Transcript: Mom Journey - A Speech Language Pathologist's Firsthand Experience with Ties w/ Karissa Splain

Jacqueline Kincer  0:03  

Hi, I'm Jacqueline Kincer. And for the past five years, I've been helping families all around the globe overcome their breastfeeding challenges. And this is the first nonclinical breastfeeding podcast that shows you how to walk breastfeeding and master motherhood through practical tips, mindset shifts, and honest conversation to create a confident and empowering breastfeeding journey. This is the breastfeeding talk podcast. Welcome to the breastfeeding talk podcast. I have our amazing guest today Karissa Splain. She's a speech-language pathologist and a first-time mom to a sweet little boy. And I am really thrilled to have her on the show today because she's going to be sharing her own story about her breastfeeding journey and so much more. So really excited to have you here with us today, Karisssa, thank you for agreeing to come on the episode.

 

Karissa Splain  1:13  

Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm excited to Yeah, absolutely.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  1:18  

And just so our listeners know a bit more about your background, because it is actually really relevant to your experience and things you're going to share your speech language pathologist. So tell us what exactly you do in that role, or you know how long you've been doing it. And if you want to, you can start to even talk about how that's relevant to breastfeeding for you too.

 

Karissa Splain  1:41  

Sure. So I have been a speech language pathologist for five years, this is starting my sixth year, I have worked in an elementary school for all of those years, the same elementary school. So I work with pre K through fifth grade, and we work on articulation and language impairments. And I love it. So when I you don't know this Jacqueline, but when I was young, I could not speak correctly. And my name was Carissa. But the closest I could say was do salsa, it was very a very impaired speech difficulties. And I saw speech pathologist for two or three years. And I could speak correctly after that, and that really drove my passion for what I do. And, and really, you know, got me in the field of speech pathology. So as it relates to breastfeeding, um, I knew very little, I know that we can work with Feeding and Swallowing, and tongue and lip ties. But we learned very little about that in undergrad and graduate school. I think I, I definitely did not have a class on, on on tongue and lip ties, but I'm sure there was like a lecture or a slide within that I knew what it was. And I knew what the, like the heart shaped tongue looked like. Um, but definitely did not know enough. I wish I knew more before my whole experience. Um, so as you know, as I gave birth to a son, who I eventually found out how to tongue and lip tie. I remember thinking about that initially, like, I wonder if he has a tongue or lip tie. But then I thought, No, I don't need to look because I'm sure the nurses of the doctor, I'm sure that's one of the things they do when they evaluate him. And just in case, I remember looking at his mouth, and I didn't see anything very evident. So I was just thinking, You know what, I'm good. I'm sure there is not a lip tie and tongue tie. It's so rare. It's not happening to me, you know, my, my son's gonna be perfect. So I knew enough to just know what it is, but had no idea the symptoms that that could happen from it and the different things that yeah, the different things that can happen because of a tongue and lip tie, had no idea. Yeah, and

 

Jacqueline Kincer  4:19  

that's, that's really not uncommon for anybody who doesn't work in a field like you, you know, but it's so great that you're sharing that, um, I know that I've worked with clients who are dentists, and will say something very similar to what you've said, you know, what I kind of knew what it was, I haven't had much training, took a glance at my baby's mouth, didn't see anything, you know, and that's, that is so typical. So I love that you shared that and I will just share with the audience really quick that even when I was actually a lactation consultant, and I had my daughter And I looked in her mouth after birth. I said she has no ties. And I was wrong. But we all want to believe our little babies are so perfect, right? And I just, I was like, there's no, I had the perfect pregnancy, I had the perfect birth. Of course, she's not tied. And it took me a few weeks to come to terms with actually being the truth. So all that to say that just because you might have a certain training or profession, you know, it's okay, so, but tell us about your little boy, because I know he means so much to you. And you've put so much effort into your breastfeeding experience with him too.

 

Karissa Splain  5:43  

Yeah, he's wonderful. His name is Jackson. He is now eight months old next week, which is crazy. He's getting so big. And so when I was pregnant with Jackson, I, I knew nothing about newborns. Nothing. I mean, I just had very little experience of babies. And I remember, you know, a month before my due date, I wanted to take all these classes, so I knew what to do when I had my baby. I'm always a last minute planner. So I wanted, you know, for all the information to be fresh in my mind. So I was planning on taking all these breastfeeding courses, and CPR and all these things. And even in, I had even packed his hospital bag about a month in advance. And three weeks before my due date, I remember getting ready to go to bed and I had the conscious thought of check pack my hospital bag. And I thought, No, I have three weeks, I have plenty of time, I'll be okay. And that night, my water broke. And I went to the hospital, I had no idea. You know what to expect. I was so unprepared. And I thought I had three weeks to really prepare. But I know that even if he came on his due day, I would still feel unprepared because I'm a new mom. But he came unexpectedly an early three weeks early. And that just really added to feeling like I'm not ready to be a mom. I'm not knowledgeable about what to do. And especially when all the different complications came up. I felt even more unprepared. So Jackson was born three weeks early. And yeah, he latched right away. They even they had to take me to the operating room afterwards. And I got to nurse him on the way to the operating room, which is really cool. And before giving birth, I was just so conservative about like, Yeah, I mean, I just felt awkward. Um, I don't know, before. Before giving birth, I just I knew that I didn't want I'm sorry, I'm rambling, but no, not at all. I'm just very conscious about like, who sees me and but once he was born, I was like, You know what, I don't care anymore. I just want to nurse my baby. And so they just literally rolled me on the hospital bed, through the hospital, in the hallways through whoever was walking by and looking. And I breastfed my son, and had no idea what I was doing. Um, but it was just such a cool experience. Anyways, I knew you know that that was a good sign if he could latch right away, and that I was bonding with him. And you know, pretty pretty immediately after he was born. So, um, I remember when we got into the hospital room afterwards. And the nurse came in and asked if I want to see a lactation consultant. And I said, Yes, absolutely. I have no idea what I'm doing. I need all the support and encouragement, please bring her in. So unfortunately, the lactation consultant that came in was this tall, cold lady who just didn't smile. She just didn't seem very welcoming when she came into the room and I felt very intimidated. And knowing you know about what I said before about just being very conscious about who sees me, I just did not feel comfortable breastfeeding in front of her, especially because she just didn't feel very welcoming. And so, um, but regardless of not feeling comfortable, I wanted her help. And so I asked her for assistance, and I just didn't feel like She understood that I was a new mom and didn't know what I was doing. And I think she expected more of me. And so I felt like I was letting her down when I didn't know, didn't feel like I was doing what she asked him to do correctly. And I consciously remember telling her oh, this kind of hurts. And she said, Oh, it shouldn't hurt. So I was like, Okay, maybe it doesn't hurt. You know, I don't know what it's supposed to feel like. Yeah, I'm like, You know what? I, you're probably right. You're a lactation consultant. It doesn't hurt. Yeah, you're probably right. I'll just continue and it'll be

