Monday, August 31, 2009

Inquisition Monday: Blessings

This is another from Joe's emails.

You often mention
blessings in your posts. What are they - well I understand they are blessings from God, or along those lines, but what do they represent to you?
Joe, I'm going to first state that I don't understand priesthood blessings completely. This is something I need to keep studying. In a priesthood blessing we believe that the person giving the blessing can receive inspiration from God and tells the person receiving the blessing the words of comfort and instruction that God has for them at that time- usually related to what the blessing was asked for. The are lots of kinds of blessings, but I would say that the two main types are for comfort and for healing. Healing blessings usually involve an anointing by oil, and both are given with the laying on of hands (ie the person giving the blessing puts their hands on your head during the prayer). I've mentioned a couple blessings for healing: for my migraines in pregnancy, for the back labor I had a 30 weeks, and I may have mentioned other times when I was ill. For example, earlier this year McKay and I took turns having the flu. During my week, I asked for a blessing for healing. In that blessing, I was promised health and I was told my breastmilk would make the appropriate antibodies needed to protect Margaret. Margaret never did get sick from that flu. I've had healing blessings that don't stick to just being about healing: sometimes they've included comfort and instructions for other parts of my life.

Comfort blessings give instructions and comfort and don't involve an anointing with oil. I've asked for blessings like this at various times in my life: after something traumatic happening, before I got married, days when I just felt stuck. There was one day about a month ago that I was very distraught over something that had occurred: I was in tears off and on all night. I didn't want anyone around me because I felt so negative and knew that if I had called friends to help, I'd just have spread that negativity. I actually considered going to get energy work done the next day because I just reeked of negative energy. I asked McKay for a blessing and I was given some instruction and promised comfort, but I was feeling a bit skeptical about that comfort... sometimes I get in negative ruts like that for days. I pretty much went to sleep crying that night, but when I woke up the energy in me was completely different. I was still mentally upset about the previous day's occurrences, but I couldn't feel upset inside. I don't know how it worked, but I felt that the energy inside and around my body had completely changed- this energy lasted for days.

What do they represent to me? I take the instructions given to me in each blessing as God's literal word to me. This has given me a lot of strength in various endeavors (personal, political, social).

And can anyone give them, or do you go to Church for them? I think you mentioned your husband often gives you some? I’m interested – I think that they are lovely, a great way to give back some positivity and remind you of God’s love (anyway… to my understanding!).

In the current arrangement of the Church, blessings can only be given by someone who is at least ordained to be an Elder in the Church. This, in general, means pretty much (exceptions exist) all male members above the age of about 18. This has not always been this way. In 1978, it was declared "every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood" when previously black men had been excluded from this. Also, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, women gave blessings of healing. In a 1914 letter from the First Presidency to the stakes and wards, stated that sisters, "have the same right to administer to sick children as to adults, and may anoint and lay hands upon them in faith.*" Women also anointed each other in preparation for childbirth. A quick google search can find you the text Rixa was quoting there. If either is still done today, it is not widely disclosed- I would even say it is discouraged and looked down upon. Why this is, I don't know- and I personally feel many of the "explanations" for this are just as reaching as Elder McConkie's attempts to explain why black people couldn't hold the priesthood. Like I said at the beginning, I don't understand it all and need to study it further. Some of my thoughts on gender roles and responsibilities in the Church may become a blog post in the future.

But ultimately, I very much do believe in priesthood blessings and that they are comfort and instructions directly and literally from God for us.

*Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, "To the Presidents of Stakes and Bishops of Wards, 3 October 1914," First Presidency Circular Letters, 1899-1990, Church Archives.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mama Cloth

What was I sewing in yesterday's picture?

Mama Cloth. Almost a year ago, I said I'd like to stop using disposable menstrual products. That post was written right before my first postpartum period. I had some pads leftover from my 10 week lochia experience so I used those for my first period, but I had heard that using cloth instead of modified bleached paper for your menstrual products could shorten your periods- even lessen your cramps.

I decided to try it the next month. I didn't have any cloth pads or a Diva Cup, but I did have some Gerber Prefolds* sitting around doing nothing. When my period came, I took a prefold, folded it up, and used it as a pad.

I discovered that the worst cloth diaper on the market makes really great mama cloth! Also, my period was shorter by 3 whole days! Who doesn't want to knock 3 days off their period? Plus, the disposable pads always gave me a diaper-rash-like rash. Always. Cloth: nope!

Around last November, I considered buying a Diva Cup. I didn't for two reasons: 1) I thought I might get pregnant since I was having cycles and since you can't use a Diva Cup for lochia, it would be a waste to buy. 2) I'm so afraid of toxic shock syndrome that I don't like using tampons. Having something up in me for hours at a time freaks me out. I don't care if it's medical grade silicon, it gives me the heebiejeebies. So I continued to use my make-shift mama cloth.

The biggest problem with using folded burp cloths was that they were bulky. I figured I deserved something pretty, so I cut up those stained bulky mama cloth and used them as the soaker part of some shiny new mama cloth. It's so shiny it sparkles.

