Interview Request for a father who did not attend his child’s birth

Recently, I got a comment, requesting a man who did not attend the birth of his child. He would prefer to interview (by email, if that would be better) a man who CHOSE not to attend, rather than someone who intended on being there but was unfortunately prevented somehow or other. If you know of someone who fits that description, you can email him at rob.kemp at blueyonder dot co dot uk.

NOT a “Gerber Baby”!!

One of the facebook ads that pop up in the sidebar had a picture of a sleeping newborn, with the question, “Is your baby cuter than this baby?” Then something about being “a Gerber Baby.” Um, no thank you! I’m proud to say that my children were never “Gerber babies.” “Why?” you may ask. Well, I’ll certainly tell you!

  • Infant food is a new invention, and not necessarily a good one, in my opinion. It may be better today in some respects than it was 30 years ago or 50 years ago (I think they used to add quite a bit of salt, sugar, and perhaps other flavorings), but I still don’t like it. Babies survived (and thrived!) for millennia prior to the founding of Gerber Baby Foods. So, it’s not necessary, although some people may find it helpful.
  • For millennia, mothers somehow managed to keep their poor, starving children alive {sarcasm here — not intended to include children who actually are truly hungry, and would benefit from any food at all} without the help of over-processed, machine-puréed foods sold in tiny jars at exorbitant cost.
  • It’s wasteful — those tiny jars can be recycled, but how many are?
  • The food is processed and perhaps over-processed.
  • Even if the tablespoon of applesauce in the little jars is healthy (enough), there is now a whole product line of post-infant foods — Gerber Graduates, which perpetuates feeding children separately from the rest of the family, and perpetuates a cycle of feeding children food from boxes, jars, etc., rather than food from the ground and other “whole” foods. So, your child will go from breastmilk or formula to infant cereal, and jars of food, to jars of chunkier food, to individual-size packages of juice, yogurt, etc., to “2nd foods” and “3rd foods” dinners, to “Gerber Graduates”, to what when he goes to school — Kraft Lunchables? I consider myself to be fairly mainstream, — a little on the edges in a few different ways — but surely I can’t be the only one who has a problem with the possibility of children being fed absolutely no living and/or whole/natural food, subsisting entirely on cooked, processed, boxed/canned/jarred food, from infancy through adulthood. How many carrots can you buy, for the cost of one jar of baby food? How many “raw ingredients” could you purchase for the same price as the “finished product” of a week’s supply of “Gerber Graduates”? How much nutrition is lost in the processing of real food into fake food, that could be kept if you prepared the food yourself?

Ok, enough of that rant. On to another one.

Then, if the above-mentioned problems aren’t enough, you’ve got the fact that Gerber is now owned by the Nestlé corporation (although not mentioned in Nestlé’s website, which makes me wonder what other companies and products are also owned by them), which corporation has been under boycott (except for a brief time in the 80s) since 1977 for its marketing of formula in poor countries. Now, I’m not much on boycotts in some ways — I’d heard about this boycott a few times, but never realized it was about as old as me! I don’t say that I will boycott Nestlé, but I am going to be mindful of the boycott in making my purchasing decisions.

Today is Halloween (which I don’t celebrate), and Nestlé is bound to be making huge profits this year (as in every year) selling chocolate — that’s what I most associate with them — Nestlé Crunch and other foods that sport the name. The downside of this boycott, is that I often don’t purchase what Nestlé sells anyway — I try to avoid most candy since I’m overweight already and have a huge sweet tooth; plus most of the other foods are either junk, or have generic or other alternatives, so I won’t change much of my buying styles, even by a total boycott. But here’s the list from the Nestlé website:

Baby Ruth, Bit-o-Honey, Buitoni, Butterfinger, Carlos V, Chunky, Coffee-Mate, Dreyer’s, Edy’s, Frosty Paws, Gobstoppers, Goobers, Haagen-Dazs, Hot Pockets, Jamba, La Lechera Sweetened Condensed Milk, Laffy Taffy, Lean Cuisine, Lean Pockets, Libby’s Pumpkin, Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip, Maggi Seasonings, MILO powdered beverage, Nerds; A variety of “Nestlé” and “Nes****” labeled foods, like Nescafé, Nesquick, etc.; Nips, Oh Henry, Oompas, Pixy Stix, Raisinets, Runts, Sno-Caps, Spree, Stouffer’s, SweetTarts, Taster’s Choice, The Skinny Cow, Wonka, 100 Grand

I have bought about half of these items at one point or another — particularly the candy. But I will be more mindful of these in the future. The only thing I normally buy would be the canned pumpkin, and I almost always get that from the salvage store, so I’m not sure that counts.

