Pen Pal: To The Babies I Couldn't Breastfeed ...
Tatiana, from The Minimalist Mummy blog, tells us her tongue tie tale. Her story struck a cord with us, showing that breastfeeding success takes more than just detrmination. Often our desire to breastfeed can overshadow our mini but in Tatiana's case she found the strength to put her children and family first.
To the Babies I Couldn't Breastfeed ...
... I still love you as though I did.
My daughter, Sage Malia, had a posterior tongue tie but it wasn't discovered until she was 2 weeks old. I had the most magical birth experience, and she performed the textbook breast crawl. Before leaving the hospital I asked the midwife to check our breastfeeding; she watched me for a minute and said it all looked perfect. The hospital was busy that morning, I was a second-time mummy and my baby was latching beautifully, I was discharged a mere 12 hours after giving birth.
When we got home everything seemed just as it should. On day three I resembled Dolly Parton as my milk arrived; unfortunately, the cracked bleeding nipples arrived too. My midwife dropped off an entire box of Gelonet and I went through it in 24 hours. Sage was weighed on day five and had lost 11% of her birth weight. I was encouraged to express to rest my nipples and as Sage wasn’t opening her mouth wide enough the midwife aslo suggested nipple shields. I hesitated to take their advice because these had been blamed for my previous breastfeeding struggles. They looked inside her mouth to see if there was a tongue tie and said it all looked fine. I was then set on a strict feeding schedule. Breastfeed her from the left, express the right breast and bottle feed her the expressed milk. Between breastfeeding, expressing and bottle feeding I had a 15 minutes before the whole process started again.
Seven days on and Sage was nearly back to her birthweight, I was instructed to stop expressing and just feed her on demand, hallelujah! Sage continued to spend more than an hour feeding per session, passing out but the second I put her down she wanted back on again. I contacted every midwife, health visitor and feeding specialist I knew and tried to explain that she would only nurse during let down and then pulled off screaming. Finally, I contacted a private lactation consultant.
She mentioned a posterior tongue tie and recommended an evaluation by Milk Matters. However, there was an NHS tongue tie specialist locally who we decided to see first. She thought the problem might be thrush and downplayed the posterior tongue tie. We were put on a medication for thrush and told to carry on. I went to every breastfeeding support group that I could and cried because my baby was the only one that pulled off screaming while nursing, she literally couldn't get the milk out.
I continued on for 12 weeks with Sage nursing from both sides, when she screamed and pulled off I would express and then bottle feed her. I planned to exclusively pump but when my mom flew back to America this became impossible. I cried and decided I would just let her nurse until my milk ran out. When she was 13 weeks old my milk was gone. The last time we breastfed we were both in tears. I was trying to force her to do something she wasn't capable of and I broke down. At that point I realised I had to do what was best for the entire family and neglecting my 2.5 year old son for the sake of a few ounces of "liquid gold" just wasn't going to fit into our lifestyle.
The day I exclusively bottle-fed Sage was a day of great relief for both of us. She's been smiling ever since. It took me several months to work through my disappointment and it preoccupied my mind a lot. I wanted to be that success story but wasn't.
The one thing I've learned from my experience with my children is that parenting is not a one size fits all approach. I set unattainable expectations for myself but only found peace once I was able to let things be. I no longer see myself as a failure, in fact I'm quite proud of the mother I've become.
Sage is nearly nine months old and I'm happy to report that her frenulum has stretched on its own. No surgery, anaesthesia or regret about my decision, just one happy mama that chose to go through months of pain and grief so her little peanut didn't have to.
Thank you Tatiana for sharing this with us. You can read the original post over on The Minimalist Mummy. Once all our tongue tie tales are told, we will collate the tips for teats and tits alike. In the meantime if you have any words of wisdom on the tip of your tongue, then we would love to hear Your Voice.