Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Play By Play of Bo's Lingual Frenectomy aka Tongue Tie Surgery

Bo had Ankyloglossia.

Last Wednesday I went to bed with every intention of getting a good night sleep since Bo and I were scheduled to check in at outpatient surgery at 6 a.m. Except all I could think of as I lay there in the dark was him having an allergic reaction to the gas and going without oxygen for some span of time sufficient to render him debilitated for life.

Which is ridiculous, I know, considering that 15-year-olds suck nitrous from whipped cream cans, they're mostly functional, and we can assume the effects will wear off before they reach adulthood.

But a mother's brain is what it is and a procedure as minor as slicing through a tiny mostly useless piece of tissue looms large when it'll be an infant on the operating table. At least, that was my experience lying awake until midnight when Bo stirred, woke, and demanded the nursing session that would have to suffice until at least 7:30ish the next day. 

I finally fell asleep for a few hours until Bo woke up at 3 a.m. and then stayed up because he was hungry or thirsty again and no solids or liquids means no solids or liquids, and that includes mama's milk. He was angry and cried on and off, first for the mister and then for me, while I bounced him around the kitchen listening to whatever is on the radio in the long, quiet, exhausting hours before dawn.

At 4 a.m. I put him in his car seat and we drove through downtown, passing early morning joggers and dog walkers and people doing who knows what there in the light of the street lamps, and then up along the coast where I could watch the darkness turn to dimness over the water. Somewhere around five, he fell asleep.

I left him in his car seat in the driveway in the dark with the windows open and the radio playing for company in case he woke up while I tended to my morning preparations and downs cup after cup of coffee. Is it weird that I put on makeup and braided my hair? Probably not.

Bo slept until we got to the hospital, right on time. I put him, still sleepy and mightily confused by now, into the carrier. He sucked discontentedly on his pacifier until we finally got checked in and moved to pre-op, where his usual sunny disposition suddenly returned.


His relatively short sleep must have done him some good. There he was, pulling nurses into our room with his flirtatious smiles that are like gravity. All were surprised by how a baby could possibly be that happy on so little sleep and with nothing in his tiny tummy since midnight.

I was so worried that his empty belly would make him so so sad, but no. He thought the hospital crib was fascinating and that the nurses were charming and our walk around the pre-op area was generally delightful. It was obvious that he knew something was off about our morning but he wasn't letting it phase him in the least.

I tried to follow his lead as I suited up in a giant blue jumpsuit and booties and a hairnet to take him back to the OR where I held him wrapped in a freshly warmed blanket as the anesthesiologist administered the gas. The most traumatic part of pre-op for Bo - possibly the most traumatic part of the whole procedure - was having the gas mask pressed against his face.

Then he went slack and it was time for a kiss goodbye before I was hustled out to the waiting room...

...where I had exactly enough time to take one selfie before the doctor came out to tell me everything had gone as expected, which is to say quickly and smoothly. No stitches were required. A little bit after that a nurse came to fetch me back to post-op where I encountered a big group of pediatric nurses gathered around a cubicle. Bo's cubicle, where I saw...what else... a smiling, giggling, bouncing baby charming the scrubs off everyone around him.

He woke up without any fuss. He was happy to see me. We nursed just the same as always, he ate Cheerios, and then he had what was I think his very first taste of ice cold juice from a sippy. And then we went home.

It was a happy homecoming until the drugs wore off and so I put him back in the carrier and walked him in laps around the house until a new dose of Tylenol could take the edge off.


In the end, Bo took a longer than usual midday nap and then woke to nurse as usual. Now and then he'd open his mouth wide and I could see the angry red loose flapping ends of his formerly too tight lingual frenulum. He was extra clingy; I tried to be extra accommodating, holding him and hugging him and letting him climb up and down my arms until he was ready to get down and play.

Which, unsurprisingly, was sooner than you might think.

Did any of your kids have to have tongue tie surgery? How did it go?


  1. I'm curious why you waited so long for the surgery. It wasn't interfering with his eating before, right? What prompted the snip? I know a few other parents with tongue-tied kids and if they had surgery it was because kiddo wasn't able to latch properly, and it was done pretty early.

    I'm tongue tied, but not excessively so. I can't stick my tongue out very far or roll my Rs.

    It's so great that Bo is recovering so quickly! He's a really happy, and adorable, baby.

    1. Great question! Like you said, it wasn't interfering with his latch. Our pedi took a wait and see approach because sometimes sucking and babbling can actually stretch it out.

      But a speech therapist happened to take a look and suggested that as he got older, the range of sounds he'd be able to make properly would likely be compromised. That led us to consult with an ENT who was pretty surprised by how far up the tongue it went and how "robust" it was.

      So, snip!

  2. This is why I love babies. They have a keep calm and carry on approach to life. No experience with tongue-tie surgery in my kiddos, but baby boy was born with a hernia in his belly button and I freaked out because all my brothers had them and two had to have surgery when the hernia grew into abdomen. I kept harping on it even though our pediatrician said it would probably go away. One day I decided to accept his outie come what may and it suddenly disappeared.

    1. I had a foster sister with that hernia - I can't remember if she had to have surgery or not. Awesome that your guy's went away without intervention being necessary!

  3. Oy. First of all, he is to adorable. Seriously. Second of all, SO glad everything went fine. Being a momma is tough on the heart, no? xoxo

    1. I know! When anything happens to them, it's like it's happening to us... except worse!

  4. Your stories are always so fascinating to me. If you see a flood of LCs here it may be because I pass it on. Thanks again for the wonderful sharing you do. Carla


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