Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Power

Cover art submission for 'Joy: e-zine" Summer 2007-2008.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Chunks, The Pink Punk Monster - Will

Here's Will's monster creation. He wanted me to share it with people. His name is Chunks and he eats green trees (brocolli). He has a lovely pink coat and lives in a pink city, with pink buildings.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Major Milestone for Lochlain

We have reached a new milestone with Lochlain, I am so happy I just have to tell you all about it!!

He is stringing two words together!

Now that might not sound like much, but for us it is HUGE!

He still can not form words properly at all. But tonight whilst eat dinner he clearly told me "OT ot", meaning "NOT HOT" as he was holding his hand over his forkful of pasta, now I know this because he then said to me when I asked where Grandad was "OT OHM" meaning "NOT HOME" making a shoulder shrug gesture.

This is fantastic, and far more than we expected at this stage, seeing as he hasn't even started his effective therapy yet, we have only done the parent ed sessions and done some home learning with him. Andrew and I have made much more of an effort to encourage his language development and we can finally see it paying off. We are getting somewhere!!! He is almost 2.5 and still can't be understood by anyone other than Andrew or I, and even then it's mostly just guessing with his use of gestures.

His gestures have become more pronounced and more recognisable, and he is using his substitute word ("ESZ") for everything that he can't say or communicate. But getting two clear words in a row is just freaking awesome. We did a little happy dance with him and we sang songs and had big cuddles while we practiced his two words.My special little guy is coming along great!!

(shameless cross post!)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Green Smoothie Challenge

I am starting a 5 day Green Smoothie Challenge today. If all goes well I am hoping to stick to it for all of summer. So today, is day one. I did not start my day with good eating at all. I had my last binge on crap before making the change. Here goes, will add my charts when I get time. Today's green smoothie was watermelon, mango, kiwi fruit and baby spinach, with water. Delicious!! x B

Monday, November 26, 2007

Earthly ponderings. Tanka fiddling.

Soft hand on my face
Your gentle touch unbuttons
my heart, rushing love-
Snow falls gently to the ground,
touching the earth, soft as hands.
~
Lotus flower in
bloom. Ripe, luscious, sweet scent-
You carry within
you a child of love, my child.
Succulent and pregnant
my spring.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Update Time: Pure Chaos

Phwoar. Time to sit down and just chill out for a bit I think. Even having a glass (read 'bottle') of wine this evening, just in an attempt to slow my brain down.
I feel like we have just been propelled into space these last few weeks. Hardly a moment to breathe.
We took a trip to Port Denison at the beginning of the month for Ava's first birthday. We stayed in the most amazing spot, just north of the marina right on the beach. This was our view from the porch.
It was a very hot, incredibly fly blown trip away. Tristan was overly keen on being away from his own bed, despite having a bed with mama all to himself. William and Lochlain loved spending time on the beach and hanging out at Aunty Kate's house, but because of Andrew's uni commitments we had to come home a day early so he could submit an assignment.
Here is the birthday girl showing us how brilliant a day she is having. It was great to see so many kids having fun and it was such a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that I was tempted to just nap on the couch while the party went on without me haha. Isn't she gorgeous??!!
Upon our return home we had a week of busy-ness thrust upon us. I had a gathering to attend at a friend's house before she birthed her baby, we had William's birthday/bbq to organise and all the other in between stuff that we, as mums, do.
Will's birthday was fantastic. We had playgroup friends over for a bbq lunch and there was a giant spread of fruit and salads and platters. I was really chuffed with what I had put out in such a short time. Will loved playing with all his friends, and Andrew set up the tent in the yard for them to play in for shade. It was an afternoon of fun and we really loved having a perfect sunny day to honour our big boy turning 4.
Will had a trip to Yanchep to see great nanna and great grandad with grandma and grandad on the Friday as we were supposed to be taking Lochlain to his speech pathologist, but she cancelled on me, so instead we spent the day shopping with just two boys!
Saturday we drove out to the hills sans Andrew, he was at work. We caught up with two of my doulas, and sat in the sunshine eating fruit and raw vegan pie, it was amazing, made by the bloody jill of all trades, Megan. She even made topdeck style raw vegan chocolate. It was an awesome day just hanging out, letting the kids splash in the paddling pool and chilling out with some funky mamas.
We had Aunty Jackie over for a bbq that night, and we just seemed to be on a good food roll. The night was so balmy and calm, and the boys played play do on the patio until the sun was well down.
We swam the next day at Aunty Jackie and Uncle Glenn's, then came home and all had an afternoon siesta. Sadly I fell asleep with my glasses on AGAIN and woke up to a broken pair of specs, AGAIN. 'Twas my own fault though, and I really should have learned by now.
So Monday was interrupted by having to take them to be repaired, and then having Donna over for lunch. A blast from the past eh? She rocks up on a freakin' giant motorbike, looking like Miss Thang... that's me being jealous haha. Was great to catch up with someone who knew me before babies, back when I had a brain. We raved for a couple of hours, before she picked her stepsons up from school (I know, she's a stepmom, what the??!!).
Andrew took the boys camping in Yanchep on Tuesday night. They had an awesome time with some of his uni mates. The saw some new wildlife and experienced the mosquitoes to the max. When Will got home I seriously thought he might have chicken pox, he has that many bites on him. Lochlain made a new friend, in one of the girls who is in Andrew's course, he fell asleep in her lap and stole her heart.
Will did his usual party trick of being up at the butt crack of dawn, so everyone was home early the next day.
For the rest of this week I have been trying to help out a friend who just had her 2nd baby, albeit a little earlier than expected so they were caught a bit short on being totally ready. We did the tribe day and got her house cleaned and stuff sorted for her to come home to. It feels awesome to be part of a community that supports other mums in their early postpartum period, so that the transition to a larger family can be a little easier for all involved.
In the middle of all this I have done three talks at JHC for the ABA in the antenatal classes of an evening. It's been a great chance to get my head back on track with being involved in consumer groups and volunteer work that all lends towards helping me achieve my ultimate goal of midwife/lactation consultancy.
The one I did last week went really well I though, then this Wednesday night I totally bombed out, but I think I was just truthfully too tired, and in hindsight I should have cancelled. Thursday night I totally nailed it and felt like I really had a great grip on what it is I am meant to be doing. Small steps, but I am getting there.
Today we finally caught up with Lochlain's speech pathologist for his review, and she is sending another referral off to PMH to see the feeding team as we are still having some major issues with his eating/talking/behaviour/development stuff. I explained to her the problems I had earlier in the year with a paed. at PMH and she understood my concern and has detailed that in the referral so that I don't have to go through it all again.
Then to top of some crazy background stuff we find out that Nan broke her hip last night. She a prosthesis done this morning and I spoke to Aunty Lyn tonight who is with her and I said I will call over the weekend, but I don't really know how it happened, Kate said she fell or something. I will send flowers tomorrow, and some 'happy thoughts' but from here there isn't much else I can do right now.
Phew, got that all out. I am off to zone out with the telly. I am exhausted and am heading into the hills again tomorrow.
Peace out. x x x
Oh and here is a token photo of Tristan.... just cos he is yum.

