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Having a child convinced me of two things:
I did, and now the simplest words make me blush. The feel of an unsavory word on my tongue is strange, but there is this word I need to use. There is probably another, better word, but I need to say it this way, because this post is about being authentic at a new level with you.
Recently I emailed a friend and said “Have you ever noticed how I almost never write about faith? Yeah, I prefer to flail privately.” So here it is:
I suck at faith.
Like really, some days I want to smack myself for ever using the “C” word, because I just don’t get it (Christian, silly. What were YOU thinking? I’m being real, not going rogue!).
Oh, I get parts. I love God. I believe in Him (most of the time) and I believe He is the source of everything beautiful and good. But one of my ongoing struggles in deciding how to talk about my faith in this blog is that I’m afraid I won’t be Christian enough for the Christians or pagan (or whatever you want to call it) enough for the rest of you mamas. Not that I am trying to “be” anyone but myself . . . it’s just that I kind worry that admitting this confirms I don’t belong anywhere, and will somehow end up with me eating lunch by myself in the bathroom (h-e-l-l-o new school in junior high!).
It sucks not to have all the answers for my kids. I believe that God is all-powerful and all-good, so when I pray with my daughter for Him to heal her tummy and she still feels icky, she asks me why. I hate saying I don’t know.
But I don’t.
It’s not that I don’t have theological training. I logged a lot of hours in the Biblical Studies department in college. I HAVE answers, but not the ones that really answer my questions.
This is one of the reasons I am so intentional about creating attachments with my kids. I had virtually no emotional connection with my father. When he died, I grieved, but it was the loss of a possibility . . . a hope I carried in my heart to feel loved by him. Unfortunately, I fail often with my kids because I spent years believing God was the same distant, unavailable kind of person that my dad was. And how we see God influences how we parent, even when we don’t want it to.
So here’s the truth about me: I am a natural doubter. I question everything from food theory to, yes, God. I wonder why sometimes He feels so far away, why life’s answers come so slow, and where we’re going from here. But then again, I marvel at the way He rescued me from my desperately empty life and gave me hope. I love the way He’s set living parables and puzzles in my life, and as much as I love having answers I’m starting to like having questions, too. It makes things interesting.
This was a difficult post to write. For many of you, everything I say may be subject to more scrutiny from here forward. Let it be.
I’m not just throwing my hands up and calling it quits. No way. But at least for today, I suck at faith. Love me anyway?Read More »
Awhile back Daddypotamus and I asked you to help us settle a little bet. He thought you mostly stopped by to read about Potamus family stories, I thought you cared more for birth and parenting posts. Thanks for voting and letting us know that we’re both morons.
But seriously, we were both wrong. You want to read about . . .
Alternative health solutions . . . and a few other things here and there.
You guys are just full of surprises, aren’t you? I’m totally intrigued by your feedback but, honestly, I don’t really know what to do with it. Do you want videos of me using my netti pot (please say no) and making yogurt (not at the same time, of course!)?? I need the nitty gritty details. 😛
So let me turn this post over to you:
Congratulations Tiffany (tiffy1205)!! You won the snuggly goodness that is the moby wrap . . . plus an organic swaddle blanket and knot hat.
To claim your prize, go to the contact form and send me your address within seven days.
This phrase showed up on my Facebook stream a few days ago and gave me a good laugh. Do you wonder what he’s saving them for? Or do you already know? (P.S. I did ask Scott’s permission to use his name)
Saving Penises (now Saving Our Sons) is an intactivist organization. Until recently I didn’t even know what an intactivist was. Then Dr. Momma posted one of my articles on her Facebook page and I found myself discussing human rights with a girl who has more piercings than I have pairs of shoes. You know what? She made a lot of sense.
If you’re not familiar with the term, an intactivist is “someone who loves, honors, respects and protects the rights of the child to an intact body. Someone who sees genital mutilation — of girls or boys — as a contradiction to that fundamental human right.”¹
Some intactivists seem to believe that parents who circumcise their sons are knowingly unleashing violence on them. I disagree, vehemently I might add. But that’s the fringe. The majority of intactivists are just regular people from all walks of life: doctors, college students, CEO’s and moms. They see circumcision as a human rights issue, which at first seemed like kind of an extreme perspective. Now . . . not so much.
