Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Sometimes, when I hear the outrage over the WBC protesting at funerals of soldiers, it makes me a little sick.

It's not that I think the WBC is in any way a decent organization - I think they're proprietors of hatred - and it's not that it doesn't completely sicken me that they protest at military funerals. It does. They're probably the biggest douchebags on the planet for what they do. I can't imagine, as a parent, how ridiculously upset I would be at someone protesting my child's funeral. I can imagine launching myself at the nearest WBC member and trying, in grief fueled rage to take them down.

I begrudgingly give them that they have the Constitutionally protected right to be such asshats, but, really, I wish they would just stop.


The Westboro Baptist Church has been picketing funerals since something like 1995. It's hard to find an exact start date, because, quite frankly, prior to them picketing military funerals, very few people gave a damn.

What? Why wouldn't people care that an extremist group picketed funerals and said horrible things and disturbed the mourners?

Because they started out picketing funerals of gay people. Or people who had died of AIDS. And we, as a country, turned a big old blind eye to it, for the most part.

Even in 1998, when they protested the funeral of murdered 21 year old Matthew Shepard (whose gruesome story can be found here if you're not aware of it) and drew national attention, there wasn't the huge attention paid to them that there is now. Hells Angels certainly didn't go to the funeral to counter protest, although some of Shepard's friends did. The WBC even had plans to build a monument to Shepard entering hell. And put it in a park. Nice, right?

And there were several other funerals they picketed, of dead gay men and women, many who had been murdered, that went pretty much below the radar. You know, until roughly 2006, when they protested a military funeral and all hell broke loose. The Respect for Fallen Heroes Act was signed that year, counter protests sprouted up in droves, people suddenly gave a shit.

People should have given a shit before, too.

Phelps got almost as much media coverage after the Shepard protest - where the fuck were the caring people of America then? Why weren't we stepping in then to make sure that bereaved family members weren't suffering from the picketing these asshats were doing? Because these people weren't soldiers, they weren't worthy of respect?

Screw that.

Look, I hold in high esteem fallen soldiers. I recognize what they do for this country, and I have a lot of respect for the job. And the Westboro Baptist Church should be drowned out at these funerals. There should be legislation keeping them a few hundred feet back, in respect for the mourners.

But that should apply to *all* funerals. Not just military ones.

A funeral isn't for the dead. The dead are just that. They don't care what their funeral is like. It's for the people left behind. For them to lay the person they loved to rest, to have some closure, to grieve. And that should be respected. Across the board. Military families don't grieve more than the families of anyone else who dies and leaves loved ones behind. Pain isn't less intense for a family even if the circumstances of the death were less tragic. Death is still death, and it still brings heartbreak to the living.

So, yes, counter protest the WBC. Sign legislation protecting the mourners. Give support to the parents and family and friends. Let them know that the WBC is a small, small minority of people gladdened by their loss, but that most Americans are sane, and rational, and can empathize with their pain. But do it across the board, not just for military families. Do it for everyone that this awful group wants to protest.

Friday, August 20, 2010

"I'm afraid of Americans"

Not all of them, of course. But there's an element, a group that terrifies me here.

They're all over the media lately. They talk and talk and talk and talk. They spew misinformation at best, blatant lies at worst. They infect the brains of even the most rational people I know. The only thing they bring to the table is hatred, and I'm quite concerned that some of their more extreme followers will resort to violent actions.

And I don't mean Muslims.

I could write an impassioned blog detailing all of the misinformation about the "Ground Zero Mosque" (a misnomer if I ever heard one.)

But it wouldn't matter.

People masquerading as concerned Americans, wolves in patriots clothing, have spread so many lies so far and so wide that most of the people who really, really need to hear the truth wouldn't listen. They can't handle the truth, to be cliched. They can't handle it because they've been whipped into a frenzy of anger, hatred, emotion.

A frenzy of lies.

I worry for America, I really do. I love this country. I think I was very very lucky to be born here.

But we are on the cusp of something very very bad.

People are more and more and more angry. And all too often, that anger is misdirected, stoked by misinformation. We let politics separate us. Worst, they're not even our true politics. They're what two groups blow up and distort in a bid to get our vote.

Granted, that's not new. People have disagreed with politicians as long as there as been government. And misinformation has been spread for just as long.

But this is 2010, people. If you can read this, you have access to a wealth of information from many, many different sources. You can fact check. You can educate yourself.

There is no reason that in the age of the internet, that anyone rational should still believe that Obama wasn't born here, or that Bush plotted 9/11, or that the "mosque" is Islam's way of flipping us off.

But we're lazy in this country. Physically and intellectually. We like our food fast, our news pre-slanted, our enemies painted with bright red by whatever pundit we're listening to that day.

This has got to stop. If we don't start caring, if we don't stop being lazy, if we don't educate ourselves and at least try to find a common ground...

Right now, the US is chaos theory personified. And we're either going to move to a higher order or disintegrate.

