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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Checked out

So I had the mole checked out today.  You know, the one I always sort of knew was cancer, but if a doctor never says cancer to you, you never have to deal with it.  So I put it off and put it off.  Then I showed it to DH and he got all pale and said have it checked.  Tomorrow.  Geez.  OK.

And then by the time I'm driving to the appointment I'm wondering who is going to take care of the kids growing up, and will it be painful in the end... and just hoping against all hope that this might qualify as "early" as far as catching it.  Where would it spread to first?  My lungs?  How much chemotherapy?  How will I look bald?  Maybe an alternative treatment will work...

Got to the office and 40 minutes after my appointment time they call me.  I have the baby with me, which is not fun, but a good distraction.  I get him situated and the doc looks at my back, pokes at it, and...

...its just ugly.  That's all.  It's completely harmless.  I could have it removed, but for cosmetic reasons only.  Insurance won't even cover it, its so harmless, but its not that expensive to freeze off if it bothers me.  Meh.  It really doesn't.  Maybe someday but not today.

The doctor gives me a brochure on "mature skin" LOL and sends me on my way.  I'm sure I'd sleep better tonight, but for my 4 week old.

Now go get YOUR thing checked out that's been scaring you.  Chances are its nothing and YOU can sleep better.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's my post partum and I'll cry if I want to

So going through my cabinets looking for gripe water to soothe my little one's umpteenth gas episode and I find a box of "No More Milk" tea I so presciently ordered for myself months ago, I guess as a little pre partum gift, permission to stop the insanity at any time.  I had low expectations for myself.  I was dreading just exactly this most of all and I found myself a way to stop it.  I set it out on the countertop and I keep staring at it and my tea kettle, and then erupting in fresh tears.  Why is it so heartbreaking to just... STOP.

Stop stop stop.  Stop the tears, the pain, the pumping, the indignity of it all.  Just stop.  Make the tea and ramp it down.  The engorgement might take a couple more hours to come.  A little more rest, a little more sanity.  I've been giving Wiley formula since early this afternoon and after I had a bite to eat myself, we've both settled down a bit.

And I just had the brilliant idea to swaddle him aaaand he's sleeping.  awww... such an angel when he sleeps!

To my LC

Sent this email to the LC who came over, after I told her it wasn't thrush and she offered to come back to work on latch some more:

"Every time I latch him on, even if its one of our better attempts, with minimal creasing, the pain is aggravated and they remain super sensitive for the rest of the day to the point where holding my baby against me becomes very unpleasant.  Wearing a seatbelt  is very unpleasant.  I don't think I can handle the pain that working on his latch would entail.  I can't really do it more than once a day without it becoming absolutely excruciating, and that's too infrequent to make any difference I think.  And since its not thrush, I don't think it can really be helped.  I don't think this kind of pain is all due to just a bad latch, I think its just the way I am.  It's all well and good for people to claim breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt.  The fact is, for me, it just does.  Breastfeeding for me is nothing but misery.  Its not like that for everyone, but it is for me.  This time I wanted to really explore every option for normalcy, whatever that is, and I think I have and can look back and appreciate that.  I think holding and cuddling my baby are frankly more important than breastfeeding and even breast milk, as is wearing a seatbelt, and going about day to day activities without constantly wanting to climb a wall from sensitivity and pain.

At least I can pump and I'll just continue to do that for awhile.  But since he seems so much more settled, satisfied and less gassy on formula, its hard for me to see who the "breast is best" for in our situation.

Thanks for trying though."

Its been a pretty miserable couple of nights.  Takes a long time to get a burp up and by then he's hungry again so its a constant cycle of feeding, burping and feeding again with only short and few breaks in between to sleep.  One of the hour long breaks I got last night came at 3am and I had to spend half an hour of that pumping and washing bottles.  I JUST lay down to rest and he's famished again, eats an ounce, can't burp but is writhing in stomach pains, finally burps, hungry again, on and on.  From my mommy groups, several women (breastfeeders) are experiencing this.  I can't imagine what this would do to my nipples if I were putting him to the breast.  The term "shredded" comes to mind.  Ugh.  I've been giving him doses of simethicone to ease the burping process, but really, he should be getting formula exclusively at night if I'm to get any meaningful rest at all.  The breastmilk just exacerbates the whole vicious cycle anyway and I pump and suffer for what?  There are no benefits here to him or me.

