Sunday, February 21, 2010


My husband bought me my own domain name for valentines day! So I will be moving to this new location and primarily posting there. Please join me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On Vaccines and Science

This is a rant, you are warned, lol.

I have been reading lots of blogs (as always) and I keep coming across articles that really get under my skin.

*deep breath* I have been posting articles about vaccines for years, reading, studying, learning, researching. I ask questions and I have been a non-vaxer for most of my mom-hood. That said: I AM A VACCINATING MOM.

And you know what? I'm STILL going to keep posting the articles, the questions and the criticisms. I'm really getting tired of the snotty, nose in the air "It's science" posts. People, listen: I'm not stupid, inarticulate, paranoid, hysterical or religiously driven and neither are most of the non-vax or delayed-vax parents I know!

You fully support vaccines and are a die-hard believer in their safety and efficacy? Great, bully for you. They will NEVER get better, be more effective and less dangerous if everyone thought like that, though. So I will continue to be critical, mistrustful and questioning. I will NOT settle for what we have now. Continue bitching all you want about the people that "don't respect/understand/trust science". The FACTS are that the science is NEW. Scientifically, we must acknowledge that there are huge, gaping holes in our knowledge! The fact that vaccines may, in fact, be one of the biggest breakthroughs in scientific history does NOT negate that fact that it's currently still in a very experimental state. Those of us that question, demand answers and seek to protect our children as best as we can are NOT idiots! It's unfortunate that so many of the actual hystericals are so loud and of course, made even louder by the media. That said, snootily poo-pooing a huge list of concerns (NOT AUTISM) because one element has chosen a ridiculous flag to rally around is just plain irresponsible. The concerns are real, there for a reason and need to be addressed.

I vaccinate. I'm not 100% comfortable with it and I NEVER WILL BE until the long list of issues is fully taken care of. IMO, NONE of us SHOULD be. Progress is never made by people settling for what's "good enough". Peh.

Oh and one more thing. Please, PLEASE quit insisting that non-vaxers and delayed-vaxers put the population at risk. Until vaccines are 100% effective, this is a RETARDED argument. It makes NO sense to single out the small population of non-vaxers and blame THEM when the realities are that vaccines are anywhere from 50% up effective. We don't KNOW who is still not immune, even after vaccinations. Many upon many more people and children are vaccinated than not which means that the "risk" people in the vaxed camp far outweigh the "risk" people in the NOT vaxed camp. Simple, yes, but still true. If people are going to post snotty articles about idiots that don't respect "science" the they really ought to think about all the angels of their argument.

Incidentally this post isn't directed at anyone specific, I don't even know or regularly read the people that posted most of the things I'm blabbering about. I'm just sick to death of the general mentality being that people like me are paranoid morons. I'm not saying the paranoid morons don't exist! I'm just saying MOST of us are NOT them. There are just as many paranoid idiots running around on the "other side of the fence" UGH!!!

Shanghai: How to play

I love playing cards and this game, Shanghai, is easily my favorite. My father taught me how to play this game when I was 10 or 11yrs old. He and my mother still play this game and have played it pretty much for as long as I can remember. I've taught all of my friends how to play (and subsequently had my arse kicked repeatedly) so I thought it might be fun to share it with all of you!

Ok! For starters, you need three full decks of cards, including all the jokers!

If the game includes more than 5 people, you must add another deck of cards (or it won't work).

The object of the game is to complete the six hands with the least amount of points.

Basic gameplay:

Players are each dealt 11 cards. A players turn begins with them drawing a card. They may choose to draw this card from either the discard pile or the deck. Their turns ends when they discard a card. When the objective of the hand is reached, the player has the option of "going down on the board". They canNOT do this unless they have reached that hand's objective (For example: The 2nd hand of the game has the objective of 1set 1run. A player cannot go on the board with only 1 set, they must have both a set AND a run to go down). A player wins the hand by getting rid of all of their cards (and she must play to go out, she cannot discard her last card but I'll get back to that). Cards are gotten rid of by playing them on the board or discarding them.

At the end of a hand, all players with cards still left in their hands must add up the points and they are recorded. After the six hands are completed, the player with the *least* total points (from all six hands) has won the game.

Now for details.

Points: Each card has an assigned point value based on it's face.
2-8= 5pts
9-King- 10 pts
Aces- 20pts
Jokers- 50pts

Aces are always high and there is no "around the world" on the board.

Jokers are wild cards and can be anything. Players cannot create a set out of three jokers and all runs must have at least two face cards (no runs that are three jokers and a 2, for example).

1 set 1 run
2 sets
3 sets
2 sets 1 run
2 runs 1 set
3 runs

Objective details:

Sets: A set is made up of 3 or more cards that have the same face value. Suits do not have to match, though.

Runs: Runs are made up of 4 or more cards of the same suit.

Buying: Obviously, during gameplay, cards are going to come up that players want but can't have because it's not their turn. This is where buying comes in. Players may "buy" the card they want, at the cost of drawing 2 extra cards along with it, as long as no one else that comes before them in the rotation wants to buy it first. Players can only buy twice per hand (if they do so, they'll know it as they will have 17cards in their hand, 14 if they've only bought once). Buying is no longer an option once a player has reached objective and is on the board.

Going out: Now, in order for a hand to be completed, obviously, someone has to go out. In order to do this, the player must have gotten rid of all of the cards in their hand, either by playing them on their own board or on the cards of other players. Players may NOT discard out. The final card must be played on the board.

Which brings us to the three different ways to go out. There is "playing out", as is mentioned above, going out "all at once" which is where the player reaches objective, puts it down on the board and then plays all of the rest of her cards all at once around the board, and of course, there is "Shanghai". It's only a Shanghai if the player puts all of the cards in her hand down on her own board (I.e: all 11-17 cards are part of the hand objective). Shanghai doesn't award anything special except the looks of surprise and dismay on your friend's faces and possibly catching another player with a hand loaded with points.

Now, when my friends and I play, one person keeps score for everyone else and adds up all the points at the end an announces the winner. Thus commences much bragging, name-calling and teasing, then we start all over again. This game is perfect for an evening of fun (and ribbing) and is my favorite way to relax with my friends. What are some of your favorite ways to let your hair down?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tater Tots, Bacon and Eggs

It's so tempting to try to craft a blog, here, that captures the "image" of a down to earth, crunchy mama. So many people seem to think of me that way anyway and I never intentionally meant for that to be. But the truth is that I suck at lying, never have been good at it so I'm afraid what you're going to get is the hodge-podge of ME that I really am, with my fattening junk food, my meat loving diet and my kids that run around half naked (like little hippies) with a hot-dog in one hand a *shudder* HFC containing garbage in the other (I really didn't buy it for them!).

