28 February 2013

Crafty Thursday

I've been working on Charlotte's dress. I just need to do the garter stitch for the other sleeve. Then the rest will be done in the round. The yoke will have Hello Kitty on it.

26 February 2013

Score Another for Experience and Intuition

When I look at Leo, I am incredibly thankful for our past experiences in parenting, for I believe those experiences have helped us follow our intuition with him. Experience told me he wasn't nursing correctly. Intuition told me there was something wrong even when two doctors told me otherwise, and his tongue tie was clipped. The experience of Charlotte's intolerance to bovine protein allowed us to quickly spot Leo's intolerance to bovine protein.

Most of all, our past experience and intuition told us something was very wrong and led to Leo being diagnosed with gallstones. We were in tune enough with him to figure out that, in addition to bovine protein, he also cannot tolerate soy (including soy lecithin), tomato, alcohol, or anything fatty (even good fats like avocado and nuts, though I still eat those in small amounts).

Recently he had another ultrasound to check on the stones and see if the medication was helping. It isn't. We don't know the next step yet, as we don't meet with the specialist again for another week or so. Since the meds haven't caused any improvement, I am thankful we've followed our intuition about restricting my diet, as otherwise I think Leo would be in much worse shape. Likely he'd be projectile vomiting more frequently and forcefully, as well as screaming a lot more. As it is, he's generally happy, though he does still have pained screams on a daily basis (worse if he's burned through his hazelwood necklace - he goes through them quickly, but they help a lot). But he is rolling, scooting, and trying to sit unassisted, so obviously he's not being hampered by it, thank God. I also thank God that we knew something was truly wrong and acted on it quickly, and that our doctor listened to us. I don't know what the future holds, but so far our intuition has been a Godsend.

25 February 2013

Book Nook: Knights, Nobles, and Knaves

On our last library trip, Kieran decided he wanted a book about dragons. He asked the librarian where such books would be, and we set off to the call number he specified. We didn't find a book just about dragons, but I saw The Big Book of Knights, Nobles, and Knaves by Alissa Heyman. I told him knights sometimes fought dragons, so we took the book home. It is filled with stories from Arthurian legend, among other stories, and yes, there's even a dragon. We've loved reading the stories together. I'd read and enjoyed most of the stories before, so having the opportunity to share them with my children and see them love the stories too was priceless. I might need to own this book. After all, you're never too young for Arthurian legend.

22 February 2013

Dehumanizing Babies

There are times when it seems to me that we dehumanize our babies. My evidence?

Exhibit A: babies can't smile. When said baby does smile, most say it's just because he's passing wind, even if it seems to be in response to, say, his mother's voice or being happily full after a feed or having a pleasant dream. Heaven forbid we should acknowledge that a baby can have and express emotions.

Exhibit B: CIO/CC. We don't expect that all adults will have an exact sleeping or eating schedule (unless maybe you're Sheldon Cooper, but maybe he just has bathroom schedules). We expect that adults might sometimes have trouble sleeping and need reassurance from another person. But we treat babies more like animals that have to be trained in that way, and some rigidly schedule feeds even if their own meals are not so scheduled.

Exhibit C: babies can't feel pain. Little or no anesthesia is sometimes used for painful procedures such as circumcision. When Leo had to have blood drawn, the lab technician insisted that it didn't hurt him, despite his screaming and trying to move away from her. Had I not been putting all my effort into comforting him, I would've shouted at her that she must be blind if she couldn't interpret his reaction as an obvious response to pain. Not only that, but their reference for pain is smaller, so I'd imagine it is perceived to be more painful than I might register the same procedure.  Sometimes procedures like that have to be done, but they should be done as gently as possible, recognizing the baby as a person deserving respect. I've had plenty of technicians showing respect and concern for me when I've had blood drawn, but the same was not shown to my son (yes, I know it could've just been that particular technician, since I've also encountered at least one disrespectful technician for my own lab work).

Exhibit D: insisting something is ok because the baby won't remember it. There are some who acknowledge that babies can feel pain, but rationalize that not being gentle or providing enough anesthesia or doing an unnecessary procedure is ok because the baby won't remember it. Ability to remember it or not doesn't make it ok to treat the baby as less than deserving of respect.