What Women Aren't Told About Childbirth

What Women Aren't Told About Childbirth By Manda Aufochs Gillespie and Mariya Strauss, AlterNet. A new survey of mothers reveals some disturbing things about hospital maternity care that may make pregnant women want to take a closer look at their options. Even in this age of cybervoyeurism and hyperinformation, the act of having a baby remains one of the few bodily activities about which many people choose to remain blissfully ignorant. This might best be described as the "but it won't happen to me" phenomenon. Understandably, women hope, despite all they may learn otherwise, that pregnancy, childbirth and parenting will go easier for them -- their baby will sleep, their feet won't swell to the size of melons and, of course, they will have an uncomplicated -- sweaty, perhaps, but not seriously painful -- labor.Like most myths, there are the people for whom the fiction is the reality, but they are the exception. Chances are your baby will cry at night; your feet will swell; and unless you are willing to research in depth, shop around for care providers and advocate stubbornly for what you want, you probably won't have the labor you expect. This isn't just a benign statement about how we never get what we expect: A new survey of mothers reveals some disturbing things about hospital maternity care that may make pregnant women want to take a closer look at their options.The survey Listening to Mothers II (LM 2) was released in 2006 and reports on U.S. women's childbearing experiences. Conducted for Childbirth Connection by Harris Interactive in partnership with Lamaze International and Boston University School of Public Health, it is the first comprehensive survey of women's childbearing experiences. The survey population is representative of U.S. mothers 18 to 45 who gave birth to a single infant in a hospital, with 1,573 actual participants."The predominant picture that emerges from our data," the report states, "is of large segments of this population experiencing clearly inappropriate care."The majority of women ended up attached to IVs, catheters and fetal monitors. They had their membranes artificially ruptured and were given epidurals. Most of these women had little understanding of the side effects of these interventions, including cesarean and medical inductions. The report also shows that though women understood that they had the right to refuse medical interventions, few did, and many received interventions, such as episiotomies, without their consent.Just as troubling is what is not being done. A "very tiny minority" of women received all of the care practices that promote natural birth. "With 4 million U.S. births annually, a single percentage point represents about 40,000 mothers and babies per year," the report authors say. Despite the relative health of women in the United States, many women are not getting the uncomplicated births they might expect.But whose responsibility is it to make sure a baby's birth is a positive experience for the mother and her family? And what kind of birth do women want?Achieving a more natural natural birthPopular media outlets and advertisers would have women believe that labor and delivery happen in only one context: hospitals. When television shows, health magazines and films depict birth as a highly medicalized phenomenon that involves lots of screaming, a command to push and a baby before the next commercial break, it is no wonder that so few women in labor think to ask for more information when they are offered medical interventions. Or that so few are educated about natural childbirth.Juli Walter teaches childbirth education classes on Chicago's northwest side. "Most of my students have an idea when they come to class that they would like to have a natural childbirth," says Walter. "However, they don't really have an understanding of what they need to have a natural birth." Though some make an effort to learn about birth from other mothers or books, most pregnant women don't have a grasp of the details of childbirth -- things like the physical and emotional stages of labor, the anatomical changes their bodies are experiencing, or the amount of pain they are likely to experience in labor and delivery. Even among the women who say they want a natural birth, the term "natural" doesn't always mean the same thing. Many people believe that labor and birth are a natural human process, engineered by evolution with such sensitivity that any intervention -- like administering anesthesia or drugs to speed labor -- could cause it to malfunction. Under this model, most births are attended by midwives who act as lifeguards -- well-trained birth professionals who will be constantly present and intervene only if serious complications arise. This type of assistance during a birth, says doula and certified professional midwife (CPM) Mary Doyle, is "more about collaborating and being an ally to a pregnant woman, honoring her choices and letting her be in control of her experience rather than dictating what is going to happen."Following this model of care for labor and birth, a woman might have her baby at home or in a midwife-staffed birthing center, both with the ability to transfer to a nearby hospital. Women have all sorts of reasons for wanting an alternative to hospitals: "For some women, it's the intimacy of birth that makes them want a birth center or to give birth at home," says Gayle Riedmann, a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) who runs a midwifery practice in Oak Park, Ill. She is a board member of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG), a group of health professionals and researchers that advocates for health-related policy improvements across the state.Others believe that all birth can be considered "natural" and that birth with epidural anesthesia and continuous electronic fetal monitoring is no less natural. A large percentage of women -- 76 percent of all women in the LM 2 survey -- wind up getting an epidural for pain during labor. Many doctors consider epidurals to be the standard of care for treating the pain of labor.In a 2003 article on birth, the American Family Physician suggests childbirth classes as a good way to learn more about labor, natural childbirth, the benefits and risks of pain medications and alternative pain management techniques. These nondrug means of easing the pain of labor include walking, changing positions, taking showers or warm baths and using breathing exercises, hypnosis, relaxation and massage." The article also says that by hiring a doula, a birth assistant who focuses on the laboring woman's needs, "you might be less likely to need pain medicines. You might also be less likely to have a cesarean delivery. "The LM 2 survey, however, shows that only 2 percent of women received all of these natural pain-relieving measures. Despite the fact that half of the interviewed women felt that birth should not be interfered with unless medically necessary, the vast majority received medical interventions. Many women reported experiencing pressure to have their labors induced, to accept an epidural and even to have a cesarean. A full 73 percent who had an episiotomy were not given a choice in this decision.What are women not being told?The World Health Organization recommends that the rate of cesarean births for any country not exceed 10 percent to 15 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the U.S. rate at over twice that: 30.2 percent, and the LM 2 survey suggests this number is on the rise.The United States is also one of the only wealthy countries where the maternal death rate is climbing. In 2004, the most recent year for which information was available, the maternal death rate in the United States jumped to 13 deaths per 100,000, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This marks a significant increase from just four years earlier when it was 11 deaths per 100,000 births. Maternal death rates continue to be significantly higher for African-American and Hispanic women.Among developed countries, the World Health Organization reports, 29 have better infant mortality rates than the United States, including Slovenia and Cuba, and 41 have better maternal mortality rates.Why are women in the United States more likely to die from childbirth than their peers in other industrialized countries? The rising rates of medical intervention and surgery in birth and their attendant risks are a big part of the answer.Obstetricians tend to intervene in a normal birthWalter says that women in her classes are routinely uninformed about the birth attendants they choose. "Most women just go with their OB who has been doing their pap smear for ten years and are like, 'Oh, I want to have a natural childbirth.'"The LM 2 survey confirms Walter's perception: The majority of women surveyed never bothered to interview multiple providers or find a hospital with an approach to childbirth matching their own.Obstetricians are surgeons with an expertise in female reproductive pathology. They often provide routine gynecological care, but when it comes to childbirth, their training has primarily prepared them to actively manage a high-risk birth or to intervene medically and surgically when something goes wrong during a birth. Though they may have attended hundreds or even thousands of births, few obstetricians have much experience with unmedicated births. Even fewer have attended out-of-hospital births.Indeed, their professional association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), last year went so far as to issue a wholesale condemnation of out-of-hospital birth. They cited a lack of evidence to support the safety of birth outside hospitals, despite its undisputed record of safety in many other countries. In their Guidelines for Perinatal Care, fifth edition, published in 2002, ACOG states, "Although ACOG acknowledges a woman's right to make informed decisions regarding her delivery, ACOG does not support programs or individuals that advocate for or who provide out-of-hospital births."One doctor who practices out-of-hospital birth anyway is Mayer Eisenstein, founder and medical director of Chicago's Homefirst Health Services. Homefirst provides doctors and midwives to attend births in homes. Though some people bristle at Eisenstein's hands-off approach to birth, he has been attending births in homes for over 30 years. With more than 14,000 deliveries, his practice maintains a cesarean section rate of less than 10 percent, an episiotomy rate of less than one percent (compared to nearly 35 percent nationally) and virtually no need for pain medications or I.V. fluids.Many obstetricians have never witnessed a natural birth in its entirety, and today, Eisenstein says, a natural birth in a hospital is "almost nonexistent. It was more likely 25 years ago than today." People ask more questions when they buy a car or a house than they do when they choose the care provider and birth location that will be part of one of the most important experiences in the life of a family. All of the doctors are nice, he says, "but you're not hiring your doctor to like [him], you are hiring [him] to have the safest possible birth.""For 20 years," says Eisenstein, "OBs have been saying you can't have your baby at home because it's too dangerous. The corollary would be, if you have it in a hospital, it would be safe.""It's not true," he says. "Show me a study that shows it's safer to have a baby in a hospital. It's not evidence-based." Eisenstein says he feels that women are being led to believe that their low-risk pregnancies are likely to have better outcomes in the hospital and when something goes wrong, "they sue."A cascade of interventionsChildbirth educators often talk about the "cascade" of medical interventions: the likelihood that once you receive one intervention, like Pitocin, you are more likely to receive another intervention, like an epidural. Many women never question these interventions, though they frequently are linked to babies being born by cesarean section."In an unmedicated labor," Doyle says, "the body releases its own oxytocin, which stimulates contractions. The brain responds to the pain of these contractions by releasing endorphins. When synthesized oxytocin [aka Pitocin] is administered through an IV, contractions can come on quite suddenly, and these contractions are often longer, more intense and more consistent than the body's natural endorphins can keep up with." The intense pain of Pitocin-augmented labor often causes women who may have wanted an unmedicated birth to ask for or accept pain medication. Doyle has attended dozens of hospitals births as a doula and has seen this phenomenon many times.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved Pitocin for the use of augmenting labor and it has been suggested now that mismanagement of Pitocin is the leading cause of liability suits and damage awards.Continuous electronic fetal heart monitoring is another seemingly innocuous medical intervention that is linked to adverse outcomes. Even though it requires women to be strapped to a machine and therefore limits their mobility -- movement in labor is listed as one of the recommended comfort measures by Lamaze International -- it may seem that constant feedback on a baby's heart rate would reduce unnecessary interventions and surgical procedures. Yet, some studies have shown CEFM to be an ineffective indicator of fetal distress and one of the causes of the increase in cesareans."There is no scientific reason do to any of this stuff," says Eisenstein.Cesareans lead to more cesareansOnce a woman has a primary cesarean, chances are she will have a cesarean for subsequent births. Fewer and fewer obstetrics and midwifery practices are willing to assist in a vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC. The risks to both mother and baby from a potential uterine rupture during labor are greater than they would be for a woman without a cesarean scar. This is part of the reason why the rate of cesareans is increasing nationally."A small proportion of mothers with a previous cesarean (11 percent) had VBAC, though quite a few would have liked to have had the choice but had providers or hospitals unwilling to support their vaginal births," according to LM 2. The vast majority of the women surveyed in the report supported the right of a woman to choose a VBAC. The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), a 2000 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, showed that the average hospital stay and total charges were over 40 percent higher for women with repeat cesareans than for women who manage to have a VBAC.There are measures a woman having a cesarean can take to help her own chances of being able to have a VBAC. Evidence links a fad in obstetrics care -- the single layer uterine suture -- with an increase in incidents of subsequent problems like uterine rupture. Noted midwife and childbirth expert Ina May Gaskin advises in her book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth that a woman may be able to increase the likelihood of having a VBAC in the future and reduce the chance of other serious complications by requesting a double-layer suture: separate sutures for the uterine wall and for the skin and tissue covering the uterus.The business of birthWith childbirth accounting for more than four million hospital stays annually and over $33 billion dollars in aggregate charges in 2003, according to HCUP, babies are big business.Many families choose -- out of convenience or out of financial necessity -- to go to a provider that is paid for by their health insurance company; it is often more affordable for a family to go to a doctor or nurse-midwife based in a hospital because healthcare providers generally will not cover home-based birth.The irony is that, although patients may pay less out-of-pocket, hospital births cost a great deal more than births in birth centers or at home. Nationally, birth centers cost 30 percent to 50 percent of a hospital birth, and homebirths, which usually range from $1,500 to $4,000, cost a mere 10 percent to 30 percent of a hospital birth, on average. The difference in costs is partially due to how hospitals bill: "Each thing has a charge, each doctor. There are IV fees, different machines, even Kleenex fees. With a home birth you have a midwife fee and some supplies," says Ida Darragh, chair of the North American Registry of Midwives. Gayle Riedmann, the midwife from Oak Park, explains that birth centers, too, charge a single fee for the entire birth experience, adding, "A number of families who do not have health insurance and can't afford a hospital birth could use a birth center."But here's a funny thing: Women without insurance are less likely to end up with cesareans, as are women with Medicaid, according to the HCUP study. Women with private insurance, the study says, have the highest cesarean rate.Sue Thotz, a Chicago mother of two who had both children without medication in hospitals with midwives says, "I would have loved to birth at home." However, she explains this wasn't an option for her because, "Both births were insured with Medicaid, and the state doesn't exactly pay for homebirths." Of the national population surveyed in LM 2, 41 percent received Medicaid or similar government benefits for some of their care. Medicaid does cover the costs for CPMs in nine states (including Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington).For most women, the fact that hospitals have virtually cornered the market on childbirth and maternity care means that birth itself can assume the form of a medical problem rather than a normal human process. And, since most mothers are giving birth in a hospital room surrounded by highly trained doctors and sophisticated medical instruments, a low-risk, unmedicated labor can rapidly convert into a complex surgical case.Progress is being made nationally in providing birth options to women and their families. That progress, however, varies significantly from state to state. In 11 states women are prohibited from having a homebirth-trained attendant (a CPM) at their birth or are forbidden homebirths altogether, and in 17 states there are no freestanding birth centers available to women.In 2005, Virginia and Utah, and in 2006, Wisconsin passed regulatory legislation allowing CPMs to practice midwifery in their states. This year attention is on Missouri, which has appealed to the state's Supreme Court to allow a new CPM law to remain standing, and on Illinois, which has passed legislation to legalize and establish freestanding birth centers and has a CPM licensure law pending. One by one, these states are helping families regain control of their own birth experiences -- and for some, that is preferable to the technological advancements hospitals offer."It's about choice," says Riedmann. Whether women choose hospital birth or evidence-based, skilled care outside a hospital, Riedmann sums up: "We have to respect women's choices."Books for further reading on childbirth:* Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM * Pushed: The painful truth about childbirth and modern maternity care, by Jennifer Block http://jenniferblock.com/wordpress/?page_id=9* The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer * Born in the USA: How a broken maternity system must be fixed to put women and children first, by Marsden Wagner, MD, MShttp://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1925012What Women Aren't Told About Childbirth:http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/65608?page=entireListening to Mothers Survey:http://www.childbirthconnection.org/article.asp?ck=10401

