Sunday, December 30, 2007

sleep deprivation as torture.

i suppose the good thing about kalden's sleep habits (or lack thereof) is that i will truly be able to empathize with my clients after their babies are born.  not that i couldn't before (india had her own issues as a babe) but kalden is certainly taking the cake for most difficult/bad/unpredictable/needy sleeper.

since birth kalden has not been a baby that i could just put down.  not in his pack and play, not in his bouncer, not in his bassinet, nowhere.  he was and is only content in my arms.  he has never fallen asleep on his own.  if he falls asleep in my arms and even SENSES that i'm going to put him down, he's awake and crying instantly.  the only way i can do it, is to lie down with him and gently release him.  let me re-iterate, it's been like this since day one.

i have a 3 year old who also coslept with me for a few months but she was a completely different character.

so now at nearly 10 months old, kalden is waking up every 45 minutes to 2 hours.  that means i havent slept in MONTHS.  i'm at the point where i'm miserable all the time.

last night it took me 5 hours to get kalden to sleep only to have him wake up an hour later. i wanted to jump off my balcony.

i've read all the "experts" and while i like dr. sears and elizabeth pantley, kalden's sleeping/self soothing habits seem so bad that i don't even know where to start.

what do you do if bedtime is 7:30 but you baby won't sleep until midnight?

right now max is responsible for getting him to sleep.  then i will go on duty overnight using Pantley's pull off method.  (only nursing for a few seconds and then unlatching baby - it takes 15 tries sometimes but they eventually fall asleep).  it's utterly exhausting and if it doesn't work then i'm going to cry. more.

check back here in a week.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

wise words from a wise woman - the nestle boycott

on a local parenting forum i'm on, many of us are "lactivists".  we're the tree lovin, hippy mamas that love to boycott and get active about what we believe in.

in a discussion about nestle and why we should all be boycotting them, my wise friend deb had this to say:

(orange text are my edits)

it isn't about being a bad mother or a good mother. It isn't that Breastfeeding is BEST.. it is that Formula Feeding is inferior...

(world health organization recommends:)
1 momma's milk from source
2 momma's milk expressed and bottled
3 human milk from another source
4 formula

and if you are in that 3% of women who cannot breastfeed their child then you gotta do what you gotta do and there is no good or bad attached to it. Someone isn't bad because they can't hear or see.. they find other ways.. but you know more than 3% of the population use formula.. because they believe it is equal to breastmilk or 'good enough'.

There are entire populations (the Philippines for one) who are tricked by advertising to believe that formula is BETTER.

HERE in canada women are often told by their DOCTORS that their milk isn't good enough, that their baby needs to put on more weight and their milk isn't rich enough.. better switch to formula. So the woman, thinking she is doing what is best for her baby, listens to her doctor and the advertising she sees on reputable sites, in her own doctors office and thinks.. maybe even subconsciously.. well if they endorse it, it can't be that bad can it?

the problem is that the formula companies are RUTHLESS.. they want to make a buck.. they don't give a good god damn about children's health or women's rights to knowledge. They want the MONEY.

in the Philippines the formula companies give doctors, midwives and nurses expensive cruises, holiday packages and take them out for expensive evenings all to get THEIR formula in their offices and samples in their 'take home packages" given to new moms.. the rate of formula feeding is really high over there.. most women think they can't produce good milk , or that it is genetic - "well NO ONE in our family could ever produce milk. so they don't even try."

AND the advertising over there is so misleading .. they'd have you believe if you give your child their formula .. your child will have the best start and become a concert violinist... and when your child is 8 and playing her violin on stage to hundreds of adoring fans..she will look at you and thank you for feeding her X brand formula.. IT IS SICKENING...

the TRUTH is that formula has become a social status thing too... people who can afford it are obviously wealthy and doing the BEST for their children. People who can't, thin it out, (causing malnourishment and brain damage) AND often they are using questionable water supplies.. so many children die of dysentery over there.
and it is no better in africa where they give the moms a 3 months supply of formula for free (like crack cocaine.. get them hooked then they'll have to pay) the mom's milk supply dries up and they have to buy it to feed their kids.. but the same problems arise... contaminated water supplies and thinning the formula to make it last longer.. and you have sick and dying babies...

all they needed was their mother's milk and thousands would be saved.. so NO it isn't OVER THE TOP TO SAY THAT FORMULA COMPANIES KILL BABIES....