Well, of course it would sparkle and glitter. I probably should have added rhinestones: I am a goddess after all!

*I mentioned this on InfiKnity, but I wanted to mention it here, too. If you are boycotting Nestle, don't buy Gerber. Nestle bought them a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Try, Try Again

On Sunday, Margaret woke up sick. Benefit of co-sleeping: you can hear your child wake up so you can get her to the bathroom before she throws up on herself. Less sheets to clean!

Anyway- because she wasn't feeling well, McKay and I took turns attending the temple dedication. I took morning and he took afternoon. When I got back from the dedication, Margaret was sleeping away. Now, McKay doesn't lactate so I asked him how he did it. He said he took her on a walk and then sang to her and she fell asleep. Magic!

Then for Monday's nap, Margaret was TIRED. So tired. She kept requesting "Good Night Moon" and I read it to her over and over and every time we got to the end, she burst into tears and wanted it again. Very tired. I tried the breast, but she refused it, so I asked McKay.

"Have you tried singing to her? Taking her on a walk?"

Right. So I sang to her and after about 5 minutes she was sleepy enough to take the breast and fall asleep.

Then today it happened again. Very upset crying toddler, refusing the breast. Singing! Yes, it'll work! It didn't. Then I remembered McKay's suggestion for a walk. I put her in the Mei Tai, got my breast out and she nursed while I hummed to her and walked her around the block. Before even 1 lap was completed, she was out. Brought her inside and put her in the bed, giving her the breast as a way to keep her sleeping in the transition from Mei Tai to bed.

Singing and walks used to be pretty regular things I'd try, but lately breast has been enough, so I didn't think about them. I'm glad McKay reminded me. Sometimes you just need to remember to try other things and try things that used to work.

Instead of spending 20 minutes nursing her down, both singing and the walk worked within 10 minutes and neither involved crying. One thing I'm learning is that there's always something else to try. Another thing I'm learning is that she has her own time table and when I want her to sleep is different from when her body needs it.

What other things have you tried? Share so we can all take notes. Please no CIO suggestions.

Wordless Wednesday: Sewing

Monday, August 24, 2009

Inquisition Monday

I met Joe through a knitting swap. She has emailed me 5 questions for Inquisition Mondays, but each question has many parts, so I'm only doing 2 today.

What do you find works best for keeping your “No ‘Poo” in the shower, and doesn’t clump up? Squish bottle, spray bottle? How long do you keep the solution before it gets nasty and you have to make new ones? And speaking of which, what do you put in yours?

Here's my set up.

The pink/purple spray bottle is my conditioner. My brain associates warm colors with acidity, so that gets to be my acid. Right now I'm using 1 tbsp of lemon juice to 8 ounces of water. I'm considering going back to ACV. I don't really have any good reason for that except that it's just something I want to try again. Depending on my mood, I'll either spray some of the conditioner in my hair, focusing on the ends, or I'll just dump the whole bottle on my head. I usually spray some on Margaret's hair and it makes her hair softer than you can imagine!

The blue spray bottle is my baking soda mixture. Since baking soda is basic, I use blue. It's just one of those weird things. I usually keep it between 1 tsp and 1 tbsp of baking soda for 8 ounces of water. I usually spray it as close to my roots as possible and rub it in.

The containers on the shelf are simple. The one on the left is straight up baking soda and the one on the right is mostly honey. There's a little bit of baking soda in the honey container from mixing up a scrub. I use the baking soda for cleaning my body and sometimes depending on my mood, I put it in my hair. The honey is for my face- I've used it in my hair, though.

Last week the Organic Sister explained how she used No Poo with her dreadlocks. I'm thinking of trying a modified version of her routine. Currently, I rinse out the baking soda before I use my conditioner. She doesn't- and I think I might try that. Also she throws in an essential oil. I've got some tea tree oil around here... or lavender... Mmm...

Because it's not uncommon for me to just dump entire spray bottles into my hair, they don't sit around too long, so I'm not worried about them going bad. I just refill them when I want to. I am concerned about the use of plastic bottles and leeching chemicals- ideally I'd get some glass bottles for this. Hmm. Actually, I have a lot of glass jars. Provo doesn't recycle glass, so we're saving all our jars for when we move to California next year. I bet if I use glass jars and then poke holes in a lid, I could have my own BPA-free No Poo set up. Intriguing and tempting...

Is it necessary to wash organic produce as thoroughly as regular produce, or just enough to get the dirt off? (hahaha – thought I’d throw something random at you :P My take is to just get the dirt off, and just a tad more for any random substance – there’s no pesticides on them. But would love to hear your view!)

I do wash my organic produce- not so much to get pesticides off, but because they are handled and transported and touched by who knows who. I suppose I'm in the same boat as you: wash to get random stuff off.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Tonight is LLL. I'm thinking about going. Normally, I would automatically go, but it's our anniversary, so I don't know. Considering it.

