Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
We know that if we are to have more children, we are unwilling to have a baby before our daughter is at least potty trained. There are various reasons behind that but its something that we both feel very strongly about. Ms. Birdie has to be our first consideration when thinking about birth control options. I am breastfeeding and I am going to do everything I can to make sure that we're still nursing at her second birthday. At this point we are delaying vaccinations so extended nursing is a must if we want her to be as healthy as possible. This means that whatever I put in my body will go into hers. Even though "they" say that hormonal birth control is safe during breastfeeding, they just don't know for sure. I can't find any decent studies that have followed little girls who were breast fed while their mothers were on hormonal birth control throughout their lives and into their childbearing years. The studies just don't exist. Without good information I can't make an informed decision on whether or not I feel safe using hormonal birth control. That means taking the pill, patch, Nuva Ring, Mirena, and shot are all out of the question. That covers a big chunk of the birth control industry.
That leaves us with barrier methods, fertility awareness method (FAM) or non-hormonal IUDs. Right now we're using condoms, but DH and I are bad at barrier methods. Because we are so unwilling to have another baby right off the bat (even though we're fully breastfeeding and the Lactation Amenorrhea Method is very effective in the first six months, we don't want any surprises) our sex life has taken a hit. The condoms pretty much take the fight out of us and we end up not having sex. We've tried sponges before and diaphragms but its just not for us. So scratch off the barrier methods.
That leaves FAM and IUDs. I have philosophical issues with IUDs. I don't know when life begins but the fact that IUDs essentially cause a miscarriage doesn't make me happy. Its my own personal hang up. Scratch the IUD.
Our only real option is FAM. We're experienced with it, thats how we got pregnant in the first place. Its cheap. Its fairly effective when used consistently. There are no drugs involved. No preparation before sex. Its nearly perfect. It just requires time and will power.
With this pregnancy I fought tooth and nail to have a homebirth. Those who advocate against home birth accuse mothers of choosing them because they are only worried about their experience. I chose a homebirth because of all the things they do to baby in the hospital. Contrary to popular belief there are many risks involved in a hospital birth. One major risk, is the risk of having a c-section. When you add the chance that a c-section may alter a baby's DNA, the risks of an unnecessary c-section are pretty high. Combine all of this with the fact that maternity care in America means you may lose your child if you refuse medical treatment, and that labor and delivery nurses write guides on how to protect yourself from over zealous doctors even though you shouldn't have to. In a country where OBs have abused their patients, and brag about their focus on money, safer options are a joke. I cannot give birth to a baby in a hospital. Not with the dismal breastfeeding support, or the pretty big chance that they would do something to baby that doesn't need to be/shouldn't be done. I wouldn't feel safe there. There are no birthing centers here. None. That means my only choice is another home birth.
My home birth was the best it could be given my choices. Regardless of the little points I could nitpick about, it went smoothly and I ended up with a natural born baby. However, I would not use the same midwife again. She was too interventive and two hours after the birth we were left to our own devices as she made the two hour drive back to her house. She left me with two pills of cytotec in the event I started bleeding. That and a telephone were our only safeguards against disaster for me or baby. By the grace of God nothing went wrong, but I am not willing to tempt fate again. If I am unwilling to give birth in a hospital because of the health risks to me and baby why would I accept different yet equally disastrous risks from a home birth? The midwife I had was the ONLY midwife that does home births in my area. There is no other choice.
At this point, we're between a rock and a hard place. We don't want another baby right now. Our options for birth control are very limited. In the event we do have another child, the options for childbirth are equally limited. We have been discussing this since before Birdie was born. We have come to our decision. We cannot in good conscience bring a child into this world given the state of maternity care for mother and baby. Its not safe. I'm sure there are many out there that would say we're being rash, or that we're only looking at what the crazies have to say. All I can say to that is, you may be comfortable with the risks but for us, the rates of autism, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and other mental issues is too high and we don't know that they aren't caused by what goes on in the delivery room. As a result, DH has scheduled a vasectomy for early next month. If we could give birth in a birthing center, or at some place like The Farm, our decision would be different. The fact is we don't have those options and our lives have us tied here. We wont be going anywhere with those options any time soon.
