Sweet baby Gavin is 4 weeks old today, and last week was by far the worst week of his young life.
Those sunglasses and that swaddle aren’t just for looks and the cozies, they’re to protect his baby eyes from laser damage and keep him still as he faced his first dentist’s chair.
I wasn’t going to blog about this because ugh, who wants to talk about breastfeeding, especially if there’s blood involved, but these Monday posts are as much a journal for me as they are for sharing with you, so today we’re talking about it. If it makes you squeamish, you’ve been duly warned and may, if you choose, leave now with just a picture of a sweet sleeping baby to brighten your day :)
I had been having significant pain while nursing Gavin, but of course for the first week you tell yourself it’s because you’re getting used to it again, then for the second week you wonder if something really is wrong, and by the third week you’re an emotional wreck in breathtaking pain every three hours when you need to feed your baby and then you realize something has to be done.
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but, if you ask me, it actually just makes you crazy. It’s like some bizarre form of self-torture, where you take your pain meds an hour before you know the baby will want to eat, then still sit in cringing, toe-curling dread waiting for him to start eating, breathe a huge sigh of relief the second he’s done, then start the whole thing over again a couple hours later. You avoid the shower because water hurts, you can’t hug your other kids or your husband because that hurts, you wince if a child leans too close during story time, you dig out your baggiest clothes so there’s no extra pressure on anything, you don’t bend over for fear of pressure shifts, and you generally adapt your whole life around coping with pain. I don’t know how people suffering with chronic pain do it, day after day.
Those who tell you to trust your mother instincts are absolutely right. I had a completely happy, sweet, sleepy, perfectly content baby, but something was wrong. As it turned out, that something was a severe lip tie and minor tongue tie meaning his upper lip couldn’t really separate from his gum and his tongue couldn’t lift properly, so he was compensating adequately to get the food he wanted but believe me, it wasn’t pretty, and the bottle was in his immediate future if it wasn’t fixed.
I didn’t even realize how much it was getting to me until I had a doctor appointment where they suggested on the phone that they should be able to deal with it on the spot but, upon actually examining it, wouldn’t touch it and I had to go home and wait the whole weekend to see a specialist. Walking out of the doctor’s office, having gotten my hopes up that this would be the beginning of healing, not a return to the same, I cried the whole way home, sucked it up through dinner so I wouldn’t scare the kids (and Carl :)), got everyone in bed and saw Carl off for the evening, and proceeded to spend the evening perfecting my puffy eyes. Considering I’m a person who cries, on generous average, once a year for about 5 minutes, this was a clear sign something needed to be done. Thankfully a friend recommended a fabulous dentist who specializes in frenectomies for infants and who was able to get us in on the double, and now, a week later, the difference is enormous.
Now we’re moving on to the next thing, as ultrasounds confirmed a (hopefully minor) kidney issue that needs to be addressed…any extra doctor appointments certainly make you appreciate and value health all over again!
Throughout the past weeks we’ve been incredibly blessed by meals and snacks from family, friends, and an amazing church community, without any of them even knowing anything was wrong – they’re just an amazing bunch of people, and we are so thankful for that. In the grand scheme of things, these issues really are so minor compared to what some people have to go through for themselves or their children, and I’m actually loving the newborn stage as much as I always do (which is a lot).
I still have the sweetest, most content little baby boy, and all this has helped me lose the baby weight and get back into my favourite jeans, so there’s that too :) All in all, life is really better than good. Sometimes I just need reminding, is all.
Dana @ 3Boysunprocessed says
You just described my breast feeding experience for the first month of my sons life, who is 16 months now and still nursing! Mine was thrush though and wow it was horrible!! Btw, he is beautiful!
I’ve heard thrush is AWFUL…no fun! So glad it resolved though and you could keep going – I’m hoping the fix will mean much longer nursing for mine too!
I love that bottom picture. He’s all, LET ME HUG YOU.
Meg @ Sweet Twist says
Awe. Poor little guy. Hope everything is going well now.
Suzanne @ Flour Arrangements says
This post made me cry. I’m so glad you identified the problem so feeding time wiil be better for BOTH of you! So nice when there’s a fix, isn’t it! Love that picture of the two of you together — happy mama and baby!