ANYWAY.... how does that correspond to western cultures.. how does it affect US...

well for one the WHO set up these policies about where, when and how formula companies could market their formula. A bunch of people boycotted Nestle and they were FEELING it.. so when WHO came out with these guidelines.. Nestle and a bunch of the other formula companies signed it.... THEY SIGNED IT.. THEY AGREED .... and people stopped boycotting NESTLE.. well over the years.. they are back to their old tricks.. ignoring the WHO guidelines and breaking their agreement. 

WHY is advertising formula a bad thing? I guess because it normalizes it. Like the "watch your language" article dani posted it makes it normal.. Breastfeeding is above and beyond.. (where the opposite is true breastfeeding is the norm and formula is inferior) if you can't do what is normal.. well of course you will do what you can.. Formula is NOT the same as breastfeeding but the adverts would have you believe it is better... American Breastfeeding rates are low. Canada isn't that great either.. we have been led to believe that formula is fine. My Sister in Law who is a NURSE planned to formula feed.. even when she found out she was going to have a preemie.. her logic "it was good enough for us it'll be good enough for him" oh and "I don't want him sucking at me" the advertising has worked on her. Feeding a baby from a bottle is acceptable.

Just this summer women across canada came together to stop an 'information seminar' on feeding your baby, the best way to avoid allergies.. it was dinner at a fancy downtown Vancouver Hotel for the staff of the Hospital in Burnaby.... sponsored by.. you guessed it.. NESTLE.. EVERYTHING we know about allergies and the immune system says Breastmilk is the best way.. but nope.. NESTLE is going to wine and dine a bunch of hospital workers in Burnaby and pitch to them that their formula can reduce the risk of allergies? absolute BOLLOCKS. (this event was cancelled due to the uproar)

The problem with advertising formula is that it is misleading.. like all advertising right? I mean does anyone REALLY believe that if you drink coors light beer you'll have a great life full of beautiful people or if you drink Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum you'll be cool? well NO of course not.. but with formula it is different.. it is about BABIES.. and doctors say it is ok.. so it MUST be true... but it isn't.. it is misleading and misguides people. The worst part is that your baby is only a baby for such a short time. not much time to do the research. you go to what you know.. if advertising for formula is everywhere and you have a sample in your home (I had 3 samples in my home.. never used them.. but they were here) when things are rough.. you have it RIGHT there... it is too easy.... and they (the formula companies) want it that way.

THERE is no money in breastfeeding.. who is going to pay for that advertising? What I think so many people forget is that the formula companies are out to make money... and they don't give a damn about the truth or your health or the health of the world's babies....

here is a link to the WHO code of marketing breastmilk substitutes.

here is more info on the nestle boycott:


infact canada

Friday, December 28, 2007

worst parenting advice - by gary ezzo

this fraudster is supposedly a parenting "expert" but with absolutely no credentials he has HORRIFYING ADVICE that i honestly consider to be abuse.  no parent should be advised to ignore their newborn babies cries.

in this day and age, where "attachment parenting" and "gentle parenting" are not just the growing trend, but the evidence based approach most reasonable health professionals recommend, imagine my horror when a mainstream website sent me their newsletter with the title "your baby can sleep through the night (top experts tell how)" and when i followed their link i found advice from this nutcase.

here's a snippet of his garbage, ahem, "wisdom":

Ezzo advocates putting newborns on a strict, every three- to four-hour feeding schedule, which he and Babywise proponents refer to as "parent-directed feeding" (PDF). From that, says Ezzo, will come babies that rarely cry, sleep through the night at eight weeks, and grow to be responsible, respectful members of the community.

what kind of a person expects an 8 week old to sleep through the night and what kind of idiot tells parents NOT to feed their baby when the baby is hungry?

if you're curious to know how Ezzo's advice has worked for some people you can go here:  many babies have ended up hospitalized because of mr. ezzo's strict schedule.  apparently he thinks you can train a baby like you train a dog.

i sent the website promoting Ezzo's advice - - a VERY nasty email and so did some of my other mama friends.  to call him an "expert" is misleading and to repeat his advice is unforgivable. 

for REAL advice on how to deal with newborns there are a million places to go.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

watch your language!

this article moved me in a way i can hardly describe.  the author revolutionized how i think (and talk) about breastfeeding.  it's a hard pill to swallow but the truth often is, isn't it?.

