THE COMPLEAT MOTHER NEWSLETTER MARCH 2003
//-- Greg vs. the Grey Thing --//
//-- Just How Blessed Can A Mother Be?.. --//
//-- True Terror --//
//-- Don’t Make Me Leave My Baby --//
//-- Birthing Our Baby Alone (reprint Winter '91) --// //-- Weaning --//
//-- Interesting Websites --//
//-- Greg vs. the Grey Thing --//
In the last issue I wrote about how I had been diagnosed with prostatitis. I wish it were that simple.
There is something uninvited growing inside me. I’ve seen the pictures from the CT scan. They are not much help, just showing some greyness surrounding the aorta and pushing against my right kidney. Last Monday I had what they call a “stent” put in to reconnect the kidney to the bladder. The stent is not intended to be a permanent addition.
Two needle biopsies have been returned as “non-diagnostic.” I guess this means that the docs just can’t figure out what is happening. Yesterday, I went in for a bone marrow biopsy as well. This is something I think you would want to put on your “never want to do” list of life’s adventures. The docs fibbed. I was told that this would be a “piece of cake” compared to the needle biopsies.
Life is strange.
A good friend of mine, Mike, called me last week. I was overnight in the hospital before the first needle biopsy. Mike called me at my former room number, not knowing I had already gone home the previous day. He was told “Greg Cryns is gone!” It took him a few stunned seconds to realize that they meant I’d left the hospital. I think the hospital needs some revamped phone protocols.
But what I want to tell you most is how I’ve felt enveloped by the outpouring of love from my friends and family. There have been a few prayer circles going on for me and I can honestly say that I DO feel the strength and love coming from them. It’s difficult to describe. Just a feeling of power and knowledge. So, if you feel inclined to say a prayer for me, please don’t hesitate to do so!
My soulmate, Yvonne, is an incredible tower of strength and my primary force of love in this fight. Believe me, anyone in the grips of the medical system absolutely needs an intelligent and forceful medical “advocate” on their team. If one of your loved ones faces a medical intervention, please consider taking over for them at the hospital and the doctor’s office. And now I understand more fully how important it is to know and demand your patient rights for hospital childbirth.
At this time, all I can say is that the docs have not yet figured out what the grey stuff is exactly. I hope to know more by next week.
//-- Just How Blessed Can A Mother Be?.. --//
Just How Blessed Can A Mother Be? By Debbie Song reprinted from Fall 1990 Compleat Mother
A peaceful Sunday morning, The sun slowly coming up, I’m aroused by the sound of, “Mamma Wake Up”.
My sweet three year old, Her eyes big and bright, Unfortunately, she wet MY bed Again last night!
I’m slow to get up, but It’s another day. Nothing could be worse Than yesterday.
I put on some coffee and Got the breakfast table set. (At least my one year old Isn’t up yet).
That’s when I heard it…
A giggle, then a yell… And out of the bedroom comes THE TODDLER FROM HELL!
His face was half green, One arm and both feet.
My daughter had colored him In his sleep. Where she got the marker, I’ll never know. I was sure I’d destroyed them Long ago.
I picked them both up, And went to the tub. It should all come off, if I really scrub.
Oh, what fun to splash and swim, But the ink isn’t coming off, And I smell BACON!
I run to the kitchen, Throw the pan in the sink, It’s burnt to a crisp And I need a drink!
But it’s barely past sunrise, So that won’t do. I’ll finish washing the children, If I can find the shampoo.
Sure enough, it was there, For the forty-ninth time. Dropped in the toilet with a Tooth brush, (it was mine).
I fished them both out, Trying to keep my cool. When my wet little girl, Climbed up on the stool.
“I love you mamma”, she said to me.
Now, just how blessed can a Mother be?