I need that pill.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Not yeast

Had a culture taken.  I, for sure, do not/no longer have thrush.  I can no longer blame my problems on yeast.  There is no need to coat Wiley's mouth with gentian violet or for me to give up wine and cheese for that candida diet thingy (thank God).

So this is just how I am, I guess.

Fuck Jack "Its not supposed to hurt" Newman.  Fuck him in the neck.

I don't think realistically any form or fashion of latch that the little guy is physically capable of is going to fix it.  What I hear from other "real" breastfeeding mommies is that with normal nipples, really, a clumsy latch doesn't really matter.  They breastfeed.  It's not a big deal.  They latch them in carriers in the mall, they latch them half asleep, they are barely paying attention and here I am agonizing over every millimeter of areola and where it lands in his mouth...  No, its just not this painstaking for women for whom it CAN work.

I'm just not one of those women.  And this time, as opposed to last time, I tried everything, I explored every avenue, I was aggressive, and it turns out I just am a pumper.  That was the right decision last time and its right again unless I want my nipples to disintegrate in my baby's mouth and fall off.

I can keep trying to latch him once a day just to satisfy my... whatever... and see if after a few more weeks something magical happens, the breastfeeding goddesses smile upon me and I suddenly toughen up.  But I don't think the prospects are promising.

I'll keep pumping for a little while longer.  But we won't be doing this for 6 months like last time.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Still going.

Had a lactation consultant in.  She thinks its still thrush and the latch can be improved.  It will take work - a nursing "boot camp" which will involve no small amount of pain to get through to retrain his latch so he's not so pinchy on my nipples.

And she's sending me a treatment plan for thrush which will involve treating little guy as well, likely with gentian violet which I have not been able to find.  I asked the pharmacist at CVS where I'm told it is carried. I had to spell it for the guy.  No clue what I was talking about.  So apparently "CVS" is not good enough.  Tell me a specific CVS and tell me where they keep it.  And baby has no signs of thrush anyway.    How can I have any hope any of this will do any good?  Will it realistically lead to anything more than more pain, more frustration and is it even worth it?

Probably not.

Maybe I should just give in to the pump, promise myself its only for a few more weeks and just move on with my life.  Accept that I was lied to about breastfeeding.  Its not easy, its not beautiful, its not natural, its not healthy, not for me, and not for many many women.  It is all those things for the women who say its those things.  Their experiences are not mine, and cannot be mine.  They are projecting their individual experiences on me and other moms and they are being cruel.  They have not pumped a mile in my breasts.  They are ignorant of what my experience is and I should not let them in to my otherwise cozy and happy relationship with my new baby.

They are evil evil bitches.  I should just stop being a victim to them and their lies.  Maybe.  I'll keep at it another day, maybe another week.  I'm still not sweating formula, I'm not sweating the pump.  I'm not sweating period.  I'll do what I can do but I'm tired of crying over this.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Don't think I can do it anymore...

I'm going to ask for something to dry up my milk.  If this is normal (for me, I know its not normal for other women.  The species would be dead) I want no part of it.  The constant 24/7 severe sunburn feel and the razor blades and knives latch-on that is again taking longer and longer to go away...  I'm suffering and I'm scared of my baby.  And I don't have to be.  I can get rid of this scourge.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week.

PS.  Maybe some would say I'm only 2 weeks 2 days in to this, give it more time.  The thing is this is the same problem I had last time.  I had this pain and sensitivity for 6 months until I finally, finally gave up the pump and weaned.  It won't go away for me.  It didn't last time and there is no reason to believe it would this time.  This is not OK.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

These boobs were made for pumping...

Some more whining about breastfeeding...  I've been doing well with my goal of putting little man to the breast once a day.  This morning it was about 30 minutes, probably more, left side, right side, then left again.  He ate leisurely and I dripped constantly from the side he wasn't working on.  And I still felt pretty full afterwards.

The thing is I pump about 6 ounces - two feedings - at a time.  This is probably because my first son is only about 14 months weaned and I was pumping 9 or 10 ounces a pop then.  No way little man can drain me right now.  So he's only likely getting small amounts of hindmilk at the breast and I'm never empty after feeding that way.  grrr...

Plus, with the pump I'm done after 10 or 15 minutes, max, with very little pain.  Versus still significant pain, longer time commitment, minimal relief from engorgement.

I said I did NOT want to become an exclusive pumper again.  But its hard with so many upsides.  The only benefits to proper breastfeeding seems to be no bottles to wash, and the sense of normalcy, not attached to that stupid machine.

