Owen's appointment at Children's Hospital in Birmingham was satisfactory; we have some answers about his speech development.
Owen has velopharyngeal insufficiency. His soft palate does not hit the back of his throat and form a tight seal, a maneuver necessary to build up oral pressure to produce consonants. As a result, he has severely hypernasal speech, where the amount of air escaping through his nose as he talks is off the charts.
Dr. Wiatrak told us that without a pharyngeal flap surgery, Owen's speech would not improve. This surgery involves cutting a flap from the back of the throat and stitching it to the soft palate, leaving a little room on either side so the nose is not totally closed off from the throat. After the surgery is performed and all the swelling goes down, he will need intensive speech therapy.
It's what we were suspecting, and now we know for sure. We'll schedule the surgery for after the baby arrives, since the first available surgery date was during my 37th week of pregnancy! Imagine that...