Today it's Valentine's Day (both of my daughters INSIST that it's actually ValeMTIMES Day) and I wanted to do something special for my family. So I'm making a deliciously unhealthy breakfast. The bacon isn't even finished cooking that and the girls have eaten half the tater-tots already! I loved the delighted little faces when they first discovered bite-sized hash browns. I don't know why but my kids LOVE them! So does my husband, he literally did a little *GLEE* squee when he saw the bag of 'tots I brought home from the store, lol.

Yeah, I know, I know, it's not GOOD for them! Neither is the delicious maple-bacon behind me, sizzling away on the stove. The eggs won't be either, because I AM going to cook them in the bacon fat! I don't get a chance to thoroughly spoil them rotten like this very often so imagine my pleasure at reading their happy little faces over greasy, nasty food. :)

I don't know, for some reason I just wanted to blog about my happy little girls, my little family, tucked away in the snow today. I started this blog to be brainy and run with the "big girls" and now I think that's dumb. I suppose my blog is sort of evolving here so bear with me, please, while I figure it out!

Anyway, A very Happy Valemtimes's Day to all of you!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Did you pop yet?

Have you had that baby yet?

Click the link! It's hilarious! There is nothing quite as irritating as trying to round up your gestation in peace and being constantly hounded about having the baby. Next time someone sends you an annoying "Where's the baby?" post, send them this. No idea who to credit but it sure got me laughing!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Marriage! "Mawiage is what bwings us togevah, today!"

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary together. Sometimes it seems like that whirlwind of our first year together is still fresh in my memory and other times, I can hardly remember what it was like to be that person!

I have been asked many times over the last decade how me “make it work”. I'm often met with the “wows” when I mention how long I've been with my husband. The divorce rates in our country are shockingly high ( ) so I guess it shouldn't surprise me that I get that reaction. But it does and it also makes me kind of sad. There is nothing in the world like having a strong marriage and it's something that I feel every couple deserves to have.

In our society today, there seems to this notion that a good marriage looks like a sitcom. You know what I mean, the idea that if it's “really real” all will be sunshine and cupcakes? That you'll wake up in love every day, that all arguments end with a heartwarming moral lesson and fabulous make-up sex? True love, according to apparent expectations, is all sparkles and roses. Here is where my readers would hear snorting if they could only “hear” my writing. PUHlease.

What a ridiculous load of crap. True love, marriage and everything that comes with it is hard work. Blood, sweat and tears hard work. My husband and I are not lucky, special or particularly gifted individuals. Nope. We are just committed to loving one another. I don't mean to make it sound as if it's a trivial thing; it's just that it's not terribly complicated. Simplicity and ease, however, do not necessarily go hand in hand. I am utterly thrilled with my marriage (most days, haha) but it hasn't always been that way and it wouldn't surprise me if, at some point in the future, I find myself questioning it again. See, I'm married to a person and that person, silly boy that he is, married me: another person. People are a pain in the ass, have you noticed?

Perhaps a good place to start with answering “what makes it work” is to define “True Love”. What the heck is true love, anyway? To be completely frank, if you are thinking of TWOO WUV, as perpetuated by Disney, it's a MYTH. True love isn't butterflies in the tummy (though they are nice) and it's not about knights in shining armor, good vs evil or pretty, pretty princesses that need rescuing. I'm sure many people have their own ideas about what true love really is so I'll just share mine and leave the definition open to comments. For me, true love between a man and a woman is completely impossible to put into words, lol. I will say that I knew it was real the first time I was so angry with my husband that I wanted, desperately, to bash his head in yet still couldn't imagine my life without him. I think what defines true love is the commitment. If it's not worth fighting tooth and nail for, it's not True Love. There's the butterflies-in-the-tummy love, which comes and goes along with hormonal surges and circumstances. I think it's fair to say that if that is NEVER present, we're in trouble. There is also the love that says, “I've picked your dirty socks up off the floor 16478980 times over the last 10 years and I will continue to do so, no matter how much it irritates me, because I love you”. Really, if that's not true love, I don't know what is!

Seriously, though, while the basic idea behind a healthy marriage (commitment) is simple, actually putting it into practice is anything but. I can't really say there is any one magic thing that will make a marriage work but there are a few things that most would agree are paramount to a healthy relationship. Those are communication, trust and a healthy sense of individuality.

I feel that trust and communication are two sides of the same coin. Without trust, there isn't any real communication and unfortunately, without communication it's nearly impossible (if not completely so) to build any trust. A friend of mine and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about this relationship that had sort of gone south for her. One of the things that was really bothering her was that her beau wouldn't really talk to her or open up about himself. I know that this is partly something that women are just more likely to do than men. We talk about everything! But men (at least in my experience) aren't as likely to open up and talk about how they feel and for most of us women that isn't cool. Why? Because we need to feel like he trusts US. It stands to reason that if someone won't open up to me, it's because they don't trust me enough to feel safe to do so. If a person doesn't trust me enough to be real with me, then I start to feel like maybe I shouldn't trust them, either. That's when communication utterly breaks down and when we're talking a marriage, well, a relationship like that isn't going to last. The flip side of this, though, is that women tend to broadcast their feelings in a myriad of ways, words being sort of at the bottom of the list. Yes, we talk. But we talk with our expressions, how we laugh, the way we tilt our head, hold our eyes or even how we smile.
In my marriage the feminine ability to “broadcast” with my whole body tends to get me into trouble because I find that I often expect him to just “get” what I want and when he's utterly clueless it frustrates me. I mean, it works with my “sisters”, right? My husband isn't one of my girlfriends so subtle communicators don't tend to register on his mandar. I have to be willing to take a deep breath, step back from my emotions and just talk plainly to him. One of my sisters made a good point to me, too: We can't expect him to just know what we want! No matter how badly I might want to just beam from my brain to his what it is I want or need him to do, it doesn't work.

