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Yeah- sorry 'bout that. Been a bit busy, you know, actually parenting. Doesn't help that this isn't the only place I write.

If I can get a spare second or several, I'll try to post something new here. It was kinda nice to have a special place for momthoughts.
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I am not delusional enough to believe that any joint endeavor in life is split into perfectly equal parts. I do not expect you to do exactly as many loads of laundry as I do, nor do I anticipate you making the exact same number of meals. I don't need symmetry in our parenting efforts, I need complement.

If you and I are in the same room, doing the same thing (let's use "watching the game" as an example), I expect that we will both be keeping an eye/ear out for the child(ren). If I find myself bearing sole responsibility for making sure no harm befalls our offspring and possessions, please don't act surprised when I point out this discrepancy with more than a bit of displeasure. Further, if you don't have the time/energy/giveashit to parent the child(ren) yourself, I assume that you also lack the same with regard to critiquing my parenting technique.

In short, either help or STFU.


Fellow Co-Parent
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When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple...

...and dance like this:

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My soul got stabbed today when I read a press release for a disposable, single-use baby bottle. No, really- this isn't a joke. Apparently someone though there wasn't enough waste in the world.

Feel free to peruse the product website, but I'll sum up for you. Once upon a time, there was a guy who left his kid's bottle at home. Instead of thinking, "Damn, I need to come up with a system so I don't forget my kid's stuff at home", this tool thought what most rabid American consumers might think: "Why isn't there a disposable version of everything I might need readily available for my immediate consumption?" So he makes a prototype of a pre-filled, single use bottle and off he goes into marketing land.

If that weren't enough, he has attempted to hide this trash-heap-enhancing frankinproduct* in the cloak of humanitarian aid:

"4. Infiltrate the humanitarian market. Last year there were hundreds of disasters worldwide which rendered part or all of a country without drinking water. Thousands of impoverished infants die each year because there is no clean water available for them. The Ready Made Bottle is the perfect solution for this dilemma. It has a shelf life of 15 months and can be shipped anywhere in the world." (from the product website's goal list)

Now, if you're not thinking critically (i.e. you're like most sleep-deprived, zombie parents), this might sound like a nice idea. But when you really analyze what's being said, it sounds more like:

Our goal is to sell this heap to whomever will pay us. Some fat cat will shell out big money so we can send this overseas to "those people", making them dependent on our product. Because, you know, sending them plain old, boring, clean water would just be silly. And heaven forbid we deny ourselves this marketing opportunity in favor of encouraging women to feed babies with their boobs. Who does that anymore?

And they're not messing around. Later in the "tour", you'll find this militant mission statement:

"We will not stop until the Ready Made Bottle is in every major food store in the United States and we have significantly penetrated the worldwide humanitarian market."

Infiltrating... penetrating... sounds like war to me. War on what? War on a sustainable(ish) lifestyle that doesn't needlessly pollute the planet? War on the evils of not having everything your way, right away regardless of your inability to think ahead? War on having to change your plans or *gasp* go without for half an hour?

"Our society is leaning towards safety and convenience. Our food is being securely packaged and scrutinized for bacteria like never before. Shouldn’t the most common food source for infants be as safe as the food their parents eat?

The most common source for infant food is breasts. (full stop)

As far as the "scrutinized for bacteria" bit is concerned, yes- it's true that our food is heated, irradiated, and genetically modified to reduce bacteria. It's also true that there hasn't been a whole lot of hard science showing all these measures are beneficial to us, and there are a growing number of studies saying this modified freakfood is potentially harmful. Formula may be sterile, but breastmilk is a living food that tweaks its composition to meet the needs of the baby and is loaded with antibodies to help build a healthy immune system. As far as safety goes, a formula labeled "sterile" wouldn't necessarily be safe from industrial contaminants like melamine.

Nobody needs this product. It is a choice based in laziness that pollutes our planet and supports the frantic BUY BUY BUY pace of American capitalism. To disguise it as a humanitarian solution is disingenuous. The disposabottle "will be sold in stores throughout the East Coast and be available to global humanitarian markets beginning in 2010." It will be interesting to see the market response to this trash-in-the-making.

* no info yet on the formula's nutritional value, but we all know that (like most things), the imitation is never as good as the real deal.

ETA: a fabulous comic from Mama Is... which sums it up perfectly:
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Here is a follow-up article to the Unnecesarean link I posted yesterday about "Pit to Distress" and its terrible consequences.

Also, for those of you thinking/saying "that doesn't happen" or "that's an exaggeration", here are some firsthand accounts from the nurses asked to carry out "pit to d or d" (delivery or distress- not death, thankfully) orders. Ain't it funny how these doctors are making someone else do the dirty work for them?!

