Sunday, September 27, 2009

pearly whites and a big belly

I love, love, love having my braces off!

I finally purchased a new camera. With our new gadget in hand, our family has been snapping photos are a few of my pearly whites and my sweet daughters.

The first week or so was painful as my teeth settled. Wearing my retainer brought unexpected discomfort around my upper jaw, but only where I have metal screws holding the maxilla in place. I admit to freaking out a bit about right jaw joint is making frequent grinding and clicking noises - NOT what I wanted to hear after undergoing jaw surgery - but until I deliver our baby I am unable to have an x-ray to examine the cause. Thankfully, the pain receded along with a perhaps it was only sinus pressure? Not really sure.

Right now, I am trying to enjoy the freedom from crazy elastic configurations and not focus on the minor imperfections I see. Honestly, this is difficult after almost two years of orthodontic mania.

These photographs remind me that my daughters won't remember if my teeth have small calcium deposits on them...or if my gums are still puffy pink...they'll remember the love and joy and security of growing up in a our family.

I am immensely thankful to enjoy the benefits of braces....

  • "To God be the glory, great things he had done!
  • So loved he the world that he gave us his son,
  • Who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
  • And opened the life-gat that we may in. "

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


As of 12:10 pm EST today, I am de-banded!


I was totally NOT expecting that to happen today, but of course, am quite pleased. There was a small space in the middle of my lowers that developed after the last adjustment (and change to a wider wire, 72Steels). Well, my dear OD just held these teeth together while he inserted my new permanent retainer along the bottom six teeth. Phew, I won't lie, it was pretty. darn. uncomfortable.

My blog is titled Babies and Braces, two subjects on which I have thought much since being banded in January 2008. Now 37.5 weeks pregnant with my third baby, and memories of giving birth on my mind, I was determined not to let a little pain prevent those arch wires from coming off. :)

It worked!

I am wearing my new Essix retainer on the top 24-7, and will return to the OD for a positioner in 3 weeks to put the finishing touches on my bite. Of course, our baby is due in 3 weeks, too, so this next step will likely be delayed. He he he. It feels marvelous and bizarre and anti climatic and dreamy all at the same time. My face once again looks subtly different. My lips rest differently without the brackets. Hmmm. I am still in a state of mild shock...I mean...can the last big hurdle really be over?

We'll see. I 'll post pics as soon as I can.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Banded together - 8 months post op

Has it really been almost four months since my last post?

I have not had much orthodontic news to share recently. My OD is trying various rubber band configurations to "settle my bite". Neither of us expected it to take this long, though I admit some compliance issues. :) My current zig zig pattern is so tight I cannot eat/speak well when they're in, which shouldn't be a problem except for the 1st trimester when I was vomiting frequently, and now the 3rd trimester when I am snacking frequently.

The extra metal hooks for bands irritate my gums. My waterpik has been wonderful, helping me keep the pink puffies to a minimum.

When the bands are in, the general tooth achiness reminds they ARE working. I pray these pearly whites settle soon. Wouldn't it be lovely if the braces came off before le bebe arrives in October?

Eight months post op - a little update

I LOVE that jaw surgery no longer occupies every waking thought! That, my friends, is awesome! I LOVE having my lips come together when face is relaxed. I feel more composed, elegant even, knowing my mouth is not hanging open. I love how broad my smile is.

My new smile continues to grow on me. I no longer expect to see the old smile & profile in the mirror. The changes to my nose are more difficult to accept. It's like the nose widened where the screws were inserted, on the side along my bridge, and above both upper canines. Some days I actually long for the old nose. Which surprises me, I didn't think I'd still be wasting energy that way.

My smile continues to relax despite the lingering numbness on my chin and lower lip. My husband and sweet children are benefiting from my improved kissing, too! Honestly, it is not the same as before surgery but it is sooooo much improved, and for that I am thankful.

...I hope to upload some better "Before & After" photographs soon....

Monday, March 30, 2009


For about ten days, I have rebelled against wearing my band configuration (see Susan's blog for close ups). It's not that I have intentionally decided to reject the "ostrich" and "fox" buddies, rather I was too busy eating or talking to bother with them. Staring tomorrow the bands go back in. Each day of bands is a day closer to debracing, right?

