Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Morning Misogynist: MTV

The story of MTV Real World cast member Tonya Cooley's lawsuit and settlement with MTV and parent company Viacom has me reeling.

First of all--good for her for having the courage to speak up. What is most abhorrent about this is the role the network as a whole played in the sexual assault of this woman.

-The cameramen watched and both did nothing to stop it nor said anything to Tonya after it happened (as is noted in the story, she was passed out during the incident.)
-The producers also did not report the incident (I think it's safe to assume they saw the footage.)
-The network proceeded to victim blame, citing Cooley's behavior before the incident and her constant drinking which resulted in her passing out prior to the incident.

I'm not going to describe the incident. If you're interested in it, Jezebel has the details.

Oh, and there's that part where MTV went so far as to protect themselves from such lawsuits (were they anticipating rapes and sexual assaults? sounds like it...) by having participants sign waivers:

       "The main legal issue for Cooley was that she was suing for sexual harassment and 
       wrongful termination, but the extensive waiver she signed with the production company 
       not only says that cast members are not official employees, but that they might have to
       deal with "non-consensual physical contact, of which MTV is not responsible," which 
       means that they could get raped on camera and MTV wouldn't be at fault."

The Jezebel article also refers to a past incident where a Real World cast member was raped but the MTV lawyers stepped in and the case wasn't pursued.   I actually wouldn't be surprised if there were more incidents of rape or sexual assault than this that have occurred during the Real World series.  MTV should be ashamed of themselves and someone has got to hold them accountable for their sexist victim blaming. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Are you outraged?

THIS story about a group of high school football players starting a "fantasy slut league" has me outraged.

There are SO many things wrong with this. No students are going to be disciplined because they couldn't find the names of people associated with the league. I find it hard to believe that they can't do a little investigating to find out who was participating. Also, the fact that the principal called the league a "bonding activity" is abhorrent.

So--the girls at this high school have been sexually exploited and shamed (don't get me started on the word 'slut') and the boys who used the girls as a way to get "points" face no repercussions whatsoever?!

We've got to talk about the commodification of women and girls. Little girls are asking their parents to buy them "sexy" clothes, the show Toddlers in Tiaras is a huge hit on cable TV, everywhere you turn there is an ad selling something (perfume, cars, jeans, etc.) but half the time you can hardly tell what the ad is about because it's focused on a partially nude woman, being used to tell the product (yes, i know that half-nude men are used to sell things too but the sexualization of men and boys is not nearly as pervasive as it is for women and girls.)

This issue is even more in our faces during Halloween when girls and women dress as "sexy" versions of nurses, zombies, cats, devils, etc. all for the gratification of men. A perfect example is from the movie Mean Girls:

Educating our children about the sexualization and commodification of girls isn't the sole responsibility of our schools and teachers (notice that the league came to light after a school rally to educate students on date rape, so kudos to the school on that) but the burden rests largely on the shoulders of us as parents to do everything we can to teach our children about such things.

HOWEVER--until the media and society at large recognize this issue, educating our kids will be a long, hard uphill battle.

Organizations doing great work on this issue include Advocates for Human Rights, Hardy Girls Healthy Women,  and True Child.  I encourage you to check them out.

What do you to to talk to your kids about sexualization?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Utopia?

Sometimes, when I get frustrated with the current state of politics in the U.S., (which is happening more often than not at this point) I daydream about living on a commune that would be a little feminist utopia. I've thought about this so much that I have my own guidelines for fellow commune dwellers and so I thought I would share that today because thinking about reality right now just seems....scary.

Sam's Earth-Loving-Atheist-Feministy Commune:

1) in order to reside in the commune you must agree with the following

    • religion is nothing more than a tool of the patriarchy to keep men in power and in complete control
    • women will never be equal unless we have full bodily autonomy and control over our reproductive capacities
    • animals are awesome...let's not eat them all the time. actually let's  limit our eating of animals to big celebrations, and let said animals be ones we raise ourselves, in open spaces that are free of any hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, etc.
    • wine and beer are fun when used in moderation and making wine and beer is even better
    • sharing is great
    • knowledge is fantastic and books are the key to the world
    • violence is never, under any circumstance, acceptable
    • it takes a village to raise a child
    • creative outlets like painting, sculpture, gardening, knitting, etc are critical to emotional and intellectual growth
    • daily physical activity is key to healthy living
    • no hateful words that marginalize and offend anyone based on race, sex, ethnicity, immigration status, ability, age, gender identity or expression, marital status, sexual orientation, or class will be tolerated
    • once a week there will be a big party and everyone will contribute at least one item whether it be entertainment, libations, food, decor, etc.
    • everyone will contribute to life on the commune in some way, with positions rotating. One month you could be raising chickens and the next day teaching art class.
2) the commune will be somewhere with rolling hills, green grass and warm weather. we will have lots of animals and a nice big garden

This is as far as my daydream has gotten me. And unfortunately it's just that--a daydream......

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Morning Misogynists

Just another instance to add to our disgusting rape culture. A student(s) put up fliers that outlined the "Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape" at Miami University in the men's bathrooms of a co-ed dorm hall. They haven't caught the assholes that did this (and probably won't) but I am glad that the students from the Miami U campus group Women Against Violence and Sexual Assault (WAVE) are taking a stand and demanding more action from university officials.  I hope they stand their ground and that officials take this case seriously.

Friday, October 5, 2012


15 days ago, I had my fourth laparascopic surgery to remove endometriosis in my pelvic area.  I don't have my post-op appointment until next week, so I really don't know all of the details of the surgery (where they found the endometrial tissue, how much, etc.)

But I do know this--I've reached my breaking point. Ten years of pain, surgeries, doctors, different oral contraceptives, medical menopause, and more pain. In my pre-op appointment, my surgeon said "do you want more children?" and I told him yes, I want one more but that I need to wait until my husband is out of law school, to which he replied "well, you might consider getting your childbearing over with so that we can take out your uterus and eliminate the disease and the pain."

After the appointment, I told my husband what the surgeon said.  He's not the first doctor to tell me to have a hysterectomy. But I played it down--I felt like this surgery would be different and that I'd have time, like maybe 3 years to just hang with H before getting knocked up again.

Today is a different story. The pain is insurmountable. It hurts to move, to walk, to sit, to breathe. I had to shut my office door so I could cry, and then I thought to myself "Fuck it, I can't wait a few years. Maybe the best thing to do is to get the hysterectomy. We can always adopt." 

So that's where I am today. There's a lot going on with my body that is yucky and I'd rather not divulge the details, but it's gotten me to this point of hopelessness. It'll be interesting to see what the doctor says next week at my follow-up appointment.  It'd be great if he had answers, but somehow I have a feeling that I'll leave with not much more than the option to do medical menopause again, get loaded on pain pills, have a kid asap and then do the hysterectomy, or just go ahead with the hysterectomy now.

It's days like this when I wish I was a dude and didn't have to put up with this shit.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Brief Hiatus

sorry for the lack of posts, y'all! I had surgery last week and have been underwater with work, etc.