Of course when we first started discussing vasectomy we went through the whole "What if we really want another baby?" or "What if she feels alone without a sibling?" to "Are we cheating our families out of more grandchildren?" After discussing those questions we realized that we both feel very strongly about adoption. If in the future we decide our family isn't quite complete we hope to open our home to a child that needs us.
For me, I didn't really enjoy pregnancy (I didn't realize that until it was over) and labor was alot of work. (I'm notoriously lazy). It was all very empowering but I've had my experience. I'm happy with where I am. For DH, he feels that he would be a better father to one child than he would be to more. Both of us have an unreasonable fear of having a boy. (Please don't jump on this one. Just because we don't want a boy doesn't mean we wouldn't love one if thats what we had, or that our wanting another girl is a criticism of your love for a boy you may have) I was surprised at the sense of relief we both felt when the vasectomy was finally scheduled. It is the right decision. I doubt that many will understand our decision or our reasoning but we've come to it honestly, analytically, and with open minds. I'm just thankful that we live in a society where we can make these decisions. For now, Birdie will be our one and only and if whens she gets older she really wants a sibling, or if DH and I decide that we do have room for another child in our hearts we will look into adoption. The decision hasn't been easy but we are all very relieved to have made it.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Suck, suck suck. Oh this is nice. Snooooooze . . . Wha? Oh yeah, I'm on a boob! Suck, suck suck.
That pattern keeps us nursing for about 20 to 30 minutes a feeding. I've always thought that if she sucked through the whole feeding like she does at the beginning, then we'd be done in half the time. Her latch is good and she stays latched until the end when she pops off in her zen state.
Birdie is getting a little bigger and has more to contend with when it comes to our nursing relationship. She can now grasp most things, which of course includes my breast. During feedings she now gets a death grip on the breast she's feeding from and holds it like its a cheeseburger thats ready to run away. DH thinks its hilarious, but little baby fingers digging into skin make things a little more difficult than usual. I keep trying to loosen her grasp, but its not working.
Then there's the new pattern. After her two minutes of business-like sucking we start doing things. We smile at the boob and come unlatched. We relatch and then in a moment or two we start talking and cooing at the boob, and come unlatched. We relatch and then the cat walks by, we now have to rubber neck and come unlatched. We relatch and then mom sneezes, which scares the daylights out of us and we come unlatched. We relatch and then the boob strikes us as funny and we laugh at the boob (my child laughs like Krusty the clown) Once again we come unlatched, and on, and on, and on. Twenty minutes of nursing is now 45 minutes, easy.
I'm not sure what to do about this "problem." On one hand, it really isn't a problem, its just takes more time. On the other hand, I've had to learn how to cross stitch while nursing because 45 minutes of lovingly gazing into my baby's eyes is a little much for the both of us. I'm assuming its just a phase, and it is pretty cute when we smile at the boob or give it our Krusty laugh. All of the latching and relatching was making the nipples unhappy but we got the nipple cream back out (haven't had to use it since day two) and set things right. I'm lucky I'm not a modest nurser because when she gets into a conversation with the boob I'm flashing nipple all over the place. I'm lucky that I have a fluid schedule and that we can deal with longer nursing sessions but I have to admit, I miss the old pattern.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I first heard about it from a friend who is a camera man for the local news station. He posted it on Facebook before it broke on the evening news. The comments instantly turned ugly.
If you didn't want kids then why did you have them?
What a stupid b1tch!
I hope they get sentenced, there is no such thing as an accident.
Really, one wonders what sort of parent could make such a "mistake." I used to hear about these things and think the same thing. I used to judge very harshly, but then I read this article in The Washington Post back in April. The article is about individual families that have experienced this sort of tragedy and how its not just something that happens to bad parents, young parents, poor parents, drugged parents etc. It can happen to normal, everyday good parents that experience what the story calls a "fatal distraction."
In each of the families profiled the parent who forgot the child in the car was either stressed out about something, had a change in routine, or weren't used to taking the child with them in the first place. All instances involved a sleeping baby that was simply forgotten when the parent left the vehicle. What is clear however, is that all of these children were wanted and loved, and their parents have to live with a sort of guilt that is, to me, unimaginable.
The point of the story is that it can happen to you too. So, what can be done to prevent this sort of thing? There is an article here that offers advice on how to make sure you don't forget your baby in the car. The advice runs the gamut from ridiculous gadgets you don't really need to good sound, common sense. Some things they suggest are:
- Always put something you'll need for work -- cellphone, handbag, employee badge, etc. -- on the floor of the back seat, near the child.
