Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Teaching my kids to be good

My concept of parenting, before I had kids, was a lot of screaming at them not to do stuff. Don't fight. Don't hit your brother! Stop taking his toys! Don't bite him! Will you stop touching him! To be sure there IS a lot of that. But I approached this with the idea that there could be much more to it than simply eliminating bad behavior. And in fact, the best way to eliminate bad behavior would be to replace it with good behavior.

Coupled with that idea was the concept that children tend to live up (or down) to your expectations. I had this vague observation that the types of people who assumed that children, their children, were innately entitled, selfish, mean-spirited little trolls in need of constant discipline tended to have children that turned out that way. Mean-spirited, selfish trolls that were constantly being screamed at and corrected. Sometimes it seems like that's the only attention some kids get. "Stop that!"

If children live up to our expectations, let's expect something else.

So instead I operate with the assumption that my boys are lovable, loving, good-natured, sweet, generous, compassionate, friendly, smart little men who are just searching for a way to communicate those things to the outside world. My job is to help them make friends and be friends, to make others laugh and smile, to learn how to love and express love, how to interact with the world in ways that communicate those intentions to others. This is a different approach than drilling them to pedantically recite please and thank you and I'm sorry where socially required. And in our case, it shines through.

They love the little dialogue of "Tenk ooo" "You're welcome" that they get to have with adults and relatives, and even each other. They get such positive reactions from saying these polite things that they do it as often as possible. When I tell them "Say thank you" its not a lecture, its a reminder that this is an opportunity to play that little game they love. And they almost always do.

But its deeper than please and thank you.

As I was sitting here writing this, they were playing with each other and the younger one got upset about something, probably a stolen toy. His brother saw his tears and that he was upset and shifted gears. He actually hugged and kissed his brother and said "It's OK, Wiley." Wiley stopped crying. I taught him that. Not by lecturing him not to be bad and mean, but by showing him how to express love and concern for his brother.

They are certainly not perfect - that is not what this blog is about. Of course they fight, they steal toys, they hit and all those normal toddler things. But they also know how to make up, and even how to negotiate. I've taught them that instead of simply taking a toy from someone, they should offer a trade. They like this tactic and use it often. Not always successfully and then we're back to just taking it, but it warms my little capitalist heart to see Parker go find a train to offer Wiley for a truck he has. And if the train doesn't work, he knows to up the ante. I've even seen Parker offer a toy for nothing in return when a shy kid arrives at the Barnes & Noble train table. Just as a way to make a friend. That concept is incredibly valuable and will serve him well in life. The power of simple kindness.

But on our good days when people see my boys interacting this way with others and with each other, sometimes they wonder how I do it. I think it has a lot to do with this underlying philosophy.

Just expect that your kids are warm, loving little fuzzballs that want to love and be loved by the world and you will see your job as a parent in a very different light.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Just sent to my NC legislator, re: H155 to decrim lay midwives

Dear Ms. Avila,

I am your constituent at xxxxx, Raleigh NC and I attempted a home birth in Virginia when I lived there 2 years ago. I was attended by CPMs who I thought were good caregivers and knew when transfer was appropriate and we are all OK now, but I have become very disillusioned with homebirth through my experience, which ended in emergency transport and c-section. I consider it an extremely close call and we were very lucky.

Come to find out, according to the British Medical Journal Birthplace study, transfer rates for first time moms at a home birth can be upwards of 45%. This information was not available to me in 2010 when I gave birth. If I had known my odds of transfer were close to 50/50 I'm sure I would not have done it. My midwives charged an arm and a leg and none of it was refunded or reimbursed by insurance even though I was led to believe it would be.

There are monied interests behind home birth and it is an industry as much as anything.

I believe home birth is dangerous. Very dangerous. But our black market here in NC makes it even more dangerous. That's why I am in favor of H155 - but I think it needs something very important - an outcomes reporting requirement.

Did you know that the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) has a huge statistical database of over 27,000 homebirths with outcomes but refuses to share that data? They claim home birth is so safe, yet they refuse to prove it by showing us the numbers. Could it possibly be that the numbers actually disprove their claims of safety?

I would love to see NC legislators demand to see MANA's data on safety before moving forward with this bill, and also adding a requirement that direct entry midwives report how many women they take on as clients every year and how many deaths or injuries their clients and babies experience. Colorado and Oregon have requirements like this and it gives the true picture of homebirth safety, despite the claims. THAT is the best protection for NC women, in my opinion.

Make it legal, but also make it transparent. Women should know the truth.

Thank you!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Bird Feeder

I looked out my window at my empty bird feeder as I was feeding my baby this morning.  No birds.  No birdseed, no birds.  My once teeming and colorful porch was bereft of life and feathers.  Its not that I had nothing to offer them.  I did.  There is a whole box full of seeds downstairs.  I just have to put them out there.

But I am stuck on the couch with this baby.  And as we know, babies don't keep.

I know this.  Once I have a moment, I will put what I have out there and they will find their way back to me. I'll get my birds back.