But honestly if the pain and the nasty nasty sensitivity would just go away, I'd totally hang out and let my supply adjust.  There is something debilitating about having spots on your chest that your child's foot mustn't brush up against while you're holding them because it makes you climb the wall, having even the loosest shirts  annoy the dickens out of you and barely being able to stand a seat belt across your chest.  Its a constant reminder of how miserable breastfeeding makes every moment of the day.

Not sure how much longer I'll last...  I was hoping to give it a month.

PS Just as I published this my Bravado nursing bra arrived in the mail.  I was hoping it would get here before I gave up.  Maybe its a sign.  lol.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bravado Designs

These people want to sell you a nursing bra, but they also have some fantastic and very practical breastfeeding information and troubleshooting tips, in which formula supplementation is not thee DEBIL!

Salt water soaks for sore nipples.  I never heard of such a thing!  Kudos for new tips and things to try.  Now that one didn't do as much for me as my vinegar rinses (it sounds so strange, yet it is soothing)  But the advice to not do two feedings in a row on sore nipples strikes me as spot on.  I can do one feeding a day, about.  Then I get over confident and go for another one and I'm back to the tears and the setbacks.  One feeding, then a pump, and don't over do it.  I'm lucky I pump about two feedings in one sitting though.  Means I can go 6 hours or so between.

Right now I'm mainly dealing with a severe sunburn feeling on the nips and the very painful latch-on, but after that, the pain quickly diminishes to something very tolerable.  I feel like this is normal getting-started kind of discomfort and the thrushiness might actually be going away.  Yay.  We'll see.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

pH Solutions?

OMG is it my imagination or did drinking some diluted vinegar almost immediately calm my emerging deep breast pains?  It makes sense to me why it would help - altering my body pH to make it hostile to yeast - but could it be that obvious and easy?  Or is it just placebo?  I dunno, but Ima keep doin it.  It is strangely delicious and refreshing.  And makes my head feel kinda funny...

Second fluconazole today.

Pumped 5 ounces for little man.  He's still about half formula though.  We'll try a breastfeed or two later today if I feel like I can stand it...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mixed Messages from Lactoland

So I gave birth again a week ago.  (Yay! More on that later...)  And breastfeeding has been as much of a challenge and a pain as last time, only this time I was expecting it and I know more about it.  I thought it might be too early for thrush, but my hubby brought it up to the hospital LC who agreed - because of my history, because of Parker's recent yeasty rash, we have yeast all over our house, in our family and well-established in my system.  So she got me some APNO, the OB got me a one dose Fluconazole pill, she suggested vinegar rinses, lots of out in the air time for the girls, and various other things that we're working on and seem to be working how they are supposed to be working for yeast, so feeling confident that is what it is, its just slow going.  In all likelihood, I've had massive amounts of yeast in my system for years and have just gotten used to it.  Maybe its even causing other problems I've just come to accept...  I want to get rid of this stuff.  I want it gone and I want to heal and I would like to be able to know what breastfeeding is really supposed to feel like.  I've never known breastfeeding without thrush.  That makes me feel all kinds of sorry for myself.

I never rated my post-op pain higher than about a 5 or a 6.  Breastfeeding for me is an 8 or a 9.  This is what I'm dealing with.

My intactivist/lactivist friends wish me congrats on my perfect, whole son and I give them a little update.  And ask for any of their wisdom on thrush.  Any odd tips or tricks I may not have heard of.  They mention APNO and various other things I'm already doing, but some pretty stark mixed messages come into play that are very frustrating for me, as a mom struggling to breastfeed.  I wish they'd get their story straight.

Horrible mixed message #1 - PAIN.  You'll read everywhere that breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt, its not supposed to hurt, its not supposed to hurt.  I suppose they want the naive first time mom to not be scared to breastfeed because of pain.  But the second you breastfeed and find it very painful, it seems every lactivist in the world comes out of the woodwork and tells you its normal.  She'll tell you how very very painful it was for her at first, or when she got mastitis or a clogged duct and whatnot and you just have to feed through the pain, clench on to something, say some choice four letter words and trust it will get better.  It did for them in a week/two weeks/one month.

So breastfeeding does not hurt.  Except when it does.  Then its totally normal.  I see.

Horrible mixed message #2  - Breastfeeding is free!  But once you have a problem, you're advised to see a lactation consultant, maybe another doctor for second opinions, more lactation consultants "It took 8 different lactation consultants to find my son's obscure kind of tongue-tie"  That sort of thing.  I don't think these ladies understand the going rates for lactation consultants in my area.  And they want me to see 8 or more of them till someone maybe tells me something different?  That's a far cry from free.

