Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pregnancy Update


It's been 4 weeks since the last belly shot, so I guess this one is sometime between 8 and 45 weeks.

In general this pregnancy has been pretty good. I'm showing earlier, but I don't mind. I think I was this size around 7 months with Margaret. I was small for a lot of that pregnancy until the very end. Even my neighbor didn't know I was pregnant until 2 months before Margaret's due date. This time, it's noticeable. People are actually asking me about it now. I guess that means I'm past the "Is she pregnant or just eating too much ice cream?" stage. I really like this. It means that buying maternity clothes is actually worth it, since I'll get real use out of them.

I didn't throw up at all this pregnancy, and unless I get a huge wiff of apple cider vinegar when I wash my hair, I'm not nauseous anymore. I also didn't have any of the migraines I had with Margaret. They were so bad last time I thought I was going to have a stroke. I would lose the feeling in half my tongue, one of my hands, and the vision in one eye. I was also teaching at the time, and it was a fun challenge to pretend I could see the whole class when I really couldn't.

But no migraines this time! Very nice. What do I have this time? Well, to start I'm hungry and thirsty ALL THE TIME. I still have a good enough supply that Margaret asks to nurse every couple of hours still and I know I have some. If she goes more than a few hours without nursing, I can definitely feel fullness indicating I'm still making something, but it's not as much as I used to. Breastfeeding during pregnancy means I should probably be getting as many calories as someone expecting multiples. We've had to greatly alter our grocery budget because of my hunger. Margaret is also eating a lot more solids because of my lower supply, so we have to buy her more food, too. While it's hard to increase that budget, I try to remember that we haven't paid anything towards our maternity deductible and that eating well should count as prenatal care. Diet is a big factor in pregnancy health. Buying good food, while expensive, will be worth it in the long run.

Despite the fact that my eating habits are better this time around, I'm lacking in exercise. Last pregnancy, I was working and was always on my feet. This winter has been a lot of staying home. I look forward to the busyness of our move and being in a new place with more opportunities to be outside. I've been trying to get Margaret out to the park as much as possible, but it's been kind of dreary. It is February, after all.

My biggest complaint this time is round ligament pain. I didn't have this at all with Margaret until after she was born. A lot of my rough postpartum recovery was round ligament pain, and apparently my ligaments weren't done healing before I got pregnant again. I've been having this regularly since my first trimester and I'm not sure what to do about it. I've increased my red raspberry leaf tea intake, but RRL is supposed to help improve your uterine muscle tone- I don't know if it does anything for the ligaments holding it all in place. I need to look into some exercises. Lying on my right side aggravates the round ligament pain and makes it hard to get up, but that's the side Margaret prefers to nurse on for naps and bed times. Pillows in between my knees don't really help.

I also have a vertebrae out of place in my lower back which pinches a nerve a lot. I sometimes have a hard time putting weight on my right leg because of the combination of that pinched nerve and my round ligament pain. Unfortunately, we don't have the money for a chiropractor right now.

Last night I peed in a cup to check for protein and such for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised that I'm doing well in that aspect. I thought maybe my pains were a symptom of some nutritional aspect I'd been forgetting, but apparently not. The baby had a heart beat of 145 bpm last night and I feel it kick regularly. My placenta is apparently posterior, but I think I heard a couple of whooshes last night. It's being evasive. It's not low, so I'm not worried about previa.

In all, I'm doing pretty well. No migraines, no nausea. Just some really bad round ligament pain. Any suggestions for that? When I google it, I'm just told to take some Tylenol. I'd rather treat the cause than hide the symptoms, you know?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to UC: Birth Certificates

Sorry no video this week.
This is always a hot question in UC forums. "How do I file a birth certificate?" Check with your local Vital Statistics office. It varies state to state- and sometimes county to county or city to city within states, so there's no one particular way, but I have some recommendations.

  1. Find out what you need BEFORE you have the baby. With Margaret, I looked up the requirements for a Utah certificate, which was simply "fill out this paperwork and turn it in." While I was still pregnant, I took a walk down to the County Vital Statistics, asked for a homebirth birth certificate packet, asked if there was anything else I needed, and left. At home, I started filling out the information I knew for sure (names of parents, statistical information like education level, etc) and left the rest blank (name of child, statistical information like Apgar scores, etc) to be filled out after the birth. It was kind of fun. This time around, I've already looked into what is needed for a California birth certificate. It's a little more involved, but that's probably because California is a border state and has to handle citizenship issues more often than Utah does.
  2. Go on your scavenger hunt. Some states/counties/cities have special requirements like proof of pregnancy, PKU results, proof of residency, etc. Go and get what you need (official letterheads, exemption forms, etc) before the birth so it's all ready. For example, I will need proof of residency in California, so when we set up our utilities during the move, I will make sure that my name will be on the electric bill.
  3. File on time. Utah wanted us to file within 10 days of the birth, so the next Monday when the Vital Statistics office was open, McKay went and handed the paperwork in. That was it! It was so easy! California is slightly more picky and wants the mom and baby to physically go in- and depending on the county/city it is either within 10 days or within a year.
  4. If the baby needs to be present, wait until they've chunked up a little. If we live in an area that is fine with "within the first year" we'll probably wait 3 months or so. A 3 month old simply looks healthier than a newborn, so I would worry less about getting confronted with a "medical neglect" accusation. Newborns are kind of scrawny and not at their cutest. If I do need to go in within 10 days, I will probably wait until after any physiological jaundice has passed, but before the exact deadline of 10 days (say, day 6 or 7). To be honest, it's possible I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill and bringing in a jaundiced baby might be fine. Do what you're comfortable with.
  5. If the office is asking for things that aren't required, you can bring a copy of the state code requirements or come back later when someone else is working the Vital Statistics desk. Sometimes they just don't have any experience in filing birth certificates from unattended births. UCs are kind of in the minority.
  6. If you are receiving prenatal care from a midwife or doctor, they can probably do the filing for you and it'll likely be easier. Somehow having letters after your name makes things easier. Of course, if all else fails, you can legally change your last name to "Lastname MD." That might help. :)

So in all: do as much as you can ahead of time. I physically walked into Vital Statistics because I felt I would be given better attention than if I was a phone call, but if that's not possible, call them up. Not all the information is on the Internet (though a lot is). I also double checked to make sure they had given me everything I needed and I knew what was expected of me. If there's a long list of required paperwork, get it in writing so you don't forget something.

And if you have experience in filing, share your advice in the comments! Happy paperwork filing!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Choice

As if there aren't enough hot button topics to discuss right now...

First, read this article about a Utah bill that just got passed and is awaiting the governor's signature. The intent of the bill is to discourage women from seeking dangerous ways to end pregnancies. The outcome of the bill could be much different.

I agree with the article that "reckless acts" is too vague and up to interpretation. The article mentions a recent case of an Iowan woman who was arrested and sent to jail after having a miscarriage caused by falling down stairs. The charges were ultimately dropped, but nothing can change the fact that she was separated from her children and treated like a criminal during the whole ordeal.

