Akilah’s Nose: What is Frontonasal Dysplasia/Median Cleft Face?

Special thanks to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for sponsoring this post!

cleft nose, cleft face, frontonasal dysplasia, cfnd, cfns, #Akilahsnose

Akilah Skye, our long-awaited baby girl, came to us on the sixteenth day of August, after a very short labor of just three hours. Upon her descent, she was scooped up, wrapped in a blanket and placed into my arms. Finally, she was here and I could soon relax and be home to see Jayden off to school the following week.

Exhausted, I looked down to get a better glimpse of our HamburgHer (her nickname while in utero) and there it was, the what if that occupied a little too much space in my head from the moment I saw those two pink lines. There were no signs or warnings or anything like that. I just felt the need to prepare for whatever, become resilient and hustle for the next nine months.

“She has a big nose,” my husband commented from a place of shock and concern. Her nose, visibly flattened yet pronounced with a divot, was the start of a new journey neither of us, I felt, would have been prepared for now, but certainly not three kids ago. After spending about an hour cuddling with and nursing baby Akilah, she was off for an extended round of tests.

cleft nose, cleft face, frontonasal dysplasia, cfnd

We would meet the neonatologist. She would come in and mention one thing, then another thing. They needed to put a scope down her nose to make sure things were clear, that her cry face was a little crooked (we all have that crooked left lip curl in my maternal family) so bells palsy was a concern, the ears, nose and throat specialist would be in to see Baby, as would a geneticist.


See. It’s all fun and games when we’re all casually talking about good genes and general quirks passed down through genetics, but there’s nothing comforting about having a geneticist involved in the care of your newborn.

The geneticist explained to us that it appeared that Akilah had a minor form of Craniofrontonasal Dysplasia. It is a condition in which a cleft was formed in her face (similar to a cleft palate), causing a shift in the formation of her nose. Her palate wasn’t affected; neither was the function of her nose. The condition is very rare, but seems to affect more females than males. Wanting to believe that the cramped quarters of my uterus and carrying low was the cause of her nose malformation and any other asymmetry, we continued to smile and nod.

cleft nose, cleft face, frontonasal dysplasia, cfnd

The geneticist pulled out a book and shared some photos of other children who had more severe cases of the condition. Can you say awkward? *sigh* This was our moment to celebrate our new baby girl, but instead we were entertaining the idea of being two already worn out parents to a special needs child. The point was to further explain that the cleft usually causes wide-spaced eyes… but whatever… Brandy Norwood rocks her wide-spaced eyes, honey.

After doing some research, I discovered that frontonasal dysplasia usually causes a widow’s peak hairline as well… but whatever… I thought it was the cutest ever, now shared with her paternal Gamma and Titi. After we had gotten enough of the photographs, the geneticist asked us a round of questions, then reassured us that we did nothing wrong. She told us not to even think about going down that path of backtracking, calculating and overthinking. Clearly, she doesn’t know who I am…

cleft nose, cleft face, frontonasal dysplasia, cfnd

While on the topic of genetics, we went over the probability of certain cancers and the onset of mental illness in the both of us as parents as well as passing them on to our children. She answered pressing questions that I’ve had about myself and alleviated fears I’ve been carrying as I near thirtyhood. It’s funny how receiving my baby’s diagnosis turned into a lesson and relief regarding my cognitive health. The geneticist was a passionate one and knew her stuff. She gave us names of top child craniofacial experts in the region, fun facts, and most importantly hope.

frontonasal dysplasia
Hope keeps us strong in times of need and keeps us brave in times of fear. – Jade Raber

After all was said and done, baby Akilah’s health report was great and we would continue to watch her as she developed. If we had any concerns, we’d be able to take advantage of the Early Intervention program available to children diagnosed with conditions that may affect their development. As for the physical appearance of her nose, we decided to consult with a plastic surgeon who can work on the symmetry a bit. I don’t want to get into the why, because it’s very obvious. In a perfect, non-hurting, non-beauty obsessed world, we’d leave her nose as-is. We just want to ensure that she thrives and lives a happy life.

10/16 Hightailed it out of the children’s hospital with good news! #latergram #akilahgram #akilahsnose

A photo posted by Sheena Tatum (@sheenatatum) on

In October, we had our first consultation at the children’s hospital. We saw a craniofacial plastic surgeon, as well as a neurosurgeon. They wanted to be sure that her nose was free of brain tissue and any other masses, so she had a CT scan and an MRI, which confirmed that her nose was only a cosmetic condition. We will continue our journey with a meeting next month. They would like to monitor her cranial sutures to make sure they aren’t closing prematurely. The results of the previous scans showed that they were normal. Our next consultation will be another step towards surgical planning. I will be documenting behind the scenes, and will share details when I feel that I can.

cleft nose, cleft face, frontonasal dysplasia, cfnd

The support that we received in Akilah’s care wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Riley Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network. There are 170 children’s hospitals in the network, and they are able to provide the very best care because people donate. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals provide more than $3.5 billion in charitable care every single year in the U.S. Donations stay local and are used however the hospital needs them the most. These donations help purchase life-saving equipment, conduct research and pay for the special things that are crucial to a child’s healing from specialized therapy programs, equipment in multiple sizes, playrooms–the whole nine.


An exorbitant amount of money goes into running children’s hospitals, and they are always in great charitable need. Put your money where the miracles are. Support your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. We’re committed to doing what we can to support the network that supports us back.

To support my blogging efforts and site expenses, I do share relevant affiliate links in my posts. Thank you for your support.