Watch Your Language!
By Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC
(Reprinted from the Journal of Human Lactation, Vol. 12, No. 1, 1996)

"The truth is, breastfeeding is nothing more than normal. Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior. These are difficult words, but they have an appropriate place in our vocabulary."

The lactation consultant says, "You have the best chance to provide your baby with the best possible start in life, through the special bond of breastfeeding. The wonderful advantages to you and your baby will last a lifetime." And then the mother bottlefeeds. Why?

In part because that sales pitch could just as easily have come from a commercial baby milk pamphlet. When our phrasing and that of the baby milk industry are interchangeable, one of us is going about it wrong...and it probably isn't the multinationals. Here is some of the language that I think subverts our good intentions every time we use it.

Best possible, ideal, optimal, perfect. Are you the best possible parent? Is your home life ideal? Do you provide optimal meals? Of course not. Those are admirable goals, not minimum standards. Let's rephrase. Is your parenting inadequate? Is your home life subnormal? Do you provide deficient meals? Now it hurts. You may not expect to be far above normal, but you certainly don't want to be below normal.

When we (and the artificial milk manufacturers) say that breastfeeding is the best possible way to feed babies because it provides their ideal food, perfectly balanced for optimal infant nutrition, the logical response is, "So what?" Our own experience tells us that optimal is not necessary. Normal is fine, and implied in this language is the absolute normalcy--and thus safety and adequacy--of artificial feeding.

The truth is, breastfeeding is nothing more than normal. Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior. Those are difficult words, but they have an appropriate place in our vocabulary.

Advantages. When we talk about the advantages of breastfeeding--the "lower rates" of cancer, the "reduced risk" of allergies, the "enhanced" bonding, the "stronger" immune system--we reinforce bottlefeeding yet again as the accepted, acceptable norm.

Health comparisons use a biological, not cultural, norm, whether the deviation is harmful or helpful. Smokers have higher rates of illness; increasing prenatal folic acid may reduce fetal defects. Because breastfeeding is the biological norm, breastfed babies are not "healthier;" artificially-fed babies are ill more often and more seriously. Breastfed babies do not "smell better;" artificial feeding results in an abnormal and unpleasant odor that reflects problems in an infant's gut. We cannot expect to create a breastfeeding culture if we do not insist on a breastfeeding model of health in both our language and our literature.

We must not let inverted phrasing by the media and by our peers go unchallenged. When we fail to describe the hazards of artificial feeding, we deprive mothers of crucial decision-making information. The mother having difficulty with breastfeeding may not seek help just to achieve a "special bonus;" but she may clamor for help if she knows how much she and her baby stand to lose. She is less likely to use artificial milk just "to get him used to a bottle" if she knows that the contents of that bottle cause harm.

Nowhere is the comfortable illusion of bottlefed normalcy more carefully preserved than in discussions of cognitive development. When I ask groups of health professionals if they are familiar with the study on parental smoking and IQ (1), someone always tells me that the children of smoking mothers had "lower IQs." When I ask about the study of premature infants fed either human milk or artificial milk (2), someone always knows that the breastmilk-fed babies were "smarter." I have never seen either study presented any other way by the media--or even by the authors themselves. Even health professionals are shocked when I rephrase the results using breastfeeding as the norm: the artificially-fed children, like children of smokers, had lower IQs.
Inverting reality becomes even more misleading when we use percentages, because the numbers change depending on what we choose as our standard. If B is 3/4 of A, then a is 4/3 of B. Choose A as the standard, and B is 25% less. Choose B as the standard, and A is 33 1/3% more. Thus, if an item costing 100 units is put on sale for "25% less,"the price becomes 75. When the sale is over, and the item is marked back up, it must be marked up 33 1/3% to get the price up to 100. Those same figures appear in a recent study (3), which found a "25% decrease" in breast cancer rates among women who were breastfed as infants. Restated using breastfed health as the norm, there was a 33-1/3% increase in breast cancer rates among women who were artificially fed. Imagine the different impact those two statements would have on the public.