Issues that arise in situations like these: Will women feel like they can trust their care providers if they are worried they might be blamed for a miscarriage? Would a woman opt to not find care when she really needs it? Will women seek help in overcoming drug addictions or leaving abusive relationships? Or will they worry that they'd be separated from their children and choose instead to not find help so no one can blame and arrest them for being reckless? Choices made out of fear are not well-made choices.

What does this mean for Utah pregnant women? What is "reckless"? The article mentions the possibility of drinking or being in an abusive relationship being considered "reckless." What about walking across an icy parking lot in January? Hiking a mountain during high-inversion times? Refusing an ultrasound? A scheduled cesarean at 36 weeks? An unassisted pregnancy?

After 20 weeks, you can't get an abortion unless medically indicated in Utah. But miscarriages still happen after 20 weeks. Stillbirths happen. Even surrounded by 20 machines that go "ping," babies die. And there's not always a cause.

But often fingers will be point blame, and unfortunately, women get the short end of that stick. For all I know, I might have a miscarriage tomorrow, next week, next month and it'll be no one's fault. But would I be blamed? Could I be taken from my family because of it?

And I could have "official" prenatal care if I wanted it, but there are women out there who simply can't. I don't know if you've noticed, but not everyone in America has health insurance. Not everyone has the means to take time off of work and away from their families to make appointments. Sometimes people move and struggle in finding a new care provider. Sometimes pregnant women have to take risks like driving a car. Are those situations reckless?

As for this bill: would this pro-life attempt to "protect" families ultimately tear them apart?
You can write to the governor about this before it is signed.


ETA:
See Also:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Review: So That's What They're For


Two months ago at LLL, one of the leaders mentioned a story of a female gorilla raised in captivity. She got pregnant, had a baby, and then subsequently killed it because she didn't know how to nurse her baby and the crying got to her. To prevent this from repeating, the next time she was pregnant, the zoo asked the LLL what to do. LLL sent women to breastfeed in front of the gorilla (safely behind glass). At first she wasn't interested, but soon she would watch the women breastfeeding to see how it was done. However, after she had her baby, she still struggled to breastfeed (that postpartum time is kind of crazy for us all!). LLL sent more women to the zoo who slowly, step-by-step showed the gorilla how to latch on. Eventually the gorilla learned and mother and baby survived that hard time.


The point of the story was that sometimes we just need to see breastfeeding. That story was a wonderful example of how something that would appear easy and natural- is even difficult for animals if they've never seen it. Why then, do we expect ease when we are learning- especially if we've never seen it?


The LLL leader at the meeting then said that this story was from the book So That's What They're For: The Definitive Breastfeeding Guide. I really wanted to read the story in context, so this month, I checked the book out from our LLL's lending library.


I have to admit something: before I had Margaret I had not read any breastfeeding books. I received a copy of Dr. Sear's The Baby Book from a baby shower and I had good relationships with the LLL leaders here, and that seemed to be enough for me. I definitely made use of both the book and the leaders those first few months! If I had to do it again So That's What They're For would have been wonderful. I would definitely recommend it for moms who are breastfeeding for the first time- whether it's your first baby or not.


I'm always a little hesitant to read nonfiction that's over a decade old, but in general, it hits the mark. There are obviously some discrepancies between what we know about breastfeeding now and what was known in 1998. For example, this January a study came out that breastmilk has a longer storage time than previously believed. Also, I didn't find all of the information particularly relavant to me, such as the claim that engorgement only lasts 12-24 hours. Maybe that's the norm, but as someone whose cups ran over multiple times a day and could not sleep on my belly for months because my breasts would be so full by the morning, that probably would have been discouraging: "I'm a lactating freak!" I also wasn't a fan of the recommendation "There's always the bathroom" if you aren't comfortable breastfeeding in public. I suppose that's true on a superficial level, but Eww! Gross! No. No breastfeeding in bathrooms. The fact that it was even mentioned gives me the heebiejeebies.


But I am really nitpicking here. Ninety-eight percent of the book was spot-on. The emphasis on positioning, latch, having support, etc. all hit the mark for me. The book is funny and is written in a way that you can tell the author has been there before and she's working with you and going at your own pace. I really enjoyed all the real-life stories and thought they also emphasized all the right things. The gorilla story wasn't the only awesome story there. If you need a good breastfeeding book, this would be a great one to pick up. Do it. You'll enjoy it, I promise.


And the gorilla story is at the beginning of chapter 3, in case you are interested.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Inquisition Monday: More on Water

After last week's Inquisition, K La commented, "I LOVED the water. I labored both in and out of the water, and next time I plan to only labor IN the water. It was WONDERFUL! What didn't you like about it?"

Oh, I assure you, the water was GREAT. With over 24 hours of back labor (it didn't go away until about 3-4 in the afternoon on Saturday. Margaret was born at 6:45), water was my best friend. I was more buoyant and relaxed in the water. The water was kept warm and comfortable. It also allowed me to be on my hands and knees, which was a wonderful blessing. I tried to lie back against the tub a couple of times since I had seen it done in other waterbirths, but as soon as a contraction came, the pain was just so overwhelming, I had to turn over and handle the contraction on my hands and knees. That was probably the most painful aspect of the whole labor. I definitely understand why women would want pain relief if they must stay on their backs- even slightly reclined was so miserable. I am NOT doing that again.


But again, I'm not sure I want a waterbirth again. It's not because it wasn't wonderful- oh it was! It's because I'm lazy. I don't feel like blowing up a tub or filling or boiling water. We could have the pool ready- I've read of people having a tub blown up and filled partway with water so that when labor happens, you just need to add hot water to get a good temperature and depth. That's a possibility for us. But I'm kind of holding out for a short labor (read: 12 hours or less). I think I'd just be too lazy to get all that together for such a short labor.


I was thinking about my laziness this morning. I'm probably the most lazy person in the world. Why haven't I worked on night weaning? Oh- because I figure when she's 16 Margaret won't be coming home from her dates needing to nurse to sleep. I sometimes wonder if the reason Margaret was so late is that my subconscious decided to put off labor until it was necessary- and even then the pushing stage was left off until the last half hour. I never felt like nesting with Margaret: either my subconscious ignored my nesting instincts or convinced itself it wasn't important. I'm just a really lazy person in general.


So I really have nothing against the water. It was great and would probably be a wonderful addition to any of my future births. We'll probably get a tub "just in case" and see how it goes from there.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Toddlerwearing

I haven't posted about babywearing in a while; much of the time Margaret will walk on her own. However, we always have exceptions.


The library is only a couple of blocks away- but that's still enough for a 1 year old to decide after half a block that walking isn't worth it. I try to remember to have my mei tai (or as Margaret says, "tie tie") with me. It goes over both shoulders and my belly is still small enough for her to be on my front. I'm sure it won't be long before I have to move her to my back.


