29 November 2010

More About Breastfeeding in Public

Can you tell I'm a breastfeeding mother with all the things I've been writing about that?  I came across a quote that struck me:
  Women’s breasts have become little more than sexual objects in our society. We are bombarded everyday with images of the female breast, and they are all of a sexual nature. In her article about "The Cultural Context of Breastfeeding," Katherine Dettwyler compares the American preoccupation with the breast to the ancient Chinese practice of foot binding. For women in ancient China, the idea that tiny feet symbolized sensuality compromised their ability to fulfil the foot's biological use - walking. Just as Chinese women were forced to hobble around because of a cultural belief about sensuality, modern American mothers are hobbled because the biological utilization of their breasts has been compromised by their sensual image.

It's an interesting comparison, and I can see why the link was made.  So often the arguments made against breastfeeding in public (or at all) are because people see it as sexual and either don't want to see it or don't want to breastfeed because they can't see their breasts as anything but sexual.  Or the implication that they would somehow have to give up their sexuality by breastfeeding.  None of this is true, though. Really, the last line of that paragraph just says it all.

3 Years Ago Today

My wonderful son was born.  I honestly don't know what I'd do without him.  3 years ago today, at exactly 40 weeks pregnant, I was in labour.  I'd awakened at 2.00 to my waters breaking, and so we went to the hospital.  After a NST and all that, we went back home, since I wasn't in labour yet.  Contractions were starting just as we left, but I figured it would be awhile yet.  I tried to go back to sleep, but by 6.00 I couldn't lay down comfortably, so I got up.  I laboured under the shower for a while, which felt great.  I couldn't manage to eat, and had to breathe through the contractions.  We went back to the hospital around noon, and my labour stalled.  It picked back up again after a couple of hours, though.  Unfortunately, since I'd decided to lie on my back, K had turned back-to-back and started pressing on my sciatic nerve.  The contractions weren't too bad, despite there being no break between them, but the sciatic pain was a killer.  I'd wanted to labour in water, but the birthing pool was taken.  By the time it was available, I was in transition, though I didn't realise that.  Of  course, that also meant that I no longer wanted the water, and I gave in to the pethidine/phenergan (or similar drug) injection.  30 minutes later I was pushing, and 15 minutes after that, K was born (with the help of the ventouse).  He was perfect, and still is.

He's still very definite about things, and insists on order.  Perhaps I should've expected that when he came exactly on his due date.  This morning when he awoke, we got out his presents.  He opened the first one, and would've happily just talked about it and not opened the others for some time had C not tried to get them.  Then he decided to go ahead and open more presents.  After presents we had pancakes for breakfast, and then got ready for Mass.  I'd promised him we could light a votive candle at Mass for his birthday.  All the priests greeted him, and we got the candle and then sat down for Mass.  He was very attentive to the prayers.  After Mass, Fr David mentioned that it was K's birthday, and everyone clapped - K responded by screaming.  He really isn't fond of lots of clapping since it's out of the ordinary.  He did go and talk to Fr David afterwards, though, so all was well.

So now we're back home, and he's watching Star Trek: Voyager.  Later we'll eat French onion soup, Brie, and homemade baguettes, at his request.  We'll also make fairy cakes together.  Sounds like a good birthday to me.  Happy birthday, my sweet, funny, clever boy.

28 November 2010

When Sesame Street Was Cool. . .

I'm obviously on a roll posting about breastfeeding lately.  I'm sure I'll post about something different soon, but this one is also about breastfeeding in public.  I came across these clips from Sesame Street.

I think it's wonderful that this was shown on Sesame Street.  Too bad it isn't always seen as normal and natural now.  In fact, a hospital recently came under fire for having a poster of a toddler pretending to breastfeed her doll.  Such a thing is absolutely normal - a child will mimic what the mother does, be that pretending to bottle feed a toy or pretending to breastfeed a toy.  K pretends to breastfeed his toys and puts bumGenius on them because that's what he sees at home.  We also watch the old school Sesame Street videos. ;-)

Breastfeeding at Work

I've long thought that working mums should be able to bring their babies to work in order to better facilitate breastfeeding.  When I had K, I was still working on my PhD and working part-time at the university doing clerical work.  I was lucky because they allowed me to bring K with me to classes, supervisor meetings, and work, even though they didn't have to accommodate me in that way.  But now I see that there's a proposed legislation that will make it easier to breastfeed at work.

I think this is wonderful!  If these women also wear their babies, it won't impede them in their work much at all.  I know I was able to work while breastfeeding with little problem.  Obviously some professions may make such an arrangement impractical, but women in such professions should also be aided by this proposed legislation since it would also allow for more breaks and facilities for storing breastmilk.  I wish this could be done without passing a law, though, as it was at the university.

27 November 2010

Breastfeeding in Public

Recently I've been in a discussion on Mom Vs the World about breastfeeding in public.  I am very much in favour of breastfeeding in public and think women should be supported and encouraged in this.  I'll go through the reasons below.

1) Babies need to be fed on demand and shouldn't be made to wait.  Because we should follow the baby's cues when it comes to feeding, and because women shouldn't be sequestered in the house for months and years on end until the child is weaned, it is likely that the baby will be hungry at some point when the mother is out.  It may not be every time, or even the majority of the time, but it's almost inevitable to happen at some point.

