They Won’t Always Be in Your Bed

One of the charges frequently made against co-sleeping is that the child will always be in the parents’ bed. In my experience, this simply isn’t true. Charlotte just turned four. She’s had her own bed since she was two, though she usually crawled into our bed at some point in the night. That is, she did that until a few weeks ago, when she just started sleeping all night in her bed. I did give a reward, but she hadn’t known I’d do that in advance (and when I’d tried that in the past, it hadn’t worked, because she simply wasn’t ready). While she still wakes up in the night, she just needs a little help going to the toilet and then can be resettled in her own bed. We never pushed her, just offered the option of her own bed. The only exception is when we first got her her bed, but her being upset then was more at the sudden weaning when the milk disappeared, and we were both a bit traumatized.

Leo is 18 months old. When Charlotte got her new twin bed for her birthday, we moved the toddler bed back into our room for when he would want it. For quite a while, it was just there. I’d refer to it as Leo’s bed, and ask if he wanted to sleep in it. The answer was invariably no, so I didn’t push it. Lately, though, he’s been more interested in it. In fact, last night I was putting him to bed and he indicated that he wanted to sleep in his own bed. So he got his bear and laid down, and I managed to squeeze in to nurse him a little. I know he’ll still be in our bed most of the time at this point, and that’s fine. But he’s also making his own steps towards independence.

Maternity Leave

On Sundays, our newspaper prints responses from readers about various topics. This Sunday, the topic was on the question of maternity leave, as it was noted that the US is one of the very few developed nations that doesn’t provide maternity leave (women are entitled to 6 weeks’ unpaid maternity leave).

21 responses were printed, from men and women. Not one person who wrote in said that maternity leave should be provided! None! One wasn’t as opposed, and thought maybe it could be provided for low-income families, but not for all. One person excoriated a person she knows for daring to complain that she wouldn’t get maternity leave, saying the person was obviously “entitled.” Others said similar things, complaining about entitlement, saying it leads to people having babies just to abuse the system (such things are quite rare, but that’s unfortunately the stereotype), and that having a baby is a personal decision and so should receive no benefits.

Where do I even begin?! I’m floored by such responses! My first thought is to wonder how many of the responders consider themselves to be pro-life. I’d wager more than a few. Unfortunately, most equate being pro-life with just being anti-abortion. While opposing abortion is, of course, a large part of being pro-life, it is not the only part. It does no good to tell a woman she can’t have an abortion, but then say that no help will be given. We must do both, or else calling ourselves pro-life is meaningless, in my opinion. (Note: I’m absolutely against abortion, and absolutely for maternity leave).

There’s also the health factor. It takes at least six weeks for breastfeeding to be truly established. It can take at least that long for the mother to truly recover from birth, too. Breastfeeding once returning to work is much more difficult, and pumping is also difficult. While most women can successfully breastfeed, pumping is completely different and some may find they cannot produce enough milk that way. The babe is also likelier to wean earlier. There are also numerous health benefits for the mother. Breastfeeding rates in this country are abysmal, and I’m sure the lack of maternity leave is a factor. Think this only affects that mother and baby? Think again. Breastfeeding is a matter of public health, and if breastfeeding rates rose, the entire country would benefit.

My first two were born in England, where you can get 12 months of maternity leave. You don’t receive your full salary, but are paid for most of that time. Yes, taxes are higher, but the benefit is worth it. I’m ashamed that my country doesn’t even pay women for the 12 weeks the federal government allows. This must change.

We Deserve Better

Imagine you go to your doctor complaining of chronic knee pain. The doctor does a basic exam, sees nothing obviously wrong, prescribes a pain medicine for you to take daily and that’s it. Or perhaps the doctor does some more, basic tests, which give no explanation, and again a pain pill is prescribed and no further action taken. Or maybe the doctor does see the reason for the pain,and even knows a promising treatment that addresses the root cause, but instead just prescribes the pain pills and opts to take no further action. Would you accept such an answer? I hope not! I know I wouldn’t have accepted that.

So why do we accept such a “treatment” for gynecological problems? A woman goes to her doctor complaining of cycle issues (pain, heavy bleeding, irregularity, etc). Her doctor performs a pelvic exam, sees nothing wrong, and prescribes the pill. Or her doctor orders some bloodwork and an ultrasound, still sees nothing wrong, and prescribes the pill. Or the doctor does see something (PCOS, endo, etc), and just prescribes the pill. The pill doesn’t fix these issues, just masks them, just like taking a pain pill might mask my knee problem.

Are women told about alternatives? Usually not, in my experience. Are we told about the risks? Again, usually not. And yet we not only accept this as the status quo, we defend it! We deserve better!