About a month ago, I didn't have my mei tai at the library and I was hungry, thirsty, and tired. Margaret was all of that, too, and we headed home. She decided she wanted to be carried, so I picked her up. Then she decided to nurse, so I held, nursed and walked with her- all while slinging our bag of books on my shoulder- the 2 and a half blocks home. It was not a pleasant experience. I haven't forgotten the mei tai since.


I use the mei tai when we walk places: the library, church, the park, playgroups within walking distance, etc. She loves the mei tai and if I get it out, she'll suddenly become very interested in going outside when she wasn't before.


This morning, though, the sling was the savior. McKay had a meeting at church at 7:30. Church was at 9. I wasn't sure if he would be home before then or if I would have to get Margaret to church on my own.


Margaret likes to sleep in and it's wonderful except on Sundays. At 8:15, she was still sleeping. I made up some breakfast and she was stirring, so I picked her up and put her on the potty and then asked if she wanted to eat. Nope. She wanted to nurse. So I ate breakfast while nursing her at the table- she did have one reluctant bite of scrambled egg. She knows she can't nurse with food in her mouth, so she didn't want to put food in her mouth.


Next, I needed a shower, but she refused to be put down. We were running out of time so for the first time in months, I got out our shower sling. I think it's made of solarveil; I borrowed it over a year ago from a friend in our playgroup. It has been very helpful for those times when I needed to shower, but Margaret was sick or teething and insisted on being held. This morning, I showered, dried myself, and did my hair while she sat in the sling nursing. When we move, I'll have to return the sling to its owner, but I'll definitely be buying or making one for ourselves. I don't know how anyone gets through those clingy days without a shower sling!


Margaret is 25 pounds now, but she still needs to be carried places. Being held is an important part of being a small child and I'm glad that fabric was invented for this.

Friday, February 19, 2010

10 week countdown

McKay doesn't like to be reminded of this, but we'll be moving in 10 weeks! Woohoo!


I'm doing lots of decluttering. I was reading on another site and someone mentioned how decluttering is a way to be frugal/self-sustaining. I've noticed that as I declutter, I know I can live with less- which would ultimately mean I'd make smarter shopping choices and save money. Do I really need this? It also means buying less organizational tools like shelving and containers, which are surprisingly expensive.

What have I decluttered so far?
  • Plastic. I've mentioned bath toys and dishes so far. I also have a bag of some toys that I need to put up on Freecycle. I'm waiting until I clean behind the fridge and stove before freecycling them- I know I'll have stuff to add to that bag after I do.
  • Yarn. 5 plastic grocery bags full so far. How do I have so much? Well, when you're a knitter, people just come up to you and give you yarn. Seriously. Real life example: "Hey, my grandma died and we thought you'd like all the yarn in her basement!" I'm still working on the yarn de-cluttering. There are still pockets in the house of hidden yarn. Probably a few more bags.
  • Shirts. McKay and I had some shirts we never wear anymore. Then we Freecycled them. I kept some for any upcycling I can fit in my schedule the next 10 weeks, but whatever isn't used, will be gone.
  • Pictures. It's weird to throw out pictures, but it's not so bad. Put them in an album or toss them. If I have digital copies of them, I tossed them and figured if I really need them in the future, I can print them out again- most of them for less than a dollar.
  • Picture Frames. I'd really like a more minimalist decorating theme at our next place, so I got rid of all the random picture frames that were sitting around the house. Thank you Freecycle!
  • Books. This is a hard one. There are some books I love and some that are just sitting there. Some of the books we own are so popular (ie A Christmas Carol), that they are guaranteed to be at a library if I really really need to read them again. I signed up on Paperback Swap to get rid of those (I'm sending 8 out in the mail today!) and I'll Freecycle a few too. On Paperback Swap you have to pay to ship them away, but you can receive books for free. In the next 2 months, I'm going to try to read all the books on my "must read" list that I can find at our local library. The books I can't find, I'll wait and see if I can find them in California. If I can't, then I'll ask for them on PBS. Books are so heavy and expensive to move!
  • Textbooks. While it's nice to think "Someday my kids might want to look at my math books" that will be at least a decade and a half from now. And it's not like there won't be textbooks at libraries at secondhand stores 15 years from now! They can be nice reference books, but the last time I had to prove that there are an infinite number of primes three different ways was at least 2 years ago. Don't need.
  • Fabric. What I can't use in the next 10 weeks will be Freecycled.
  • Winter clothes. I highly doubt the winters in the Bay Area will be like Utah or Chicago winters. Less stuff to bring! Yay Freecycle.
  • Furniture. Our ugly desk chair will be going to DI. In the meantime, the birthball can serve as the replacement chair. We still need to decide when to sell our bed frame- now? later?
There is still so much to go through! Happy snowy Friday!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to UC: Cutting the Cord

This was like my 6th take and I was forgetting what I had talked about and what I hadn't yet. Sorry that it got cut off at the end there! Also, I think the sound got off at some point. And I need to speak up. And the quality isn't 100% because it was large and I had to compress it.

The fact that the video is almost 10 minutes long might make it seem like it's a really detailed process. It's not. I just talk too much.
  • Wait until the cord is no longer pulsing.
  • Just clamp in 2 places and cut in the middle. That's all there is. Really.
  • In a few days the stump left behind will turn dark and shrivel up and eventually fall off on its own.
  • We treated the resulting wound with drops of breastmilk and it healed very well without any infections.
  • You can't pick if your child gets an "innie" or an "outie." It's all in how it heals on its own. For what it's worth, Margaret has an "innie."
  • For the placenta, you just lay it out on the smooth (baby's) side so that the bumpy side (mother's side) is facing up. You just squish the placenta together to make sure all the bits line up with each other. If there's a piece missing, you'll see it. This is important knowledge for hemorrhage and excessive postpartum bleeding.
  • If you decide to take a piece of placenta to eat, take it from the mother's side- and also note that piece will be missing when you squish the placenta together. I would probably wait until the placenta is inspected before taking a piece.

Linkage:

"Not So Fast, Doc!" from Empowered Childbirth
Vintage Delayed cord clamping: 1963 obstetrics article from Time
Placenta images. I actually had McKay look at pictures of placentas before Margaret was born so he knew what he would be looking at. Just google it. You'll find some good ones.

I've read that because delayed cord clamping means more blood gets to the baby (I've read up to 30% more blood!), then the child is more likely to get jaundice. On the other hand, they are less likely to be anemic. Margaret did get the regular jaundice that most babies get around 5 days postpartum. She turned yellow and everything- but the bottoms of her feet were never yellow and it was gone after a few days of nursing and getting some sunlight.

Slightly yellow Margaret:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Greening our Home: Plastic Dishware

Two weekends ago, I Freecycled all our plastic plates, bowls, and cups. For a family of 3, we had too many dishes so it was easy to part with them.

A lot of the dishes were Tupperware. A note to the Tupperware owners out there worried about BPA: Tupperware has BPA in it. They say they are ok with it because the FDA isn't bothered by BPA. Interesting to note: Last month, the FDA did admit to 'some concern' over BPA.

