30 June 2011

Twilight Sleep: a Thing of the Past?

A friend and I were talking about our experiences with giving birth to our eldest children, and the discussion naturally turned to pain relief.  In discussing that, I had to ask whether the era of "twilight sleep" is truly a thing of the past.

For those who don't know about it, twilight sleep is when the mother is given an injection of morphine and scopolamine.  The morphine was to deaden the pain and the scopolamine produced an amnesiac effect so she wouldn't remember the pain.  This was the common practise from c1914-the 1940s or a little later.  Unfortunately, it also had the effect of hampering bonding by removing the mother from the experience of birth.  It also depressed the baby's central nervous system.  And so the practise fell out of fashion.

Or did it?  True, they no longer inject women with scopolamine to induce an amnesiac state, and morphine itself isn't usually used, but other opioid drugs such as pethidine or diamorphine are commonly used.  My friend and I both received these injections: I was given pethidine (combined with an antiemetic) and she was given diamorphine.  We agreed that the drugs didn't actually deaden the pain, but they made it so we couldn't truly respond to the pain.  In my case, the antiemetic also made me incredibly drowsy.  Both drugs cross the placenta and have a depressive effect on the baby's respiration, and may interfere with breastfeeding.  This isn't sounding too different from twilight sleep.

I have to say that I also don't see the point of giving an amnesiac drug during labour.  I won't say that I forgot the pain, but I didn't care about it once the child was born.  The endorphins we get during labour are also quite powerful.  A little support in a calm environment can go a long way, really.  I'm not saying women shouldn't have access to pain relief if they want it, but let's make it pain relief that actually relieves pain instead of depressing our ability to respond to it, and pain relief that doesn't have the potential to interfere with/hamper breastfeeding or depress our babies' breathing.

Crafty Thursday

It's been quite a busy week for us.  We've gone to the zoo, we've splashed in the paddling pool, we've played outside, we've walked down to the river, we've had dentist appointments, and we've ridden on trains and buses.  All that is to say that I've not had time to do much in the way of knitting or sewing.  I did finish two skirts, and I've continued working on my sweater.

28 June 2011

Co-Sleeping in the News

You may have read recently about co-sleeping being blamed for the death of an infant.  Any time a child dies it is tragic, and I am in no way trying to minimise the parents' loss.  I cannot fathom losing my child, to be honest.

That being said, I am also appalled that co-sleeping is being blamed for the death.  Co-sleeping is not to blame - unsafe co-sleeping is.  See, the mother had drunk a bottle of wine on an empty stomach before falling asleep with her child.  Advocates of co-sleeping would all agree that mothers should not co-sleep if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol (see Dr McKenna and UNICEF's study and statement.  (By the way, it's perfectly fine to have a drink when breastfeeding, in moderation.)  Yet despite this, the article ends with the following lines:
Health bosses have also warned parents against falling asleep with their baby.
A spokesman for NHS Bolton said, 'There is no advice which can guarantee the prevention of sudden infant deaths but there are a number of things parents and carers can do to reduce the risk to their baby.

'The safest place for a baby to sleep for the first six months is in a cot, Moses basket or crib in their parents' room and it is dangerous for a baby to sleep in a normal bed or on a sofa or armchair.'
Notice that they don't say "co-sleeping is safe if you follow these guidelines" or "don't over-drink when caring for an infant (regardless of where they sleep but especially not if co-sleeping)".  No, they instead say that any bed-sharing is dangerous.  Full stop.

But what if a child had been placed in a cot to sleep, but there were extraneous blankets and toys in the cot and the baby suffocated?  Would there then be a prohibition against cot-sleeping?  No, they'd simply remind parents not to put extraneous items in the cot and to place the child on his back with his feet to the foot of the cot.

Yet when it's a practise followed by "attachment parents", as with co-sleeping or babywearing*, then the reaction seems to be to condemn the practise outright without acknowledging the benefits of the practise and the fact that it can be done safely.  This is infuriating not just because these are practises I like, but because it doesn't give parents the full picture and therefore makes it more difficult for them to make informed decisions.

Actually, I just noticed that Bolton's hospital were awarded Stage 1 UNICEF Baby-Friendly status, which means their policies and procedures were evaluated.  If I'm not mistaken, that means they should have a policy written that allows for safe co-sleeping, since co-sleeping certainly makes breastfeeding easier.  That almost makes it more infuriating, since it was a spokesman from NHS Bolton who is quoted above.

*  thinking of the knee-jerk reactions when it was shown that certain carriers were unsafe, though most babywearing is perfectly safe and even beneficial

27 June 2011

Book Nook

I had Buggly Bear's Hiccup Cure by True Kelley as a child, and my parents brought it to us when they last visited.  I sat down and read it to Charlotte during one of the few times she wasn't demanding a book written by Julia Donaldson and/or illustrated by Axel Scheffler.  I honestly wasn't sure she was enjoying the book at the time, but ever since reading it she'll randomly come up to us and say "Hic!" like Buggly Bear does.  I guess it made an impression on her.  Kieran won't let us try any of the hiccup cures on him, though.

26 June 2011

But I Don't Wanna!

