So recently I’ve been looking at surgical procedures (if you read my Suicide and Me post you will see I mentioned it, briefly). Before you judge, say I don’t need it, troll me, call me shallow and vain or whatever else you think of, “hear” (read, obviously, unless your blind and are listening, if so I apologise!!) me out.
I was born in 1987, yes, I’m a 30-year-old woman, 30, I remember being 18 like 2 days ago, I digress I am yet again getting off topic. When I was born we didn’t have the surgical skills or advancements that we do now, we had medical tape, stitches and a whole lot of people just trying their best.
I can’t remember if I mentioned in my previous blog about my mother’s alcoholism and the fact that part of the reason I was born with what I was is down to that. I was born with a harelip/cleft palate, they usually come hand in hand, but some people are fortunate or should I say misfortunate enough to have one or the other.
A hair lip or “hare” lip, also known as a cleft lip is an opening in the upper lip that can extend to the base of the nostril. The cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth where there shouldn’t be one, I have some pretty funny, but gnarly stories about foods I’ve managed to get stuck in my “hole”, don’t be filthy I wouldn’t waste food shoving it up my butt. I am talking about the hole which is my cleft palate. However, my husband always gives a belly laugh when he hears me say those words. Getting food up there is painful AF, especially mashed potato (yes I’m from Northern Ireland and I love potatoes, get over it).
I’m not going to give you a warning for these photos because they aren’t disgusting, it’s a birth defect, it happens, it’s not gross or disgusting, it’s something that people and animals can have when they are born and thankfully can be corrected with surgery. This is one example of a harelip, some babies are born with a harelip on both sides of their lip, but they usually don’t go all the way up to the nostril (I’m not a surgeon or medical expert, I’m just someone who was born with one, so don’t come for me).
The image above is similar to mine, however, mine was slightly worse as for whatever reason my nose was bent to one side, whether it be the pressure from birth or because my lip was attached to my nose or whatever, I don’t know. So the difference in this photo is that you can’t see the lip clearly, but usually the lip is there and it’s attached somewhere like to the nose or cheek (google it if you are interested).
My cleft palate was the same as the one in this picture. I haven’t used my pictures because my mother destroyed the majority of baby pictures there were of me, I don’t know if she spilt something on them or there was a leak, but they’re unfortunately gone. I wouldn’t use pictures of actual babies as I don’t know them and that’s wrong.
My daddy tells me I was a gorgeous baby, of course, he would, he’s biased and I’m his absolute double anyway. I don’t know what age I was when I had the surgery, but I wasn’t breastfed (thankfully or I’d probably have been drunk as fuck) as I needed special teets given my birth defect. I do know I was a sick wee baby, often having a lot of ear infections, colds, that sort of thing. ENT (Ears, nose, throat) are all connected so it could be why.
I have in my head that I was 18 months old, so let’s say I was 18 months old when I had the surgery, although, I feel I was probably younger. I was extremely lucky to have one of the best children’s plastic surgeon’s in Northern Ireland fix my cleft palate and harelip, he retired not long after and passed away not long after that. His protegee, Mr Chris Hill then took over and was also present in my surgery. I mention Chris because he became a big part of my life.
Throughout the years I’d more surgeries just mostly to fix my cleft palate as I grew, I used to joke with my husband when I was 23 that I’d basically had a surgery for every year of my life. I can’t say that anymore as we’ve established I’m an old-timer.
I mentioned earlier I had a lot of ear infections, when I was around 7 (ish….daddy correct me if I am wrong) I had grommets or as we call them in Northern Ireland “vents”. Not a lot of people know what these are, basically, they are tiny tubes that can be inserted into the eardrums to treat conditions that affect the middle ear, so glue ear for example. Glue ear, also known as otitis media with effusion (why those medical names gotta be so fancy, though?) Is a persistent build-up of fluid (usually runny, smelly wax) in the middle ear that can cause hearing problems.
So as you can see the grommet is pretty small, sort of reminds me of the tip of a pin used to cork boards. This is where my nightmare of hearing loss truly began… I had this surgery, my infections didn’t clear up, in fact in my left ear the pain got worse. I don’t know when my parents decided to take me back like if it was for a checkup or I don’t know. They went back, I was allergic to the material the grommet was made from and it had burnt a HUGE hole (what is it with me and holes…) in my eardrum to the point where you can actually see right through my eardrum (I shit you not). One ENT Specialist said he hadn’t seen anything like it in his entire life, I felt blessed but also worried he hadn’t been doing his job for very long and was in charge of looking at my ear. My dad wanted to sue, my mum didn’t…I could have been SO rich.
