In September of 2015, my husband and I suddenly found ourselves in the ER with our 1 week old. My husband brought it up recently, and I had an immediate visceral reaction - I had forgotten, or more likely I had suppressed it for the traumatic experience it was. Things you push so deep without even realizing it. "Oh. Oh yeah. Wow, I forgot about that."
Oh yeah. Our middle son. The one who woke up every hour for the first THIRTEEN months of life. The smallest of our boys. The picky eater. The one who got colds all the time.
He had spit up constantly since birth, and we were worried. We knew it wasn't normal, but we didn't know why it was happening or how to help him. Sometimes the spit up was even bright yellow. Like highlighter yellow. So we took him to a pediatrician to find out what it could be.
The ped listened, spent a few minutes checking out baby, and told us he looked good, that it was normal, and to let him know if it got worse.
I remember pointing to some little neon duckies on my baby's onesie and saying, "But sometimes it's this color. I've never seen that before." He assured me that it was probably fine.
As we walked past the doctor to go check out, the baby spit up. Neon duckie yellow.
"Oh!", the pediatrician said. "Actually, you need to go the ER right now. I'll call over to let them know you're on your way."
WTF? we were thinking. You just said it was fine and now it's ER serious?
But of course we went, we're not the experts.
They did an ultrasound. Torso X-rays. They made me feed him a bottle of barium so they could take dozens more X-rays to see if he had a twist in his intestines.
They said he was fine. They didn't know why he was doing it, and he would grow out of it. Come back if it gets worse.
He stopped having those neon yellow spitups, but the spitting up was relentless. It projectiled out of him. I cut out dairy. I cut out egg. I learned to pack extra clothes for both him and myself so that we wouldn't have to wear his buckets of spit up. He was gaining well. He was a "happy spitter".
It finally stopped happening when he was about 9 months old. What a relief. Some babies just spit up a lot, I guess.
Fast forward to August 2016. My family and I flew to Portland for a weekend trip. We were there because I had finally been convinced by a La Leche League leader (😚) to learn something about Tongue Ties. Dr. Bobby Ghaheri so graciously allowed interested doctors to shadow him while he treated infant tongue ties. That was the day the entire trajectory of my career changed, but that's a different story. That was the day that I came back to the hotel from Dr. Ghaheri's office, threw my 11 month old down on the bed to check his mouth, and realized he had a tongue tie.
Now I see those happy spitters in my office everyday. Now I know about tongue function and how swallowing air causes so many of the common baby issues. How a tongue tie (even the most "mild" 🙄 tongue tie) keeps the tongue from making all the right movements which results in clicking, leaking, gassiness, colic, spitting up, reflux, breastfeeding pain, latch issues, bottle issues, and so, so much more.
People often ask if I learned about tongue ties because of my own kids. The answer is no. I learned about my own kids because of learning about tongue ties. And oh, how thankful I am, because they are better for it. They have a better chance at long term airway health because I learned about tongue ties when I did. And I can help other families improve their airway health. And it feels good to be helpful, and to be needed, and to make a difference.
I hope to help many families avoid the frustrating circles of "why". The sooner you find the root cause, the sooner you get to healthier and happier. And it's also never too late!