I'll be posting soon about how the surgery to remove endometriosis went as well as other fun post on atheist parenting and more!

thanks for your patience!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

That Group of Women Saved Me

**Trigger warning**

Ten years ago this month, I was raped.  Was it “legitimate”? I suppose for some people the jury is still out on that one, but recent events such as waiting for Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and of course Rep. Akin’s recent comments have influenced me to write my story.

I knew my rapist. We had been dating for almost two weeks.  He drugged me. I blacked out. I was physically unable to say NO or to protest.  I was in denial for months until I sat in a circle with other women and listened to them tell their stories of being attacked by a stranger or being raped by a boyfriend or acquaintance. I didn’t tell my story that night, but I did finally admit to myself and my three best friends that I had been raped.

Rape is not something that crosses most people’s minds each day, but it does mine as I am sure is the case for other victims of rape and sexual assault.

But I don’t want to talk about how horrifying my experience was. 

Instead, I want to talk about finding the strength to move on and move forward.

I want to talk about society’s perception of victims and rapists.

I want to talk about what consent really means.

The day after I was raped I was supposed to go to a big frat boy party thing with a friend—and my rapist was going to be there. Even though I hadn’t yet realized/admitted to myself that I had been raped, I knew what had happened the night before was wrong and I felt sick to my stomach just thinking about being in the same vicinity as him. My “friend” (we are no longer friends because she decided to keep hanging out with that group of guys and I, for obvious reasons did not) was so upset with me and tried everything she could to pressure me into going. It worked. I spent the next six hours getting wasted and avoiding my rapist at all costs.  And that’s how I spent the next month and a half—I drank. A lot.

That month and a half was hazy and the epitome of avoidance. I avoided my rapist and his frat brothers. I avoided thinking about that night. I avoided talking to my best friends about what had happened. It was easy for me to compartmentalize my experience and shove it deep into my subconscious.

Being raped drove me into despair but it also pushed me into activism. I often feel guilty that I hadn’t really considered social justice and political activism until I was raped, but I suppose everyone has to start somewhere. I no longer feel sadness, shame or despair. I am no longer a victim—I am a survivor and a warrior. I only have anger left. Anger that I channel into action to end violence against women.

Telling my story didn’t magically erase the pain and anguish I felt.  I had good days and bad days.  There were days when I felt strong and resilient—when I felt like I had my power back. Days when I felt like I could trust a man again. Days when I felt like I could possibly drink amongst strangers again.

But there were days—long stretches of time, really—when it was so easy to slip back into the comfort of denial. It’s much easier to see myself as a whole, happy and healthy person than to accept my reality—a young woman whose college experience is not defined by, but definitely influenced by an act of violence.

It's much easier to think we live in a world where women can choose when and with whom to have sex than to accept reality—a world where women look over their shoulders at night in fear of a stranger lurking behind them; a world where date rape drugs are passed around amongst men like party favors at a child’s birthday party; a world where sexual history determines a victim’s credibility in a court of law.

It was during those times that I leaned heavily on my friends and community. Out of all the women I know, about half of them have been raped or sexually assaulted and I didn’t have to go far to find someone to talk to who understood my roller coaster of emotions.

Activism has been unbelievably therapeutic for me, and it dawned on me that although I am open to telling my story to strangers on the street, I have never written about it.  Until now.

What image pops in your head when you think of rape? What does the woman (or man) look like? What does the rapist look like?

Close your eyes and visualize it.

Now, what does the woman do for a living? What was she wearing? What does the rapist do for a living? What was he wearing?

Open your eyes. Erase that visualization and let me tell you something: it doesn’t fucking matter. Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter if the victim is a stripper in a string bikini getting raped by a wealthy businessman. Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter if she knows him. Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter if they had had consensual sex in the past. Rape is rape. And yet, a rape victim’s sexual history (along with what she was wearing, etc.) is often brought up in rape trials.

I am getting sick and tired of the “she was asking for it” mentality.

I’m also tired of the supposed “confusion” around consent

When are we going to educate our children about response-positive consent? I think what is most frightening about this Reddit article is the men who claim they didn’t know they were raping someone in the first place just because she was passed out from drinking too much.  In addition to talking honestly to folks about consent we need to dig deeper into why anyone would want to have “sex” with a more or less lifeless body as opposed to consensual sex with an enthusiastic partner. 

As the mother of a son, I often think about what I can do to teach him to look at the world through a feminist lens--to see women as true equals, to understand what consensual sex is, to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, and so on. How does a mother teach such lessons in a society that bombards everyone, even young children, with messages that equate violence with masculinity; that sexualizes little girls; where pornography is accessible with one click; where marriage is denied depending on the sex of the person you fall in love with; and where women are constantly objectified?

A big step forward would be integrating something like Men Can Stop Rape’s program geared toward teaching young men about respect and defining their own masculinity to end violence. 

Or maybe something like the Red Flag campaign that talks to teens about dating violence and healthy relationships. Also, a friend pointed out to me that in some states Planned Parenthood has great programs they do in high schools that address dating violence, healthy relationships and rape with teens (another reason to support Planned Parenthood!)

Wouldn’t it be amazing if programs like these were taught in EVERY middle school health class?! We need programs like these to become the national standard--not just something that exists in certain communities. Rape has no boundaries--it permeates through all communities and cultures. So too should programs that educate our teens and young people and empower them to make the right decisions about how they treat one another.

While we’re at it, we need to provide more resources that provide outlets for victims to report their assaults and seek medical and mental health treatment.  Given the circumstances under which I was raped, I didn’t immediately seek help but fortunately that group of women I sat with on that cool, spring night saved me and gave me hope. We were in that room together because we were all involved in the Vagina Monologues and all had a commitment to stopping violence against women.  I felt passionately about stopping violence against women…I just hadn’t realize that I was one of THOSE women—the women we were trying to help—until I stopped to listen to the voices surrounding me, breaking the silence.

There’s something about solidarity that breaks the barrier of silence and transcends guilt, shame and fear. I’ve found that just because of my activism in the women’s movement, women have come to me and shared their stories with me. I remember a classmate coming up to me at the end of our Spanish class (I had just made a pitch for folks to buy tickets to see the Vagina Monologues) and telling me she had been raped at a fraternity house. My stomach hit the ground—I felt so conflicted. Part of me wanted to embrace her and say “you aren’t alone! It happened to me, too!” while another voice inside me sobbed “Was it the same guy that raped me? What would have happened if I had reported him? How many women could I have helped just by calling the cops?”  I ended up listening to her story and telling her she wasn’t alone. And that’s all I said. I still regret it.

Over the years I have heard more stories than I could have ever imagined. Each story, each woman, has reinforced my conviction to end rape and rape culture.

