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Episode 66: Parent Journey: Prince & Heidi Sabena (Part 1)

, , , , May 18, 2022

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Jacqueline Kincer  0:13

Welcome back to the Breastfeeding Talk podcast. I’m your host, Jacqueline Kincer, and I’m really excited to bring you an incredible story. It’s not just a mom’s journey today, it’s a parent’s journey, and we’re sharing the story of Heidi and Prince Sabena. They were my clients just last year, and they live in Africa. So getting help was not as easy there as it can be for people in the US, or some other countries or continents.


We’re going to be diving into the story of their daughter, Ruby, breastfeeding her, and tongue and lip ties, and what it’s like to deliver a baby in a third world country in the middle of a pandemic. It was a little bit nuts, and we’re gonna be talking a lot about the logistics of things. How breastfeeding ended up going for her, it’s a very dramatic story, if you will. But I also love that her husband, Prince, he is a very involved partner and parent from the very beginning. And he’s sharing his perspective as the dad in this journey too.


In part one, you’re gonna be hearing about the beginning of things with Heidi and Ruby, and what Prince saw happening and their initial steps of working with me. And I will encourage you to stay tuned for part two, which will be released next, to finish out their story. See what ended up happening with Ruby, how they finally got everything resolved, and where things are at today.


So this is a story of tongue tie, of an incredible marriage, of perseverance, of pandemic, of so many different things. Honestly, we cover a lot in these two episodes. So I can’t wait for you to dive in. I can’t wait for you to meet Heidi and Prince. Let’s get started.


Welcome to the podcast, Prince and Heidi, I’m so excited to talk to you today and hear everything about your story with tongue tie and breastfeeding and all of the things. So say hello to everyone. Tell everyone where you live, and then any background you want to share about yourselves or your family.


Heidi Sabena  3:01

Well, I will start. So my name is Heidi and I’m originally from Michigan. My career for a time was  a dental hygienist for about 11 years, And then I just really began to feel this call in my heart that I wanted to do missionary work to work with people in Africa, And in 2004 was the first time I came over to Uganda. I worked with high school students and was discipling and mentoring and doing counseling and stuff with high school students, and then I was here for another year. I kind of went back to the States for a little bit, and then I came back full time just knowing I wanted to be here long term.


I was single at that time, and then when I was here for about five years, I met this handsome prince whose name was also Prince. We met underneath a mango tree at a student meeting actually. I just remember being very impressed with him. And then we ended up dating and we got married in 2014. So may 31st we’ll be celebrating eight years of marriage and it’s hard to believe it’s been that long.


We have three beautiful daughters. Naomi is six and a half, that half is very important. And we have a five-year-old whose name is Hannah. And then Ruby is 11 months old. She was born on June 1st, 2021. So in just weeks, I’m going to have a one-year-old and it’s just gone by so fast. It’s crazy. Yeah, but I will let Prince share a little bit about himself.


Prince Sabena  4:56

As my wife has said, we live in Uganda and we do something called Business’s Mission. We build businesses with the goal of helping people here, providing jobs for them, but also help them come to know God. I run a couple businesses here in Kampala. One is a safari company and, and the other, we grow and process coffee. I love coffee, and we love to also sell it as well.


Heidi Sabena  5:32

Prince is Rwandan, and he because of the genocide many years ago, he was not a great place for him to grow up. So his parents sent him to Uganda. He’s been in Uganda since he was about nine. He went to different boarding schools, went to university here, and then began his career here. So that’s kind of how we met here in Kampala, which is the capital city of Uganda.


We live in Kampala, Uganda, and I’ve just this year clocked 15 years in Uganda. It’s really home, all of our girls have been born in Uganda and that’s all they know. They’re American citizens, but they really don’t know what it’s like to live in Uganda at this point. We’ll be coming back to America pretty soon, maybe next year. We’ll have a chance to live there for about a year before we come back and just keep doing what we’re doing. So that’s us.


Jacqueline Kincer  6:35

That’s wonderful, thank you so much for sharing. That’s just honestly an inspiring story. I think for both of you, the path that you’ve taken in your careers, and your mission-driven life that you’re living, it’s really beautiful.


