31 January 2011

But I Don't Wanna!

No, I'm not talking about my kids' reaction to something.  I'm talking about NFP, actually.  Someone mentioned that it's no wonder that people leave the Church or don't become Catholic, given the stance on NFP/contraception.  I don't disagree with the observation, necessarily, since choosing to use NFP is a sacrifice, and that isn't all that attractive to most of us, at least not at first.  I well remember my own visceral reaction when I read the Church's stance on contraception and NFP.  I was already determined to convert, but I was not at all happy to read about that, or to hear that maybe I was wrong.  So my first reaction was just to get angry about it and try to explain it away or rail against that particular teaching or explain how I was somehow exempt.  So yes, I can understand why people leave or don't enter the Church due to this - it's a hard teaching, though I can definitely say that it's worth it.  After all, anything worth something is going to be hard work and require sacrifice.

It gets a little harder, actually, because we also can't use NFP to avoid pregnancy without just reason.  See this document on EWTN for more information on that.  Again, the first reaction can sometimes be "but I don't wanna!".  It's our natural gut reaction to want to rebel when we're told to do or not to do something.  Or at least that's my initial reaction a lot of the time.  As with following NFP at all, though, following it in a way that is just is also worth it.  I'm reminded of the reaction when the disciples heard Jesus' teachings on marriage and divorce, actually, since they, too, thought it a difficult teaching (Matthew 19:10).  But we are called to holiness, and that requires sacrifice and selflessness, which is also what NFP can help teach us.

I should add that couples don't have to follow NFP.  They're free to not chart at all and leave it all up to God, and I think that's great.

Book Nook

On to that classic The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.  It's another one that I read as a child, though I'd not thought much about it in the intervening years.  Instead, it was my uncle who reminded me of the book, stating that it was one of his favourites.  And so when I found a copy of it, I snatched it up.  I'd read an online copy of it to K prior to having a hard copy, so he's been exposed to it from quite a young age.  He's very fond of Mr Toad, Badger, Ratty, and Mole.  As with the Just So Stories, his favourite story varies from time to time.  His love of cars sometimes influences his decision in that regard, so he often reads about Mr Toad's adventures in the car.  I highly recommend reading these stories.

29 January 2011

But We Must Do Something!

Maybe it's just me, but it seems that sometimes in medicine (thinking specifically of maternity/intrapartum/neonatal) the reason for doing something seems to be for the sake of doing something.  Maybe there's really a problem, maybe not, but the default often seems to be to do something, anything.  Now, I'm not saying action isn't sometimes justified, because it is, and I'm very grateful for modern medicine.  However, it seems to me, bearing in mind that I have no medical training, that it makes more sense to do nothing until and unless action is indicated.  Shouldn't we have to justify taking an action, instead of justifying not taking an action?  This is one reason I'm in favour of delayed cord clamping (see this page for Dr Nicholas Fogelson's thoughts on this), against routine infant circumcision, against continuous foetal monitoring, in favour of the woman getting to move around and eat and drink during labour as she wishes, in favour of a natural delivery of the placenta, etc.  Surely the default should be to leave the body alone unless it can be shown that an intervention is truly beneficial?  And that interventions shouldn't be used 100% of the time?  When interventions are indicated, I also feel that the least amount of intervention that will accomplish the goal should be used.  After all, we don't want to make McCoy's mistake when he was overly aggressive in treating Spock and temporarily blinded him.

Going to Get You!

This is what my son says to me after dinner when he wants to play.  He'll come up to me and say "I going to get you, Mom!", when he will then proceed to tickle me, get my nose, or run away so I can hide.  I love this time of day when we can play like this.  I'll usually hide behind doors or curtains while he tries to find me.  I'll call out his name, and he'll start looking around going "Mummy?" or "Where's Mom?" (yes, he alternates between calling me Mom and Mummy).  C joins in the game and I usually end up holding her whilst playing so she doesn't give away my location too easily.  Both kids love playing this, and K will beg to play "one more time" about 10 times before we tell him that it really it is time for bed.  Love it.

28 January 2011

See the Button?

Did you see the Swagbucks button to the left?  You should click on it.  Swagbucks has seriously helped us out.  We usually get Amazon vouchers with the Swagbucks, which means we didn't have to pay out of pocket for K's birthday (I did have some vouchers from various survey sites, too, but at least £10 of it was from Swagbucks).  Every little bit adds up, so check it out.

27 January 2011


Chewing on the power cables.  Yep, that's C.  She likes to try chewing on power cords (don't worry, I make sure she doesn't hurt herself), so I call her a mynock.  One more reason my husband loves me.

Knitting Thursday

Since there's nothing much to report as far as knitting projects (still working on B's sweater), I thought I'd talk about the yarn and needles I'm using.  The yarn is Wildflower DK by Plymouth, which is a nice yarn to use, I think.  It's a fairly soft yarn, and it knits up really well.  I've even had great luck with unravelling things and starting new projects with the yarn.  It's sad that it's being discontinued, but so it goes.

I'm using size 5 bamboo circular needles for this project.  I really like bamboo needles.  They're nice and smooth, and don't split my fingertips if I've not knitted in a while like metal needles tend to do.  I've never really liked straight needles, which I'm sure is at least in part because I used circular needles when I first started knitting.  So even if I'm just knitting back and forth, I prefer the circular needles.

