Monday, July 29, 2013

Christianity and Breastfeeding

I love The Leaky B@@b. Go read the amazing posts on the website, go find the page on Facebook. You will thank me later, I promise. It's a great, no-nonsense forum for real breastfeeding advice and support. And it's where I found this most AMAZING post about Christianity and breastfeeding.

I identify as a Christian, which surprises a lot of people because my beliefs are more progressive than most of the standard or traditional Christian practices of today. This is the most comprehensive, well-written, and convincing article I have ever read on the topic. My fear is that too many people will NOT read it, because it is so long. But seriously, do yourself a favor and take the time to read it. Take a few days and read chunks at a time, if needed.

I have had mostly positive experiences nursing in public (NIP). With my first, I was a good little mom and got a "cover". Anytime I  was out at a restaurant or even when we were home but other people were over, I had to get out my "cover" and preform the circus act that is slipping a cover over my head, unhooking my nursing bra, lifting my shirt shirt, and directing my baby's head to my nipple without being able to see her or letting other people see her. I shudder when I think about it. I actually remember being at home at MY OWN house with a childless friend over and she THANKED me for covering because "some people don't even bother"! I had no other friends with kids so I was so afraid of offending someone with my breastfeeding. I remember being at cookouts and going INSIDE the house to nurse! How sad is that?

Fast forward to my second child. I go to a cookout with the same friend who previously thanked me for covering in my own house while nursing my own baby, among other people. I knew she would be there with her baby, nursing under a cover. So I brought my cover and nursed my poor baby son under it in the heat of the summer. I did that maybe a few more times at a few more parties and then I QUIT. I gave my cover away on an area mom swap page. I felt free.

I know some of friends feel uncomfortable around me when I NIP. Seriously, it is not my problem anymore. I have heard snickers and comments under breath and see the eyes roll and the gestures. I could seriously care less. And I am not normally that kind of person. I am pretty much a doormat who does whatever whenever to please everyone around her. It's something I am working on in therapy. But this is one thing I do not back down on. I don't know where I find the strength in this but not in anything else, but it's definitely worth contemplating because if I could harness it and use that strength in other areas in my life, I would be good to go!

And for those of you who may be reading and embarrassed or maybe just on the fence about NIP, I will tell you that I have nursed everywhere, like Green Eggs and Ham style. In a church - both in the congregation and in a Sunday school room, in a field hockey meeting filled with teenage girls - the clothes they wear are so freaking slinky that there is no way I was the most revealing, obscene thing they had seen that day, at the doctor's office, at my midwife's office, camping in the woods with my ILs (they are so supportive of BFing!), and at a Superbowl party with all those old friends who strongly believe in covering while nursing which I'm sure annoys them. TFB for them...seriously.

So your mission is to read The Leaky B@@b post in it's entirety and then nurse wherever the hell you want to. Because God loves you and your baby and gave you your boobs to feed your baby with. Amen.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Best Circumcision Workshop Video Ever

I discovered this video a while ago and lost it, much to my chagrin. No, honestly, I was totally bummed and, search as I may, I just could not find it! Just a few days ago, my luck changed! A woman who was in my same Bradley training posted it in our Facebook support group in response to a question about guiding students through the treacherous inquiry "To circumcise or not to circumcise?" So I have to share it quick before I lose it again! It is amazing and on point!

(PS - Yes, I am aware that it is lengthy. Suck it up. Get a bowl of popcorn and prepare to have your mind blown.)

A bold body rights protest image depicting a man with a shirt that says Where's my foreskin?

An image detailing information on what is lost when the healthy normal foreskin is amputated

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Postpartum Body

The Stir is a website whose articles frequently show up on my FB news feed as one parenting site or another re-posts them. They are clearly meant to cause "a stir". They are always completely open-sided, based on opinions more than facts, and on hot-button issues. I enjoy a good fluff article that reaffirms my belief in something as much as the next gal but I don't take much of what I read there too seriously. I certainly don't bother to add anything to the vicious conversations that take place in the comments section. However, this recent post really hit home and referred back to this, even better, article so I had to share!

Like most American women, I struggle with my weight. Once you're pregnant, you have such a heightened sense of everything about your body. Along with your obvious baby bump, your breasts swells, your fingers and feet swell, your hair thickens; you start to feel like you are trapped in some kind of foreign body (no pun intended). And people are always ready with all kinds of "helpful advice" about how not to gain too much weight while pregnant. (Surely a baby can grown on just salads and fresh fruit! And those make you feel really full! You should never want to eat anything else!) And every week, your midwife is weighing you to make sure the baby is growing, even though you are sure that it is to secretly judge you about how much you have gained. She tells you your weight and you search her face for some kind of reassurance that it is okay.

