Thursday, June 30, 2011

Special Breastfeeding Help Needed for Some States

I have been looking at breastfeeding statistics a lot lately. They manage to surprise me in some respects, while shocking me in others.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), among women who gave birth in 2007 in the United States, a whopping 75% started out breastfeeding. This was really a surprise to me. I would have estimated the number to be much lower than that. It is a pleasant surprise and shows that most women at least had the desire and attempted to breastfeed. That’s fantastic!
Unfortunately, according to the same data, nationally only 33% were still exclusively breastfeeding by the time their babies were three months old. At the six month mark, only 13.3% of those babies were still being exclusively breastfed.
The data suggests to me that women really want to breastfeed, but may need more help doing so than is available to them. The key, of course, is education. The more women know about breastfeeding and the more access they have to knowledgeable help, the better their chances of being able to successfully breastfeed.
Take a look at the distribution of breastfed children on this US map:
Percentage of Children Who Are Breastfed at 6 Months of Age, Among Children Born in 2007 (Provisional) Source: National Immunization Survey, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
The thing that immediately caught my eye was that all of the states with fewer than 30% of breastfed babies at the six month mark are poorer states in the southern US. Not only does poverty mean that the women do not have access to the same breastfeeding resources as their wealthier peers- they also live in areas in which the general level of education is lower.
I wondered whether the same people who lacked the breastfeeding resources they need to be successful were also the ones who did not have the resources to take good care of their own nutritional needs.
Take a look at the distribution of adult obesity rates in the US:
Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults  Source: CDC Obesity Trends

Do you see the similarities on the two maps? The states with the highest breastfeeding success rates are also the ones with the lowest percentages of obesity.
The only possible solution is: Better education for the regions that need it most. The state I live in, South Carolina, is among those at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to successful breastfeeding. While 63.8% of women attempt to breastfeed, only 6.9% of infants are still exclusively breastfed at the six month mark. The percentage of adults in this state who are obese is 29.4.
(For those interested, the absolute bottom is Mississippi. Ranking lowest in the breastfeeding statistic, with only 52.5% of women trying to breastfeed and 6.5% of children still being exclusively breastfed at six months, and highest in the obesity statistic, with an obesity rate of 34.4% of the population.
The winner is Colorado, with 88.7% of women breastfeeding initially and 22.5% still exclusively doing it at the six month mark, and the skinniest population with an obesity rate of ‘only’ 18.6%)
Ladies, we should all ask ourselves what we can do to help the women who are most in need of some good breastfeeding help and resources. Let’s start by setting an example and breastfeeding in public as much as possible to establish it as something that is completely natural and socially acceptable.
Are there any other ways that you think we can help?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Protecting Our Children From Abuse

The instances of sexual crimes against children are on the rise. The Internet has given abusers a new platform on which they can freely exchange thoughts, pictures, videos, etc. with likeminded criminals. While there is no sure way to protect your children from the dangers of the world, there are some things that can make abuse less likely.
Trust Your Instincts
If a person or a situation seems strange to you, do not subject your child to it. There are instances in which our instincts or gut feelings send us warning signs. For the sake of your children, listen to your feelings and don’t subject your child to a situation or person that you are not 100% comfortable with.
Have a Strong Bond With Your Child
Try to create a bond with your child that is so strong that he/she feels as though he/she can talk to you about anything. The stronger the connection you have with your child, the more likely you will be to pick up on any behavioral changes in your child, which could be signs of abuse.
Talk to Your Child
Even though this is a very uncomfortable topic for most parents, it is imperative that children learn from an early age that they should never tolerate being touched in any way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Children should also know what course of action to take in such a situation, e.g. telling a teacher, the parent, etc. and that they will never be punished for telling.
Don’t Leave Your Child With Strangers
I may be stating the obvious, but do not be overly trusting with people. Never leave your child with someone you don’t know very well. I would also advise against leaving your child with someone you do know well, if you are unfamiliar with the other people who live in the household. For example, the teenager who babysits for you might be wonderful, while her father may be far from nice.
Listen to Your Child
Most importantly, listen to your child! Believe your children when they tell you that they have experienced abuse. Unfortunately, most instances of abuse are reported to have taken place in the child’s immediate environment, i.e. family members and close friends or neighbors. None of us want to believe that the people we know and love would be capable of such disgusting actions, but the people who abuse children all are ‘regular’ people with jobs and families and friends. Our children have nobody else to protect them- they rely solely on us. If they tell us that someone is abusing or mistreating them in any way, we must take action immediately! Please keep in mind that this can always include your own spouse. Your children should always come first, no matter what the situation. They need our protection…