I am still angry. Mostly because I feel that all I can do to stop this is try to help women educate themselves. So many people believe that doctors are demi-gods and not flawed beings just like the rest of us. Because of that, many doctors go unchallenged and many patients forget they have the right to challenge, and refuse, any medical procedure. Then again, you wouldn't challenge a doctor if you didn't know what, exactly, was being done and why. Yet another way doctors take power away from patients. All patients, really- but specifically moms-to-be. Most don't know to ask about pitocin until they're about to receive some (if then)- and labor is no time to be researching pharmaceuticals!

Last I heard, the "vaginal bypass surgery" rate in our country was at 31.8% and rising. Who is going to change this? The doctors who stand to profit from it? No. This will only change when women take the birth process back and demand better care. With that goal in mind, I'm going to keep posting articles like this one so that more people become aware of the flaws in our current system. Even if you're never going to give birth, recognize that it is mothers- and how we treat them- that will determine the future of our world. Mothers deserve respect in all areas: spirit, mind, heart AND BODY.
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Just three years ago: "Emergencies are rare events in labor and delivery, so it's hard to keep your skills up," - Annie Herlik, Kaiser Permanente director of national risk management.

Quick! Somebody create an emergency! We need to practice!!!

I am so infuriated right now I can't even type.
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Also free of petroleum products and harmful dyes!

Check 'em out here, and here.

If you're more of a DIY Mama, there are recipes here.

This PSA brought to you by Mama Bite, a kickass e-newsletter from the people at Ideal Bite
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It's an older article, but it's still perfectly on point.

Text for the clickyphobic )

If only I'd had this article to share with the various people in my life who've given me the "you never have any time for meeeeeee" whine.


Jun. 9th, 2009 11:01 pm
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Tomorrow, I get to speak with congresspeople! What- they're boobs sometimes; the title's still accurate. I've gone to rallies and such, but this will be the first activist work I've done in DC that involved actual politicians. ;-)

I'll be going to a seminar first, along with 50 other women (including the head of parent services at WHC, Mudiwah Kadeshe, who I met before AJ was born). Then I'm off to talk with the bigwigs directly as part of a Breastfeeding Advocacy Day

I've been lucky to be a full-time mommy for AJ's first year. While I had my challenges, finding a way to breastfeed my child wasn't one of them. I was never one of the mothers shamefully hiding in a bathroom stall to pump milk during the workday- which is a good thing; pumps and I didn't get along at all. Which is the main part of why I'm going. There's a section in the bill we're trying to pass that would establish standards for breastpumps. Every time I tried to use a pump I got plugged ducts- a condition that led to mastitis on 5 separate occasions. I was lucky enough to just give up the pump and feed AJ "from the tap" but moms who work outside the home don't have that luxury. As such, it's important that they have access not only to clean, private areas in which to pump, but well-made, effective pumps to use.

The bill would also provide protection for breastfeeding mothers (for definitions of "breastfeeding" including using expressed milk) against discriminatory action by their employers. Some people argue that moms shouldn't get to take "extra" breaks to pump during the workday. Those people better not be smokers. I spent WAY more than 15 minutes twice a day on culturally-sanctioned smoke breaks that were detrimental to my health and my productivity. Affording moms the same amount of time to do something that benefits their health, and the health of their children, offers a much greater return- namely less time off for moms with "the boobie flu" or sick kids (not breastfeeding has been linked to a greater number of ear infections and other illnesses in babies). It's the least we can do.

I am excited, but also nervous. I'd gladly write a letter to a congressperson, but I'm intimidated by the thought of speaking to them face-to-face, especially on their turf. Hopefully the seminar beforehand will help me be confident.

We'll see.
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than to speak against the popular opinion.

than to question "the norm".

than to expect people to understand metaphor when they read it.

than to expect people to think critically.

than to expect people to accept or, gasp, even appreciate that I can think critically.

than to voice my dissent.

than to engage the sheep in even the most minor of detours from their well-worn path.

than to hope for a different response than the "you're/that's crazy" I've gotten so sick of.

It's just that the stupid, well, it HURTS me. Closed-minded, ignorant, douche-witted, dimly-lit bulbs just... make me sad. And I find myself thinking "Damn, if I were acting so foolishly, I'd want someone to say something!" So I do. And, of course, it falls on deaf ears. Even if I'm not the one directly saying it (i.e. I get linky on the person in question), it always blows up in my face about how I'm just SOOOOO radical and my ideas are SOOOO out there.

And that kills me. Not because someone I thinks I'm an asshole- whatever. Because I usually only take the time to "get into it" with people I give half a fuck about. If I didn't care about the person, I wouldn't waste my time. It's painful to see people I grew up with, people I am/was friends with, and/or people I've spent a large amount of time with acting like idiots.
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Maybe I'm just feeling overly sentimental tonight, but this made me cry.

"Words can be worrisome, people complex;
Motives and manners unclear.
Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right,
Free from unkindness and fear."

Yes, I know he wrote this for Tori's daughter. That makes it all the more sweet.
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Interesting piece on NPR today about the bacteria on our bodies.