 

Jacqueline Kincer  10:40  

it'll be fine. Oh, my goodness. Wow. Yeah, thank you for sharing what it was like for you to have that experience. And just I feel like I I can put myself I visualize it, like, I'm seeing you going down the hospital? hallway with, you know, Jackson there on your breast? And and, you know, it must be just such a different experience. And of course, you know, like you said, I never thought about that. But it makes sense to feel more doubt when your baby is born early, unexpectedly. Like, oh, gosh, well, I was planning on having this baby at 40 weeks, not 37. Right. So that's, wow. Yeah, I'm sure so many people can relate to that. So Jackson latch, but you had some pain. And then you were like, Well, maybe it's not paying. So then what happens next, you know, obviously, you eventually take him home, and what's going on with breastfeeding with you postpartum and all of that?

 

Karissa Splain  11:44  

Yeah, so he came home, and I continue to breastfeed and just consistent continue to felt to feel not confident about what I'm doing. And it continued, I continue to feel it wasn't a terrible pain. At the start. It was more like a pinching pain. And I even like, asked my mom to come and help me and she just encouraged me that to her, everything looked like I was doing it correctly. And, and that she said, Maybe I'm just getting used to, to what it feels like, because a lot of people say it's supposed to hurt or it might hurt, you know, in the beginning as you're learning. Um, and so I just kind of continued through it. And I thought everything was going well, besides that, you know, once she encouraged me, I felt like it was going really well. And then at five days old, I began to become concerned because Jackson wasn't peeing. He had not peed in 24 hours. And I remember the nurse telling me that that's something to look out for. And so nobody else was concerned. But I was. And so I trusted my gut. I called the pediatrician and they said, you know, take him to the emergency room right away. So I did, and Jackson was severely dehydrated, and severely jaundiced. And I remember just thinking, like, how everything is going, well, he's nursing consistently, constantly. He's either sleeping, or he's nursing. And how can it be going, not going? Well, I'm healthy, I should be able to give him what he needs, he should be able to get it from me. And so I definitely felt even more. Um, I don't know unprepared as a mom, and even less confident because things weren't going well. Yeah. Wow.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  13:47  

I mean, I can't even imagine that moment, right, where the pediatrician is telling you to take your newborn baby to the hospital to the emergency room, and so good that you listened to your gut, but there must have been a lot of fear. And of course, you're like, what, what's going on? So you found that out, which is great. So glad you did. And what were you What were you told going forward? Was Was Was there an intervention there with breastfeeding happening? Or was it just like, let's give him formula and what was

 

Karissa Splain  14:21  

so when I was in the emergency room, they ended up admitting him to the hospital and he was there for two days. So while we are still in the emergency room, the pediatrician was not present. And so he called until the nurses what to do. And yeah, immediately said, give him formula because he needs something in his system. I didn't even know at the time that milk donation was a thing. And so I he said formula, and I cried, I was so disappointed and upset, because I like going into this experience. You know, I really thought that people who feed their babies for Mila do it because of choice and not because something might have gone wrong, and maybe, you know, their intentions weren't to feed formula. I went into this motherhood journey thinking that, you know, formula was was wrong, and, like, you're only a good mom if you breastfeed. So you can imagine that I was devastated when he said, you know, give him formula. Um, but I did. And he asked me when I eventually saw the pediatrician, he asked me, or the nurses asked me if I wanted a lactation consultant to come in. And I said, I don't think there's a reason he's, he's latching all the time, and he should be getting what he needs. And the last experience I had was not that great. And I didn't want the same cold, mean lady to come in the room and tell me that I'm not doing it correctly. Um, and so I said, No, and I actually started pumping, then I would nurse him and pump and so he wasn't getting just formula after nursing. And, and I have a wonderful friend, who had a one year old, and she had so much milk left over that she donated milk to me in the hospital. So that was so so wonderful. But I just remember thinking like, why can't I provide what he needs? Why can't he get what he needs from breastfeeding? And I asked the pediatrician, and he told me, I had low milk supply. And I remember asking, Well, why do I have low milk supply unhealthy? I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing. Why? And he said, he couldn't tell me a reason. He just said, you, you just do. So take flaxseed and brewers yeast, and it'll get better. Spoiler alert, that did not work.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  17:04  

Oh, my goodness. I mean, it's not the worst story I've ever heard about pediatrician advice that is bad. But can Oh, so frustrated for you right now?

