Friday, July 24, 2015

Thomas Joins his Brothers: Tongue-Tied Again!

I have been feeling surprisingly grateful in the last one to two days as Thomas' nursing problems were emerging. It turns out that I'm three for three on having sons with posterior tongue ties who can't nurse properly. (The girls were fine!)

The wonderful lactation consultant spent more than two hours with us today. To illustrate what the effect of a tongue tie: we tested Thomas nursing one side, where he transferred no milk at all, and then the other side where he transferred all of 4 mL: typical for a five-day-old baby would be more like 45 mL (ranging from 30-60 mL). His inability to transfer milk these first days of his life is why my milk supply tanked to almost nothing as of yesterday: simple supply-and-demand! When there is no demand, there will be no supply provided because the mama's body thinks there is no baby to feed.

I wish I didn't know so much about how to handle this kind of case, but experience has taught me. I know we will establish an around-the-clock pumping schedule. I know where we will set up all the equipment in our bedroom. I know how to start to manage and occupy children while I am pumping (as I slowly and increasingly come out of the bedroom that is my postpartum nest where I still remain totally ensconced). I know how I will learn how to dash out of the house for brief excursions in between pumping and bottle-feeding. I know all the medical providers in town (the good names!) with whom I'll have to make appointments and in what order over the next month to six weeks (takes a long time to get on their calendars).

This feels a little bit like battle: nobody really wants to go into battle (this one to save our future nursing relationship of likely a couple of years' duration), but I'm glad to know from experience ('training') the battle tactics, how to requisition supplies, how to rally the troops.

I am grateful to God for being granted the consolation of feeling viscerally grateful right now instead of falling into too many tears. (I've cried before and will cry again over this.)


a work in progress

First and foremost, I am grateful for my husband's support: emotional, physical, and financial. In La Leche League, we always said that the foremost predictor of nursing success was the support (or lack thereof) of the husband. I saw this play out as true time and time again in other families, and it has in ours as well. Chris takes weeks off work, I stay upstairs for one to two full weeks while he brings  me every meal, takes care of every need. He relieves me of all duties, as it is an around-the-clock job just to care for these newborns who can't eat. (Writing this blog post is a real luxury.) When I've lost my temper and cried, he's been there. And he invests our money into what we need to get through this bump in the road. If he didn't support me in getting nursing established, I could not do it.

I am grateful for the money right now -- both the limited amount we have been able to budget as well as the couple gifts we have received -- to help offset the cost of care providers, babysitters, and so forth.

I am grateful for my parents-in-law for coming to stay with us, occupying the children nearly full-time so Chris can take care of me and the baby, which is almost a full-time job in itself right now.

I am grateful for all our friends and fellow parishioners who are bringing us meals for at least the next month and who have offered play dates and child care to help lighten the load.

I am extremely grateful to a woman who donated a stash of breast milk to Thomas while his Mama temporarily had none. This is something very important to me and I am moved to tears at the generosity from this woman who understands exactly where I am coming from.

I am grateful that my children (even the 2-year-old) are happy with various caregivers. Even though I feel lonely only catching glimpses of my kids a few times a day, and knowing how happy they are without me, I imagine how wretched I would feel if they were yearning, crying, or scared because I'm not available to them right now and knowing that I can't really fix that. The newborn has to take priority for some weeks that will feel long in the middle of them but will be the blink of an eye in retrospect.

I am grateful that all this hullabaloo that is going to cause tears, hassle, financial expense, and time away from my children is just over a tongue tie. I don't have a baby in the NICU with a life-threatening problem or disability. I'm not ill or injured myself and will regain my strength within some weeks. Everyone is going to survive and thrive, even if Thomas does have to be fed formula by bottle at the end of this all. This could be so much worse.

I am grateful for odds and ends like an iPad, my cellular phone, the 2-gallon cooler of water in my room, the flowers gracing my bureau. access to prescription medication, and air conditioning.

May God continue to help me be grateful always, as these rocky starts to eating--perhaps the most fundamental necessity for life--are not easy or fun for a newborn, the mama, the daddy, or the siblings.


  1. So sorry to hear of this struggle!!! You just amaze me....your husband, too!!! I know very well the challenges of pumping to increase/maintain supply....this is a most challenging season...but the kids will be fine like you said! What a gift that they have each other to keep themselves happy and entertained during these summer weeks...again so sorry for all that lies ahead but I can appreciate all you said about the ways it helps that this isn't the first time...and that's so wise to constantly think of your blessings!

  2. Your gratitude list was very moving. I have a teen in crisis right now, and I hate to admit that I have wasted too much time wishing the problem away. Yes, sometimes we have to rally ourselves with the cry to battle, and, as you've demonstrated, focusing on your blessings is a great place to start.