When we have the money, I would love to go and replace our plastic measuring cups, pasta strainer, lemonade pitchers, etc., with stainless steel measuring cups, strainers and glass pitchers, etc. I know we won't be able to rid our home completely of toxins, so we're just focusing on the kitchen, bathroom, and toy box.

More
BPA: How Bad is It? Note: at the end of this article, one of the recommendations is to use powdered formula. I wanted to mention that powdered formula can not be sterilized, so for premature and other immunologically impaired babies, if supplementation is necessary, it would be better to use the ready-to-use kind. Babies die over this. And as always, breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed.
What the FDA’s admission to “some concern” over BPA really means

Monday, February 15, 2010

Inquisition Monday: Changes

It's been a busy day and it's only going to get busier, so I chose to answer one of the easy questions this week.

Becky
asked, "After having had one UP/UC, is there anything you plan to do differently this time? (I'm sure you wouldn't mind a shorter labor, but that is not exactly something you can control.) Was there ever a time during your first UP/UC experience that you felt that you really might need medical attention?"

For one, I will eat more often and drink more often. I did eat and drink during those 44 hours, but I don't think it was enough. While discussing the birth plans at dinner the other night, I told McKay that if I haven't eaten in 3 hours, then he's supposed to offer me something.


I also know more about positions that I can put myself in to help reposition a stuck baby. While Margaret wasn't posterior, she could have been stuck at just the right angle to make the labor last long. Maybe it was a hand or her head was cocked just right. Either way, I know more now about how to move the baby; I'll probably turn that into a How to UP/UC post for a Thursday.

I may not have a water birth this time. When planning for Margaret's birth, I wasn't sure I wanted a tub- but after 12 hours of labor it was nice. If my labor had been shorter than 12 hours we never would have used it. I think this time will be similar: we may have a tub on hand, but if the labor is fairly short, I won't ever use it.

Did I feel like I needed medical attention during my birth? No. In fact, the friend who came over once suggested checking heart tones and my instinct was to throw something at her. I knew in my mind/body that I didn't need that and it was actually really annoying to be asked questions while I was laboring.

I did get stitches afterwards, but it was minor and I probably didn't need them. Because I felt most of the "ring of fire" towards the front, I worried I tore towards my urethra. I once had surgery to re-position of my urethra in my muscles, so this was a concern for me. However, once looked at, it was just a small perineal tear and my worries about a forward tear were unfounded. I hadn't prepared well for the possibility of stitches. While I did mother-led pushing, at the end I really felt like getting her out, so I pushed even when I didn't have contractions (it would induce a contraction, actually). I probably caused my own problems there. Next time I'll keep a pitcher of water and a large hand-held mirror on hand so I can rinse myself off and actually get a better idea of if/where I tore. I'll also have some seaweed on hand to treat any tears.

Another thing I might do differently is to have a solo birth. This is always a possibility- if I have a precipitous labor and McKay's at work, will he be able to come home in time? He'll be depending on public transportation or biking as his main modes transportation. Also since my last labor was so long, I might wait longer to inform him about it. Who knows?

Great, this post is reminding me of all the things I need to do before this summer. Off to make a list...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

HB 252 update!

An addendum to yesterday's post about HB 252:

Last night, I got an email from a friend. When she read the HB 252 last week, the phrase "if an employee is breast feeding [sic] a child to whom the employee gave birth" was glaringly wrong. She worked very hard to induce lactation and use an SNS to feed her two sons who are adopted. She wrote to the bill's sponsor, Christine Johnson asking for a change in the wording. Yesterday, the bill was changed and now states, "an employee who chooses to breast feed [sic] the employee's child," so as to include mothers who have adopted their children.

You can see the changes here. If you want to follow the bill as they revise it, you can subscribe to the updates on the Utah legislature website.

This change is wonderful news, especially since it means that they are listening to us and are willing to make changes to the bill.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Utah House Bill 252

Last week, a bill was introduced in the Utah House titled Workplace Accommodation of Breastfeeding. This is a much needed bill and will require employers to provide a clean, private (and specifically non-bathroom) place for employed mothers to nurse or express their milk during breaks.

Here is the bill in html and as a pdf. And here is an article from the Deseret News about on the topic.

Currently, the only legislation in the Utah State Code about breastfeeding are the few lines that protect breastfeeding from being considered lewd, obscene, or indecent exposure (even if nipple is showing).

Why do we need protection for employed mothers? "In 2005, roughly 548,000 Utah women—61.6 percent of those over the age of 16—were participants in the labor market. Nationally, only 59 percent of women are in the labor force." And with the largest birth and fertility (link opens a pdf) rates of any state in the Union, mothers are a significant part of the Utah workforce.

While the bill will "require" employers to provide a place to pump/breastfeed, there are unfortunate exceptions to this. Because there is a belief that this will be too difficult for small businesses to accommodate, the current wording of the bill exempts businesses with less than 15 employees from complying. It also exempts business that aren't open for less than 20 calendar weeks a year. That is an issue because seasonal business such as ski resorts may be exempt. Also, the bill only applies to an employee only "if an employee is breast feeding (sic) a child to whom the employee gave birth." What about adoptive mothers? At the meeting yesterday it was also suggested that a mother might be pumping to release major engorgement and then donating the milk to a bank. Since that's not for her own child, would that situation be exempt also?

This bill is very new and will likely go through many revisions. Watch the LLL of Salt Lake webpage for calls to action. There will be a letter-writing campaign as this bill gains ground in the house and senate. Writing to our representatives about our support for a well-written bill protecting employed mothers will help bring to light how important this is for the families of Utah. The leader yesterday said they'd be very interested in recent stories (within the past 5 years) of women being discouraged to take pumping/nursing breaks and of employers working with mothers to ensure that the breastfeeding relationship is maintained. Because of the small business exemption, if you worked for a small business, mentioning the size of the business in your story can help our state congress know that there is a need for all employers to support breastfeeding. If you want to write up your story now, contact the LLL of Salt Lake and they'll keep in touch with you.

Our society devalues women as mothers and as employees- and often especially mothers as employees. Bills like this will be a wonderful step forward to making sure that women will have the support needed to maintain that relationship while also maintaining their ability to enjoy the benefits of employment.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weird day

It has been a strange day. I don't even know where to start. Good things happened, weird things happened, and some things disappointed.

It all started at 3 am when I woke up. I went to bed at 10:30, so this wasn't a planned waking. Remember I mentioned I had to write an essay? The reason I hadn't written it was because I hadn't been inspired about it yet. I felt I should write it and even chose a topic, but had no idea how to approach it- until I woke up at 3 in the morning. The essay wrote itself in my head. At 4:15, I had to make a choice: try to go back to sleep or type it up. If I went back to sleep, I might lose my essay, so I got up and typed it up. By 5:30 it was done. Then I went back to sleep.

At 9 I woke up. Margaret was still asleep and on the breast. McKay was at work. I opened up the laptop to find that @LactatingGirl would be at a nursing toddler LLL meeting in Salt Lake. She wanted to know if I could come and wanted to meet up. I was planning on going to SLC on Saturday because our MacBook needed looking at... Maybe I could reschedule that appointment to this afternoon. LLL was at 10:15, google maps said it would take me 50 minutes. I could do it...

