Thursday, March 31, 2011

Masculinism in Parenting

The masculinist movement seeks to support the status of men when it is not equal to the status of women. Patriarchy hurts everyone. I think feminism is larger because the disproportionate treatment of women is easier to see in a patriarchal society. But men don't fair well either.

Our first "masculinist" parenting act was actually non-action: the non-action of circumcision. Just like keeping Margaret's genitals intact at birth, we kept Isaac's intact. Isaac's penis deserves the same respect as Margaret's vulva.

Since then, I've run into a few other masculinist teaching opportunities for Isaac.

The first couple were at church. While our ward is pretty good with equality in gender issues, it's still a patriarchal church. We can't avoid that at this point in time, and I pray that it'll change. But until then, I end up whispering to Isaac the little things I want him to hear.

The first was in a class where the lesson was about the priesthood. In standard Mormon apologetics, someone mentioned the "men need the priesthood because women are naturally more spiritual" nonsense. I understand where it's coming from: the desire to say, "I'm not left out, in fact I'm better than that and don't need it." It's very validating. But it's not true. I'm not better than McKay and he's not better than me. Isaac was sitting in my lap during this lesson and I turned him towards me and said, "Isaac, you do not need the priesthood because you were born less spiritual. You are just as spiritual as Margaret, as Daddy, as me. You are not spiritually deficient. Don't ever believe that you are." And at the ripe old age of 3 months, I hope he got some of that.

More recently he has been with me in my sunbeam class because he still nurses often. During Primary opening exercises one day, they were discussing scripture stories and suddenly someone said, "boy stories." "Boy" scripture stories are the violent ones: the ones with people being beheaded, de-armed, killed, raped, pillaged. Again, I turned Isaac to me and said, "You can love the stories of Jesus healing the people. You can love the stories of blessings and faith. There are no 'boy' stories."

This isn't limited to church, though. Last week in my de-cluttering spree, I got rid of all of Isaac's "camo" clothing. I honor and respect the men and women in our armed forces. It's a hard and unfortunate reality of being part of this nation. But I do not think that glamorizing violence and dressing our children (mainly boys) in war-centered clothing is respectful of those men and women, and it's not something that I want to promote. Pacifism knows no gender-bounds. So just like I try not to stereotype Margaret in her clothing choices, I try to do the same for Isaac.

I once wondered, as I put a blue shirt on Margaret, "It's so easy to be gender-neutral with a girl: put them in "boy" colors and give them "boy" toys. But would I do the same for a boy? Put him in "girl" colors and "girl" toys?"

Oh, yes.

 It's amazingly hard to find a picture where we actually see Isaac's diaper, but here are a couple which show his awesome pink diapers. And I have plans for making him a doll for his birthday this year.  He's worn skirts before, but I don't have any pictures of those.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Birthday party

Post-5k nursing session.

As an aside: It was the first time I have run an entire 5k without walking. Time was 30:58.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Adoptive Breastfeeding

I'm Just Saying... asked, "Me and my husband are adopting a baby in August. Keep your fingers crossed for the birth Mom to go through with it. I am nursing Hadyn and she is 20 months old. I want to nurse my new adopted baby. Do I need to take supplements to nurse a newborn ?? Since I am not giving birth I will not have colostrum .. Is that bad.?? Is there something to make my milk better for an infant?? Also how soon before the due date should I take supplements ??"

Congrats! How exciting! *Fingers crossed!*

Breastfeeding an adopted baby has lots of loose ends and different answers for different situations. If you're like me, you probably want someone to look at the situation and then say, "I guarantee this will work out this way..." so there aren't any ambiguities. Unfortunately, that's not possible.

But I will say this: first, I would discuss this with a certified lactation consultant. They should know what questions to ask. My brain is filled with lots of questions about your situation, so here're some of those thoughts that might or might now pertain to you.

The fact that you are successfully breastfeeding at the moment makes me lean towards saying that you'll have odds in your favor for successfully breastfeeding this new baby. It means that in general, everything is in working order: you have developed breast tissue, your supply/demand system is working well and communicating with itself, your body can make the lactating hormones needed. Good things! You're starting ahead of the game!

On the other hand, your baby is 20 months, and by 20 months, it's common for a lot of the breast tissue that developed during pregnancy to have gone back into "hibernation," as it were. That's why you're probably back into smaller bra sizes than you were at 2 months postpartum. So that boost of lactating power is lost and won't normally come back without another pregnancy.