We deserve to be told all the options. We deserve better research into gynaecological problems so that better treatments are more widely available. We deserve to be heard, and not told our problems are psychological.

Time after time, I have women coming to me to learn how to use the. Billings Ovulation Method after going off the pill. They had no idea that the pill adversely affects the cervix, potentially making it harder to conceive later. Or they hadn’t been told about alternatives. I understand, because I wasn’t told, either. I’m obviously still angry, not just for myself, but for all of us. We must demand better options, better care. We deserve it.

One Big Science Lesson

It seems like it’s one big science lesson at our house right now. We have a gnat problem, so my dad took Kieran to get praying mantis egg sacs. We’re just waiting for them to hatch, and reading all about them in the meantime.

A Muscovy duck has built a nest next to our patio, so we check on her daily. The ducks know Leo’s voice and come to beg for food when he is outside.

We keep watching our milkweed, parsley, and passionflower for Monarch, Eastern Black Swallowtail, and Zebra Longwing caterpillars, respectively. We have caterpillar containers ready to go for when we do see them.

I was training the Bleeding Heart vine and accidentally bumped this old gourd we have hanging up. We’d intended to use it as a planter, but never did, and I kept forgetting to throw it out. I’m glad I didn’t throw it out, as a Carolina Wren flew out when I bumped it. She’s built a nest and has at least six eggs in it. We’re waiting for them to hatch so we can watch their progress.

Then there are the herb planters we have, and flower seeds. Lots to learn here.

Misunderstanding

When I was Baptist, I heard many times that Catholics believed they could earn salvation through works, and how wrong this was. When I later started seriously studying Catholicism, I found that this was a huge misunderstanding. In fact, Catholics believe salvation is by grace alone, through faith and works (sorry, no sola fide here). Incidentally, even the sola fide crowd usually agrees that faith cannot be alone, since faith without works is dead (James 2:17).

I see it as part of the commandment to love one another. This isn’t a theoretical love, but a self-giving love, or at least it should be, if we are to imitate Jesus. Take the passage of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25), for example. The works performed were works of love, for both God and neighbour. In fact, the examples given in that parable are known to Catholics as the corporal works of mercy.

Now, does simply doing those things earn you salvation? Of course not! But God gives us the grace to do these works, and we are to serve each other in these ways. Catholics certainly don’t believe that just doing x, y, and z gets you to Heaven. At the same time, doing these selfless works does serve to bring one closer to God, when these things are done sincerely and with no ulterior motives.

Take indulgences, for example. To receive an indulgence, one must go to Confession and receive the Eucharist, in addition to whatever the indulgence is (like public recitation of the Rosary). Is this some magic work or intended to manipulate God? No! But if one is truly praying the Rosary, truly meditating on the mysteries of the life of Jesus, then one is growing closer to God. If one makes a good Confession, truly repenting of all sin, then one is closer to God. If one is receiving the Eucharist worthily, with no mortal sin, and completely focused on receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus, one is close to God. So it is clear that works are necessary, but the works are those of God, of His grace working within us.

As for the misunderstanding, I think that is in part because Catholics and Protestants sometimes seem to speak different languages. Perhaps it would be best if, instead of immediately condemning, we all took time to try to understand what the other side truly meant, by looking at their primary sources. So for Catholics, I recommend looking at the Bible (of course), and the Catechism (which contains all the Scripture references).

Breastfeeding Openly

Last week before Mass I was nursing Leo whilst praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with the kids. I have never used a cover when nursing him, nor does he like it if I pull up a shirt (with a cami under) like I did with Charlotte. So I wear something easy to pull down. I promise that little is revealed. Certainly not more, or even as much, as many images of Our Lady of La Leche (and there’s a larger image of Her in the narthex thanks to our Bishop promoting a devotion to Her).

With that background, I can now relate the story. An usher approached me – again, this is before Mass – and asked if I had a shawl. I quickly and politely replied “no” before continuing with our prayers. A minute later she’d returned with a baby blanket, “in case I needed it.” I thanked her, though I did say Leo doesn’t like being covered.

Honestly, the experience makes me laugh. I’m going to assume that she just couldn’t imagine I was actually comfortable breastfeeding openly. After all, there was a time when I wasn’t comfortable with that and couldn’t imagine others being comfortable with it. In fact, the first time I actually met one of my friends, I offered her my nursing cover because I figured she’d just forgotten one! (Sorry, A-M!) Kieran was a new baby at that time, just a few months old and hadn’t yet protested against the cover as he did when older. Her baby was a few months older, and her second child, so she’d had more experience and more confidence. Now that I’m on my third child and have breastfed for roughly 6 years, I have no problem nursing openly, whenever and wherever my nursling needs it. I figure the commoner it becomes, the more accepted it will be.

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