Friday, July 29, 2011

Natural Family Planning

This week is "Natural Family Planning Awareness Week" according to the US Catholic Bishops, so I wanted to take a few minutes and share some of my thoughts on NFP!

My husband and I proudly practice Natural Family Planning. We believe the Catholic Church's teachings that contraception is at odds with God's plan for marriage and sexuality, and are grateful that God created women's bodies in such a way that it's possible to determine fertility and abstain during fertile periods if there's a serious reason to do so. When we feel we have a sufficiently serious reason to avoid pregnancy, we use the sympto-thermal method of NFP, which involves taking my temperature every morning and checking for cervical mucus when I use the restroom. I used to chart it by hand, but I'm lazy/making smart use of available tools and use a free app on my iPod Touch to chart now*, which also does a lot of the interpretation and makes that aspect easier too! We chose this method because the cross-checking of different fertility signs seems to most fool-proof to us, but there are also several other highly reliable methods like Billings, Creighton, and NaPro that other couples we know have chosen and had great success with, both in spacing children when necessary and achieving pregnancy even when struggling with low fertility.

As I've been reading other posts for NFP awareness week, one thing I've been struck by is the prevalence of comments essentially saying that NFP is way too hard. And for us that hasn't been the case at all, so it makes me sad that so many people seem to struggle so much with it. Reading those comments made me resolve two things:

1.) I'm going to try to seek out NFP messageboards like Fertility Flower** or discussions of NFP on Catholic messageboards and offer encouragement and support to women who are struggling with NFP. I think we need to build up a sense of community, and more experienced women can share tips on how they've made it through any patches where NFP seemed a heavy burden.

2.) I'm going to look into how to become a NFP teacher. It appears that there may be some free online courses to become an NFP teacher, so if that's really the case, I might try to take one or more and become an NFP teacher for my diocese so I really have the knowledge to support other women who want to succeed at NFP but feel like they can't for some reason.

Anyway, if you have never really read about Natural Family Planning, I encourage you to do so, and if you already do NFP, I'd love for you to leave your best tip for successfully practicing NFP in the comment section!

*In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I did help the app designers with some of their translations on a volunteer basis (they're based in Switzerland). I received no compensation then and do not receive any compensation if you download the free app other than warm fuzzy feelings

**I'm friends with the woman who runs Fertility Flower on Twitter and she is soooo nice! Seriously, if you're at all interested in NFP chat her up!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bunny Finger Puppets Take 2

My niece recently needed a get-well present, so I stitched up a couple of bunny finger puppets using the pattern I created for my son's Easter basket this spring, but using super bright girly colors, and here's how they turned out:
The only things I'd consider changing before making them again is to use a different color or embroidery floss for the eyes, but I wanted to make one brown like my sister-in-law and niece's eyes and one blue like my brother's eyes, so I ended up using thread colors that maybe didn't show up the best. I think she'll like them exactly how they are though!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hospitality for Pregnant Guests (repost)

This post was originally posted in June of 2010. I now have a beautiful niece who is on the verge of crawling!

My brother and his pregnant wife visited last weekend, and I put a lot of thought into making them (mainly her) comfortable, partially by trying to remember what made me most comfortable during my own pregnancy, so I thought I'd share my philosophy on making your home welcoming to a pregnant friend or relative!

Keep her hydrated!

It's easy to get dehydrated anytime you're pregnant, but especially on the road, and some people are shy about asking for drinks before their host offers them. So offer early and offer often! To drink, we had available:

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Orange Juice
  • Raspberry Lemonade (Simply Lemonade brand with nothing artificial in it-I LOVE it!)
  • Root beer (caffeine free!)


Feed her well!

She may be nauseous and not eat much (so get stuff you like too so you're willing to eat the leftovers!), or she may be pretty hungry and constantly eating. Either way I think it's important to have lots of yummy things available for her. Because of cravings and aversions, I tried to come up with a wider variety of options of snacks than I would for a "normal" guest.
I like to have at least one snack from each of these categories available:

  • Sweet: I baked brownies plus we had ice cream to go with it!
  • Salty/bread: My SIL loves peanut butter sandwich crackers so we got those. Pretzels and wheat thins could be great options too!
  • Protein: Besides the PB crackers, we also had hard-boiled eggs available.
  • Fruit: I picked bananas, but sweet apples could be good too, like Fuji or Galas, or grapes, but I'd avoid really acidic fruits like pineapple or granny smith apples!
For meals, also offering a variety of choices can help ensure there's something she'll like even if some of the options aren't appealling to her. For example, we made bacon, eggs, and potatoes for breakfast, plus had pancake stuff ready in case the smell of bacon made her feel sick or anything like that, and we asked ahead of time if that meal sounded good to her (it did and was sooooo yummy!!)

