For Your Consideration

I was pondering this morning on how everything follows the rules to which it was constructed. All animals act on instinct and never deviate from it. All inanimate objects behave in the way they are constructed, always. The only animals that don’t behave that way are humans. We can choose to act as we are designed or we can choose to act differently. We are built on a genetic template and we are further refined by the actions our parents choose, but we also have the option to break those molds and move forward in a way that we choose, independent of either of those things.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided on an unmedicated birth, mostly because my mom had had me that way. I felt like I would breastfeed for about a year because that was how long she nursed me. After a lot of research, I have actively chosen to birth my babies without medication and to nurse them as long as we are both comfortable, rather than putting a glass ceiling on at a year, but that was long after my son was born. I parented him based on my instincts, which came straight out of how I was raised. Our child-rearing choices can have far-reaching consequences for many generations because so many people do as their parents did without question. Makes me think much more carefully about the kind of parent I want to be.

Taking Offense is How the Cows Get Out

A friend told me that joke about 10 or 12 years ago.

I find the phrase “taking offense” to be fascinating, mostly because it implies right in the phrasing that the action comes on the part of the offended and not the offender. As is often attributed to the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt “No one can offend you without your consent.” Whether or not she said it, I believe it is true.

I had a conversation with my oldest daughter the other day about this very thing. She told me about something her brother “made” her do. I realize that as an 8-year-old, her big feelings do seem out of her control and that she probably responded from her gut without really thinking about it. That is age appropriate, and not outside of expectations. I totally see where she is coming from. I still don’t believe he “made” her do anything though, and however she was feeling, she still chose to react from her instinct, rather than thinking it through and reacting differently. Do I think she gets this concept yet? No, not at all, but I do think it’s one of those things she will hear me saying in her head for the rest of her life because I say it so often now.

All feelings are valid, but even if you feel bothered by something someone else said, the idea that they said it simply to offend you is almost certainly not true. Most people aren’t trolling you just to get a response. My dad does that, but most of the other people I’ve ever met are more interested in honest and sincere dialogue than in irritating people for their own amusement. By the way, I didn’t figure that out until I was 25.

And here is a picture of a cat because I like pictures and I like cats.

But, lets get back to the phrase again:

Feeling: upset.
Reaction: taking offense.

My opinion can upset you. You can feel however you feel about it. Have the feeling. What you choose to do with that feeling though, is separate. If you want to know how I deal with those feelings without taking offense, read on.

Some people are blatantly honest, even to the point of rude. Some people take pride in that. Both of those things are fine, even though it will likely alienate them from others. That’s their choice. I take pride in it being really difficult to offend me. No matter what someone says to me or about me, I don’t have to get upset about it. If I do, I allow that person to live rent free in my brain and ain’t no one getting a free ride in my head. I usually focus instead on how ludicrous what they said was or how difficult it must be to be that _insert negative word here_. Truthfully, I feel sorry for people when they get huffy at me, and I find it more than just a little amusing that they are allowing ME to live rent free in their heads.

Can you choose how you feel? Sometimes you have some control over that, but generally, no. But we can choose how to react to how we feel. I choose to laugh, rather than to get offended. And I’m much happier now than when I used to choose the reverse.

Making Baby Booties

Yes, I am crocheting baby booties. No, they are not for my baby. Actually, they are not for any baby. Actually, I guess you could say they are for a lot of babies. In this convoluted way, I’m trying to say that I’m making booties for the Gendercide Awareness Project. It will be 11,700 pairs of baby booties meant to symbolize 10,000 women each who are not here because of cultural situations where girl babies are not valued and are often aborted, killed or abandoned because of their gender. So the pair I am crocheting will be for 10,000 babies.

If you also want to contribute to the Gendercide Awareness Project, (they do need 11,699 pairs besides mine) I used this pattern Golden Slippers Baby Booties or they have several other patterns if you would rather knit or sew. You could also use your own pattern. Check out the project and help honor those women, girls and babies who would’ve been here with us.
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Milkscreen, No Fooling: Shame on You

I don’t usually write this much about breastfeeding, but this last few weeks have just been like that.milkscreen

I read this statement, and as it was designed to do, I immediately felt guilty for being part of the movement to remove this product from shelves.

