Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Reflections on breastfeeding

The other night my one year old did the funniest thing!! I was laying down with him, trying to get him to sleep, breastfeeding him of course. I was watching TV so I didn't see this coming... totally out of the blue he whips out this harmonica and starts playing!!! It was hillarious!

Looking back on my breastfeeding experiences I have had the good, the bad and the ugly. Mostly the good though. When I was a new mother at 18 I didn't give much thought to how I would feed the baby. I just assumed I would breastfeed and that was that. I don't really understand why breastfeeders are in the minority when it seems like the obvious thing to do. I remember trying to give him a bottle when he was a few weeks old because "everyone else" supplements, so I should too. Boy oh boy, did he ever scream and cry! He would not take that bottle! I couldn't figure out how everyone else did it. Oh well, I didn't really need the bottle anyway. Breastfeeding was working out just fine.

When Brandon (my firstborn) was one he was snacking on an apple at the same time as he was snacking on me... very bad combination. He ended up biting a chunk out of my nipple. It was extremely painful. The timing of it was good though because I was about to leave on a three day trip by myself to see old friends. It was enough time to heal enough so I could continue breastfeeding.

When Brandon was one and a half he weaned himself instantly one day. I will never understand why. All I know is that I was very sad. I even called La Leche League to see how I could get him to start again. That was a funny conversation. She asked how old he was. I said 1 1/2... The lady said there wasn't much I could do.

I had no problems with Wolfie other than the weaning problem discussed in the last post. When he was a baby I was a struggling single mom with A LOT of stuff going on in my life. The sad part is that I have very few, very vague memories of him as a baby and toddler. It's like, my brain was SO overloaded with stuff it couldn't fit him into the memory bank. I like to look at pictures of us when he was a baby. It's like looking at it from the outside. I don't remember much from the inside. But it's nice to see that yes, I did enjoy my baby. We look happy.

I had the most breastfeeding problems with Dimitri. First off, I got a mega breast infection on day 10. It was a nightmare scenerio because I went to the ER with severe flu symptoms and the doctor couldn't figure out it was a breast infection and so told me it was the flu and sent me home. As soon as I got home I saw the bright red streaks going up my breast and I knew what the problem was. Unfortunately, I had to wait until the next day before a doctor would see me and prescribe medicine. It was horrible.

The other major problem was that Dimitri was overwhelmed with breastfeeding. He would struggle and thrash around while he fed. He couldn't seem to figure out how to coordinate breathing and drinking. He would hold his breath and then gasp. It was miserable. The main thing I did to help him was that I always breastfed him in bed with the covers up tight around us. Preferably with the lights out and no distractions. This way he was peaceful and could relax a little. Every time he fed I looked forward to his fourth month when I knew it would get better. I was right. Once he hit four months his need for large amounts of milk, plus the experience he had gained turned him into a steady peaceful breastfeeder. It isn't until your baby is old enough to empty a breast that you get to experience the peaceful euphoria of the endorphin rush from breastfeeding.

All mothers should get to experience that.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tandem Breastfeeding

Tandem breastfeeding is supposed to be a special bonding experience between siblings. So when I was pregnant with my third I thought I would try it. (My second still breastfed for comfort). Well, my plan didn't work out. When the baby was born my older child was so big, the stark comparison between the two sizes made me very uncomfortable. I just couldn't tolerate breastfeeding the four year old. So unfortunately the whole plan back fires as I had to immediately wean the four year old at the birth of the baby, causing friction instead of bonding between the two. Don't worry, my son got over it. But I know for next time that it doesn't work for me. Maybe if the children were closer in age.

Which brings me to a classic question of breastfeeders: "When is the RIGHT time to stop breastfeeding?" and the answer is: "When the mother or child is uncomfortable with it"

Oh, this reminds me of a funny thing about the weaning... Every night I used to read stories to my kids before they went to sleep. Sometimes literally for an hour or more. This was mostly geared towards Brandon the older child, but I was happy to think of all the knowlege that my toddler Wolfie was soaking up as he lay there breastfeeding and listening. Well, at the age of 4 1/2 when I finally weaned him I was horrified to discover that he wasn't listening one iota. No, once the breast was removed from his mouth it was revealed the thoughts that would go through his head and they never had anything to do with the book. He could talk and talk and talk and no matter how long I got him to stay quiet he never concentrated on the book. Oh well, it was a good try on my part.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Intelligent Design

Ben has responded to my homeschooling post by saying that Intelligent Design isn't science and referring the reader to the Wikipedia article on the subject.

I thought this subject warranted a post of its own so here it goes. First of all it's really quite funny how defensive people can get over intelligent design. A lot of the arguments against it online jump right to name calling which is a really immature way to handle this discussion. (Thank you Ben for not stooping to that level). Even the Wikipedia article starts off ruthlessly dismissing it as "Junk science". Some of the sweeping statements made in the first paragraph were exadurations or untrue. For example " are not science because they cannot be tested". That's absurd, there are plenty of Intelligent design theories that can be tested. Also "Intelligent design is not science and is essentially religious in nature". It is science. It happens to prove that everything around us indicates a creator. Is that religious in nature? I suppose so.

