We took Dashiell in for his second doctor’s appointment today. It went quite well. His jaundice has diminished to expected levels, and he put on fifteen ounces in the last eight days. We have a healthy baby! Happy is a bit of a different story…
The ‘frenulum’ (of tongue), as it turns out, is the little strip of connective material we all have connecting our tongues to the floor of our mouths. Occasionally, a baby is born with too much frenulum, and it restricts the movement of his/her tongue. This condition is known as being born “tongue-tied”. It isn’t a particular problem, I’m told, except if the mother chooses to breastfeed, in which case it interferes with latching, and can cause mothers pain, and babies not to feed well. When our son was born last week, I noticed that like his mother (who, being adopted, was bottle-fed as a baby), he had an overly-developed frenulum. I pointed this out in the presence of several of the medical staff from the birthing center, and directly to the lactation consultant who works for the center and visits with all new mothers to get them started breastfeeding, if that is their goal. None of the staff reacted to this state as if it were a problem, and the lactation consultant specifically told us “He’s not tongue-tied, so that will make things easier. I was nonplussed, as I couldn’t imagine a way Dashiell’s frenulum could possibly be any bigger, but I gave up pointing it out after this, assuming I was simply being a hysterical father.
Eleven days of absolutely tortuous, often tearful breastfeeding later, I re-broached the subject today with our new pediatrician physician’s assistant. After checking momentarily, she told us, “Wow, he is really tongue-tied!” Five minutes later, she returned with the on-duty doctor, and through an act of Herculean will, I stood in the corner and fiddled with my phone while the monsters assaulted my boy with a pair of scissors! A minute or so later, he was more or less done yelling about the indignity of it all, and tongue-tie free. Mommy reports that subsequent feedings have been an order of magnitude less painful!
What I have learned from this episode:
- I married a goddamn viking warrior, who was able to put nearly a pound on our boy during a phase in which most babies lose weight by grinding through long hours of intense suffering on nothing but sheer nerve. I love her more than I can put into words.
- I really need to get past this compulsion to hulk-smash anything that makes my son cry.
- My suspicions are confirmed that the vast majority of medical professionals, who pay no attention to what we are saying and make it clear how much more competent they are than us unejikated peasants in such matters, are fucking idiots!