August 26, 2013

Seanin's Nursing Saga

Those who prayed us through Ted's deployment are undoubtedly familiar with all the nursing/feeding woes we experienced with Zaden--starting with his drastic weight loss in the first two weeks, followed by a supplemental nursing system for 4 weeks, followed by recurring blocks and infections.  (For a timeline, view this post, although we had issues probably another 2 months AFTER this was written, culminating with me visiting a specialist in Cincinnati.)

Anyway.  After that traumatic year, you can well imagine that throughout this pregnancy I often had to wrestle with some fear demons that reared their ugly head, taunting me that things would be no different with Seanin--I was doomed to nursing failure.  I spent much time in prayer combating this, over and over giving my body and our baby to the Lord's hands and reaffirming His strength and power and my trust in Him.

I was delighted when Seanin seemed to nurse so well right off the bat, but our second day in the hospital found me with a very sore blister on my right side (the side with all the troubles during Zaden's nursing days) because his latch wasn't deep enough.  At home a couple of days later, the blister had toughened to the point that it was blocking the escape of milk, and I was fighting a rising panic that threatened to totally consume me.  Even though this blister was different from what had kicked off all my troubles with Zaden, the results were seemingly similar.  Much prayer and an SOS to some fellow nursing moms ensued.  I gritted my teeth and sloughed off the blister, hoping and praying for quick healing once the milk was able to flow freely again.  And we continued to work on Seanin's latch, which somehow seemed pretty decent on the left side but just wasn't working on the right.  (I couldn't even nurse him in the cross-cradle hold until just a few days ago--we had to do the football hold.)

I was in touch with the lactation consultant, who is wonderful, but I hadn't been able to reach her at the early part of this because she wasn't on duty.  It was during that time that one of my mom friends sent me some links to check out tongue and lip ties.  I had heard of tongue ties before, but never lip ties!  I looked at the pictures and checked Seanin's mouth.  Lo and behold--a very pronounced lip tie!

Now I was curious.  I checked all of my children.  Amazingly...and yet not...Kenna and Zaden have major lip ties, too!  The two children I had the most nursing difficulties with!  Zaden's troubles were epic, but Kenna's story, in a nutshell, involves an almost-total refusal to nurse for about 8 days after my milk came in (I'm not sure to this day how we kept the child alive, because she wouldn't take a bottle either--feeding sessions were total meltdowns for all of us involved), followed by yeast/thrush, followed by her quitting my right side at 8 months and finally pushing me away for good by 10.5 months.  She never was a great nurser, and I felt lucky that we even made it that long, honestly.

I am so grateful for this new information!  There is such a sense of freedom in knowing that there was a BIG physical contributing factor to the trials I had experienced with nursing these precious souls!  I had always assumed stress was the biggest factor in Zaden's troubles, since Ted was in Afghanistan the first 9 months of Zaden's life, and it wasn't until after his return that things finally seemed to resolve.  I'm sure stress WAS a factor, but oh!  It was so good to know that the lip tie must have heavily influenced things, too!

Check out this list of problems Baby and Mom may have when a lip tie is present (my comments in brackets):

Baby’s Symptoms:
  • Difficulty latching on or falls off the breast easily [Zaden's difficulties led to his weight loss the first two weeks]
  • Gumming our chewing the nipple while nursing [I don't remember this specifically]
  • Unable to hold a paci or bottle [Zaden never would take a pacifier; he's still a thumb-sucker!]
  • Gassy (babies with ties often swallow a lot of air because they cannot maintain suction properly) [CHECK!!  This was one of our pukiest kids!]
  • Poor weight gain [Referenced above...we had weight check after weight check...]
  • Excessive drooling [Hmmm, not really so much on this one.]
  • Baby is not able to fully drain breast [YES--that was what led to the blocked duct problems.]
Mama’s Symptoms [I had EVERY SINGLE ONE of these, although the discomfort during nursing tapered off]:
  • Creased/flat/blanched nipple after feedings
  • Cracked/blistered/bleeding nipples
  • Discomfort while nursing
  • Plugged ducts
  • Thrush/mastitis
While Ted was at the hospital doing Seanin's paperwork last week, I asked him to go to L&D and ask about lip ties and whether they would do a snip.  All my reading suggested that the sooner we could get it done, the better.  The folks on duty had never heard of a lip tie (I also read that many doctors aren't familiar with this!), so the Lt. said she would do some research and call me back.  She called the next morning and said she learned a lot and that they could schedule an appointment for Seanin to see the doctor first, and if the doc gave him a referral, then he could go to ENT to get the tie taken care of.

