How trying to find my purpose has blocked me from living purposefully!

If you have not been living under a rock, you’ve definitely seen the boom in the self-help/self-improvement field over the last 10 years. It’s been steadily gaining steam for maybe the last 20 years for sure but it’s blown up recently. Mainstream media is discussing meditation, yoga, mindfulness, finding more happiness, living your purpose, etc!

Dont get me wrong, I’m all about the self improvement movement and I pretty much only read spiritual and self help books because it’s what interests me. I love learning more about human behavior, changing habits, accessing more peace and finding more presence!

Over the last few years it seems like two topics that have caught like wildfire are how to choose happiness and how to find your true purpose. It’s all about always being happy and defining your destiny. Those are some lofty goals!! In fact I’m guilty and spending large sums of money on books, seminars, retreats, and courses trying to track these things down.

I seriously believe that I could spend my whole life seeking for my true purpose. And why? Because below the surface there’s a real fear that I will be lying on my death bed full of regret that I never found, defined, and lived my destiny. That somehow I wasted my life because I couldn’t narrow my existence down to a few lines on a business card.

Lately I’ve been really aware that maybe the whole concept of destiny and purpose as a single role or something I can wrap up in a pretty box is not real at all. I’ve actually been a bit concerned that it’s one big fat distraction from the real deal- which might be a bit harder to define.

Let me explain the predicament I’ve been in for the last 3-4 years…maybe a bit longer. When I left the world of education, I was more than a bit disgruntled and I didn’t want to go back to teaching. I then found out we were pregnant and I couldn’t have been happier because my whole life I couldn’t wait to be a mother. It’s probably what drew me to teaching in the first place.

After the first year of being a mom I started really panicking that I might not be living my purpose. It sounds crazy hearing it aloud because my whole life I had wanted to be a mother- it seems I would have told you my purpose was to be a mom. Here’s where it gets complicated and humans are more complex than having one pretty wrapped purpose because being a mother is part of my purpose and it still is! I truly feel I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do. It’s definitely part of my destiny. How do I know? Because 1) It its my reality, I made the decision to have a child and become a mother and 2) I make huge life decisions from the place that right now I feel more than a strong urge to be home with my daughter.

The difficulty in being a stay at home mother is that I’m a layered, complex human being with many interests, needs, desires, goals, etc. To say that my whole life’s purpose is to be a mother would not be accurate. It will always be a big part of my life’s purpose but there’s more to me as a person. But this is where it gets tricky and the slope gets very slippery. When I feel that longing to have something for myself, and you read as many self help books as I do, I get sucked into this concept that I might need to find my true life’s purpose and then I will start living.

There are  actual quotes that our life’s purpose is to find our life’s purpose and live that. Really? Vague much? Our life’s purpose is to find our purpose? I think maybe our life purpose is to live fully in all of the roles and unique layers we possess.

Right now my purpose is to be a mother, wife, daughter, friend, community organizer, event planner, speaker, and writer…among others.

A note to myself- stop waiting to live your life in defined terms. You’re already living it! Don’t use finding a purpose as an excuse to protect yourself from failure or mistakes. Try to be present and enjoy the flow of life instead of trying to swim upstream trying to find a new stream.

 

It’s not about the nail!

So I was talking with a good friend at the library today after music time. Our kiddos were playing with puzzles and stuffed animals while we got a few moments to chat, vent, connect, and be there for one another.

Her son is 20 months and going through the well known phase of toddlerhood that’s just plain hard!! Boba went through this too from about 15 months till about 2 we dealt with lots of boundary pushing, tantrums, asserting her independence, emotional sensitivity, teething (like big ol’ molar teething), huge leaps and bounds in her development almost on a daily basis, changes in sleep, etc! It’s was a hectic and crazy time for us as a pair.

I remember calling my mom a few times in tears worrying that someone kidnapped my beautiful, sweet, affectionate baby and replaced her with a mean, moody tyrant! I stewed that I was doing something wrong and that maybe I had drastically changed my parenting somehow without realizing it and it was messing her up for life and sending her on a life path towards crime and prison time! My mom assured me that she was right on target for some of the most natural developmental shifts that occur at this time. *Deep sigh*

So my friends’ dear son has been going through the same thing and my friend has been questioning her sanity!! Been there sister! She was talking about the times she gives him exactly what he asks for before he throws an epic tantrum and throws whatever she just gave him at her face with an animalistic growl. Ugh??! Really child? This can be so tough, especially when it’s just happened for the 8th time in one day!! She was asking me why he does this. I told her about a YouTube video I saw that basically sums it up to me.

It’s called, It’s Not About the Nail and it’s hilarious and accurate!

So you can see that it seems obvious that her problem must be the nail in her head but as most of us have felt more often than not, it’s not always the content that’s important but the underlying need to be validated. Yes we may actually have a nail in our head (or we may be a toddler that makes requests over and over and then throws the items at the givers head)! But what the underlying need is might be different and more important than the obvious solution.