So breastfeeding is free.  Unless you encounter any booby traps.  Then you can't put a price on achieving a healthy breastfeeding relationship.  Priceless quickly starts to sound like bottomless money pit to my ears.

Horrible mixed message #3 - We're here to support you.  That's nice, but I was also told to surround myself with boob people who successfully breastfed.  And not to listen to or associate with those that have "failed to breastfeed"  Really?  Such an ugly word.  Fail.  Fail.  Fail to breastfeed.  That really really disconcerted me.  So if my best efforts to do this do not result in the dreamy wonderful normal breastfeeding relationship that *I* so desperately want, you will be telling other moms not to associate with me?  You will refer to me and my ilk as a failure and you will shun me.

This is why I could never be a lactivist.  I just couldn't look at someone like me, crying for the umpteenth time on her couch in horrible desperate pain, wiping her blood off the cheek of her newborn and think of her like that.  I don't know how anyone with human decency and compassion could.

When I ask for help, I don't need you to cheerlead.  I need practical tips and advice.  I need down and dirty details that relate to my condition.  I don't need re-diagnosis when I've consulted with professionals in person and agree with their assessment.  I don't need people to tell me not to feed my baby one way when I can't feed him any other for now.

This is ultimately about the baby.  My boobs are a detail, a supporting player.  The baby is the star of the show here and I took home a baby that was gaining weight, peaceful and content, not a sign of a health problem on him.  Yes, I gave him formula from day 1.  I did.  Because from day 1 the pain was right back where it was the last day I put my first son to the breast.

I didn't cut my baby because I see no point in needless suffering for him.  I'm supplementing formula when I can't handle the pain of breastfeeding because I see no point in needless suffering for me.  Why can't some people see the parallels?

Baby and I are both happy and healthy.  Nothing should interfere with that.  Not even breastfeeding.  Once I exhaust every reasonable avenue for a solution to my thrush issues, if all I'm left with is formula... So be it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Attachment - Overrated?

Its an observation, an anecdote, but something I've been thinking about for some time.  Maybe all this emphasis on bonding and attachment to your baby is... way overrated.  On one of my anti-crunch groups someone recently was pointing out how you can bond over a bottle of formula too, as if that squashes an anti-formula argument.  Well, yes, I'm sure that's true, but it just demonstrates what a big deal we make over bonding.  Every one takes it as a matter of fact that of course bonding is crucial, and how crucial cannot be overstated.  Sure its important, but HOW important is it really?  I think it IS overstated, and overrated.

I have a friend who didn't read much of anything during pregnancy, didn't have her heart too set on any particular parenting method, didn't have a birth plan - she watched me drive myself crazy and wisely opted not to do that to herself.  Wouldn't you know it, SHE was the one who got the vaginal birth, who is still breastfeeding at 10 months and for whom co-sleeping just worked in a natural no drama kind of way.  She and I have the kind of relationship where we can give each other crap about these things and laugh it all off and learn from each other.  She's great.  She works from home and is bonded very securely to that child.  But she is SO intensely bonded that when she comes to visit, she can't leave the room or Baby Jenny (I'll call her) has an absolute total meltdown.  Just the sight of her mother walking away from her is enough.  Poor Jenny just screams for 2 solid minutes while my friend pees.  She can't even leave her with her mom or sister at home because of this extreme attachment, and it is really wearing on her.  She recently had what she describes as 3 or 4 days of sheer hell trying to get her to sleep in her own crib at night.  Ironically, she is now DEVOURING "Babywise" in an effort to find some sanity and balance in life.

Similar situation with a 6 month old who has just started coming to my son's home daycare a few days a week. For 6 months, she has only been with Mommy, and after seeing her with Mommy, you can see what a cutie and a delight she is, but at daycare, when Mommy leaves, she cries nearly constantly.  And if a stranger enters the room and she sees or hears them, she starts up again if she had settled.  Doesn't matter if you sing to her, rock her, hold her, talk to her, show her a toy, there is no soothing her.  This child is in extreme anxiety and its sad to see.

I have other crunchy friends who have never ever left their kids, not even with their father, and because of their extreme attachment, they can't now.  It would cause the child extreme distress, and probably the mother as well.  Doesn't seem very healthy to me.  So then should Mommy never leave?

