to read Part 1 Guzz guzz Gruzz the anxious buzz)
Years later…..I sat on her couch in Mumbai, this complete stranger (Effath Yasmin), with my 9 day old baby in my arms, helpless, tear filled feeling like a complete failure of a mother. My baby was unable to nurse. The buzz was devouring me, it was loud, it was bold, it was taunting, my body was overwhelmed with shivers of volcanic proportions, my fascia were stretched to tearing point, and were yet being played upon by porcupine quills.
To add to this I could feel the buzz in my infant….this could not be happening…..it was beyond surreal, beyond a divine joke. Imagine feeling my own guzz guzz gruzz anxious buzz and then feeling as palpably as labor surges, the buzz in my child. My husband was my only solace.
This stranger was the messenger, nay the midwife of my release, but we both didn’t know it. After a long and tedious journey, we discovered the little angel had a tongue tie. A path breaking first time in India on an infant with laser, she had a frenotomy, a small surgical procedure that is quite painless and bloodless. This was preceded and followed by Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, that made the buzz go away from our baby. Read more about the procedure hereThat meant the buzz in me went back to my normal average. I didn’t think much of it, but was elated and on top of the world that she could nurse and nurse she did for a long time to come and what grace that one act of being a mother cow can bring, is journey that I wrote about in another note.
Exactly 4 years later I sat on her couch again. We were friends now, Yasmin and I having journeyed like only soul sisters from a universal mother can. Our daughters were having a sleepover and we were up chatting into the night. I am about to move to the Cayman Islands, so we are making the best of whatever time we have with our dearest friends. Yasmin and I often talk about tongue ties, it is her area of expertise and deeply interests me. I have since counseled many mothers whose babies have tongue ties, I have friends whose babies and older children have tongue ties but do not have it resolved, mostly due to unsupportive fathers. I can diagnose simple tongue ties physically and definitely know many of the symptoms behaviorally. I can see that I have several.
I request Yasmin to check me. This also coincides with her understanding and her investigation that while my body would respond to improved function after every Biodynamic Craniosacral treatment sessions over the past year, it would recoil into some unknown buzz again. Its almost like my body cannot sustain the better function. Her investigation was the restricted structure must be the cause. It comes as no surprise that I have a tongue tie. There is not a flicker of doubt that this must be resolved before I leave. I have 6 weeks. We get to work with Biodynamic Craniosacral sessions, a beautiful nonintrusive way to ease the body into its optimal wholeness and well-being by improving body’s physiological function
I have my frenotomy. It redeems me. It is done under local anesthesia and even through the anesthesia, as soon as the frenum is severed, I feel my jaw relax and I start to feel like a big weight has begun to lift off my neck and shoulder muscles. Apart from that I feel pretty normal. We leave the clinic and Yasmin gives me a ride to the homeopathic chemist, so I can get bio-chemical salts for anti-trauma and pain if needed. I am beginning to feel something peeling off my inner skin, so to speak. I don’t say anything though. As we wait for the remedies, I talk to a close friend that needs a frenotomy and tell her I’m feeling relaxed and pretty normal.
Suddenly the lightness gets larger than life, my inner skin was still feeling like it was peeling. Imagine one of those heavy collagen face masks peeling off various internal layers of your body you never knew existed. I decided to sit down and focus on my Ajna Chakra. I feel a little more focused. I go off to the next store to get a paracetamol, just in case I need it for pain. By now whatever was happening, was escalating. Yet my inner core was still as a lake. The peeling of the inner skin (which I now know was fascia) was progressively relaxing rapidly. It felt like a lot was falling away, like cascading away. Yasmin comes by me and I ask her if she can take me home and then involuntarily collapse into a heap in her arms.
I am completely conscious and feeling fine, except for the physiological happening. My body was saying, hold on I need to take over for a while. My entire body started vibrating. Not like a phone vibrates, but a very subtle yet powerful vibrating. Something more like diffusing, like an essential oil in a vaporizer. It kept on going. I was so high in my head; it felt like I would become one with the universe. I have had this feeling before, during a yoga practice in the Sivananda Ashram and while birthing. I am not alarmed, yet everyone around me is.
In that busy street of Mumbai, a crowd has gathered. I am able to tell Yasmin, who is not panicking at all, that I am well. They give me glucose. I don’t want it. I have eaten a good breakfast and I know something incredible is happening, that just needs allowing and time. Yet I sip. Slowly the vibration reduces to 80% and I am able to volition my body into movement. I receive a message, as I often do, some call it intuition, for me it is so crystal clear I can never doubt it. I must be taken to the doctor who performed the frenotomy because he does this procedure more so from the limited view of a anatomical restriction and not so aware of the depth this small minimally invasive procedure could hold for people like me.
