Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Sea Sponge "Tampons"

If you've been around long enough, you know that I've been on a quest to find the ultimate period product. Pads blow. I stopped using pads on about my second cycle when I was 13. The mess is just more than I can handle. Tampons were my go-to from then until my mid-20s when I discovered the Instead cup, which I used off and on. For the first few days postpartum, I used Depends. Yes, really. I went back to tampons when I felt comfortable, but was never again comfortable with the toxins I was putting into such a sensitive area of my body. The Diva Cup came to my attention. Read that, um, adventure HERE. I would've stuck with that for the rest of my menstruating years, but it wasn't to be. I thought maybe I could handle cloth pads. I was wrong. Still with the mess! Finally, I landed on sea sponge "tampons." I put the tampon part in quotes, because of a recent FDA ruling that says they can no longer be referred to as tampons, but many know them as such, so I didn't want to leave out the word. Without trying to jinx anything, I think I may have found my new quicker picker upper.

I ordered Jade & Pearl's Premium Ultra Soft Multi-Pack so that I could comfortably use them for the duration of each cycle. Unlike the Diva Cup, there was no learning curve. I watched the recommended video first. I followed the directions for soaking before the initial use. I recently started my period and all I had to do was rinse, squeeze, twist, and insert. So easy. No swearing or yelling involved.

Like some of the other reviewers said, I have noticed an issue with leaking post-urination. J&P recommends leaning forward to pee to direct the urine away from the sponge. Tried this. Hasn't worked so far. It's really only an issue for me if I sneeze. [Insert a little snark-face here.] It's not enough to discourage me from using them. Though I don't normally wear undies, I'll buck up and wear them for 3 days during my period while using the sponges. The risk of a sneeze-pee is worth the benefit of the super period product to me.

There you have it. Sea sponges in the vadge. Who knew? Thanks Jade & Pearl!

Breastfeeding in Seven Sentences

I had no qualms, no concerns, about breastfeeding. I had every confidence in my body, myself, and my babe.

Thank goodness for a good IBCLC, because things didn't turn out to be quite so easy for us. The hospital staff was atrocious - pushing formula hard, shaming and guilting me for not giving it, walking out on me when I asked for help.

Two visits with Jollina, our IBCLC, the introduction of a nipple shield and voila! Next month it'll be four years of breastfeeding for us. Boobs are rad.

Friday, September 19, 2014

30 Things Series #28: My Favorite Quality in My Spouse

Today's installation of the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series comes in the form of a quick note on the quality of your dada's that I like best.

"Dada, I want to paint YOU."
"Let's do it, pal!"
Your dada is pretty darn great about just rolling with all the things you want to do. It's fabulous. You want to cover him from head to toe with stickers? "No problem," says Dada. Need a horsey ride after he's worked and commuted to two jobs for a total of 17 hours that day? "You got it, Bud," Dada replies as he assumes the position. Feeling the need to get out some pent-up energy in the form of rough-housing? "Bring it, bro," is his response. He'll do absolutely anything for you.

Yes, there are times when this bothers me. I do think he cares more about being liked than about doing the right thing from time to time, but overall, I adore how much he adores you.

He's up for anything you want to do with or to him (usually much to my amusement) and I find that incredibly endearing. You do, too, I know, because there are the other moments when you want nothing more than to lie on the couch next to him or just be near him, wherever he is. The love you two share is a beautiful thing. I am completely taken by both of you separately and together.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

30 Things Series #27: My Favorite Part of My Body

Some of these 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me topics are rough. Some are a cinch. This one is the latter.

Which of my body parts is my favorite? Easy. My boobs.

shirt by Made By Momma
owned and proudly worn by me
This was not always the case. My boobs used to be the bane of my existence. I went from wearing no bra to wearing a large bra that just kept getting larger every year in no time. My boobs were always bigger than all the other girls'. My nipples are flat and used to make me very self-conscious, because they didn't look "normal" when compared to the other girls in the locker room. Changing into a sports bra for volleyball was uncomfortable, to say the least. Shopping for prom dresses sucked, because nothing fit - I was so much bigger at the top than at the bottom. Everything had to be altered. I busted out of everything in which the other girls looked so cute. Boobs sucked.

The comments were never-ending. They didn't come from my peers, as one would imagine, though. The boys at school didn't gawk or say anything, at least not that I knew of. The girls weren't ever outwardly jealous or mean. No, the comments came from my family members. And they were frequent. My step-sister is 12 years older than me. She never stopped commenting. Ever. Ev-er. At my great-grandmother's funeral, a cousin of my mom's came up and out of the blue started talking about my boobs to my mom as if I wasn't standing right there beside them. My step-uncle made his fair share of inappropriate comments regarding my chest. Once, when I was visiting my grandparents for the summer, I went to a friend's house for church. Before we left, I was called home by my grandmother who just couldn't bear the thought of me being out in public with my boobs "out" the way they were. The body-shaming was ceaseless and it got inside my head big time. My mom was the only one who never shamed me for my breasts. I always say she's the only "little boob" who understands the plight of the "big boob." It's one of the things I've most appreciated in her over the years. Thank goodness for her, because mostly boobs sucked.