I just returned from a weekend trip to Texas to visit family. It was a really good trip. My mother flew with me & the girls, and we reconnected with relatives we haven't seen in years. One of my cousins married a girl a few years back, and she had lower jaw surgery for a Class II back in December. We finally met at a big birthday party for one of my uncles. Though she wasn't nearly as excited as I was to relive the experience, we did connect as the only adults at the party in braces. :)

Here is a snapshot of my two daughters riding a horse for the first time at one relative's ranch.Their hot pink cowgirl princess hats are from the rodeo...yeah baby! Texas rocks.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

where's photoshop when I need it?

I have been thoroughly enjoying the Photography lessons over on Pioneer Woman. That woman does amazing things with her camera. Her bridal portrait post reveals how to make one's skin glow...which my skin does not do in the natural light. It used to glow, but I once I reached age 8 or 9, it started to show signs of aging.

Please pretend I am wearing my Chantecaille foundation, which I would have, but my zany 3 year old decided to "play dress up" with it, and let's just say my toiletry budget does not include Chantecaille purchases, at all, during 2009.

Anyway, I snapped these shots at the Target parking lot yesterday hoping to update my smirky photo. I'm not sure they're any better. Perhaps resting camera on the dashboard is not the best way to take a picture?

I am now resigned that one cheek is fuller than the other, surgery or no surgery. It matches my bigger eye on that side, and now that I think about it, my bigger bosom and my bigger foot. As feeling has returned across my chin and lips, it has moved from right to left (reverse for photos, please). The left side of my smile still sags a bit too. Some days I am more self-conscious of this than others. Sometimes, I manage to concentrate on that little facial muscle and really work it wide open. It's better, but not yet where I hope it to be. Come on optimism...hang in there with me.

Interestingly, profile shots reveal that I still subconsciously lift my chin higher than necessary. Ironic how my lack of confidence can look like arrogance. Hmmm. Years of posturing is a difficult habit to break.

Besides the awesome improvements in breathing, o-surgery did erase a few laugh lines. Ooh, and check out those centered midlines. Sweet!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

checking in

I have my first Ortho appointment in over 5 weeks in about an hour. I'll admit I'm nervous. Will my orth be pleased with my tooth movements? Will he tighten my metal bands again? My teeth are kinda achy this week.

My bands have been out more than in due to constant nausea and little nibbles of food to help with the nausea. I'd really like the extra rubber band hooks out since they make flossing virtually impossible and irritate my gums, but since I've mainly been wearing bands at night, I'm pretty sure they're here for a while. Thank goodness my trusty Waterpik is never far. :)

We'll see what Dr. B. says today....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Is it too soon?

Following Bella's model of sharing reader's questions, here is a recent question (paraphrased) I received. I included my initial response to the question. I welcome comments - it could become an excellent resource for others looking into the same situation.!

Q: How soon after surgery is too soon to conceive a pregnancy? Do pregnancy hormones cause joint changes and lead to relapse? I read somewhere that one should wait 12 months post surgery to conceive.

A: I'm not really sure. Hormones are powerful, though it is virtually impossible to predict to what extent joints may change. Ideally, the more time one waits the better to provide the body additional healing time, boosting one's nutritional reserves, etc.

Thanks for the comment. I read that post somewhere, too, though I've since forgotten where. I looked up what research was available and found it was mostly applied science. Helpful, but by no means prescriptive. Other readers may be wondering the same thing so I decided to reply with a detailed answer. Hope its length doesn't offend you. I understood your question to be kind and pragmatic. :)

My surgeon and I discussed this very question. He's been practicing since the early 1970s, and he said wait 3 months. I made it just over 2! A second oral surgeon consult also said 3 months - primarily to buffer the estimated 6 weeks it takes bones to heal. My orthodontist had been concerned that my jaw showed signs of condyle sagging at one point. Boy, that bothered me for weeks. But you know, I decided that my jaw was better than it had been, I survived the surgery, and there was NO way I was going to do it it didn't really matter. The nagging worry was debilitating until I released my anxiety. I did check with my ortho about waiting another month or two, and he said in December he didn't know of a medical reason not to get pregnant. I think he knew what I was asking since it's all I ever talk about during my visits. :)

What's interesting to me is that it wasn't until after my second child was born that I noticed my midlines shifting so much. Were the increased levels of relaxin to blame? Or was it the passing of a few more years (I was 29 when she was born, now am 31)? Or the fact that teeth keep on shifting if left unchecked? Not sure. Though my dress size shrank back, my hips never did return to their pre-baby position. Hips are affected differently though than one's jaw.

Below is how I came to my decision. I share it in case it helps someone else...God knows how much time I've spent agonizing over the decision!