 

Karissa Splain  17:14  

Yeah. And it actually got worse with the pediatrician advice. That's why he said to do to continue supplementing with formula. And so that's what I did. And I would, I would nurse him and I would pump and give him a bottle. So it's triple feeding. And, and the next week, when I took him to the pediatrician, he still had not gotten back to birth, birth weight. And the next week, he still had not gotten to birth weight. And so eventually, the pediatrician told me, like, Hold on to your seats, when you hear what he told me. He told me to stop pumping, he said, Just breastfeed and give formula, because maybe he's over demanding milk from your body. And because you're pumping too, you know, you're just he's not getting what, what's there, you're depleting your supply by pumping also. So I'm just like, well, the pediatrician knows what he's talking about, like, this is what I need to do. And I remember telling lactation consultants, who I saw afterwards, and even my friend who's a nurse, and everyone I talked to, they're just like, No, that's not right. But I'm like, but he's not a pediatrician. I need to listen to him. And so I did. And man, if I had low supply before that, I mean, it just it just got worse, as you can imagine.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  18:40  

Yeah. Oh, man, like,

 

Karissa Splain  18:42  

I just

 

Jacqueline Kincer  18:44  

all I have to say is that if you're a pediatrician, and you're listening to this, stay in your lane. If you have no training in breastfeeding, which I know you don't, please do not give breastfeeding advice to someone who's not even your patients, the baby is your patient, not the mom, like it's mind blowing to me, like there is no consent for that pediatrician to offer you that kind of treatment and whatever they should have immediately referred to you referred you to at least your OB who maybe would know more, you know, probably not they still get like the same level of education, but in terms of breastfeeding, but like, Oh, I'm so angry right now. Please stay in your own lane rely on people who know what they're doing and refer out okay. Anyway, continue.

 

Karissa Splain  19:29  

He even told me to call my OB and tell them to write me a prescription for for a medication that would increase my supply. I mean, he had no no idea the cause of it, but he was just giving out advice like candy. I mean, it was bad, and had

 

Jacqueline Kincer  19:49  

totally no authority to do that without a signed consent form from you to even communicate with one of your health care providers. So just For the audience listening, like, be aware, like there's I'm not saying I like all the red tape and regulations involved in health care. But for somebody who is only trained to treat children and not mothers who have given birth, you've got to be careful about what you're doing when you practice outside your scope. And it's a big no, no. So, I mean, Chris and I both work in healthcare, and she's not going to be giving, you know, whatever kind of advice that's not within her realm of being a speech language pathologist, so yeah, I don't. I've had people ask me about things that I'm like, I don't know. Like, you need to go ask your OB. I love that. You asked me but I just I don't know. It's not my area. Yeah. So yeah. Anyway, okay. So you follow this advice? You're like, totally trust this person. Sounds confident. Seems like they know what they're doing. Right. I did not prescription that you. They recommended No, okay.

 

Karissa Splain  20:52  

I OB told me No way. They said we don't we don't do that here. Like, okay, well, my pediatrician said you need to but all right. If you don't, then you don't? Yeah. Yeah. Wow. So

 

Jacqueline Kincer  21:05  

now you're, you're kind of stuck in this cycle. Right. Now, you've stopped the pumping it sounds like. And so I assume you're ending up having to give more formula now? Because you're not pumping. So what's that, like? And how's Jackson doing? Yeah, so

 

Karissa Splain  21:23  

Jackson did get back to birth weight at week three. Um, and in that was great. I was, you know, very excited about that. And I was, I think for a week or two, I follow that pediatricians advice. But when he still wasn't getting what he needed, I started pumping again, because I knew I was starting to learn that it's a supply and demand process, and that I need to continue to make milk into to, to get milk out as as frequently as I can. So I continue to pump. And then I remember going to the park with a friend who had a newborn as well. And I actually breastfed Jackson while I was at the park. And then I had to give him a bottle of pumped milk afterwards. And while I was breast feeding, I turned to my friend and I said, should it hurt? Should it pinch like this? And she's like, No, like, really been like, What the heck is happening? No one has, you know, told me why I'm having such difficulty. And she began to tell me her story of her personal story of having a tongue tie as an adult getting it taken care of. And she had her first child who had a tongue and lip tie, and she got didn't get it corrected until six months in, she told me all of her difficulty with breastfeeding her. And then her newborn, she was she was taking her like directly to the pediatric dentist to, to look at the tongue and lip tie. Before even knowing if it was there, she was just going to take him take her there to figure it out, because she knew how how it can affect breastfeeding as she was having difficulty. And so that was the moment. And I think it was three or four weeks postpartum, that I began to think maybe it is something like that. And in my experience, I had learned it was so rare that I just never considered that as an option. But I began to think and so when I got home, I looked under his lip. And I was like, You know what, I feel like this could be a lip tie. And I googled the symptoms of a lip tie. And I'm like, wow, I have all of these symptoms. And then I looked under his tongue, and I didn't see that, you know, very apparent tie. So I was just like, it must just be a lip tie. And so I started telling like family that I thought that that was the cause of all of my issues. And I had family members kind of push back and tell me that I shouldn't look into that and that I shouldn't get that corrected. And that's not needed. Even pediatricians that family members decided to ask, like, friends who are pediatricians, like told them to tell me that I don't need to do that. That's not necessary. So I began to really feel like, Oh, is it wrong to get the tongue or lip tie? Released? Like, is that something that I shouldn't look into? Um, I ended up going to a breastfeeding counselor at my OB office. And I She did a weighted feed, and he got like, maybe two ounces at the time, and but it definitely still hurt And I shared my concerns with her. And although she couldn't tell me definitively if there was one, she said, I do recommend that you go to your pediatrician for a referral. And so I ended up going, and the pediatrician told me that it was a mild lip tie, which I now know is not a thing, you either have a lip tie, or tongue tie or you don't. So he told me it was a mild one. And then the the physician's assistant that was with him. They left the room and the she came back in and said that before they left the room, he said he was going to refer me to the pediatric surgeon in my area. And they left the room and when the physician's assistant came back, she said, you know, if you don't want to, if you don't want to get it released, you could just use a nipple shield for the entirety of your breastfeeding experience. And I was just like, wow, like, why are all these people pushing back on getting this released. And before I checked out, the pediatrician, the lactation consultant there who I hadn't met with before, um, I didn't even share that part, I had seen a lactation consultant, before I realized that there might have been a lip or tongue tie. And every time I saw hurt several times, and every time she said, the latch looks great.

