Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vikings and Homeschooling

I've been feeling like I've been slacking a bit with homeschooling. Child-led learning is great, though sometimes the child does not seem to want to lead, or to stay on any particular path for longer than 15 minutes. So we've been playing lots of card games, computer reading games and doing Christmas crafts. Today, after Super Why on kids CBC, the show Are We There Yet? came on. They were visiting Iceland. They played on a longboat, went to a traditional thatched/sod home, ate traditional bread cooked over a fire the played games. So to get the kids excited I took them outside to play some of these games. One was arm wrestling. It's done standing on a plank of wood, you bow, grab opposite hands and try to force your opponent to step off the plank by arm wrestling them. Then the really fun one, place a pillow case over each child's head give them each a pillow. Heh, heh I love homeschooling! We also pretended to row a long boat across the North Atlantic from Norway to Iceland (of course we ran into mermaids on the way). Then we made this simple longboat craft:
We cut a rectangle in construction paper.

Folded it in half and cut it on angles on either side.

Taped the ends together.

Taped a sail to a mast made of a toothpick.

We placed play-doh in the boat to hold it open and hold up the mast. Then poked toothpicks through the side of the ship for oars.


Then we made a representation of Norway, the North Atlantic and Iceland for the kids to sail/row their longboats across. Then the play-doh was spotted and that lesson was over.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hard Times

So here it goes. Deep breath and just say it. I'm poor. Money has been an issue since I split with my husband. I did receive back-pay from CTB and I used it to buy Bunk beds so my kids didn't have to sleep on the floor on a mattress. I purchased toys (many of their toys stayed at their father's) and children's clothes. I also purchased teaching tools, a camera to film classes and births and a cheap laptop so that when I'm stuck in town after busing the kids in for a "daddy day" I can do some work. I paid to take some workshops to update my breastfeeding knowledge. Granted, I still have those things and they have been useful and have allowed me to make some money but class participation has been low and not just for me, the health unit's classes numbers have been dwindling as well. After doing my taxes for 2007 and 2008 I was told that I received a cheque for something I wasn't suppose to and now I owe it all back. So I've been putting off doing my taxes for 2009, knowing that I was going to owe more money once I did, because the government sent me money I never asked for. There is also an arrangement for child support that is 2/3's less than it should be in order to cover my end of signing my portion the house over to my ex's mother.

I quit my part-time job, to focus on teaching, doulaing and my kids. I figured with some investment of time, energy and education, I could make this work. Well I couldn't. There I said it, I'm failing. I think that's the hardest part. My partner and I have an agreement, he pays the bills, I pay for gas and food. Well, I have 2 more weeks of food to buy and only 1 weeks worth of money to do it before I get my next support cheque. To keep up my end, I'm going to have to go to the food bank. I've been there before. There was a time as a single mother that it was necessary. What's worse is that last week my partner made a negative comment about people putting bank's food into the backs of their new trucks. I explained that they could have thought their job was secure when they bought the vehicle only to be laid-off a couple of months later and now they couldn't possibly sell it for the amount that they owe. We have a fairly new car (purchased only months before his wife left) and now we are in the same boat. I've mentioned that I may have to go to the food bank this month, he just says "No, we'll be fine."

I'd like to say that I'm not too proud to go there, but there is a part of me that is ashamed. I don't know why, I don't look down on anyone who goes there. I guess I'm worried about my business and what it says about me as a doula if I have to go to the food bank to feed my family. I'm also worried about my partner, who I believe has a harder time with the idea of going to the food bank than I do.

I usually like to end my posts with something uplifting, or at least some way that I intend to fix things. I'll do my taxes and perhaps now, the amount the government owes me in CTB will equal to the amount that I owe them and I'll break even. Then come January I'll be able to receive my CTB on a regular basis and once again be able to feed my family without assistance.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Organizedwisdom: Is Your Profile A Boobytrap?

Yep, that's right. I get this very flattering email from a professional rep at telling me that I have been chosen as an "expert curator" in my doula field. I'm like ummmmm, I'm new, not an expert. So I sent them a nice email thanking them very much and telling them that in 2 years or 25 more births I would be happy to carry this label, but until then no thank you.

So I click on the links given to me in this email, to see what is offered to Expert Curators. Then I see my profile "Top Doula" and I'm gushing a little inside. Then I see what's above it. An Enfamil advertisement. FUCK. I hate that. I mean I've stopped following people on twitter who link breastfeeding info with formula ads. I always email "birth/breastfeeding experts" who's sites have formula advertising (these emails are not always very nice), and there it is right over my smiling twitter picture a great big neon sign HYPOCRITE. Granted I make no money from these ads, nor did I approve them or neglect to block them, but the thought of a mother seeing that ad and associating it with my name or even the title doula makes me feel sick inside.

So I re-emailed the professional rep. and let them know that I did not want to be associated with a site that promotes formula to pregnant mothers and to take my profile down. I checked 20 minutes later but my profile was still there. Yech. I wonder, is there anything I can really do about this? Short of hiring a lawyer that is?

Update: The email I sent was effective and was replied to the next day: has agreed to take the formula ad off of the profile pages. I cut and pasted the actual e-mail in my comments since for some reason it will not allow me to cut and paste it into my blog.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So you call yourself a Lactation Consultant?

What is an Lactation Consultant? Is it simply someone who offer consultations about breastfeeding? Someone who you see at a hospital breastfeeding clinic? Perhaps someone who comes to your home to assist you if you are having breastfeeding challenges? A doula who helps you recognise a good latch after your birth? Well yes, all of these people could call themselves lactation consultants, because there is no strict definition of lactation consultant. In fact a nurse with very little to no breastfeeding education can receive the title of LC by the hospital administration, then work in the hospital's breastfeeding clinic and give out all the uneducated advise she wants to desperate mothers.

There are different levels of lactation education someone can receive, for example Doulas Of North America will not certify a doula with less than 4 hours of breastfeeding education, that said, DONA discourages a doula from also than calling herself an LC, unless she chooses further lactation education and distinguishes her doula credentials from her LC credentials. So just because you have a doula does not mean that they have more than 4 hours breastfeeding education. That said, I know doulas who have taken multiple breastfeeding workshops and are capable of assisting mothers with many breastfeeding challenges.

La Leche League leaders offer breastfeeding support. A LLL leader refers to the support she offers as "mother to mother" rather than a consultation. Most leaders will even meet you at your home. LLL leaders are passionate about breastfeeding, have breastfed, take 6-12 month training course that covers parenting philosophies as well as human lactation. LLL leaders also have a network that allows easy access to IBCLCs for consultation.

In order to be an IBCLC your must pass a gruelling lactation exam, have at least 300 hours lactation specific clinical hours as well as at least 45 hours of lactation education (recommended 90-160 hours) as well as taken courses in:
Human Anatomy
Human Physiology
Infant and Child Growth and Development
Psychology or Counseling or Communication Skills
Introduction to Research
Sociology or Cultural Sensitivity or Cultural Anthropology.

So my advise to moms who are experiencing breastfeeding challenges, ASK your LC "What formal lactation education do you have?"