I do not feel guilty anymore.

Let’s start with the first paragraph:

We Heard You, and Are Discontinuing Sales of Milkscreen Assessment

As a mom owned and operated company our goal is to help women continue breastfeeding and Milkscreen Assessment was designed solely with this purpose in mind.  However, due to recent feedback and the misperceptions surrounding this product, we have decided to discontinue Milkscreen Assessment sales indefinitely and have told our retailers to also stop selling the product. While you may not agree with the testing collection method we hope you will take the opportunity to understand how and why the product was developed. We care that people who support breastfeeding as we do understand our intentions: to reduce the number of moms who quit breastfeeding  by providing encouragement and reassurance through this test. ”

Because I am magnanimous, I will give them the incorrect use of “due to,” and the missing commas.

“As a mom owned and operated company our goal is to help women continue breastfeeding and Milkscreen Assessment was designed solely with this purpose in mind.” Oh, really? It sounds to me like Milkscreen Assessment was designed for the purpose of making money; you saw a niche and you decided to take advantage of it. I don’t begrudge companies who make a profit by providing a service or product. I truly don’t. Ethical companies do this by seeing a lack and filling the gap. Unethical companies do this by creating a product or service with dubious usefulness and then trying to convince everyone that they need whatever is being sold. The problem I see here is that there are already effective ways of determining whether a mother is producing sufficient milk for her child and they never start with “pump milk so we can see how much we get.” Pretty much any health care professional can determine if your supply is adequate by asking you questions about your baby’s behavior and weight gain. You don’t even have to take your breast out.

At the end of the paragraph, they assert their intentions were good, “to reduce the number of moms who quit breastfeeding  by providing encouragement and reassurance through this test. ” Those sound like honorable intentions. As my dad would say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I’m sure that when Nestle first created a formula in 1867 for a baby whose mother couldn’t breastfeed, his intentions were good too: to feed a baby that would otherwise starve. His intentions have morphed into a monster that is anything but honorable, but we’ll still give Milkscreen the benefit of the doubt for now.

On to the second paragraph:

Why Milkscreen Assessment was Created

According to the Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ article “Why Mothers Stop Breastfeeding: Mothers’ Self-reported Reasons for Stopping During the First Year,” the perception of inadequate breast milk supply was cited as 1 of the top 3 reasons mothers stop breastfeeding regardless of weaning age (43.5%–55.6%).  Milkscreen Assessment was designed to give mom a tool to better determine milk production and encourage continued breastfeeding. For most (~93%), the test reassures mom she is making enough milk and to keep up the good work.  If the test shows production is low, mom is reassured that production can be increased and is referred to a breastfeeding professional in hopes of preventing early weaning or unnecessary supplementation.”

Sounds great! They are absolutely right! The AAP has shown that inadequate milk supply is one of the top reasons mothers stop nursing. Then they claim that around 93% of mothers show producing adequate or an abundance of milk. Ok, then. Where did that number come from? 93% of nursing moms can pump enough milk into your bag and then answer your questions sufficiently that you’ll return the knowledge that she’s making enough milk? Really? Since even a Google search can’t return a percentage on how many women do not make enough milk or how many women who nurse can’t pump and a significant number of women who successfully breastfeed can’t pump anything, I’m going to leave it to your imagination where that number came from.