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Babies Need Their Mothers Beside Them by James J. McKenna, Ph.D.

Throughout human history, breast-feeding mothers sleeping alongside their infants constituted a marvelously adaptive system in which both the mothers' and infants' sleep physiology and health were connected in beneficial ways. By sleeping next to its mother, the infant receives protection, warmth, emotional reassurance, and breast milk - in just the forms and quantities that nature intended. This sleeping arrangement permits mothers (and fathers) to respond quickly to the infant if it cries, chokes, or needs its nasal passages cleared, its body cooled, warmed, caressed, rocked or held. This arrangement thus helps to regulate the infant's breathing, sleep state, arousal patterns, heart rates and body temperature. The mother's proximity also stimulates the infant to feed more frequently, thus receiving more antibodies to fight disease. The increased nipple contact also causes changes in the mother's hormone levels that help to prevent a new pregnancy before the infant is ready to be weaned. In this way, the infant regulates its mother's biology, too; increased breast-feeding blocks ovulation, which helps to ensure that pregnancies will not ordinarily occur until the mother's body is able to restore the fat and iron reserves needed for optimal maternal health. It is a curious fact that in Western societies the practice of mothers, fathers and infants sleeping together came to be thought of as strange, unhealthy and dangerous. Western parents are taught that "co-sleeping" will make the infant too dependent on them, or risk accidental suffocation. Such views are not supported by human experience worldwide, however, where for perhaps millions of years, infants as a matter of course slept next to at least one caregiver, usually the mother, in order to survive. At some point in recent history, infant separateness with low parental contact during the night came to be advocated by child care specialists, while infant-parent interdependence with high parental contact came to be discouraged. In fact, the few psychological studies which are available suggest that children who have "co-slept" in a loving and safe environment become better adjusted adults than those who were encouraged to sleep without parental contact or reassurance. The fear of suffocating infants has a long and complex cultural history. Since before the middle ages "overlying" or suffocating infants deliberately was common, particularly among the poor in crowded cities. This form of infanticide led local church authorities to make laws forbidding parents to let infants sleep next to them. The practice of giving infants alcohol or opiates to get them to sleep also became common; under such conditions, babies often did not wake up, and it was presumed that the mothers must have overlaid them. Also, in smoke-filled, under-ventilated rooms, infants can easily succumb to asphyxia. Unfortunately, health officials in some Western countries promote the message that sleep contact between the mother and infant increases the chances of the infant dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But the research on which this message is based only indicates that bed-sharing can be dangerous when it occurs in the context of extreme poverty or when the mother is a smoker. Some researchers have attempted to export this message to other cultures. However, in Japan, for example, where co-sleeping is the norm, SIDS rates are among the lowest in the world, which suggests that this arrangement may actually help to prevent SIDS. Human infants need constant attention and contact with other human beings because they are unable to look after themselves. Unlike other mammals, they cannot keep themselves warm, move about, or feed themselves until relatively late in life. It is their extreme neurological immaturity at birth and slow maturation that make the mother-infant relationship so important. The human infant's brain is only about 25% of its adult weight at birth, whereas most other mammals are born with 60-90% of their adult brain size. The young of most other mammals become independent of their parents within a year, whereas humans take 14 to 17 years to become fully developed physically, and usually longer than that to be fully independent. Apart from being a natural characteristic of our species, constant proximity to the mother during infancy is also made necessary by the need to feed frequently. Human milk is composed of relatively low amounts of protein and fat, and high amounts of quickly absorbed and metabolized sugars. Therefore the infant's hunger cycle is short, as is the time spent in deep sleep. All of these factors seem to indicate that the custom of separating infants from their parents during sleep time is more the result of cultural history than of fundamental physiological or psychological needs. Sleep laboratory studies have shown that bed-sharing, instead of sleeping in separate rooms, almost doubled the number of breast-feeding episodes and tripled the total nightly duration of breast-feeding. Infants cried much less frequently when sleeping next to their mothers, and spent less time awake. We think that the more frequently infants are breast-fed, the less likely they are to die from cot death. Our scientific studies of mother and infants sleeping together have shown how tightly bound together the physiological and social aspects of the mother-infant relationship really are. Other studies have shown that separation of the mother and infant has adverse consequences. Anthropological considerations also suggest that separation between the mother and infant should be minimal. Western societies must consider carefully how far and under what circumstances they want to push infants away from the loving and protective co-sleeping environment. Infants' nutritional, emotional and social needs as well as maternal responses to them have evolved in this environment for millennia. Dr. James J. McKenna is a Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Center for Behavioral Studies of Mother-Infant Sleep, Notre Dame University. This article first appeared in the March-April 1996 issue of World Health, the journal of the World Health Organization. © 1996, James J. McKenna