I wanted to stay neutral, I really did. I wanted to be able to say, “It’s not right for our family, but I support a parent’s choice to do it.” That would have been so much easier . . . but they’ve won me over.
It was an accident, I promise.
Like I said, though, they make some pretty solid points. Here are some myths they broke down for me.
Until 1987, doctors routinely performed open-heart surgery on infants without anesthesia because some guy in 1872 postulated that they couldn’t feel pain.² This is medical egoism at its highest. Babies can’t feel pain because their “their nerves are not completely myelinated?” Please.
Thanks to the “babies can’t feel pain” ruse, countless children have been subjected to circumcision without anesthesia for nothing more than cosmetic purposes.
Scientists have now shown that “newborn babies have a ‘unique’ nervous system that makes them respond differently to pain from adults. In research that has far-reaching implications for the medical and surgical treatment of infants, the experts have found that newborn children feel pain longer and more sensitively. And in premature babies, the mechanism that allows older children and adults to “dampen down” the pain messages does not work properly.”³ It’s so sad that we needed studies to tell us what is just common sense.
So, babies can feel pain. But is that a reason not to circumcise? I mean, we have to subject babies to the PKU test when they’re born. Isn’t this about the same intensity? No, it’s not. When I first saw these images of a newborn being circumcised it erased all doubt in my mind that it’s just a simple snip. Everything in that boys expression says to me that he is traumatized. Many experts agree with me, but there are still many doctors who were educated in the “babies don’t feel pain” era promoting this as a painless procedure. Maybe that’s true for a few boys. I’ve heard some women have org*smic births . . . there could be the same kind of rare instance here. But for the majority of newborns, circumcision is excruciatingly painful.
Some people believe babies can endure all kinds of unpleasant experiences, like crying it out (CIO) or circumcision, with no lasting effect (because they don’t “remember” it). I have a different opinion, which says,
People cannot consciously recall what they “learned” in the first year of life, because the brain structures that store narrative memory are not yet developed. But neuropsychological research has established that human beings have a far more powerful memory system imprinted in their nervous systems called intrinsic memory. Intrinsic memory encodes the emotional aspects of early experience.”
Article by Dr. Gabor Maté, co-author of Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter Than Peers
So, they DO remember. But if they didn’t would that make it okay? As one blogger wrote, “is ‘not remembering’ what is supposed to make circumcising healthy children OK? If a man uses a drug to have his way with a woman, does it make it OK if she ‘can’t remember?’ Does this rationale work in any other context? . . . Is stealing from a blind man better than stealing from a man that can see because “what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him?” Or is stealing wrong in principle?”
The foreskin is not some useless piece of flesh. Megan, mother of Anton, had this to say about what she learned after her son was circumcised:
There is an ACTUAL purpose for the foreskin!!! It is an amazing and miraculous purpose, it does exactly what God designed it for. Every male mammal was born with a foreskin, it’s not useless, it’s also not just a piece of skin to clip off. (which is what I thought, I compared it in my head to a skin tag being removed by scissors so NOT the case)
The foreskin is FUSED to the glans (head) of the penis, like your finger nail is fused to your finger, in order to remove the foreskin you literally have to RIP it from the glans. Rip it, those words just play over and over in my head… I didn’t know at the time that the foreskin is fused to keep out all debris, and to help PREVENT children from getting UTI’s and infections as long as the skin is not forcibly retracted ( this is why there is SO much mis information out there, boys were being forcibly retracted, the foreskin pulled back and being ripped from the glans before it naturally retracted which causes a lot of problems such as UTI’s and um PAIN!!) In fact little girls are way more likely to get a UTI than an intact boy.But we just treat them with antibiotics.
There are A LOT more functions of the foreskin, I encourage you to look them up!! This is just the one that struck me the most!!!