My parents were given drops to put in my ear, I screamed so much due to the pain, then the blood started. My parents never put drops in my ear, again. I was made to wear a hearing aid in my left ear. So here I am 6 or 7 years old, just started primary school, I have a funny looking nose, a funny shaped mouth with a scar on it, a fucking hearing aid and to top it all off I was blessed with long-sightedness so I had glasses. FUCKING GORGEOUS. Here is where my body image problems began, at 6 or 7 years old, not even old enough to know what body image meant.
I still say that my primary school friends were the best people I ever met because they never bullied me for how I looked, I was also very small for my age which could have led to bullying, but I was never bullied. I was accepted and had a great group of friends, some of whom I am still in contact with now.
Very few people have ever mentioned my lip or nose, in fact the only person I remember mentioning it before I did (as I was always quick to point it out and explain before someone said something to me) was my close friend Sarah B, she wasn’t rude, she just asked if that was what I had (a harelip) and I said yes, she was fascinated by knowing more so I told her. We had known each other for a week and have been close friends since then.
High school was hard for me, not because I was bullied although, I did get the piss taken out of me for my forehead….millennium dome was a term used or ‘Nicole do you know that PlayStation advert with the weird chinky eyed girl and massive forehead, that looks like you!’. Chinky is not a term I would use, I’m repeating what they said to me. I do have very oriental shaped eyes that I am immensely proud of, so they were referring to those too. The joke was on Nichola Blair (yes I’m fucking naming and shaming) and William Garrett as I’ve seen both recently and let’s just say… I’ve grown into my looks and have a good head of hair, whereas Nichola hasn’t and William… well… William doesn’t have any hair, because he’s lost it all.
My teeth, due to my harelip I am assuming as my parents’ teeth were both beautifully straight and white (until they started smoking) were crooked and horrible. My mother did say she thought once I’d lost my baby teeth that my adult teeth would grow in straight, my mother was delusional. My adult teeth grew in bigger, bolder and more crooked than my baby teeth. I was then blessed with good ol’ braces.
It got too much for me, I had too much ugly shit going on that I just didn’t want to be bullied for, so I lost it. When I say I lost it I mean I threw my hearing aid and glasses in the bin and pretended I’d lost them. I got new glasses, but would never wear them to school and keep to being a specky bastard at home (I’m allowed to say that because I’m still a specky bastard). So all that was left was my crooked teeth, weird shaped body and my “apparent” massive forehead. I’d no issue with my forehead so I didn’t have a fringe cut in (apart from that one time when I was 15 and it ended up…see an example below).
Okay, so I couldn’t find an example so I’ll try to describe it. Fringe was like the picture below, but instead of being straight down (my hair is naturally very, very wavy) it was like a Ɔ shape on the left and C shape on the right. I also thought by keeping it wet it would keep it down to my eyebrows, as when it was dry it tended to ride up my forehead…. we’ve all had “WTF” hair moments.
So, all this was going on and I was also growing into a woman. I began my period when I was 9 so I started “blossoming” early. By the time I started secondary school I had pubes, hairy and I mean hairy like dog hairy legs, arms and armpits (that I shaved, cos…duh I ain’t going to look like a Yeti). Teenagers reading this, never, ever, EVER SHAVE YOUR ARMS OR EYEBROWS, EVER or your 9 o’clock shadow (i.e. the hair on your top lip) trust me, I’m an adult, I did it and….well…. just don’t be a weirdo.
I had quite large boobs for my age, the problem was my mother wouldn’t take me bra shopping. In fact, I had to take myself and I ended up having a hand me down bra from my cousin’s friend because it was too big for her. That was my black bra, I’d also a white sports type bra that my mother dyed grey because she was an adult, yet didn’t know how to separate whites and colours in the wash… I learned to do my own clothes washing after that.
So yeah, I was awkward, I probably didn’t help myself with the fringe or the bras, but I was a kid, I couldn’t do normal bra shopping because my relationship with my mother wasn’t normal (I’ll talk about it one day). I remember being curious about other girls bodies and just remember thinking how pretty the majority of my friends were and that I was the “ugly, smart one” in the group. I was pasty white, skinny as hell with these big boobs, one boob was hugely bigger than the other, which is actually very common ladies, nothing wrong with it and mine are still the same, although the little one has caught up with the bigger one so it isn’t as noticeable.
