Monday, February 25, 2013

Mormon Lactivists Unite

A quick post.

I mentioned in my last post that I think the Mormon lactivist community is more connected these days. In light of recent events, there is now a Mormon lactivism-themed blog at Latter-day Lactivism. It has some back-posts from the creator's blog. The FB community linked on that blog is where things will be happening. It's all in the beginning stages, but you can help flesh it out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mormon Lactivist Call to Action

UPDATE: More on the story at fMh.

EDITED: I had the wrong email address. It is correct now. meganhbishop19 at gmail dot com

Almost three years ago, I wrote a post called, "Keepin' On," about my experiences with breastfeeding in church in Provo. That's not the whole story about my lactivism and the church from those years. I'm going to share more now.

About three and a half years ago, a friend of mine called me about breastfeeding in church. She knew I had blogged about Modesty and Breastfeeding and thought I'd have an idea of what to do. You see, her ward and stake leadership had told her to cover up or find a new ward. Yes. It was awful.

And the sad part is that she's not the only one. I had other friends who had similar experiences. Some stopped going to church altogether. For a church that gives lip service to the importance of motherhood, we sure don't want to see it.

Because I didn't think a nurse-in would be a good response at the time, I thought that it would be a good idea to compile letters and comments from women about how breastfeeding was received in their wards. Some were positive, on the lines of, "I always felt welcome to nurse and it was wonderful to feel so supported by my ward!" And some were negative- threats of releases from callings, being brought in to talk to bishops, and my friend's story: being told to find a new ward.

Nothing says hypocrisy like going door to door to convert people, but then throwing them out of their wards for breastfeeding.

I kept it on the down-low because I didn't want to be accused of being against the Church. I'm not against the Church. I want to work with the Church to keep people from being discriminated against. I very much believe in both top-down and bottom-up revelation. After all, most of what we're studying this year in the Doctrine and Covenants is revelation given to people after asking the prophet questions and bringing issues to him. So yes, it's absolutely appropriate to bring issues to the attention of the First Presidency.

I gathered up those letters (about 20), put them all in a manilla folder. I included a cover letter explaining how breastfeeding works to ward off "why can't you just pump?" questions (if you don't regularly empty the breasts, you run the risk of mastitis and other breastfeeding issues) and that in some places in the world, the Church could face real legal issues if an unknowing bishop told someone to leave. I also included why a woman might not feel comfortable in a mother's lounge (if it even exists in a building). What I was hoping for was a couple of lines in the Church Handbook of Instruction that states breastfeeding is welcome in church meetings.

What I got was a packet of letters sent back to my stake president. Nothing happened. My stake president said he was even pro-breastfeeding, but that he didn't think the Church would include anything in the Handbook because they don't micromanage like that. Ha! The handbook tells you not to put your garments on the floor; I think they can micromanage a little bit to protect the rights of nursing mothers!

I think the worst part was that I really felt that God had a hand in putting all those letters together. I felt the time was right. I prayed and really thought it would go somewhere. And what really put the nail in the coffin was that a year later, the new Church Handbook was published. It really had been the perfect time for them to address this as an issue.

Since then, I've had friends run into the same thing again. Bishop's offices, calling releases, the whole shebang. Just this week a family member messaged me for help because a YW teacher in her ward was told not to nurse in YW. It's very possible she may be released. She's speaking with her stake president tonight.

But this time, the Mormon lactivist community is a little more connected and I think we'll get more stories. Also, after more than 3 years of other nursing-in-public incidents, the public is more aware of breastfeeding discrimination and so hopefully, the Brethren are, too.

If you have a story, good or bad, about breastfeeding in an LDS church, or a letter of support, you can email it to meganhbishop19 [at] gmail [dot] com. Megan is collecting the letters on behalf of the YW leader, to be shared with her bishop, stake president, and the First Presidency. If you are able to email her this afternoon (Thursday, February 21, 2013), it would be wonderful for her to have for her meeting this evening. If you don't have time today, still send them in. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Inquisition Tuesday: Working with Children

A friend of mine sent me a message I wanted to share here to spark some discussion.