2) There is nothing obscene or sexual about breastfeeding.  While breasts can be sexual (in the sense of attraction/arousal), they are not when breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is simply about feeding and comforting a baby, nothing more.  Most women breastfeed in public in such a way that nothing is shown, anyway.  If some people see breasts as inherently, exclusively sexual and thus are uncomfortable with breastfeeding because of that, it may be that this is actually caused in part by the fact that women aren't breastfeeding in public as much.  Perhaps if more were, more would come to view breastfeeding as a normal event and wouldn't view breasts as sexual in that context.

Related to this is the fact that, historically, women have been shown to breastfeed and it's just been accepted as a part of daily life.   It wasn't seen as sexual, obscene, or taboo, but was accepted as the natural part of life that it is.  This was reflected in the artwork, too, as in the painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary breastfeeding the infant Jesus.

3)  Why should artificial feeding systems be used?  There's nipple confusion, or outright refusal of a bottle, there's the hassle of carrying the bottles, the question of where to heat up the milk, the problem of the woman's breasts feeling full anyway (it's rather uncomfortable, I might add), the question of whether the woman is able to pump much or at all, or if she even has the means to get proper bottles and sterilisers and whatnot.  There's also the matter of the breastmilk composition changing throughout the day, so if she's out at a certain time, the bottle should ideally be of breastmilk expressed at the same time a previous day.  And if she is giving a bottle when out, she should ideally be expressing at that time so that her body doesn't take that as a cue that less milk should be made.  Our bodies work on supply and demand, and if the baby is put to the breast less often, less milk is made.  It's also more convenient to breastfeed instead of bottle-feed since the woman would also have to find a convenient place to sit down to feed the child, where that wouldn't be absolutely necessary with breastfeeding if she also wears her baby.

4) The convenience-factor is multiplied when you consider travel.  Two summers ago we flew overseas to see family.  From the time we left our house to the time we arrived at our destination 24 hours had elapsed, due in part to a delay on one of the flights.  I did not routinely express milk, and so it's unlikely I would've been able to get more than a couple of ounces - definitely not enough for 24 hours of travel.  It also would've been a hassle to get it through security (it's possible, but just another strain) and also difficult to warm it as needed.  Our travel time included a train and two planes, places where moving to a different area would not be possible.  The airports didn't have feeding areas, as far as I was aware.  In such a situation, breastfeeding in public becomes a necessity.

Another time when breastfeeding in public was unavoidable was when I attended my in-depth Billings Ovulation Method training this past summer.  I took C with me, of course, since she was only 3 months old.  In order to attend the training sessions, it was absolutely necessary to breastfeed her there.  Far from tying me down, breastfeeding allowed me to attend without the hassle or distraction of trying to deal with a bottle or cup.

Obviously this list isn't exhaustive, but I hope it gives a bit of an idea about why I'm so adamant that mothers be encouraged and supported in breastfeeding whenever and wherever they are.


This post is just me thinking aloud, more or less.  I've been slowly studying more about vaccines and trying to see exactly where I stand.  I was recently having a conversation with Guggie Daly about vaccines, and she pointed out how we as a society have become conditioned to absolutely fear those diseases for which there are vaccines, while we don't seem to fear the ones for which we don't have vaccines (she pointed out the cholera outbreak as an example).  I  can see what she means.  While I live in England, I'm from the US, so I often look at the vaccines there, too, since we may one day move back.  Honestly, the list of "necessary" vaccines in the US seems odd to me, having lived in England.  Why is Hep B necessary for all infants in the US, but not here?  They don't seem to have a problem with Hep B here, and the vaccine is only offered to those who are at a high risk of contracting the disease.  Makes sense to me.  Or rotavirus - that's another one that's offered in the US but not in England.  When I talk to people in the US, some of them seem very scared of that disease, and yet I never hear anything about it here.  Another example is chicken pox.  Yes, some people in the US genuinely seem afraid of chicken pox because there are, very rarely, more serious complications from it.  My Health Visitor here, though, thinks it's silly to vaccinate against it (I agree).  It just isn't seen as serious here.  My son had a very mild case thanks to breastfeeding.

So how are various diseases viewed here?  Well, the ones that are vaccinated against are feared greatly, it seems.  Including the flu.  When the H1N1 scare happened last year, there was a palpalble panic.  I was diagnosed with it over the internet, having never been seen by a doctor.  When I developed a secondary bacterial infection, I still wasn't seen by a doctor - they wouldn't let me come to the surgery in case I infected anyone else.  I was never tested for the strain of flu, but was still told to get a H1N1 vaccine just in case.  Because of all the fear surrounding it, I eventually gave in, though I regret that.  Actually, that sums up how I feel about all vaccines, to be honest.  I bought into the fear of the MMR with K, fearing that he would get rubella and pass it on to a pregnant woman who would then be counseled to have an abortion.  With C, I'm thinking that isn't a good enough reason, since the odds of her contracting it and giving it to pregnant woman who has no immunity to it in her first trimester is extremely rare.

This also pertains to the Vit K that is commonly given shortly after birth (most commonly by injection, but sometimes orally).  Sometimes when I've spoken about the fact that I see no reason for it under normal conditions, people have been horrified and tried to scare me into it.  The health professionals just made sure I knew why they gave it when I refused for C to have it.  Thankfully they didn't give me horror stories or push it too much once I made it clear that I'd researched the matter and knew what to look out for.  I will admit to being rather paranoid about things at first, though I firmly believed that C didn't need the Vit K with a non-traumatic birth, delayed cord clamping, immediate breastfeeding, and the fact that I eat things high in Vit K.