I encourage everyone to look into the Coffee Party which is all about people coming together, being civil, and being united instead of divided despite differences.

But don't take my word for it. Seriously. Don't. Educate yourself. Check your facts.

(And please god stop saying that Barack Hussein (always emphasized, of course)Obama is a non-American Muslim. Honestly. It's not third grade, stop allowing a fucked up game of telephone to control what you think.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Perspectives: When "Natural" =/= "Easy"

I'm honored to be a part of the Breastfeeding Blog Carnival hosted by The Leaky B@@b. It's World Breastfeeding Week and the carnival theme is "Perspectives: Breastfeeding from Every Angle." Visit The Leaky B@@b for more perspectives on breastfeeding.

Hi, my name is Star, and I used to think breastfeeding was disgusting.

I like to think of myself as a breastfeeding success story.

My mom nursed me, but, obviously, I don't remember that far back. Growing up, no one ever nursed around me. The few babies I saw were fed by bottle. I thought that that was just, you know, how it was done.

When I was sixteen, my sister had her first baby. I went to the hospital to see my new nephew, and there he was – attached to her breast?!? Ewwwwwww, sister boob! My teenage self was so horrified. I spent the visit doing everything I could to not look at her while she nursed.

Fast forward seven years.

I'm married now, and, after trying for a veryveryveryvery long time, expecting. I'm so enamored by my tiny little ultrasound pictures, and the small bump I'm pretending I already have. I'm buying up all sorts of baby stuff and maternity clothes, and I'm loving every second of this experience so much.

I'm really concerned about her car seat. I want to get a really good one. While researching that, I find, inexplicably, a bunch of stuff about breastfeeding. The more I read, the more it intrigues me. The health benefits for my baby and me, the amazing components of breastfeeding...I decide, right away, to give this a go. The websites all seem to talk about how natural and beautiful it is, and I'm so excited.

In my mind, “natural and beautiful” becomes “easy” and I'm shocked when, in the hospital, my baby won't latch on. After three consultations with the lactation consultant and a begrudgingly given nipple shield (that “you'll want to wean her off of as soon as you can, dear”) we're on our way. Yay! It's time for the natural, beautiful, EASY part!

Except it's day 4 and I have no milk. And my beautiful baby has dropped 12% of her body weight. And now the nurses are pushing formula. A lot.

So I tearfully feed her it. And she responds happily, and gains back some weight, and we can leave. When we get home, and my milk comes in, I will get back to breastfeeding, and all will be fantastic.

Day 5. At home. No milk. I cry to my husband that I'm somehow faulty, that this isn't right, and how the hell can I ever get milk when the baby's not nursing anymore? I dissolve into a flood of tears, while he looks on helplessly.


But...I'm horribly engorged, and she can't latch on, and I don't know what to do. So I go to her pediatrician, who is (luckily) very pro-breastfeeding. And he helps me out a little, and also refers me to a lactation consultant.

Except now the baby has nipple confusion. But slowly, steadily, we work through that. And the next few months pass in a beautiful blur.

At 5 months, we go in for a pediatrician appointment. And my daughter has fallen off the growth chart. Even the one for breastfed babies. Her doctor asks me questions about her eating, orders a couple of tests, and says he wants to see us in a month.

A month later, she's even further off the chart, and none of the tests showed anything wrong. So more tests are ordered. And then a five day stay in the hospital for us two, where she will be weighed before and after every nursing to see how much she's getting.

About an ounce – maybe two - on each side, as it turns out. My pediatrician orders a daily LC consultation in the hospital, and, until we can make what he is pretty sure is my supply issue better, he wants to supplement formula. She refuses a bottle, so we try sippies. This seems acceptable to her. But I can't help feeling like a big huge failure. Why is this so hard for me? I just want to nurse my child, damn it!

On top of all this, the reason we were admitted to the hospital is classified as failure to thrive. Fun fact: in my state, this means an automatic DFS case is opened on you. So, in the hospital, we get the first visit from DFS. I am lucky; this woman is the sweetest person ever. She asks a bunch of questions, I answer truthfully, and she makes notes. I'm very upset, so I'm stuttering and sounding ridiculous. Eventually, she leaves, promising to come back later. She doesn't, though. I find out after the fact that they questioned our parents as teachers person, the people at WIC, and someone from a state program for stay at home moms that I participated in, all of whom reported that I was, in fact, a decent mother. The case was dropped. Not that I knew that while I was utterly stressed in the hospital.

A month later, after eleven hundred pounds of Mother's Milk tea and fenugreek and pumping up a storm, I'm producing milk well again. Enough milk to cut out formula entirely. I feel more accomplished than if I'd won a gold medal. My daughter nurses until she's a little over a year, at which point she self weans.

My breastfeeding experience was fraught with all sorts of issues. It was hard work, and stressful, and one of the most time consuming things I've ever done in my life.

I have no regrets about it.

