I’m Gonna Miss His Face.

My son was born with a cleft lip and palate. His lip was surgically repaired while he was in China, but the palate was wide open when we adopted him. I knew, going in, that surgeries were a part of his treatment plan.

To date, his surgeries have been successful and necessary. Because of the open palate, everything my son ate came out his nose. Everything. There was never a need to guess what he ate for breakfast because it was always there, rolling out of his nostrils, and down toward his upper lip. The four surgeries Jax has undergone so far were definitely not optional.

Tomorrow, a gifted surgeon will reshape and contour my son’s lips and add cartilage to his nose. Tomorrow’s surgery is cosmetic. Tomorrow’s surgery is completely optional.

My son wants this surgery. This procedure has been an option for over a year, but because it’s not necessary, I wasn’t signing up unless my son conveyed his interest. More and more frequently, he says, “I don’t want to see my scars.” And “I wish my lips looked more like my friends.” I decided not to stand on a parental soapbox and tell him no, that he will learn to appreciate his differences. Because he’s 8. And he’s different enough. And if I can make his road easier, I will.

But I will miss this face so much. I will miss the flat, wide nose that flares when he smiles. I will miss the way the left side of his lip is fuller and rises above the right. I will miss the shiny, scarred skin, pulled too taut, underneath his nose. Over the past six years, I have looked at my son’s face more than I have looked at my own. I have stared at it when he sleeps, I have kissed it and hugged it and wiped it off after baths. I have watched it smile more and cry less as it lengthened, thinned out, and turned from a toddler into a boy.

I have memorized every inch of this face, and I will miss it.

When I was in my late twenties, I put down a deposit on a nose job.  There is a bump on the bridge, and they were going to shave it right off. As an afterthought, I told my parents. My dad stopped what he was doing, turned to me, and said, “No. You are my daughter and this is what you look like.” It wasn’t the words that led me to cancel the procedure, it was the force behind them. You are my daughter and this is what you look like. It was my face, and he would have missed it. Tonight, I get it.

I am not stopping the surgery and I won’t change my mind. My son doesn’t have a bump on his nose that is visible 25% of the time, he has the remnants of a birth defect that tomorrow, he gets to minimize. I am on board, I understand, I am even excited for him.

But I am really gonna miss his face.

Sincerely,
Becca

Rebecca Masterson is a writer, speaker, and an advocate for children. For more from Rebecca, follow her on Instagram.

34 Comments

  1. likebabybearsoup

    Your son is beautiful and so is your post! Thank you for sharing him and you as mother with the world!

    Reply
  2. Lindsey

    I loved this. He is so precious.

    Reply
  3. Jen L

    That’s for sharing your heart with us. God bless you and your son. Prayers for a successful surgery and happiness in his heart.

    Reply
  4. Annemarie

    Becca, for you to truly understand & appreciate how Jax feels, embrace it & support it is one of the most loving things a parent can do!! Prayers for you & Jax as he goes through this procedure. You still may miss that face, but the new one of profound gratitude you will fall in love with immediately! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  5. bakti putra

    God bless you and your son 🙂

    Reply
  6. thehealthyfrenchie

    As always, Becca, beautiful, heartfelt writing. You move me every time 🙂

    Reply
  7. ForkInPage

    If its any consolation, I think we as parents miss they’re faces anyway as they get older.
    Great job parenting.

    Did you ever write about your adoption journey? Or is that to personal?
    I’m an adoptive parent as well and its always such a treat to read other’s stories.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Masterson

      Not too personal, and I really should. These other bloggable topics keep popping up!

      Reply
      • Newly Wed, Not Dead

        As someone who is hoping to foster to adopt, I would love to hear your adoption story! This is a beautiful post, and I hope your son is doing great.

        Reply
  8. Amanda Kubin

    I completely understand. My son was also born with Cleft lip and palette. And while I understood the need for the surgeries, I was so upset over his ever changing face. I loved that face. It was beautiful. And yes he is handsome now, and the scars are gone, I still miss that face. So just try to remember this will make his life easier, and the surgery wont change his heart.

    Reply
  9. thapsnthaps

    A beautiful post for a beautiful son!

    Reply
  10. thapsnthaps

    A beautiful post for a beautiful son!

    Reply
  11. mjones609

    Praying for a smooth recovery

    Reply
  12. mjones609

    Praying for a smooth recovery

    Reply
  13. dessiENCORE

    beautiful little boy hope everything goes well, you are a great mom!

    Reply
  14. dessiENCORE

    beautiful little boy hope everything goes well, you are a great mom!

    Reply
  15. mamabyfire

    I hope recovery is going well! Your story really got me. I would do the same as you, but I can imagine I would miss their face too.

    Reply
  16. mamabyfire

    I hope recovery is going well! Your story really got me. I would do the same as you, but I can imagine I would miss their face too.

    Reply
  17. RuthThoreau

    I think its wonderful u let him decide about this thing! 🙂 at least, he’s going to feel u accept and support his decision and … he is going to feel he has some control over his life! That’s simply wonderful! 🙂 I wish u good luck :-)))

    Reply
  18. RuthThoreau

    I think its wonderful u let him decide about this thing! 🙂 at least, he’s going to feel u accept and support his decision and … he is going to feel he has some control over his life! That’s simply wonderful! 🙂 I wish u good luck :-)))

    Reply
  19. awmaynard802

    I love the change, n’ the same time, i don’t. His cleft lip might not be pretty, but it’s makes him more unique, causing people to reconsider the actions other people have done.

    Reply
  20. awmaynard802

    I love the change, n’ the same time, i don’t. His cleft lip might not be pretty, but it’s makes him more unique, causing people to reconsider the actions other people have done.

    Reply
  21. The Echo Umbrella

    I totally understand. My brother was born with a cleft lip and palate. I would hold him, rock him, feed him and he would smile with a huge gap in his tiny little lip. (All his food came out his nose too.)

    My brother is in his 30s now and while the required surgeries were done within the first few years of his life he was required to wait until he was 16 or 17 to have the cosmetic part done due to the surgeries not being so advanced as they are today. By the time he was old enough my brother opted not to have it done.

    I would love my brother no matter how he looked but my heart bursts with love when I look at his face and I still see all the years and experiences we had together and that he’s still my baby brother and my little boy… just as he is.

    The child getting to make the choice is so important I think. It’s their face after all.

    Your son looks so happy in his photos. This happiness will not change just because his scars do. His eyes will still sparkle, his laughter will still sound just as sweet. It’s obvious that you know this from the words you’ve written. 🙂

    Reply
  22. The Echo Umbrella

    I totally understand. My brother was born with a cleft lip and palate. I would hold him, rock him, feed him and he would smile with a huge gap in his tiny little lip. (All his food came out his nose too.)

    My brother is in his 30s now and while the required surgeries were done within the first few years of his life he was required to wait until he was 16 or 17 to have the cosmetic part done due to the surgeries not being so advanced as they are today. By the time he was old enough my brother opted not to have it done.

    I would love my brother no matter how he looked but my heart bursts with love when I look at his face and I still see all the years and experiences we had together and that he’s still my baby brother and my little boy… just as he is.

    The child getting to make the choice is so important I think. It’s their face after all.

    Your son looks so happy in his photos. This happiness will not change just because his scars do. His eyes will still sparkle, his laughter will still sound just as sweet. It’s obvious that you know this from the words you’ve written. 🙂

    Reply

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