I was reading a post over at The Ranter's blog that really hit me.  She was talking about not taking the time to honour God and not taking the time to fall in love with Him.  Yeah, I'm guilty of that.  So often I think "but I don't want to pray right now - I just sat down and actually have a minute without the kids and just want to sit".

In reading that post, though, it occurred to me that my feelings really shouldn't affect whether I do something or not.  Do I choose not to change my daughter's nappy just because I don't want to do it?  No.  Do I turn my children away when they want me to read, even if it's a book I don't especially like or just read 5 minutes ago?  No.  So why can't I do the same for God.  I may not always feel like it, but I should do it anyway as an act of love.

I can't say that I don't have time, because I do if I just prioritise.  I can also pray as I'm doing housework.  While I'm not at all consistent in this, I do find it helps to mentally put myself before the Tabernacle, on my knees before Jesus.  Hopefully, with the grace of God, I can remember to do that more, doing everything while mentally before Him, if I can't be there physically due to my responsibilities (and whether the parish is open).


Today would've been the 29th birthday of a childhood friend, Jessica.  We grew up together, going to school together from Kindergarten to 12th grade.  We lived 5.5 miles from each other.  We were constantly at each other's houses and knew the entire families.  We'd had a falling out our senior year, something I still regret.  I was a bit of an ass that year.  We went to different universities, and therefore didn't talk as often, but it was nice knowing she was there.  She came to my wedding with her boyfriend, though we didn't get to talk much then (that's the way it goes when it's your wedding, it seems).

When I was pregnant with Kieran, she sent me a wrap and some dinosaur toys.  I wore Kieran in the wrap quite a bit when he was small.  Then she was pregnant with her son and we talked a lot more.  Of course we then both got busy with various things and didn't talk as much.  I hadn't known she was pregnant again with a little girl.  Last year my best friend sent me a note to make sure I knew that Jess had died.  Of course, being an ocean away I didn't know.  As it turns out, she'd gotten a kidney infection during the pregnancy.  It was bad enough that they needed to operate, but something went wrong.  She and her daughter both died.  I miss her, and then I feel hypocritical because I didn't talk to her all that much before she died.  I wish I had, though.  I did just talk to her mother this week.  It had been a year since I'd last spoken with her, and it was nice to chat.

Eternal rest grant unto them, Oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon their faces.  May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

O Good Jesu, Hear Me

I'm continuing with looking at the Anima Christi prayer. If you want a more in-depth theological look at it, I highly recommend Micah's posts over at The Ranter's blog. Here's the full text of the prayer:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
For all eternity

O good Jesu, hear me.

On the face of it, this doesn't seem like a profound statement.  OK, so it's a prayer to Jesus and we're asking Him to hear us, what's the big deal?  I sometimes (OK, often) forget how amazing this is.  Our God isn't far-off and we don't have to wake Him or somehow make a fuss to get His attention.  He's listening, He's with us.

I think it's apt that this phrase falls today, the day we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi here.  The day we celebrate the miracle of the Eucharist, wherein Jesus gives us His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Of course we can always talk to Jesus and know that He hears us, but going before Him in the Blessed Sacrament and talking to Him there, bringing Him our cares, worries, hopes, joys: ourselves, in short.  Well, it's amazing to think of, and to be reminded that He is there, waiting for us and listening.  While we entreat Him to hear us, perhaps the real reminder here is that He is there waiting for us, there offering Himself for us so that we might have eternal life.  I'm going to post the Gospel reading from today below.  I know I've gotten a little off the topic of the Anima Christi prayer, but I think these things work together.

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
 whoever eats this bread will live forever." (John 6:51-58)

25 June 2011

Kids and the Eucharist

A conversation heard today:

Charlotte: Water! (she'd gotten Kieran's cup of water).  [Blood of] Christ!
Kieran: No, not Christ.  Water.
Charlotte: Water!
Kieran: Yes.

Later, we went to Mass.  As I was receiving the Precious Blood, Charlotte exclaimed "Christ!"  I love it.

You Know That Doesn't Work, Right?

After I had Charlotte, I was of course asked about contraception on multiple occasions, by midwives and GPs.  I'd respond about Billings, but the response back was more often about breastfeeding, as they misunderstood me to be talking about breastfeeding.  The response, of course, was along the lines of "you know that doesn't work, right?"  Actually, this began in the antenatal classes with Kieran, where the midwives were quick to point out that breastfeeding didn't suppress fertility.  I beg to differ.

The midwives and GPs are correct if one culturally breastfeeds.  In our society, breastfeeding is often scheduled to some degree instead of feeding completely on demand, which often means the child feeds little and often.  Co-sleeping is frowned upon, so many babies are moved into their own rooms after the first 6 months.  Since prolactin levels are highest at night, cutting out night feeds can often bring about the return of fertility.  If a woman is returning to work, fertility is likely to return more quickly, since the child isn't nursing as much.  Dummies are often used, and babywearing isn't all that common.