For some reason, I didn't start thinking of all vaccines this way until recently, despite my conclusions about Vit K.  I suppose this is in large part because I didn't research other jabs until more recently, and I'm still going through the research. So I'm not saying one should just throw caution to the wind, but that we should inform ourselves about the diseases and the true risks involved, and how to treat them.  So far, I'm not seeing a great chance of serious risks by not vaccinating, at least not enough to justify vaccinating everyone.  Being informed really goes both ways, here, as we also shouldn't just have our children vaccinated without researching things more.  I always research medicines and treatments that doctors advise instead of just trusting them, so I'm not sure why I didn't start researching this sooner.

Now, I'm not saying one should just throw all caution to the wind and ignore any of these diseases, but neither should one just accept the vaccines without question.  I think we should research the diseases and the vaccines, and be aware of any warning signs and treatments for the diseases so we know what to do.  How can we truly make an informed choice without looking at these things?  I wish I'd researched more before having K, but I can't change the past.

26 November 2010


I often joke that my parenting choices are based in laziness.  Why do I breastfeed? I'm too lazy to bottle-feed or express regularly or prepare the milk or whatnot.  Why do I do baby-led weaning? I'm too lazy to puree foods or spoon-feed.  Why do I co-sleep?  I'm too lazy to get up to breastfeed.

Of course, it's not true that I do these things out of laziness.  Breastfeeding isn't always less work than bottle-feeding, I imagine, since I'm always the one doing the feeding (though I have no experience with not breastfeeding, so I could be wrong).  But even if these things are less work (and I maintain that BLW and co-sleeping are less work), that's not why I chose them.  I chose them because they work best for us, and because I feel they are the right choices for us.  And of course Attachment Parenting in general isn't necessarily easy, but then, I don't expect parenting to be easy.  I do what I do because it works for us and I enjoy it (for the most part).  That's not to say there aren't days when I get frustrated, or when it isn't hard, I do and it is.  The main point, though, is that it's what works for us.

Children at Mass

I've often gotten in discussions about children being at Mass.  Perhaps it's because I'm a convert, but I feel very strongly about going to Mass as a family.  I used to get distracted by children at Mass and wonder why the parents didn't control them better, but now I understand.  Now I love hearing children at Mass, because that means the parish isn't dying.  I love hearing children at Mass, because Jesus said to let the little children come to Him.

When K was quite young, I began taking him to daily Mass on occasion.  Not regularly, but when I could.  Obviously he also went with us on Sundays, and I decided not to take him to the children's liturgy.  Just before he turned 1, we moved to a different area, one within easy walking distance of a Benedictine parish with Mass twice a day during the week.  Once Lent rolled around, I made it a point to go to Mass every day, which means he went, too.  At first we sat in the back, but I found that he did better in the front.  In fact, Fr Theo scolded me when I didn't sit in the front, because he thought K should see the altar.  I'm glad I listened, because the Mass captivates him.  Oh sure, he's not perfect, but during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, you're likely to hear him exclaim "Body of Christ!" with the priest.  His faith is amazing, and seeing the Mass through his eyes is precious to me.

Of course, there are also off days, like the one where C was standing, holding onto the pew, and fell, hitting her head and wailing during the Gospel and homily.  That same Mass, K kept shushing loudly during the readings.  When he was younger, he sometimes escaped from me and ran to the altar; this was more common if it was a priest he hadn't seen in a while.  And the other day C tried to crawl under the pew towards the altar and protested when I pulled her away.  So it's not perfect, and there are times when I long to have a Mass where I don't have to watch them and can just gaze upon the Tabernacle, but at the same time, I love having the kids with me.  While they may distract at times, they can also remind me why I'm there, as when K asks to pray for someone or exclaims about the Body and Blood of Christ during the Eucharist.  I love that they're with us the entire time at Mass.

25 November 2010

Attachment Parenting & Safety

Sometimes it seems that the practices common to attachment parents, such as co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and even baby-led weaning and extended breastfeeding, to a much lesser degree, are condemned as being absolutely, unequivocally unsafe.  It's rather infuriating when examples of doing these things in an unsafe manner results in condemnation of the practice as a whole, where "mainstream" practices such as the use of buggies and cots are deemed safe with certain caveats (like the feet to foot practice with cots).

So, first up, co-sleeping.  I've talked about this before. Co-sleeping gets a bad reputation because of infant deaths from suffocation and/or overlaying, and these are real risks if co-sleeping isn't done safely.  However, to condemn the practice outright isn't helpful, either.  Parents are already given information on how to keep their baby safe in a cot, such as putting their feet to the foot of the cot, keeping blankets away from their heads, not using pillows, etc.  Surely it wouldn't be much more difficult to also give them information on how to safely co-sleep by ensuring there's no way for the baby to fall off or get caught in cracks or crevices, keeping pillows away, keeping blankets away from the baby's face, and only co-sleeping if the mother is breastfeeding and neither parent smokes or has had alcohol before bed.  But the wholesale condemnation of it seems to assume that parents can't or won't follow those simple guidelines and so aren't given the information.  How can we make informed choices if the information either isn't available or is skewed?