Ate some toast and yogurt with granola. Woke Margaret up, put her on the potty and gave her some yogurt. Packed grapes and apples for snacks. It would be a long trip, so I got out a diaper. Margaret only wears diapers at church and sometimes when we can get them on her at bedtime. She kind of hates it, so she often goes to bed buck naked. Thankfully, in the past 3 weeks, she has wet the bed only once. Anyway, I got out the diaper and she refused to let me put it on her. Oh well, it wasn't worth it to fight her on the matter so I packed an extra change of pants and we went out the door, but not without her doll and gorilla.

Once at the car, I realized that it needed new power steering fluid. And I left the camera in the house. If I was going to meet fellow bloggers, I needed my camera, right? I ran back into the house and grabbed an extra bottle of steering fluid, the camera and extra batteries. The camera had died the day before, of course. Refilled the steering fluid. Everyone was buckled in.

Finally, with only 40 minutes to go, we left. The trip did take 50 minutes, so I was a little late. Also, as I turned into a street, I lost control of the transmission and the car wouldn't switch gears. I manually put it in second gear and the problem miraculously fixed itself, though I was a little unsure about the whole thing. Also I wasn't familiar with the area so it took me time to find parking. But I got there and I sat down.

I had never been to a nursing toddler meeting. Our local Provo/Orem LLL doesn't have one, but Salt Lake's was nice. The topic was about how sex changes for the couple as you add to your family. Not a bad topic to show up for since we'll be adding number 2 this summer. Lots of good ideas on keeping intimacy important and about how breastfeeding affects the relationship. Some of the moms are also bedsharers so there were lots of good advice. After the meeting, I stayed and mingled and talked about EC with some moms and then LactatingGirl came up and introduced herself. We talked about blogs and got a picture. She does a cool segment on Child Led Weaning on Wednesdays. I also subscribe to the idea that once a baby can eat solid foods (sits up, can bring food to their mouth, has teeth, etc) you can just give them "big people food" and skip the pureed stage. We never mushed food for Margaret. We just started with soft foods like avocado and banana that she could feed to herself. After all, babies can't explore textures if everything is the same.

Me and LactatingGirl and our respective small persons

Oh and there was also some mention of some political action regarding legislation concerning breastfeeding/pumping accommodations for employed moms here in Utah. I'll give that subject its own post within the next day or so.

Next I took Margaret to the bathroom and she surprisingly had no qualms about the public restroom and went. I did, however, make sure I left the stall door open and we used the large stall so she would be more comfortable. We left and I got Margaret into the car; I looked over the car because that transmission thing still had me weirded out, but everything seemed ok and I headed over to the Gateway to get the laptop looked at. Need more weirdness? As I got Margaret out of the car in the parking garage, her face was covered in dried blood.

At first, I thought it was just stains from the grapes I had given to her to snack on, but it was pretty obviously not that. It looked like she had a nose bleed- from what, I have no idea. The drive between LLL and the Gateway was about 15-20 minutes and sometime during the drive, her nose started bleeding and she wiped it all over her face and hand. I got her out and we went to the elevator. I didn't have a wet cloth to wash her off so I was paranoid that someone would see her and think I had hit her or something. And of course, as we're waiting for the elevator, the police officer who was patrolling the parking garage passed us. Luckily he didn't see her face.

Then we went to the Apple Store, signed in and waited for 15 minutes for our appointment (all the while I tried using mom spit to clean her up). Our Apple Care covered a new power adapter and a new facing for the keyboard, but not a new casing for the crack on the side. Two out of three wasn't bad, though. They said they had all the parts and could fix it in 30 minutes. I left the laptop with them and Margaret and I went to find food as it was now after 1pm and all we had were apples and grapes.

Would you believe it's hard to find food at the Gateway? There are some nice restaurants, but I didn't want a nice restaurant- I wanted quick food, so we went to an ice cream place and got some sorbet. Not the best lunch, but I figured it would hold us over until later. During our sorbet, the Apple Store called to tell me the laptop was finished. Once we were done, Margaret not only had blood on her face, but now berry sorbet. I promise: I don't hit my child.


Back at the Apple Store, we let them know we're there and we are promised it'll be out in 2 minutes. Thirty minutes later we were still waiting, but we got the laptop, didn't have to pay a cent and we left. Onward!

Back to the car and we left the parking garage. Having been parked for an hour and a half (darn that wait in the Apple Store!), I owed $1. Cash. I didn't have cash. I didn't expect for the errand to take that long. I rummaged around and asked the parking attendant if she could take a credit card.

"For a dollar? Don't you have some quarters or something?"

"Uh..." I kept rummaging and I found a dime. Then suddenly, 4 quarters appeared under some old receipts. Relief! That was quite the miracle, I tell you. We NEVER have cash and our only change is kept with the laundry stuff.

We headed home and Margaret wasn't a fan of the car, so I called one of her friends and let her talk on the phone. She let her friend know she was "sad" because of the car. When she was done with her conversation, we sang songs and eventually she fell asleep. By "eventually" I mean "when there were only 5 minutes left of the 45 minute drive."

I carried her in the house and she's currently finishing her nap on the bed. In the past 6 hours, my RSS feed picked up 117 posts I need to read. Dear World: stop blogging! I made myself some leftovers and Margaret will get some leftovers when she wakes up. I'm sure she'll be famished. Also, she's still dry. This was our longest adventure out of the house without a diaper and it was quite the success.

Though there is still blood on Margaret's face. Still not sure how that happened.

How McKay was Convinced to Catch Margaret

So I didn't do a video yesterday. So instead of doing a How to UP/UC post, I thought I'd share how I got McKay on board with the UC since HoboMama asked about it. I think it's in my archives somewhere, but I don't feel like searching for it. It's a fun story and I can tell it again.

Once upon a time, we were engaged. The semester we got engaged, I was taking Anthropology 101 because I needed the social science credit. It was in this class that I read the first happy birth story to ever cross my path. It was unassisted. On the other side of the world, yes, but if Laotian women could do it, then why couldn't I? So I started joking about it.

"McKay, some day you'll come home and I'll have had a baby."

"Uh... No."

It was something I joked about all through the engagement and into the beginning of our marriage. Ten months into our marriage, I was pregnant and still completely enamored with the idea of an unassisted birth.

It didn't take much to convince McKay of homebirth. "McKay, I want to have a baby at home." He replied in shock, "Why would you want that?" "Um.. Weren't you born at home?" "Oh. Yeah."

But I don't know if I was 100% positive about the unassisted at first. I think I figured I'd end up with a midwife or something, but deep down I really really wanted a UC. So I promised McKay I'd see someone by 20 weeks. And I tried. Sort of.

I made appointments with 3 different OBs, only to cancel them the next day. I didn't want that and I knew it. Also, I was 17 weeks along by this point and the secretaries were hassling me for not seeking out prenatal care before then.