 

Karissa Splain  26:23  

And it did look great. But the functioning of what he was doing was not great. And no one, no one cared to assess that. But when I told her, I thought maybe he had a lip tie, she said, I would trust your mom gut. You know, even if other people tell you not to, I mean, I go forward with it, you can go to someone who can definitively tell you, if it needs to be released or not. And you're not losing anything by going to them the worst case they tell you, you know, everything's okay, you can go back home. So I really appreciated that because I she was like her, it was her and the breastfeeding counselor, or their first two people that really supported me in my decision to look into that and to possibly get it released. Wow, wow,

 

Jacqueline Kincer  27:11  

I love that you're telling this because this is really what so many families are up against, you know, and I was telling you that before we logged on here, like there are there are colleagues of mine elsewhere in the world that, you know, will deny the existence even of tongue and lip ties and say how horrible and barbaric the treatment is. And all of these people just trying to persuade, you know, all these other solutions. And like you said, the one sort of offering the nipple shield where you could just do that the whole time. That comes with risks and complications, like Did they also tell you need to pump every time after you breastfeed in front of those triple feeding is not sustainable. We cannot, you know, suggest that as as a remedy for this. And so there's just so much doubt like sometimes by the time a family comes to me know, and especially at this point, it's usually you know, mom and dad are both at the appointment, right? And they're like, I don't understand, the pediatrician said, there's not a tie, it's a person in the hospital. So there's not a tie. You're telling me there's a tie. I don't know what to believe. And I'm like, I know. And that sucks. And I'm sorry. So I love at least you're given the advice to follow your gut. Because that's probably one of the most empowering things. It sounds like you heard throughout this whole process. Yeah, um, and I also know if you want to talk about it, too, that your faith is really important to you. So when you're going through all this craziness, you're trying to recover from pregnancy and birth, and then you have all this stuff going on? What's happening there too, because you're getting all these different opinions. Is your faith, something you're turning to during this time? And how is that a part of the picture as

 

Karissa Splain  29:02  

well? Yeah, absolutely. And thank you for bringing that up. I am I am a Christian. And my faith is very important to me. And so when I came from home from the hospital, just feeling like unprepared, I was just reminded that I'm like, there's purpose, you know, like, I really feel like it wasn't by surprise that Jackson was early, you know, God, God knew that he was born when he was supposed to be born. And and kind of that revelation of realizing that even if he came on his due day, I still would have felt unprepared because I this is new to me. Um, and so just really relying on my identity in Christ knowing that I am who he says I am. And I'm precious and honored and adored like no matter what I do, no matter what happens Since God's love for me, does it change, and so I had to really rely on that when I felt down for having a low milk supply, I thought all of the difficulties my son was having was because of me. Um, and that was definitely something I had to rely on. Was that, yeah, I'm not I'm not the amount of milk that I make or don't make, like, that's not where my identity is. My worth is not in how well breastfeeding goes. It's not in those things. And so that was so encouraging or reassuring to me, and really helped me continue through this process. And still something that I have to rely on when things don't go well, is that that's not where I can look to to find my satisfaction and identity. Yeah,

 

Jacqueline Kincer  30:52  

thank you for sharing, I really find that whenever I work with people who have that strong identity and something else, whether or not you know, if it's God, if maybe they use therapy as a tool, or what have you, right. And that resiliency, you know, they just are able to weather the storm, a little better than those who, like you said, are, you know, kind of, you know, yeah, tying their identity to how much milk they make, right? And then you can just experience so much grief from that. And, and that's obviously a normal reaction, right? It's not that you don't have grace, but then you also have that strength built in, which is just incredible. So I know that there are so many Christian moms out there. And I know that they're very, they put that faith first. And I definitely see that reflected in their breastfeeding experience. So thank you for sharing that Carissa. Yeah, absolutely. So, so now at this point in your story, you're, you're realizing, okay, well, this is probably an issue for my son. Right. Then you I also think you had told me in the past that you had some colleagues right in speech that knew some things about ties, or at least, you know, more baby things, because you're working in a school, right. So it's not like the normal population you work with. So you had some support there. And then ultimately, you know, looking at getting otitis treated came into the picture. So I'd love for everyone to hear more about that as well.

