31 January 2012

Amazed By How the Body Works

*Note: what follows is strictly my opinion. I have no medical training, so what I say shouldn't be taken as medical advice.

I tend to talk about birth a fair amount, so it wasn't really a surprise that I found myself explaining why I chose to delay cord clamping and declined the vit K injection with my second child (I'd requested those with Kieran, but they didn't heed my wishes about the cord clamping and we chose to do the vit K since it was an instrumental delivery with immediate cord clamping, but I digress).

Now, if you read the blog or all to me, you know that my general philosophy is to avoid interventions unless and until said intervention can be demonstrated to definitely help, and that the positives outweigh any negatives, for there are always positives and negatives. I tend to think that birth is best left well enough alone, with as few interventions as possible, in the majority of cases, thoug of course there are times when interventions are necessary and I am thankful for them being available in such cases.  And I will note now that there are times when immediate clamping and vitamin K are necessary, such as in the case of placenta praevia, traumatic delivery, or perhaps if the child will be circumcised (leaving aside my views on routine circumcision for the moment), though I don't feel they are necessary each and every time.

But back to delayed cord clamping and vit K. In the course of the conversation, it was mentioned that delayed cord clamping carried a higher rate of polycythemia in the baby. I'll admit, I was unsure what this entailed, so I looked it up.  I found that polycythemia is a condition whereby a person a higher red blood cell count.  This increases the viscosity of the blood, thereby increasing the clotting factor of it.  I know there can be other issues with polycythemia, which I will revisit in a moment.

When I read this part, though, a lightbulb immediately went off.  See, vitamin K is given in order to facilitate clotting in the newborn, but is this necessary if the babe is receiving his full blood volume and getting that higher red blood cell count?  Especially if immediate breastfeeding is practised, since vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin, is found in somewhat higher levels in colostrum and hindmilk?  The mother eating foods rich in vitamin K would be sure to increase levels both in the cord blood and the milk, given that a study of Chinese women showed lower levels of vitamin K in cord blood and declared it was due to a nutritional deficiency.  Now, I'll also admit that I've seen a study declaring that vitamin K levels in colostrum and mature milk were not sufficient.  The problems, in my opinion, with that study are the low sample size, and comparing vitamin k levels with nonhuman sources.  Surely our bodies are not completely broken?  Again, having the vitamin k for those who need it is a wonderful thing, as there are definite cases where it's helpful and necessary, I am just questioning its routine use.  From what I've seen, it seems that God's design is simply amazing.

What of those other issues that can occur with polycythemia?  A meta-analysis showed that, while there was an increase in polycythemia, it was benign and asymptomatic.  To me, this shows that it is the normal way our bodies work, and in the absence of a problem, needn't be addressed, but that's just my opinion.  Regardless, the more I learn about how our bodies naturally work, I'm amazed by God's design.  I can easily exclaim with the Psalmist that "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14a).

Of course, this post isn't intended to be a full account of all the pros and cons of delayed cord clamping and vitamin K, I just wanted to comment on this aspect.  It is something that parents must research and determine what is the best decision in their circumstances.

30 January 2012

Book Nook

At our latest library excursion, we were looking for Thomas books for Kieran, when I happened to see a section of books by Arnold Lobel, the author of the Frog and Toad books we love so much. So it was with great interest that I picked up Grasshopper on the Road. I'm not sure if we like it quite as well as the Frog and Toad stories, but that is probably because the Frog and Toad stories are ones we've read and reread and love dearly. This book is also quite nice, and Lobel's stories and illustrations are sure to delight. I know Charlotte was grinning the entire time it was being read to her.

27 January 2012

How Green Would You Go?

Going green is becoming a bit more mainstream. Real nappies, breastfeeding, baby led weaning, and baby wearing aren't seen as quite as odd these days and are even becoming fashionable. Going paperless doesn't just refer to the office, and can be quite cute and easy with fun prints for unpaper towels and napkins. I've found some great paperless products at this cloth house and really must get over there to make some purchases.

But some "green" habits remain on the fringe, with most considering them a bit odd.  While real nappies don't get much of a reaction, cloth wipes sometimes get a raised eyebrow, and family cloth certainly gets more of a reaction.  The same goes for mama cloth.  I think this is simply because we don't think of those things, for really family cloth and mama cloth aren't all that different from cloth nappies.  It wouldn't be any more work, either, since they could all be washed in the same load.

