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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How Did They Do It?

So, my vacation with H was great (I took him to Missouri and Oklahoma to see my gazillion family members) but I spent some time feeling a bit bewildered. Let me elaborate:

In Missouri, I stayed with my Grandma B, who married at 16 and had four children. To this day, she is the epitome of the perfect housewife--everything is spotless, she cooks homemade rolls like a pro and there's always fresh iced tea daily. Now, she has 7 kids (she remarried Papa B who has three kids of his own), 15 grandkids (i think i counted correctly on that one!) and now two great-grandsons. While we were visiting I would try to help her do the dishes and she'd say "don't worry about it. Just take care of the baby and enjoy your time with him." Immediately, my inner monologue would go off-

But YOU kept house and cooked with FOUR kids.

You didn't have a dishwasher!

You didn't even have cool bouncy seats and crazy toys like we do today to keep kiddos occupied!

Geez, I feel inadequate.

Now, I know it was not Grandma B's intention to make me feel guilty and inadequate. She was just being her sweet grandma self, but seeing her run around the house to clean and cook (every week she cooks a massive Sunday dinner for everyone and pulls it off without a drop of sweat or anxiety) really got me to thinking. The women that were mothers, wives, grandmothers, caretakers before the great inventions of the dishwasher, washer and dryer, food processor, microwave, etc. worked their asses off. This is not to say that moms, wives, etc. today don't work their asses off--we totally do--but in a different way. Can you freaking imagine? I'm already sleep-deprived because of all of the house work and mommy things (and work things and volunteer things) I have to do but if you took my beautiful washer and dryer, dishwasher and other amazing contraptions, I would go mental. The bouncy seat is the only way hubby and I can shower and get ready in the morning. The baby bjorn and moby wrap help me get house chores done--I can keep H close to me but still use my hands.

Also, my Grandma W told me that she was talking to a woman on her flight from DC back to Oklahoma. The woman was asking her all about her life and after my grandma explained that she married at 18, had three sons, 7 grandkids, and a great-grandson, moved all over the country when they were small boys but her hubby was conveniently never there to help move, how a big chunk of her mothering was spent as a single mother, and that all of her grandchildren have lived with her at least once (i've lived with her the most :)), the woman said "so you've basically been a babysitter for 50 years" and Grandma W was like "well, when you put it that way. Shit, I guess your right!"

While I was with Grandma W in Oklahoma she did the same thing. She cooked, gardened, picked up after everyone else's mess and when I asked if I could help she instructed me to hang with H and not worry about the dishes or cooking.

How the hell did my grandmas do it? Without the gadgets, the child care, the parenting blogs, the super-involved husbands? No wonder my Grandma W takes so many naps....she's got decades of sleep to catch up on! (Speaking of, maybe that's just what I will tell myself when I am exhausted "suck it up, Sam. You can sleep when you are a grandma.")

Both of my grandmas had different circumstances but they made it work. They got by and ended up with great kids and grandkids to show for it. And really, that's all any mom or dad is trying to do--get through one day to the next and do the best we can with what we have.

But seriously....if you take my dishwasher I might go nuts....