If everything seems to be going ok and you just want someone there to support you, help you recognise a good latch and offer breastfeeding support contacts then a 4 hour course will usually suffice. Also when you are able to get out and about La Leche League meetings are an excellent source for breastfeeding and parenting info.

If your nipples are cracked and sore and you need some one on one help with latch correction an 18-20hr breastfeeding course covers the basic challenges of breastfeeding as does the LLL training series.

If you have a baby that will not latch, sore nipples when the latch is "good", continuous weight loss despite fixing the latch, trying to wean from formula supplementation to exclusive breastfeeding, a LLL leader may still be able to help you while consulting a IBCLC in her network, and one that can't will refer you directly to an IBCLC.

Do not be fooled by a name tag that says LC, ask questions about their education and whether or not they will refer you to an IBCLC if your breastfeeding situation does not improve.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Marketing and Breastfeeding, Who Hasn't Been Duped?

So I've been thinking and re-thinking this formula-guilt issue. First things first: I do not feel that moms who choose to formula feed are bad mothers or that they do not care about their children's health. Now that this has been said, let's get to the titty gritty here. Not to generalize too much because every mother's story is different, but I do find there are 3 main reasons that mothers choose to formula feed:

1. The mothers have tried to breastfeed and due to circumstances beyond their control (formula friendly hospital practises, no family support, a lack of lactation professionals in their area, poor advise from a medical caregiver and in very rare circumstances the mother is physically unable to produce enough milk on her own to solely meet her baby's nutritional requirements) have "chosen" to formula feed. Let's face it though, in many of those circumstances moms don't feel as if there is a choice.

2.The mothers who after hearing or witnessing the circumstances of the mothers in group #1 decide to fore go breastfeeding altogether believing that formula is a perfectly safe alternative.

3. The mothers who have suffered from body image issues and/or have been sexually abused and cannot see their breasts as anything other than sexual objects.

And after reading those reasons, who can blame them? They certainly should not be blaming themselves. After all, formula companies have been doing an amazing job of convincing families for 50 years that not only is formula as good as breast milk, that it is better. Take a good look at a formula commercial; big healthy happy baby crawling on immaculately clean carpets, with beautiful and well put together mother. Now I want you to recall the big healthy happy breastfed baby commercials have you seen on t.v., you know the ones done by expensive marketing companies. The ones that play before after and during "A Baby Story"? The ones that directly market to pregnant mothers? According to research a mother chooses how she will feed her baby when she is pregnant. OH WAIT, There are no breastfeeding commercials made by top advertising companies. Those are all formula advertisements. Even a breastfeeding site I was on the other day had a Nestle formula add on it. I wrote them an email (perhaps one that was a bit too harsh) and they apologized saying sometimes they get "slipped in" and they are not aware of it. So yeah, there are government sponsored breastfeeding posters in our area and all the models in them are small breasted, small waisted and white. Even in nourishing our babies we have an advertised difficult if not impossible to obtain "norm" to conform to. So anyways back to me and my opinions. So in jumps the self-righteous part of me "I saw those commercials and I still chose what's best for my baby, blah blah, blah." Okay, so maybe I did- but to pretend that I have not been convinced by a marketing company to use something that was unhealthy either physically or emotionally would be dishonest. To say that I have not made poor choices for my baby's and my health based on a caregiver's advise would also be a lie. For example:

I woke up this morning and after doing my usual brush teeth tame hair thang, I put on mascara. This is because I believe it makes me more attractive. because I have been convinced that my eyelashes are not long or dark enough on their own, that I must purchase and apply product to my face because it is not perfect enough as is.

I used a moisturizer with cancer causing ingredients when I was pregnant so that I would have less stretchmarks (got to remember to stay sexy while taking part in the miracle of life) I didn't know that the ingredients were toxic at the time, but I didn't bother looking them up either. After all, who would sell something that could increase the risk of cancer and other health issues to a pregnant woman?

I agreed to a cesarean with my breech baby because I had been told by an OBGYN that this was the safest route for my baby to be born. A few years later this recommendation changed because it was deemed not to be the safest way for a breech baby to be born, due to the complications for mother and baby associated with cesarean delivery.

So here I sit. 1.Believing that my body is not good enough on it's own, 2. Also believing that products advertised for mothers and babies are safe and healthy and 3. having made a poor choice for my baby and I based on a health care provider's advise. I can say truthfully, I too have been duped. Do I feel guilty? No. Do I feel angry? Yes. Am I going to attack other victims of this type of deceit? No. Am I going to attack women who weren't as deceived as me? Nope. So what am I going to do with this anger and knowledge?

I am going to take more courses on breastfeeding and educate whoever will listen.
I am going to let every person in my life know that they are beautiful exactly as they are.
I am going to teach my children to not take everything at face value, to ask questions and to take responsibility for their choices.
I am not going to support companies who's products and advertisements are damaging physically and emotionally.
I am not going to join in on this back and forth bashing of breastfeeding vs formula feeding mothers. As long as we fight amongst ourselves on this one symptom we cannot unite against the disease. The disease of markets that profit solely on the belief that our bodies are not good enough, not good enough to be sexually attractive, not good enough to give birth and not good enough to nourish our babies afterwards. A simple statement that could bring down this entire empire of insecurity "Not only are we good enough, we are better just the way we are."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Homeschooling In The Dirt

So this morning I was trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do for a lesson plan today. It had been raining hard all morning and all I could think about was that it was going to be too mucky outside to do lessons outdoors. That's when it struck me, lets do some lessons on muck.
I dressed them up in puddle boots and other rain gear and told them we were going to play in the dirt. They were very excited.
So I collected some jars, handed them each there own spoon and told them to fill each jar with dirt from a certain location: the driveway, the garden...

...even the potting soil bag.

Their favourite was from the bottom of the creek. I was pretty happy to find some orange soil as well from beside an ATV trail.

We labeled the jars accordingly, bug helped sound out the words. Then we got home to make some observations. I wrote a scribbly sheet, that I will have to re-do. It went like this:
Where we got the soil from:
Objects we found:
We emptied each jar one at a time into a plastic container and for each type of soil we filled our observation page out. More like I asked them questions then filled it out for them.
Next is to plant a snap pea seed into each jar and water them. Over the next few weeks we will observe which one grows fastest and produces the best pea pod (if any at all). Then we will go back over our observations to decide what kind of soil the pea plant seemed to grow best in.

We were fortunate that today on Dirt Girl World they were covering mulch and dead plant materials in the soil. I also suggest The Magic School Bus Gets Planted if you use videos in your curriculum. Have a great day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Does Low Self-worth Make For A More Satisfying Birth Experience?