Now onto my favorite paragraph:

Technical Basis of Milkscreen Assessment

Developed by medical and breastfeeding experts, the test is based on a peer reviewed, published scientific study which uses pumping as the collection method.  Though breast milk volume generated from pumping can be different than that generated from feeding at the breast, this process provides a reasonable estimate of mom’s daily production.  In addition to milk collection, the test asks mom approximately 30 questions about her breastfeeding habits as well as baby’s weight gain.  All of this information is used to generate a personalized report, which identifies any breastfeeding issues and gives suggestions on overcoming them, which always includes a referral to a breastfeeding professional.   Our goal was to reassure mothers who have a normal or even high supply, and to provide encouragement, support, and direction to those who have low supply. ”

What study and who are your experts? You don’t get to make claims like this without the info to back them up. Do you have a link? Can you at least provide us with the name so we can verify your claims independently? This can be boiled down pretty concisely to “We’re sorry you’re too stupid to understand why this was a good method, but we’re not going to give you the pertinent details so you can figure it out yourself. Neener, neener.”

The next sentence infuriates me: “Though breast milk volume generated from pumping can be different than that generated from feeding at the breast, this process provides a reasonable estimate of mom’s daily production.”

No, no it doesn’t. Every reputable breastfeeding resource on the planet disagrees with this assessment. Milk Production La Leche League International Kellymom: Increasing Low Milk Supply The Leaky Boob: Help, my milk supply is low! Or is it? The only people this might be helpful for are moms who exclusively pump. (Mad props, by the way, to moms who EP. You guys are my heroes.)

“In addition to milk collection, the test asks mom approximately 30 questions about her breastfeeding habits as well as baby’s weight gain.”

Ok, so theoretically, I could just answer all of your questions, get no milk from the pump and I could still have the answer come back as “your baby is getting plenty of milk” at least 93% of the time? I have to wonder what the point of the collection bag was at all then. Oh, right. We’re basing this on a mythical study where the ability to pump equates with the ability to produce.

“All of this information is used to generate a personalized report, which identifies any breastfeeding issues and gives suggestions on overcoming them, which always includes a referral to a breastfeeding professional.”

Whoa! Your report always includes a referral to a breastfeeding professional? What do I need you for then? Why didn’t you just tell me that if I’m concerned, I should talk to an IBCLC? Not only have I wasted my money on a test that probably told me I’m not producing enough because the amount of milk in that bag after I pumped would be 0 oz, but now you’re just telling me to do what I should have done in the first place and talk to a professional?

“Our goal was to reassure mothers who have a normal or even high supply, and to provide encouragement, support, and direction to those who have low supply. ”

In the beginning I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt about your intentions, but now I’m not. This product definitely falls into the unethical category of products. Instead of seeing a void and filling it, you saw an opportunity to profit from moms’ self-doubt (and create even more self-doubt because you absolutely can’t pump as much as you produce) with every intention of telling them to do exactly what they should have done in the first place: talk to a professional.

You don’t get to make me feel guilty. Shame on you for taking advantage of nursing mothers. Shame, shame, shame.

The Difference Between “Best” and “Normal”

I’ve read a few different blog posts on the rhetoric the formula industry and the medical industry, and therefore the mainstream populace, uses to describe breastfeeding. And today, I posted this on a Facebook page I help admin.150041_330642023711814_1996627620_n

Firstly, I must say here that I love Grumpy Cat.

Secondly, I hate getting called a martyr for doing things the way biology intended, especially when it comes to bearing and raising my children.

Tell me if any of these things sound familiar:

“Oh, I could never have a natural birth. I’m such a wuss.”
“Breastfeeding is so hard and kids are fine on formula anyway. Why torture yourself?”
“I could never home school. I need the break.”
“Cooking from scratch is such a hassle.”

My least favorite and the one that can be applied to all choices parenting is

“Don’t be a hero.”

How did humanity survive up until 100 years ago?

I am going to put a disclaimer here:
The option to use pharmacological pain relief, commercial formula, mainstream schooling and prepackaged foods are perfectly valid and I have no problem with someone else choosing those things for themselves and their family. If it feels like the right choice for you, go for it.

My problem comes from people using this type of language to make it seem like I’m punishing myself unnecessarily. I am not being a hero. I’m simply being a mom.

The choices I’ve made for my family were the right choice for us for several reasons but the primary one is that they are the biological norm. They are what our bodies, families and society have evolved to be the standard.

