Friday, November 30, 2007
The centerpiece of this issue for me is the uber-cool knitted farm playmat. Oh. My. Goodness. A total masterpiece (a tribal masterpiece as 12 women collaborated throughout the country to make it). Fascinatingly cool. My grandma was visiting for Thanksgiving and took home the pattern, so I'm crossing my fingers for future knitted farm coolness for my boys to play with! ;-) (they referred at the article's end to this The Knitted Farmyard book). There was also an interesting and inspiring article about prayer beads. I have more beads and charms than I know what to do with, so I sense a new project in my future!
There was also a pattern for a Waldorf-ish valentine doll that made me consider trying my hand at making something like that again. My past attempts have been pathetic, but I really think it is because I have never used the real tricot fabric you're supposed to use for their faces--I always just use some random knit and it doesn't work right at all.
Okay, sick-Molly does not a fascinating blogger make. Time for bed!
Okay, so I did read Providence by Daniel Quinn this week. He is the author best known for Ishmael, which I read as a young teenager. I remember considering it to be a life changing and fascinating read, but it has been a LONG time since I read it. So...it is now back on my to-read shelf. Anyway, Providence was less illuminating/interesting. It was primarily an autobiography with an emphasis on how the author developed Ishmael (which went through more than 6 versions over a period of like 13 years) as well as an exploration of his religious development (which includes some time spent in a monastery and ends with animism).
While he was writing his book, he worked in educational publishing and I appreciated several of his comments about education such as:
"One of the great, persistent myths of education in our culture is that children become reluctant learners as they grow older. In fact, what they become reluctant about it going to school, where they're bullied, regimented, bored silly, and very effectively prevented from learning...We know what works for children up to the age where we ship them off to school: Let them be around you, pay attention to them, talk to them, give them access to as much as you can, let them try things, and that's it. They take care of the rest. You don't have to strap small children down and teach them to speak, all you have to do is talk to them. You don't have to give them crawling lessons or walking lessons or running lessons. You don't have to spend an hour a day showing them how to bang two pots together; they'll figure that out all by themselves--if you give them access to the pots. Nothing magical happens at the age of five to render this process obsolete or invalid."
I think ideas like this were the underpinnings of my mom's approach to homeschooling. Thanks Mom!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The author did quote midwife Penfield Chester's explanation of holistic childbirth care. I really liked it:
"The holistic model holds that birth is a normal, woman-centered process in which mind and body are one and that, in the vast majority of cases, nature is sufficient to create a healthy pregnancy and birth. The midwife is seen as a nurturer."
Friday, November 23, 2007
It felt like life could not get more beautiful than this.
(I wrote this paragraph in my notebook on 11/13 when we were still experiencing several days of pleasant, warm weather. Now, it is freezing and there have been no more porch reflections for me lately! No Bengal Spice tea either as we used up my box and the grocery store does not have it any more!)
This jumped out at me, because when I worked at the domestic violence shelter in Columbia, we had a modified version of this quote on the wall and I also used it when I taught volunteer trainings. I thought it was part of the DV prevention movement, not partially plagiarized, LOL! Ours was: "our job is not to see through women, but to see them through." We mainly used this as a reminder if we felt like we were being lied to.
I also quickly half-read, half skimmed another of my Goodwill books: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work.
The author of What Mothers Do specifically critiques the ambivalence that Lazarre describes in her book. Aside from this, I adore the book What Mothers Do, it is one of my very favorites about this subject. I think we can look at the cultural elements contributing to that ambivalence rather than view Lazarre as somehow less developed of a mother (or wrong for her ambivalence). I think it is sociocultural, not personal (I also don't think it is "natural" or inevitable, which is where Stadlen of What Mothers Do and I agree and where Lazarre and I would disagree). I don't really think I feel, or felt, ambivalent exactly (at least not in the angry way that Lazarre describes). I definitely turned any hostility inward and felt badly and negatively towards myself rather than towards my baby.