Gift her!

Okay, you don't have to give her a present everytime you see her if it's someone who visits often, but if it's a relative or close friend, giving them a gift like maternity clothes (including hand-me-downs) or a great book like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding can help her feel welcome and let them know you're excited about the pregnancy.

Give her privacy!

If like us, you're lucky enough to have more than one bathroom, set one aside as exclusively hers, even if you don't normally for guests (her hubby can share it too). There's nothing worse than feeling like you have to hurry up and puke because someone's waiting on the bathroom! We cleaned the guest bathroom and filled it with fresh towels, a new bar of soap, and new bottles of shampoo (Suave-they're like 99 cents/bottle) and body wash (coconut scent from Bath & Body Works). We'll use what's left of the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, but because they were new, the guests could tell they were intended for their use and weren't just our junk we forgot to put away! Alternatively, you could get small "travel-size" bottles and then let your guests take them with them or throw them away. I figure most people bring their own stuff, but it's good to have it out in case they forgot something!

Don't expect too much

She may be very tired and not feel up to doing much. Or she might be just as energetic as ever! It's perfectly fine to offer all sorts of fun, like going for walks, to a movie, out to eat, etc. but be sure she feels like she can set the schedule based on her needs and be ready to just relax at home if that's all she feels up to.

What are your tips for hosting pregnant friends and relatives at your house? What have others done while you were pregnant that made you feel comfortable?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stay-at-home Mom (repost)

This post was originally written for inclusion in a blog carnival hosted by NursingFreedom.org in June of 2010. See the bottom of this post for more information on NursingFreedom.org.

I would love to be breastfeeding and/or pregnant for pretty much the next 10-15 years of my life. Crazy? Maybe a little. But let me explain. My hubby comes from a family of 6, and his mom is one of 8 kids. His aunts have between 2 and 9 kids (the one with only 2 is the youngest and may have more!) Family gatherings at his grandparents' house are some of the most joyful events I've ever been exposed to, with kids running around, teenaged cousins watching sports together, engaged 20-somethings showing off their rings, middle aged aunts cooking and gushing about their grandkids and bragging about their honors students, and nursing mamas and their grinning babies. Seeing these happy large families has given me the confidence that I could successfully raise 6-8 kids if I'm able to have that many.

So for me, and for other mamas who want or already have large families, the issue of nursing in public seems even more pressing. I guess it's sort of like taking the concept to the logical extreme. Because the nursing phase of my life (hopefully) won't be over anytime soon. It will be a big chunk of my life. In fact, when my almost-year-old baby is a teenager, there's a good chance I'll be nursing a new baby.

Very few people in contemporary American society would argue against the proposition that women in general have the right to be in public places. Yet many of them do argue that nursing moms should just stay home until their babies are old enough/weaned enough that they don't need to nurse in public. I've seen this proposed in the comments on pretty much every news story I've read about a nursing mom being told to stop or leave the public place she was at. I've also heard it from relatives.

Which leads me back to my 10-15 year plan. If I have older kids and teenagers and nurslings at the same time, I can't live in some sort of babies-and-mommies-only-dreamworld. I will have to (and want to) be out in public, driving my kids to stuff and watching them compete and perform.

And you know, babies don't "choose" when they want to nurse. They get hungry and want to eat, or get frightened and want to nurse for comfort. Period. There isn't a thought process like there is for adults, or an understanding of time that allows babies to think "well, we're almost done here, so I'll just wait 15 minutes to nurse." At some point (although I'm not sure when) a nursling may be old enough to be asked to wait and to understand what that means enough to be willing to do it. But not for a long while. Anyway, if a nursing mama and her nursling are out in public for hours at a time, there's a good chance the little one will want to nurse at some point.