I just have to put myself out there.  I have much to offer.  But I need this time with my baby, and its OK.  I'm not gone, I've not disappeared.  I'll be back.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Confessions of an Ex-Minion

I guess its a sign of the times when you get all emotionally fraught about leaving a Facebook group... but I do.  And I always feel so weird about feeling so sad about it.  It's just a Facebook group.  But they can become addictive and cliquish.  They can be a great way to connect and bond with people over an interest.

Or they can suck you into pointless arguments and show you the worst side of people you thought you respected.


I had to leave Dr Amy's Fed Up group that I've been with for... awhile.  Nearly two years I guess.  I'm done giving birth though (I'm pretty sure) and I think I'm done hearing about dead home birth babies.  I feel the need to move on anyway.  But I just can't stomach the pro-circumcision voices in that group, including Dr. Amy herself.  She recently lauded the AAP statement in disgustingly hyperbolic terms, making claims about circumcision far beyond what the AAP was even willing to say.  It's NOT some simple, safe, or effective miracle cure or prevention for anything.  The AAP made the most minimally positive statement about it that they could in order to encourage insurance providers to keep paying or resume paying pediatricians to perform circumcisions.  That's about it.  Their member pediatricians were having trouble getting reimbursed for something classified as wholly cosmetic and non-therapeutic by this organization, so they tried to back peddle JUUUST enough to get the money to flow again.  They had to really grasp at straws and junk science to do so.  Dr. Amy made much more out of the statement than was really there, and admitted she takes a lot of flak for her position on circumcision.  She just loves it, apparently.  Loves it.  It prevents AIDS and cancer and UTIs and the whole rank and file of usual suspects.  She didn't mention paralysis or masturbation or epilepsy or any of the old school things it used to cure/prevent.

I think I know where she's coming from.  As an OB she almost certainly performed them.  As a softie for babies she had to know the pain she was causing and she had to make herself believe it was for the greater good.  As a mother, she likely had son(s)? circumcised.  As a human being, she is now only seeking out confirming information, so this revision from the AAP was a wonderful relief to hear.  She was not harming babies after all.  Maybe some doubts had crept in from time to time, but we can sweep all that aside, its official.  The AAP is wildly in favor of circumcision; the question of harm/benefit is therefore settled.  We can't pick and choose what stances of an esteemed scientific body we agree with or don't.  It's science.

Except that in the post RIGHT BEFORE she calls out the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for bad recommendations on midwifery and she claims its all about money.  Basically the same reasons I rail against the AAP for their stance on circ.  Check the bullet points.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes those are all very similar to the complaints lodged against the AAP this week by intactivists so no complaining about picking and choosing.  Any skeptic would and should question authority, even medical authorities... who are actually really trade associations when you come right down to it, and sometimes they act that way.

I interact well with lots of people who disagree with me on circumcision.  We can agree to disagree and we can simply not discuss it, or if we do, we can discuss the issue and not resort to name calling nonsense and personal attacks.  I hit hard on the issue of circumcision.  The practice insults my soul.  But I attack the practice and the ideas behind it, not the people.  Well, except for the advocates of it.  But - I think mothers who have done it to their babies and many doctors who've performed it for various reasons can be victims of the practice as much as the boys are.

And if you really think about it, circumcision probably causes much more harm than home birth and natural birth advocacy.  Home birth is a fringe-y extremist thing to do.  A fraction of a percent, a handful of deaths.  Circumcision is still suffered by some 50% of American baby boys, killing as many or more baby boys as SIDS in the time frame that they are at greatest risk.  But just as home birth deaths are under reported and misreported, circumcision deaths are almost always attributed to things not called "circumcision" on a death certificate.  Like septic shock and hemorrhage.  Not to mention the men suffering in silence from shameful complications.  Some are not so silent anymore.

I can deal with people who disagree with me.  I don't think I can deal with an advocate.  Especially an advocate who purports to be a skeptic and scientifically minded.  She of all people should know better.  She can spot junk science when she sees it - and when it recommends home birth.  But rather than accepting a little cognitive dissonance and admitting circumcision is actually wrong after all in spite of what she believed in the past, she has doubled down.  I can't respect that.  I understand it, but I don't respect it.     

So I left the group.  If you see circumcision the way I do, its just not something a nice person would want to associate themselves with.

PS: It may or may not be material that Dr. Amy is Jewish. But she was curiously silent when I tried to establish common ground that we could at least oppose circumcision by laypeople in non-medical environments on the same grounds we oppose home birth by CPMs. In other words, the obviously unsafe practice of mohels performing circumcisions in homes and temples. Many Jews now have it done in hospitals by doctors who are also mohels. I thought we could at least agree on that. Nope.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My thoughts ahead of the AAP statement

If the AAP changes their stance to recommend circumcision in whole or in part based on the African trials and STD risk, they are going to have massive amounts of egg of their face as the stats come in that the circ campaign over there is having the opposite effect and is in fact largely to blame for an increase in HIV rates. Why? Its obvious. Circumcision does not in any way protect against HIV. However, the impression the campaign is giving, rightly or wrongly, is that it is an AIDS vaccine. The men who hear *that* message are the ones getting cut. The ones who listen more closely and realize that you still need to use condoms whether or not you are cut are *not* the ones getting cut - because what's the point? So you have an encouragement of risk behaviors. Not only that, but a not insignificant source of HIV infection in Africa is iatrogenic from improperly sterilized equipment. Many men will get HIV simply from the procedure itself, as any procedure involving needles in Africa involves risk.