Next up, baby-wearing.  Recently there was a condemnation of baby-wearing because certain slings were linked to infant deaths. These deaths are tragic, but parents would be better served by being given information on safe baby-wearing instead of condemning the practice altogether.  After all, there have been injuries and the like with pushchairs/buggies, but use of those items isn't condemned.  Condemning baby-wearing is also unwise due to the benefits to the baby, since baby-wearing allows them to regulate their temperatures with the mother's, and helps with their physical development (it works the same muscles as tummy time).  There are many safe slings, wraps, and mei tais to choose from, too.  I don't see a great many people who baby-wear here, but I almost always get positive comments about it when I'm out, as people see how snug C is, and how content.  The only half-way negative comment I've personally gotten was my Health Visitor asking if my wrap was one of the recalled slings, and I assured her it wasn't.  So this isn't something I've personally experienced criticism with, but I have seen a lot of it online.  The information certainly isn't widely disseminated here, though.

Finally, feeding practices.  At first, people seemed scared that my children would choke with doing baby-led weaning.  BLW is when you give the child the same food you're eating, just cut into chunks they can easily pick up, and the child then feeds himself.  If you wait until the child is developmentally ready (sitting up well, lost the tongue-thrust reflex, and has a pincer-grasp), and you make sure the food is cut large enough to allow for easy handling by the baby, then it's very unlikely anything bad will happen.  Thankfully my HV said they're now recommending BLW, so the word is getting out.  Extended breastfeeding is still looked down upon in some cases.  Once K turned 1, my HV was a bit iffy about the fact that he still breastfed at night because of supposed dental risks; however, breastfeeding isn't linked to dental caries like bottle-feeding is.  I don't know if the HV is still iffy about that, since I've not spoken with her about that since then.  We'll see what she says once C turns 1 (if C actually has teeth by then!).

Knitting Thursday

I knew I wouldn't keep up with this every Thursday, but I had a good excuse last week.  I think I'd pinched a nerve in my neck/shoulder area, and so I was wincing every time I had to use my right hand, or even the entire arm.  Can't really knit one-handed.  It's getting better, though, and I managed to knit a little yesterday.  I just started working on a tunic dress for C.

I really should be working on K's Christmas stocking, since we hang those up on 6 December for St Nicholas' Day.  To do that, I need suggestions.  See, I'm having them all be a theme, so they're all Nativity-related.  B's and mine will be Joseph & Mary; C's is a lamb.  So should K's be a wise man, a shepherd, or another animal?  I do at least have the name part done with his.  I just need to figure out the design part so I can find or make a graph.

Last week I finished up an Oscar the Grouch hat for a friend's son.

I also finally got around to working in all the loose ends on K's argyle vest and got it washed and ready, so now I can wrap it for Christmas.

24 November 2010

Perfect Children?

I just perused this article on Slate about whether modern parenting is ruining children.  The article also made the point about how this obsession with control starts during pregnancy, with the lists of dos and don'ts, and I agree.  If you read any pregnancy forums, this is evident, as various people talk about all the things you shouldn't eat or shouldn't do.  I decided to just use the axiom of all things in moderation, and I think the author agrees with that.

The author describes so-called "helicopter parents", and for the most part I agree with the article.  Of course, I also understand the desire to protect our children from anything that will hurt them, but this is impossible.  When I am tempted to do that, I remember my own childhood, and how my parents, thankfully, allowed me to run around outside all day, either by myself or with cousins, siblings, and/or friends.  Yes, we got dirty and got hurt, but we lived, and it was fun.  We'd get cleaned up and go right back.  That's not to say there weren't limits, but they didn't hover over us.

I try to do that with my kids to an extent, and will more when they are older.  At first it was tempting to scoop up K any time he stumbled, but now I don't.  I ask him if he's OK, and sometimes he asks me for a kiss if he's hurt, but then he runs along and plays with the neighbourhood kids.  Since he's not quite 3, another parent or I stay out to watch him, but I don't follow behind him.

I think it also becomes easier to take a more hands-off approach with two children, as well.  I can't watch C quite as much as I did K, because I have both of them to watch now.  I leave them to play together while I cook, and they do well.  Sure, there are bumps and bruises, and fights over toys (inasmuch as C can fight for a toy - it's mostly on K's end right now), but that's what siblings do.

It's also rare for me to schedule the day.  I'll have a general idea of things to do and a possibly timeframe, but nothing specific except for Mass, or those days when we attend a play group.  Even those aren't set in stone, though, so if one kid needs a nap, or we just don't get ready in time, then so be it.  During the day we play, K helps me cook & vacuum, we talk about God and Star Trek and Sesame Street, read whatever the kids ask for, and play with various toys.  I will admit that I prefer wooden toys - they're durable and I just like them.  We also have our share of other toys, though, and that's fine.  Kids should be kids. :-)
Hmm, here's an idea: maybe the solution to all this is just to relax.  We can't control every single thing, and we shouldn't worry about everything.  

The Circumcision Debate

So lately I've been talking to friends about the proposed circumcision ban in San Francisco.  I have to admit to being a little torn on it.  I'm absolutely against routine infant circumcision, but I also am unsure of a ban, since it is an important religious rite for Jews and at least some Muslims (I'm not as sure about the teachings for it in Islam).  So I don't really think it can be banned outright and still allow for religious freedom.

What I think would be a better way to go about it is to have insurance companies stop paying for it, personally.  I'm in England, and the NHS don't pay for routine, non-therapeutic circumcision.  Obviously if there's a medical indication for circumcising, they will do it, but not otherwise.  I don't know if private doctors here circumcise, as I've never looked into it.  Those circumcising for religious reasons can, of course, find a mohel.

