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Why was I left feeling like I’d failed?

August 29, 2014

I was asked a few weeks back to write a guest post at MumsNet on behalf of Tongue Tie UK, a very small with a very big challenge; to raise awareness of the issue of tongue (and lip) ties and the impact they can have, and how they can be dealt with. They asked me because of something that happened very very early on in Hope’s life … this is the piece I wrote … it’s been shared some 200 times on Facebook already and commented on by over 100 people on the post itself or on Facebook at the MumsNet page and has been retweeted and commented on hundreds of times on Twitter .. I’m overwhelmed by the response, and also deeply saddened by all the stories of babies and their mothers affected and not supported  or treated…

If you had a baby with a tongue tie do share your story .. here or at MumsNet and consider supporting Tongue Tie UK … and if you know someone who is pregnant and about to give birth, then suggest they get their newborn checked for tongue tie, and if you know anyone struggling to breastfeed their baby get them to see if a tongue tie is the problem … 

Here is the the full text of the post:

 

“My daughter was blue when she was born – premature, blue and grunting. Although they sounded very sweet, the kitten-like noises she made were because her lungs were struggling. I’d scarcely had a chance to say hello when she was whisked off to the SCBU. When I saw her again a few hours later, she had a nasogastric tube, an IV drip and a pulse monitor attached to her.

I tried to breastfeed her, but felt all clumsy; she was tiny, her mouth seemed so small, and we couldn’t get it quite right. I was given a breastpump and I expressed a few millilitres of what everybody helpfully referred to as ‘liquid gold’, dripped into her via the nose tube. She kept unlatching. I thought it was the nose tube causing her discomfort, or me holding her wrong as I tried to avoid contact with my c-section scar – I was sure it was all my fault.

Feeding became very stressful. I was constantly frustrated – we always seemed so close, but just missed getting it right. We were kept in hospital as she was a little jaundiced and my heartbeat was erratic, but also because I didn’t feel confident with breastfeeding. People came and went, fiddling with my boobs and showing me different holds, but nothing worked. I’d had a caesarean, and was then separated from her for the first few days of her life – I already felt as if I had failed her somehow, so breastfeeding became even more important to me. I felt like I could do nothing right, and this sense threatened at times to engulf me.

One day, whilst advising me on positioning for breastfeeding, a lactation advisor said something about a tongue-tie. I had no idea what she meant. At that point my baby started to cry, and we didn’t have a chance to continue the conversation.
I was so relieved – but why had I been left to feel like Hope’s problems with feeding were down to me? And, having just given birth, why did I have to go to a different hospital?

A few days later, on my slow shuffle back from dripping my precious pumped milk down through the nose tube, I saw the very first midwife I’d met when I was pregnant. She was delighted to meet my girl and asked how I was getting on, so I told her about the breastfeeding problems. She looked into my daughter’s mouth and sure enough, she found that Hope had a tongue-tie. The little bit of skin under the tongue that joins it to the palette was too tight towards the back of the tongue, meaning the tongue was sitting high in her mouth, which is why she could only suck in a very shallow way.

It was a huge relief to understand what the problem was, but there was nothing our hospital could do. We had to travel to a different hospital over an hour away with my 16-day-old baby to get help. The consultant confirmed that our daughter had a posterior tongue-tie and offered to snip it there and then. The procedure took all of 10 seconds, and I think caused me more angst than it did my daughter. I sat in the hospital cubicle topless, while my husband went to hold the baby as the tongue-tie was severed. I heard a very brief cry – it made me cry too – and then she was carried in, looking like a small, bloodied vampire. I put her to my breast and immediately she started feeding.

She nursed voraciously for 20 minutes, the antiseptic qualities of breastmilk starting to heal the very small wound, and then she slept all the way home. I was so relieved – but why had I been left to feel like Hope’s problems with feeding were down to me? And what would have happened had I not spent time with the lactation advisor who first mentioned tongue-tie? And, having just given birth, why did I have to go to a different hospital?