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Colourful Cosleeping Cuddlers

Just a couple of colourful pics of my cosleeping babes.
I think they are stunning.
Lochlain was entertaining Tristan with his sock puppet and Will was being camera shy, he wakes up just like me. Grumpy!
Hope you like them.
x B

Friday, October 19, 2007

Spring Is Well And Truly Here

It's late. I should be in bed. I really should. Tristan started my day at about 5am, but here I am browsing the web and mucking around with some photos... feeling a little jaded about the online world tonight after a much loved community has almost imploded in it's own ego, and sold out, leaving me feeling rather gutted. Oh well, have to find a new home, and get my groove back elsewhere.
We spent the morning in Freo today, hanging out with some other funky mamas, having a coffee and a play out in the spring sunshine. It was fantastic, but of course I got sunburnt rather badly... hmmm not a nice tan. Naughty mama, not wearing a hat.
It was great to be out and about, and I picked up a new wrap. Yes, the sling addiction continues. I bought a Gyspy Mama today from Karritree Lane, as I am going to sell my HAB after a very short love affair with the jersey wraps I have decided that I need a lighter weight fabric going into summer, and I would prefer something that I could get wet and have it dry much quicker. Tristan also got a matching hat to go with it, so we look like the cool crew!
The weather is certainly turning it on of late, and we have some flowers starting to appear in random pockets of the garden. It's great for inspiring the useless gardener in me, and I am committed to getting my yard looking neat as before summer is here. I have some pots that are begging for Aloe Vera and Agave. I want to fill in some gaps out the front with more shrubs but am still undecided on what will fit with my "more natives" plan. I am loving that the boys have such an awesome yard to play in, with a great deal of shaded patio area, it makes for a great play date setting and a fantastic fruit eating spot!
The big boys are really into helping out with Tristan now and finding ways to be "mums" to Ted and Baybee. Ted is here on holidays while Grandma and Ron are in Sinagpore. Will has taken to slinging him around the place to keep him settled, and when he needs a mummy milk, Will obliges and faux feeds him. A little AP in the making. Lochie has adopted Will's Baybee in the interim but he is not fussed on being a slinging dada, he prefers to use a stroller and race around the yard, speed freak that one! Here is my slinging boy with Ted in his pouch.
Lochlain is known here as the key thief, and the addition of our new "busy shelf" for keys and wallets could not have come at a better time. Lochlain has added to his "Escape Ariste" repetoire and now knows how to get out of the dead bolted front door and into my car, in less than 30 seconds mind you. So the keys are now as high as they can be, and Mr Houdini is on 24 hour watch. Here's a pic of him in action, cheeky monkey. Sigh, I think it's time I hit the hay. As much as my brain is still ticking I am sure that I will benefit from an extra hour or two's sleep rather than sitting here mucking about. Oh, and a bit of *fluff* news, I have taken over giving the ABA info talks for the antenatal classes at the local hospital. It's 3 nights a month, and it's only about 25 minutes of giving people a heads up on where/how/why/when to get breastfeeding support. I am stoked, I feel like I am back on track with helping women out, and getting out and about doing what I want to do, empower women. It will all count towards my training as a counsellor, and as I get further along in my chosen career path it will all count towards me becoming a Lactation Consultant. That's right, the mad breastfeeder is choosing to move into paid work eventually to talk all day about something I have done for almost 4 years already! I have finished up my state government contract, so I am not working at the moment, which is allowing me to focus on my volunteer work a bit more, and giving me more flexibilty in steering myself towards my *ideal* career path. I have applied for direct entry midwifery next year at Curtin, and failing gaining entry into that (which is highly likely as I am only eligible for 1 of 9 places), I am in line for a nursing degree with ECU, to get through that and then do a post grad in midwifery. Yep, that's right. I want to catch babies, and help women boob on. Geez, whooda thunk that's where I would find my passion?! Ha, yep. I am sure I mentioned going to bed... I am certain of it. Well I better head to it... it's looking nice and cosy and I am reading a couple of great books at the moment so I may just sneak a peek into them before I shut my eyes. Night all, and have a fantastic weekend. I know I plan to! x B

Kate's 21st Present

I finished it. 9 months late. oops. Sorry Bug.
The photo doesn't do it justice as the flash hits the paint badly....
But this is it. It is simple acrylic on canvas board. I really got into painting this one, and the kids loved helping me... although Andrew wasn't impressed with the art work on the projector screen. Oops.
I am really, really super keen to set up my art space out in the shed now. I went and bought new oils and new acyrlics yesterday and just need some new canvas and a fair few new brushes. Decent brushes. It's something I do slack it with my brushes a bit, and don't clean them off well enough.
This is what I call getting my groove back. Woo!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Buses and Trains

Yesterday we had an adventure into town. The highlight for Lochlain was the walk on the overpass over the freeway where he could marvel at the cars racing below him. So excited! We caught a train to Glendalough and had to get on a bus to the city because of the trains being out of service into the city for the Mandurah rail link up. Wasn't too much of a hassle, the guards helped me get all three on the bus with no drama and Will loved being on a caterpillar bus, a new experience for him. The boys loved it. It was a bit tougher than I expected because of the bus transfer, but all in all, everyone was really helpful. I had Lochlain in the E3 with the bags in the baby bit, Tristan in the Hug-a-Bub and Will walked everywhere for me. We had a bit of an uh-oh moment on the way in, when Tristan had a poo-splosion, but thankfully I had invested in Cute Tooshies this week and he was well covered, and we had no blowouts! Fantastic! We had a look in Myer, and went to Borders to get part of Ava's birthday present. The boys got to pick out a book each and they both chose the same set of books in a box set, so no arguments. YAY. We watched some buskers in the mall for a bit, and went and got a cold drink in Carillon, and we made our journey home again. Will loved every minute of being on the train, so much to look at. Lochlain fell asleep on the bus from Perth to Glendalough, so thank goodness I took the E3. They were so exhausted from their day out and about, Will was asleep by about 6pm and Lochlain soon after.

