28 February 2011

Book Nook

When Kieran was very little, I was sent one of those book club brochures and looked through the offers.  I first made sure we had some classics that my husband & I wanted, but I also looked at the descriptions for some others.  Seeing as I have always liked dinosaurs, the Harry and the Dinosaurs series by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds stood out to me, so we got a boxed set.  The series is great fun, and both kids enjoy reading them or just looking through them.  Of course, this also means that some of the books are getting quite tatty and have torn pages, so we'll have to replace some of them.

25 February 2011

Pregnancy: US vs UK

In talking to my friends in the US, I'm always amazed at how differently pregnancy is treated in the US as opposed to in the UK.  This came up most recently when I was in a conversation and insisted that pregnancy is not a medical condition or disease, and another woman countered that if it isn't, then I should make sure I don't have the fasting glucose test or see a doctor or take vitamins and remember not to smoke or drink.  I'd like to address some of these things now.

        Good nutrition is not exclusive to pregnancy and isn't something that should only be followed when pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding.  I don't think you necessarily need vitamins, provided you're eating a varied diet and getting plenty of sunshine, but if those things aren't happening, by all means take some vitamins, pregnant or not.  Good nutrition should be a healthy lifelong habit, and it is much easier to follow good nutrition during pregnancy if it's already a habit.  This does not make pregnancy a medical condition any more than all of our life is a medical condition.

-Glucose Tolerance Test
        The fasting glucose test, or GTT (glucose tolerance test), seem to be routinely done in the US, despite ACOG mentioning that gestatinal diabetes only occurs in 2-10% of the pregnant population, but are not here (at least not in my city).  Until recently, these tests were only done on those women who are at a higher risk of becoming diabetic, though that may change.  I find it interesting, though, that this site mentions that there aren't false positives for the oral GTT, unless one already has certain conditions, with pregnancy being one of them.  To me, that sounds like pregnancy can cause false positives on the GTT, though I don't know how often that would occur.  Though the guidelines on appropriate glucose levels have been updated, so maybe that will help with the false positives.  I'm not saying that gestational diabetes should simply be ignored, but it seems to make more sense to me to screen those women who have one or more risk factors, or who have higher sugar levels show up in their urine samples, instead of testing all pregnant women.  Of course, I'm sure part of my reaction comes from knowing that my blood sugar is generally on the lower end and that I'm fairly evil and feel very ill if I don't eat, meaning a test like this would be quite an ordeal for me.

      This one wasn't mentioned in the conversation, but my friends in the US seem to get weighed at every antenatal appointment, with their providers remarking over whether their weight gain was at appropriate rates or not.  My mother-in-law mentioned that with one of her pregnancies, she was advised not to gain any more weight during the last couple of months!  I honestly cannot tell you how much weight I gained, because I was only weighed once or twice with both pregnancies: once at the booking in appointment at the hospital, and once at the GP surgery (only with Charlotte - I don't think they weighed me at that initial appointment with Kieran).  In both cases I was told I might have to see a nutritionist because of a low BMI, but that didn't end up happening (I'll spare you my rant on BMI for the moment).

-Cervical checks
       While this wasn't directly mentioned in the conversation, I wouldn't be surprised if the other lady had assumed they were included in the monthly antentatal checks.  This may be an incorrect assumption, but it bears mentioning anyway since internal checks are often done in late pregnancy in the US.  As you may have guessed, they are not routinely done here, and so I've only had two cervical checks during pregnancy, both when I was in labour with Kieran.  So why aren't they done during pregnancy here?  Because they can introduce a risk of infection, and because they don't provide the midwives or OBs with meaninful information.  Yes, they can tell you how dilated you are, whether the cervix is posterior or anterior, or how effaced you are, but none of that information can tell the woman or care provider when she'll go into labour, or how much longer labour will last.  Some women can be dilated a couple of centimetres for weeks prior to labour, and others don't dilate at all until transition.  The position of the baby can also be determined without a vaginal exam (and a vaginal exam doens't guarantee the provider will recognise that the baby is posterior, from personal experience).  A good run-down on these reasons is given here.  Again, I'm not saying that cervical checks don't have their place, and they can be useful, but I see no reason for them to be done routinely.

