The Cleft Chronicles

This is a blog dedicated to fostering a safe, informative, and encouraging community among those who have any variation of a cleft lip and/or palate.

You can contact me personally here:
-personal blog:
-twitter: @DFTBBrodie


Portraits of children (and their parents) and adults with Cleft Lip and Palate or other facial abnormalities.

Photographed for Facing Maine (formerly the Cleft and Craniofacial Support Network of Maine).

All images © Greta Rybus

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hello. Last night I watched an episode of Brickleberry accidantly (never watched it or heard of it before). I watched Season 2 Episode 1 and they make fun of a guy with "a harelip". The main character "healed" him and "he doesn't sound ridiculous no more." I know it's just a cartoon show but still I got so sad that even on a cartoon show they make fun of people with "a harelip".
thecleftchronicles thecleftchronicles Said:

That’s awful :(

It’s sad when entertainment results to cheap humor like that. It’s lazy and hurtful writing. Well at least we know not to watch that particular show!


My wonderful nephew had his first reconstruction surgery today and it went better than anyone ever expected!!!! No one knew he had a full upper lip and the bridge under the nose. This eliminates the need for many more surgeries.

I am just in awe. I adore him no matter what…but he’s even more beautiful now.

He had a rough afternoon. He has to relearn a bottle and will be limited for 2 weeks. He’ll be in PICU for about 2 days. But so far he’s getting the bottle worked out. He was just crying a lot. I’m sure he hurts. But I would pet the top of his head and he would calm down. He’s just absolutely my jewel.

We got him some plushies and a new sweater. Seriously this kid has SO MUCH STUFF…because he’s very special and loved by so many people.

Hopefully he heals quickly and can discover the fun new life of having a full top lip!

Thank you everyone for the happy thoughts and prayers!!

So glad the little man is doing well! He looks great <3


I didn’t even realize that I took this picture but you can super see like how unsymmetrical my face is but for once I actually think it’s pretty cool

I think you’re pretty cool :)


This is my first after surgery photo! It’s amazing what good makeup can do for you! Didn’t use concealer around the redness on my lip…letting it settle down first :)



I guess now is as good as time as any other to write a bit more about this. 
As I don’t talk about it. I understand some people might wonder. I’ve always been happy to answer any questions on it but I know that most people wouldn’t want to ask to avoid offending or making a situation uncomfortable… which it kinda cool and nice.  
But at the same time I don’t want people drawing their own conclusions on the way I look like thinking I was in some kind of accident, assaulted or a cocaine addict… (thats just some of the more interesting ones I’ve heard before). 

so here goes… 

I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. Its a birth defect which results in the lip and palate no completely forming leaving gaps and holes. 
I’ve seen statistics saying it happens in every 1 in 700 or 1 - 1000 babies, (so its kinda common).
As I was born in the UK I had mine repaired with no cost and in a good hospital, sadly its more common in more poor countries and those who suffer from it can’t have it repaired until they’re older if at all. 

To date I’ve had 12 or 13 surgeries, (can’t remember exactly).
My first surgery was only a few hours after I was born. I had to be moved to a different hospital two hours away to have it fixed. My mum was in the ambulance with me, but my dad had to drive somewhere he didn’t know alone, without really knowing what was happening. I’d hate to ever be in a position like that . 

The first surgery was basically successful. I had my lip repaired but not my palate, (that was fixed when I was older). But as with any surgery with a new born there are risks and complications sometimes. As a result of the first surgery my nose ended up pretty different to most peoples and has stayed that way since. Not anyones fault, the doctor did a great job and was a good dude, but growing can effect the end results which is what happened in my case… just what happens some times. 

Since birth I had surgery at least once a year until I was 11. I had to have repeated surgeries as some didn’t take in the recovery process. 
More surgeries meant more scars. Or not allowing the ones I have to heal and fade properly. Pretty much every photo of me from ages 1 - 12 you can see two red lines above my lip. School photos were a bitch because of it. Still don’t really like being in photos now.