As for Gerber, I don’t think I’ve ever bought any Gerber food. The only “baby food” either of my kids had was the following: someone had given me a couple of jars of baby food their child had outgrown. I happened to remember them about a month after introducing my son to solid foods (table foods — real, cooked carrots mashed with a real fork!). He took one bite, and refused any more. The next day, I tried again, with the same (lack of) success. I didn’t waste any more time, and never bought any baby food. I never did baby cereal either. Never gave my children one drop or grain of formula, but then, I was “blessed” with an oversupply of breastmilk, so it was never an issue.

[No, I don’t think you’re a horrible mother if you gave your child formula, nor if you fed him or her baby food. To each her own. Had my child liked baby food, I might have been tempted to get other kinds, to use during an emergency, or during traveling or something. I present my views as balance to the over-processed culture that has forgotten that billions of babies grew just fine without getting a single food from Gerber. What I’ve done is different from most people I know, and that’s okay. I haven’t fallen out with any of the other mothers I know who are religious about feeding their children the “proper” baby food, much less my sisters and sisters-in-law who have circumcised their sons, nor my sisters-in-law who ignored their infants by doing the Baby Lies, um Wise method, so don’t think I’m judging you about this when I don’t even know you. :-)]

Meanest Mommy Ever

It’s a hilarious blog I just recently discovered, and thought I’d share the link, so everyone else can enjoy the fun. One of the more recent “rules from the Meanest Mommy” was this one that literally had me laughing out loud:

Rule #198:  No, you may not glue those googly-eyes on your penis and scare your brother and/or dad tonight when you’re changing into your pajamas at bedtime.

Yes, you have to be a pretty mean mommy not to allow your son to do that! 🙂

I started reading through all the posts in reverse order, but if you want to start at #1, you can click here.

“Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy” Discount

A few weeks ago, I posted about another blog doing a giveaway of the book Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy. Well, the winner was announced recently, and the book’s author, Laura Keegan, is giving a discount of seven dollars off the price of the book ($35 becoming only $28, a discount of 20%!), plus she is graciously donating an additional $3 for each book purchased to the Best for Babes Foundation, which sponsored the giveaway. You can get the discount code by going to the Best for Babes website. This would be such a wonderful gift for any birth junkie, new mom, midwife, doula, expecting mother, La Leche League leader, etc., for Christmas (yes! it’s coming quicker than you think!), birthdays, baby showers, or as a “thank you” gift to your birth support team. The discount is only good until Nov. 12, so act quickly.

Wedding Day Disasters

I’d thought along these lines myself, comparing wedding day disasters to birth trauma, intending at some point to write a post on it. But, this woman has already done so: part one and part two.

I have seen many, many talk shows or TV court shows where a woman is very distraught –often brought to tears–when she talks about her wedding that “went wrong”. How she had planned this day for so long, it was HER MOMENT, she will NEVER get it back. Even how traumatizing it was for her.

It dawned on me–women are given more sympathy (and more air time) for their wedding day disasters, than women who a bad birth experience!

