When she was just 24-weeks pregnant, Sarah Heller learned that her unborn baby had a cleft lip and palate. Her partner, 30-year-old Chris Eidam and Sarah were shocked to hear the news. The live in Omaha, Nebraska and got a lot of criticism from people, including those who were supposed to be in charge of care. Nevertheless, Heller and Eidam wanted to share as many pictures as they could with their baby, despite his “deformity.”
Later, Sarah realized just how supportive people were of their child.
“The generosity of a complete stranger restored our faith in humanity,” 26-year-old Sarah Heller told TODAY in an email. “Being Brody’s parent has taught me that people care. Strangers all over the country want to hear his story, and they want to pray for him.”
Although experts do not know what causes a cleft palate, they do know it happens during pregnancy when tissues don’t fuse properly. Children usually undergo a series of surgeries to correct the cleft to the lips or palets and often need to have therapy to talk or eat as they grow older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate as many as 2,650 babies are born with a cleft palate and 4,440 are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate.
“It is OK to be proud of your baby no matter the circumstances,” Heller said. “We wanted to change what ultrasound/newborn/first-year pictures on our Facebook/Instagram accounts looked like. We wanted to spread awareness of cleft lips and palates.”
Although people often say unkind things about their baby boy, Heller and Eidam are ready to fight back and teach the ignorant masses the truth about their son – that he is a beautiful baby despite his lip and palate.
For example, the day before New Year’s Eve, someone asked Heller “What’s wrong with his face?”
Heller was stunned that someone would be so blunt about her son Brody.
“I wasn’t prepared to defend my three-month-old and why he looks ‘different’ from other babies. I decided to educate rather than create a confrontation because that is what I want Brody to do in the future. I will want him to educate, to be an advocate for younger cleft kids who don’t have their own voice yet.”
Just hours after that insult came into her life, Heller took Brody out to dinner with her girlfriends when the server delivered a folded napkin to the new mom.
Inside the napkin, Heller thought she’d find a handwritten note. Instead, she found a check which was “For the beautiful baby.” The check was written out for $1,000.
Within 24 hours, Heller had one person insult her son and another throw $1,000 at him.
“Tears fell from my eyes immediately and the happiness my heartfelt is indescribable.”
Because medical bills were piling up, Heller put the $1,000 directly toward Brody’s surgeries, which he still needs. He still cannot eat, so he gets his nutrition through a gastrointestinal tube.
What do you think about the public response to her baby?