Seeing  as these things are quite common, I do understand why the midwives and GPs might think that breastfeeding doesn't suppress fertility.  However, fertility is less likely to return with either the Lactional Amenorrhoea Method (LAM) or Ecological Breastfeeding.  There are seven standards for Ecological Breastfeeding:
  • Breastfeeding must be the infant’s only source of nutrition – no formula, no pumping, and (if the infant is less than six months old) no solids or water at all.
  • The infant must be pacified at the breast, not with pacifiers or bottles or by placing a finger in the mouth.
  • The infant must be breastfed frequently. The standards for LAM are a bare minimum; greater frequency is better. Sucking should include non-nutritive sucking when the infant cues the mother, not just breastfeeding as a means of nutrition. Scheduling of feedings is incompatible with LAM.
  • Mothers must practice safe co-sleeping as it is the proximity of the child to the mother that increases prolactin.
  • Mothers must not be separated from their infants. This includes substitutes for mother such as babysitters and even strollers or anything else that comes between mother and physical contact with her child. Babywearing (using cloth carriers) means tactile stimulation between mother and child and increases access to the breast. Any separation from the mother will decrease the efficacy of ecological breast feeding.
  • Mothers must take daily naps with their infants.
  • A mother must not have had a period after 56 days post-partum (bleeding prior to 56 days post-partum can be ignored).
Now, these are rather strict rules, but if you follow them, there's less than a 1% chance of falling pregnant in the first 6 months, and 6% before her first post-partum menstruation.  The average return of menses is 14 months.  I can't say I've followed all of these guidelines.  I used a pram with Kieran some of the time and I certainly haven't taken a daily nap with either of them (more often with Kieran than with Charlotte, though).  Kieran was quite a comfort-nurser.  Following the average, I ovulated again around 14 months with Kieran, though I wasn't fertile for a few more months due to a short luteal phase.  While Charlotte doesn't comfort-nurse nearly as much as Kieran did, the fact that I'm tandem-feeding makes up for that.  At nearly 15 months post-partum, I'm still experiencing lactational amenorrhoea.  Far from not working, I'd say that breastfeeding certainly can and does suppress fertility, depending on how you breastfeed.

24 June 2011

You Are Getting Sleepy

Charlotte's started fighting sleep.  It's not like she's a terror at nighttime or naps; she just wants to play.  She thinks that it's more exciting to stay awake.  Last night she had bags under her eyes, but she just wouldn't go to sleep.  Normally I take her upstairs and I'll read while she winds down a little and then she'll either nurse to sleep or have some milk and then put her head on a pillow and go to sleep.  The past few nights, however, that hasn't been the case.  Instead of winding down, she seems to get more and more hyper.  She wants to bounce, dance, give zerberts, make faces, etc.  Finally I just turn off the lights and try to nurse her down, but it still takes her a bit of time (it doesn't help that it's still light outside, so it's not completely dark in the room; if I waited for it to be completely dark, though, it would be after 22.00).  I know it'll pass, so in the meantime I'll repeat "it's just a phase" to myself.

23 June 2011

Crafty Thursday

We've had some nice days this past week, which means I've not done quite as much in the craft department.  I'm still working on my sweater, and I think I like the pattern for the skirt.  I'll know more when I get a bit more of it done.

I've started turning another couple of pairs of trousers into skirts.  I told you I had a bunch of trousers that didn't fit/look quite right hanging around.

Kieran and I have been working on Rosaries, too.  It started because we were remaking my husband's Rosary.  I'd made him one years ago, before we were married, but Kieran had accidentally broken it.  So we got some beading wire and seed beads and remade it and made sure to get it blessed this time, too.  He then wanted to make more, so we made one for my godson and fixed one of my 1-decade Rosaries.  He's still wanting to make more, so we might look into making some for missionaries or the like.

Book Review: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt

I've just finished reading Toby Wilkinson's new book.  It's quite an ambitious goal, to outline the history of Egypt from the early dynastic period to Cleopatra.  The very scope necessitates that he cannot go into great depth for any one period, and that much must be omitted.  That being said, I think that overall he does a good job of presenting the big picture, and doing so in a way that is accessible to non-Egyptologists.  I wouldn't say it's for those who know nothing of ancient Egypt, but it also doesn't assume great knowledge of Egyptian archaeology.

Wilkinson takes a bit of a different view of pharaonic society than that given in many books.  That is, he does not glorify the Pharaohs, but speaks instead of their despotic qualities.  In some ways I think his portrayal is a bit too reactionary in his effort not to glorify the Pharaohs.  Of course the Pharaohs were autocrats, but the real picture is almost always more nuanced than an either/or scenario.  I will say that he becomes a bit less scathing in his discussion of later (New Kingdom and later) Pharaohs.  Perhaps this is in part because he seems to have done more work on the Early Dynastic period and therefore is more intimately familiar with them, leading him to also be more critical of the rulers of that period.  They were a bit more ruthless then, seeing as human sacrifice and the killing and burying of the household with the Pharaoh were still practised then.  His dim view of them, then, isn't entirely unjustified, though I think a more nuanced view would be best.

On the other hand, I thought he allowed too much of the sensationalism around the Amarna period to seep in.  For example, he still gives the speculation that Tutankhamun may have been murdered.  While there isn't a definitive explanation of his death yet, the general consensus is that it was an accidental death due to an infected broken leg and malaria.  I do understand his inclusion of this, for it is difficult not to fall prey to the sensationalism that often surrounds the Amarna period.  Tutankhamun has captured the public imagination, and speculation is often rife.  When writing a book marketed to the general public and not just to academics, it is understandable to include a bit of sensationalism.