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fabulously Friday: Ditching the Maternity Clothes

After I had my first child, I was nowhere near being able to wear my old clothes. I read in one of the pregnancy books not to bother buying new clothes, but to wear maternity clothing until I was back to my old size. I followed this advice and ended up wearing baggy clothes for most of the first year of my daughter’s life.
I disagree with this advice. Wearing oversized clothes for a longer period of time made me feel bad about myself and how I looked. Also, I never completely lost the baby weight and my figure never went back to the way it used to be- I still have broader hips that don’t fit into my old jeans- so I was holding out for something that never occurred.
Ladies, after you have your baby, buy a few nice things for the transition period until you lose the weight you intend to lose! You don’t have to spend a lot of money- shop for items that are not quite as nice or expensive as you would usually buy, but that fit you well. Buy clothes for the body that you have at the time, not for the one you want to have in the future.
Wearing oversized, ill-fitting clothes makes you feel self-conscious and heavier than you are. I think that it hinders weight loss because it makes you believe that you can hide your figure. Overall, it makes you feel far from fabulous and is therefore not desirable.
Of course, I am not talking about the first six to eight weeks postpartum. It is completely fine and acceptable to wear baggy, comfortable clothes during those first weeks. After that period, though, put the maternity clothes away! If you think you may be having more children in the future, store the clothes somewhere. If not, give them to pregnant friends, donate them to a charitable organization, or even sell them. It doesn’t really matter what you do with them as long as they are no longer accessible to you.
The only exception that is allowed is a nice pair of maternity jeans. They are an awesome invention and really comfortable. However, make sure they fit well around the butt and don't sag as that may make people question your continence. Also, any pants that you can clearly see the elastic on are not desirable…
Trust me, you will feel much better in well-fitting clothing. Don’t pay attention to the number of the size- you just had a baby! Nice clothes will make you feel a lot more fabulous. Should you not lose the extra weight, that is fine, too- as long as you still feel happy with who you are!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Pregnancy Envy

I think I am somehow abnormal. (Well, I actually know that I am- in more ways than one…) What I am referring to today is my intense pregnancy envy.
Many of you ladies have experienced the same thing at one time or another in your lives- you see a pregnant woman who just looks beautiful and happy and content and you think to yourself: ‘Wow, I wish that was me!’ Usually women go through this before they have children or after their children are a little older. So why do I feel this way now? I have a seven month old baby, for crying out loud!
Rationally, one of the most inopportune things that could happen to us right now would be to have another baby on the way. I have two children, aged two and seven months- I already have enough to do… I had a c-section, so physically it would not be good for me to have another baby now or anytime in the near future. The financial strain would be unpleasant. Not to mention the fact that my husband does not want any more children.
However, emotionally, I see pregnant women and I am so envious. I want to be able to experience it all again, just one more time. I want to be able to do things a little differently this time- so many improvements I would make. I want to have the natural birth I have been dreaming of. Most importantly, I want a newborn that is all mine. One that looks like my husband sometimes and sometimes like me. One that I can snuggle and cuddle and watch while he/she grows.
There is nothing like having a baby. I am reluctant to close that chapter in my life. For some reason, I cannot imagine what my life will be without a baby in the house. It feels as though I will lose my purpose when that happens. If it were up to me, I might be like Mrs. Duggar and have a baby every year or two. There are so many people who are eager to get out of the baby stage and be done with it. Not me! I’m going to be the weird old lady in the grocery store that talks to the pregnant ladies and tears up…
My babies are growing up so fast, I can’t keep up with it. If I could pause time I would do it in a heartbeat. My children are so wonderful, the best thing that ever happened to me. They are the perfect gifts from heaven. I cherish every moment with them, but somehow time rushes by us, never to return.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fabulously Friday: Give Yourself an Allowance

