Saturday, October 29, 2011

aba breastfeeding class

s and i are just back from our aba breastfeeding class. i have mixed feelings about how it went.

the good:

  • the group size was kept small, so it there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions, and it wasn't too scary to do so.
  • we were given some good information about the breastfeeding process, how babies and boobs behave when breastfeeding, the composition of breastmilk, how babies digestion works etc. some of this was doubled up from the prenatal class s and i attended a few weeks ago, but they weren't to know that, and it was good to have some of the information reiterated and expanded upon. 
  • they had several nursing mothers, with babies of various ages, come to demonstrate how they feed. it was interesting to see their different techniques, and how babies change their feeding patterns as they grow. amusingly, one of the demo-mamas was our close friend s and her 10wk old. she also brought her 5yo along, and she was happy to cuddle with her fairy godmothers while her mama wrangled the baby

the less good:
  • questions to do with expressing and bottle feeding (i.e. not formula feeding, but bottle-feeding breastmilk) were not adressed satisfactorily. there was one couple who explained that the birth parent was going to be at home with the baby for the first four months, and then she was going back to work and the non-birth parent was going to be taking time off work to be the primary carer. they wanted to ask about how they could best manage the logistics of keeping their baby on breastmilk through that process, and their questions were largely dismissed. i was really frustrated by that, because as a feminist i feel that families who want to share the child-rearing/breadwinning duties more equally should be encouraged and supported. having the birth mother return to work shouldn't mean that the baby has to go without breastmilk, and making a birth mother feel that she's not doing the best she can by her baby by choosing not to stay at home for the full 12, 18, 24, or however many months she chooses to feed her baby breastmilk, is not on.
  • we were shown a video that outlined the details of a (single) study done in the 90s that found that babies who had no intervention (i.e. pain medication etc.) in their births were more likely to engage their stepping reflex to crawl up over the mother's abdomen and latch onto the breast unassisted for their first feed. they then showed footage of a baby whose mother HAD chosen pain relief failing to do this spontaneously. there was a very strong message that mothers who choose pain relief or caesarian sections are interfering with their baby's ability to feed, and that they should have a natural birth if they want to feed properly. i was completely outraged by this, and very frustrated that it took my prompting for the class presenters to acknowledge that perfectly normal breastfeeding can be established after any kind of birth.   
  • there wasn't a lot of specific information about how to establish good attachment, and what good attachment looks and feels like. this was kind of surprising, because it was what i expected the class would mostly be about.
  • given that the aba is a relatively crunchy organisation, we were very surprised to find that the presenters referred to parents almost exclusively as "mothers and fathers". given that we all introduced ourselves at the beginning of the class, and it was very clear that they had at least one visibly same-sex couple in the group i was disappointed that they didn't refer to non-birth parents as "partners" instead of "fathers" or "dads". it's not that big an adjustment to make, and it goes a long way to making queer couples feel included and engaged. 

i'm not sorry we went, because i did learn some useful things, but i came away feeling like my family wasn't really acknowledged, and some of my choices weren't really considered valid. i realise that the aba is an organisation with it's own agenda, but i was surprised by some of the ways in which that agenda was pushed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

week 27: cauliflower

this week fruiby is the size of a cauliflower, and it has been the final week of the second trimester. i have successfully incubated a human for two whole trimesters, and now there's only one to go before we get to meet him!

the tiredness hasn't abated in any way, and i've been needing to nap most afternoons. when i don't get to do this i get very vague and pale. s has been good at sending me off for a snooze when she sees me flagging. i'm usually good for no more than about six consecutive hours of being awake and that's about it.

the breathlessness continues as well, but is now accompanied by weird hot flushes. i was thinking about how to describe these spells last night, and they're actually a lot like panic attacks, except without the psychological element, i.e. feelings of terror and impending catastrophe.

i'm very interested to see what trimester three will bring. that's when all the really juicy and disgusting pregnancy symptoms show up. frankly, if i manage to dodge haemorrhoids i'll be happy.

eta: i forgot to mention that i've also been getting really bad leg cramps in my sleep. i wake up at least once a night with both my legs seizing up and spasming. it's really uncomfortable, and sometimes scary!

