I once confided in a friend that Micah prefers sucking his thumb to nursing. “Oh yeah, my boy is like that,” she told me. “I nurse him until he’s sleepy and then he pops his thumb in to finish the job.”
So I let it be.
Something didn’t feel right, but I was juggling life with two little ones and excuses were just so easy to find.
Excuse #1 – He’s just a lazy nurser . . . a typical laid back second born.
Excuse #2 – I’m comparing him to my experience with my daughter and they are different babies.
At nineteen pounds he’s not exactly malnourished, but he never rolls back his eyes with satisfaction as he gulps down milky goodness. That bothered me, so when I ran out of excuses I called Mellanie from For Babies Sake. Mellanie immediately pug me at ease with her warmth and kindness, which was a plus because the next thing she did was ask to see my boob.
Turns out the reason my little man looks like he’s doing calculus while he nurses is that it’s hard for him. He has a tongue tie that went undiagnosed for FIVE MONTHS, which means he really has to concentrate to get any nourishment.
On the night I found out about it I sat on the floor and cried my heart out. That sounds overly dramatic, I know, but I really did. I’m so grateful that he’s otherwise uber-healthy and that this can be corrected, but I thought he hadn’t comfort nursed for the last five months because he didn’t want to . . . not because he can’t.
This Thursday Daddypotamus and I are taking him to an ENT in Dallas in hopes that he will agree to do a frenectomy (cut the little flap of skin that’s holding Micah’s tongue down.)
He has never experienced the satisfaction of a deep latch and a flood of sweet milk, but I am giving him what I can. Fortunately, he’s compensated well and is not underweight. Still, I can’t wait to get this corrected so he can get the comfort he’s been missing out on. (On the other hand I’m totally freaking out that someone is going to go near my baby with a knife. My mama heart aches at the though of that!)
The revision with the ENT actually made things worse. Micah developed scar tissue that actually restricted his tongue and lip more, and we were not instructed properly about how to care for the area after the procedure.
The good new is that we had it revised with a laser a few months later and it made a HUGE difference for us. Micah went from waking every two hours to nurse because he couldn’t keep his belly full to sleeping long stretches, and I feel human again.
I’ve written more about the differences between the scissor method and the laser method here if you’re considering either one, and I’ve also written an informal guide to identifying tongue and lip ties at home.
We’ve also discovered that I have the MTHFR gene mutation, which according to some estimates affects about 50% of the U.S. population. MTHFR (yes, I know how it sounds!) is related to how the body processes folate, which is essential for proper midline development. Since tongue and lip ties are a midline defect and I ate plenty of folate during my pregnancy, I believe Micah’s midline defect is probably related to MTHFR. In addition to the beginners guide you can find here, I’ve also covered some of the most frequently asked questions about MTHFR here.