My husband and I were both aware of my cycles (I've been charting for about 9 years now). We'd be actively avoiding pregnancy for over a year while we sorted through surgery stuff. We were ready for another baby on just about every level, but perhaps more important, we were open to the idea of life. In particular, this was the real blessing of a quick conception. I trusted my long-held, well-tested beliefs, I submitted to my husband's eagerness for another child (rather than my over-the-top desire to control everything "just so"), and was open. I NEVER expected to get pregnant last month, yet I was overjoyed at the discovery. For us women, there are just a few years during which we can bear children if we're blessed. He is 8.5 years older than I am. Over the last year of waiting, I've been really aware of our ages and the effects of time on biology. Pursing my MBA and this surgery likely means I will not have that extra baby I could have had...

In the end, our openness to life was greater than my fear of a relapse. I hope this doesn't sound naive. Both of us spent much time in prayer.

Now for the science part. I was REALLY scared of being undernourished post surgery. I boosted up prior to surgery, tried to maximize my recovery diet. That fear also led me to take liquid vitamins until I could swallow my prenatals. I continued to supplement with additional iron, since my body likes anemia. :) Some families struggle with birth defects as they welcome more children into their families; I believe some of this can be prevented through proper nutrition. So, I specifically checked my folate levels back in October when I had all my blood work done. Of course, we cannot prevent everything. Therefore, a part of me wanted to wait another 6-9 months to boost my nutritional reserves and order my life "just so". We never did finish our renovation projects or buy that family van I worried so much about...

I know my decision is not the right one for everyone. Even with the "best" circumstances, I understand I may be passing along THE very genes that led me to orthognathic surgery in the first place. Doesn't that catch your breath?

Which leads me back to the beginning....from Psalm 139
v.1 "O Lord, you have searched me and know me,
v.2 "You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar,
v.13 "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb,
v.14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
v.15 "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
v.16 "Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.the end.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

October it is

Two lines. Happy thoughts. Constant fatigue.

That's right, I'm pregnant!

I never thought I would conceive so quickly. Go liquid vitamins! I picked up a bottle of outrageously expensive, whole food, gluten free, yada yada liquid vitamin back when I was recovering. Anyone else having horrible flashbacks of liquid baby tylenol? I stopped drinking that green murky goo over the weekend, and my energy plummeted, my nausea skyrocketed, and I couldn't keep any food down. I was sick every 20 minutes for almost 2 days. Thankfully, I was only a few hours from home, where I slept for a day and resumed my vitmain regime. Tonight, I read on the vitamin bottle it contains something like 1200% of my B6 daily requirement. Lightbulb moment! Pumping up on B6 really does help with all-the-time sickness.

Just another reminder of how jaw surgery supplies can be good for you. ;)

I'm about 7.5 weeks pregnant, and with my nausea under better control, my rubber bands are back on. They make for achy teeth but they're really effective. I can totally chew well on my right side, left side is coming along. More feeling is returning to my lips and chin, with stabbing pains growing less frequent. My mouth feel kinda tight in general, hard to describe. I can almost feel it if I bite the inside of my lips. Let's be honest though, the extra metal hooks for bands are never forgotton. Sometimes I can't see my teeth for all the hardware and rubber in there.

I do love that my jaw doesn't click anymore. I love love love that I haven't had a migraine since surgery. Not a single one. Woohoo! Will the pain when yawning diminsh, too?

My little issue with mouth breathing
I stopped taking my nasal spray because I was concerned of birth defects; without the spray, I catch myself mouth breathing again, especially at night. I know I clinically need to use the nasal spray to shrink my turbinates, and I know pregnancy hormones can make my nose stuffier-than-normal, but catching myself mouth breathing makes me feel like I've failed or something. Most everyone I see says I look the same, or that they cannot remember what I looked like before, but sometimes I miss my old goofy smile. It was so big and so happy! My new smile is fantastically straight but a bit unbalanced. When I'm having a doubting moment, I remember how much better I can now breathe. So if I'm feeling mopey, and think about recent mouth breathing, then I really feel bad. I think some of what I notice is the muscles pushing against all the band movement. Wearing bands does seem to help, so, for now, I'm trying to give myself some slack and not worry to much about it.

I need to end this post with a happy thought. By the time I celebrate my one year surgery anniversary, I'll have a sweet little bundle in my arms! Here is a memory of number 2 in my vintage handsewn top and vintage moses basket. Owhhh. :)