Thursday, January 23, 2014

What's Your Excuse? (Update!!!)

Back in November, I wrote this blog post about excuses and how sometimes we use them hold ourselves back. In the post, I announced that I was tired of making excuses and ready to write my book.

What happened after that post?

I spent some days avoiding it. And I certainly got caught up in more excuses.

What if totally sucks?
What if I write it and then can't publish it for some odd reason?
What if aliens vaporize my computer?
What if it's not long enough?
What if it's too confusing?
What if the only person who reads it is my mom?

What if. What if. Excuse. Excuse.

But I had basically made myself accountable with that blog post. Whenever someone messaged to ask me how I was doing or how the book was coming along, I felt renewed motivation to complete it.

Well, this past Tuesday, the change I had begun internally finally clicked. I sat down and I told myself it was happening that day or bust.

I wrote my book.

I uploaded it onto Amazon.

Some awesome friends contributed photos and gave me pointers on a couple mistakes.

And now I have a book!

 My book!

And after I published it and it went live on Amazon, I realize something.

Sure, it might be too short, or confusing, or unpopular. And my mom might actually be the only person who buys it. (She refused to take a free copy lol.) But, I did it. I recognized that I was hiding behind excuses instead of facing my fears. I faced them, I committed to this and...I did it. And that has made the entire process worth it above anything else.

Interestingly, it reminded me much of when you squeeze your eyes shut to rip off a bandaid. I found myself asking why I had avoided this in the first place. It wasn't as hard as I had built it up to be and in fact was a little exhilarating. I was left feeling a tad silly at all my fears. Imagine if I had never taken a stand? I would be looking back with regret.

So, if you are also out there wishing you could do something and dreaming about something important to you, I encourage you to put the excuses away and get to work! You deserve to see your dreams in reality no matter how small. It really is a wonderful feeling and I hope you find out what your excuse is, face it and overcome it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Homebirth. It's Life.

"Putting all the statistics and politics to the side, I want you-and I mean you, Guggie- to summarize why you birth at home the way you do. What are you scared of? What do you want from it?"

Discussing homebirth as if it is an alternative choice does put things into an awkward perspective.

The way I see it, yes. Yes, it's legitimately concerning to take into consideration the issues of birth trauma, birth injury, birth rape/abuse, secondary infection, the cost of birthing in a hospital, the odds of ending up with surgery. Those are all concerning.

They aren't the basis for birthing at home with my family. If you made hospital birth free, sanitary, emotionally safe, etc, I would still birth at home. It has nothing to do with "avoiding" another option.

I birth at home with my husband by my side because we made this baby. We made the baby together and we birth the baby together, in the quiet of our home where it all happened. No X marks the spot on the calendar, no payment brings someone to service me as if a burden or an unusual event is occurring.

The days I birth are normal, the same as any other day. The sun pokes through the blinds. The dryer makes its rickety thumping sound. I hold DH's hand and we whisper to each other, sometimes only making eye contact as we somewhat enjoy the steam rising from the pool but also feel a little sweaty and tired.

A baby arrives earthside at home. Not as an interruption to life. Not as a scheduled event. Not as a deliberate choosing or crafting. But in a quiet way, sliding through that veil into our arms as if she/he has always been in our family.

And maybe it has been always. It sure feels that way.

 Homebirth. It's not a thing, a fad, a choice. It's life.

Welcoming their baby brother into the family


It's not a movement

The best campaign:

 original status:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

INTACTIVIST UPDATE: Will Male Circumcision be Banned in 2014?

As momentum continues to build against male circumcision, intactivists from around the USA have flooded Congress and 10 state legislatures with proposed legislation to ban genital cutting of boys. If enacted, the Male Genital Mutilation (MGM) Bill would amend existing female genital mutilation laws by making them gender neutral.

Asa Rubin, director of's Massachusetts state office in Brookline, feels that all boys need to be protected from what is increasingly being referred to as genital mutilation. "It is simply immoral to surgically remove any healthy, natural, normally functioning tissue from a human being without their consent," said Rubin. "The fact that the law only forbids such barbarism for females is discriminatory and downright unconstitutional. Genital integrity is a human right that should apply equally to both sexes."

