Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Forcing your teenage daughter towards abortion comparable to circumcision?

At work today, two of my colleagues (who we'll name X and Y ) and I engaged in a conversation that went from lively to heated very quickly. It doesn't help that one of them and myself have very strong characters and opinions.

We started talking about a case that happened recently to a 14 year old girl. she became pregnant by a man 10 years her senior. We exchanged opinions about why we thought it was wrong and action that will be brought against this man. One of them mentioned that girls nowadays are simply too mature, and some downright seduce older men, but it was generally agreed that although this may be the case, the adult should have had the sense and responsibility to say no and walk away.

The topic then turned to that if X's teenage daughter ever came home with the news that she was pregnant, he'd knock some sense into her and then take her himself to get an abortion, whether she wants it or not. This is where my fuse blew. Before you think this is a post about pro or anti for either sides, it's not. It's about another person's body and making decisions for that person's body, especially decision that have long-term effects (whichever choice they make)

X argued that since the child is a minor and lives under his roof and his rules, the girl may not get pregnant or carry it to term. This immediately pulled my heart strings because I myself was in a similar situation being a pregnant teen under my parents' roof. It didn't help either that he expressed himself with such anger and obscenity. True, being the parent of a pregnant teen is by no means a walk in the park, but it's not a death sentence either.

The argument ensued, and because of personal experience and opinions ( and a bit of hormones too) I could not reason with an unreasonable person and keep my cool any longer so I got up and left before my anger got the best of me. It got me to thinking though. The first comparison that popped up in my mind was circumcision.

How is forcing your teenage daughter to get an abortion regardless for their feelings etc much like circumcision? For one simple reason. IT'S.NOT.YOUR.BODY.

You think circumcision is o.k.? Please leave now, it's not o.k.

Have you any clue what kind of short and longterm effects circumcision has on a baby? I'm against it for all reasons, and also because it's not his choice. Which baby will ask you to chop off a chunk of his junk? Few men would, and I doubt any little boys would jump at the chance.

Not going in to the pros and cons of abortion the fact remains is that it holds long lasting consequences for the mother carrying the baby. Not just physical, but also psychological and emotional consequences. Imagine that the young mother did in fact want to keep the baby and do her utmost to raise it, how could you look your daughter in the eye with pure anger and outrage and dare lift a finger against her? How could you deny her wishes and forcefully carry her to have such an invasive procedure? I can't seem to comprehend it, and I don't think I want to either. All things aside, It's not your body, and it's not your choice.

Congratulations Wit Gele Kruis for teaching about bottle feeding

Nothing pisses me off more than seeing expectant parents joining a highly attended general childbirth education class and them holding a doll and a bottle. WHY?!

Usually, I shrug it off not wanting to cause a stir, but not this time. This time I'm pissed.

I also give breastfeeding classes, and I've attended other childbirth education classes before, have I ever seen a bottle present? Have I ever taught with a bottle present? Absolutely not. It is not necessary, it's actually counterproductive and detrimental.

When I was gazing through our most popular online media site, this is what I see. Headlines that state :

"Wit Gele Kruis cu Curso pa Futuro Mayornan"

 or for my English speaking friends,

"Childbirth Education classes for expectant parents brought to you by the White and Yellow Cross"   
Eagerly I peered through the pictures and to my dismay (and yet somehow I'm not surprised) I see this picture.

This isn't the highest quality picture, but what do you reasonably think that mother is holding? A doll and a? BOTTLE

I've taught many a breastfeeding classes and attended many myself, and yet, when you're teaching a mother about breastfeeding, where does the bottle fit in? I am outraged because instead of reinforcing a stereotype that 'breastfeeding is normal', they are showing and passing around bottles. I don't care if they're pretending those bottles have EBM (expressed breast milk) in them, these are expectant parents, they don't need to be taught about bottle feeding before the opportunity to breastfeed presents itself.

How can we ever go forward if one of the biggest organizations that help our expectant and breastfeeding mothers on Aruba (and see 95% of all babies) is working (unknowingly?) against us?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What is a Blessingway?

Babyshowers are a common and widespread tradition that many participate in. They often include many gifts for the soon-to-be parents, which may alleviate the burden of having so many baby things to buy. Babyshowers these days, however, have become very commercialized. They focus more on the giving of gifts, and playing of games, rather than the honoring of the mother-to-be and preparation for the labor and birth of her baby(s).

A Blessingway ceremony, is thought to have originated with the Native Americans. It was seen as a rite of passage when a young girl first enters young womanhood with the onset of Menarche, and was also celebrated with she became a mother.

A blessingway these days, has become more familiar due in part to the fact that women are reclaiming their bodies and birth rights. They are becoming more aware of the process of childbirth and wish to be more involved in the grand scheme of things. In saying so, they have come to realize that the pregnant woman is actually on a special 9+ month journey that will culminate in a spectacular and special end, the birth of her child(ren).

