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

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 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?

Friday, February 11, 2011

On this day, three years ago

Although I choose not to celebrate birthdays, I will sit and recollect how on this day, exactly three years ago, my first and only child was born. I've come to notice that I have never shared my birth story of Dahlia. I think this is a fitting opportunity to do so.

February 6th 2008

I wake up early that morning to a text from a friend I'd met in childbirth education classes, Fleur, that she had just given birth to a beautiful son, Joey. We both had the same EDD and were both first time mothers. I was very happy to hear she had finally popped. I was 41 weeks exactly and although I was eager to meet Dahlia, I wasn't worried about going over 40 weeks.

I had my last routine midwifery appointment that morning, and this time my mother came along. The midwife said everything looked perfect and that hopefully she would not see me next week again. She then asked if she could strip my membranes to "get things moving along". I didn't know much about induction back then but I figured that at 41 weeks, it sounded ok to help things along. She did a vaginal exam and told me I was 1 cm dilated but that the baby had not dropped yet. She stripped my membranes and bode me farewell.

Over the past few weeks, my blood pressure had steadily been rising to an uncomfortable level. From the beginning of the pregnancy I had an unusual amount of proteins in my urine but my blood pressure was always fine. So when my blood pressure went higher and higher, it preoccupied my midwife. At that same last appointment she had me draw some blood before we did the vaginal exam. After the appointment was over, she said that she would call with the results only if they were troublesome. Bless her soul, she was so calm all throughout my pregnancy and she never ever made me worry.

Later that afternoon, to our displeasure, we got a call from the midwife. She said that the results of the blood test showed a high amount of proteins and that she was handing me over to the care of my gynecologist. She instructed us to go to the hospital for monitoring and care. I was nervous. I was excited, but nervous because she sounded serious. But.. there we all went, packed up the bags, and left. I was 19 years old.

We got to the hospital and they monitored me for what seemed like an eternity. The fetal heart rate monitor showed no signs of distress but it was registering some major contractions, of which I felt none. From that moment on, I didn't trust that monitor with measuring my contractions.

They sent me to my room and I was to stay in the hospital until I gave birth. That sucked big time. I was admitted on a Wednesday. Thursday rolled around with no action, and then Friday as well. Because it was the weekend, I would be taken care of by the gynecologist on call, Dr. H. On Friday night, Dr. H was making the rounds, and before he could slip out of the room without even speaking to me, I called him over. "Dr H!" I exclaimed. "What about me? Is everything looking ok?" He picked up my chart and said with the slightest emotion, "Ah yes, well,  if you don't go into labor by Monday, we'll induce you" I thought to myself "INDUCE?! ARE YOU NUTS?!" Well... Dahlia must have heard him because that night, labor started.

Saturday, foreday morning, 1:30 AM February 9th 2008

I woke up to pee for the millionth time, and while on the toilet it hit me. Pain hit me. I knew this was it. There was no trace of doubt left. I got up, and instinct took over. I had attended the most natural childbirth education classes on the island but my reading was limited to "What to expect when you're expecting" and "FitPregnancy" so I just did what I thought was natural to do. Walk around. From the very beginning my contractions were regular, every 3-4 minutes, lasting 30 seconds. They weren't dreadfully painful but it did take my concentration. In between them, it was as if nothing was going on. At some point in time, after begging the nurses to put me on the monitor, that stupid machine registered very very little. I knew then for sure, I couldn't trust that contraption. The nurses urged me to go rest because I would tire myself out before the real action began. So like a little puppy, I obediently walked back to my bed and rested. It was much more uncomfortable on the bed but I stayed there.

Saturday morning, 10 am February 9th 2008

My mother comes to visit me in hospital and the contractions are still going strong. I'm able to talk in between them normally, but have to focus on breathing and relaxing myself during them. We were all excited because it was finally happening. the whole day I had visitors and we sat and talked and laughed. They laughed at me quite a bit because I would be telling them something and then all of a sudden I tell them to "SHUSH!" and close my eyes and start my deep inhaling and exhaling, and then it was over and I picked up right where I left off. It was a real trip to see that now that I look back. I handled the contractions very well, so well that many of the nurses didn't even know or believe I was in much pain so they didn't really pay too much attention to me. I thought this was scandalous back then, but now that I think about, they did good just letting me be to labor on my own without disturbing me. Thank you L&D ward nurses

Saturday Night, 9 pm February 9th 2008

With contractions still at 3-4 minutes having labored the whole day, I was pretty tired. The nurse walked in and asked me if I wanted something to relieve the pain. Naively I said ok. I knew she wasn't giving me an epidural because they aren't that common in Aruba, and you have to pay big money for them. I had no clue what on earth she was going to give me, but I didn't think anything of it. She brought this huge needle and gave me a shot in my thigh that made the muscle contract like hell. I asked her what it was and she just told me that it would help me sleep. Boy, was she right. That stuff I was in a haze and all I could recollect is walking up in the middle of the night for contractions that were really strong. For the rest, I was snoozing like a baby.