I gained 25 lbs with Lydia (who was 5 weeks early) and 35 lbs with Elliott - well within the average recommended weight gain. *phew* right? That makes me feel better, right? Not at all. And everyone tells you, "If you breastfeed, the weight will just fall off magically!" Not for everyone. And the scale isn't the only indicator of size, remember. After Lydia, I DID get back to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly (it was all stress - she didn't sleep for the first 5 months of her life). However, my hips had spread and I had gone up a pant size. So I was the same weight, but a different size. That did a number on my self-esteem. So then I gained even more weight.

Right before I became pregnant with Elliott, I had joined a weight-loss group and was making real progress. Then I got pregnant and didn't want to be obsessed with my weight - even though I WAS, of course! I got anxious before every appointment about how much weight I had gained from week to week. Another problem for me is that I am short with no torso, so I carry my babies far out. So even if the scale showed that I had only gained a pound that week, my tummy looked like I was at least a month further along. With Elliott, I started wearing maternity clothes at like 9 weeks along. I was so uncomfortable already!

So now here I am, 14 months postpartum and still rocking a flabby pooch of a stomach. I am in between the pant size I was pre-pregnancy and the next pant size up so buying clothes is a test in anxiety coping skills every time. I am still nursing but it's toddler nursing now so it's irregular and so are my breasts. There is about a cup difference these days so I tend to wear larger, flow-y style shirts. Oh yeah, I'm bringing sexy back.

I would encourage women to encourage each other. When I see a woman in ANY phase of pregnancy, I always tell her she looks great. This is for two reasons:

1. She deserves to hear it.

2. It is the truth.

Even if she is one of those poor women for whom pregnancy reeks complete havoc on their bodies, I see her and am reminded of the unparalleled joy and excitement that comes with being pregnant. I am always even a little bit jealous. How many women are struggling with infertility and miscarriages? And here you are, growing a precious baby inside you. Hear me when I tell you that you are one of the lucky ones. No matter how big and fat and uncomfortable you are, you are a miracle.

I guess the best thing I can do is to remind myself that someday I will be old and I may even be thin but my body will not be bale to do this anymore. I may actually have time to go to a gym but my body will no longer be able to grow another human being inside it. It will no longer to able to feed a baby. I am sure I will look back on these days and miss them. I bet I won't even see this flabby tummy or breasts. I will be too busy looking at the beautiful faces of my children.

almost 31 weeks with Lydia
almost 32 weeks with Elliott

Friday, July 19, 2013

Parenting is Hard

I have made it no secret that I am (and I think it's safe to say that husband is also) struggling when it comes to parenting our 3 year old. We are all well-bonded and happy. Our daughter is bright and hilarious and kind-hearted. But she is developing and becoming aware of her own opinions and desires...which are starting to conflict with ours and here's where the trouble is starting. I want Lydia to be strong and confident and follow her convictions. I just wish they weren't so sporadic and nonsensical all the time!

So, techniques we have used in the past to quell fears and anger aren't working anymore. My daughter is evolving and so my parenting has to evolve. That is hard to remember and even harder to figure out how to do!

So I came across 2 great articles with some ideas that proved helpful for us. I have been spreading them around some of my mommy networks so I thought I better share them here, too. Perhaps you will see your own family in one or both of the articles and the suggestions will be useful to you, too!

Article 1

Article 2

I would also like to add that these articles are spot on when they discuss boundary setting and respecting a child's appropriate developmental stages. I have friends and family members who think they are practicing gentle parenting but really they are just raising brats. They are not doing their kids any favors and, in fact, they are setting their kids up for failure. All children crave the security of boundaries and rules and need to feel as if they are being heard, understood, and taken seriously. When you simply give-in to a child's tantrums, particularly when they are too old to be tantruming in such a primal way, you are sending the message that he/she does not need to acquire appropriate language skills to negotiate and advocate for him/herself. What kind of life will he be destined to lead with that mindset? I bet we can all think of some adults we know who fit that description.

Oh, and for giggles, read this. You're welcome.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Future

After a lot of contemplating and conversations, I have made the decision to go back to teaching in the fall. There are a TON of pros and cons I had to consider but, in the end, it's what's best for my family. I am nervous but excited at the same time. It will be a big adjustment, most of all for Elliott, who has never been under the care of anyone other than my ILs and myself. I'm hopeful he'll get a lot of stimulation and maybe, just maybe, he'll get on SOME kind of a schedule. Right now, at 14 months, it is still a crap shoot when and how long he'll nap for. Ugh. I am exhausted.