My question for people who say nursing mamas should stay home is this: if my current baby turns into a baseball player, and has a tournament, do I not have as much right as any other parent to go watch him play? And what if I do have a nursing baby-say 4 months old, old enough to be out and about, but young enough to be nursing exclusively and frequently? To argue that I should stay at home instead of being present at my older children's activities is an infringement of my rights as a parent, and my human right to go out in public.

Guess what? I'm not hiding in my house for the next 15 years so I can nurse my babies. I'm going to nurse my babies in front of their older siblings. And any of their friends who happen to be around. I'll try to use discretion, but I honestly don't think it damages kids psychologically to see mothers breastfeeding (which seems to be the implication of many people who argue that they don't want their kids to "see that"). I think it's probably good for them, if anything.

If you can make it work financially, I think being a stay-at-home mom is best for kids, which I believe is well-supported by social science data and anecdotal evidence. But to argue that moms actually have to literally stay in their homes? Absurd.

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/
Visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Let's All Try Not to Be Jerks (Repost)

This is one of my favorite posts from my previous blog. It was originally posted in March of 2011.

This afternoon we went shopping at Kohl's , and my 20-month-old-tomorrow son threw an epic tantrum. He was basically inconsolable until we got home and he nursed to sleep for a nap an hour earlier than normal. Poor guy. I don't really know what was wrong. He might've been hot in his big coat-it was warmer than forecast according to the thermometer in my car. Or he might've just been tired-we did play pretty hard yesterday. Or maybe he was hungry or thirsty or his tummy felt weird or any one of a million possibilities. I tried to calm him down as well as I could without dropping the glass cutting board and toy helicopter I'd grabbed already (I had a $10 off anything coupon-the toy made the cutting board I needed expensive enough to use the coupon. I paid 24 cents for both!).

And as I walked towards the front of the store, it felt like a walk of shame. People were literally glaring at me. Mostly fellow mommies.

Yeah, that's right fellow Kohl's shoppers: I trained my toddler to scream on command just so I could come do it in the store and ruin your shopping trip, bwahaha! I thought him bashing my head with his repeatedly was an especially nice touch to make it seem less staged.

The other moms must just have been jealous their kids aren't similarly trained to tantrum on command. Yeah, that's it.

I seriously don't get it. Other than a couple of kind women in front of me in the check out lane, no one talked to me or smiled at me. The moms with older kids in tow didn't say "hang in there! He'll outgrow it soon". They just glared. The moms sans-kids browsing the toddler tees didn't say "aw poor guy, must be naptime when you get home." they just glared too.
If everyone just ignored me, I wouldn't have cared. But if you make eye contact with a mom dealing with a tantrum and your facial expression is best described as a scowl, that's not cool. If you are seriously such an awesome parent that your kid never ever tantrums, then please, share your wisdom. And if you've been there done that, offer an encouraging smile. Offer to grab the glass cutting board I'm almost dropping by trying not to drop my kid. Or something.

For my part, I'm going to try to be more conscious of this too and when I'm out and my kid is the happy one and someone else is having a frustrating day, I'm going to try to be the opposite of the jerks I was shopping this today. I'll try to offer an encouraging smile, a "hang-in there-we have those days too" from a fellow mom in the trenches.

Because caring moms already feel terrible when their kid is upset. It makes us sad that our child is frustrated or struggling with some emotion or discomfort they can't express in a more mature way. We don't need strangers making us feel worse. Why not try to make each other feel better? Because a calm, encouraged mommy is more likely to be able to calm down a toddler, to figure out what's bothering their kiddo and think of creative solutions.

Let's all try to not be judgey jerks, ok?

Welcome!

Welcome to my new space. If you're a new reader, you can expect to find a mix of posts here on natural parenting topics like babywearing and breastfeeding, my take on political issues from a conservative slant, and thoughts on where the Catholic faith and conservative Christianity in general fits in to all that. I do write product review posts (hopefully with fun giveaways!) and posts sponsored by companies and will always disclose to you when I do so, but I won't lie or promote companies I wouldn't feel comfortable with my own family shopping from or eating at. I'll also post pictures/tutorials from fun crafts I'm working on-I love sewing, especially embroidery and felt toy making.



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