26 January 2011

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

That's how I feel with potty training K.  He'll start making great progress, and then regress.  Some days he's super excited about wearing underwear and using the toilet, while other days he screams if we mention it and begs for a diaper instead.  For the most part I'm inclined to let him be in charge of it, and yet I second-guess myself about that at times.  I'm sure some of it is that I'm sometimes busy with C or cooking or cleaning or whatever, and so don't always think to remind him about the toilet.  *sigh*  Part of it, too, is that he regressed big time when he got the flu before Christmas, and then the hype of Christmas of course threw him off and he's just now getting back into the swing of things.  Oh well, I know he'll get it sooner or later.

25 January 2011

Sibling Interactions

I'm continually amazed and amused by how K and C interact with each other.  Not being close in age to my siblings, this isn't something I've really experienced first hand.  I mean, we played together, of course, but it wasn't the same as this.  Yes, they get irritated with each other at times, and we have to remind K to be gentle (especially when he's hugging C around her neck), but seeing them play together is just amazing.  K likes to empty one of the toy boxes and climb in so he can be pushed around, but he makes sure C is able to join him in the box.  He tries to teach her to climb the stairs, and likes to show her how to walk.  They have great fun chasing each other around.  C gets really excited when it's time to get K up from his nap, or if K's hiding and I ask her where he is.

At the playground today I was talking to another mum about this, and she mentioned that she hadn't counted on the sibling relationship.  She had her relationship with the elder child, and she had her relationship with the younger, but she hadn't thought of the relationship between the two of them, and I agreed with her.  The most I'd thought about, really, was how much K's life was going to change, and whether he'd feel pushed aside since he wouldn't have as much 1-on-1 time with me.  And I worried some about not getting all the 1-on-1 time with C.  I hadn't considered the gift that a sibling would be for both of them.  I can't wait to see all the fun they'll continue to have together.

24 January 2011

Book Nook

Time for another of my childhood faves: Beatrix Potter's stories.  I had the collection of them as a child, and knew I wanted them for my children.  I therefore started looking for a set when I was pregnant with K. I started reading them to him at night when he was very young, just a couple of months old.  We've gone through all of them, but he has his definite favourites: "The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck", "The Tale of Benjamin Bunny", and "The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies".  We'll see which ones C likes as she gets older.

22 January 2011


Everyone's been talking about the horrors of that abortion clinic in Philly, and everyone is, rightly, outraged.  I read an article, though, that just made me shake my head a bit at the author's conclusions.  The author concludes that a clinic such as this is indicative of the need to make safe abortion more available.  Now, besides the fact that abortion is never safe for at least one person involved, it seems that Philly isn't exactly lacking abortion facilities.  OK, so this place performed late-term abortions which are illegal, so the women couldn't have gotten those elsewhere, but their babies could also have survived outside the womb thanks to modern medicine.  If they really had a medical reason where continuing the pregnancy was going to be potentially fatal for them, they could have had the child delivered and cared for in an NICU.  Still not ideal, but that's a possibility.

I did agree with one quote from the article, though: "His patients subjected themselves to terrible abuses because that’s what women will do when they’re desperate and they don’t see other options."  It's possible these women felt desperate, but abortion isn't the answer to that.  Maybe they didn't see other options, but again, abortion isn't the answer.  It is not justifiable to  deliberately, directly kill one so that another may avoid consequences.  I'm not trying to sound harsh, but it's the truth that every action has a consequence, for good or bad.  And I do understand feeling terrified at being pregnant - I was terrified when I learnt of my first pregnancy, even though I was married.  I was worried that I wouldn't be a good mother, worried about what I'd have to give up, worried about finances, but I've found that children don't need as much as society tells us, they don't cost as much as society tells us, and anything I've given up has been willingly and has had rich rewards.  I'm far from a perfect mother, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I do believe more options need to be available, options for good antenatal care, options for good support for these women during their pregnancies and after the births of their children, options for taking children to school or work as needed or working/learning from home, options for adoption if the women truly cannot care for the children.  But don't tell them they have to sacrifice their children in order to continue school, to pursue a career, or whatever, because that's just wrong.

God and Father of Life,
You have created every human person,
And have opened the way for each to have eternal life.

We live in the shadow of death.
Tens of millions of your children have been killed
because of the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Father, have mercy on us.
Heal our land
And accept our offering of prayer and penance.
In your love for us,
Turn back the scourge of abortion.

May each of us exult in hearts full of hope
And hands full of mercy
And work together to build a culture of life.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Prayer from the Priests for Life Novena of Reparation for Roe v Wade)

21 January 2011

Home Birth

Before I begin, let me say that I'm absolutely not against OBs or hospital births - OBs provide a valuable service and hospitals are sometimes necessary for birth.  If a woman wants to give birth in a hospital, she should be able to do so.  I simply do not think OBs should be the first person to go to for a normal pregnancy and birth, though they are definitely needed for high-risk pregnancies and deliveries.

