29 January 2013


I teach NFP. Because of that, the issue of women being put on the pill for various issues with their cycles has been at the forefront of my thoughts, since many who come to me have been on the pill at some point for supposed medical reasons. I can relate, for I was one of those women, too.

Recently, though, I've thought of the disconnect in my own mind when I was prescribed the pill as a teenager. At the same time as my gynaecological issues, I also had issues with my knee. My tendons were malaligned and thus my patella was being pulled to the side with every straightening of my leg. By the time I was 18, my patella was beginning to degenerate. I lived with constant pain and swelling, just as I also lived with the cyclic pain of my irregular cycles.

My reactions to these pains was quite different, though. Perhaps it's because I was embarrassed by the bleeding and pain of my periods and breakthrough bleeds (I was the lucky one who bled at ovulation and menstruation), but I didn't hold my doctors to the same standards. For example, my orthopedist prescribed pain medication, but I would've been furious if he'd said "the pain medication is working so we won't do anything else". After all, the pain medication wasn't solving anything, just masking the pain so I could function a bit. No, instead of just doing that, he ordered physical therapy, and, when that didn't work, surgery. He got to the root of the problem and addressed it instead of just giving the quick fix of a bandage. It wasn't quick, and there was a fair bit of recovery needed, but I hoped the pain would be gone after that (it took 2 surgeries, but my knee is much better now).

So why did I then accept the quick fix and bandage from my gynaecologist? I was prescribed the pill, with no effort to address why I was in such pain and having such heavy bleeding. She did test hormone levels and check for cysts and endometriosis, but when those showed nothing wrong, nothing more was done. I wouldn't discover why I'd had the bleeding every 2-3 weeks until I went off the pill years later and started charting, in fact (by the way, bleeding at ovulation is in fact a normal variation of the menstrual cycle). When I would ask about an alternative treatment, neither of my gynaecologists were willing to consider it because, as one said, the pill was "working". In fact, it took me finally working up the courage to ask my uncle, an OB/GYN, before I was told of a non-hormonal treatment, which I then requested from my GP. By then I'd been on the pill for years with little questioning, though I'd never have accepted that in other medical fields. I wish I'd known about red raspberry leaf and nettle teas, too, but live and learn.

Yes, I'm sure much of my willingness to accept it from my gynaecologists was due to me being mortified by this issue. I had to be convinced to see a doctor in the first place, and I avoided talking about if possible (years of teaching NFP have cured me of that squeamishness, obviously). Now, though, I'm just angry that we women don't talk about this more and demand better. After all, don't we deserve to have the crux of the problem addressed and not just be given a plaster to cover it? (Please note I'm not saying hormonal treatments aren't sometimes required, but that the pill shouldn't be used as a quick fix, in my non-medical opinion based in part on my personal experience.) Let's ditch the disconnect and quit settling for the quick fix.

28 January 2013

Book Nook

For the first time since Leo's birth, we finally made it to the library! I really need to make sure we get back into the habit of going weekly, as we were all excited. Knowing that we all love James Mayhew's Katie meets the Mona Lisa, I wanted to see if his other books were available. We were in luck, for Katie and the Sunflowers was there. I love Van Gogh, so seeing his painting of Sunflowers on the cover was a good sign. We haven't been disappointed! This book introduces kids to the post-impressionists, namely Van Gogh, Gaugin, and Cezanne, through a fun adventure with the precocious Katie. I love that they're seeing real art and enjoying a fun story.

27 January 2013

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

I've had a lighter week with blogging. My posts this week:

Book Nook
The Prayers of Children

Go here for the full carnival, and have a blessed week.

25 January 2013

The Prayers of Children

I am often amazed at my children and their grasp of matters of faith. Their prayers and requests for prayers are simple, simplistic, trusting, genuine. Often I'm met with requests such as, "Mummy, I'm afraid of the dark, can you pray for me?" Or "Mummy, I hurt myself, will you pray for me?" Then there are their prayers for others. One of Kieran's friends broke his arm, and Kieran prayed for The Lord to bless him. If I'm having a bad day, the kids pray for me.

While obviously their prayers won't, and shouldn't, remain simplistic, I do hope they retain the simple, child-like nature of their prayers. I often hesitate to bring the little things to God in prayer, but my children teach me that I shouldn't hesitate. Nothing is too small or too big for Him, and my children's absolute trust in Him is found in their prayers. True, they don't have bigger worries right now, but I hope they continue to pray about every little thing. Of course, this doesn't mean we just sit and do nothing while waiting for God to act, as sometimes the answer is just to give us the grace we need to do it ourselves. But that grace is sorely needed, and if I can learn one thing from my children, I hope it's to completely trust in God and bring Him my everything.