While many focus on the physical and material aspects of childbirth, which is of course natural, we sometimes tend to forget the mental and emotional side of it. Worries, anxiety or physical ailments during a pregnancy can wreak havoc on the emotional wellbeing and balance of the mother. Even a normal and 'uneventful' one can be stressful if the mother has little information or support from loved ones. A Blessing way can strengthen her resolve and help her to recenter her thoughts and goals.

What do you do at a Blessing Way?
The main focus of a Blessingway is the expectant mother and her emotional needs. Thus said, the point of the ceremony should be to give her courage to face that fast approaching day. Usually the group is kept small with only a few close relatives and/or friends. The women who inspire the mother the most, the ones she feels most safest with are the ones who attend the Blessing Way. Some choose to do the following:

  • Make a necklace or bracelet for her birthing day
Each attendee brings along a bead or two (depending on how many are present and what you're making, a necklace will require more beads) that he/she picks out as special. All those at the Blessingway sit in a circle and string the beads together, each wishing the mother something special for her birthing day. Expressions may also include birth affirmations. The mother then wears this piece of jewelry on the big day, and my choose to focus on it as a source of strength.

  • Making a headband out of flowers
This is the same as the abovementioned, but this headband may be worn the same day (as the flowers will wilt eventually)

  • Everyone there writes down a birth affirmation or wish. 
The pieces of paper are thrown together, and each reads one aloud for the mother.

  • Henna belly painting
Henna is used often used for beautiful and lustrous belly painting during a Blessingway and is a wonderful memory for the couple of days (or up until a month!) that it lasts. It ties in perfectly with the theme and point of the ceremony

Gifts may also be part of the Blessingway but isn't by any means the focus. The focus is completely on the mother and preparing her for her journey into motherhood, even if it's the second time around. 

Check out The Feminist Breeder's Virtual Blessingway and how her friends from all over the globe, sent a token, or more precisely, a flag, for her to hang up during the birth.

Have you had a Blessingway? What was your experience?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Breastfeeding Beauties

This Breastfeeding Beauty, Linda & Kayla are Bella Sophia models, and after our shoot, Kayla decided it was time for a snack. We took the opportunity to get a few beautiful shots

Linda & Kayla (12 mo)

Friday, April 15, 2011

International Giveaway of Gratitude

I had my daughter at 19 years of age. I was determined to breastfeed and like most first time mothers, I experienced problems in the beginning. My nipples were cracked and bleeding, and I was at the point of giving up. Our local non-profit breastfeeding organization, Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama Aruba, is what saved me and my breastfeeding relationship. I called day after day, with questions and worries and they did their utmost to quell my fears. They even visited me at no cost, and I remain eternally grateful. I went on to breastfeed  my daughter for over a year. I recognize that it is organizations like these that help our mothers. Women dedicated to other women and their babies.

That is why, I wanted to give back to them. I wanted to show them how much I appreciate it that they help others, tirelessly, around the clock. To encourage others to support and show their appreciation for their local non-profit organization that supports breastfeeding, I decided to host a giveaway, a giveaway of gratitude. This giveaway will benefit the organizations, and ultimately, the mothers and babies.

I found it pretty practical since I am myself, both a blogger and the owner of a company. So I thought long and hard about which baby carrier I could give away that would please most. Immediately I knew it would be a watersling! Why a watersling? Because it's not just for use in the water, it can also be used as a normal ringsling for those hot summers, to keep your baby carried and cool. Ever since being the first manufacturer of waterslings on Aruba, they have made a huge hit! But of course, what would you expect on an island!

This giveaway, however, is special. Your usual giveaway consists of either liking Facebook pages, leaving comments our following on Twitter. This time, I'm going to ask you to give back to the community.

I decided that it wouldn't be fair to host a give-away that only locals could participate in. The Foundation does not have a Paypal account as yet, just a bank account number. So I decided then that the give-away would be two-fold. One for those abroad, and one for our locals. 

I ask that the locals make a donation, and I will ask that those abroad donate to your local non-profit breastfeeding organization. These can be organizations such as La Leche League International, World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) or even if it's your small local non-profit such as Fundacion Lechi Mama Korsou. I have no affiliation with these, and all I want is for nursing mothers and their babies to be cared for and protected.

Let's see these prize Bella Sophia Waterslings

Seablue Bella Sophia mesh Watersling

Royal Blue Bella Sophia mesh watersling

Hot Pink Bella Sophia mesh watersling

Waterslings are also available in white and black mesh. Winners may pick any color they like.