In my friends situation, her son is a toddler that is very aware and observant. He sees the other children and adults in his world doing all sorts of things he can’t do yet. He’s literally in pain because of his molars. He’s experiencing such massive jumps in physical and cognitive development that sometimes he can’t quite keep up and can’t find the words he wants or process what he even wants because it’s all a big jumble in his overworked mind. These tiny humans are changing a million times a day and growing so quickly and having to process all that and make sense of so much at the speed of light- sometimes they get way overloaded and lose their shit!

And when they do- it looks like crying fits, a total change of mind and heart, massive confusion, tantrums, aggression, irritability, risky behavior, lashing out, major frustration, throwing items they just asked for, etc. You get the idea!

What do we all need when we’re not feeling our best? When we’re feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed?

Most of us need a combination of things- sometimes we need connection and closeness. We need a safe person that we trust to just be present with us while we feel all our conflicting, complicated emotions. We need that person to offer an ear, a shoulder, a hug, some cuddles, etc.

Sometimes we need space, time, compassion and understanding from our safe people to hold a container for us to release all that pent up energy in a safe way. We need deep breaths, a pillow to scream into, a safe cushioned corner to thrash, a room to go to and yell, a place that unsafe items are removed and we can just tantrum and vent out all those feelings. Then that safe person is a listener and protector until we’re calm, they can then provide hugs and nurturing while we come back to ourselves.

It’s not always about the nail, or the juice box, or the crayons, or the chair, etc. Most times it’s not about any of that. Just like it’s not about the money, the house, the dishes, etc. between adults. It’s usually about needing a safe person to be vulnerable with and to help us process through our feelings. Someone we can connect with. Someone who can validate how we feel.

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Breastfeeding 101: Pinching and Breast Punching

Let’s do a little visualization activity!

Close your eyes. Sit back and get comfortable.

Picture this beautiful scenario with me…

You’re a new mommy. Holding your precious baby in your arms.

You worked so hard to get this breastfeeding thing down and the journey has been bumpy but it seems like you’ve worked out most of the kinks by now.

Breastfeeding has fallen into an easy groove. You know your baby’s hungry cries and you just love cuddling your bundle of joy while he falls asleep in your arms.

Perfection, complete with wonderful baby-head smell! You can now relax deeper and rest that you’ve arrived into motherhood and you are winning at this game!

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Me and Boba enjoying some sweet mama milk cuddles!

OUCH!!! What the heck was that?? Did your 5 month old baby just pinch your ultra-thin, sensitive breast skin between her razor baby nails?? Was that on purpose or just a fluke? Probably just a fluke. You take a deep breath and relax back, resuming your afternoon cuddles.

AH! Shesh! The little bundle of joy just boob punched you and is now alternating between karate chops and those incredibly painful skin pinches from hell! What is the deal?? She’s never done this kinda thing before. First thought- I’ve spawned a serial killer that secretly hates her mother. (Apparently this is every mother’s deep, secret fear).

Boob punching, pinching, breast smacking, bread (I mean, breast) kneading and boob juggling….this wonderful combination of breastfeeding torture ACTUALLY HAS A PURPOSE! I know, crazy right?? Haven’t we been through enough?

It’s ok. I was as shocked as you are. After about a week or so of this occurring on a regular basis I contacted my trusty lactation consultant and asked for reassurance and an immediate remedy. She definitely gave me reassurance that this was normal behavior and that it actually served a purpose.

What’s the deal? What’s the purpose of boob punching and pinching? And um…is it absolutely necessary for my baby to knead my breasts in the middle of a sushi restaurant?

Nursing Older Baby

Image by moppet65535

At about 5-6 months my baby was going through a growth spurt. She was cluster feeding, which I’ll discuss more in another post. And she started locking down my breasts in medieval torture devices to produce more milk. Babies instinctively knead, pinch, smack, play, swat, juggle, jiggle, tickle and did I mention pinch the heck out of our breasts in order to promote milk production and to encourage the milk to let down.

Ever see a kitten nurse? The kittens will knead and paw at the tissue around the nipple to help move the milk and promote the milk to let down. Natural.

So what can we do?

There’s varying options depending on how painful, distracting, and uncomfortable the behavior is. Is it natural? Most likely. Is it tolerated? That’s up to you.

Nipple Twiddling

Image by Kai Schreiber 

I decided that certain behaviors were unacceptable and others were ok. I didn’t mind when Boba kneaded my breast or squeezed. I HATED being pinched, especially by her nails. SO what did we try?

  • At first I offered her a nursing necklace with baby safe beads on it for her to play with while she nursed. She wasn’t crazy about it but I’ve heard it works as a fidget toy for many older babies.
  • Then I tried holding her hand but she resisted and would pull her hand away until I would let go.
  • It helped sometimes to sing to her and play “itsy bitsy spider” up her dominant arm but it only worked sometimes.
  • Eventually when she pinched I would tell her “ouch” and “no more milkies” and put her down for a minute or so. She would cry and I would wait about a minute. Then I would pick her back up and start again.