I wonder, does a woman's image of self-worth make her more or less susceptible to birth trauma? If she truly believes that she is worthy of being listened to, that her body is sacred and worthy of respect, would she be more outraged by mistreatment in a birthing ward? Would she feel more violated than a woman with little to no self-worth? If a woman was raised to believe that she was unable to make decisions for herself, her feelings didn't matter and that her body was any one's to touch, grope, hurt why would she expect any better from her care providers? Next time a mother shrugs and says "that's just the way it is, at least I have a healthy baby." after describing what should have been a traumatic birth experience. Ask yourself, ask her "aren't you worth more than that?" Ask how many times in her life she has shrugged and told herself that. Truth is, it does hurt more to have self-worth when someone does something to make you feel worthless. It is shocking to us, LISTEN TO ME, I AM AS IMPORTANT AS A HUMAN BEING AS YOU ARE. I always wondered angrily why some women put up with such horrible treatment in the labour room. It's probably because they've been putting up with for years, maybe their whole lives. Today, teach your friends, daughters, nieces, sisters, mothers that they are full of worth. Break the cycle of violence that perpetuates silence and submission in the labour room. Love yourself openly, pat yourself on the back and do not be quiet when you've been mistreated. By giving yourself permission to be worth-full you may be giving another woman courage to not feel so worthless.

Smoke Screens

Recently, I read a blog written by a birth expert, , (I know, what else is new). It was about how to avoid unnecessary interventions while in labour. I remember a couple of years ago listing these intervention avoidance strategies to a client. My first client. But several births later, I have come to realize that no matter how much knowledge you have before going into a birth about the risks of certain interventions, no matter what you have written on a birth plan, it is ultimately in the hands of the caregiver. Often (not always) a woman in labour feels out of control and is looking for reassurance and guidance. If a caregiver suggests an intervention to her while she is in this state, chances are, she's going to agree. Dads/birth partners are also in a state of stress looking for ways they can help mom and eagerly accept (and urge the mom to accept as well) suggestions from care providers. An experienced doula is less susceptible, being as she has witnessed women in labour and is comfortable with movements, sounds and occasional bouts of fear of a woman hard at work birthing a baby. That is why choosing a caregiver that is right for you is so important, right? No, it's not. Type of caregiver, yes. But when it comes to GPs and OBGYNs if you choose one you are potentially choosing them all. There are some fabulous MDs out there, and many women I have talked to have told me, "Oh I thought about having a midwife, but I love my family Dr." Then after their birth: "My Dr. wasn't the one on call, I had some guy I hadn't met before." Also, your Dr. isn't the one taking care of you during your labour, a nurse is, maybe 2 if there's a shift change. If s/he is busy (which happens a lot because nurses are often understaffed and overworked) you may only see them every 15 minutes for a 2 minute interval. Dr.s get all the recognition, but the nurses are the ones responsible for you the majority of your labour and birth. Your Dr. wants to be at your birth, but it's just not the way the system is set up. So some women get their Dr. who knows what is important to them. They get a Dr. that they are comfortable with, with whom they've built a mutual respect. That is wonderful, but there is a chance that when you get to the hospital you will be taken care of by strangers. It is a well known fact that the adrenaline/epinephrine that is released when a woman is stressed, inhibits the production of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for uterine contractions. So in essence, labour complications can be caused by being uncomfortable with your caregivers and surroundings. Where I live, the only way to guarantee that you will know the caregiver that will take care of you during your birth is to acquire a midwife. Midwives do homebirths and hospital births and should a complication arise that necessitates a surgical birth, the midwife simply calls in the Dr. and remains by your side (even in the OR) until a few hours after the birth. Where I am midwives are free, though if you live in an area where they are not, ask yourself this: How much money was/am I willing to spend on my wedding? How important is the birth of my child compared to my wedding day? Midwives cost much less than your average wedding.

Back to my original train of thought. Are the popular suggestions of : Hire a doula (which I recommend highly, but do not expect that in doing so you will avoid interventions) Write a birth plan, Share the birth plan with your caregiver, take a hospital tour and look at the birthing facilities intervention statistics (each MD will have a different intervention rate, so it all goes back to not knowing who your caregiver will be) , just smoke screens? Do these suggestions just (falsely) give women the impression that they are in control of their births? Is writing a birth plan going to change hospital policy? Is asking a hospital statistic going to lower the incidence of unnecessary Cesarean sections? No, it is not, especially if you live rurally and you don't really have a choice about which birthing facility you are going to. Childbirth education can help, but only if it is a course based on building confidence in a woman's ability to birth, not a course on this is what is done in a hospital.

What will reduce the use of unnecessary intervention? Get a care provider who is guaranteed to be at your birth (midwives are the only caregivers where I live that can guarantee that). Encourage your friends and family who have had poor hospital experiences to speak up and out, to write the Hospital Administration and the local Physician's College. Write to your government, demand that you have more access to continuous prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care providers. But most importantly, tell everyone you know; No. Getting a healthy baby is not all that matters!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Sexual Abuse Survivor in the ER

I'm going to start it like this: This post may make people squeamish. Why? because my vagina is the topic. Some people may think that this stuff is suppose to be private, that the content is too personal. I am a firm believer that the personal is political, if It has happened to me, then it is happening to others as well. I am not going to let the social ideal of "hush-hush" if the organ is covered by underclothes stop me from speaking out. For too long men women and children have suffered in silence while perpetrators of abuse are protected by this shield of their victim's shame. There is nothing to hide about our genitals, there is nothing dirty about them. They are organs for reproduction that are filled with nerve endings that stimulate the production of oxytocin and endorphins. Though who could use that explanation to sell cologne, huh?

So, last Friday I wake up to one of my Bartholin glands being the size of a golf ball. For those who don't know, the Bartholin glands are the ones located on either side of the vaginal opening. They are responsible for the production of lubrication of the vaginal opening and canal. Immediately I go on the net to find out what this is and how I fix it. What I saw was scary, the surgical procedure diagrams made me nauseous. Apparently for little to no reason a duct in the bartholin gland can become blocked and an abscess can develop, but sometimes with many sitz baths and comfrey compresses the abcess can be drained by oneself. Well that wasn't the case for me. 24 hours and 4 sitz baths later my gland is now the size of 2 golf balls. This is when panic set in. I hate pelvic exams. I don't mean they make me uncomfortable, I mean they make me vomit with anxiety. I don't have flashbacks to my childhood abuse, it's more like I have feelbacks. It's the feeling of having to be exposed and vulnerable while someone in a position of authority who "knows whats best for me" poke and prods, like I could say no, but it wouldn't matter. I pushed on for another 8 hours before I agreeing to go to the hospital.

The drive to the hospital was hell. Make no mistake, Bartholinitis hurts. You can not sit, stand or walk. If only one of the glands is swollen you may be able to lie on one side. Still idling in front of the hospital entrance I sat (with a crescent shaped pillow under my bum) crying in the front seat. I knew that I would have to be seen by a Dr. I didn't know, I knew he would touch me and I knew they would cut me open. I felt so trapped. Amidst my sobs, my partner told me that a woman was at my window. It was my midwife, Dianne. She asked me if I was okay. I explained the situation and my fears. I told her I wished she could perform the procedure. She said she was capable, but unfortunately it was beyond her scope of practise (politics). Seeing her face during a time of stress gave me so much strength, it was like God had sent me an angel. I gathered myself and limped into the hospital.

I didn't have to wait for long before getting into the ER. I lied on my side on the bed and my partner read a childbirth education textbook to keep my mind off of things. I felt relieved, I had already taken a big step, I entered the hospital. It was also promising that they gave me the room with the least windows into the hallway. The nurse was great, he said, "This is one of the worst things that can happen to a perfectly healthy person." There was so much compassion in his voice I felt myself accepting what was to come, believing that I was in good hands.

