One of the first things I noticed about Orion was that his frenulum was very long – all the way to the end of his tongue – it actually pulled and made a dent if he tried to stick it out. I was surprised Rasmia didn’t say anything about it and I was kindof out of it so I didn’t mention it. I thought I had remembered reading something in the Dr. Sears book about that interfering with breastfeeding, so I looked again and sure enough that is what it said. He seemed to be latching on OK, but I was still worried because I had gone through such a hard time with Sarah when I thought I was doing it correctly then as well. Our wonderful DO, Razmig Krumian, had agreed to pay us a house visit and when he saw it he said that this was about as bad as it gets. He definitely recommended having it clipped and gave us the names of a couple ENTs.
The first couple of days seemed OK although he didn’t sleep too much. He seemed to only be content sleeping on my chest and I couldn’t sleep that way. Maybe I had gotten too used to sleeping on my side at the end of pregnancy. It also seemed like I was just wound up because I couldn’t sleep anyway. I remembered being the same way the first day or two with Sarah. With a newborn you just worry about every little sound they make. After a few days I got seriously tired and then I was falling asleep sitting up even! So at that point I was able to lie down after a feeding at night and usually get him to go to sleep with me. Actually he started sleeping at night almost right away. I did the same thing I had done with Sarah, which was to keep all the lights out or low and no talking. Somehow that seems to communicate that it is sleep time and it is the only thing about Orion that has stayed consistent.
The biggest trial we faced turned out to be connected to breastfeeding. Within the first week Orion started to get into inconsolable crying spells at night. I thought he was already starting with colic and was getting mentally prepared for dealing with it for a few months. I have to admit I felt bad because I thought I had done every possible thing recommended to avoid colic. Once he started crying he would go for a few hours and not eat the whole time. One night, out of desperation, (or call it mother’s intuition) I said we should try to give him a bottle of some of the milk I had pumped. Ron got it ready and Orion sucked it down in about 30 seconds. I was shocked. Here we were rocking and singing to our baby and it turned out he was starving. Not only did he drink it down but he ate more from the breast and then slept for about 4 hours straight afterwards. The poor thing was sleep deprived because he had to spend so many waking hours eating to try and get enough food. I had been to so many breastfeeding seminars, La Leche League meetings and read books about breastfeeding and not one of them ever said a baby might refuse the breast with a bad latch. All I had heard about was possible soar nipples, low weight gain and increased air intake. So at this point I knew the frenulum was a much bigger issue than we had realized and we really stepped up the efforts to get it clipped.
I made an appointment with Dr. Mikaelian. The first one got cancelled because he was called away on emergency. I was getting a bit panicky at this point because we kept needing to give Orion bottles and I was worried about running out of pumped breast milk. He also seemed to be getting increasingly fussy at the breast. At first we only needed to give him about an ounce to take away his frustration and then he would go right back to the breast, but sometimes it would take more than that or not work at all.
We decided to consult a lactation consultant and she turned out to be very helpful. She gave me some good tips about how to get the baby going and how to get some extra milk into him. Through this whole time, Octavia was also very helpful and made herself available at any time. She also put me in touch with another consultant who talked to me over the phone. I also spent some time talking to the La Leche League people. Although nobody could really solve our problem until the procedure was done, it was just comforting to talk to other women who were encouraging. I felt like giving up at some points knowing that I was frustrating my son. It seemed like it would be easier to just pump and switch to bottles, but I kept pushing through. The day finally came to see the doctor and of course it turned out he would only do an office visit. I had just assumed the procedure would happen on the same day because it was so minor. At least he squeezed us in at the next available date and we only had a few more days to wait.
There was not an overnight difference because I think Orion was so used to being frustrated at the breast, but things did get slowly better over the next few days and we were getting by with no extra bottles. Some of the other things that really helped me were listening to music I found really moving, especially the Leap of Faith album by Kenny Loggins. Babies can sense frustration and tension, which I would experience every time he refused the breast, so I needed to focus on calming things. Certain songs made me very emotional and I noticed that would often trigger a letdown. The other thing that was a huge help was keeping an image of The Star card from the tarot in my mind. This card represents to me a sense of channeling the positive energy in the universe through myself and out to the rest of the world. When meditating on thid image I could relax better and picture sending that calmness to Orion. I would physically lower my shoulders to release the tension. Ron would usually hold his hands if they were flailing around and send him calming energy as well. Sometimes I found it depressing to think I needed breastfeeding to be a two person job, but I mentioned this to the consultant and she said it is surprising how often that is the case in the early weeks.
Despite all the frustrations, I was often filled with a sense of overwhelming joy and love. Sometimes it would be so strong that I would just sit there and cry. I telling Ron that I was crying from happiness because I was worried he would think I was depressed. Above it all, I know how fast the first few years disappear, so no matter what the trials are, they will be gone before I know it.