Even though I'm a huge fan of real nappies and cloth wipes, though, I've hesitated about making the plunge to family cloth and mama cloth.  Actually, the ideas themselves don't bother me, and I really want to go with mama cloth, I just haven't gotten around to buying or making the products, or gotten organised enough to fully go that route.  One of these days, though, I'm sure I'll do it.  So what about you - how green would you go?

25 January 2012

Guest Post at Authentic Parenting

Sorry I've not been posting. Unfortunately my family were hit with that nasty stomach virus, so we've been recovering. But I wanted to send everyone over to Authentic Parenting. Besides graciously accepting my guest post, she has many other gems to read.

23 January 2012

Book Nook

When a gift card from Barnes and Noble arrived for the kids, I think I was as excited as they were.  We piled into the car while we discussed what books they might like.  Kieran requested a Thomas the Tank Engine book, and Charlotte was happy about finding another Frog and Toad book.  Since we had more money on the gift card, we browsed the children's section to see what else we found.

On a whim, I meandered over to the religious section to see if they by chance had a good Catholic children's Bible.  I found this, My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories, and thumbed through it.  I loved the layout, and how it wasn't just a paraphrase, but included the NRSV text and also included ideas for going deeper and/or activities that could be done.  With a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur from Bishop Choby, I figured we couldn't go wrong, and so we got it.  While we did Bible readings together before, this makes it bit easier to share Scripture with the kids.  I can't wait to share it with them more and more.

22 January 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Thanks again to RAnn for hosting this on her blog. This week I've talked about attitudes towards children found on TV and Scott Hahn's book, Swear to God.

20 January 2012

The Media and Attitudes to Children

Thanks to my brother, I'm a great fan of The Big Bang Theory.  I first encountered episodes on a transatlantic flight, and I kept laughing aloud and then looking to see if anyone was watching me.  Sheldon's absolutely hilarious, and is the reason I watch the show.

The other night I was catching up on the latest episode.  While I enjoyed the parts with Sheldon (the thing with the pocket watch and giving Amy a tiara were great!), I was rather disappointed in the exchanges between Howard and Bernadette.  They get on the topic of children, and Bernadette explains that she really dislikes children.  Howard counters that she might feel different when it's her own, and her retort is that then it would be her body that's ruined.  Later she says that she'd have children if Howard would be the stay-at-home-parent so that she can have adult conversation and actually enjoy her life.

It's said the life imitates art, though I think it also gives a commentary on the views and values of society.  These views towards children really sadden me, even more so because I know they are not isolated or pure fiction.  When I was about seven months pregnant with Kieran, a colleague said to me that he'd never have children because he wanted to be able to do whatever he wanted.  Thankfully, another colleague steered the conversation in another direction rather quickly, but I've often thought back to that, and how sad it is.

It's true, being a mother means I don't get to do whatever I want.  However, does that mean it's not fulfilling or good?  No!  In fact, I'd counter that it's better for me to not get to do whatever I want, because sometimes the things I want aren't necessary what is best.  Besides, it's just selfish.  Yes, being a parent means putting my child before me, but that's not a bad thing.  It is a beautiful thing, and a way of participating in the self-giving love of God.

As for ruining my body, I'll admit I've had issues with body image after having children.  That in no way means my body is ruined.  As a friend pointed out, it is amazing that our bodies have nourished and grown and continue to nourish and comfort our children.  That's not ruined!  While it may not match up with societal expectations, it is beautiful.  When I think about it, it's truly amazing what my body has done and is doing, all according to God's design.  Ruined?!  I think not.

19 January 2012

So, you know that pay it forward thing going around Facebook?  You know the one, it says:

Pay it forward 2012. I promise to make something handmade for the first 5 people who comment on this status. They must, in turn post this and make something for the first 5 people who comment on their status. The rules are it must be handmade (even just making a friend a cup of coffee) and they must receive it by the end of 2012. Ready....Go. If you are not local, please send me your address privately. Please don't post if you are not interested in playing along. Give and ye shall receive - 
Well, I received 4 replies, which means there's one left.  So, be the first to comment here, and you're the lucky winner. :-)

18 January 2012

Happy Feast Day, Charlotte!

Today is the feast day of Blessed Charlotte Lucas, a martyr of the French Revolution. when we first discussed using the name Charlotte for our daughter, we weren't sure if there was a Saint with that name. So I did some searching and found her. I don't know much about her life, but I am nevertheless inspired by her courage and faith in being a martyr. Blessed Charlotte Lucas, pray for us, especially for Charlotte, that we, too, may remain faithful to God.