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//-- True Terror --//
We watched the Liam Neeson version of Les Miserables last weekend with our kids. As they were introduced to this most amazing story I was reminded of my first introduction to it in Mr. Kuick’s 9th grade class when I attended North Farmington HS in 1984. He shared this epic with all of us 14 year olds and it has stayed with me all these years. The desperation of Fantine, the love Jean Val Jean had for Cosette, and his absolute determination to make sure that she stayed safe as he fulfilled his promise to her dead mother.
I suppose it was the care and comfort he provided for Cosette that was so touching as I thought about life right now for so many women and babies. Isn’t it true that so many of the trials of life quickly follow after a family situation is broken up, or never really started in the first place? The hard working single parent who gets behind a little in life and never is able to catch up. It was the look in Fantines eye as her world slowly crumbled that was the most telling to me. I wondered if I would have held up as well as she if I were alone with a child to care for.
Living in Colorado, I have been watching many of the details of the recent case at the Air Force Academy. Dozens of women have come forward claiming they were raped and molested and no one cared, and some were even sent home for making these accusations. As I have watched the news these past few weeks my heart just breaks for these women. As a survivor of rape, I know that they can heal, but it will take some time.
Every time I break out in hives and feel panicked, I know that I am processing some emotion that was tied to this trauma, and as the anniversary date approaches this month – fourteen years ago on March 17th I was first physically raped by four orderlies in a mental hospital, and then mind raped by the judge, psychiatrists, and social workers who forced me to take a variety of drugs for my “mental problems”. Don’t get me wrong, I was crazy, flat out psychotic when the psychiatric profession got it’s hands on me, but I really question the “care” I received from these people. Left to rot in seclusion for three days after being raped, I was so alone and hurt. I missed my daughter and husband. My breast milk dried up on it’s own and the engorgement as well as my mental torture was so overwhelming, about all I did for those three days was pray.
The mind is a curious thing. I was able to tuck those traumas deep into the tissues of my body and was not able to access them for twelve years. Another trauma, the death of a beloved brother, stirred things up in my head and I have spent the past two years or so, slowly processing all of the layers of trauma, betrayal, hurt, physical pain, and emotional blunting that resulted from those circumstances. The alternative healing community understands that many symptoms of mental illness are directly related to a trauma, like a rape, but the psychiatrists have built a whole infrastructure based on lies about chemical imbalances and use expensive medications to chemically lobotomize patients and electroshock to electrically lobotomize patients. The areas of the brain most damaged by these procedures are the exact places where the old fashioned lobotomy literally cut away a portion of the brain and left the patient a vegetable. Sure it takes more time with the chemicals and the electricity, but the long-term effect is the same.
As I was healing from my fourteen months of being medicated against my will, I would feel these intense emotions and physical sensations as the chemicals slowly worked their way out of the cells of my brain. I am so grateful that I was able to make it to the other side of that trauma with my mind basically in tact. So many people suffer brain damage from the chemicals and electroshock that they never do recover their mental capabilities. What saddens me about all these young women coming forward to share their stories of rape and the secondary layering of trauma as they are betrayed by school and country is that many of them most likely turned to the psychiatrists for help with their emotional pain and are now using medications to deal with the rapes, rather than more effective therapies, which nurture the brain to wellness, rather than blunting the memories and stuffing the emotion with chemicals.
I have used herbs, homeopathics, massage, chiropractic, and essential oils to help in my healing. Books written by Bernard Jensen taught me the foods that would nurture my brain, and I spend a lot of time in my kitchen preparing these foods for myself. Exercise and great compassionate therapy from doctors who used non-drug approaches helped with overwhelming sensations I felt (and still feel) and most helpful of all was the loving compassion of my sweetheart. If all men were as good as my husband, we wouldn’t have these societal problems.