 

Karissa Splain  32:31  

Yeah, so I the only option in my area for tongue and lip ties was to go to the hospital and have like, a surgery, hat go up for my son to go under under anesthesia. And that just wasn't something that I was interested in. And so I looked into other options. And I actually drove four and a half hours one way to go to a center that works with tongue and lip ties exclusively. Um, and so I scheduled the appointment and they got I mean, some, it was really, by the grace of God. I mean, there was a cancellation, like, the next day, and they were able to get me in. And so I packed everything up, my parents drove my son and I, my husband was at work. And so my parents drove my son and I, to Alabama. And we, yeah, we spent a whole day, you know, just just figuring this out. So we went to the appointment, and I filled out this checklist of what symptoms and things I've been experiencing. And oh, my goodness, I checked off almost every box. Wow. And they're all symptoms of what tongue and lip ties can can have can can show and so when the doctor the dentist came in, he reviewed the sheet and he just says, how you know what you're experiencing really, before even looking in his mouth, it really seems like it could be a tongue and lip tie based on all of your symptoms. And I was just like, it could be so this could be the reason for everything that has happened. He said, Yeah, it could be and like so it's not me. It's not that I have low milk supply. That's not the source of all the issues. And he said no, that that's a symptom of of the issue. He ended up looking and not only did my son have a lip tie, but he had a posterior tongue tie as well. And they're both very restrictive. And the dentist was able to really explain to me why I was feeling the pain and why different things are happening. Because the tongue was restricted. My son was using his lips and sucking like a straw. I'm just not very fun or using his gums to compensate to and so In, I ended up, you know, having the procedure in six minutes, my son was back in the room and the procedure was finished. And it was just a great experience. It was the first time that I was really encouraged that I was not the cause of my son not gaining weight. And I finally felt like I had answers. And so I was able to nurse him right after. And really like my expectations were that everything would be fixed right after the procedure. And even though I, you know, before going to into the procedure, I had to watch a video about educating. So

 

Jacqueline Kincer  35:41  

I know that you've been singing praises about your experience with the Alabama dentist, but let's reveal who this mystery dentist is. Because I've met him at conferences. I've heard him speak. And he has an excellent book on the topic. So please enlighten our listeners.

 

Karissa Splain  36:00  

Yeah, so it was Dr. Baxter at the Alabama tongue and tongue tie center.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  36:05  

Yeah, he's so great. I love that you were you found him and he made the drive to go see him because he has really put his heart and soul into this and put himself out there. And he is gotten a lot of pushback from the medical community. But he's, he works with lactation consultants, he really knows what he's doing. So you went to someone good

 

Karissa Splain  36:28  

to do the procedure. And I had no idea who he was, I had no idea about his center, I just Googled pediatric dentists around my area who would release tongue and lip ties. And he was one of two. And I just so happened to choose them. And I'm so glad that I did. And he gave me so much information. Not only did he really support me, and understanding what was going on, but he also gave me his book him and the other contributors, book that really helps me understand more about selling and lip ties. And the implications of them. Yeah, that's so

 

Jacqueline Kincer  37:10  

neat. Oh, I love that. Yeah. And so then you did this initial appointment with him? Did you have to go back to get the tongue lip tie treated? And how to know,

 

Karissa Splain  37:21  

I have a consultation. And when he confirmed that it was both a tongue and lip tie. He went ahead to the procedures. Oh, and so you didn't drive that huge time again? Nope, just once. And he had we had the consultation. And then and then he took him back in six minutes later, he was finished. And I was supposed to go back for like a, an after procedure appointment the next week. But I was able to do all that virtually, like through email

 

Jacqueline Kincer  37:51  

instead. So that was that was wonderful. That's so great. So I know, you said you kind of expected, you know, this big immediate improvement. And then that didn't quite happen. So what happened after the tires were surgically released.

 

Karissa Splain  38:08  

So before I'm right before we went into the appointment, like the day before, I remember taking a picture of his latch, and thinking like this will be the last time that I'm in pain while he's breastfeeding. This is going to be you know, so great. And so the procedure happened and it still hurt. It didn't feel any differently immediately after. And Dr. Baxter kind of walked me through that after a week of time, it should really feel better. And I know that what he said was after the time, plus all the extra support from the other specialties, like I can't even think of them. chiropractor and lactation consultants. But what I heard was after a week, it'll get better. And I did I did the next day I did take him to the chiropractor, but I just didn't have the best experience. They're just not very and they just don't work on babies very often, especially not tongue, tongue ties. And so I also took him to the lactation consultant, two days after the same one at the pediatrician. And what did she say? Drumroll please. The latch looks great. Because like but it still hurts and she's like, but now his tongue should be able to work correctly. So with time it'll get better. Um, you know just you're doing everything right the latch looks great. Just keep trying. Here's some different positions you can try. So I was just very hopeful that you know, it would just fix itself, but it didn't. And so I just continued week after week having difficulty with pain my Computer is dying. So give me one second. I'm sorry. Oh, you're okay. First buddy? Okay, oh good. You alright centineo? Yeah, remind me where I was.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  40:58  

Shoot. I was hoping you knew.

 

Karissa Splain  41:01  

Okay, so I saw the lactation consultant. Oh, yes, yes. I

 

Jacqueline Kincer  41:04  

was like a couple of mom brains here.

 

Karissa Splain  41:08  

And a baby. Yes.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  41:09  

Jackson let Eve off tell us. Oh, why

 