Does this mean popular science might finally catch up with the nearly-a-decade-old wisdom of Perspective 6 here?

Yes, this.

May. 27th, 2009 02:38 pm
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The details are different, but DAMN this woman described one of my biggest frustrations with stay-at-home mommyhood. Here's an excerpt:

"Who decided that the two of us should be each other’s only companions for ten hours in a row? Who decided this was safe? Am I saying I’m a danger to my child? Am I saying I’m an unfit mother? Am I saying I’d better fill that Prozac prescription? Am I seriously saying that a forty-year-old woman with a graduate education in a helping profession cannot handle two four-hour blocks of interacting with her own beloved, long-awaited child?

I’m saying that by the time his father comes home at night, I’m so dissociated all I want to do is curl up in an office chair and drink margaritas until I fall asleep. Instead, I cook supper and surf the Internet while his father gives him a bath, a bottle, a book, and a bedtime kiss. “You seem so distant in the evenings,” he says, “I love to have my whole family together at night, won’t you come sit with us?” I think how lucky I am to have a husband who’s willing to come home from work and take over completely, who doesn’t mind diapering, picking out pajamas, giving piggyback rides. I think what a good dad he is, how fun, how at least my son has this pleasure to offset my gritted demands to eat one more bite of oatmeal or spit out a mouthful of playground dirt. I sit beside them on the sofa. I can’t remember what I was thinking about.

At 19, I thought naming a problem solved it. I never imagined reaching 40 and finding that while women have named and pointed and sometimes gesticulated wildly, I'm living in the same questionable circumstances that Adrienne Rich described before I was born. Market work has not changed, and policies and supports for care-takers, who are often also workers, are nonexistent. In our current culture, every family is still an island. Though I have co-workers and neighbors, and even a church, I still find most days my son and I are stranded without relief boats in sight and I am past the point of caring whether they arrive with on site day care or anti-depressants, as long as they arrive."

It's gotten better now that AJ can communicate more and we get out more, too. Still, it is a lonely job. A rewarding job; probably the best I've had, but not without its downside and that downside can be a lot to handle on an off day.

Whatever happened to the village?
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Ordinarily, I'd rant about the evils of "Hallmark holidays" but today, after having been celebrated with snacks and snuggles, I am too happy to complain! Every day is a mother's day. Every mother is amazing. Every mother deserves to be celebrated on a regular basis.

More importantly, mothers deserve respect and recognition for the sacrifices we all make to ensure our children grow up well. For some of us, that means working jobs which will hopefully make the world our children will inherit a better place. For some, it means taking on full-time responsibility for attending to the seemingly-incessant needs of our children and helping them grow into stable, sociable adults. For many, it is a delicate balance of both the above. Regardless of the path taken, motherhood is a very difficult job and an enormous responsibility- one that deserves daily appreciation from all because all stand to benefit from seeing the job well done.

Here's to all the mothers- the biological moms, the adopted moms, the foster moms, the moms-in-training, the grandmothers, the pseudo-moms, the teachers, and all others who are mothering in their own, best way. May you be celebrated today, and appreciated everyday for all the amazing things you do!

death doula

May. 8th, 2009 08:34 pm
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I've heard a lot about birth doulas and postpartum doulas, but "death doula" was foreign to me until about an hour ago. Much like the aforementioned mom-oriented doulas, death doulas are support persons who assist in the other major transition in life.

I've considered becoming a birth doula and I think I'd be good at it. I don't know if I could hack the death doula role, but I'm glad there are people out there who can. Kinda makes me sad though- both of these roles used to be filled by members of one's community. Now, they're paid positions.

What went wrong? How did our community slip so terribly? In recent times, I can see how the internet might have played a part in it, but this goes back so much further...

And, more importantly, can we get it back? Or will care positions remain relegated to the status of "another luxury only the 'haves' can afford"?
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Something about becoming a mother made me a monster. Former friends and acquaintances dropped out of my life like flies in a fogbomb when my up-for-anything, partygoing personality morphed into that of crunchy, homebirthing, hippy goddess. My social calendar grew quiet as I traded bongs for babywearing and drinking for drool-spotted shirts. I researched cloth diapering and the merits of vaccinations. I gave up my little black book in favor of a binder full of scribbled notes on the best parks for toddlers and tips for handling tantrums. I never described myself as a feminist or activist, but DAMN if I'm not heavily involved in some mom-rights crusading!

Many were afraid. Heck, even I was intimidated by this new creature in the mirror. Then I realized that, for the first time in as long as I could remember, I was happy. Can't argue with that, right? While I wouldn't go so far as to call days filled with endless diaper changes "exciting", my life isn't boring. Every day brings a new adventure, and it seems each adventure calls for skills I learned in places unlikely to ever be linked to good parenting. I am definitely NOT a stereotypical mother. I am part crunchy earth goddess, part firestarter, part activist and part questioning n00b.

This space will (hopefully) serve as a record of this new beast. I call her a Momster.
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