- Keep a large teddy bear in the child's car seat when it's not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the teddy bear up front in the passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the teddy bear is in the passenger seat, the child is in the back
- Make arrangements with your child's day-care provider or babysitter that you will always call them if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled. Ask them to always phone you if your child does not show up when expected.
You can also go to KidsandCars.org to find more safety information about children and cars.
We need to remember its summertime and with that comes more dangers for little ones. Just the other day a little girl here in town was hit by an elderly driver. The girl will be ok but its a reminder that we all need to be vigilant about our surroundings. Keeping babies and children inside isn't the answer, but with common sense and an ounce of prevention, tragedies like what happened in Hays and what happened here don't need to be part of your local news cycle.
Monday, July 6, 2009
I was jealous when my husband got to return to work at the end of his two-week leave and escape the relentless eat-burp-spitup-poop-sleep cycle. I dutifully continued to tend to the baby’s needs but I also began to count down the days until I’d get to return to work. It’s not that I wasn’t attached to the her… I was, but purely in an instinctual, “this is mine and I must protect it” sort of way. She was awfully cute when she wasn’t crying, but I can’t say the love was really there yet. It’s kind of difficult to love a bottomless pit of need that never rewards or even acknowledges any of the hard work you are putting in. In fact, not only did she withhold all positive feedback, she was always eager to point out my faults, like how I wasn’t changing her diaper fast enough.
Then something miraculous happened. Sometime around the seventh week, she smiled at me. It wasn’t the tentative flutter of a smile, probably attributable to gas, that she’d been teasing us with since she was born. It was an all-out grin that took over her entire face. She was smiling like she meant it. It turned on a valve in my heart, and out gushed all my love for this baby. I was instantly, helplessly smitten.
Anna says she was "attached" to her baby but she wasn't "in love" for several weeks. This isn't the first time I've come across the idea of delayed bonding. I've heard other mothers say it can take up to two years to "bond" with your child. I've heard women say that any woman who claims to be instantly in love with her child is lying. People claim that instant bonding is only something that happens in the animal kingdom.
Aren't we animals too?
Frankly, all of these mothers who aren't bonding with their children for weeks, months, or years, scares me. Babies thrive on love and attachment. If these mothers aren't bonding then their babies aren't either. What does this mean for these children when they grow up? The moment I held the Birdie in my arms I was filled with this overwhelming emotion I had never felt before. It was love, but it was like no other love I had ever felt before. It was like she had always been with me. She wasn't a stranger even though I didn't know her. She was my baby. I loved her. Immediately.
So why are all of these women not bonding with their babies? I had a completely med-free birth. My body and Birdie's body were at the mercy of all of those primordial hormones that are meant to tie mother to baby and visa versa. That makes Birdie a rarity in this country. As a baby born at home, she is one in a group that makes up less than one percent of babies born in this country. I don't have numbers on how many med-free births happen in this country but I'm going to suspect that they make up a small minority of the 99% of births that happen in the hospital or birth centers. We know that induction of labor and c-sections have drastically risen in the past few decades. We know that c-sections can complicate the bonding process. We also know that when labors are "augmented" by pitocin, it shuts down the body's natural production of oxytocin. Pitocin doesn't cross the placenta. Its a poor substitute for nature's natural love hormone. I suspect that all of these bonding issues come from increased use of pitocin and c-sections.
The next question I have is why are women so quick to justify their bonding issues as normal? Because its happening to so many women and because of the competitive nature of motherhood, it seems that women feel the need to normalize situations that cause guilt. The mother who hasn't bonded with her child feels guilty. In order to relieve the guilt she normalizes it. This happens to everyone. She then diminishes the experience of those who have bonded with their children. That woman who claims to have bonded immediately is either lying or an anomaly. The final step is to deny that immediate bonding even exists. Only animals bond with their young immediately. Instant bonding with human infants is a myth. What this manages to do is take an artificial situation that is harming mothers and babies and changes it into the norm. When women suggest that its not normal or ok for mothers not to bond with their babies they are told they are being judgemental as though bonding with one's child was a lifestyle decision. Instead of looking at what might be preventing women from bonding with their babies, time is spent on defending the experiences of those who didn't bond. You can find similarities in the bottle v. breast debate. There is no question that bottle feeding is an artificial construct placed on the mother/child relationship, yet you find people all over who feel the need to defend and justify its use as the norm.
