During Julie’s pregnancy he was diagnosed with a cleft lip and palate. Have a look at www.clapa.com, the Cleft Lip & Palate association, for some great material about the condition (for instance, “one in every 600-700 children in the UK is born with a cleft lip and / or palate”). In Arthur’s case the cleft is bilateral and so the middle part of his upper lip is not pulled into position by the rest of the lip. This is the protrusion under his nose (see the picture below and right). They’ll operate on this when he’s about 3 months old to pull it into position. See these photos for examples of the results.
As you can see, he has a feeding tube taped into position. He can’t form suction due to his cleft palate: There’s no way of creating an air tight seal with a bottle or breast. Usually the tube would go up through the nose, but the combination of cleft lip and palate mean that there’s no separation between nasal passage and the mouth.
The feeding tube is a little irritating for him, and not an ideal feeding mechanism for new parents with no medical background (though it’s not rocket science either). So we’re trying to teach him to use his automatic sucking reaction in combination with us squeezing a bottle of milk to simulate what would happen if his sucking were effective. It seems that getting him feeding more naturally like this is good for his development. And the transition seems to be going well so far!
But enough of the cleft. He’s a much loved little boy with blonde highlights in his hair, an inquisitive gaze (when he’s awake) and of a good weight (8lb 8oz / 3.85kg). He’s brought a lot of joy to Julie and I and to all the grand parents, for whom he’s the first grandchild (by a few months at least).
The main point of this post was to show a couple of photos for those who had been asking. However, as I hadn’t previously mentioned the cleft to everyone I wanted the photos to appear in the context of an explanation. I hope it has interested you a little.