Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Google and Breastfeeding

So about a week ago I started blogging about my experiences as a dad.

J. and I are what some people might describe as 'natural parents' or 'attached parents'. We believe that we should raise our children in the most gentle and natural way possible. We don't judge other parents. Attached parenting is something that fits our lifestyle, but we realise that this might not be the case for other parents.

Breastfeeding is a huge part of this choice. L. has been breastfeed and still is; although he is 2 years and 8 months old. R. is being breastfeed as well. Naturally, I write about breastfeeding and a dad's perspective on the whole issue.

Although it took me a while to make the decision to blog, I started it with the intention of keeping it up for quite a while to come. My youngest daughter is 1 month old, so I have years of material ahead of me. As such I decided to apply for a Google AdSense account, which would allow me, in the future, to include some relevant Google ads to my blog. I was hoping I might create some revenue by which to promote my blog and to get the word out there.

This was without taking into account Google's view on breastfeeding. I was refused an account because they said my blog contained 'adult material' aka 'porn'. Apparently Google takes offense at a dad writing about his wife feeding children with her boobs (oops, I did it again.. I used the word 'boobs')

I guess there are still people out there that find breastfeeding repulsive and associate it with sex and porn. People that find it repulsive that a baby drinks milk from it's own mother; but at the same time don't find it repulsive that they drink cow's milk. Do they think a cow just makes milk so you can pour something over your cereal? 

I was going to wait a bit before publishing this post because I realise I'm angry. I'm angry at Google and I'm angry at people who judge others, fueled by their own insecurities and issues with the human body. 

In the mean time I remain proud of J., my wife. She is feeding my children and creating a loving bond that no-one can take away from her and our children. They will grow up to be strong, independent and not afraid of the human body.

If the miracle of birth wasn't enough, J. pulled another miracle out of her hat. The miracle of breastfeeding.

Home Birth and Witchcraft

So just over a month ago, my daughter R. was born.

After she was born, J. put her on her chest for about an hour to let R. sniff out the boobs.. It didn't take long for her to find them and to start her first meal in the outside world. After her feeding, I took her on my chest to get some skin-to-skin contact with my daughter. J. washed up, took a shower and got changed into some comfy clothes. In the meantime L. had come up to the bedroom and was getting acquainted with his baby sister... Grandma was shedding tears of happiness..

My daughter R. the night she was born

The whole family went downstairs and I made us something to eat. "Where are the doctors?", you might wonder. "Where are the machines, monitors, IV's?" There were none.

We had a home birth.

How did we arrive at that decision? It's hard to say. L.'s birth experience was the full medical experience. Hospital room, Delivery Room, people in scrubs, lots of equipment that makes beeping noises and have annoying alarms that only seem to be designed to give prospective parents a heart attack. In Belgium a mother stays in the hospital for 5 days after a normal delivery (6 days in case of a C-section), so when we found out that we were pregnant of R. we decided to do something different. We wanted to get the warm and fuzzy feeling we thought should be part of a delivery and birth experience. Although we did not immediately consider a home birth it was always in the back of our minds.

J. was seeing an OB at that time who was not in favour of home birth. J. simply said "Then I wil go and see a different OB". So after the first trimester we went to see a different OB. J. explained that we were considering a home birth. "I'm not a big fan of home births," he said, "but if you have a good midwife that will assist you and if you promise to continue seeing me during the pregnancy, so I can give the green light at 37 weeks, I'm OK with it". So we found a fantastic group of midwives (one of them actually a man) who made us feel comfortable with our decision. Of course we had a lot of questions and concerns, but our midwives put them all to rest. At the final check up at 37 weeks, the OB told us that he saw no reason not to have a home birth and he wished us all the best.

