When Victoria Reece found out she was pregnant, she and her husband were elated. During their 20-week ultrasound, they found out they were having a boy and left the appointment over the moon with excitement, envisioning a bright future as a family of three with their baby boy in tow.

The next day, they received an unexpected call.

“That’s when the chaos began,” Reece said.

The couple went back for more ultrasounds and their baby was diagnosed with a bilateral cleft lip and palate.

“We were really scared,” Reece said. “I had so much anxiety about it.”

A perfect baby boy

When Reece gave birth to Beckett, her anxiety diminished. Her heart was filled with so much joy as she held her world in her arms.

“He was just perfect,” Reece said.

Referred to Seattle Children’s by their pediatrician, Reece said a weight lifted off her shoulders when she met with the care team. It was a far drive from their home in Olympia, but when they walked through the doors of the hospital, they said they knew they were where they were supposed to be.

“From the first time we stepped through the doors of Seattle Children’s, we were at peace,” Reece said. “Everyone was so kind and thoughtful. They made everything so simple for us.”

Seattle Children’s Craniofacial team cares for a child’s medical and surgical needs from birth until age 21. A team of more than fifty specialists work together to create a personalized plan for every child.

“We are one of the biggest centers in North America but, even though we are big, what is really unique about our center is the emphasis on family and family centered care,” Dr. Raymond Tse, a plastic surgeon and member of Seattle Children’s Craniofacial team, said. “We listen to family experiences and try to tailor our care as much as possible to help families with their needs.”

“We knew we were in great hands,” Reece said. “We never looked back.”

Caring for Beckett

Reece and her husband trusted the craniofacial team with their baby boy, affectionately called Beck. Today, it has been more than a year since he underwent surgery to repair his cleft lip and palate. Reece said the hardest part was watching as he was carried into the operating room in the steady arms of a nurse.

“Leading up to the surgery, we knew it was the right thing to do, but his little face was perfect,” Reece said. “His smile was infectious. It was really hard to say goodbye that day knowing his face would change.”

 

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Can we all take a minute to remember this PERFECT CLEFT?!? . . July is cleft awareness month and I couldn’t be more proud to show some love to my baby boy and the amazing kiddos just like him. . . If I could say one thing to a soon to be cleft mama I’d say: -Deep breaths -You are so much stronger than you know. -Your baby is so much tougher than you think. -You’ll come out on the other end and be a part of a club that is tough.as.nails. -You might not know what it will require of you yet- but I promise it’s already inside of you. . . To Beck and all the other clefties out there: scars come from hard things you’ve lived through, you should always be proud. And don’t ever get stuck living in a box of other people’s ideas or expectations… You were born different and that’s the best way to be, baby. . . . . . . . . . And to the OB who told me my cleft baby would be “hard for me and others to look at” …… check your facts. And then, I dunno, retire? ✌🏽 #cleftstrong #cleftie

A post shared by Victoria Reece (@mrsvictoriareece) on

Reece and her family lives by many mottos. As a fitness instructor, she is no stranger to strength and determination. She welcomes challenges and hurdles and celebrates when she and others succeed. To other mothers, she has a message of hope.

“You are stronger than you know.”

She hopes that message resonates with her son Beck as well.

Giving back to Seattle Children’s

To say thank you for the tremendous care they have received and to raise awareness for cleft lip and palate, Reece organized a fundraiser for Seattle Children’s in July.

“We have always wanted to give back to Seattle Children’s,” Reece said. “We’re so thankful for everything they’ve done for us.”

Reece decided to prove just how strong they are. The campaign was called “Burpees for Beck.” For every dollar raised, her family promised to do a burpee.

In total, they raised about $2,000 for Seattle Children’s and did 2,000 burpees. Even Beck, who turned 2 in August, joined in on the fun, doing 11 burpees to support the cause.

“Kids with clefts are truly special.  Although there is a road ahead for families, we have good ways to treat the condition and kids with clefts can be anything they want to be and do anything they want to do,” Tse said.

Reece agrees. “He’s so strong,” she said. “He came into this world with something to say.”