I wish that people would realize that even though we are advanced thinking human beings, we are also animals, mammals to be exact. Our biology isn't that far off from our zoo-residing cousins. Provided that birth is allowed to go forward undisturbed, human mothers will bond with their babies. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but delayed bonding is not the norm. Because we are mammals we are designed to breastfeed. Because we are designed to breastfeed we are mammals. Women seem to be blindsided by wanting to stay with their babies after they are born. It is a great disservice to society when they are encouraged to leave their babies to go back to work so they can have an "identity." Until we learn to value mothers and their bonds to their babies we will continue to suffer emotional deprivation as a society.
I recently read Dr. Sear's Vaccine Book and I thought I had it all figured out. We were going to fore go the Hib, PC and Rotovirus shots and still get the DTaP, Polio and MMR when they came due. There was no question about HepB, Varicella or Flu shots; She's not getting them. I've been researching from the beginning and every time I think I've got a handle on the whole risk v. benefits of childhood vaccination, something else comes up and I have to start all over again.
What it came down to for me today was that I have a hard time taking a perfectly healthy child to the doctor. I can just hear the worry warts now.
How can you KNOW she's perfectly healthy if you don't have a doctor god tell you so?!?
I know my child is healthy because she eats well and she's gaining weight. Loud noises startle her and she can follow brightly colored objects from across the room. She's smiling, babbling, and holding up her head.
The whole concept of a "well baby visit" really gets my goat. I can see the public health value of widespread health screening for childhood disorders, but do we really need to be spending money taking otherwise healthy kids to a doctors office where they are exposed to all kinds of illnesses just to identify one or two children that might need further testing? Why don't we cut health care costs by investing in education campaigns so parents know what developmental milestones their children should be reaching and help them become better judges of when their children need to see a health professional?
I know that by eschewing well baby visits I am depriving my doctor of the chance to harass me over the vaccine issue. I wonder if that isn't a major driving force behind the well baby schedule. You come in every couple of months for a well baby visit and it just so happens that you need all of your vaccinations at that time.
I guess I just haven't made up my mind yet. I want to protect my daughter but with all of the conflicting information out there, I need more time to make my decision. I think if she weren't breastfed or if she went to daycare I would be more willing to get her vaccinated. If we were going to live in a third world country there would be no question about vaccination, but our risk/benefit balance is a little more complicated than that. I just get tired of those who say "Vaccines have never hurt anyone!" (I wish they would tell that to my lawn guy who lost one twin daughter to the old DPT while the other one is permanently disabled) I get equally as tired of those in tin foil hats who claim vaccines are a joint venture between the government and big pharma to make us sicker so they can control us. As we all learned in historiography, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
I don't think vaccines are completely safe. I suspect that profit has been the driving force behind our current vaccine schedule. When Dr. Paul Offit, co-inventor of the current rotovirus vaccine, gets up and rails against those who would do the country harm by suggesting vaccines aren't completely safe, I suspect that he is partly concerned with his own bottom line. I can't figure out why we're vaccinating for chicken pox when even the best of numbers put childhood deaths from the disease at under 100 children per year. On the other hand, I believe that vaccines have saved lives, I'm just not sure which lives. No one will give me an unbiased crunch of the numbers.
At this point, I'm not going to reschedule the well baby visit. I'm comfortable in my decision and I'm going to revisit it in another year. We'll see if things have changed by then.
Friday, July 3, 2009
The younger clerk looked a little younger than I am. She told me,
"I thought about breastfeeding when I had my baby, but the nurses were so impatient with me. They told me 'If you're going to do it you have to do it now.' There were like twenty people in the room and I just said, 'Forget it, give me a bottle.' "
I can't imagine, I felt so bad for her. I'm afraid her experience is more common than not. I've heard from many other mothers who have had their babies at the same hospital that they have a hell of a time getting the nursing staff to obey their wishes. The most common offense seems to be giving the baby a bottle in the nursery before they are given to mom to establish breastfeeding. The other problems is "oh we gave him a bottle so you could get your rest." Why should the medical community be surprised that women are choosing out-of--hospital options for childbirth if this is the sort of support they can expect from the mainstream care system?