So I would talk to a lactation consultant and see what they say. It might be that hormones will help over the next few months to imitate pregnancy and help re-generate that tissue. Or you might need a supplement for milk supply like Domperidone. Another good resource would be the Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk. I really love that book for supply issues.

Other sites I came across on this topic include: Kellymom's Nursing an Adopted Baby and RelactationNursing an Adopted Baby from LLL's New Beginnings 2006, What You Need to Know to Breastfeeding Your Baby from Adoptive Families, and a book called, Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby and Relactation. There is also a story on page 287 in Adventures in Tandem Nursing that sounds similar to your situation and the mom in that story used a supplemental nursing system (SNS).

One thing that came to me is that since you are working with a birth mother you might be able to work out a colostrum pumping arrangement. In the process of ceasing lactation, it's common for women to pump a little to relieve engorgement (but not too much to tell her body to make more), and if she chooses to do that, she might be able to save what she pumps so you can have some supplemental milk on hand. That might be something you could work out.

I hope that your family will be blessed with this new little one!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Fill-ins

1. Why does it have to rain the week I de-clutter? I need to put all this stuff out on the curb so someone can find it a new home!

2. Doing our taxes is equal parts frustration and madness. Makes me feel stabby.

3. My favorite breakfast includes eggs and toast. I'm old school like that.

4. The Hundred Dresses was the last book I read this week.

5. I am SO glad I can cuddle with my favorite people every night.

6. Private knitting, reading, and writing time would make me feel better right now.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to baking Margaret's cake for tomorrow, tomorrow my plans include a birthday party and running a 5k and Sunday, I want to take a relax!

Participate here!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I wasn't going to blog again until Monday because I'm busy de-cluttering and cleaning, but I had a story to share.

It's rainy today. Very rainy. Pouring. Drizzling. Everything in between. Oh, and windy, too. It's been like this all week, so the children have been restless. We had a couple of books due back at the library today, so we decided to venture out into the rain today.

Margaret was wearing the same dress since Monday; I insisted on long pants under it and socks and shoes. I asked her if she wanted her jacket or her poncho and she chose the poncho. Isaac was wearing a long-sleeved onesie and I put on him some leggings and socks and tucked him up close to me, warm in the mei tai. I was wearing long sleeves and since I'm pretty warm blooded in general, I skipped the jacket this time. But even I wore shoes and socks. Like I said: rainy.

We went down to the library with the books to return and a few other things in tow that I had collected in our de-cluttering this week: old batteries to recycle and some plastic grocery bags to recycle. The library has a place to return batteries, so while we were there, I dropped those off. There is a store across the street from the library that takes plastic bags, so when we were done at the library, we ran there. A few times we had to pause and huddle under the umbrella for gusts of wind. I carried Margaret across the street because the gutters were full of running water.

When we got to the store to recycle the plastic bags, I noticed a woman there asking passers-by for a little something "for the homeless," she said. I've seen her there before and she has approached me about her 2 sons and herself needing money. I usually reply that I don't have cash, which is normally true, but today I happened to have $5 in my wallet. After putting the plastic bags in the recycling container, we started walking towards her and my mind was busy with thinking, "Should I get my wallet out? It is very rainy and cold." As we got closer, I heard her ask the people in front of us for money. Then we got there.

She looked at me, with Isaac in the mei tai and Margaret "helping" me hold the umbrella. I was wondering if we should just go by quickly because in the process of stopping and getting my wallet out, fumbling, still holding the umbrella, we would get soaked. After looking us up and down, she spoke.

"Pff...your little ones without jackets!"

Ah. Right. Everyone's a critic.

At least we all had socks.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Daddy/baby bonding

I got a couple of questions last week and I'll answer this one today and the other next week. :)

Lisa asked, How does McKay bond with your kids, especially when they were newborns?

First, there were some good recommendations in the comments after this question was asked. Second, I asked McKay if he wanted to respond to this directly and his response was, "I can't even finish my thesis!" so I guess his writing time is limited.

I think McKay and I are an interesting pair. He hasn't felt slighted by me breastfeeding at all. I've asked, "Do you feel left out because you don't get to feed the baby?" but he immediately responds, "No. That's what you do."

With Margaret, McKay went back to school four days after her birth so I did most of the bonding early on. He did wear her around the house some and held her, but I was also in a state that I didn't want anybody holding her for fear that she would wake up in the transfer of arms. So those early days went like this: nurse her to sleep, sit on the couch holding her too afraid to move else she'd wake up, when she woke up, she was fussy, so hold her and nurse her. Repeat. I watched lots of movies.