-Group B Strep testing
        Again, this wasn't specifically mentioned, I'm again assuming it was included in the mention of antenatal appointments, since it is routinely done in the US, but not in the UK.  It is interesting to see the different approaches and conclusions with the CDC & ACOG versus RCOG.   GBS infection in the newborn is serious, I agree, but I still am not convinced that the US approach is best.

-Smoking & Drinking
       Smoking is associated with health risks whether one is pregnant or not (though there are some risks of smoking that are specific to pregnancy) and does not make pregnancy a medical condition.  Drinking, on the other hand, isn't as black and white.  Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption has health benefits, even in pregnancy.  Drinking too much, however, can have a negative impact on health regardless of being pregnant, and shouldn't be done at any time.

I'm sure you can guess which approach I prefer, and I stand by my statement that pregnancy is not a medical condition for the majority of women, and therefore shouldn't be treated as such.  I'm grateful for the medical professionals who are here to treat pregnant women when a concern or condition is present, of course, I simply disagree that all pregnant women should be treated as if they have a medical condition.  Of course, this is just my opinion, and I have no medical training, though I do try to educate myself on these things as much as possible.

24 February 2011

Knitting Thursday

First off - I finished my husband's sweater!  I'd wanted to finish it by Friday, because that was his birthday, but didn't get the neck finished until Saturday.  That was in part because I did the neck 3 times.  The first time I followed the pattern for the most part, though I'm not sure I picked up as many stitches as the designer indicated.  The ribbed part was fine, but the stockinette part was a bit tight, so I took that out and tried it with larger needles.  Still too tight, so I took it back down to the ribbing and bound off at that point.  I bound off a bit too tight at first, but then found a more elastic bind off and that worked great.  So all the ends are worked in, it fits, and I'm glad it's finished.

Saturday night I cast on for the Sherwood sweater for Kieran and left it at that.  I'm using some Sirdar Supersoft Aran in marina.  Sunday I picked it up and started on it, but had to take it out after a few rows because, despite checking it a couple of times, I ended up knitting a Möbius strip.  I do like knitting in the round, and I don't think I've ever gotten it twisted like that before.  Oh well, no matter.  I'd made another slight mistake anyway, so that's taken care of now, too.  I'm just a few rounds away from the armholes now, as it's knitting up quite fast.  There are a couple of mistakes that someone familiar with the pattern might notice, but most people won't.  I can be a perfectionist, but didn't feel the need to undo these particular mistakes, since they aren't huge or anything.  The main one was doing a right cross instead of a left cross on one round.  Speaking of the crosses, I'm actually doing those like true cables, as I actually find that easier and I like it better.

I also am using a trick I learnt from my mother.  While split-ring markers have their purpose, I like to use markers that are just round if I don't need the split ring part, but I can't find any of those in John Lewis.  When my parents were here, my mother pointed out that the marker she was using was actually the ring off a bra strap.  Since I happened to have a bra that didn't fit just lying around, I cut the straps and am using the rings as markers.  Brilliant.

22 February 2011


 No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.

-- John Donne

I was thinking recently about a bit of a double standard on independence.  We take it for granted that an adult might want nothing more than to be in close proximity to another, but if a baby or child wants that, they're clingy and/or manipulative and therefore should be ignored to train them to be independent.  Why are we trying to impose a standard on our children that we ourselves cannot meet and don't even really expect of adults?

And while adults can understand that another will return (though they might still feel a bit shut out by that person, depending on the circumstances), a baby does not understand that and does not understand the passage of time, so how can they understand that the parent will be back in 5 minutes, or in the morning?  Why do we expect this of the most helpless members of our society?

Don't get me wrong, I understand the temptation to let a child cry-it-out, and the desire for them to actually sleep all night so I can have some time off, but being a mother is a 24/7 job.  Parenting doesn't stop at night or naps or any other time, no matter how I feel.  I absolutely understand the desire to just be left alone for a little while, but ignoring my child to accomplish this isn't going to help, and is a disservice to the child, in my opinion.  At those times, I just try to remember that they won't be so dependent for long, and all too soon they'll not want or need my help, or won't want to just cuddle with me.  They'll never be completely independent, for "no man is an island", but neither will they always rely on me for everything.  I should cherish these moments, really, because they'll be gone all too soon.