I tolerated most other acrobatics and craziness. She did go through a phase where she wanted to “twiddle” with the other nipple she wasn’t nursing on. Uh no! It just felt super creepy crawly for me and I couldn’t tolerate it. She was incredibly talented too and finding her way into a tight bra! She was older when she started that so I just told her she needed to stop or there would be no more milkies right now. She dropped that one pretty quick.

I also don’t tolerate her trying to “check” all my teeth with her fingers or pulling my hair. I’m telling you, moms go through quite a bit and some of it is downright hilarious and others, not so much! I will kiss those baby toes all day though!

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Sweet Boba’s baby toes! Muah!

 

 

 

Breastfeeding 101: Lip Ties

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This post is strictly to share our own experience and the resources and support we received. Nothing provided here should be construed as medical advice.

Does your baby have a lip tie and tongue tie? Not sure? I shared about our experience with tongue ties here. Please review that post as well. It’s very common for lip ties to be accompanied by tongue ties.

So in my post about tongue ties I reviewed just how difficult our breastfeeding relationship was. I was fortunate, to a certain extent, because my daughter’s lip and tongue ties were very noticeable. So I knew from hour 1 that something was up. This helped me a lot because when doctors and nurses told me there wasn’t anything to worry about and that her issues would not impact breastfeeding, despite my bloody nipples, her nursing blisters, and weeks of suffering and pain, I knew better.

It can be much more difficult to find help with certain tongue and lip ties because professionals will be less likely to even diagnose, let alone treat certain ties. Tip: If you are having difficulty nursing and there is pain, latch issues, bleeding, nursing blisters, mastitis, etc. seek help and don’t wait. Keep going through pediatricians and pediatric dentists and lactation consultants until you find someone that actually helps you. Sadly, it can be a race against time because poor latch and nursing issues can impact supply and baby’s weight. Both of these things can be remedied but the longer it takes the more complicated things get. So move quickly and don’t stop until the issues are resolved.

Our Experience

Like I said, Boba had a very obvious lip tie. The tissue was very thick and spread wide and reached almost to the bottom of her gums, where her teeth would be coming in, eventually. I believe she had a Class III or IV (see Dr. Kutlow’s slide below).

What’s the big deal??

Lip ties can be minimal and you may have even had a lip tie as a child and never even noticed. Some children’s lip ties are released through injuries (face planting on the sidewalk, etc.) and others have issues later on and require orthodontia due to major spacing of front teeth and crowding. Others have large issues with lip ties and tongue ties that require more consideration.

With Boba’s lip tie (and tongue tie), we had incredible difficulty breastfeeding. Due to how impacted and restricted her upper lip was, she was unable to flange her lip out to get a deep latch. Her latch was shallow and very painful for me, it also caused large nursing blisters on her lips that were painful for her.

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Nursing blisters. Image posted with permission from Dr. Ghaheri, DDS, a pediatric dentist in Oregon.

Her shallow latch also caused nipple compression for me which led to pain and discomfort, numbness, cracking, blistering and vasospasms. I tried a lot of things to stretch her lip tie to allow for a deeper latch but that tissue was tight and continued to cause us issues.

Breastfeeding issues, so what?

Many people who face issues during breastfeeding without support or relief from knowledgable professionals stop breastfeeding. Other people don’t ever attempt to breastfeed and both are personal choices that I will not debate here. Either way there can still be issues if you chose not to breastfeed your child that has a lip tie.

Other possible problems caused by lip ties-

  • Front tooth spacing and crowding of teeth leading to dental issues and braces later on.
  • Tooth decay due to lip being held down on the teeth more closely. This can be caused by bottle rot (milk sitting on the teeth), difficulty with oral hygiene due to limited space and food or drink being held on the teeth for longer periods than most.

What if you do decide to breastfeed? What issues may you face?

Dr. Kotlow, DDS shares in his article about exposing the top myths in diagnosing and treating lip and tongue ties that nursing babies with lip ties and their mothers may experience…

  • Colic and acid reflux (excess air due to improper latch will present as colic and reflux)
  • Failure to thrive due to poor latch (prolonged weight loss)
  • Non-nutritional breastfeeding (without proper latch and suction, baby might nurse for shorter less productive periods. This may cause the baby to get very little fatty, nutritionally dense milk, hind milk, and only receive foremilk, which is more sugary and may cause gas, frothy acidic poops, weight loss, pain, etc.)
  • Crying and gagging
  • Sleep apnea
  • Mom may experience plugged ducts and mastitis due to improper latch and incomplete nursing

So what did we do?