Exhibit E: how many people talk to the baby and not just to his parents? I'm thinking primarily about doctors and nurses addressing the babe before doing some procedure. Some certainly do this, but some do not. Whether the baby understands it all or not, it is surely common courtesy to let him know what is happening and speak to him as well as to the parents, in my opinion.

These things may seem minor, but I think they are worthy of consideration. I'd imagine most don't even think about how these things might somehow dehumanize the baby - I didn't at first. Then I started paying more attention and thinking about it in relation to my children. It's caused me to rethink my interactions with them, certainly.

18 February 2013

Book Nook: Squid and Octopus

We found a new book we love: Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu. I think I was drawn to it because of the title being similar to Frog and Toad are Friends, a book we dearly love. This book contains 4 short stories, also like the Frog and Toad books. And just like those stories, this one is hilarious. Not only are the stories funny, but the author also includes various asides by background characters. While we just picked the book up at the library, we enjoyed it so much that I wouldn't mind owning it.

17 February 2013

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

What a week! Lent began and Papa Benedict announced his abdication. It certainly gives more focus to our Lenten prayers. Below are my posts of the week, and be sure to visit RAnn's blog for the full carnival.

Book Nook: Gilbert and Sullivan
Papa Ben
Crafty Thursday: Dalek
Feeding Traps
Things to Remember

16 February 2013

Things to Remember

Having recently been approached, again, about my children's behaviour at Mass, I feel I must rehash things to remember when you see children at Mass. In case you were wondering, on the day in question Kieran was sitting quietly, Charlotte was pacing on the kneeler but quiet, and I was standing just beside the pew holding a fussy, uncomfortable Leo. He wasn't crying, just grousing a bit, and I was doing what I could to comfort him (unfortunately he doesn't comfort nurse). I will also say that I bear no ill will towards this person; we have different views, but that's okay.

So, things to remember:
- Siting in the front isn't a privilege reserved for those who are silent or wanting to pay attention. I'd hope that anyone at Mass wants to be there, especially when talking about daily Mass, since there's no obligation to attend then. I really have encountered the attitude that the front row was a privilege reserved for when they could sit perfectly still and quiet.  To me, though, the idea that the front row is reserved for the "good" seems more in line with Baptists (or at least stereotypes of Baptists - I was a "back-row Baptist" once) than with Catholic thought. Besides, my children do best when they can see the altar and priest, which would be why a very holy priest and Benedictine monk told me to sit in the front when my kids are with me. So we do. Besides, if I waited until all my kids could be quiet, my older ones would never get to sit in the front and see what's happening, as I am unwilling to have some sit apart from the family.

- Your standards aren't going to be the same as another's. I do not expect my children to be absolutely still and silent at Mass, but I do expect them not to play or be loud. I actually did, for a time, try to be stricter because of comments, but I became stressed and my children started asking to stay home instead of go to Mass.  It was then that I prayed and decided to go back to my old way, and I had great peace over it.  My expectations might not look like another mum's, and that's ok. My expectations are based on their ages, abilities, and personalities, which brings me to the next point.

- No matter how well you think you know a family, chances are you don't know all the circumstances affecting the child at any given time, or all their personality traits. Kieran works by being allowed the freedom to observe and emulate on his own. If I push him, it backfires. Charlotte can either sit, but be louder, or walk and be quieter. I choose the latter. She also forgets how loud she is, as does any 2-year-old. Leo is sometimes in pain, and sometimes just coos and jabbers quite noisily. Being a baby, he doesn't know to be quiet, and this is just a normal phase anyway. Sometimes we've had rough nights or mornings, but we still manage to get to Mass. Those days we may be less focused or my kids may be louder, but we're there and trying.

- Not everyone disciplines in the same way. You may see a situation and think "I'd handle it by doing x", but that parent might discipline in a different way. People might think a parent like me, who doesn't use corporal punishment or time-outs, isn't disciplining, when in reality the discipline just takes a different form. Also, different children respond to different things, and parent-child dynamics vary, so thinking of how you would handle the situation doesn't really translate into how that parent should handle it.