My healing isn’t over. I still have good days and bad days and what keeps me going is the women I have met over the years who manage to keep living their lives.  And on the days where I teeter in the middle—where I could stumble into a bad day or resolve to have a good one—I think of things like a friend’s tattoo: Strongest in the Broken Places, and I try to rally and fight back.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Having a Baby didn't End my Endometriosis

If you know me, or happened to read my post from May 2011, you know that I've been dealing with endometriosis for nine years now. Ever since the diagnosis, when doctors weren't trying to convince me to have a hysterectomy, they were trying to convince me to have a baby. Babies, they said, were the magical cure-all for women who suffer from endometriosis. They couldn't give me any hard evidence on why this was the case, but instead dropped lines like "every patient I've had that has suffered from endometriosis hasn't had it return since giving birth."

Right. Well, guess what! I don't get to be one of those lucky women. Maybe my (SUPER AWESOME AND AMAZING) baby didn't get the magical endo-curing properties those other babies got to rid their moms of horrendous pain and suffering? Maybe I am cursed? (Not so long ago I would have indeed been considered cursed given that endometriosis was widely known as the working woman's disease.)

OR maybe, just maybe the problem is that we don't know a lot about endometriosis in the first place (who wants to fund medical research for some weird woman's disease, anyways?)

Now, let me back-up a bit. I had H in late December via a cesarean section (which was preceded by a horrendous labor and attempted vaginal birth). For obvious reasons, I was in quite a bit of pain for several months afterwards. At my 12 week appointment, when I told my doc about the pain, she said that pain from c-sections doesn't entirely go away until about 5 months post-partum. So, I sucked it up and dealt with the pain. Constant, shitty pain.

Fast forward to 8 months post-partum and I couldn't take it anymore. I went in to see my gynecologist and she had me undergo an uncomfortable transvaginal ultrasound (I'm sure Virginia Governor McDonnell was SO happy about that!) which wasn't a big deal since I've had at least 10 of them in the past for other endo-related reasons. The ultrasound revealed an endometrioma  on one of my ovaries and she said that given how I had described the pain I was having that it's likely the endometriosis is back.

I wanted to cry.

"So," I said "what's the plan?" My doc explained that since I am breastfeeding (more on this in a sec) that medical menopause, or lupron, isn't an option since it would stop my milk production completely. She decided that what would be best is to put me on a hormonal birth control pill (did I mention that I already have a non-hormonal IUD in? talk about back-up birth control!) and if I didn't start to feel better in a month, then she recommended surgery given my extensive history with the disease.

I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and cry my eyeballs off.

So, here I am two weeks in, trying out the hormonal BC. And so far, it's not working. Instead--it has stopped my milk (I don't even have enough to pump during the day and am now down to once-a-night feedings with H---totally heartbreaking) and I am having what seems to be a never-ending period from hell. It's like my uterus has turned against me. I feel helpless.

All I can do right now is wait. Even though I know the end result: surgery number FOUR. This ought to be fun. Stay tuned for more endo-adventures!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Monday Morning Misogynist--A Disturbing Trend

(I am aware that it's Tuesday, but yesterday I was spending time with my family, so today is kinda like Monday....right?)

I really hope this is the last post I do about an obnoxious MAN saying tremendously offensive things about rape. Tom Smith, a GOP Senate Candidate, recently equated pregnancy resulting from rape with pregnancy out of wedlock. Yep, that's right. Another douchebag, who is running for office, is publicly spouting nonsensical things about rape with the ultimate goal of proclaiming he is pro-life and that in the end "ya know, the woman really wanted it."

I'm sure there are plenty more dickhead GOP legislators and candidates that actually subscribe to Smith's as well as Akin's insidious beliefs (hell, it's even in the republican platform, y'all!) but let's hope that from now on they keep their mouths shut.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Will Travel with Baby

By the time he was 5 months old, H had been to TEN states: Virginia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Missouri, and DC.

I can't even begin to tell you how nervous I was on that first flight (6 hours to L.A.!) but he was actually pretty good (read: he slept almost the entire time.)

Traveling with a baby is no walk in the park. In fact, it is utterly exhausting, especially when you are travelling for work. When H and I went to Missouri and Oklahoma in May to see family, it took two flights to get there, plus a 2 hour car ride. By the time we got to my grandma's I was spent, but I was generally more relaxed because I didn't have to worry about waking up on time and being at 100% for work meetings, etc.

In addition to being insanely stressed out when you are traveling with a 3 month old, here are some other fabulous road blocks/annoyances to make your trip extra exciting!

  • Even if you have a well behaved baby there will always be people who glare at you as you board and exit the plane. These folks will make you feel insanely self-conscious and make you scrutinize your every move.
  • Airplane bathrooms suck. Period. Most don't have a changing table, and even if they do there's hardly any room in there to change the baby in the first place.  Because of this I've become quite good at changing H in my lap while sitting on a toilet. I've even had a fellow parent tell me that he and his wife have changed their child's diaper right out in the open on the plane. I think we should consider petitioning airlines to provide family friendly bathrooms--the non-parents would appreciate it, too.
  • While we are on the bathroom note--say you are traveling alone with your 3 month old. And say you have to pee. You have to pee really, really badly. What do you do? Ask one of the people sitting next to you (a glarer, no doubt) to hold the baby? Lay the baby on your seat all defenseless while you go to the bathroom? How about take your baby to the bathroom with you, then lay the baby in the sink? I know, I know....none of these are safe options for your little one. So, to avoid utter bladder destruction, here's what I recommend: before traveling with your baby practice holding your baby with one arm, unbuttoning and pulling down your pants with the other arm, sitting on the toilet, and peeing (if you're a dude, I have no idea what to tell you here, but I imagine it's easier with a penis.) That's right. That's what I did multiple times while traveling solo with  H and now I am a pro at it. Having the baby in the baby carrier works, too but I've found that H's long legs hang below my crotch, so I have to lift him up if I am wearing him and need to pee. Isn't parenting glamorous?!
  • In order to keep your little one from crying during take off and landing, most doctors and other baby-traveling pros will tell you to either breastfeed or bottle feed the baby during take off and landing. The sucking helps their ears acclimate to the changing cabin pressure.  However--if you have a super tall/long baby like I do, then this only works until the baby is about 4 months old. After that, when you are holding them to breastfeed (across your body, in your lap) their little head or little feet end up on top of the person next to you. Yes, I spent a whole 2.5 hour flight with H lightly kicking the arm of the guy sitting next to me. He didn't cry at all, but he kicked. I apologized to this poor guy at least twenty times and fortunately, he was super-duper nice and took H's annoying kicks like a champ.  I doubt I will get so lucky next time.
  • Gone are the days of traveling light. Babies require a bunch of crap: diapers, bottles, breast pump, bouncy seat, clothes, more clothes, more diapers, bathing items, sunscreen, hats, swimsuit, swimming diapers, toys, blankets, white noise machine, and more. There's no way to sugar-coat it. The loads of baby crap is shitty to travel with. It is also quite heavy and you will be left paying $50-$100 for baggage fees.
What are your favorite travel-with-baby stories? Please share!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Morning Misogynist: As if Akin wasn't enough...