Special. "Breastfeeding is a special relationship." "Set up a special nursing corner." In or family, special meals take extra time. Special occasions mean extra work. Special is nice, but it is complicated, it is not an ongoing part of life, and it is not something we want to do very often. For most women, nursing must fit easily into a busy life--and, of course, it does. "Special" is weaning advice, not breastfeeding advice.

Breastfeeding is best; artificial milk is second best. Not according to the World Health Organization. Its hierarchy is: 1) breastfeeding; 2) the mother's own milk expressed and given to her child some other way; 3) the milk of another human mother; and 4) artificial milk feeds (4). We need to keep this clear in our own minds and make it clear to others. "The next best thing to mother herself" comes from a breast, not from a can. The free sample perched so enticingly on the shelf at the doctor's office is only the fourth best solution to breastfeeding problems.

There is a need for standard formula in some situations. Only because we do not have human milk banks. The person who needs additional blood does not turn to a fourth-rate substitute; there are blood banks that provide human blood for human beings. He does not need to have a special illness to qualify. All he needs is a personal shortage of blood. Yet only those infants who cannot tolerate fourth best are privileged enough to receive third best. I wonder what will happen when a relatively inexpensive commercial blood is designed that carries a substantially higher health risk than donor blood. Who will be considered unimportant enough to receive it? When we find ourselves using artificial milk with a client, let's remind her and her health care providers that banked human milk ought to be available. Milk banks are more likely to become part of our culture if they first become part of our language.

We do not want to make bottlefeeding mothers feel guilty. Guilt is a concept that many women embrace automatically, even when they know that circumstances are truly beyond their control. (My mother has been known to apologize for the weather.)

Women's (nearly) automatic assumption of guilt is evident in their responses to this scenario: Suppose you have taken a class in aerodynamics. You have also seen pilots fly planes. Now, imagine that you are the passenger in a two-seat plane. The pilot has a heart attack, and it is up to you to fly the plane. You crash. Do you feel guilty?

The males I asked responded, "No. Knowing about aerodynamics doesn't mean you can fly an airplane." "No, because I would have done my best." "No. I might feel really bad about the plane and pilot, but I wouldn't feel guilty." "No. Planes are complicated to fly, even if you've seen someone do it."

What did the females say? "I wouldn't feel guilty about the plane, but I might about the pilot because there was a slight chance that I could have managed to land that plane." "Yes, because I'm very hard on myself about my mistakes. Feeling bad and feeling guilty are all mixed up for me." "Yes, I mean, of course. I know I shouldn't, but I probably would." "Did I kill someone else? If I didn't kill anyone else, then I don't feel guilty." Note the phrases "my mistakes," "I know I shouldn't," and "Did I kill anyone?" for an event over which these women would have had no control!

The mother who opts not to breastfeed, or who does not do so as long as she planned, is doing the best she can with the resources at hand. She may have had the standard "breast is best" spiel (the course in aerodynamics) and she may have seen a few mothers nursing at the mall (like watching the pilot on the plane's overhead screen). That is clearly not enough information or training. But she may still feel guilty. She's female.

Most of us have seen well-informed mothers struggle unsuccessfully to establish breastfeeding, and turn to bottlefeeding with a sense of acceptance because they know they did their best. And we have seen less well-informed mothers later rage against a system that did not give them the resources they later discovered they needed. Help a mother who says she feels guilty to analyze her feelings, and you may uncover a very different emotion. Someone long ago handed these mothers the word "guilt." It is the wrong word.

Try this on: You have been crippled in a serious accident. Your physicians and physical therapists explain that learning to walk again would involve months of extremely painful and difficult work with no guarantee of success. They help you adjust to life in a wheelchair, and support you through the difficulties that result. Twenty years later, when your legs have withered beyond all hope, you meet someone whose accident matched your own. "It was difficult," she says. "It was three months of sheer hell. But I've been walking every since." Would you feel guilty?