I get home and rest in Savasana. Yasmin offers me a Biodynamic Craniosacral session. I sleep, but I am completely aware. Little tingling sensations are taking place all over my body. This continues and after 8 hours, I have a massive headache. It is the most awful thing ever, I know these sinus headaches, they have made me feel like banging my head on a wall and cracking it open and only go after I throw up, and the change in head position while trying to throw up is another roller coaster all together. I have been taking biochemical salts anti-trauma pills as suggested in my post-operative care by Yasmin and then receive a Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy session. This brings much relief.
Once that headache is gone, I sleep without a pillow in savasana for a few days. The re-calibrations continue as tingling and shifting in my body. I continue with the frenum massages, so the frenum doesn’t reattach. These massages make the tissue in my mouth feel more comfortable and help with eating food , which could otherwise have been stiff and painful.else it could make me feel my mouth more stiff. The healing on the physical plane alone was amazing. The pictures will speak for themselves. I was extremely tired for a week. It was like all kinds of toxins were released with that peeling off feeling. But what can I say the guzz guzz gruzz anxious buzz had gone away! This time completely.
The so-called normal activities around in our life like the machine that droned spraying mosquito repellent or the tearing noise of the brown tape on the cardboard box didn’t grate on my nerves anymore. You may relate to how it feels when someone scratches their nails on a rough surface or when chalk scrapes on a blackboard
There are some relationships that one has that don’t come with a choice and some of those could really annoy me, because of the buzz in those people. After the frenotomy, could meet the same people where they were, without judging them, just seeing and feeling genuinely at peace that we are all on different paths to the same place. I cannot tell you what a relief that was! Not to want to convert everyone to healthy eating or even to make sure their kids had the frenotomies they needed that were the answer to all their issues. Whatever it was that used to irk me in my body before was gone. The guzz guzz gruzz anxious buzz had really gone!!
I got my first yoga practice in a week after the frenotomy. There is a natural resistance when you do yoga, but there was something like a fight earlier, even with years of practice. The fight was now just gone. Yoga, my absolute love was really “sthiram sukham aasanam” that which is still and in which there is contentment.. I stopped a few minutes into my surya namaskaars. I was crying….so much ease was just too good to be true. I mean this is what the yogi’s meant. It wasn’t about flexibility and strength and how much you can do, or how long you can hold, it was about being at ease and content in a pose/asana and that stillness of mind with the complete natural surrender of the body that is energetic and beyond flexibility is the most incredible continuous bliss ever!
I started to be more at ease with everyone. I was able to be at ease when my daughter went to sleep a little later than her schedule or meals were a little late or occasionally not healthy. The presence of other people’s buzz didn’t affect me. I can still sense it with great clarity, but it does not affect me anymore. This alone has created heaven on earth. All the Biodynamic Craniosacral Sessions over the past year prepared my body to receive the gift of a tongue tie release that would last perhaps a life time.
I am now on the beautiful Grand Cayman islands on the other side of the world from Mumbai. In my 4 months of being here, I have not experienced any headaches that lasted for days ending up in a throwing up and head banging feeling before. I have not experienced any sinus attacks that would cripple my life for days on end before. I managed a massive transition of moving home from India to Cayman Islands with minimal help with ease.
During my short stay here so far I have met many adults and children who have tongue ties. Their parents struggle with discipline and food issues. Not everyone will get this, maybe not everyone is prepared. It took 34 years for me to be liberated, everyone has their own journey. My mother and mother in law are both tongue tied and I can see how their lives have been affected. Even if you look at only the physical impact, it is large. I hope that in time, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy will prepare them to arrive at a space where they can have the frenotomy they need.
I write this thinking of all the mothers I have spoken to, with infants that cannot nurse and are too “colicky”, the mothers who know something is wrong, but have no support from their spouses. I write this for all those that continue to experience the anxious buzz, all day, all night, lifelong.
I write this for the children that have this anxious buzz and cannot express or understand it. Like the little me, I know their trauma.
I write this for the doctors that have been given such a narrow, limiting view of the human body as something that is fixed in form and function.
I write this because most tongue ties are yet undiagnosed and under researched.
I write this because I witness Yasmin going through her journey having selflessly dedicated her life to serve and support people and families who are affected by tongue ties against all odds in her life.