I’d always been so self-conscious about my face and in my teenage years I wore a shit tonne of hats to hide it, but now my body had started acting up. I was a huge WWE fan and remembered watching Lita, Sable, Trish Stratus and even Chyna after her surgery and thinking “I was I was that beautiful, I wish my boobs were like that, I wish my butt wasn’t as big and my legs weren’t like weird tree trunks”. I was BRUTAL about myself, now you have probably guessed from reading my posts I’ve a wicked sense of humour, I’d make jokes about myself which I honestly feel saved me from bullying. I was a good kid, got A’s and B’s, did well in my GCSE’s and left high school because I hated it and went to college.
I never, ever wore make-up, again because I didn’t have that relationship with my mother it wasn’t like I could borrow hers. I remember just going and buying some with my pocket money from my dad and not having the slightest idea what I was doing. I also dyed my hair for the first time and thought blonde streaks on my gorgeous black/brown hair was a good look for me, I didn’t have straighteners and hadn’t heard of frizz ease, but I did iron my hair with an actual IRON. Don’t do that, don’t be a dickhead like me.
I thought I was the dogs’ bollocks, I felt so confident for the first time and because I was at college boys were taking notice, not of my looks, but of my huge boobs. At this point, I was a 32F (UK size) and I was 5 feet tall and a dress size 4-6 (UK). I looked ridiculous and family and friends often said because of my boobs I looked like I was about to fall forward at any minute. However, when I got home and the makeup came off the issues came back. I hated my face, but there was nothing I could do or so I thought. I also still had braces.
I was lucky enough that I got really good at makeup so it hid a lot. I had one or two boyfriends, nothing to write home about and nowhere near as much as the average pretty girl. I was more the serious relationship type, I was 17 when I met my husband and we are still together 14 years later.
My view of myself was so bad I wouldn’t even eat in front of my husband, if I had to I’d hide behind him or hide my mouth. I was so conscious of my braces and my smile. I got my braces off when I was 18 and I was delighted, but I still wasn’t happy. I think the first proper plastic surgery that I remember was when I was 15, I had bone taken from my hip, put down the bottom of my eye and into my cheeks to help build more structure. That was the start of my love for morphine.
The next big facial surgery I had was when I was… 16? I had a rhinoplasty and fat put into my lips from my stomach (of which there was very little fat). Things improved slightly for me, but I still hated my face. The next time I had surgery I had more fat taken from my stomach and put into my face, I was awake this time on local anaesthetic listening to Snow Patrol and Oasis while Chris did mini-liposuction on me to get the very little fat out by cutting a hole in my bellybutton and scraping it out, omg I will never forget the scraping.
This was my one and only time with problems when I say problems, I mean…Chris said I could have died. At this point I was slightly older, I think 19 and was with my husband. He didn’t understand why I felt I needed this, but as always and being the sweetheart that he is, he was supportive if it made me feel better, but stressed he thought I was gorgeous and didn’t need it.
So…I went out with my friend Laura G, husband and I were living together this point and I was working 3 jobs so a night out was a bit of a rare occasion. I was in the Bureau in Jordanstown, catching up with Laura who I’d met working in the M&S warehouse (also where I met Sarah B) and because I was a cider drinker and like a true alcoholics daughter could drink like a fish, I needed a wee. I remember going to the loo, now my stomach was still healing internally from the surgery (bear this in mind) there was one of those big round toilet roll holders. Again, remember, I’m a short shit so this would have been around my stomach area to probably the top of my tatas.
All was going well, I’d had a wee, was zipping up my pants all that jazz and I spun round to open the door and BAM! Smack right where the fat had been taken I hit myself against that toilet roll holder, now these are metal, not plastic M.E.T.AL. (insert gif Manny MUA or James Charles’ clapping when they are making a specific point, here) I’m not a screamer (that’s what she said) when I am in pain I go white as fuck, or should I say whiter as fuck.
I composed myself and went back out, but my stomach was killing me. I laughed it off with my friend and continued my night. I don’t remember when the swelling started, or when I noticed the clots that eventually also turned into cellulitis. I do remember I also ended up with a big ass clot on my right side of my lip, though at the same time.
It was my husband that sounded the alarm to get me to the hospital, we were lying in bed and I was in so much pain I was punching the wall, I don’t mean when you stub your toe on the coffee table and you punch the nearest cushion. I mean properly punching my bedroom wall to the point where my husband thought I was going to break my hand.
The next thing I remember is being bundled into my dad’s car in absolute agony at stupid o’clock in the morning (it probably wasn’t it was probably like 7am, what can I say I’m a storyteller). We arrived at the Ulster and I was in pain, the cellulitis was BAD at this point and they had to drain it with a big ass needle. I’m scared of needles, but it was fucking BIG. Like I’m pretty sure they borrowed it from a vet, BIG.
