With my first, there were so many complications, breastfeeding only lasted about a month. We tried working through a tongue tie, a poor latch, and through two procedures to “fix” the tongue tie. When my first was about a day old, a frenulectomy was done. We were told that the frenulum was preventing him from sticking his tongue out and getting a good latch. It was cut to help with a good latch. I remember how uneasy I felt about it but did not know any better so my husband and I put our trust in the nurses and the lactationist. After meeting with a lactationist, we were told the procedure was not done correctly and it had to be redone. What ended up happening was the first procedure didn’t heal so they used a laser to do the cut again.
His body responded by forming a ball-like form under his tongue. He refused to latch and bottle feeding was our only option at that point. My husband and I felt horrible. I was feeling helpless because I felt like I lost the only way I would be able to connect to my son – through breastfeeding. At the time I also felt that the lactationist helping us gave up once she saw the ball under his tongue. I remember emailing her or calling her trying to get advice and she just stopped responding. I attempted to at least pump but even after taking supplements and such, I still could not produce enough milk.
It also did not help that my mother-in-law would joke around about breastfeeding my son while holding him if he started rooting. She may not have realized it at the time but it not only felt like a jab at how I was doing as a mother but me as a person. I felt like I could not talk to anyone. I also felt like I was being judged because I had to formula bottle feed my son.
We were referred to a Head, Neck, and Ears specialist to make sure that the ball wasn’t tissue forming over itself and would later hinder our son’s speech. I felt like he was the only person, besides our pediatrician, that was up front with us. He assured us that “the ball” was not tissue or pus filled and it would eventually subside.
My husband and I decided that when we had our next child things would be different. If they told us our child was tongue-tied, we would get a second opinion. We were not going to rely solely on the nurses or lactationists suggestions in the hospital. He knew how important it was to me to at least try and breastfeed and he wanted to help make that happen for me.
My choice to breastfeed is not due to what people are telling me is the right thing to do. It is something I want to do. For me, it’s not only knowing that I’m providing the nutrients for my child, it’s also that bond. During my first pregnancy I researched the benefits of breastfeeding for the child and mother. I guess I knew in my heart that I needed that bond and connection through breastfeeding just as much as my child. I do contribute my postpartum depression with my first due to the fact that I was only able to breastfeed for three weeks. I felt like I lost that connection. Although I will say that my first is a happy and healthy little boy and you would not be able to tell what he endured nor would you be able to tell that he was strictly formula-fed.
This time around, my second latched on immediately. We’ve had to work through a couple of bumps in terms of positions (cradle, football hold, etc.). I’m at the point where I want to make sure that I can keep up my milk production so I have been researching ways to do so. Breastfeeding has been completely different as opposed to bottle-formula feeding. He’s been feeding on-demand so 3am-4am wake-up times are necessary.
I’m still navigating my way through breastfeeding but so far I’m happy with my decision. I was and have been wary about lactationists this time around. Luckily the one I met with after my second child was born was so understanding and respected our decision to not correct the supposed tongue-tie baby no. 2 has.
So far, W (baby no.2) is gaining weight steadily and seems content. His pediatrician is happy with his growth and assured me that I’m doing a good job. We’re going to keep at this breastfeeding thing as long as W will let us.