She made another excellent point, regarding trust, that I have been musing on all day. She was talking about how being willing to just accept an apology even when she wants to make him pay (and we all struggle with this!) is a big factor in her marriage. It definitely is for me, too, and I suspect that it is for our husbands, as well. She made the point that intent is something we shouldn't loose sight of; we should be able to trust that our spouses aren't trying to hurt us or piss us off. I feel that we should also be willing to trust that our spouses really want to hear what we have to say and that they should be able to trust that the same is true of us. We see here, then, how trust and real communication are absolutely not mutually exclusive. Two sides, same coin.

What about that healthy sense of individuality? How does that fit into a marriage? Aren't the two supposed to become one? Isn't it all about creating a new family? Of course it is! Consider, though, an old-fashioned A-framed house. If the two main walls creating that house were smashed together in the middle, so that they touched from base to top, there wouldn't be a house, would there? Worse, the structure would just topple over and cease to be anything but a big mess. However, two strong, sturdy walls, tilted in towards each other, so that they “kiss” at the top, make a strong house. I think this principle holds true in a marriage. I think it's very important for each partner to have a strong sense of who they are without their partner because who they are all by themselves is all that they have to bring into their marriage. Not only that, but without a little self-preservation, one looses their sense of self and the marriage becomes suffocating. I think too many of us, men and women alike, forget that we love an individual. We didn't marry someone so that we could change them into us. They didn't marry us because we were them in a different package. Our individuality is what makes and keeps us interesting. I think accepting and being comfortable with my spouse having and interests of his own, that doesn't always include me, is another aspect of trust. I appreciate his tolerance of me doing the same, too. As such I never feel like I'm being squelched with him and I hope he feels the same. It hasn't always been that way. I think women are more prone to utterly freaking out over their man having a life of his own, particularly in the beginning of the relationship. For me, I was just afraid he'd leave. I had very little self esteem and was convinced he was settling and good God, what if he was out for hours because he secretly hates me?! Again with the trust,eh? I had to learn to trust, to let go. And when I did, lol, he was MUCH happier!

Thoughts? What makes your marriage/relationship strong?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Well I guess I AM lucky, then!

Today I had the OH SO FUN procedure of having an IUD "installed" (haha, I loved calling it that). I am a cyborg, now. :P Anyway, I was very nervous as I really can't stand vaginal exams of any kind and I was trying really hard to relax (because then, maybe, it wouldn't hurt?) and I think the midwife who was doing it for me picked up on my tension because she engaged me in very lively conversation regarding my favorite subject: birthing my children. I had used the practice way back when I had my first and she was curious to know why I didn't have my other two with them. I explained that I have this little thing about not EVER birthing in a hospital unless I have a good reason to. The conversation went on and somehow we got to talking about who I did use and do you know *this* person? Oh yes? And what about *that* one? Who did you have at your births? Oh you did your second YOURSELF (wtf, of course I did it myself, WHO ELSE IS GOING TO BIRTH MY BABY???)? ON PURPOSE (yes on purpose, for heaven's sake)? And so on and so forth. At one point she asked me something (I don't even remember what) and part of my answer was that I hate VE's and I absolutely will not allow them during labor/birthing. AT ALL. Her response was, "Oh. Well I guess it's lucky that you have short labors, then."

Um...what? And now, we get down the crux of the issue and the reason why I don't use them at all for birthing. Don't get me wrong, I love this practice, I've recommended it to many women and their online review got 4 glowing stars from me. HOWEVER, the practice is affiliated with a major hospital down here and there are SO MANY bull-shit things they "have" to do as part of that affiliation. All of the midwives are CNM's (and I have nothing against CNMs as a rule) and they tend to be more medically minded than I, personally, am comfortable with. Here is a young midwife, suggesting to me that it's a GOOD thing that I have short labors because I don't allow VE's. The implication being that if I DID have long labors, I would need an exam. PUHLEASE. There is only ONE time during labor that a cervical check is even appropriate, and that's IF IF IF labor is NOT progressing NORMALLY. Excuse all of my caps but the more I think about this, the more irritated it makes me.

I AM lucky I have short labors, but it's NOT because there wasn't anybody there to shove their fingers up my hoo-ha, breaking my concentration and causing me a lot of pain for NO GOOD REASON. It's because it means that labor didn't take all damn day!

Women of the world, partners of the women, please hear this and do a little digging to verify what I say: Cervical checks pre-labor and during labor are, 99% of the time, a complete and utter waste of time at best and at worst a triggering, awful experience that can quickly spiral a happily laboring woman right down into the pit of despair. THEY DO NOT TELL YOU ANYTHING YOU CAN'T FIND OUT JUST BY LOOKING AT OR ASKING THE WOMAN IN LABOR.

A little known fact by lay-people (and apparently, by medicos, as well) is that how dilated a woman is at any given point is absolutely NO indication of how "well" she is doing OR when he baby is going to come out! The MYTH that the average woman dilates a centimeter an hour is LABOR MATH. It means NOTHING. It is a) a lie and b) completely false. Oh wait, that's the same thing, isn't it? SOME women dilate at that rate. Some women get halfway there before even starting labor. Still more women get halfway there in 24hrs and THEN go from 4/5 cms to birthing in an hour! The midwife and mother knowing how dilated mom is doesn't DO anything except set up expectations that her body has no need or reason to honor!

I could rant about this all day. Instead I will give you a link to a MUCH better written article about it, by someone more qualified than myself (a practicing midwife): EXCELLENT POST, I might add, and a HEARTY "Huzzah!".

Another thing. I am a survivor of molestation. In my case, a family member made medical pretenses for needing to stick his fingers into my vagina on many occasions so I have completely valid and utterly unrelated reasons for despising vaginal exams, particularly when I'm doing something as intimate and PRIVATE as giving birth. I know that I am not alone in this, that birth tends to bring to the surface abuse issues anyway. Women, you do not have to put up with this. There is literally no reason to ruin such a triumphant experience with a procedure that makes you uncomfortable. Believe me, the baby is coming out. If the midwife really wants to know what is going on, she should either pay attention to what you are doing or she can ask you because YOU will know when that heads starts coming down. Trust me on that one, lol. There isn't any mistaking it. OH LOOK something the size of a watermelon is coming out of my vag! I think the baby's coming! Quick, stick a finger up there and verify it for me, ok? *snort* Please.

