Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thank you for saving my son’s penis!

Like many expectant parents, circumcision is something I had never even thought about.  What was there to think about anyway?  If you had a boy, they were circumcised.  That’s just what you did with boys.  There had to be a good reason we had been cutting the foreskin off of boys for most of the last century.

It wasn’t until my husband and I received an educational pamphlet in our birth class that either of us had even thought about circumcision.  We were surprised about the information we read in that short little pamphlet.  In a matter of 10 minutes, my husband and I had decided that we wouldn’t circumcise our baby if we had a boy.

The pamphlet was very short and to the point, but very informative and convincing.  There were several key points that hit home to us right away.  One was that there was NO medical reason to remove the foreskin and the reason it had originally been done was to “prevent masturbation”.  Secondly, that the foreskin actually protects the penis and has nerve endings that would be removed.  And thirdly, that circumcision is surgery that is not only painful for the baby, but has risks like any surgery.  You can read the pamphlet here:  http://www.nocirc.org/publish/3pam.pdf

As it turned out, we did have a boy.  And thanks to our Bradley instructor, his penis is still intact.  But I honestly believe we would have allowed it without even blinking.

My views on circumcision have become much stronger as time has passed.  That is why I feel it is so important to share information whenever I can.  But instead of making people feel guilty for the choice they make, I focus on just making a choice!  No matter how wrong I feel it is to unnecessarily subject a newborn to that kind of trauma, I will respect your right to do it if you actually make the decision.

Getting people to know there is even something to think about is the first step to changing things. 

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC)

As Nature Intended

Peaceful Parenting: The Day I Withdrew From Nursing School

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Stretch marks

Recently I came across a website called The Shape Of a Mother which focuses on normalizing a woman’s shape, round bellies, saggy breasts, stretch marks and all.  But one particular section caught my attention and had a profound affect on me, Save Our Daughters.

As a daughter and now the mother of a daughter, Save Our Daughters triggered a deep emotional reaction in me.  I immediately thought of how often I had watched my mother look at her body in disgusts.  The rolls, the stretch marks, the cesarean scars.  Motherhood had changed her body from a once skinny young woman to something she was ashamed of.

I remember as a child being fascinated with my mother’s cesarean scars.  It was amazing to me to look at that little line across the bottom of her abdomen and know that that was the place my sister and I had each been removed from her body.  It would have been so easy for me to believe these were beautiful badges of love instead of unsightly scars of shame.

But that opportunity was missed and although I was skinny growing up and didn’t have the same weight issues my mother had, my sister did and I can only imagine how her own body views affected my sister.  I know my mother did everything in her power to teach us to love and accept ourselves.  But unfortunately, it was her inability to love and accept herself that was heard most clearly.

After I had my first baby, my body dramatically changed, like everyone’s does.  My breasts got wider and saggier and my belly had a new shape and was covered in tons of deep stretch marks that I often said made it look like ground beef.  I was not shy about telling everyone how wrecked my body was from having a child and it only got worse with my second.  I had even thought about having my stretch marks removed once I was all done having kids.  I didn’t see my new body as beautiful, I saw it the same way my mother had, ugly.

Then one day, I had been getting ready for bed and passed through the dark bathroom in front of the mirror.  I stopped for a moment and looked in the mirror.  There was just enough light to see the outline of my body, but not all the detail.  I was surprised at the shape I saw in the mirror.  If this had been anyone else’s body in front of me, I would have thought it was beautiful.  The hips were wide and curvy, the breasts low and flat, yet feminine, and the bump of the belly looked like a mother.  This was the body of someone who had brought life into this world and there was nothing ugly about it.

Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last long and I was quickly back to thinking my body was unattractive.  I still have the same feeling about my body and that is something I will have to work on.  But after reading Save Our Daughters, I want to make sure I don’t pass on my body issues to my daughter.  I have made a promise to myself to never call my belly ground beef in front of her, even if I still think that sometimes.  I will work hard to teach her that these changes are part of motherhood and the beauty of creating a life.  Maybe she will someday be able to see her stretch marks as badges of honor and love them as much as she loves her children.  And if I am really lucky, maybe I will learn to love mine too.

The Shape of A Mother: Save Our Daughters

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Precious moments

Warning:  This post talks about the loss of a child and may be extremely emotional for people that have experienced their own loss.

I was extremely moved by something I recently read.  It was a comment from a mother that had lost her baby.  She shared her story about being busy and letting her husband care for their baby so she could finish her work, not knowing that the next morning he would be gone.  Then she said:
It's so easy to let what we think is important get in the way of what really is sometimes! It's so easy to get caught up...
If my story helps just one momma to remember "stop and smell the roses" then that makes me happy.
This story was so moving to me.  It's so easy to get bogged down with all the daily jobs and chores and important things to do that I know I forget to stop and smell the roses, or am just too tired to care to try.

I'm sure when you lose a child, there is not one moment spent doing something else that you don't regret.  I can not imagine that pain.  But even if you never have to experience that kind of loss, these precious moments you have now, with your ever changing child, are limited and will soon be gone forever.  They are growing and changing all the time, and someday, will no longer need you the way they do now.

Unfortunately it's just not practical to spend every second with our child or we would never get fed or cleaned.  But what we can do is cherish the moments we do spend with them.  Take 15 minutes to build that block building with them.  Color a picture.  Tell them a story.  And when you do, let everything else go and just enjoy that moment with them.  Don't try to read faster because you need to get dinner started.   Five years from now it won't matter if you all ate dinner 10 minutes late.  But what you gain from spending those 10 minutes with your child will last forever.

These fleeting precious moments are also the reason I enjoy co-sleeping and don't worry about weaning.  Sure I am tired and would get more sleep if my children slept in their own bed and my baby wasn't waking me up to nurse.  But I have the rest of my life to sleep.  Right now my baby needs me and my children feel loved and secure sleeping next to me.  I know some day my kids won't need me in that way anymore, and so while they still do, I want to fill that need and not force them to give it up before they are ready.

So the next time you are frustrated that your baby just wants to be held all day, or you toddler wants to nurse, again, forget about the dishes and just cherish these precious moments you have because before you know it, they will be gone.  This moment is just a sliver of time in our lives and we are living them now.

And with that I will leave you with this final thought.  I hope this post has inspired you to stop and smell the roses, if even for a moment!
"Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift - which is why they call it the present."  -Bill Keane