But we have a few pictures of McKay with her as a newborn and two of them are at the bottom of this post. One is of him holding her and dozing off and the other he is playing our N64 while she was in the wrap.

The time after Isaac's birth was almost in direct contrast. I don't know why, perhaps because I had been so touched out after nursing through a pregnancy, but in those early days, I rarely wanted to hold him. I nursed him for 5 minutes and then passed him off to whomever I could (mostly McKay). So McKay got a lot of the newborn time during the 3 weeks he had off.

McKay really loves bathing our babies. I don't care much for that; we're at the stage when both kids will sit in the bottom of the tub while I shower and I figure that's good enough. But McKay loves to hold Isaac and wet his hair and rub the baking soda in and all of that stuff. We both do diaper duty, and that's a little bonding time: it's just you and the baby and you're taking care of the baby's needs. McKay is the one who ECs in the morning- he has the amazing patience when it comes to holding a baby over a bowl and cueing!

Also, McKay does all of the non-nursing night wakings, which, comparatively, aren't that many. Potty runs with Margaret and helping Isaac when he pees out his diaper. And if the child is just fussy and doesn't want breast, he holds them so I can sleep. This happens during teething and illness.

And like I mentioned in last week's post- oxytocin, oxytocin. Oxytocin hugs, holding the baby, sleeping next to the baby. Isaac goes to bed before Margaret, so when I nurse her to sleep, McKay will go and cuddle Isaac. It's adorable.

ETA: Just asked McKay over google chat if he had recommendations. His response: hold the baby,
dance and sing to it, bring the baby to mommy's breast (so feeding time isn't just mommy),
wear the baby.

Anyone else with recommendations for Lisa and her husband?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Haircut with a No Poo Update

 On Monday, I got a haircut. It was the first I've had in 15 months. In those 15 months, I've been trimming my hair as it gets long. I had a pixie cut and I didn't want it to grow into a mullet. I'm sure you all understand that.

I went to Florescence in Berkeley. A friend from church recommended it to me. What's wonderful about them is that they use natural hair products.

In fact, when I sat down in the chair, Jennifer asked about my hair routine and what my hair does, I responded, "I've been doing No 'Poo for almost 2 years."

Her response, "Wondeful! I don't have to give you the natural hair product spiel!"

Nope, you don't!

She asked me about my routine and I told her I use baking soda and vinegar. She responded, "Well, I don't have baking soda, but when we wash your hair, do you want vinegar? What kind do you use? White or apple cider?"

So wonderful! She washed my hair with ACV and a little bit of something else. I think it was PHYTO. I don't remember. She gave me a wonderful scalp massage and my felt so good. I apologized for the oils in my hair- it had been a while since I'd done a really good wash and not something quick, but her response was, "Oh, I'm not afraid of hair oil." She was going to add conditioner to my hair, but after feeling it decided it wasn't necessary. My hair has gotten used to life without conditioner, so it just didn't need it.

She gave me some tips about No Pooing: do an ACV rinse before your baking soda and again after the baking soda to protect the hair. I've switched from a spray bottle of diluted ACV to a peri bottle with full-strength ACV. I squirt on what I want and work that through my hair. Peri bottles are so useful!

She also confirmed my suspicions that if you rinse your hair out right after sweating, that's enough. Remember last fall I got a shampoo bar because of my sweatiness from running? Well, I didn't like the residue it left in my hair and I've stopped using it. Her confirmation that sweat is sterile and can just be rinsed away while it's still wet was a relief! Of course, if you don't shower right away, you should probably do something more, but I run in the mornings and take a shower right after before I get dressed for the day, so it's all good.

Other pluses: nursing babies are welcome. In fact, their site says that because it's a private salon, people who prefer privacy (like nursing mothers) are very welcome. Margaret played at a friend's house. Isaac played on the ground and nursed. Unfortunately, he kept pulling at the cloth that was catching my fallen hair and ended up getting hair on my breast and in his mouth. Poor boy!

It was probably the most expensive haircut I've ever had, but since my haircut record is only one a year, I'm ok with that. I love the new length- my hair was on my neck driving me crazy and I love that my face doesn't feel so hidden.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Attachment

Last week, OneCrunchyMama tweeted, "How do you balance AP w/more than 1 child? Just meet as many needs as you can as best you can? I almost feel guilty about my divided time."