When I had my first (with same practice, different midwife) I didn't know ANY of this. I mean, I knew a lot about natural birth. I just had no idea that VE's would HURT and that they would piss me off. I had a fabulous birth experience with my first except that the thing that stands out in my memory is NOT labor pain (and that was pitocen augmented, I might add). It was the pain of having the Midwife "give me a stretch" to help me finish dilating because I was pushing! That hurt possibly more than anything I've ever experienced (and I've got a broken bone and an infected tooth nerve on my list, here!) and there was NO REASON FOR IT. I knew that much, anyway. You can't tell me I have a "lip" that needs to be pushed aside when I've been in transition for less than 20 minutes, lady, I did my homework.

I guess I'm just still flabbergasted that there are MIDWIVES out there that don't REALLY trust birth. I mean, I know it, I read lots of blogs by midwives, but my personal experience with them is minimal and the midwife that almost attended my son's birth (she missed it by mere minutes!) just wasn't like that. At all. I said no VE's she said "Great, I don't like them myself". RIGHT ON. Useless and invasive, is what they are, not helpful. I want a midwife that respects me enough to expect me to know my body as a rule, not as the exception. I want a midwife that expects me to know what I'm doing, not to have to "teach" me everything. I certainly don't want a midwife telling me what I HAVE to do while I'm in labor or that I'm "lucky" I didn't NEED some useless intervention.

I guess, in the end, I'm LUCKY that I trust myself well enough to know what I don't want and to stick with it. Though, truthfully, "luck" has nothing to do with it. Hard work, determination and respect for myself are more like it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Great Debate Spirals Down into Whining...

I don't know why this happens but it seems like in any given week, there is a topic theme that's repeated over and over again across the blogs I read. I think what happens is that many of my friends read blogs similar to theirs and so on and so forth so people tend to "discuss" the same things as they are inspired by their reading material. Last night I came across many breastfeeding related posts on Facebook while battling insomnia (yay for not sleeping!).

While perusing Woman Uncensored's Facebook, I followed a link over to SquishyBumMum's Facebook to read a really good quote that started a lovely debate (of course) that spanned 78 comments!

The quote was this: "When we trust the makers of baby formula more than we do our own ability to nourish our babies, we lose a chance to claim an aspect of our power as women. Thinking that baby formula is as good as breastmilk is believing that thirty years of technology is superior to three million years of nature's evolution."
~ Christine Northrup M.D.

Then a comment that basically read, "But women shouldn't be made to feel inferior for not breastfeeding" and many that said "but someone women can't breastfeed" and still more that suggested that telling the TRUTH (oh, suggesting that we give up our power when we believe that formula is as good or superior to breastmilk) is making women feel attacked or inferior.

It goes on and I saw a lot of good points made.

Before I get started on my little rant, allow me to remind my readers that my son, 6mo old on Wednesday of next week, is formula fed, 100%. So believe me when I say that I "get" where these women are coming from. The reasons why he's formula fed aren't really relevant to this discussion but if anyone wants to know, just ask I'm happy to share (and no, it's not because I'm lazy, uneducated or believe formula is "Just as good or superior").

I am a STAUNCH supporter of breastfeeding and I will always be so. As a formula feeder, now, I am STILL a militant breastfeeder at heart. I believe this attitude is paramount to normalizing breastfeeding in our society and I will shout "breast is best" from the rooftops until the day I die. I feel very passionately about this issue so don't any of you think otherwise, mkay?

Anyway, to go on. So the whining started early and I say whining for a reason. Nowhere in that quote is anyone suggesting that women that breastfeed are superior mothers to those who don't. Nowhere does it suggest that people who choose to formula feed are...well, anything! It simply states that believing formula is better than breastmilk has further implications than just being misinformed. It's not a judgmental statement on anyone's character at all. It's just a statement of fact. So the people who read that and MUST project their own feelings of insecurity into the discussion as if they were attacked are WHINING. Yes, I just made a judgement.

The reality is that yes, many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons and as a formula feeding mother I get very tired of the 2% of all women statistic. It's true that only 2-3% of the world's women are physically incapable of breastfeeding, I don't argue it. I'm just sick of seeing that statistic thrown out willy-nilly. And don't tell me it's not used in a subtle "I bet you really could have if you tried" kind of way because I KNOW it is because I've been reading Mommy blogs n Mommy groups for YEARS (and I'll tell you that particularly when I was a new mommy to my first baby, I was happily tossing that statistic out in flame-wars, myself). Now, 2-3% doesn't sound like much, I admit. However, if you take the approx number of women in the world in 2007 and multiply it by .02, you get a grand total of 65,836,100 who will, in theory, be physically incapable of breastfeeding due to a defect of some kind or disease or you know, breasts that don't work. That is actually a LOT of people so chances are good, that some of these people we throw that statistic at actually ARE among the "very rare" women who literally CAN'T breastfeed. But that isn't really my issue with that statistic, though I think seeing the numbers like that may help breastfeeding supporters be more compassionate and less likely to just blow hurting women off. I think it is vital we approach this issue with tact and LOVE because many women are truly hurting or suffering from the inner fear that they ARE inferior! No, my problem with that statistic is it only covers a fraction of the reasons why women don't breastfeed. It does not, for example, touch women with serious medical conditions that need to be medicated (like women with severe Bipolar Disorder or certain diseases/auto immune disorders/congenital problems) in order to be functional women in society. Many of the medications these women need to take are not SAFE to feed their babies via the breast. I know some of these women, they are EXCELLENT mothers so don't you DARE suggest they just shouldn't have children, then. It doesn't cover situations like my own, where it's not the mother that is unable to breastfeed, it's the BABY. And sadly, it doesn't touch on the women my heart actually goes out to the most: women who cannot because they HAVE to work and pumping isn't working for them, or don't have the support networks they NEED in the workplace to breastfeed and work. My heart sings for them the loudest because THAT problem is fixable, rampant, and counts for FAR more FF mothers than we like to hear. So I get tired of hearing that because women that then stomp off in a huff because their feelings are hurt in many cases are just plain being dismissed and that's not fair.