As with most things, it was down to funding. And perceived ‘lack of evidence’ as to whether posterior tongue-ties really do have an effect on breastfeeding (or, for example, language development). It was only when I began speaking to friends about it that I realised how many of them had been through similar experiences. Some had reluctantly given up on breastfeeding, and some – those who could afford it – had gone private to get the tongue-tie treated, or they had taken a long journey to another NHS hospital. All of them, like me, had had no idea what a tongue-tie was until the moment their newborn was diagnosed with one.

I firmly believe that tongue-tie should be highlighted in all antenatal classes. We were incredibly lucky to have such a diligent and knowledgeable midwife, who was willing to discuss something the hospital she worked in didn’t recognise as an issue. Without her support, our breastfeeding journey would have failed before it started – and my daughter and I would have missed out on the joy that nursing has given us.”

#TongueTieHour is a space for parents and other people to share experiences and discuss tongue-tie and lip-tie, every Monday (from September 2) between 3pm and 4pm on Twitter. It is organised by Tongue-Tie UK, which raises awareness about tongue-tie and lip-tie.

 

 

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An important announcement

August 25, 2014

I was sitting on the loo a little earlier, the door burst open and she marched in.

“Milky Mummy, Hope want milky”.

“OK, bunny, just wait a minute, of course you can”.

She lent over and patted the front of my jumper, lent forward and kissed me and then turned and wandered off.

Two minutes later I came into my ‘office’ to find her standing on the floor looking up at different breastfeeding pictures, the ones I’d been looking at for my latest piece at Huff Post, mainly of the two of us but a few from various nursing websites, “Milky Mummy … lots of milky”, she picked up the breastfeeding book that was open on the desk and examined one of the images, “lady’s milky Mummy”, she said pointing at the mother’s breasts, “lady little bit of milky, not much milky, funny nipple”, I looked at the picture and said, rather vaguely, “everyone is different Hopey, all in different shapes and sizes, large  ones, small ones, all different”, that seemed to satisfy her curiosity, she put the book back giving the picture one last quizzical glance . 

She turned and followed me out of the room and over to our favourite ‘feeding’ chair.

Today, she wanted her milky standing up, she chose the left side first, “deeeeelicious Mummy”, and then went to walk round to the right side. She stopped, stepped back, looked intently at my chest, smiled and and announced, “my Mummy has BIG milkys, lucky Hopey”.

I woke up this morning

August 25, 2014

This morning I woke up because a bird started to sing really loudly outside … I tried to turn my head and couldn’t …

She had abseiled in to my bed over the side of her cot during the wee small hours for a milky snack, so familiar now that it just happens, warm and peaceful and I don’t really feel I’ve been woken up … we generally drift off to sleep together, my small fish pushing me to the very precipice at the edge of the bed. Normally, I wake up and sneak out and have my bath … then just before I get out, the door is pushed open and she walks in, like a picture book toddler in her pyjamas, clutching the corner of her little blanket or a teddy and announces, “I’m awake Mummy”.

This morning it was different, she had me trapped, I couldn’t move. She was clutching a hug handful of my hair in her hand and was lying across my shoulder, her other hand was holding on tight to my nipple! How I’d managed to be asleep like that I have no idea!

I lay there for a while and manage to wriggle my breast free from her grasp, and listened to the bird singing outside, and the sound of her breathing so close by.

I must have drifted back off to sleep, the next thing I knew was a big wet slodgy kiss on the nose, the shout of “I’m awake Mummy, Mummy WAKE UP”, and then the lunge across me for milky. She had a few slurps, looked up and beamed, “delicious Mummy ‘ank you much Mummy”.

All of which made me very happy.

 

Forget jumping the wiggles

August 22, 2014

today she “walked the pricklies”

 

 

any idea?

 

 

give up?

 

 

oh ok, she walked over the gravel in her bare feet … something I struggle to do as it does hurt … every determined step she took holding her sandals high as if wading through a fast flowing river and not wanting to get them wet, every determined step made me flinch … she wanted to walk to the car with no shoes on … so she did … and spent the rest of the day telling people about her achievement.

Comparatively speaking

August 14, 2014

Hope has started to compare things … the best example I can give of this is from a short car journey this afternoon to visit a friend.