Sadly I'm not surprised that GOP Vice President pick Paul Ryan is this week's Monday Morning Misogynist. Apparently Ryan decided that Rep. Akin's comments weren't enough to outrage American women--he added his own thoughts on rape, saying it is just another way to get knocked up. Disgusting, I know. I don't have time to delve into how insulting Ryan's comment was (we are driving back from NYC and blogging via iPhone is a little tricky).

Just another man trying to define rape for his own political agenda. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Whirlwind Mornings

I knew when I became pregnant that my life would never be the same. It's not necessarily a secret that "babies change everything" and yet, it's easy to glaze over the finer details like how your morning ritual will suck the life out of you.

So here it is. A peek into our (weekday) mornings:

To preface this, I'd like to point out that H has woken up to eat at midnight and again at 2:00am.

6:00 a.m. - Rise and shine! H is ready for the day and wakes up crying.

6:02 a.m. - I grab H and put him in bed with me so that he can nurse. These days H likes to drink a little, looks around, drink a little more, pinch my nose, drink a little, pull my hair, drink a little, bite my nipple, and then I take the boob away. While H is nursing I either try to "sleep" a little longer, or I start checking work email.

6:30 a.m. - And we are up! I take H into the nursery, pull open the curtains, pick out his outfit, change his diaper, put his clothes on and sit him in the floor. Then I make myself a cup of coffee.

6:45 a.m. - While H starts to play in  the nursery, I dash downstairs to get his clean diapers that I washed the night before. I put them away in the nursery and then put H in his swing.  Then I start to vacuum the nursery, dining room, entry room and kitchen. With both babies (H is in a nanny share and it's our week to be at our house) crawling, the floor needs to be super clean. Otherwise they'll end up with beagle hair and who knows what else all over their sticky palms. Oh, and I let the beagle outside to do his business. The cup of coffee is still sitting on the counter, untouched.

7:15 a.m. - Hubby feeds H his rice cereal while I shower. Then I throw on some clothes and hubby hops in the shower. I feed the dog. H begins crawling aaallllll over the house. I do my best to keep slobbery beagle kisses at a minimum (Bailey is really excited about H crawling and shows it by licking his face!)

7:30 a.m. - I try to do something with my (either wet or unwashed) hair and start putting on makeup. This routine, which used to take 15 minutes pre-baby, now takes FOREVER. I'm usually interrupted by something. It varies daily.  While I am trying to look presentable, hubby starts defrosting frozen breast milk and making H's bottles for the day. Oh! there's that cup of coffee! I take a few sips and go back to whatever I was doing before.

8:00 a.m. - the nanny arrives, and I holler at hubby to make sure he puts pants on. The beagle goes crazy....he likes guests, even if it is someone he knows. Then the other mom in our nanny share brings in baby H2 (his name also starts with an H!) and the beagle goes bonkers again. I spend about 5 minutes trying to occupy the beagle with a treat by having him do his tricks (sit! down! lay! spin! up! walk! shake!) to remind him that he is in fact, a well-trained dog. Meanwhile hubby is unloading/loading the dishwasher. I take a few more sips of coffee.

8:15 a.m. - hubby and I finish getting ready. Damn! I still have like half a cup of coffee! I pack my work bag, take a few more sips, give H a kiss and we are out the door!

8:30 a.m. - we hop in the car. I then say "oops!" and run back into the house to get whatever it is that I've forgotten that day. Hubby drives me to the metro (only a 15 min walk from our house, but he's going that directions anyways) and we both go to our offices. He drives to the Virginia suburbs, I take the train to the city.

9:00 a.m. - I start chugging down coffee number two and hope for a good day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Morning Misogyny: "Legitimate" Rape!?!?

Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, may just get the Misogynist of the Year Award for his recent comments on allowing exceptions to abortion access for rape victims. I'll let you watch the video yourself to see just how big of a douchebag (remember, douching is bad for you!) this guy is. 

What planet is he living on? And better yet, who are these doctors telling him that victims of "legitimate" (I know, every time I think/type/say "legitimate rape" I almost puke) rape can magically prevent pregnancy?! I don't even want to know what he considers "legitimate" rape. 

Let's forget about the fact that Akin is absurdly anti-choice. Apparently he is so out of touch with reality and women that he can't even diplomatically talk about a horrific crime. Now, let me just say that I don't expect politicians to know exactly how the human body works (that's really another issue--the issue of our leap away from science in this country to teach things like creationism and abstinence-only sex-education instead.) BUT--when (mostly male) politicians start trying to regulate my uterus, I think they should have their information straight. And that's just the point.

Mr. Akin--you are not a social worker or victims' advocate, you are not a police officer, and you cannot tell me or any woman if her being raped is "legitimate". 

Mr. Akin--you are not a gynecologist, nor do you have any medical training whatsoever, and you cannot tell me or any woman if she should or should not have an abortion.

I don't have much else to say about makes me sick to my stomach. I really hope  Missourians don't vote in this asshole over Claire McCaskill.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Capitalism Rests on the Backs of Mothers (and other unpaid care givers)

This piece  on capitalism and mothering over at Feministe by amazing blogger Blue Milk (one of my most favorite feminist mommy blogs) is a must-read. Even when I am in the throes of endless loads of laundry, waking up at 6:00am every morning to vacuum now that H is crawling, and making vegetable purees for H, I forget that mothering is, in fact, WORK. Oh wait. It's not just work. It's UNPAID WORK.

As Blue Milk points out, capitalism relies heavily on the unpaid labor of caregivers. Without us/them the system wouldn't work.

If you aren’t yet able to accept mothering as work then you have some reading to do – it will involve economics and history. Start with the emergence of industrialisation when family work first became invisible. And if you can’t see that breastfeeding a baby was every bit as important as collecting firewood for family survival, then keep reading back through feudalism. But once you knock that patriarchal lens of distortion from your eyes you will never see mothers and children quite the same way again. Everywhere you look you will see something a little bit horrifying – hours and hours and hours and hours of unpaid labour. It is work performed very often with love; it is work with possibilities of personal reward and great satisfaction, much like some other jobs, except it is unpaid.

What really spoke to me in this article is the point about the transfer of care for working moms. I work full-time and so does my husband which means someone has to watch H. Have you heard about how expensive daycare is? What about those of us who live in places where there are two-year long waiting lists to get into  a daycare? We basically have to do nanny-share. The guilt I feel for not being able to provide insurance for our nanny is tremendous, never mind the fact that I wish we could pay her more, because it's one hell of a job to watch two infants (for those wondering, we pay her well over minimum wage, but this does not make up for the fact that women's work, especially women who care for others as their job, is underpaid.)

Because whenever a mother enters the workplace a deal is being cut somewhere for childcare. Thinking care work vanishes when a woman’s time is suddenly accounted for in paid employment is patriarchal thinking. 