The Birth High - Tristan is Born

Like a form of foreplay, this long latency process (“forelabor”) seems to set up the biological and social circumstances so that all the “elements for success” are simultaneously present. Latent labor gets everyone gathered, involved and geared up to attend to the biological and emotional needs of the mother and baby. The marriage of biology to psychology with its attendant association to sociology (the right people present and the wrong people not) is necessary for physiological function. From http://www.collegeofmidwives.org/prac_issues01/MFer_01a.htm
This birth story has been so hard to write. Not because there was trauma, not because there were parts that were hazy and unclear because of drugs. It’s just that it’s a birth story that I find really hard to explain. In my mind my baby began his journey the day before he was born. A Friday. I had two of my doulas over for lunch and just to chill out and get a good feel for how I wanted my birth to go. I was feeling crampy and very blissed out. I could taste every atom in my food that day. I felt sharp and aware of every sensation. As my doulas left that night to do their own thing I felt like I was made of pure electricity. Andrew invited a friend and his girlfriend over to watch a movie and hang out with the kids. We sat up until about 11 watching old movies and just having a laugh. I was going to the toilet about every 30 minutes. I was losing huge amounts of mucous and the twinges really started to get me excited. I closed the front door at about 11.30 and went to bed with Lochlain, knowing in my heart I had a big job in the next few days. Saturday morning Andrew started work around 5am, I could hear him getting ready at around 4.30am and I remember hearing him leave and thinking that I just had to wait until his shift finished and then I could birth. I went back to sleep and woke at around 9am. Both the boys had slept in and we got up to have a lazy morning in our PJs. I got out of bed and took two steps to the bedroom door. BANG. A contraction. Ok, get a grip Brooke, this is going to be hours yet and you have things to do. Get the kids’ breakfast. I made food, and ate breakfast for myself. I got up to go the toilet. BANG. Another contraction. Or was it? Nah, it was just a niggle, I am not in labour. That hurts far more than this. I turn on the computer and log on to MSN. Laura is free to chat so we have a little rave online, and I let her know that I think I am warming up. I time two twinges while I am chatting, 8 minute gaps between them. But they don’t really hurt in my back, it’s lower and to the front, so surely it’s not even real labour. Laura asks if I need company for the day and I figure why the hell not. I tell her to get her skates on, and see if I can manifest perfection. I try to do the dishes, but the twinges are distracting me. The phone rings. Did I text someone? I don’t remember. I answer the phone. “Megan is that you?” I hiss through gritted teeth at the peak of a twinge. Shit, should have waited until the end of the contraction before I answered the phone. Don’t want to freak her out. But I want someone here NOW. Megan talks to me, I try to tell her I am not in labour, but I am. She decides to come to me. Her and Laura are both about 40 minutes away from me, in opposite directions so I know that I am going to be alone for a while longer. I decide to tell myself I am not in labour. I try to chat more online to people. Nope, can’t do that, I can’t concentrate. I put on a movie for the kids and just pace around the house. I am not in real labour yet, it doesn’t hurt enough. Time passes. I get a text, my witches are 20 minutes away. I sit on the toilet and try to read a magazine. It’s a Zoo magazine, why am I looking at naked women? Ugh. Get up and pace some more. Megan arrives. Greg waits in the driveway in case it looks like I am closer to birthing than I let on. Nope, I smile and wave, have a laugh. I am not in real labour yet. I just need company. Lochlain is extremely ill. He is screaming at me, constantly. His fever rages. He sleeps in fits and wakes to scream and cling to me. Laura arrives. We chat. We have fruit. Fantastic strawberries. And organic chocolate. Oh, and the strawberries and cream lollies too. My water bottle is endlessly refilled. We tidy the boys bedroom. Well, Megan and Laura tidy, while I sit on the edge of the beds. I go silent occasionally and the house honours me. We get the boys lunch. Or at least I assume we did. I stand lots, and just rock every now and then. But I am not hurting yet, so this is going to be hours, days even. I feel stupid for calling the team in so early on in the piece. I need help with Lochlain but he won’t go to anyone. He warms to Megan. And eventually Laura.. He is still screaming. And screaming. I need him to sleep. Someone asks where Andrew is. I explain that I am not calling him home from his shift because he finishes at 1.30pm. My witches roll with that. He comes home and I tell him to go to bed. I need him to sleep so he can be alert for me in the night. I tell him to take Lochlain to bed. I need a break from the screaming. Will hangs out with us. We eat, chat, laugh. I don’t remember any of what went on in the next few hours. But I certainly wasn’t in real labour yet, definitely not. Andrew arranges for his mum to come for dinner. I am not in labour yet. At least that’s what I have told him. Lochlain wakes and screams some more. This all happens around me in a blur. Megan #2 arrives with a birth ball. I asked for one apparently. Now I can’t bear to look at it. But they talk about brownies, food. So hungry. Laura leaves. Her baby is sick and needs her. I still have two crew. Two Megans. One Megan leaves, Melissa arrives. I have no idea what order that happens in. Lochlain is still screaming. I can hear Andrew snoring. Andrew’s mum arrives for dinner. I am at the kitchen sink. “I am going to have a baby tonight,” I breathe. More activity as she realises I mean I am in labour. But I am not in real labour. It doesn’t hurt yet. Someone asks about the kid’s clothes for an overnight stay. I remember having packed stuff. Where did I put it? In the car. I get more stuff ready for them, they are excited, because granddad is coming to get them. Who is here? Where is Andrew? He needs dinner. Eat dinner. All of you. Please. I am going to need you all tonight, it’s going to be hours yet. I start to pay a bit more attention to these twinges but am still able to move through them. The kids leave. I wave them off, thinking that it’s still days before I birth, and people are being far too preemptive around me. It doesn’t hurt yet. Andrew eats. A potato crisp sandwhich and a pepsi. I remember that. We are still laughing and chatting. Melissa is easing Andrew into the idea that I am birthing. He resists that I am in labour. I’m not, it doesn’t hurt yet. Time passes. Someone hands me the phone, someone wants to talk to me. Trying to focus. Hold the kitchen bench. It’s a midwife. I give her my details, and what she needs to know, then BANG a huge contraction. Grip the bench. It’s double backed. I get hit twice in row. Oh, so now I am in labour. That hurt a bit. But it’s not in my back yet. So I still have ages to go. Someone is telling me to go get in the car. I am not ready. This is not real labour yet. It doesn’t hurt enough. Would you all just let me decide. But surely they wouldn’t be jeopardising my birth. Trust, Brooke. Trust them. It’s all lining up, and apparently I am going to give birth whether I want to or not. You hand picked this crew. They seem to know what’s going on. Melissa has made a sanctuary in the car for me. Megan holds my hand. Melissa drives. Andrew follows in his car. I text my family to let them know I am going to birth. The car trip sucks. I grip the roof. I need to stand up. I can’t sit. Arrive at hospital as Laura pulls up. How did she know? It’s dark. Wow the whole day passed so fast. What time is it? Who cares? Grip signpost, gather strength. WALK NOW. I move fast in a straight line to the toilet. I need to go badly. I still don’t think I am close to birthing. This is stupid take me home. I will just sit in the toilet for a bit, I can just figure out my plan. My plan, get the baby out. Lets just do this. We get to the lift.We get upstairs. Confusion. I didn’t follow some rules. I forget where to go. People talk, doulas sort it. I prove I am in labour, discuss medication needs and get a room. Ooh a ball. Ohh even better, a toilet. Let me get there. Shit, now I am on the toilet, and I have to sit here through a contraction. BAD move. Got to stand. I hold the end of the bed and the side rail and pull/hang off there in waves. I am still talking in between rushes. I feel alive. People are talking to me, and apparently I am making sense. We are laughing a lot. I want to drink a lot. I need to pee a lot. Contractions come and go, this is still not hurting in my back. I am still sure this is not the real thing. Wait a minute. My toe hurts. What on earth? Half my toenail is torn off. Can I have a band aid please. Note to self, find out how that happened later. It’s all so different to how I expected the pain to be. I am coping too well. Surely I should be in the zone by now. Oh well, enjoy the ride, it’s going to be hours. My crew are with me two by two, helping me with cold washers on my back. Holding my hand. Grinning at me. Loving me. This is awesome. My midwife comes, she tells me she has read my birthplan. Cool. She asks if I need anything. I forget she exists and I don’t notice her for ages. I feel anxious about the fact that my membranes are still intact. I am upset and quite angry. Surely they should have exploded by now. I can’t bear the pressure. My midwife speaks, the only time I hear her. She reminds me that my body and my baby have their own plan, that’s it’s all unfolding as it should. She reminds me that my baby knows what he needs and that she has no intention of interfering and if I want to break my waters I have to get on with having a baby. Andrew reminds me to just TRUST. He seems really calm, sane and rational, like he KNOWS that the membranes have a purpose. I move between the toilet and the bed. That’s it. I rock and sway and dance a bit. Hands in the air. Tip my head back. This is awesome. Am I meant to enjoy this? Do I want a bath yet? No, it’s still too early, didn’t we only just get here? It doesn’t hurt enough yet and I don’t want it to all stop. It’s not going to stop Brooke. This is real labour. Someone hands me a warm face cloth. Put this on your peri. Huh? You want something of me. I know it. I can see you want me to do something with this cloth. I don’t understand. Oh, ok. I go along with it. Hmm, give me a few more contractions. I am coping. Megan and Melissa convince me it’s time. Fill it up, it’s going to take a while. It’s ready. Ok, lets get it on. Time to get this baby out please. Take a deep breath. Barrel down the hallway. Clothes off and in I get. Holy shit. Oh no. It’s too hot. Cool it down. Wait, hang on. This hurts NOW. It hurts. I am splitting open. I can’t catch a breath. BANG, whoa, this is hard work and I want to go home. I can’t do hours more of this. It’s too much. It’s too hard. Take me home now. I call out, help. HELP ME. HELP ME. I am in a dark room, in a warm tub. I have smiles surrounding me, calm, grinning faces. I can’t do this, this is insane. Who the hell wants to have a baby? Right now it intensifies about 1000 times and I am hit hard. I feel like if this lasts more than one more hit I will die. Oh, that’s right. This is transition. It will end. Melissa would you stop smiling at me please. Wait a second, I need to push. Uh oh. Andrew, where is he. Shit, I see the midwife’s feet. I am gripping someone, I think it was Megan. Push whoa bear down hard this rocks but wait aren’t I meant to push in bits, this is one long huge push and geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez, what the hell was that? What do you mean it was just the membranes rupturing? NO WAY. What? The heads out? I thought that was just the waters breaking, what do you mean he’s half out. Who’s holding him? No I can’t hang on, deep breath. I am coming. HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. I just had a baby. Shit that was quick. Hey look, he’s out. Tristan. Wow. He is behind me, so I loop my leg over and grab my baby. Oh my god. That was awesome. Lets do that again. Wooooooooooooohooooooooooooooooo! Andrew has his hand on my shoulder. I feel really warm. He is big, and oh wow he looks so much like Will. I am getting cold and I let the crew know to keep me warm. They remind me to stay present and not let this take me away, I feel a pull to close my eyes. Nope, must stay present. I have a load of hot towels and stuff on me and we drain the bath. The water won’t go down because the caul is stuck in the plug hole. The time to move is now. I need to get on with getting this placenta out. I hand my fresh baby to Megan and her colour changes. I get in the wheel chair. I am warm. We get out into the hall and someone congratulates me. I beam. I have my entourage. Megan holds my baby while I contract more as the placenta moves out. I am really not liking this bit at all. I want to enjoy my baby. But this is kind of uncomfortable. Look at that giant long cord. I am getting impatient with this placenta and feel myself forcefully pushing. I try to hold up on doing that and eventually it comes away easy. Ahh relief. Who is going to cut the cord. I hadn’t picked anyone. Melissa caught him, Megan has held him as his placenta is born, Laura cuts his cord. I am so happy. So, so happy. We weigh him, Andrew is keen to pass on the size when he calls family. What’s his name? Tristan James. He weighs 4.78kg. Andrew leaves relatively soon. I have a shower. This is the first time ever post birth I have showered myself. I stand there. Watching the water and just cry. This is amazing. I climb into bed. I am still high. I talk to the midwife about my blood loss. She is happy to leave it for a bit longer, I am not. I want to relax now. I ask for a shot of syntometrine. She estimates that I am already at 500mls of blood lost and I just want to sleep without worrying about more gushes. She is happy to give me the shot, and if it doesn’t work we will go from there. I have the shot, and then I get comfy. My doulas are still with me, all on a high. The room is abuzz. After a while Laura leaves, and later again Melissa leaves, Megan camps in my room. I think someone set her up on the floor. I drift in and out of sleep. My baby feeds. He smells divine. I feel like I am radiating my high. This is how birth should have been for me all along. This is what makes a birth addict high.