17 January 2012

Swear to God by Scott Hahn

I just finished re-reading Scott Hahn's book, Swear to God: the Promise and Power of the Sacraments, wherein he discusses the Sacraments.  It's been years since I'd read it, so it was like reading it for the first time, really.  The first thing that struck me was the significance of there being seven Sacraments.  Of course I already knew the symbolism of the number seven in ancient Jewish thought, with it symbolising completeness, and I knew there were seven Sacraments, but I had not thought to connect these two.  I'm sure I'm not describing it as well as Hahn did, but it is truly amazing to ponder, realising that Jesus left us the complete number of Sacraments in this way.

Hahn, a former Presbyterian minister turned Catholic convert and author, does a great job of discussing covenants and how they relate to Sacraments, which I think is beneficial for anyone, Catholic or not, who wants to understand the Catholic thought on this a bit more.  After going through the covenantal history, he looks at the various Sacraments individually, devoting the most time to the Eucharist, of course, since that is such a fundamental part of Catholic faith.  As I mentioned, I think this book is good for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  Catholics may find a greater understanding of the Sacraments and how they affect us, and non-Catholics may understand more how Catholics view the Sacraments, which can facilitate discussion, since Catholics and Protestants often have very different understandings of the Sacraments.  I'd certainly recommend this book, though.

15 January 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Thanks again to RAnn for hosting the Sunday Snippets carnival. This week I've examined my own views about time away from the kids, a cute book, and the St Augustine march for life. Enjoy! God bless!

14 January 2012

March For Life

Today we had the pleasure of participating in the March for Life in St Augustine. I'd never been to one of the marches, so I didn't know what to expect really. We arrived at the shrine right at noon, when the march was scheduled to start. I was thrilled at seeing so many people there in defense of life, and even got a little teary at the sight. Because I expected large crowds, we brought the buggy for Kieran, and I wore Charlotte in the mei tai. I'm glad I did, given the number of people there. The march itself was nice, with some singing, some praying the Rosary, and many holding signs. I didn't witness any negative reactions. Even if there had been, it wouldn't have changed my feelings about it, and I will happily participate in such marches again. I continue to pray that all may see the dignity of life, from conception to natural death.

12 January 2012

Great Idea from a Friend

A friend just shared an excellent idea with me. She suggested taking the covers of old Magnificat magazines and laminating them. They can then be sorted according to the Rosary mysteries. Punch a hole in the corner, and print out the Mysteries that correspond, and it's a great way to teach the Rosary to children. Now, who wants to send me their old covers from Magnificat, since I don't get the magazine? ;-)

Crafty Thursday

I'm still plugging away on my surprise project, so I've no photos to show. Instead, I will discuss a newfound love: magic loop. I really, really dislike working on double-point needles (dpns). These are used when working in a circle, but the circle is too small for a circular needle. So, usually for things like sleeves, socks, or the tops of hats. I prefer knitting in the round when I can so I don't have to sew up seams later, and so I'd use the dreaded dpns as needed. My cousin mentioned using the magic loop technique instead of dpns, so when I found myself getting frustrated with the dpns on my latest project, I decided to look up a tutorial for magic loop. The first couple of rounds were a little awkward, since I'd not done that before, but once I got into the rhythm of it, it was a breeze. I'll definitely use this technique again.

11 January 2012

In the Know with Father Joe

Yesterday we received our diocesan magazine in the post, and I was flipping through it. I came to a page with a post entitled "In the Know with Father Joe"; in this edition he was tackling a question about why parents don't take crying children out of Mass. Oh boy, I've seen debates on that subject a fair amount, so I was a little wary of what I would find. I needn't have been, though, for I thought he handled it very well. I highly recommend having a look!

10 January 2012

Time Away From the Children

I think I must baffle people, for I've never felt the need to regularly be away from my children.  Of course I have my times of needing to be alone, but I tend to get snatches of that throughout the day, and my husband or other family can watch the children for a few minutes if I need just a little time to myself.

