December 1, 2016

Adam’s Tongue and Lip Tie: Part 1

When I shared Adam’s birth story, I mentioned briefly that Adam had been diagnosed with lip and tongue tie. Today, as he turns five months old, I’ve decided to share his (and our) experience with that in a three-part series. This first part will deal with the initial diagnosis of his lip and tongue tie.

I vividly remember the first time I nursed Adam. We had just had an intense and beautiful birth experience, and I was so excited to get breastfeeding going because it’s one of my most favorite things about my children’s early lives. So I had set up this expectation that because we had an all-natural, drug-free birth in the comfort of our own home, we would definitely have a smooth-sailing, drama-free breastfeeding experience.

I was wrong.

I latched him on…and there was pain. More pain than there should have been, even considering the 5 years I hadn’t been breastfeeding prior to Adam’s arrival. So I unlatched him, and tried again. And again. And again. Hey, maybe I just got the position a little wrong. Maybe the angles were a bit awkward. My belly’s in the way, maybe it’s that? I remember turning to Dan, finally, once Adam got so frustrated and I let him latch on even though it was excruciating (DO NOT ever do this. That much pain is a sign of a bad latch, and it will lead to sore nipples quicker than you can say “ouch”). I looked Dan in the eyes, and with tears in mine, I said “Something’s wrong. I think he has tongue tie.”

Now, mind you, in my years of being a breastfeeding advocate, I have only come across mothers with tongue-tied babies twice. It’s something so rare in my mind that it’s just not the immediate diagnosis I would go to when there’s a painful latch. I’d look at positioning, flanged lips, the movement of the child’s jaw and cheeks. And if all was okay, then the latch is technically correct, right? Wrong. It can look perfect – like Adam’s latch – but the pain is in no way normal and is definitely indicative of something wrong on a deeper level.

So what are the symptoms of tongue- and/or lip-tie in a baby? Note that you won't necessarily experience all these symptoms (Source: Australian Breastfeeding Association):

  • nipple pain and damage (this included cracked, bleeding nipples for me)
  • the nipple looks flattened after breastfeeding (this is often referred to as "lipstick nipple" because the ends of the nipples look like the ends of a lipstick)
  • you can see a compression/stripe mark on the nipple at the end of a breastfeed (this was very obvious for me)
  • baby keeps losing suction while feeding and/or makes a clicking sound when feeding
  • baby fails to gain weight well
Here's what a tongue tie looks like:
SOURCE: Jessica Barton of Santa Barbara Lactation. Link to her fantastic article HERE.
Here's what a lip tie looks like (Adam had both tongue AND lip tie):

SOURCE: Dr Ghaheri's website, which is one of the best resources for tongue and lip ties out there. Link HERE.
And here's how tongue tie can affect a baby's latch:
Can you see how shallow the latch becomes?
The nipples are sucked only far back enough to reach the hard palate. OUCH.
Source: Dr Ghaheri's website again. Link HERE.
Aside from the immediate impact it would have on breastfeeding, in the long run, an unrectified tongue tie could cause problems in chewing, speech, and even kissing. Dental problems also occur in a lot of children and adults with tongue ties, as their tongues cannot properly aid in moving food around (and off of) teeth. In Adam's case, his lip tie would have also caused a gap to form between his two front teeth. Click HERE for more information on the long-term effects of tongue and lip ties.

I feel so fortunate to have had the benefit of experience when it comes to breastfeeding, so I immediately recognized that something was off. I can imagine that someone completely new to it would just think it’s normal pain (btw, no pain is normal – seek help from a certified Lactation Consultant ASAP if there is any pain at all), and just assume that’s how it’s meant to be.

In my case, I knew something was wrong but I also knew the important next step was getting an official diagnosis. I got this the very next day, when my midwife and maternal-child health nurse Andrea (yes, she is both!) came over to check on us. She checked Adam’s mouth and immediately saw that he had a tongue tie, and what looked like a lip tie as well. It was still upsetting to hear, even though I had already guessed what it was. I think a major part of my frustration was the expectation in my mind of having that perfect breastfeeding experience. But I had to accept that it wasn’t going to happen, and move onto the next step: treatment.

At this point we had no idea how serious it was or how it would affect breastfeeding. Andrea asked that we wait a couple of days before deciding whether or not to schedule Adam for a frenectomy (also known as a frenotomy), a procedure where they essentially cut off the ties. However, I barely waited a single night before texting Andrea to get me that appointment, because my nipples had become so injured that they had started to bleed. Yeah…not pleasant.