Now, in case you're wondering why I'm against routine infant circumcision, it's because it's unnecessary.  The chances of an infant boy getting recurrent UTIs, a case when circumcision has been advised by some, is slim and doesn't justify routinely circumcising all boys.  I also wonder if the UTI rate isn't perhaps more related to feeding practices than circumcision, from what little I've read on the matter.  It's also not difficult to care for an intact boy - the only thing is making sure no one tries to retract the foreskin, which is non-issue here in England since routine circumcision isn't done.  Other health issues, such as penile cancer, are also extremely rare and, in my opinion, don't warrant the pain and risks of routinely circumcising all boys, sometimes without adequate pain relief.  Not to mention that circumcision can (though doesn't always, of course) adversely affect the breastfeeding relationship - there are conflicting studies on this, though.

While not exactly a forceful statement, even the American Academy of Pediatrics says it's unnecessary and that the potential benefits don't outweigh the risks.  The British Medical Association is more forceful, stating that "The medical benefits previously claimed, however, have not been convincingly proven, and it is now widely accepted, including by the BMA, that this surgical procedure has medical and psychological risks. It is essential that doctors perform male circumcision only where this is demonstrably in the best interests of the child. The responsibility to demonstrate that non-therapeutic circumcision is in a particular child’s best interests falls to his parents."

20 November 2010

The Co-Sleeping Taboo

The one parenting choice I've made that's probably gotten the most comments is my choice to co-sleep (by co-sleeping I mean bed-sharing).  When I was pregnant with K, I swore I'd never co-sleep, and I set up a Moses basket by the bed with every intention of him sleeping in there.  Evidently he didn't get that memo, as from the very first night he would only sleep if he was touching me.  And so that night he slept on my chest, and we both loved it.  When I went home, I again thought he'd go in the Moses basket, but again he'd have nothing to do with it.  I couldn't bear to listen to him cry if I could comfort him so easily, and so he'd end up in our bed every night.  I quickly discovered that this made it really easy for me to breastfeed, too, and quickly mastered the side-lying breastfeeding position so I could go back to sleep whilst K ate.  It was perfect.

And yet, I was always reluctant to admit to anyone that I co-slept.  There was, and is, this huge taboo about it, and any time someone found out, the most common reaction was either to tell me it was unsafe, or to tell me K would be overly dependent on me.  So I started researching it, and I found that for breastfeeding mums, co-sleeping is safe, provided you follow some general safety guidelines (such as not smoking, not being under the influence of alcohol before bed, keeping pillows away, making sure the baby can't roll off or get trapped, things that seem to be fairly common sense).  Dr James McKenna has conducted sleep studies and also concludes that co-sleeping can be safe.

The reactions were worse after C, when I ended up in hospital with a postnatal infection.  I intended to co-sleep with her from the very start, and knew how to do so safely.  She, like her brother, didn't like the plastic bassinet that they provide in hospital, and it was difficult for me to get her in and out of that with the IV in my hand.  So I took precautions and co-slept.  I had the rails up and plugged all gaps with pillows and such.  I put her in the middle of the bed, so I was on the very edge.  And of course I was in the classic breastfeeding position with my legs curled up under hers and my arm over the top of her head and my other arm around her.  There was no way for her to roll away or fall, or for me to roll onto her.  Even so, I was awakened every 2 hours or so one night because I was co-sleeping, and had another midwife chastise me during the day for letting C sleep in the bed next to me whilst I was awake!  This was in a hospital that is working on becoming a UNICEF Baby Friendly hospital, and thus should soon have protocols in place for accommodating co-sleeping in hospital.  I hope that is the case so that other mothers can be supported in co-sleeping.

I was also reading another blog recently that discussed this, and the unintended consequences of a wholesale condemnation of co-sleeping.  I agree that a wholesale condemnation of it could just lead to mothers co-sleeping in unsafe situations, such as on couches.  A better approach, in my opinion, is the one taken by UNICEF's Baby Friendly Initiative, where women are to be educated on how to safely co-sleep, and then supported in that.  I recognise that co-sleeping isn't for everyone, but I wish others recognised that it can be done safely and even has benefits (especially in regards to the breastfeeding relationship).

19 November 2010

The Right Way to Parent?

As any mother knows, it's fairly common to have someone (family, friend, or random stranger) criticise your parenting choices, the implication being that you're doing it wrong, and that therefore their way is correct.  In fact, this begins almost from the moment that you get your BFP and start looking at various pregnancy and parenting websites or talking to other parents.  Everyone has advice and opinions on what you should do and how, and it can be really overwhelming.  At least it was for me.  I remember trawling through all the information when I was pregnant with K and coming up with ideas on how I would or wouldn't do things, and getting rather stressed in the process.

So what is the answer?  I think the answer is to do what works for you and your family.  For me, that's Attachment Parenting.  I didn't set out to do AP, and actually didn't know much about it before having K, but it's what came naturally.  All those things I said I would or wouldn't do went right out the window the minute he was born and wouldn't sleep anywhere but on me.  That led to me hiding the fact that I was co-sleeping from others, because when they found out, the reaction was almost always one of scorn and telling me he needed to be independent, nevermind that he was a baby and thus designed to be dependent on me.  Now, nearly 3 years later, I'm to the point where I just don't worry about what others say (with rare exceptions) about my parenting choices.

