29 September 2011

Ego boost

The upside to having a kitchen full of fruit flies: The tiny creatures put on a show of being intimidated when I irritatedly storm into their midst. My children do me no such favors; they think I'm hilarious when I'm angry.

Ha, ha! Mom's gonna blow her top again!

28 September 2011

For three headlines I am disquieted, and for four which I cannot bear:

1. Rich person pursues random feat ad absurdum

2. Female celebrity appears in meretricious dress

3. Thing happens on TV show

4. Israel can't get along with neighbors

27 September 2011

The benefit of preaching to the choir

is a well-catechized choir.

25 September 2011

You awful hospitals it's all your fault!!

Look, CNN, just don't publish stories that annoy pregnant ladies. They might spend way too much time when they should be sleeping writing long and pointless rants they'll wonder why they bothered posting as soon as they hit post.

But hey, what else is going on here today? So: this story contains claims I have a lot of trouble believing. The headline itself is indicative of its outlook on responsibility: "Hospitals need to do more to encourage breastfeeding," handmaidens that they are of leviathan state (where breastfeeding is in esoteric vogue right now) rather than private businesses free to offer whatever services they choose. Sheesh.

As for the claims: "nearly 80% of hospitals were giving babies formula, water or sugar-water." I've had newborns in four different hospitals. As soon as I tell the nurses I'm breastfeeding, they slap a sticker on the baby's bucket that says I'M BREASTFED. What it means is, DON'T GIVE THIS BABY ANYTHING IN A BOTTLE. And they don't, because if they did I could (and would) go medieval on their hineys for violating my instructions.

I suspect that the real trouble is not hospitals sneaking formula into babies (in fact I have never seen a hospital do anything; they are quite inanimate), but mothers not saying, "I'm breastfeeding." What mothers say is, "We're going to try breastfeeding. Where's the pump?" They are uncertain that they'll be able to breastfeed, whether they really want to, and with regards to all the stupid things some anti-breastfeeding great aunt told them. Moreover, virtually no one breastfeeds using only their breasts any more. So suddenly, it's not an I'M BREASTFED baby. It's a DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO GET SOME NUTRITIONAL SUBSTANCE INTO ME, IDEALLY BREASTMILK BUT REALLY WHATEVER WE CAN GET TO WORK OUT OK baby. And the dear nurses, bless their baby-loving, new mom-pitying hearts, do.

Another one: "Only one-third of hospitals allow mother and child to stay in the same room." I'm curious about the "allow" here. I don't doubt that at many hospitals, rooming in is not actively offered or encouraged. I have a hard time imagining it prohibited. At least one of our babies was born in nursery-normed hospital. When a nurse came in to wheel my baby off I just said, "Oh, she'll stay with us." And the nurse said, "Oh! Well . . . OK. Call us if you need a break." The hospital administration did not barrel into the room demanding that we give the nursery our baby. No one cared. Again, I wonder if this isn't a matter of mothers simply not knowing their options. Otherwise, I guess I'm just really lucky that out of four hospitals none of them "disallowed" rooming in when statistically 2.667 them should have.

Also regarding the "allow," if there's one thing I've learned from delivering in hospitals it's that, at least on the relatively minor questions I've had come up, hospital policy bows to fear of lawsuit. We've had nurses opt out of assisting in our room because of my weirdo demands like "Don't stick that pointy thing full of creepy juice in me." "That's hospital policy," they say. "Don't stick it in me," I say. "I'll have to go ask Dr. Important," they say importantly. A different nurse comes back, nothing gets stuck in me, and we all go on our way.

Let's see, what else? Oh yeah--want skin to skin contact with your baby immediately following birth? Say, "Hand over my baby." You can even be polite about it if you want because it turns out that being the person who gets to hand a brand newling over to its mom for the first time is a really awesome job that humans, including evil hospital doctors and nurses, like doing. (My only baby who didn't get immediate contact and nursing was the one who wasn't born in a hospital--freakin ha ha.) What if I need breastfeeding help after leaving the hospital? Well, there's a case to be made for the fact that I've, um, left the hospital. I don't expect Pizza Hut to keep supplying me with pizza after I've driven home. Etc.

Much of this "oh those horrible hospitals" report also strikes me as a bit optimistic with regard to mothers. The stories I hear from real live moms who called off breastfeeding usually go something like, "I was just so tired!" (this is before their 24-72 hour hospital discharge, not after three horrific weeks of trying to nurse at home) or "The baby liked the bottle better" (of course he did; he didn't have to work for it).

They honestly don't get it, and how could they? Few baby-free people in our comfortable society have any notion of how much a newborn needs. Asking one significantly injured person to deal with all those hitherto unknown needs is objectively sobering, and contextually insane. One hospital where I delivered DID actively encourage rooming in, and offered extensive breastfeeding services. The nursery was full, and the babies chowed down Enfamil without scarceness. When I availed myself of its breastfeeding assistance in the dark weeks that followed, it didn't help in the least, because breastfeeding problems are one of the main things that cannot be helped, but only endured.