Contest Rules

For Those living on Aruba

  •  Make a donation of minimum 15 Florins to Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama Aruba on their Aruba Bank Account 600.54.08. Address Morgenster # 50
  • Email me at info@caribirth.com the amount, your full name and phone number
  • Leave a comment below why you would like to win a Bella Sophia Watersling

Extra entry points

For those living abroad

  • Make a donation of Minimum 15$ to a non-profit breastfeeding organization of your choice, big or small. 
  • Email me the donation amount and the name of the organization (and if possible their website or email)
  • Leave a comment below why you would want to win a Bella Sophia Watersling

Extra Entry Points

Contest Ends May 1st at 6:00 PM Aruban Time and will be chosen from Random.org

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Because Chiggers like slings too

I'm a big fan of The Bloggess. This irreverent and satirically and sadistically funny woman who loves taxidermy, her husband Victor and zombies, nuff said. So when she blogged about a site that takes the "DNA" of your past tweets, and predicts what you'd most likely tweet next, I was curious to read what mine would say.

Put it this way, maybe I gotta lay off the breastfeeding, slings and language mixing.

Definitely add more coffee

Dahlia is my three year old daughter

And the absolute best one is

Because Chiggers like slings too

Monday, April 4, 2011

Postnatal Class @ Prana a success!

The recent postnatal class of March 28th at Prana was a hit. Shanti Gould, a certified prenatal and postnatal yoga instructor knows her stuff and knoThe recent postnatal class of March 28th at Prana was a hit. Shanti Gould, a certified prenatal and postnatal yoga instructor knows her stuff and knows how to organize classes that are specially designed for mothers and their babies.

I was honored to be part of that as I was invited at the end of the class for a little 'sling-meet' with the moms. We spoke briefly about why babywearing is so wonderful, which carriers worked for them [and which didn't] and why. Moms also had an opportunity to try any which carrier out with their bub. The atmosphere was relaxed and the mood was light. No obligation to try nor buy, just moms having fun exploring this thing called babywearing.ws how to organize classes that are specially designed for mothers and their babies.
laxed and the mood was light. No obligation to try nor buy, just moms having fun exploring this thing called babywearing.

You don't have to have been in the prenatal class to be able to attend the postnatal one! If you've recently had a baby, you're more than welcome to join! Contact Shanti at 737-2984 for more information!

For more updates and info on all my business', CariBirth, activities, click here

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The 15 things I love about breastfeeding

Reposted with Permission

Originally blogged at "The Young Johnsons" by Jill Johnson

This post was written by my cousin's wife Jill. Although Kyle, Jill and baby Jack live in the States, Jack is still half Aruban and merits a special spot on this site. Take it away, Jill...

15 Things I Love About Breastfeeding

  1. Poopy diapers aren't so scary
  2. Being everything my son needs to live. Wow.
  3. Burning calories while sitting on my big post-pregnancy butt
  4. Motivates me to continue to eat nutritiously & drink tons of water
  5. The glorious delayed return of Aunt Flow
  6. I can text, talk, read, eat, type all while feeding him
  7. Rockin' nutritional value for him
  8. It gives me a chance to give Jack his mani/pedi
  9. Makes me feel empowered that we overcame the "beginner's difficulties"
  10. Saving money is always fun
  11. Getting the chance to play with his chubby thighs, hands, arms, and tiny feet at least 6 times a day
  12. 9 out of 10 times he will pass out in my arms after nursing
  13. The way he looks up at me while eating is intoxicating
  14. Food needs no preparation...which is nice when I'm barely awake
  15. I get to keep Jack close

Recap of the month of March [MARCH MADNESS!]

Ok, so I know I've been pretty quiet this month, but it's only because I am crazy busy up and down like a mad woman. A lot of cool stuff has happened [ and yet to happen this month] and I'm eager to finally sit down and share it with you all.

Official Seminar from Pro Lechi Mama Foundation : "The New legislation on breastfeeding - a win win for both employer and employee"
Stefan Kleintjes
This seminar will take place May 5th and is going to be huge-mongous. It is geared toward all the major employers on Aruba, and the little ones too. Mostly towards the ones who employ a great deal of women. We found it imperative that this seminar take place because of all the negative feedback there's been in connection with the law. Employers are confused and thus [sometimes unwittingly] hesitate to cooperate, some female employees see the law as a ticket for 9 months of fun and long breaks [not the point] and there is general confusion as to the interpretation and implementation of this life-sustaining law. We've decided to go all out on the venue and the evening. It is a short seminar, but jam packed with the latest information on laws, clarifications of such and ramifications for those who set themselves against it. On the program there will be 3 speakers, one from Holland, namely Stefan Kleintjes, a children's dietician and breastfeeding guru. Monica Kock, a local lawyer and former parliamentarian who also endorsed this law to make it a reality. And a member of Pro Lechi Mama, namely, yours truly.