I've been going to LLL since I was 4 months pregnant. Even though Margaret and I are now Old Pros at breastfeeding, I still go to LLL for a couple of reasons: 1) I have experience with certain problems that I can share if someone there has the same problems and 2) It's comforting to be in an environment where breastfeeding a toddler isn't unusual.

Last week when I checked Mothering Your Nursing Toddler out from the library, I wasn't sure if I wanted to actually get it. A whole book on toddler nursing? Really? Once you're past the first few troublesome weeks, you're pretty much done with the main problems. Baby can latch, your nipples aren't sore anymore. Once they're toddlers, you don't even need to do anything: they just pull down your shirt and latch on their own! Easy peasy! Why do you need a whole book on that?

I'll probably do a book review later, but I will say I'm enjoying it so far. I like reading a book that doesn't think you're going to wean at a year, 2, or 5. It has cute stories of kids talking about nursing and doing cute things while nursing. It also mentioned nursing and tantrums- which was timely because Margaret had a really big one on Sunday. She decided that the wall was something nice to bang her head on. It's not, so I moved her to the bed. Poor girl. Something was just off in her system.

So yes, even 16 months later, I like the support. I saw this clip the other day, and after watching it, I think Big Bird's last sentiment would probably be the greatest comment I could think of receiving.

"You know, that's nice."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Quieter Side

Last Wednesday when I was giving blood, one of the American Red Cross workers saw that I was reading Mothering Your Nursing Toddler while giving blood. She commented, "I should read that book. I still nurse my 19 month old daughter." "Yeah," I said, "I thought I'd read it since I'm still nursing my 16 month old." Then we talked about people we know who have breastfed 3 year olds, 4 year olds and how good it is for them.

A few weeks ago I was driving around Salt Lake checking out yarn stores I've never been to. It was hot out- over 100- and Margaret was getting fussy and thirsty, so I hurried into a yarn store, found a chair and sat down and nursed. There was a 7 month old playing on the ground. Her mom came over and saw me nursing and asked how old Margaret was. When I replied that she was 15 months old, she said, "It's so good; I nursed all my older children until they were 3!"

Also on that knitting day venture, I went to a Columbian restaurant for lunch. Margaret and I were the only ones there so we chatted with the wife of the owner. When we were done with our lunch, a family came in to eat and the lady we had been talking to went to take their order. In the meantime, I decided to nurse Margaret. When she walked by us to give their order to her husband she saw me holding Margaret and wondered out loud at how quickly Margaret fell asleep. I smiled and said, "Oh- she's not asleep! She's just finishing her lunch!"

Last January, I mentioned a woman at church who was struggling with nursing. She is still nursing. A couple of weeks ago she asked me if I was still nursing Margaret and when I said yes, she said she didn't know many people who nursed this long, but said she knows it's good for the babies. I shared some stories of friends who've nursed preschoolers with her.

Yesterday at the park, I pulled down my shirt and nursed. A couple of weeks ago, I nursed Margaret during (yes during) an eye exam. Lactivism isn't all nurse-ins and letters to companies and congresspersons (though those can be fun!). Simply making breastfeeding part of your day can be lactivism. Do you have any experiences you want to share of these sort of quieter lactivist moments?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Inquisition Monday

K La asked
Are you a vegetarian? Being LDS, what is your take on meat in the Word of Wisdom? Have you considered how meat plays into "only that which is good?"
My basic question is: "How often do you eat meat and why?"

I'm not a vegetarian; we eat meat somewhere between 0 and 2 times a week. My reasonings for this include trying to limit it and eat meat sparingly, it's a pain to defrost meat in time for dinner, and not buying meat means I have money to buy produce.

One argument I read recently about the "only in times of winter, or of cold, or of famine" contingency on meat was that with modern things like central air and grocery stores being 2 blocks from the house, the body doesn't ever hit "winter" mode to necessitate meat. I thought that was an interesting point.

About 2 years ago, I decided to limit our meat intake. This was easy because I HATE defrosting meat. I don't know why; it's just a few minutes in the microwave, but it bothers me to no end. I guess I don't like it because it throws off y cooking groove. Who wants to wait for meat to defrost? And who remembers to set it out early? I immediately discovered that the best thing about meat is that you don't actually need it in a meal: stir fry? fajitas? pasta? You can leave out the meat and it's still a meal! Magic! So I started doing that.

So that's it. I don't really have a huge thought on it. Vegetarian cooking is just easier for me. I do think we need to eat more fish. Those omega-3s seem pretty promising.

Meat-related tidbit:
Last winter, I noticed Margaret wouldn't eat chicken because it was bland. She loved sausage and pepperonis, though, because of their spiciness. That's when I realized that she's right: chicken is too bland. Why on earth have I been eating chicken all these years? I don't know. I think I'm done with chicken though.

Next week I'm answering some questions Joe emailed me. After that, I'm out of questions to respond to, so go ahead and ask away!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

Wow. Haven't done this in a couple of weeks.

