Wednesday's appointment with the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist (which feels like forever ago) went incredibly smoothly. My dad was in town helping out, so he and Tye came with to the appointment and I was incredibly grateful to have someone watching Tye while I waited nervously in the waiting room. The doctor to whom we were referred was excellent- he was friendly and caring and also knew exactly what a breastfed newborn needs for an efficient latch. He clamped Etta's frenulum, then quickly snipped it and- perhaps the smartest move of the day- had me hold a piece of gauze and apply pressure over the cut for 90 seconds. Giving me a task at that moment forced me to into action rather than sitting, watching Etta and worrying about her. As I held the wad of gauze in place, Etta stopped crying and was ready to nurse after the 90 seconds were up. At home that evening, Etta seemed to be a little uncomfortable, which was hard to watch, but she slept well and was fine the next day.
The doctor who performed the fenectomy told me we'll likely see slow, continued improvement in Etta's latch over the next three weeks rather than an immediate improvement that day. Sure enough, Etta's latch seems to be slowly improving as she learns how to use her new tongue. Her latch is very noticeably stronger now, and she often needs less assistance to get a good, deep latch, but she still isn't completely clearing the breast on her own at a feeding. It's only been a few days, and Etta seems to be taking in less air when she nurses and has less gas, though both are still happening (then again, that just happens with some babies...). When Etta cries, I still look into her mouth at her new tongue in amazement.
I get to see that tongue fairly often. Etta's disposition is very different than Tye's when she was a newborn. While Tye slept all day, every day, and had to be roused for feedings, Etta rarely stays asleep for long periods of time and wants to nurse constantly (partly, perhaps, because she never gets all the milk out of my breasts). Whereas Tye, in her sleepy state, barely cried and never screamed unless it was really a serious event, Etta will be sitting or sleeping peacefully one second, then screaming the next. I'm very grateful that Etta isn't as sleepy as Tye was in her first weeks, because I know that sleepiness contributed to my supply issues with her (she, too, never finished the breast, because she would fall asleep two minutes into the feeding and then sleep several hours...). But I'm also grateful that Etta is my second child and I've had the experience of an easily consoled baby. I feel confident in my parenting style and choices and know significantly more about breastfeeding this time around, so I'm not second-guessing my every action. When Etta opens her mouth to scream and gives me a glimpse of her clipped tongue, I remind myself that she is making her needs known and that I'm doing everything possible to meet them.