|Violet pre frenectomy.|
I won't even lie to you and say I've been caught up in the rigors of caring for a new baby. Because really, she's pretty easy. And squishy. And delicious. If anything I spend too much time just squeezing her. Less so now, because she is CRAWLING (that, if anything, is the biggest indicator of me sucking, because I only blogged like 3 times during pregnancy and once since she was born) and is too busy destroying my house to be squished. Anyway.
Not everything has been easy. I was really, really hoping for an easy, drama free breastfeeding experience with this baby. I did not get it. But you know, that's life, right? After feeling like my nipples were being sucked off my body for 6 months, I finally decided that if I wanted to do this long term I needed help. I was frustrated because I had already seen an LC who had pronounced her lip and tongue tie free. I was sure that I was doomed and there was nothing I could do. While lamenting this on my local breastfeeding support group's facebook page, I was encouraged to talk to another LC- one who has a working knowledge of oral restrictions (ie lip and tongue ties). So I called one.
And let me just say, she was awesome. She did a house call, came the day after I contacted her, and it wasn't even expensive (if you are looking, many insurance plans cover lactation consultants, and you can use HSA money to pay for them at the very least). She said she could see the tongue restriction the second she walked in the door, when Violet smiled at her. However, Violet was being her typical 6 month old self and was allowing NO ONE to look in her mouth beyond that, so she had to confirm the tongue tie after Violet fell asleep on my lap and never got a good look at the lip.
With that confirmation, I set out to find a dentist who would be willing to revise a 6 month old. It's harder than you would think. Not all dentists (and hardly any doctors) will revise tongue ties and even fewer will do lips. And to make it even worse, many won't do older babies- they claim that if the baby is healthy and getting enough milk, there is no reason for the proceedure. Thankfully the LC gave me a referral. They were able to get me in right away, and when the dentist really pinned Violet down to check her mouth out (easily the hardest part- kids that age hate being held down) discovered a pretty significant upper lip tie.
Fantastic. After being told she was FINE and feeling like there was something wrong with me, I had been nursing a baby with a tongue AND lip restriction. For six months. And now I had to help hold down her strong and justifiably pissed off little body as the very nice dentist took a laser to her squirmy little head. I can assure you that is 10x as horrifying as it sounds. BUT it was fast, and she calmed down quickly after it was done. She was able to nurse right away and I could feel the difference, even then. They told me to give her tylenol as needed, but she never seemed fussy or in pain once she calmed down.
However, we were not out of the woods. After tongue and lip tie revision you have to stretch the tongue and lip. Every day. Three to five times. Picture, if you will, wrestling an annoyed 20lb cat and forcing its mouth open. It was that fun. But if you don't stretch the incision site it will heal shut and you'll have gone through the pain and the $$$$ of the proceedure and have nothing to show for it, so stretch we did.
As for nursing, it got better, then it got worse for a while. Because of the stretching, she got super touchy about me touching her mouth. And because we took so long to revise, she was used to nursing with her upper lip pulled in. I have to gently pull it out while she was nursing, but because of her aversion to me touching her mouth she pulls back and clamps down harder. I don't think I need to paint you a picture of how that feels. So most of the time I try to coax her into getting the best latch she can muster right off, then leave it be, although she is starting to let me touch her lip again.
Would I do it again though? For sure. The only thing I would change is that I would punch the first LC (not really... but really) and get a second opinion sooner. And obviously revise sooner. But what's done is done, and there is hope that her latch will gradually get better and that the extensive deep nerve damage done to my nipple (only slight exaggeration...) will eventually heal. Because I am still in this for the long haul.