21 February 2011

Book Nook

Another Monday, another book. :-)  This week it's Winnie the Pooh.  Now, quite frankly, I despise Winnie the Pooh.  I hate the misspellings, and the fact that Pooh just seems rather dumb to me.  Unfortunately for me, K enjoys reading about him on occasion (thankfully it isn't all the time).  I do try not to let my prejudices against the book influence the kids, though, so I don't banish the books from the house.  However, I also don't stop C from getting that book, in the hopes that it may one day be destroyed.

We don't have the original stories, just a couple of Disney books (one was a gift and one came in a boxed set with other Disney books, thus why we have them).

20 February 2011

Kieran's Mass Commentary

During Mass today, Kieran seemed to want to give a running commentary of things.  The commentary part started at the end of the bidding prayers, when we're instructed to pray silently.  Well, he very loudly proclaimed "I pray! I pray!".

It is at the Consecration and afterwards that he gives the most commentary, though, and today was no exception.  He kept proclaiming about how the Body of Christ was there.  At the ringing of the bells at the Elevation, he exclaimed "Uh oh, it's Jesus!" while I tried not to laugh.  When an EMHC went to get the ciborium, Kieran was there to let everyone know the EMHC was getting the Body of Christ.  I have to admit that I'm amused by his commentary and proud of him for his faith and knowledge, though maybe I should be better at reminding him to whisper, while letting him know he can still be excited by what's happening.  And really, we should be excited by the Mass, if we think about what's happening.  It's truly amazing to be present with Jesus in that way.

Spiritual Bouquet for Papa Ben

Check out Fr Z's blog for details.  I'm going to try to remember to join in daily.

17 February 2011

Knitting Thursday

I went to John Lewis last week and got some freedom Sincere DK organic cotton in a darker grey, thus solving the stripe dilemma.  I really like the way this yarn feels and how it knits up.  I'll have to remember it for the future.
I always get a little sad going into the yarn section at John Lewis, because the majority of the yarns are wool or wool blends, but I can't use them due to being allergic to wool.  It's a shame, because they're beautiful yarns.  Even the bamboo yarn they carry is blended with wool (I love bamboo yarn).

15 February 2011

Through Kieran's Eyes

How would I do things differently if I looked at them through my son's eyes?

Through Kieran's eyes, I would see that he wasn't being naughty in getting my knitting, but that he wanted to help make his Papa's sweater.

Through Kieran's eyes, I would see that he didn't mean to wake his sister, but that he needed me to get up with him so he could have breakfast.

Through Kieran's eyes, I would see that this potty training business is huge, uncharted territory, and that he just needs some reassurance that he's still my little boy.

Through Kieran's eyes, I would see the Eucharist and excitedly exclaim "Body of Christ!"

Through Kieran's eyes, I would see that he's not getting in my way, he just wants to help me.

Through Kieran's eyes, everything is full of wonder and potential, and yet how often do I miss that?

I was thinking about these things last night, about how I can be overly harsh in my tone of voice and expressions, when he's not doing anything that's naughty.  He's just exploring and being a 3-year-old.  He just wants to help.  He wants so badly to be independent for some things, and yet wants to be able to snuggle and nurse for that reassurance that I'm here for him and that he's still my little boy.  I would love for him to wean, but he obviously still needs that bond.  There seems to be a fine line between encouraging him and pushing too hard too fast, and I'm not always sure where that line is.  I want to apologise to him so much, to tell him I've never had a 3-year-old and I'm sorry that he has to be the guinea pig.  I want to apologise to him for all those times I'm too busy doing my own thing and don't recognise his need and desire to help.

I'm thankful that I let him help me knit last night.  Yes, it took longer, but that time together was priceless. I wish, though, that I were gentler, that I didn't raise my voice unnecessarily, regardless of whether I'm tired or hungry or whatnot (I can be rather harsh when I get hungry; it's not pretty).  Lord, help me to see things through Kieran's eyes.

14 February 2011

Book Nook

In today's instalment we have The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.  When my father sent the book for K, we had a bit of trepidation.  B & I had both remembered the story being very sad and thought it was more traumatic than it is.  K took to the book pretty quickly, and it soon became one of his favourites.  I'm glad I've become reacquainted with it, and that it isn't as sad as I'd thought before - it's become rehabilitated in my eyes.