The Dr. who came to see me had good bedside manner, too good. So good, in fact, that when he told me that the surgeon had gone home and he was going to perform the procedure right there in the ER, I didn't second guess him. I was so happy to have a Dr. that I was comfortable with that I agreed to let him do the procedure, he wouldn't offer if he didn't know what he was doing would he? He asked me how I was with pain. I told him it was not about pain, it was about anxiety. I explained that I had a past of abuse and pelvis exams give me anxiety attacks. He ordered me Larazipan then explained that he was going to freeze the area with gel then with a needle. He told me I would feel pressure but not much pain. I believed him.

The needle hurt a lot. Then came the pulling and the gritty cutting. Apparently his scalpel didn't make 1 solid cut, he cut, pulled open, cut, pulled open and cut again. Then he pushed down and squeezed then again harder. I did not see this for myself, But I felt it. Not the sharp searing pain of the slice, just everything else. I cried. I held onto my partners hands and cried while he told me to breath. I used my "contraction tricks" I counted ceiling tiles, bounced my eyes around the room. Nothing could distract me from what was happening between my legs. At one point I almost threw up but the thought of his scalpel doing damage from my heaving managed to stay the nausea. At one point the Dr. asked, "what's the problem?" like having surgery done on your vagina in an ER isn't enough reason to cry. When he was done, I curled up as much in a ball as the pain would allow and I cried even harder. The nurse put her hand on my shoulder and said she felt the same way after she goes to the dentist. Strangely enough, that was a comforting statement. When I had calmed down, the Dr. told me there was no infection or abscess just blood clots. He said he stuffed the incision with gauze and that I was to come back tomorrow to have it removed. I asked him if I should have antibiotics, he said no since he did not find an infection there is no need. I asked him if I could have a sitz bath (one of the few things that soothed the pain) No. Ice Packs? No. Do nothing, come back tomorrow.

That night was reminiscent of labour. I paced through the pain, I rocked through it. I leaned over chairs and breathed through it. Like back-labour, there was no escape, no position that could fully relieve the pain. I remember asking my partner, "why does it hurt more? Some thing's wrong." Two ibuprofen every four hours wasn't touching it. We dropped off the kids and headed straight for the hospital. I couldn't take steps larger than 3 inches at a time and every three steps I had to stop lean on my partner and breath. I didn't have to wait for long to get into the ER. Having that "pale pasty complexion" square checked on the triage paperwork can get you in pretty fast.

The nurse took one look at me and said, I'm getting you something for that pain right now. He tried to hook up an iv but he "blew up" my vein. He had to find one at my elbow (this is important for later) Then I got a shot of fentanyl , oh blessed fentanyl. I felt a lot of relief. The narcotic was starting to wear off when the Dr. (a different one) and the nurse entered the room. He introduced himself quickly and held out his hand in a way that I would have to twist my body to shake it. I tried and gasped in pain. He then pulled up my sheet and said "now what do we have here?" So abrupt were his words and movements. I immediately felt threatened, I grabbed my partner's hand and looked at him with fear in my eyes. "So, I'm just going to pull this gauze out now ok?" He grabbed the loose end of the gauze that stuffed my vaginal wound. "Right now?" I asked "Just like that?" I looked at my partner for help, pleading with my eyes, Don't let him do this. "Don't worry,"He said as he started pulling. "I'll stop if you tell me to." Gauze sticks to flesh when it is dry, less than 5 seconds later I was screaming "Stop!" Tears streaming down my face, I asked for more fentanyl. The nurse put a saline pad on my incision to wet it down and soothe it. The Dr. was agitated and asked me what my incision looked like last night. I answered that I didn't know.
Dr.-"You didn't look?"
Dr-exasperated "Well can you look now?"
I looked around the room for a mirror all the while frightened I might see one and actually pass out from the sight of my vagina with a half gauze-stuffed gaping hole in it. Seeing as I couldn't even sit up from the pain let alone do the yoga moves involved in seeing my own vagina and there was no mirror in sight, I answered "No."
"Well can you guess at how big the swelling was?" I showed him with my fingers. He nodded and said it was about the same. The Dr. turned to leave and my partner stood and said he needed to talk to them. The Dr. left anyways but the nurse stayed and asked what he wanted to talk to them about.
"She's had some bad experiences, and you guys just come walking in here..."
"-don't you lump me in with him,"The nurse cut him off angrily "I was raped as a child and I don't appreciate you including me in that statement." My partner apologized to her. I told him not to. I was furious with that nurse, this was not about her. I turned to her and said. "please don't chide him he's just trying to protect me." She told me to "Relax." with a nasty tone in her voice. To which I asked her her name for future reference. She became much nicer after that. After another shot of fentanyl and a good soaking of the gauze I allowed her to pull out the rest. "That was in there very tight," she commented. "Now we're going to have to swab the wound, so we can determine the infection."
More painful procedures. NO WAY.
"No." I said.
"But we need to, to determine what infection you have. The Dr. from yesterday ordered it."
"The Dr. from yesterday said there was no infection."
She shrugged.
"Can't you numb me with some of that gel they used yesterday?" I asked.
"It doesn't work very well on inflamed tissue"
"Well it worked a little yesterday"
"No." she said shaking her head patronizingly. This may work on some patients but not me.
"No then. No swab."
My partner pointed out that my pad and the gauze could probably be swabbed. The nurse shook her head "No."
"If the Dr. from yesterday wanted me swabbed, why didn't he do it while I was numbed?" I asked. She didn't have an answer for me.
The nurse left for a while. I told my partner that this whole experience has been horrible. I was shaking uncontrollably. I thanked him for sticking up for me and that that nurse never should have made it about her. When the nurse and Dr. returned the Dr. seemed different. I think the nurse explained my abuse to him. He talked a little softer, moved a little slower. When he went to examine me again, I asked him to explain everything that he was doing and to tell me before he was going to touch me "Oh," He paused, as if he had never thought of doing that before, "Okay." He touched gently. Things start to get fuzzy time-line wise around now. Remember when I mentioned that my IV was at my elbow? That's called a positional iv, which means that when my arm is not straight, I am not getting my iv fluids including my pain relief. Unfortunately I didn't find that out until later. I began to relax a bit more, no longer clutching my partner's hand to my chest. The Dr. had left once again and when he returned he told us I was being transferred to an OBGYN in another hospital. "I don't know what this is, it really should not hurt so much. You can drive there or wait 4 hours for an ambulance transfer"

Two "perks" and an icepack later we were on our way to a hospital 45 minutes away. The drive was painful but I was euphorically optimistic. when we entered the hospital, I could barely walk. Many helpful ladies offered me a wheel chair. There is a point in pain where you can no longer put together coherent sentences. "No" pause "wheelchair" was all I could manage. until a lovely paramedic spotted me and grabbed a stretcher for me to lie on my side on. It had been 4 hours since I had been given the perks. They were wearing off fast and I was in an emergency waiting room on a stretcher with an icepack between my legs. I started to cry. "This is the 3rd time I've been in this hospital post-op where they've let my pain meds wear off." I was in the presence of my OBGYN within 10 minutes of that statement.