You can plan weddings, and things can still go wrong. You can plan for how you would like your labor and birth to be — or, more to the point, you can plan who you would like to be there, and how you would like for them to treat you and the baby. Occasionally, things may arise that throw your plans out the window. [Click here to read Rixa’s post on the topic, plus many interesting comments following.] Borrowing from the wedding analogy — the caterer could be in a car wreck, smashing your cake; the photographer could fall in a lake, ruining not only his camera but the pictures as well; your future father-in-law could have a heart attack on the eve of the wedding; your flower girl could pull up her dress to show her pretty panties; the ring bearer could pick his nose (and eat it) during the most solemn part of the ceremony — there are numerous things, large and small, that could happen to disrupt your plans. Some, you can laugh off (at least, with the passage of time); others, not so much. Anyone can see that if the bride is disappointed on her wedding day, that something has gone wrong (or else she has her expectations too high, possibly). We go out of our way to ensure that women have happy weddings — that everything is “just so” or “just the way she wants it,” just the same as we would try to make sure that people have happy birthdays (anybody ever get a free dessert at a restaurant on your birthday?). Common courtesy demands at least that we treat people special on their special day. A woman giving birth should be treated with even greater respect, not just because it is most certainly a special day in her life, but because of the intensely personal nature of birth. Whatever happens in birth happens to her; something bad happening during a wedding usually does not (unless her hair catches on fire from the candles or something).

What is it about this culture?? We value the woman’s right to be a “princess” for a day, “The Dress”, pictures, cake and champagne more than the woman’s right to informed consent, to be treated with dignity and respect, free of coercion and harmful, unnecessary intervention.

And that, I think, is a great deal of the problem — when women feel mistreated, disrespected, coerced, and undergoing unnecessary interventions, they have a right to complain. If the intervention is necessary, then it can be explained in a respectful, dignified way. Common courtesy.

If the wedding was a disaster, be it a torn dress or a medical emergency, does everyone tell the newlywed to just be thankful they are married? After all, even though they planned the wedding for months, invested lots of time and money into it and were anticipating it, they got the end result they wished to achieve – marriage. There should be no reason to dwell on any upsetting or traumatic events. After all, it’s just a means to an end.  The moment they got married would  – and should – erase any prior upsetting events. Right?  I doubt it.  So why are women who share with others their feelings about disappointing or traumatic births told they should just “be thankful”? Why are they told that the process of birth doesn’t matter, it’s just a means to an end?

Click over to read the rest of the posts.

A public relations professional, mother, and “birth nut” had an insightful article about this topic called “Hitting the Right Notes.” She notes that often when people like us have conversations like this (where we, *gasp*, note the importance of being respected in birth, or talk about birth as being an empowering experience; or on the flip side, the trauma that can come from an upsetting birth experience), that people in the mainstream don’t get it. They think that we are setting up a choice between “a mountain-top experience” and “the safety of the baby,” and that’s false. Because they are not (usually) mutually exclusive. She writes,

A reporter once asked what was so bad about my cesarean. I could have talked about the painful recovery, the nearly failed breastfeeding relationship with my son, or the limits it placed on my future birthing choices. Instead, I botched my answer by talking about how emotionally disappointing it was.

None of these messages is wrong. In truth, the emotional aspect of birth is undervalued…

Talking about natural birth as a life-affirming amazing high fails to impress. Even if, on some level, women want that positive birthing experience, they don’t give themselves permission to pursue it. Too selfish. It has to be about the safety and well-being of their babies.

She then goes on to write that, rather than being opposing forces, a “one or the other” choice, a good birth experience has a great deal to do with good outcomes for mothers and babies.

By choosing our messages with care, we have the power to elevate natural birth from being a slightly hippie subculture to the safe and healthy standard that every health-care provider is obligated to uphold, and that every mother should demand.

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Two Breech Water-Births

Many thanks to Nicole at Bellies and Babies for first posting these — they are awesome! They also give testimony to the voice of wisdom from those skilled in attending breech birth, namely, “hands off the breech.” One website (I believe a UK midwife’s site) said something about attending a breech birth along the lines of, “after the baby’s feet/legs/bum is born, go stand facing the corner of the room, and sip a beer s-l-o-w-l-y,” to allow the baby’s head to be born naturally. After watching these two videos, I understand a bit more why. In one of the videos, the contractions are five minutes apart, which seems agonizingly slow, to see the baby’s body dangling in the water… with his head and neck still inside the woman… and the umbilical cord is obviously next to his head… which makes me think of cord compression… and I want to reach through the screen and grab the baby and pull him out to safety. The other video is not that different, either in timing or in the length of time I was holding my breath! Whew! And if I have that reaction from watching a video clip, I can only imagine what it must feel like to actually be in the room, and be able to act (even if the action is misinformed, misguided, or downright dangerous).

