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Friday, May 11, 2012

'He is the love of my life': Mother's inspiring YouTube video about son born with severe cleft palate that left him with no eyes

By Daily Mail Reporter

A mother whose son was born with a rare form of cleft palate that left him with no eyes has made an inspiring video revealing their struggles - and how the baby boy battled their bullies with his laughter.

In the YouTube video, Lacey Buchanan, from Woodbury, Tennessee, holds up cards describing her excitement at falling pregnant with son Christian, and the fears and snide comments that followed.

During the seven-minute film, she holds one-year-old Christian into her chest, only revealing his face to the camera at end of the video as she kisses him and shows him off proudly.

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Inspiring: Lacey Buchanan holds up her one-year-old son Christian in a moving video she has made about the boy, who was born with a severe cleft palate that left him blind

The inspiring video tells the story of Lacey, who met her husband Chris when they were 15, and went on to marry him when they were 21. They fell pregnant when she was 23, one note card reads.

But a week after the discovery, doctors called the couple to say something was wrong: it appeared that their unborn child had developmental problems.

The Buchanans, who are devout Christians, refused to abort the baby, knowing they would love him and he would have a purpose. Doctors said there was an 85 per cent chance of Lacey miscarrying.

When she went to Vanderbilt Medical Center to deliver Christian in February 2011, she did not know if he would live. He survived - yet his condition was much worse than doctors had predicted.

Story: Holding Christian's face away from the camera, Lacey recounts her excitement at her pregnancy - and how doctors told her something was wrong with her unborn child

Memories: Lacey holds up cards describing the moment she found out her son had a rare condition

Fears: Lacey said she and her husband Chris returned home not knowing how to care for a blind child

Fighter: Lacey holds up a picture of Christian, who underwent his first operation at just four days old

The baby boy suffered from Tessier cleft, a rare and severe cleft palate that can affect different areas of the face - such as the nose, eyes and jaw - in addition to the mouth.

Christian had no palate, was unable to shut his mouth and was born without eyes.

At four days old, he underwent his first surgery. Through a series of operations, doctors have closed his cleft lip but his palate will require more surgeries, his mother said.

He spent four weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

When he was finally ready to leave and returned home, 'things were hard', one of Lacey's note cards reads. She and her husband Chris were unprepared for how to raise a blind child, she explains.

Returning home: Lacey recounts some of the judgmental comments she received when Christian went home

Cruel: Despite the struggles they faced, Lacey said she knew she was never going to abort Christian

She also struggled with judgmental stares and whispers from people they passed. People would ask 'What's wrong with your kid?', with one woman even telling her she was 'horrible' for not aborting him.

As Lacey, 25, struggled to stay strong, it was Christian who fought back.

When people would stare at him, he would begin to giggle - and they would start to giggle too.

'Anyone who meets Christian falls in love with him pretty quickly,' one note card reads.

She also says she knows she did the right thing not to abort him as he is 'the love of my life'.

The video has had an incredible response, which comes as a bit of a surprise to Lacey.

'I didn't expect it to be as powerful as it was, because to me it's just me and my son,' Lacey told MailOnline.

'My biggest point witht he video was that he deserves life, and he deserves everything that I am going to give him.

'I was hoping to inspire other parents who are in a situation where they found out that their child may be disabled and they are dealing with the question of whether or not to give a disabled child life.

'I wanted to just give them a little hope that it is hard at times, but there are happy times too, and the happy times so outweigh the hard times.'

She told MailOnline about how her giggly 14-month-old is incredible to watch and she gets so much joy from every day with him. One of her favorite moments is when Christian laughs- something that happens often.

Positive: As Lacey struggled with the comments, it was her son Christian who stood up against them

Loved: Lacey added that 'anyone who meets Christian falls in love with him pretty quickly'

'It's so funny to see him laugh because, since he can't see, anything that he finds amusing is because of sight or touch. It's just wonderful because he really knows the meaning of life's simple pleasures,' she said.

Writing on her blog, Leading The Blind, Lacey said she was inspired to make the video after she saw another YouTube film by a woman named Lizzie, who had also suffered judgemental comments for her looks.

Lacey, who is a law student studying in Nashville, said Lizzie's condition meant her facial features were distorted and she struggled to gain weight. She, too, revealed her face at the end of the film.

'This inspired me so much because I can relate to knowing how it feels to look different,' she wrote. 'It may not be me that looks different, but the stares at my son hurt no less than if they were at me.'

In love: Lacey, who is a law student, said she could not imagine life without Christian, who is now one year old

Motherly: Lacey was inspired to make the video after seeing one by a girl who also suffered deformities

Support: Since uploading the video she has received hundreds of messages from well-wishers, she said

After Lacey created the video in March, she also uploaded it to a Christian channel named GodTube and received more than 20,000 hits in one day.

'I am absolutely blown away by the response that the video has had,' she said. 'I never imagined it would be this big. Thank you so much to everyone who is supporting us in our journey!'

'My Facebook has exploded with messages and friend requests by people who were moved by Christian's story,' she told MailOnline.

'Everybody has juse been really positive saying how beautiful Christian is and we have had the opposite experience quite a lot so it is awesome to see other people besides my family- who already know that he is beautiful- see that too.'

Lacey plans to finish law school, largely because her son has prompted her to specialize in disability advocacy law, because 'I want to be able to help people like Christian'.

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