Circle of Life Midwifery

View this montage created at One True Media
Circle of Life Midwifery

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Three Goddesses

A Baby Cries: How Should Parents Respond? by Jan Hunt, M.Sc.

Imagine for a moment that you have been abducted by space ship to a distant planet, and you are surrounded by giant strangers whose language you do not speak. Two of those strangers take you under their care. You are entirely dependent on them for the satisfaction of all your needs - hunger, thirst, comfort, and - especially - reassurance that you are safe in this strange place. Then imagine that something is very wrong - you are in pain, or terribly thirsty, or in need of emotional support. But your two attendants ignore your cries of distress, and you are unable to get them to help you or to understand your needs. Now you have another problem, more serious than the first: you feel completely helpless and alone in an alien world. In all innocence, a baby assumes that we, as his parents, are correct - that whatever we do is what we ought to be doing. If we do nothing, the baby can only conclude that he is unloved because he is unlovable. It is not within his capabilities to conclude that we are only busy, distracted, worried, misled by "experts", or simply inexperienced as parents. No matter how deeply we love our baby, it is mostly the outward manifestations of that love that the baby can understand. No one likes to have his communication ignored. and if it is, this brings on feelings of helplessness and anger that inevitably damage the relationship. Such a response seems to be one that is universally experienced by adults, and there is no reason to conclude that it is any different for babies and children. Few people would ignore an adult while he repeatedly said, "Can you help me? I'm not feeling right." Ignoring such a request would be considered most unkind. But a baby cannot make such a statement; he can only cry and cry until someone responds - or until he gives up in despair. Immediate response to a baby's cry went unquestioned for thousands of years until recent times. In our culture, we assume that crying is normal and unavoidable for babies. Yet in natural societies where babies are carried close to the care-giver much of the day and night for the first several months, such crying is rare. In contrast to what many in our society would expect, babies cared for in this way show self-sufficiency sooner than do babies not receiving such care. In fact, research on early childhood experiences consistently shows that children who have enjoyed the most loving care in infancy become the most secure and loving adults, while those babies who have been forced into submissive behavior build up feelings of resentment and anger that may well be expressed later in harmful ways. In spite of this research, most arguments for ignoring crying are based on fears of "spoiling" the baby. A typical baby-care brochure advises the parent to "let the baby handle it for a while". Though infancy can be a challenging time for the parents, a baby is simply too young and inexperienced to "handle" the cause of the crying, whatever it may be. He cannot feed himself, change himself, or comfort himself in the way that nature intended. Clearly, it is the parents' responsibility to meet their baby's needs for nurturing, security, and love, not the baby's responsibility to meet his parents' need for peace and solitude. The pamphlet implies that if the parents give their baby an opportunity to become self-reliant, they are helping him to mature. But an infant is simply not capable of such maturity. True maturity reflects a strong foundation of emotional security that can only come about from the love and support of those closest to him during the earliest years. An immature person can only respond to stress in an immature way. A baby denied his birthright of comforting from his parents may respond by turning to ineffective self-stimulation (head-banging, rhythmic rocking, thumb-sucking, etc.) and emotional withdrawal from others. If his needs are routinely ignored, he may decide that loneliness and despair are preferable to risking further disappointment and rejection. Unfortunately, this decision, once made, can become a permanent outlook on life, leading to an emotionally impoverished life. Many child-care professionals feel that parental encouragement of self-satisfiers and over-substitution of material objects - teddy bears substituting for parents, strollers for arms, cribs for shared sleep, pacifiers for nursing, toys for parents' attention, music boxes for voices, formula for breast-milk, wind-up swings for laps - have led to an age of materialistic acquisition, personal loneliness and lack of emotional fulfillment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tristan and I

Tristan is now 11 weeks old. Time flies when you're having fun! This was taken on Sunday at friend's place at a creative session... will show you the finished artwork soon. It was an amazing day hanging out with some very talented women, and kids having a great day with Dad while I had some *time out* with Tristan.

We had a playdate gathering here today, and it was chaos but the kids had a ball and somebody (ahem named Will) was asleep very early after being on the go all day. Rose and Michael stayed last night, and Will was so excited to wake and find his aunty and uncle asleep in his room, and here to play some more.

The house is really starting to come along now, with thanks to help from Vicki I have my patio back under control, and the *JB Women* gave me a hand doing some weeding today while the kids played and we had coffee and cake. Oh, and Vic, the zuchini and pineapple chutney was a total hit today, and I need to score some more soon, cos that jar was opened and eaten in less than a day. Mmmmm.

My next plan is create an art space in the shed again, and set it up so that we can use it as a space to manifest perfection in art, or at least dabble in creativity and crafty activities for the kids on a more regular basis. I am waiting on some supplies to arrive so I can complete my gifts to give to my doulas, I will post some pics when they are finished too. I finally finished writing my last birth story, so I will post that up when I get a chance, it's pretty long, despite it being a short labour. I guess I just like writing hey, heehee.

Yay for having my sanity back!

We are planning to head to CityFarm on Saturday, a train ride for the boys and a chance for me to have a look at permaculture and market stalls... yay. I think we have plans to be out and about every day for the next few days so we are going to have some tired boys of an afternoon and a mama keen for a hot bath and a cup of tea.

Well after a busy day it's time for me to go to bed I think. Tristan has had a whiney afternoon, and Lochlain just wants cuddles. Will is snoring away next to me on the couch, looking all beautiful and quiet.

