Lacey Buchanan, 25, of Woodbury, Tennessee, created a video about her blind son, Christian, so he’ll know that he has value beyond his looks. The homemade footage made on her iPhone, tells the story with flashcards of what it was like learning that her son might not live when she was pregnant and then finding out that he had Tessier cleft, a diagnosis only about 50 people in the world share. The video initially posted on a religious website, was reposted to YouTube and other sites. The footage went viral with roughly 7 million hits.
by Lacey Buchanan
as told to Julie Weingarden Dubin
I married my high school sweetheart, Chris, an insurance claims processor. I was so excited to start a family with him. But something didn’t feel right from the moment I learned I was pregnant in June 2010.
The day of the 18-week ultrasound, we weren't told anything. We got a call later in the week saying that we needed to come back in for more ultrasounds because the doctor was concerned about a cleft. As Christian got bigger, we had more ultrasounds to see if we could get a better idea, but the doctors just couldn't pinpoint exactly what was going on. We didn’t even know if he’d survive the pregnancy.
I’ll never forget the moment of his birth. He screamed — he was alive! His internal organs were normal but he was born without eyes. It took two months to get a diagnosis: Tessier cleft, which means he couldn’t fully close his mouth and his eyes are also clefted — they never formed.
At first I was devastated — I already loved my baby so much and to know that he was going to have to go through so many hardships broke my heart.
It’s emotionally challenging raising a child who is blind. I think about all the stuff he’ll probably never do like drive a car and I also struggle sometimes with how to teach him things because I don’t know what it’s like not to have sight.
The hardest part of our journey so far has been watching Christian go through surgeries — knowing that he’s in pain and not being able to do anything about it. Christian still has dozens of surgeries ahead of him — all reconstructive surgeries to repair his cleft lip and palate.
Christian loves music, swimming, singing and playing outside. He’s so smart and figures things out faster than I’d expect him to. He’s silly and never stops laughing. He’s just a normal kid who loves life. He wakes up every day with a smile on his face!
I used to want to hide inside. Trips to the grocery store were painful. People would whisper behind my back and point to Christian. But then I realized I didn’t really care what people think. Thankfully, we’ve received a great deal of support from our friends and church.
I initially had to overcome self-pity, but I dealt with it and moved on. I had to face the challenges of people who aren’t accepting of Christian. One girl even told me I should have aborted the pregnancy. I learned to let rude comments roll off my back.
Sometimes people feel sorry for me but I don’t want them to. I have hard times but I also experience joys most people never get to experience. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I still would have carried Christian.
I work full-time teaching at an in-home daycare, and a nurse comes to the house to watch Christian. I go to law school at night with the goal of helping people with special needs. Sharing the video with the world has brought our family many new friends and has shown me that Christian is going to be accepted and loved by those around him.
Motherhood’s helped me realize who I really am, and who I want to be. So many times when I’m trying to teach Christian, he’s really teaching me. Christian’s made more of a difference at 14 months inspiring others throughout the world, than most people ever do.
Appreciate the good in every situation and stop worrying about tomorrow. It won't change a thing. Do what you have to do to get through today and go to bed at night knowing you did everything you could to make your situation better.
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