When I think that the former president of America was likely a rapist, and most definitely a traitor to his wife, his child and his country, I want to cry in shame for the legacy he thrust on a generation of young men. It doesn’t surprise me that we have a group of young Cadets at the Air Force Academy who believe they can rape, molest, and intimidate and will never be held accountable. Who has ever held the American president accountable for his felonies? Sure, some people tried…but they were shut up with the words “It’s the Economy stupid!” Well, after eight years of trickle down immorality…”sex, lies, and more lies”, we have corporations who believe they can lie their way to prosperity, and young men in uniform who believe girls are only good for one thing; free sex with no responsibility.
Where are the Jean Val Jeans of today? Those gentle souls who protect and defend the virtue of women and children? Who wipe away the tears instead of being the reason for them to fall? Who understand that a man who will betray wife and family will betray his country and fellow citizens. I hope if nuclear bombs do start to fall on North America some day, that everyone will remember the man who sold nuclear secrets for campaign contributions. I’ll say it again, A man who will betray wife and family will sell the safety and security of his countrymen to the highest bidder.
I think most people are feeling a little agitated about the terrorists these days. We are troubled by how much they hate us and how much they want to damage us, and our free society. But we also have terrorists among us, and as women and children cry in the night from the terror’s experienced at the hands of rapists, molesters, and the secondary rapes that occur from mind rape at the hands of psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical companies that back them up and make billions of dollars from our pain and suffering, let’s stay focused on the terror occurring right in our own neighborhoods and homes and do something to fix it.
Jenny Hatch www.naturalfamilyco.com Email: [email protected]
//-- Don’t Make Me Leave My Baby --//
Don’t Make Me Leave My Baby By Pamela Peterson
I came close to turning down the most challenging and rewarding job I ever had – being a full-time mother, because of my perception we absolutely could not manage to live on one income.
In six years of marriage before our daughter arrived, we accumulated a sizable debt load. We wanted children, but none came. And my first pregnancy two years after our wedding ended in early miscarriage. We hoped another pregnancy would soon follow, but no luck. Over the years we vacillated over whether or not we wanted children and the advantages-disadvantages of remaining childless. We looked into adoption and a few months later filed an application. Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant! We were both elated and nervous, but it was a normal pregnancy and resulted in the birth of our beautiful daughter Michelle Christine.
During our years of waiting however, we had continued spending money and buying on credit, as all our friends were doing. If we could afford the monthly payment, we bought it. We assumed we would always be a two-income family. We had dreams of a newer, larger home in the suburbs and all the accompanying comforts.
The chiropractor who treated me before and during my pregnancy for low back pain encouraged me to take off more than two months when my baby was born. She pointed out it was a precious time that could never be recovered, and ten years from now I wouldn’t remember what bills didn’t get paid, but I would remember the time with my baby. My husband agreed I could take off four months (during which time I would also take the last course required for my Master’s degree). We saved what we could and arranged for a forbearance on my student loan to buy me those couple of extra months at home.
I took my nursing baby to class with me and managed to get through those first four months, in spite of a terrible labor which left me incredibly weak and the additional stress of going to school. As January approached, I often told my husband I didn’t want to go back to work. He sympathized, but we were both convinced there was no way we could swing it financially.
I compromised. I found a part-time job, 25-30 hours a week. The hourly pay was less than I was used to and, with the additional cost of day care, I knew eventually I’d have to find something full-time. But I figured another six or eight months working part-time would at least enable me to be with Michelle during more of her first year and make it easier to continue our nursing relationship. I negotiated with my boss to start at 20 hours and eventually work up to 28 hours a week. She wanted more, but I set limits. I expressed milk every day during my lunch hour, which helped me feel close to Michelle.
I had to change day care after three weeks, so again had to deal with all the feelings about leaving Michelle. People told me it would get easier, but it never did. They said I’d get used to it. I didn’t.
I’d wake Michelle in the wee hours so we could nurse. She’d go back to sleep and I’d wake her again to nurse just before we left. I’d leave her at the sitter’s and rush off to work, mentally calculating the hours until I could be with her again. I wanted to take a short lunch hour so my day could be shorter, but the reality was that I needed to eat, to express milk and to take a short walk to alleviate my back pain. So I was working 9 – 4, four days a week, which didn’t feel very part-time. And I was paying the full day rate for childcare.