Monday, October 24, 2011


you guys, look at the awesome invitations that j & j, (fruiby's oddparents) made for our upcoming baby shower:

it's us! as owls!
if you know us, you'll know which is which immediately, but for those who don't, i'm the one on the left, and s is on the right :)
so much love.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

things i learned at the pregnancy and baby expo

  • maternity clothes only go up to AU size 14-16. because how would a plus-size woman get pregnant? it's not like anyone would sleep with her - gross!
  • prams are only secondarily used for baby-transportation. they are mainly employed as people-ploughs (though it IS  funny when 20 or 30 entitled women try this all at once and cause epic pram-jams).
  • for every genuinely useful product produced for babies, there are at least twenty ridiculous ones.
  • according to the people who make baby clothes, girls like pink, and boys like blue. exclusively.
  • there is no way to present a foot/hand cast of your baby in a way that isn't creepy (ok, i knew that one already, but a whole display of tiny baby appendages reaching out for me definitely brought the point home).
  • the main tool that retailers use to sell products to mothers (fathers and other parents aren't really considered significant) is fear. fear that your kid won't get into the right school, won't speak a second language by 3 years of age, fear that you'll choke/suffocate/drop them, fear that they'll get sick, fear that they won't sleep... and they all agree that the best way to assuage that fear is to buy stuff.
it was an interesting experience, and we did actually buy a couple of things (a couple more cloth nappies, some organic baby bath products, a blankie) but s and i think we can probably give these things a miss in future.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

26 week belly shot

it was my intention to take belly shots every week or two, but i keep forgetting. i actually remembered to do it today, so here is my 26 week tum:

you can just see the epic snail-trail that i am developing (i believe this is due to fruiby's testosterone getting into my system?). it looks like my belly button has a long beard. hot.

i am also getting my first stretch marks. well, the first ones on my tummy. i've had them on my thighs for years :p
i'm not too worried about them. i figure they're evidence that my body is doing some pretty awesome stuff to accomodate a growing person.

all signs suggest that fruiby is growing away happily in there!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

week 26: cucumber

this week fruiby is the size of a cucumber. but not just any cucumber! the internet feels it's important to specify that he is the size of an english hothouse cucumber. i don't even...

i have been feeling about as exhausted as last week, only with added breathlessness. my tummy is significantly bigger again, and i think its squishing my innards a wee bit. i can only imagine what it's going to feel like when i'm as far along as my awesome sister-in-law currently is (how much is she rocking the pregnantness!?):

we've had a couple of hot days here, and i haven't enjoyed them much. i generally prefer the cold weather, and being pregnant definitely makes it more difficult to adjust to changes in temperature. i hope i acclimatise to summer ok, or i am going to have a pretty miserable third trimester. i'll try not to catastrophise about that too soon, but i am definitely feeling apprehensive about it.

i love the idea that fruiby can hear us properly now. i'm making a point of singing to him more often. s and i tend to sing a lot anyway, but i'm trying to sing the kinds of songs that i'll want to use to soothe and settle him when he's born, because maybe he'll recognise them. singing also helps me regulate my breathing, so i'm hoping it will help counteract some of that breathlessness i mentioned.

we're off to a baby and children's expo today. i'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

old bag

i'm a crafty type. i love handmade objects. i think making something yourself gives it the kind of character and soul that you can't buy.

and that's why this bag is particularly special to me:

my mum made it nearly 30 years ago, to take with her to the hospital when she gave birth to me.

it's been used in a lot of different contexts since then - on picnics, travels. my mum and oma even carried me around in it from time to time (there's a photo of this somewhere but it can't find it. i'll post it when i do)! but it's original purpose hasn't been forgotten.

last week i asked mum if i could borrow it to use as my hospital bag. she said i could, but that it was very old, and the elastic had all perished, and it might not be very good. i told her that wasn't the point.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

beautiful gift

like a good middle-class, inner-suburbs, artsy-fartsy baby, fruiby has already started his art collection.

we went to an auction recently to buy a print that our friend leonie had made and that we had fallen in love with. when she sent it out to us, there was another print tucked in with the one we had purchased:

'down, down, down! would the fall never come to an end?' by leonie connellan

i love the way that leonie's work incorporates text, and references all the best stories. 