"We really like to see people at 8 weeks..."

"Yeah. I'll go back in time a couple of months just for you."

So I canceled. McKay and I also interviewed an unlicensed DEM together. I liked everything she said and she had all the "right" answers to my questions, but when we left I didn't feel like I wanted her at the birth. It was "perfect"... but didn't fit right.

I also interviewed a CNM, but that was immediately wrong for us. The tone of her voice from the get-go was just not right. The interview was rushed, she spoke quickly and didn't give me time to think. Since initial consultations are free, I got the feeling that she'd rather be with the "paying customers" than be answering my questions. So that was the end of that.

Weeks passed. I had promised to see someone. It was now 22 weeks and McKay wanted to have a chat. He told me that I had promised to see someone by 20 weeks but I hadn't and he felt lied to. He was right; I had said that and then I hadn't done it.

Then he said, "Heather. You have three options. 1) You can see an OB if you want. I'm not saying I'm for it, but you can. 2) You can see a midwife. We interviewed that one and she was nice..."

"You said three options?"

"Or we could do it [the prenatal care] ourselves."

"Ooh! Ooh! I choose that one! Let's do that one!"

So we got out on Internet and ordered the urine test strips and the fetoscope that night. But he still wasn't "on board" with an unassisted birth, just an unassisted pregnancy.

So I continued on. We got stuff in the mail and listened to the heartbeat and everything was good. Except he wasn't cool with the UC quite yet.

In December (around 6 months into the pregnancy), I went to a UCAN meeting. It's for women in the Utah Valley area who want a natural birth- be it in a hospital, home, or wherever. A few women from LLL were going to it, so I went. All meetings are different and are focused on different topics- just like LLL meetings are different. But this one was like it was designed for me. We watched Psalm and Zoya, the unassisted birth of twins. Then there was one woman there who had an unassisted birth with each of her three children- in Provo of all places. I came home from that meeting on a UC high.

"McKay! McKay! We saw this movie of twins born at home unassisted! And there was this lady here in Provo who had UCs! All three of her kids! She weighed one on the scale at the post office!"

McKay looked at me, "Yeah?"

"McKay! We should totally do it!"

"Heather, I had already decided Sunday I was ok with a UC."

Um. It was Wednesday/Thursday (I forget which). "You were going to tell me this when?"

"Oh. Sometime."

This was the greatest news I had ever heard and he was going to tell me sometime?! Yeah. I think I was literally jumping up and down.

He told me that he had prayed about it during church, thought a lot about it and decided he was ok with it.

And so we were set. He supported 100% from that point on. Even afterward I asked him, "When the labor was going long, did you worry?" "No. I knew everything would be ok."

Ahh... Best husband in the world.

Would I have done it anyway? Probably. It's not like he could forced me into an office or hospital. He can't call up a midwife and establish care without me.

So the lesson here? How to convince your husband to homebirth/UC?
Start early. There's a reason you're pregnant for 9 months- use those 9 months! Talk about it a lot. Get him thinking about it. And remember it's your uterus. Yes, he's the father, but who's the one that has to heal? Who has to physically deal with the ramifications weeks/months/years after the birth? You do. You get to pull the trump card here.


This time was much easier.

"McKay. I think I want to do this one unassisted."

"Ok."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hit by a truck

I started feeling this way at 2 am Monday morning. And it's not mastitis. I'm not sure why this week has been particularly difficult, but I haven't been in a good blogging zone, hence Inquisition Monday was skipped and all my scheduled posts are on hold- except for yesterday's, of course. I have an essay to write, some research to do, moving preparations, and Inquisition Mondays to respond to. And I need to read and comment on the various #CarNatPar posts from yesterday. And my Tweetdeck won't open anymore. Today is grocery shopping day. And I need read those books I checked out that are due in 2 days. Oh, and Margaret had diarrhea yesterday; that was unexpected. I got to handwash our comforter! Must be something she ate.

I feel like I have this huge To Do list and it overwhelms me so I just give up and knit. Probably not the best solution. Ooh... Friday the Ravelympics start! Woohoo! Speaking of, I need to go for a walk and find a good target to tag. I mean, "find an appropriate setting for the installation art I'll be working on."

I know I said I'd do my next How to UP/UC post tomorrow, but I don't know if it'll get filmed. And I can't decide which topic I want to tackle. I practice what I'll say while I do dishes and stuff and Margaret gets confused as to why I'm talking to myself. Just trying to make sure I don't forget anything.

I think I'll go read Cake Wrecks. I purposely don't subscribe to their blog so that when I have bad days I can go and read a whole ton of posts and bring myself back up.

On the up: it's only 8 in the morning, so the day has a chance to redeem itself. It's only Wednesday, so the week can redeem itself. And Margaret is still asleep. And yesterday I noticed she started saying "sorry" when she bumps into people. She got that from me; I'm clumsy and I'm always bumping into her and apologizing.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

February Carnival of Natural Parenting

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Love and partners!

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we're writing about how a co-parent has or has not supported us in our dedication to natural parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


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You know what's hard? Latching on a baby. A hungry baby. In tears. In the late evening or at 2 in the morning. The kind of baby who'll spit out any latch that's not P-E-R-F-E-C-T, with the T crossed just so.

I sat there with the boppy and I was reading from the book following every step. And yet 45 minutes later, she wouldn't latch.

Enter McKay.

McKay picks up the baby, re-situates the boppy, gives the baby back to me, and picks up the book and starts reading to me those same instructions I had been reading for the past 45 minutes.

And behold, she latches. It was like magic. Every time. It's just not fair.


But that was almost two years ago now. Margaret doesn't have a problem latching anymore. The problem is getting her off. Sometimes when the evening comes around, I'm a little touched out. My nipples can be quite sore by the evening depending on how she was feeling during her nap and how sensitive my nipples fee like being that day. Thankfully, McKay is understanding about the pregnancy and will often honor my request for a little break and hold her when she wants to nurse. Of course, sometimes nursing still wins, but he tries. One of the most wonderful pregnancy blessings I have is that he'll hold Margaret when she refuses to come to bed with us so I can get some sleep.


McKay has been my number 1 support from the very beginning. He was on board with a homebirth right away, once I reminded him that he, himself, was born at home. Unassisted childbirth took a little, but he was on board with it by the third trimester with Margaret. He was definitely on board with breastfeeding and cosleeping (having parents who did those things helped). And he was even 100% in favor of elimination communication before he was "ok" with cloth diapering.

Photo credit goes to ji design
http://babyjidesign.com


And he's on board with my lactivism. He's ok with me nursing in public and has been my rock during those times when I can't handle the criticism from emails and comments and FB messages- and even those few personal confrontations. His calmness and goodness brings me back from my tears and despair. He feels as strongly as I that breastfeeding shouldn't be hidden and he keeps supporting me no matter what the critics say. I love that man.



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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!



Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:



(This list will be updated Feb. 9 with all the carnival links, and all links should be active by noon EST. Go to Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama for the most recently updated list.)