However, back to my original point. The problem I have with the WHINING is that stating that facts does NOT mean you're inferior for choosing to formula feed!!!! It could very well be that you were misinformed. OR it could be that you have a damn good reason. There are MANY reasons why mothers choose to formula feed and if YOU choose not to for ANY REASON AT ALL, own it. Stop acting like information meant to inform and empower you is an attack. Believe me, there are staunch supporters for breastfeeding like myself running around with formula in their diaper bags. It's not about making women FEEL BAD. It's about empowering women to make informed choices. It's about empowering women to be confident mothers who know what is BEST for their babies all around. It's about spreading the INFORMATION that breastmilk is far, far superior for the health and well-being of our babies AND ourselves!

I formula feed and I'm not ashamed of it. I also breastfeed and I will tell you that my first thought upon reading that quote was "DAMN STRAIGHT, tell it like it is!". I don't feel inferior or looked down upon and there is NO reason why any women SHOULD just from reading that or any other pro-breastfeeding information. If any of my readers feels badly because they ff, you need to sit down and feel out the reasons WHY.

Do you feel badly because your breasts don't work? If so please, please be kind to yourself, it's NOT your fault and nobody with any sense is going to tell you it is. We understand, you're an awesome mom and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Is it because you just couldn't make pumping work? If so, I know MANY women, including myself, in that situation and my heart goes out to you. It's NOT as easy as some make it sound and you did your best. The FACTS are that the "breastpump" in general was designed by a dairy farmer (male) and an engineer (male) and they based it around how to get milk out of a COW. I don't know if any of you have noticed, but we're NOT COWS. So yeah, MANY women find the pumps of today "udderly" inadequate for keeping up a supply :P. Again, be kind to yourself, let it go, love yourself. It's ok. Cuddle your child while feed him/her and smile because you are STILL a fantastic mother and NOBODY thinks otherwise.

Is it because you honestly didn't try hard enough? Ok, so you didn't try hard enough! Listen, nobody is perfect! We all make mistakes! The problem comes in when we don't learn from them. It doesn't make you an inferior mother but projecting that feeling of insecurity on people trying to HELP other women NOT make that mistakes DOES make you a whiner! Sorry for saying so, but I don't do unicorn farts, ok? You're still a great mom! Now you simply have an opportunity to be a greater person, in a way, because NOW you have the power to go out and share what you have LEARNED from that and empower other women to do the same! Furthermore, should you be blessed with other children, you have the power to make different choices based on the knowledge someone risked offending you by posting an "inflammatory" quote.

And what about those of you that had such difficult time, were in SO much pain, sick, etc etc? Honey, you do what you have to do and own it in the process. If you still feel you made the best decision, all things in your life considered, that's on you and nobody can take that from you unless you LET them. The only thing I would say to you is that you that it might be a good idea, when you are ready, to see what could have been done differently. Find out the WHYs of your problem. Sometimes just knowing that you did all you could is enough. Sometimes finding out that the problem could have been surmountable if x, y or z were in place is healing in it's own right (I know it was for my mother!). It is also a positive thing for your daughters and your sister women. They don't need to hear "but breastfeeders think I'm inferior". What they need to hear is "my situation sucked here's what I did...and here's what I learned through it".

Are you upset because you have some living situation/working situation that pretty much made breastfeeding impossible and you will mourn it forever? Honey, you are not alone! Instead of being offended, please, PLEASE speak OUT about how angry and hurt you are over this issue. Our society BENEFITS from hearing your righteous outrage over how your right as a mother and your child's right as a person was denied you because of a completely un-supportive system. Here you are, doing your best to raise your kids and you just CAN'T do what is in your heart because there are so many walls in your way! Raise awareness, nod your head and get out there and make yourself heard! These quotes aren't meant to piss you off, they are meant to inspire you, meant to empower you and meant to make you know that you are NOT alone with your inner wisdom. You were RIGHT.

So, to round up my post (and if you've stuck with me so far, brownie points to you!): Someone made a comment in the post that I heartily agree with, both as a lactivist AND formula feeder. Mothers need to work together and support each other. Formula feeders, if your friends are lactivists, that is a GOOD THING. It's not a personal attack on you, after all, they are your FRIENDS. I'm sure how you feed your baby is not the ONLY criteria that made your friendship to start with (and if it is, there is a problem, lol).

Lactivists, for heaven's sake, please take a minute and think about how you present things to you readers/friends. If someone is telling you that they are hurt, take a minute and think before flying off the cuff with statistics or ranting. Think to yourself, "What's her story?" ASK HER. Talk to her. It is my belief that really hearing your sisters and supporting them, even if it means gently telling them they could have done this or that and maybe had success, is THE pivotal point of lactivism. The reality is that we are NOT going to stop big business. What we CAN affect is the consumers. They are our sisters, our neighbors and our daughters. Be compassionate. LISTEN. Choose your words with care. Someone who is even participating in the discussion has an interest, try no to chase her away by being unwittingly callous in your enthusiasm. I speak from experience, I've hurt people unintentionally, I've sent people packing. It's NOT effective.

Mothers, keep up the good work! ALL of you!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Following a chain of threads got me thinking...

Jill at Keyboard Revolutionary posted links to a chain of posts and threads inspired by AtYourCervix. The discussion started around the film The Business of Being Born when someone, predictably, stated that some women are being selfish when worrying about their experience during childbirth. Her contention was the the most important thing is a healthy baby and the original commenter was NOT saying that the experience isn't important, just that she felt some people got carried away with it. Reading Jill's response got me thinking, though. Generally, I agree with her pov, except I would take it even further. It IS possible (and exceedingly relevant) for women to have a safe birth AND a good experience. The two things do NOT need to be mutually exclusive, regardless of the situation. Even if she needs interventions, they can be done in a compassionate, inclusive way that doesn't alienate her or further terrify her. There is NO good reason why every effort shouldn't be made to protect the experience, imo, and here's why: When a baby is born, so is a mother and subsequently a family. It's a thought I touched on in my last post. One of the people Jill links to speaks about the fact that the experience of the birth, good or bad, will be carried with that woman to her grave. It goes even further, it will be shared with her children, her friends and random people who ask or she chooses to relate the experience to. Her perceptions of that reality will shape the perceptions, even if just in subtle ways, of everyone who hears her tale. More importantly, though, how her birth was experienced has a DIRECT affect on her perception of herself as a mother. When we harm women during their birth experience, facilitate trauma or invalidate her NEED for the "experience" we are affecting society at large, one birth at a time. It's NOT a good affect!

