Having a baby was always her dream, but Silvia waited until she finished school to build a secure future and a home for her family. Having a first child at thirty-seven makes you a spinster in Silvia’s small town, but last December was going to be a special Christmas with the birth of her baby. Yet, Silvia’s plan took an unexpected turn. Her baby girl was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate.
The people in her community immediately blamed Silvia. It seemed everyone had an opinion on why it was her fault. They say that she waited too long to have a child. They accused her of being negligent with her prenatal pills. They said she was bad-humored, that she stared directly into an eclipse, and worse, that Teresa was born like “that” as punishment for something Silvia did.
Silvia loves her baby, but she has been so afraid to face the community and even some family members that for seven months, she and Teresa hid at home away from the judgment and hurtful stares from others.
She did not want Teresa to grow up like that. So, having heard about the Partner for Surgery Guardian Angel Program from Dina, a local health promotor, she knew to ask for help. Dina visited Silvia and Teresa in their home. She explained that a surgical team specializing in cleft lip and palate surgery was coming to Antigua soon, and Teresa would be first in line.
Teresa received lip surgery from the Smiles for Guatemala Team this July and looks excellent two weeks later.
With Dina’s home wellness visits and care, Teresa should be ready to have her palate surgery within a year. For now, three weeks since surgery, Teresa is healing beautifully, and Silvia is observably taller as she leaves the house to go to the local store, Teresa in tow.
They are both well on their way to freedom from shame and guilt.