I can hear the answer now.  No, of course she should always be there for her child.  Parenting is hard and if you don't want the job, don't have kids.  This is what you signed up for.  Its YOUR job to raise your kids, no one else's.

A lovely platitude, but is it realistic?  Is it fair?  Will that really work for YOU?  In many cultures the women of childbearing age have STUFF TO DO and its the grandmothers or older siblings who take over childcare while they are out at the market or whatnot.  I don't know where we got this idea that mothers absolutely have to do all the childcare, and that a good mother will not outsource this or get any help from anyone else.

I don't see these parent-child relationships as very functional, for mom or baby, really.  At least not at a level I could function well at.  I initially felt horrified that I turned out to be the type of mother who dropped her kid in daycare at 7 weeks, and nearly dry-eyed, went back to work, when I could have stayed home a little longer.  But Parker didn't cry when I left him there, and he still doesn't cry when its time for me to leave him.  He's already too busy eating his yogurt or playing and exploring.  I think he actually looks forward to the change in scenery.  But he's still bonded to me.  He somehow knows when its time for me to pick him up and starts looking expectantly at the door, and when he sees me, I get a huge smile.

Parker is so secure and confident, and that actually comes from a healthy place of DE-tachment, rather than hyper attachment.  The AP theory is the opposite though.  From AP you come to think that security and confidence come from a solid foundation of attachment with the parents, and from that security, they blossom into confident little explorers of the world.  But comparing my little guy to AP kids, that's very falsifiable.  Sure, every kid is different, but those kids are stressed and lost without mommy around.  They have no coping skills.  These babies I know are young enough, they will learn and adjust, but it has been no picnic for mom to reclaim her life just a little bit.  And I'm sorry, but I think its reasonable for moms to have a bit of a life.  It's no sin.  If you want to be a complete martyr, go for it, but that doesn't mean every mommy has to as well.  There are many ways to raise kids, and right now, compared with what I see around me, mine is very emotionally healthy, even if I do work.  Maybe even because I work.

I think I've ended up making all the right mistakes, in spite of myself.  And with my next little one, coming this summer, I won't hesitate to hand him off to Grandma as I did with Parker and enjoy a manicure.  And I won't hesitate to send him to daycare as well at 7 weeks, just like I did with his brother.  I won't however, feel any guilt or regret about it though.  I want him to be as calm and assured as his brother that yes, mommy is coming back, so let's go play and have fun.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Circumcision: Yes or No ...or Wait?

So you’re going to circumcise your son and that’s final.  I get it.  Nothing I can say will change your mind.  I won’t even try.  He is your son.

Could I at least get you to consider waiting?

So many times this is viewed as a yes/no at-the-hospital decision, when actually it can also be a not-just-yet decision.  It can be done at any time, really.  Maybe you just want to get it over with, but really this shouldn’t be about your convenience, but his health.  If its healthier and safer to wait, why wouldn’t you?  I can give you so many reasons why the longer you wait to have it done, the better it is for him.  

So at least don’t do it in the first few days of his life.  His little body is so new and fragile, and his penis is so tiny (no offense)  ;)  It is extraordinarily easy to take too much or too little skin when its that small and we’re talking millimeters.  It is so important to get this right, yet this is the most difficult time in his life for that to happen.  Also, breastfeeding is not well established yet.  On the chance that it really does interfere, it is worth it to wait.  You’ll kick yourself later if breastfeeding doesn’t work out.  Won’t you always wonder if there was something you could have done differently to help breastfeeding go more smoothly?  This is one thing.  Many mothers report that their sons will not make eye contact or breastfeed after the pain of their circumcisions, and that they view it as a betrayal by their mother to allow this painful thing to happen to them.  I don’t know if that’s really true or not, but could you wait just a little bit after that crucial initial bonding time and he’s feeding and gaining weight?  

Also, since he’s so tiny, another major risk of this delicate surgery is hemorrhage.  It is so easy to nick that teeny tiny artery.  It doesn’t take but half a shot glass worth of blood loss (2.3 ounces) for your baby to bleed to death at this stage, and it happens fast.  Just one ounce of blood loss puts them into shock.  If you think I’m exaggerating the dangers of the surgery at this age, I’m really not.  About the same number of boys die at this age from circumcision, it is estimated, than from SIDS, and you’d do anything to reduce his risk of SIDS, yes?   And trust me, this is not the way you want to find out if your son is a hemophiliac.