So I would take the sentiment further and argue that the experience is AS important as the birth of a healthy, thriving baby. I feel that the obstetrical community at large needs to get away from the "in this moment" mentality. The birth of a human being has consequences that FAR exceed the delivery room. Obviously, in the moment, the thing at the forefront of everyone's mind (including the "selfish" mother) is the safety and well-being of the baby. In fact, the vast majority of women who choose natural birth do so because they understand how important it is to the SAFETY of her baby and herself. The fact that even needs to be said is a testament how far we've come from even basic RESPECT of mothers.

I do not think that a woman who is interested in protecting herself as well as her baby is foolish, naive OR selfish. She is, rather, wise and thinking ahead, beyond the moment. Protecting her emotional and mental health is equally important to her physical well-being and has enormous impact on the emotional and mental health and safety of her children as well. This is to say nothing at all about the enormous benefit to the baby's physical health. The beautiful thing about birth as nature intends it is that it protects the safety and well being of the mother/child unit from conception and beyond, into the many years they will spend nurturing and teaching each other. To suggest that protecting the experience is selfish, foolish or naive is at best, naivety expressed to a "T" and at worst, derisive, arrogant rhetoric meant to skirt the issues at hand. It's an EXCUSE that has no basis in reality whatsoever.

Just saying.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Be A Midwife?

Hello, I’m Rebekah, aspiring midwife. I’ve been forced, yet again, to evaluate if, in fact, midwifery is really what I want to do. The answer is a resounding yes, yes OH YES!

Why? What is it about the birth world that fascinates me so? Why is it that nearly every time I see a birth (usually on youtube) that moment of birth just takes my breath away? Why, after watching probably a thousand videos do I still tear up? Why is it that deep in my soul, I feel like empowered childbirth is SO SO IMPORTANT? Why do I feel like I MUST facilitate this in any way that I can?

There are probably a lot of reasons but the thing that gets to me the most is because birth, in a way, is the heartbeat of society; of ALL societies. When a child is born into the world, a new mother is born and with her, a new father, a newly defined family. That newly defined family changes the community they live in and so, with the birth of that new child, a new community is born. And so on and so forth until you’ve expanded that reasoning out to a whole new world being re-born every couple of minutes! I mean, you can’t HAVE a society without birth. It just makes sense to me to acknowledge that how birth is viewed and handled has an enormous impact on society, recognized by most people or not!

Birth is the very stuff of life. I believe that when birth happens under duress and in a fearful, imprisoning environement, it has ripples of impact that just keep spreading out until it touches everything. When birth is celebratory and a rite of passage experience, the mother that is born that day has the potential to be more confident and empowered as a mother. And confident mothers inspire confident fathers and the two, in turn, inspire confident children. I don’t think birthing is an issue just for women. HELL NO. Are you a person? Were you born? Are you likely to procreate? Any plans on living in a society where people are born and procreate and are raised up by other people that were born? It impacts us all, quietly and often unspoken of.

Birth is like a giant bloody mystery in our culture. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve met over the past couple of years that know literally NOTHING about childbirth until they get pregnant and even then, something like 80% of them will walk into the delivery room with “What to Expect…” being the only thing they’ve ever read about birth. A crappy hospital “do what the doctor says” course, masquerading as a chilbirth prep class will be the most information they’ve heard in their entire lives about birth. Fathers tend to be even LESS prepared!

It seems to me that in cultures where the birth itself is celebrated as a rite of passage and a time of great joy and anticipation, the women grow up hearing about it, celebrating it, looking forward to it and preparing for it. Fathers in these cultures tend to view birthing as a woman’s domain and don’t get involved. It’s not callousness, it’s an innate trust in their women to do what they were created to do, without their inerference. I don’t know if they have the same deep-seeded fear that our culture’s men do. I find it unlikely. For them and their women, it’s a thing of quiet, intense pride, bearing a child (or at least, that’s the impression I get). In our culture it’s the BIG SCARY THING that we have to endure if we want children. Fear permiates the air of most discussions involving childbirth, though I think most peope don’t even realize it. Most of the stories I heard growing up (though not all!) involved terror, trauma and relief that someone saved the baby or mom’s life. My own mother has 3 awful stories to tell, out of 4 births. She is, to this day, so poorly educated about how birth works and so deeply mistrustful of her own body that she still believes the complete nonsense they told her when they justified an episiotomy by suggesting she doesn’t DILATE FAR ENOUGH. If you don’t know why that’s a pile of horse-shit, you are in desperate need of a basic education about your body and what it does when it’s birthing. My mother isn’t stupid nor is she generally an under-educated person. She is, however, a perfect example of a society that shrouds it’s births in mystery and fear and promotes the pervasive notion that our bodies are defective and need to be delivered of our children. This notion is destructive to society at large because it’s implications impact and reach farther into our lives as a whole than just our birthing-days. It undermines our trust in ourselves in general which leads to a whole host of insecurities that touch everyone we interract with.

My hope in being a midwife is to help women to re-discover their own unique power and inner voice and in doing that, she spreads those positive ripples out from where she stands, having a positive impact on the lives of those around her. I suppose every person that enters into the healing field has a little bit of a hero complex; that inner drive to help or “save” people. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t exist within me. That said, my goals in becoming a midwife are not to “save women” or to save the lives of their children. I don’t see myself becoming any woman’s personal savior. I think if that’s a persons’s goal in going into midwifery, they are entering into the wrong profession. The Hero complex to that degree doesn’t belong in the birthing room. It’s not about my ego. Rather, for me, it’s about trying to do my part to help heal a hurting society by reaching out to the women in my community and fascilitating them to heal themselves. To me that’s what midwifery is all about; serving and nurturing a community. It’s NOT about catching babies (though what an honor if that’s the mother’s wishes, yes?). No, it’s about nurting our families, about being a shoulder, an ear, a helping hand. It’s about service and THAT is what I want. I think the reality is that I will learn more from the families that come into my lives doing this than any of them will ever learn from me. I truly hope so.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Co-sleeping is bad and will kill your marriage!!!

Chris, over at The Man-Nurse Diaries, Jill of Keyboard Revolutionary, and Woman: Uncensored (who's name I don't know as I only just started reading her) have all written excellent pieces about co-sleeping and how it affects their marriage.

I think they all made excellent points and of course, I wanted to add my two cents!