We were at the doctor's for his exam within an hour.  At first Dr. O wanted me to see the lactation consultant and see what SHE thought--THEN give me a referral.  I asked if there was any reason we couldn't just get a referral right away.  I told him the LC and I had been communicating and she was aware of the issue; furthermore, we had observed that my 6-year-old has a gap in her front teeth BECAUSE OF the lip tie--you can see the frenulum connecting her upper lip and where her teeth split!  So he did end up giving me the referral to ENT.

Unfortunately, when I walked over to ENT to schedule the appointment, we found out that the referral was a general one, which means they could only give me a "first-available" appointment slot, as opposed to an acute referral which could have gotten us in earlier.  As it stands now, we go in on September 9, but that doesn't guarantee us a lip tie snip that day--there is a good chance the ENT doc will examine him and then schedule the procedure for a separate time.  Sigh.

Thankfully, Seanin's latch issues all of a sudden seemed to get better...his lower jaw is relaxing more, he is opening wider, and he really must not be taking in extra air, as he isn't gassy or pukey at all.  So while I still think we need to deal with the lip tie, it's more for the sake of his future dental health and language skills (lip ties can cause lisps as well) than for nursing, although since I have Zaden's nursing history as a reference, I think it certainly would be beneficial to make sure Seanin can continue a good latch all throughout his nursing career so that I NEVER have to deal with a blocked duct or breast infection again!

It's been so interesting to learn all of this with child number seven!  God forbid I would ever think I know it all, LOL!  I do have to wonder how many moms who wanted to nurse their babies but felt they couldn't maybe actually COULD have if their doctors/nurses/midwives would have simply checked for tongue and lip ties immediately after birth?!  From what I understand, a quick snip at that point is virtually painless and would allow better chances of nursing success right from the start.  At least I have the information myself and can share with moms as the opportunity arises.

So, currently, I am pleased to report that Seanin is nursing like a pro now, peeing and pooping like crazy and already growing like a weed.  (When we saw the doc on Thursday, he was 8 days old and had grown one inch and was up to 8 pounds, 14 ounces, having left the hospital at 8 pounds, 5 ounces!)  Unlike my sleepy Zaden, whom I had to wake through the night to nurse in the early weeks, Seanin will NOT miss a feeding, ha!  Every three hours at night he wakes me up!  Now and then I wake him during the day, but usually he is ready to feed on his own.

I will never again take for granted the privilege of nursing my baby and thank God for allowing us to leap through these early nursing hurdles so well...aside from a few days of a sore right nipple, this has honestly been the easiest nursing transition I think we've ever had!  Praise the Lord!


Krista said...

Hooray for answers! I do hope the ENT is willing to do it that day rather than schedule another appointment.
I had a lip tie as well that I had to have taken care of surgically when I was about 8 because it was pushing my front teeth apart so far. I didn't know it was a hereditary thing or that might have helped me earlier too. And the girls were 11 weeks old before we got theirs done, but then I had blisters and mastitis much later.
Part of it I learned was that with them I could NEVER nurse lying down and I didn't realize that until way later. I think possibly it was also just a bit too much trauma for me to have 2 babies nursing and not able to give one side a rest at all. :) But here we are at 17 months and I NEVER thought I'd make it this long!

Debi said...

Beverly, As you know I had all of the problems you described as did Kyle when I was attempting to nurse him. I had such a severe case of masitis by week 2 and he had lost so much weight that the Dr. insisted I bottle feed him. He lisped until age 4 and at 17 has a big space between his front teeth. So incredible to learn through you that he indeed does have a pronounced upper lip tie! When I asked him to check his mouth last week for it he quickly announced that YES he has it and hates it! In fact he wants to look into having it snipped! (so bizarre to me that I never knew about this in his 17 years of life) We've held off on braces due to his other health issues but will be getting them put on in the near future. So sad that even now us Mom's have to be our own health advocates and figure out these things on our own! There was no internet in 1996 when I had Kyle and I trusted my Dr. completely to know what was the right thing to do. Sadly I fed him Soy formula for his 1st year of life (per Dr.'s orders) and have since learned that this was one of the most un healthy things in the world for him and I'm sure it has brought on some of the health issues we have dealt with along the way! I'm so glad that Seanin is nursing better regardless of the tie and hope you can get it snipped to prevent language and dental issues. Thanks for always Mom's need to stick together and learn from each other.