This OBGYN was a get down to business kind of guy. I asked for pain relief before he examined me and he gave me morphine with a hint of gravol. My partner asked if the Dr, had read the chart (referring to the section on past sexual abuse) and asked him to explain what he was doing while he was doing it. He explained that he was going to examine with his hands the inflamed area. Morphine was a miracle. I could feel him touching the area, but there was no pain and very little anxiety. "There's still infection in there, I can feel it." He told me.
"The Dr. told us no infection came out" I told him, very confused.
"There's infection, I can feel it, I'm going to put you under general anesthetic then I am going to do another incision to drain the infection, then I am going to fill it with gauze, ok?"
"What are the risks?" I asked because last time I didn't.
"very little risk is involved in this procedure the risk of complication is less than 1%"
I signed the consent form but asked to speak with the anesthesiologist before the procedure.
I recognised the anaesthesiologist from the birth of my son and felt very relieved. He gave me the option of being awake for the procedure.
"Which carries more risks, the spinal or general?"
"About the same." he told me.
"I'll take general, I'm sick of being poked at while I'm awake."

I woke up in recovery and was taken care of by a lovely nurse. She let my partner in to come see me. I felt so much better, not only from the great drugs that I'm sure were coursing through my body, but because I trusted this OBGYN. I was proscribed T2's and at least a week off work.

I had a few rough nights, developed an allergy to my antibiotics (my face swelled). I took a look at myself in the mirror (I have to pull 5cm of gauze out of my incision everyday). When I saw the first incision, I was infuriated. It was nowhere near the duct that enters the Bartholin gland. The incision had been made in completely the wrong spot. No wonder he didn't find the infection he was nowhere near it! So not only was the surgery traumatic it was completely useless. All it did was add to the pain as the abscess swelled behind this fresh incision that was stuffed with gauze. No wonder I needed so much pain medication. I asked my GP to make copies of the surgical notes so I could read them. Turns out they call what the first Dr. did to me a "trial incision". When it comes to a vagina the word "trial" should never come before the word incision. Please do not cut into my genitals unless you are sure you know what you are doing. Is that too much to ask? I'm sure that Dr. wouldn't agree to a trial incision on his penis. I hated hospitals before. I always felt vulnerable and coerced. I feel like all of my rights are taken away when I enter one, that I am at the mercy of someones ego and schedule. How can a place that tries to be so efficient that it loses touch with the needs/fears of it's patients be a healing environment?

So, now starts the letter writing. Physician's College of Ontario, Nursing College of Ontario. The Hospital Administration. Sensitivity training would be an asset, considering that an estimated 1 in every 3 women has been sexually assaulted at least once in her lifetime. Let us not forget that many men have also suffered from sexual abuse. The Handbook on Sensitive Practice for Health Care Practitioners states: "Examination or treatment may trigger flashbacks or overwhelming emotions such as fear, anxiety, terror, grief, or anger." I think these health care providers need a reminder about "First, do no harm."

Friday, April 9, 2010

This Man Loves Me

This man loves me.

I've decided to go all natural, you could hang chirstmas ornaments on my legs. He runs his hand along my calves and tells me I'm beautiful. When it's coming on a full moon and I'm stomping around the house, snapping and irritable, looking for someone to blame, he hugs me tight until I melt. He calls me every day/night from work to tell me he loves me, sometimes twice. He finds something to like about my cooking no matter how badly I screwed it up. He listens to me and holds me for hours. He tells me that he loves how passionate I am about breastfeeding and birth.

OK I'm done bragging now. Thanks for indulging me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Formula Feeding and Mother Guilt

Debating with my sister about breastfeeding politics and mother guilt, My midwife sent this to me. I love Dr. Jack Newman!

Breastfeeding and Guilt
Written by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
(revised January 2000)

One of the most powerful arguments many health professionals, government agencies and formula company manufacturers make for not promoting and supporting breastfeeding is that we should "not make the mother feel guilty for not breastfeeding". Even some strong breastfeeding advocates are disarmed by this "not making mothers feel guilty" ploy.

It is, in fact, nothing more than a ploy. It is an argument that deflects attention from the lack of knowledge and understanding of too many health professionals about breastfeeding. This allows them not to feel guilty for their ignorance of how to help women overcome difficulties with breastfeeding, which could have been overcome and usually could have been prevented in the first place if mothers were not so undermined in their attempts to breastfeed. This argument also seems to allow formula companies and health professionals to pass out formula company literature and free samples of formula to pregnant women and new mothers without pangs of guilt, despite the fact that it has been well demonstrated that this literature and the free samples decrease the rate and duration of breastfeeding.

Let's look at real life. If a pregnant woman went to her physician and admitted she smoked a pack of cigarettes, is there not a strong chance that she would leave the office feeling guilty for endangering her developing baby? If she admitted to drinking a couple of beers every so often, is there not a strong chance that she would leave the office feeling guilty? If a mother admitted to sleeping in the same bed with her baby, would most physicians not make her feel guilty for this even though it is, in fact, the best thing for her and the baby? If she went to the office with her one week old baby and told the physician that she was feeding her baby homogenized milk, what would be the reaction of her physician? Most would practically collapse and have a fit. And they would have no problem at all making that mother feel guilty for feeding her baby cow's milk, and then pressuring her to feed the baby formula. (Not pressuring her to breastfeed, it should be noted, because "you wouldn't want to make a woman feel guilty for not breastfeeding".)

Why such indulgence for formula? The reason of course, is that the formula companies have succeeded so brilliantly with their advertising to convince most of the world that formula feeding is just about as good as breastfeeding, and therefore there is no need to make such a big deal about women not breastfeeding. As a vice-president of Nestle here in Toronto was quoted as saying "Obviously, advertising works". It is also a balm for the consciences of many health professionals who, themselves, did not breastfeed, or their wives did not breastfeed. "I will not make women feel guilty for not breastfeeding, because I don't want to feel guilty for my child not being breastfed".

Let's look at this a little more closely. Formula is certainly theoretically more appropriate for babies than cow's milk. But, in fact, there are no clinical studies that show that there is any difference between babies fed cow's milk and those fed formula. Not one. Breastmilk, and breastfeeding, which is not the same as breastmilk feeding, has many many more theoretical advantages over formula than formula has over cow's milk (or other animal milk). And we are just learning about many of these advantages. Almost every day there are more studies telling us about these theoretical advantages. But there is also a wealth of clinical data showing that, even in affluent societies, breastfed babies, and their mothers, incidentally, are much better off than formula fed babies. They have fewer ear infections, fewer gut infections, a lesser chance of developing juvenile diabetes and many other illnesses. The mother has a lesser chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and is probably protected against osteoporosis. And these are just a few examples.

So how should we approach support for breastfeeding? All pregnant women and their families need to know the risks of artificial feeding. All should be encouraged to breastfeed, and all should get the best support available for starting breastfeeding once the baby is born. Because all the good intentions in the world will not help a mother who has developed terribly sore nipples because of the baby's poor latch at the breast. Or a mother who has been told, almost always inappropriately, that she must stop breastfeeding because of some medication or illness in her or her baby. Or a mother whose supply has not built up properly because she was given wrong information. Make no mistake about itラhealth professionals' advice is often the single most significant reason for mothers' failing at breastfeeding! Not the only one, and other factors are important, but health professionals often have influence and authority far beyond their knowledge and experience.