Yes. You read correct. Me. I am going to give a discourse [the first and opening one to be exact] and I am to the point of fright. I've been on symposiums on stages, sang in front of crowds, given lectures and classes..but I don't know about this gig. This is a SEMINAR. With a lot of respected business men and women. People are going to be watching me, listening to me, examining me and my every word and while this thought scares the daylights out of me, it's also empowering. How many women, how many young women, receive the opportunity to say something that may potentially impact someones view, especially someone's view on something so important to our society in so many aspects, our mentality on breastfeeding. I am deeply privileged and honored [to say the least!] to be granted a chance to speak on the foundation's behalf about the plight that working mothers face. The difficulty and hardships they go through when their employer refuses to cooperate with the law. What an honor to be able to speak directly to these people, to their minds and hearts [because breastfeeding stems from the heart really, whether it is loved or hated] and possibly challenge them to change a mistaken view to be able to improve the lives of our babies and our mothers. I am deeply humbled.

Oh, and freakin' terrified too!

Besides all the terror with having to make a powerpoint [I'm so procrastinating] I've also had to spearhead the whole thing because [DUH] I keep forgetting, I am now President Elect of the Foundation. We've set up a petite committee to handle the majority of the decisions and tasks and like little ants that spotted crumbs on the floor, we're rushing and squirming around trying to get things done.

Breastfeeding and Babywearing class hosted by Prana

March 21st, this past Monday, I gave my quarterly class and the audience was the biggest it ever was [25 people in total!]. The class compromised of many people including a midwife, a couple expecting triplets and a parliamentarian and his significant other. I was nervous as I saw so many people rolling in, but, after setting up, I hurried to the back room, took some deep breaths, told myself I was ready and walked back in. The beginning of the class is always the toughest because there's so many people and it's difficult to command the attention of the room. I speak with conviction but the reality of the matter is that I dread if someone has to vehemently oppose something I say and cast doubt on my credibility. Confrontation scares me. Haha. But, in essence, everything went smoothly. After the first ten minutes of almost silence [except for me talking] the class became more involved. Throwing in a joke here and there is my way of keeping the mood light and from it getting too lecture-ish. I revise my powerpoint each time and in the babywearing part, I did a part especially dedicated to the claim that carrying your baby in a carriers that keeps their legs open and spread apart is detrimental to the proper development of the hips and legs. This part kept them awake, and I had fun observing the class come to life when we went into that direction. God, I love this job.

The best part of the class? The set-up. When I was setting up, there were already some couples there. Once I was nearly finished, 3/4 of the class were in place and as I pulled out the pink watersling to put on the mannequin, everyone who had been chattering and chit-chatting all of a sudden became silent. It was as if a silence had dropped over the classroom and I could swear I heard a tiny gasp of awe at the stunning hot pink ringsling. I smiled to myself and carried on as if nothing was different. AWESOME.

Bella Sophia's glamorous babywearing photoshoots
This was the most time consuming but also most rewarding. It's not easy doing shoots with babies and carriers, so I appreciate all the models glamming up and getting their diva on for these shots. There were some at the beach, others at other stunning locations that will be revealed soon in a grand fashion.

Local maternity boutique, Mommies & Bellies by Noraima and Tamara to be first Official Retailer of Bella Sophia Carriers
Holy moly. Did you see this coming? I sure didn't. I mean, well, I dreamed about it, but did I expect it to materialize so quickly and so passionately, NEVER! The owners of Mommies and Bellies were beyond thrilled at the thought of selling something so unique, so cool and natural but also locally made. Bella Sophia is taking off and I'm holding on tight because it's gonna be a wild ride this year! Craving more info on Bella Sophia? Visit our sister site here! 

Bella Sophia, although still in its infancy, is proving to be a formidable brand in the market of carriers sold here on Aruba. Whether imported from abroad or made locally as well, Bella Sophia stands out in a league of its own known for its stylishness, workmanship, safety, and the sheer diversity and selection of carriers. Despite the negativity surrounding the beginning of Bella Sophia from the nay-sayers, it's taken off and shook things up by offering yet another choice for the modern day natural parent. You don't have to believe me, take a look for yourself!

Once monthly sling stand at Prana's postnatal class

My most recent invitation came from my dear friend Shanti, a certified prenatal yoga instructor teaching at Prana prenatal and postnatal health centrum. We've already been doing the classes together for a year and now she's invited me to set up a sling stand in her postnatal class for the moms who may have found renewed interest in babywearing, or who may have bought a carrier but are still unsure about their abilities. Since the launching of Bella Sophia, it was very convenient for her to have the same person giving babywearing classes, to also set up a sling stand in the class there after, so it was only natural that we combine forces again. I must admit, I am very excited for Monday's first stand, March 28th, at 12 noon. I'm still working on making/finding a rack to display the slings on, but so far I'm still missing a stand-type thing to hang/attach the rack to. Have any ideas for me?

