Tuesday, February 21, 2012

pro-choice or pro-life?

Where is a granola mom to stand?

Pro-choice: Granola moms value the empowerment of women everywhere. I would imagine that we are supposed to support a woman's right to make choices about her body. We also support a woman being in charge of her health and body.

Pro-life: Granola moms revere all things motherhood and value being a strong and loving mother above most other things. I would imagine that the thought of a woman killing her unborn baby would make our stomach's turn.

Even without the "granola" lens, I struggle with this issue. Politically, I typically fall somewhere between a Democrat and a good old-fashioned liberal. (I support gay marriage!) However, I am forever torn on this issue.

Deep in my heart, it just feels instinctually wrong. It seems unnatural for a woman to voluntarily solicit and pay for the death of her fetus. I also believe that it just as psychologically detrimental for a woman to lose a baby as it is to keep it. Women I know who have had abortions continued to be haunted by their decisions. There just has to be a better way to support a woman in this situation than to throw up our hands and say "Just get rid of it and pretend it didn't happen!"

On the other hand, our government does so little to protect women and childre from sexual predators. There is no statute of limtation on murder but there IS on rape. It is so revealing about how we, as a society, value women. We also do very little to hunt down and punish men who are not financially supporting the children they have fathered. We can't very well tell women that they have to keep their babies but no one is going to help them. Women should at least have the right to protect themselves.

What do you all think?

A Love Letter to Drug-Free Birth Moms II

I know how it goes. The information slips out, because God knows you wouldn't dare actually volunteer the information - you're not planning on using an epidural, you have a birth plan, you're taking a Bradley class. How quickly the claws come out. Your own sex immediately views you as an outsider, a freak, an enemy.

My decision to have a drug-free birth came to me, quite literally, in the middle of the night. I had had insomnia and accidentally stumbled across a documentary called The Business of Being Born. Nobody had ever  recruited me to join some natural birth club. I wasn't trying to impress anyone. I just did research, had serious discussions with my husband, made a choice about what I thought was best for my as yet unborn baby. Other people seem to have this perception that I see myself as a warrior in the great hippie army of all things all-natural. Come on. We who have had a drug-free birth know the truth.

To illustrate how non-similar women can be who choose the natural birth route can be, allow me to illustrate my Bradley Method birth class. My husband and I, I guess, could be described as lower-middle class. We are both college graduates and own our own home but our student loan debt keeps us from having DVR or even cable. We were in our late 20s and total beer snobs. Another couple was deaf and in their mid-30s. They were both professionals, into healthy eating, and rowed for a crew team, which is how they met. The third couple was very young and unmarried. The pregnancy was not planned. They were pretty rock and roll. Their son's middle name is the name of an X-Men character. My point here is that natural child birth can be for ANYONE while most people seem to believe it is this one specific type of woman; a woman who thinks she is stronger and better than everyone else.

While pregnant, you are to abstain from/avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, drugs, soft cheeses, some fish, roots, OTC medications, etc. The list goes on and on. Why? Because everything you consume, whether inhaled, injected, or ingested, can affect your fetus. You are connected. The baby is part of your body. So it stands to reason that an epidural, one that has been dosed for an adult women, will have an effect on an unborn baby, who would require a fraction of that dose.

Americans will endure all kinds of pain for the right payoff. Just look at the popularity of that show "Fear Factor"! People get enormous tattoos, pierce their genitals, swim in sub-zero temperatures, run miles in extreme heat, compete in triathlons, etc. all because the "payoff" is deemed worthy. I know a wonderful woman who has asthma and only one working kidney who participates in a Warrior Dash every year. For me, a potential healthier baby is payoff enough.

Any woman I have met who has opted for a drug-free birth has done it for a different reason. One woman simply had an intense fear of needles and so she couldn't imagine any kind of a successful labor and delivery scenario that involved an epidural. There are so many reasons to consider a drug-free birth, not one better nor more admirable than another. My hat is off to anyone who studies, trains, and prepares for a drug-free birth regardless of their reason. In a culture where labor and delivery has become just another medical procedure, woman who choose to take charge of their children's births are to be commended.

Instead, we are treated with disdain and contempt. Other women, in particular, often shake their heads. Somehow, hearing about a birthing experience so different from their own immediately makes them defensive. Trust me when I tell you that however my labor and delivery went, it had nothing to do with you. It was not to prove you wrong or to prove anything to you. Women come at me as if I am peronally attacking them by having a drug-free birth. Why couldn't I just have a c-section like everybody else? Why do I have to stand out? Why do I have to be different? It's just so irritating somehow!

