Yesterday was a big day. Actually, the last two days were big, because we drove to another town 4 hours away to address Kai’s lip tie and breastfeeding issues. The motivation for me to sit down and write this post was so that I could show my support for Dr. Grawey and her practice in St. Louis, Little Flower Family Medicine. The emerging reality is that writing this post is helping me process the experience. Hopefully, this post will help you make a decision if you find yourself checking out options for lip tie or tongue tie.
Andrea came to me some weeks ago with her idea that Kai had lip tie. She reported that he struggled opening his mouth all the way. We had noticed he aspirated milk once or twice a day. He seemed to gasp at times while breastfeeding. She wasn’t experiencing sore nipples like some tongue-tie baby mommas report. However, when examining his upper lip, it was evident to us that there was a band of skin that came down from his upper lip to his gums. It was so pronounced that this band of skin went over his gums. A little research revealed that this kind of scenario can result in the gap between front two teeth and even smiling issues. What to do?
Andrea connected with other moms via the Tongue and Lip Tie Support Group on facebook and found Dr. Grawey through their preferred provider list. She was also recommended by Emma Kwasnica, who works tirelessly to support breastfeeding moms everywhere.
I had actually met Dr. Amy Grawey because Gena Kirby and I taught Rebozo and Dad Certified at her family practice office in St. Louis. “Hey, you look familiar,” Dr. Grawey said to me when we arrived for the lip tie visit.
Here are 7 Things I learned about breastfeeding, tongue tie, lip tie, and lasers:
- Due to Andrea’s oversupply, Kai was likely getting most of the milk he needed within the first 7 minutes of breastfeeding.
- Using the My Breast Friend pillow on top of a normal pillow on Andrea’s lap, positions baby so that he is even with the nipple. This keeps gravity from choking him with milk flow during oversupply times of the first few months of life.
- Oversupply is nature’s way of ensuring infants get as much milk as they need until they are strong enough to really get in there. At about 3 months, that over supply goes down.
- Lip tie and tongue tie have to do with a membrane of skin that didn’t dissolve in the womb as much as it could, which results in limited ability to get tongue out and lip up.
- The laser is a re-purposed dental laser. It’s about the size of a kid’s marker. It delivers white heat like when you used to burn ants with a magnifying glass in the sun.
- Laser is better than scissors because it gets rid of tissue by burning it. Also, it doesn’t bleed, which makes for more accurate work.
- As for anesthetics and pain management, breastmilk is the best for babies. Drugs can be super dangerous for their tiny bodies. With proper amounts of love, breastmilk, and presence, going for the laser without anesthetic can be manageable.
I am enamored with our experience at Dr. Grawey’s office. As horrible as it was to hold my boy down while Amy burned the flesh under his lip, it was only half a minute long. Andrea came in to breast feed him immediately. I was able to shake off the experience. It all felt safe. Dr. Grawey’s baby was on the floor rolling around at her feet during the procedure. Before that he had been strapped to her back and before that she had been breastfeeding him. I’ll let that sink in for a moment…
Our doctor breastfed her baby during our consultation.
There was another doctor in the office, Dr. Kohler, who was also carrying her baby on her back. Andrea said to me that there are two aspects to this situation: one is that it is amazing that these two women bring their babies to work and normalize the family in the social context. The other is that it is sad that we think it’s amazing, because it should be normal.
If you are in Missouri and are looking for a doctor to laser the lip and tongue, then go to Dr. Grawey’s lip tie and tongue tie page to find out more information. You’ll see how she doesn’t use general anesthetic.
I have been concerned about how Kai would deal with the trauma of the laser treatment. Today, I held him for two hours while he slept, and I continue to keep him close while I type in order to remain connected. Over the last 24 hours since his procedure, he has cried in ways I haven’t seen him cry before, and we hold him and process with him the intensity of the laser experience. It’s like he is telling us with his yelps and tears what the experience was like for him. We say, “Yes, and then you felt burning on your lip. And we held you down. And you felt scared.” We give him the space to get it out. We don’t tell him, “Shhh.” We hold him. We say, “We love you.” As far as I can tell, he is whole and well.
Here’s what the visit looked like from my perspective.
I am happy to report that Kai cried only twice yesterday since the laser, and now he appears to have completely moved through the experience. Even when we do the lip stretches, he is unperturbed.