21 January 2013

Book Nook

While at my parents' house, my children happened upon Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. I couldn't remember the book, so it was an adventure for all of us. We discovered a whimsical town where the weather was actually food. This sounds great until things go awry. We continue to have fun reading this book and talking about what would happen if our favourite foods fell like rain. I think just about all children, and their parents, would enjoy exploring this book.

19 January 2013

March For Life

Today found us in St Augustine, FL for the annual March For Life. Having attended last year, we'd learned that we needed to arrive earlier to park anywhere close, and that the kids wouldn't do well staying for the speaker. So we timed it to get there around an hour early, and we still had to park about a block or so down the road. Charlotte had fallen asleep in the car and wasn't quite awake yet; Leo was wide awake, which means he didn't want in the mei tai. So I started out with Charlotte in the mei tai on my back and Leo in my arms, just until Charlotte was more awake. The kids wanted to goby the large cross at the shrine, and I wanted to step in at the shrine of Our Lady of La Leche to pray for a friend whose baby is due.

After that, we were ready for the march. There was a good crowd, and fair weather. The kids wanted to hold signs and were proud of themselves for doing so. By this time, Leo was asleep in the mei tai and Charlotte was intermittently walking and being carried by my husband. We didn't march with a specific parish or group, but we found ourselves close to the Couples for Christ group. One of their members was leading the Rosary, so I stayed close and prayed the Joyful and Sorrowful mysteries with them (that was as far as we got by the time we reached the end of the march).

I only saw one protester, but I didn't see any marchers react with anger. Instead, we kept praying, and I especially prayed for her healing from her anger. Further on, on George Street, some protester had dropped a bunch of clothes hangers in the path of the march. Again, my reaction was one of sadness and prayer. Our goal with pro-life events like this isn't just to stop abortion, but to help ensure a woman doesn't feel like that's the only viable option. I also lament that adoption is so expensive, because I'd bet many more would adopt if it weren't cost prohibitive.

While there was a speaker and food after the march, we chose to go on home. I wouldn't have been able to eat the meal (spaghetti), and the kids were ready to leave. I was glad we were able to participate, though.

18 January 2013


Guilt. All mothers have it. Often there is heated discussion about not making mothers feel guilty for their parenting decisions. Sometimes I agree with that sentiment if what the mother is doing isn't wrong. For example, a mother shouldn't feel guilty if she co-sleeps or doesn't, because both are valid options when done properly. Neither should she be guilted for parenting responsively, however that looks for her family. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, as those with multiple children know, and we shouldn't pretend otherwise.

There are other times, though, when guilt is used as an excuse to refrain from giving information. How often have we heard that we shouldn't make mothers feel guilty for bottle-feeding when we're only giving information about breastfeeding and risks to not doing so?! Obviously such information shouldn't be used to berate mothers, but neither should we refrain from giving information out of fear of offending.

So often, though, giving information about breastfeeding, CIO/CC, and even babywearing is met with hostility and exclamations of how they and their children survived such practices and are "fine". Giving such information, though, isn't intended to make people feel guilty, but just to ensure parents have the best information available. We all want to do what's best for our children and we work with the information we have. When we later learn that a practice we were doing isn't best, it is jarring. We don't want to admit that our practice wasn't best and was, in some cases, harmful.

For example, I introduced solids too early with Kieran and even gave him a little bit of baby rice. I hadn't known at that time what the actual signs of readiness were, despite my intention of doing BLW (I hadn't researched it as much then as I later have). I didn't know about the pointlessness of baby rice, though I quit giving it since he didn't like it. I didn't know about the increased risk of eczema with premature introduction of solids, and Kieran ended up with bad eczema. Did I feel guilty? Yes, but I'm glad I was told these things so I could amend my practices in the future. I realised I couldn't berate myself because I was working within the scope of knowledge I had, and with the advice of the Health Visitor. I am thankful Kieran's eczema has disappeared, and now I know better what to do.

I could also feel guilty about having used a Baby Bjorn a few times with Kieran. I don't, though, because I didn't know the Bjorn is bad for the baby, physically. All I knew was that it hurt my back, so I didn't use it much. Thanks to a friend I heard about the Kari Me wrap and started using it; not only was it better for him, but it was the first carrier I'd found that didn't hurt my back (I'd also tried a non-stretchy wrap).