I admit that I still have to bite my tongue at times to make sure I'm not the one giving advice that sounds like "my way or the highway" to others, though.  It's an easy trap to fall into.  I think part of it comes from recognising what is right for us and our families, and then trying to apply that to all situations.  With the birth of my daughter, though, I learnt that I couldn't even say that what was right for us with K is right for us with C - they're very different, and I've had to change the way I do things with her.  If that's true just for siblings, then how can any one way of parenting be right for all children everywhere?

Now, I still don't advocate an "anything goes" mentality to it, really, but I think the limits are fairly common sense.  For example, don't do something that's going to hurt the child.  I could never advocate cry-it-out because recent research shows it raises cortisol levels substantially. But I'm not going to say that everyone must co-sleep (when I say co-sleeping, I'm generally referring to bed-sharing), as that doesn't work for everyone (and should only be done if you're breastfeeding and meet the other safety criteria; Dr McKenna has a lot of good info on this).

So feel free to research different methods if you want (in fact I encourage researching), and the pros and cons of different styles, but I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all way of doing things.  I think the most important thing, though, is to do what comes naturally.  You'll find later that your way of doing things likely fits in with one parenting style or another, I'm sure, or maybe it's a combination of styles, but it's important that it's what works for you and isn't a style forced upon you.

18 November 2010

NFP Wars - Again

Last night I was speaking with my supervisor for Billings, as she was telling me about how the table at the fertility show went.  Overall it sounds like it went well, except that at one point practitioners for another method of NFP came over and basically heckled the Billings instructors, telling them that Billings wasn't as good as their method and whatnot.  OK, I get it, we all like our respective methods best - that's why we use and teach those methods over another, but once again, can't we see the merits in the other methods?!  I can certainly see the merits in Creighton and Sympto-Thermal, even if I choose to use Billings and prefer that method for me.  NFP isn't something that we should be fighting over, though.  Isn't it better just to get the information out there for those who don't know about it?  And then let them decide.  Of course, it's also perfectly acceptable to just not use NFP and let nature take its course, or to use ecological breastfeeding in that way, etc.  There is no one method of NFP that is morally superior to another, as far as I know, so we should be working together, not cutting each other down.

17 November 2010

Birthday Musings

We've been figuring out our plans for K's third birthday, since it's just around the corner.  Unfortunately he's not helping with the gift ideas, just the food ideas.  When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he said brown soup (French onion soup) and Brie.  Yes, my child likes French onion soup - it's actually the only soup he will eat.  Today he added fairy cakes to the list, so I guess I'll have to get some wrappers for them, and perhaps a bigger tin, since I only have a 6-cup tin.

We've decided not to do a big party and are instead opting for a small family celebration.  For one, this is how both my husband and I were raised, with just family celebrations most years and then larger parties thrown in for milestone birthdays, and we liked that.  K also gets overwhelmed with large groups at first, though he warms up pretty quickly.  Last year he fell asleep at his own party, and we didn't want him to be overly tired again.  So, we'll have a nice quiet day, he'll open his presents, and we'll top it off with French onion soup, Brie, baguettes, and fairy cakes.  Now I just need to decide what kind of fairy cakes to make.  Probably chocolate.

16 November 2010

Extended Breastfeeding

As my son's third birthday looms nearer and nearer, I've been thinking a lot about extended breastfeeding.  You see, I'm still breastfeeding my son, as well as breastfeeding my daughter (aged 7.5 months).  I never expected to still be breastfeeding at this point.  In fact, my original goal was to breastfeed for one year.  When I hit that milestone, he was still breastfeeding much more than eating, and neither of us had any inclination to stop.  In fact, he still breastfed more than ate solid food until 19 months, when I fell pregnant. 

During my pregnancy, I dealt with various people criticising my choice to continue breastfeeding.  There seems to be a myth that you cannot breastfeed whilst pregnant.  Yes, my milk dried up at one point, and I thought my son would stop, but he didn't.  He still needed that comfort, and so I let him have that, even though it was painful to dry nurse and I hated every second of it. 

That leads to another myth - that those of us who breastfeed our children past the age of one or two are doing it for ourselves and not for the child.  I suppose that may be true of some, though I doubt it.  It certainly isn't true of me.  While it will be bittersweet when my son weans himself completely, I won't truly be sad about it.  I wouldn't mind if he stopped breastfeeding now, but he's not ready and so I won't push him.  Some days he still breastfeeds in public, and I'm glad that he isn't bothered by that.  I've learnt to ignore any looks I may get from those around us. 

So why do I still breastfeed him?  Well, I touched on that already - he needs it.  Sure, he could probably figure out another way to be comforted by me when he's sleepy or not feeling well, but why should he?  It's an easy way to comfort him, it helps him to not be jealous of his sister, and it boosts his immune system.  He's still well within average age for weaning, as far as I know (the World Health Organization recommend 2 years or beyond).  He's quite capable of interacting with adults and children in various scenarios, and he's fine if I'm out all day, or gone for a couple of days, or if he wants to spend the day at a friend's house, so he's obviously not overly dependent on me.  But he sees breastfeeding as a special time with me, and while I'm not sure I actually enjoy breastfeeding him any more, it is nice to have that time to just slow down and enjoy my firstborn. 

I know he'll stop when he's ready, and it'll be easier weaning if we wait for him to be ready.  That's not to say that I don't have any say in it - I do.  I have imposed some limits for my own sanity, but I won't take it away from him completely.  He's only young for a little while, after all. 