Friday, February 05, 2010

Measuring your Fundus

My original, brilliant plan was to post informative videos/posts on Thursdays about questions I get about UP/UC. It would last until I ran out of ideas (you know, two weeks). So yesterday, I got out the iSight camera and attempted to vlog, "How to measure your fundus" except Margaret crawled all over me the entire time. Unfortunately I have to make the video while she's awake because when she's asleep, I keep the blinds closed and the room dark and so it would be hard to get video.

So without further ado:
How to Measure Your Fundus while your Toddler is Crawling on You.

It's kind of long and if it's too confusing, here are the main points:

  • Fundal height is how "tall" your uterus is.
  • Your uterus feels grainy/like muscle (because that's what it is). There's a point where you can no longer feel it as you "walk" your fingers up your abdomen. The point where you can't feel the muscle anymore is the fundus.
  • At around 20 weeks, the measurement in centimeters is supposed to start corresponding with the number of weeks you are pregnant. "Supposed to" is vague. Consider anything within 4 centimeters/weeks to be "normal."
  • Things that can affect fundal height: multiples, position of baby, inaccurate pregnancy dating, gestational diabetes, the fact that every mom and baby is different and grow at different rates, etc.
  • Fundal height doesn't diagnose, but can be useful if you think you might have multiples, if you are worried the baby isn't growing, have a feeling your dates are off, etc.
  • Once you've found your fundus a few times, it gets easier.
  • Toddlers like iSight cameras.
  • Heather's special tip that's not included in the video: I find that it's easiest to find my fundus when I'm having a Braxton Hicks contraction. It's pretty obvious what is muscle and what isn't when the muscle is contracting. I've also found that if I think about it hard enough, I can induce a BH contraction, which is handy .
Well, I hope that was helpful. I also plan on doing a few more of these sorts of posts. A sort of "How to UP/UC" series. Next week, look for it on Thursday.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

How our Move is Greening our Home

Tomorrow, our moving countdown will hit 12 weeks. Yay!

We have recently rid our tub of all our plastic bath toys. The idea of Margaret bathing in chemical soup bothers me.

In place of her plastic fishes/duckies, I made these fish. Margaret has a set of washcloths to play with, so I figured making fish-shaped washcloths would be even more fun!

I can wash them regularly, so I don't worry about mold growing in any corners or inside rubber duckies.

We'll probably also get her a wooden toy boat for her birthday, though we'll have to be more cautious about mold in that situation.

We still need to find a good replacement for the plastic bucket and look for a nice homemade bath crayon recipe. Any suggestions?

As we get stuff out of our house, I'll blog about what we're replacing them with. It'll be impossible to completely rid our home of toxins, but we can get some of it out. Things that might end up in a child's mouth are number one on my list.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Shape of This Mother

On Sunday, I read Rixa's post, It's a water birth at home for Gisele Bunchen where at the end she mentioned the obsession of getting back to pre-baby weight. At the same time, yesterday's post about birth nudity was already scheduled and on my mind. The juxtaposition of the two posts in my head made me realize that I forgot to mention an important thing about birth photos: you see me naked.

Naked is not slimming. My arms aren't toned, my butt is round, my skin is stretched. I wondered how much of the uproar about my birth photos was about, "You're naked!" and how much resulted from our fat-phobic society which likes to assert, "I shouldn't have to see that. How disgusting!" or in kinder terms, "Your birth pictures challenge my views of what a sexually-active 20-something-year old, white, college-educated, middle class, American woman should look like."

Well, according to the radio advertisements I hear, she's not supposed to look like this:

My "pre-baby" pic taken the day we found out about the current pregnancy. 12 dpo.
What? No abs? Stretchmarks?! That's not what I saw on the cover of People!


Last week in my Taking it from the Top post, a couple of women commented concern about pulling down to breastfeed while sporting large breasts. I commented,

Large breasted women have quite the catch-22. If you have a smaller waist, then your breasts are extra-sexualized, and if you have a thicker waist, then your entire body is considered "disgusting." Our culture needs to get over both the sexualization of the breast and the fat-hate.

If you follow the breastfeeding-related tweets on Twitter, you'll notice a pretty regular pattern: people complaining about "fat" women breastfeeding in public. Sometimes they are ridiculous enough to assert, "I wouldn't mind breastfeeding in public if the mom was HOT." Excuse me?

How sexualized is the woman's body? Very. A friend of mine once pointed out to me that our bodies are so sexualized that even listing the body parts of a woman is erotic. Try it: back away from the computer, close your eyes, and list off things like hair, lips, breasts, hips, thighs, legs. Now do it while associating those body parts with men. Which time was more neutral to you? Which was more sexual?

Non-toned arms. Picture taken at 37 weeks pregnant with Margaret.

I'm not the thinnest woman out there, I know. And pregnancy emphasizes that in my body. Even last Saturday when I posted my belly shot, I thought to myself, "Wow, my face looks rounder than normal." And I was a little self-conscious. Of course, when your body doubles your blood supply to support a baby and when you don't do your hair that day (it makes a big difference) then it's expected. And normal. I have a round face.

Speaking of those belly shots. Here's the one I didn't post because it emphasized the size of my butt. McKay replied, "But it shows more belly!" He's right. I shouldn't have got hung up on my butt.

I'm not immune to looking at myself and thinking, "fat," but I am trying to act as if I am immune for Margaret's sake. So often we both hear, "Margaret looks just like you!" and I don't want her to think, "If I look just like Mom, then are those things she doesn't like about her body the same in my body? Should I not like that part of me?" When I look at Margaret, I see her round belly and her chunky legs and arms and I know some people might think she's too "fat" already. But when I see her, I see that she's perfect. Even if she is "fat" when she's 10 or 14 or 20 or 50, she'll still be perfect to me. I think that's how God thinks of us too. He's never repulsed by our bodies- they are in His image. Why are we repulsed by them? Why are we ashamed of them?

Margaret and I with our guts.

So to add another reason why I think birth and breastfeeding images are important in our society: we need to see what we look like. Without photoshop, without airbrushes, without mockery, without sex, without repulsion, without shame.

Also, see the blog, The Shape of a Mother, for a collection of pictures of mothers from all walks of life. There are even categories for women who've had multiples, surgery scars and others.

Monday, February 01, 2010

No Clothes for Me

I'm posting this in lieu of Inquisition Monday because I didn't get any questions- and I know a few of you were looking forward to this, so it might as well be Inquisition Monday. It's been written for over a month now and I hadn't posted it because I wanted to make sure all possible questions would be answered in this post- and then I realized that's not going to be possible. So I'll try to answer questions in the comments if I can.

When I mentioned I was thinking of doing a post on birth nudity, I found it a little amusing that people were interested in my thoughts on birth nudity when it's quite obvious I have nothing against it. Those are my thoughts. The end. If you continue to read this, you'll get to see some pictures not on the birth story post. Lucky you. Oh, and I won't have a lot of clothes on.