The road was a difficult one and we got help relatively quickly. I had an amazing lactation consultant on speed dial! Our birthing instructor happened to be a very knowledgeable lactation consultant with personal experience with lip and tongue ties in her own children. We contacted her immediately when things seemed off and the pain started. She diagnosed the tongue and lip ties and gave us some options. Again, we were fortunate in some ways because Boba was a very determined nurser even though her latch was shallow she sucked with all her might and was actually gaining weight, despite our issues. This was good and bad. Good because weight loss and pediatricians and mommy guilt is a lethal combination and bad because her pediatrician and other medical professionals determined there was no problem and wrote us off. Um??! Can we say bloody nipples and horrible pain? A tiny baby with gas, bloat, frothy and painful poops, and reflux and colic? Miserable! So we kept at it.

We decided to find someone who would clip her tongue tie but that didn’t do much for our nursing relationship due to a few reasons. 1) she was very inexperienced and conservative in the amount she clipped and 2) we still had the lip tie that was very restrictive in allowing for a deep latch. Kate Cropp, our lactation consultant recommended laser revision of both her tongue and lip tie. We looked into and it’s not as easy as it sounds. First my husband and I had to discuss the procedure and decide if we wanted to go ahead with oral surgery. Again we really lucked out that we had Kate because she recommended a pediatric dentist in Dayton, OH that revised infants. See here’s the deal, most pediatric dentists don’t deal with lip and tongue ties and if they do they will side with most medical professionals and state that it doesn’t need revision. Many of them don’t even clip tongue ties. Then there are those who might clip ties but they don’t perform laser revisions. Then there are those who perform laser revisions but only on adults and older children. Shesh!! Exhausted yet? Cut right to the source and just search pediatric dentists who perform laser revisions on infants. Will they be close to home? Maybe not. We had to drive and fortunate for us, he works very close to where my husband grew up so we combined the trip to see family. Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

Below are images of Boba’s revision. The whole procedure lasted less than 5 minutes. They swaddled her and placed goggles on her face. He checked her ties and classified them. He explained the procedure and I held her with the assistant while he swiped a few times under her tongue and under her lip. Done.

Did she cry? Yes…but mostly from being restrained and held down and from having the goggles on her face. The wonderful thing about the lasers they use, they are practically painless and cauterize on contact. This allows for minimal healing time and less pain. They didn’t even have to numb the area. She was done in less than 5 minutes and back in my arms. Then Dr. Notestine, DDS, took us back to a private conference room and checked her nursing latch. ***DEEP, DEEP SIGH OF RELIEF*** For the first time ever, she latched correctly! Her top lip flanged completely and her latch was deep and painless. I cried! It was such a relief that we were finally here, nursing without pain. Was the the end of it? No. But we were on our way.

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Boba swaddled
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Boba’s goggles
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This is a photo of Boba’s lip tie (her tongue tie was too difficult to photograph)
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Post Revision

What else did we have to do?

It takes a team and support to continue nursing without pain. It isn’t just about the revisions and nothing else. There were other steps we took and all together they made the difference.

  • We had Boba adjusted by a infant specialized chiropractor from the moment she came home from the hospital. This helped with positioning during nursing, latch, gas, pain, bloat, colic, etc.
  • We also took her to several craniosacral therapy appointments after her revision. This is a licensed massage therapist with specific training, she basically used feather-light touches that move the plates in Boba’s head and in her upper pallet. This helped soooo much! It helped create a better latch and give her more comfort. After these appointments, Boba was nursing longer and receiving more hind milk which relieved so many issues I listed above (gas, colic, frothy painful poop, etc.).
  • We also continued to see Kate a few times.
  • WE DID THE STRETCHES AND EXERCISES the dentist told us to do! This is so important. I belonged to a few Facebook groups and forums about lip and tongue ties and many of the complaints after revisions had to do with reattachment. Can it happen? YES! Don’t let it. Our dentist gave us specific instructions on how to prevent reattachment because the mouth heals REALLY quickly. We had to firmly swipe under her tongue and lip several times before every feeding. Was it great? No! She didn’t like it and I’m sure it wasn’t the most comfortable thing. Did she tolerate it? Yes! For mama milk she tolerated a lot of stuff.

What does a lip tie look like? How do you know if your child has one?

Obviously, diagnosis from a medical professional is the only true way to know for sure but below are some images to help you take a look.

Here is a really wonderful slide by Dr. Kotlow, DDS that shows classifications of varying lip ties. Dr. Kotlow has a pediatric dentistry office in Albany, NY and provides laser revisions on lip and tongue ties. He is well known and very respected for his contribution to breastfeeding health and infant ties.

Lip tie classifications

 

Breastfeeding 101: Tongue Ties

Disclosure- I am not a medial professional, a nurse, a lactation consultant, etc. I’m a mother who struggled with breastfeeding and tried everything in my power to make it work and I want to share what happened, what came up, and how I got the right help.