I had this with my last (current) baby and my doc told me ‘it ‘s fine’, it’s not b/c of his lip being tied ( which it was and is still). It was terrible for 4 months and then started getting a bit better. I wish I had gone to a dentist, or at least another doctor. So glad that all is well now for you. As for me, I’m bottle feeding now.
I’m impressed you lasted as long as you did! It sounds like it’s not something doctors know much about – thankfully mine was happy to take the name of the dentist I went to so he could refer future people since he didn’t know of anyone he could suggest for me.
amy @ fearless homemaker says
OOh, you poor things! I’m so glad it’s been taken care of, and now eating can be easier for him and MUCH more pleasant for you. What a tough gal you’ve been! So glad you’re both on the mend now, And what awesome pictures – you look AMAZING and so does that little one. =)
Thanks so much Amy :)
Glad to hear you both are on the mend and that they were able to figure out the cause!! And that you have such a great community to help! What a cute baby : )
Aw, poor little Gavin in that dentist’s chair! What a little peanut. And I sympathize w/ you on the nursing pain – I had something similar (though not as severe) with June who was tongue-tied. I found it so disconcerting to have trouble with breastfeeding after things had gone so well the first time around. Glad things have gotten sorted out for you and feeding doesn’t have to be toe-curling anymore! :) What I cannot relate to is crying once a year for five minutes! Seriously?! Not even when you read a good book? :)
(And so amazing to have support from the church community, hey? Love it!)
It is definitely disconcerting to have problems with something you feel should be so natural and that you’ve done successfully before – did you get things fixed with June?
Unfortunately most of my reading this past year has been textbooks, which don’t get my emotions running too high :) We read “The Language of Flowers” for book club and yes, that one gave me my full 5 minutes of allotted crying time for the year, I recommend it!
Yes, we ended up getting her tongue clipped by an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist in town. She happened to be in a deep sleep and barely woke up during the procedure (which took about five seconds); thankfully it made quite a difference.
I’ll check out ‘Language of Flowers’ – thanks for the recommendation. :)
Also, for some reason, the email that comes when you respond to a blog comment has Chinese characters all over it. Intentional? Or funny glitch?
That’s awesome – amazing what they can sleep through! And the Chinese is definitely a funny glitch…this time will still have it but it should be fixed by tomorrow, thanks for letting me know! (I hope it doesn’t say anything offensive ;))
Poor girl :( Glad you and Gavin are both on the mend. Hope all goes well with the next appointments for him!
Oh, Anna, that sounds so familiar. I have been there with the pain!!! I can totally relate to exactly what you wrote. (Although for me and baby there was no specific reason, it seemed we both just sucked at the whole bf thing). So sorry you had to go through that. Church communities are such a blessing!
Oh no, having no reason would be even worse! A couple of my kids weren’t great nursers, but there was no pain involved, so this was a whole new thing. Being part of such a supportive community is definitely a blessing!
I’m not sure it was worse, since there also were no scary procedures involved. When baby was 3 weeks old I finally called a breastfeeding consultant to come and help me. If I hadn’t I would have quit. It was the best money I ever spent, and I ended up breastfeeding for more than a year. I really wish help was more readily available especially to new moms! So many more moms would do it and for longer. Sorry to get carried away..this issue is close to my heart I guess you would say. :)
It’s close to my heart too :) I was shocked to find out breastfeeding consultants are something you have to pay for. Given how much they promote it every which way to new moms, you’d think the government would support it by covering the consultants!
So true. Although, I do think things have changed a bit since my experience 8 and a half years ago. I am frustrated by nurses who don’t seem to know enough to be able to help new moms. But I am hopeful that things are improving.
I hope so too, although this time I had a couple young childless girls give me some tips they had obviously read in the brochures they give everyone, while the older nurses said, “Oh, it’s your fourth, you know what to do” and carried on. It’s definitely a challenging thing, no matter how many babies a person has!
Kathleen Richardson says
Anna, so glad you stuck to the breastfeeding and were finally able to find the problem and the remedy. Gavin is one lucky little fellow!
What a little cutie! My sister-in-law just went through the same agonizing process with her 6 week old. It’s certainly a very painful process… Glad to hear that it was able to be repaired quickly (although it might not have felt that way :) ) and that things are on the mend. God bless!
Thanks Erin :) I don’t know if I could’ve made it to 6 weeks, hope your sister-in-law is on the mend too!