My point in all his is that, while there isn't one right answer for parents, there are some things that are clearly better or clearly harmful, and parents deserve to have that information. Not to make them feel guilty, but to make sure the information is available so parents can make truly informed decisions.

17 January 2013

Crafty Thursday

Early in my pregnancy with Charlotte, a friend made me a mei tai. I wasn't confident in my sewing abilities and was quite nauseated, so I was grateful to her for making it. The end result was a beautiful, professional-looking, sturdy mei tai that even included interchangeable panels so I could change the look at any time. I often forget to do that, but I like having the option.

Fast forward to now, when I am fairly confident in my sewing skills. I decided to make a mei tai, so I asked my friend what pattern she used. She gave me a site with a tutorial, but said she didn't follow it completely. So I looked at the site and my own mi tai and got the measurements I needed. Then I went to JoAnn's to get fabric, thread, and hook and loop tape. I decided on purple for the main colour and then found some precut quilting squares in complimentary colours for the panels.

15 January 2013

I Wish I'd Known

I've given birth three times now, and each time I've learned more about myself. There are also any things I've learned that I wish I'd known before giving birth the first time. Here's my list:

- you don't need to wait for permission to move about or do what comes naturally. I wasn't hooked up to IVs or monitors, so I could've labored standing in the shower like I wanted instead of waiting for someone to say it was ok (I certainly learned this lesson before the other two)

- You won't always get a break between contractions, despite what they tell you in antenatal classes

- you won't necessarily dilate a cm an hour, and that's ok. In fact, you might not dilate until transition, as I've learned is normal for me.

- You can indeed be in active labour without having a regular contraction pattern. This would be why I need to be convinced to phone the midwives, and then give birth shortly after seeing the midwife.

- internal checks are uncomfortable, unnecessary (at least in a normal labour), and disheartening. I was checked at the beginning of transition with Kieran and was dismayed when I was 3cm. Neither the midwife nor I thought I was in transition because of that, and both of us were surprised when my body started pushing an hour later.

- Hands and knees or kneeling are great positions for birth and minimize tearing.

- Birthing balls are wonderful during labour

- Coconut water might not taste great to me, but it's great for balancing electrolytes after birth.

- Pregnancy tea blend (nettle, alfalfa, red raspberry leaf, rose hip, lemongrass, spearmint) drunk during pregnancy and after birth really helps with blood loss, after pains, and milk production.

What would you add to this list?

13 January 2013

Book Nook

My daughter loves Mother Mary (yep, we're definitely Catholic) and talks about her all the time. So when we went to the Catholic shop recently, Kieran suggested getting a book about Mary or Charlotte. I agreed and picked out My First Book About Mary by Christine Virginia Orfeo. It isn't too simplistic, so it keeps her interest, but neither is it too complex. It includes items from Tradition and Scripture to teach children about Mary's life. Charlotte loves it and asks everyone to read it to her. I'd definitely recommend it.

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Well, it's the last day of the Christmas season and life is getting back to normal, somewhat.  Here are my posts for the week:

How I'm handling the dietary changes
Book Nook
Donating milk

Check out the full carnival at RAnn's.

9 January 2013

Have You Considered Milk Donation?

Breastfeeding mums: have you ever considered milk donation?

After I had Charlotte, I was tandem-feeding and still had an oversupply! A friend, who is also a La Leche League leader, told me about the Wirral milk bank, so I promptly contacted them and donated until Charlotte was one. Because that milk went to the preemies in hospital, I couldn't donate to them after that. I then looked into Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB), but no one in my area needed milk. I really don't like expressing (I hand express), but do if someone needs it.

When Leo was born, I looked into donating to a milk bank again, but I'm not eligible due to the time I lived in England. My supply hasn't been as abundant due to Leo's latching issues, but I figured I could donate some. I hadn't gotten around to looking at HM4HB and really hadn't thought much about it until I heard of someone who's been approved for adoption. I then offered to express some until she could (hopefully) induce lactation. She accepted, so I've been eating loads of oats to up my supply (it works) and expressing.

Why do I do this when I dislike expressing milk? Because breastmilk is best for babies. If I couldn't breastfeed for some reason, I'd want to have donated milk on hand, or even get a friend to be a wet nurse. The WHO lists donor milk as being preferable to formula since t's more easily digested and has immune properties that formula cannot replicate. This is especially important for those in NICUs. Unfortunately, few truly have access to donor milk, with it either being unavailable or cost-prohibitive. I therefore find it important to promote milk donation, and so I donate.