Tongue ties? Lip ties? Check out my other post about Lip Ties here.

Do you have breasts? A baby? Are you trying to breastfeed? Is it going smoothly without hiccups (pun intended)? Or have you hit a few snags? I know I did! I have breasts (in case you didn’t notice), I had a brand new, wrinkly newborn, and we were attempting to breastfeed– ok we were more than attempting– we were knee deep in trench-warfare-style breastfeeding and I had the bloody nipples to show for it. *I just love saying “bloody”, makes me feel british!

Our Experience

Anywho…it wasn’t going so hot and I’m sure some of you have been in the same boat. I don’t want to say I was fortunate, but in a way I was lucky to have a pretty clear idea of what the big issues were, my daughter was born with an adorable, heart-shaped tongue. When they handed her to me, I could see it clear as day. Her tongue was attached to the bottom of her mouth all the way down to the tip and when she cried the edges of her tongue would lift up and make a sweet little heart. I thought, Hmm…that’s not normal. What do we do about that? The doctors and nurses could see it clear as I could and they all seemed to think it wasn’t a problem. I had a sneaking suspicion they might be wrong. I mean…my mom is a speech and language pathologist and my dad is a periodontist. I knew that tongue would cause issues. I just didn’t think about breastfeeding.

Until we actually started nursing regularly. When you have a newborn that’s only a few days old they sleep a lot! Like all the time. So it took me a while to realize how hard this whole things was going to be. I should also note that Boba was born using 2 sets of forceps. She got mighty stuck and we had to transfer from the cozy home birth we planned to Vanderbilt to get that little bean out! So her head was super sore and I had a rather harsh nurse grabbing my daughter’s poor head and smooshing my sore, tender breasts into her mouth like a hamburger. Eventually I told her to hit the road because my baby was wailing so hard and I was about to join her. Have you been there mama? Shesh…sometimes those well meaning nurses and lactation consultants need some courses in bedside manner. New mamas and babies are sore, tired, kind of in shock, and very vulnerable. BE GENTLE DAMN IT! Ahem…

Obviously, I had wanted a quiet birth at home so I wanted out of the hospital as soon as they would release me. I think I was only in for less than 24 hours. Them: Pee diaper? Vitals? Ok…I guess we can let you go… Me: GREAT! See ya!

Then we were home. Mommy. Daddy. Baby. Grandma. All of us finally settling in with this new addition to our family. Then came the hard part. Healing. Breastfeeding. Pediatrician visits. Lactation Consultants. Chiropractors. Craniosacral therapists. Aye! It makes me tired just remembering it. No wonder I didn’t blog about this until I could have a healthy amount of distance from it. That time was tough and beautiful (brutiful, like I’ve said before). By the end of the first week home I had blisters, scabs, and a hungry baby! I was also fortunate that Boba was a very interested nurser. She was determined and sucked with her awkward latch as hard as she could. Yes, it caused major injury for me but at least she got some milk and it allowed my supply to come in and kept her from losing too much weight.

One thing I know I did right, I took an awesome birth class with an amazing lactation consultant/advanced practice nurse and home-birth-loving, mama of 4! She’s like the wonder woman for mommies. Her name, Kate Cropp, APRN, IBCLC, MSN and if you live near Nashville, TN- you have her on speed dial and you go to her! Like the day after your baby is born. I mean it. Do it. It will save you! Believe me. *Steps down off my soapbox.*

Notice how I took a birth class to prepare for several weeks for the labor and delivery but never took a breastfeeding course? Yeah. I read a book…which is more than some do but still I was NOT prepared! Take a class. Take a few breastfeeding classes and find a few good lactation consultants and have them ready and waiting for you. Best piece of advice all post.

I went to Kate right away, like a few days after Boba was born. Luckily I had already had Boba adjusted by an amazing Chiropractor that works magic with pregnant ladies (I had seen her throughout my pregnancy) and babies (she came to my house the day after we got home!!!). Her name, Dr. Kristen Walkerwicz, DC, FICPA, and she’s also incredible to have on speed dial. I truly believe that all babies (not just ones who have a difficult birth) need adjustments. It helps with sooooo many issues like gas, bloating, reflux, pain, nursing/latch issues, nursing positioning, sleep, etc! Mommies, you go too! It helps with EVERYTHING (too much to list, right??)!

Kate checked us out, helped me with positioning, made sure Boba was taking in milk by weighing her before and after feedings, and was a huge Mary Poppins-bag-of-info! Thank you, Universe, for women like her. She easily diagnosed Boba’s tongue tie and lip tie and recommended we try and revise it. We went to a pediatrician close by to have it clipped first. They numb it topically and clip to tissue using sterile scissors. The whole procedure is done in a regular pediatric office and lasts less than 5 minutes.

