Sunday, July 31, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week 2011

Yesterday, McKay and I went out to donate blood for an Interfaith blood drive. While we were waiting, a group of women came in and saw Margaret and started chatting with her. Margaret introduced them to us.

She pointed at McKay, "That's my daddy."

She pointed at Isaac, "That's my Isaac."

She pointed at me, "That's my mommy."

She touched my chest, "That's my mommy's breast."

Laughter ensued and the women looked at me and asked, "She was breastfed, wasn't she?"

"Yes," I replied.

How's that for an introduction?

World Breastfeeding Week starts tomorrow, August 1 and goes through next Sunday, August 7. Our local breastfeeding community is putting on a lot of events. Two of the local LLL groups are having parties. The local county breastfeeding coalition is hosting a public health event with speakers and food, focusing on "Local Strategies to Increase Breastfeeding and Health Equity in the African American Community" on Tuesday. On Thursday, there is a Breastfeeding Walk, and on Saturday, there will be a local get together for the Big Latch On. If you are local (East Bay) and want more information, email me- my email is in my Blogger profile, and if you aren't local, see if you can find what your community is doing this week for World Breasetfeeding Week. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week this year is, "Talk to Me! Breastfeeding- A 3D experience." If you can't make it to any special events, then just talk to the people around you about breastfeeding, or blog, or whatever. It might be surprising, but I don't often talk about my work and efforts in the breastfeeding community here so I think this week, I'll look for opportunities to share the breastfeeding love.

As far as my celebrations here on this blog, you are all in for a treat. I'm going to do a position-a-day! Every day this week (and maybe into next- after all, it's National Breastfeeding Month), I'm going to post a picture of me breastfeeding. There will be the usual positions: football hold, cradle hold, side-lying, but also some more fun ones and tandem positions.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! And party on!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Home Boring Home

Our walls are bare.

Actually, I take that back. Margaret's corner has her artwork on a little "clothesline" and a calendar so she can see what we're planning on doing each day. And there's a clock hanging in the kitchen and garlic hanging in the pantry.

But other than that, our walls are bare. We have unpacked every box from our move except one: the pictures.

And I really don't want to.

As I was packing up our stuff in May, I finally admitted something to myself that the things on our walls don't reflect us. There were two kinds of things on our walls: pictures of us, and artwork other people have given us. So basically our home was a shrine to ourselves and a shrine of what other people thought we would like (or what other people thought we should like).

Serendipitously, a week before our move, The Exponent had a poll about LDS church artwork in homes. And the reality that our place doesn't reflect us was reinforced.

I've spent the past few months paying particular attention to the other homes I visit: if there's someone's place I really like, I try to figure out what it is I like about it: the colors? The statues? The artwork?

I spend time imagining what I'd like to see hanging up on our walls, and I run into a couple of issues. First, what I want to put up will take money. It's not that we don't have money for things, it's that I have a huge aversion to spending money. Huge aversion. I might go shopping for myself 2-3 times a year, and I eventually convince myself, "Heather, you need clothes because every single pair of pants you have has holes." Would you believe it took me 3 weekend excursions to the store to finally buy myself some short sleeve shirts for the summer? But with things on our walls... well, they are just things on walls. And framing costs money. And art supplies cost money. And on Tuesday, the kids broke a lamp in our living room, so some of my trepidation in this spending money thing is related to that.

But the biggest thing is time. I want to put up my own art. For example, I have a paper sculpture I've been working on for months, but I can only work on it during nap time because... it's paper. And I have some ideas for knitted wall-hangings. And a cross stitch sampler (don't worry, it'll be cool). And some geekified door stops (Daleks? Tetris pieces?). Seriously- there are doors on almost every entry way in this place and none of them stay open on their own.

I want to enjoy the place I live in. And I don't want other people to be the main decorators of our home. And I don't want a shrine to ourselves. Have you all run into this? Is there something up that you just absolutely love when you look at it? How have you found your home-y feeling groove?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Feminist Links

So I've been riding the feminist train the past couple of days and I had some good ideas for a post, but since I only get Internet time during naptime, my brain is too dead to put a post together. So here are some links I've been saving up.

Are Breastfeeding Bans Just a Way to Keep Women in the Home?

Censored Cover Raises Questions: Why Are Breasts "Obscene," but not Chests?

"Proper" Swimwear for a Toddler Girl Includes a Top?