So Ruby is really the one that brought you on the podcast today. I cannot believe that she’s almost a year old. That’s just wild, how quickly they grow up. You’ve got three girls, so you know. Tell us a bit about Ruby, and how you and I met, so to speak because we obviously haven’t met in person. Hopefully one day, we’ll have to find a way while you’re here in the States for a year to get together. I think that’d be so fun.


Heidi Sabena  7:34

Ruby is our third baby, and I’ll share, but Prince is here, especially because he has great perspective on mom brain. Then all the emotions and the drama of all of that postpartum time. I really lean on him so much. So I’m thankful he’s here to help. But I’ll start it off.


So Ruby was born five weeks early, she was born at 35 weeks. That was such a surprise. We had a scheduled c-section towards the end of June. It was May 31st, it was our anniversary, and I was feeling great. My mom was coming over from Michigan in about two weeks, so I was not prepared. I didn’t have anything packed and all of that. I just thought when my mom comes, we’ll cover that. I was really trying to take time to enjoy being a mom of two little girls, and really focus on that before the newborn comes into the house. Now life has changed.


I had a really great day, felt great, and then the next morning on June 1st, woke up and had all these cramps and contractions. I went to see my OBGYN and he did some things to try and get the labor to stop. But ultimately, it didn’t stop. So they rushed me to, as they call it here the theater. They rushed me to the operating room and delivered, by c-section, Ruby, and immediately they’re like, “She’s a baby girl and she is not breathing very well. She’s crashing and we need to get her to the NICU right away.” So they rushed her off to the NICU.


At that time Prince was away, he was about eight hours away up in the mountains with the coffee farmers, so he was rushing home. I was really on my own and I think now with COVID that happens quite a bit. But anyways, he finally got there and COVID was really starting to begin, to really pick up again is our second wave. The hospitals were really starting to fill up, you were seeing trucks lined up and all the people with hazmat suits on and things like that. We were not really allowed to spend a lot of time with her in the NICU. We could go in once in a while but our NICU is in a developing nation here.


The doctor that I have in medical care, they’re really very knowledgeable and skilled but just don’t have a lot of resources and the NICU is very tiny and compact and there was no thought for getting a room, or any of that stuff. So Ruby was in the NICU for the first seven days of her life, and then we finally were released to come home.


I just love breastfeeding, I really wanted to do that. I knew that this was going to be our last baby, and I wanted to have a very successful breastfeeding journey. I wanted it to go at least up to a year, maybe longer because I knew it was our last baby. I wanted that bonding and all the health benefits and even the cost of it, and the convenience, so many great reasons for breastfeeding. That was in my mind, that was my goal. I always said, I’ll take it lightly, but that’s my goal.


Jacqueline Kincer  10:44

Were you pumping while Ruby was in the NICU then? What does that look like for people who are listening who might not know what it’s like to give birth in a developing country? How did you get a pump? What was available to you?


Heidi Sabena  11:04

I’m glad you asked that question. It was awful. Gotta get a manual pump at first, and the nipple shield was painful. Like for a very, very tiny nipple, and I have a larger one. It was just so painful. I just wanted to die. It just was awful. Then a friend of mine was sharing my story with her sister and her sister had just previously eight months before I, had a baby. So she said, “Well, I’ll send my pump over. It worked well for me, so you can do it. But just note, there’s no options for nipple shield sizes.” There’s no talk about elastic nipples. There’s like none of that. So I used hers. It was better than the manual, but it was just a single one. It was just excruciating. But I had nothing to do. I just had to do it.


The NICU nurses were saying, “You must bring us an ounce every two hours. I was getting the colostrum out like little tiny drips, and we would take that down. So yeah, I did pump while I was there. And it was really hard and discouraging for sure. Especially because I’m on Instagram all the time. So I see all the options of what is available in the US and yet it’s like there’s just no possibility of getting it. You have to have somebody bring it over, especially during the time of COVID, it’s hard to get things right now.