**BIG FAT NOTE: Ok…so we lucked out because we surrounded ourselves with very knowledgable people who were very familiar with tongue ties and lip ties but I’ve been on forums and I’ve heard horror stories. There are women who go to countless lactation consultants who tell them everything is fine, meanwhile they have cracked, bloody nipples and a newborn losing too much weight. This can be incredibly heart wrenching and infuriating. I’ve also heard of people going to pediatricians who basically verbally abuse women over this kind of stuff. I’ve even heard of rare cases were babies have been taken into protective custody over nursing issues and losing weight. I don’t say all this to frighten you but it can be hard to find helpful people and get the help you need QUICKLY. There is a timeline here because we all know our babies need to eat and gain weight, etc. So please, do everything you can to prepare and then don’t stop looking for helpful help until you find it.

We did have issues with many pediatricians who pushed us and told us she didn’t need a revision, that it wasn’t impacting the nursing. Um, really? I had horrible pain, vasospasms and blanching due to compression (painful restriction of blood flow to the nipple due to shallow and incorrect latch), blisters, bleeding, mastitis, plugged ducts, etc. But of course, they knew best. You can feel alone and scared. Keep looking and searching.

After Boba’s tongue tie was clipped we still had issues. To be fair, the pediatrician who did the clipping was very conservative during the procedure and I guess I’m glad she landed on the side of cautious rather than heavy handed but her tongue was not released enough to make much difference. Boba also had a pretty significant lip tie which she said we didn’t need to revise. I DID NOT STOP LOOKING! I knew in my heart that we needed more help and that we had to keep searching. Kate recommended a pediatric dentist in Dayton, OH that was the closest person to us that performed laser revisions on lip ties and tongue ties in babies. HARD TO FIND, let me tell you. We were 6 weeks into our nursing warfare and I was pumping full-time at this point and trying to nurse during the day with a nipple shield to protect further injury to me. Poor Boba was still battling with nursing blisters and we were both battling thrush infections (mouth and nipple) by intravenous antibiotics during delivery. To say I was close to giving up is an understatement. I was beaten, bruised, exhausted, and scared! I had never thought of surgery so early in Boba’s life and I worried that maybe it wasn’t the right decision. I worried that maybe I was pushing this too far and that maybe this was just a sign that we couldn’t nurse. I mean, we gave it a good go, right? Who could blame us for throwing in the towel at this point and turning to formula. If I hadn’t had my own conviction (I am serious stubborn, like Irish-stubborn) and the support of my husband, my mom, Kate, and an active forum of nursing mommies going through the same thing (search FB and online), I would have given up. After a few conversations, my husband and I decided to go forward with the laser revision.

BEST DECISION EVER! We went to Dr. Greg Notestine, DDS in Dayton, OH, the man Kate recommended to us. He got us in within the next week. We drove up there and had it done on the way home from staying with Daddy Bear’s family. Dr. Notestine was amazing. He explained all the issues we’d been having, checked her latch, explained the success of laser revision and what to expect. He explained how the laser works and that lasers are so successful because it’s near painless and cauterizes the wound on contact, easing recovery. They had us swaddle her in one of those velcro swaddles, they put these adorable pink baby goggles on her and I held her on the big patient chair while they swiped under her tongue a few times and under her lip with the laser. It was amazing! Did she cry? Yes! But seriously, I think she cried more from being swaddled, held down and having to wear those glasses than anything else. The whole procedure lasted under a few minutes and I had her out of the swaddle and in my arms immediately. She stopped crying as soon as I held her. Then Dr.Notestine took us into a private conference room where we had her latch on and….I can’t even express how overwhelming that moment was. For the first time, she was able to flange out her upper lip over my breast the way all the books showed a baby latching. She could lift her tongue in full-range of movement right after the procedure and nurse correctly and painlessly! I cried. Like a baby. Holding my baby. I can’t put into words how happy, tired, and overjoyed I was that we had arrived here. The place I knew existed. I pushed through and it worked out and I was just so relieved. Were we done? No. But it was the first BIG step towards lasting success.

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Boba swaddled
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Boba’s goggles
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This is a photo of Boba’s lip tie (her tongue tie was too difficult to photograph)
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Post Revision
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Boba sleeping on the way home after revision!

Next steps…

  • There were exercises we needed to do in order to keep her lip and tongue from reattaching. Many people revise tongue and lip ties and don’t do the exercises for fear of hurting the child or because they don’t believe it’s necessary. IT IS! You have to swipe under the tongue and lip several times a day before nursing, in a firm way, to prevent reattaching. Give baby tylenol is pain is significant. Boba seemed fine and was happy to nurse.
  • We had a few more chiro appointments to help ease her positioning issues and digestion.
  • We saw a craniosacral therapist, Mary Beth Crawford, LMT, here in Nashville, TN who helped tremendously once we had the revisions. I can’t recommend craniosacral enough. It sounds hooky and weird but it just works. She used feather-light touch to help position the plates in her head, the plates in her palette and it just helped so much.
  • We had to work out positioning because at this point I had an oversupply issue. Which doesn’t sound like an issue to most women who struggle with undersupply but it has it’s downsides. Boba literally couldn’t keep up with the let down and supply and would choke and gag if I held her in a cradle hold. We eventually found that side-lying nursing was our only option until she gained more control and got a little better at handling the flow. Try lying down and nursing in a Nordstrom bathroom! Thank God they have chase lounges in there!!
  • Like I said above, we also battled thrush for a few more months after the latch was perfected. So we still had some pain…but nothing compared to what we had before!