The most infuriating thing for me was a short sentence in the epilogue: "the deep wellspring of ancient Egyptian religion proved a fertile source for the development of early Christianity: for Isis and Horus, substitute Virgin and Child - the iconography (and much of the underlying theology) remained virtually identical".  Other than the depiction of mother and infant for both Isis and Horus and the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus, I don't see overwhelming similarities either in iconography or theology.  Horus' was not a virgin birth, and Mary is not a goddess.  Isis did flee with Horus to protect him from Seth, so a parallel could perhaps be made to the flight into Egypt by the Holy Family, though the circumstances are different.  The mother-child pairing is a universal human experience, so the prevalence of mother-infant dyads in religious art across various religions really isn't surprising.  That being said, this does not necessarily indicate that the theology is the same, since the rest of the Isis/Horus myth is not all that analogous to orthodox Christian belief.

Now that I've gotten my criticisms out of the way, I hope that I've not given an impression that I disliked the book.  Far from it.  In fact, I'll say that overall this book is well-done.  It is wonderful to have a book that gives a more detailed overview of Egyptian pharaonic history.  The colour plates and numerous black-and-white photos included are invaluable in picturing the people and monuments, or recalling them to mind if one is already familiar with them.  I also quite enjoyed Wilkinson's dry sense of humour that permeates the narrative.  For those who know something of ancient Egypt and wish to have an overview of all of pharaonic history, this is a good book.  The list of sources is also invaluable.

22 June 2011

Attitude Adjustment

Last weekend I had a table for NFP at a family catechesis day at the Cathedral.  Overall it went fairly well, considering the fact that NFP is largely ignored in the diocese, unfortunately.  One person came to the table, though, and commented that Charlotte's presence there would be a deterrent to anyone speaking to me about NFP.  He apologised for coming across wrong and clarified that this wasn't his personal view, just reality.  In what was, I assume, an effort to mitigate what he said, he commented that I could tell people that Charlotte was planned.  My only answer at the time was "every child is a blessing, planned or not".

That's really the crux of it, isn't it?  Do we see children as a blessing or not?  Or do we instead see NFP as a moral birth control with the idea that we want to avoid children?  So often there's an emphasis placed on effectiveness (I'm guilty of this, too), but I think that buys into the birth control mentality more.  I think it's great that it is so effective for those times when a couple do need to postpone conceiving, but I don't think that's the point that needs to be emphasised.  In fact, I think it's wonderful that Charlotte was there, so that one of the purposes of marriage was shown front and centre.  If we're to be a pro-life people, then surely we need to think of all children as blessings instead of running away from them.

Another reason the man's comment got to me was the discussion of a child being "planned".  In many ways I think there's too much emphasis on waiting until the "right time" to have a child (this isn't a Catholic complaint, but something I see in society at large).  There's never a perfect time, in my opinion.  Well, at least not by the way we reckon things.  My wonderful Kieran wasn't planned by us.  He was planned by God, and I thank God for this wonderful gift.  We hadn't planned to try for a child then because we were both working on our MAs and living overseas, but the timing worked out really well.  We'd initially planned to wait longer before trying for another, but then changed our minds and there was Charlotte.  Again, the timing worked out well, even though we'd given no thought to that.  So, no, I can't point to my daughter and say "she was planned" as a way to promote NFP, not because she was a surprise (she wasn't), but because I see that as being the wrong attitude.  All children are planned by God, and all children are blessings.

21 June 2011

Musings of a Convert

Growing up in a congregation that taught "once saved, always saved" (OSAS) and emphasised a conversion experience, it wasn't uncommon to hear how sad it was that Catholics didn't absolutely know they were saved.  We were taught that we could absolutely know, and that once a person was saved, that was that.  They'd never fall away.

Perhaps it is somewhat ironic, then, that I've felt much more assured, in a way, after leaving behind the OSAS theology (the Catholic Church teaches that one can lose his salvation, because God doesn't keep anyone against his will).  For one, I never had a dramatic conversion experience.  I couldn't point to one time or event and say "that's when I was saved!".  I sometimes felt that was seen as an indication that I wasn't truly saved.  When we had to share our testimonies, I felt I needed to find something in my life that could indicate a more dramatic conversion.  I was unsure a lot of the time.

This uncertainty also came despite the assurances of OSAS apart from the actual conversion experience.  The teaching can lead to a couple of conclusions: that one will never fall away and if one does then he wasn't really saved in the first place, or that one is saved no matter what he does after that point.  The second option is difficult to reconcile with free will, for surely God doesn't take away our free will after we start following Him, which means we are free to leave at any time.  Obviously we can hope and pray that all will return, like the Prodigal Son, but it's not a given.  The first option, though, is what made me unsure.  I'd see people who taught Sunday School go down at the altar call and declare that they'd never been really saved but they were now.  This frightened me.  OK, it terrified me.  These people had been certain of their salvation, but then declared that they hadn't really been saved (as evidenced by some sin they'd committed), but now they were and were sure of it.  The question in my mind was always how they could be certain this time if they thought they'd been certain last time and had been wrong.  I became absolutely terrified of the afterlife and obsessed with wondering if I was truly saved.  I'd repeat the "sinner's prayer" over and over, hoping and praying it would "work".  I didn't talk about those fears really, because I was ashamed.

