Motherhood in so many ways is different than we expect – it is harder, it is messier, and it never goes as planned. Two babies in and somehow both of my boys have had a challenging newborn stage. E with his undiagnosed allergies, colic, and sleep issues and now C. In my naivety, I decided that our second born would be “easy” compared to our first. I told myself that the challenges with E prepared us for ANYTHING with C. And in some ways, I was right; just not in the way I thought.
Unfortunately, Baby C has not been the easy baby I imagined. You see I envisioned him as a content baby who slept all. the. time. He would only cry when needing to eat and he would just be happy. (que laughs from all of the experienced mamas reading this now…) Baby C was not that, he was fussy and in the first 2 weeks he spent most of his days crying as we struggled to figure out what he needed. We had seen all the signs – mucus in his stool, diarrhea, arching his back, frequent feedings in small amounts and a general uncomfortable stiffness to his body. With sadness, we realized he too was allergic to dairy just like his older brother. We immediately switched him to the specialized formula and once we got him to eat it (the taste is NOT good) we immediately saw improvements. But just as one thing was not the answer for E, there was more to the puzzle.
The fussiness still continued. Our pediatrician mentioned he may be tongue tied - from the shape of his tongue when he cried, to the struggle to latch and frequent and LONG feedings, and the constant white film on his tongue from the milk. Three opinions later it he was officially diagnosed with tongue and lip tie.
For those of you new to this whole thing (I was one of you!), a tongue tie simply means there is extra tissue under his tongue. His tongue would cup creating a bowl instead of pressing flat against his palette. It restricts the movement and makes it more difficult to latch to breast or bottle. A lip tie is when the skin under the lip is too tight and the upper lip is restricted, this makes it difficult to place your lips around the nipple. I want to note here that this is typically associated with breastfeeding, but it does affect bottle feeding babies too! I did not breastfeed C and he still had difficulty latching – no matter what bottle we tried. The biggest signs for us were chomping at the nipple instead of sucking, gagging on the nipple, and taking 45 minutes to eat 1 oz. and falling asleep then waking 30 minutes later and wanting to do it all over again. I do believe however it may have taken us longer to diagnose him because he wasn’t nursing.
The treatment for tongue and lip tie is a quick procedure in which the pediatric dentist laser cuts the skin under the tongue and lip. It is very efficient, but painful nonetheless. Due to the nature of the mouth, we were told they cannot numb his tongue because of swallowing issues. Sugar water was used instead. Moms are not allowed in the procedure room because it is traumatic – they say more for the mom than the babe, but I’m not so sure.
I could hear his little screams down the hall and it nearly broke me. It was a scared cry. It was a pain cry. And I wept right there in the waiting room. Praying I had made the right decision. Praying his pain would not be in vain.
Besides the immediate issues of latching and feeding – there are long term effects that can occur form lip and tongue ties including speech impediments, deviated septum, palette and dental issues, sleeping issues which lead to behavior issues, etc. It was the long-term effects that drove us to the decision we made. It was the fact that his constant and slow eating was not just affecting him – but our entire family. I was exhausted and it was jeopardizing my ability to care for my other son.
What they don’t tell you in the mainstream is that the procedure is only step one. For the next 6-weeks you have to stretch the tongue and lip every 3 hours to ensure the wound heals open instead of closed. There is blood, there is screaming, and it is awful in Every. Single. Way. There is something very different about a doctor inflicting pain in a 5-minute procedure versus mom inflicting that pain several times a day. I literally cried every time. Guilt. So much mom guilt.
Something they don’t tell you about motherhood is that you literally feel your babies pain. You feel it in your soul, you feel it in your bones. You would do anything to take it away and you would carry it a million times if it meant they didn’t have to. These 6 weeks and seeing C in pain brought me to my knees. It broke my heart, my spirit and it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I desperately wanted to take the burden of his pain, and I felt powerless because I couldn’t.
Fast forward 2 months post procedure and stretches and our happy baby is finally here. His smile lights up the entire room and he literally squawks to get attention. His cry is minimal – more like a little outburst as if he is saying, “hey remember me? I am hungry over here!” He brings so much joy to our family and our community.
His eating improved dramatically as we continued to do the stretches and chiropractic care. He went from fussy all the time (he was just hungry!) to eating more and being content. Feedings were quicker and less stressful. We started to develop a routine and a schedule. We started to leave the house. Mama had enough energy for both her babies and our whole family was positively affected.
On the other side of it all, I can say that it was worth it. That I am glad we did this.
So, mama, if you are on this journey and wondering what to do. I promise you it will be worth it. I promise you will see improvements for your babe, for you, and for your family. And according to research, they promise your babe will never remember it.
You got this, mama. And I am here for you. Cheering you on and willing to walk in it with you, too.
Xo – B
PS: I NEED to say thank you to the amazing women at Nourish Family Wellness in New Brighton. They are a group of pediatric chiropractors and lactation consultants who specialize in lip and tongue tie and craniosacral therapy. They were my soft place to land every step of this journey. They welcomed me in 2 times per week for months and as we continue to do the maintenance care C needs. They not only loved on my baby and ensured he felt better, but they loved on me as a mama. More than once I have walked in with tears welling up in my eyes and they wrap their comfort, their peace, their grace, and their love around me. They have encouraged me and fed my spirit in more ways than I can describe. They are absolutely AMAZING at what they do and in every way imaginable care for the mama, the baby, and the entire family unit. Thank you for scooping me up in my pain, for healing my baby, and for encouraging me when it got hard. You will forever be in my heart and hopefully in our lives.
*Side note - I have decided that since both my newborns have been challenging that I should get a free pass for teenage years…