So what happened next? Wait for Part 2 where I share how I coped with Adam's tongue and lip tie during the pre-operative period.

(Don't forget to Like my Facebook Page and turn on notifications so you'll know when I post an update on the blog!)

For more information on tongue and/or lip ties, please visit this KellyMom page which is a treasure trove of excellent resources on the topic!

November 21, 2016

Babywearing Review: Bebe Sachi Monochrome Jati

Size: 6
Fiber Content: 100% cotton
Warp (combination of thick & thin yarns): Natural grey/grey + black (variegated) with white
Weft: Natural grey + black (variegated). All yarns are hand-dyed.
Surface weight: 304.78 gsm
Width: 30 inches
Carries tried: FWCC, DH tied at waist, Ruck with CCCB
Wearee: Currently 4.5 months old and 6.5kg

Cons: Rough texture, requires breaking in, on the thicker side (so expect things like large knots), wraps short, and has the usual camphor smell of Bebe Sachi wraps in the beginning (it goes away after a couple of washes and lots of use - camphor is a necessity in Bangladesh where every Bebe Sachi wrap is lovingly hand woven, as it acts a repellent against nasty pests that like to feast on the yarn).
Pros: Easycare because 100% cotton (yay!), cushy on the shoulders, supportive and big-baby-worthy, very grippy, forgiving of sloppy wrap jobs.

When the folks at Bebe Sachi first shared photos of Monochrome Jati on their Facebook page, I knew instantly I had to have it. Not only is it in my colors (or non-colors, some might say), it's also made in the classic, supportive, and big-baby-worthy handwoven Jati weave. Plus, the Monochrome Jati wraps were woven by Munir, one of the Master Weavers with the nickname "Magic Fingers" because every textile he weaves has a special feel to it. I knew I had to have it, and kept checking back eagerly to jump on it when it would be released. 

So fast forward a couple of weeks later, I was back in Malaysia for a quick holiday, and was contacted by none other than one of the ladies behind Bebe Sachi (and - full disclosure - a good friend of mine) Rita Rahayu! She asked if Adam and I were willing to be models for the Monochrome Jati. I'm pretty sure not even a millisecond passed before I said yes, haha.

I was so excited to get my hands on this gorgeous wrap, I could barely sleep the night before the shoot. And when I got to the set, I anxiously awaited Rita's arrival, partly because I couldn't wait to see her again after so long, and partly (read: mostly) to finally touch, feel, and play with Mono Jati. 

And you know how I felt when I finally could? Terrified. Very afraid. A little overwhelmed. I kept thinking, how will I tame this beast?! You see, a Jati that isn't broken in, feels so rough and so stiff that you wonder if it's meant to carry babies or to turn into a burlap sack. Apparently I wasn't the only one - there are some alarming albeit hilarious photos of loom-state Mono Jatis on the Bebe Sachi Love chatter page of the stiff wraps completely holding themselves upright, haha!

But then I wrapped with it. And oh my, was I surprised. It seemed impossible, but Mono Jati was actually cushy! How does it manage to do so? Magic, probably. And the support - that famous quality that makes Jati wraps so sought after - is unbeatable. It wasn't a big factor during the photo shoot when Adam was teeny, but it's become a definite favorite in this house for long outings now that Adam's almost 5 months old and 7kg.

It's also one of the few wraps in my stash that defines the word "grippy". Single knots do not budge in this wrap. But grippiness is a two-edged sword - multiple passes lock in instantly almost like Velcro and are difficult to adjust. Fortunately, there is almost no sag at all, so combined with the grippiness, this wrap is very forgiving of sloppy wrap jobs, as evidenced by a particularly terrible my-cranky-baby-refuses-to-nap-and-is-super-cranky Double Hammock where the chest pass was so loose that it could be pulled 2 inches away from my body but the entire wrap job stayed put and stayed comfortable throughout a much-needed 1 hour nap.

I did a lot of things to break in this wrap - braided it, sat on it, slept on it, ran it through rings. But it stubbornly refused to soften up quickly. So I decided one day that I would use it for every up from then on until it was broken in. And man, let me tell you, two weeks later I could finally say I tamed the beast! She is still hardcore, and judging from my experience with other Jati wraps, will never be soft and silky, but she is moldable and even a little squishy!

She does wrap short and feels more like a 5 to me (I was quite alarmed during the shoot when I wore a 5 and was tying off a FWCC with the tippy tails!). So I would definitely recommend going one size up when looking to purchase Mono Jati in the secondhand market (she doesn't come up for sale that often though, so make sure to join the Bebe Sachi Love chatter group to make sure you can get your hands on one!).

