Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Piggybacking On the Experts...

Maybe someday I'll write a book... "applying what we learn from experts in our own parenting"-- all the techniques I've learned from lactantion consultants and education faculty and occupational therapists and dentists, stuff they had to pay thousands to learn, I can in a small way mimic and apply to my own kids, for free. 

Like this article on pain-management in kids:  Totally gonna use that next time Eowyn needs a shot or stitches or anything painful or scary.

Or like this blog devoted to bilingual parenting:  When we start formal home-schooling, this is gonna be regularly accessed.

Or like the oral exercises I'm using to teach Liam to properly suck:  Using these to "play" with every baby I hold from now on.

Super cool stuff!  I LOVE being a life-long learner!! There is so much to learn and know and apply and do and try and tweak!! :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Posterior Tongue Tie, In Short

Many of you- especially my FaceBook friends- have been following the ups & downs of Liam's feeding difficulties. While I plan on writing a fuller narrative of how we discovered his problem and (through many pitfalls and dead-ends!) got a diagnosis, and the finally a correction, I've been wanting to wait until we are further along in the happy chapter of that narrative (I try and remain hopeful that such a happy chapter will come).

A view of his maxillary (lip) tie- see how
it extends all the way through his gum?
But many of our friends & family have also been a bit confused about what exactly is "wrong" with Liam.  He's always been fairly big for his age and seems a perfectly healthy little guy, so what was the big deal?

He has a condition known as "posterior lingual tie"- or posterior tongue tie, PTT for short- as well as a "maxillary tie."  Basically, his tongue was tied down to the floor of his mouth in the back, so it was really hard for him to swallow correctly. Apparently your tongue does all these amazing things in rapid succession-- closing off your airway so whatever you swallow doesn't drown you, and directing it down into your stomach rather than up into your nose. When the tongue is restricted it can't do those things, so he would regularly choke and aspirate milk into his trachea/lungs. This isn't a huge deal with breast milk, which is antiviral, sterile, and easily absorbed by the lung tissue, but you can imagine it would be really really bad with, say, guacamole, in a few years. He also swallowed tons of extra air, causing painful gas bubbles and acid reflux. AND he would get confused and send food up through his nose instead of down into his stomach. Not comfy when it was breast milk, but was LESS comfy when it was Tylenol or Diflucan (a medicine he was taking). Reflux causes its own problems (as I full well know from Eowyn... looking back I wonder if she had a mild PTT that resolved itself around 5 months). Liam also had a lip tied too closely to his upper gum, which made it impossible for him to get an air-tight seal (therefore suction) on a nipple, and could cause cavities and orthodontic problems later. I have a very fast let-down of milk, which would be a challenge for any baby to handle (Eowyn had some difficulties too), but he was absolutely overwhelmed.  On the one hand, the amount of milk that shot down his throat meant he always got enough, but on the other hand, it meant he quickly grew genuinely frightened of eating-- the poor kid felt like he was being water-boarded!  Both ties together meant that his "latch" (the way he grabbed onto whatever he was using to eat) was always too shallow, that he "chewed" rather than sucked.  That's painful for a mom, and can damage her tissues so she has recurrent or chronic infections like thrush, which is in turn bad for the baby (causes colic, skin rashes, sore mouth, fatigue, lowered immune function).  Check for all of the above.
You can see how the frenulum (that little membrane under his tongue)
is pretty raised up from the floor of his mouth

The most pressing problem, though, was his total resistance to eating.  He would refuse to eat-- burying his tiny face away from breast or bottle, screaming, crying, refusing to suck or latch, becoming frantically upset-- for hours.  While most babies his age eat every 3 hours, he would regularly make himself go 6 hours between feedings during the day, and it would take me up to 3 hours to get him to finally eat.  When he did eat he would have the problems listed above, and all of them were just getting worse.  Nursing was hard because it was painful for me, frustrating for him, and physically taxing for us both.  A bottle was no better because he had trouble sucking hard enough to get a bottle down, and he resisted it as hard as he did me.
You can see that he wasn't able to raise his tongue
very high (I never saw him touch the roof of his mouth with it)

The surgery he had was simply a doctor (the dentist Dr. Kotlow in Albany, NY) taking lasers and slicing through those extra membranes (in most people they disappear somewhere along the intra-uterine part of our lives).  Sorry, Daddy Ron-- he won't have a gap between his two front teeth any more. :)

The more I learn about the simple reflexes of swallowing & breathing-- they are actually WAY complex-- the more I marvel at just how fearfully and wonderfully we are made by a GOOD, beauty & order-loving Creator!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Norwex Adoption Raffle!

Calling one, calling all! if you have a heart for orphans, please consider buying a raffle ticket or two to benefit my friends' international adoption! My friend Adam is in the DRC at this very moment meeting their two new daughters and his wife Ruth will be traveling to get them and bring them home in about a month!  Tickets for the raffle are $10 and you could win a very nice cleaning supplies basket from Norwex (super-cool all-natural cleaning products)!!  I personally can attest to their effectiveness as well as their general niftiness! :)  

Go here to read more about the raffle process and to buy tickets. 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Left, Right, & Servant-Hearted Kids

Ahh, Facebook, how you can bless me!  It's cool because it's a network of friends-- people you know from all different circles and stages of life, with all sorts of opinions and ideas and priorities and expertises, and so you are exposed to completely "unrelated" things one right after another, which then connect uniquely in your own brain.  This post comes from one such "connection"... made around 4 am, one of Liam's favorite meal times.  (This kid is a wonderful sleeper, though-- usually goes from 9-4 without a peep, then again to 7 or 8!)

