This blog doesn’t really fit with my others, but I really wanted to write about Jack’s tongue and lip ties and offer information, hope, and encouragement to other moms. I wish I had pictures of how it looked before his revision, but I don’t so I’ll provide a link at the end.
When Jack was born, he didn’t open very wide when he latched on. I knew right away something wasn’t right since I had the same issue with my last baby. I requested his pediatrician evaluate him for tongue tie, which he did. He found a tie and clipped it in the hospital. I thought our problems were solved.
Fast forward to days 3-5. My milk has come in and I’m full-blown engorged. My normal B cups are now about an F. My nipples are cracked and scabbed. I literally screamed every time he latched on. I remember waking up at night to feed him and crying – something I had never done with my other two babies when breastfeeding (and trust me, I had my share of pain with them, too.) I vowed to go to a lactation consultant in the morning.
I went to a trusted IBCLC that I had used before. She looked in his mouth, weighed him, and watched us nurse. I asked her if he had a lip tie, and she said he did not. He latched a little better in the office so I thought I just needed to work on my technique. I saw his pediatrician the next day, who also said Jack did not have a lip or tongue tie. He said some babies just haven’t learned to open their mouths very wide yet.
Fast forward again to 10 days postpartum. A friend at the ministry I volunteer with began talking with me about her son’s journey with the same issues. She referred me to a board on Facebook, “Oklahoma Tongue and Lip Tie Support.” I began reading and decided the best coarse of action would be going to the DDS highly recommended by these moms.
We drove an hour and a half to Oklahoma City to see the specialist. She compassionately confirmed what I already knew was true – he had a severe lip tie. But not only that, he still had a very significant tongue tie. We will never know if the pediatrician just didn’t clip it all in the first place, or if it reattached because we were never told to do sweeps with our fingers over the area while it healed to prevent reattachment.
It was really hard knowing my baby was getting flesh lasered out of his mouth. But the staff and dentist were so incredibly sweet and compassionate, and Jack only cried for about 2 minutes while they did the procedure. He nursed right away afterwards.
As warned, he was a little fussy that night. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Over the next few days, my nipples healed. So did his perpetual “milk blister” on his upper lip that previously gave him the “Bugs Bunny” look. His daddy and I did the recommended 2 weeks of sweeping our fingers over the places of his previous ties so they wouldn’t grow together as they healed. We did La Leche League International’s suck training.
After a few weeks, Jack was still “clicking” when he nursed, letting me know he wasn’t always getting a good latch. I scheduled Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, a gentle touch massage-like treatment to release tension and help babies muscles reset so they can unlearn their bad nursing habits.
But he still clicked. He still had trouble with my very fast let let down and spray. He came unlatched many times during nursing. I always had to hold my breast in his mouth for him, since his latch wasn’t strong enough to do it on his own. I posted on the Facebook support group I mentioned earlier, looking for understanding. While I wasn’t hurting, he was still not nursing, “normally.” (Thankfully though, he was gaining weight. 90th percentile to be exact.) They told me it takes between 10-12 weeks for babies to learn how to work their new mouth.
He’s 14 weeks now – that’s 12 weeks after his revision – and lo and behold, those moms were right. He nurses like a “normal” baby. No clicking, no unlatching, no soreness. Just a happy, chunky, healthy boy! I am so grateful to Heather, the mom who referred me to the support group, the group itself, and the doctor who performed the revision. Jack’s pretty grateful, too, I’m sure!
For information if you think your child may have a lip or tongue tie, I found this blog a helpful first step: A Step-By-Step Guide to Diagnosing Tongue/Lip Ties