14 November 2010

How to tell our son's a Trekkie

At not quite 3, our son is already a Trekkie.  He wanted to be Tuvok for Hallowe'en, though I procrastinated on making the costume and thus that didn't happen.  Lately he's been talking about holograms a lot, and he asks to watch Star Trek: Voyager nearly every day.  No complaints here, since my husband and I are both Trekkies. :-)

11 November 2010

Knitting Thursday: Hats

This week I've nearly finished the vest from last week (actually, it would be finished now, but I need to redo the neckband), and I've been working on hats.  I even went out and got some new yarn instead of just using my stash yarn, so I headed out to John Lewis and got some Rowan Cotton Glace in a lovely green (ivy) to make a vine lace hat for baby June (a friend's baby). 

I finished that one this morning, and decided to start on a fun toddler hat.  I'm just using some stash yarn for that one, and I'm not even sure what yarn it is.  I know that it's a wool blend, though, because I can feel and smell the lanolin, and it's making me itch.  Oh well, won't take long to knit a hat, especially since it's worsted weight.  My daughter is snuggly today, so there's the added challenge of doing this while she sleeps on me.  I've gotten pretty good at that, actually.

10 November 2010

Great post by Mark Shea

Check out this post by Mark Shea on the National Catholic Register blog.  I have to admit to getting tired of hearing all the same false claims about the Church; Shea addresses some of those in the post.

9 November 2010

Food For Thought

or just food. ;)  I ran out of crackers, resulting in tears from my son.  Both kids love to eat crackers as snacks, but I'd just forgotten to get them last time I got groceries.  I decided that I'd just make some - couldn't be that hard, right?  Well, it isn't hard at all!  I found a recipe on another blog and decided to do it.  I added some dried rosemary in mine, and they turned out well.  I think I could've kept them in the oven a bit longer, and rolled them out a little thinner, but I'll remember that for next time.  The kids enjoyed them, though.

Why am I Catholic? The Eucharist

While there are various reasons that led to my conversion, the ultimate reason is the Eucharist.  If the Eucharist is real, then I knew I had to be Catholic, and if it wasn't, then I shouldn't be.  At one point before my conversion, I tried to convince myself  that the Eucharist couldn't possibly be the Body and Blood of Jesus because consuming blood had been forbidden, and surely Jesus wouldn't reverse that (let's forget the fact that I ate my steak medium rare, and certainly didn't get meat from kosher butchers).  What I neglected to consider, though, was why consuming blood was forbidden.  (all Scripture references are from the New Jerusalem Bible)
        Genesis 9:4 "you must not eat flesh with life, that is to say blood, in it"
        Leviticus 17:11 "For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you for performing the rite of expiation on the altar for your lives, for blood is what expiates for a life."

So consuming blood was forbidden because the life was in the blood, and because blood was what expiated for life.  So what does Jesus say?  Let's look at John 6.  The beginning of the chapter is about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and then the crowds follow Him, and He says (v27) "27 Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal."  Then He goes on to elaborate:

48 I am the bread of life.
49 Your fathers ate manna in the desert and they are dead;
50 but this is the bread which comes down from heaven, so that a person may eat it and not die.
51 I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.'
52 Then the Jews started arguing among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'
53 Jesus replied to them: In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
54 Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day.
55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person.
57 As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me.
58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.

Wow! Jesus says we must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood to have life!  That makes so much sense.  Some Jews thought He was speaking literally and left, and Jesus didn't say that He wasn't speaking literally, but repeated it more forcefully!  If He didn't mean that, surely He should have corrected their misconception instead of letting them reject Him based on a misunderstanding.  After all, in John 3, when Nicodemus misunderstands Jesus about being born again, Jesus corrects him.

So what did the early Christians think?  Here's a quote from St Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of St John the Apostle: "They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again." Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to Smyrnaeans, 7,1 (c. A.D. 110)

And a quote from St Justin Martyr: "For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66 (c. A.D. 110-165).

(quotes were found on Scripture Catholic)

My belief has only been confirmed and strengthened by looking at various Eucharistic miracles, my favourite being the miracle at Lanciano.

8 November 2010

The Cloth Diaper Report Giveaway!

See here for a giveaway with The Cloth Diaper Report. It's for a $100 Diaper Junction shopping spree - exciting!  (yeah, I know, way to tell I'm a mum). 

Rainy Days and Mondays

Mondays don't necessarily get me down, but grey rainy days can.  I know I'm much less patient and nice when it's dreary out.  Sometimes I even find myself tensing up if it's grey outside and darker inside.  I find it especially hard with my son, who needs to go out to play, but can't.  With no car, I often just don't get out on rainy days, unless I have to do so for some reason.  At least I've been somewhat productive thus far today.

5 November 2010


I realised recently how lucky I am to be able to attend daily Mass.  How awesome!  To top it off, lately I've been given the grace to truly feel Jesus' Presence in the Eucharist.  I'm truly overcome with emotion when I gaze upon the Tabernacle or the Host.  I thank God for this grace.  I don't always have the words to say, but I can relate to the man at St Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney's parish who said "I look at Him, and He looks at me" (not sure I have that exact).  Thank you, Jesus, for giving Yourself to us in the Eucharist.