I write this because this kind of liberation from disability is everyone’s birthright.
I write this because I am free!
Saturday 14th January 2012
The streets are bleached ashen under the glare of the night lights. The moon and its powerful silence are obscured by construction cranes, unfinished buildings and the impatient honking of cars whose drivers are racing away seemingly ahead even when there is opportunity to relish the concrete city stillness. Pariah dogs languish in their familiar hunger. The last vegetable vendors are pushing their carts home. Cars jam the road to the airport- impatient, excited, in a hurry, apprehensive, overwhelmingly emotional, — all of the above. A myriad stories incompletely told.
Today my being has taken over my mind and my pain body. I can only describe the is-ness of my being as an urban satchitananda; clarity of truth, existence and possibly a short lived but rare human bliss in the midst of urban functionality and a resilience that is unique to the people of Mumbai.
Why this clarity, this pervasive peace? Why this morsel of divine nectar? After 3.25 months of a God gifted challenge, our daughter is able to nurse freely. This day I have awaited more than the day I wed my soul mate, more than when our daughter was born. It is here. ‘Ask and you shall receive’ is the divine promise, always fulfilled in His time.
9/10/11 Little Baby Sivaanaa Magdalena is born. Desire for natural birth is thwarted by divine intervention when her head gets stuck in the birth passage after 14 hrs of an intense but very pleasurable labour. She is airlifted through a C section while lights are dimmed and powerful mantras pervade the OT.
Week 1 I am in the most intense physical pain I knew up until then. Bedridden, unable to sit up and feed my child. Emotional bordering on irrational. Rudy is such a blessing.
Week 2 Slowly recovering physically. Constant nightmares during the few winks of sleep. Why despite my yoga and our preparations as a couple and the most amazing spouse and calm gynac and third eye Ajna Chakra buzzing labour did we end up with a C-sec? A myriad other questions in the same vein. No answers just tears.
Add on several doctors visits. Baby dehydrated. Dr asks if I have enough milk (like how would a first time mum like me know what is ‘enough ‘ and asks us to give formula. Formula is a Forbidden F word to me. But baby’s dehydrating so I snap at the relentless pro natural fundamentalist voices in my head and get my first n hopefully last tin of formula. I use it sparingly. Trying to breast feed. Baby latching properly. Check. What’s wrong then? Whip out the breast pump I got for occasional use. Maybe one lonely drop of mother’s milk in an hour.
Week 3 I am bruised. Still depressed n overwhelmed. Recovering from surgery n hemoriids from natural birth. Possibly not lactating adequately. Baby’s latch meets all perfection criteria. Something must be wrong with me. My body’s letting me down again. Frustration, anger, and deeper depression.
I’m sent an invite to a breast feeding workshop by a friend on FB. Baby is just 12 days old. We cart her to Goregaon. I learn even more fab things about breast milk n feel lower. We set up a private consult. Early diagnosis; possible birth trauma and mechanical tongue restriction. We need to address these and work on building up an inhibited milk supply . Recommended treatment; Cranio Sacral therapy. I’m still meditating or should I say intermittently tuning in, so I’m getting answers n guidance in bits.
Week 4-5 We start cranio sacral therapy for Baby and me. My body and pain body need release from the trauma of the c-sec as well. I am helped and Sivaanaa loses her deep gag response. I begin expressing and pumping milk, one little drop at a time. Feels like a drought. Meanwhile we chart the little ones weight. She must stop dehydrating and at least get back to her birth weight. We note with tallies the number of pees and poos and their quality n quantity. Sivaanaa is such a peaceful baby. Yasmin our lifesaving LC (Lactation consultant) says we will have to take help of formula as a medical aid until her weight is regained. Me the natural birth n breast milk fundamentalist is left choiceness. Baby refuses the steel vati, the medicine dropper etc so we use a SNS (for those as clueless as I was it’s Supplementary Nursing System. ) a tube with formula or expressed milk is taped to the breast to allow the double function of retaining the baby at the breast and stimulating the production of milk. Meanwhile I pump every two hours almost around the clock. The times that I miss, because I’m exhausted or sleepy I feel bad about. Rudy is always there hugging me, making breakfast, changing baby and just being the peaceful gentle nurturing soul he always is. I am low but I count my blessings every day. Somewhere along the way, I collect 100ml in a day’s pumping. It will account for 3 of her meals. I take a picture with the bottle. My most prized trophy ever! I dance around the room. Some hope gleams in my tired and anxious eyes.