-We haven’t evolved past the natural birth being the way our bodies are designed. All of my births have been fast and relatively easy. I believe this is largely because they were natural, with little or no intervention. If I had intervened, it might have been a whole different and far more difficult ball of wax.

-Our babies haven’t evolved past breastmilk being what is designed for them to be nourished. Anything else is subpar, be it homemade formula or commercial formula. Can a child survive on formula? Most of the time, yes, but that doesn’t change that his body wasn’t designed for it and that it won’t do as well as it could have on breastmilk. There are very few exceptions to this.

-We haven’t evolved past education being the parents’ responsibility. Some parents hire someone else to take charge of that education, but it is still their responsibility to make sure their child is educated. I personally just cut out the middleman.

-The easiest way for our bodies to get nourishment is from whole foods. Not from synthetized prepackaged foods loaded with preservatives. Cooking from scratch can be a pain, but much less of a pain than the illness and suffering that come from being malnourished. Even less of a pain is having fresh fruits and veggies around to snack on. Are we perfect in this? No, we eat junk food too, but much less of it than we otherwise would because of the whole food options we have around. I also usually cook a big batch of something so we have leftovers for a couple of days, and then I don’t have to cook daily. I have a lot of little tricks for having healthy food around so I don’t have to spend every waking moment in the kitchen.

The thing about all of these that just kills me is how other people believe they could never do what I do because it’s too hard. Ask anyone who knows me personally: if what I did was hard, I wouldn’t do it. I do it this way because it comes naturally to me. How could I possibly be punishing myself if I’m doing things the easiest way I can think of to accomplish my goals? The only logical conclusion is that I’m not punishing myself, so I would love it if people would stop acting like I am. I’m not a martyr. I like convenience. The things I’ve chosen are convenient for me and for my family. If they don’t work for you, that’s fine. That’s why the other options exist. Just please stop making it sound like I’m sacrificing myself on the alter of homemaking, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. I’m just being the mom I need to be and I’m trying to be the mom I want to be.

Renewed Faith in Humanity

As you all know, I’m originally from Massachusetts. Though at this point, I’ve lived away so long, that I’ve spent almost as much time out of the state as I did in it, growing up. I’m proud to be from Massachusetts.

In the aftermath of yesterday, I find myself reeling a little. I wasn’t personally at the marathon, though I have friends who were. I gave a huge sigh of relief when I found out they had left before the bombs went off.

Bipolar disorder already makes my grip on my mood a little tenuous, but the events yesterday made it even more so. I’ve cried a few times and laughed inappropriately and I feel bewildered at the kind of evil it takes to hurt people.

Borrowed from Chai life

Like Mr. Rogers’ mother, I have spent a lot of time focusing on the helpers. I did it at first for my kids, to show them that for every one evil person in this world, there are hundreds or thousands of good people. They don’t need to be scared of the world. After saying it aloud a few times though, I started noticing the helpers myself. Have you watched the footage of the explosions? They’re everywhere. The Guardian has some good footage. Notice how just after people instinctively move back from the explosion, people of all kinds start heading for the flags to help. The footage afterward shows all kinds of people helping the injured get medical help. Then today, some of my friends, and dozens of others, donated blood.

After the initial shock and wondering how someone can do things like this and wondering if the world is getting worse or if it just seems like it, I feel a great sense of pride and not just from my New England heritage: I’m proud to be human. Some very sick humans cause emergencies, but most humans help each other through the emergencies. I’m proud to belong to this species that helps.

Yes, I Did, Indeed, Make Leg Warmers

So I discovered a crafting blog called Design Adventures and there I found a cute pattern for leg warmers which I crocheted for my lady.
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I never ever wear heels, by the way, but if my calves are going to be on the internet, they dang better look hella sexy.

So check out the pattern because it’s really easy and kinda awesome. And the leg warmers are very warm. I can’t wait to give them to my lady so I can publish this post.