Here's what I am asking for. When you hear that a woman had a drug-free birth, don't recoil! Just accept it as any other difference, such as favorite color, politcal affiliation, or astrological sign. If it makes you want to roll your eyes, resist! Ask yourself, does she seem to be a good mother now? Does she seem to be trying to make good decisions to raise her children to be healthy and productive members of society? Then that's all that matters! It doesn't mean she is a hippie or that she's going to try to recruit you to the "drug-free ways". I am begging you, as a fellow mother and a fellow woman. Just accept my labor and delivery choice as I have accepted yours. It will only make us all stronger!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Take charge of your labor and delivery!

Here is another sad article about how women today are not taking the nine months they have to get educated about the birth of their babies! We waste thousands of hours on Facebook and Pinterest but can't be bothered to get interested in what's going on in your own bodies to your own babies? Please reconsider!

Brio Birth Education article

A Love Letter to Drug-Free Birth Moms

I recently read A Love Letter to C Section Moms on Facebook. *insert collective swoon here* It was followed by about a bazillion comments by moms who had c-sections and their proud supporters. I could not help but say my piece about this.

First and foremost, this "letter" seems unwarranted because since when are women who have c-sections the underdogs? Think about how many you have known that have given birth in the past 2 years. Now calculate the percentage of them that were born via c-section. It's not exactly taboo. The United States is boasting a 33% and rising national c-section birthrate. Are you kidding me? We are certainly not ostracizing women who have had c-sections. On the contrary, we are all too frequently encouraging women to have c-sections!

Second, I don't know anyone who regrets having a c-section. The doctors and nurses all stand around you telling you that there is no other way. You feel like you are a bad mother and putting your baby in danger if you do not opt for a c-section. Once the baby is born via c-section, the medical staff tell you all of the horrible ways you or the baby would have died if you had attempted a vaginal birth. You leave there feeling relieved and satisfied with your decision.

I am not a c-section Nazi. Of course, I realize that there are situations where c-sections save the lives of both mom and baby. A very dear friend of mine had a baby whose skull had fused in utero so obviously, a vaginal birth was not possible for her! I am not delusional. I want as many healthy babies and mamas as possible! I just don't believe that c-sections are as necessary an avenue to that end as doctors want us to believe. That's all.

Third, women need to take more responsibility in educating themselves about labor and delivery so that they are armed with the ability to make informed decisions when the time comes. Maybe they could avoid some of that c-section regret that way. Some women do do the research and make a plan and, quite frankly, I think we are in much greater need of a love letter. When people hear that I had a drug-free birth, I wish they would just say "Oh". Instead, they immediately get defensive. They roll their eyes, their mouths drop open, and their eyes bulge. Here are the million reasons they could NEVER do that! Why would I ever do that? Am I crazy? Do I have something to prove? Except that they never actually want any answers to those questions or have any kind of educated discussion on the matter. I would LOVE a love letter. My decisions to have a natural birth had everything to do with the health and well-being of my baby and nothing else...just like your decision to have the c-section you had to have.

Monday, February 13, 2012

circumcision

My perspective on most things is pretty black or white. Things are either right or wrong or, at the very least, worse or better. I can't help it, I'm human. Most other humans will not admit it, but I know they agree with me. What would we be fighting all of these wars for if we all really meant it when we said "Let's just agree to disagree." Come on! Circumcision, though, is one of the very few topics for which I allow a "gray area".

We have opted not to circumcise our son. At the same time, I pass no judgment on those who choose to circumcise. First of all, I have to respect the fact that circumcision is tied to ancient cultural and religious practices. Circumcision is not something that makes a parent's life easier, unlike a lot of decisions parents seem to be making these days. This is a decision parents make based on generations of tradition. I totally get that.

DH is circumcised. I come from a family of circumcised males. So why the bucking of tradition for us? Well, first, we are practicing Christians, so the religious tie isn't quite as intense as it is for Judaism and some branches of Islam. (Let's be honest, being "Christian" can mean A LOT of things these days, so rules are flexible.) I actually did speak to a trusted pastor and friend and he confirms that my son will not go to Hell if he is not circumcised. What a relief.

Maybe I am getting ahead of myself here. Actually, this kind of thing had never even crossed my mind during my first pregnancy. Then we found out I was carrying a girl, and what was the point of discussing it then? Fast forward a year and a half and I am now carrying a boy. A friend of mine, a mom who I would NEVER consider even the least bit granola, mentioned in passing that her son was not circumcised. It got me thinking and that lead to research. I consulted some other granola moms whom I respect. Once I made up my own opinion on the subject, I brought it up to DH.