I went through many years wanting a breast reduction. I stopped short of heading to the plastic surgeon's office every time, because I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I didn't want anything to potentially prevent that. (Yes, I know some can breastfeed post-reduction, but some can't and I wasn't willing to take that chance.) Making such a drastic change to my body in my teens and 20s seemed, well, drastic, so I put it off and put it off. I still thought, though, that boobs sucked.

Ultimately, I'm glad I did, because my boobs have turned out to be my favorite body part. Yes, I like the way they look, the softness they add to my body (which didn't used to be as soft as it is now), but mostly, I like what they can do. These mondus things on my chest have the ability to nourish and strengthen, comfort and coddle, care for and protect another human being. That's some amazing stuff! For nearly four years, I've been able to soothe hurt feelings, relieve broken skin, and shoo away boogeymen of all sorts just with my boobs. Those are some powerful things. Boobs are rad!

I have never felt more womanly and strong as I have since I've become a breastfeeding mother. My body is incredible. I love my boobs. I'm grateful for my boobs. Got a negative comment about them? Ain't nobody got time for you. Luckily, the person whose opinion truly matters, you, my sweet boy, thinks my boobs are pretty special, too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

30 Things Series #26: What Popular Notion Do I Think the World Has Most Wrong?

Now, here's a post from the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series that I could write on all day, but I'll try to keep it as brief as I can.

I was going to pick circumcision, but since the question was what the world had wrong and 91% of the world's men are intact, I had to go global, thus had to go with another incorrect notion. For the record, I think this "popular" (it's not even that popular, since 65% of the boys now born in the U.S. are being left intact) notion in the U.S. is what we have most wrong.

Worldwide, I think the notions that fear equals respect, that you have to hurt in order to get that mistaken respect, and that spanking (one of the things that garners said mistaken respect) is not the same as hitting are those the world has most backwards.

Want to know what being slapped, spanked, screamed at, intimidated, threatened, roughly grabbed and pushed, and otherwise treated unkindly did to me? It gave me a fear of being caught, of getting in trouble, of those in positions of authority. It didn't teach me a damn thing other than that I couldn't trust the person doing those things. I didn't learn to make good decisions. I learned to get sneakier and more manipulative. I recall once when I was an older teen, this person came at me with the clear intent to hit me. I fell back onto my bed and began wildly kicking. There was no way in hell I was going to be hit again. No way. This was the first time I had ever defended myself, though, and it resulted in two things: a major grounding (what was new?) and never being hit again. The rest still occurred, but I was never again struck. There is so much left to be said here, but I'll let you work it out on your own.

I once wrote a blog post called "Hitting is Hitting is Hitting." (Click HERE to see it.) I wrote it because a great many in our world seem to be of the mistaken belief that there is a difference between different kinds of hitting, that some hitting is OK, while others cross some imaginary line they've made up in their heads and that differs for every person, thus nullifying the notion of the line in the first place. I wrote it because a great many in our world seem to be of the mistaken belief that because they were mistreated and they didn't, I don't know, die or end up in foster care as a result, they're fine and should then give their own kids the "fine" upbringing they were given. I wrote it because it needed to be written. People need to be shaken out of their own comfort zones every once in a while. People need to have a mirror held up to them sometimes. People need to be given food for thought. More than anything, though, I wrote it because I believe in standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I guess it was my adult version of kicking wildly at those who needed to know that the pain they inflict on others would no longer be tolerated.

I hear a few things about this all the time:
- "I got spanked and I'm glad. I'm now in college and I credit the discipline my parents gave me for that. I'll spank my kids for sure."
- "My nephew isn't spanked and he's a menace. He could use a good pop."
- "You're what's wrong with the world. If more parents spanked their kids, we wouldn't have the disrespectful, criminal delinquents running around that we have nowadays."
- "My kids don't listen when I yell, so I have to spank them."
- "Well, what if your kid is going to run out into traffic? Wouldn't you spank them then? It's for their own good."
- and so much more...

What crap. I know, I know, I could be more tactful, but sometimes I just don't want to. It's crap. It just is. All of it. Study after study after study tells us that it's crap. Cognitive dissonance allows people to shut out the information presented, though, same as it will here, but their disbelief of the cold, hard facts doesn't make their beliefs on this topic less crappy. And sure, they can find others who will back them up. In fact, sadly, they can find a majority to back them up. Doesn't mean it's not crap. Following along in the path of the majority doesn't mean you're a critical thinker - generally, it means quite the opposite.