I responded with, "I try to remember that AP is about Attachment. So I do what I can to secure and strengthen those attachments and let everything else fall by the wayside."

She then asked if I could expound upon that idea in a blog post. So here I am!

To understand why I adopted attachment parenting when I was pregnant with Margaret, you'll need to understand a few earlier events in my adult life.

The first was reading a news article* that stated that a study had been done that said that a full-body 20 second hug increased oxytocin in your body. At that point in time, I read that oxytocin was the same hormone associated with orgasm- it's a bonding hormone and is the love hormone. I was engaged to McKay when I came across this idea, so I when we got married and I would sometimes have bad days, I would often ask McKay for an "oxytocin hug." And we would embrace for about 30 seconds. I might not always feel 100% better after an oxytocin hug, but I knew it was good for me so it became a thing we did sometimes.

Next story! When I was pregnant with Margaret and planning her birth, I visited UC forums and started reading about this "attachment parenting" thing. For a while it was this "thing" out there but I eventually started reading up on it and joined an AP playgroup in Provo. I read about things like cosleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, etc. And it all made sense to me. I mean, if a 20 second hug can increase oxytocin in a person and promote bonding and love, then babywearing? That's just a really long oxytocin hug! Cosleeping? Oxytocin hug all night! Breastfeeding? Oxytocin hug plus extra oxytocin from nipple stimulation! It made a lot of sense to me that doing those sorts of things as a parent would create a strong parent/child bond and promote love.

Another part in my attachment parenting learning was of the origins of attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is a style of parenting based on attachment theory. One of the ideas of attachment theory is that for children to grow into healthy human beings, their brains and bodies are wired to respond and grow when they are given attachment stimuli and are responded to. Babies' brains are wired to expect a caregiver to be close in proximity, babies' tummies are wired to be responsive to the many components of breastmilk, etc. And when those needs are met and babies get the responses their brains are made to receive, they grow in healthy ways. Attachment theory has been expanded to include more than just infants- after all, I know my marriage is healthy in part due to oxytocin hugs, me "cosleeping" with McKay, and orgasm. Those things increase oxytocin in our bodies and we feel connected and love for each other.

Now to the parent of 2 children part!

When I feel like I'm not giving my children the attention I think they need, I think back to attachment parenting, attachment theory, and to oxytocin hugs.

There are lots of lists of what attachment parenting is. Dr. Sears has 7 Baby Bs. Attachment Parentings International has 8 Principles of Parenting. From gentle birth practices to breastfeeding to bedsharing to responding with kindness, these are not ends. They are means to an end. The ultimate goal in attachment parenting is to parent in a way that their bodies are given what they need to grow healthy, their brains develop positive neural pathways, they learn how to react to the stresses of life in positive ways: with tools that build relationships and love.

For Isaac and Margaret, at this point in time, this means one main thing: oxytocin. How do I promote oxytocin in our day? No, I don't play with Isaac all day, but he spends a lot of the time in long-term oxytocin babywearing hugs. He spends some of the day crawling and exploring, too, but for our relationship and his healthy development, he gets held a lot. Because Margaret is older, she isn't held as much, but the times that she and I have the most conflict are usually the times when I haven't sat down and held her in a while: read a book, nurse, hold her hand on a walk, comb her hair, etc. She's low on oxytocin and we need to re-connect. And get more oxytocin in both of us.

Breastfeeding, cosleeping and all those attachment parenting things are great tools, but they aren't the only tools. I guess I see those lists as suggestions and not requirements. If they don't work for your family, then find something that does! I think bedsharing has been for us one of the easiest ways to build connections, especially for McKay who is gone all day. Breastfeeding has been great for me as well. But I know you can be close without sharing a bed or nursing. And that's fine, too.

As children get older, things like babywearing and breastfeeding are going to fall out of your parenting toolbox and new attachment-promoting activities will be used more. And eventually they'll leave home completely and even the oxytocin hugs will be gone, but the connections created early on will ideally stay. It's life, so in the end it's all a mess and there are no guarantees, but I like attachment theory and oxytocin and snuggling my babies, so that's what I'm going with for now.

And now I don't even know if I answered the question!

*This is not the exact article I originally read, but one like it. I don't remember where I read it originally. CNN, probably.