I've been thinking a lot lately about childcare and working mothers. It just strikes me that of all times in history, I think this is the time in history where women have more "opportunities" but less opportunity to actually be women. We have more access to jobs similar to men, but we have to work like men, when it's not necessarily in our nature to do so. This is why you see so many women make the choice to be stay at home moms, because they don't want to be away from their children at this important stage of development. But why should that be the only choice they have? It seems to me that through the ages, women who have worked have worked with their babies and children right along side them, and there is something broken now that has brought us to a place where that can't be done. You're a feminist, but to me, a feminist the way feminism should be, fighting for the rights of mothers, not just trying to get us to be able to be men. And it strikes me that this is the logical next step. Why should people have to choose to stay at home to be with their children? Why can't women work with their babies? I'm really interested to hear your thoughts on this, especially having children, since I don't have a great idea of how the every day aspect of it would go. Anyway, I just think it is worth starting a discussion about, and getting the idea out there, so that more people can join the discussion and find solutions that would work for different situations.
I have lots of thoughts on this issue. I think it depends on the job and the baby/child. Babies are very portable and I think many workplaces can accomodate a baby. Blacktating wrote about this and included at picture of Licia Ronzulli with her baby in a wrap. And even when her daughter was older, she brought her to work. There are obvious safety concerns in some workplaces, but a baby in a wrap could be feasible in probably a lot more situations than we think. Mail carriers, many retail associates, lecturers, and many more could wear a baby, especially if the baby was sleeping or nursing. As a child gets older and more mobile, that might be a little more difficult, but even kids Isaac's age (2.5) enjoy back carries. And if you work with other people who have small children, you might be able to set aside and block off a room or area for the small kids to play or set up an on-site daycare. Where I live in Oakland/Berkeley, there is an art space for moms to work on their projects and can bring their children along with them called Hackermoms. Small babies are free in the space and older kids cost a little for the babysitter. It's a great idea and everywhere needs a place like that.

And lest this seem like only a problem for small children, you can't really leave kids at home alone until they are 11 or so. For more than a decade, if your work schedule means weekends, you homeschool, or if your kids have holidays or vacations from school, you need to find supervision or watch them yourself. If you have to bring a 9 year old to work, she can probably keep herself occupied or even help out with small things like sweeping or washing windows (though... I guess you need to be careful about child labor laws). When I was a preteen, my dad would take us to work occasionally and I vacuumed and cleaned the microwave and other odd jobs.

For what I do right now, I either bring my children with me when I go help moms breastfeed, have the mom needing breastfeeding help come to me, or bring my work (knitting) with us to the parks or classes. Some design work and my own classwork needs a computer, so I have to do that work at home. McKay and I have been discussing options of me working outside the home in the future and depending on schooling options for the kids, I might seek out support groups for homeschooling and working or other transportation options for local schools.

I think society needs to be less childist and learn how to be patient with people who are learning how to speak and understand their emotions, who walk at a slower pace than most people, and who need to be taught about how to interact with people. Kids don't need to wait until they are 16 to learn how to talk to customers and sales people, or where money comes from and how to manage it.

It wouldn't would for every situation, but I think it'll work for many more than we think.

Some other reading:
PhDinParenting: Adult privilege is exacerbated when children are a minority
HoboMama's Two part post on having a home business with kids, part 1, part 2

What do you think? Do you think you could bring your child to work? What changes would need to be made for that to  happen? If those changes happened, would you take advantage of them?

And if you know of good articles or posts on this topic, share those as well!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Maternity Leave Homeschool

This extended postpartum break has meant that the kids haven't been doing much outside of making messes and watching TV. Homeschool during this break is mostly playing at home instead of their usual playing at parks all week routine.

Playdough, blocks and legos, books and library trips. McKay reads to them each night and finished Charlotte's Web with them as well as Stuart Little and is currently reading The Trumpet of the Swan with them. Now that we're close to exhausting our E. B. White collection, we need new ideas for read-alouds.

Margaret's science class is in full swing, so she does get out of the house at least for that. Last week they learned about cells and got to enact the different parts of the cell: nucleus, mitochondria, cell membrane, and ribosomes. 

Margaret has started doing a lot of doodling. She likes doodling in the church bulletin and has started doodling in books. We're going to get her a sketch book because we need to keep the picture books nice for everyone to read. You can see her artistic work on the "My Body My Choice" sign here. Click to enlarge:

My favorite part is that the "I" in choice is an umbrella for a little stick figure.

We've also looked at current issues in religion and meshed that with pen(wo)manship.

As much as I like this break, I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. The kids need their regular park days and I need my friends, too. And I want regular life to happen. I signed up for a mini triathlon and I want to start preparing for it. I want our bike to come in so we can stop trying to squoosh 3 carseats in the Zipcars (we usually get Honda Civics). I guess all of this boils down to "I want to start biking again."

 Obligatory baby picture: 5 weeks old.

So favorite read alouds for preschool-aged kids?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One Month

So Linda's a month old today! She started smiling a little over a week ago and has had bigger smiles since this past weekend. I call her "Grumpy Baby" not because she's my most fussy baby to date (though she is), but because she has a crease in the bridge of her nose that makes it look like she's grumpy even when she isn't. It's like Grumpy Cat- I'm sure Grumpy Cat is a perfectly happy cat, but you wouldn't know because he just looks grumpy no matter what.

As of Saturday, she is 12 pounds, 5 ounces. The extra couple of pounds has rounded her out nicely and I think she looks more like a baby now. She has somewhat beady eyes, which is kind of cute except when she looks at me in the dark... then they are kind of creepy.

May I say I am so glad to be on this side of labor? I look back at Isaac's and Linda's labors and at only 2 hours in, I was thinking, "I can't do this anymore." Early on with Linda's thoughts like, "Can't we put this off another few days?" or "Can I just skip today and go straight to having a baby tomorrow?" "How do I get out of my body so I don't have to do this?!" happened. I mean, early labor is exciting, "I'm going to have a baby!" but about 20 minutes later, it's not exciting any more. There are only so many ways to get a baby out of your body and none of them are particularly appealing.