Sunday morning, February 10th 2008

Sunday came and went by with the same tune as Saturday. My parents visited, we talked, had fun and waited anxiously to see when this baby would come. That night, the nurses again offered me the pain relief. Bear in mind that I not once uttered the words "Give me something against the pain please", I never even hinted at it. They came to me offering it, but I also didn't turn it down. So that night, I got another dose of Demerol. I honestly think it built up in my system because I became even groggier and if I woke up that night, it had felt like a dream, so surreal.

Monday Morning 10 am February 11th 2008

I was so glad for Monday to reach because it meant that my rocking female ob/gyn was gonna show up, Dr. M. She came in, she asked to do a vaginal exam, which I was more than happy to oblige and announced that I was 5 cm dilated. Boy was I happy to hear those days of laboring weren't for nothing. At this point in time, I had been laboring since the beginning of Saturday, which had been a total of 56 and a half hours. Once they announced that I was 5 cm, things started moving. I was put into the Labor and delivery room, which was a cold, sterile room with dark blue tiles and the farthest feeling from comfort. My dad hopped on to the recliner and fell asleep to the point of snoring. My mom looked at him and asked him if he was planning on staying in the L&D room for the birth, and of course my dad was all like' hell no', so my mom then informed my dad that he would then have to leave the room according to hospital protocol, which he did.

Because of having received so much pain medication, I was woozy, and my labor had also slowed. The contractions that were once 3-4 minutes apart when I had no medication in my system, slowed to 10 minutes apart. So after administering more wooz-juice, they also gave me pitocin to speed it up (can anyone say oxymoron?). Dr. M told me she would break my waters, and when she did (which was btw, one of the worst feelings ever) the water was green and murky, but Dahlia's heart rate never showed any compromise so I never worried. They then put an internal fetal heart rate monitor on Dahlia's head, strapped me down with monitors and said , see you later. I couldn't get off the bed and the contractions were starting to get so strong because of the pitocin. The demerol made me so woozy that I would be awake for the intense contractions and then fall back into a deep sleep. It was surreal, nothing felt real. The contractions were like waves, some crashing into me, just when one was subsiding. I must admit that, although the contractions were sometimes too difficult to bear, there was only one time that I thought to myself, "o.k this needs to be over, I want a cesarean to get this pain to stop NOW!" I remember hushing my mom or ex-partner, to be able to concentrate on the contractions. I remember the room become hot, so I needed someone to fan me. And then, I remember the urge to bear down. Although I was young, I had read enough of the process and I never doubted what stage I was in when it was happening. When I got the urge to bear down, I told my mom to call the nurses right away. They told me to wait. "WAIT?! are you nuts?! I need to push, my body is telling me to push, I can't stop this feeling!" They nurses came, checked me, I was at 10 cm and they gave me the green light to do something my body had already signaled me to do. So I started pushing. I hated that they wanted to coach me, but I did my best to follow their instructions while still following my urges. I pushed, I pushed, I pushed. Eventually Dr. M got there and she took over. There I was , sprawled out on my back like a stranded beetle. It was a little after 4 and Dahlia's head was visible. I guess the doctor thought she looked too big, so she informed me she was going to perform an episiotomy, after she said that, I reminded her that I wanted Dahlia on my chest right away to breastfeed her.  In my haze, I agreed to the episiotomy. I was like a test subject that said yes to everything. It was a scary feeling, now that I think about it. She numbed the area with a big needle of local anesthetic, and snipped it. Boy was that a strange sensation. No pain, but it was super weird. I was cut and after a few pushes, at 5:10 pm, Dahlia was born. All I could hear was my mom snicker and cry at the birth of her first grandchild. Dahlia's birth father cut the cord, and ten minutes after, he took off and left. That's a whole other story.