Week 6-8 All the dink laddoos, methi seeds, Ayurvedic capsules, organic lactation promoting teas etc have been consumed. I have visualised a Ganga of milk flowing from Shivas head. I have composed a ditty to get milk flowing- my personal lactation mantra. I know it’s only my stress keeping me from lactating. I must let go of my negative view of baby’s birth. All 3 of us prepared so well, that a c-sec could only be her choice in choosing how to come. Having had both experiences God gave me the learning that nothing is good or bad. Some things are preferable on a personal level, however none must be judged for who knows what drives their choices. SNS is not working. It’s very painful, so to give me rest and allow me to focus on building supply, we use an infant feeding tube attached to a syringe. Poor baby, I cry every time I see that tube and syringe feeding her.
Did I mention that Yasmin our IBCLC thought baby might have a posterior tongue tie based on how I’m getting bruised and distorted? We visit the best paediatricians in the city, the breast feeding experts, the works. We drive across town, stopping at kind friend’s houses so Rudy can feed and change Sivaanaa while I keep to my pumping schedule. So what did the doctors say, including one renowned senior paediatric doctor, who also happens to be an ardent breastfeeding advocate/expert ? Baby’s latch is perfect. She doesn’t have a tongue tie and this statement without even looking at her mouth ! I was recommended to discard the bottle and feed for 48 hrs at the breast. The pain I was told is natural, though how women would opt to nurse their babies with this kind of ‘natural’ pain for aeons is totally unbelievable. So I did the 48 hour thing. I was desperate enough to try. Little fighter baby fed for 18 of 24 hrs and then again the next day. Eventually she was exhausted and sleepy and I was bleeding. That led to blood in her stools and more panic for me. How many times I swore I would give up and go the formula way. Yet there was a persistent intuition that I would be able to feed the little one.
Baby was now almost 3/4th on expressed milk though feeding from the tube. Sterilising and tube feeding was too cumbersome. Hooking it all up at night etc so, I convinced Yasmin to let us use the bottle. Actually I think it was more like an understated threat; we use the bottle or I quit. I was formula fed and I turned out slightly weird but happy.
Week …. I’m losing track here…
Baby never liked the bottle. Believe it or not there is such a thing as bottle stress and she had it. Shoulders up to her ears, forehead frowning, tightly clenched fists and tightly cringed toes. Poor little girl. It was very convenient though for all those times she felt hungry while we were in the car driving to the next doctor in our quest for answers. Doctors say once the baby has the bottle, it loses its preference for the breast. Maybe some babies or most babies….not this one.
Meanwhile we worked with Yasmin, slowly eliminating all possibilities or rather possible problems and were left with the tongue tie. As parents our observation was that our very peaceful and smiley child tended to gag and cough every time she tried to laugh, which was often. It was like something was yanking her tongue back. She also cried very softly and there was something distinctly different in her cry compared to those of other crying kids we observed at our many paediatric visits. Yasmin said a paediatric dentist was more likely to be able to help identify a tongue tie than a paediatrician since the former studied oral anatomy in more detail. And so we went to a well recommended paediatric dentist, who assured me baby has no tongue tie and I should be just glad I can feed her my milk through a bottle and stop looking for problems when there were none!
Finally, thanks to Yasmin, we sent a case report with her observations and a video of baby’s mouth as she cried to a dentist that specializes in tongue ties in Albany, New York. Dr. Lawrence Kotlow has helped many a child feed by performing a frenetomy, a surgical procedure to clip the frenum and free the tongue. He agreed with Yasmin’s report and said it appeared Sivaanaa had a tongue tie and definitely she had a lip tie but he couldn’t make a definite diagnosis from a video. He connected Yasmin with a Mumbai based laser dentist . There was hope finally. My intuition told me that it was most certainly a tongue tie and if the frenetomy was performed all would be well. So we proceeded to what hopefully was the end of our quest.
Dr. Suchetan Pradhan examined Sivaanaa in joint-consultation with Yasmin. He agrees with just a lip tie, no tongue-tie he says. Phew! He said he could use laser to sever the lip tie. He wasn’t sure it would make any difference to her feeding though. We decided to go ahead with it. It would help her dental development positively anyway, so why not. We were so nervous….read all about the procedure, risks etc.