I was so confident I was gonna breastfeed, I had breastfed Naomi, and I breastfed her to a year. and then I breastfed Hannah until seven months. So I just thought, ‘No, I’m just really gonna do this. I’m more knowledgeable.’ I didn’t even buy a pump. I just thought, ‘No, I don’t need a pump. I’m a stay-at-home mom, I’m just gonna breastfeed. I hate pumping, I’m just not going to do it.’ So I didn’t even buy one at all. This was so dumb.


Then we came home and we were trying to breastfeed, and she was just so, I mean, she was little, as every newborn is, but such a little mouth. I had worked with lactation consultants, two different ones, one with Naomi and one with Hannah here in the country, but they were not the best. I didn’t want to go back with them again. I had learned a lot and so I knew about latching and all of that. I was working really hard at that, but it just wasn’t working. She was falling asleep all the time. She was a sleepy baby. I thought it’s just a newborn. I kept trying.


She was trying to nurse, we might get a good latch, but then it would just slide off very quickly. We kept working and she would nurse and then fall asleep. When she would wake up she was still hungry. I don’t know, I felt like I was on every lactation consultant’s website. I was reading and reading and reading and it just wasn’t working.


Prince Sabena 14:00

The first two weeks I think we didn’t realize what was going on and because she was still very sleepy, you know, you would breastfeed her and she would go to sleep. She didn’t make a sound. She had a lot of jaundice so we would take her out for sunbathing, so it seemed okay, but once those first two weeks passed, she started showing she wasn’t really gaining weight. She was crying now more often and spitting up a lot.



Heidi Sabena 14:52

And she kept doing this arching of her back. We had never had a baby do that. Just arching, always arching her back and screaming, and then just wasn’t a great sleeper. I was exhausted and really emotional, of course, the hormones and everything. It was so hard and Prince just kept saying, “I think you should look into getting a lactation consultant.” I just thought, “Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know.” I thought, “I don’t know how they’re gonna help me out online, and I don’t want anyone here.” I thought I knew I was trying everything, I was learning, I thought, “I’m learning so much online, and I’m trying it all.” I didn’t want to spend the money. I kept being like, “I don’t want to spend the money. I feel bad. Everything is expensive.” We weren’t expecting a NICU stay and all of that. I just didn’t want to spend the money.


He kept encouraging me. I said I had been following a lot of different… Well, Instagram leads you to all different things, and Jacqueline, you just stood out. You were just, I mean, the content and the look of your Instagram page, and your website is so good. Also The fact that you had developed a supplement to help boost breast milk. I don’t know, you just seem so scientific. Watching all of your videos, and you just seemed so much more knowledgeable, but just very gracious. I just liked that you weren’t like ‘it’s all about breastfeeding. And if you don’t breastfeed, then you’re not doing it’. I just love your tone and everything. So I went with you.


I think Prince thought that I was gonna go with someone cheaper. And it was just like, I know, I know, this is who I have to go with. So we met virtually and when you came on, yes, I did. I felt like this person I’ve been following and like, you’ve been helping me. I felt like you were this friend, but this celebrity when you came on. We met with you at eight o’clock in the evening. She was almost exactly four weeks old, I think to that day. Yeah.


Jacqueline Kincer  17:04

And I think she wasn’t quite where she would have been full term. Right? That’s what I remember.


Heidi Sabena 17:10

Exactly. It was like right when she should have been born. You had us do breastfeeding, you watched that. You said the latch looked okay. And like, all the things seem to be okay. But then you said let’s look inside. And so we did a video and then you assess that she had a posterior tongue tie. A fairly significant posterior tight tongue tie and said, “I think you really need to go see your pediatrician about this and see what they say. But it really does look like it’s pretty significant. And that’s going to really affect your breastfeeding.” So am I remembering all this? Right?


Prince Sabena  17:48

Yeah, I was just thinking to myself, I think there was a series of issues. It was not just the tongue tie. Of course, you’re struggling with latching or not convinced of it. I think your nipples were getting bruised. You were not getting enough milk supply. Also watching Ruby and how she’s responding and seeing how screaming and she’s spitting up a lot and she can’t sleep and when she spits up in the bed. We would have to hold her up for so long before we put her down just to give her a chance to let the milk go through her gut. There’s all these issues. We really could not discern what the problem was. And I think, Heidi, I remember even before we rescheduled the call with you, she would say, “I think she has a tounge tie, I wonder if she has a tongue tie because she has all this. She has all these symptoms that are typical. Everything I’ve read online says is a tongue tie.”