My understanding of Modesty
I outline this in my Modesty and Breastfeeding post. I've spent a lot of time studying LDS theology on modesty. In almost every talk or article about modesty, it mentions we are modest because we are in the image of God. Immodesty twists and contorts the image of God for carnal reasons. That is why dressing to arouse or stimulate is immodest.

Female and Male
"All human beings - male and female - are created in the image of God." All. Everyone. And when we go to the temple, everyone- female and male- are asked to live the same standards of modesty: legs to knees, front, back all covered. Yes, there are some differences in garment styles- particularly in sleeves- but I personally believe that if men's fashion took a turn towards cap sleeve shirts, then cap sleeve garments would become available for men. In the end: the same code of modesty is expected of everyone. Period.

Exceptions for garments and modesty
I think the most obvious modesty guidelines in the Church relate to the garment so I'm going to take some time to discuss that. Many people encourage their children to follow "garment-like" modesty standards even though they have not yet covenanted to wear the garment. I think it's safe to say that the garment is the standard by which modesty guidelines are formed for the members of the Church.

There are sometimes exceptions to the modesty rule as it pertains to garments. First, there are reasons the garment might be altered (perhaps you have only one leg) or temporarily shifted (perhaps you must eat through a tube directly to your stomach, or need to move your clothes to give yourself an insulin shot). I consider breastfeeding to be one of those exceptions. For my physical well-being (mastitis) and for Margaret's physical (immunities, vitamins, hydration, etc) and emotional well-being, I have to breastfeed regularly, and in doing so, I'm going to have to push my clothing to the side and I don't feel there is anything wrong with that.

Then there are exceptions to wearing garments at all: heavy exercise, bathing, sex, swimming, etc. Of course, these vary person to person. Perhaps you have very active sweat glands and you've decided not to wear your garment during light exercise. The wearing and care of the garment is between you and the Lord. I find that birth is one of those times when I feel Heavenly Father is ok with me not wearing my garment.

Back to differences between the female and male body
I believe that differences between women and men are far fewer than what our culture wants us to believe. We're all made of the same stuff- and even our brains are bathed in the same hormones, though the quantities of each will be different person to person. I have testosterone, McKay has estrogen. We really aren't that different. In fact, we're so similar, that despite the sizes of our genitals or breasts or the amount of hair on our faces, we are all in God's image.

I think it's wrong when our culture treats men and women's bodies as different in what's "decent". The Church does teach that the breast is not supposed to be a "sexual enticement." However, when we adopt different standards for dress between the sexes we perpetuate the exact opposite of what the gospel teaches, and give the impression that the breast is a sexual enticement. The ultimate danger of having separate expectations for the sexes is that it gives the impression that, despite that all people are given the same commandments and have the same aptitude to become like God, God will judge the sexes differently, or even that perhaps He favors or values one sex over the other. That is clearly wrong. I don't feel God looks at McKay's nipples in our pictures and thinks, "Meh, they're guy nipples, not a big deal," but sees mine and declares, "You must cover those immediately and let no one EVER see those! How indecent!" My nipples are just as God-like and in-His-image as McKay's, so any eternal principles related to modesty apply to both sets of nipples equally.

So when I posted those pictures of me and McKay I didn't think anything of it. Sure, my breasts are bigger than his, but his breasts are hairier than mine. We are both using our breasts in the exact same way in those pictures (they are just simply there), so why would his breasts get special treatment? Why is it ok for him to be topless in swim trunks, but not for my body to be equally as exposed?

Anything that makes us think it's not ok is culture-based, not based on any eternal gospel principle.

McKay's breasts: just there. My breasts: just there. In this moment are they different in function? No. Then why are my breasts the vilified ones? Any uproar about my naked breast here should to apply to McKay's, but a man in only swim trunks is hardly too immodest.

The reaction
I was actually very surprised that people were upset about our birth photos. When I posted my pictures, I thought they were very tame: there were no "Here's Margaret coming out of my vagina!" pictures (though it's actually a shame we don't have any pictures like that because it would have been cool to get a picture of her in the caul). I deliberately left out the pictures I thought might be too much for some people's sensibilities; I think pubic hair freaks people out. But the ones I posted? Tame: you see chest, some butt. I thought to myself, "Surely even my most "modest" of readers wouldn't find these photos offensive." Apparently I misjudged the maturity of my readers.

How I Birth
I went into labor with Margaret at 10:30 in the evening. After about 10 minutes of trying to hide the fact I was having contractions, I stripped down to nothing and stayed like that for the next two days. For me, the idea of wearing anything- even a sports bra- was just so repulsive. To have anything on my body, clinging to me, holding me back, would have resulted in my own birth pysche being held back. Being naked was important for my brain to go to my birthing place unhindered. This is one of my reasons for choosing UC. I need to be as unhindered as possible. Distractions in the form of clothes or people or even music hindered me.

While in the moment, I am a private birther, afterward I really enjoy sharing my experiences. That's why I have a blog with things like Inquisition Mondays. I like to read about other people's life experiences, and I like the share mine. I don't think I could have shared Margaret's birth story without the pictures. A picture is worth 1000 words; the body positions and facial expressions tell a lot about how labor felt to me and how McKay and I stepped through the doorway of parenthood together. I can't possibly remember everything I felt those 44+ hours. Even writing the birth story a couple of days later, I lost some of the details and nuances, but the pictures keep a little bit of that in there.

In this picture, the washcloths were less about modesty and more about being warm compresses for my back labor. When I see this picture I see how the two of us came into parenthood relying on each other. I fondly remember this picture as my "Angel in Gethsemane" picture.

But it's the Internet
You're right, I suppose someone with a birth fetish could find this arousing. I play the piano for the ward choir; for all I know, someone in the congregation has a hand fetish and I should wear gloves every time I play for the choir. But if I were to censor everything based off of the fact that someone might have a fetish, I'd have to wear a sheet covering the top of my head to my toes. And even then, I'm sure someone out there has a "sheet covering the top of your head to your toes" fetish. You really can't win. I have decided not to censor myself on the basis of "Someone might..." and feel fine in sharing my pictures because I know they aren't immodest. I can't live in paranoia.

More on God's image (sort of a conclusion)
Like I said above, I feel that modesty is about respecting the image of God. I don't believe that nude art, birth pictures, etc. disrespect God's image. Disrespect happens when that image is twisted for carnal purposes in things like pornography or when they are mocked. I believe that when we see God's image used respectfully, we are better able to recognize when it's not. None of my birth pictures would be considered porn or boudoir photos. Their purpose isn't sexual enticement. Unfortunately, in our culture, we only ever see naked or partially naked people when the goal is arousal, so to switch from "Being naked always means arousal" to "There are times when nudity can be useful and demonstrate how God has blessed us" can take a little bit of effort. I think the benefit of viewing art, birth, breastfeeding, etc., is that we can pinpoint, "That is how the image of God is beautiful and good" so that when we are confronted with the misuse of the body, we can say, "Hey, that doesn't feel the same as what I know is good."

You can just feel the oxytocin in the room in this one. I love this one. Can you fit more happiness into a picture?