Having had a home birth with my second child, I can definitely say that I want to give birth at home with my future children, assuming a healthy pregnancy and such.  I've even gone so far as to tell my husband I really don't want to live somewhere that isn't home birth-friendly (I know he doesn't have complete control over that one, so it's not like I'd tell him to refuse a position he wanted if it was in a state that didn't support home births).  I have to say, then, that I get rather sad and irritated when I read ACOG's statement about home births.  This has been parsed over at The Unnecessarian, but I'd like to add some of my own thoughts to it.  I do suggest checking out her thoughts, too, though.

So, let's start at the beginning.
ACOG acknowledges a woman's right to make informed decisions regarding her delivery and to have a choice in choosing her health care provider, but ACOG does not support programs that advocate for, or individuals who provide, home births.
Hmm, contradictory, isn't it?  Giving a person the chance to make a truly informed choice means giving them all the information, even if it means they might not choose what you want them to choose.  If ACOG doesn't support programmes that advocate for home birth, or individuals who provide home births, then women don't truly have all the information to make a real informed choice.  Not only that, but it can make home birth more dangerous if the woman doesn't have access to the necessary information and medical personelle if she choose a home birth anyway but doesn't have all the information.  Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby ACOG can continue to claim that home birth isn't safe, despite studies in Europe showing that it is safe for women with normal, healthy pregnancies who spontaneously go into labour at full term.  Of course, those European countries where home birth is more common also have well-trained midwives who can work with the hospital should an emergency arise, something that isn't always possible in the US, sadly.
Childbirth decisions should not be dictated or influenced by what's fashionable, trendy, or the latest cause célèbre
OK, this sentence is just infuriating.  I know quite a few women who've chosen home birth, and none of them have chosen that because it's the "in" thing or because some celebrity did it.  Instead, these women chose it after researching the options, the risks and benefits, and making an informed choice that it would be best for them.  I know I chose it for many reasons.  For one, I knew my first labour was rather quick, and knew the second was likely to be quicker, and therefore thought it prudent to plan for a home birth.  I wanted to make sure I had a supportive, experienced midwife, and knew that was more likely at home.  I cannot have an epidural (allergic and low blood pressure) and did not want narcotics, so I didn't need any medications the midwives wouldn't have on hand.  I wanted to avoid any unnecessary interventions.  I wanted to birth in a place where I wouldn't be stressed and could move about as wanted/needed and choose a position that was comfortable for me.  I didn't want the stress of being away from my son.  And if an emergency arose, I live only 4 miles from the hospital and I had a hospital bag packed just in case a transfer became necessary.  At no time did I decide to have a home birth because friends were doing it or because some celebrity did it.  To suggest that women make their birth decisions so frivolously is insulting.
Unless a woman is in a hospital, an accredited freestanding birthing center, or a birthing center within a hospital complex, with physicians ready to intervene quickly if necessary, she puts herself and her baby's health and life at unnecessary risk.
If this is the case, then hospitals and birth centres had better have OBs and anaesthetists on site at all times, but I highly doubt this is the case except for perhaps in some very large hospitals.  I did have an OB called in for my first birth, because the midwife assigned to me evidently wasn't experienced with ventouse.  However, a ventouse delivery probably wouldn't have even been necessary had she worked with me and realised I was in transition when I was (part of the reason for the ventouse was because I'd consented to the pethidine at transition, which made me a bit too sleepy/loopy to get off my back and push effectively; another reason was that I was on my back, which had caused K to turn posterior - he'd been in the correct position until then as far as I'm aware).   The OB was very nice and did her job well, but I'm not convinced her presence was absolutely necessary, or rather that her presence would've been necessary had I had a supportive, experienced midwife and had I known more about labour and birth at that time.
It should be emphasized that studies comparing the safety and outcome of births in hospitals with those occurring in other settings in the US are limited and have not been scientifically rigorous. Moreover, lay or other midwives attending to home births are unable to perform live-saving emergency cesarean deliveries and other surgical and medical procedures that would best safeguard the mother and child 
OK, I won't argue too much with that, except to say that a better solution to this is to support midwives and create rigorous training programmes for them through the universities and to have OBs and midwives work in partnership.
The main goal should be a healthy and safe outcome for both mother and baby. Choosing to deliver a baby at home, however, is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby.
Sorry, but I don't subscribe to the "all that matters is a healthy baby" line.  Don't get me wrong, that's of absolute, utmost importance, but it doesn't mean that the mother's psychological health can be ignored in the process of that.  While I know my first birth isn't anywhere near being considered traumatic by most standards, it still hurts me to think of the way I was treated, of the unnecessary fear, of the insults to me during labour.  Yes, I'm very glad K was born healthy, but I wish it had been more peaceful, and that we'd gotten to have the delayed cord clamping and that he'd been able to be delivered directly onto my chest instead of whisked away first (the initial checks could've been performed with him on my chest).  Yes, I wanted a better experience, though I was not sacrificing mine or my daughter's well-being in asking for that.  I was satisfied that the community midwives would take care of my daughter and me, and that they'd get me to the hospital if it became necessary.  So it's not an either/or situation - women should have the opportunity to have the birth they want, safely.