1. When will I do a post on my hats? Soon if I remember to get out the camera.

2. Punished by Rewards was the last good book I read or movie I saw or tv show I watched.

3. Everything has its beauty but it's hard to see the beauty of a pile of dirty dishes.

4. Spaghetti is what I had for dinner.

5. I'd like your understanding.

6. At a yarn store is where I want to be right now.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to seeing my parents, tomorrow my plans include Farmer's market and Sunday, I want to knit!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Giving Blood

Last night I gave blood. I do this pretty regularly- pretty much every 8 weeks. Last night after I was taking off the brightly colored sticky armband that they use to keep the gauze on after you give. And I had an interesting thought process.

Ow ow ow ow. You'd think they'd be able to come up with a material that would only stick to itself and not to your arm hair. This is a big improvement from band-aids, though. Of course, if they came up with such a material, I bet it'd be all chemicals and really bad for the environment. Well, it's not like you can recycle this stuff either. Recyclable/reusable and not sticky? Well, I do have just regular cloth bandage wraps in our first aid kit. HOLY COW! Those wouldn't hurt to take it off AND it would be reusable! Do you think they'd go for it if I brought my own bandage in when I give blood next time? They'd probably think I'm crazy. I wonder how much waste that would actually prevent. Well, if I get a lot of people on board, it could be this whole big movement thing and save a lot of waste. TopHat, you're worried about the waste of a tiny bit of stretchy plastic? Well, I give blood pretty regularly, I'm sure it adds up. I wonder what other things I could cut waste on that I hadn't thought of before. Hmm...

Then I was like, "Are you seriously this crunchy that little waste bothers you?" Maybe. I wasn't a year ago. You just get sucked into this vortex of environmental awareness.

Of course, since I knit, I also remembered my friend who crochets bandages and I thought... I don't even have to use the stuff in the first aid kit! I have extra string and yarn lying around!

To be honest, I think I'm actually going to do this. I do give blood very regularly and over my lifetime, it will probably be worth it. Maybe I should advertise this idea on Ravelry. Or maybe I just went over the edge- but I don't think it could hurt. Why not? Maybe I could work it out so that I wouldn't need disposable bandages ever again. Of course, that means no "Spongebob" bandaids on my kids' knees, but I'm not crying over that. Over a lifetime, how many bandages do you throw away? Do you think it adds up?

Ok. I totally realize this is borderline too crunchy, but I still think it's cool.

Also interesting to note. Of the many many times I've given blood, this was the first time they used my right arm. Poor neglected veins over there...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All, Nothing, In Between

A few weeks ago a friend of mine and I were talking about a mutual friend who had her baby about 4 weeks early. My friend quipped, "It's a good thing she was planning on a hospital birth- she needed the NICU!"

I responded, "Well, she had her baby at 36 weeks! If I had gone into labor prematurely, I would have gone to the hospital too!"

To which she replied, "Really? I didn't know that."

Unassisted childbirth is not "all or nothing." I was watching myself and how I felt, and if something had felt wrong, or if something WAS wrong, we would have sought the help the medical community provides.

I monitored a few things while I was pregnant with Margaret. For example, I checked my blood pressure weekly. I usually have a pretty low BP around 96/56. During my pregnancy, my BP rose to 120/70 at one point. While that's definitely not worrisome, it was a little high for myself, so I drank more water, watched what I ate, tried to relax and exercise. The next week it was back down again. I also peed in cups and tested for protein and glucose and a few other things. I didn't do those very regularly- just when I felt like something was up. We listened to Margaret's heart beat with the fetoscope when I hadn't felt her kick in a while. At some point I stopped caring about weight gain, but I did continue to check my fundal height. Had something been wrong that I couldn't fix with diet, exercise, water or a priesthood blessing, I probably would have sought out some help. I just didn't need to, so I didn't.

I had at one point given myself an "induction date"- the date I thought I would seek help if I went past it. When I got to it, I didn't feel like it was necessary. We were still checking for her heart tones, she was head down and anterior, I had some braxton hicks contractions, and I received a priesthood blessing promising I'd be holding my baby "soon." Margaret came 9 days after my "induction date" because I felt I was still healthy (BP was fine, as were protein and glucose), she was still healthy (go little heartbeat!) and that going over is normal for first time moms. Funny thing, though... a few weeks after her birth, I found 6 oz. of castor oil in our first aid kit. Not an induction method I would like to try, but if I had known it was there... would I have? Don't know. Probably not. Diahrea doesn't sound fun. Maybe if I had gone to 44 weeks.

But yeah, if Margaret had come too early, we would have gone to a hospital. I'm crazy, but not crazy, you know? Margaret's health was very important to me and that's partly why I chose unassisted, but if I had to give up that unassisted because of her health, I would have.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Lactation Amenorrhea Method

Ah, Birth control. I didn't really like being on the pill. At all. It made my periods really gross and didn't even regulate them how it's supposed to. I don't ever want to go back to artificial hormones again. Ever. Period.