First comes a link to a great little broadcast series from Family Life radio (thank you, Allison for linking to this!).  The series is called Cleaning House, and it's Kay Wyma summarizing her book Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.  One day, this mom of 5 realized that doing everything for her kids-- cooking, cleaning, fixing, chauffeuring, etc.-- was actually handicapping them.  We parents teach our kids SO MUCH, even unintentionally.  When we do everything for them-- out of love!-- we are teaching them that they can't do it themselves, that they deserve to have others do it for them, and we are totally neglecting to teach them to look outside themselves and see what they can do for others.  You'd think kids would pick up on serving others by constantly being served, but unfortunately due to our sinful selfish hearts, that's just not how it works.  So this mom & her husband came up with 12 life skills they wanted their children to have and focused on introducing one a month-- skills like laundry, cooking, yard work, cleaning, and serving others.  By the end of it, even their 8-year old was completely preparing, serving & cleaning up after a meal, for instance.

I LOVED her observations that one reason teenagers in our culture tend to pull away from the family is that they aren't "needed" by the family.  Whereas before kids were necessary for the family's survival-- either as apprentices in a growing trade, harvesters in a sustenance farm, wage-earners whose wages purchased seed corn, or co-laborers in the family kitchen-- now, affluance means kids can play video games all day and no one in the family suffers.  Who wants to feel useless and unappreciated?  No wonder peers who need and value you seem more important than Mom & Dad!  The truth is, families DO need every one of their members in order to do as much as they can for God's Kingdom.

Even at age 2, Eowyn loves helping me in the kitchen- mixing, sorting silverware, and setting the table.
We really do a disservice to our children by not allowing them the freedom to fail.  I so appreciated it when my principal made a rule outlawing parents coming to school after a certain time or students calling their parents to bring forgotten items.  If a kid forgot his lunch, he went hungry or his friends helped him out.  The hours between breakfast and dismissal sure seemed longer, but I'm guessing most kids forgot a grand total of twice at most.  Same with assignments due or textbooks for open-book tests.  Kids learned very quickly that their "forgetting" had consequences, and that them asking Mom to drop everything and bring them something was not fair to her.  These chances to fail in a safe way (forgetting a paper and getting a 10 point late penalty is not really a crisis in the grand scheme of things) are crucial in teaching kids responsibility and building TRUE self-worth, because by failing and trying again kids learn that they CAN succeed.  While doing kids' homework for them helps short-term, it absolutely does not prepare them for real life... which is the point of homework, right?

But what I most appreciated about Kay's "experiment" was that her goal wasn't just to raise independent, self-confident kids, though that is a result.  Nor was it to make her own life easier (nothing sits worse in a kid's stomach than their parents complaining about how much work they are).  Neither was her goal to raise fulfilled, happy kids, though that is also a result.  No, the ultimate goal is right in line with Scripture:  the raising of children with the heart and ability to serve others.  Kids who know all that goes into preparing a meal, maintaining a home, keeping a job, or watching little ones will know how to help others in those tasks, and be able to help them.  I've had other mom friends tell me that they appreciate it when I come over because as a fellow mom I know what likely needs doing and how to do it.  I want my kids to be self-starting servants who do what needs doing without being asked.

Now to these thoughts add this political chart. My first reaction when looking at it was "oooh how helpful in understanding & comparing the two value systems!"  When you read either side, you see how they both have honorable intentions and both "sound good"!  Let's leave that aside, though, and zoom in on the parenting goal.  To the left, we have the "self-nurturing child, who, through openness, empathy & self-examination becomes a fulfilled adult."  To the right, we have the "self-reliant child, who through self-confidence, self- discipline, and strong morals becomes a self-reliant adult."  It hit me that both ideals fall short, because both end with the child.  A self-nurtured, fulfilled child left to himself is selfish and self-absorbed, with life being all about his own happiness.  A self-reliant, self-confident child left to himself is equally selfish and self-absorbed, proud, graceless, and determined to make his own life exactly what he wants it to be.  The Gospel takes the best of both "sides" and goes beyond it.  I could have labeled this post "Why Neither the Left nor Right Can Save Us."  The Gospel is our only hope-- individually and communally.

Jesus makes life all about knowing Him, pleasing Him, bringing honor to Him-- not self.  The Gospel declares us to be incredibly needy and broken, yet through the Cross and Resurrection makes us capable and grateful.  We have been shown so much mercy, so much self-sacrificial service, that we are able and wanting to serve and extend grace to others.  We have the power of the Holy Spirit to empower us.  We're free from trying to be happy now in 2 ways:  1, we know the source of all Joy, the One we were made to love, so we can be TRULY happy; 2, we know that the best is yet to come-- Heaven!!

So, here's my goal:  to raise kids that are 1. fulfilled because they treasure and are treasured by Jesus Christ, and 2. self-reliant in that they are able to serve those around them.  I want my kids to take their internal joy and abilities beyond themselves, out into the world to be gracious servants of all.  Guess I'd better be a good example!  These thoughts have been typed out between nap & snack times so please pardon their disjointedness, and please comment!