I've grown to love this wrap now that it's all broken in. It reminds me a lot of me: a little overwhelming at first, very rugged and tough at the outset. Almost a little off-putting in her lack of softness. But give her time, get to know her, cuddle her, and trust her - and she will soften up, providing support and comfort unlike any other. I know for sure that I didn't think she'd be anything like the wrap she is now, but I'm so pleasantly surprised by how amazing she is, and I don't think I'll ever let her go.

For those who are not familiar with Bebe Sachi and their ethos, I think it's important to keep in mind that they are first and foremost, a social enterprise. Their hand-dyed, hand-woven wraps are produced entirely in Bangladesh and provide income for the weavers and their families (the current headcount is 11 families with 49 members in total!).

Oh, by the way, I just heard from Rita that they'll be releasing something very special - the first in the Silk Jati range! Do subscribe to their Facebook page so you can be alerted when that comes out!

All photos courtesy of Bebe Sachi. Photographer: Nur Atifi. You can see more photos here!

November 16, 2016

The mother's post-partum body is a strange thing. After dealing with carrying a baby for 40 weeks and then ejecting said baby into the world, who can blame our bodies for being a little bit out of whack for a while? I did this twice before but there were still some unexpected things that my body did after giving birth a third time in July:
  1. Broken inner thermostat
    From about Day 3 post-partum, my body seemed to be unable to regulate its own temperature. I felt so cold almost all the time, to the point where I was shivering almost all day. It was almost like having a fever, except there was no fever.  So I would rug up all day - that meant that I would wear multiple layers of clothes, thick pair of socks...heck, I even took to wearing a beanie indoors! So I found a way to manage. That being said, changing clothes and taking a shower felt like torture. It was like I was being sent out in the cold of winter when in actuality my (working) house thermostat said it was a balmy 27 degrees.

    The weird thing is, when I slept, I would sweat so much I'd wake up completely drenched! But I was still freezing cold at the same time. This went on for a good 3 weeks before my body managed to regulate itself. So why does this happen? Apparently it might have something to do with hormones, and while most mothers are able to regulate their body temperature after a couple of days, it may take longer for some other mothers.

  2. Odd hollow feeling
    It was a pretty strange feeling that started when I woke up the day after giving birth. I got up from bed, tried to take a deep breath...and couldn't! I recall feeling this to an extent with my previous two births, but it was a lot more noticeable this time around. It may be that I had a big baby this time (he was 3.7kg compared to the 2.6kg for the two older boys), so I was more stretched out, but my abdomen felt unbearably hollow for the first three days.

    My midwife, Andrea, explained that my displaced organs needed time to go back to where they're supposed to be. This includes my diaphragm, which was all squished before. So of course I found it difficult to breathe in those first few days - it almost hurt to take deep breaths. The most I can manage were shallow breaths. This only lasted about 3 days or so, but it was quite disconcerting!

  3. INTENSE after birth pains
    They say that after birth pains gets worse with each subsequent birth. Well, through my admittedly limited experience, I have found this to be true! It's almost like going through labor pains all over again, multiple times a day, for about 3-4 days.

    I didn't need painkillers to give birth, and yet I downed them like candy in those few days post partum. It got bad enough that I was crying from the pain! This pain, of course, is actually a signal that things are going well and that your uterus is shrinking back down to normal size. But man...hard to see the positive side when it feels like your uterus is twisting itself into knots!

  4. Having a normal sized bladder again
    I remember waking up the day after giving birth and thinking, "Hey, I didn't have to get up to pee 100 times last night!". That was quite cool. But while it felt good to not have a pea-sized bladder, I had to remind myself to empty it often to avoid things like UTI and kidney stones (both of which I'm prone to). Still, yay for not sitting on the toilet more often than sitting on my couch!

Looking back at it now, a little over four months later, I can still very distinctly remember all this. And I'm still amazed that it was my first time feeling all of the above to such an extent, despite it being not my first time giving birth! It reminded me that every baby, every mother, and indeed every birth is different - and this extends to the post-partum period as well. Are there any strange things your body has done post-partum that you'd like to share?

October 13, 2016

FemiVa by Alainn: My (and my vajayjay's) experience!

Sponsored Post

Look, I've shot out three kids through my vajayjay. That's three times that my hoohaa has been stretched out to its limit and then shrunk back down to normal. And the standard of "normal" changes each time! As a matter of fact, according to Dr. Nurul Ain Abdullah of Alainn MediSpa, multiple childbirths can lead to Vaginal Relaxation Syndrome (VRS) caused by a loosened and weakened vaginal wall.