 *Spoiler alert*

There's also a section that makes me tear up a bit, and I think says a bit about our journey on the path of holiness.
 "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled. 

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.
For me, this excerpt is a reflection of how we don't like the mortifications and such that are necessary to become holy, but they make us real, in a sense.  As a mother, I can perhaps relate this exchange to the stretch marks, wrinkles from said stretch marks, and other marks of motherhood.  But in the end, even if no one else sees me as beautiful, I pray that God will.

12 February 2011

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

"Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy." ~Simon & Garfunkel

I was thinking about this when we were out taking a walk on this beautiful morning.  I tend to walk quite fast, whether I'm in a hurry or just on a nice outing, like we were this morning.  I had C on my back, and K was walking beside B behind me.  C kept trying to look back to see them, so I'd stop for a bit for them to catch up, but then I'd commence walking briskly again.  On the way home, though, it struck me that I needed to slow down and enjoy the moment.  I needed to let K move at his pace and explore and play.  He'd brought some cars with him, and at this point he was having them drive on various garden walls.  He'd also brought an owl puppet that was walking along a garden wall at one point.  Once I slowed down, though, I definitely enjoyed the walk much more.  I think C also enjoyed going at a slower pace and being able to really look around and see what her brother and father were doing, too.  Hopefully I can remember to take things slower.

11 February 2011

On Veiling

Seeing all the polls and discussions on women veiling in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament, I thought I'd weigh in with my thoughts.  I started veiling when K was little.  I was quite nervous at first, since most women at the parish don't veil, and I didn't want to be seen as trying to be holier-than-thou.  I chose to do it for various reasons, such as St Paul's exhortation to women, and humbling myself in the Presence of my Saviour.  This is what St Paul says about it in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 (New Jerusalem Bible):
Take me as your pattern, just as I take Christ for mine.
2 I congratulate you for remembering me so consistently and for maintaining the traditions exactly as I passed them on to you.
3 But I should like you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
4 For any man to pray or to prophesy with his head covered shows disrespect for his head.
5 And for a woman to pray or prophesy with her head uncovered shows disrespect for her head; it is exactly the same as if she had her hair shaved off.
6 Indeed, if a woman does go without a veil, she should have her hair cut off too; but if it is a shameful thing for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, then she should wear a veil.
7 But for a man it is not right to have his head covered, since he is the image of God and reflects God's glory; but woman is the reflection of man's glory.
8 For man did not come from woman; no, woman came from man;
9 nor was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man:
10 and this is why it is right for a woman to wear on her head a sign of the authority over her, because of the angels.
11 However, in the Lord, though woman is nothing without man, man is nothing without woman;
12 and though woman came from man, so does every man come from a woman, and everything comes from God.
13 Decide for yourselves: does it seem fitting that a woman should pray to God without a veil?
14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,
15 but when a woman has long hair, it is her glory? After all, her hair was given to her to be a covering.
16 If anyone wants to be contentious, I say that we have no such custom, nor do any of the churches of God.

I tend to wear a headscarf or a mantilla tied behind my head (rarely I'll leave it down), though sometimes I wear a hat.  Basically, I don't do anything fancy, and I usually make sure my children can't easily pull on it.  I often tie my scarf in styles found on Tznius.  I think it a beautiful tradition that ought to be encouraged, or at least made known as an option, so those who wish to veil can do so without criticism (thankfully I've not encountered much criticism).

Having come to these conclusions, I then wondered how I'd handle it when we learnt we were having a girl.  Should I have her cover her head, or wait to see if she chose it herself?  In both cases, obviously, I'd teach her why I veiled.  I spoke with a friend who veils and has a daughter, and she said she explained it to her daughter by saying that it's something that Christians do.  I thought about that, and then decided that once C was baptised, she would wear a headcovering at Mass as well.  She often takes it off halfway through, and I'll just put it back on her.  If she repeatedly does it, I try to leave it and not make a fuss, since it seems silly to be distracted by it.  The bigger problem is the fact that C likes to run away and/or crawl under pews now.  Silly girl.

