(Update: I’ve noticed this post gets a lot of hits, by what I assume are people either trying to gather information, weigh the decision to have surgery or not, or just learn about the condition. PLEASE, feel free to contact me directly (my email address is on the top left sidebar) and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.)
Since this blog is titled “A Writer’s Path to Publication” I typically only write about “writing things” and not my personal life.
Last Thursday morning I saw one of the most beautiful sights in the world–the tip of my little boy’s tongue.
He was born tongue-tied, a condition otherwise known as Ankyloglossia. Those are just fancy ways of saying that he was born with the tip of his tongue stuck to the bottom of his mouth, with no hope of ever moving it around. His was a severe case in that his tongue couldn’t even go past his bottom teeth.
Here’s a photo so you can understand all the things I’ve never seen him do. Lick an ice-cream cone, lick the beaters after making cookies, say the sounds “l, th, t, or n”, lick his lips, or spit after brushing his teeth.
Things most of us take for granted were also impossible–like using your tongue to remove food stuck from his teeth or the top of his mouth (I can’t count how many times he’s choked and I’ve had to sweep his mouth of food, or pick bread and other stickier items from his teeth).
The past year, he was starting to realize he was different from other kids, both in how he ate but mostly in how he talked. Even worse, his twin sister was starting to pick up some of his speech patterns.
Backing up a bit, the condition was diagnosed at birth and the breastfeeding specialists in the hospital recommended “clipping” the excess skin to allow his tongue free. Our pediatrician took a “wait and see because it might eventually stretch” approach. My husband and I, scared and overwhelmed with premature twins, decided to go with the advice of their doctor.
At two years old, we were already noticing some of the above problems so we took him to a speech therapist who took one look at his mouth and said “Clip it. You’ll waste years and lots of money on speech therapy, ultimately find it ineffective, and need to clip it anyway.”
Fast forward three years to last Thursday morning when I came around the corner and saw my little boy sitting in the recovery chair. (The procedure, called a Frenulectomy, is relatively easy if you allow it to be done at birth. When the child gets older, it requires anesthesia, was a bit more complicated, and involved stitches).
There he sat, alone, scared and confused. It broke my heart.
Seconds later my heart soared and tears flowed as, for the first time in his life, he stuck his tongue out at me.
A wonderful sight indeed.