So after having Margaret I read up on more natural ways to prevent pregnancy. I was very afraid that any sort of hormonal birth control (even the mini-pill) would wreck havoc on my supply, so I wanted to avoid that. After some research, I figured I was a good candidate for the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM), it has been our primary form of birth control with some FAM mixed in.

The LAM method is actually more effective than barrier methods like condoms for the first 6 months. In general, the LAM method includes:

  • Exclusive breastfeeding. Exclusively breastfeeding means the baby needs to be at the breast for all nutritional needs. Pumping does not stimulate as much oxytocin as an actual baby does. While pumping is a wonderful way to ensure your baby has the best nutrition when you're away, it isn't the best way to prevent pregnancy.
  • Feeding at least every 4 hours in the day at and least 6 hours at night.
  • Being less than 6 months postpartum.
  • Not having any bleeding after 56 days postpartum- thought I don't agree with this considering I bled lochia up to about 70 days postpartum. The "56 days" is just to let you know that lochia bleeding doesn't affect fertility.
When I was about 4 months postpartum, I read Kippley's Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: How Ecological Breastfeeding Spaces Babies. Kippley developed something she calls "ecological breastfeeding" which takes the LAM and adds more bullet points to our list including:
  • No artificial nipples. This includes any bottles (even for pumped breastmilk) or pacifiers.
  • No food or water besides breastmilk for the first 6 months of life.
  • Breastfeeding every 4 hours in the day and 6 at night is a bare minimum. The baby should nurse for comfort, not just nutrition, and on-demand. Scheduling feedings hurts this method.
  • Co-sleep* so the baby has unrestricted access to the breast at night.
  • Limit mother/infant separation as much as possible. This can mean that you babywear instead of using a stroller- the physical contact between baby and mother is to help keep the hormone levels so that ovulation can't occur.
  • Take a daily nap with your baby.
Now, I don't follow all of these (nap? daily? what?) but I do a lot. We waited 6 months before Margaret received a pacifier. Of course, by that point she didn't know how to suck on it. She decided it was a great teether, though. We did give her a pinky to suckle on when she was upset about being in the car as a newborn, though by 3 months she started rejecting that. We bedshare and babywear a lot. We do own a small stroller now, but I've only used it twice. Margaret loves it because of the novelty factor. For most circumstances babywearing is easier for me.

In her book, Kippley mentions a study she did with her ecological breastfeeding method- and on average it took about 14/15 months for fertility to return. I'm at over 16 months of infertility. I guess you could say I'm "above average."

Of course the LAM isn't feasible for everyone, probably not even most moms, but it's there for the few who have the option of it.

Books I read in studying this:
Taking Charge of your Fertility. This is like the fertility bible and teaches the basics of fertility and FAM and charting. I didn't find its breastfeeding chapter to be very good, though.
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing
Your Fertility Signals
Much shorter than TCOYF and simpler, but I think it had nicer information on fertility and breastfeeding. Since it is so short, this would be a great introduction to menstruation and fertility for a girl learning about her menses.
Also has some good information too.

*I wanted to note again that co-sleeping doesn't always mean bed-sharing. Cosleeping includes any sleeping arrangement where the baby is in the room with you- where you can hear and respond to your baby's needs quickly.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Inquisition Monday

I still need to finish up some of Jamie's questions before moving on to others, so that's what I'm doing today. Next week we'll move on!

What influenced you to babywear?
When I was pregnant, I wanted a UC. On the UC boards, lots of people talked about breastfeeding and LLL, so I started going to LLL. Then at LLL I found some people who have a playgroup and I was invited to it. Those moms pretty much introduced me to babywearing. Besides learning about carriers by being around them, the playgroup had these things called "Babywearing Parties." You go and bring all your carriers to show them off. The first one I went to was also a sewing party for people who wanted to sew slings while at the party. Before Margaret was born I sewed one sling, bought one wrap, was given another as a gift, and had some fabric that I just tied without rings or anything to start me off. Starting off small, you see? I have since also aquired a pouch sling, another ring sling, and a Mei Tai.
Come to think of it, we haven't had a babywearing party in a while, I should bring that up in the group. And if any of you out there near Provo are interested, you can come even if you aren't officially in the playgroup, of course.

Who taught you to knit, how long have you been knitting, and do you/have you had a favorite knitting project?
I learned to knit at a Young Women's activity when I was 12. I may have been 13; I was in seventh grade. I know this because I was knitting at the science fair.

My first project was a dishcloth. Since I liked it well enough; I got a book and taught myself the rest. Essentially, I'm self-taught. There are some advantages to that, but lots of disadvantages. It wasn't until about 3 years ago when I taught myself continental style that I learned I had been purling incorrectly the whole time. When I first tried to do colorwork, I used the fair isle technique and my sweater vest looked so horrible I had to frog it. A few months later I learned intarsia. If only I had known!