I felt slapped in the face by postpartum. I was triumphant and empowered in birth, but diminished, insecure, and wounded postpartum. I had a difficult and complicated recovery due to unusual labial tearing (unrepaired, because the damage was not really acknowledged/noticed in time for a repair). Maybe this contributed to my difficult adjustment to early motherhood. I've long tried to analyze the difficulty, concluding that it is not uncommon in the least, but wondering why/how others survive without mentioning this pain. How is anyone doing this? I would wonder, concluding that I must not be "cut out for this" and that I was the only one feeling alone, stifled, shut down, and unheard. As a consistently overachieving type, it was humbling as as well as psychologically painful to not "get an A" on this new "assignment," my baby. Each time he cried, I felt it was evidence of failure, failure, failure. I would see women and couples without children and think, "it isn't too late for you" and "if only you knew." When I would see women who were pregnant I would feel a sense of grief for them--"just wait. You have NO idea what is coming." (Again, hindsight shows me a little touch of PPD-ishness here...)
I felt silenced, muted, captive (and yet captivated!), squelched, and denied. Maybe these feelings mean I'm egocentric, selfish, or immature (I certainly lectured and berated myself about that!), but they were my reality at the time. The experience was so scarring to me that for about 18 months after my first baby was born I considered not having any more children--not because I couldn't handle pregnancy, birth, or even the mothering of a baby and toddler, but because I could not stand the idea of experiencing postpartum again. I came to realize that my only regret about these days of early motherhood was not in how I related to my baby, or in how I took care of him, or loved him, or appreciated him, or marveled in him. My regret is that I was so very mean to myself the whole time I did those things--in reality, I was actually fairly skillfully learning how to mother. I was responsive, nurturing, kind, and loving and I took delight in my baby, but I was cruel to myself almost the entire time and failed to appreciate or notice any worth I had as a person or to accept and have patience for my birth as a mother.
This book was originally written in 1976--Jane Lazarre's memoir of her early years of motherhood. Aside from a (very) few dated references, the book has a very contemporary feel and could have been written only a few years ago. Since this book was written, a whole genre of mother-written books has been launched and I believe the voices of mothers and their experiencing of mothering are more visible than they once were (though still invisible in a larger cultural and social framework). The author is a feminist and her experiences with motherhood are filtered through that lens (which is one I identify with), so the book is overlaid with a feminism theme in addition to a mothering theme. To specify, this book is not about parenting nor is it about the author's child, it is about her, and her complicated emotional reactions and experiences with being a mother, the act of mothering, and cultural framework surrounding the role, as well as her frustrations with that role). From the preface: "that sense that her experiences might reflect those of other women, might even help to demolish that impossible set of standards which oppresses us all--the motherhood mystique."
Another quote that made me think about the whole SAHM, WAHM, WOHM thing, this describing her mother-in-law's situation (6 kids): "I thought of Marie, working at the cleaning, washing, and ironing while three babies played in the playpen. She had not 'stayed home with the children.' They had stayed home with her as she did her work." I liked that flip in perspective--my ideal situation is one in which all of us our home together and each going about our own business, so to speak (as in, kids play, DH works on his projects, I work on mine and there is a harmonious interplay of work and family life. No artificial, segregated division, and also each member of the family having their needs met).
Towards the end of the book she shares an anecdote about her OB that I think carries a huge ring of truth still today:
"My obstetrician had whispered a secret to me on a sunny afternoon. I had come to the office prepared with my written list of questions. Why was I feeling nauseated, I asked, and what was all this pain in my thighs? And he had answered wearily, 'If you want answers to questions, have a miscarriage, or toxemia, or let something else go wrong with your pregnancy. We don't know anything about normal births.' So much for technological know-how."
I have a variety of notes written about this book in my notebook and I'm going to transcribe them at some point, but I need to just go ahead and post this for now and add more later! (later today, hopefully!)
Monday, November 19, 2007
"The beauty of a nursing mother can never be explained by a little oxytocin around the milk glands."
Friday, November 16, 2007
I have three boxes and one basket of giveways by my front door already!
La Leche League of
My own two birth stories are published in this book, so I was excited to read it for that reason, but I was soon caught up in the emotionally catching stories of the other women’s births.
This book has a very “home grown” layout and appearance and perhaps with a largest budget for future printings its style will be polished some more.
When I initially began reading the book I felt that a larger introduction and opening section would be a nice addition, but after finishing the book I realized that the mothers’ stories really speak simply and elegantly for themselves.