- Kids are kids. Of course we teach them how to navigate various social situations, but we do that in different ways. I prefer to lead by example. That doesn't mean they perfectly follow that, but they see it and learn. In the meantime, I remember that they are children who have abundant energy and enthusiasm and need to move a bit.

Are We Putting Too Much Pressure on Women to Breastfeed?

Recently I've read some articles bemoaning the "Breast is Best" campaign as putting too much pressure on mothers to breastfeed. Those who know me know I'm very much a lactivist, yet I think I can see whence the idea comes even if I disagree.

Why do I disagree? Simply because I can see all the ways in which we are pressured to stop, or never start, breastfeeding. Yes, women are told "breast is best" (a slogan I actually dislike because breastfeeding isn't best, it's the biological norm) and are told they should breastfeed, but then aren't given adequate, or any, support from nurses, doctors, family, and society as a whole. So you end up with the breastfeeding campaign on the one hand talking it up and how you really should do it, but on the other hand most aren't given practical support. Not only that, but the challenges are sometimes downplayed in an effort to increase initial breastfeeding rates, but that helps no one if the possible challenges are simply ignored.

Yes, there are challenges, or at least there can be. I didn't know about many of them when I started breastfeeding. Luckily, Kieran took to it without a hitch, and when a challenge did present itself, I'd then started doing reading of my own to know how to handle the thrush, mastitis, biting, oversupply, food intolerance, tongue tie, and latch issues that later appeared at different times. While these weren't discussed in the breastfeeding class I took during my first pregnancy, I hadn't expected it to be a cakewalk, just as I didn't expect parenting in general to be a cakewalk.

But what if I hadn't known about these problems? In my breastfeeding class, we were told that breastfeeding shouldn't hurt past 10 seconds, and if it did something was amiss. With Leo, it hurt to feed him. Every time. Between that, the clicking sounds, and the lack of weight gain (among other things), I knew there was a problem. I even knew what the problem was. But when I raised my concerns with two different doctors, those concerns were dismissed. One doctor said he was fine, and another said to give him a bottle. Had I not known to contact an IBCLC and get a referral to a doctor who could help, Leo no doubt would've been "failure to thrive" before long. I suppose some could interpret the first doctor's advice to just carry on breastfeeding as I was as pressure, since I knew something was wrong, but I saw it as ignorance. No, the pressure I felt was the other doctor telling me to just give a bottle, though again that was ignorance.

Now, when I speak of ignorance, am I belittling or chastising the person? No. I am ignorant about cardiology, but that doesn't make me stupid. It just means I have not studied cardiology. No, I am instead lamenting the widespread ignorance in society, and especially among medical professionals. Because of that and the rampant misinformation given, many mums have to navigate the rapids alone unless lucky enough to know other mums who have been successful at breastfeeding. I suppose that does put a lot of pressure on mums, and if the pressure is only on mums, then that needs to change. I do not consider myself better for knowing to keep looking and how to keep going, though, just lucky.

Also, we can say "breast is best" all we want, but if she has to return to work in 6-8 weeks, that doesn't mean much. Some employers aren't breastfeeding-friendly and don't want to provide pumping breaks. I can imagine how hard it would be to be in an environment hat is hostile to pumping and breastfeeding. Let's also remember that pumping is very different from breastfeeding: not every woman will respond well to expressing milk. We need better maternity leave and accommodations for parents in the workplace.

It also doesn't mean much if we tell mothers to breastfeed on the one hand, but then society tells her not to do so in public. While I decided I don't care what others think and will breastfeed my child openly wherever I am, not everyone is comfortable doing that, and I can't fault them. I do not say this to say I'm better or braver or whatever, because I'm not. Even now I sometimes get nervous breastfeeding openly because I'm also non-confrontational and don't want negative comments. I just wish society were as welcoming of public breastfeeding as of, say, Victoria's Secret ads.