I think the project that I am most proud of is this dress. It was for a swap so I'll never see it again. I'd like to make one for Margaret.
Now, I think this next project is really cool. The artist is a genius. :) It says, "You are stronger than you think." Of course, if you think such things are an eyesore and no better than common graffiti, then I'll say that the deplorable act was done by the worst sort of delinquent out there and I am glad I don't know who it is.
As of last Saturday, this can still be found on Center Street in Provo. It's been there since sometime around midnight of July 17. I have a knitting blog and I post on it when I get pictures. Unfortunately I sometimes forget to take pictures before I send out swaps and gifts in the mail. And for some reason my knitting momentum slowed a bit about 16 months ago.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Emergency Breastmilk

It's the last day of World Breastfeeding Week. On Saturday I wrote about how breastfeeding can be useful in all sorts of emergencies: natural disasters, medical emergencies, etc.

But what about those kitchen emergencies? You know- when you have just a few hours to bake up some chocolate chip pumpkin spice cookies and drizzle them with powdered sugar icing... and you don't have any milk in the fridge? Yes. That emergency. Ignore the fact that the grocery store is only 2 blocks away- that would destroy the fun.

Breastmilk! In a simple recipe like powdered sugar icing, I've been known to just switch out the cow's milk with breastmilk 1:1. Icing suddenly becomes 1 tbsp breastmilk, 1 cup powdered sugar.

The wonderful thing about that recipe is that it doesn't need to be cooked, so none of the antiviral and antibacterial properties are destroyed! It's magic! They're good for you!

You can even make up a sour dough bread with breastmilk in the starter. Or even just regular bread. Or breast-shaped bread.

I've also hear people mention other milk products like ice cream or yogurt. One thing you'd have to keep in mind is that human milk has a very different fat content than cow's milk. Your ice cream might need extra cream (unless you have VERY VERY thick hindmilk).

Interested in or curious about breastfeeding recipes? Ask Chef Google.

Of course, don't forget about the non-edible benefits of breastmilk. I've used breastmilk for gunky eyes, umbilical cord wounds, acne, scrapes, and colds. It can also be used for ear infections, though Margaret never got one, so I haven't actually used it for that.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


I haven't shared a lot of articles lately because I do a lot of that on Facebook, but I thought I'd go through and post my favorite recent (and non-recent) articles here.

A take on the doll in Spain marketed for breastfeeding
Trouble pumping enough for a premie? Try combining pumping with hand expression.
How offensive is breastfeeding, really?
You know the steam from articles earlier this year claiming there's no advantage to breastfeeding? Yeah, they misquoted.
Pleading guilty for breastfeeding while drunk?
Cavities and breastfeeding
Need some confidence nursing in public? This post is a year old, but it's a great booster.
Breastfeeding Support Bags in hospitals

Delaying cord clamping, even for a minute, can help premies
Restaurant Wars and Birth Wars is a reply to The Birth Wars

20 Alternatives to spanking or time-outs
Hold your children (older study from Harvard)
Gentle Baby and Toddler Sleep Tips

Self-esteem Awareness Month follows Golds' "Cankles" Awareness Month
Feminist and Non-Feminist attitudes towards men

Walkability scores- our address received an 89, very walkable. That's one of my favorite things about where we live. This is also why I don't like new developments- everything is so far away.
Curing blindness with stem cells. Earlier this week I was having eye troubles and went to the optometrist. After reading this and knowing breastmilk has stem cells in it, I considered breastmilk eye drops...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Warning: Rant

When I originally wrote yesterday's post, I had this at the bottom, but decided against it in order to keep comments from getting off-topic. This is a rant I've been keeping in my head for a long, long time (over a year? almost 2?)- I've ranted a bit about it on Twitter recently and eventually decided I'd just post it. I keep trying to go back and clarify things and re-arrange things, but hey, it's a rant. I'll probably clarify things in the comments if I feel like it.

I'm a firm believer that the owner of the vagina gets to decide what is done to the vagina and who is allowed to be near it in all circumstances: birthing room, bedroom, everywhere. McKay is not allowed to do anything to my vagina (or my body for that matter) without my full "ok". That's how it is- anything else would be sexual assualt or marital rape. If he had "put his foot down" and said that I had to give birth in a way he was comfortable with I would have definitely taken this as an attack on my body and autonomy and self. That's my vagina he would be controlling.

Maybe I can say this so easily because I never had to choose between marital harmony and bodily autonomy, but I really can't see how a husband can get to "not allow" a woman to birth the way she wants to. For me, giving birth where I was most comfortable was very important. If the choice is between a place where dad is stressed versus place where mom is stressed, I'd choose the place where dad is stressed. Stress affects mom's hormones and the ability for contractions to be effective, the ability to relax, the ability to stretch and open. As for dad's stress, well, he doesn't even need to be at the birth- you can just tell him to go away if his presence is too much. If he's not on-board, then he's not on-site.