Women to whom I posed this scenario told me they would feel angry, betrayed, cheated. They would wish they could do it over with better information. They would feel regret for opportunities lost. Some of the women said they would feel guilty for not having sought out more opinions, for not having persevered in the absence of information and support. But gender-engendered guilt aside, we do not feel guilty about having been deprived of a pleasure. The mother who does not breastfeed impairs her own health, increases the difficulty and expense of infant and child rearing, an dismisses one of life's most delightful relationships. She has lost something basic to her own well-being. What image of the satisfactions of breastfeeding do we convey when we use the word "guilt"?

Let's rephrase, using the words women themselves gave me: "We don't want to make bottlefeeding mothers feel angry. We don't want to make them feel betrayed. We don't want to make them feel cheated." Peel back the layered implications of "we don't want to make them feel guilty," and you will find a system trying to cover its own tracks. It is not trying to protect her. It is trying to protect itself. Let's level with mothers, support them when breastfeeding doesn't work, and help them move beyond this inaccurate and ineffective word.

Pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages. Breastfeeding is a straight-forward health issue, not one of two equivalent choices. "One disadvantage of not smoking is that you are more likely to find secondhand smoke annoying. One advantage of smoking is that it can contribute to weight loss." The real issue is differential morbidity and mortality. The rest--whether we are talking about tobacco or commercial baby milks--is just smoke.

One maternity center uses a "balanced" approach on an "infant feeding preference card" (5) that lists odorless stools and a return of the uterus to its normal size on the five lines of breastfeeding advantages. (Does this mean the bottlefeeding mother's uterus never returns to normal?) Leaking breasts and an inability to see how much the baby is getting are included on the four lines of disadvantages. A formula-feeding advantage is that some mothers find it "less inhibiting and embarrassing." The maternity facility reported good acceptance by the pediatric medical staff and no marked change in the rates of breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. That is not surprising. The information is not substantially different from the "balanced" lists that the artificial milk salesmen have peddled for years. It is probably an even better sales pitch because it now carries very clear hospital endorsement. "Fully informed," the mother now feels confident making a life-long health decision based on relative diaper smells and the amount of skin that shows during feedings.

Why do the commercial baby milk companies offer pro and con lists that acknowledge some of their product's shortcomings? Because any "balanced" approach that is presented in a heavily biased culture automatically supports the bias. If A and B are nearly equivalent, and if more than 90% of mothers ultimately choose B, as mothers in the United States do (according to an unpublished 1992 Mothers' Survey by Ross Laboratories that indicated fewer than 10% of U.S. mothers nursing at a year), it makes sense to follow the majority. If there were an important difference, surely the health profession would make a point of not staying out of the decision-making process.
It is the parents' choice to make. True. But deliberately stepping out of the process implies that the "balanced" list was accurate. In a recent issue of Parenting magazine, a pediatrician comments, "When I first visit a new mother in the hospital, I ask, 'Are you breastfeeding or bottlefeeding?' If she says she is going to bottlefeed, I nod and move on to my next questions. Supporting new parents means supporting them in whatever choices they make; you don't march in postpartum and tell someone she's making a terrible mistake, depriving herself and her child." (6)

Yet if a woman announced to her doctor, midway through a routine physical examination, that she took up smoking a few days earlier, the physician would make sure she understood the hazards, reasoning that now was the easiest time for her to change her mind. It is hypocritical and irresponsible to take a clear position on smoking and "let parents decide" about breastfeeding without first making sure of their information base. Life choices are always the individual's to make. That does not mean his or her information sources should be mute, nor that the parents who opt for bottlefeeding should be denied information that might prompt a different decision with a subsequent child.

Breastfeeding. Most other mammals never even see their own milk, and I doubt that any other mammalian mother deliberately "feeds" her young by basing her nursing intervals on what she infers the baby's hunger level to be. Nursing quiets her young and no doubt feels good. We are the only mammal that consciously uses nursing to transfer calories...and we're the only mammal that has chronic trouble making that transfer.