The situation was less than ideal, but I reasoned it was better than working full-time. I convinced my husband to borrow $800.00 on one of his insurance policies so we could put off the time when I’d have to work 40 hours a week. In the meantime, Michelle was cutting her first teeth and learning to sit up by herself. Her day care provider was an enthusiastic young mother who was thrilled with each new milestone and couldn’t wait to tell me about it. But I was missing out on being there for those milestones, and I grieved that.
A number of factors led me to leave that job after about four months, not the least of which was my boss’ unwillingness to reduce my hours in spite of the light workload. I contacted the temporary agency that had employed me prior to Michelle’s birth and mentally prepared myself for 40 hours a week. I reasoned I could take off time between assignments to be with Michelle even though I’d have to pay day care on my days off. At least I’d make more money per hour.
The agency had a great assignment for me, starting at 20 hours a week for a couple of months and gradually working into a full-time position. It seemed like the perfect opportunity.
But I was miserable. I hated waking my beautiful daughter out of a sound sleep every day, urging her to finish nursing, bundling her up and rushing off to work so I could rush home to be with her a few hours later. My chiropractor, seeing the stress I was experiencing, started urging me to look at my options: Could we sell our house and move to an apartment? Could we sell my car? How about the vacation timeshare? At first I resisted, feeling certain we could never live without those things.
But the idea took hold, and during the 20-minute drive home, I jotted down all the things we could sell or cut back on. By the time I reached home I knew what I was going to do. I called a couple of La Leche League friends for support and feedback.
When my husband came home, I showed him on paper how we could manage on his income alone. He was skeptical but in my fervor I pleaded with him to let me try. I told him how intensely I wanted to be with Michelle, how good it would be for her, how I’d never get a chance to do it over again, how I’d regret it if I didn’t stay home, and how little money I was actually making after deducting my car payments, car expenses, day care, lunches out, clothing for work etc.
The next day I gave two weeks notice at work and at the day care. As soon as I quit, we sold my care. We weren’t able to sell it for as much as we owed so we had to borrow from my husband’s parents to clear the title. We tried selling our timeshare, but had no luck and eventually decided to default on the loan, reconciling ourselves to losing everything we had paid on it. It was something we just had to do. We let a couple of insurance policies lapse, one on me and one on our daughter, adding a rider to Randy’s policy to cover any children we might have. I figured out a detailed budget and a plan for making it work. I determined to take the bus or walk wherever Michelle and I needed to go. Randy had to adjust to a small weekly allowance for personal spending. I gave up my diaper service and started washing my own. Randy gave up cable television.
The amazing thing about being on a budget and sticking to it is I feel more comfortable and secure than I ever did when we were spending like crazy on two incomes. It simplified our lives. When the money isn’t available, we’re not as tempted to spend. We know exactly where we stand and what we can and cannot afford. On a spiritual level, I feel great about rejecting the consumerism of our culture and learning to get by with less. It truly is a plague to have too much money to spend and thus to fritter it away on useless gadgets that serve only to complicate our lives. We have to be resourceful; we have to spend more time enjoying the simple things instead of looking for more ways to spend money.
Now I get to spend lots of time with my daughter. It’s interesting that when I was working, I felt overwhelmed by the job of parenting and wasn’t sure I wanted more children, but the day after I decided to quit, it suddenly seemed possible and even desirable to have another child. I feel grateful for this opportunity to be at home full time. I share my story in the hopes it will encourage other women to reconsider their options, especially if they aren’t happy in their current situation. Sure, we’ve had to give up a lot, but we gained much more in the process – a happy, contented mother, a baby who’s getting all the nursing and attention she needs, when she needs it, a father who’s proud of his ability to support a family, and a simplified lifestyle that’s bringing us closer together. We now have a family bed, which is deeply satisfying to all three of us. Another bonus is that we’re getting quite a hefty return on our income tax this year. That will help to pay down some of the bills we still owe and save a little for emergencies.