I'll end with giving the summary of RCOG's statement on home birth:
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) support home birth for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women at low risk of complications and it may confer considerable benefits for them and their families. There is ample evidence showing that labouring at home increases a woman's likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe, with implications for her health and that of her baby.1-3 
Update: check out this post by Mama Birth

20 January 2011

Knitting Thursday

The main thing I've worked on since last week is C's new hat.  I'd just needed a little break from the monotony of the 5x3 ribbing for B's sweater.  Unfortunately I hadn't noticed at first that part of the yarn for C's hat was faded, but so it goes when recycling old knits.

I've not been knitting quite as much this week, though, as I've been trying to get back into a good housekeeping routine, and the weather's been nice enough to take the kids outside.

19 January 2011


On Sunday morning, as we were at Mass, I was trying to direct K to pay attention to what was happening on the altar, to recognise and show reverence for our Lord in the Eucharist.  I didn't do much, just pointed out to him that Jesus was on the altar, which usually has the effect of reminding him to pay attention.  This time, though, as I was telling him this, I was thinking about the amount of reverence shown, or not.  I was telling him that Jesus was there, but then had to ask myself if I was behaving in a way that showed the reality of what was happening, and I don't think I was.

I have a hard time sometimes staying focused, not getting irritated, and generally showing the reverence due my Saviour when I'm at Mass, either because I'm trying to make sure the kids are okay and not getting into trouble, or because I start focusing on others who are talking or whatnot.  While I do think there needs to be more reverence shown in general, I can't change what other people do or don't do, and I need to stop paying attention to that.  What I can do is ensure that I am showing the proper reverence to my Eucharistic Lord, reminding myself of why I'm there.  I also think that my children will be more affected by me giving a positive example than just giving them a few directions and yet not showing the reverence I should.  And I can work on not getting irritated when I'm broken out of my reverie by a kid falling down or squirming or crying.

Perhaps providentially, I just saw this excerpt from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. Maybe I should re-read that book.

Noah, a good man (Gen 6:9), is said to have worked a hundred years to build the ark, so that he and a few others might be saved (I Pet 3:20.). How, then, can I in one short hour prepare myself to receive with reverence the Creator of the world? Moses, Your great servant and especial friend, constructed an Ark of imperishable wood (Exod 25:10), and covered it with purest gold, in order to house the Tablets of the Law:and how shall I, a corruptible creature, dare so lightly to receive You, the Maker of the Law and Giver of life? Solomon, wisest of Israel's kings (I Kings 5:7), spent seven years in building a splendid Temple in praise of Your name. For eight days he kept the Feast of its Dedication, and offered a thousand peace-offerings. To the sound of trumpets, he solemnly and joyfully bore the Ark of the Covenant to its appointed resting-place. How, then, shall I, unworthiest and poorest of men, welcome You into my house (Luke 7:6), when I can hardly spend half an hour devoutly? If only I could spend even half an hour as I ought!

O my God, how earnestly did all these strive to please You! And how little, alas, can I do! How short is the time that I employ in preparing myself for Communion! Seldom am I entirely recollected, and very seldom free from all distraction. Yet in Your saving presence, O God, no unbecoming thought should enter my mind, for it is not an Angel, but the Lord of Angels who comes to be my guest.

18 January 2011

Feast Days

Since I wasn't raised Catholic, we obviously didn't celebrate feast days growing up, but it's something I'm trying to do for my children.  Today is my daughter's feast day, and so I'll make some fairy cakes, and we'll go to Mass, and we'll ask for the intercession of her patron Saint.  I think it's a good way to remember that the Church includes those who have gone on before us.  As the kids get older, perhaps I can have them learn more about their patron Saints, so they can serve as holy examples for them, and for all of us.

17 January 2011

Book Nook

Continuing with my new series.  Up for grabs today is The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.  I can't remember exactly when we got this for K, but he loves it.  When I was pregnant with C, he wanted to read this all the time.  He wanted to read it so much that I memorised it, which came in handy.  Since I felt horrible for most of the pregnancy, I could recite the story whilst K turned the pages.  This also proved helpful if I was cooking or doing something that didn't allow for me to sit down with him.  It's a cute story.  The sequel, The Gruffalo's Child, is also nice, but I don't think it's as good as the original.

16 January 2011


Babywearing has been a Godsend.  When I was pregnant with K, a dear childhood friend made me an Ellaroo-type wrap, which I've since lent to a sister-in-law.  Another sister-in-law sent me the Baby Bjorn and a ring sling.  Unfortunately I don't have photos of me using these.  The Ellaroo-type wrap was used immediately.  I remember walking through north Wales and Manchester with K strapped on in it.  I loved having him so close.  I wasn't quite comfortable with a sling, so I didn't use that much, nor did I use the Ellaroo as a sling.  The Bjorn got used some, but I never found it all that comfortable.  I did have a pram, and it did get used quite a bit.  The problem I had with some of these is that they hurt my back.  I had residual sciatic pain after having K, and pushing a pram/buggy or wearing him hurt after a bit.  Then I encountered a friend who told me about her Kari-Me and let me try it out.  I was determined to get one after that.  I loved it!  My back didn't hurt in it, and K was comfortable.  I never got the hang of breastfeeding him in it, perhaps because I hadn't started using it earlier with him, but I successfully breastfed C in it from the very beginning.  I started wearing her the day after she was born, as I went about the house.  I found the Kari-Me to be comfortable with K until around 19 months.  I was never good at wearing him on my back with it, though.  With C, I rarely use it now because she's figured out how to push up and lean back to wriggle herself loose.