Fast-forward, then, to when I started to truly study Catholic teaching.  Far from having a hopeless view of salvation, I found it to be full of hope.  The teaching is that one can fall away since we have free will, but by the grace of God it is possible to continue following Him.  I can't answer with an absolute as to whether I'll be saved in the end, because I don't know what I'll do tomorrow.  I can answer for this very moment in time a bit more easily.  I find that this fits in with St Paul's words about working out one's salvation with fear and trembling very well (Phil. 2:12).  To quote another and summarise: "I am saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), I am being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15)".

20 June 2011

Book Nook

Seeing as both children love trains, it should come as no surprise that they both love the book And the Train Goes by William Bee.  Kieran found this book at the library and he loved it so much that we went ahead and bought him a copy of it.  They love the rhythm of the book and onomatopoeia. Charlotte frequently asks for it by saying "twain. woo-woo!".  Kieran also loves finding the snail and teapot that are on most of the pages.  I admit I was a bit sceptical at first, but it really is a nice book.

19 June 2011

Passion of Christ

I'm continuing with looking at the Anima Christi prayer. If you want a more in-depth theological look at it, I highly recommend Micah's posts over at The Ranter's blog. Here's the full text of the prayer:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
For all eternity

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

Perhaps it seems odd to think of being strengthened by contemplating Jesus' suffering.  We get strength not just through the inspiration of knowing how He suffered for us, but because that suffering was efficacious.  His suffering and death truly means something and gives us grace and strength.

Truly, though, when I sat down to write about this line, the thing most on my mind was the whole situation with Fr John Corapi.  I can't say that I ever watched him or listened to him on EWTN, but I'm upset by what's happening.  Like many others out there, I can't help thinking of St Padre Pio and how he was literally strengthened by the passion of Christ, even through all his trials.  St Padre Pio, pray for him and for all priests; St Jean-Baptiste Vianney, pray for priests.  Passion of Christ, strengthen me, and all of us.

18 June 2011

Vaccines and Informed Consent

Yes, I'm talking about this again.  I was just reading through the package inserts for the vaccines, and it amazed me how these things aren't mentioned when we go in for the jabs.  I was given a brochure that briefly outlined what jabs my children would receive and when, but it was nothing in depth.  At each visit they asked if my child was well and if everything had gone well last time, but there was no discussion of what the various side effects could be nor which ones were considered serious. The only time I was given a package insert was when I specifically asked to see it.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I looked at the info sheet for the DTaP/IPV and found under the "contraindications" section that they mention a child crying inconsolably for over 3 hours within 48 hours of receiving a jab containing pertussis.  Yeah, my son did that.  Was this mentioned as a side effect when I took him in for the jab? No.  Was this discussed at the next appointment?  No.  The insert doesn't say not to get it because of that, but says the decision "should be based on potential benefits and risks".  Now, it seems to me that the decision to get the jab should weigh potential benefits and risks anyway, not just after an adverse reaction.

The insert also says that a vaccine that doesn't contain pertussis should be made available if the child has had an adverse reaction, yet when I asked about that, I was told it wasn't an option.  So much for that.  Now I'll see if I can find a private chemist who can do it. *sigh*  I did find a different GP that might be able to do it, so I'll phone them, too.

17 June 2011

Children in Mass

Lately I find myself wondering why it's so difficult for others to believe that my children want to go to Mass.  I do not make them go to daily Mass - they ask to go.  Do they stay completely still during Mass?  Of course not.  I expect Kieran not to climb around and not to be loud, but I don't expect him to be silent or completely still.  I expect Charlotte not to be loud and not to run off, which means I have to keep a hand on her.  Both of them get a little restless during the Liturgy of the Word, but both of them are rather more entranced during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, with both of them pointing out the Body and Blood of Christ at the Consecration.  I'm proud of them, and frankly I think they put me to shame at times.

Yet some people just can't seem to imagine that they truly want to be there.  A couple of weeks ago we went to Mass at a different time because we just hadn't gotten ready in time for our usual 8.00 Mass.  We went to the "family Mass", which normally has a children's liturgy where the children are dismissed after the opening prayer and return just before the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  I object to the family being separated during Mass in this way, so my children don't go.  I explain to them that Mass isn't about running around, but about praying and worshipping.  Besides all that, though, is the fact that they want to stay in Mass.  Kieran considers it to be a consequence if he isn't in there.  He wants to be in there "to see Jesus".  Yes, the other children come back in for part of the Mass, but I still don't think it's the ideal.  After that Mass, though, a lady who helps with the children's liturgy mentioned that they could go to that, as if it was just mind-boggling to think they'd want to stay in Mass (or that I'd want them to stay in with me).

This happened again last week; we'd gone to the 8.00 Mass, but we'd gone back for a social event after the 9.30 family Mass.  When I explained that we go to 8.00 Mass, the other lady seemed to assume that I didn't know about the family Mass and the children's liturgy and that I'd surely go to that Mass so I could send my children to the children's liturgy during Mass.  I'll admit that I can't concentrate as much at Mass when I'm trying to ensure the children aren't running around and are being quiet, but I'm still not going to send them to a different liturgy.  When I go to Mass I tell Jesus that I'm there, but I don't know how much of my attention I can offer.  I tell Him that I offer all of myself, such as I am.  Some days go better than others in that regard.  I actually spoke with one of our priests about this, about how I feel bad about not being able to concentrate as much but that I also feel it important that the kids go, and they like to go.  He affirmed that it is important for them to be there with me, and told me to mention Jesus' words about the children coming to Him if anyone criticised me.  I love that priest.