10 February 2011

Knitting Thursday

Well, I'd hoped to have a jubilant post today, to either have completely finished B's sweater or to at least have gotten one sleeve done and attached.  Well, I either have misplaced the rest of the blue for the stripes, or I've run out of it.  Yes, I had enough when I made the sweater the first time around, but it was a different style, with raglan sleeves, and thus used less of it (the stripes are around armhole level).  So yeah, I'll have to look around later and see if I can find any more of it.  If not, I'll pick up a skein of either a darker blue that's different enough that it looks complimentary but doesn't look like I'm trying to match and failing, or maybe a darker grey.  I can't get the original blue because Wildflower's been discontinued, and because I bought the yarn years ago and wouldn't be able to get the same dye lot.  Hopefully I can get into John Lewis tomorrow or over the weekend so I can finish this sweater.  In the meantime, I'll move on to the next project: a swatch for the Sherwood sweater for K.

Cord Blood

I was just reading a post on Midwife Thinking's Blog that does a great job of explaining why I don't go in for cord blood banking.  I know the usual reasons I've heard are that those stem cells could someday be used to treat that child's illness later on, or that they are an ethical source of stem cells to develop treatment for others.

The problem with the first reason is that the child may never have an illness where those stem cells could be helpful in treating him.  Even if he does, there's no guarantee those stem cells will create a viable treatment for him.  But it has been shown that allowing the baby to receive the full amount of his blood is beneficial.  It's possible that blood, with those stem cells, could even help prevent any potential illness for which the stem cells would later be used to treat.

That leads me to the problem with the second reason.  Is it truly ethical to deprive a newborn of his own blood in order to bank it either for his or another's future use, without his consent?  Blood that makes Vitamin K deficiency bleeding less likely, raises his iron stores, and make his transition to breathing easier.  I'm not so sure it's really ethical to do that, to be honest.

I will say that I thought about cord blood banking when I was pregnant with K.  However, the more I looked into it, the more convinced I was that delayed cord clamping was the way to go, and that means cord blood banking isn't an option.  Unfortunately they did not follow my wishes about the delayed cord clamping with K, but C received the full amount of her blood, since the cord was not cut until it stopped pulsating.

9 February 2011

No Two People Are Not on Fire

For the title reference, go here.  It really amazes me how different my children are, and how different they've been from the very beginning, even before they were born.  Obviously I knew that they'd be different, but I really didn't expect that so soon.  From the moment they were born, they've looked and acted different.  Both were born with dark hair (though K's quickly went lighter), but C was born with brown eyes whilst K's were dark blue.  C has a darker complexion than K, too.

But what is more striking is the difference in their personalities from the very beginning.  K was none too pleased when he was born (though I can't blame him, since he'd had a monitor screwed into his scalp and was extracted by ventouse), while C was completely calm (ah, the difference the birth and setting can make).  K wanted to be right next to me, touching me, in order to sleep, but if I was holding him, he would sleep anywhere.  C didn't care if I was holding her - when 20.00 rolled around, she'd better be in bed nursing.  She would not be content being held or nursing with me sitting up.

K has always been a comfort nurser, but C rarely nurses for comfort, instead being all business.  I'm sure at least some of that, though, is due to the fact that she has a sensitive stomach and was quite sensitive to what I ate at first, so feeding wasn't much comfort to her.

They're not completely different, of course.  Both love Star Trek and books and tackling and chasing and roaring.  K likes to teach C about various things, and he even lets her "be a zilla" and destroy the train tracks sometimes.  (He imitates her in that at times, too).  They are their own persons, though, and it's great.

8 February 2011

Sing a Song

Now that I have a song from Sesame Street stuck in my head, I'll talk about songs in general.  When K was little, I was constantly singing, and it always seemed to calm him.  If I couldn't get to him right away, I'd start singing, and he'd usually calm down until I could get him.  We'd change the words to songs to make them about him at times.  The one song I knew would almost always calm him was "You Are My Sunshine".  He still likes for me to sing it to him at night sometimes, or if he's upset.  He's also quite musical, and loves listening to jazz, Vivaldi, Clapton, and Michael Jackson.  He really loves playing on his toy piano, and frequently asks C to sing a song with him.