Peace out

x B

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Parents Bill of Rights

The Parents Bill of Rights: Putting Families Before Commercialism
by Gary Ruskin and Jonathan Rowe
WHEREAS, the nurturing of character and strong values in children is one of the most important functions of any society; WHEREAS, the primary responsibility for the upbringing of children resides in their parents; WHEREAS, an aggressive commercial culture has invaded the relationship between parents and children, and has impeded the ability of parents to guide the upbringing of their own children; WHEREAS, corporate marketers have sought increasingly to bypass parents, and speak directly to children in order to tempt them with the most sophisticated tools that advertising executives, market researchers and psychologists can devise; WHEREAS, these marketers tend to glorify materialism, addiction, hedonism, violence, and anti-social behaviour, all of which are abhorrent to most parents; WHEREAS, parents find themselves locked in constant battle with this pervasive influence, and are hard pressed to keep the commercial culture and its degraded values out of their children's lives; WHEREAS, the aim of this corporate marketing is to turn children into agents of corporations in the home, so that they will nag their parents for the things they see advertised, thus sowing strife, stress and misery in the family; WHEREAS, the products advertised generally are ones parents themselves would not choose for their children: violent and sexually suggestive entertainment, video games, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and junk food; WHEREAS, this aggressive commercial influence has contributed to an epidemic of marketing-related diseases in children, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, alcoholism, anorexia, and bulimia, while millions will eventually die from the marketing of tobacco; WHEREAS, corporations have latched onto the schools and compulsory school laws as a way to bypass parents and market their products and values to a captive audience of impressionable and trusting children; WHEREAS, these corporations ultimately are creatures of state law, and it is intolerable that they should use the rights and powers so granted for the purpose of undermining the authority of parents in these ways; THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Australian Parliament should right the balance between parents and corporations and restore to parents some measure of control over the commercial influences on their children, by enacting this Parents' Bill of Rights, including the following legislation: Leave Children Alone Act: Bans television advertising aimed at children under 12 years of age. Child Privacy Act: Restores to parents the ability to safeguard the privacy of their children. It gives parents the right to control any commercial use of personal information concerning their children, and the right to know precisely how such information is used. Children's Advertising Subsidy Revocation Act: It is intolerable that the federal government rewards corporations with tax write-offs for the money they spend on psychologists, market researchers, ad agencies, and media in their campaigns to instill their values in our children. This act eliminates all tax subsidies and deductions for advertising aimed at children under 12 years of age. Advertising to Children Accountability Act: This act helps parents affix individual responsibility for attempts to subject their children to commercial influence. It requires corporations to disclose who created each of their advertisements and who did the market research for each ad directed at children under 12 years of age. Commercial-Free Schools Act: Corporations have turned the public schools into advertising free-for-all zones. This act prohibits corporations from using the schools and compulsory school laws to bypass parents and pitch their products to impressionable schoolchildren. Product Placement Disclosure Act: This law gives parents more information with which to monitor the influences that prey upon their children through the media. Specifically, it requires corporations to disclose, on packaging and at the outset, any and all product placements on television and videos, and in movies, video games, and books. This prevents advertisers from sneaking ads into media that parents assume to be ad-free. Child Harm Disclosure Act: Parents have a right to know of any significant health effects of products they might purchase for their children. This act creates a legal duty for corporations to publicly disclose all information suggesting that their product(s) could substantially harm the health of children. Fairness Doctrine for Parents: This act provides parents with the opportunity to talk back to the media and the advertisers. It makes the Fairness Doctrine apply to all advertising to children under 12 years of age, providing parents and community with response time on broadcast TV and radio for advertising to children. Children's Food Labelling Act: Parents have a right to information about the food that corporations push upon their children. This act requires fast food restaurant chains to label contents of food and provide basic nutritional information about it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Boys Having A Larf

My men clowning around. 'Scuse the messy heads haha, I can't find any recent pictures of Tristan where there isn't another boy attacking (oops, sorry, LOVING) him. Poor mite doesn't get 5 minutes peace at the moment.

Making Positive Progress

I had a great birthday in the end. Spent a bit of money (okay - a lot of money) at Ikea, and took myself out for lunch. We got some great stuff to get the house a bit more organised. Having a family of 5 has suddenly made me realise how much I value space, and how it's really something you have to conserve in a house to keep it sane. We have finished off the boys room for now, and you can actually see the floor!! I am pretty happy with how it is, and would like to change a few things as we go... but there is no real hurry for it, as they have beds and toys, what more do they need? Aesthetics to 4 and 2 year olds really mean nothing. Tristan's room has curtains, finally, and it looks like a proper nursery. I guess it's just a room for his day sleeps as he gets bigger and a space that as is his, other than that it doesn't really get used. I am hoping to post some pictures of how awesome the interior is starting to look now that I have got my act together and escaped the PND fog for what's seems like the final time. I was struck down horrifically last week by horrendous mastitis and spent a couple of days feeling really sorry for myself, and unable to do much do to the fever and the shakes. Don't you hate it when you just can't get warm? I resorted to a course of antibiotics, and am being very cautious about how often I am feeding Tristan, just to make sure I am not encouraging any blocked ducts. We had a massive breakthrough with Lochlain's speech in the last couple of weeks. He has added some two syllable words to his vocabulary, so we now have Bebe (Baby), Mummy(Money), and Beep Beep. We are getting there slowly. He is making much more of an effort to communicate with us non verbally, and his expression is done mostly in his hands and his face. Learning to read his cues is such a challenge, but we make do with what we can. He is making great progress with toilet training at the moment too, so it seems we are on the up and up with him. Not being pregnant allows me so much more patience with him, and I think he is really benefitting from me being able to play down at his level more. We spent yesterday morning at the park with some friends, and Will is now learning stunts and tricks. He is really keen on doing the more hardcore, physical, risk taking, co-ordination exercises that come naturally to kids. He is covered in scrapes and bruises, but it's all learning to him. Learning about his own capabilities and exercising his autonomy in deciding what he can and can't do. For me, it's scary to watch, but so far I am managing to just sit back and let him take stacks. He is really starting to come out of his shell and interact with other children on a far more physical level which is awesome. Tristan is just growing up. Already smiling and gooing at me. We are still weighing and measuring him just so I can grin about how fat he is. He only has one more appointment with the paediatrician as a follow up from when he had the Staph infection 6 weeks ago, but other than that we are in the clear with him. His toenails seem to be completely healed, and I am really vigilant about keeping them short and clean to avoid a repeat infection. He may need to see a surgeon at some stage about having the nail bed cut or something, but for as long as it remains no ingrown, it's less of a drama. Andrew is about 8 weeks away from the end of semester, and we can't wait. We are finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this degree, and in a year's time he will be a quialified primary school teacher. It's going to be awesome for him to move out into the workforce again, but this time in a role that he is going to enjoy and really wants to be a part of. Exams this year are probably going to be a bit of a stress, but like every year we will just bite the bullet and get through it as a family... lots of stress and door slamming no doubt. Haha. Me, well I am reading some great books right now. Currently have my nose buried in Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah J Buckley, and am about to start Money, Milk and Madness by Baumslag and Michels. Yes I do read a lot of activist/feminist/political texts but it's really keeping my brain spinning and I enjoy the challenge of adressing my preconceptions on certain issues. Tomorrow is a work day, and the rest of the week is free to hang out at the park with the boys, and maybe even do a rockpools visit if the weather is clear enough. I think we have a gathering to go to on Sunday that will involve painting banners and bags with handprints. They might end out being part of presents for people *hahaha*. Waiting on Fay to have her baby so I can head down to Bunbury and do her dishes and make a meal or two for her. She is about a week "over due" now, but as we all know, the baby doesn't come until *it* decides it's ready. So I am just waiting on a phonecall to let me know how big he is! Right, off to see if I can get some photos of the house uploaded for you all, and maybe a few of the boys! I have an article to finish writing and it's due tonight, so I better get to it. *eek* x B

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Get Up - Climate Change

Today, It's My Birthday. Happy Birthday To Me.