If McKay had been really pushy about how I gave birth, then I probably would have just gone off and given birth without him. Lucky for him by the beginning of the third trimester, he was ok with and even supportive of the birth plans (this is why you're pregnant for 9 months, ladies!). Perhaps I'm selfish, but for me, bodily autonomy isn't something that I would compromise about, particularly when it involves something as dramatic as birth- which can permanently change the way your body feels and moves.

And perhaps I was just really lucky with husband choices; even when I mentioned a particular haircut the other day he said, "Well, you know how I like it, but it's your hair." I am so grateful that he respects my decisions about my body.

Now I know it might sound very "my way or the highway" and it pretty much is, but I did listen to his concerns. I did lots of research and shared with him the parts I thought he worried most about. In the end, he trusted me fully. He was in school and couldn't devote much time to birth research and told me he trusted my research and my feelings about it.

For women who feel this is a point of conflict in their relationship, a doula friend of mine told me once that a lot of the time the husband just doesn't know a lot about the choices. If you give him time to question the mom/midwife/OB, his concerns of "what happens if..." can be put to rest. McKay and I went over many "If this happens we do need to go to the hospital" and "If that happens, I should try this" scenarios. He saw the amount of time and thought I put into the birth and I answered his concerns to the point where he didn't have those concerns anymore. That worked for McKay and will probably work with some other husbands out there.

Related, but not transitioned well enough because, hey, it's a rant:
I can understand where women would use the term "birthrape" to describe an experience. I know some people think that's too harsh a term and that rape is sexual and what happens in a birthing room is not. However, it is my understanding that rape is not sexual: it's about power and control. And if in birth a woman feels that her power and control is taken from her and decisions are made about her body without her involvement and things are done to her without her consent, then I don't think "birthrape" is too harsh a term for her to use.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Help! I know a UCer!

Some time ago, I saw on a news site that someone had written into an advice column with the question "My brother and sister-in-law are planning on having their baby without a doctor or midwife! What do I do?" I don't remember the official advice given, but I do remember thinking up how I'd respond.

TopHat's "A UC! What do I do?" advice:

Check to see if you are the pregnant mother. Your uterus will have a baby in it. If you lack this, then butt out. It's not your decision.
Of course that's not entirely the nicest way to say it, so I made up this flow chart (click to see bigger):
Actually the advice I gave to family members and partners is really the advice for everyone. It's ok to ask questions about the birth plans (but please don't do it in an accusatory voice). The mom might want to share why she wants this and why it's important to her. I also stand by my "if you don't like the decision, it might be best not to say anything" suggestion. I remember getting "support" from friends and family who weren't comfortable with our UC. While what they were saying sounded "supportive" it was really obvious that they were scared for us and those negative vibes were not helpful. It might be best to not say anything so that negative vibes are not transmitted. But like I said, asking questions is ok. Choosing UC can be lonely and it's nice to talk about it and many moms are open to questions about it.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Inquisition Monday

This week I'm answering a few of Jamie's questions. I think 3 questions each week is about right,

Have you ever considered becoming a doula?
Yes. I have. And then I unconsidered it. It's a complicated emotion. Most of it is that I don't feel like that's where my life is heading right now. But there are other issues involved, too:

After I had Margaret I re-thought about the influences of the people around me in labor. I was in labor for a long time and if I had a professional of any type there, I would have been distracted asking them, "I'm feeling this--- is that ok?" instead of listening to my body. Even with my UC where at the end I had a friend there, I think it did affect the birth. I did feel more like I was "on stage" for her. It is possible that her being there postponed my second stage- I was having transition thoughts and was throwing up around the time she arrived, but then I had a 12 hour lull and didn't hit the pushing stage until that evening. Of course I can't go back and re-do it to find out "what would have happened" if I hadn't invited her to see if this speculation has any truth, so I'm just guessing here.

But I don't want to be that distraction. I don't want someone to feel like they're "on stage" for me. Also, I would feel so helpless for the mom. A few weeks after my UC, I somehow ended up on the phone with a woman who was 24 hours into her labor. I had never met her before and she was states away, but she wanted assurance in her long labor. And I was just lost as to how to help her. I tried to say supportive things, but during every contraction when she put the phone down, I heard her noises and my own labor came rushing back to me. I remember thinking, "What could I possibly say to make this easier and encourage her when I know there's nothing for her to do except to do it herself? I can't help her." I suspect that doula training helps you know what to say in these sorts of situations, but it was still a hard position for me to be in. Also, reflecting on it now, my inability to help her at that point may have been compounded by the fact that I was still very newly postpartum and emotional. When I rethink that situation now, I don't feel as helpless as I did at the time.

I know a lot of doulas who became disenchanted with doulaing. One friend of mine only attends homebirths because she doesn't feel kindly towards hospital environments and knows she'd be no help there. One quit altogether- feeling like if she spoke up during a woman's labor she could be sent out of the room, but if she didn't speak up she felt she was enabling things she didn't agree with. There's an interesting power balance at play.