Biggest Regret (emphasis mine)
The medical community needs to stop hiding behind myths like “it’s cleaner . . . it prevents transmission of STD’s . . . it prevents penile cancer.” That stuff is bunk and it needs to stop being told to parents in an effort to sell them on circumcision. Cutting off the foreskin is not a risk-free procedure. In an older article from Mothering Magazine these stats were given:
One-month-old Ryleigh Roman Bryan McWillis died in August 2002 after suffering severe hemorrhage from his circumcision. The Canadian-born baby had a normal-term birth, with no complications or problems. In August 2003, a four-week-old Irish infant named Callis Osaghae died of severe blood loss just hours after a routine circumcision. Complications from the circumcision of three-week-old Dustin Evans of Cleveland, Ohio, led his doctors to perform additional surgery to unblock the baby’s urethra. Unfortunately, he never made it to the actual surgery, instead dying as anesthesia was administered.
In a more recently story, Lance’s mom shares what happened when she returned to the clinic that performed a circumcision on her son just a few hours earlier. His diaper was full of blood:
They sent us across the street directly to another surgeon’s office. He called us back, took off Lance”s diaper and said, “Oh no – they’ve cut all the skin off.” He sent us to the emergency department at the hospital where they performed an emergency surgery to stitch the top of Lantz’s penis to the baby fat around the base to stop the bleeding. The doctor had cut all the skin off the shaft of Lantz’s penis. He bled for eight hours.
And of course there’s the story of David Reimer, whose penis was accidentally destroyed during a routine, medically unnecessary circumcision. He was forced to live as a girl throughout his childhood and ultimately committed suicide.
Especially for religious reasons, right? I’ll admit, even after I became convinced that circumcision is painful and unnecessary, it was still difficult for me to say that I am categorically against it. It is STILL difficult for me to say, because as a Christian I have deep respect for my Jewish roots and the traditions associated with it. But five things come to mind. First, modern circumcision is far more brutal than the procedure of the Old Testament.
The circumcision that Abraham and his descendants practiced was something entirely different from modern circumcision. It merely involved cutting the tip of the foreskin, not removing it! This is both a historical and an archaeological fact that can be found in any reference book of ancient culture.
Second, Christians are commanded to refrain from it.
~1 Cor. 7:17 “As God has called each man, in this manner let him walk. And thus I command in all the churches. Was any man called in the circumcision [i.e. Old Covenant]? Let him not try to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in the uncircumcision [i.e. New Covenant]? Let him not be circumcised! Circumcision is nothing. And uncircumcision is nothing but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called.“
My third point can best be summed up by Joseph GI:
When Did We Decide What Is “Tradition” and What Is “Torture?”
This is where female circumcision comes into the picture, because as a nation, we have decided that in no way shape or form will we tolerate female circumcision, or “female genital mutilation” as we so brazenly call it, in this country. In May of 2010, the AAP tried advocate for a “ritual nick” for girls, on the premise that “it might deter parents from taking their daughters to other countries to have more severe procedures done.” This caused an uproar across the globe.
. . . In countries where girls are circumcised, it is thought of as an important religious and/or cultural “custom.” But isn’t it a double-standard to be advocating for “freedom” for one ethnic group and their traditions, but denying it in another?
. . . Male circumcision may be an important religious tradition for some peoples, but if we respect and protect “religion and culture,” why is it we protect only male circumcision on those grounds? When did we decide that cutting the genitals of one sex was “tradition”, but cutting the genitals of the other sex is “mutilation?” It’s a double-standard that I think this country needs to do some soul-searching on.
Fourth, circumcision for religious reasons would be much more meaningful if the individual being “consecrated” were able to do so of his own volition. Why not wait until he is old enough to choose for himself?
And last, how far do parents rights go? What if I want to give my son a tattoo to consecrate him to God? What if I took Katie to Deep Ellum and asked someone to pierce her belly button? Do you think anyone would do THAT? Making irreversible alterations to children’s bodies without their consent just doesn’t make much sense in that context, does it?
Are flashing before my mind right now . . . friends who circumcised and don’t need any more guilt heaped on them. Friends who dread the conversation they will someday have with their boys about why they chose this for them. Many of them have openly expressed their regrets, which in my opinion is one of the most courageous things a parent can do.
I don’t judge anyone for their decision to circumcise. This procedure has been marketed to parents as a cure for bedwetting, clubfoot, epilepsy, a preventative for AIDS, cancer, UTI’s and everything in between. What loving parent wouldn’t want their child to be free from these things?