When I was pregnant with C, I was talking to a friend on Phatmass about babywearing, and she offered to make me a mei tai.  I was rather excited about that, since it was becoming difficult to wear K in the Kari-Me.  I mainly wore him on my back with the mei tai, though I did stop wearing him when I got to the 3rd trimester.  He loved being worn, though.  Once C was born, I started wearing her in that, too.  The photo isn't the best, as I was taking it myself, but it's what I have at the moment.  It's so easy to breastfeed in the mei tai, which is another plus.  She sometimes goes on my back, especially if I need to cook and she wants to be held.

Because C loves being held, I've also rigged a quick sling.  I didn't always want to take the time to get her fully strapped on, and there were times when it wasn't a good idea to have her all on my front, and at the time I wasn't yet wearing her on my back.  I picked up a heavy scarf I have and knotted it so it was adjusted correctly and securely, and popped her in it.  Easy to get her in and out quickly, easy to breastfeed in, and she seemed fairly comfortable.  I don't find that as comfortable as the Kari-Me or mei tai, but for short bursts it works.

15 January 2011

Breastfeeding and Iron

I thought I'd expand on this topic in particular, since it seems to be the basis for that study I wrote about before saying that exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months may not be a good thing.  The thing is, in their publication, they mention that infant anaemia could be avoided by increasing the mother's iron stores in pregnancy, delayed cord clamping, and supplementing high-risk infants.  From Kellymom, those who are high-risk are babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight, babies born to mothers with poorly controlled diabetes, babies fed cow's milk during the first year, and perhaps babies whose mothers are anaemic (this last one hasn't been borne out by medical studies, though).  These are things that can be done without needing to introduce solids before the child is truly ready for them.  In fact, the iron in breast milk is more bioavailable for the infant than the iron in other foods.

It seems to me that the proper way to handle this would be to advise pregnant women to get enough iron, to make delayed cord clamping the normal practise, and to screen/supplement those infants who are at a high risk of becoming anaemic, instead of saying that babies should be given solid foods before they are developmentally ready.  Pregnant women are already screened for anaemia, so this is already a discussion women are having with their care providers.  Delayed cord clamping has been shown to increase the baby's iron stores and thus decrease the chances of anaemia.  While this isn't the norm at the moment (or at least it isn't here, as far as I know), you can talk to your care provider about doing this and the benefits of it.  I know with C my midwives had no problem with waiting for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it (my wishes were not followed with K, unfortunately).

My conclusion: look at the other things that can be done which are beneficial to mother and baby and don't undermine breastfeeding.  Saying that solids should be introduced earlier when the mother can increase her iron intake and delayed cord clamping can be practised is a bit like closing the barn after the horses have gone.  It's not getting to the root of the solution and can, in my opinion, cause other problems, in addition to eroding women's confidence in breastfeeding.  And that is something that we definitely don't need, especially given all the obstacles, false information, and hostility with breastfeeding.

The Wonders of Breast Milk

I just saw this article talking about how the composition of breast milk changes.  I already knew that the milk was different between preemies, infants, and toddlers, changing to meet the child's needs.  I also knew that specific antibodies are made according to the child's needs, in addition to the maternal antibodies that are present.  What I didn't know is that the composition of breast milk is also different between boys and girls, with the milk boys receive being higher in protein and fat.  That's pretty amazing!  Maybe it also helps explain why K weighed over a pound more than C at 9 months, despite the fact that he was over a pound lighter than she was at birth.  Really, the more I read, the more amazing breast milk is.

14 January 2011

Sick of It

I'm tired of reading things that undermine breastfeeding.  Update: full info on study here. Saying a breastfeeding child needs certain vitamins because breastmilk is low in those.  Low in comparison to what?  Formula?  So the milk that a mother's body makes, that is specifically designed for her child and changes with her child according to the child's needs isn't good enough, but milk from another species is?!  Kellymom has a great post about iron levels and why most breastfed infants are not anaemic. There's a lot of good breastfeeding info on that site, and I highly recommend it.  It's certainly come in handy for me over the years.

Now, I agree that some children may be ready for/need complementary foods prior to 6 months.  This seems like common sense, really.  Just as babies roll over, sit up, talk, crawl, walk, etc at different times, so they are ready for food at different times, with some being ready a little before 6 months (wouldn't think it would be very much prior to that, though), and some are closer to a year before needing solid foods.  C was definitely ready around 5 months.  I'd planned on waiting until she was 6 months, but she was developmentally ready before then, as shown by the fact that she was sitting up well unaided, had lost the tongue-thrust reflex, had the pincer grasp, and was obviously interested in foods.  We follow baby-led weaning, so we followed her cues, and then gave her the same things we were eating, just cut into chunks large enough for her to handle easily.  She didn't actually eat much, if any, of it at first, but gnawed on the foods and explored the tastes and textures.