Look: a baby attached to my leg!
 Photo credits: Margaret

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Breastmilk Makes My Tummy Yummy

I had heard of the book, Breastmilk Makes My Tummy Yummy, but I hadn't gotten around to finding it. Betttina on Twitter shared this with me today.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

IWD 2011

(X-posted at infiKnity)

It's International Women's Day again! Party on, my sisters!

Last night Margaret and McKay "hid" from me and I creeped up to get Margaret. When I came into sight, Margaret hid behind her eyes as I crawled up to tickle her. Her defense, "Mommy, we're girls!" or in other wards, "Don't get me, we're on the same team!" She's right, I know. We are girls and we all are on the same team. I always add that we love girls AND boys and Margaret will tell me during the day, "We're missing a boy!" referring to Daddy.

But yes, we're girls. We're on the same team. Let's not fall over fighting amongst ourselves.

There are some great events in the city today, but I can't really get involved with those sorts of things at this point in my life. Kids and all.

So today I'm going to don some purple and spend some time being a girl. And I'm going to finish up my first donation to Talents of Sisters. (Sorry I haven't gotten the stuff to you yet, Courtney!)

Talents of Sisters is a non-profit etsy collective and store and it's making its debut today on International Women's Day. After reading Half the Sky and wanting to get involved in the movement, Courtney, who also blogs at The Exponent, wanted to get involved in helping girls and women secure money for education, safety, health care, etc. But like many of us, she's a mom who doesn't really have the ability to give up weeks and months at a time to go travel and physically be with and help the women worldwide.

But what can she do? Craft. What do I do? Knit. So she came up with the Talents of Sisters and is hoping that individuals and Relief Societies will contribute homemade goods to sell through etsy and earn money to donate to the organizations and groups who can be out there where we can't. If you already have an etsy shop, you can sell items with the "Talents of Sisters" tag. If you don't, the item can be posted in a group shop. What can you donate? Anything you might sell on etsy! I'm probably going to go with the knitting, but if you sew or sculpt or paint or carve or make jewelry or whatever instead, then do that!

So this International Women's Day, that's what I'm up to. I hope many of you can join in and get your friends involved as well. Our Relief Society will be reading Half the Sky this year and I'm hoping to get our quilt group and knitting group in on this! I'm really excited about this!

Thursday, March 03, 2011


This is just a thought post. I'm working things out.

But before I get into the meandering of my mind, let's pause and think about the absurdity of the fact that if I wanted to get Margaret into a nice preschool this next year, I should have started applying last fall because applications were due in January? She turns 3 this month!

But onto other thoughts. When I went to the Women's Lives, Women's Voices Conference, I spent a lot of the day eavesdropping into other peoples' discussions of their studies and asked a lot of people what they were studying. Now that we are going to stay here in the Bay Area, I'm looking into graduate work. There are lots of schools around and lots of things I could study.

First, I do not want to do math. I did that. I'm done. Sometimes I think doing research with teenage moms and breastfeeding would be fascinating. Reading The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk last fall made me wonder about the research available on supply issues that might be specific to teen moms.

But then another part of me loves history How much fun it would be to study history! I love issues and history is full of issues! I love stories and history is full of stories! It'd be a party, I tell you.

Then there's a part of me who wants to spend this next year exploring the limits of my knitting abilities. Perhaps I could go to school for textile arts?

As I have been considering re-entering academia, another thought came to me: unschooling. Could I write and research and send papers to academic journals and conferences without having to be associated with a school? Is it really necessary to pay thousands of dollars for tuition in order to do what I want to do?

There are benefits to being enrolled in school: access to resources, access to people interested in your subject, having a mentor. Could you get those on your own?

So those of you in graduate school: what do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Those of you not in school: do you do research and write on your own? Have you tried entering papers into conferences?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Board

I've mentioned before how the 100 Hour Board and the prospect of becoming a writer for that influenced the creation of this blog five and a half years ago.

It's sad that I left BYU with my dreams unrealized.

But in the last 2 weeks, I've officially answered 2 Board questions for my friend, Marguerite St. Just!

Question 1 about living green at BYU and in Provo

Question 2* about mamacloth

Whew! Now I won't go to my grave never having answered a Board Question! Glad I don't have to haunt them later!

*For the record, the last paragraph of my response originally said, "But anyway, it's probably magic or a tithing blessing. Or the Eco-god's blessing on my vagina every month for switching to cloth. I don't know," but apparently the Eco-god is too offensive. I probably should have said "Eco-goddess."