Karissa Splain  41:13  

can't you tell us? Um, so it didn't, it didn't get better with time. And so just week after week, I struggled with pain. After a few days, it didn't feel less painful. I remember feeling his tongue for the first time. And I remember telling my mom like, is it am I supposed to have felt his tongue before and she's like, Yeah, like, I never felt the movement from his tongue. Um, which is just just crazy, but it still hurt. So this is where my friends and colleagues came in. Who knew about tongue it tongue ties. Um, neither of them are, like, really specialized in the field, but they have some experience. And so they gave me some tips and pointers, I had my colleague come over and do kind of informal and informal assessment of his swallowing. And she really, she really helped me, she told me that no, my low milk supply maybe kind of helped, or kind of encouraged him to bite down and use his gums. And so she told me to kind of focus on that my other friend gave me some strategies and exercises to do. And so I was doing those exercises, I really do feel like it helped his tongue was finally like, moving more than it was before it was stronger than it was before. But it was so painful. And so then I really focused on increasing my supply. So for so he got his tongue and lip tie release at seven weeks. And then all the way until almost four months old, I focused mainly on increasing my milk supply. Me triple feeding was just not something I could continue to do. And so I really mainly pumped. And then right before four months postpartum, I was expected to go back to work, I just really felt like nothing was taken care of nothing was ready for me to be at work and not to be at home with him. And so after two weeks of really struggling being at work, and trying to continue to increase my milk supply, I decided to go back on leave my my job graciously let me go back on leave until the rest of the school year. And that was the best decision I could have made. I really feel like I was less stressed. He was less stressed, I could really focus on him, and really focus on you know, taking care of myself as well. And so, um, I, the day that I started that I'm being at home with him, I um, I I started breastfeeding him again, and I was actually able to exclusively breastfeed him. So I did that for two weeks, and it was the best experience. It's still her every now and then I did feel his gums, but I do feel like it was less pain. He was doing better because I was making more milk. And it was just the best I had never had him look up at me and smile on nursing and that happened you know, all the time, and it was just the best bonding experience I could have ever imagined. However, then I went to the pediatrician for his four month checkup and he wasn't making the weight gains that They expected him to make. We had dropped percentiles. He was like, I'm a second percentile. And the pediatrician was really concerned. So then I Yeah, struggled again with. And I can't, I can't give my son what he needs. And no, it became very frustrating again.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  45:26  

Yeah, goodness, that's new neuron this high like, Yay, I'm breastfeeding. He's bonding and happy, you're happy. And then you get hit with that? Goodness, I would say. Yeah, I mean, you need to know that information. But it sounds like every time you go to the pediatrician, it's bad news.

 

Karissa Splain  45:47  

I know. I'm

 

Jacqueline Kincer  45:49  

good news that the lunch is great, but you still didn't get your answer. So there's that too.

 

Karissa Splain  45:55  

Yeah, so I, um, yeah. So I just, I just didn't want to give up though. I just felt like I was so close. And I had made such progress that I just didn't want to give up on it. It's just something that I really wanted. And I didn't know that I wanted it so badly, until he latched for the first time. And then I'm like, This is what I want. I had never really had the experience of knowing very many breastfeeding moms, um, until my sister in law had a baby. And she had the what seems like from the outside the best breastfeeding experience. And so that was what I was looking to, and thinking that was going to be me too. Like, there's nothing that's going to go wrong, I'm going to have the best experience, it's going to be wonderful. And I was disappointed when I didn't happen. So Oh, Jen. Yeah, so I saw a breastfeeding counselor again. And she actually came to my house and helped with weighted fees, and helped me kind of figure out, you know, how to help. And I'm really like, the next two weeks, I triple set again, which was not fun. Um, but I began to realize, like how much he needed to really make the gains that he needed to make. So I really focused on getting him what he needed. And so I pumped. Um, so once he made the games that he needed to make, um, I tried one, what I thought was my one last time, my last ditch effort of trying breastfeeding again. And so I, but I knew it was around five months postpartum, my husband and I had a conversation. And my husband's like, Carissa, I feel like you are always pumping, you're always pumping. And I feel like I never get to spend time with you every time Jackson's asleep, napping, or or down through the night, you're pumping. And it's great. And I'm, you know, he was so thrilled that we could just provide him so much breast milk. And I really can't complain about my experience, because I was able, until six months old, he got 90% breast milk. And really, like that's something to be proud of. Um, it just wasn't the experience that I thought I was going to have. And so my husband and I decided that we would give it until six months to figure out this breastfeeding thing. And if it wasn't worked out, and I still needed to pump to provide him breast milk, that we would lean and do formula. And really, that's what I needed for my mental health. Because I just felt like, again, I was looking to how much milk I was making to define who I was. And I wasn't focused on on my son in my family I was focused on on milk production. And I really felt like I was at a good place. I gave it one more try. I just breastfed and I just knew he would get what he got. I would supplement if I needed to, but I wasn't going to triple feed because I just is so exhausting. And so I did that for a week. He continued to kind of clamped down with his gums, and was causing damage again. And I just I couldn't I couldn't do it anymore. And so I with a lot of tears with a lot of support from friends decided to weaning and go to formula and was so upset at myself at first for choosing that. But then when I kind of came to the decision that I needed to it was actually a Great experience, the first week that I gave him exclusively formula, I was so afraid that I wouldn't get to bond with him. And that I wouldn't feel the connection that I felt before. But the first day that I gave him only formula was one of the best days I've had with him. And I just remember, we went to the park with a friend, we're driving back and Jackson was hungry. So I fed them a bottle in the car. And the same experience that I had while breastfeeding, I was getting with formula feeding, he looked at me and smiled. It was just the best. I mean, I just felt so connected to him that I wasn't breastfeeding. And so in that moment, I really realized that that's not what makes me a good mom. Um, and that I can have this close relationship, no matter how I feed my baby, if I'm feeding my baby, I'm a good mom. I'm so that I just Yeah, I just this is almost where you come in Jacqueline. Um, so that was supposed to be the end of my story. And I was just going to give him formula I was weaning, I had gotten down to half an ounce a day, and I was good, I really felt like I was in a good place. I didn't regret doing that I still was kind of disappointed that I didn't get to breastfeed exclusively. But I was in a great place. And I really wanted to create a platform to educate and inform other moms who had no clue about any of this, like, I like me. And so I created an Instagram account. And it's called splain, in simple speech, explains like my last name, um, and my idea was sketches to inform other people about tongue and lip ties, and tie in my profession with that. And so in order to get more information and read and resources, I google that Google, I searched in the Instagram ibclc. And several people came up, and you're one of them. years, I saw a post from the Alabama tongue tie center. And you were tagged in it. And I'm like, Oh, let me look at you know who this person is. And I ended up messaging you and several other ibclcs and kind of explained who I was and what I wanted to do, and ask for resources. And you were one of the first people to respond. And I just immediately felt a connection to you and how you responded and how I already felt supported by your messaging. And yeah, that just started a whole new chapter in my journey. Oh, ah, that's