I'm gonna be honest, here: I co-slept because I'm lazy. It's that simple. I did my research, I learned that the idea that co-sleeping is dangerous is outdated nonsense that doesn't make any sense, nor does the previously touted "data" match up with any of the data from around the world where co-sleeping is the norm. Am I saying accidents don't happen anywhere in the world but the US? No. That said, most of the tragedies that occur from co-sleeping here in the states occur in circumstances that most co-sleepers either wouldn't consider co-sleeping (passing out drunk on the couch with a newborn babe in arms? Not co-sleeping) OR involve someone who is drunk or abusing drugs. Parents have naturally built in "alarms" that alert them to just about everything their baby does while they're sleeping, UNLESS they are knocked out artificially. So rolling over on your baby while you are sleeping in a natural state is HIGHLY unlikely.

In fact, it was something I worried about when my first was born and I remember clearly the night I quit worrying about it. My baby was maybe a week old, tops. She was sleeping securely, next to me, for the first time between my husband and I (we had a king-sized bed at the time). Her little face was maybe four inches away from my own as I liked to mover her up near my head so I could hear her breathing and so that there was NO possible way our covers could get anywhere near her face (in fact, she was so tiny and so high on the bed, they never touched her at all). I was sleeping the sleep that only an exhausted new mother can sleep- dead to the world, when suddenly, I snapped awake and caught my husband's descending shoulder before he rolled on her. Just the fact he touched flesh caused him to stop mid-roll and go the other way. He never woke up, I didn't hit him hard or shove him, I just put my hand out and he touched me and rolled the other way. I have no idea what woke me to the fact he was rolling over. I just knew. I can't explain why, after 5 years of marriage and him nudging me in my sleep THIS time he just went the other way other than to say that well, there was a baby in the bed and even in his sleep, he knew it. Five years and two more kids later, there has NEVER been an incident where someone rolled over on a kid or a kid fell off the bed OR into a crack or any of that nonsense. There are some basic, common-sense precautions that should be taken (and we took them) but for the most part, we are designed to sleep-share. I'm not going to post all the different links to reputable sources that back up my opinions as, if you're reading my blog, you probably know them all anyway and if you are not a regular reader and don't know what I'm talking about, it's easily Googled.

There are lots of benefits to co-sleeping but I think my personal favorite is the SLEEPING part. Currently I have a bottle-fed infant that I rarely bring to my bed (situational reasons) and let me tell you, it's SO MUCH HARDER to get good rest this way. UGH. I remember people used to tease me about the whole "new parent zombie" thing and while sometimes it was true, most of the time, I got a decent amount of sleep. Until now, that is. NOW I have an infant that sleeps in a crib three inches from my face but there is no more "stick a boobie in his mouth and go back to sleep" for me. I hate it, lol. I can easily say, from experience, that breast-feeding, co-sleeping Moms get more sleep. My husband will tell you that father's with breast-feeding co-sleeping infants get more sleep, too!

Oh but what about bonding time for Mom and Dad? What about the completely ridiculous concern of Mom being selfish and unfair to dad by bringing a baby into the sex-place (bed). *snort* PLEASE. I like sex, you think I'm going to let a little thing like a baby in the bed keep that from happening!??! Take a good look at the world's population sats and compare them to the data on co-sleeping around the world and TELL ME that parent's who co-sleep can't get sex time in. HAHAHAHA. Right.

Chris quoted someone in his post that covered the issue of bonding between parents who co-sleep and I loved what she had to say. The reality is that bonding between two grown-ups happens around the BIG things in life ANYWAY. I fall in love all over again every time I see my husband playing dolls with my daughters or whenever I peek in and I see him with a kid in his lap, trying to do his school-work. Some of my favorite memories with him involve sleepy, midnight conversation over the soft head of a nursing baby. Sure, we go on dates. Those are stress relief, usually, not bonding time. Bonding happened when I birthed two children into his hands. Bonding time happened when we rushed our first baby to the ER when she had a high fever. In fact over the last five years, some of our most intense moments together have involved the tiny voices of our children ringing in our ears.

I'm not saying sex isn't one of the things that keeps a marriage "well-bonded". What I'm saying is that if that's the only thing that's keeping your marriage strong and healthy, there is a serious problem. Kids are cock-blockers, it's a fact. That has nothing to do with where they sleep (or don't, as the case may be. I can't be the only parent on the planet with kids that think 2am is party-time.).

Oh and one more thing. I think the most commonly touted nonsense I hear from people is the idea that if you co-sleep, it takes forever to get the kid out of your bed. I would just like to point out that I've never met a college age person whose parents allowed them to sleep share that was still in their parent's bed. At some point in every human being's life, the need to be independent surfaces. It's different for every child. My first, for example (she's five), would still sleep in our bed, every night, if there was room. There isn't so she sleeps with her sister, who is two and moved out of our bed at a year because for some reason, she didn't like co-sleeping at all (though she LOVES sleeping with her sister and refuses to sleep anywhere else).

Some parents will never be comfortable with co-sleeping and that's ok. But I don't think we need to continue to perpetuate the myth that all co-sleeping is dangerous, selfish or crazy. It's not going to ruin our marriages OR spoil our children. There is even some evidence (that bears more research) that indicates it might even save the lives of some babies. Go-figure, an ancient practice from the dawn of time is a good thing? Hmmmm.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Random Rant About Societies "Don't become a parent" message to young people

First off, let me just emphasize that I'm not promoting teen pregnancy or suggesting that people who aren't ready throw caution to the wind and become a parent. It's sad I even have to put that in here but there it is.

That said, what the HELL is up with this idea that having children will ruin your life?! I see billboards all the time, meant to "scare" teens into having safe sex. The most annoying ones suggest that your life will be OVER if you have a baby or get a girl pregnant. "A baby costs $745/mo How much is YOUR allowance?" I won't even get into the consumerist garbage that makes a baby cost that much (like, hey, breastfeed your kid and consider using cloth diapers and shop Good-will or just trade clothes with a few other parents and suddenly your baby is practically free on a week to week basis, for the better part of a year!).

I get that teen pregnancy is a problem because the children being born potentially will suffer. I understand that. I just don't think LYING to our young people is how we solve the problem! Why do we do this?