I've got no shortage of objections to hospitals. The extremes of my delivery-related complaints and praises, though, are never for hospitals, but for a horrible doctor or a saintly nurse. Of far more relevance than the hospital are the individuals who happen to be on duty during one's stay. A hospital is not evil. It is too big and stupid to be evil. Its only motive is to attract my business again. The real potential for good or ill lies with the nurse in my room and the doctor or midwife I've hired. Bad ones ruin everything. Good ones make everything as good as possible.

I'd contend that whether or not a woman ends up breastfeeding is in most cases consistent with her previously held ideas about breastfeeding, and that in those cases where her intent is thwarted, it has a lot to do with a circumstance no hospital could have changed.

22 September 2011

Learn from the dugongs

I've got no interest in water birth, but what about a water pregnancy?

Light as a feather

20 September 2011

The words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Pregnant lady says, "Hey, dude. You ready for breakfast?"
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "I think you left them on the porch."
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "Don't poke him with toothpicks. Why do you HAVE a toothpick?"
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "I do, I like green eggs and ham! Thank you, thank you, Sam I am!"
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "He's out, can I take a message?"
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "Can you take that laundry busket up when you go?"
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady sings, "And on earth peace, goodwill toward men."
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "Thank you so much!"
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "Asked and answered. Listen if you want to know what's going on."
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "How bout them Hawks!"
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "No, sixth."
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "About four more weeks."
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "They can't blow up the Enterprise!"
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "Roy Rogers. Four cherries."
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

Pregnant lady says, "How can it not be bedtime yet?"
Pregnant lady is thinking, This baby is going to come out of me.

18 September 2011

Usage you can use: joint possession

Don't say it:

Timbo and I's anniversary was so amazing!

Don't ruin your anniversary like this. Timbo will still love you, but he'll be embarrassed.

To fix it, you can say:

Timbo and my anniversary was so amazing!

What? Not Timbo's and my anniversary was so amazing!? No, because you and Timbo share the anniversary, so you only use one possessive (my). (If you're talking about unshared possessions, it goes like this: Timbo's and my Corgis got in an amazing fight again!)

But you're right, the fix sounds weird. So why not redirect the whole thing into something like,

Our anniversary was so amazing! or, Timbo and I had an amazing anniversary! ?

Right again, because every time an American says something is amazing the Daughters of the Air have another day added to their amortization. Let's try once more:

Our anniversary was so [any adjective but amazing]!

There you go.

If that still isn't sitting well with you, you can always try one of these:

Hot enough for ya!

How bout them Hawks!

Are you still nursing that baby!

13 September 2011


I’m still thinking about Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. (I’ve long gotten over my malingering inclination to be snarky about it since it’s so popular. Actually I think that the first three pages are enough to knock the snark out of anyone, and I mean that in a very complimentary way.)

If I were living the more birth- and otherwise- controlled life I’d anticipated back when I made my blissfully ignorant hike down that long, long aisle, I’m not sure what this book would have meant to me. The painfully lovely writing would have moved me, to be sure, but in perhaps a less personal way. I’m sure that I would have spent a few weeks, maybe even months, being a more grateful person, remembering to look for the silver linings in the thunderclouds, and all that.

But. Here I am. Instead of stretching out to soar (that was the plan, you know: stay home till the 2-3 kids start school, then work my way back into the real world), I’m hunkering down to home.

If I weren’t here, I would still be seeking to give thanks in every circumstance. I would probably be succeeding in that to a superficially greater degree than I am now. I might look more put together (I might have an actual wardrobe!). I might have fewer dark nights of the soul (I might get to sleep through the night!).

And--I might fail to realize the extent to which in Him I live and move and have my being. I might think it poetic rather than practical that in Him all things hold together.

It’s obvious, but I’m molasses-slow: In the depth of the darkness, I remember to cry out for the Light. When my spiritual fruits wither and sour, I remember to abide in the Vine. Stretched beyond what I am capable of giving, I remember, This is my body, given for you.

I am thick-skulled and hard-hearted. A carefully contoured life would not suffice to save me from myself. God graciously brings me to the very brink where I can feel for myself what is always true: that the Father’s hand alone restrains and sustains me as I teeter childishly over the gaping abyss.

The conscious thanks-giving that I’m attempting to live unwraps a beautiful surprise: the grace in every vexing moment, if only I have eyes to see. God, grant me eyes to see! And He does: the hilariously literal earnestness of three-year-olds; baby-silk hair curling damp in the humidity; the ice-cream sparkle in a kindergartner’s blue eyes; the freckledness of a boyish nose…

The list is endless and deep-joyful, sometimes lighthearted, but never trite. This wild earthly adventure, overflowing with more life than I can begin to control, is God’s crucible-classroom for my dross-ridden soul. Some lessons burn especially bright: I can take God at His Word—even when the life in question is that of the impossibly tiny baby I never got to hold. Yes. I can take Him at His Word!