And honestly, I didn’t believe that. I mean, I thought she was obsessed about it because she would spend hours and hours online, just looking at different resources. And I could tell that she was just so frustrated about this. She’s not able to breastfeed the way she would have hoped you would. She’s not getting the supply. She’s doing everything. I mean, she was drinking, you know, she was trying all kinds of things to do. She was drinking as much as she could. Nothing was working out. And so I think talking to you, there was just a lot that needed to bring some level of clarity and clear out a little confusion. I think it was the first time that I heard someone else say I think she has a tongue tie. Up until then, It was Heidi who was telling me that she has a tongue tie.


Jacqueline Kincer  19:55

I want to say, I love from the get go that, Prince, you were very involved. That makes such a big difference for a lot of families in terms of the outcome. And when someone is going through the things Heidi was going through, it’s really easy to get burned out with all of that not just how things are going but racking your brain trying to research and find that answer. Right. It’s like she did as much as she could have done herself, but you came in and recognized, ‘Hey, maybe you can’t do any more, and we should have someone else be a part of this’, and I really liked that you advocated that for her.


There are so many times where we’ll have a conversation with someone who is in a similar place, and they want help. But then they go, “Yeah, my husband doesn’t really want to spend the money. Or he just says, “Well, let’s just get the formula.” And it’s heartbreaking to hear when people don’t have that support. So you played a big role in this, Prince. We were able to look in Ruby’s mouth that day, because you were there to help with the camera going in the right place and getting Ruby in the right position so that I could do that visual assessment with you. So I appreciate you is all I wanted to say.


Prince Sabena  21:23

I was just being selfish. I wanted my wife back. She’s miserable, help.


Heidi Sabena  21:32

Yeah, that was so validating to have somebody say what I was thinking. You need someone to confirm that, and feel like I’m not crazy. Like I’m not crazy. When we went then after we met with you, we then immediately went to see our pediatrician. And that’s when he said she isn’t gaining the weight at the rate that she should. He was really sweet. I just told him, “Look, I know that this is not a common thing, this tongue tie, but I’ve had two kids, I’ve breastfed two kids. Something is different.” And he actually finished my sentence. He said, “Something’s different.” And I said, “Yeah, it is.” And I really appreciated that. But he said, “Okay, I believe you.” I was thankful that he could see it. But he didn’t really know what to do about it being that we’re here in Uganda. And so he said, “Okay, well, why don’t you go see this pediatric surgeon.”


That set us up on a journey of seeing a pediatric surgeon that he recommended. That didn’t really turn out well. Then we went to see another one that someone recommended. That was a very distressing experience. I won’t go into all of that. We then saw another pediatric surgeon that someone saw. We went back to him and said, “We’ve gone to three different different surgeons. One of them I remember looking at her and saying, “I think there’s a tongue tie there.” But he didn’t think it was that serious. And so he thought I don’t feel comfortable doing anything about this. Come back after a few months. Yeah. And we’ll review it.


At that point, Ruby was having a lot of acid reflux. You just felt so bad for seeing the pain that she was in. And you know, sometimes you just feel helpless, you didn’t know how to comfort her. So we went back to the pediatrician and just told him, we’ve turned every stone. They either don’t see it or they don’t think.


Then we went to another one. And he looked at said no way this baby does not have a tongue tie, never looked in the mouth ever. All three of them never did, and then said I actually think she might have cerebral palsy. I mean, I just like, I literally laughed, I just thought you cannot throw that massive of a diagnosis out just like oh, I think she has cerebral palsy. It just was like, there was nothing as a mom at that time that I could do other than just, I was so thankful I’ve done so much research because it was just like…


Jacqueline Kincer  23:57

Oh my goodness, that was wild. I remember when you told me that because I was like, well, I have exhausted my network of trying to find people in your country. And I was trying to give you some strategies of who to look for questions to ask. And then you came back with that, was like, I mean, I’m no doctor, but I just can’t see cerebral palsy is the diagnosis there. But I’m glad that you definitely weren’t swayed by that because that was just crazy to me.