I am active in a couple of mom’s support groups as well as La Leche League, an incredible support as I go against the tide in our culture. I’m working to support homebirth legislation in Minnesota, and look forward to sharing with all of you again after my next baby is born at home. Love to all of you courageous women out there. It’s great to know we’re not alone.
//-- Weaning --//
Weaning By Sarah Everitt (reprint from Breastfeeding Anyway)
When I was pregnant, I thought I would nurse my baby six months. A year tops. I was living in Nelson, a tourist town, with a population mixture of red neck tree loggers, tourists and hippies nursing their three year olds in slings. I thought the hippie mommies were weird.
When I was pregnant we were tight for cash and couldn’t afford a thousand bucks to hire a midwife so I gave birth in Kootenay Lake General Hospital. There was no question that I was going to breastfeed; I knew the benefits, my partner Dave and my friends all hoped I would nurse him, and my mom was totally supportive. Then there was the bliss. There was something comforting and soothing to me and the baby. It was like we were both getting high when we cuddled up to nurse.
I remember he was like a little wild animal, kicking and flailing his arms, so excited to be latched on that Dave had to hold him still so I could get him attached. It gave me a buzz, feeling the let-down and watching him fill up so contentedly. I felt really relaxed and a little euphoric, and glad I was going to do this for the next six months.
When he was three weeks old, Dave’s parents flew out from Ontario. His mom tried to help, doing laundry and household chores, but she told me she never breastfed and she seemed morbidly curious and oddly repulsed by my nursing of baby Ev. She asked me to go to my bedroom, and no nurse in front of her husband. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own house, and I must say I could hardly wait for them to leave, three weeks later. She wanted to babysit for me and tried to make me feel guilty for not using formula. Instead I pumped my breasts with a hand pump that kept breaking down. She asked me, when Ev was four weeks old, when I was going to get a job, and what daycare centre I would put him in. Oddly enough, she had stayed home with her four bottlefed children all her life.
I thought I would wean him after another four months. He was really into it though; it made him happy. It was comfort, security, and he never got sick. He was chunky. There were no problems, the sore nipples were long gone, and he would let me know he needed to nurse by tugging at my shirt. He called it Aboo. I have no idea where that came from, but it stuck.
When he was 5 1/2 months old a friend gave us a white and blue plastic walker. He wasn’t crawling or walking, but suddenly I had a mobile child, and in a matter of seconds he wheeled across the kitchen and pulled a percolator of boiling hot coffee onto his lap.
He was trapped in the walker. I pulled it off immediately, screamed to David, and we drove to the hospital he was born in. Baby Ev latched onto my breast, to ease his horrible pain. We were all in shock, but at least my breasts could give him some comfort. He was given morphine, and we were flown in a Cessna plane, to Vancouver’s Children’s Hospital. I couldn’t nurse him then; he was too groggy. He had two skin graft operations; one on his thigh and one on his tummy, using skin grafted from his other thigh.
Burn victims need triple the intake of calories and my own milk wouldn’t be enough. I asked for donated breastmilk and had to fight for it. The surgeon, the nutritionist, and the nurses, different ones every day, all wanted Ev to get formula and told me my son could die if he didn’t get it.
Picture this: he had wires and tubes, a catheter in his penis, bandages and an oxygen tube in his nose. I climbed over the crib walls, which seemed just like jail bars, and curled up beside him, and nursed him. I gave him bliss again.
Nobody said, “Don’t do that,” but I did get odd looks. Clearly they didn’t approve.
He was in the hospital five weeks. Please don’t ever use a walker or give on to anyone. They are dangerous beyond words.
I kept pumping my milk so I didn’t dry up. I would wake in the middle of the night, breasts rock hard, and use the hospital’s electric milker. Only the lactation consultant encouraged me and promised me that if I kept at it, I wouldn’t dry up.