Most research I found was pretty pro-circumcision. It seemed mostly applauded because of it's social popularity in the US. Although statistics seems to show that Americans have only a 50-50 chance of being circumcised (allowing for regional differences, of course), I find this so hard to believe. I only know a handful of uncircumcised men, not that I have been taking a poll. Take for example, a conversation I had almost a year ago with a girlfriend. She is extremely liberal in her political views and open-minded when it comes to "alternative lifestyles" (and no, I'm not just referring to the gays). In a voice layered with absolute disdain, she announces that a mutual friend has decided not to circumcise her future sons simply because her husband is not circumcised. She acted as if the decision was completely moronic. I didn't really know what to say because, again, I hadn't given much thought to the matter until a few months ago. It has simply been my experience that popular US opinion is that circumcision is the way to go.

Nevertheless, I can't personally shake the feeling that it is an unnecessary cosmetic surgery. I keep playing the scenario in my head and I can't stomach it. I give birth to him and hours later he is whisked away from me to have the skin of his penis cut off. Call me a wimp, but I just can't handle it. It seems to go against everything I believe in when it comes to parenting. And if you will indulge me to circle back to the religious factor, I have a hard time swallowing the idea that God made the human body "in His perfect image", except for the skin on the tip of the penis. Here's how God made you, but we can make you better. I don't get that.

DH was hesitant, at first, understandably. Most of the anxiety stemmed from a fear that his boy would be ridiculed in the locker room. My husband is like a slow cooker Sometimes, you just have to throw some ideas and/or information at him but you can NOT expect any kind of response right away or even in the very near future. Basically, I said my piece and then walked away. Well, okay, we did exchange a 15 minute question/answer session, but then it was done. I knew he just needed the time to think about it on his own. I cautiously brought it up about a month later and he very casually answered, "Oh yeah, I'm fine with that. I did some research." And that was the end of that. Score.

I feel like this has been more of a ramble than a solid op-ed piece. Let me at least leave you with some kid of words of wisdom or guidance or SOMETHING! If you are on the fence, all you can do is research the topic, discuss your concerns or questions with other moms or mentors whom you trust, and, ultimately, go with your gut. If you haven't given it any thought, I encourage you to. Watch a video of a circumcision. Contemplate how this experience will be for your son. Sure, he won't remember it after a while, but does that make it worth it? My son can always choose to get a circumcision later in life, should he decide in the future that he really hates his foreskin.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

babies in bikinis = toddlers in tiaras

baby in a rashguard swim suit by the side of a swimming pool, not a bikini

Is anyone else weirded out by babies in bikinis? I wouldn't consider myself a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but why does a baby need to be a two-piece bathing suit? It seems wrong to me.

DD has always warn a rashguard suit and a swim diaper (cloth, of course!). Babies' skin is delicate and I wanted to protect her from the sun. Even when we did indoor swim at the Y, I cdid not undersand why EVERYONE ELSE had their daughter in a skimpy swim suit. I guess I am missing the adorable factor here.

Women's bathing suits are cut in a way to flatter or enhance the natural curve of a grown woman's body. Why does a baby need triangle-shaped fabric over her nipples? She has no breasts to show off. She is still on her mother's breast! Or a one-piece suit with holes cut out on the sides - does she have hips to flaunt? Uh, no, she just has rolls. She's a baby.

I do understand that sometimes it is fun to dress little kids up in ways that normally adults do; like a 3-piece suit or a holiday dress for a special occasion, or people who style their kids' hair into mohawk (you know a 2-year-old did not ask for that!). I get it. It can be fun! But I feel like this falls in a different camp.
Maybe it's because I am a teacher, and I see very clearly where the oversexualization of young girls has taken us. Mothers of fourth graders let their daughters put on jewelery, lipstick, and fake nails. By sixth grade, they have dyed their hair, worn little high heels, and the most ridiculously short shorts I have ever seen. What is the point? Trust me when I telll you that our young girls are seeing themselves as women much younger than we would want them to. Take a look at teen pregnancy rates. They are not on the decline and neither are STDs. Go ahead, I'll wait...

I'm not making the claim that putting your baby in a two-piece swimsuit will automatically lead to your daughter becoming a slut. My point is that we can't ignore the possibility that this is effecting how girls see themselves and, for that matter, how our boys see them. They are not sexual beings and should not be displayed as if they are.

I can't help it. I don't think there is anything cute about a baby in a bikini-type swimsuit. They need protection from the sun. They need to be taught that swimming does not have to equate sexiness...at least, not until they are mature and responsible enough to make healthy sexual decisions.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why?

Lydia ia not even two and it is already happening. dun-dun-DUN!


DH informs me that he spent his first car ride with her that started with one question: "Whatcha doin', Daddy?", to which he replied "I'm driving the car.", and that was quickly followed by a lengthy series of "Why?"s that he was finally able to shut down at around number 7 or 8.