It’s very common for us parents to focus all our time and energy on our children. It is also common for us to spend all of our money on them. I know plenty of ladies who often buy clothes, toys, and goodies for their kids, while they are wearing the same clothes they’ve had for many years (yes, I am partly referring to myself…)
An idea I got from my parents is to give yourself and your spouse an allowance. If you give yourself some pocket money every week or every month you will be sure to at least buy a little something for yourself on a regular basis.
No matter what your budget is, you should be able to spare maybe $5 or $10 per week, which would amount to between $20 and $50 per month. If you have a larger budget, you can raise your allowance to whatever amount you feel is appropriate.
What to do with this extra cash? Something only for yourself! It has to be something that is going to make you feel better about yourself and will make you happy, even if only for a little while. You may not spend it on gifts for the kids or your partner- this is forbidden because it defeats the purpose!
Don’t know what you could do with your money? Here are some suggestions: Buy a book, magazine, DVD, CD, clothes, a purse, jewelry, shoes (!!!), etc. Or treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, massage, haircut, visit to the chiropractor, etc. Take a friend out and have a few drinks. Buy a nice bottle of wine and some chocolates. Start taking lessons in something you’ve always wanted to learn. The possibilities are endless!
If you have your heart set on something a little pricier, save up for it! The more fabulous the item on your wish list, the longer it may take you to get it, but it will be well worth it.
You’re probably thinking that I am promoting consumerism and material happiness. That is actually not my point at all. I just think that spending money on yourself on a regular basis will make you a happier and more content person. It will raise your sense of self-worth and make you feel better about who you are.
So, this weekend, take your allowance and treat yourself to something nice! It will definitely help you become a more fabulous you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Elephants in Outer Space

When we brought our baby boy home from the hospital, I didn’t think twice about the fact that his private parts were different than his sister’s. I also did not anticipate that she would notice this difference immediately. The first time R watched me give my little man a bath, the following scenario took place:
After a long, hard stare at E’s privates, R looked at me and said: “Mummy, E has an elephant on his butt!” I almost died laughing! Of course, I had to pull myself together and react appropriately to my daughter’s assumption. For a moment I panicked- we hadn’t discussed what we would call the kids’ privates in the future. So, I told it like it is: “No, honey, that’s not an elephant. That’s a penis.” R thought about this for a moment. “Do I have a penis?” Again, I couldn’t help but snicker: “No, sweetheart, you don’t have a penis. Only boys have penises.”
For a few weeks, R was fascinated by the idea of penises. She would randomly ask me if certain people had a penis. It was really funny, and I tried my best to not get uncomfortable with these questions.
As I suspected, the questions soon went away and it became just another normal fact of life to R that boys had penises. She now calls them weenies because my husband referred to them as that sometimes. Every now and again she will inform me that E has a weenie.
I wasn’t quite prepared for the dialogue that took place yesterday. I had just come out of the shower and R was playing in the bathroom. I dried myself off and put my towel away. R always finds it very interesting when I am naked and looked me over intently. She asked: “Do you have a weenie, mummy?” I said: “No, silly goose, only boys have weenies.” She thought for a second and suddenly exclaimed: “Mummy, you have grass on your butt!” I again laughed really hard, then explained that it was in fact hair, not grass. (To those of you who are confused- she was not looking at my actual butt, and the hair I have is not green)
As you see, explaining genitalia to our children can be really fun. Don’t get uncomfortable- it’s completely normal for them to be interested and intrigued. Our private parts look nothing like the rest of our bodies and it’s only natural for our children to have questions. After all, as a German singer once noted, genitalia look very much like ‘radioactive vegetables from outer space’.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