Also, babies do feel pain, the foreskin has some 20,000 nerve endings (NSFW), it is not just dead skin, and he is too small for an effective anesthetic to be safe.  The pain is extreme, I’m sorry to say.  You’ve maybe heard stories of babies sleeping through the procedure, but I assure you, many babies react to this extreme pain by going into shock.  They are completely restrained and no one is reacting to their screams, so this is one way that some of them cope.  If you wait, he can at least get effective, safe anesthesia. There is nothing wrong with just waiting.  You’ll be taking him to well baby checkups all the time anyway.  It’s simply one more appointment, its not a big deal.

As far as UTI’s go, his absolute risk is only about 1% or less and UTIs are readily treated with antibiotics.  Don’t forcibly retract and his UTI risk is even lower, more on that next.  The serious complication rate of circumcision, however, is about 4% and those can be much more complicated to fix if they can be fixed at all.  Adhesions after circumcision are painful to resolve and breathtakingly common. There are more men out there than you realize who have simply learned to live with a botched circumcision. (Link NSFW)

Speaking of infection, could you wait until he is out of diapers?  If we are talking about cleanliness, how clean is it to have an open wound exposed to urine and feces in a diaper all day?  His risk of infection and things like meatitis will go way down if you just wait until he is potty trained, and intact care for the baby is so easy!  All you have to do is clean it like you would a finger, and for God’s sake don’t let anyone forcibly retract his foreskin before it separates on its own.  It protects the head of the penis in the diaper and is fused to it with the same biological mechanism that attaches your fingernails to your fingers.  You don’t need to rip the baby’s nails off to clean his fingers.  Ripping the foreskin away is just as painful and just as sensible, and causes its own complications.  If any doctor advises you to, direct them to the AAP on the subject.  (They say no)  It probably won’t retract on its own until age 5 or even 10, and that’s really not a problem healthwise, so just leave it alone and be patient. 

Which brings me to waiting until his foreskin is fully retractable on its own.  A good deal of the trauma and infection risk from the procedure is from ripping the foreskin away before it is cut off, exposing the raw, bleeding, very tender skin on the head of the penis.  If you wait until the retraction process has worked itself out naturally, you’ve cut the pain and the healing process in half making for a much easier recovery. In the mean time, hygiene for the naturally retractable, intact penis is trivial - pull it back, rinse, replace. That's it. Most young boys are more than happy to play with their penis a bit in the shower, so in reality, that's not a huge deal. And with proper care (no premature forced retraction), YOU will likely never even have to do it for him.

So if you’ve waited this long, your son is now able to understand your reasons and communicate with you about his feelings.  Why not talk it out with him and see if he wants to keep waiting?

Actually, since it is classified as an elective cosmetic procedure (non-therapeutic) with only shaky evidence of any statistically significant benefit, and he is still a minor, why not wait until he is 18 or older and can go ahead and give his own consent?  It really comes down to preference and it is his penis, after all, and he’ll soon be a man, legally and sexually.   Who knows at the time of his birth what his future peers will have in their drawers, or what his girlfriends will prefer?  By the time he’s older, you might have a better idea about what he is facing socially.  The truth is the rates of circumcisions ARE dropping.  Maybe he’s totally fine with staying as he is.  Wouldn’t it be nice to give him the choice his father didn’t have?  His father is totally happy with his penis, yes, but really, by definition, he doesn’t know what he’s missing, so how does he really know which is better for his son?  What if a foreskin is actually a good thing to have?  What if? (Video in link NSFW)

Or maybe, after some reflection, he really wants it done.  He sees some benefits and wants to look like his dad and whatnot.  No problem.  He’s not in diapers, he CAN have all the safe pain relief he needs, both during and after the procedure, he’s at much lower risk for bleeding to death and his body is so much better at fighting off infection.  Perhaps most importantly, he is fully developed and the object they are operating on is much much larger and easier to work on than when he was a newborn baby, thus the chances of getting just the right amount of the right skin are so much better.

Best of all, you are completely absolved of any possible feelings of guilt or regret, because this difficult decision was not your decision at all, but his own.  

There are so many reasons I won’t circumcise my baby son, but your mind is also made up - I respect that.  But I hope you can see that the worst possible time to do it is immediately after he’s born, and actually, the longer you wait, the better.  So please, just consider waiting.  That’s all.

P.S. And you don't even have to be annoying like me about it either. If someone asks "Did you have him circumcised?" You can simply say "Not yet." And leave it at that.