Monday, December 16, 2013

Fixing a Tongue Tie

In case you missed it, I started our tongue tie story here by sharing the issues we faced during the first 11 weeks and the symptoms of a tongue tie. 

After I realized this could be out issue I called our pediatrician to find out what to do. We had an appointment a few days later and the pediatrician said it did “look like a tongue tie” but that she “wasn’t an expert.” She did commend me for sticking with breastfeeding for 11 long weeks of pain.  
Here’s where the story gets ugly…I was told that she has never once referred anyone to an ENT for a revision of a tongue tie.  In fact, she didn’t even know where to send me.  She said that because I was obviously committed to breastfeeding and that I would not be okay with switching to bottles she would refer me.  She also said that the ENT probably wouldn’t do anything though. She was pretty sure no one in our town would do a laser revision on a 4 Posterior Tongue Tie.

I was encouraged and frustrated at the same time! Thanks for telling me what’s wrong with my child but there is no solution? I was also told that because of his weight gain (or lack there of) I needed to start offering him a bottle of pumped milk after every feeding – so that meant I needed to start pumping after every feeding! Thankfully I still had my hospital grade rental pump!

As I was driving home from the doctor I made the decision to call Dr. Lawrence Kotlow’s office in Albany, NY. All of my research on posterior tongue tie revisions had led me to him and I knew that he would be able to help. Within minutes I was on the phone with a wonderful office assistant who told me that yes they would be happy to assess my child and preform the oral surgery if Dr. Kotlow believed that was best.  That night we booked our plane tickets (we are about a 15 hour drive away) and the 6 day wait began!

When we arrived at Dr. Kotlow’s office (which is incredibly kid friendly!) his staff was waiting for us. I’m going to be perfectly honest, I was a wreck! I was about to give my child to a man and have to sit and wait while my 12 week old had his tongue sliced with a laser. The office staff made me feel so much better! After a brief wait we were brought into an exam room and asked to watch a video regarding tongue and lip ties.  As I sat and watched this video I KNEW Dr. Kotlow would confirm we did, in fact, have a posterior tongue tie and lip tie. Once the video was over Dr. Kotlow came in and did a brief examination of Lucas’s mouth. It only took a few seconds for him to let us know that Lucas had both a posterior tongue tie and a lip tie.
The next part was so hard for me as a first time mother. I kissed my little baby and gave him to the doctor to be taken for the revision procedure. I honestly can’t tell you how long it all took – I sat in a room crying thinking of the pain Lucas must be in. I kept reminding myself of the articles I read about Dr. Kotlow and how babies were returned to their parents happy and without tears.

Unfortunately that was not the case with my son. When he was eventually brought back to me he was STILL screaming. I knew I needed to get him to the breast immediately but was nervous for so many reasons: Would it hurt him? Would it hurt me?  What if this didn’t fix anything?

Right after the procedure.  See how swollen he was!

I took my crying baby and put him to the breast and I could instantly tell a difference! It didn’t feel great, but it certainly felt 100% different and so much better! I started crying again, different tears this time – tears of relief and joy! Dr. Kotlow came in to check on us and as a sat there crying and thanking him for fixing my son that wonderful man started wiping away my tears (my hands were a little full at that moment!). He did mention that Lucas was probably going to need a fair amount of Cranio-Sacral Therapy/OT and that, because of his age, breastfeeding may actually get worse before it got better.

Lucas did pretty well after we left the office. He slept most of the afternoon and pretty much the whole night. I could tell he had a fair amount of discomfort pain and he had a lot of swelling but the Tylenol we gave him really seemed to help. I was over the moon excited when I woke up in that Albany, NY hotel room the next morning! Little did I know that our saga wasn’t over quite yet!

Lucas’s procedure was done on a Thursday afternoon. By Monday morning things were worse than before. My child was screaming at the breast. We were still using the nipple shield. My supply was tanking because he was refusing to eat. Lucas was dropping weight faster. We went to our local hospital’s Breastfeeding Support Group. The LC  told us Lucas had a “weak suck” and was going to have to learn that all over again – at 12 weeks old. To say I was a total mess would be a huge understatement. I just wanted to feed my child!

My amazing LC was at my house the next evening. We worked on Lucas’s latch (which she said still looked good), we did some sucking exercises using our fingers, and she promised me using the nipple shield wasn’t the end of the world. Most importantly, she encouraged me. I will be forever grateful for her kind words and encouragement that evening.  She may not realize it, but what she said kept me going.

We had our first therapy appointment that morning as well. And while I know the CST was huge in the change I saw in L, I'll save those stories for another day.

The next morning (so the Wednesday after our Thursday revision) Lucas got up extra early. I decided to try and nurse him in bed. I put on the nipple shield and he wouldn’t latch. I tried several times and then finally, out of frustration, took that silly piece of silicon off and tried to latch my son again. IT WORKED! My son was nursing, without a shield and I wasn’t in excruciating pain! I began to cry! I sat there, in my bed, at 4:30 in the morning with my husband still sleep and cried tears of joy! As the day went on, each time I fed my son it got easier and easier. By the next morning I can honestly say that things were 100% better!

A few weeks later I was weighing Lucas for his 4 month chalkboard photo and started crying (again! I’m still blaming the hormones!!). In one month’s time my son gained 2.5lbs!  I was beyond excited. I also got hit by the Mommy Guilt Mac Truck when I realized my son had been so hungry in those first few months. I still live with that guilt and some days it gets the best of me. But then I remember everything I did, and am still doing, for my son and I give myself a pat on the back for trusting my instincts all those months ago.

Lucas is now 10 months old still seeing getting CST once a month, just to make sure the exercises we’re doing are still needed and working! I also still freakout at the slightest hint of pain when he latches or the first sign of a plugged milk duct but I am proud to say that my son has been exclusively breastfed for 10 months with no signs of stopping! We are so blessed to have had people in our lives that were able to help us correct what could have been the reason our breastfeeding journey ended well before either of us were ready.

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