Sheena Tatum

Hey, I'm Sheena! I married my jr. high sweetheart and together, we raise three tiny humans in NW Indiana. I'm an introverted free-spirit and serial dreamer obsessed with all things tropical and carefree. I love inspiring others to live wholly and find beauty in the mundane. I don't always get it right, but I'll keep trying anyway. :) Email: [email protected]

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  • Alina Stewart August 12, 2020 at 3:45 PM


    I am currently sitting in an interview with my Justin. My Justin is a twin and will be 20 years old August 25th. Justin was born with frontalnasal dysplasia. Akilah looks so much like my Justin. She is gorgeous! Look him up on Instagram Smiling Within or _justinstewart.


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    • Sheena Tatum August 12, 2020 at 10:07 PM

      Hi Alina,

      Justin and I follow each other and keep in touch! I’m so happy to have connected with him! He’s such a light! Thank you so much! <3

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  • Jane Solomon December 20, 2019 at 6:08 AM

    My son has same issue m,please I need the name of the hospital where Akilah’s surgery was done.

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  • Candice April 12, 2017 at 9:42 PM

    Wow, I was just informed that my daughter was diagnosed with the same thing. I’m still learning about it because I haven’t had the chance to talk back to genetics… they take so long to get back with me. At first I was a little bothered but now I’m gaining a little more understanding about it yet still have so many questions. My baby is now 11 months old and she is beautiful as will as your baby. She is reaching milestones and the condition didn’t seem to affect her brain. I believe she will have a normal life. This really helps and inspires me. Thank your for sharing your story. I would like to reach out to you personally if I may about some questions I have. Only if That is possible. Thank you!

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  • Cami August 25, 2016 at 10:38 PM

    I have two toddler-ish boys and a baby girl too! Your little girl is beautiful, just as God delivered her to you. And I can see in her eyes she feels loved by her family. Nothing can replace or do better than that! God bless you, little Akilah!

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  • Elle June 17, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    Your babygirl is so beautiful. What a precious little girl. Thanks for sharing her story. Greetz from Amsterdam.

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  • Tyshia May 28, 2016 at 10:08 AM

    Such a cutie! Thanks for sharing your story and being so transparent. Akilah is so blessed to have a mother like you! Sending love to you and your family <3.

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  • Mimi Green May 26, 2016 at 12:50 PM

    Thanks for sharing your truth. Akilah is adorable and lucky to have such great parents.

    Thanks for educating me on this topic.

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  • Drea May 26, 2016 at 12:12 PM

    I loved this post Sheena. You’ve grown and it’s evident. Akilah was a gift and I totally believe we grow in such amazing ways with each one God gives us. Looking forward to following her journey. She is just a doll!

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  • LaShawn May 24, 2016 at 5:22 AM

    Thank you for sharing your story! Akilah is beautiful!!! I love watching her grow!

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  • Sophia @ NYFoodgasm May 23, 2016 at 8:44 PM

    She’s a beauty, but I did notice her unique nose. I’m so glad it’s not a serious issue. You’re so very lucky and thanks for sharing your struggle with us. In this world where everything has to be perfect, it’s good to know it’s really not as control is just an illusion.

    Thanks for sharing and for letting us so deeply into your life. It’s a privilege.

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  • Tiffany May 23, 2016 at 7:59 PM

    I absolutely love this loving post and following the development of your little muchnkins and family, they all are just absolutely beautiful. Continue to be the most amazing parents you are:

    With love from Mommy, Cameron and Brooklynn! ❤

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  • traceykinohio May 20, 2016 at 8:23 AM

    …”In a perfect, non-hurting, non-beauty obsessed world, we’d leave her nose as-is. We just want to ensure that she thrives and lives a happy life….” That so touched my heart. Your princess is BEAUTIFUL!! God bless you for the strength to share this. All will be well because you guys are GREAT parents, so full of love. 🙂

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  • Emerald May 19, 2016 at 10:17 PM

    Akilah has a good mama and I know she’s going to be just fine. You have an adorable family, Sheena!

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  • Shelly May 19, 2016 at 1:36 PM

    Only cosmetic? You all are so BLESSED! I will say a prayer for your little beauty for the outcome you desire. I look forward to following along. I love watching all of your cuties grow up. I feel like they are my babies too 🙂 Much love from the Ismail fam!

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  • Bernetta May 19, 2016 at 10:52 AM

    Thank you for sharing your story. I will be following along. Your daughter is adorbs!!

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  • [email protected] May 19, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    Sheena, I’m so happy to read this post. I have been worried since I first saw you post pictures. Our youngest was born with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, so I know that sometimes babies look a little different but as parents we just don’t want to think about something being wrong.
    Thank God for wonderful caring doctors that took care of Casey (he is fine now) and will take care of your precious Akilah.

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  • Akilah Richards May 19, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    Sending much love y’all’s way! It’s great that it’s only cosmetic, and it’s even GREATER that Akilah has family who will re-affirm her value and love her fiercely, no matter what.

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  • Aaronica @ the crunchy mommy May 19, 2016 at 6:50 AM

    Thank you for sharing your story! As new moms we’re prepared but not but Akilah is in the best hands with you as her mom. I’ll be following along!!!!

    Ps. ABC saw one of the pictures of Akilah as I was reading, screams out baby and tries to run off with my phone!!!! She’s clearly loved by all in the TCM household!

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  • Samantha May 19, 2016 at 4:46 AM

    Oh, I am so glad that it was only cosmetic. She is so very cute, but I know how hard these situations are for new parents!

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    I'm an island girl at heart, unbothered old soul, and minimalist with extra tendencies. At my best, I love what I do... I want to encourage you to do the same, too. Live your best lives amidst trials and triumphs by crafting a life you love and deserve. Happiness is Iriemade❣ Read more...

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