Women may say they "breastfed" for three months, but they usually say they "nursed" for three years. Easy, long-term breastfeeding involves forgetting about the "breast" and the "feeding" (and the duration, and the interval, and the transmission of the right nutrients in the right amounts, and the difference between nutritive and non-nutritive suckling needs, all of which form the focus of artificial milk pamphlets) and focusing instead on the relationship. Let's all tell mothers that we hope they won't "breastfeed"--that the real joys and satisfactions of the experience begin when they stop "breastfeeding" and start mothering at the breast.

All of us within the profession want breastfeeding to be our biological reference point. We want it to be the cultural norm; we want human milk to be made available to all human babies, regardless of other circumstances. A vital first step toward achieving those goals is within immediate reach of every one of us. All we have to do our language.

Olds D. L., Henderson, C. R. Tatelbaum, R.: Intellectual impairment in children of women who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy. Pediatrics 1994; 93:221-27.
Lucas, A., Morley, R., Cole, T.J., Lister, G., Leeson-Payne, C.: Breast milk and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born preterm. Lancet 1992; 339 (8788): 261-64.
Fruedenheim, J.L., Graham, S., Laughlin, R., Vena, J.E., Bandera, E., et al: Exposure to breastmilk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer. Epidemiology 1994, 5:324-30.
UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO: Facts for Life: A Communication Challenge. New York: UNICEF 1989; p. 20.
Bowles, B.B., Leache, J., Starr, S., Foster, M.: Infant feeding preferences card. J Hum Lact 1993; 9: 256-58.
Klass, P.: Decent exposure. Parenting (May) 1994; 98-104.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

the perfect xmas

i asked my mother not to use wrapping paper this year in order to be kind to the environment and although i know it was hard for my mother... she used almost 100% recycled materials and it made me so happy.  my gifts looked beautiful.

i aspire to have my gifts look like this next year -

i'll need to start practising soon to perfect this bow making skill!

dinner this year was wonderful.  my mother's turkey was moist and the gravy was perfect.  we get our turkeys from the York Farmer's Market and it's hormone and antibiotic free.  for the first time, i made 2 of my grandmothers finnish casseroles and they came out very nice.  we did burn them while trying to brown the tops but the burnt part lifted right off in one nice piece and underneath was delicious ;)  these casseroles are an important part of our family traditions and as my mumma is in her 80's, we thought someone else should take over the responsibility.  i am pleased that my place in the family is one that includes cooking; something i love dearly.

the exchange of gifts this year seemed much more calm and i actually enjoyed it a great deal.  i think this year we all realized that LESS is MORE.

my kids got a lot of clothing which is great.   kids ALWAYS need clothes.  there were only a couple of "made in china/blinking lights/electronic singing plastic" toys.  the rest were creative, peaceful and lovely.

of the grown up gifts, some of the favourites were:

a fabulous cookbook that embraces natural, organic GOOD food:

a ringer t-shirt in apple green, bought for my husband by my sister that says "fairly traded: disrupt the status quo".  it's my favorite shirt EVER.  it's made my a co-op of women in el salvador and sold by a canadian company.

and finally, what i'm wearing right now - a pair of black organic cotton tagless pyjamas.

comfiest.  pj's.  EVER.

and now, i'm going to cook up some sri lankan curry using my fair trade curry spice from 10,000 villages and then i'm going to put the recipe in my new recipe scrapbook. 

merry xmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

happy holidays!

well i was SO organized this year that i designed and printed xmas holiday cards in OCTOBER. what a smart lady i am.

then we moved. then i lost the cards. then i deleted the files of the cards from my computer. then i cried.

so... here is what i could salvage from my pc. i hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and next year i promise a real card!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

santa pics... for your viewing pleasure

first xmas for india... santa's cool man!

second xmas... not so sure.

and by the third xmas - she's NOT impressed. but kalden doesn't seem to mind.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

i'm sorry dear blog...

when life gets crazy, something's gotta give.  sadly it's the blog. 

the baby is teething, my stepdaughter is visiting, it's holiday season, clients are having babies....

there is no time for the finer things in life like sitting at a laptop with a glass of wine and pouring out my thoughts into a blog.

i will come back.  promise!