I'm not going to lie – parts of my experience were dreadful. But the benefits far outweighed the stress. My daughter and I not only got the health benefits of nursing, but the time we spent, and the act of nursing, bonded us so strongly. We still have a strong, I believe unseverable, bond. And some of my favorite memories involve us nursing – the delighted smiles at my breast, the nighttime feedings where we curled up together and took comfort in each other's presence, the ability to make everything better so easily for my daughter. The beauty of that experience – likely already forgotten by her – will be something I cherish forever.

I'm now nursing, and creating those memories, with my second. Even though this nursing experience has gone much smoother, I'm not worried about issues that might pop up. I know I can fight like a tiger to have this with my child, and I know how worth it it is. So I'm just enjoying the ride.

Who'd have known that someone who once found nursing disgusting would have such a turn around?

(And, on a side note, I've nursed both of my daughters in front of my younger brother. The first time around, he was 12. This time, he's 16. And he's never had an “OMG, gross, sister boobs!” moment. This gives me incredible hope that by openly nursing around him, I've helped create someone who will be respectful of lactating mothers everywhere.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just Be Happy With Who You Are

I've heard that statement, or one like it, a billion times and you probably have too. But it never disturbed me until today.

I was trying to figure out what my BMI is right now (let's just say not good :/) and I happened upon some forum. The girl was 5'7" and 180lbs. She was asking how to know what size frame she had and how to know if she was within a decent weight limit.

Someone posted the information on frame sizes, and she identified herself as having a large frame. So someone posted this, "Well, you're like 15 pounds above the range for your height, but that's not that bad. You should just be happy with who you are."

So this girl is trying to lose weight and be healthier, is looking for the right range to do it in, and the only feedback she gets is that it's ok and just to be happy? Seriously?

Yes, 15 pounds isn't that much. Pfft, I *wish* I only had 15 pounds to lose (and might I add that large framed people suck - my frame is classified as small, even though I'm super tall, and it means a 10 pound difference to the BMI charts for me. Damn it.) But 15 pounds extra is still excess weight, and if someone is trying to lose it, you should ENCOURAGE them, not advocate that they ignore it! Jeez, this chick had previous posts and she was really looking for healthy weight loss ideas . It wasn't like she was anorexic or trying to binge and purge to lose weight!

I wonder, sometimes, if the "just be happy as you are" movement is causing lots of unintended trouble. If I was complacently happy, I wouldn't be going back to school, or trying to make my life (and my family's) healthier. Would I be happier? Maybe short term. But long term, I imagine it would cause more stress, lower quality of life, and less happiness.

I try to think of what to tell my girls. Because I *do* want them to have high self esteem and love who they are. But I also want them to strive, to always reach for improvement. To want to be the best that they can be.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Breaking Point

I'm stressed out beyond belief.

We bought this new trailer almost a month ago. I was so excited when we found it - it's the perfect size, a better layout for watching the girls and getting stuff done, compatible with everything we have.

It's also not here yet.

Now, keep in mind, we bought this trailer so that we could quickly be in a nicer place. We *wanted* to build a home. This was a compromise to get us happily and safely through winter so we could take a longer time building our dream home next spring/summer.

The past three weeks, the mover (whom we've already paid most of the money to) has put us off. And put us off. And put us off. I've been trying to be very nice about this. But I'm sort of done being nice.

Today, I snapped at him a little (when he blew us off again) and told him that it needed to be done next week. After much hemming and hawing, he actually set a time up with me for next weekend, and he also said he's going to try to bring the trailer over here earlier than that so all he has to do is move the current one and pop the new one on this weekend. This is the first time he's been so forthcoming with details, or set up an actual time, so I'm cautiously optimistic.

What pisses me off, though, is that I had a bunch of stuff I could have done this weekend, but, instead, I stayed home and waited for this dude for no reason.

Also, as I may have mentioned 940000 other times, I HATE our current place. It sucks. We're cramped, mice get in regularly (although since my daughter's cat came here from my mom's house, that's actually diminished, even though he's outside) and I have no stove. I cook everything by toaster oven, crockpot, and electric griddle. You'd be shocked at how hard this can be.

And I'm tired. I'm just so tired of waiting.

Since we've been put off so many times, I find myself scared to do the things I have to do for us to move. Like pack. Because if I pack up our stuff, and he doesn't come, I have to unpack half of it for us to live. It's causing even more stress...the stress of being unprepared vs. the stress of undoing and redoing things, over and over and over and over.

So, basically, if I don't want to lose my mind, the new place has to be there this weekend. I think if it isn't, I'm not going to be able to contain my frustration. I think I will be bitchy, and yell, and I don't think it'll do any good whatsoever.

I'm not even sure why I'm writing this, except to vent.

Anyways, in happier news, look for my post in the Perspectives Blog Carnival to be posted this Friday. I'm SO excited. I've never participated in a blog carnival before! So watch for that. :)