It seriously takes a team before and after revisions. It takes a team that you surround yourself with and you will still feel alone sometimes. Was it all worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Do I have to?? Yes, if/when I have another and we were faced with the same issues, yes, I would do it all again. Except this time I know the most direct path to the same end result! I would make an appt with Kate for the day the baby is born, maybe the next day. I would have the baby adjusted by Kristen the day we get home. I would set an appt with Dr. Notestine for only a few days after birth and I would have craniosacral appts set up for directly after revision. DONE. Kinda. You get the idea.

IMG_0723
Boba and I nursing in Ohio!

 

Information About Tongue Ties

Tongue ties and lip ties are very common, more common than most would know. You may even have a tongue tie or lip tie and not know it. Do you have trouble licking ice cream cones? Can you roll your R’s like in Spanish words (perro)? Can you roll your tongue like a taco? Did you have speech issues as a child? Are your front teeth very far apart with tissue between? Did you require orthodontia as a kid? Can you french kiss? These can all be signs.

What to look for when nursing-

  • Lipstick nipple (the nipple will look like the end of a lipstick because of the tongue tied latch)
  • Split/cracked nipples
  • Blisters
  • Bleeding nipples
  • Baby might have puffy, blistered lips
  • Pain and discomfort with nursing (beyond the initial adjustment)
  • Baby is losing weight (note: newborns lose weight after birth, this is normal. It also takes time for milk to come in naturally, this is normal too! But you will know when something isn’t right- get help then- trust your instincts!)
  • A couple weeks in and your supply isn’t coming in or is very low
  • Obvious skin holding down your baby’s tongue
  • Large web like skin all across the back of baby’s tongue (posterior tongue tie) and most difficult to diagnose and under treated

lip blisters

Lip blisters (nursing blisters on baby) Image posted with Dr.Ghaheri‘s permission. He provides lip and tongue revisions in the Oregon area.

Here are some slides from Dr.Larry Kutlow, posted with his permission. He provides laser revisions of lip ties and tongue ties at his pediatric dentistry office in Albany, NY.

Tongue tie classificationspotential-problem-dari-tongue-tie

 


Make sure to keep an eye out for an ebook I’m writing about breastfeeding, my experience, common issues that come up and home remedies, and a long list of resources!

Parenting Hack: Restaurant Busy Bags

If you’re anything like me, you’re not so comfortable with how your 2 year old could probably design and develop her own app. My child is painfully professional when it comes to her technological skills because, let’s face it, she spends too much time on the iPad and playing on my iPhone with all the “educational apps” we’ve gotten her.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a huge hang up with technology and kids but I also see the other side of the street when parents discuss the fights over iPhone time, screaming over limits on screen time, and general sedentary couch time and lack of connection. We battle with these things and I sometimes worry that I might be impacting her imagination or creativity with built in plots and repetitive games.

baby ipad

Image by umcportal.com


Either way- we all know it works!

Technology works like magic when you’re sitting in a restaurant and your child wants to climb under the table and over the booth behind you. It works when you just want to eat a hot meal and not “entertain” like a broadway rendition of Lion King in the middle of Red Robin. And can I just say, bless Red Robin and their table tablets with tons of apps for kids. I have had me a nice hot burger and fries without having to dance on stilts and I thank you for that!

Kid at restaurant

Image by Erik Przekop


But here’s the deal- I know better and with a little amount of time and effort I can throw together an awesome parenting hack that saves me from having to rely on my phone. AND I still get to enjoy a hot meal!

So what do you need?

  • Tote or hanging cosmetic bags work well
  • Crayons and markers with coloring pages or coloring book
  • Little toy cars, action figures, barbies, etc.
  • Quiet books (these are amazing and you don’t have to make them, you can buy them on Amazon!)
  • Wind up toys (best place to get novelty toys is Cost Plus World Market…go figure)
    Legos/Blocks (small)
  • Colored clothes pins and matching paint chip samples (pinterest)
  • Large magnets
  • Lacing Activities
  • Books, play dough, etc.
  • Plastic utensils, wipes, straws

You get the idea! The most important thing to remember- They only get to play with the restaurant busy bag when you go out, otherwise the items lose their novelty. You also have to switch out items every couple months or so to keep it fresh. I love the dollar bins at Target, Cost Plus World Market, Etsy, and Dollar General for cheap, new items to keep ’em occupied. These all work for air travel too!