But do I think I need regular time away to meet with a group in order to be a better wife or mother?  Obviously not since I don't do such things.  This recently came up with someone asking me to sign up for a mom's group.  (Am I the only one who finds it ironic that children aren't allowed at the mom's group?)  I hedged about it, as I'm not generally a fan of such things, but also because I have my doubts about how Charlotte would do since she's never been in a group without me.  She's been without me for that long before, though not until very recently and never with someone she didn't know (nursery is provided for the group in question).  I was just told by the lady trying to sign me up that she would be fine, that she could definitely go that long without breastfeeding (yes, I know she can if she wants, but she doesn't often want to do so), and that I needed this time away to be a better wife and mother.

Let me be clear that I am not looking down on those who feel they do need that regular time away.  There's nothing wrong with that, but neither is there anything wrong with not feeling like such time is needed, in my opinion.  I think that societal expectations are such, though, that the assumption often made is that children somehow hamper one's life or provide unwelcome distraction (I agree they can be a distraction, but they don't have to be an unwelcome one), and therefore a separate outlet is needed.

I'm reminded of some friends in Liverpool.  A friend offered to babysit Kieran for me after he was born, and I politely declined.  She mentioned how she'd repeatedly offered to babysit for some mutual friends, a family from Zimbabwe, and was a bit upset that they kept refusing the offer until it was explained that in their culture they simply didn't do things without their children.  While I don't have the cultural background to make that statement, I feel that way in regards to my children.  If my children aren't welcome somewhere, I won't go.

I do agree that having adult conversation and personal time are important things, I simply disagree that one must have regular time away from the child to have those things.  I'll admit that part of my issue could be that I've never been a big fan of just being around larger groups of other women, to be honest.  I do enjoy being around other mums, but am unsure of groups like that for some reason.  I'd also be a bit nervous about talking about parenting things since I know my parenting philosophy isn't exactly mainstream.  However, I also know that a large part of my trepidation with such things is that I truly get uptight being away from my children for long, and therefore would be stressed and on edge during the group.  That surely would not be conducive to focusing on the group or discussion at hand.

I suppose I also feel that it's a relatively modern, and Western, notion that mothers must have time separate from their children: the very people that make them mothers.  Again, if a mother does feel that she needs this for her own sanity, and can do it, I've nothing against that.  I simply don't think it's a necessity for me or that such time will necessarily make one a better wife or mother.  I know it can be hard fitting in personal time and ensuring we still have time for reflection and meditation, believe me.  But I find with a little planning and/or determination I can make that happen while having them with me.  Of course, being away from the children would also take that planning and determination.  So mothers, if you feel you need that time away, that's fine, but if you don't, that's great, too, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

9 January 2012

Mama Raw - Culture is the Culprit

I just read this post about circumcision over at Mama Raw. I think she has a great point about how much culture shapes our attitudes towards things, not just circumcision, but most of our parenting and medical assumptions. It is hard to strip away our own preconceived ideas to get at the heart of things, I know, but it is always a good idea to do so, inky opinion. We may or may not do things the same way after doing that, but change isn't always necessary. The point is examining our ideas and seeing how they stand up after that, I think. I've shared my views on circumcision quite a bit, so I won't rehash that, but feel free to look at Mama Raw's post for her take on it.

Hunting for Ghosts

This is one of those days where being a SAHM just rocks.  For his birthday, Kieran received the first season of Scooby Doo on DVD, and the children have watched it a lot since then.  After watching some today, I've joined the children in hunting for the Miner 49er.  Evidently, he's been hiding in our walls, under the sofa, in the oven, and in closets.  Charlotte claims that he licked her.  It's incredibly fun chasing through the house looking for ghosts like this.  I wouldn't trade this for a minute.

Book Nook

Ages ago a friend mentioned reading the book How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? By Jane Yolen. I filed that away in mind with a mental note to look for it, but then forgot all about it until recently. We were at the library, looking for a book for Charlotte (Kieran had already chosen his), so I asked if she wanted a dinosaur book. That triggered my memory of this title, so I looked in the catalogue and found that they did indeed have a copy, which we promptly found and checked out. I'm so glad we did, for it's a trly sweet book. Charlotte asks us to read it unite a bit, and even "reads" it to herself some. I'll have to look at other books in the series now.

8 January 2012

Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival

So last week I had a comment From RAnn at This That and the Other Thing inviting me to post with this series, so I thought I'd give it a go. While not solely a Catholic topic, I thought I'd share my breastfeeding post from this week. And of course I want to highlight my post on Epiphany. Happy Sunday!

6 January 2012

What Breastfeeding Is and Isn't

Whenever there re debates about breastfeeding in public, there are inevitably comparisons to other bodily and/or intimate activities, such as urination or sex. The conclusion is then tht mums must cover up or use an artificial substitute.

