Friday, March 8, 2013

Tongue Tie Debate??

Yeah, so maybe I'm nieve.  I've been called worse.  All of a sudden, it seems, there is this outpouring of mothers (I'd say fathers if I saw even one comment or post from a father regarding this issue, but I have not) online who are devastated by their child's tongue tie.  Or lip tie.  Or both.
Am I new here?  Have I been living on the moon, or is it really just something that seems to have exploded lately?  Is it a new topic?  Maybe that's it...maybe we're sick of talking about how we saw someone putting their child's car seat on the top of the shopping cart at the grocery store, and turned to this?
I don't know.
Whatever it is, it's driving me insane.
I'm probably going to lose a follower or two here, but I'm not doing this to make friends.  I'm doing this to speak the truth about things I think need to be said.  So here I go.

The Boy's tongue tie.
I have three children.  My twins are both severely tongue-tied, right to the very tips of their tongues.  They are, at 4 1/2 years old, STILL tongue-tied.  We were told that the frenelum under their tongues would stretch, and that doctors will rarely cut them now unless a parent insists, or it is causing medical issues (such as failure to thrive), or speech issues later on in life.
The option was there, and after watching the suffering they went through in the NICU, there wasn't a soul on this earth that would have made it out of the room alive if they'd tried to cut those ties.  Seriously.  I was a woman on the edge, and probably could have gotten away with it because I'm pretty sure I was legally nuts at that point.

Anyway, Older Daughter also has a severe lip tie, which I had no idea about until I was pregnant with Little Daughter and found a blog post on it (which I cant' find now, or I'd link it).  I was STUNNED.  Before I read that, I had no idea that there was even such a thing.
(Okay, before kids I DID live on the moon with no internet!)
It explains a lot about why Older Daughter wasn't latching, and when I could trick her (in her sleep) to take the boob, it felt like she had razors in her mouth.  What really grinds my gears here is that the twins were in the NICU for 8 1/2 weeks.  I saw three different LC's in the time I was there, and had a few nurses who all tried to help me get the kids on the boob at least a feed a day when they hit what would have been 33 wks. gestation (for practice).  Not one person identified the lip OR tongue tie on her.  Older daughter never gained 1 cc by breastfeeding in the entire time she was there.  Even after 45 minutes of "nursing".  After 4 months of pumping for her, I put her on high-calorie preemie formula.  It's not my proudest moment.  If I knew then what I know now, it would have been different.  She would still have intact ties, but I'd have worked around them.  *I'll go into that more in a minute.*

Her twin brother was breastfed from 12 weeks on, and his tongue tie never caused an issue at all.  At. All.  And the funniest part is that his was so obvious right from the start that I had nurses telling me he would probably never be able to breastfeed without a nipple shield.  We never used one.  He nursed until he was 22 months old.  Also relevant here, he has no lip tie.

So fast forward to Little Daughter.  She has a pretty severe lip tie, and a moderate tongue tie.  Both intact.  She ate my nipples the first week or so until I discovered the issue, and from that point on I started flipping up her top lip*, and things progressed without further incident.
*This could have been done for Older daughter had I known such an issue even existed.*

Little Daughter's lip tie at 6 months old.
At 27 1/2 months old, Little Daughter is still breastfeeding like a champ, and most of the time doesn't need me to flip up her lip anymore.  It's stretched.  She speaks very clearly with no speech issues.  (She's by far my earliest talker...and she talks.  And talks.  And talks.  LOL)

Little Daughter's tongue tie at 27 months old.
This is identical to Older Daughter's lip tie at 4 1/2 years old.
In fact, the only thing I have ever found to be an issue with the twins at all is the fact that they can't pronounce the "th" sound.  (Yet, I mean.  They're 4...I'm not worried.)  

The reason I feel obligated to say all of this is because for whatever reason, people are having their child's tongue/lip ties to be cut at what I think is an alarming rate.  
I'm baffled.  And saddened.

Yes, I see that if a parent is unable to feed their child and their child is ACTUALLY "failing to thrive" because of their lip and/or tongue tie, you're going to clip it because it's medically necessary.  
Of course you are.  A good mother (or father) does for their child whatever needs to be done to ensure their health and well being.  Every time.

Maybe what bothers me so much is that lately I've seen so many people who are so quick to assume that the ties on their children's lip or tongue, are a horrible birth defect of some sort that need to be "fixed" as soon as they're identified.  I know from experience that this can not possibly be the case in many instances.  I think with a little education, and a little support, most of these children who are getting these things cut, could go on to be perfectly fine as is.  No need for putting them through that pain.  No need for that experience.

And, when I read comments by "intactivists" who say that a lip tie or a tongue tie are a "birth defect" and so the pain of this procedure is "for the best" when they took no effort to find an alternative route, it makes my brain feel like it's melting.  Those are almost word-for-word the beliefs of many people who circumcise their sons.  They do it thinking that foreskin isn't "supposed" to be there, and that removing it "fixes" the mistake, and that it's "for the best".  They "won't remember" being circumcised as an infant...(I could go on, but I think you get my drift.)
The kids getting their tongue ties cut won't remember that event as an adult either, but does that make the pain they're feeling at that time, irrelevant??  Not at all.


Again I am going to say that if a child is failing to thrive, of course you're going to do whatever it takes to help them.  If your child is unable to speak properly because of a tongue tie, of course you're going to do whatever you have to do to help them.  (And after trying alternative routes such as speech therapy, if that doesn't help at all, of course I support those parents.)  But it doesn't seem to me that people...parents...are even allowing their child time to prove that what THEY consider to be a "birth defect" is in fact quite normal and prevalent, and will sort itself out with time.  And way too many people never bother to find another way to work with these though they doubt their ability to work around a challenge.

I don't know.  Maybe it's just hitting too close to home for me to sit comfortably knowing that if my kids had been born to someone else, they'd have likely been forced to have those ties cut for no reason at all other than their parents' beliefs that what they have is a "defect".  I'm not sure why it's a debate when surely this isn't a new "issue".  I am sure that mothers have been working around ties since the beginning of time, but only recently it's become something to panic about.  Perhaps because society has led mothers to believe that they can no longer trust their babies, or themselves, the fear that was never there before has come to overwhelm them and lead them down a path that was just not taken before.

I'm speaking up here.  I standing up for children.  Again.  And I'm standing up for you.  I believe you can work around these ties when you know they exist, because you're capable.  If I can, and I'm certainly no one special, you can too.  Trust your baby and trust yourself.  When you see how amazing you both really are, you can start to re-build the self confidence that our society has stolen from you.

Older Daughter's tongue tie.

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