I slept in our van in the free parking area beside the hospital, and on cold nights, in the cot beside his bed. I kept crawling into his crib jail, to let him suck. It made us both feel good, and it made me feel like I was doing something useful. I also think it helped his recovery tremendously.
Baby Ev was seven months old when we left, and he latched onto my breasts as though we had never been interrupted by gallons of formula and donated milk going into a tube to his belly. Breastmilk was so important for his healing that my perspective on weaning at half a year’s time changed; I thought we should continue for a year. Suddenly he was a twelve-month old child, giving no indication he wanted to stop having his beloved Aboo. He could say Mamma, and Dadda and Tasha the dog, and I began to think he would let me know when he no longer needed my breasts for comfort from a fall, a fright, to fill him up or just for fun. I thought he would wean, probably by the time he was two.
People were embarrassed seeing Ev and I nursing. I noticed no-one would sit beside us, or make eye contact when we had Aboo on the bus. I realized that was the problem of a bottle feeding culture, and not our problem. Still, it made me feel isolated, though very much in love with my year and a half old son, and in love with breastfeeding. Young mothers would encourage me, and this countered the strange looks from shop keepers and strangers. Restaurants were the worst; the staff made you understand it was unacceptable to engage in breastfeeding under their roof. Everywhere, moms of big babies would have bottles of formula on the tables, and that was totally acceptable. Sick, hacking, wheezing, obese formula fed babes could suck on rubber and plastic with their blessings, but my Ev, glowing with health and perfectly content because his mood fix was always just a hug and nurse away, was the odd one and I was considered strange.
Even my mom would ask with milk curiosity if 18 months old Ev was weaned yet, and when I said no, then how long it was going to be. Never condemned it, but found it odd. We moved to a new community in Ontario and new neighbours asked how long I had breastfed my boy. “Ummmmm, we’re just in the process of weaning,” I said and I meant it. We no longer had marathon half hour nursing sessions on the couch; now it was more like a few minutes then I would read a children’s book to him. We were weaning slowly. I put Ev in playschool twice a week, and he loved playing with other little kids. But they were constantly coughing, and running fevers, and Ev would bring it home. It was a godsend to be able to nurse him through sore throats and stuffy nose, and he seemed to get over even a nasty virus in record time.
Dave’s mom constantly asked, “He’s not still nursing is he?” and when Ev was three, she would roll her eyes and shudder.
We took a trip to Mexico that winter, and it was such a travel convenience to have my portable medicine bag/lunch dispenser/security blanket that is another breastfeeding perk. When the pressure on the plane hurt his ears, I gave Aboo, and he was fine. I always gave him a hat and sunscreen, and he tans well, but if he had gotten sunburned, a spray o my breastmilk would have helped. Once a goopy eye infection cleared up within a day with a few drops of my milk. One day we all got Montezuma’s revenge from restaurant food, and Aboo made it better for Ev by the next morning. Back home, a truck-driving neighbour told Dave I should put my foot down and wean the boy. His own son was weaned at three months, and now at seven sucks his thumb, and is having trouble reading. Knowing that information made it easier to ignore his bad advice. I just take it for granted. When he gets a diarrhea or flu or a cough, it is marvelous to pull him to my breast and give him instant contentment. Baby Ev has grown in to a happy, innocent, independent, and secure child. I see other kids his age, fearful or angry with a chip on their shoulders, and I’m sure it’s because they were denied the mother’s milk of human kindness. Nowadays we only have Aboo in the morning and at night, and it only lasts a few minutes. I never have hard breasts anymore, and I wonder if I have much volume of milk.
My son is truly weaning. Ev will be four in October. He’s still going to be nursing isn’t he?
//-- Interesting Websites --//
"I'm Made of Mama's Milk" - The Breastfeeding Book for Children. available at http://www.maryolsenbooks.com/ <>
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