A young mother from central Vermont has also joined the grassroots intactivist movement. “I have been against circumcision since researching it six years ago when my first son was born,” said Amanda Fortier, who serves as’s state office director in the city of Barre. “I try to educate everyone I know about the harm circumcision causes and that especially includes lawmakers, because they are in a position to stop it from happening. It should be obvious that healthy baby boys don’t need surgical correction. The foreskin performs important functions, just like our eyelids and earlobes.”

Male circumcision has commanded the attention of politicians and judges during the past year, beginning with a U.S. district court ruling that refused to block (1) a New York City regulation requiring circumcisers who perform metzitzah b'peh to obtain prior written consent from the parents. Then in September, Denmark’s Social Liberal Party raised the stakes when it passed a motion (2) to oppose all non-medical circumcision of underage boys. The Sweden Democrats party jumped in and introduced a similar measure (3) shortly thereafter.

The issue escalated two days later when a German court forbade a woman (4) from having her six-year old son circumcised because of the risk of psychological damage. Within a week, children’s ombudsmen from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland joined the Chair of the Danish Children's Council and the Children's spokesperson for Greenland to pass a joint resolution (5) urging their respective governments to ban circumcision of underage boys.

But the biggest advance occurred the very next day, when the influential Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution calling ritual male circumcision a violation of the physical integrity of children (6). The following month, Norway promised to introduce new legislation (7) that would regulate the practice. And in a surprise admission, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated his opinion that the 2011 San Francisco MGM Bill ballot measure would have been “perfectly valid” (8) had it been enacted.

In addition to submitting the MGM Bill proposal to every member of the 113th Congress, the group’s state offices submitted similar bills to every state lawmaker in California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

(1) Fox News, Judge won't block New York City circumcision law, January 11, 2013.
(2) JTA, Danish coalition partner adopts anti-circumcision motion, September 18, 2013.
(3) JTA, Motion to ban non-medical circumcision introduced in Sweden, September 24, 2013.
(4) The Local, Court: circumcision too risky for six-year-old, September 26, 2013.
(5) National Secular Society, Nordic children’s ombudsmen take historic step to protect children’s rights, October 1, 2013.
(6) JTA, European council passes anti-ritual circumcision resolution, October 2, 2013.
(7) JTA, Norway to introduce new regulations on circumcision, November 12, 2013.
(8) The Jewish Week, On Circumcision, Scalia Surprises, November 12, 2013.

Jewish Intactivism

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It's funny how a person, devoid of any direct or personal experience, allows her perspective to be molded by others around her. She willingly reads articles, watches TV and adopts the language she finds in them, even if she doesn't fully understand the terms or the meaning crouched behind them.

"Oh, what a silly, presumptuous, arrogant person!" I suppose that's rolling around in your head right now?

So what images do you see when you read these words?

Uncircumcised (intact as we say it).
Breastfeeding toddler.
Herbalist, homeopath, naturalist.
Cloth diapering, attachment parenting mom.

It's a question for personal analysis. You don't have to tell me. But, from being around for awhile, I can take a light guess. You might conjure up images of women with shaved, dyed hair and multiple piercings. Women squatting in a yurt, no electricity, covered in tattoos as they chant in a satanic tongue while pushing out their babies. Those homeschoolers are out of touch with reality. Socially awkward. Misfits of all kinds. Pushy, judgy and unrealistic. Martyrs and extremists. Liberals, you mutter. Nutters, you roll your eyes. What weirdies. Fruity loops. Stupid, ignorant, outdated. Over controlling, over protective. Different and odd.

Not at all like meeee, you say.




Term Breastfeeder.


Maybe the worst category of the bunch is vaccination. The way people talk, why, they must think those who avoid vaccines are diseased-ridden zombies hiding in the dark swamp land, ready to take over the country at any moment. At night, while you lie in your germ-free home, safely protected by a shield keeping out all danger thanks to your vaccine schedule, we climb out of our lairs. We drag our rotting limbs behind us, intent on breaking into your windows to spread disease and filth (somehow with our evil power, we can do this, even though you are fully vaccinated...) We're fringe, we're rare, we're out of sight and detested by all.

Watch out. Here comes the horde. Homeschoolers, not circumcised, selectively vaccinated or vaccine free, cloth diapering, no diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding all over the place...including next door. To you.