I also think the article's argument for weaning before 6 months by stating that a child will reject green vegetables if they aren't introduced before then is rather flimsy.  If the mother is eating those things, some of the flavour will be retained in the breast milk. The child will also see those foods being eaten by the family, and can be given them when weaning commences.  Introducing them prior to 6 months, though, is certainly no guarantee that the child will like them as he gets older.  If it was a guarantee, then K would love broccoli now, since he was given that before 6 months, but he won't touch it now.  (side note - K did have solid foods too early and had bad eczema as a result).  So far C eats just about anything except for green beans and Brussels sprouts, though.

Edit to add: I also wanted to add that a baby's iron stores should be increased with delayed cord clamping, so the baby can receive more of the blood.

For a more uplifting note, here's a nice article.

H/T to Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths, who also found that 3 of the 4 authors of the study in the first article admitted to being associated with formula companies, and to The Analytical Armadillo.


I was thinking about something recently, about how some objections to Attachment Parenting seem to be based on conflict.  Conflict between the spousal relationship versus the parental relationship or conflict between parent and child.  What I mean is the arguments I've heard against co-sleeping or responding quickly to cries or breastfeeding on demand.  I've seen people saying that co-sleeping will ruin a marriage, setting up a conflict between the spousal and parental relationships.  I've seen people say that responding quickly to the child every time (ie: not practising cry-it-out or sleep training) or breastfeeding completely on demand instead of scheduling feedings leads to the child manipulating you, thus setting up a parent-child conflict.

While I know I'm no expert, given that my oldest child is just over 3 years old, I see this conflicts are artificial.  Why must there be a conflict between the spousal and parental relationships?  Yes, there's an adjustment period, but the relationships are not ad odds, and to say they are is to set up a false dichotomy (I love that word, by the way).  The same with saying the child is manipulating you, or saying that you must train the child to your schedule instead of doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done.  If a parenting style is creating a conflict, perhaps it's time to reevaluate things, in my opinion.  Being a parent is hard, but I see no reason for it to inherently create conflict between spouses or the parents and children.

13 January 2011

Knitting Thursday

Not much to report today.  I've finished the back of B's sweater and started on the front.  I did a swatch of the Sherwood sweater to see if I could get away with using Wildflower DK, but I'll have to figure out the math for that, or switch to using the blue aran weight yarn I have.  I'll likely do the latter.  I suppose I could also just do the next size up on the pattern, and that might work.  Maybe I'll do both and make two of them.  Or not.  We'll see.

I also found a cute hat pattern for C.  I'm always on the lookout for nice hats she can wear at Mass.

12 January 2011

BabyCentre Rant

For some reason I was checking out the BabyCentre site recently, even though every time I do that I swear I'll never visit their site again.  Anyway, I was on their sleep section, and was appalled to see that they suggest having your baby cry it out from 4-5 months to get them to sleep through the night!  This goes against what the research shows, though, not to mention that at that age the child cannot understand that you'll be back in x minutes/hours and needs his mother.  A friend of mine once explained it this way: if she was crying, and her husband could hear her but chose to ignore her, she'd probably stop crying, but she'd also feel hurt by her husband and might not trust him as much.  Wouldn't a child feel something similar?  They rely on us for all their needs.  They can't get up on their own, they can't feed themselves, they even regulate their breathing and heartrate with the mother's.  Also, since prolactin levels are highest at night, cutting out the night feeds could harm the breastfeeding relationship and lead to premature weaning.  So I'll once again swear off BabyCentre, knowing I'll probably venture onto there again to see if they've changed their advice.  I certainly won't recommend it to anyone, though.

11 January 2011

St Peregrine, Pray for Them

There are two people in my life right now who are battling cancer.  One is the pastor of my parish, Fr David.  He's been moved to a hospice following the failure of chemo, and he isn't doing well.  The other is a lady I've known for most of my life, and who I consider to be family.  St Peregrine is the patron Saint of cancer patients, so I am asking him to pray with me for these people.  He is the patron of cancer patients because he himself was cured from cancer after seeing a vision of Jesus.

O great St. Peregrine, you have been called "The Mighty," "The Wonder-Worker," because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you.

For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fibre of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favoured with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure of the sick whom we entrust to you.
(Pause here and silently recall the names of the sick for whom you are praying)
Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and mercy.

Amber Teething Necklaces

When I was pregnant with C, I decided to try out the amber teething necklaces.  I hadn't heard of them until K was older, thus why I didn't try it with him.  I started putting it on her fairly early, both because K started teething early (first teeth at 4 months), and to get her used to wearing it.  At 9 months, she still doesn't have teeth, but is teething, and the necklace really seems to help.  With K I'd relied a lot on Hyland's Teething Tablets, which are wonderful.  However, they have lactose in them, and C has a dairy intolerance, so they make her sick.  Once her teeth start coming through we'll see just how much the amber helps, but as of right now, I think it's going to help her quite a bit.  So far she's not needed anything other than the amber necklace and the occasional wet cloth to chew.

10 January 2011

Book Nook

A new series.  We love to read (obviously, since B's post-grad degrees are in French lit, and I nearly minored in English lit), and we've passed this on to our children.  So I thought I'd talk about some of the things we read with our children.