Many times, the pictures are awed and gawked at, but often time the photographer gets left in the background. So I want to take this opportunity to thank Bella Sophia's personal photographer, Angelo Flanegin, for always being available, even at the last minute, to capture the true beauty of the slings with your stunning Nikon D200 and D300 and amazing Sigma Lens. Thank you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Breastfeeding Beauties

Today's breastfeeding beauty is a repeat (different shot). It was taken during our glamorous babywearing photoshoot for Bella Sophia Carriers and at the end, Eva decided it was time for a snack

Andrea & Eva 25 months

Friday, March 11, 2011

Felt Cookies and Cupcakes ~ My new found love

Felt - a substance I had only dealt with in my early school years. A material I dreaded as I never found arts and crafts to be enjoyable. Odd eh? And now, at 22 years of age, it's as if my creative and girly side has kicked in and I want to sew everything in sight.

My latest project is felt cookies and cupcakes, obviously because cookies are the easiest to make. I told myself that I am making felt foodies for two primary reasons;

  1. As a hobby, to relax and enjoy myself while I make them
  2. For my 3-year-old daughter to play with in her kitchen

The first time I sat down and made something, I think  I ended up being more stressed out and frustrated at my lack of creativity and dexterity than I had fun with it. For some reason, I did not look up tutorials right away and decided to 'wing it'. Bad idea. The first cookie, donut, and cupcake turned out..well.. interesting. The second night though, I decided to look up what a blanket stitch was and how to make pleats, and general cute cookie & cupcake ideas. Let me say this, if I'm gonna be making this improvement each subsequent time I sit down and make foodies, I will be a felt cookie and cupcake MASTER in no time. I was pretty proud of what I produced yesterday seeing that I am a void of artfulness and workmanship. 

You know what I loved most? 

When I handed my daughter her presents, she was overjoyed. The sheer thrill on her face when she looked at them. It made me feel good that she loved them even though they weren't sewn perfectly, or measured or cut precisely. Maybe I can learn to enjoy gifts more if I stopped looking at anything that's amiss and just love the gift itself.

My next felt creation? Pizza, hopefully some sushi, and a sandwich!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Single Mothers, you CAN succeed!

I've been wallowing in self-pity for a while since my (ahem, divorce) entering single motherhood for the second time around. Despite having other amazing things going on in my life right now like the honor of being elected President of Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama Aruba and my business' new line of baby carriers ~ Bella Sophia (meaning beautiful Sophia, my daughter's second name) I've been feeling down in the dumps where my personal life is concerned. While it is rare that I go into detail about my romantic relationships on my blog unless it will empower other mothers, I decided to write about what makes me feel so crappy and how I could make myself feel better and potentially help other single moms too.

Things I fear about Single Motherhood

  • The dreaded "Who's my real dad, and why don't we all live together?" question. I know this is a part of life and in many instances, a real frequently occurring part of life, but this doesn't translate into it being easy or even pleasurable for me to want to answer it. 
  • The second dreaded "How it is possible that I have a brother that is 2 and a half months older than me?" question. This fits right up there with the first, except, I know it'll take her longer to come to the above mentioned realization to be able to ask this dreaded question. I don't want to be a "Don't-ask-don't-tell" kind of parent, but honestly, how on earth am I supposed to explain this in a neutral and respectful and yet honest manner? 
  • Step-moms/absent biological fathers/step-dads/mother-caught-in-between. Let's be absolutely frank, when a man and a woman have a kid together and then separate, and then [insert whichever option most acceptable to you] re-marry, there will be inevitable tension at some point in time. Step-mothers usurping the authority of birth mothers, step-fathers taking the initiative to raise a fatherless child and then the real father gets upset but he shouldn't because he was the one who was absent to begin with. I can't seem to find my niche in all of this. I've tried and this blended family thing is frustrating for me. The other woman in this story grew up in a blended family herself and told me that these things are common and that I should just let go and embrace it. When she told me this, I didn't know if I should have laughed or cried, all I knew was that I wanted someone to shoot me. 
  • Will I be able to raise a child on my own? I've spent the last 3+ years worrying and fretting about this, and the funny thing is, I've been doing it unwittingly. We humans are tenacious and adaptable and while I worry myself to death (I'm a terrible worrier) my daughter who was once a babe, is now a happy, vivacious, care-free, 3-year-old that is surrounded by more people who love her than she could possibly lack. My parents ended up being co-parents (odd and frustrating at times, but in the long-run worthwhile) and I've learned even more how much I can rely on them. I've heard many other young moms admit that they never felt such a strong attachment and love for their mothers until they were pregnant. It's not that we never loved our moms it's just that epiphany like state that you float in when all of a sudden you feel the love your mother felt when she carried, birthed and raised you. So I did not end up raising her on my own. 
  • Not having a constant co-parent to step in when you need a time-out. This is one of the hardest things about being a single parent. It's the end of the day, you had a pretty lousy day, your child seems to have had the same day and is also in a "mood", you're tired, you've got things to do, chores to take care of, bills to figure out how you're gonna pay and a kid to get ready for bed. Then, your usually sweet and adorable child starts acting out [insert, due to over stimulation, stress, boredom, tiredness] and is defiant about taking a shower and getting ready for bed. This is where it's hardest being a single parent. You have no back-up to call and take over for you to take a breather or a long walk. It's you, yourself, and your short fuse. At these times I usually just break down and cry, and at times it's in front of Dahlia and then I feel worse because she gets so sad and starts consoling me by telling me "Don't worry, I'm here, don't cry mama". I'll just chalk this all up to a real life lesson in empathy and hope my kid takes away from it that even mamas are human and cry. 
  • What others will think of me. It is not a secret that people judge. People judge young mothers. People judge young single mothers.Besides being a terrible worrier, I am also a person who cares just a tad too much about what others say/think about me. My mom once told me that "40 % of people will love you, 40% of people will dislike you and the other 20% will remain undecided." Uh, how is this supposed to help me Ma? It basically means, just make sure you're in the right things, (because a thief can't get angry for people talking bad about the fact that he steals) and forget what everyone else has to say. How are you supposed to live any kind of life if you're constantly worrying about what everyone might be saying about you. 
And my number one thing I dread about single motherhood is...