That Could Never Happen to Me

I learned a very valuable lesson today. A lesson I could have learned a much harder way than I did. I am so grateful that nobody got hurt.
We went to a play date at the park. Had a great time. Drove to Target. Traffic was annoying, as usual. Went into Target and shopped for a birthday gift. Walked around the store for 45 minutes like an idiot looking for a scale to weigh myself with. Bumped in to two people while we were there and chatted for a few minutes. Checked out. Put all the items in the car and brought the cart back. Put R in the car, then E. Went back over to R, sanitized her hands, gave her her drink and her snack. Got in and started driving.
R is sitting in the car, eating her snack. After about five minutes, she says “I don’t have to wear my seatbelt today!” I look in the rearview mirror and she is in her car seat, but not strapped in! I almost had a heart attack. I pulled over right away and fastened her seatbelt. I never in a million years thought that I would ever forget to strap her in. That happens to other people, but not to methodical me!
I don’t know how you do it, but I go through the exact same motions every time I put the kids in the car. It is an absolute routine and I hardly have to think about it. Which is why I never considered the possibility that I might forget one of the steps, let alone the most important one. However, I got distracted by something at the exact moment I would have fastened the seat belt and just didn't do it.
I am a complete creature of habit. What I realized today is that while I can rely on that most of the time, it is not 100% effective. So, I am going to make myself adopt a new habit. Before I start driving the car in future I will be looking in my rearview mirror to make sure that everyone is buckled in.
While I’m at it, I’m going to also make it a habit to check the rearview mirror when I get to my destination. We have all heard the heart-wrenching stories of moms who forgot their children in the car. I used to think that that could never happen to me. Today, I am not so sure anymore…

Note to my husband: If this had happened to you, I would be unbelievably upset with you. I understand if you are upset with me, even though you probably won't be.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Slightly Greener Clean

I was first bothered by the chemicals in my household cleaners when I was pregnant. Suddenly, cleaning the bathroom with my regular products was unbearable- the smell was awful and I could feel the fumes in my nose and my lungs. I started looking for alternatives and have made some very good changes since then.
When we had our first child, I really started looking at all the toxins we had lying around the house. It made me so nervous to know that we had a large number of products that were capable of seriously harming or even killing my child. Child locks gave me some sense of security, but even the most expensive child proofing devices do not work 100% of the time. The only way I could put my mind at ease was to get rid of a lot of the potentially dangerous products. The fewer there are in our house, the less likely it is for one of my kids to come in contact with them.
Switching your household cleaning agents to greener, non-toxic products will not only benefit your children, it is better for everyone in your household, including your pets. Not only will your household be better off, the environment and everyone in it will be, too.
Bathroom and Household Cleaners:
We have switched out our harsh household cleaners and replaced them with products by Green Works® and method®. They are naturally derived cleaners without any harsh fumes or chemicals. Best of all: they work just as well as the other stuff!
If you would rather make your own cleaners, vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are cheap, non-toxic, all natural, and overall great for cleaning almost anything in your house.
Dishwashing Detergent
When we first started using utensils and cups for my daughter, we just stuck them in the dishwasher using our regular dishwasher tabs. Every time I emptied the dishwasher, I felt uncomfortable giving the cups, etc. back to my daughter without rinsing them out thoroughly because they smelled strongly of chemicals. method® once again came to our rescue with their all natural dishwasher tabs that are non-toxic. Not only do they get the dishes just as clean, they also smell fantastic!
With dish soap, it is really easy to find a great one that is made up of natural cleaning agents and is non-toxic. Most of them also smell really nice and refreshing.
Laundry Soap and Fabric Softeners
My daughter developed eczema, which made us switch to detergents and fabric softeners that were perfume and dye free. We found so many great options that not only fit the criteria, but were also plant based and naturally derived. Regular store brands we like include Arm & Hammer and Seventh Generation. There are a lot of specialty brands available- especially when it comes to laundering cloth diapers- that are all natural and non-toxic. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even make your own laundry soap- I have never done so myself, but know a few ladies who make some on a regular basis.
Mopping Revised
My favorite green cleaning tip of them all is: buy a steam mop! They don’t cost much and will save you so much time, money, and hassle. All you do is fill it with water. The steamer heats the water to a high temperature and emits steam that not only cleans your floors beautifully without the use of any mopping solution, but also sanitizes them. Best of all, there is no bucket of water to lug around the house and no mess to clean up afterwards- just fill it up, plug it in, and go. Then, put it away again. My floors are cleaner than they have ever been!

Of course, for the extremely rough or disgusting cases, I still have disinfectants and harsh cleaners. For example when I rinse off chicken in the kitchen sink, I like to use a little something stronger to get it clean, just because I’m a bit of a germaphobe…
Please note that non-toxic cleaners can still poison your child if they are ingested in large quantities. They can also still irritate the eyes and skin, so keep them out of reach of your children and pets at all times!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Go Ahead, Lick Your Baby!

While reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th Edition I stumbled upon a fascinating idea. To improve the mother-child bond and to help start off the breastfeeding relationship, the book suggests licking your baby.
I know what most of you are thinking “Ok, now Vivien has completely lost her mind!”… Just bear with me for a few minutes and I will try to explain.
As we all know, one of the first things mammals do when their babies are born is to clean them by licking them. They not only do this to get them fresh, it is a very complex process that mixes the mother’s and baby’s scents, thereby creating a bond, while stimulating the baby’s entire nervous system, improving breathing, digestion, etc.
We humans are lucky enough to not have to actually clean our offspring in such a way anymore. I don’t know how you feel, but neither of my babies looked very delicious right after they were born. (No, I’m not referring to my babies themselves, but rather the coating they had on them) However, there are theories out there that view this removal from our primal instincts in a negative light, claiming that an essential part is missing in the bonding process.
In today’s society, a very large number of babies is born with medical interventions, including c-sections and epidurals. One of the problems associated with these interventions is the mother’s removal from the birthing process. It has been widely reported that mothers who did not feel their babies leave their bodies had difficulties emotionally bonding with their babies. Mothers know that the babies are theirs, but lack the sense of attachment that they feel they should have.
I remember after my daughter was born I felt almost underwhelmed emotionally. I looked at her, and loved and adored her, but couldn’t really fathom that she belonged to me. It took us a long time to really bond, especially since our breastfeeding relationship got off to a rocky start.
To counteract this sense of detachment it has been suggested that returning to an act so primal as licking your child will greatly improve the bond between mother and child.
So, dear mothers, why not give it a go? I read the story of a mother whose daughter was over a year old when she licked her- she felt that it immediately improved their bond. If you feel as though your bond could be a little bit stronger, just try it out. What’s the worst that could happen?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

There's Always the Moon

My parents went back home on Wednesday and I can’t help but feel lonely. They are so far away, along with the rest of my family and very many of my friends. I have no idea when I’m going to be able to see them again. It makes me feel homesick and sad.
One thing that always comforts me is looking at the night sky. I look up at the moon and the beautiful stars and suddenly it doesn’t matter where in the world I am. Because the moon and the stars are constant (at least to us little humans down here on earth)- wherever you go they always look the same.
I take comfort in the fact that even though I live thousands of miles from many of the people I love, we are still all looking at the same sky at night. No matter what continents we are on, the moon is always the same, waxing and waning. Ever changing, yet never really different.
When my husband was deployed, I used to sit outside my apartment building and gaze at the endless universe that can only be seen at night. I would picture him looking up at the same ceiling of darkness and lights, thinking of me. It soothed and comforted me.
Tonight, when I look at the sky, I will be thinking of all the billions of people in this world whom I will never meet, whom I have nothing in common with except the sky that we look at together in the darkness of the night.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fabulously Friday: Taking Some Time to Yourself

Disclaimer: I couldn’t think of anything funny to write about for Foreigner Friday. I am substituting it with a new Friday format that I may use more often from now on. Let me know what you think!
One of the things I have greatly neglected since I had children is myself. Not only did I never make a big effort to lose the baby weight, I also stopped caring much about my appearance in general, still wearing maternity clothes, never doing anything with my hair, etc. I have just recently come to the conclusion that this has been a big mistake.
If you don’t feel good about yourself, you cannot be your best. You’re not as confident and not as happy as you could be. Liking yourself and valuing your own persona is incredibly important.
Therefore, Fabulously Friday is going to help you do more things for yourself that will help you feel more fabulous! It doesn’t have to be anything big- just taking a few minutes to yourself to do something you truly enjoy and that inspires you can make a huge difference.
Some of the things I did for myself this week: Continue on my Weight Watchers plan (yes, losing weight is doing something for myself! Watching what I eat and making my body more acceptable to me are making me a happier person), buy a new pair of sunglasses (the last pair I bought was in 2002!!!), buy a magazine. As you see, nothing spectacular, but all things that made me feel as though I am not just a mother, but my own person.
So, dear readers, I would like to give you some homework for this weekend. Do something for yourself that will make you feel better about who you are! If you have kids, get someone to watch them for even just a short time, and read, or take a bath, or go for a walk, or work out, or watch an episode of your favorite show- the possibilities are endless. And you don’t have to spend a dime! Unless of course you want to, in which case there are even more possibilities: new shoes, clothes, make up, books, crafty things- whatever it is that makes you happy.
Also, think of what is going to make you feel better about yourself in the long run. It can be a physical goal, or an educational one. A career choice or a hobby you have always wanted to pick up.
The point is: Do something for YOU! It is so easy to forget your own needs under the mountain of everyone else’s. However, taking some time to make yourself a happier person will in turn make everyone else happier and will make your life a more fulfilled one.
Have a fabulous weekend!