OK, off the top of my head I can think of two observations that contradict evolution. The first one is that everything tends to break down without intervention as opposed to build up... beach fronts wash away, my car needs more repairs over time, even stars in the sky head for destruction. But Darwin proposes that over time all the creatures have been building "upwards" genetically? That doesn't jive with what we know about this universe.

Another problem I have with evolution is that if man came from monkeys and there are still monkeys on the earth why aren't there still any of the in between stage creatures? That doesn't make sense. And you could ask that about any one of the creatures that evolved.

Here's a quote from "Annals of Science" an article entitled "Devolution". The guy who wrote is actually not a fan of Intelligent design, but I thought he did a fair job of presenting both sides.

"First of all, intelligent design is not what people often assume it is. For one thing, I.D. is not Biblical literalism. Unlike earlier generations of creationists—the so-called Young Earthers and scientific creationists—proponents of intelligent design do not believe that the universe was created in six days, that Earth is ten thousand years old, or that the fossil record was deposited during Noah’s flood. (Indeed, they shun the label “creationism” altogether.) Nor does I.D. flatly reject evolution: adherents freely admit that some evolutionary change occurred during the history of life on Earth. Although the movement is loosely allied with, and heavily funded by, various conservative Christian groups—and although I.D. plainly maintains that life was created—it is generally silent about the identity of the creator.

The movement’s main positive claim is that there are things in the world, most notably life, that cannot be accounted for by known natural causes and show features that, in any other context, we would attribute to intelligence. Living organisms are too complex to be explained by any natural—or, more precisely, by any mindless—process. Instead, the design inherent in organisms can be accounted for only by invoking a designer, and one who is very, very smart."

Advocates of intelligent design point to two developments that in their view undermine Darwinism. The first is the molecular revolution in biology. Beginning in the nineteen-fifties, molecular biologists revealed a staggering and unsuspected degree of complexity within the cells that make up all life. This complexity, I.D.’s defenders argue, lies beyond the abilities of Darwinism to explain. Second, they claim that new mathematical findings cast doubt on the power of natural selection. Selection may play a role in evolution, but it cannot accomplish what biologists suppose it can.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

A moment frozen in time

I had a "Moment" yesterday. One of those moments in your life where time freezes and you see everything from from God's beautiful perspective.

It was my nine year old son's first baseball game. He's in little league. My husband and I are watching him from behind the chain link fence. My husband's fingers are intertwined through the fence. My arms are wrapped around him, hands pressed against his chest. Our eyes are glued to the boy in the uniform in front of us. He is so grown up. I keep thinking about the first time we saw his picture - at the eight week ultrasound. Brandon kept jumping in the ultrasound. Timmy and I were so excited. We knew we had a little athlete on our hands. We probably had an intuition that it was a boy too because I don't remember ever thinking that it could be a girl. And here we are, nine years later and so grown up. He's everything we could sense from that first moment.

Later in the game I hear shouts from the dugout and I know which voice is my sons. It reminds me of that first night in the hospital. All those babies crying, but I knew which one was mine. That baby is mine. Give me my baby. I know my baby. He's growing up now. But he's still my baby. That one is mine.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A worthy charity

Last night I happened to watch this PBS show about treating diseases in third world countries. There was this humble Ugandan engineer. He traveled to villages without clean water and helped them put in place systems to establish clean water. You should have seen what these villagers were drinking. It was muck. The animals drank it too. Not only that, but they carried it in huge plastic containers far distances to get it home. It made me sick to look at. The engineer said it made him sick too. When they tested it, it was just loaded with diahrea causing bacteria that was cycling back and forth between the water and the people.

The line from the show that struck me to the core was this "This engineer has just saved more lives in one day than all the doctors could in a year" (paraphrase) As a nursing student, my passion is fixing hurting and dying people. But this man's seemingly innocuous profession is a more powerful tool in this fight than even medicine.

Yes, clean water is still unavailable to 1.1 billion people worldwide. Did you know that the average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is four miles? At any one time it is estimated that half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-borne diseases.

I was so inspired by this show I looked up "water" at and found one that had a (perfect) four star rating. I was excited to learn that it is also a Christian organization. I have decided to make a regular small (Ok tiny) donation to this worthy organization. You should also check them out.

I noticed that they also do missions trips and I would love to go on one with my eldest son in a few years. I think all kids should go on a missions trip. It puts your life in perspective. Especially as they enter adolesence. It's a good time to realize the important things in life.

A homeschool compromise

As much as I would love to homeschool my kids again, I know that it isn't possible at this time in my life. I'm taking college courses myself and work to put myself throught school. Plus the never ending nitty gritty of running the family: cooking, cleaning, all of my toddlers needs, etc. So I have come up with a brilliant compromise. I have decided to "homeschool" the boys through the summer. Don't worry, it's not that cruel. The amount of actual school work they will need to do will probably amount to less than an hour a day. As any homeschooler will tell you, they learn a lot more in less time at home with the one on one attention.