How to make both kids giggle

Play this video:


I really wish patens were widely used in Mass.  This isn't a debate about receiving in the hand or on the tongue - I prefer receiving on the tongue, but both are acceptable, and both can be done reverently.  Regardless of that, I think patens should be used.  Today at Mass I noticed that someone received and a little piece of the Host broke off and fell.  This person didn't notice, and at first I wasn't even sure if  that's what I saw.  The priest didn't notice, either.  After Mass, once people had cleared out a bit, I went back to see, and it was a piece of the Host, so I consumed it.  I'm sure there were probably other crumbs that I missed, unfortunately. :-(  The priest had already gone by that time, so I couldn't tell him about it.  I suppose I should have talked to the sacristan, though I think she may have left by then, too.  I can't quite remember now.

4 November 2010

Knitting Thursday

OK, I doubt I'll do this every Thursday, but I feel like posting about my knitting today.  I've been working on some things for the kids for Christmas.  Right now I just need to put the finishing touches on a vest for Kieran.  I'm making him the Argylish vest that I found on Ravelry.  Unfortunately the needles I had were too long to knit it in the round the way the pattern calls for, but it wasn't difficult to just sew up that one side seem.  I'd toyed with the idea of knitting in the black crosses, since I hate duplicate stitch, but I was going crazy enough with 13 balls of yarn attached at one point.  Pictures to follow, since my computer's being weird.

3 November 2010

NFP wars

Lately I've been noticing NFP wars online (thinking specifically of the comments section on a post on the Conversion Diary).  I know it happens, and I sometimes struggle with not getting caught up in the whole "my method is best" thing.  I'm a Billings instructor, so obviously I like that method best and am quick to defend it, but I also recognise that the three major methods (Sympto-Thermal, Creighton, and Billings) are good and that it's good that there are different method so that people can choose the one that fits their personality best and works best for them.  It's just annoying when others don't seem to get that, and instead say that their method is better, or the only one that's effective for both achieving and avoiding pregnancy, or flies to the moon, or whatever.  They're all good methods, and there shouldn't be such competition between them.  Shouldn't we just be happy that there are these different methods and that they're gaining ground in use? 

Hislop's false claims

I honestly feel like screaming any time I come across a site posting false info about Catholicism, especially when that info has come from Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons. I know some people don't realise the ideas they're posting come from that, since Hislop has been referenced by lots of other people, but it's still infuriating, not only as a Catholic, but also a student of archaeology and history. His claims are incredibly inaccurate, with no basis in the historical or archaeological record. I am therefore going to go through some of his claims briefly. I apologise if it gets confusing.

Basically, he claims that Catholicism is a continuation pagan Babylonian worship.  According to him, this centres on Nimrod, Semiramis, and Tammuz. So who were these people? Nimrod is mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 10:8-10) as the great-grandson of Noah and king of Babel. Traditionally, he's the builder of the tower of Babel. Beyond that, we don't really know. According to Hislop, Nimrod is the same person as Ninus, founder of Nineveh and husband of Semiramis according to the Greeks. Semiramis is often identified with an Assyrian queen Shammuramat, who didn't live at the same time as either Nimrod or Ninus. Hislop claims that Semiramis deified herself as “the Mother” and is the same person as the goddess Rhea. He also claims that Ninus/Nimrod is sometimes listed as her son, and that the two of them together are also the same as Osiris and Isis, claiming that Osiris is the son and husband of Isis. However, Osiris is not the son of Isis in any Egyptian myth of which I'm aware. He is her brother and husband, but not her son. Tammuz was a Sumerian god of vegetation. While Hislop identifies him as the son of Semiramis, there was no connection with her.

He continues to identify these figures with various pagan deities, noting tenuous similarities (which sometimes don't actually exist at all). He speaks of the prevalence of these mother & son dyads in different religions, and concludes that the depictions of Mary and the Infant Jesus show a continuation of that pagan worship. In reality, the depictions of Mary and the Infant Jesus simply show the reality that Jesus became Incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and she no doubt held Him as any mother would hold her Son. More to the point, Mary isn't worshipped by Catholics; if anyone were to worship her, they would be disobeying the Church. 

I know I've not gone into great detail - maybe I can get to that another time - but I wanted to address those things quickly. 

The MMR Debate

Well, I'm starting to think about the MMR again.  With my son I deliberated and deliberated and decided to have him get it because I didn't want him catching it and then infecting a pregnant woman, since I know she'd likely be counseled to abort.  I wrote to the drug company and expressed my frustrations and how I considered the rubella portion to be immoral since it uses human diploid cells from an aborted foetus.  The response I received basically brushed me off, saying the Church was OK with it if  there wasn't an alternative, and so it was OK.  Well, yes, the Church does say that if you need a vaccine, and the only available one is developed in that way, you can use it, but that alternatives should be made available.  The drug company didn't seem to care about creating a moral alternative. 

So that leads to the debate this time around.  Measles, mumps, and rubella aren't all that prevalent, and none are usually serious.  Rubella is only a problem if a pregnant woman contracts it, especially during the first trimester.  The question is, do I use a morally questionable vaccine to protect my daughter against something that isn't prevalent or all that serious on the chance that she may get it and spread it to a pregnant woman, knowing the drug company has no incentive to create a moral alternative, or do I forego it because of the moral issues and because I know the drug company isn't listening.  And no, getting the vaccine parts separated and importing a moral alternative to the rubella component (there is one in Japan, though it's not as effective), isn't an option.  So what would you do?