Let's think about this, though. What is breastfeeding, truly? It is the normal way of nourishing and comforting a child. Are these inappropriate activities for the public sphere? Given the number of public restaurants, street cafes, and food vendors, I'd have to say no. Furthermore, women aren't berated for bottle-feeding in public, which lends further credence to feeding in public being acceptable. Since breastfeeding is the biological norm, and thus the best thing to do, it shouldn't be an issue at all to breastfeed in public, uncovered.

But breastfeeding isn't only about food: it is also the normal way to omfort a child. Is comfort in the public sphere forbidden? Hardly! The only problem seems to be the societal expectation that mothers use a dummy instead of the biological norm of breastfeeding.

Back to those objections I mentioned above. We can agree that public urination and sex are to be discouraged, because of hygiene and th intimacy of the acts. Breastfeeding is not unhygienic, and, while intimate, does not necessitate privacy. If it did, thn surely mothers couldn't feed their children out of the house at all, covered or not. After all, we don't say public urination and sex are fine as long as the people in question use a cover or an artificial substitute. No, I think I can confidently say that public sex would still be frowned upon with a dildo, or public urination even under a sheet. Covering it up or using a substitute doesn't suddenly make the public display of the act acceptable. Thus the comparison fails on all counts, really.

So the next time those comparisons are made, think about what breastfeeding actually is, and realize the comparisons to sex or other bodily functions just don't work. In fact, even lowing the conversation to stay on those arguments misses the point, as we should be pointing out that breastfeeding is the biologically normal way to feed and comfort our children, and these acts are allowed in public. Therefore, breastfeeding in public, uncovered, should never be an issue. Certainly it wasn't an issue during the time this lovely painting of he Blessed Virgin MaryDand Jesus was created, nor should it be now.

Happy Epiphany!

It's the feast of the Epiphany! The day we celebrate the Magi coming and presenting their gifts before Jesus. We've kept back a gift for the kids for today; normally we spread the gifts out over the 12 Days of Christmas, but with the travel and everything, we didn't this year. I hope everyone has a blessed day!

5 January 2012

AP with and without Extended Family

As those who know me or read this blog know, I am a huge fan of Attachment Parenting (AP). I found that this is the style that came to me naturally, long before I knew about a name for it. Definitely isn't always easy, but what parenting is? I've found it to be worth it and I wouldn't change a thing.

I have noticed something, though, in the few months we've been living with my parents. AP is, in some ways, much easier with extended family around. I'm sure hat wouldn't be the case if my family were opposed to our parenting choices, but they support us and instead try to help without overstepping boundaries. I appreciate this more than I can say and I know it'll be an adjustment when we move back out.

Part of AP is responding to a child quickly and gently. When it was just us, I tried to do this, but there were times when I couldn't get there immediately. So I did the best I could, and that was that. Those times still happen now, but with less frequency, for there are more adults around who can either comfort the child or assist with household duties. It certainly makes AP a bit easier. Now that house-sharing is becoming slightly more common again, perhaps others will find this to be the case, too.

Crafty Thursday

Well, I'm getting back in the swing of things here. Although I'd taken my sweater on our travels, I didn't actually work on it at all. I did, however, find out that there's a possibility of getting more yarn for my husband's sweater! Exciting. So I worked on that a little more this week until I started getting fed up with the bent needle on the machine. I'm nearly finished with that part, though.

Yesterday I rifled through the yarn stash and pulled out soe of the Mission Falls 1824 Cotton. It's a beautiful rust colour. Because I'm making it for someone else, the actual project will have to remain a mystery until it's finished. But it'll be beautiful, or so I hope.

2 January 2012

Book Nook

When I was doing some Christmas shopping at Barnes and Noble for some family, I took Charlotte into the children's section to peruse the children's books. I was searching for some Julia Donaldson books, but they only had The Gruffalo; it's a wonderful book, but we own it already.

So we looked around some more, and Charlotte found the book Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. We own Frog and Toad are Friends, which the children love, but I hadn't known there were more books in the series. Of course I had to pick it up as one of the gifts for my kids. As I expected, it's a fun book with stories the kids love to read over nd over again. You can't go wrong with these stories.

1 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy 2012! Today is also the Eighth day of Christmas, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. I pray that I may better follow her example to always magnify the Lord and constantly meditate on the mystery and love of God.