And if you either have no skills or experience in breech birth, or if you want to brush up on them, be sure to read Rixa’s posts about the Breech Birth Conference in Ottawa recently: Day One, Day Two Part 1, and Day Two Part 2 — quite informative!

Putting the videos and the posts together makes me think that I’d rather go unassisted with a breech birth than to have a nervous care provider attending a vaginal birth. Some time ago, someone made a comment on a post at The Unnecesarean about being mad at herself for having accepted a C-section for breech presentation rather than trying to find a skilled breech-birth attendant, and says,

I guess I am also posting because I want to feel that I did the right thing, that it would be unwise to deliver breech while fighting the hospital and without a trained attendant. I still am mourning the birth I almost had.

Particularly hearing the “success stories” of the skilled attendants who spoke at the Breech Birth Conference, contrasted with some of the births they were aware of in which the baby was injured or actually died, speaks much of the difference it makes to have a skilled attendant. I’ve read enough unassisted breech birth stories to know that most women will automatically assume a hands-and-knees or (more commonly) a standing position to birth their breech baby, which is what the skilled attendants at the Breech Birth Conference said is the best position; whereas most doctors (who may or may not have any skill or experience in attending a vaginal breech birth) will want the woman in a stranded-beetle position, for a better view, more easy access to the vagina, etc. But this is physiologically abnormal for a vertex birth, much less a breech birth; and if it can impede normal birth, how much more might it impede a “variation of normal” breech birth?

So, yeah, I think she did the right thing. One of the examples of a fatal breech birth mentioned at the conference, was one of those in the Hannah “Term Breech Trial” that was responsible for the recommendation that 100% of breech births be by Cesarean — due to fatal flaws in the study, as many people, including the SOGC, the Canadian version of ACOG, now attest. One of the deaths was in a birth not attended by a skilled attendant, and when the head did not descend in a timely manner, the baby was pushed back up into the uterus and a C-section was performed. The skilled attendants mentioned a maneuver in which they slightly press on the baby’s shoulders, to get him to reflexively tuck his chin in, so his head could be born. Unskilled attendants would not know this maneuver. They might either do as the aforementioned doctor did, or perhaps start yanking and pulling on the baby’s body to try to free the head (potentially causing spinal problems, or even death), or cut a huge episiotomy to insert forceps and pull the baby out, or something that might otherwise  harm you or the baby more than a C-section would.

It is important that women know that vaginal breech birth can happen, without damaging or killing the baby. I’m thrilled that there was a conference on breech birth recently, and hope that it is the start of returning vaginal breech birth to a “variation of normal” instead of its current position of “you’ve gotta freakin’ be kidding me!” One problem, of course, is that few people are taught how to properly attend breech births, with a whole generation (probably) of med students learning “breech = C-section,” and few midwives attending enough births to learn for themselves or to pass on skills they may have in attending breech birth. The SOGC has taken the huge step, the 180 degree turn, to now promoting vaginal breech birth, but it will undoubtedly be some time before it becomes the norm, simply because of the years of 100% C-section rates for breech birth (and the nearly as high C-section rates prior to that). It will take some time before the current crop of med students gain the skills to attend breech birth; and it’s anybody’s guess if current OB-GYNs will take the necessary steps to “go back to school” as it were, and learn this old new skill. But it’s a step in the right direction.

What would I do if I had a breech baby? Hmm… good question. It’s not been an issue so far, since my babies were both head-down from the first time their position could be determined by palpation, and once babies are vertex, they usually stay that way. I would first do everything I could to try to get the baby to turn, including chiropractic manipulations. If the baby remained breech, I would consider my options at that time, and try to reach the best conclusion I could — it may be that something would change my mind when faced with it in real life, some nagging doubt or unsettled feeling, that would impel me to go a different way. But, sitting here at this time, not even pregnant, much less in my third trimester with a breech baby, I would try to find a birth provider skilled in attending vaginal breech birth (fortunately, I don’t think I’m too far from The Farm — perhaps about a four-hour drive). Some may not feel comfortable with that, but not only do I have a fair amount of book-knowledge about breech, but I have given birth to a 9lb baby so obviously have an “adequate” and “proven” pelvis, so I’m not anxious about it. Were I to find out that my baby was both breech and estimated to be ten pounds or more in weight (which is highly unlikely) I might change my mind; but I feel like giving birth to a breech baby of less than nine pounds would be certainly within my range of capabilities.