Heidi Sabena  24:28

We did go to a pediatric neurologist. We’re like well, you know, she was in a place where she lost oxygen, we don’t know. So at this point, I think she was probably three months or I think getting close to two months, two and a half. So we went to see, and he tested her and said no, I think. Actually he said, “I do think she has more of a tongue tie.” The acid reflux is from that but didn’t really have much help for us.


Prince Sabena 24:57

And that actually was very helpful because I remember he picked out a few other things, because he said she’d had a high arched palate, which at that point was the first one who had told us who recognized that. Yeah. So his visit, even though it wasn’t, thankfully, it was not cerebral palsy, his visit was helpful.


Jacqueline Kincer  25:12

And this was the neurologist, right?


Heidi Sabena 25:14

Yeah, the pediatric neurologist.


Jacqueline Kincer  25:17

I have to say, you guys actually found some pretty good doctors along the way. Because even in the US where it’s, I think it’s more accepted that it’s recognized and diagnosed to have a tongue tie in a baby. None of those types of professionals you mentioned would diagnose a tongue tie, most likely. So you heard it from these doctors, that I’m shocked, safe and had the awareness I thought that was such a blessing actually. Even if they didn’t know what to do about it, or, you know, recommend treatment.


Heidi Sabena  25:50

Yeah. Then we went to see one more pediatric surgeon and she was a younger one, she was really gracious to me. But she then looked at it, and then got on her kit and just went and cut. It was just like, deal with it right away. Wait, wait now, like it was so shocking. And yet, I knew that she didn’t really get that it was a posterior tie, there was going to be a bit more involved than just your anterior tongue tie that you just clip and go.


So she did that, and I think she did clip the upper plenum, the upper lip plenum. And interesting, I just want to backtrack. I mean, I was a dental hygienist, I went to dental hygiene school. And the only training that we got on tongue ties, and upper lip ties was that it can cause recession, certainly down in the lower lingual area and then the upper and also that it can cause a diastema. That was the only training we ever knew about tongue ties and lip ties and what they cause and so here it was, I’m interested in that. But I had no concept of how much this would affect breastfeeding, and growth and all of all that goes along with it.


Jacqueline Kincer  27:01

And while you’re going through all these, you know, various surgeons and doctors what is happening with breastfeeding in the background with Ruby?


Heidi Sabena  27:10

So where we kind of landed was the breastfeeding, Prince was so sweet, and researched pumps, that was just, I couldn’t even handle that. So my husband did all the research on the Spectra and the Medela and all of the other ones, and he ended up ordering one for me with bigger nipple shields and bought lots of extra options. We used some online ways to measure but just ordered extra ones such as start and end a pumping bra and just got me all set up. And so it was shipped over, and spent so much money on that. And I just started pumping all the time, I was pumping and pumping.

What I would do with her is I would breastfeed her, I tried to breastfeed for about eight minutes on one side, she would generally fall asleep, her jaw, she’d slide off and relax and she would just fall asleep right away. But by five minutes, she was sound asleep, then you would lift her up, burp her, and she would just be starving, so we would do the other side. And then at that point, once I had at least tried to stimulate myself as best as I could with her, then I would just feed her with the bottle. The reflux was just that’s another thing, just the options of getting bottles was very difficult for her first week.


Prince Sabena 28:37

She was breastfeeding and topping her off with what she pumped. But that didn’t seem to help with the reflux. We thought maybe it’s because of the breastfeeding. So then we stopped breastfeeding, and all she did was give pumped breast milk. But that didn’t help either. And then we got bottles. Some actually, it was really, I forget how I got them. It was the Avent bottles, because we thought maybe she’s getting a lot of gas and the tal Avent bottles were anti colicky, so we got those. We started giving her breast milk with those bottles, but still didn’t help with acid reflux. And then finally, I think four and a half months, or maybe five months, three, three, we stopped completely at we or three months.