Like I said, this is a must-read and an important topic that often gets shoved aside when we talk about mothering at all in our society. We are more obsessed with the "mommy wars" than having real, honest conversations about mothering as a huge sacrifice (a sacrifice of our bodies, of our free-time, and for those who work outside the home--our careers) and as an exhausting (yet SO rewarding)  unpaid job. So please, take a trip over to Feministe to check out the piece

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Morning Misogyny: Back to the 1950s?

This has me all roiled up. It's been floating around on Pinterest and I finally clicked on it our of sheer curiosity. Clearly I shouldn't have.

Why on earth is the 1950s housewife ideal back in style? Please, please tell me that there is something like this in the universe aimed at men learning how to please their wives! (I know, I know...chances are slim to none on this one.)

I am by no means a relationship expert, nor one to readily dole out advice on marriage but I do know that feminism has provided me a lens through which to view the world and my own interpersonal relationships.

Here's what I know about marriage/commitment:

  • Marriage works best (for me) when it is viewed (internally AND externally) as an equal partnership.
  • Marriage isn't a walk in the park but it also shouldn't be dreadfully difficult. It takes work, but what good thing doesn't take at least some effort to maintain it?
  • Having children will test your marriage and its previously determined kid-free equilibrium. This is when the equal partnership framework becomes even more critical.
Any man who expects his wife to "honor" him, dress for his pleasure, HAVE SEX WITH HIM EVEN WHEN SHE DOESN'T WANT TO, agree with everything he says/does, prepare his favorite foods, and FOLLOW his lead, sees women as nothing more than property and second-class citizens. I can't believe how viral this blog post has gone (apparently the author has a book, too. fml.)

In addition for fighting for such basic things like birth control (which I never ever thought I'd be fighting for), we are now having to push back on an outdated notion that women are inferior help-mates. So, we've got a political battle for birth control and a social battle for equality within heterosexual marriages/relationships. 

Perhaps what breaks my heart more than a sexist man, is a misogynist woman doing all she can to uphold the patriarchy.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I cried over spilled milk...

There's no sense crying over spilled milk. Unless said milk comes from your tits.
As I've said in other posts, I've had problems with a low-ish milk supply. For a brief period of time I was pumping three times at work and once at night before I went to bed (after having already fed H at least twice from the tit). So, on a late evening, I was tired as hell but needed to pump. I sat in the dining room, yawning and browsing the endless entertainment that is Pinterest, while the pump squeezed out every last drop of milk I had. Once I was done pumping, I disconnected all the tubes and put the two full containers on the table. And then it happened. As I was reaching for my glass of water (because DAMN! breastfeeding makes you thirsty!) I knocked over one of the containers. There was breast milk everywhere....and I cried. I just sat at the table and bawled my eyes out, mourning the loss of that prized liquid that my body had worked so hard to make.

The world of milk supply enhancers.
If you are a breastfeeding mom you will soon come to realize that there are many things you can do to try and increase your milk supply. For example--once upon a time I got an awesome lactation cookie recipe from a friend and made about 5 batches. These cookies where phenomenal, and I ate waaaayyyy too many. The key ingredients? Oatmeal, brewers yeast and flax seed meal. Just add chocolate chips and you've got a delicious cookie. Also, I take two pills of More Milk Plus three times a day and that seems to keep my supply steady...unless I have a cold which leads me to:

Crazy shit that depletes your milk supply.
Apparently being sick can decrease your milk supply. I currently have the cold from hell and I am pumping about 4 ounces less than I usually do, which can be pretty frustrating. There are also some OTC meds that can decrease milk supply. Breastfeeding Basics has a pretty comprehensive list here.

Getting Accustomed To Your New Milk-Filled-Mams.
Along with being tiring, joyful, and frustrating breastfeeding can be hilarious.  When H was two weeks old I was sitting in the living room nursing him. He fell asleep and I lifted my boob away from his face to put it back in my shirt and then SSSHHHPPEEEWWWWWWW! A giant stream of milk squirted across the room. It was like a freaking water gun...and not just any water gun but a freaking super soaker circa 1992. I immediately started to crack up. Whhhhyyyy? Whhhyyyy do I have to be all alone when this happens with no one to laugh with me?!   It's all good though... I learned quickly that the milk super soaker is not a one-time event, and it never loses its wonder.

So pay attention: lactating breasts squirt, leak, ache, change shape and size, get hard when full and more. And you know what? It's absolutely amazing.

Once the weather hit 75 degrees, I gave up using a cover when nursing in public.
I have absolutely no problem breastfeeding H in public, and rarely ever use a cover--especially now that it's WAY over 75 degrees outside. Using a cover when its warm outside creates a mini sauna for H and his adorable little head gets sweaty and his cheeks get red and then he stops eating. Forget the cover. Besides, I've only caught a few people staring at me before but it seemed to be more out of curiosity than shame or perversion.

Oh! BTW, this Saturday I am joining other mamas at the Great Nurse-In and I am beyond excited to participate in such an important event that aims to promote breastfeeding friendly laws, among other things.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This Sh*@ is Getting Old

I'm getting sick and tired of this country being overrun by misogynist assholes. This country is anti-women and it's anti-children. Period.  Maybe I would have less of a problem with anti-choice zealots if they were also fighting to for universal healthcare, or access to contraceptives, or finding ways to decrease the cost of child care. But they aren't. In the same breath that they tout their so-called "pro-life" values, they endorse legislation and candidates who want to cut Medicaid, or repeal the constitutional healthcare law. This contradiction drives me crazy.

The deck is stacked against women and kids.

Woman: I just found out I am pregnant but I am not sure if I want to keep the pregnancy. I can't afford to raise a child.

Patriarchy: But what about the baby! And Jesus! You should have this baby and we will help you. Besides, abortion gives you breast cancer.

Woman: Oh, ok. Can you help me find a good place to get prenatal care that is affordable?

Patriarchy: Ummmm. Sure. Check out this crisis pregnancy center.

Woman: I don't have insurance. How can I afford prenatal vitamins and ultrasounds and the other various medical tests necessary to ensure I will have a healthy pregnancy?

Patriarchy: I'm sorry. What did you say? Wait, are you married? Where's the father?

Woman: Well, I happen to be single. But I don't understand what that has to do with my question.

Patriarchy: Not married? Well, at least you are too far along in your second trimester to get an abortion! Yay for life! 

Woman: Ok. Well--

Patriarchy: --Listen, I saved your BABY. Leave me alone, k?

Woman: My baby hasn't even been born yet. Fine. I will leave you alone. For now. But you promised you'd help.

*cue baby crying, tired mom, etc.

Woman: Hey, Patriarchy. So--I have a dilemma. You see, I work two part-time jobs to try and make ends meet. I was only able to take 2 weeks off work after having my baby and I am struggling to find affordable quality day-care.  Got any suggestions?

Patriarchy: Nope. That's not my field of expertise.

Woman: Ok. Well, I heard rumors that Medicaid funding was about to be cut in the state. But without Medicaid my baby and I won't have health insurance. Can you help us?