So if the AAP softens their stance, they will quickly need another revision. It will be short-lived.

The truth is this is an emotionally fraught issue with a lot of people with a lot at stake in legitimizing circumcision because the alternative is inconceivable and unacceptable. It would mean that they have engaged in genital mutilation (YES I USE THAT WORD) for absolutely no good reason and it makes them terribly uncomfortable.

Which is why I just think everyone who's done it in the past, sincerely believing that it was for the child's own good should get a pass. Fine. You did what you thought was best. It's fine. Let it go. Forget about it. But moving forward, the people who should know better, have all the information right there at their fingertips and refuse to *see* it, at the expense of future children... well, you don't get a pass. You should be willing to go through a little emotional discomfort in order to save a child from physical torture.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Breast may be best, but Similac is super!

We had a good day, Wiley and I.

Because why?  I believe it is because I've fed him formula all night and all day.  I just forced (and yes, I do have to insist on it) 4 ounces of breastmilk down him, for vitamins, ooligowhoosiwhatchits and antibodies.  And also, frankly because I'm running out of storage space for it all and its getting old.  I've started freezing it and I don't have many bags left.  I'm hoping by the time I run out, the No More Milk tea will have worked its blissful magic and I will be done with the pumping and he can have one feeding of breastmilk for awhile...

But he burps easier, he settles easier... sleeps easier, which means guess who else sleeps easier too?

Related (probably): I am down to 115 pounds.  I started the pregnancy at 135 and maxed at 146 and one month post partum I have dropped 30 pounds.  Amazing.  Everything in the closet fits.  There are no jeans I can't squeeze into.  Some things are way too big now.

I wonder if my breastmilk really is watery, not nutritious enough to satisfy him and really feed him.  Its like I'm pouring gas water down his throat for all the peace and satisfaction its supposed to give him.

Hubby and I agree on ramping down.  We're both sick of this.  Is there anything I've been lied to more, heard more hyperbole about than breastfeeding?

An LLL leader posted a bromide about breast being awesome because there are no recalls on breasts.  I retorted - mine are definitely defective.  The problem is there is no return policy either.

She deleted the comment.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Valley and Circumcision

From the beginning of the breaking of the scandal, something about it parallels the circumcision debate for me in a way that's maybe difficult to articulate.  Recently someone posted on their facebook wall complaining about the pillorying (is that a word?) of Paterno when Sandusky is the criminal and where the focus should be.  Yes, but...

My comment on that: "Yes, the crimes were committed by Sandusky, but the fact is he was never going to stop himself. He had a sick complulsion, and the only way to stop him was through outside actors - who refused to act in any meaningful way. And so the abuse continued. After he was caught in the act. After multiple people witnessed it and were in a position to act. This could have continued until Sandusky went to his grave, and if people had still neglected to act there would just be more victims. Yes, Sandusky was ultimately the criminal. But if no one stops him, even after knowing full well what was going on... for whatever reasons... what does that say about the culture there? And THAT is what is enraging people about this."

How is this like circumcision?  It's sort of exactly like circumcision.  The more you learn about the procedure and what is taken from the boy (or girl) the more you are forced to recognize it as sexual mutilation and abuse.  Its as if you become McQueary walking into the locker room.  You hear the slapping sounds and you look.  And you can't unsee what you've seen after you watch a circumcision video or see one in person. After you realize that most of the world doesn't do this and this is not the human norm.  There is no reason to do this, but for the sexual preferences of adults forced on children at their most vulnerable.

But we all live in Happy Valley.  We are all surrounded by people with something at stake in pretending.  Pretending we don't know, we didn't see, or that's everything is actually OK.  What we saw in the shower is between Sandusky, the boy and his parents.  They chose to send him to Sandusky for a beneficial experience.  Parents choose to offer up their infant boys for a beneficial procedure.  I suppose the Sandusky boys' parents were presumed to know and be OK with what was going on and us Mike McQuearys should really butt out.  Its not our business.  Leave it alone and everything will be OK.

Pay no attention to the man in the shower.  Pay no attention to the men and women with knives.  Don't look into that 11 year old boy's eyes.  Don't help him.  Don't jump Sandusky and knock the daylights out of him, call the cops and get a rape kit on that boy for absolute proof and no chance of any more victims. That's what we intactivists really want to do, but its so frustrating.  We live in Happy Valley.

In Happy Valley there are only the concerns of adults at play.  Don't disrupt the football program.  Don't upset all the players, parents, doctors, cut men, etc. who have been affected by circumcision in the past.  Don't invite a slew of lawsuits.  Everyone is Happy.  Can't we just keep it that way?

We can, if you just look the other way and consider the rights of parents to make these decisions for their children.  We can, if you just solely consider religious freedom to circumcise.  Pretend that a child's right to their whole body does not supercede that.

That's hard for some people.  We're not all Mike McQueary.  And we're not all Joe Paterno.