Let me tell you about a former student of mine, Kevin. Kevin was a pain in my butt. Seriously. Pain. Yes. Mmm hmmm. He was. Dude. I cannot even tell you. Anyway, I treated him with respect regardless of his behavior, because that's what's right. Every once in a while, I'd see a flicker of something amazing in him. Just a flicker, but it was enough to keep me going with him. I saw something. We once had a parent-teacher conference with all his teachers, his counselor, his mother, and himself. He was failing nearly everything and almost all of us had the same thing to say about his behavior. Kevin had been quiet through the whole conference, which was unusual for him. At one point, his mom turned to him to ask him to explain himself. He continued in his silence. All of a sudden, she hit him. She spanked him a few times, yelling for him to talk. My heart raced. I looked to the more senior members of the faculty to say something. No one did. (My guilt for not standing up to her then is for another blog.) The conference ended and I went back to my room to consider what I had just experienced and what I would do from there. While I always treated Kevin with a distant respect, from that point forward, I treated him with more warmth in addition to respect. That was all it took. From then on, Kevin and I got on great. I mean great. I would've left him in charge of the classroom if I had to step out. That's how much things changed. I understood him, I felt. And I feel like he knew that. I couldn't change what was happening to him at home, but I was able to change my behavior and it was a lesson to me that just a little love and understanding had the power to garner a greater respect than could any violence or ugliness.

I could cite studies and list facts here. If I were writing this for the masses, I would. I'm writing this for you, though, sweetheart, and I if I've done my job properly, I don't need to tell you even as much as I have here. If I've done my job well, you'll continue to find yourself questioning why the kid in the grocery store is getting hit for touching the candy at the check-out stand and maybe you'll even stand up and say, "No more." I have full faith in your ability to think critically. I have full faith in your ability to not only recognize right from wrong, but then do the right and stand up for it, too. If I'm not mistaken, by just being the amazing person you are and continue to become, you are changing the world. Keep it up. I love you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

30 Things Series #25: With Whom from History Would I Eat Dinner?

I got this. This post in the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series is a cinch. With whom from history would I want to eat dinner and what would we eat?

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Oh, how I wanted to be Laura Ingalls when I was a kid. I don't mean the TV version of Laura. I don't want to eat with Melissa Gilbert. I mean the real Laura.

I read, no consumed all the books as a young girl. I was convinced I had been born in the wrong time. I should've lived in Laura's time. I was tough enough, I had what it took. I romanticized it all. For a kid who wasn't living the easiest of lives at the time, Laura's world was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I couldn't care less what we eat. I do have it in mind that we'd have a cold beer together, though. Bottled. This part of my fantasy is very clear. I'm not questioning it.

We'd talk, laugh, learn, open ourselves, sit in quiet happiness. It would be like sitting down to a meal with a best friend. She has no way of knowing, of course, but she was one of my best friends when I was a child. I'd like to thank her for that.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

30 Things Series #24: My Favorite and Least Favorite Things About Parenting

I'm nearing the end of the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series. Today's topic is "my favorite and least favorite things about being a parent." There is an easy part and a tough part to this post and they may not be what you're thinking.

I'll start with the easy part first: my least favorite thing about being your parent. No, it's not wiping buns, finding boogers on my boob after a breastfeeding session turned nap, or the moodiness and sleep deprivation during a growth spurt. Shoot, there was a time I never thought we'd have any of those experiences, so I'm just grateful. No, my least favorite thing about being your parent is knowing that someday, and it'll happen slowly over time almost imperceptibly, I won't be needed as your full-time parent anymore. Yes, I'll always be your mama, but there will come a time when I won't be a part of your every moment and that chokes me up. I'll miss you.

My favorite thing about parenting is so much harder to pin down. How do I choose? Being your mama has been very healing for me. What I experienced in my own childhood, I'm almost able to make up for by giving you better. That's pretty amazing. The bond we have where we don't even have to speak aloud to know what the other is speaking is incredible. Our shared sense of humor amuses me so. I think, though, the ultimate for me is when you tell me you know how much I love you - a million times infinity. I logically know you cannot possibly know the depth and breadth of my love for you, but emotionally knowing that you know you're loved unconditionally is the most important thing in the world to me. My wish for you has always been for you to be safe, happy, and healthy. I think knowing you're loved so overwhelmingly is part of that - it keeps you safe, happy, and healthy. Ya, knowing and feeling that you know and feel that is my favorite part of parenting.

There aren't words enough, but "a million times infinity" will have to suffice...