And what about support? We can, and do, put all the information online, but misinformation also abounds online. For example, my mother encountered a woman who told her doctor that breastfeeding hurt. Instead of determining why it hurt and seeing if it could be rectified, the doctor just said to pump and give a bottle. Had the doctor said to continue breastfeeding anyway, that could be seen as undue pressure, when in reality it would just be less-than-helpful advice. Conversely, true support means being honest about breastfeeding and not stringing a mother along by telling her she can do it but not supporting her, or telling her she can do it if she actually cannot for some reason, be it physiological, medical, or psychological (I have friends with IGT and DMER, for example; some with those conditions can breastfeed with the right support, but some cannot. In either case the support must go beyond just telling her to carry on). And if a woman has already made the switch to bottle-feeding, or started out that way, it does no one any good to condemn her. We can gently share information in case they later wish to breastfeed, but this must be done in such a way that is not judgmental.

So, too much pressure? I think instead it is a conflict between those promoting breastfeeding and the lack of actual support combined with widespread ignorance about breastfeeding. Those who promote breastfeeding are trying to get the information out there and fighting against entrenched ignorance and prejudice against breastfeeding. Because of that, we can come across strong as we try to slowly turn the tide. We do need to remember to use precise, supportive language, and we cannot put the onus on the mother to do it all without support from her doctors, family, friends, and society as a whole, of course. But I don't think most lactivists try to put all the pressure on the mother, either, but try to disseminate information to help as much as we can.

15 February 2013

Feeding Traps

Recently Leo had to have a follow-up abdominal ultrasound to check on his gallstones. Some recommend fasting prior to such tests (doesn't make a difference according to this study) so I decided to double-check how long it takes for breastmilk to digest, out of curiosity. In my search I found a site purporting to give breastfeeding tips to help baby properly digest. I had to see what it said, and then shook my head as the advice given seemed better suited to bottle-feeding even though it was addressed to breastfeeding mums. I could easily see how a mum wold give up breastfeeding before she'd intended due to the advice given. Let's take a look.

The first point said to use proper positioning. Had it stopped with that or listed the various positions people use, that would've been fine. Instead the author went on to state that the babe should never be fed in a reclining position but should be kept at a 45 degree angle whilst feeding. Wording it as an exact angle could easily stress a new parent who can second-guess herself anyway. Besides, there are a variety of positions, each with different benefits. For example, I had to use a football hold with Leo for awhile because it helped ensure he had a deep latch (he has later learned to have a good latch in any position). Before the tongue tie was sorted and he was put on medication for his gallstones, I indeed did have to avoid feeding in a reclining position, due to his reflux, but my other two had no problem feeding like that. Neither does Leo now, even though he still has some reflux.

The second point said to ensure the baby doesn't eat too quickly. Now, unless the mum has an over active letdown or is kept waiting too long to feed, this isn't going to apply to the breastfed babe. A breastfeeding baby who is fed on demand self-regulates. Personally, the only time I've had a baby who ate "too fast" was if he'd had to wait a little longer to eat, like if I was driving. Even then, the problem wasn't really eating too fast, but not having a proper latch. Once I fixed that, all was well.

The third point really reveals that the author is trying to apply bottle-feeding advice to breastfeeding, for it recommends winding the baby after each ounce. Now, last I checked, I didn't have ounces marked on my breasts. If a mother were worried about this, I could easily see her switching to a bottle just to know when the child had consumed an ounce. Also under this point was the statement that babies take in a lot of air when feeding. No mention was made about the latch, though. A baby with a poor latch will indeed take in a lot of air, but one with a proper latch will not. If the baby is taking in a lot of air, I'd personally recommend seeing an IBCLC to assess the latch.

The only point with which I agree is when the author recommends baby massage. The caveat is that it shouldn't be done right after feeding. The article doesn't give much information on how it is done, but I found another site that gives some basic information. I quite like baby massage, as it does help with digestion, and is a nice relaxing, bonding time.

But then they go back to what I consider to be bad advice for a purely breastfed baby. They caution against overfeeding, but a baby who is fed on demand will self-regulate and will not overeat. So this point really has more to do with a bottle-feeding mum, or a mum who isn't feeding on cue.