  • When will I have another child? This is the thing that freaks me out the most. Because of the mess I went through with Dahlia's biological father, I swore never to have another child out-of-wedlock. I also swore never to get divorced. And then I got divorced. I'm stuck in this limbo of not knowing what situation will suit me best. Stay single or unmarried for the rest of my life? Take a chance again at marriage? Microsoft Word has an undo button that if you click it enough, it brings you back to a clean white page, right where you started. I have often times wished my life had an "undo" button. But then I think, what if I undid my past with Dahlia's father.. I wouldn't have Dahlia now and I wouldn't be where I am right now, experiencing the happiest of times in my life because of the love of a child. And then I acquiesce and all of a sudden I realize I don't need that button anymore. So back to my concerns. Because of my single motherhood status I wonder when will I have another child. In my plans were about 3-4 more children. Not in my plans was divorce. But I guess even the best laid plans...go awry. I try to comfort myself with my age. I am merely 22 and I don't have my "clock" ticking (YET) so I console myself with affirmations that if I take the time and do it right this time around, I will have my truck-load of kids with a man who wants them and who wants me, even when I'm old and wrinkly and can brush my teeth while I have a full-blown conversation. 

Things I [insert love] learned about single motherhood that made me stronger

  • If it doesn't kill you, or make you commit suicide/end up on anti-depressants, it just might make you stronger. Do you know what is stronger than bone? A broken one. Once a broken bone heals up, it becomes stronger than before making it even harder to fracture a second time around. When I became a single mother for the first time, I was terrified. Terrified about what people would think, terrified about being just another statistic, another stereotype and then, I said something to my child's father that echoes in my head to this day. And I quote " I will walk out of my house with my daughter and no wedding ring on my finger and I will hold my head up high because I was strong enough to leave a bad relationship." And then it was done. I handed it over. All my shame, I gave it back. I had nothing to do with feeling ashamed of being a single mother for making the right choice. 3 Years has since passed and although the darkest moments envelopes you like a black cloud leaving you gasping for air, they are far too few and in between to be able to come near to the best moments of your life that you spend with your child. 
  • It takes two to make a kid, but if only one is left, that one is certainly capable of raising a well-adjusted, integrated and loving human being. Some of the most respectful men come from single-parent homes in which the single parent was the mother. Note that I did not say that all men who come from single mothers are respectful, nor did I purport that men who come from dual-parent families are disrespectful, but often times a young man who sees the struggle and triumph that his mother goes through while raising him (and possibly other siblings) is more likely to be empathetic towards women. More understanding, more in touch with a sensitive and reassuring side. Single mothers, you might not have a father figure in your son's life, but you are more than capable of teaching your son how a real father, and man is supposed to treat a woman, with dignity and respect. 

And the number one thing I learned from being a single mother is

  • Parent as if you had a co-parent, live as if you lacked nothing. A lot of people complain that they are not the happy, patient people they know they are or can be because of their present circumstances and although I completely understand that difficult situations can dampen our moods significantly, at the end of the day we all stand responsible for our own actions. Don't say, 'If only I had a partner to make me feel complete, then my child could actually see a happy mommy'. Your child deserves a happy mother whether you are single or not. Even though to some the pain of singleness feels like birth pangs, I dare you, I challenge you to parent your child as if you did have a partner, treat your child as if you had infinite amounts of patience and love your child as if you lacked absolutely nothing in the world because in fact, your child loves you even if you lack everything else in the world. Is that not worth it all?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Babywearing Grandmothers

Babywearing Grandma

There are a plethora of benefits for a baby when his mother or father wears him in a sling or wrap. In these days, many grandmothers watch after their grandchildren, of which many are still young and strong enough to freely go out and about with their grandchildren. For these, a sling or wrap may prove very useful and practical as they may or may not lack the strength to tote around yet another generation.