As I mentioned, we go to daily Mass most mornings.  Kieran asks to go, and they kids expect it.  There's a tin of sweeties in the sacristy, but I've explained to Kieran that those are only for Sundays (technically, they're only for the altar servers, but some of the priests include Kieran in getting a sweet).  While the priests would also give him one during the week, I don't want him to go to Mass to get a sweet.  I've talked about it with Kieran, and he understands this, though he does sometimes see if he can get away with getting some chocolate anyway.  One day a well-meaning older lady asked if he'd had his sweet yet just as we were about to leave.  I said that he didn't need one today, and she took his hand anyway and got one for him.  As she did so, she talked about how he deserved one for coming to Mass.  Again there was that assumption that I was making him come to Mass with me.  If he didn't want to go, he could stay home, since my husband doesn't usually leave before we get back.  In fact, he has done that before, though he was later disappointed when he realised it meant he didn't get to go to Mass that day (I think he'd thought he could go later; there are usually two Masses a day at our parish, but there was only one on that day).

Why is it so hard to believe that children want to come to Mass just to come to Mass, and not to play games or get chocolate?

16 June 2011

Crafty Thursday

I might have to permanently change the name of this series if I'm going to keep using the sewing machine.  I finished another skirt from another pair of jeans I didn't wear any more.  I chose to use the zigzag stitch over the seams instead of folding the seams and sewing on the wrong side.  OK, actually I forgot to do that and then did the zigzag stitch to make it look like it was supposed to be that way.  Hey, it works.  I've not actually sewn anything in a while, so I'm remembering.  I've found myself wishing my mother were here a lot, though, while I've been doing this.  She also has an Elna machine, and while mine is a different model, it's quite similar (mine's the Elna Lotus SP).

I also finished the skirt that I showed last week.

I also finished the sleeve on Charlotte's dress.  I just need to do the other sleeve, and then I'm going to lengthen the dress itself.  Unfortunately Charlotte wouldn't stay still for the photo.  I think she was disturbed that I hadn't cut the thread yet.

Of course I've also been working on my sweater.  I'm about through with the first repeat of the pattern.  I made sure I chose patterns that had the same number of rows so I could keep track a bit easier.  I did break down and put markers in so I could easily see where each pattern begins and ends.  I really get annoyed with split-ring markers, though.  Ignore the purple thread - that's my lifeline.

Lastly, just this morning I fixed a shirt of mine.  It's actually a maternity shirt that I got when pregnant with Kieran, but I still wear it on occasion since it's comfortable.  However, I found that I often got annoyed with it because I found the front to be too low-cut, so I was always adjusting it and pulling up.  I had a white shirt that was stained and thus didn't get worn, so I took part of it and sewed an insert into the front.  I'm certain it would look better if I'd done it by hand, but I don't know where I put my needle.  It works for now, though.

15 June 2011

Playful Parenting

I've noticed that we're all happier when I'm a more playful parent.  This includes being more playful in redirection/correction when the kids are doing something they shouldn't.  I've found that I get less frustrated that way, and of course the children react better.  Charlotte can get really upset when I remove her from the washing machine as she's trying to turn the dial (while it's on), but if I redirect her in a silly way, like asking her to dance with me, it goes much better.  Unfortunately I don't always do this, such as when I'm in the middle of something, but I think I should do this more.  We'll all be saner and happier, I think.

With Kieran the key is to involve him more.  He was getting really upset and screaming earlier, but instead of reacting (like I do all too often), I simply asked him to come and talk to me.  I then asked if he wanted to help me cook dinner.  He immediately calmed down and was only too happy to help make the lasagne noodles and sauce.  After that, he hopped down and played with Charlotte without any problem whatsoever.  He craves one-on-one time with me and also wants to help me with everything.  For him, including him in whatever I'm doing, be it cooking, cleaning, or knitting, fulfills his need for my attention and also means that he's happier.  He's then less likely to throw tantrums, which of course makes me happier.  He's also really good at helping with things.  So the moral of the story:  you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. :-)

14 June 2011


I used to journal regularly.  It was my routine that before bed I'd jot down my thoughts.  Anyone who knows me knows that my writing is nigh illegible when I write fast, but I didn't write it in order to read it again later, but just to get the thoughts out of my head.  It really helped me to sleep, actually.

Since having kids, I've largely dropped this habit.  When the kids are little, I often end up falling asleep with them.  I also tend to read before bed instead, since I can easily do that whilst nursing Charlotte.

My parents gave me a beautiful leather journal a couple of years ago, but even that hasn't induced me to journal regularly again.  However, I'm not putting it to good use again.  Since I'm staying off the computer more, I started using part of the journal to jot down my thoughts or reminders during the day.  I've decided to use another section of it to jot down all the prayer requests I come across so I can be better at remembering them to God.  I often forget the specific requests when I'm before Jesus in the Eucharist, and while I know He knows what they are, it will be nice to bring the journal before Him.  Hopefully I can just remember to keep it with me so I can write down requests and bring them before God.