For one thing, telling today's teenagers that having a baby will ruin their life is subliminally suggesting that THEY were the ruination of their parent's lives. Great confidence booster, guys, really. "Hey, you were a big giant mistake yourself so don't make any more of them!" Way to raise confident, productive members of society. Great way to insure that IF they do become parents, they are competent at it. Let's just start them off with the idea that their kids are an example of what fuck-ups they are! The common approach to parenting small children today is to shy away from SHAMING and yet we have that as our first line of defense against teen pregnancy? How does that make any sense? I don't understand how brainwashing our young adults into being ashamed of their bodies and their children is preventing them having sex? Because guess what, it's not working! Instead what we have is angry, resentful, scared shitless teenagers without any frigging clue what they are supposed to do with their little, shameful "mistakes".

Why not just stick with the TRUTH?

The truth is that having a baby, regardless of how old you are or what kind of financial straights you are in, WILL change every aspect of your life in ways you can't even comprehend until you are a parent. This is true for EVERYONE, not just irresponsible teenagers.

Being a good, stable, loving parent has very little to do with how old you are. It has to do with how selfless you can be, how responsible you can be and how well you understand the responsibility you have. I have known some very young mothers that make their "older, respectable" counterparts look like complete idiots when it comes to parenting.

What is being a parent really like? What is the truth about having a baby?

Being a good parent is the hardest thing you'll ever do. At first, every tiny seemingly insignificant need of that child is met by you and only you. Baby needs to fart? Your problem. Baby needs to eat? You feed it. Baby needs a bath? Your bathing it. YOU need a bath/pee/meal? Well, it will have to wait because baby is hungry/crying/teething whatever. That's not to scare you away, it's just the truth for EVERY SINGLE PARENT ON PLANET EARTH.

You will cry, rage, and feel like you're suffocating. You will miss countless parties due to fevers, sickness, diarrhea and just plain exhaustion. People will stop inviting you places because you have kids and it's complicated. You will loose friends and gain others. You won't look at anything the same way ever again. You children will fill your life up with so much wonder and joy you won't be able to contain it sometimes and THOSE tears are the best. The first time your baby visibly snuggles you, those first slobbery kisses, the first steps, the first, "I love you, too", all of those thing make every headache, every sleepless night (and there will be MANY) 100% worth it.

Did becoming a mother ruin my life? No. I had children before I should have, that's a fact. My life isn't ruined and I don't regret my children. I'm only sorry that I can't provide for them right now the way I think they deserve and that is a HUGE BIG THING. Trust me, when your little child looks at you with tears in their eyes because all their friends are doing something and they can't go because you can't afford it because you made some foolish decisions, it really hits home how everything you do affects your dependents. THAT is the truth. My life is richer, more full and at times, blissfully happy BECAUSE I have children. Far, far from ruined. But every. single. day I think about the fact that they could have what they deserve if I'd been more careful, more responsible. It's just the truth.

I believe that teenagers can be capable parents if we would just stop treating them like socieites parasites and treat them like adults. You want responsible 16yr olds? Quit insisting they are CHILDREN and expect them to act like adults. Yeah, they're young. They'll make mistakes. They lack life experience, that sort of thing. GIVE IT TO THEM. 16 yrs old doesn't make you stupid or incapable of learning the simple facts of life. Nature didn't make a mistake by allowing us to be fertile so young. Society, however, has made a mistake in forcing young men and women to stay children until their practically 20yrs old and the expecting them to suddenly have it all figured out as they leave college. HA. It's not working, people!

I hear some of the most vicious campaign-style messages to teenagers about pregnancy from the pro-life, anti-abortion movement. Ok, great, you're anti abortion and you want teens to quit doing that so you figure keep them from getting pregnant and you've fixed the problem. So we LIE TO THEM to keep that from happening except that teenagers are not any more stupid than any body else so it doesn't WORK.

Why not tell them the truth? You want to reduce abortions? Try actually supporting our young people. Oh, you're having a baby and you're only 16 and you're scared shitless? Let me HELP you. Congratulations, you're in for a wild ride. Being scared is good, it means you're human, lol. We are ALL scared shitless when we discover we are carrying our first babies! This teen mom and that one are perfectly capable if we don't SHAME them. Don't be ashamed of your pregnancy, you made a choice, this is the result, OWN IT. Now, let's see about helping you know what you're getting yourself into. Let's NOT insist you're a fuckup. Let's not insist your life is over. Instead, ok, the journey has begun. Let's give these women and young men the tools they need to succeed!

Educate them. Talk to them straight. Be fucking HONEST. Babies will not RUIN your life. They will transform it AND you. Are you ready for that? NO? Ok, that's fine, too. Here's how to prevent it. And while I'm on the subject of birth control, people, GET A CLUE. You can't be anti-abortion, anti-teen pregnancy AND anti-birth control! It's ridiculous thinking. People HAVE SEX. Get over it! It's what people do and no matter how hard you try to convince young people to wait wait wait, there are always going to be peopel that don't, can't, whatever. It's naive and STUPID to insist we convert the world to believe it's wrong to have sex before marriage. It's NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. Let's be realistic. Girls, if you're having sex and you aren't ready for the above described journey, reevaluate. Sex equals babies, that's what it's FOR. IF you aren't ready for babies, you aren't ready for sex. If for some reason, you can't dig that, USE BIRTH CONTROL. And don't let anyone tell you it's WRONG. Because those same jerks are going to then look down on you for having a freaking baby because you weren't using protection!

How many teen mothers would have an abortion if they weren't scared shitless that they'd loose their homes, ruin their lives and loose respect? Hmmmm??? The messages we are sending out are all counter-productive and worse than that, they are often in contradiction to each other!

So, sum-up. Having kids before you are ready to do so WILL have life-long implications for you and your children. It will NOT ruin your life, though. It WILL change it irrevocably. Stop telling our children that they were a mistake by telling them that babies ruin their lives. START telling our children that they are strong, capable, smart and that you believe in them. When they make a decision that lands them in trouble, support them. You want to stop abortions? Quit making it nearly impossible for a teen parent to get help. Quit scaring them away. Stop telling them they are dirty, gross, sinful, stupid, shameful, or self-destructive. Empower them by telling them the truth. And yeah, some of them are still going to be irresponsible. Duh, no matter what, the "poor" (and by this I mean selfish and irresponsible) will always be with us, regardless of age! But start empowering them and god forbid, respecting them, from a young age and see if they don't run with it!