And a message from Margaret: Peace out! These are supposed to be peace signs, by the way.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Bedtimes

Last week, Lisa asked, "I'm very interested in cosleeping if I am ever able to have children, but I'm wondering how you deal with family members going to bed at different times without being too disruptive to whoever is already asleep in the bed. I'm assuming you and your husband probably don't go to sleep as early as the kids do, and that Isaac maybe goes to bed earlier than Margaret does. If that's true, then how does your bedtime routine for various family members work so that you don't wake up someone who's already in the bed when it's time for someone else to go to bed? Has that been a problem at all? Thanks! :)"

Ooh. You hit me at a bad time because for the last few weeks, bedtime has been quite a struggle. So let's go back to when it was working well and then we'll get to today.

We are pretty free about bedtimes. When Margaret was a baby, she would fall asleep with us at 10 or 10:30, but would then sleep in until 10 or 10:30, so I wasn't complaining. We also lived in a studio at that time and it wasn't really possible for us to leave the room and let her sleep: if we wanted a light on to read or knit or do homework, we were in the bedroom and couldn't get away. That worked great for her first couple of years and then after our move to California and the sudden newness of living in multiple rooms, we were able to get her down by me nursing her or McKay lying with her and then stealing away to the living room for all that reading and knitting fun we had missed out on in Utah.

Isaac is a different child. Early on, we noticed that around 8 o'clock he would just fall asleep. I didn't know what to do! All this time I had had a child who could go with me to late night parties and now suddenly we have a child who can't! We've kept up with that 8 o'clock bedtime. Around 7:30 he starts getting fussy, so that's when we'll change his diaper and wind him down for bed. I nurse him to sleep until he's full, at which point he unlatches and crawls onto a pillow. He really likes lying on his belly on a pillow. All that takes about 15-30 minutes depending on the night.

Then we get Margaret ready for bed: go potty, brush teeth, lie down and nurse. Because I like to take a break between putting the kids down, that's usually around 9 o'clock. Then I nurse her to sleep and unlatch her when she's finally unconscious (or unconscious enough to go to sleep right after the unlatch).

During this time, McKay is working on his thesis. That darned thing won't end!

But lately the sleeping routines have been really off. I think it's due to the fact that both children's nap schedules are changing at the same time. Isaac is moving from 2 naps to 1 nap a day and Margaret is in between 1 nap and 0 naps, but I'm clinging on to the hope of 1 nap. When we went out of town this summer, the naps were extra screwy and so for the past couple of weeks, we've been unable to have smooth sleep schedules. I'm also trying to limit Margaret's night nursing to only once or twice instead of 5 or 6. She's been going through a bout of not feeling well, so her nursing has increased.

Because of Isaac's nap transition, his 1 nap is earlier than his second one was, so he's tired earlier- like 7 or 7:30. And Margaret has a similar issue: she's tired earlier because she sometimes skips that nap. And you'd think this would be great: more time to myself in the evening! Except if I don't get her to sleep at just the right time, she makes it over the "sleepy" hump and go into hyper-awake mode and she won't sleep until 10:30.

As far as going to bed with other people sharing the same space, we have deep sleepers that can be moved to their "side" of the bed without waking up. If I do wake one, a minute of nursing will remedy that. I think it helps that we have a memory foam mattress and the motion of getting on and off the bed doesn't transfer like it would with springs. It's really great when we get them both to sleep early because in their sleep, they'll slowly merge over to snuggle each other, leaving the rest of the bed free. When it's our bedtime, McKay and I can cuddle until I need to go nurse later in the night.

I hope that answered your question! And can I get a "booyah!" for writing this during their naptime today? Booyah!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Keeper/Moon Cup

Before I get into my first experience with menstrual cups, I want to make it clear that I'm going to talk about my vagina in this post. In fact, to break you all in, here's a video all about vaginas.

I repeat: if you don't want TMI, don't read this post.

Ok. So I went out looking for a menstrual cup. Or actually, I looked online. But menstrual cups are getting more popular, and it's likely that you'll be able to find the Diva Cup or other cups at a local health food store. Anyway, I went online and decided on the Moon Cup, made by Keeper because of price and because I had heard that the Diva Cup is longer than it, and with my tilted uterus, I wanted something short. While you menstruate, your cervix is lower by a few centimeters and for the sake of not having something bump my cervix all day, I wanted to go with something that would be shorter. Just in case.

My Moon Cup came with its own little bag... aww... McKay's reaction to the little bag was, "So you'll have to carry that around with you?" And I was all, "You've never had a period before, have you? How is that different from carrying around pads or a tampon?"

I didn't practice putting it in or taking it out beforehand; I just waited for my period to happen. My reasoning was that since my cervix would be lower, why would practicing it a different time of month help? In hindsight, practicing probably would have helped.

