Real People, Real Story: This Is Leticia Sunduvanza


Real People, Real Story: This Is Leticia Sunduvanza
Written by Caroline-Charles Ting
We would probably had gotten full preparation for new adventures as new parents;
One, if the consent for us to be the parents was finalised as early as the pregnancy was known. Instead, it was already into 7 months.
Two, if baby stayed warm and cosy in mommy’s womb until full term. Instead, she decided that at 31 weeks, was already restless being confined inside. Pre-cautions were taken and for the safety of baby and mom, scheduled C-Section was conducted when baby was 35 weeks on January 8th, 2016.
Basically, only two months’ notice for the stork to deliver the baby.
God has better plans.
And indeed.
That day onwards, we became parents. After 11 years of waiting and several ordeals dealing with infertility.
Leticia Sunduvanza; Leticia means Joy while Sunduvanza picked by her beloved Aki (paternal grandfather) an hour before she was born (!) loosely translated as ‘our spirit/strength’ in Kadazan. She was born with cleft lip and palate. A condition that is one of every 700 pregnancies based on Statistic. It stunned us the minute we saw her ‘differences’ cos we did not expect this during the regular check-ups.


I was telling Him, “Please, no more that I can’t handle Lord,” and at that instant, my husband rubbed his hand on my back. As if sending His message in the form of my husband, a sense of assurance touched me that I have been promised by the Lord that everything will fall in place.
It was hay-wired in the beginning. We were only prepared for a baby in a matter of two months and we certainly did not prepare for baby with special needs. We thought it would be like any other deliveries; baby is born, baby is brought home a few days after. However, things are different with this little one. In short, we did not anticipate the long winding process that we will have to go through just so we can bring a child to our home and live a happy, family life.
How’s life after baby?
Honestly, just like any other new parents would answer, a 360˚ turn in life.
Of course, her arrival has been nothing but a joy. But all the late nights, the panda eyes, the stress…they have all been the same as what other new parents would experience. During those times we had to deal with a colic baby, I remember feeling disappointed at how other parents did not properly explain how this situation would be. At least, I think the experience was not correctly expressed.
Yes, they said something about having to stay up late attending to crying baby that feels like an endless night. Or when you can’t but cry together when baby does not seem to stop crying and you don’t know how else to calm her down. Or the emotional build up you have to keep cos you can’t just burst it out to the husband or family cos they too are in the same boat. But in the end, they (the parents) will all covered up those experiences with “But that’s life.


If given a chance, I would go for it again.” Like, why? And then, after the difficult time phased out-…I realized that if a new parent asks me how it’s like having a new baby, I’ll say the same thing, “It’s difficult. It’s not easy. But that’s life. I would go for it if God let me have another one.” And why is that remark? All cause of that one little coo that melts your heart. Or that adorable giggle that can’t seem to dissipate from your ear. Or the sparkle in baby’s eyes when she stared at you intensely while feeding her that blinds you from all the difficulties you were having. Those moment, they are priceless.

Being a cleft lip and palate baby, embarking into her journey surely adds more variety to our title as new parents. The first one year was all filled up with hospital visits and gathering up strength to face up with her surgery process. It definitely was not easy to find courage in facing days when she was in pain. But we did it! That experience taught us that, in whatever situation life throws at us, with enough love and support from people that matters as well as faith in the Lord, no one will come out defeated. Sure, at times we do feel like we have lost the battle but hey, we did not and we are still fighting. Leticia’s cleft journey is still a long way to go as she might face bullies growing up but we will be there to guide her in understanding what she is and the reason of her existence while at the same time praying she will grow up to become a beautiful woman inside and out.

On a more personal level, being a mom also allows me to discover more of my hidden traits. Such as the need to be organized and to keep things in order. I love planning but I am also a go-with-theflow kind of person. But when baby comes in the picture, the planning part gets more serious. We have no maid to help us look after the baby while we are at work. I am fortunate to have my mother in-law to help us around though.



However, having a baby means having to add extra house chores and well planned itinerary for the day; laundry several times a week (when we would actually do it once a week pre-baby time), making sure the house is clean and neat to allow the little one to roam around safely, meals are ready in time for the child to eat (when we used to just have sunny side up and rice kicap when we were too lazy to cook), no over-time at work unnecessarily, etc. I must say, motherhood and parenthood really help me fine-tuning this trait. I become more aware of keeping a plan and sticking to it, thrive to make things clear and simple so I will be able to run my role as wife and mother smoothly while avoiding unnecessary stress on my shoulders. So far, I am enjoying this inner


So, a baby in life as a whole? Indescribable.
It’s a mix of every feeling you would ever think of. And you think a child can do that to your life?
Well, welcome to parenthood. Living and loving it!

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