Patriarchy: Health insurance is only for those who can afford it. Besides, I'm sure you will be ok. Just....ummm....make sure you wash your hands a lot. And watch where you are walking. And get your vitamin C.

Woman: Yes, I am already doing those things. Anyways, my friend told me that if I continue to breastfeed that it will decrease the change of my baby getting sick, but my boss won't let me take breaks to pump. Are there any laws that allow women to breastfeed or pump in a private area in their workplace?

Patriarchy: OMG! I don't want to think about your BOOBS! Boobs, especially lactating boobs, are so gross and inappropriate. Unless, well...unless they are on a hot twenty-something that is childless and knows her breasts are purely for MY pleasure. But should probably just go to formula or something. 

Woman: Ok. Well, maybe you can help me with this: there are hardly any public restrooms in my town that have a changing table in them. Maybe you could  help me with a city ordinance or something so that I can change my baby's diaper while I am out in public?

Patriarchy: Just say home.

Woman: I can't just say home! I have to work! I have to feed my family and pay the bills!

Patriarchy: God, you are needy! Listen. Just marry someone. Stay home. Have his babies. Cook some dinner. And shut up. 

Woman: Fuck.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Volume Control

Last summer we had a BBQ house warming party and it was a ton of fun. So, given that we still have some friends that haven't met H yet, we decided we'd do another BBQ this summer. Now, as is the case with EVERY PARTY WE'VE EVER HAD, after we've had a few beers hubby and I battle it out over the noise level.

He's generally a loud person and he likes his music loud. BUT after about 9 or 10p I start to get paranoid and turn down the volume which prompts hubby to turn it back up, ensuing in a battle of the volume control that I'm sure entertains the guests. Obviously, we all know who wins in this situation. He does--the music stays loud because I get tired of the back and forth crap, and we get officially marked as those neighbors.

I win in a different way--because I am right. The majority of our parties have resulted in a noise complaint, making us look like complete douches to our neighbors.

So this time around we are preemptively assigning tasks and agreeing on volume level.  Here's the breakdown:

Hubby is in charge of

  • grilling
  • drinking games
  • music*
  • the keg
  • whipped cream based libations
  • pest control (mosquitos, etc.)
I am in charge of
  • hors d'oeuvres
  • dessert
  • invite list
  • e-vite
  • decor
  • libations (excluding those with whipped cream)
  • lighting
On volume: hubby gets to have the music as loud as he wants until 8:00pm or when the sun goes down--whichever happens first. Once it's 8:00p/dusk, I get to control the volume level.

Now to the music. We tend to slightly disagree on the music selection. So, although hubby is technically in charge of the music,we agreed to the following terms:

  1. We each get to bring 60 songs to the table
  2. We each get 10 vetoes of the other person's song
  3. We cannot purposefully insert songs, otherwise known as distractors, that we know the other person will veto in order to save the songs we want but that would otherwise be vetoed had the distractors not been inserted.
This is what we call a compromise. I look forward to reporting back on our party!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Let's Take a Moment

Let's take a moment to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act.
Let's take a moment to take in what this means for women and families.
Let's take a moment to appreciate how historic a day it is.
Hell, let's even take a moment to thank Justice Roberts (I know! Who would have though GW Bush's prize chief justice nominee would vote this way!)

This is the America I love. This is the America I believe in. This is our country at its best and I want to see MORE. I want to see more people standing up for what's right. I want to see my country continuing to fight for those in need and protect our civil rights. For too long, health care reform has been used as a political bargaining chip. I truly hope that the SCOTUS decision will put an end to the debate and let the Affordable Care Act do its good by providing the 30 million uninsured Americans with health insurance that does not discriminate.
Image courtesy of ThinkProgress

I'm lucky. I have a job. I am a union member. I have insanely good health insurance. But a job and a union membership should NOT be prerequisites to maintain my health, see a doctor or get medication that is affordable.

As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said to Vicky Kennedy, widow of former Senator Ted Kennedy, "Now, Teddy can rest."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The War on Women has hit the Tennis Courts

Are you fucking kidding me? Grunting? Someone wants to ban grunting? What. The. Hell.

The recent decision of the WTA to stop women tennis players from grunting during matches is one of the most absurd, sexist regulations to recently hit professional women's sports. Not only is  WTA boss Stacey Allaster so uncomfortable with the guttural noises that she has to make a statement about reducing the "noise level" on the tennis court, but now the WTA says they'll have a hand-held device that chair umpires will use to measure which grunts are over the acceptable level of noise. They're calling it the grunt-o-meter.

You've got to be kidding me.

Don't we have other nonsensical tennis-related things to be focusing our energy on? Like Serena and Venus William's cool clothing line?

 Today on PTI, after Tony Kornheiser compared Maria Sharapova's grunting sounds to that of a wildebeest, he and Michael Wilbon went on to say that no women (professional) tennis players grunted so freely on the courts until Monica Seles hit the courts in the late 80s.  Seles broke the grunting ceiling for the rest of the players.  Did Kornheiser and Wilbon ever consider that no women tennis players grunted before Seles because we live in a rather prude society that prefers women stay soft spoken and dainty? I bet women players were relieved that they wouldn't have to keep their natural sounds at bay once they heard Seles on the court. It's totally natural to make crazy noises when you are physically exerting yourself. You should have heard me during labor!

The folks that are for this rule say that players can compete fine without making the grunting noises, but men grunt just as much. Where's their spiffy grunt-o-meter?

See? Sexism. Women have had to fight tooth and nail to get equal access to sports, and now that the playing field is (for the most part) equal, we have to hear from whiny WTA ass-hats about banning grunts?

This is about as absurd as women not being allowed to run long distance marathons in the Olympics until the 1984 games. 1984! 1984, people! Apparently, similar folks who prefer dainty, silent women were fearful that running would damage women's reproductive systems. This is why my grandma played half court basketball. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? The truth is that when women are athletic, we become a threat.

So now that we have Title IX, and many barriers have been bull-dozed, women are rock stars in tennis. They are in immaculate physical shape and work their butts off. I'd be freaked out if they were to play a match silently. It's like that weird Scientology silent birth thing (ok, I know I've reached my limit of two birth/labor references in this post. I'm done. I promise!)

Who in the sportscasting world will have the guts to call this what it is?  Ladies and gents, the 2012 War on Women, which we thought was only about abortion and equal pay, has now hit the sports arena. Oh wait--current players will get "grandmothered" in and will not have to grunt within the confines of these illogical standards. I feel SO relieved.

We've got a lot of work ahead of us.

(special thanks to my hubby who watches PTI. otherwise, i don't think i would have known about this bull shit in the first place.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More DIY Green Beauty Recipes!

For the past three months I've been using organic raw honey to wash my face in the morning (at night, to wash off makeup I use my homemade oil cleanser.) I've got to say that I am absolutely in love! You see, organic raw honey (honey that isn't heated or pasteurized) has great antibacterial properties, it's chemical-free, and has great for all skin types (acne, eczema, dull skin tone, oily, etc)!  So, I keep a little jar of it in the shower, rub it on my face, let it stay there for a few minutes and then rinse it off. It's not sticky at all. In fact, its smooth and delectable.