I started my period in the evening. I folded it like the directions said and squished it in. The directions say to get it in and then pull it down to the bottom of your vagina, so I did that. But the little stem poked out. But I was following directions and figured they knew what they were talking about.

"Oh well," I figured and went to bed.

Some time in the middle of the night, a baby stirred and I had to nurse him. He got back to sleep, but I lied for for something about an hour because this little stem thing kept poking my labia minora. It was bothersome and hurty, so I got up to trim off about a centimeter of the stem and went back to bed. Some more time passed and I still couldn't get to sleep. My desire for a good night's sleep outweighed my desire to test run the cup overnight, so I went to the bathroom, put on some mama cloth and gave up on the cup until morning.

So I put it in the next day and walked around a bit. Having been online trying to figure how how to deal with this stem thing the previous night, I decided for the time being, to stick it up as far as it could go so the stem wouldn't poke me. Then to get it out, I would "bear down" (like pushing a baby out) a little to reach the stem and pull it out.

Online, I read many women just cut off the stem entirely. It was tempting, but I knew if I did that, I'd never be able to get the darn thing out. I decided that I would keep up at this cup thing and cut off the stem once I was an expert at getting it in and out.

Did I say I had a hard time getting it out? I did. The first few times, it took me like 5 tries (or more). I asked some more experienced friends for tips and I tried them all, without much success. I have a really hard time breaking the suction because my vagina is apparently just very squooshy. I eventually figured out a 2 hand technique: bear down and grab the stem with one hand and use my other hand to pinch the cup and "break" the suction. Nevermind the fact that I rarely did any breaking of any suction until it was almost out. Problems that arose: fingernails. When I would grab the stem, I sometimes would pinch my labia minora or the left-over skin tabs that are the remnants of my hymen with my nails. Not fun. And my nails aren't particularly long!

That was the worst part: getting it out. I always seemed to need to two hands. I'm probably doing something wrong. Or I need to get better at it. When it came time to remove it permanently until my next cycle, I resolved to remove it using only one hand. And on the second try, I did! Woohoo!

Did it successfully catch everything? Yep. The first full day with it in, I had some spotting because I don't think I had it in right, but none of the other days did I have any spotting. The first day, I emptied it once midday and once in the evening before bed. The day after that, I went 12 hours without emptying and after that, I went something like 16 or 18 hours without emptying it. I probably didn't need to empty it as much as I did the first couple of days, but I was trying to fit in more practice with getting it in and out.

I found the contents of the cup to be interesting. Right now, my periods are on the brownish side because of the lactating hormones. My periods become redder when I'm fertile. While lactation has not stopped my periods, my periods are further apart (almost 40 days as opposed to almost 30) and I ovulate a day or so before my period. When I eventually get fertile again, I'll probably have shorter cycles, earlier ovulation, and heavier, redder periods. In the meantime, there's a lot of brown and stringiness. For you fellow cup users- how do you handle stringiness when you remove a cup? I need to figure that out.

Will I try it again? Yes. I wasn't very good at using it this time, but I need to give it the good ol' college try before deciding it's not for me. We'll see how it goes next month and if I can get it in and out more easily.

Was it "cleaner?" I don't know. I didn't get any menstrual fluid on me except the first day with all my attempts to get it in and out and failing. I didn't have to rinse out any mamacloth (except for that first night), so that's a plus. But it was still kind of a hassle for me. Maybe with practice.

Have you had any experience with menstrual cups? Was it easier for you? Harder? And what am I doing wrong that I need two hands to get this darn thing out?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Inquisition Monday

Yesterday, Arual asked, "how did you handle nursing Margaret during early pregnancy? I'm four weeks along and my breasts are starting to get extremely tender. I don't want to wean just yet, but the pain may be too much if it gets any worse. Tips or advice? My son is 21 months right now."

And I didn't know where to start! I realized that it's almost been 2 years since I've been at that stage in pregnancy and I actually don't remember what I did, except I somehow pushed through it.

So I searched my archives and collected up the posts that mentioned breastfeeding while pregnant. There were more than I expected! I talk about breastfeeding a lot, don't I? And guess what: next month we have World Breastfeeding Week! I know you're all excited: I've got a fun thing planned for my blog for World Breastfeeding Week (and possibly the whole National Breastfeeding Month) this year!