Having surgery never actually bothered me that much. I think it was because I was too young to understand. Plus sometimes I’d get a get well gift after, which was cool. A Darth Maul double lightsaber was by far the best one I got. 
Another good part was I would rarely ever have to do P.E. which was awesome as I hated that shit. 

Surgery was never the issue, (until now, but I’ll talk about that another time). It was always the recovery that was tough. Liquid diets and no sugar as it would dissolve the stitches holding everything together. And I can still clearly remember the pain after a surgery which would usually last for about 2 months. It sucked.
And I can still feel the effects now.

I can’t speak for anyone else but my scar tissue hurts. If I scratch it or cut it, its agony.
But the worst part is when I smile or laugh… it naturally stretches and its position by my teeth causes more pain. Plus when I smile, the scars are more visible… not a really desired effect.
The most I can get away with is a half smile but its easier to just keep it plain most of the time. 
Just because I don’t smile that much doesn’t mean I’m miserable all the time. Like most people I just don’t want to experience pain. 
It really used to piss me off when people would tell me to smile more. I can’t be bothered explaining it all, (especially in public) and if I did it might make it awkward or they might feel bad.. just easier to try and avoid the issue. 


In a couple of months I’m have what is hopefully going to be my last surgery. Hopefully if it all works out I’ll be ending a 22 year part of my life, and hopefully move on without people staring, without breathing problems, without it being the first thing I’m judged on… because I know its pretty hard to miss.

It still plays on my mind. Sometimes it gets to me. Sometimes I couldn’t care less.
Just hope its going to be one less thing to worry about.

I aim to write more about this sometime and hopefully let people understand a bit better.  


We are truly strong people. Don’t let the world break you. No matter what. Don’t lose faith. Don’t lose hope. It will get better. 

If you ever need anyone to talk to about this, my ask is always open. And if you have a kik you can ask me for my kik and we can talk on there. 


I went to a new dentist for the first time since I was like born today and it was actually a really pleasant experience.

I had to regale the assistant with my tales of cleft repairs so that they know what they’re dealing with but all went well and I got a good report on how I’ve been taking care of my teeth and stuff. (Against my will, I’ve started flossing and wearing my retainer at night and junk. I didn’t come this far not to take care of my mouth…)

But the best part was when the dentist came in to check on me, he poked around in my mouth and when the assistant told him that I had a cleft lip and palate he sort of leaned back and looked at me and said that if he wasn’t looking right at the scar tissue in the roof of my mouth he wouldn’t have guessed that I had a cleft. The only thing he noticed was my implant tooth. And you know, he kind of has an eye for these things as a dentist.

He told my mother that I had the best closure he’s ever seen on a cleft patient.

So basically I want to hug all my surgeons and doctors and tell them all how thankful I am for all they’ve done for me to get me to a place of normalcy with my mouth and face.

I’m just a very very thankful cleftie today.


My beloved little man starts his facial surgeries on April 7th
He inspires me to push through, even on my worst days.
I love my nephew more than anything. And he needs losts of love and prayers.
He’s a fighter. And I admire his strength and will to live.

He makes my life a better place.

If anyone out there is crafty and makes baby things let me know. Id love to make him a little basket of cards and cute things to show that we’re cheering him on. But since I’m broke I can only ask for donations.

He loves giraffes and that crinkly sounding stuff in toys.
His BFF is our husky, Juno. She watches over him and loves him.

His name is Kiefer. He’s 3 months old and has red hair and blue eyes.

He just discovered his toes last week and he likes to giggle.

I know he doesnt look perfect…but to me he is. He was never expected to live…but he did. Never expected to thrive…but he is. He’s perfectly healthy and loves to eat.

He’s a true miracle in every way (religion or not)

So please, send lots of positive love and thoughts for my nephew. He needs it!!

Praying for the little man! <3


Hey fellow cleft-lipped people :) I was wondering if any of you guys have had cheek OR lip augmentation surgeries/procedures, and if so if you could message me! I’m having a second rhinoplasty along with cheek and lip augmentation, and I was wondering if anyone has had a similar experience so I could know what to expect. Thanks!! :)

Can anyone help?