Anyway, this is partly my way of "catching them up" to the acedemic acheivement that I desire for them that I know they aren't getting in the public school. More importantly it is a good routine and you know how children thrive on routine. Plus there are certain things that I feel get neglected during the school year. These will be the topics I can stress over the summer "homeschool". These include flossing teeth, regular devotions and daily cleaning chores. Obviously those are hugely important life skills.

A nice bonus to this whole plan is that I get to satisfy my little homeschool craving and by the time I start to burn out it's back to school for the boys! I'm so excited! As any homeschool mom will tell you, the most fun part is browsing book stores for new material. It's addicting. I probably don't need much of anything new, but it will be fun to look.

The subjects I would like to hit this summer include: The three R's, of course, (reading, 'riting, 'rithmatic) Intelligent Design, and Anatomy and Physiology - since it is fresh on my mind, having just finished A&P I and II in college. When I started A&P I thought that I was familiar with everything we were going to cover, (especially since I had taken it in highschool). I was surprised by how much I didn't know, like the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. So for my boys, I want to hit each and every chapter from my book - even if it's just to make one point. That way they will at least be familiar with all of the subjects.

I am going to withdraw from one of the summer classes I signed up for to really make time for the kids. If it is a success I will do it every summer. I'll keep you posted.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Healthcare for all !!!

I am just so excited about the new law that just passed here in Massachusetts that tackles the health insurance crisis (lack thereof) in just ONE YEAR. This is really an amazing feat and I'm so proud that Massachusetts is the first to tackle it. "How do they pay for it?", you ask. New taxes are being assessed to the individuals/businesses who should have/provide health insurance. On top of that, the government will chip in $1.3 billion. All of this money will go to cover the 550,000 uninsured in the state. This is just wonderful news. I like the analogy of car insurance, which everyone must have. The people who are walking around without health insurance are still getting some care, which is costing the state or the hospitals money. This plan will bail out the hospitals who are struggling to give free care to the uninsured. The cost of healthcare is one of my biggest concerns/political interests. I will be following this move very closely to see how successful it is. If it works I hope that other states will quickly follow suit.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Abortion continued

Tonight I had a very indepth conversation with a young man who says he's had several women abort his babies because he wasn't ready to be a father. I posed him the theoretical question: if they wanted to put up the baby for adoption would you have a problem with it? Like all men I know who ask for abortions, he claimed he would NEVER EVER put his child up for adoption. And I quote "That would be wrong". I just don't understand that thinking - that it's ok to kill your baby, just don't give it to a loving family to raise.

Anyway, of course I asked about using protection and he said that he doesn't use it, doesn't like it, and like most young men, just doesn't think too much about consequences in general. I thought I planted a good seed when I told him to consider that one of these days he will get a girl pregnant who can't be talked into an abortion. That thought shook him up a bit. He said he was going to go home and call a recent fling to make sure that she isn't pregnant. I told him that he needs to be more careful about who might end up being the mother of his child.

Here is a link to a story that broke my heart of a girl who died from an abortion.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006


I have to touch on abortion every once in a while. It's a subject that is near and dear to my heart. My heart mourns for the thousands of dead babies. Did you know that one third of my generation is dead to abortion? One out of three!? That's horrible. So many of my peers gone.

Here are some other stat's for you: Deaths associated with abortion is three times higher than childbirth.

"Previously, it has been widely assumed that the mortality rate associated with abortion was only one-sixth that of childbirth. But those estimates were based primarily on information gathered only from death certificates or other public records. Proper identification of pregnancy history, the researchers found, reveals that the death rate associated with abortion is actually three times higher than that of childbirth."

"A teenager who has an abortion between 9 and 24 weeks of pregnancy -- when most are performed -- has a 30% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, compared with a 12.5% risk among all women. If that same teenager also has a family history of breast cancer, the risk increases so much that one study showed all such women developed breast cancer by the age of 45." And even though this subject has been up for debate for a long time, statistics are starting to become conclusive... "Most studies show the link exists. Of the 41 studies which have been previously published, 29 show increased risk of breast cancer among women who have chosen abortion. According to the Breast Cancer Prevention Institution, some 16 of those studies are statistically significant.

I had the idea that a law should be passed that requires anesthesia for all fetus' undergoing abortion. Apparantly Indiana Senator, Jeff Drozda, had the same idea. His bill required the notification that the fetus feels pain (that's a start in the right direction.) Unfortunately the bill died. But Drozda will try again next year.

Oklahoma: The state House on Tuesday voted 89-7 to approve a bill (HB 2614) that would require abortion clinics to offer women seeking abortion a chance to have an ultrasound before undergoing the procedure, the Associated Press reports (Talley, Associated Press, 3/14). The bill, which is sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Calvey (R), was passed by the state House Health and Human Services Committee earlier this month (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 3/1).

And last but not least... South Dakota has outlawed abortion. Hurray. But that is only beginning of that legal battle. It is sure to become a voter referrendum in November, and/or go to the supreme court. You go South Dakota!

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