Confessions of a Sleep Consultant: The Jett Diaries; Week Four

Well, this week I must admit I have really struggled the time to write my blog; amongst other insignificant ‘stuff’ like going to the toilet, having a shower, eating, and sleeping. Jett has literally become my drip tray as I attempt to feed myself meals with one hand whilst he’s permanently attached to my chest, and I’m on a mission to master the art of typing single-handed (the reason this blog post has taken me days to write).

It has been a rather emotional, stressful and exhausting week for us.

As previously mentioned, I have been experiencing attachment difficulties with Jett (breastfeeding). My mantra is always “this too shall pass” which is true in most cases, however, my gut told me it was more than ‘something’ that would just pass; and I suspected this was the main cause for his trapped wind and poor sleep.

An appointment with my local lactation consultant revealed that Jett had a posterior tongue tie… and a lip tie.

Lip and tongue ties affect 4-10% of babies, and vary in the degree to which they influence physical development and certain bodily functions – both as a baby and into adulthood. Some of the issues resulting from untreated ties include; inability to attach to the breast and/or feed efficiently (often resulting in misdiagnosis of colic and reflux), digestion and gut issues, weight loss, failure to thrive, speech difficulties, sleep apnea, and dental problems (to name a few).

So armed with all best intentions, I took Jett in on Friday for his laser appointment.

No googling, professional or friendly advice could prepare me for how traumatic the last three days have been. Of the research I had done and stories told, all suggested this was basically a pain-free procedure for babies under three months, as ‘apparently’ the nerve endings in these parts of the mouth had not yet developed. This may be true for the procedure itself, but the recovery has been a nightmare. From what I’m told, the majority of babies experience minimal discomfort following tongue/lip tie release, and feeding is improved immediately. We are the unfortunate 1 in 40-50 patients who have had this procedure done through my LC and Dentist who have responded not so favourably. Feeding has regressed significantly; my little boy screams in pain pulling off the breast, has difficulty attaching altogether at times (especially overnight), and has cried more in three days than he has in his entire four weeks of life. My beautiful contented little boy has left the building, and I am learning fast what it means to settle, and re-settle a sleepless, crying newborn around the clock. My solution? baby wearing by day, co-sleeping by night….plus lots of cuddling, rocking, skin to skin, and words of reassurance.

As if this isn’t enough, I am wracked with the guilt that I didn’t insist on being in the room when they were performing the procedure (parents are asked to wait outside as protocol). Although the actual laser only takes a minute or so, and Jett was swiftly returned to my arms for a cuddle and breastfeed, I can’t help the all-consuming sinking feeling that I have failed my baby boy; I have let him down as I wasn’t there for him in his time of need – to talk him through what was happening, and reassure him that everything would be ok. I may be over-reacting from a place of sleep deprivation, mother’s guilt, and helplessness; but I feel as though in some way I have broken Jett’s trust, the bond from birth that was so beautifully sacred.

To add to salt to the wound (par the pun), all post op care stipulates stretching exercises for the already painful, affected mouth area every 3 hours; the alternative is running the risk of re-attachment, and having to revise the procedure. This is simply not an option for us.

Had I known anything about what I could expect out of this experience – from the procedure, to not being permitted in the room, to the recovery process, then I could have prepared myself more. And I could have prepared Jett more too. I am comforted however, by knowing that I made the right decision with the very best intentions for my baby to thrive now and in the future – without the host of health issues which can manifest from the contrary.

At midnight last night, unable to sleep and desperate for peace of mind;  I went online in search of other parent’s experiences with difficult recoveries following a frenectomy. I stumbled across the Facebook page; Tongue & Lip tie support Australia.  This group is a wealth of knowledge, experience and has been a fantastic support in putting my mind at ease; that what we are experiencing is in fact normal for some babies and parents. I am learning that the recovery process can be a 3 + week journey of post op pain, healing, and rehab; re-training our babies to feed with their new-found range of mouth motion.

I think as parents we are all seeking affirmation in some way or another that we are on the right track, and doing everything in our power to keep our children safe, protected, healthy and loved. It’s so humbling that such emotive connections can be made online with complete strangers in the loneliest hours of the morning.

If I can help just one mother avoid the despair, helplessness and upset I have encountered through this process, then that’s enough for me. If you are going through something similar, know you are not alone; there is support out there.

On our agenda this week: healing and releasing the negative emotion around this experience for Jett and myself. I am lucky enough to have a fantastic network of holistic and medical professionals and friends who have my back through this forever evolving, and challenging journey that is parenthood…

I’ll update you all next week on our progress.

With love,
Sophie & Jett xoxo

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