin
And was ready to take on the world

The little girl squeezed her sister
She held her tiny hand
Two little girls together
The loveliest in the land.

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