Speaking of C, she's never responded the same way to music that K does.  If she gets upset, a song isn't going to help.  Sometimes I can get her to calm down a little with "Hush Little Baby", but not always.  She does like listening to music, she just isn't going to be fobbed off with a song.  She's generally calm, so when she cries, she means business.  She does enjoy "singing" with K, though.

Now for the Sesame Street video

7 February 2011

Book Nook

Today's Book Nook is the Dr Seuss edition.  The children love Dr Seuss and ask us to read them all the time.  K even has duck feet that his Grammy made after he asked us to read I Wish That I Had Duck Feet all the time.

We get a bit tongue-twisted at first, but we're pretty good at them after that.  We all have fun reading them, though, with the zany creatures and inane rhymes.  He certainly had a knack for making learning fun.

5 February 2011

On Being a SAHM

While I knew I wanted children, and I wasn't always sure about working outside the home, I wasn't at all convinced that I'd willingly be a stay-at-home-mum and actually enjoy it.  I've always been a bit of a homebody, but at the same time get bored if at home day after day.  Nor have I ever enjoyed babysitting.  It has therefore come as quite a surprise to me to find that I truly enjoy being a SAHM, and in fact get a bit stressed if I think about working outside the home.

This didn't happen overnight, of course.  I fell pregnant whilst completing my MA in Egyptology.  I'd already planned to continue on to the PhD and had been conditionally accepted, pending submission of my MA dissertation.  I submitted that at the end of September, and started the PhD in October.  Since K was due in late November, I figured the timing was just about perfect, as I would only miss a week or two of classes before Christmas break, and then would have off until the end of January.  A friend told me that I wouldn't want to come back, but I didn't pay much attention to that at the time, though obviously it's stayed in my mind.  Now, I know part of the reason for that is that I knew I wasn't allowed to take a maternity leave, given that I was on a student visa.  But I also couldn't imagine being happy staying at home with a baby and stopping my studies.  I'd been working part-time at the university throughout my pregnancy and planned to come back to that in the spring semester.

On 29 November, at exactly 40 weeks, I gave birth to K.  I was transformed by motherhood, and it all seemed to come naturally to me.  I found that I was breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, babywearing: in short, I was following Attachment Parenting, without even knowing what that was at the time.  Even so, I didn't imagine that I wouldn't continue with my PhD, so when January rolled around, I returned to the university.  My primary supervisor was more than happy for me to bring K along to meetings and classes, which I appreciated immensely.  While we didn't always see eye-to-eye, his welcoming attitude towards me having K with me was wonderful.  I was also able to bring K to work with me, though I did work fewer hours at that point.  I've joked that K was probably confused about language, given that he accompanied me to French and Middle Egyptian lectures.  He even attended a lecture by John Baines, who thankfully was happy for K to be in there, and even joked about it when K cried after a person criticised Baines' conclusions.

As time went on, though, I was becoming more and more stressed about continuing the PhD.  I've never been a fan of archaeological theory, as much as I love archaeology.  My supervisor and I also have very different personalities and seemed to be speaking past each other a lot, leading to frustration on both sides.  So I decided that what I needed was to change supervisors.  In the back of my mind I thought maybe I'd prefer staying at home, but I didn't allow myself to think about it too much, since I was still on a student visa and therefore couldn't stop my studies.  However, I knew that something had to change, so we talked to the international student office and learnt that I could put myself as a dependent on B's visa and then switch to part-time status.  Between that and changing my supervisor, I figured that would be satisfactory.

Only it wasn't.  I was still getting more and more stressed and was unhappy with the PhD.  That continued until I had tonsilitis when K was 9 months old and then ended up having a panic attack because of worrying that I couldn't care for K if I was ill.  I didn't know it was a panic attack, nor did B, so he rang for an ambulance.  They realised that it was a panic attack and spoke to me about it, and I finally admitted how stressed I was and that I didn't want to continue with the PhD.  I'd not voiced those feelings before, but had kept them to myself.  The EMT spoke to B and told him I must be allowed to be a SAHM.  B had had no idea I'd felt that way (seeing as I hadn't told him), but he was very supportive.  We crunched numbers and figured out how we could cut expenses, and I turned in my notice of withdrawing from the PhD programme.  From then on, I've been a SAHM, and I've not regretted it for a day.  I love the time playing with the kids, getting to bake our breads, having the opportunity to home educate, and I look forward to many more days and years of this.

