The ultrasound was a mixed blessing. Indri teared up at the sight of her baby on the screen, a girl. But those tears turned to sadness when the technician revealed her child would have a cleft. Indri had an uncle with a cleft, and thoughts of him sent her wavering between praying the ultrasound had been mistaken and grieving the life of sickness and isolation that looked to await her daughter.
Her husband, Ahmad, shared her shock but tried hard to push past it to comfort Indri. He didn’t make much as a truck driver for a palm oil company but promised to do whatever it took to get their little girl the care she needed.
The news wracked Indri’s mother, Ros, with guilt. Her brother was the one with the cleft, so she felt responsible. She even apologized to Ahmad for it. Still, she found courage for her daughter and future granddaughter’s sake and did everything she could to support them.
The family told themselves that knowing was a blessing because it gave them a head start saving up for cleft surgery and learning how to care for a baby with a cleft.
But Indri’s anxiety would not go away. As her due date approached, Ros worried her daughter’s stress would affect the baby and complicate the birth. She convinced her to travel seven hours to a hospital with more modern facilities; the whole way there, Indri convinced herself further that the ultrasound had been wrong.
When Divya was born, there was no more denying it. Indri’s months of preparation instantly proved useless before the very real and very needy little life before her. “I was disappointed God gave me this situation,” she said. “I didn’t want to carry or even hug her.”
The next day, on the long drive home from the hospital, Divya looked up at Indri with a face that cooed, “Hold me, Mama.” Even in her depressed state, Indri could not resist; she hugged her baby close for the first time and hasn’t let her go since.
Divya has always been sweet-natured. As a newborn, she smiled constantly and rarely cried unless she was hungry for milk. Her family joked that she didn’t want to be too much trouble for her parents. This, too, was a mixed blessing, however, because babies with clefts have special feeding needs that often go unaddressed: When Divya tried to nurse, the milk either leaked out her nose or dribbled down into her lungs, choking her. Indri called the hospital for help and, thankfully, they were able to help train her in a successful nursing strategy.
Meanwhile, the family diligently socked away every cent and worked as many odd jobs as they could find to save up for the cleft surgery that would allow Divya to eat, speak, and smile just like every other child.
And then, when Divya was two months old, Indri received a message that changed everything.
A relative in the nearby city of Pekanbaru said Divya could receive the surgery she so needed for free at Ibnu Sina Hospital. The next breath, Indri was on the phone, and a few days later, thanks to Ibnu Sina’s partnership with Smile Train and our corporate partner Dentsply Sirona, Divya was scheduled for free cleft surgery when she turned three months old, the earliest safe age.
Indri, Ahmad, and their whole family fell so much in love with the warm, loving smile Divya was born with that they thought they couldn’t ever love anything more… until they saw her come out of cleft surgery. It wasn’t that her new smile was better than her old one or more beautiful — it was that it meant she was now free to eat, breathe, speak, go to school, and pursue her dreams with good health and confidence.
“We are so thankful to Smile Train and Dentsply Sirona for sponsoring such excellent surgery for our child at no cost and from such kind and friendly doctors,” Indri said, squeezing Divya tight against her chest as they shared a smile together. “We hope that she will be inspired by the help she received to go on to finish school and college and become a teacher or doctor who helps underprivileged people.”
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