One doesn't come across many pictures of babywearing grandmothers on the web, and if you do, many are aged ones. Here's my seamstress (who is also a grandmother to small grandchildren) sporting our new linen ring sling by Bella Sophia.

If you'd like to use these pictures as illustrations, just drop an email and I'll be happy to send you some without watermarks if photo credits are placed.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why I'm not waiting to have a baby boy to stand up for Intactivism

While dropping my daughter off at pre-school the other day, one of the little boys in her class had his underwear on the wrong way. This caused him to expose his genitals and when I unexpectedly caught a glimpse, it struck a cord inside me, one I had never felt before. The little boy's penis was circumcised. A flood of thoughts inundated me as I felt cut deep inside me, just as this little boy had been cut as a baby. This is the day I became an Intactivist. 

As the mother of just one, a daughter, circumcision is not a topic that steadily occupies your mind. You read about it, you are dismayed at the act, you research it in case you must defend intactivism, but perhaps you don't champion it as passionately if you'd had a son. This was true in my case. I knew that if I have sons in the future, none of them would ever be touched by a blade to their foreskin. However, I guess I never felt personally inclined about little boys' penises until that day at pre-school.

I couldn't get it out of my mind. Every little boy that I had ever taken care of, or seen, had a normal looking penis. So when I caught a glimpse of this altered one, I was taken back. I felt hurt when  I imagined how he must have screamed for help during this elective cosmetic surgery. I grew angrier at it, resolving in my heart that if I have a son, or many sons, I would never let anyone mutilate his penis. I resolved to speak out against MGM more often and to educate myself more. Let us all, mothers of girls and boys alike, be determined to advocate and educate so that parents of baby boys wake up and realize and avoid having to apologize...later on

We're Sporting a new look!

Have you noticed that ABM had a make-over! I don't profess to know much about designing websites, but I'm pretty proud of myself so far. Keep coming back to see updates on the new look, because I'll be adding new features soon!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Official proposal of the National Aruban Breastfeeding Policy

Images Courtesy of 24ora.com

Friday February 18th 2011
Cabinet Conference Room
Oranjestad, Aruba

In a meeting held at 2 o'clock at Parliament with His Excellency Richard Visser, and Her Excellency Michelle Hooyboer-Winklaar, The National Breastfeeding Platform handed in the official 2011-2015 Breastfeeding Policy for it to be implemented into all the aspects of Maternal-child health on Aruba.

As part of that platform (representing Pro Lechi Mama) I was honored to be part of the handing over ceremony because this is a huge step forward for breastfeeding. It's only the beginning of the road, but we can see everything that so many women (and some men!) have fought hard for, for many years, is finally materializing thanks to government officials who do see the importance and value of sustaining, advocating for, and protecting lactating mothers and their babies.

In the short but highly anticipated meeting with Minister Visser and Minister Hooyboer-Winklaar, Minouche Lopez and Caroll Kock spoke briefly about the present of breastfeeding, the future and the hopes and expectations this policy will bring. Two beautifully made and bound NBBAs (Nacionaal Beleidsplan Borstvoeding Aruba) were handed over along with two sand-clocks sporting gold toned sand representing the fact that human milk is rightly seen as liquid gold. Both Ministers were overjoyed at the breastfeeding memorabilia and her Excellency said she would put it on her desk.

Hooray for breastfeeding, Hooray!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Breastfeeding Beauties

During a babywearing photo shoot today with Sharine Hart, Ariella (her adorable baby) decided it was time for a break, and a snack too! Look what a precious moment we caught with Sharine, Fabienne and Ariella

Photography by Angelo Flanegin

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mothers who blame others just to perpetuate their guilt

A mother has had two cesareans and is pregnant with her third child. She vows to change her whole life style and make choices that will lead to a healthy pregnancy and subsequently a healthy vaginal birth this time around. For medical reasons beyond her control, she must have yet a third c-section. Her daughter is born healthy but she is rightfully downhearted and crushed and goes on to deal with the aftermath of yet another surgical birth. She understands that the reasons for the cesarean this time around were warranted, and that she had done everything possible to lead up to the birth she had desired - a vaginal birth. She still cannot come to terms and starts to victimize herself unnecessarily. If she reads about women having homebirth stories, she gets upset at them, and feels worthless. If a friend has a successful unmedicated hospital birth, she digs her hole of guilt deeper and feels anger at her friend.

