71 Years, A Blessed Cleft

Alexis GiannattasioAdult, Family Stories

By Tom Turbiville
College Station, Texas

I was born in August of 1948 in Houston with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. There was no Dr. Google for my parents to answer their immediate questions, such as why their newborn son had less than half an upper lip, why his palate was split, and why he didn’t look like the other babies in the nursery. They only had their delivery doctor throwing this “cleft” word at them, and they found out that instead of taking their baby home with them, he’d have to stay at the hospital an extra 10 days until surgery could be performed.

There starts my story, that now 71 years later, I hope can serve as more than just hope, but also confidence that all families of the “cleft club” can draw from.

My speech therapy is a blur of a memory for me today, but I do recall repeating lots of words with B, P and M sounds. I read children’s books with those sounds. Fast-forward and whatever the therapy was designed to do, it did…boy did it ever!

You see, not only did my speech develop properly, but somewhat miraculously, speaking became my professional career as a full-time radio sports announcer for 31 years, a part-time vocation I continue today in retirement. (Wanna hear? I have a podcast at bvvoices.podbean.com)

I have no modern-day answers about baby bottles or nursing, but I’m here to answer any questions that I can about my wonderful cleft life. Email me at tturby@gmail.com.