One evening at the end of March, J. came up to me "My water broke!". She was a bit embarrassed as she thought she had peed herself. She didn't have that experience from our first pregnancy, so this was all new to us. We called the midwife as we were concerned that J. was not having any contractions yet. "If the liquid is clear, I see no reason for concern. Just try and rest and I will see you in the morning." The next morning our midwife dropped by. No contractions yet. He called the OB to see what the plan would be. "If she comes in for 30 minutes of monitoring during the day, I will give her until the next morning. If there are no contractions then, we will have to induce". Our hearts felt heavy. It seemed we were doomed to repeat our first birth experience.

Around noon, there were no signs of contractions, so we went in for the monitoring. Everything was fine with baby, but no sign of contractions. J. and I drove home, feeling tired and beaten up. "Let's all take a nap and we'll see what happens". She took a spoon of castor oil as they say it induces labour. We went to bed.

At around 4.30pm J. woke me up. "I'm having contractions!". I started timing them and called our midwife. "I'll be right there". J. wanted to lie in the bathtub and relax. We were going through all our tips and tricks to make her feel more comfortable. "Breath, baby... relax..." At 5pm our midwife arrived and she checked up on J. "5 centimeters!!". Halfway there... At around 6pm J. was having serious labour pains. The birthing ball did wonders and she huffed and puffed through the contractions. I made her a hotpack and massaged her lower back. "You're doing great" the midwife assured us. Just before 7pm J. was really uncomfortable. "I feel I need to push! I need to push!!" The midwife checked and declared "Go girl.. Now is the time." J. sat on hands and knees next to the bed. For some reason I ended up on my back, in between her legs, looking straight up at the place where it all was happening. The head was crowning. J. pushed one more time and grabbed our daughter.

Our daughter R. was born at 7.03 pm. Our dream of having a natural, gentle birth had become reality.

Jim Gaffigan on Home Births and Midwives

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cooking for the Boobs #1

Ok, J. has been breastfeeding L. for 2.5 years and R. (1 month old) is also on the boobs. During that time I've learned a few things that I thought I would share with you. Here's a few survival tips:

If your wife is anything like mine (besides being a superwoman), your wife for sure won't have time, or is too tired to cook. Ordering delivery or take-out might get boring after a while (and is not really healthy). As a dad and as a super-husband (of which I'm sure you are too ;) ) you have to have some tricks up your sleeve for easy, fast and healthy cooking. If your wife is breastfeeding, you can cook up some stuff that will encourage those boobs to produce flowing rivers of milk for those hungry kids.

My family likes to cook organic, but that is a personal choice. If you're already cooking at home, I think you're doing great.

My favourite is the following quick and easy pasta dish. The fennel will encourage the milk production.

Fennel and Mushroom Pasta

Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • your choice of fettuccine, linguine or spagheti
  • 3 Fennel Bulbs
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (doesn't matter what type)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup fresh coarsly chopped parsley

Start boiling the water for your pasta. Take off any tough or bruised outer layers of the fennel. Chop the bulb and softer parts of the stem into ½-1 inch slices. Stir-fry the fennel in the olive oil for a few minutes. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Stir-frying for another 5 minutes, add the mushrooms. Add a cup of water and simmer the fennel and mushrooms for another 10-15 minutes until the fennel is soft and there is still some liquid to mix with the pasta. Toss al dente pasta and fennel sauté together. Toss the parsley under it and sprinkle some Parmesan on top.

If you have it at home, you can drizzle some truffle-oil on top to make it more festive.

Voila, your wife will love you forever and ever...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Winnie-the-Pooh sabotaged our beekeeping dreams

So about a year ago J. said she wanted to keep bees and as I love my wife and family very much I said "Yes, of course dear.". J. started reading blogs, articles and books about keeping bees. "I want to be as gentle and as natural as I can." she said. "We need to get a Top Bar Hive." My reply to this was "Yes, of course dear."

Now you have to understand that we live in the centre of the city. We have a small (court)yard, but nothing that would be considered flowing meadows or an actual garden. "Bees are endangered." she said. "We need to help them; and besides this is a great opportunity for L. to learn about fauna and flora." Being the 'not-yet-out-of-the-closet' hippies that we are, I could see the reasoning behind this. So we set out to prepare L. for the arrival of the bees. We started by building a little bee hotel for solitary bees. We explained to L. that bees are friendly and that they need our help and that we could never, ever, hurt them. All in all we were set up for some peaceful beekeeping.