I say this because I've heard people imply that I must have a high pain threshold or my labors must not be that bad. No. And no. I don't have babies and then turn around and say, "Let's do it again!" Well, I did after Margaret, but I think that the resulting lack of sleep from 2 days of labor made my brain a little loopy. And I've heard people mention how empowering homebirth is. And it wasn't disempowering, but I'm not running around suddenly more empowered than I was 2 months ago. Sometimes a birth is just a birth. And it's sometimes something you just want to endure so you can get out of the fog and into regular life 20 years later. I look forward to that day. And I kind of dread any possible laboring days in the future.

Life here has been as "regular" as it can be. The kids aren't getting out much because McKay isn't as fearless as I am about biking 3 miles with kids in the trailer. And except for busing, I won't be doing a lot of travelling with the kids myself until April because our bike has some hold ups. Speaking of busing... I've updated my commute miles on the right side of the blog. I'm sad that I won't get to add any biking miles over the next couple of months. The walking miles are solely commute-related. If I walk to get to the bus stop or run an errand, the miles count. If I'm "going for a walk" they don't count. I'm curious to see how many car miles I'm replacing. Also, those numbers are solely mine and don't include McKay's commute.

Things that are occupying my brain lately:

  • My organic chemistry and personal finance classes.
  • I have no clothes that fit me that aren't falling apart (so many holey jeans!) and I want to go shopping, but I'm limited in travelling options. Maybe I'll just hit up the local Goodwill, despite their ridiculous overpricing.
  • I signed up for a mini-triathlon in April. Now I need to hurry up and heal so I can hurry up and start training.
  • I feel so guilty that I'm not working on my 3 year plan more. I'm in the middle of one art project, but should really be working on my book. Of course... the art project is "due" mid-March, so I really should be working on it. I feel split.
  • Mormon feminism. Because really, when am I not thinking about that? Also, if you're into Catholic feminism and women's ordination, check out this great video. It made me cry.
  • I need a haircut.
It had been over 4 years since I saw Jane@Seagullfountain, but she's going to be moving closer to us soon. She was in town last week and we got to visit:

We went to a birthday party on Saturday at a park. Swings!
Babies in party hats!

And here's Isaac playing while Margaret was at science class.

All the kids on Linda's 1 month birthday. Thumb smudge! I am not that great at taking photos. 

Friday, February 01, 2013

More blah updates

All week I've been planning blog posts in my head and now that I have time, I have no idea what they were going to be about. So here's a random jumble of mess.

I think Linda is our fussiest baby. Lots of crying and nothing helps. When I took Margaret to her science class on Monday, I spent the hour of her class walking in circles and singing to Linda and offering the breast every 5 minutes or so figuring that eventually nursing would be the answer, even if it's not the answer at the moment. She sleeps fairly well at night, once we get her to sleep. Lots of fussing and rocking and attempts to nurse. As long as I am careful not to shine my phone's light in her eyes, she'll go back to sleep when she wakes to nurse at night. Unfortunately, if I need to use my phone's light to latch her, she tends to wake up- Look! Light! Must be morning!

The chiropractor gave her an adjustment Wednesday morning and she was calm and sleepy the rest of the day. Unfortunately, that did not carry over to Thursday. I think we're being plagued by thrush again. That might have something to do with her fussiness.

I've been busy. In December I had a dream about going back for graduate school and when I woke up, I had the sudden urge to sign up for some sort of class. So I decided to take on organic chemistry... you know, for fun? I was always very good at science, but because of my AP credits from high school, I needed only one science class in college and that was Bio100. Because I missed the chance to see if I liked the sciences,  I decided that maybe I should take a stab at it again. The class is not actually that bad as long as I can carve out time for memorizing the material. That's the hard part. Time. I can't always get an hour of uninterrupted time. Linda doesn't have a napping routine yet, so my daily schedule is hard to predict.

Margaret and Isaac have cabin fever and really need play dates. And I need more patience with them. It used to be that I could be patient until the afternoon, which is why I allow TV after 4 pm. But now I'm snapping at them as we crawl out of bed. I hoping I'll get more patience when we're out of the newborn stage.

I've also had those random tearing-up moments. And whenever McKay goes out with a car, I get worried he'll have an accident. After Margaret's science class, she was invited to stay over and play at a friend's house. I was invited as well, but I just wanted to go home- and cue random tears I had to hide. McKay took the kids out this morning... and cue random tears. Also, songs on the radio are making me nostalgic and teary. I'm almost never sentimental, so it's really frustrating. It's not every day or even for very long. I'm usually good at recognizing it and reminding myself that it's ok, nothing's "wrong" and letting it go. Most of it is lack of a good stretch of sleep. I'm going to bed at 8 tonight and I'm going to LOVE IT.

So that's my life right now: fussy baby, organic chemistry, knitting, random tears. Fun times.

Look! Children!