 

Jacqueline Kincer  52:44  

awesome. I obviously didn't know that backstory. So that's kind of fun. And I need to make sure I'm sure I'm following Alabama tons. I sent her on Instagram. And I'll link that up for anybody to and the book that dr. Baxter put together. He's one of many contributors to it. And there is a chapter on how tongue ties affects speech, which is really cool. So many awesome chapters in there. So yeah, so yeah, you I remember very clearly, you messaging me. And, like, I could tell that you were kind of like, I don't know if you can help me, you know, because, obviously, you've been through you just explained everything you've been through. And, you know, I didn't know all of that either. But I was like, Well, you know, gosh, I sure think I can I mean, in my head, I'm going, Paul, I can't not try. You know, if she wants to try, I'll try and win, we'll see what we can do. So that's just super neat. And I love working virtually with people, especially when you've kind of exhausted your local resources, or maybe you don't have them, right. I always tell people, like, usually, it's not the first choice. Like I wouldn't say pick me over whoever else you have locally or something, but it's nice to, you know, have it when it's when it's needed. So, yeah,

 

Karissa Splain  54:04  

I had no idea that people did virtual appointments. And I also did not know the value of, of seeing an ibclc who knows about tongue and lip ties. I thought that I could just do it on my own because I am an SLP I should know, I'm in my mind, you know, I should know all the things like that, you know, it's within my field. But I didn't and I couldn't do it on my own. And I really felt like I got so far on my own, but I just couldn't, couldn't get that last bit. Um, and so knowing that there were ibclcs, who did virtual appointments was just just kind of opened a new a new world for me. And I remember messaging you and asking you okay, my baby is six months old. Is it too late? Is it even worth it? To try this again? And you said I think it would be Yeah, it doesn't hurt to try. And so I discussed it with my husband and we're just like, you know, What What would I lose by having a consultation? Not much of time and money, and that's it. But what can I gain? If, if it went well, and I and I really learned from it, and so yeah, so I had a consultation with you. And you really helped me learn different things that I can do and kind of figure out why it was still hurting why I was still feeling his gums. And then, you know, two weeks after I had a consultation with you, he started getting teeth. So after gums, I felt some tea that I really started to feel to see progress. And even just the experience of getting to do it again, and not worrying about having to pump afterwards or worrying about if he was going to get all breast milk or, or no breast milk. You know, it was just I could just focus on breastfeeding, and then supplement. And, and, but my focus is on the breastfeeding experience. Um, because I knew that if he did have to have formula, he's still thriving, he was still I'm still bonding with him. So it was just such a different perspective, this time around, because my goal wasn't to exclusively give breast milk anymore. It was just to, to figure out this breastfeeding thing. No matter how much he's getting, I wanted to be able to do it without pain. And so I started to have several moments. I mean, my life is a roller coaster. And even the experience after having a cosmetic consultation with you has still been a roller coaster. But the times that things have gone well, it just kind of outweighs the bad for me. Like I I just feel so connected to him, and has had such good experiences trying this again. And you know, I'm eight months postpartum now, and things are not perfect. But what you reminded me earlier, was that no one's journey is perfect. And so I don't have to have that as my standard. And things can go well, and things cannot go well. But again, that doesn't define who I am. And it doesn't make me abnormal, either. And so yeah, the point now is I'm getting to nursing time he eats, and I do supplement after. And because he is getting teeth, sometimes things don't go so well. But in comparison to where we started, things are so much better. And I am, for the most part, just really enjoying the experience.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  57:49  

Ah, I love that for you. Because, yeah, breastfeeding is somewhat about the food that you provide for your baby, but it's so much more. And that's what we want you to be enjoying and not feel like a dairy cow just hooked up to a pom and just providing the substance for your baby and you just start to resent it right? Like that's not a healthy place to be for anybody. And, you know, I don't some people even feel like, Oh, I I have so much stress. Is that milk even good for my baby? And I'm like, it's so good milk, but I mean, no, not really that energy that your babies around, right? So I just love that you actually describe this? Almost like this is your second baby and you're doing it differently this time. How cool is that? You You did a restart. And you didn't give up? Well, you gave up and then you decided you know, that's okay. But I'm gonna try again and look where you are. It's amazing. Yeah, I

 

Karissa Splain  58:53  

went from I mean, I was making half an ounce. And then two weeks later, I can and he still needs supplements afterwards. But he's not. He's not frustrated when he's nursing. Like he was when I first started you know re lactating for started re nursing again. And so it's so cool to see his progression over these last couple of months and knowing that I'm making more, but not stressing about how much I'm making. And then just yeah, just enjoying the experience and not looking to perfection to be my my standard. Oh,

 

Jacqueline Kincer  59:31  

that's so awesome. I really want anyone who's listening who's a mom to really hear that because when people ask me for advice, I have the answers right? But my goal with those answers isn't is to give you the information you're looking for right sometimes I don't know the whole background either. And, and I'm going to tell you what I know because that's that's just me, that's what I do. And then On top of it, what I want people to remember is that just because there's a way that things ideally should be going doesn't mean that you will have that all the time. And it doesn't mean that you should necessarily be that you might not, you know, you might not be able to achieve that. So it's really, really important that people remember that, that even when you have a baby who's born without a tongue, or lip tie, who nurses beautifully, and whatever, there will be times when they don't, there will be times when they get teeth, just like every other human baby, and they don't nurse perfectly. So something to keep in mind with what Chris is sharing with her amazing roller coaster story, which is that you can get to a point where you just give yourself and your baby grace, and you accept breastfeeding for what it is. And that's really powerful and empowering and awesome place to be.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  1:01:08  

So sorry, you're good. I figured I just talk and let you do whatever.