Heidi Sabena  29:39

Yeah, I think that right before that, I had a conversation with you just talking about that. I was devastated. I could not. I remember leaving a 12 minute message on WhatsApp and I was sobbing and sobbing and just like I’m exhausted. I so desperately want to breastfeed my child afraid of this and this and this. And this, like, I’m so afraid we won’t be bonded. But I just cannot keep up with the pumping. I felt like I was letting everyone down, I felt like I was letting you down, I felt like all this stuff, it was just like I was taking the weight of the world that I was not meant to carry on me.


And so feeling like Ruby, her health was not going to be good. And all these ideas of not being able to be bonded with my child and I had Prince just being like, “It’s become too big. It’s ruining you. It’s controlling you. It’s becoming this idol that you’re worshiping, and I’m fearful for where you’re at. I just want you to know, have freedom with me that I think you’re doing fine. I think you’re doing an awesome job, and it’s okay if you give her formula.” But I couldn’t take that from him. And then my aunt Maddie, she was talking with her aunt, my aunt back in America. And she was saying, “This is like, 40 years ago, I gave my daughter formula, and she was fine.” And then my mom would say, “I gave you formula, and you turned out fine. You’re gonna be fine at what cost is this.”


Finally, I left you that message. And you just, Jacqueline, you were so gracious, you’ll always have a special place in my heart. I think lactation consultants, all of them, are angels walking around are these crazy emotional moms and you were just like, you have a family. I am a lactation consultant. I’m all for breastfeeding. But I also think it’s not. It’s not for everyone in it. It’s not for all time. At what point?  You have two kids, you have a family, it isn’t really that important to lose your family, to lose your sleep, to lose your health, to just be breastfeeding. I think you’ve done great, but there are different circumstances with Ruby.


At this point, we had finally hit a wall, we had met with every possible surgeon, EMT, everything and we had hit a wall. Our pediatrician said, “I think there is no one that can help you. You need to cross borders, you need to go to either South Africa, or you need to go back to America. That’s your option.” Then when I had that message with you, and you were just like you need to have grace for yourself, you’ve done well, you’ve made it this far. But, don’t kill yourself over this. Basically, you said it in so many nice ways, but I’m just paraphrasing it all. That was what I needed. Jacqueline, it’s what I needed to just say, okay, we’re just gonna call that quits, you know, we did our best.


But I’m fighting a battle here. If I could just be back in America. And I could just run into somebody’s pediatric dentist office and have a co2 laser waiting and be done. I get some therapy and we cut it and we could do this. But I remember you saying, look, I can help you. You know, if you were to get a surgery, I could help you relactate. But really, it’s a ton of work. And do you really want to put that much time and effort away from your family, to get the lactation going again. And it was just what I needed to hear to just bring some perspective. So my husband thinks you as well, like I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t hear my own aunt who I love or my mom who I adore. I couldn’t hear everyone and all their encouragement. I never received discouragement. It was me that I was beating myself up. Everybody was so supportive, and they’re like, “Ruby’s gonna be fine”. I just needed to hear it from you, the professional. And I needed to hear it from a lactation consultant saying, we love to help moms learn how to breastfeed and have a successful breastfeeding journey. But it may not work every time and that’s okay. And your baby’s going to be fine. We’d started doing formula and that really helped with the acid reflux.


Jacqueline Kincer  33:51

Correct me if I’m wrong, were you giving her something in that to help with the reflux also.


Heidi Sabena  33:58

We were, I forgot about that.


Jacqueline Kincer  34:01

So it wasn’t the formula itself, I mean it was, but it was also the medicine, right?


Prince Sabena  34:08

Good memory. Yeah. We actually used that for a long time. All the way until surgery.


Jacqueline Kincer  34:15

That’s right. You did use that for a long time because it was helping her.


Heidi Sabena  34:18

We wanted to get acid reflux medication. I think at some point, people were giving their babies Ranitidine, that was the one, and then I don’t know if there were other ones. Then to read it had been recalled and taken off the market so it was not around. Our doctor, he, on every level was refusing to give us prescription medication. We were desperate for him to say yes to that and he wouldn’t. He just kept saying I want you to give her this Gaviscon. It thickens the milk a little bit. That helped a lot. It didn’t solve it, but it definitely brought us some relief. Because watching your child projectile everything that you’ve just given her, projectile spitting up every time, is so disheartening as a mom. It was just so disheartening for me, and then the screaming. Prince held her upright for basically five months. He said he still has, like, a whole muscle. It was constant to ever be able to get her to sleep.