Coming to get you. Coming after you.

Not all like youuuuur family.

Instead of buying into the fear and hate campaigns, maybe it's time to meet your neighbor. Maybe it's time you looked around the neighborhood and got to know real people, instead of spreading hate with misrepresented cliches from the media.

Who are we?

We're the vaccine-free, intact boys playing on your son's team.

We're the homeschoolers enjoying a field trip at the zoo.

And at gymnastics with your kids, tumbling away.

And showing some spirit at school.

We're the big, homebirthed, vaccine-free, homeschooled, intact, family you see every week at church.

And we're kids at the aquarium.

And we're shopping at Target with you.

And we're eating at the same restaurant, sitting at the table next to you.

And we're at the local hardware store.

And we're at the playground, even drinking from the SAME water fountain! The horror!

(For apparently being locked inside our homes, helplessly unsocialized, we sure seem to be out and about!)

You walk past our carved pumpkins on the way to our door when trick or treating.

Your kids join us to play outside.

We invite you to our birthday parties. With cake. :)

You hear about the way we live, our parenting methods and medical decisions and you decide how we look. You decide who we are, what we wear, where we live. But you've decided wrong.

At night, we read bedtime stories, too.

We celebrate like you.

We cherish special moments like you.

Our dining rooms might be for homeschooling and pottying.

And our bathtubs might get some extra mileage.

Some of us might look like the stereotypes you've been taught to hate or mock.

But here's a serious question: have you considered setting down your hate and judgment? Is it really so hard to stop yourself from painting with a wide brush? Is it really that hard to find ways to appreciate those who are different from you? Instead of the judging, wave to your neighbor.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Dear Overwhelmed Mama

Dear Overwhelmed Mama,

You messaged me, or maybe emailed me, or even tagged me today. I know you did! I saw it while breastfeeding my baby. I don't know how it happened, but I read your message earlier today and then tonight I got on and couldn't find it again. You were really hurting and stressed, so I'm putting this here in the hopes you read my page. And the hopes that any other mamas out there in similar situations are also helped in any way by this.

Because let me make one thing clear: your struggles are not rare. You are not a failure. You are not doing worse than others or missing out on a huge secret. We're all in this together and it's a really long, hard journey no matter what successes we log along the way. I only read your message once, so I'm a little rough on the details here. But you said something about wanting to space your children out "properly" with the recommended 3 year space to optimize nutrition and parental attention. Yet, here you are, pregnant when your child is still young.

Carrying my toddler in an ergo while about 20 weeks pregnant

Yes, I do know the fears that race through your mind in that situation. It's hard, first off, because others are going to judge you. In this world of controlled conception and birth, people often forget what it means to receive a baby without intention, or even against all odds. And they might not know what it feels like to have life plans changed, to be overwhelmed, to learn how to parent while parenting a child, while bearing a child, while still learning the "rules" that are forever changing in life.

Second off, it's hard in a grueling way. This is sweaty work, bone cracking work. This is waking up in the morning and taking a deep breath work. This is the work that never ends, that becomes your life calling, that enters your soul and leaves an everlasting mark. You aren't a failure for bracing yourself.

I know that you're worried, maybe even feeling guilty or grieving the plan that can never be, now that another child has come into your family. Are you depriving your current child? Are you harming him? Are you able to love him and another? Are you too stressed for a healthy pregnancy? Will you have to wean? Will it cause lasting scars?

If possible for your situation, consider tandem nursing!

Things will never be the same. Another person has entered the equation. And it will constantly be a juggling act for you. I don't have wonderful news on that front. You will still have to meet this new person, learn to love her, learn who she is and how she fits into your family and do so while managing a household and raising another child.

It's not you and the baby. It's everyone together now.

You will have days where you cry in the bathroom and wonder if you're doing enough. You will have moments you regret. You'll feel stretched. Your heart might even shatter from some unspeakable pain or loss in the future. Your house at times will look like a disaster zone and who knows, you might buy junk food or use the TV just to keep them quiet for 2 minutes.

But let me remind you of something, something really important. The loads of laundry, the crumbs, the shrieking and stamping feet might all increase. But the love does more than increase in a linear way. It compounds when a baby arrives. Love is squared, you could say.