And the Winner is...


Congratulations! I have sent you an email- please respond no later than Sunday, 06/12. If there is no response from the winner, the prize goes to the second place follower.

The next giveaway will be at 50 followers, so spread the word! If you think you are following my blog, please check the friends list to make sure your name is there- they have been having technical difficulties.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Daughter's Knock Knock Joke

My heart is a little heavy this evening. I dropped my parents off at the airport. They are now on their way back to Germany and I have no idea when I will get to see them again.
Some very dear friends are moving away soon.
We still have no idea if, when, and/or where we are moving.

As you see, it’s nothing too drastic. Just some things that are on my mind and making me feel down. Those of you who know me know that I brood over things way too much, turning them over and over in my mind. Actually, this evening there is so much on my mind that I can’t concentrate on what I wanted to write.
So, as an alternative that will cheer us all up, I present to you something completely different: my daughter’s knock knock joke. My daughter is two years old (27 months, to be exact) and she is hilarious! Any time I’m a little sad, I just have to think about something funny she says and it’s all better.

R:            Knock knock!
Me:         Who’s there?
R:            P!
Me:        P who?
R:            Now that’s funny!
And she laughs hysterically!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Vivien-tacular Giveaway

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my new blog design. The wonderful Ihilani redid my entire blog and made it lovely! If you are interested in having your blog redesigned, check out her page

If you have any comments or suggestions, I would LOVE to hear them! We can still make changes.

I want to get this blog thing going a little better than it has been. Therefore, I have decided to do a giveaway as soon as I reach 30 followers.

So, if you would like to win a $30 gift certificate to Totsy, please follow my blog and spread the word. The faster we get to 30 followers, the sooner we will have a winner.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Don't Want to be a Mommy-Fascist

Today I went to a baptism class in preparation for my son’s christening. There was a mother there with her five week old baby boy, who kept screaming and screaming. She said: “Oh, we’re switching from breast milk to formula and he has a terrible tummy ache!” I started getting really anxious. I couldn’t understand why a mother would do that to her child. I bit my tongue and said nothing. However, I was so stressed out about this that I started sweating…
She gave him a bottle and he screamed even more. Instead of trying to comfort her baby, the mother handed him willingly to the lady who was running the class. He screamed as hard as he physically could. It was just awful. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. The mother finally took him back after half an hour and he stopped crying.
I spent the entire class obsessing about this woman and her baby. Worrying about his health, what could be causing the stomach ache, etc. I couldn’t concentrate on much of what was being said up front. Suddenly I realized what I had become: A mommy-fascist!
I was judging a woman I didn’t know anything about on the parenting choices she was making. Which, for obvious reasons, is completely unacceptable and something I never wanted to do. I have so many friends with completely different parenting styles and usually I don’t think twice about their parenting choices because I trust them. I know that the choices they make are the right ones for their family.
I have been thinking about myself a lot today. One of the reasons I was so upset about the lady and her baby is because of all the reading I have been doing these past few weeks. I am studying to become a La Leche League leader and a doula. There are so many facts in the books I have been reading that tell me exactly what the right choices to make are. I have let these facts influence my subjective thinking and blind me from the reality of the western world.
Not only is it unfair of me to judge another mother because of the choices she has made, it is also unacceptable professionally. If I really want to help mothers with their breastfeeding issues, I must accept that some will still decide to formula feed. And that this is ok. It is time for me to start distancing myself emotionally from what I have learned so that I can again be accepting and tolerant of others. It will help me be a better person- professionally and personally.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Foreigner Friday: Pussy Cats and Fannies