I am in awe of parents who chose circumcision and are now speaking against it. I have heard them say over and over that they wish they’d been fully informed, and that they’re spreading awareness so that other families don’t have to suffer. Without them I would have walked the same road.
I chose to keep my son intact. Not for religious reasons, or social, or even because I really knew what a foreskin was at the time. It was a choice Daddypotamus and I made because someone had the courage to tell us this was a painful and unnecessary cosmetic procedure. I’m incredibly grateful them for the risk they took in sharing this sensitive info with me, and I’m trying to do the same. I hope you’ve found this post thought provoking and worthwhile. Thanks for sticking through to the end.
Circumcision is a solution in search of a problem.” –Edward Wallerstein
Read More »
Daddypotamus here. Or, should I say, there [look up]. That’s me. Or it could be. Because this kitty represents how I’ve felt all weekend. Only not as content. And with less back hair (promise).
Our house feels so very cozy.The grey skies are covered in a light blanket of chilly mist, but that’s not why I feel so sleepy. Credit for that goes to the Introduction Diet, i.e. phase one of the GAPS Diet. The purpose of Phase One is to heal my damaged gut lining before we begin work on changing the ecology in my digestive tract.
All I can confirm at this point is it makes me narcosleepy all day long.
Many of you are closely reading each new GAPS post, wondering whether the GAPS Diet is for you. And I commend you for that. If you decide this is for you, I want you to know what you’re getting into. Down the road I hope to be sharing about all the ways it has improved my life, but for now these first few days are just . . . hard.
We’re sleepy. We’re lethargic. Heather has modified her diet in order to keep up her milk supply. But she was really smart to start us off on a Saturday. That gave us a two day adjustment period before I felt the pressure to perform at work.
If you’re interested, I’ve lost about 10 pounds these past three weeks since I started GAPS. I’ve temporarily stopped doing P90X due to a lack of energy AND the fact that I wake up too relaxed to make it happen.
Do I feel any different mentally? It’s too early to tell. I think there’s a distinct difference since I switched from full GAPS to the formal Introductory Diet. I’m noticing I can breathe easier at night and my sinuses are clearer. There seems to be a bit more mental clarity, but that could simply be the result of the weekend off work. I’ll keep you posted.
Two days into Phase One and I’m hearing the voice of Jack in the Box tempting me, luring me, calling me as I drive past.
Did I mention the biting? This weekend our children decided to attempt a whining chorus. I was not my friendliest self a couple times, which led to additional cuddles and hugs. Heather handled it better than I did… probably she was just so amazed that I was actually following through with this that the rest was no biggie.
Okay, so it’s really NOT that bad, except for between meals. Soups and stews can be hearty and satisfying at meal times, and that’s great. But between meals, when you get the munchies? There are no snacks right now. Just more stew. And tallow. Don’t get me started on the tallow. Trust me. Some things are better just left unsaid. **Gag.**
Maybe you want to reverse the effects of autism in your child, or heal depression, ADD, schizophrenia or any number of things in your own life (or a spouse’s). The stories coming from families experiencing healing through GAPS are amazing, but is it right for you? Only you can decide that.
If you don’t mind, though, I’d like to offer some advice. If you are considering GAPS you have to REALLY want it. Either be SO SURE you’re doing the right thing (reading the book did this for us) or SO DESPERATE for change that you’re ready to commit for at least a few months.
I’m a real peach today, huh?
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Forget six degrees of separation. In my community the ties that bind are umbilical cords. Midwives and doulas are so well-represented at gatherings it’s impossible not to run into someone that’s seen me push out a baby, someone I’ve watched do the same, or something of the sort.
She’s also mother to nine month old Eli, whose morning glory-hued eyes are the inspiration behind her new blog, Intuitive Mothering. What is an intuitive mother? Lots of things, for sure, but in these early days it’s mostly the simple stuff: breastfeeding and babywearing.
“I have loved wearing my son since he was a brand new baby,” she recently wrote. “As he has grown, I have worn many styles of slings and wraps. Sadly, I hear many women say they aren’t into babywearing because they weren’t able to find the right “fit”. As a mother who knows the amazing benefits that accompany babywearing, I strive to help women learn to love and be completely comfortable wearing their babies from infancy to toddler.”