From the back of the car I heard a small rumbling sound. The kind of .sound that is normally followed by our little joke,
“Was that Mummy’s bottom?”,
“no, Mummy it was Hopey’s bottom”,
followed by a delighted, “Hope make farty noise”.

I know I know … and I’ve never said the word infront of her, I talk about her having windy buttocks … but the little phrase “farty noise” is one she’s pounced upon and it always makes her chortle.

Today, I turned to look at her over my shoulder (when we pulled up at a traffic light),

“Was that Mummy’s bottom?”,

“No, Mummy it was Hopey’s bottom”, she replied … and then the rumbly sound came again.

Silence in the back.

Then, a little voice piped up filled with wonder, “MUMMY MUMMY, Hopey’s bottom like THUNDER”.

Ten minutes later there was thunder outside, just before we turned into the quiet lane where our friends live, it rumbled round,

“Hopey not scared thunder Mummy, thunder like Hopey’s bottom, thunder funny”.

A few minutes later the rain and the storm came, small person beamed up as I was unstrapping her from her car seat, rain pelting down on my back, “Hopey happy Mummy”.

And so the day continues …

What have you done?

August 8, 2014

For a while now she’s been brushing her own teeth, diligently squeezing a tiny spot of toothpaste on to a Hello Kitty toothbrush which her aunt gave her and carefully brushing top to bottom, side to side, up down up down, teeth together and so on and then rinsing the brush and standing it up on it’s plastic suction type end by the side of the sink.

Earlier she announced she needed to brush her teeth, “off you go then”, I responded distractedly wading through a mountain of back emails …

ten minutes later I thought she was being rather quiet but guessed she was reading one of her bathroom books.

I wandered into the bathroom, “aaagghhhhhhhhhhhh Hopey what HAVE you done?”

“toothpaste Mummy, I squaggled it, see … and drawing”, she responded very proudly.

Not many surfaces were left unsquaggled … lots of neat little swirls of toothpaste and a mural on one wall … a rainbow apparently, lots of toothpaste arches.

Took a while to clean up!

Quite potty

August 8, 2014

We’re not potty training yet but there is a blue plastic potty upstairs and another one downstairs … from time to time over the last month she’s sat on one for about 2 seconds and then leapt up announcing, “no wee wee”, “no poo”, and although she asks to be naked from time to time, especially in bed in the morning if we have a breastfeeding snuggly lie in, she generally asks to wear her nappy.

Nappies are something Hope enjoys, she pats the front of them proudly and potters around tummy out looking pleased with herself. She’s never made a fuss having her nappy changed and is always fascinated by the contents and keen to share the news, “no poo only wee wee”, or “big poo” and so on.

This morning we were both a little tired after a late night flying back from Ireland and we had a big lie in, a big cuddle and she drank a small lake of milky and then played her favourite, I’m going to poke your nipples in as far as they can go game, after which she announced, “milky tidy”.

I heaved myself out of bed and suggested that she sit on the potty while I go to the loo. She trotted into the bathroom with my cell phone in one hand, looking at pictures of our visit to the emerald isle and came back with the potty in the other hand. She set it down on the floor infront of me.

I did a wee, she looked up and grinned, “Mummy did a wee”, and then, she did one too … she looked quite surprised and then absolutely delighted with herself. She bounded up and had a look in the potty, “look Mummy look, Hopey done a wee in potty, GRANBY come see, Hopey done a wee in potty”.

All of which made me feel quite emotional!

We wiped from front to back, threw everything down the loo and she has dashed off downstairs to tell Granby all about it.

As I type she’s just called up, “Mummy, Hopey want nappy on”, so I must go and sort that out. Sorry for the toilet nature of the post but it is a milestone and I felt it needed to be marked!

The whole potty training thing fills me with fear, I’ve seen friends have timers and whisk children out of activities to ensure they are plonked on potties at exactly half hourly intervals, seen people with potties out for walks and so on, ultimately it’s whatever works for you and your child, but I’ve always felt that growing up as a toddler is exciting and overwhelming enough without the added stress of being forced to wee on demand and the guilt and so on, so have been fairly philosophical about it happening when she’s ready and I’m planning on sticking to that approach.

Right, off to give her a big hug and a nappy!