Prince Sabena  35:34

Even with the medication, if you didn’t hold her up and give her 30 minutes before you put her down, it still would all come out. And then she has to be flat. So you have to do it.


Heidi Sabena  35:48

I lean on him so much. I was so thankful when my first baby, with Naomi, a friend of mine said, Look, remember, this is his baby too. Because we as moms can be like, it’s my baby. It’s my baby, I carry this baby and I’m the breastfeed her and I know everything. She was like, it’s his baby. So remember, trust him, allow him to fail. She said my husband packed the diaper bag once for church and forgot diapers. Nobody died, the baby didn’t die. He didn’t do perfect, but you know what, it’s his baby. He should have the freedom to grow in his parenting skills, trust him like even when he’s not trustworthy, give him the space.


I’ve really leaned into Prince. In in some ways, he knows our babies so much better than I do. He’s so calm. He just comes in, like I got this. He watches the baby, stares at them, studies them, he just like, shocked me at how well he knows our girls. And I love that, I rely on that.


Jacqueline Kincer  36:56

I think what you just said is actually we could do a whole episode about that. Because I think there is some role of of the maternal hormones that kind of drive us to be a bit possessive of parenting sometimes, but then to have that partner that can can recognize that and be that steady force and just be there and and then you having someone directing you to allow him to be that co-parent with you. That’s really powerful, because he may not have been able to convince you on his own. And when we allow, like you said something about allowing him to fail. And you know, you’re not perfect either. None of us are. And that’s what we don’t recognize. But this fear because you want it to be right. Maybe if you can direct everything, it’ll be correct. But when you allow him to fail, you allow him to be a better parent. So this fear that he’s not a good parent, you just allow your partner to be that better parent when you let them figure it out on their own. So I love that.


Heidi Sabena  37:58

Letting the girls, or if you have a son, you’re letting them bond with their daddy, letting them build their relationship. They have a very different relationship with their daddy than they do with me. And it should be that way. Hats off to moms who are single moms, I don’t know how… It’s just a grace that God gives to moms who are single moms. I am really thankful that I do lean into that.


Then also just with her acid reflux. She was physically in pain on my chest, because my breasts would be pushing into her little tummy as I would hold her. The only person that she really found relief with was him because he’s got this flat chest, this big, comfortable, warm, cuddly, you know, big daddy to just rest on. I felt bad for him because he was actually getting so little sleep because he was the one really. He would do the feeding, the pace feeding and all of that, but just resting on that big straight chest to allow her to have some relief. And every time I would hold her it would just be pressing into her and she would scream and scream and I was just like, Oh, I feel bad, I’m her mom I’m supposed to be comforting her but like these boobies are just hurting her and she needs her daddy. And he’s gracious to let me fail with our kids and I need to allow him to learn our kids and, and to be able to fail and make those mistakes. And we really pull together and are able to work together as a team. I need his strengths. And he needs my strengths and we learn from each other’s weaknesses and we can shore up each other’s weaknesses. I’m just really thankful for that.


Jacqueline Kincer  39:45

So you transitioned to formula, and I remember you leaving me another long voice message about that and you felt better about it but you still were like, she was having the reflux and there was this general level of unease with her. So yeah, talk about that and where you went next.


Heidi Sabena  40:11

Breastfeeding then had to dry up, which is a really sad place that brings a lot of emotions. But finally the fog lifted. I think once the hormones finally settled in, the breast milk was dried up, and it was what we decided. She still was, yeah, having the acid reflux. One thing that we really noticed was how tight her body was. Which is another thing, she was so tense. Her arms were constantly in a fight position, curled up her neck, she had those deep, deep furrows, which were all red and infected. We were constantly fighting wounds in her neck because of the deep neck furrows. And then of course, getting all the spit up in it. And I mean, we were putting desitin and her neck creases to just try and help. It was like a diaper rash because she was so tense and wasn’t… Here she was coming to four months, five months, when do babies  start sitting up?
There was no sitting up like she wasn’t even close to sitting up and you’re seeing your friends’ babies that are kind of that age doing so much more.


