Updated: May 15, 2019
Hello, Felixs Mum here! We are so thrilled he’s been picked to be the next face of the Cotswold Baby & Toddler Show, I entered on a whim and we really weren’t expecting him to win so it was such a lovely surprise. Felix was born in May 2016, our second and last baby, and he’s a complete whirlwind. He never seems to pause or stop, he’s constantly climbing or jumping or screeching, he has boundless energy and such a fierce spirit.
I had an extra scan in pregnancy at 17 weeks and that’s where they picked up his cleft. I’ll admit that we were both terrified, for the health problems, for the surgeries, for how we would cope, for what he would have to face.
Clefts can sometimes be a result of chromosomal abnormalities and being a midline defect they can also accompany heart problems but many scans and tests confirmed that for him it was “isolated”, something that just happened in the early days of my pregnancy with no rhyme or reason.
I was so worried for so long but oh, the moment he was born I could not imagine him any other way, and I could never imagine being able to love him more. He was more than perfect, his cleft wasn’t just something to overcome, it was part of him and he was so so beautiful.
Feeding him was no less of a bonding experience than with my first. Laying him on my lap, hooking myself up to the pump to give him my milk using specialist bottles.
Other parents of children with clefts had warned me how attached you get to their “first face” and really I struggled to believe them, his first surgery to repair his lip had been a goal in pregnancy but once he was here I found myself wanting to postpone it, to have one more day with that giant smile, to keep him looking how he did when he was first placed on my chest.
Under the care of Evelina London children's hospital he had his first surgery at nearly 4 months where they repaired his lip and the upper part of his hard palate and he sailed through it. The next surgery came at 11 months, his surgeon repaired his hard and soft palate in multiple layers. This didn’t go quite as well, Felix really struggled to eat and drink after the surgery but luckily the staff at Evelina's somehow got us through the week and he eventually recovered.
Aside from the surgeries his babyhood was no different from any other, all the worries I had were unfounded. He plays, he screams, he throws things, he frustrates his big brother by trying to involve himself in everything, he scares me daily trying to climb things not made for climbing and jumping on things not made for jumping, and manages to exhaust us all every day.
The only other effect is the position of his palate during my pregnancy means his Eustachian tubes didn’t form fully leaving him with prolonged congestion and hearing loss that ranges from mild to severe (often for no apparent reason!). This is hopefully something he’ll grow out of but for now he has hearing aids that allow him to hear on the rare occasions he agrees to wear them, although he manages well without them.
There will be more surgeries to come and more challenges as he learns to speak and starts school but for now he is the same as his peers, and I’m so glad we get the opportunity to show other parents who may be expecting a baby with a cleft that there really is so little to fear. His cleft and hearing loss has never held him back and I can’t see that changing.
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