Our pussies

I’ve been in the US for so long now that I hardly notice the differences in language anymore. In case you are unaware, American English is quite different from British, Irish, or Australian English. Not just the accent is different, word meanings vary, as do pronunciations.
I think I have adapted well. Most people here have no idea where I’m from. I have learned to say ‘tomato’ and ‘water’ in a manner in which a waitress can understand me. Some words still come out the old way, though, such as the name ‘Peter’- people always give me weird looks when they hear me say it.
Thankfully, there are still situations in which I am reminded of my origin, often in a comic way. I have been known to talk about a pair of ‘trousers’ by mistake, puzzling my fellow conversationalists who only know the garment in question as ‘pants’. Now, ‘pants’ refer to underwear in GB and Ireland, so when I go back to Europe I have to remember to switch back to ‘trousers’ to avoid complications.
My parents are visiting from Europe at the moment. It is hilarious! People gawk at them everywhere we go, trying to figure out their accent. And my parents try hard to understand the southern American accent people here have. It works out, for the most part. Until they start talking about pussies. Of course, what they mean are cats. And of course what everyone else thinks of when they hear this is something a little less innocent.
My husband has had to leave the room before because he was about to burst out laughing at all the pussy talk. My mother doesn’t shy away from saying things like: “Isn’t Feebee a lovely pussy? Why don’t you give the pussy a cuddle…” And unfortunately, over thirty years ago my parents decided that ‘pussy’ would be a good pet name for my mother. Are you laughing yet? If not, I’m afraid it gets worse… My father’s pet name is- brace yourselves- ‘beaver’. Pussy and beaver have very interesting conversations, as you can imagine.
Something that puzzled me greatly for a long time was the word ‘fanny’. In Europe, it refers to the private parts of a lady, basically the equivalent of ‘pussy’. When I got to the states, people were very lax with this word, using it freely in conversation. Even the theme song of an annoying TV series talks about someone being kicked out and landing on her fanny. I always thought of this as extremely inappropriate. Especially the fanny pack was a mystery to me… Until I found out the meaning of the word here; it eased my mind greatly.
Dear Americans, if you’re in Europe and someone asks you for a fag, they don’t want you to give them a homosexual. And, if you’re in Ireland and you’re asked if you would like to come out and have some ‘good crack’, they are not referring to the cocaine but rather ‘craic’, which is an Irish word for fun…
In the mean time, I will try to prevent my child from starting to use the word 'pussy'. It's a shame, really- who doesn't like cats?

C-sections: The One Thing You Should Take to Surgery

I don’t like c-sections. I don’t know many women who do. However, sometimes they are medically necessary. According to recent studies, the probability of your birth being a cesarean section is about 1/3. So, just in case, you should think about how you would like things to go if you have to have this kind of delivery.
When I had my first baby, one of the most important things for me was that I didn’t want our new baby to be out of our site. I told my husband to follow our little girl wherever she went and not to take “no” for an answer. Thankfully, the hospital I delivered in did everything, such as bathing, weighing, etc. in our room right next to me.
If you have to have a c-section, things will be very different. The actual birth only takes about five minutes, then your baby has to leave the OR. I’m not sure how you feel, but I am not comfortable leaving my newborn baby with people I have never met before.
Therefore, when I am asked what I think every woman should take to the hospital with her, my answer is: a second person.  When I delivered my son, I had my husband and my doula with me. I had a discussion with my OB beforehand, telling him that I would love to have two people in the OR with me, in case a c-section became inevitable. It did and my doctor let both of my birth partners stay with me. My beautiful baby boy was born (for the complete birth story, click here). After I got to see him for a brief minute, they whisked him away. My husband went with my baby, to make sure that he was safe and to start bonding with him. Thankfully, I was not all alone on the operating table when they patched me up- my wonderful doula was by my side, keeping me calm and easing my fear.

If you can arrange it, take someone to the OR with you in addition to your husband/ partner. I found it so comforting and reassuring at a time when you’re in emotional and physical turmoil over having a cesarean birth.