And when a sibling is introduced? A new equation is reached. The love in your family is cubed.

My daughter holding her second brother

The road is long and you will need to commit in a way you didn't know you could. Things won't be all stress and worry, though. You'll learn that saying no to outside commitments means saying yes to more in your family. You'll find your rhythm over time and things will gradually make sense after the new baby arrives. One day, you'll find that you really are doing it. More than that, you'll find a bounty of love, more love than you could have imagined.

Reading to his little brother

You'll find connections and moments of joy that you couldn't accurately imagine beforehand and that you can't truly capture with a camera. You'll store them in your heart...because your heart will be bigger than before.

Some moments will be remembered forever. And they will be the good moments, Mama!

Take it one day at a time, Mama. Whatever your situation, love doesn't care. You don't need exactly 3 years of space to provide nutritious breast milk. You don't need exactly $100,000 a year to provide healthy meals. Your kids don't need fancy Apple gadgets or top rated private schools. You don't need a lot of the things we are pressured to buy or to do to be allegedly good, successful and the best.

Getting ready for the next baby!
In fact, children need more of the simpler things. They need a down to earth mama who is available, who hands out hugs and yummy treats and bedtime stories to all. They will remember the fun times together, the monster forts, the nights camping under the stars, the playground trips and chasing after the icecream truck. They won't recall the numerical amount you spent on the newest gadget or the complex way you planned out spacing and conception dates.

Mama, take those fears racing through your mind and put them to rest. When it comes to family, the heart rules here, not darkness and fear. Open up wide and embrace every moment coming to you. Hug your older child. Introduce him to the pregnancy journey. Include him and celebrate him because he's a big brother now and this is an exciting time for him, too.

Let your heart expand and do what you can because it will work out in the end.

I promise.

Love and light to you,

Mamas weigh in with their experiences:

Here are my three! The first and second are 16 months apart. The second and third are 25 months apart. I had 3 kids in 4 years! This is my son's fifth birthday. My middle daughter was 3.5 and the youngest was 1.5. We are now expecting our fourth about three weeks before my oldest turns 6! There have been rough times, but mostly rewarding. I couldn't imagine my life without my babies!

Here are my two, 22 months apart. The little girl was unplanned after a high risk, rocky pregnancy.

Here are my little girls, 11 months apart. People always ask if they are twins and yes, I got (still get) a lot of judgement. It was hard in the beginning but I can't imagine my life without them. The way they are with each other would make any mama proud. I also wanted my kids spaced out but God had other plans.

Related resources:

14 ways to celebrate siblings:

I'm a mom and I've had enough:

Tandem nursing:

Did you ask your child to join your family today?

The crunchiest, most organic mom ever:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Babies are Breastfed. Pope is Catholic. Water is Wet.

As the news travels around Facebook with people freaking out to put it lightly, we all find out that Pope Francis supports the breastfeeding of infants, even in public and during church services. This isn't the first time Papa Frankie has treated the normal act of breastfeeding as, well, normal.

Pope Francis during a newborn mass in Buenos Aires, March 24th 2005.
Photo source - Today's Spanish newspaper EL PAIS, Fotogalery titled 'Before becoming Francis.'
As he said on Sunday:

"Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry. If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here." (Reuters)

Our fourth child after his baptism

Don't get me wrong. For real. It's very exciting to have a public record to send to people who harass mothers about breastfeeding in public. I love hearing about it and I shared the story, too.

The newsfeed today is filled with: OH WOWZ! GUYZ, AMAZING! THE POPE SAID TO FEED BABEHZ IN CHURCH!  But, it's not surprising. It's not huge news. It's not amazing. This is what moms do for their babies day in and day out. It's normal. Basic. It doesn't warrant a double take or a gasp.

Think about this. I've been breastfeeding four children for over five years now, going to church 2-5 times a week, visiting numerous parishes for events or to be with friends and family. And I've breastfed at every single mass, without fail.

Yes, I've nursed a screaming toddler after he bumped his head on the pew. I've nursed newborns as they quietly thump-thumped their new little tongues. I've nursed at midnight mass, I've nursed at the early bird mass, I've nursed at the life teen noon mass, I've nursed at funeral masses and nuptial masses.

