My son Edward was born with a tongue tie and like many other new parents with tongue tied babies we were desperate to help him. He was losing weight and constantly crying because he just couldn't latch properly and get a good enough feed and we felt absolutely awful that he was struggling so much. He had been referred at birth to a lactation consultant but a week went by and we'd heard nothing. By this point Edward had lost 10.4% of his body weight.
We had been told about Baby Umbrella by a friend, so booked an appointment to try and get him referred for his tongue tie and to see if there were any other positions we could try to help him get a full belly.
Andrea at Baby Umbrella was brilliant, she made me feel so confident that I was doing right by my son and it was wonderful that my husband could come as well. He hadn't been able to come to any scans or any midwife appointments because of Covid, but he was finally allowed to be there just to be able to support me and our son, and that meant the world to him.
At 4 weeks old, it was confirmed that Edward had a 100% anterior tongue tie and thanks to the referral made by Baby Umbrella, he had the tie cut. Thankfully, following the appointment in which they cut the tongue tie, we saw an immediate improvement.
You might think that would be the end of our Baby Umbrella journey, but it wasn’t! A week later I came in to have his tongue checked and to try some different feeding positions that we hadn't been able to manage when he had the tongue tie. Before the follow-up appointment we had two nights where Edward refused to settle in his moses basket and only wanted to sleep on us. That morning, when I tried to put him down so I could get some sleep, he screamed one of those screams that is the stuff of every parent's nightmares. On opening his nappy I discovered blood and what I thought was a cut. I immediately booked him a doctor's appointment for later that afternoon and off we went to Baby Umbrella. This time we saw Jane, who was wonderful. She confirmed his tie had not reformed and helped me feel more confident with our feeding positions. I briefly mentioned our dramatic morning and Jane kindly offered to take a look for me. She took one look and said "that's a perianal abscess", and she was absolutely right, the doctor confirmed it later on that day. We were rushed off to hospital in Pembury and then to the Evelina in London the day after.
I disappeared from Baby Umbrella for a while after that. Edward was on antibiotics for seven weeks and finally ended up having an operation back up at the Evelina shortly after he turned three months old. When I did return, it was to get some idea on how to fit expressing in around his feeds because we were hoping to get him on to a bottle (he still to this day has never taken a bottle!). I came in and sat down, knowing absolutely no one because we hadn't met any other parents in Edward's first three months. I was feeling tired and just a little frayed at the edges, but being in a room full of other parents who were also finding their feet with a new baby, whether it was their first, second or third just made me feel so much better.
I now advocate for Baby Umbrella at every opportunity I get, whether that's on social media, or just in passing conversation with friends who are pregnant or considering starting their own family. I always tell them to come to Baby Umbrella, because even on bad days, you can come and sit and just chat and know that you're not alone and yes it can be hard, but it's also so rewarding.
I'm pleased to say that Edward is absolutely thriving now and causing havoc everyday now he can crawl and stand. We've made some lovely friends through Baby Umbrella, and will miss it when he starts nursery and I return to work.
Stories of early parenthood
One of the things parents often say when they’ve recently had a baby, and even more so when they've had a difficult journey, is why did nobody tell me that this was going to be so hard? Why did nobody tell me the truth about breastfeeding, or birth, or sleep, or the emotional transition, or the physical recovery? If I'd have known some of this, I could have prepared myself... and maybe I would have known better if something was wrong.
We'd like to start to tell some of these stories. Every story you will hear here is unique, but it can still be helpful when you’re going through a difficult experience to realise that you’re not the only person who's been through this, that someone else has been here before.
So we want to open up the floor to you all and give anyone who would like to a chance to tell their story of early parenthood - both the joyful parts and the challenges you faced. Not just the shiny story on Instagram or Facebook but the truth of the things that were beautiful and delicious and wonderful as well as the difficult things, the things you might have struggled with, the things you miss from your old life, the things you regret or you wish you'd known.
If you’d like to contribute to our stories of early parenthood we would be really happy to hear from you. Please email or message us and we would be delighted to hear from you.
We hope you enjoy the series and do let us know what you think.