Lydia, on the other hand, has been to daycare full-time for almost 2 years and cannot WAIT to go back to "school". She asks me regularly now "Is it fall now so I can go to school?" She loves the challenge excitement of school. She misses her friends and teachers and I know she will flourish back in that setting.

I do miss my coworkers and, much to my own surprise, my students. I am ready to get back into the groove and hustle and bustle and drama of teenage school life. I know it hardly makes sense. It hardly makes sense to me! I really love being home with my kiddos and I know that I am so lucky to have had this year at home taking care of them. It was life-changing. It gave me such a fresh perspective on what it means to be a mother.

This summer was a now-or-never point in my career. I had to choose to either go back to work now or lose my position completely and have to start over from scratch whenever I DO decide to go back to work. It doesn't mean I will always work full-time or always be working at this job. This is just what's right, right now. It's liberating to know that I don't really NEED to work and I am working because I WANT to. Jeff has been so supportive. He just shrugs and says "If you don't like it, you can quit." God, I love him!

But of course, I still worry about whether or not I am making the right decision or whether or not this makes me a bad mom or whether or not I'll be bale to be as good a teacher as I want to be as I get back into the swing of things. I just have to have faith and jump in, I guess. It's time for a change.

This article was particularly timely for me. I really love this author's fresh and refreshing perspective. There is always guilt. I am have tons of mama guilt. I have mama guilt while I am a SAHM and I have mama guilt when I think about going back to work. However, I would also like to add a thought that I read in another article a long time ago that I cannot currently find but it really stuck with me. We cannot tell our children, our daughters in particular, that they can be whatever they want when they grow up but actually expect them all to stay home and raise children and keep house or expect them all to go to work outside of the home. Both options have to be available to them and both are viable, respectful options.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

yeast rash

I know, I know - where the heck have I been? I was on a total streak of post after post and then suddenly...crickets. My bad! Life just keeps sneaking up on me!

Back in 2011, we thought we were pretty awesome because Lydia had never had a real diaper rash. Maybe a little irritation every now and again but nothing major. Then, she turned one and a nasty rash flared up that we just could not seem to get rid of! We finally went to our family doctor who informed us that this was no ordinary rash but a yeast infection! Ugh. *shudder* We were prescribed a cream that helped clear it up pretty quickly. But then it kept coming back! So we got her started on probiotics every day to help keep it at bay. It was the miracle we had been hoping for and we had never had a problem again.

Fast forward to 2013, and Elliott hits a year old and the same thing happens! So we think we are old pros and can fix this problem lickety-split. However, none of our old methods are working. We are very frustrated and my poor baby was in pain. He had nasty blisters and wounds where the blisters had burst. *shudder again* Since Elliott does not take a bottle and eats independently, making sure he gets a dose of probiotics has been tricky. We had to kick it up a notch in the topical medication field. So I decided to create something that made sense but that we hadn't tried yet. We were applying coconut oil, Melaleuca oil, OTC topical yeast infection cream (as recommended by our family doctor), antibiotic ointment and giving oatmeal baths. I became inspired.

I mixed melted the coconut oil with finely ground oats I was using for the oatmeal baths until it was a thick paste. I added some Melaleuca oil. I started putting that concoction on his poor little bum at night. It was nice because it was so thick. The coconut oil and Melaleuca oil absorb into the skin and in the morning, all that's left is the oatmeal in his diaper. It looks like he has a diaper full of sand, it's funny. It seemed to bring him pain relief right away. In just a couple night's time, I noticed a huge difference! All his sores are healing and the redness is gone. Thank God!

I also bought and started using Motherlove Diaper Rash and Thrush Cream and also their Green Salve but that was after the yeast rash had already started healing. I bought the products at the suggestion of my coworkers are luvaboos. Though I cannot confirm whether or not they work, they are certainly not hurting and they are cloth diaper safe, so I am a fan. I am also impressed with the simple, honest, and short list of ingredients. The labels aren't flashy but don't let that fool you! The store is all a buzz about their quality products.

Speaking of luvaboos, their semi-annual consignment sale is coming up. We will be camping so I will be missing the actual sale for the first time in YEARS. So sad! However, I will be selling items and volunteering so that I can get the most store credit back possible.

I just ordered 4 Swaddlebees OS Simplex AOIs because they are great diapers and I cannot resist the prints! They are just so well constructed, and right here in the good, old US of A! I am sacrificing some of my solid Tots Bots Easy fits AIOs to get money for them. I guess I should have waited so I could use my store credit from the sale but I really wanted them ASAP. Besides, I'm sure I'll find some other things to use the store credit on!

PS - Happy almost 14 months of nursing to Elliott and I!