5:40 pm February 11th 2008

Trying to get Dahlia to breastfeed was difficult. She showed no interest, and I now understand it was because she was incredibly groggy from so much pain medication. Her Apgar  score was 9 the first time, and 10 the second time. She responded, she just wasn't that into my breast. Great. My mom told me that as Dahlia was being born, a gush of blood shot out. That freaked me out. After I reveled in Dahlia's fatness, they took her to be weighed and "cleaned" and it was time to get the placenta out. I hate L&D rooms, everything is so rush rush, like a fast food joint. Get your order, and get out. I don't remember the contractions for the placenta, but what I will never forget is the sensation of the smooth, slick and slippery afterbirth sliding out of my vagina on to the bed. They didn't show it to me, nor was I interested back then, in looking at it. I was pretty squeamish, and even refused the mirror they offered me to be able to see her crowning. I was then stitched up, and my happy meal (Dahlia) was handed over to me, and we were rolled up to the maternity ward.

Up on the maternity ward, friends and family visited and after all was calm I settled in to get down to the business of breastfeeding. Over the next few weeks, we struggled with a bad latch, bad advice, cracked bleeding nipples,flat nippleds and, a pesky preference for the nipple shield, but at the same time, my love affair with breastfeeding began and eventually, with help and a loooooot of perseverance, we kept at it, and breastfeeding became amazing. I went on to exclusively breastfeed Dahlia for six months, working full time. We bed-shared, and I took her everywhere I went. When Dahlia was a year and a few months, and started to take interest in the world around her, I mistook her new found love (now everything else besides my breasts) for signs of weaning and slowly but surely, she weaned. I don't remember the last time I breastfed her, which is sad, but at least, even though I had wanted to go for much longer, it was not taken away from her abruptly.

Dahlia is today three years old and when she lays in my arms at night, she'll sometimes ask for mum mums, which I gladly oblige her with. She suckles for a few seconds and then smiles and says she's done. I've grown a lot since her birth and I've learned so much from what I've been through, both good and bad. My experiences with a hospital birth setting have lead me to choose a homebirth for the next child, and to breastfeed until she is truly ready to move on. I do regret the choices I've made during the labor of my daughter, because it complicated things, and could have made things worse, but I have learned from them, learned the truth about them and I'm determined to avoid that path the second time around.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sex-Ed for... Day Care/ Pre-school ?

Dahlia has been going to one of the best day cares/ pre-schools on the island since the (way too young) age of 3 months. This is the same day care that I have gone to, my older brother, even my nearly 40-year-old cousin went there. In any case, Dahlia is now a few days away from turning 3 years old and there isn't a dull day if Dahlia's around. I usually pick her up from school around 5 pm and most of the kids play around until their parents pick them up.

Today was no different than any other day.

That is, until I picked her up and saw all the kids sitting ever so nicely in front of another teacher (not Dahlia's) while she held up two dolls.

Both dolls were naked, and one was clearly a boy doll and the other was a girl. She held the dolls up while all the little eyes glared at her, and she said loudly "This one is a boy because he has a pipi. Do you see the difference between these two dolls? Who can tell me what is the difference between a boy and a girl?"

My jaw dropped
when I stopped and listened to what she was teaching them. Why? Well, this class consisted of children ages 2 to 3 years old. Many obviously didn't understand where the teacher was going because when she asked what made boys different to girls, some kids started to scream "The leg! The leg". Clearly, however educational this teacher's intention was, the point was not coming across. I didn't say anything to her, I guess firstly because I was a bit stupefied at what I heard and saw, but also because I had just arrived at the beginning of this "life lesson", and Dahlia was all the way in the back, distracted by toddlerhood.

I got home and posted what I had just experienced on Facebook
and within a few minutes, I had a comment already. One of sheer disbelief. Why don't you just read it for yourself...

There were many opinions about the propriety of this teacher's actions, and the discussion eventually led into the direction of who's territory it is anyway, to educate a child about their genitals. It also gravitated into the direction of age-propriety and as with many hot topics, there were many differing but very respectful viewpoints.

So when does sex-ed start and who should initiate it?
I cautiously withheld my opinion on Facebook because I really wanted to know what other parents thought, and also because my opinion was coming here.

Here's the deal. To be honest, I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all age that applies to every child where this topic is concerned, but before we start talking about when, let's talk about why.