If mothers get the information about the risks of formula feeding and decide to formula feed, they will have made an informed decision. This information must not come from the formula companies themselves, as it often does. Their pamphlets give some advantages of breastfeeding and then go on to imply that their formula is almost, well, between us, actually, just as good. If mothers get the best help possible with breastfeeding, and find breastfeeding is not for them, they will get no grief from me. It is important to know that a woman can easily switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. In the first days or weeksラno big problem. But the same is not true for switching from bottle feeding to breastfeeding. It is often very difficult or impossible, though not always.

Finally, who does feel guilty about breastfeeding? Not the women who make an informed choice to bottle feed. It is the woman who wanted to breastfeed, who tried, but was unable to breastfeed who feels guilty. In order to prevent women feeling guilty about not breastfeeding what is required is not avoiding promotion of breastfeeding, but promotion of breastfeeding coupled with good, knowledgeable and skillful support. This is not happening in most North American or European societies.
Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
(revised January 2000)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pedophile Proof Your Children

This is a heavy topic for me, I am imagining who will be reading this and what they may think of me afterwards, but I think that it's important to unsilence the violence. I believe that one of the reasons children are being sexually abused is because we are so damned quiet about it and what it does to us as adults years later.

I was listening to CBC radio and I heard:
Like my stomach's being squeezed up, out of my throat,
That was all,
I hit the power button.
I knew that feeling immediately
I knew when it came
When it comes
Sometimes before I do,
Sometimes after.
Sometimes I gag so hard
I stumble to the bathroom.
Wishing that I could throw it up
Throw it out
Flush it down
And it would never come back up again.
You know what the worst part is?
The first is never the last.
Time or person.
Though for the purpose and pain
They will become He.
I can't be tickled, grabbed, pinned, playfully
I wrench my body away in anger
Growl and snap
Don't Do That.
Because now I have a voice.
I didn't always
Because once He hid behind
A playful mask
But if I looked just so into the eye holes
A creepy cold feeling would wash over me
And the whole world was drowned out by sick silence
He would shush me when I tried to talk
He liked the silence,
He liked the creeks and groans of the mattress.
He didn't like me.
He still breaths in my ear
He lets his hand rest against my thigh in the bus
He grabs my ass in the bar
He hides under my bed waiting for intimate moments
Then replaces my lover
For an eye blink.
I suppose this is where I pretend like I'm healing,
Like it gets better or easier...

I think we live in a society that sets kids up to be victims of sexual assault. We tell them that "so and so will feel bad if they don't give them a hug goodbye". We expect them to sit on a strange bearded man's lap once a year because he gives them gifts. "Why don't you want to sit on Santa's lap? He brings you presents, you don't want to be ungrateful do you?" Pedophiles thrive off this mentality using a barrage of guilt and gifts to convince children to let them touch them. We make our kids ripe for the picking. Shame is another child silencing tactic, we teach our children not to talk about sex, that it is private and or dirty. We do not take the time to explain that physical love is nothing to be ashamed of, and that if they ever want to talk about it they are welcome to. Pedophiles tell children that their parents will be mad at them for doing "dirty things", so they better not tell them.

So how do we "pedophile proof" our kids? We make it harder for the pedophiles to use guilt, gifts and shame to get physical affection.

1.Teach your children "No." I don't mean "if a stranger..." , I mean "No."
I mean if they don't want to kiss aunt Lucy and they say "No." You respect that, you teach them that NO ONE, no matter who, has the right to force physical affection on them.

2.Teach them that they don't have to sit on Santa's (Grampa's, Aunty's, Uncle's etc.) lap just because s/he gives them presents.

3. Don't force your own affection on them, if they don't want a hug or a kiss at that time, show them you respect their physical boundaries.

4. Talk to them about sex, about making love. Explain that there is no shame in having or wanting sex. Though, sexual touching should never be forced on or expected of anyone. Let them know that they should feel free to talk about sex and ask any questions they may have about it.

In return they will learn self-respect and they will also learn that if someone says "No.", they should respect that. They will learn that they should not force physical affection on anyone, and that they do not deserve affection from someone because they gave them gifts.

This is not an easy thing to do. Trust me, I've offended many people. I probably just offended someone right now. But if I can spare my child the confusion of "Was this my fault?" and "Aren't I suppose to like being touched by someone who loves me?" If I can give them a voice, a voice I was too unsure to use myself. Then it is worth every scathing look and sneer I've ever gotten.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Letting Kids Choose the Subject.

So I woke up yesterday morning and had no idea what to teach about that day. I had my coffee, ate my breakfast, brushed my teeth and lazied around for an hour, hoping an idea would come to me. Usually, Jooniper's homeschooling is finished by 12:30pm. So I was running a bit late for curriculum ideas. The day before, we had spent almost an hour on Math workbooks, so I wanted to take a break from that. But I needed to be inspired. We got dressed, the kids played with an awesome building toy we got from Applause toy store. The creative juices got flowing after Jooniper whined: "Mom! Jack's wrecking my tent!"
There it was, that's what I was waiting for. A subject that she had taken an interest in, something that I could use to incorporate art, english and usable knowledge. I told her and Jack to go get their back packs and fill them with things they think they will need for camping. Jack put his 4 wheeler toy and some pants in. We talked about how some people do bring their 4 wheelers camping. Jooniper packed lots of clothes. We told her about the importance of an extra pair of dry socks and clothes that are tough and she doesn't mind if they get dirty. Then we got them to grab their canteens and we discussed how important clean drinking water is for someone who is hiking. Then we taught them camp fire safety. We pretended the floor was the ground outside. we pretended to dig a pit, then we surrounded the dirt pit with stones. We used dryer lint, then rolled up construction paper as sticks and some wooden cylindrical blocks as logs. We explained how important it was that the wood be dry. Then we talked about how only adults are allowed to light the fire. Then we roasted marsh mellows over our fake fire using pencil crayons as our sticks. After that Jooniper and I wrote out a 10 step plan to making a camp fire safely, including keeping water nearby and making sure the pit is dug away from the tent, trees and bushes. I typed out the 10 steps leaving key words blank for her to print in. Then we read it together. At that point the sun was shinning and I wanted to get out of the house. Jooniper was having so much fun playing camping that she didn't want to leave. So I had to make an adventure worth leaving for. I created a scavenger hunt to take place at the local outdoors store. Jooniper and I made a list together of all the things we would need to go camping. Then We drove into town and walked to the outdoors store. Jooniper then had to find everything on the list. She even added a few things. I love how easily she walked up the the salesclerks and asked them to help her find something. She even would ask them what certain items were used for when camping. Sometimes she would stop and draw one of the items in her workbook (Yay art!)
Jooniper had worked very hard that day. In fact, we had spent 15 minutes sounding out the word "sticks" earlier. So it was time to blow off some steam at the park. Jooniper made a new friend named Jacob. They ran around together for an hour before it was time to go home. We had a wonderful time together. As a side note: we started Jooniper's own cookbook on Monday. She had been talking about making smoothies, so we made a smoothie, then wrote down the ingredients together and she drew pictures of them, then we put them in a separate duo-tang and she labeled it Jooniper's Cook Book.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Homeschooling Curriculum, Traditional and Non

I love math lessons where my children get to manipulate objects in order to understand basic mathematical concepts. " These 4 peg people want to go to a party, now those 3 peg people are going too, let's bring them all over to the party. How many peg people are at the party?" I know though, that she not only needs to understand the concepts but also what they look like down on paper. So after a few days of addition and subtraction using apple slices, apple seeds and toy pegs, we are ready to do some worksheets from Complete Canadian Curriculum.