So, when I was pregnant with Adam, I was very concerned with how things were going to change down there. How different will things look? How will intimacy be affected? What can I do to make sure things spring back to normal (and ASAP)?

One thing I did was to take all measures to ensure no tearing would occur. Perineal massage and a water birth meant that I was successful in that regard. But what else could I do?

Well, during pregnancy I started researching non-invasive things I could do to get things back to usual conditions. Let me tell you, there are SO MANY creams, gadgets, and procedures out there these days. And one of them is FemiVa.

FemiVa is a good option for:
  • Women who experience decrease in sensation and stimulation during intercourse
  • Women with gaping vaginal opening
  • Women who notice that tampons usually slip out easily or during intercourse partner slips out easily
  • Women with vagina that produces “gas-like” sounds during intercourse or “popping” sounds while walking
  • Women who are not satisfied with the appearance of the labia due to sagging skin
  • Women who have vaginal dryness, lack of moisture or pain during intercourse
  • Women who have frequent itching or burning sensation of the vulva
  • Women with involuntary release of urine, especially during coughing, sneezing or laughing
  • Women who are looking for an overall improved look and feel of the vulva and vagina post-delivery
Full disclosure: Dr Nurul Ain is a beloved family friend. When she approached me to try out the FemiVa procedure, I jumped at the opportunity. It was exactly what I was looking for! So when I went back to Malaysia for a visit recently, I finally got it done.

Alainn MediSpa offers two FemiVa treatment options: FemiVa which is just vulva rejuvenation (external) and FemiVa Plus, which is both vulva and vaginal rejuvenation. I opted for the FemiVa Plus treatment. This way, my jazzy-vajjy will look AND feel better.

The Alainn MediSpa is located at the Park Lane Commercial Park in Petaling Jaya, which wasn't too far from where I was staying. The MediSpa is exactly what it sounds like - a medical clinic combined with a spa. I was immediately relaxed once I walk in. No harsh clinical lighting here!

The entire Femiva Plus procedure took about half an hour. The first part was the internal vaginal treatment. A prong is inserted into my kitty, and a series of lasers flew around my cavern (that makes it sound cavernous. It's not. Things haven't gotten that bad, you can't hear echoes in there and there are no bats, lol). There was absolutely no pain, just a weird series of knocking sensations deep inside. This went on for about 5 minutes.

Next is the external treatment AKA vulva rejuvenation. First a jelly-like fluid is spread across my lady bits. It's similar in consistency to the stuff they put on your belly during pregnancy ultrasounds. The best way I can describe the following procedure is its like ironing away your wrinkles. The wand that is used gradually heats up while it is rubbed around your flaps. It starts out okay but does get very very hot towards the end. It's not too painful but definitely uncomfortable. I just told my therapist to stop for a bit when it got too much. This part of the treatment is about twenty minutes long. The procedure is done for ten minutes on each side of your labia. It's entirely non-invasive and is a good option if you only want things to feel nice and tight on the outside. It also has zero downtime, compared to the internal treatment that requires at least 24 hours abstinence afterwards (Daniel was mortified, but he survived).

For best results, you should plan on repeating the treatment 2-4 times, making sure to have 2 weeks between treatments.

It's been three weeks since I underwent the FemiVa Plus procedure. I took photos of my lady bits before the procedure and every week after. I won't be sharing them (lol) but I can assure you that there's a definite difference in how things look externally. It's all just...smoother.

As for how things feel, there's definitely an improvement there as well. Intimacy has never been an issue for Dan & I, so I didn't necessarily feel the need to "improve" anything, but I must say that things are definitely feeling better than usual!

I think most women think it's taboo or shameful to speak candidly about their vajizzle, but the truth is that treatments like FemiVa are a huge hit, and for good reason! It is okay to admit that maybe your oft-neglected vagina/vajayjay/lady bits/hoo haa needs a bit of a treat. And now you know where to go to do it!

And good news for my readers: Alainn Medispa is currently offering 20% off the FemiVa Plus treatment until 31st October. For more information about FemiVa, please click here, or contact Alainn Medispa directly:
Alainn Medispa
J-2-3 Jalan SS7/26
Park Lane Commercial Hub
Kelana Jaya 47301
Petaling Jaya 
Call 03-78876499
WhatsApp 012-2710301 
Operating hours  
Monday to Saturday - 9.30am to 6.00pm
P.S: I must say, this post has challenged me to use my creativity to come up with effective euphemisms!

Note: This is a sponsored post, which means that I received the product and/or service in exchange for writing this post/review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

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