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Morning Sickness — Don’t be a Hero!

For both of my pregnancies, I had mild morning sickness — not really worth even talking about, compared to many women’s experiences. The only thing was, in my first pregnancy, it didn’t strike most often in the morning; and in both pregnancies, it lasted until about the half-way point.

The first time I was pregnant, I thought I could just “muscle through” the nausea — you know, “be in control” — tell my body what to do, teach it who is boss. Ha-ha!

The big triggers for me in the first pregnancy were the smell of bread (walking down the bread aisle in the grocery store was torture; occasionally I would open up the fridge [where I kept my bread, so it wouldn’t go stale or get moldy so fast], catch a whiff, and barely be able to make it to the sink in time — and it was just behind me… fortunately it had a garbage disposal!), and the smell of leafy greens that were starting to go bad (I dry-heaved a lot when trying to pick out the few leaves that were gross so I could salvage the rest of the bunch of cilantro or head of lettuce). I could eat bread without a problem, but I couldn’t bear the overwhelming smell. And I still don’t like to go down the bread aisle at the grocery store, even not pregnant.

There were a few other instances in my first pregnancy that I remember, but none so bad as the time my dear, sweet husband made ravioli for me. Let me back up a bit for a little context — I was working the evening shift at a nice restaurant, so I had to eat my supper about 4:30, right before going to work. I was intending on grabbing something quick from the fridge after I got ready, but my husband made some ravioli with Classico spaghetti sauce for me while I was getting ready. That was really very sweet of him, of course! But my stomach said “NO!!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!?!?” Me, being the smart girl I am, told my stomach to shut up, because I wasn’t going to hurt my husband’s feelings or act like his act of kindness meant nothing to me. I was being polite. Stupid, stupid move! I quickly ate my supper, although my stomach was recoiling with almost every bite, and I was telling myself, “Just get it down, and everything will be all right.” Um, not so much. After I finished the meal, my stomach went into full revolt, I ran desperately for the toilet, and didn’t quite make it. I managed to throw up into the bathroom sink, rather than on the floor. Every bit. Then I felt better — but I had no time to fix anything else to eat, nor to clean up the mess. So, my wonderful husband cleaned it up after I had gone, and I went to work hungry. Fortunately, there were some french fries or some bread or something for me to eat right before shift started, so I wasn’t working at 4-5 months pregnant on a completely empty stomach, but it still wasn’t fun. At least the nausea didn’t linger — that’s one good thing about morning sickness (for me anyway) — once the nauseous thing was out of sight, mind, or smell, I was fine.

That experience taught me not to try to be a hero with morning sickness. After that, for the remainder of that pregnancy and the full nine months of my other pregnancy, if at any point I even thought, “Will this make me sick?” I refused to put it in my mouth, and put as much distance between that food and myself as possible. For one thing, I stopped trying to pick out the good lettuce from the bad, which for someone as frugal as I am says a lot. Of course, there were some “triggers” I couldn’t avoid (my toddler’s diapers spring to mind); but while I had some nausea with my second pregnancy, I did not throw up as much as with my first.

Towards the end of my first pregnancy, my husband’s brother visited — we were still living in the Chicago area at that point, and they wanted to get Italian beef sandwiches from Johnnie’s Beef (which is their favorite Italian beef place) for lunch, and I usually like them. My stomach said, “Um, I’m not so sure about this!” So I got a salad or something. While I can remember watching them savor their meal, and wishing I could partake, I also remember feeling a little nauseated from the smell, and very glad I got something else. There is not a doubt in my mind that had I tried to triumph over my stomach, that my stomach would have won.

I still don’t like to go down the bread aisles, but I think that’s just because of the strong negative association from morning sickness; ditto Classico — I can eat it now, many years later, but I would prefer not to (and I wouldn’t even try it when pregnant the second time).

Check out my other posts on morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum for more references and links.

Great minds must think alike, because this blog I keep up with just posted on the same subject!

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