I've nursed where I sat, in the pew with my family and friends, quietly and unobtrusively, all these years and so have thousands of other moms. You could make a poem out of it. I've nursed here or there. I've nursed everywhere. In front of the tabernacle, in the cry room, in the back, in the front, on the side and during a wedding.

Thanks to breastfeeding, my children can be calm and happy at church. And I can find a few moments to meditate. I often think of Mary when sitting in a pew, child at the breast. I wonder how she felt, knowing she was holding the Son of God in her arms.

She was young and had an out of wedlock pregnancy, an unassisted birth in a cave and kings visited her child, proclaiming He was the King. If she could focus on mothering her son through that public pressure, I can surely comfort my children in church with patience and love.

See more breastfeeding photos here.

And you know what? Do you know how many times I've been mistreated in church? Twice. One time, a mom, dad and female teen gave me dirty looks then moved to another pew. Another time, an elderly lady approached me after church and yelled at me.

Do you know how many times I've been warmly welcomed? More than I can count. I've had priests smile warmly. I had one priest jokingly thank me for protecting his sermon (from crying). I've had a priest sit next to me and discuss TOB. I had a priest thank me for bringing back BFing in the church. I've had another priest tell me to never give up. I've had countless smiles, nods, waves and other small words of affirmation from church goers.

In a faith based on an unmarried teen mother bringing the savior into the world and latching him onto her breasts, who are we to ever send anything other than a smile towards a mom and her nursling?

Pope Francis is Catholic. And water is wet. I'm happy to hear about what happened, but I'm not surprised. Babies are breastfed after all.

(For another day: the overlooked discussion of welcoming babies in church, even when they are singing the song of their people!)

What next? Will we need Pope Francis to
protect mothers who hold their babies in church?
Related resources

God wants to breastfeed his people:

The Daily Catholic Crunch:

Catholics Against Circumcision:

5 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Vaccination

I posted this in response to a question about things to do when you cannot protect your children from vaccination. These are potential things you can do to rule out or mitigate risk of injury and adverse reaction. To be clear: I do not ever advocate forced, routine vaccination on non-consenting persons.

As always: remember that this information is not medical advice and does not replace the advice of a paid professional.

  Ways to mitigate the risk of injury from infant/early childhood vaccines:

1) Consider a full genetic panel for your child to rule out congenital defects or other concerning polymorphisms such as COMT, VAL, MTHFR, mitochondrial differences and more. Figure out what the ingredients, bacterial types and viral strains in the vaccines might do to pre-existing genetic differences in the child to be prepared ahead of time.

2) Consider a full nutritional and mineral panel to correct imbalances and deficiencies before exposure. For example, glutathione is an antioxidant used in the liver to break down heavy metals (among other functions), so if your child is deficient, she'll have a harder time handling some vaccines. Low vitamin A is associated with various complications especially with the measles strains. Low vitamin D is associated with immune system dysregulation. After discovering your child's individual deficiencies, you can explore which ones are related to specific adverse reactions in the vaccination topic and prepare your child ahead of time by supplementing or correcting dietary issues.

3) Speaking of the immune system, consider mapping out your child's immune system by testing for any immune deficiencies. Especially look for clues of a PID and look carefully at IgG levels. Rule out compounding complications such as PANDAS, lyme disease and thyroid disease.

4) If you can't protect your child from vaccinations during infancy as the BBB matures, begin reducing inflammatory factors in your child's environment. Consider avoiding vaccination around teething episodes. Consider the low histamine diet.  Consider the low salicylate diet. Avoid halogen compounds such as dioxins, chlorine, fluoride, bromide, etc. Make sure the brain is as protected as much as possible and that the gut is as strong as possible to withstand the exposure.

5) Speaking of histamines, be sure to consider full allergy testing. Many vaccines contain a variety of allergens, such as blood and milk proteins from cows, egg proteins, DNA residue from various animals, formaldehyde, various preservatives, synthetic vitamins (Rota), etc. Some might be contaminated with peanut oil or other carrier ingredients. Rule out any unknown allergens before exposure so you can take preventative steps or at least have an epi-pen available.

Related articles:

Vivian talks more about how to develop a custom vaccine schedule for your child here:

Are you consenting to a one size fits all treatment for your child?