Words have power. A mean and vicious comment can make an individual feel broken and alone. While a kind word can make someone feel like they can conquer the world. What type of rhetoric we choose and how we want to contribute to the world is completely up to us. Sara Heller was trying to live her “normal” with a baby boy born with a facial deformity. She saw her baby as beautiful and perfect but realized not everyone would understand where she was coming from. One note, with four simple words was what she needed at the right time in her life to continue to be strong for her son.At 24 weeks of pregnancy, the couple from Omaha, Nebraska, was informed that their unborn baby had a cleft palate. The couple was taken aback as nothing strange appeared in the first ultrasound. What was even more shocking was that the doctor asked them if they would prefer to terminate the pregnancy, even though there are ways for surgery to correct the defect to a large extent nowadays.
Sara wanted to share her joy with the world like any new mother and change the preconceived notions about what baby pictures on social media should look like. She posted pictures on Instagram, starting right from the ultrasound images to photos of her little boy Brody as a newborn.
The new parents were eager to break the stigma associated with birth defects, thus, decided to show him off as the most beautiful baby in the world. They also wanted to raise awareness on cleft palates and how they occur. If anyone asked about their baby’s condition, they would explain that it was common and happened when the baby’s face did not form completely in the womb.
His condition did not allow him to eat properly. In the beginning, he required a tube that went through the side of his face and then entered his nose. Later, a gastrostromy button (G-button) was used to feed him.
Most people reacted positively, sharing words of support. Nonetheless, one night when Sara was out with Brody and her friends, she noticed a mean comment on one of Brody’s pictures. The comment read, “What’s wrong with your baby’s nose? I’ve never seen anything like that. It doesn’t look good.” Sara replied to the message with a link about the medical condition, she later deleted the message. She tried to continue with her friends, but felt completely shattered inside.
She handed Sara a rolled up note, which read, “For the beautiful baby,” making her dissolve in tears. The note also had a check for a $1,000 with it. She explained that she felt like the negative comment had just been washed away. The check came just before a lip surgery Brody needed and went towards paying for some of his medical expenses.
Sara plans to continue to put her son in the limelight as much as possible and continue his journey online, so that the world knows that birth defects do not stop someone from living their lives. She also wants to raise awareness about cleft lips-palates and the medical procedures used to rectify it.