Why do I care about this? It comes up on the first page of results on a Google search on how long it takes for breastmilk to digest. According to the link, these points came from Parents.com, a popular site (I tried the link, and it took me to an article that wasn't really related to this article). Not everyone would check that link to verify, or would check the veracity of the information presented. Many women want to breastfeed, but then are met with misinformation such as this and then stop before they'd wanted. Medical boards seek to increase breastfeeding rates, but that isn't easy when such misinformation abounds. It's one thing if a woman knows all the information and decides to bottle-feed instead, but I get upset when a woman wants to breastfeed, is able to do so (eg: doesn't have insufficient glandular tissue or the like), but ends up stopping earlier than she wanted due to misinformation or lack of support. I do hope it's getting better.

14 February 2013

Crafty Thursday

Nothing like working on a deadline! I wanted to give my husband the Dalek cafetiere cosy for Valentine's, but it wasn't quite finished last night. Leo woke me at 6ish, so I finished the last few rounds this morning. I do still need to put the buttons on it, but my husband woke to find this greeting him.

11 February 2013

Papa Ben

As I was getting the kids and myself ready for Mass this morning, a friend rang me. She asked if I'd heard the news. I hadn't looked at any news yet, so I was confused. She then told me Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at the end of the month. I was, and am, saddened, for he is a holy man and wonderful Pope, but I trust his judgement. More importantly, I trust that God will guide the conclave in selecting a new Pope. Papa Ben, the Cardinals, and the entire Church will have my prayers.

Book Nook: Gilbert and Sullivan

Captain Picard: Mr. Worf, do you know Gilbert and Sullivan?
Lieutenant Commander Worf: No sir, I have not had a chance to meet all the new crew members since I have been back.

On a recent trip to the library, Kieran disappeared in the shelves of books and then brought a book to me. The book? The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert and Sullivan, written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Richard Egielski. It depicts the working relationship of Gilbert and Sullivan, and their creative differences before they reconciled in working on The Mikado. I'd never known about this "feud", so I found it interesting. It was written such that it also kept the interest of the kids. I'd definitely recommend it, especially if you're a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan.

10 February 2013

9 February 2013


A couple of days ago I actually managed to read the paper over breakfast. As I read an article about a new restaurant in town, I found myself ranting in disgust. Why? Because this article mentioned little regarding food, focusing instead on the skimpy, suggestive attire of the waitresses. The article called restaurants such as Tilted Kilt and Hooters "breasteraunts" because of the focus on the waitresses' looks.

My first argument was with a professor quoted in the article, who said leering at women was no longer socially acceptable in public, and so specific venues have been created for it. Considering how commonplace it is for women to be cat-called, ogled, etc in public, I'm not sure I'd say it's no longer socially acceptable. I wish it weren't, though. More than that, though, we obviously haven't done a good job of demanding respect as women when we still have this so openly. I don't mean to sound prudish, but I don't want to be ogled and only noticed/judged for my body.

Then I was ranting because society obviously has no problem with breasteraunts, but breastfeeding mums are often ridiculed and told to move or cover themselves. Wearing something to flaunt my figure would be fine, but showing just a bit of cleavage when I feed my son is not, it seems. (Thankfully I haven't had negative comments with him yet, but I always wonder if I will, especially since he often has to pop off and fix his latch). Something needs to change, so breastfeeding in public doesn't raise a fuss, and women are respected for themselves, not just judged by appearances.

7 February 2013

Crafty Thursday

Well, I'd started Charlotte's Hello Kitty dress on the machine, but didn't realise the tension had been changed until I'd done a bit (I don't usually check, because I know my mom doesn't change it). So I had to take it out. It's back on the needles now, and I'll put it back on the machine when I can.

More pressing, though, is the cafetiere cosy I'm knitting as a silly Valentine for my husband. I found a cute pattern on Ravelry for a Dalek-shaped cosy. Since my husband grew up watching Dr Who, I thought it was perfect.

4 February 2013

Book Nook

On a recent visit to the library, a book caught my eye: Leo the Magnificat. Obviously Leo caught my eye for my youngest, and then seeing the Magnificat, well, I had to investigate. As it turned out, it was a cute story about a cat from Louisville, KY, my home state. The cat made himself at home with an Episcopal congregation, making himself quite the fixture there. While the book is cute, I did edit one part in reading to my children, for Leo is euthanized in the end. Kieran was upset enough about the cat dying and asked a lot of questions, so I thought it prudent to hold off on the euthanasia discussion.