First up - Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories.  I grew up reading, and loving, these stories.  I read them and reread them over and over again, always captivated by Kipling's use of language.  His stories came to life, and these stories stayed with me over the years.  When my son was born, I knew I wanted to read those stories to him, to share with him my love of Kipling.  So we got a volume of them and began reading them to him, and he loves them.  We've just ordered the full volume (I'd thought the set we have was going to have all the stories, but it doesn't, and it's censored).  K loves these stories and talks about them. He changes which one is his current favourite, but most recently that was "The Cat That Walked By Himself".  I'm glad we read these stories to the kids, and that they enjoy hearing them again and again.  If you've not read them, or haven't read them in a while, pick them up!  You won't regret it.

9 January 2011

Why is it?

Why is it that if a woman gets pregnant whilst using NFP, people use that as "proof" that NFP doesn't work, but if a woman gets pregnant using hormonal birth control or condoms or whatnot, it's seen as a fluke?  Nothing, barring complete abstinence, is 100% effective at avoiding pregnancy.  Sure, some methods might have less wiggle room, so if a couple doesn't practise it correctly, they're more likely to conceive with some methods than with others.  That doesn't make the method unreliable when the couple are not correctly practising that method.  And sometimes pregnancy is going to occur even if a couple is following a method correctly because, again, nothing short of absolute abstinence is 100% effective.  Sorry, this is just a pet peeve of mine.

8 January 2011

Auditions for the Fonz

I joke that my children are auditioning to be Fonzie.  No, they haven't seen Happy Days.  It started with K.  We'd sometimes say "hey" to him when he was being silly or getting into something, and he started repeating it.  When he repeated it, though, he protracted it into a "heyyyyy".  C started mimicking him, and sometimes I'll find her sitting in a room just saying "eyyyy" over and over.  It's even funnier when they're both doing that at the same time.  Now I just need to get them leather jackets and teach them to put their thumbs up when they say it.

7 January 2011

Cry It Out

I was going to write about an article I recently read, but a friend of mine has written such a great response, I'm going to link to hers, as I don't think I could improve upon it.  The only thing I'd add is a reference to Dr Jay Gordon's website if you need tips on getting your child to sleep, gently, in addition to the reference Danielle noted for The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  So go check out Danielle's post - it's great.


My kids are Trekkies, and it's wonderful.  K got a phaser for Christmas, which he loves.  Actually, both kids love playing with it.  Their path to being Trekkies began before birth, really.  When I was pregnant with K, towards the end of the pregnancy, I'd watch Star Trek: Voyager every evening.  Once he was born, we continued that, and it was generally comforting for him.  He even started asking for Voyager at night, though we stopped watching every night.  If he's having trouble getting to sleep, though, we do sometimes put it on for him.  Just a couple of days ago he greeted us in the morning by saying "I need Star Trek".  It didn't work, but it was cute.  I think I need to knit him a Starfleet-inspired sweater sometime.

C also enjoys Star Trek, both TOS and Voyager.  If we watch Voyager with her, she'll stop whatever she's doing when the theme song comes on to watch that part, just like K used to do.

6 January 2011

Knitting Thursday

Sorry for the lapse in posting.  Life has understandably been busy of late.  I was afraid I wouldn't finish that tunic dress for C before Epiphany (today), but, thanks to my Mom, I did.  Mom knit the sleeves for me, which helped a lot.

So, having finished that, I'm finally getting back to a sweater I'd started for B a long time ago.  Actually, I'd made the sweater, but it didn't fit quite right, so I ripped it out and am now re-doing it.  I'm only on the back of the sweater, unfortunately, but at least I'm getting back to it.

Maybe after I finish that, I can make something for myself.  I have a long queue of things for myself and the kids.  Since my Mom brought me a lot of yarn, I should be set for a while now.

5 January 2011

Domestic Monastery

Shortly after I'd had K, I came across this article on the domestic monastery, and how motherhood can be compared to the monastic life, but that the "bells" calling to us are not the bells of prayer, but the cries of our children.  This fits in well with the Benedictine motto of "ora et labora" (prayer and work), in my opinion.  I keep coming back to the idea of the domestic monastery, though.  It always seems to be in the back of my mind, nudging me to respond quickly to my children, especially when I'm in the middle of something else.  It's a constant struggle to suppress my will, to submit, to serve, but it is worth it when I do it.  I wish I could say that I always serve as if serving Christ, but that is rarely the case.  Instead, I'm all too often harsh in my words and tone.  Maybe I should see if one of the Benedictine monks would be willing to give me spiritual direction, though I don't know how I'd swing that with the kids, or if any of them would have the time at the moment.  In the meantime, I'll continue praying that one day I'll be able to respond quickly and gently every time, by the grace of God.

4 January 2011

Proud Catholic Mum Moment

We have a Holy Water font in the house, and we're in the habit of blessing the kids before bed or before leaving the house.  The other day, K tried to bless C by trying to make the Sign of the Cross on her head whilst saying "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".  (I say "trying" in part because C was crawling away at the time).  I loved seeing that, though.