'down, down, down! would the fall never come to an end?' (detail) by leonie connellan

we will definitely be reading lewis carroll's stories to fruiby, and now he has artwork to go with it. luckiest child ever.

week 25: swede

this week fruiby is the size of a swede (or rutabaga if you are american), though i think that is based on weight rather than length.

i have had another roughish week. i've been incredibly, astoundingly, stupefyingly exhausted. i've had to nap most days because i've been literally unable to stay awake. it's been making me feel quite anxious, because i'm not going to be able to do that when the baby arrives, and i'm a bit scared about being the worst mother in the universe. i've been having anxiety dreams as a result - ones about falling asleep and waking up to find the baby gone, and then frantically trying to find it, etc.

most of the ways i usually sit are becoming uncomfortable as my joints change and my belly gets bigger. i'm used to sitting with my legs curled up underneath me, and kind of leaning to the side (it keeps my sewing arm freest!), but now the most comfortable way to sit is basically upright with my feet up. i'm also finding that the tum is getting in the way when i want to bend over, so i've either got to squat, or lean over a bit sideways. it's pretty elegant, i've got to tell you.

the whole "pregnancy brain" thing has started to kick in. i wonder if it's a result of the tiredness? i am vagueing out a lot, forgetting things that i was thinking about only a moment before, and having difficulty concentrating. i'm not too stressed about it, but i think i will have to start making written notes about things i need to remember, or i might find myself in trouble.

if kicking is anything to go by, fruiby is doing well. he's very active and seems to particularly enjoy tap dancing on my bladder. good times.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

no, we won't be circumcising our son

we were out at breakfast a few months ago with a couple of friends, and one of them asked us if we'd be circumcising the baby if he was a boy (we didn't know fruiby's sex at that stage). the question hadn't crossed my mind even once before that moment, what with penises not generally being at the forefront of my consciousness, and i didn't know what to say. so i asked him, as the only possessor of a penis at the table, what he thought. i was surprised by the vehemence of his response. he was very much against infant circumcision, and said that he hoped we wouldn't circumcise our child.

i came away from that discussion wanting to learn more about the pros and cons of the procedure. my initial gut reaction was against it as well, not really wanting to irreversibly alter my kid's body before they're old enough to have an informed say in the matter, and generally being sceptical about the relevance of a tradition developed by a bronze-age nomadic desert tribe to a 21st century australian body.

'the circumcision of christ' by friedrich herlin, 1466

... and the more i read the more i was convinced that circumcision is really not desirable.

  • none of the major medical authorities (eg the royal australasian college of physicians) endorse routine infant circumcision.
  • while it's often downplayed as 'just a little snip' circumcision is a surgical procedure and can result in infections, complications, and death. even if these complications are rare, i would never want to expose my child to such risks unless it was entirely necessary.
  • circumcision is not normal - only about 20% of men in the world are circumcised, so it's not as if boys will grow up feeing weird because their penis doesn't look like everyone else's.
  • the foreskin contains a huge number of nerve endings (comparable to the number in the clitoris in women), so removing it is not only excruciatingly painful, but it reduces the extent to which men can experience sexual pleasure as an adult. it's also been found that women experience greater sexual pleasure with men who have intact penises, so if he grows up attracted to women, they'll benefit too.
  • circumcised penises are not 'cleaner'. if a he is taught simple genital hygiene, there is no reason his penis should be any dirtier with a foreskin than without. cutting a foreskin off because it's dirty is as logical as removing a girl's labia for the same reason. it's brutal, and complete overkill.
  • contrary to widespread misinformation, circumcision does not protect a man from contracting sexually transmitted diseases. you know what prevents sdts? condoms. i wouldn't want my son engaging in unsafe sexual behaviour believing he was protected by his lack of foreskin.

so, no. we won't be circumcising our son, because it's painful, irreversible, and unnecessary.
if, when he grows up, he feels that he would prefer the look/feel of a circumcised penis, this is a procedure that he can elect to have as a consenting adult. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

parenting beyond belief: on raising ethical, caring kids without religion, edited by dale mcgowan

i'm getting in early with reading parenting books, and reading some during pregnancy on the assumption that even if i do have time to read when the baby comes, i will probably be too sleep-deprived to process anything.

i really liked this book.

i liked it because rather than trying to lay out a step-by-step, prescriptive guide to raising a free-thinking child, it took the approach of collecting a broad range of stories and ideas from a wide variety of people, and presenting them for thought and consideration.