As part of her new site, Hannah opened a babywearing shop, full of comfy, easy-to-use wraps and slings, and to celebrate she’s giving away a FABULOUS Moby gift set to one of YOU!
1. For five entries, help get the word out about Mommypotamus. Simply visit StumbleUpon and create an account (they won’t send you spam email or anything, it’s just a bookmarking tool). Then go to this blog post and give it a thumbs up. Thanks so much! (Please leave a separate comment for all five entries)
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I weaned my first child on the eve of her third birthday. We had been working up to it for months. Originally, my plan had been that she should be the one who decided when she was done, but I ended up finding myself in a place of parenting that I hadn’t anticipated.
For two years my daughter nursed around the clock for up to an hour or more per session. She woke up ten times per night on average to nurse. Just as I fell asleep, she would wake up again. This went on for two years until we transitioned her to her own bed. After that she still woke up 3-4 times per night.
When she was 2 1/2 years old I got pregnant again and she nursed throughout my pregnancy. I was one of those rare women who didn’t experience pain and only minor discomfort during breastfeeding while pregnant. After my second daughter was born she went on to nurse for five months alongside her baby sister. I loved tandem nursing in the early days. My oldest used to stroke her younger sister’s head when they were both on my lap. There was never any jealousy between them, only love.
But soon my body began to have a negative response to my oldest nursing. I became extremely uncomfortable and irritated. I would have to count her down to the point that she could only have ten seconds at a time, unless she had hurt herself, then the mommy-love hormones kicked in and I could handle it for much longer. But we were reaching the end of our breastfeeding relationship. I decided to make a date to stop, and her upcoming birthday seemed like a good date. I started talking to her about it three months in advance. Admittedly, this was to prepare myself as well as her.
The night before her birthday we nursed for the last time. It wasn’t a desperate farewell scene from a black and white movie like I had envisioned. She nursed just as she had nursed in the past. At this point we had talked about it so much, it almost didn’t feel like a big deal. It was, but we coped well.
She proudly told everyone she knew that she wasn’t going to have “annie” anymore (her word for breastfeeding), and for a couple weeks she was “annie-free.” Then one day something happened. I no longer remember what it was, but it was one of those things that happens when a child is not easily consoled. Nothing was working to ease the agony of what she was going through. So I offered to nurse her. It had been awhile, but she still remembered how. All it took was a few seconds and she calmed right down. At first I thought we had just taken a huge step backwards, but the coming days and weeks proved to me that we hadn’t. She probably nursed three more times over the course of three months before she was finally done for good. A year or so later she asked to nurse again – I think it was just to see what I would say – but when I said okay, she couldn’t remember how, and she was fine.
Even though I didn’t practice child-led weaning perfectly, I do still feel good about the way we weaned because it was done gently, with love and respect. I took my child’s needs into consideration and bended the “rules” when it was appropriate.
Now my youngest is 2 months away from her 4th birthday and she is still breastfeeding. She nurses at bedtime for about ten seconds on each side and in the middle of the night when she crawls into bed with me. Sometimes she nurses once in the middle of the day if she is having a really hard time. We are closer to the end of our nursing relationship than we ever have been.
I find myself in the same place as I was three and a half years ago. The yucky physical reaction to breastfeeding has returned. I can’t bear it for more than a few seconds unless she is in crying inconsolably or in pain. I am seriously looking at the calendar wondering if I should implement yet another mommy-led/child-accepted weaning process.
This is my last baby. I look at her sweet face and my mind tells me that child-led weaning is the way to go. Then I hear my body tell me that enough is enough. I am not sure what I will do. I have a trip coming up in a couple of weeks that will separate us for 9 days. We’ve never been apart more than 2 nights, so maybe that will do it.
Melodie is the author of Breastfeeding Moms Unite! She stopped blogging last month so she could start spending more quality time with her daughters but continues to be passionate about breastfeeding, natural parenting and real food. She is currently home schooling and making plans for an organic garden and chickens in her new backyard.
Photo credits: author