Having said all that, I would be at a birth if I was asked to be. I have been asked by friends, "If I want you there, can I call you?" Yes. You can do that and I'll be there for you. I'll even say supportive things and give encouragement or shove my fists into your back for pain relief. I think there is great benefit to having a doula and it increases your chances at having a natural birth. If we feel inspired in the future to have a baby in a hospital, I'd have a doula instantly.

Why did you major in math?

Well, hmm. I don't know. I guess it's because everyone told me I was good at it and I liked it well enough. Also, I was kind of the goody goody kid who always liked to do the hard stuff. I was a masochist goody goody. Also, I had finished Calc 3 by the time I graduated high school. Those years of working ahead would have been such a waste if I hadn't gone into math, you know? It was the economical choice. It was when I had one semester left that I decided what I wanted to do with my life (hint: it's that "Project: Pigeon Hole" I reference occasionally), so I decided I'd finish up my degree and then do a graduate degree in what I'd like. Now I'm wondering if I even want to bother with a graduate degree. I can do Project: Pigeon Hole without the degree; there are other professional routes I can take.

How did you meet McKay?

Short story: we were in the same ward.

Slightly longer story: There was no one else around, so I kind of got stuck with him. ;)

Long story condensed for the sake of post length: When Thanksgiving came around, I didn't have plans for going home so I just stayed in my apartment. He and another neighbor were going door to door in the ward looking for those "Turkey Bucks" that Macey's gives you during the month of November to buy a turkey. The plan was to share it with the few of us that were around. Of our student ward, only 13 of us opted to stay in Provo for the holiday, so there weren't many people to hang out with. We all had Thanksgiving dinner together and I started hanging out with McKay over that break. We went on our first official date the next Friday. We officially started "dating" as a couple in December (that DTR was HILARIOUS) and he proposed to me in February. Through some stress and my lack of assertiveness in the planning, our wedding didn't happen until August though.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

No Poo

Besides finding out that I react poorly when exposed to Red #40, our cherry canning evening gave me some insight into my No 'Poo experiment.

The next morning when I went to go inspect the cans of cherry filling, I found this:
You can see where I wiped (actually, scrubbed) off the white residue left by the water we boiled the cans in.

We have hard water. We get white mineral residue from it- the same white residue in my combs and brushes. I originally thought it was caused by not rinsing out the baking soda enough, so I started spending more time rinsing, with no improvement. This finding- that after just 30 minutes of boiling, our cans were left with mineral deposits that I had to scrub off- is a bit of a breakthrough in my No 'Poo experiment. It's not my routine per se- it's the water.

So now, what to do? I could wash my hair in bottled water, but that's a little excessive. McKay suggested maybe I find something to use once a month or so to get the minerals out. I've wondered if soap nuts would work, or a shampoo bar used sparingly.

Has anyone else dealt with this? What have you done? Any success stories with hard water issues?

In other hair adventures: I really hate having hair on my neck. I'd like to get a cut. I'm considering doing it myself because I don't want the salon to chemical-fy my hair.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response Are you ready?

Today marks the first day of World Breastfeeding Week.

On the website, it states the objectives of World Breastfeeding Week this year.

  • To draw attention to the vital role that breastfeeding plays in emergencies worldwide.
  • To stress the need for active protection and support of breastfeeding before and during emergencies.
  • To inform mothers, breastfeeding advocates, communities, health professionals, governments, aid agencies, donors, and the media on how they can actively support breastfeeding before and during an emergency.
  • To mobilise action and nurture networking and collaboration between those with breastfeeding skills and those involved in emergency response.

I thought I'd start out WBW by sharing some news stories of breastfeeding in emergencies.
  • The story of the mother keeping her infant and 4 year old alive with breastmilk while they were stranded in the cold. Sadly, the father was found dead due to the elements as he went to go find help.
  • The Chinese police officer who breastfed others' children during an earthquake emergency.
  • After a mom died of complications in birth, a group of women made arrangements to come feed the baby around the clock. An update on that story is here.
While I've never been in an emergency where breastfeeding was a lifesaver, I have breastfed another child because their family was going through a family emergency. The mom was in pain and needed to have her gall bladder removed the same week that the father was out of town and couldn't be back for a few more days due to flight issues. How convenient! Some friends watched the kids (3 and 1) for a night and a day until their grandma was able to take them. I helped out and a couple of times nursed the 3 year old (the 1 year old was being picky of who she nursed from and eventually decided on another friend). It was my first experience nursing a toddler, cross-nursing, and tandem nursing- when Margaret saw the little boy latch on, she wanted on too! It was really endearing watching them smile at each other from across the breast. We knew the mom would be ok with it and she later told us that she was grateful that we were able to give her children comfort while she was hospitalized and her husband was 1000 miles away.

I share this story because I know when we think of breastfeeding in emergencies, we think of natural disasters. And while here in Utah it's unlikely that a hurricane will come and knock out the electricity for a few days, we are always prone to other sorts of emergencies like this one or like that time when we had no water for an evening because of road work outside. Breastfeeding can be a wonderful way to be prepared.