Yasmin could not sleep that night because the pieces don’t fit in together. The presentation of baby oral function and feeding assessment indicated a posterior tongue tie. She had earlier spent lots of time patiently matching Dr. Kotlows video of how to diagnose a posterior tongue tie with Sivaanaas video, frame for frame. Such selfless dedication, this woman is truly called to do what she does) Now she sends Dr. Pradhan the finer details of her observations and Dr. Kotlows video on how to diagnose a posterior tongue tie
We go in for the lip frenetomy. Dr. Pradhan had received another call from Dr. Kotlow, so he decides to check her tongue again. Guess what he finds? A posterior tongue tie! We are so happy!
The labial frenectomy is in process…Sivaanaa is confused but trusting. Dr Pradhan and his wife Dr. Shalini are calm and organized. They keep us in the loop. We play mantra music through our phone. The procedure is over in 15 minutes…Sivaanaa seems fine. We go home, waiting to feed her and check if it’s worked. We are so proud of the little one…she was so brave.
Labial frenetomy made a 5% difference for me…not significant but it gave us hope. Two hours later the anesthetic gel wore off. Sivu was howling like we had never heard before. I hugged her close, gave her skin to skin but she kept crying. I swore to put a stop to all these breast feeding experiments. Enough is enough!
We got our dear homeopath Dr. Rashmi Jaising to prescribe homeopathy for the pain and soreness Sivaanaa was so intensely feeling.
A week later we were back to get the tongue job done. Nervous again. This ones tough. Why? Because a little baby is constantly moving her tongue so one wrong nip would lead to a catastrophe. Dr. Pradhan was going to do local anestheisa and administer chloral hydrate (a hallucionogenic called a sedative by the medical community) Anyway, they said they would try with only the anaesthetic gel. Dr. Shalini, his wife, suggested using the Indian bath position to stabilize baby’s head. It worked. Sivaanaa clamped down on Dr. Shalini’s fingers and that stabilised her tongue a bit. Drs and Rudy and me, spoke to her before, telling her how important it was to try and keep still and how proud we were of her and how brave she was. She looked in our eyes and drank every word in…she even smiled. It was like she knew all along that this would change her fate and that of many babies in India with similar challenges. How I thank God for giving us the gift of his presence!
Dr. Pradhan only does a little. He takes small breaks and talks to Sivu in between as do we. It’s done. We are home again. Guess what 80% difference. WOW…. I feel so good… she can almost feed now. Still incomplete though. We give it a week to sort of evolve. A week later, more frenetomy. Now I can feed her. The pain and distortion are almost gone. I would have liked some more, but Dr. Pradhan doesn’t think it’s necessary since she can now feed.
Right after the second lingual frenetomy procedure, Sivaanaa can laugh almost uninhibited. She makes all these sounds she couldn’t before. Hell she can cry an assertive adamant baby cry! She can roll her tongue from side to side. The most priceless thing ever was the first time she fed successfully. She obviously felt the difference too. He face had the patient enjoyment of a meditator….not wishing to go forward in time or backward, in the NOW and relishing each moment, silent and serene. When she was done, she came off, looked me straight in the eyes and gave me the most radiant, blissful toothless smile ever. I have been in heaven and it’s a sweet sweet indescribable bliss….
……….the street dogs continue to languish in their familiar hunger, the cars honk impatiently and the city races mindlessly. In the midst of all this sit Rudy, Sivaanaa and I, content in our urban satchitananda.
Sivaanaa refuses the bottle, even expressed milk in a bottle. She still smiles when she feeds, even in the middle of the night when she feeds with eyes shut. I wish the frenectomy was complete and the pain gone. Sivaanaa would not need to feed so often then. We would be truly free, but we accept that it may not be time for that yet. She came to challenge me to find my limitless strength, she came to empower, and she has made an example and a successful experiment so no other mother and child (and father) would willingly have to suffer like we did. A few days ago, another baby had a frenectomy and there is an improvement in her latch. More babies will follow. We hope the doctors will devote more time and energy studying the details of ensuring the procedure is complete, so our baby can be completely healed. Our journey has already empowered so many others. We are all so limitlessly blessed and presented with opportunities to find and share our bliss. Happy blissful living!
* All this was made possible because of the selfless care, empathy and understanding and deep study and knowledge of our lactation consultant Yasmin Effath. May she always be blessed.
We also commend the courage of Dr. Suchetan and Shalini Pradhan, doing a new procedure on an infant for the first time ever while taking every care to be safe.
And how can I ever thank my darling soul mate and husband Rudy for his relentless selfless love, service and support. May our souls be always inextricably linked forever.
It is impossible to thank God for his energy and presence, his faith in us and this well disguised opportunity to evolve our souls. We love God insanely and are truly humbled.