Face Mask
This week I tried a new face mask recipe: honey, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon.  You mix the four ingredients together to make a paste (I use 1/4 cup of honey, 1 tbsp each of the nutmeg and cinnamon and 3 tbs of the lemon juice) and apply to the skin.  Let it set for as long as you like (some have said it stings a little but I didn't feel a thing) and rinse off.

Minimalist lists other cool qualities of honey and how it benefits the skin. Cinnamon helps plump fine lines and dry out acne, and nutmeg helps reduce acne scarring.

Shaving Oil & After-Shave Balm
For father's day, I turned to the Moms Rising Blog for some great DIY recipes for a nice gift for hubby.
I went for a simple shaving oil and after-shave balm. The shaving oil had grape seed oil, vitamin e oil, wild chamomile essential oil and the after-shave balm had raw shea butter, coconut oil and sweet orange essential oil.

The verdict: hubby said the oil made shaving a little harder than using his usual shave cream but he did like the after-shave balm.  Maybe I will try a new/revised recipe for the oil and see what he thinks!

I had a bunch of the balm left over so I've been using it for myself! It's very creamy and smells like the beach!

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's not just about abortion

This great piece written about the mother of the home birth movement, Ina May Gaskin, is wonderful.  Ina's books definitely guided me through my pregnancy and prepared me for what I could expect when birthing my baby.

We need more women like her leading the forefront of the home birth and midwife movement. The feminist movement and reproductive rights movements need to find ways to work with midwives because in the end, we are all striving for the same thing--the ability to fully inform women of their options and giving them the tools and resources they need to make choices that are right for them and their families.

Choice isn't just about abortion or birth control. It's about choosing whether to have a child biologically or to adopt (including taking down barriers so that same-sex couples can adopt) It's about choosing where to birth your baby and under what circumstances. It's about choosing the care provider that works best for you--whether it be a doctor, midwife or doula. It's about trusting women.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I put my son in a dress. So what?

Maybe it was to challenge myself more than my family or society. Maybe I just wanted to buy something pink and frilly for a change. Either way, here's how it went down:

While H and I were visiting family, we went to Target with my grandmother, mom, aunts and cousins. Of course we all went to the baby section to look at cute clothes and the clearance racks were packed full of good stuff. Woohoo! After meddling through blue shorts, cute polos and overalls, I got distracted by an ADORABLE purple tutu with sequined trim. Hell, I would have gotten one for myself if they would have had them in the women's section.

Anyways, I spot this tutu and think "you've totally got to get that for H. He doesn't have anything sparkly or purple like that! Why can't he have sparkles?!"

I put the tutu down and walked away.

Then I started perusing through the other "girls" baby clothing and everything was adorned with pink ruffles, purple butterflies, lace, sparkles, and more.

I picked up two outfits--one was pink, orange and brown with little layered ruffles and the other had  varying hues of blue and purple with a ruffled trim. I carried them around. I thought about how cute H would look in these outfits. Then I started hearing the voices of the nay-sayers "it's not fair to impose your crazy feminist beliefs on H. He'll be traumatized if you put him in GIRLS clothes. He's a boy. Dress him like one." and so on and so forth.

Then in comes my hyper-critical feminist self telling me "screw that! WE (society) are the ones that label these "girl" clothes. We don't flip out when we put little girls in jeans anymore so why can't a little boy wear a dress?"

I kept pacing, and eyeing even more frilly clothes to buy. But then I settled on it. Just like that. I got the dresses. The next day I put H in one of them and he looked so cute! And of course, because he's a baby, he didn't care what he was wearing as long as it was comfy.

Since the day I put him in a dress, I've been wondering why I had the urge to do it. Was it more than just wanting to buy something pink? Am I using H to make a statement on gender roles and expression? Why haven't I put him in that dress again? (He hasn't even worn the blue and purple one I got him.)

Perhaps it was a combination of all of the above. I wanted to test myself.  Was I going to be a hypocrite who expounds how fucked up our binary gender roles are one minute while putting my son in what society deems as "boy" clothes the next minute? Or could I fill his closet with whatever I thought was cute?

Honestly, I played it safe. I put him in that dress and we stayed home and played. I'm sure my grandparents thought I was nuts. I didn't take him in public so there was no worrying about how to respond when someone said "aawww how sweet! how old is your little girl?"

And--he's actually been mistaken for a girl a few times when he's worn blue jeans and a green shirt, and we just play along. He's just a baby. Who cares?

Here's the thing: it's a piece of cake to put a girl in "boys"clothes, but this country is so fearful of the feminine that we do our best to keep anything girly within our own pre-determined boundaries, only allowed for those with a vagina. Just think about how ridiculous that is.

Skirts and dresses are SOOO comfortable. In fact, during the summertime you'll be hard pressed to see me in pants. If I were male, I'd love the option of wearing a dress or skirt. Feeling the breeze between your legs on a hot summer day is heavenly. Doesn't the scrotum deserve some breeziness?

I'm not sure I will put H in a dress again, but if/when he starts to pick out his own clothes and wants to wear something pink, ruffly or otherwise girly--I won't stop him.

Milk Factory

Sometimes as I sit in my office pumping breast milk I think to myself about how wonderful it would be to not have to carry a pump, milk, and freezer packs to and from work everyday. And about the joys of not worrying about leaking through my nice dress in a meeting. And about how great it would be to not constantly scrutinize my food intake to help me make more milk (oats, flax seed, yeast, and more), and if I am pumping enough milk in the first place for H to have the next day. Daydreaming is fun, huh. And also at times hopeless.

In the scheme of things, my complaints about breastfeeding are trivial. Some women don't make enough milk at all, others have babies that can't latch on for various reasons, and others find it very painful.  I've been pretty damn lucky with my milk factory. H latched on right away and it's really been an incredible experience for the both of us. We have a tight bond and he's growing like a weed!

BUT about two and a half months post-partum my period returned and ever since my milk supply has slowly dwindled down. Here's the chain of events to cope with the low milk supply and ensuring H gets plenty of sustenance:

-3 months: we starting mixing in some rice cereal in with the breast milk in his bottles to keep him full during the day while I was at work.

-4 months: a lovely woman donated some of her massive supply of milk to me. Apparently this freaks people out, but I trusted her (she's a friend of a friend) and I desperately needed the milk. H would not take formula, trust me we tried, so I needed breast milk for him. Her 120 ounces of frozen milk helped me build my own freezer stash of milk so that I can now sort of stay afloat. When she came to my house to drop it off, I almost burst into tears. It's one of the nicest things anyone has done for me.  I love when moms can help each other out like this!

-5 months: H started eating pureed veggies and fruits, plus we were still doing the rice-cereal + breast milk mix.