3 January 2011

Cooking Experiments

I've been keen to try out this new pan that B got me for Christmas.  It can be used on the stove and go in the oven.  So last night when I looked at the menu and realised I didn't have much veg to go with the bolognese tortellini I'd planned on fixing, I started thinking of what else I could use.  I decided to pull out some minced beef and make some meatballs and cook them on the stove in this new pan.  Meanwhile I'd cook the tortellini, then drizzle it with olive oil.  Then I'd throw that in the pan with the meatballs, put some mozzarella on top, and throw it in the oven until the mozzarella had melted over everything.  And it worked out great.  B took a picture as proof.  Isn't it beautiful?  It was easy to make and tasted great, and at least one kid liked it.  Of course, C pretty much likes all food except for green beans and Brussels sprouts.

2 January 2011

The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins

While not about parent-type topics, I have to share that I got this book for Christmas, thanks to my wonderful husband, and it's hilarious.  John Zmirak is a great, orthodox, funny author.  I have the first two Bad Catholic's Guides, and I highly recommend all of them.  So go get this book!

Labour and Cervix Dilation

Yesterday I was reading through an article noting that Friedman's curve is no longer applicable to labouring women and that women should be given more time to reach 6cm before interventions are used.  The researchers also suggested using 6cm as the marker of being in active labour instead of 4cm.  While I'm pleased that they're moving away from the Friedman curve, I still have a problem with using cervical dilation on its own (or at all) to determine in what stage of labour a woman is. For one, I find the demarcations to be fairly arbitrary, as I doubt there's one definable moment when a woman is suddenly in active labour.  It's a gradual process, even with fast labours like mine.  I certainly can't point you to a specific moment when I moved from early labour to active labour.

The other major problem I have with this is the use of cervical checks to assess a woman's progress.  While I understand this might be indicated with an induction, or epidural, or if a woman's labour appears to have stalled, in general I don't think they give a good picture of what the woman's body will do.  Yes, it can tell you what her body has done, and in what amount of time, but that doesn't translate to a prediction of what her body will do.  I also think there's a danger of going by dilation alone and ignoring the woman as a whole.  That was certainly my case when I was in labour with K, and one reason I refused any internal exams with C (my midwife with her was happy with this and said she could tell my progress without doing an internal exam).  With K, I consented to a cervical check after a few hours of active labour, and was at 3cm.  Even though I was showing signs of being in transition (nauseated and saying "I can't"), the midwife didn't seem to consider that I could be in transition because I was only dilated to 3cm.  She was incredibly surprised when I was fully dilated and pushing an hour later.  In case you're wondering, the other reason I refused any internal exams with C was because of the increased risk of infection.  I know it's a lower risk, since my waters hadn't broken, but one I didn't feel was necessary to take.

Something I found interesting in this study is that nearly half of the women received pitocin, and 80% had epidurals.  While pitocin is chemically identical to the natural oxytocin made by the body, the body reacts quite different to it.  For one, pitocin is administered in a constant stream via an IV drip, while oxytocin is released in bursts via the pituatary gland, and also triggers the release of endorphins to lower the perception of pain.  Because pitocin doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier, the endorphins are not released, and thus many women find that contractions with pitocin are more painful.  Now, since the body responds differently to pitocin than to natural oxytocin, it seems logical to assume that labour patterns are different between the two groups.  Therefore, to truly assess women's natural labour patterns, it seems better, in my opinion, bearing in mind that I have no medical training, to look at the group who did not have their labour augmented with pitocin to see what happened.

On to the epidural.  Epidurals can lower blood pressure and slow labour.  The fact that 80% of the women surveyed had received an epidural would surely skew the numbers a bit.  And since continuous foetal monitoring is often used with both pitocin and epidurals, the majority of these women would be confined to bed, which can also have an effect on the length of labour.  If these things are affecting labour length, I'd think it probable that they're also affecting the rate of cervical dilation, and thus skewing the results.  Please note I'm not necessarily against pitocin or epidurals in all situations, but I do think their use is skewing the perception of what a physiological labour and delivery is.

1 January 2011

Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods

This is what I call C lately.  The quote is from one of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories - "The Cat Who Walked By Himself".  She's into everything right now, and gets really hyper, and is just generally hilarious.  The bottom half of the tree is nearly devoid of ornaments now, she loves being chased and playing with K, and she's fond of taking down the laundry that's drying and swinging it around.  She liberates herself from her nappy sometimes, too, if it's velcro.  She even growls/roars.  I think it's fairly appropriate to call her a "wild thing".  The description can fit K at times, too, of course.  I wouldn't change a thing, though.

It's a Zoo

My children are turning into animals.  K is a monkey.  We've called him that for a long time, but it fits.  If we offer him some food or drink which he doesn't want, his response is "No, I'm a monkey".  Last night when I was trying to convince him it was time for bed (he was rubbing his eyes and obviously tired), he said "no, I'm a monkey".  He even made monkey sounds at breakfast this morning.  He loves being swung by his arms and climbing on things.  Yep, he's a monkey.

C has just discovered the sound a sheep makes, and therefore makes that sound all the time.  In fact, she awoke around 3.00 this morning to play, and kept saying "baa" at me.  She's still doing that, while K says to "turn it off" (we think this is in reference to her, since nothing is on).

They certainly make my life interesting.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  So Happy New Year, and may my children continue in their silliness.