I never fly without a backpack for Boba filled to the brim with novel toys, games, books, weird little crafts and snacks for days. Trust me, it works and I can relieve some of the mommy guilt with a little less screen time.

Keeping Score…We All Do It

So last night was amazing, a much needed girls night downtown with a friend! Now don’t get too excited, my ladies nights have changed quite a bit since my early 20’s but not quite in a bad way. My friend and I had an overwhelming need to eat Chipotle and paint ceramics- wild, right?? I know, I know…simmer down over here before I burn the city down! But my needs have changed, and not because I’m a mother now, we’ll talk more about this in another post.

Anyway…so back to the topic of keeping score. As I stuffed my face with yummy salty lime chips smothered in burrito bowl toppings, my friend discussed with me some of the stuff she’s dealing with in her relationship- keeping score and feeling fried! Yes!! I was actually excited to hear her say that she argues with her husband about not having enough time, or who’s more tired, or even who’s more sick (as to have more of a break), etc. Now I’m not heartless, I don’t get off on my friends fighting or issues in their relationships but I was happy to hear her illuminate a theme I’ve been hearing when I talked with almost all my mommy friends- keeping score with our partners and just an overarching feeling of not enoughness.

keeping score

So here’s the deal- we’re all going through it. Almost everyone I talk with who has young children is arguing that they never have enough time alone, or how they have too many responsibilities and not enough fun, or how they can’t stand to hear their partners complain about being tired or needing one more thing from them. We’re all there and I have good news and bad news. Good news first- it’s happening to all of us so you can stop worrying that your relationship is going down the tubes or that everyone else has it together and you’re the only one struggling to tread water AND it’s just a phase of life!

Bad news? I read something about adult children living at home much longer than they used to. Ok, so maybe it’s a long phase but I hear it does get better! Little kids are wonderful, rollie pollie balls of love and cuddles and a never-ending arsenal of funny shit- seriously, kids say some funny stuff! BUT, they are a crap ton of work too, like sooooooooo much work! They are needy, sleep-sucking, bundles of bodily functions and they are also a never-ending arsenal of whining and melting down. Sometimes kids can be downright jerks…but it comes with the territory. They are little humans with big dreams and zero experience. They need a lot of help and demand a lot of our time and there’s not much room for much else when they are say, under four? Maybe 10? Ok…25!

Kidding, kind of. I’m sorry this post is not more uplifting but it has a point. I find it wildly comforting that others are going through the exact same thing, the same phase of life and I have support and a sense of humor about it all (not always, but my 2.5 year old Boba is playing nicely with her dolls right now while I write this post…so I’m feeling pretty humorous about it all)! And I’m not going to try and fix the problem because, like I said, it really isn’t an actual problem. I think the problem might be more in the stories we’re telling ourselves about the situation. We cause our own suffering much of the time because of our lack of acceptance of the situation we find ourselves in (such as the phase of life we’re discussing) and the stories we tell ourselves about what it all means. What do we tell ourselves?

  • I’ll never sleep again.
  • I’ve spawned a demon child that will always be a rude picky eater and quite possibly a serial killer.
  • My partner is a lazy sack of crap that regrets having kids and maybe even marrying me.
  • I’ll never have an uninterrupted anything, ever again (trip to the bathroom, trip to the store, good book, good sex, good sleep, hot meal, phone call, etc. you get the point)!
  • I have no idea what I’m doing!
  • Other parents have it all figured out.
  • My friends never fight with their partners, they all have perfect marriages.
  • Everyone is judging me and they know we’re struggling.
  • Everyone is doing it better than me.
  • I’m a failure.
  • I can’t do anything right.

The list can go on and on…and depressing, right?? Aye! The shit we tell ourselves kills…it quite literally causes more problems than the actual situation or “problem”.

So do yourself a favor and find a group of moms, vent and laugh A LOT, try hard to breath and let some of the perfectionism go, STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE’S OUTSIDES- this is a whole post on it’s own (mental note), and try and be more loving and compassionate with each other. Your partner and you have good reasons for feeling the way you do, this phase, this life, it can be brutalful (meaning: beautiful and brutal at the same time). But that’s the beauty of it all- the ups and downs, the precious moments alone in the quiet, a hot meal, a hot shower alone, making out behind closed doors like you’re highschoolers sneaking around, the dead-of-night-cuddles with nursing babes, the war stories shared over overflowing coffee cups with friends who just get it! I get it. I’m in it. And I won’t be cliche and tell you how it goes so fast and hold onto these moments because they will be gone before you know it crap. Because sometimes you just don’t want to hear that bullshit. You want to hear that you’re not the only one and that it will not last forever. So drink another cup of coffee, plan a play date so you can maybe get a minute to fill your soul cup, and feel free to share your war stories and late night cuddles here, friend.

romance