So just the tension, the not great sleeping, her nap schedules were not great during the day, she was a pretty good night’s sleeper, thankfully. We were marking all the signs. I was on Dr. Baxter’s website for the Alabama Tongue Tie Clinic and Dr. Zaggy. And I was reading from, Sarah Hornsby about breathing in the palate.Having your tongue, it’s not about getting your tongue to stick out, but really being able to lift your tongue up to the palate. And to get that seal. And with Ruby, she’s always clicking on the bottle dribbling everywhere, every sign and symptom was so really there and it was so labored watching her feed, even her bottle would take like an hour, it was just so exhausting. So I think sometimes she would not even be satisfied. She’s not full, but she’s just exhausted from the feeding that she needed to sleep. Yeah, and I remember many times where I would just be filling out a bottle. And you could tell this, how much effort she’s putting into this. And I don’t remember seeing my other kids are spending this much on a bottle, and she’ll be sweating. So I think all of us, it was at some point,

full time job just to feed her. I felt like I couldn’t get anything done, because every feeding session was so long.


Prince Sabena  42:55

It took two hours sometimes to get it all done, every feed. And I think also, we almost moved on from the whole tongue tie issue because we had no options. I think we’d thought we just have this is part of what she has. There’s so many out there that live with this. So I remember kind of just settling and realizing this is just going to be a part of our life, we need to move on. Because we don’t have options for this. I couldn’t so but yeah, you couldn’t settle on every time we went to the pediatrician as well. He felt the pain that we were we had and I think he wanted to help but you know how to help. And he would encourage us to look for options elsewhere. And that’s when I started doing the research. Yeah.


Jacqueline Kincer  43:42

So we are going to have to take a pause right here because there’s still so much more to come. And right now, at this point in their journey. It sounds like things are hopeless. It sounds like poor little Ruby is just going to be suffering and she is just going to be this high needs baby that they’re just going to have to learn to deal with but I promise you things do turn a corner. So make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast. So you get a notification when part two of this episode goes live. Because things get really interesting. Heidi and Prince learned so much and they share all of it with you and the show notes are chock full of great information as well, especially if you live in a country where it might be hard to access this type of treatment or specifically if you do live on the African continent and are looking for some great help. So make sure you’re subscribed and stay tuned. See you on the next episode.






In today’s episode, we talk about Prince and Heidi’s parent journey with their daughter, Ruby while living in Africa. Prince and Heidi share their adventures of breastfeeding and what it’s like to deliver a baby in a third-world country during a pandemic.

This is a story of tongue and lip ties, an incredible marriage, and perseverance. Stay tuned for part two to finish out their story, see what ended up happening to Ruby, and how things are today.

In today’s show we discuss:

  • A c-section and a NICU stay during a pandemic in a developing country
  • Overcoming exhaustion with a colicky baby
  • Pumping and breastfeeding with limited access to supplies
  • A father’s role and sacrifice for his baby

A Glance at This Episode:

  • [2:34] Prince & Heidi’s introduction
  • [7:46] Ruby’s c-section at 35 weeks gestation
  • [10:50] How they got a pump and what was available to them
  • [13:17] Bringing Ruby home and beginning their breastfeeding journey
  • [17:15] Working with Jacqueline and how they virtually diagnosed Ruby’s ties
  • [21:44] Heidi and Prince take Ruby to see a pediatrician for her ties but get passed around to various surgeons and doctors with crazy diagnosis
  • [27:01] How Heidi is pumping and breastfeeding  in the midst of their pediatric runaround
  • [33:51] They used an acid reflux medication and how that helped Ruby
  • [35:18] Prince’s bond as a father with his daughters and how important that fraternal, masculine energy is.
  • [39:46] Ruby’s symptoms and their transition to drying up breast milk and switching to formula
  • [43:30] Heidi and Prince realize they need to start researching other options

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