Every morning, daily manna, He sends this truth, His mercies, anew. (Lord, grant me to receive with gratefulness not grumbling the manna that sustains me!)

Stop me if you've heard this one

The joys of motherhood are primarily eschatological.

10 September 2011

Makes no sense

It seems really weird to me that the internet can't tell me when this baby is going to be born and how it's going to go.

What am I paying you for, anyway?

08 September 2011

Unthinkable Molly Brown

Once I had a big adventure out of the midwest and saw in the exotic city of Denver the Molly Brown house. Here's what I learned: if you have lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of servants, mutual spousal disinterest, and two kids who are always away at boarding school, you can devote your life to public meddling on a really grand scale. And if you don't go down with the Titanic (she was dropped into a lifeboat by authorities who couldn't get her to stop loading them with men--equal rights!), you can demand $450, 1912 style, for your lost hosiery and lingerie from the boat company (just two of her line items).

Anyway, the real takeaway lesson for me was that while the world makes the woman whose life is not consumed with childrearing into Molly Brown, the church gives us saints like these ladies. The grace and selflessness with which they bear their cross, using their relative freedom for acts of mercy small to the world but HUGE to another family, is truly a precious service and example to us all.

One of the struggles of perpetual parturition is wishing we were able to give more of ourselves to the church (disregarding the little pieces of ourselves bashing their heads on the pews). What a blessing to be able to rejoice in the different gifts of faithful sisters, even as they graciously rejoice in gifts which have been mysteriously withheld from them. In our largely dissimilar lives God gives us a common comfort in each other.

(And thanks for nothing, Molly. :P )

Don't forget:

He Remembers the Barren by Katie Schuermann

Book Tour with Katie and Rebecca

Issues, Etc. interviews with Katie and her husband

07 September 2011

Hippie talk

I'm not really lecturing you, you know. I wouldn't presume. 

Ten years of parenting have taught me that it is not possible to force a child to become enriched. They aren't like wheat, you know? You can lead a girl to Latin and you can make her conjugate for hours, but you cannot force her to love Virgil. You can lead a boy to the piano and you can make him practice, but you cannot force him to have a heart for music. You can even lead a child to the twelve times table and you can make her memorize it; you can make her rattle it off like a trained monkey to the amazement of all your friends; but you absolutely cannot force her to grasp that numbers are never cruel, but always clever and often amusing. And so it goes.

What do you mean you don't want to play with the pluperfect subjunctive?

However, hope springs eternal! One of perhaps two things the mavens of child psychology have gotten right is the practice of providing children with enriched environments. There is no real need to force a child to want what is beautiful. A child is a man, and thus the apex of beauty. Give him beauty and he can be trusted to absorb it into his being by sheer accident. I have found this to be doubly the case when a child’s life is filled with what is genuinely, objectively beautiful over and above those things that are educational, manipulative, and loud. If, however, you would like to ensure that your children lose as many their rough edges as they sanely may, there is one thing above all others that you need to do: be enriched yourself.

If you want your kid to love reading the Aeneid in the language of Virgil, take up Latin yourself. If you want your kid to love practicing his arpeggios, take up the piano yourself. If you want your children to feel comfortable around numbers, don’t be shy about what you don’t know; rather, become reacquainted with mathematics and discover again how charming it can be. Learn before your children, with them, and after them all the things you want them to learn, especially when they are little. Let them see you struggling to become a more beautiful person, and they will seek to join you in the struggle simply because that is how love works.

Work with them instead of on them, and you'll both be happier. Then the day will come when they surpass you, which is really what you wanted all along.

02 September 2011

Who shall stand?

I wonder how many of us are from the kind of families we imagine our children's future spouses must come from. Although I'm inclined to think I came from a pretty decent family, I'm sure some purists would consider it unacceptable. After all, anyone who grew up wrong regarding certain matters can't really be trusted, no matter what they say they think now. You can take the girl out of Sulva, but . . . ?

Furthermore, anyone who grew up right won't make Certain Mistakes, and Certain Mistakes are unforgiveable. Not for God of course (it's his job to forgive people), but for future parents of our grandchildren, who must be exactly as undamaged as we've imagined them.

01 September 2011

Way to go, everybody else

OK, this is pathetic and small, but the ongoing existence of this blog testifies to my belief that it's a good idea to keep telling the world how pathetic and small I am (yesterday's post notwithstanding).

Nothing makes me more sad and jealous than hearing some other mother praised in the gates, especially by the proud husband and the proud parents, for her work-related accomplishments. That's a bonus I just can't earn.

Yeah, yeah, I know.