We are on our way to one of the more fashionable areas of our city, a block from the ocean, where the rich hippies live and hang out (yes, here it actually is a natural combo, super rich and super hippie, “read”; only organic, recycled, from the earth and for the earth, “green”, “think blue”, non-toxic, pure, “flow pow” and of course if needed extremely expensive…).
The office of the famous TT (tongue tied) doctor is in what looks like an old building but turns out to be new and modern looking inside. I immediately get nervous by the giant paintings of nursing women (naked boobs out), mixed with “breast milk is gold” and “breastfeeding is natural and the only alternative” posters, dream catchers and natural remedy nipple cream , breast milk non-plastic storage bags for sale as well as some tie dye looking baby slings and “organic juice samples” and “ecological sugar less, gluten free, chocolate without chocolate cookies” (or something like that) but this is considered “normal” for this state after all (and especially for this area). A little chime announces our arrival and everybody seem to be whispering. Two large dogs are napping by a Buddha statue, a flyer tells me to “believe in colors” and two adjacent offices read “acupuncture” and “cranial therapy” on the doors.
I’m not sure I’m a believer in all these new “healing powers and methods” but a lot of people swear by them- and I’m slightly impressed by that. We all do our best to live our lives in the very best ways and when you have children this becomes extra important. We all want what’s best for the planet and future generations and I do think some of these new age-y methods work (especially if you believe they do) but I’m just not fully there yet. Blame the Swede in me (we tend to be pretty grounded, by maybe boringly so), blame my realist mother, blame the analyst, the psychologist, the logical thinker in me. The thing is, I do believe in abstract “things” like hope and love and powers greater than us, I have faith and what is more abstract yet powerful than that? I’m just not sure I can swallow all that some of these new thinkers are selling without “proof”, but we discover and learn all the time so maybe they’re on to something with their “Reiki”, “chromotherapy” and needles. I would feel serene here though, I really would (loving the yoga mats by the little waterfall and the wild flowers somehow growing inside?) but this is the moment my starving daughter chooses to wake up and I get a “reality check” why we are here. I feel conflicted trying to console her, is this not the right place for us? Is this doctor really the best? Did he go to a real medical school? Was I steered wrong? But I also feel embarrassed that my daughter is crying, that I’m nervous and somehow “ungrateful”, that I haven’t join the bandwagon and that I’m simply not more “Namaste”.
I sign in, ready to bolt if I don’t see some real looking diplomas on the walls, some sterilized equipment and a professional looking doctor. My daughter reaches a new level of wailing as I bounce her, walking around reading some “thank you” notes on the walls; these people really do seem thankful (“you saved our breastfeeding relationship”) and (“only breast milk is good enough for my son, you made it happen”). I think back to my “failed breastfeeding relationship” with my own son and can’t help thinking it wasn’t such a big deal. He is a happy, healthy three year old today. That doesn’t mean I don’t want this to work for my daughter and I, I really do and since she now has decided she CANNOT take a bottle AT ALL what are my options, really?
Luckily, I’m next and as the doors open to a small but super clean, white, sterilized and hospital smelling room, I relax a bit. I’m actually impressed by the individualized attention, the full hour of one-on-one time with the doctor and nurse. The care, the stress-free, calm environment and the “no question is a dumb question attitude” (I’m full of dumb questions; I even flex my mommy strengths to ask the doctor for his credentials…seriously).
The doctor LOOKS like a doctor (sorry for my paranoia here) and the diplomas look legit from some very good medical schools (I have googled the heck out of him beforehand so I should feel safe). He explains that he is a pediatrician who happen to stumble upon this niche, started to research tongue ties, was surprised at the lack of knowledge and help/support out there (people have been cutting ties on their babies since the beginning of time after all). He started writing articles and even books on the topic and now this is the only procedure he does. His voice is scientific (!) and he just makes sense and he doesn’t rush me and even tells me it is okay to walk away (the nurse makes a comment that baby seems to get enough food anyways, looking at her “rolls” smiling). He is that kind of older man, white beard and gentle eyes that you just trust and feel like if you were a kid you would want him to be your grandpa and curl up in his lap (NO, not like that…puh-leeze, get your mind out of the gutter).
Anyways, since baby M is already (still) wailing he asks if it’s okay to examine her? We put her upside down in my lap and the doc gets a nice view of both tongue and tonsils! He says it’s easy to see why we are having issues (darn, couldn’t he have said, thanks for stopping by, this magic remedy will do the trick, no cut needed), since her “exterior” tie is really thick AND she also has a lip tie that NEEDS to be taken care of.
Next decision is heartbreakingly hard, no Anesthesia/numbing meds so baby will be able to breast feed right after without being completely numb or meds? The doctor seems all for the pain meds but the nurse cautions me to be able to nurse baby right after, reminding me of the healing powers of breast milk. I’m in agony and the procedure hasn’t even started yet! I frantically text my mom for advice but my cell has no bars. I really want to feed my inconsolable daughter and I really want this to work and be worth it. The doctor tells me that grown-ups that do this (oh, I wish I could have interviewed one of them about the pain right now) have reported that the lip hurts more and he reassures me that the pain is only seconds long and as soon as she nurses she will forget about the pain inflicted on her (ah, baby forgive your mother).
I think they both make sense and I’m trying to remember for the millionth time, “this procedure is a routine procedure, done all the time, this doctor is one of the best AND she has already been through this ones, she can do it again”.
I’m full of anxious energy as I pick a compromise of fully numbing the upper lip and just rubbing some cold gel on underneath the tongue so she will be able to use her tongue to nurse right after (dreaming of that moment).
The doctor and nurse work mercifully fast and both seem efficient and professional, while I’m hiding behind a nursing pillow, but something still goes terribly wrong…