Wyatt, immediately following his lip tie release
Today Wyatt went to an ENT to have an upper lip tie release (frenectomy). We had been last week for a consult, as I suspected that he had a lip tie, and sure enough, he had a pretty severe one. I was so on the fence about whether or not to have the frenectomy done, but in the end, decided to go ahead with the procedure.
When both of my boys were first born, nursing was really painful. I just chalked it up to “building up a callous.” While I do think that was part of it, now I know better. With both boys, the pain was temporary, only lasting for the first 4 weeks or so, and I got by with truckloads of lanolin and nipple shields, and at the end of four weeks we eased into an easy nursing relationship. Jackson, who was supplemented with formula from the start (9 lb baby, blood sugar requirements at birth, etc), self-weaned at 8 months old, long before I was ready to end our nursing relationship. Wyatt has been exclusively breastfed from day one, without a drop of formula, and he is super committed to nursing, and is really protective and territorial about my boobs, so I don’t think that he will be choosing to wean at 8 months like his older brother.
Anyway - over the past seven months we dealt with a couple of issues that made me think that something was off - clogged ducts, nipple pain, etc. It was pretty clear that his latch wasn’t right from the start, but I had thought we were in the clear after that initial few weeks of pain. Then, the worst of it all happened. I had actual cuts on each nipple and one day at work, as I was gritting my teeth through a painful pumping session, I looked down and realized that I had pumped 2 ounces of BLOOD. I felt pretty defeated and grossed out, and consulted Dr. Google about why the heck I had cuts and was bleeding when my baby was already 6 months old. I started looking at photos of tongue ties and lip ties and instantly saw, based on the photos, that Wyatt was pretty severely lip tied.
I did a bunch of research on lip tie releases and made an appointment to have a consult with an ENT, who confirmed that not only did wyatt have a lip tie, but that he has a really minor tongue tie, that can stay as is. I was so on the fence about it at the consult that, instead of moving forward with the procedure, I decided to think about it some more. We went on vacation, I got more nipple pain and a clogged duct, and I made the appointment to have the release done.
So, for a week I was completely dreading this appointment. Feeling kind of like an asshole. Was I just being selfish? Am I hurting him so that I can feel better? Shouldn’t I be able to just deal with the pain so that he doesn’t have to? Every piece of information I could find on lip tie releases is that it doesn’t actually hurt that bad. Our ENT said that it feels as it does when you accidentally bite your cheek really hard. Based on this, I made sure to bite my cheek really hard and see how it felt over a few days - not so bad. I talked to our pediatric dentist at Jack’s cleaning on Wednesday as well. She, too, said it won’t hurt him badly, but that it would be very bloody. I never felt better about making him go have his lip sliced, so I can’t tell you whether or not I am actually a complete asshole or not. Here is what i CAN tell you:
- The procedure was very quick. They had us put him in his carseat, a nurse held his head, and I held his arms. Another nurse was there videotaping, because apparently a lot of parents are wanting to see the actual procedure, so I let them tape it. The doctor applied a local anesthetic with some q-tips, and then clamped the frenulum for 10-15 seconds. Doing this crushes blood vessels and makes it “bleed less.” After clamping he used scissors and cut it - this was the part that I couldn’t watch.
- It bled. A lot. I expected this because our dentist told me to. She also warned me that he will swallow blood and that its ok. If he spits up, to expect a brown tinge, and that we might find blood in his diaper as well. I am glad she told me these things, because I would have absolutely freaked out. It bled a lot when the procedure was done, and then on and off throughout the day. The procedure was at 11 am, and it last bled at 4-5 pm. I put him to bed at 7.
- He cried a fair amount during the procedure. I would say that he cried about the same amount as he does when getting shots. After the initial crying, there wasn’t anymore crying. In fact, he promptly fell asleep because it was nap time. This pleasantly surprised me.
- He was back to his normal self pretty quickly. Here is what he looked like around 5:00 this evening:
- He was able to nurse immediately after the procedure, and has maintained his regular eating habits (and appetite!) throughout the day. He did skip a nap though, so that was out of the ordinary.
- I didn’t take Jackson with us to the appointment, which was a good decision, because he would have freaked. He doesn’t love it when Wyatt gets shots, so I can only imagine how he would have reacted to this.
- Recovery is supposed to take 3-4 weeks in total, and we have stretching exercises that we need to do several times a day so that it doesn’t reattach, which is common with lip ties.
I was looking back at photos of Jackson a few weeks ago, and there is a photo of him leaning his head back laughing. I noticed that he, too had a pretty good lip tie. I wonder now if that contributed to his preference of a bottle over nursing and to his self-weaning at 8 months old.
Overall, the procedure wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected going in. It still weighs on me, because when my baby hurts, I hurt, and I just hope that all of the information out there saying that it is just a “mild irritant” are correct. So far, he seems to not be at all miserable, so that makes me feel a little better about it all. Also, the nurses today commented that his lip tie was one of the tightest that they’d seen, so that helped me to see that this was necessary. In the end, I am happy to have some relief from the cuts and clogged ducts and other ailments. I am also so happy to report that Wyatt’s latch looks completely different now, and I can feel that his suction is SO MUCH BETTER than it was before! It was an instant improvement, and I was astounded!
If you are having troubles similar to ours, and thinking about having the procedure done, know that it’s not as bad as it seems. Also, I feel like I should mention that some doctors and dentists use a laser to complete the procedure, and that it is then cauterized, and so much less bloody, if at all, so if blood makes you really queasy, maybe look into the laser separation instead :).