13 June 2011

Book Nook

My father recently sent us The Boy in the Garden, by Allen Say.  This is a beautiful book that starts with a Japanese folk tale and then incorporates that into the story of a little boy who is walking through a garden and falls asleep.  The illustrations are wonderful, and the story is poignant and well-written.  Both children enjoy looking through it, even if we're not reading it at the time.

St Anthony of Padua

Today is the feast day of St Anthony of Padua, who is my patron Saint for the year and is one of my son's Saints.  That being the case, I thought I'd post this snippet regarding a miracle associated with him.
The miracle of St. Anthony of Padua is well known. He was preaching on the truths of the faith to a large crowd in Rimini, when he was challenged by a Jew, who denied the truth of the Eucharist, saying: "You confound me by your words, because you are more learned than I am, but let us come to deeds; prove it to me by them." St. Antony accepted the challenge, and permitted the Jew to name the proof he required. A mule was kept without food for three days, and at the end of the time the Jew, accompanied by a great crowd, led it out to the place in which he was to meet the Saint. The latter was celebrating Mass, and when he reached the Communion he went forth with the Sacred Host, and turning to the mule said: "In the name of Jesus Christ, Whom I, though unworthy, hold in my hands, I command you to come forth and do reverence to your Creator, that you may confound these heretics." The Jew now threw a handful of hay and oats to the hungry animal, but at a sign from the Saint it left them untouched, although famishing with hunger, and approaching the Saint bent its knees before him, and bowed its head as a mark of veneration. The miracle was plain for all: the Jew, as well as others, was converted. A chapel was erected on the spot in memory of the event, and is preserved to the present day.
The Real Presence Of Jesus Christ In The Eucharist
Cardinal Gaetano De Lai

12 June 2011

Vaccines & Informed Consent

I recently saw this post after The Analytical Armadillo posted it on FB.  Now, let me begin by saying that I am not anti-vaccine, but neither do I think all vaccines are necessary for everyone (ex: varicella or flu), and I have a moral objection to those vaccines that use foetal tissue.  I can also say that I've not been given the chance to truly give informed consent based just on what the Health Visitor has told me.  What I mean by that is that there was never a discussion about the risks & benefits for both sides.  I realise, of course, that the HV only has a limited amount of time and that having an in-depth conversation isn't feasible, so I am not blaming her for that.  What I wish, though, is that more discussion was available, even if it was an in-depth pamphlet on each of the jabs.

Now that the background discussion is out of the way, I'll say that I'm not pleased with the positions given in the link.  Dr Stan Block and Dr Ari Brown both talk about convincing parents through emotional means.  Dr Block says to do this through ICU photos and parental testimony (the shock factor), and Dr Brown through saying it's what the doctor did/would do for his family.  I do appreciate it if a doctor lets me know what he would do, but I also want all the facts, good and bad, so I can make an informed choice.  I'm not asking to be given information that already matches what I think, for that would not be honest of me to only look at one side.  I do understand where those doctors are coming from, with having a limited amount of time at appointments and wanting their patients to get all the vaccines, but I disagree with the tactics they suggest. Perhaps instead of the emotional appeals, we can find ways to better inform parents.  I don't know how to go about doing that, though, given the current models.

Water from the Side of Christ

I'm continuing with looking at the Anima Christi prayer.  If you want a more in-depth theological look at it, I highly recommend Micah's posts over at The Ranter's blog.  Here's the full text of the prayer:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
For all eternity

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

 I love the imagery here.  My first thought is to picture our baptism, with the water coming directly from the side of Christ.  My second thought is to picture the image of Divine Mercy given to St Faustina, pictured to the right.  Jesus gives us baptism, and He acts through the waters of baptism to cleanse us from sin.  This act of His grace and mercy is only magnified by thinking of the water pouring from His heart, from His side at His death being tied to the baptismal waters.  Our God is truly amazing.

11 June 2011

Children in Museums

I love museums.  When I was young and we went on family holidays, I always wanted to go to a museum, and I'm sure I drove my sister insane.  My father was always happy to take me, so I didn't realise until much later that history really isn't a major interest of his.  I'm glad he allowed me to explore what I was interested in, even if he didn't share my enthusiasm.

This is something I'm now learning, too.  I love taking my children to museums, and they enjoy going, too.  They simply don't enjoy seeing the same things I do.  Kieran is more than happy to spend all his time looking at the fish when we're at the World Museum.  I did manage to get them up to the Egypt exhibit the last time we went, but neither of them were too interested.  Well, Kieran did enjoy the fact that he could touch a granite block with the face and cartouche of Ramesses II on it that was from the temple at Bubastis, though he didn't care so much about me pointing out the cartouche.

Yesterday I took them to a Hittite exhibit at a different museum; I thought they'd enjoy it, as it was very kid-friendly, and they did enjoy some of it, but what Kieran really enjoyed was the John James Audubon exhibit on the floor below.  While that might not have been my first choice, I certainly didn't want to deter him in his interest.  So I must take this lesson from my father, to encourage my children in their interests and to never seem like I don't share that interest.  Besides, the kids and I might both learn something in the process.  In the meantime, I'll just thank my father for always encouraging me.  Thanks, Daddy.  I love you.