I would show you a picture of her worksheet, except there is no copying of any form allowed. I am a goody 2 shoes. Next is a fun game to help Jack recognize numbers and colours. I made a giant dice out of a cube box and a number chart from The Dollar Store. I coloured the ends of Popsicle sticks and wrote the name of the corresponding colour on them as well. Then I put them colour-side-down into a cup.

So we start out by throwing the dice and seeing what number is up. Then the dice thrower picks a stick. Then the person who's turn it is, has to find that number of that coloured objects. for example 4 red objects. When they are found they are put in a basket and re-counted. What I liked most about this game, is that the kids began using teamwork almost right away, helping each other find objects of that colour.

Next was music time. My kids love to dance (who's doesn't?) So I found some kids break dancing videos on you-tube and we watched them. Then I put on some Run DMC and let them go nuts.

They did a lot of killer moves, but my camera was too slow to capture a lot of them. Jooniper even did some stalls. Joonpier wrote about dogs in her blog today and we took a picture of her dog sticker collage. What I love most about Homeschooling is how creative you can be with the curriculum. I think tomorrow will be yoga, got to build those core muscles to hold those stalls!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Apple Day!

Dirt Girl World featured apples yesterday. So Jooniper, Jack, Scott and I went to the grocery store and purchased 2 of each variety of apple. Unfortunately, Jooniper was getting over the flu so we were not able to do more than that. Today, Jooniper is feeling much better so we were able to continue our lesson. I drew a picture of each type of apple we had purchased, and labeled it. I wrote what colours the apples were inside the picture of the apple. I then lined up the apples and we discussed the shape, colour and "shinyness" of each apple and jooni placed the correct apples on there picture counterparts.

Jooniper coloured each apple picture. After that it was taste test time. We cut up each apple into slices. We practised our subtraction by taking away slices and eating them then counting what is left. Yummy math time!

We opened the apples, extracted the seeds and counted them. Then we made a poster demonstrating the cycle of seed to apple. I've been storing apple seeds in the fridge, I think we'll plant them this afternoon. Gotta go, Dirt Girl World is coming on!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had My First Baby.

My first birth experience was very traumatizing. I had no idea what my rights were, or that I even had any. "Hospital policy" was quoted at me left, right and center whenever I asked "why?" or "I want my baby back.". I often felt like I was being patted on the head. So I gritted my teeth and counted the hours until I had my freedom back. My second birth I knew my rights,as I had a wonderful midwife who answered all my informed choice questions as well as a supportive doula that I shared my fears with. I had a better breastfeeding education than my nurses. My baby slept skin to skin with my arms propped up with pillows. My son was latched on all night. I was able to doze for 8 hours. Much longer than with my first baby, who can sleep when their baby is screaming across the hall and the nurses won't bring him/her to you? When the nurse noticed that I was only writing down which side I breastfed on last not the length of time, she chided me. "That's to make sure your baby is getting enough to drink," at which point I told her that "there is no current research that supports that the duration of time on the breast can determine the amount of breastmilk ingested. In fact, the timing of feedings is considered to be counter-productive to breastfeeding success according to the World Health Organization. But it is a wonderful tool to help me remember which breast I fed with last. " She answered "It won't hurt to just write it down." Then left in a huff. When I knew my rights and was able to firmly assert them, my hospital stay was almost pleasant, except that they let my meds wear off and I had to walk to my car 3 days post c-sect with no pain meds in my system. Also, I was able to have my mother stay in the hospital with me, so there was never a reason for them to "help" with the baby, or take it away for a long period of time. Thanks mom. So here is a list of the things I wish I knew before having my first baby.

1.That hospital policy does not override a mother's legal right to informed choice.
Mother: "I don't want an iv" nurse "well it's hospital policy, just in case there's an emergency."
You still have a right to refuse. According to Canadian Medical Association's code of ethics and the Canadian Nursing Association's code of ethics. A patient has the right to refuse any medical test/procedures without further pressure from the health-care provider. In fact, a nurse who is just following the doctors orders and carries out a procedure after the patient has refused said procedure, is just as legally liable as the doctor who gave the order despite the patient's refusal.

2. Cesarean sections are not the "easy way out". They are risky, painful for weeks (sometimes years) afterward and leave you helpless to do simple but necessary motherly tasks.

3. According to the WHO hospitals with c-section rates higher than 15% actually have higher maternal mortality rates and higher incidences of re-hospitalization. In other words, this
life saving procedure when done in excess is a life-endangering procedure. The average c-sect rate in Canada is 25%. So feel free to ask questions when a cesarean is suggested. Your life may depend on it. There are many hospitals in Europe that have less than 15% c-section rate and much lower maternal and infant mortality rates than Canada.

4. It is not a requirement to have a formal breastfeeding education to be a L&D nurse or a doctor, though, the health-care providers who do not have a formal education (18 hours is the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization) will still offer advise. Nurse "Oh well, the baby's not getting enough liquid because your 'real milk' hasn't come in yet." or "write down each feeding and the length to show your baby's getting enough milk" Scientific research has debunked both of these misconceptions, but I still heard them coming out of healthcare providers mouths.

5. The Doctors responsible for creating the policies for formula supplementation usually have no formal breastfeeding education. So, if it is suggested that your baby be supplemented with formula, ask that a healthcare professional with at least an 18 hour breastfeeding education be consulted first. If possible, ask to speak with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, they are the gold standard in breastfeeding information and current breastfeeding research. Once again, you have the right to make an informed choice for your baby. It is not considered an informed choice if the caregiver does not have accurate or up to date information. You wouldn't consult Orthopedic Surgeon for advise on treating glaucoma, you'd see an eye specialist. It should not be any different for breastfeeding.

6. When I got home I would need a lot of breastfeeding support. I had no idea how much patience and confidence I would need to learn to breastfeed, and in turn, my baby to learn as well. Thank goodness for midwives, postpartum doulas and public health nurse Lactation Consultants. Find yourself at least one of these to help with the first 3 weeks of breastfeeding.

7. A new baby will want to eat between once every three hours to once an hour. This is not a sign that the baby isn't getting enough. This is very important to the production of breastmilk.