Why should I talk to my young child about penises, and vulvas?
Sorry to break it to you, but, when you became a parent, this came in the job description. Just like that annoying co-worker trying to shove that one annoying, painstaking task off on you each time, many parents have failed to fill the role of sex-educator. Instead, they push it off on teachers, Family Planning organizations, schools and even their children's peers, all for the sake of being a prude. This has to change for several reasons;

  • Human Sexuality is part of life, and curiosity of such is a normal and healthy part of development
  • If you don't talk to your child, someone else will, and chances are, your kid won't hear factual or appropriate information
  • To protect your child

Human Sexuality is part of life, and curiosity of such is a normal and healthy part of development
Have you ever seen a baby discover he has hands, or wait, the best one, feet! This self-realization fascinates the human baby to such an extent, that for some days, and even weeks, all they can do is play and obsess about that foot. Sucking on it, looking at it, playing, twiddling and fiddling with it. Curiosity about our genitals is no different. After all, a penis or vagina is simply an organ, a sex organ true, but it remains an organ much like our liver, lungs and brain. 

Interest in genitals can arise at any age in a child, or a manifestation of interest can not be shown at all. So because of this, there is no standard age that kids should get "the first talk". Dahlia mentions her genitals, but only if she's showering or on the toilet. She doesn't talk or obsess about it outside of those places, but I do know kids who do mention their genitals in their day-to-day dealings. One day, when I picked up Dahlia from daycare (here we go again) I met up with a 3 1/2 year old boy in her class proclaiming loudly "I have a penis! I have a penis!" over and over and over again. When the teacher finally paid attention to what he was announcing to the world, she scolded him for uttering such a thing, and he quickly stopped. Yes little boy, you do have a penis, but, here's the thing, I don't want to be walking in a crowded supermarket one day when Dahlia decides to shout at the top of her lungs "I HAVE A PENIS!". I'd prefer to avoid that please-make-the-ground-open-up-and-swallow-me-now situation. Thank-you. 

As I was saying. It's not dirty that a child realizes he has a sex-organ. To him it's just like a finger (for lack of a better illustration). It's how we react to his interest that can influence and affect his view on genitals, sex, and the right context. How have/would you react if your son or daughter asked you what a penis, or vagina/vulva was? Did/would you clam up and distract his attention away from his question? Would you break out the juice and cookies and have a man-to-man talk about the birds and the bees? Or have/would you simply answer the question, and gauge his interest and curiosity to see how much he knows and wants to know (of course, in an age appropriate manner.) 

If you don't talk to your child, someone else will, and chances are, your kid won't hear factual or age-appropriate information
I decided long ago that I would speak to my child, at an early age, about his/her genitals. I would teach my child that girls have a vulva, and boys have a penis. Yes, I know the boy in school says it's a 'pipi' or the girl called it a 'nunu', but the real word for it is, penis and vulva. Why should I euphemize a body part? Because it's 'dirty', or 'taboo'? I for one don't think so. When we sugar coat, genitals, or the act of intercourse, we instill a shame of a natural act that has a time and place. If we shut down when it comes time to talk about these things, our children, whether child or teen, will get the hint that we are just too embarrassed to talk about it, which will in turn make them feel dirty for wanting to ask naturally occurring questions. Get over how you were raised, your hang-ups because how you feel about this can forever affect your child, for good or for bad. 

Which brings me to my next point

To protect your child
Remember when I mentioned how I would raise my future child? Here's where the important part lays, I would teach him/her that his genitals are parts that no-one should touch, only mommy or daddy. Doctors may touch, only if mommy says it's o.k. And what about if someone who isn't allowed to see or touch those parts did so? Well, you tell me or your dad, right away. But firstly, you tell the person firmly, NO! 
Children are more likely to be abused if they are not taught, from a very young age, what is correct and what isn't when it comes to their genitals. Children are all too easy prey for the perverted teen or adult seeking to "educate" the child what to do with those parts. Safeguard your children. Take the time to assess your own feelings about sex, and about talking about it with your child. Talk to your partner, what is his/her view on the matter? Is it something you've concluded both of you should do, at the same time? Separately? Only one parent will discuss it? These are things you need to consider before you start having kids. 

Have practice sessions. Sit your child down, (perhaps preemptively or immediately following the question, depending on the situation) and let them ask or share with you what they know/heard. Remember, the older the child is, the more sense they have, the slower you should be about speaking or answering. With a young child, it's best to keep these sessions brief focusing on quick main points, and repeating it for emphasis. Don't underestimate the efficacy of repetition. Just like a child needs to be taught over and over which color is blue and which color is green, so should you be in educating your child, what actions are appropriate and what actions aren't, it's just more likely to stick that way.