 

Karissa Splain  1:01:12  

Well, you

 

Jacqueline Kincer  1:01:17  

you, like you said, you said your life as a roller coaster. Breastfeeding has been a roller coaster. And in the background here where no one can see because this is audio, you're nursing Jackson. And now you're giving him a bottle. And it's just so perfect that it's actually happening while you're telling about it.

 

Karissa Splain  1:01:36  

I was hoping that you would you know, sleep the whole time. But then I thought, you know, what, if he does wake up, what's a better situation, then to nurse him on the breastfeeding podcast?

 

Jacqueline Kincer  1:01:47  

Oh, true. I love that I miss nursing my babies while doing things like that. So I think it's wonderful. And I'm not offended, and no one listening is offended. And they didn't know until I mentioned it anyway. So um, well, you've just gone through so much, you're still going forward with this, which is amazing. Eight months? Are there any, like words of wisdom or you know, things that you would really love the audience to hear or take away from your story? Because it is it is so varied. It's emotional. And it's also just very graceful to me, where you just have sort of just gone through this and many stages of acceptance of things. So I find it very powerful. And I'm honored that you've shared it with us today.

 

Karissa Splain  1:02:39  

Thank you. Yeah, I mean, it has just been such a journey, but I am thankful for it. And I do think that it's made me stronger, and it's given me knowledge. And I think one thing that I've learned is that you don't owe people explanations. I think I just felt so shameful for not being able to breastfeed him even when I was pumping, or, or even when I was supplementing and still unknown supplementing with formula. And people. First of all, I don't think people should ask you how you're feeding your baby. But people would like oh, are you nursing him? Or how are you? And I always felt the obligation to give them clarification like, well, I'm pumping, so I'm not really nursing. or Yes, I'm nursing, but I also have to give a bottle. And it was just so empowering. A couple weeks ago, we had family in town, and a family friends who I really don't know well, with good intentions asked me if I was nursing my son. And what I fought against saying was, well, I'm nursing and I'm supplementing, and I was pumping. And then but instead I just said yes, yes, I'm breastfeeding my son. And that was just so empowering for me to not feel like I owed an explanation and not feel shameful about how I'm feeding my son. And I shouldn't feel shameful if I had to say no, I'm not breastfeeding my son. But it happened to get I had a massage a couple of days ago to celebrate my mom's birthday. And the misuse asked me if I was still breastfeeding. And I got to say yes, no, like, it doesn't matter how much I'm breastfeeding how much he's getting like I am breastfeeding and that shouldn't be it shouldn't you know, I It shouldn't feel like less of an accomplishment if I'm not able to exclusively do that or however I'm able to food feed my son should feel like an accomplishment.

 

Jacqueline Kincer  1:04:44  

Ah, such words of wisdom. Honestly, really. I love that any breastfeeding is still breastfeeding, pumping still breastfeeding, you know giving formula is still feeding like it's just I wish there wasn't such a strong delineation between all these different ways that children get to eat. You know, it's like, I don't know, it's you can just relax a little when they're like school age and you know, but even then it's, you know, snack organic, is it? Like, is it gluten free? I mean, come on people, you know, I, I will say that there's so much pressure in today's society, on all the things related to feeding. I mean, you probably encounter this with some of the ages you work with too. And, and they're, you know, speech and feeding and whatever. And it is just so tough, even adults. I mean, how many articles, you know, videos, whatever do we see going around about, you know, this, you know, intermittent fasting is great for you. And then you know, low carb or like, what, you know, just all the things and it's overwhelming, why is there such obsession with feeding and our society, and breastfeeding is not immune to that. So thank you so much for just sharing that I hope that people hear your message and just feel at ease. And, you know, I love what you said, when you were talking about being Christian, and that you felt like your experience had a purpose. And I think part of your purpose is sharing your story with us. So thank you for that. Chrissa.

 

Karissa Splain  1:06:25  

Yeah, thank you so much. Yeah, I love that I get to that's one of my passions is teaching, which is why I do what I do. And I love getting to share my experience. And you're right, like some of the reason that I went through all this is so that I can encourage others and so that I can educate others. And so it's really cool to get to do that. I don't feel like I haven't figured it out. But who really does. So it's cool. Yeah, just to get to relate with others. And I'm, I've gotten to share my story with so many friends and family members who had no idea about tongue and lip ties. And it's just really, it's really cool to get to be one of those people to be that's the reason that other people learn more about it. Ah,

 

Jacqueline Kincer  1:07:13  

just awesome. What a wonderful note to end this incredible interview on. And again, thank you for being here for anyone who wants to follow Carissa she's is it's playing. Hold on now. I forgot what it was splain when simple, simple speech, slim, simple speech. I love it. I'll link it up in the show notes, along with some other goodies. If anybody's in the area, you can check out the Alabama tongue tie center, the book that dr. Baxter puts together, and some other fun things to follow along with. So I'll see everyone on the next episode.