8. Breastfeeding, though very rewarding, is exhausting.

9. Sometimes babies just cry and all you can do is comfort them the best you can, they are adapting to a whole new world. Don't take it personally.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Praying With Little Ones

Do Buddhists pray? Well that depends on the Buddhist. There are Christian Buddhists, and being as I think Christ was "the man" and more Divine than human. I suppose that's what I am. Buddha said there were 180,000 paths to enlightenment (which I believe to be living in full connection with God's love, when we conquer our inner "evils" that act as a block between the creator and ourselves) my children will have to find and follow their own path to God. A creator of many names, but made of the same love. So at night we pray. It is simple, we call God; God, though I have explained that God is neither male or female as God does not need a penis or vagina to create life like animals do. I know, I'm a little blunt. So first we sing a song with a melody fashioned after Raffi's "Thanks A lot" song. Then we each sing what we are thankful for. Jack's mostly thankful for his ricemilk and on one touching night; thankful for Scott. Jooniper is mostly thankful for her glow in the dark star stickers on her ceiling and what ever else is in her line of sight. I am usually thankful for my family and Scott is thankful for the fun things we did that day. Then comes the time to ask God for something we want. Jack always declines, and re-thanks God for his ricemilk. Jooniper asks for toys for Jack so he can have one of his own so she doesn't have to share hers. I usually ask for help being wise, courageous or patient. Scott rarely asks for anything. Then we say "Goodnight God." And start the song portion of our nighttime routine. I think the most important thing I can do for my children spiritually, is open up a line of communication between themselves and God. Jooniper is getting older and I have been reading her the story of Siddartha, we have read Bible stories as well as Native American Folklore. Anyone have a children's spiritual book they recommend? How do you incorporate religion/spirituality into your childrens daily lives?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Homeschooling at the "Lighthouse". Interest driven schooling can be the most fun. This morning jack pretended that his toy was an umbrella and asked us to use the rainstick to rain on him. Then we did rain dances to make the rainstick rain. Then we looked up rain dances and other tribal dances on youtube. The children bounced up and down to Zulu and Korean rain dances. So as a tribute, during Jooni's snack, she rubbed blueberries all over her face as face paint like the people she saw in some of the videos. Well, if it's in the name of cultural education, who am I to make her wash it off? After snack, we begun to plant our carrot, beet, squash and pea garden. The kids got a lesson in how worms help make the soil more nutritious for the plants. Mostly, they wanted to touch the worms. They helped moisten the compost and soil in the wormfarm and transplanted the worms to our indoor garden. To incorporate math into the lesson I read the instructions on the back of the seed packages and using a tape measure, Jooniper showed me where we should put the seeds either one every inch or counting by 2's. After the planting was done, Jooniper and I wrote a story about planting a garden. I typed it up and left blank the vocabulary I thought was most suited to her learning level. She printed the words into the story and was excited she could read them herself.

Next was music time with Scott. Jack loves to join in with a harmonica while Scott plays his guitar and sings songs. Jooniper's favorite song is "naming the animals". She brings her small plastic animals into the room and Scott has to make up a song about each one, the kids get to name the animal IE: Zwanky the zebra and Scott has to fit it into his song. The kids dance, play drums and use shakers to join-in on the concert.

Jooniper loves her computer time, sometimes she wants to play kids games from kids BBC, today she wanted to have fun typing with the word processor. She likes to change the size of the letters, make them bold and Italic. She types the words she knows but to write a story, she likes me to sound out the words so she can type them. Art time today consisted of still-life. She set up her monkey and teddy and drew them. I was quite impressed. Scott, Joon and Jack made a Finding Nemo themed poster, Whales, Sharks, Turtles etc. Now it is time for the little ones to play outside, the adults are exhausted.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Homeschooling With Dirt Girl

I love Dirt Girl World. Love it. With spring just a little more than around the corner for us Muskokians, I've been feeling the itch to start an indoor garden. As a homeschooler, I always try to make lesson plans around what I have to get done anyways. The grocery store, is a wonderful opportunity to count, sort and share responsibilities, plus Jooni gets to write/read the shopping list with my help. Laundry; sorting and motor skills. Doing the dishes always turns into a lesson of percussion with pots, pans and spoons. So I really wanted to include them in gardening. Of course there's the basics Seed+Water+Sun+Dirt+Love=Healthy plant. But dirt Girl World takes the lessons deeper, into sustainable farming/ecological balance and natural pest control. I learned that Nasturtiums keep away slugs. Funny enough, I picked up some Nasturtium seeds the day before. So we made a poster together about natural ways to keep slugs away from our plants, then we planted Nasturtiums in mugs to later transplant into our outdoor garden. I think Dirt Girl World may become apart of my daily curriculum. I love how much I get to learn as a homeschooler. As a sidenote I discovered Alphablocks on Kids BBC website, pure genious. Have a great day, teach what you love and love what you teach.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Working with a doula partner...

As doulas, we like to guarantee that we will be with our clients as soon as they need us for as long as they need us. This can be tricky when you are a not only a doula but also a mother of young children. Arranging childcare is particularly troublesome. What happens when your spouse has to go to work, your mother in law is unavailable and your babysitter has got the flu? I got a call from a client believing she was in early labour and that was my situation. I scrambled around for numbers of all the babysitters I knew (when really I should have been napping). I couldn't find anyone to take them. My client called back and told me it was a "false alarm". Thank goodness for that because I had 8 hours to go before my spouse got home from work.

There was also a time when I vomited twice the night before and got a call at 8:00am the next morning. She was cramping and feeling sick and had lost her mucus plug. Uh oh. I knew I could have the flu, I also knew I could have just ate something that didn't sit well. Not knowing if it was contagious or not I decided I was not entering a room with a labouring woman or a newborn until it had been 24 hours since the last time I felt sick. I told them the situation and asked if they'd be willing to have another doula. They agreed, though really hoped I could make it. I called around and found another doula who was willing to be on-call for the next 12 hours. We arranged how much of the birth-fee she would receive, should this client need her services that day. It was just something I ate and the labour didn't start until the next morning, whew.

I found that the most stressful part of my job was the 1/2 hour I had to get ready to go to the birth, a time where I should be centering myself, not running around like a chicken with her head cut-off. Then, after I arranged childcare for the next 24 hours, the question became what do I do if the labour is longer than 24 hrs? Will my spouse be able to find a sitter?

I needed a partner.

There are amazing doulas in my area. They all have specialties, registered massage therapists, hypnobirth educators, expansive knowledge of natural remedies. My specialty is breastfeeding support, many of my clients told me that is why the hired me, (and my stunning personality of course ;). So it was important for me to have a partner with breastfeeding counseling education and experience, should I not be able to make a birth. It was also imperative that the doula I worked with be willing to volunteer for some births, I offer my services for free to women under the age of 20. Enter Emma, my sister's friend who just moved to the area. She contacted me on facebook and we got together. I found we had similar philosophies and she had been a Le Leche League leader, so she had a lot of breastfeeding counseling experience. We worked together briefly then I took some time off for personal reasons. Now I'm back and ready to take on births.

I cannot tell you how much of a relief it is knowing that no matter what (other than a horrific snow storm blocking the roads) my clients will be well supported during their birth. My partner inspires me to get out there and advertise, she also gives me someone to de-brief with after a birth. She gives me inspiration and ideas for improving my skills and classes. I just hope that I am able to do the same for her.