4 February 2011


I'm a big believer in evidence-based medicine.  I don't want a treatment just for the sake of doing something, nor do I want something that hasn't been proven to be beneficial and effective, with those benefits outweighing any potential risks/side effects.  I'm thankful that there are doctors who look at the evidence and change practises if need be.  This is what Dr Nicholas Fogelson is doing in now advocating for delayed cord clamping, since he hasn't seen evidence justifying routine immediate cord clamping.  This is also why routine episiotomies are becoming less common, thankfully.  And why kangaroo care is, thankfully, becoming more commonplace with preemies.

These things lead me to wonder, though, why these practises were adopted at all, given that the evidence doesn't seem to be there.  The commonality I see is that these were all things that said that our bodies were wrong and not to be trusted, or perhaps not "scientific" enough.  Maybe that's cynical, but it's how I see it.  In the process, women have been told (by implication) that they always need help birthing and caring for their babies.  Note: I'm not speaking of those times when medical intervention truly is needed, I am speaking about routinely treating birth as a medical procedure that will always need medical intervention.

Of course, one could also argue that all the things I mentioned above came about due to the medicalisation of birth and women being supine when giving birth in a medical setting, and sometimes too drugged or badly positioned to push effectively.  This could, of course, lead to an episiotomy instead of repositioning the woman, and immediately cutting the cord to check the baby instead of placing the baby on the mother's chest.  I'd like to say that these things no longer happen, or at least not with midwives, but both happened to me when I had K.  There was an OB there, too, so I'm not sure who made the decision for the episiotomy and immediate cord clamping; I only know that it was done, and that I had no say in it.  It's one thing if it's a true emergency (though one should always get informed consent if at all possible), but these things likely could have been averted had they just helped me change position first.

Going back to the cord clamping, though, I would again ask: where's the evidence for immediate cord clamping, even when the baby was thought to be in distress?  We know about the importance of immediate skin-to-skin contact to regulate the baby's temperature, calm the baby, and facilitate breastfeeding and bonding.  We also know that delayed cord clamping can be done even with active management of the third stage of labour.  While it might not be routine, the initial checks can be done with the baby on the mother's chest, allowing for both skin-to-skin contact and delayed cord clamping.  This could also mean that the baby will avoid being put in a warmer due to his temperature dropping (thankfully that didn't happen with K, as they did hand him over once he'd been checked over).

So before something is done my child or me, show me the evidence.

3 February 2011

Knitting Thursday

I've gotten a fair amount of B's sweater done this week, since the kids have been playing nicely.  However, I know I could've been more productive had we not all been under the weather with a cold.  Oh well.  At least I've gotten the stripes done for the front, so just a few more inches to go before I start the shaping for the neck and shoulders.  And then I can start the sleeves.

Catholic Cuisine

H/T to Sister Mary Martha for posting the link for this blog.  I think I'll have to try out some of their recipes.  I like the idea of being more liturgically minded and choosing recipes according to the liturgical calendar.

2 February 2011

You Know You're a Mother When. . .

-you find yourself saying things like "we don't climb in the washing machine!"
-you have dreams about awesome deals for Fuzzibunz
-you can do almost anything one-handed
-you can cook/clean/chase a toddler whilst wearing and/or nursing a baby
-privacy is a luxury

1 February 2011

How My Kids Teach Me About God

Being 3, my son is a master of repeating his requests over and over, sometimes growing more frantic and demanding as he goes.  I start out by patiently explaining why he can't have it, or can't do that yet, or that I'm in the middle of getting it for him and for him to just wait a little while.  As he goes on, I struggle to continue to be calm and patient, and sometimes I find myself saying "stop asking for it!" or telling him that if he keeps bugging me about it, he won't get it.  It actually reminds me of that parable of the widow bothering the judge until he gives in and grants her request (Luke 18:1-8).  Then I think of how I often ask God for something over and over, never ceasing, and yet He doesn't tell me to stop asking.  In fact, we're told to keep asking: Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."  Now if I can learn to be childlike in my asking and trusting, and yet not childish, with the kicking and screaming and demanding.