Rosalind has been wearing her palate expander since Tuesday. It is every bit as awful as I had imagined. More so. There was some part of me that naively believed that orthodontia has been around long enough that it has surely been made easy by now. Nooooppppeee. I’m not saying it’s not been improved a great deal since it began, but I am saying it has a heck of a lot further to go.
First of all, my child’s problem is that her mouth is too small. This makes the whole ordeal difficult to begin with as they have to put instruments, hands, and devices in her mouth a whole bunch to even get started. Her little mouth is so little, in fact, that they couldn’t even put in the correct amount of spacers in the first place to make the correct amount of space. Then they had to rescan the whole shebang a second time. There were parts of Tuesday that I would not have gotten through if it had been me. They were not necessarily PAINFUL parts, but they were uncomfortable and gag inducing. I was so impressed with her poise. She handled it all with ease and grace and only two involuntary gag reflexes that shockingly did not result in vomit.
The hardest part has been the days since as Rosalind has had to first relearn how to swallow her own spit, then to speak (with only the smallest change), and now to eat food. It’s this last one that is causing the most stress in our lives.
She can’t stand the way food interacts with the expander at the roof of her mouth. It gets stuck between the metal and the roof of her mouth…which does sound awful. Like a peanut butter sandwich getting stuck but also being wedged there with some metal. Nobody would like that sensation, and I really do feel for her plight. But she’s not eating. Almost at all. Last night was the first time I got her to eat protein since Tuesday. Until that moment it had been a steady diet of a tablespoon’s worth at a time of pasta, soft potatoes, yogurt, and ice cream. Even pasta and potatoes can get above her expander causing her to spend the majority of her time eating making a terrible and disgusting hocking loogies sort of sound to dislodge the food. Sometimes she dislodges it all at once and it flies across the table. This isn’t quite how I was hoping family dinner at the new table was going to look. I won’t go into detail about how our dinner comically and disgustingly ended last night, but I will tell you that black eyed peas are the exact size of the space between her expander and upper palate.
The other stressful part is turning the expander. Last night was the first time that I was sure I had actually accomplished the task. This was after Sergio and I took turns shining a light into her mouth, trying and retrying, and watching a youtube video twice. We were both sweating by the end. I am not meant to work inside mouths.
It doesn’t help my state of mind that I have voluntarily equipped my child with a modern torture device that I am in charge of implementing on a daily basis. It’s a lot of stress! One thing is for sure, we’ll do this six months to fix her cross bite and make enough room for all of her teeth. If everything after that is just prettifying, we will be calling this good. I can’t feel like I am torturing my kid for purely cosmetic reasons. There has to be something medical.
There are a few things making this slightly more tolerable. One, she adapted to it being in her mouth very quickly, and not to jinx it, but she seems to be eating her first full meal as I type this. Two, I have had to listen as small children have teeth pulled because they came in without the room to do so. It sounded WAY WAY worse than anything I am putting my kid through. Three, I know that she’ll be glad her teeth are nice one day, and while six months looks huge now, it won’t really be in the grand scheme of things.
I’ve also learned that while Rolo will sometimes cry freely over small hurts around the house or at school, she is tough as nails when it comes to the big things.