It took two male attendings, two nurses and my dad to hold me down and I STILL managed to kick one of the attendings. It was honestly a jerk reaction to someone hurting me, at this point in my life my mother had stopped beating me because she realised I’d gotten strong, so anytime anyone hit me (including her) I hit back, hard.
I was hospitalised, now, I can’t remember if they didn’t drain all of it or that this happened to me twice, because I then remember a separate draining incident where an Indian doctor drained it with the same big ass needle and I nearly broke a female nurses hand from squeezing it so tight.
It was a long time ago, so it’s foggy, but I was hospitalised, for five whole days. During those five whole days, I was on the emergency list for surgery, so obviously I was being fasted (aka starved). I was happy as a pig in shit on morphine, but my stomach was an absolute mess. My dad visited often, as did my husband (who just to be clear was my boyfriend until I was 21, then we married), my auntie who was suffering from cancer also visited me, it was her that I told about the fasting, I was a teenager I ate EVERYTHING and was always hungry. By this point, I had been in 4 days and felt like I was being starved to death.
My auntie, being the absolute LEGEND (RIP Auntie Penny) that she was, went and demanded to know why her niece was being fasted and then pushed down the list for emergency surgery. I don’t remember if she got answers or not, but I do remember calling Michelle, she was Chris Hill’s secretary, asking her when exactly Chris was going to come and see me as he was based on the ward and I felt it should be his decision whether surgery was necessary or not. Michelle couldn’t believe it and came round to me herself when she saw how unwell I looked she text Chris right away and I want to say within hours Chris was there.
He told me he had no idea I’d been there for four days, said I didn’t need emergency surgery and had a look at my wounds. By this point the morphine, antibiotics and drainage with the needle had been done, I was also on warfarin (for those of you who don’t know that’s a blood thinner, I’m prone to clots so should have had it before) so the clots had pretty much dispersed. He told me he would check on me the next day about going home, he looked so angry so I’m pretty sure the attendings got in some shit for it.
I was finally allowed to eat, all I wanted was a salad or something light as I knew I’d not be able to keep anything heavy down since I hadn’t eaten in four days. The only thing the nurse could get me was an egg sandwich… a fucking egg sandwich. You bet your ass I threw that up and made a point of throwing up on my bed, too because nurse should know better than to give someone bread after they haven’t eaten in four days. Chris was informed of that the next day and again, I think I got someone in the shit.
I’ve been left with HORRENDOUS scarring from the needles that drained my stomach and even a portion of my stomach sticks out, I don’t know why. The tissue is still extremely hard and it’s been years, no amount of massaging will take it away. Dopey dick here STILL wasn’t done even after that experience. I went back to Chris AGAIN for the same type of surgery, this time I was put to sleep and it ended a whole lot better. Chris told me that was it then, no more surgery.
Years passed and I was still devastated, the fat transfer hadn’t worked in my eyes, I hated my lips and how they were shaped. In 2017 I had my first round of lip fillers, 6 months later I had another round of lip fillers. Again, I felt they didn’t do what they were supposed to, in early 2018 I went to a lovely lady based on Stranmillis Road named Rasa who was a facial tattooist. She did microblading and lip tattooing.
I wish I still had the photo of when they were first done, they were swollen and gorgeous. I have included a photo below of what they look like, now. One thing I will say is my family all have big lips, not like Angelina Jolie lips (well my cousin Jamie does and it’s just not natural for a man to have lips like that).
I’ve been back to Chris, he’s offered more fillers, still waiting on that. You can see my Harry Potter scar (as I call it) and the way my lips are misshapen. If you look close enough you can see my nose is also still slightly tilted and one nostril is smaller than the other.
I’m still so unhappy to the point where I have done research ongoing abroad (Poland) to have a lip reconstruction as I genuinely feel that is the only thing that is going to fix it, they also remove scarring so I might be able to get rid of the scar on my upper lip and my stomach scars (which I won’t gross you out with a photo of that, my husband is the only one that is unfortunate enough to see it).
I’ve also set up a Go Fund Me page for people to help me raise money to do this as there is no way at the moment I’d be able to afford it myself.
This blog is purely to explain my journey from being born with a birth defect, to the dozens of surgeries, to present day. Before anyone starts, I’m doing this for me, I know when to quit, I don’t have any sort of body dysmorphia, but I do associate my birth defect with the childhood abuse I suffered and therefore want to do what I can so I don’t have to wake up every morning and see it. I’m sure even the trolls can appreciate that.
I’d be really grateful if you could check out my Go Fund Me page which is:
As always thanks for the love and support, the beauty blogs will be back as soon as my domain finishes transferring.