some of the contributors were raised in free-thinking homes and shared their experiences. some were born to religious families, and talked about how they came to become atheists and what that meant for them.

the book looked at different approaches to religious holidays and presented a range of views on why atheist families might choose to engage with them or not. there were stories from families with one religious parent and one atheist parent. the question of good and evil was raised, and there was some reflection on how to talk about this with your kids in ways that don't invoke god and sin. there was also an interesting chapter on the place of ritual in families, and suggestions of how to use ceremony to mark important life events without doing to in a religious manner.

i felt that the book dealt with religion in a respectful way, acknowledging it's place in human culture without denigrating it
kids must learn as much as possible about religion as a human cultural expression, while being kept free of the sickening idea that they will be rewarded in heaven, or punished in hell, based on what they decide - a bit of intellectual terrorism we should never inflict on our kids, nor on each other.
i didn't agree with everything in the book (i guess that is to be expected because the editor went out of his way to present a range of different views on specific issues), but i got a lot of good ideas from it. there's a lot of food for thought in there, and i'd recommend it to parents who want to raise free-thinking kids.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

week 24: ear of corn

this week, fruiby is the length of an ear of corn. he can hear now, and my mum is talking to my tummy whenever she sees me. conspiratorially. it is both cute, and suspicious. s has felt some more kicks, and the baby is generally making is presence felt in a more determined and regular way. it's awesome.

i'm looking properly pregnant now. people are confidently asking "when are you due?" etc. without wondering if they're making some kind of fat-girl faux pas. i'm glad about that, because the not-so-subtle "is she or isn't she?" looks were starting to really annoy me.

on the subject of tummies, it was interesting to compare my tum-size to other mums at the prenatal class last night. they were all at least a few weeks further on than me, but my belly was bigger than many. it's amazing how all women carry their babies so differently. i was a bit of a fatty to begin with, so that would make me look bigger, i guess. plus, we do tend to have big babies, and "carry large" in our family. when my mum was pregnant with my youngest brother she was so big they thought she must be having twins. bodies are interesting.

we had another ob/gyn appointment on wednesday, and things are progressing well. my measurements are all good (blood pressure, fundal height etc), and fruiby's heart beat was strong and regular.
we discovered that we will be having another routine ultrasound after all - i had thought that the 20wk scan was the last one, but we have one at 32wks as well. i'm happy about that because i love seeing the baby.
we've been having ob appointments on a monthly basis, but soon we move to fortnightly, and after 36 weeks we see her weekly. this whole thing is gathering momentum! wheee!

our first prenatal class

this evening s and i attended our first prenatal class.
we're not going to a lot of these because most of them tend to be focussed on labour and vaginal birth, so they're not really relevant to us (i feel like hospitals should run specific prenatal classes for women planning caesarians - but i think that might be a rant for another day).
this particular class was about the days immediately following the birth, and the basics of caring for the baby. we were given information on a range of things including:
  • what to bring to the hospital for yourselves and for the baby
  • some of the essential items you might need to obtain for the baby
  • what will happen during the hospital stay
  • how to make sure your baby sleeps safely
  • ways of settling a baby
  • breastfeeding
  • swaddling, bathing, and nappy changing
  • communicating and bonding with newborns
we both found it really informative, and relevant, which was great.
i was worried that the class would focus on recovery from vaginal birth, to the exclusion of caesarians, but the midwife running it was careful to include information about both where there were important differences.
we were the only visibly queer couple in the room, which was unsurprising, but the midwife seemed to make a point of saying 'partners' instead of 'dads' which we noticed and appreciated.
there were heaps of handouts and take-home fliers with information that we'll read over and process in our own time. the best one is definitely this:
i hear this motherhood thing is really glamorous, you guys!

all in all, it was a really positive experience, and it's made us more excited for fruiby's arrival!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

party plans!

two of our dearest friends are throwing us a baby shower in december, and today we went to test out the venue that they were considering. it was a lovely cafe-meets-bookshop called teatime and tales and we spent a lovely hour in the courtyard drinking tea and enjoying the spring sunshine. we all decided it will be perfect for a party.

 i am really excited about this - it's like having an extra birthday this year!