So, have you considered it? Would you? Why or why not?

6 January 2013

Book Nook

My children received multiple books for Christmas; one of them was The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I'd read the book years ago, but not with the kids. They haven't even seen the film. This version is abridged slightly, but does not change the original details, such as Dorothy wearing silver shoes instead of ruby slippers. Charles Santore's illustrations are vivid and beautiful, capturing Baum's descriptions well. The story, of course, is a captivating classic the kids love. If you have only seen the film, you should pick up the book! It's sure to fire your kids' imaginations.

Over a Month Later

And I'm fairly used to my dietary changes. I miss cheese occasionally, but I really think I feel better overall now that I'm not eating dairy. I find that I crave fish more, but that's fine. My only meats are chicken and turkey (if you knew me before I fell pregnant with Charlotte, you're laughing now, since I used to avoid chicken like the plague and didn't eat it for years). I hope I can find some tuna that is soy-free soon, too, as tuna salad with avocado instead of mayo is quite tasty.

I've also discovered the wonder of Earth Balance soy-free, so I don't miss butter quite as much. Thanks to that, I can make delicious melt-in-your-mouth vegan pancakes.

I really find that I'm eating a lot healthier. I can't eat most processed foods, which helps. I have been putting oats in more things, like banana muffins, though I have an ulterior motive for that. I eat a lot more spinach and other greens (mmm, kale chips), and I've started making smoothies. For some reason I've never really liked eating fruit and veg on their own, with some exceptions, but smoothies are great. I think I'll start using coconut water in them, too. So while it can sometimes be annoying finding things I can eat, overall I think it's helped both Leo and me.

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy Epiphany, and thank you RAnn for hosting the carnival.

My posts this week:
- Soy is in everything
- eating out with food intolerance
- Leo's playmat
- Happy Epiphany

Happy Epiphany!

Happy Feast of the Epiphany!  At the end of Mass, our pastor blessed chalk, so we picked some up in the narthex.  Here's a blessing you can do, if you want (we didn't have incense, but got Holy Water today).

And now I might just read Twelfth Night.

3 January 2013

Crafty Thursday

I'm finally getting Leo's playmat finished (hey, it's still Christmas). While the pattern doesn't call for satin blanket binding, my mother picked some up in case I wanted it. I fought with it, but it does make it look more finished. I had used a soft, fuzzy blue fabric folded double for the backing, so it's quite thick and soft. Now I need to get working on the animals, and put Velcro the barn door.

2 January 2013

Eating Out with Food Intolerance

Not being able to eat dairy, eggs, beef, pork, soya, tomato, and alcohol make cooking interesting at times. It also means that eating out/getting take-out, something I only rarely do anyway, is stressful and nigh impossible. I have found one place thus far that is completely accommodating and delicious: The Mellow Mushroom.

We went there one evening after I saw that they list all the allergy information for each ingredient they use on their website. I was then able to determine if I could eat there, and what I could eat. When we went, I explained that I couldn't have any dairy, so the server made a note of that. We had to wait a bit because the chef got it wrong the first time, but the manager came out to talk to means they even gave us a discount. The pizza was delicious and worth the wait. I loved that I could completely customize my pizza to avoid all the problem foods. My only complaint is that they don't offer goat cheese. They do, however, have Daiya vegan cheese, but since I wasn't sure about that, I omitted cheese. I would definitely recommend Mellow Mushroom, though, food allergies or not. It's a little pricier, but very tasty.

Soy, Soy Everywhere!

I knew soy was a common ingredient, but I had no idea exactly how common it is. Because Leo cannot tolerate me eating even tiny amounts of soy, I've had to purge it from my diet. I didn't have it much anyway because of how it affects my chart (soy mimics oestrogen; because the cervical mucus pattern is determined by oestrogen and progesterone, soy can affect the mucus observations) but I didn't care too much about checking labels to see if soy was hidden.

Once I knew soy adversely affected Leo, though, I started checking labels. Every so often, though, I forget to check a label until I notice Leo's discomfort after I've eaten. I'm finding that soy really is everywhere. It's in some breads. Many vegan alternatives to dairy and meat are soy-based. Standard vegetable oil is actually soybean oil. I've yet to find packed tuna that is soy-free - I'd thought tuna in water would be safe, but it isn't. Even vitamins contain soybean oil! While it is possible to avoid soy, I'm realising just how difficult that is. Eating out is a complete nightmare. It's a good thing I like making everything from scratch, even if I'm having to adapt some things.