Who should be the one responsible for sex-ed?
Honestly, I sincerely think it starts at home. A parent is responsible for teaching his/her child educational and protective measures. But because it may deal with sex, everybody is up in arms whenever the words sex-ed are mentioned. Some feel that a teacher has no right to sit and talk about this stuff with their child at all, yet some feel it's o.k as long as the parents were notified. I must admit, I'm glad I heard the teacher and her mini- "lesson" because Dahlia may have well come home and asked me "Mama, what is a pipi?" and I would be up most of the night wondering where on earth she heard that word from?!

What if a parents refuses, either outrightly or passively, to educate his/her child? Then I certainly think it may be beneficial, with parental consent of course, to teach the child age-appropriate information about his genitals, always encouraging him to go to his parents first whenever he feels like asking a question about that topic. You don't want to take over a parent's duty, but you also want to be discerning enough to detect an urgent need for this kind of information. You never know, it might protect that child one day. 

All in all, I think this incident opened my eyes to the reality that my baby, is not an infant anymore. She is nearly three years old, and she's becoming very aware of everything around her. 

I'm also going to nicely speak to the head of the school to see what's up with the spontaneous sex-ed?  A little heads up next time would be appreciated. 

My babywearing Journey

I compiled a list of photos of me wearing Dahlia at different ages and stages in different carriers, to reminisce of her infancy, because she is soon approaching 3 years :(

Friday, February 4, 2011

Say Hello To Ellevill Zara TriGreen!

I get as giddy as a school girl that just saw the Backstreet boys when I look at the wrap that's Aruba bound to my collection of carriers! I want you to say hello to the Ellevill Zara TriGreen cotton woven wrap!

Here is an excerpt from the Ellevill about this beautiful Wrap

"The new fantastic Zara tricolor.
Beautiful and fresh design with green, blue and brown. Woven wrap from ellevill, fits all seasons. Zara is made of 100 % cotton of best quality. Zara wraps are designed by ellevill and produced in India
. It is a three-coloured, jacquard woven wrap with pattern. Give perfect support to your child, both small and toddler, optimal comfort and gives no pressure spots for either child or adult. The wrap is thin but fantastic steady. It also softens very quickly. The pattern is inspired by old Norwegian knitting recipes and clothes/rugs from South America
Zara is easy to tie on because of the lopsided ends and leaves an incredible small knot. 
Wash before use in hot water and iron after wash to stretch fibres. 

I really love woven wraps, and I had been wanting to buy another one since my Didymos Eva is a size 5. For mothers of my height/weight/body structure, it's best to use a size 6 or longer to be able to do all the knots (like the wonderful wrap cross carry on the back)

The not so fun part of a new woven wrap
is how stiff it is when it's brand new. I suggest that whenever possible, buy a second-hand wrap. My very knowledgeable and experienced babywearing friend, Noortje, (who introduced me to wraps) taught me that trick. By the time I met her, her Didymos was a soft piece of sheer luxury, but she explained very well to me what it took to get to that point. A lot of companies recommend washing it frequently to soften it up (don't you just love that about the wrap, pop it in and out of the washer just like that) but Noortje had more in mind. She told me that to get to that soft feel only wraps can grant you, throw it on your couch, sit on it, lay on it, let your baby/toddler play with it, drag it all over, stretch it, tug it, basically "mistreat" it (I say "mistreat" because of all things you wouldn't imagine paying at least 150$ for a wrap only to end up dragging it all over the floor on your home)

What's your favorite brand of wraps? How long did it take you to gets yours soft, do you have any additional tips for softening it up?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What I've been waiting for, for nearly 3 years

As many of my readers already know, I was invited to the board of Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama in May of 2008 at the age of 19. I was very happy and proud to be a part of anything that would raise awareness and promote breastfeeding in a positive light. As time passed, and I progressed in my studies of Childbirth Educator and Breastfeeding Counselor, I was asked to help out with visiting the mothers at home when they encountered problems with breastfeeding. This part is one of the most challenging but also most rewarding part of the job. As everyone knows, we visit mothers at no cost to them, at any hour of any day. Fortunately, most of our visits can be scheduled around our day jobs, but there are the occasional middle of the night phone calls and Sunday morning visits. The work we do is strictly voluntary and we are not compensated in any monetary way. I knew this from the very beginning and to tell you the truth, I derive much more satisfaction from seeing a mother and baby pair finally getting on track with breastfeeding than if I was to be paid for it.

Up until very recently, our President Caroll has decided to step down from her position because of an increasing hectic schedule. So who was chosen as our new President to head and lead the Foundation?

I'm proud and yet very humbled to say that, I was elected as the President of Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama. A prestigious position but daunting all at once because we have no easy task. We have many events coming up this year and next and there's a lot of work to accomplish. Wish me success