Musings of a Convert

There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.
The above quote is from Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and I've found it to be fairly accurate, at least in my own experience.  I was raised Southern Baptist, but converted to Catholicism in 2004.  Here are some of the more common misconceptions I've encountered, either in my own understanding or in others.

-Purgatory.  This is a pretty big one, really.  The usual misconceptions are that purgatory is some kind of "second chance" and/or that it negates Jesus' sacrifice and instead focuses on earning your way to Heaven.  In fact, neither of these are true.  I mentioned that I was raised Southern Baptist, in a congregation that taught "once saved, always saved"; if asked what would happen to the person who still held on to some sin at death, some would answer that those sins, or any attachment to sin, would be immediately burned away and cleansed upon death.  Well, that's essentially purgatory.  We don't know how long it may take for this cleansing, but it could be in the blink of an eye.  This doesn't negate Jesus' sacrifice, but is the application of His sacrifice after our death for those of us who die while still in some attachment to venial sin.  It's a great act of mercy from God to cleanse us in this way so we can enter Heaven.

-Faith/Works.  Purgatory leads to me the discussion on faith and works.  Many seem to think that Catholics believe they can earn their way to Heaven through various works.  In fact, Church teachings are very clear that salvation is by grace alone, through faith and works.  This doesn't mean that we earn our way, but it does mean that we can't just say we believe and then not live it out.  After all, St James tells us that faith without works is dead.  The parable of the sheep and goats makes it clear that our actions matter.  Again, this doesn't mean that we earn our salvation - it is only by the grace of God, and He also gives us the grace to perform these actions.

There are many more, but I'll stop with just those for now.  :-)

9 June 2011

Crafty Thursday

You'll notice I changed the name today, because I did more than knit.  As far as knitting goes, I finished the ribbing on my sweater and started the "skirt" part.  I'm doing a combo of Inverness diamonds and marriage lines.  I've not done enough to see if I like it, though.  I left in a lifeline at the end of the ribbingg so I can easily rip out to that point if need be.

I also broke out the Elna sewing machine I was given in order to try to turn some old jeans into a skirt. I'm not quite finished yet, and I'm not sure if I like it or not, but thought it was worth a try.  I can always cut them down more to make something for Charlotte if it doesn't work for me.  As my husband said, I'm just living out the principle of Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. ;-)

6 June 2011

Book Nook

I picked up this book at a Catholic retreat centre outside of St Alban's last year.  I thought it was cute, and both kids have liked it.  It's interactive, since the child is supposed to move the little lamb through the different pages.  Sometimes the lamb has gotten lost, but right now it's in its slot in the book cover, as it should be.  I'll be honest and say that I often find children's religious books to be overly cheesy and dumbed down, but this one isn't too bad in that regard.  Of course, my critique doesn't just apply to religious books for children, because there are a lot of children's books that I find too cheesy and/or dumbed down.  I don't believe in talking down to kids.  I'm also the mother who's read Shakespeare to my son, though.

5 June 2011

Blood of Christ

I'm trying to stay off-line as much as possible on Sundays, so I thought over the next few Sundays I'd just post my thoughts, such as they may be, on the Anima Christi prayer.  It's one of my favourite prayers, and one I say daily. Here's the full text:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
For all eternity

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

My thoughts on this part are similar to my thoughts on the previous line.  With this one, though, it also speaks of being completely overcome by Jesus in the Eucharist.  Inebriate me.  The word "inebriate" speaks of being drunk or intoxicated.  Of course, people often speak of being intoxicated by love, and I think that's the sense here.  If we truly allow ourselves to become intoxicated, inebriated by Jesus' love for us when we are united with Him in the Eucharist, how awesome would that be?  I'm reminded of Bernini's The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, even though her ecstasy was caused by a vision and not by partaking of the Eucharist, I think.

And of course I'm still absolutely amazed that His Blood which was shed for us is shared with us in this way.  Yes, it usually retains the appearance of wine, but there have been times when it hasn't.  Perhaps most notable is the miracle at Lanciano.

4 June 2011

So Far, So Good

Last week I decided I needed to actually schedule my computer time so I didn't waste so much time.  Well, 1 week in and so far, so good.  After just the first couple of days I felt saner because I wasn't wasting time online and then rushing around trying to cook or clean.  I also have an easier time getting ready in time for daily Mass when the computer's off.  I'm not incredibly strict about the schedule, since I can't predict what the kids will do or need, but I know roughly when I'll get on, and then I just make sure to only be on for the set amount of time.

One of the problems I had before was that I'd think of something I truly needed to look up (or was just curious about), so I'd get online and look it up.  Then the Thnikkaman would arrive and I'd get distracted and look at various other things.  Later I'd remember something else I needed to know, so the cycle would repeat.  Now I just jot things down if I need to look something up or have a blog idea, and then I can do it all when I get online.  I also find that I don't really care as much about being online, so I don't always take up all of my scheduled online time, which is great.

I'm even sticking to my cleaning schedule a bit better.  Granted, it's still not up to Fly Lady standards, seeing as I don't shine my sink every evening, but it's a lot better.

2 June 2011

Knitting Thursday

Since I don't have much to report on my knitting (except that I think I need to find a pattern for a Gruffalo), I thought I'd showcase some of my mother's knits.  She's constantly sending beautiful knits to the kids.