-almost 6 months: We've added formula. For two days I'd try to get H to drink a bottle of formula but he kept those adorable lips sealed shut and would turn his head away. Then, one day when he wasn't even particularly that hungry, he drank some! He drank a whole 6 oz bottle of formula! I've found the trick--he doesn't like formula mixed in the morning and then heated up hours later. No. He likes it fresh and very warm. So--formula, pureed food, and breast milk.

Ah, it was such a weight off my shoulders when he drank that bottle of formula. I stopped bringing my pump home every night (I was pumping three times a day at work, then at night after H went to sleep, then again before I left the house!) I decided that I was putting way too much pressure on myself to get enough milk out and that pumping three times a day is sufficient. I mean, he's been getting breast milk for almost 6 months now and any breast milk is good for babies, right!?! Besides, when we are together I breastfeed him on demand.

So despite low supply and H getting three bottom teeth in this month (ouch!) I consider myself quite fortunate in the wonderful world of breastfeeding.

As a final note, I'd like to share this amazing video about hand-expression after using an electric pump. I do it all of the time and get about half an ounce more!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Baby Contraptions

Yep, that’s right. I’ve totally gotten things for H that I thought I would never get. The baby-industrial-complex has totally sucked me in.  But you know what! I don’t care. There’s no guilt here—none at all because damn, this stuff is pretty great:

I used to think: “Ugh what a waste of space. My baby won’t need something like that to entertain him/her.”

Now I think: “Thank you thank you thank you, Mr. Bouncy Seat for saving my ass this morning and providing H with half an hour of entertainment so hubby and I can shower and get dressed. THANK YOOOUUUUU!”

**Now I actually have TWO bouncers and H is obsessed. He has so much fun, and its super entertaining to watch him go nuts in that thing.

Lovin' the bouncy at grandma's 

Bumbo Seat
I used to think: “That thing seems too basic. I bet the baby will just want to lay on his or her back, not be propped up like that.”

Now I think: “Its so great that H can sit up and look around at things! It’s gotta get old staring at the ceiling all the time.”

**we don’t use it as much as we used to now that H is sitting up on his own!
He's sitting up all by himself now!
H in the bumbo seat looking very serious

I used to think: “Waste of money. How could a thing spinning around that plays music be entertaining? It's probably too much stimulation anyways.”

Now I think: “I’m so happy H is into music and that the soft lullaby the mobile plays helps calm him down. Whew! Calm babies are happy babies.”

I used to think: "Totally not necessary. I will just rock the baby to sleep in my arms and hold him until he wakes up."

Now I think: "OMG omg omg I have to peeee! (runs into the nursery to put baby in swing, runs into bathroom) Ahhhhhhh. That's better."

I guess my point is that these contraptions make life easier. Yes, yes they do. And it's totally worth it. During my first few days with H by the time hubby got home, I'd hand H off to him and run to the bathroom. It's great to be able to put your kid in something he/she enjoys so that you can pee, or shower, or eat for goodness sake! 

Friday, June 15, 2012

That F*%#@ing Time Article!

I swear, if one more person asks me "are you going to breastfeed H until he’s FOUR like that lady on the cover of Time?” (always with condescending tone of course),  I am going to scream!

         a)  how long I choose to breastfeed my son is really non of your concern
         b) stop being so ashamed of breastfeeding. It's natural and it's one of the best things I can do for H
         c) stop judging 

A lot of my choices in parenting do come from the Attachment Parenting model, but I use the principals and practices that work best for me. We share a family bed, I breastfeed, I try to wear H (although not as much as I used to--he's getting heavy!), and I don't let him cry it out when I am trying to get him to sleep. BUT--I DO use a stroller, H does get a bottle all-day long while I am at work, I am beginning to slowly move him out of the family bed, and due to low milk supply H is getting one bottle of baby formula a day. See? I made the model work for me. And you know what? If I wanted to breastfeed H until he's FOUR that's my damn business and not yours.

Let's be honest--that Time magazine article was probably a huge money-maker for them. It got tons of buzz and spurred lots of debates.  That's what you get though when you sensationalize a simple, natural bodily function like breastfeeding and pit moms against each other by asking "are you mom enough?" Fuck that damn article.

There. I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm SO Tired of the Supposed "Mommy Wars"

In light of Hilary Rosen's unkind words towards Anne Romney that spurred yet another debate on the so called “mommy wars”, I thought I’d post my thoughts on the topic of being a working mom.

Even though logically, I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving H every morning for work, I do. The guilt pierces my heart and it’s all I can do to not curl up in a ball and cry. But here’s the thing—I know I am a good mom and I know that working outside of the home (because let’s be real here—stay-at-home moms are working, too. It’s just not paid work) is providing me with an immense amount of satisfaction and mental stimulation.

Here’s the thing though, I’m not into guilting other moms into choosing a certain path. I don’t believe there is one right way to parent a child. Every child is different and every family is different. There are many mothers, and fathers for that matter, who would love to stay at home with their kid(s) but they simply cannot afford to do so. There are people like me who, if we REALLY wanted it to work, we could find a way to stay home but we know deep down that we need something for ourselves, something away from the home where we aren’t constantly depended upon.  Either way—it is not my place to pass judgment on a parent who can/wants to stay home or one who cannot/doesn’t want to stay home.

However, just because I love my job I find myself in a constant mental and emotional battle with myself:

I thoroughly enjoy having lunch with my co-workers. It’s my favorite meal of the day because I can actually eat in peace.

I also talk about my baby a majority of the lunch hour.

I love being able to get a lot of my (paid) work done without being interrupted by a crying baby, or otherwise needy baby. (I do have to take a 15-minute break three times a day to pump, but that’s another story.)

I also love the feeling I get waking up to my little baby smiling at me—I just melt and it takes all I've got to leave him every morning.

Working outside of the home is not easy just like being a stay at home mom isn’t a cake-walk either. I am emotionally and physically drained at the end of each day. As many parents know, once the baby is asleep, the work is not over. There’s laundry to be done, dishes to put away, work emails to answer, parenting books and blogs to pour over, bills to pay, a spouse to pay attention to, etc.

Things I used to do for pure pleasure are not an option these days—I haven’t painted or made jewelry since my second trimester.  I’d love to plant some veggies and flowers in the yard but who knows when I’ll be able to do that! Maybe in a few years?!

This gets me back to my earlier post about Norway. Perhaps if U.S. policy actually cared about moms and had a decent paid maternity leave policy, moms would have the opportunity to take at least 6 months to a year off to spend time with their new babies, and then go back to work---maybe GUILT-FREE!  
In addition to lobbying Congress for equal pay for women, we should also focus in on parental leave policies, particularly PAID parental leave.  One thing is for sure—for a country that supposedly values families, we sure do suck at ensuring that families have what they need to raise healthy, well-fed and well-adjusted children.

So do this for me—stop comparing yourself to other moms. Stop valuing stay at home moms over working moms OR working moms over stay at home moms. Instead, let’s work together to move a proactive parental leave policy AND an equal pay policy forward.