Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A star is born

I never told you about my amazing friend Carolyn, star of One Born Every Minute.

She agreed to take part in the show to raise awareness when she found out her unborn baby had a cleft lip.

And when I say she starred, I mean it. Giving birth to her gorgeous son Jamie she appeared brave, calm, and she and husband John were a fantastic comedy double act – they should have a spin-off series all to themselves.


There was overwhelming appreciation for the coverage of the condition in the programme by people involved in Cleft Lip and Palate charity, CLAPA, and many parents in the same position as the John and Carolyn.

But there were one or two posts on Facebook that were less than supportive. In fact they were negative about the fact that Carolyn put her finger inside Jamie's mouth to check whether he had a cleft palate as well as lip just after he was born. Here is an example: “She didn’t look very proud. Poor little baby.”

Now, 375 reprimanding comments later, and I suspect – well I certainly hope – that the person who made this statement feels a tad silly.

But just in case they didn’t, here are a couple of facts I would love to point out to them:

1) I’m sure anyone who has given birth will testify that it smarts a bit
2) It is also a little tiring
3) As this programme, I think it’s fair to say, has quite comprehensively demonstrated, every woman is an individual and responds to this experience in their own way
4) Carolyn, it just so happens, seemed to take a 10-hour labour in her stride.
5) Unbelievably, once the baby was delivered, she was composed enough to have the presence of mind to check that the baby did not have a cleft palate as well as lip – something she had waited four months to find out, meaning she could breastfeed him.
6) She was checking not with a laypersons eye but that of a trained and practising dentist.

True to form, Carolyn remained calm and philosophical about comments like this, and steadfastly pleased with the response from others with cleft babies. She doesn’t regret for a moment doing the programme and raising awareness. And as she herself says, the fact that there was such a lively and extended thread developing around the subject on Facebook is testament to the profile boost the programme has given cleft lip and palate.

I think the vast majority of people who watch the programme are in total awe of the amazing women who appear on it and indeed the amazing thing that is birth. But the fact that a need to judge and criticise creeps in makes me very sad.

If they couldn’t be happy for Carolyn, John and Jamie, then their judgement is out, to say the least. After all, seeing two loving parents who are also trained dentists care for a child with orthodontic problem – seeing parents who have not only boundless love to offer but also the most pertinent training and skills possible to understand and support his needs, is surely as close to perfection as you could possibly get.

* Baby Jamie had an operation to correct his cleft lip almost two months ago, the results of which are amazing. He has recovered well and is the smiliest baby you have ever met!

* In January, John is planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for CLAPA. You can sponsor him here justgiving.com/JOHN-SINCLAIR2

* I wrote a feature about Carolyn and Jamie for Parentdish. Check it out here: parentdish.co.uk/baby/my-one-born-every-minute-birth-my-beautiful-baby-had-a-cleft-lip/


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