Anyway, so in order of publish date, earliest to latest we have:
First Trimester Thoughts
Breastfeeding and Pregnancy
The Birthday
Inquisition Friday
In which I make life harder on myself and then give up
The Whole Nine Months

I think that's all of them. There are things you can do to limit the amount of nursing time: limit the nursing to a count of 5 or 10, or a short song like Itsy Bitsy Spider. Or you can use the nursing time to practice your labor relaxation techniques. I know moms who breastfeed through one pregnancy to see how they'll like it and then decide to never do it again. But then for others, it doesn't bother them at all once they get past a certain milestone (out of the first trimester, colostrum finally coming in, etc). And sometimes the child doesn't really give some moms a choice: they simply lose interest and wean over time.

Even though you might not have plans for tandem nursing in 8 months, I'd suggest reading Adventures in Tandem Nursing because there is a section on nursing while pregnant. Also talk to other moms who have been there, done that. Maybe some of my commenters will say something. How have you dealt with nursing with sensitive nipples- from pregnancy or other hormal shifts?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Someone's One

A year ago:
9 and a half pounds
21 inches

22 and a half pounds
28 inches

Happy birthday, Isaac!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Uncle Tom and Aunt Flo

I had a friend who referred to her period as "Uncle Tom" for "Time Of Month." And we all know about Aunt Flo.

Anyway, as of last night, I'm battling them. I know you are all poised in anticipation for updates of my menstrual cycle, so I thought I'd share.

Actually, I bring it up because I'm trying out the Mooncup for the first time and I'm letting you know that a thorough review will be forthcoming.

I know you all just can't wait.

Monday, July 11, 2011


This weekend we picked 20 pounds of plums (more on the way!). Five pounds of them have become jam. I think I'll make some more jam, freeze others, and eat some fresh. I also picked some blackberries. I'd like to make jam from them also, but we'll see- they tend to get eaten quickly!

I went out this morning and harvested celery, mustard greens, zucchini, broccoli, and a fennel bulb. The broccoli is a little late, but we'll still throw it into a salad. The fennel has gotten really big, so I don't have a lot of hope for it tasting very good. There are still a couple of fennel bulbs out there and I'll get them later. We need to figure out what to put in their place. I'm thinking maybe some arugula or beets. I'd also like start seeding some winter vegetables in pots to transfer in a couple of months. Cauliflower? More broccoli?

Here's our line up, starting with lots of celery and the broccoli.

Mustard greens, fennel, blackberries

Zucchini, half our plums, and a jar of plum jam. We've made 11 pints so far.

We are really drowning in celery- did you notice that? Anyone want some celery?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Checking In

We got back from a vacation a couple of days ago and I'm just checking in. We've have a sick toddler and McKay has been working on his thesis, so I haven't had computer access to blog.

Vacation was good. We went down to Monterey and Morgan Hill. The Monterey Bay Aquarium uses a giant baby bottle and gives the amount of milk a newborn whale drinks in terms of baby bottles, so I made sure to fill out one of those comment forms about how imagery that equates babyhood with bottles contributes to a culture that disapproves of breastfeeding and negatively impacts I mean, come on! Whales are mammals and their breastfeeding rates are probably near 100%! And children go to this museum and it just reinforces baby=bottle and a new generation grows up not considering breastfeeding as an option. I didn't have room for all that on the comment card, but you know. I'll follow up with an email with actual links to the WHO Code and the affects of bottle imagery on our culture and babies. I also thought it was strange to use a giant plastic bottle to represent milk, especially when their environmental and conservation exhibits are against plastic. It's eco-friendly to breastfeed! Especially for whales.

Poor Margaret had a hard time keeping anything down the past two days. I threw up twice early Tuesday and she didn't keep anything in pretty much from Tuesday morning until Wednesday afternoon. We nursed and nursed and nursed and nursed and also froze some electrolyte drink for her to eat as popsicles. She wouldn't touch it when we offered it to her as "juice that will make her tummy feel better", but she was all about the popsicles. We think it was heat exhaustion, but it could have been food poisoning or a bug- a few of our nephews had upset stomachs on the trip as well. She's acting well now (knock on wood!) so we might go to the library today. Maybe.

I little to no motivation to do anything today. I have emails to catch up on (sorry if I haven't responded to you yet!) and laundry to do. And there's a baby shower this weekend I should knit something for. And I need to finish my other knitting projects and write a few letters like the above to write: our hotel is not off the hook when it comes to lactivism, either. A polite letter requesting non-Nestle food items in the breakfast area and to buy behind the counter needs to get out. I don't know if it's that particular hotel manager's choice or if Marriott has a deal with Nestle. I googled and couldn't find a connection, but I haven't had enough computer time to do a thorough search.

So we're back and as always, I'm activist-ing. If I have time, I'm going to try to upload photos to our family blog later.