Copies of Birthing Babies are $6 (includes shipping) and are available by emailing
Finally, my first issue as editor of CfM News also arrived! This issue had two film reviews that I wrote--The Business of Being Born and Birth As We Know It--a book review of The Official Lamaze Guide and then my article about Domestic Violence and Pregnancy. So, it was a fun ego-boost to get all of this stuff and see my name in print over and over again all at once! ;-)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I also just started working on the Citizens for Midwifery blog. I'm hoping it will become a consumer birth issues blog and I plan to post questions for discussion/consideration and so forth. I want it to be opinion and commentary based more than news based, though some news will be sprinkled in there as well. Right now, there are only a few posts. I'm going to start making regular updates to it on Saturdays (Fridays are my usual day for this one, but I'm "cheating" a little today to post a few quick updates (instead of reviews).
Friday, November 9, 2007
I presented my session on Celebrating Pregnancy through Art and it went well. This was the first time I've presented at a conference and it was a delight. My session did not have many participants, but more than had originally signed up for it, so that was encouraging. The picture here is of the display board I made of different types of art during pregnancy (most of which hang on my wall in real-life. This was like a portable birth art wall for me! The picture below is of figurines created during this same session at the FoMM retreat in Sept. I didn't take a photo of the figures from the LLL conference session.
My favorite sessions were those presented by Diane Wiessinger. She gave an amazing session called "Watch Your Language" that was about how we talk about breastfeeding. An example, using the word "special" to describe breastfeeding--a "special bond" a "special nursing corner" etc. and also using the word "perfect" (which communicates something that isn't reasonable or that "real" people can't do or live up to). She encouraged us not to "glorify breastfeeding" like this. Breastfeeding ISN'T special, it is NORMAL. A breastfed baby has a "normal bond" with its mother! Human milk isn't the perfect food for babies, it is the NORMAL food for babies. I just loved it. I love language and hidden "messages" in our words. I could go on about this presentation for hours. It was great. She also gave a meaningful talk about "Changing Thoughts on Latch" that was really important.
I also really enjoyed a session by Deanna about "Following Your Passion While Raising Your Family." One of the insights I re-had following this session was whether I would prefer people to say after I die, "She did everything she was supposed to do, "OR, "she was joyful." I feel like much of the way I live my life would garner me the first response--I did everything I was supposed to do (but didn't have a whole lot of fun doing it...) WAH! I need to do some serious thinking and reorganizing and re-prioritizing. I'll keep you posted as to what develops...First thing might to reconsider the "serious" thinking and do some "joyful" thinking instead, LOL! ;-)
The link was made several times during this conference (by both headliner speakers--Diane & then Dia Michels) about the need to more explicitly link birth with breastfeeding. As Dia said, there needs to be a new word, "birthandbreastfeeding." Sometimes in LLL settings I feel apologetic about my passion for birth or like I need to make sure to keep it low key, so it was nice to have it affirmed that the connection is undeniable. The two are inextricably linked and it DOES matter how and where you give birth. As Diane said, "It's the birth, silly!"
A stellar analogy about television that I wish I had had available to share during my argument with that guy at the UU church in JC:
"Having a sieve up there on the roof collecting wild beams from everywhere does seem poetic, but the image that strikes me as more realistic is that of a faucet into the house that runs about 5 percent clear water and 95 percent raw sewage. I know some people who stay on guard all the time and carefully manage this flow so their household gets a healthy intake; I know a lot more who don't."
Yesterday I bought a pile of books at Goodwill and only a few were sellable (but some were books I really wanted, so that was really cool!). As I am sometimes wont to do, I read the short little book Chocolate for a Mother's Heart. I didn't need to read it really and most of the content was immediately "downloaded" from my brain. I should have just stuck with reading the most fabulous Clutter's Last Stand that I also found there and started reading. More about that later. So far it is one of my new favorite books! LOL!
As you can see, I'm kind of on a non-birth book kick lately. I was reading one that was quite interesting in theory, but I found myself feeling sort of "yeah, yeah, yeah, I KNOW this already." When I get like that, it is time to take a break from reading about birth and start delving into other interesting areas of life.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
Anyway, one quote from Rosellen Brown in particular stood out to me:
"I know that for me, writing has something in common with nursing the baby. I can't do it if I don't do it all the time. Put it aside to build up strength, the flow will dwindle and finally disappear. When the baby was at my breast ten times a day, I had a rare secret feeling that we were violating a law of nature, defying a form of entropy...One cannot hoard some things. The more I gave the baby, the more I had to give her, and had I tried to conserve myself, I would have found that I conserved nothing."
I identified with this--that is one reason I keep a blog. I also find I need the "proper" time to write though, or the flow isn't there. That isn't true of nursing! I can do that anywhere, anytime!
I'll write about my other three reads when I get home!