Until that day in January. "Angry bees will hurt me!", L. blurted out. J. and I looked at each other... Where did that come from? After some investigating, we found out that L. had been watching a DVD at grandma's: Winnie the Pooh. You all know the story: the little bear sets out to get honey from the bees in any which way he can. Usually he fails in some kind of way and the bees attack him or chase him through the Hundred Acre Wood. All these months of hard work sabotaged by Disney... This elevated Disney to the same heights as Monsanto or Kim Jong Un in J.'s and my "List of Companies or Persons that are set out to Destroy the Planet".. And of course we blamed television... Screens are not a common occurence at our house, so this provided proof to us that screens were bad; very bad indeed.

What could we do? Could we still keep bees? Would L. start screaming and running away every time a bee came near? Would he try to hurt the bees so he would really get stung? We cursed Disney and the little bear they owned.

"Can I see my friends? I need to help my friends". We looked at L. "I need to help my friends, just like Pooh" J. and I started laughing. We took L. to the park to see his friends. The park sort of resembles the Hundred Acre Wood. We walked through the park and pointed out the bees and the birds. We came home and L. helped me improve the bee hotel. This year we will order our Top Bar Hive and get some bees.

But he'll only get to watch Winnie when he's at grandma's.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Snot Sucker

Really.... Seriously.... No other creature in the animal kingdom is so ill-prepared to be born and to be thrown in the harsh reality of the outside world as the human baby...

Why did we get the short end of the stick? Why are we stuck with this small excuse for a human being that is barely able to breath and eat? You watch any show on Animal Planet or one of those fancy BBC nature documentaries where a dude with a fancy accent explains how a new born elephant starts walking within 5 minutes of being born or how the baby tiger is sharpening his hunting skills just hours after being expelled into this world...

We, humans, are stuck with these small creatures that shit and piss where they lie... not able to walk , not even to turn around on it's belly to change it's perspective on the world...

The most baffling thing is snot.... yes, snot... , the clear, yellow or green (yes, it comes in a variety of shades and colors) stuff that seems to be in abundant and unlimited supply in any baby or toddler. You would think that nature has found a way for human babies to get rid of all that snot.... and guess what? It hasn't ... While the baby chimpansee is swinging from the trees, our babies are lying in their own piss and shit, while their face is covered in 50 shades of snot... Apparently, despite our massive brains, the technique of blowing your nose can only be mastered after several months ex uterus...

So what do you do as a parent? Your kid is running around with his face full of wet and dry, crusted snot..., acting like a human fly catcher with all the small bugs and flies that seem to get stuck in this nasal mucus. His head is all congested, he's got a headache and soon his ears will get infected too.. What do you do?

Introduce the Snot Sucker !!! Yes, you've read it correctly... Snot Sucker... It's really God's gift to parents, although be it a somewhat tainted gift. How do you get the snot out of a toddler's nose? What about something that can create some kind of suction by which to suck those nostrils clear of any green or yellow colored substances?... And I'm not talking about those little pear shaped devices that you sqeeuze and never give you the full snot-sucking satisfaction. Those suckers are for wimps... I'm talking the real deal here... I'm talking about 'parent-powered' suction... I'm talking about the NoseFrida...

From the picture above you might guess how it works... One end goes into your child's snot-filled nostril..., the other end goes into your mouth to provide that 'parent-powered' suction... My wife has tricked me into being the designated nose-sucker. She said this would be a great bonding opportunity for me and our children since I'm missing out on the breastfeeding bonding experience... I'm not sure if it's on the same level, but I'll take what I can get... So while the baby dolphin is swimming next to it's mother, communicating with her using all kinds of fancy sonar and echo location stuff... I'm chasing our 2.5 year old with a snot sucker in my mouth... You wonder how the human race ever evolved and survived...