Oy vay! Toddlerhood, here we come!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

support WAHMs and mommy-run businesses!

another small victory at our house tonight...

We have a picky eater on our hands. I don't want to turn every meal into a battle but this is getting ridiculous!


When Lydia was an infant, oh man, she was a dream to feed! It was my goal to BF for a year, but it was not to be. Sadly, I went back to work when Lydia turned 5 months and despite a ridgid pumping routine, I was pretty dry by 9 months. We had to start supplementing with organic soy formula at 7 months. I was devastated. However, Lydia seemed happy to have a bottle and so, besides my supply running low, she might have self-weaned anyway. She was taking bottles all day at daycare and MIL's and it was hard to compete. Once again, I digress...


Starting solids was so fun! We knew that the ingredients label on jar baby food made our stomachs turn. We ordered 2 Annabel Karmel books: The Healthy Baby Meal Planner and Top 100 Baby Purees and made all of our own baby food. She ate EVERYTHING! It was so great to just be able to blend of up all the nutritious food we knew would benefit her development and she would wolf it down.


Fast forward a year and she has limited her menu down to about 10 foods - cereal, pasta, pizza, grilled cheese, peanut butter sandwich, any fruit, any flavor yogurt, applesauce, and SOMETIMES macaroni and cheese. Believe me, we have TRIED. We trick, we hide, we applaud, we beg, we manipulate, we bribe, we make dramatic theater productions about how delicious eating vegetables, bean, chicken, etc. really is...She quickly learned the sentence "I no like it!" *sigh*


So after all this complaining, get to the victory already! Okay, okay!


So tonight, Jeff made a delicious and simple hamburger soup. He cut up some bread and told her that he made her some dip, like guacamole (oh yeah, she eats guacamole, too, we recently learned). She, of course, wanted nothing but to just shove pieces of bread into her mouth, but Jeff persuaded her to try dipping. Lo and behold, she was interested! Before we knew it, she was eating the soup with her spoon. Cautiously, of course, and you could tell she wasn't sure if she like it or not, but she was trying! She ate a decent amount of it before she started singing "No no like it!"


We still celebrated! We went a night without making grilled cheese and she actually ate a meal WITH us! Maybe we're getting a hold of this parenting thing, after all...

Monday, February 6, 2012

One small victory at our house today...

Potty training SUCKS! Lydia has peed and pooped on the potty many times. She enjoys the cheering when she is successful. She claps and calls out "Good job, Lydia, peepee on the potty." She loves getting to pick out the stamp she gets. We make it a good time.

Put still, we have to initiate.

"Let's try going peepee on the potty" or "Let's leave dipey off for a while in case we need to go peepee" or "You look like your doing a bit of a potty dance over there. Shall we go sit on the potty and try to peepee?"

Sometimes she even refuses, with tears and everything, and that breaks my heart. I refuse to make potty training a battle. What's the point? At the same time, I had hoped for a little bit of a diaper chanigng break before DS arrives in a few months. That is certainly not going to happen now, but I digress...

So tonight, we had a victory on the potty training front. After spending some time on the potty with no results, I suggested that Lydia get up to play for a while, but leave the diaper off in case she needed to peepee later. Not 10 minutes later, during a rowdy invented hide and seek type game with her Daddy, she announces, "I go poopoo potty." She runs to the potty, lifts the seat, and sits down.

My daughter normally poops with great flare. The face turns beet red, the eyes fill with tears, it's a theatric production. So when we saw none of that, we figured it was another false alarm. But then she started with the whole "Yay Lydia" song and dance and we had to check. No poop, but a potty full of pee.

It was the first time that SHE has initiated a need to use the potty. Thank God!

Something to make you smile...

After posting a couple of serious articles, I felt like it was time for a shared laugh. Enjoy!

DD: "Mom, I'm fat."

This article is definitely thought provoking! I admit, I teared up remembering my own insecurities as a young girl and imagining my own perfect daughter seeing herself as anything less than that. What would you have said to your DD/DS?

I'm Fat!

WM vs. SAHM

DH actually stumbled upon this article first and shared it with me. Awesome, totally awesome! I know I struggle with the same guilt that all WMs struggle with. As I work toward becoming a SAHM, it was good to be warned about the guilt that creeps up there, too! We all need to learn to respect and appreciate each other as women with different roles to play in this society. Let me know what you think!

Friendly Fire

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Babywearing

What is babywearing? Is baby wearing for you? Which carrier should I choose? Check out my updated "Babywearing' page and get the conversation started!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Updates

Hey everyone! I just updated the "About Me" and the "Cloth Diapering" pages. Please feel invited to leave comments about what information I should add or edit!