On Being Tongue Tied

Not that kind of tongue tied.  If only Aiman’s problems extended to difficulty getting out “Sally sells seashells by the seashore.”  No, Aiman is/was clinically tongue tied, which basically means that the little bit of tissue that connected his tongue to the bottom of his mouth extended all the way to the tip of his tongue making it difficult for him to stick it out and pronounce certain sounds.

Funny Faces

We noticed Aiman might be tongue tied when he was about four months old.  At his next regularly scheduled visit to the pediatrician, we asked about it.  We were told that we should just wait and see if it would resolve itself – no need to worry if it is not affecting the way he eats.   In hind-sight I think that it did affect his eating.  Aiman would only nurse for 10 minutes at a time and self-weaned in favor of the bottle when he was only 5 months old.  But I was a first time parent!  Since I had no basis for comparison, it seemed like it could potentially be normal or just a quirk of Aiman or, more likely ALL MY FAULT, because I went back to work after just 8 weeks.  I’m really kicking me of 6 years ago.

When Sofia was born she would nurse for hours at a time if I let her.  I remember noting the difference between the two, but all kids are different you know.  I went back to work so early with Aiman, he was a boy, he was just different. Around this time we asked Aiman’s pediatricians again whether we should be worried about the tongue thing – nope, he’s A-OK they said.

All Action

When Mika was born the in-hospital pediatrician noticed that she was also tongue tied.  She suggested clipping the little flap of tissue (frenulectomy for the doctors in the house) the next day before she went home.  “Uh – OK” was my very reasoned response.  The doc came in the next day with a pair of scissors and some gauze, she grabbed Mika’s little tongue, snipped the tissue with the scissors and handed her to me.  She cried for maybe 15 seconds, I nursed her and that was it.  THAT. WAS. IT.  Again, we asked Aiman’s pediatricians about his tongue, again they shrugged it off.

I’m sure you can all see where this is going.

We recently opened a second front on the war against Aiman’s staph infection and he has been seeing a Chinese Medicine guy for a few months.  The CMG (Chinese Medicine Guy) noticed that Aiman couldn’t stick his tongue out and that it was shaped like a heart.  He inquired if we had ever asked the pediatrician about it – oh, only 6 or 7 times, but we were told it was no big deal.  With furrowed brow the CMG just said, “hm.”  That was all Riaz needed.   Aiman was scheduled to go to the pediatrician to get some stitches out on a Monday (story for another day!) and Riaz inquired about the tongue tie.  Nope, said the doc, all good in there.  This time Riaz insisted on a referral to see a specialist.  We were in to see the ENT doctor on the Wednesday, he spent approximately 3.5 seconds examining Aiman’s tongue before declaring him severely tongue tied and suggesting he have surgery on Friday.  Just … guys … heavy sigh.  Why!?!?

Boogie Boardin
So Friday morning Aiman and I were at the surgery center at 6:00 a.m. I was trying to reassure a completely terrified six year old that it would all be ok and I’d be with him the whole time.  Except I wasn’t.  Because when a six year old needs to get a frenulectomy they have to be put under general anesthesia, because the bit of tissue is now larger and wider, clipping it means a few stitches, a lot of blood and quite a bit of pain.  Aiman cried while I held the gas mask over his little nose to put him to sleep, saying over and over that it would be ok.  I held his hand when he woke up crying from the anesthesia.  And I held him for the next two days while he cried over the pain in his mouth and the weird feeling of his tongue being untethered and the even weirder feeling of the stitches holding the underside of his tongue together.   He ate two dozen popsicles and bemoaned the fact that all the bad things happen to him! And I couldn’t disagree.

He’s totally fine now, and may not even remember this whole incident, but guys, I’m really angry.  As far as I can tell there are no negative side effects to having this procedure done when a baby is still a baby and it is far far less invasive the younger a child is.  Also … gah … what if he didn’t nurse for very long because it was hard for him?  What if it wasn’t the fact that I went back to work that caused him to give up on breast feeding, what if it was his little tongue?  I could have saved him the pain, and me the guilt, and my pocketbook oodles of money spent on formula.

I wish we would have gotten a second opinion when he was little.  I wish the doctor had just done the “surgery” in the hospital like they did with Mika.  I wish Aiman didn’t have to have all the bad things happen to him!

Handsome Boy!

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2 Responses to On Being Tongue Tied

  1. Ellen Goldstein says:

    Very sorry for him, and for you. I’d be angry too. BEST

  2. Mom says:

    Don’t beat yourself up, Kristina, it wasn’t your fault. We’re supposed to be able to trust our doctors, and I probably would have done exactly as you did. The important thing is that it’s fixed now. Give the little guy a big hug from us and let him know that we’re proud of how brave he is.

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