Another mother is overjoyed at the birth of her second child. The breastfeeding did not work out the first time around, and she desperately tries the second time around. To her dismay, and for reasons beyond her control, it fails to work out again for her and she must supplement. She feels worthless. She feels alone, like a failure of a mother. Her guilt is compounded by the exceptionally high standards she has set for herself as a mother - breastfeed or bust. My milk or no milk. She doesn't seek donor milk and turns to formula. Each bottle she prepares makes her grit her teeth. Every successful breastfeeding story she hears or reads, she is filled with anger. If she sees, hears or reads about other mothers having enough to donate, she feels even lower to the ground. She simply cannot come to terms with not meeting the goal she set before her, and she blames herself, but she starts blaming every breastfeeding mother who did go on to breastfeed successfully for making her feel worse.

These two women have a few things in common: :

  • They are goal-oriented people
  • They failed to meet the goal they set before them despite trying their best
  • They are guilt-ridden because of not meeting that goal
  • Despite the fact that no one ever said anything to make them feel guilty, they consider anyone who met their goals successfully as competition, and started blaming those people for their feelings of guilt

There are generally three types of mothers :
  • Mothers who rightfully feel guilty about not meeting their goals but eventually accept it and move on
  • Mothers who don't care if they met their goal or not, it's o.k right? My baby is healthy so whatever
  • Mothers who feel guilty about not reaching their goal, who continually beat themselves up for it and who because of their inferiority complex, don't want to see any other woman succeed. 

The latter type don't just exist in the mother-form, they come in all shapes, ages, sizes and races of people. These are called downers. They failed at something, can't come to terms with it, and so can't move past it, and want to keep you feeling sorry for them, while they wish you the same fate. 

I can't deal with women like this. 

I am not insensitive to your feelings, but the fact is that your guilt has an ulterior motive. Your guilt has facets and different shades to it. This part, I don't like. If I can produce enough milk to feed a continent, but you cannot, don't blame me for it. Don't tell me that I made your self-esteem plummet. You should be happy, why? Because my ability can mean more human milk, for more human babies other than my own. As for the woman who scorns any vaginal birthing mother. If I gave birth to 8 children, all at home, without a hitch, it is what it is. I never said, or even implied you were less of a mother because you've birthed all your children surgically. I feel for you, I understand you, but it doesn't give you the right to think ill of me, or dislike me because I met a goal that you set for yourself. This is beyond my control, and it is beyond yours as well. 

The blame game brings nothing but bad fame
When things go awry, and not exactly how they want it to go, some have a tendency to blame. They can't deal with the outcome, no matter who's fault and just needs a scapegoat. Maybe it was even their own fault, but can't bear the cost of guilt and want to place culpability on someone besides themselves. These same people tend to have a domineering personality. They need to be in constant control of their surroundings, and can't take things as they come. This type of mentality only sets you up for utter frustration, stress and a stroke. When it comes to parenting, especially the field of birth and breastfeeding, there isn't a sure guarantee. No one woman can perfectly dictate her moves and expect 100% success. Life simply isn't that way, and parenting sure as hell is the farthest things away from that. That being said, developing a more relaxed and balanced sense of self can be of great benefit. Try it one day, you just might like it

Mothers who blame just to get sympathy
This type of mother really pisses me off. Let's take the breastfeeding one as an example. She simply could not breastfeed. She did everything under the sun, according to any good advice she got, from LCs, breastfeeding mothers, everyone. She studied, took classes, read books, blogs and everything in between but for reasons beyond her control she did not succeed. Because she ended up supplementing, she feels guilty every time she hears about others having enough milk to feed Maria, Josefina and Conchita's babies. What does this mother do? She starts whining, and complaining how hearing about other women succeeding makes her feel inferior. "Awhhh, poor you, I feel sorry for you. Shame on that ungrateful mother who makes 40 ounces of milk each feeding, shame on that walking talking cow. And here you are, not enough for one. You're right, that other mother is ungrateful, I don't like her either. You know I heard one day that she.." And then blamegame mama got you. She got you to feel just the way she does. It's a vicious cycle. 

This has got to stop
Because of the ease of the internet, and the sheer ubiquitous accessibility, anyone and everyone can have a space on the net to say what they want, whether this may hurt others or not. They take it one step farther. Instead of confining their rants and narrow mindedness to their own space, they hunt for other people's space to unleash everything they've kept pent up inside them. They have zero disregard for the feelings of others and they're ready to demonstrate that. 

Now hold up, can you stop this now? We know you are mad, mad at your circumstances, mad at the lot that was dealt to you, but can you go back? This isn't Staples, there's no easy button here. So please, do me a favor, do yourself a favor and just deal.with.it. If this means seeking help beyond your circle of listening ears, then, by all means, do it. Don't do it for me, don't do it for your kid or your husband, do it for yourself. Why? Because life is full of unfulfilled expectations and disappointments, and if you let every single event get to you, especially the big ones, the next unmet goal just might kill you. Take it from me, there are enough diseases out there that can kill you without you bringing it upon your organism, why make stress be the one to get you?