Yep, that's right! 24 years ago my mama gave birth to me. Happy birthing day mama. I am planning on watching a bit of footy (go Cats) and probably going to head to ikea at some point. Yay. Right, off to have a day in the sun. x B

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday Morning Coffee Update

Here are a couple of pics of the lads, just so you can see how beautiful they are.
We are spending the day having a friend and her son over as it's raining and playgroup did not seem appealing today. Will probably spend most of the morning on the phone making appointment bookings and trying to get the car in for a service.
We have another busy week planned, and as I am working again the weeks revolve around keeping the domestic world under control.
This weekend is my birthday, but as with every year it is overshadowed by the AFL Grand Final, so we won't be doing anything.
We are making plans this week to go to Dongara for Ava's first birthday on the first weekend of November, and Will is going to have a joint birthday with her. Can't wait, as it will be our first trip in a LONG time. We get to sit on the beach and doing absolutely nothing for 3 days, I can't wait!!!
Andrew has a week off this week, so I think he is planning on doing some "Dad and boys stuff", like going swimming and playing golf. It will be the first break he has had since before Tristan was born, so it's going to be awesome to just slow down for a few days and really get to hang out as a family of 5.
Well, off to make a coffee and try and attack some of the washing pile (also known as Mt Foldmore) that is staring at me, begging to be folded. Hope everyone has a fantastic week, and I will update again soon.
Love to all.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Following the Money - Media and Healthcare

A woman recently did a little bit of late night research into where the money for our private hospitals comes from. When you read anything in the press we all know that it presents and entirely biased view as nothing can exist in vacuum, but to what extent does what we are reading about the current health crisis and the push for private health care have more to do with making the rich richer in this country? Have a read of her post that I happened across:

So I was snooping around. 60 Minutes is owned by ninemsn, a joint 50/50 venue of Microsoft and PBL Media. Also owned by PBL Media is the Nine Network, and the Nine Network's news service assists in production of 60 minutes. PBL Media's parent companies are PBL and CVC. CVC owns 6 Australian companies, two of which are in the health sector - Affinity Health (Hospitals) and DCA (Medical Services) as well as controls the majority share (75%) in PBL Media. CVC is very dodgy. Very! But anyway thats not what caught my eye. Affinity was bought out by Ramsay Healthcare, the largest private hospital group in Australia. Out of idle curiosity I went to see who ran Ramsay and found their board of directors. 3 of the 8 Directors on Ramsay's board of directors are involved with Prime Television Limited to the extent they are also on Prime Television's board of directors. One's the fucking chairman, another's the deputy chairman and the third's a director.Prime Television has a joint venue with.... NINE NETWORK where Nine would provide programming and marketing. It seems to me that the board running Ramsay Healthcare would carry some influence with Prime Tv - and thus Channel Nine and other Australian news programs. Check out the other directors. They're on industry, investment, media and telecommunications board committees, one's even on a Pharmaceutical company. The Becker Group is a massive tv and film company. I'm seeing Big Money everywhere here. Billions. AND they're the men running the largest private hospital group in Australia. Guess whose interests they'll have at heart?

So the private health sector is predominantly controlled by the same people who financially control the media representation of that sector and people who have a vested interest in the perpetuation of an unequal, classist health care system in this country. Look at this in terms of just one aspect of the private health care services. Maternity care. Within the last 4 years of reading the print media here in Perth and occasionally nation media publications, it has been apparent that the pervading opinion is that our public health system is in crisis. But whose opinion is this? And is it really representative of the opinion of the people who utilise the public health system, or is it a manufactured belief due to the media pressure placed on the public system in an uncloaked attempt to promote the private health care providers and their services? Is what we read in our media really about a system struggling, or is it an advertisement for a user pays system? There have been countless articles and medical editorials printed in The West Australian that I have noticed in the last four years that have done nothing to dispel the common belief that public maternity services are dangerous, under-funded, inadequate and would be detrimental to most women opting to be a public patient in a maternity care setting in this state. But is that the truth? How do we measure maternity care? Is it the lack of intervention, or is the prevalence of intervention in a normal, physiological, biological function of the human female? Or is it the availability of intervention? Is it the aesthetics of the setting? Is it the maternal recollection and satisfaction with the experience that we use as a measure? Regardless, if you are to read the print media you would think that women who have to use or choose to use the public maternity services here are taking a great risk, not only for themselves but for their babies. But is this reflected in the Perinatal Statisitics? No. It’s not. Ahh, but surely high risk, high dependency mother’s choose private obstetric care and therefore the private maternity care providers statistics for perinatal outcome are skewed, and the more intervention that was both available and used in a woman’s birth could only cause to reflect that it must have been necessary and they were bloody lucky they chose (the argument of choice is another one I will refer you on for) that model of care, for heaven forbid if they had been a public patient, they may not have had access to a particular intervention. But did they really need it? Or was it all part of the “service”? Here is the research that debunks that flawed theory: Private Patients Get More Birth Interventions (2000). The fulltext of the research can be seen here: Obstetric Interventions Between Public and Private Patients (2000). Read the reports in the news media, and read that our health care system is in crisis, and then watch as people flock to the private care providers in droves. But wait, the men and women with the ultimate control of what we read in that same news media, are also the men and women who stand to gain the most significantly financially. So, does that mean we are not reading what is reality. Is the media weighting a bias between the public and private health care debate? You bet your bottom dollar they are. They undoubtedly set the agenda for what we read. “Media will serve the interests of whoever owns and controls them- whether this be private individuals interested in profit or governments interested in political control” (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, 2005). Well, there you have it. But wait, even in Ramsay’s own published literature it states the same:

The Ramsay Way : · We are caring, progressive, enjoy our work and use a positive spirit to succeed · We take pride in our achievements and actively seek new ways of doing things better · We value integrity, credibility and respect for the individual · We build constructive relationships to achieve positive outcomes for all · We believe that success comes through recognizing and encouraging the value of people and teams

· We aim to grow our business while maintaining sustainable levels of profitability, providing a basis for stakeholder loyalty

Oh wait, you’re kidding? Profitability? These are women and babies we are talking about here, not stocks and bonds. Surely they aren’t making a profit on bringing our children into the world! HA, oh to be so naive. Every intervention performed on a birthing woman is remunerated by Medicare, and then topped up by private health insurers where a woman births as a private patient. So the private health service provider is running a business, even it if happens to be the business of birth. The propaganda spreads of how desperate our public maternity services are only serve to reinforce the belief that private maternity cover is not only the responsible choice, but also the “safer” choice. People like safe. I don’t blame them. I just have a very different idea of what safe really is. I also like to question what I am reading, and who determines that I should read it. Who decides that we should read such damning reports on the public system? Oh, they would be the people who have control over the private sector and stand to have the most to gain out of a mass exodus of birthing women from using public services, to utilising the “safer” private option… um yeah right. So read your paper, have your morning cup of tea. But remember, you are not reading what you choose to read, you are reading what someone else intends you to read. Be mindful of the media homogenisation that advertises the shortcomings of public obstetric care to covertly to line the pockets of private health bigwigs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Tools of a Revolutionary - What Will You Do?

I have taken this from another blog, and posted it here to spark some thought. I found it stirring.

Taken from: http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/

What will you do? The tools of a revolutionary. There comes a point when everyone needs to make a conscious decision to make changes that need to be made. How many times have we talked about small steps, how many times have you seen that strategy in magazines, online or in newspapers; how often have you already used the small steps strategy? We all know small steps work.Everyone in the world need to change a little, or a lot, to become greener. We need to change our idea that there is a product for everything; we have to stop buying the mountain of products that will end up in landfill or will pollute in some way. Everyone has a part to play in this, everyone needs to help.It doesn't matter if you can afford to buy lots of electricity or water, or if you can buy new clothes, shoes, paper plates and napkins or a million other products that harm the planet, until the cows come home, we all need to stop doing it. And we need to do it because it's the right thing to do - it is important, it will help, every small step does.So today my friends, I want you to commit to your change. I want you step up today and decide that even if you haven't done anything yet for your planet, and especially if you have, today I want you to tell me in the comments box what small step will start or continue you along the road to a greener life. I want you to tell me about your change and how it will affect your life. Please don't close this blog down now and walk away. Today is the day when instead of just knowing that something needs to be done, you start doing it.I commit to stop using tea bags. From now on I will use up the organic black tea bags I have in the pantry, then I will only buy loose tea. I have some my metal tea containers that I can use loose tea in that will be similar, but not quite as convenient, as a tea bag. Loose tea is cheaper and better than tea in bags, so I win on that aspect, but if lack of convenience is the price I pay to stop wasting all that filter paper, string, a label and one staple for every cup of tea, that, my friends, is the price I will payI want every one of you to email this post to a friend so we can get a million small steps happening. I want you to help me tell as many people as possible that we are doing this. And, most of all, I want to know what you will do.

Posted by Rhonda Jean at 13:28 30 comments

Now for me, this is about small steps, leading to bigger change. We are doing "small stuff" like recycling, teaching the kids to not waste their drawing paper, find household items that can be re-used, but our biggest commitment to this has been having our car gas converted. I am making an effort to stop the cycle of being a perpetual consumer, and I am starting to get serious about minimising my footprint that I leave on this earth. Tristan wears cloth nappies, my children wear hand me down clothing (well when it's offered), I breastfeed (which if you actually look at the green-ness of it, is one of the most environmentally friendly things that I do). My aim for the next 12 months is to reduce, reuse and recycle as much in my life as possible for a beginning greenie. If you have any fantastic ideas or inspiration, please pass it on...