Friday, May 20, 2011

Conversations with a Formula Company

So today I was at a conference. Our booth was to promote breastfeeding, of course. We were right next to someone representing Abbott Labs. Abbott, as you may know, makes Similac.

At first, I was actually very impressed. The newest "breastfeeding bag" was displayed. For those of you who don't know, when you have a baby, and you are discharged from the hospital, you get a lovely bag from a formula company. If you are formula feeding, you get one bag; if you're breastfeeding, you get another.

The breastfeeding bag promotes breastfeeding and is full of helpful, beneficial breastfeeding stuff, right? Um, no. Traditionally, they have a supply of formula, coupons for formula, a breastfeeding guide and some breastmilk storage bags that you can use for formula when the formula you're given totally sabotages your supply.

So I was THRILLED to see that the new bag on display had NO FORMULA in it.

"Is that what you guys are giving out?" I asked the guy behind the table.

"Um, yeah. I think. I don't really handle the hospital part."

" doesn't have formula! That's like ethical."

He looked at me in utter confusion at that. Poor man. Anyways, he said, "Well, I think we're moving away from promoting in the hospitals so much." (italics mine. He didn't say that all weirdly.)

I. Was. So. Excited. As some of you know, "breastmilk bags" are the bane of the lactation consultant's existence. They contain just enough formula, as I said, to sabotage a new mom's supply. And they sit there in your cupboards, seductively calling you in the early days when you're tired and confused and unsure of yourself. And maybe it's overnight and you're scared, and not sure who to call of even if you can call anyone. So you use it. And since formula is a heavier meal (like Thanksgiving vs. a normal meal) it sits on your baby's tummy longer. So you go longer between feedings. That must mean that you didn't have enough milk, right? So you replace a couple more feedings. Before you know it, KABLAM! You have a crappy supply and you totally doubt your body. Then you're a Similac Strong Mom and they can get literally hundreds to thousands of dollars from you.


So the guy tells me, "Hey, hang on - I'll get the guy who handles the hospital stuff to answer your question."

He walks away, and I look at the bag. It has Kleenex, wipes, 10 newborn diapers, and a toy. Awesome!

The Similac rep comes up, introduces himself, and asks me what questions I have. I say, "These are your new bags?" I gesture to it.

"Oh yeah," says he.

"There's not formula in them?!?"

He here looks sheepish. "Well...they do. But there's only a two day supply, and we're really promoting breastfeeding. And I know that they say that the sample might mess up breastfeeding, but we're really not trying to do that here." He pulls out the actual bag from under the table and invites me to take a look.

It was labeled "breastfeeding" and contained: formula, the bag, coupons for diapers, a cooler bag, "breastmilk" storage bags, a sample of wipes, and information on breastfeeding.

I looked at the breastfeeding information, because I honestly wanted to see what it was like.

There were 2 pamphlets on infant feeding.
The good:
There was legitimately good information on bottlefeeding a baby. Since most people, even breastfeeding moms, eventually use a bottle, I find it HIGHLY important to know how to bottlefeed. We all have this idea about holding the baby prone and holding a bottle upside down in their mouth, but that's a terrible way to feed. You should hold your baby semi-upright and not just pour the milk down the baby's throat. And that was essentially what the pamphlet said.

There was some decent breastfeeding information. It correctly said that your baby should be pooping 3x a day by 3 days and had a decent diaper diary in there that accurately showed breastmilk poops. There was also a graphic showing that a newborn's tummy is the size of a marble and a ping pong ball on day 3. This is true, and important to know.

The bad:
Um, everything else? Lol.

First was the chart of how often to breastfeed. Here it is:

I tell people that they will be feeding their babies 8-12 times a day in the beginning. That is what you do. Babies have tiny tummies and breastmilk is the perfect food, so it is digested quickly. New babies nurse every 60-90 minutes on average. But make a mom think she's nursing more than the average, and, whoa. Well, you have a starving baby! You're not doing it right! Just c'mon and use formula. Clearly your anatomy can't make superior product properly.

Also, remember the tummy sizes we talked about? The marble and ping pong ball? The ones Similac even mentions?

You try to pour 2-3 ounces of liquid in a marble or ping pong ball and tell me how that works for you. Hint: not well. Yet, we're so shocked that kids overeat and are fat. Not at all something we're forcing on them or anything. Even if you are formula feeding, you should NOT be giving your new baby 2 ounces at a time.

Another fun gem was the "how to tell that your baby is getting enough" section. Did you know that your baby should sleep for 2 hours straight after every feeding? Let's not at all take into account the very high percentage of babies who sometimes like to nurse one side, take a fifteen or twenty minute nap, and nurse the next. Nope, they shouldn't be doing this common newborn behavior. There must be something wrong!

And then I came to the hotline. Similac's "feeding experts," billed as lactation consultants.

"Are these lactation consultants IBCLC?" I asked. Full disclosure: I knew they couldn't be. The Code of Ethics for IBCLCs says they cannot work for formula companies.

"Oh yeah."

I kept looking at the pamphlet, but I must have tipped him off in some way that I thought that that was utter bs, because he then said, "Well, Similac contracts with LifeCare and they provide certified lactation consultants that receive similar training to IBCLCs."

(The full story is that the IBCLCs that worked for LifeCare, who *does* provide legitimate breastfeeding support, said that they would absolutely NOT be working for Similac's line, so other people were given an 80 hour training course and set loose "helping" moms. IBCLCs, to even be allowed to test this year, must have 45 hours of lactation specific education and 1000 hours of breastfeeding contact hours. That doesn't even count the numerous hours of studying someone has to do to pass the IBLCE exam. So, yeah - not even close to comparable to 80 hour online courses. Also, lactation professionals have called that line and reported that the advice in incomplete or downright wrong.)


To wrap this up, I want to say that I am not anti-formula. When I needed it, I was thrilled it existed, and I've even used Similac in the past. I don't think Similac is the most unethical formula company (Nestle takes the cake there.) But I am very disappointed at the bait and switch on their table. While I don't love formula companies giving out bags, if they didn't have samples in them, I would see that as a step in the right direction. And, let's face it, Similac - you've had some godawful press recently (bug recall, the aforementioned hotline issues and the disastrous phone app.) Might be nice to do something that didn't suck, huh?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Monogamy is hard.

I regularly kid around that I couldn't be a polygamist because I couldn't handle more than one relationship at a time, and that's not totally fictitious. Relationships are difficult. It's much easier, in some ways, to do whatever you want to do and not have to run that by anyone else ever. And I say this from within a relationship where my significant other truly doesn't care if I want to go out with my friends or randomly go shopping and doesn't fine tooth comb what I spend or where I spend it or whatever. But there are still things I have to clear with him, because he's the other half of the family decision making unit. I can't, say, decide I want to move tomorrow and just go do it.

And attraction. Listen, if you tell me you've never been attracted to anyone else ever while in a relationship, I will call you a liar to your face. Because you have been. It happens. There's a lot of good looking people out there, and certainly some of them do it for you. It's fine. It's not criminal or wrong, it's human nature.

Since my early twenties, my view on cheating has changed significantly. While I absolutely think that if you are in a serious monogamous relationship you should keep it in your pants or get out of the relationship (if it's that big of a deal to you,) I'm not all that concerned about cheating, at least physically. Do I want it to happen in my relationship? God no. Would I be super upset if Shane cheated on me? Of course. Would I forgive him? Quite possibly. If he was, like, conducting a huge love affair with another woman and wanting to actively leave me to be with her, that would be harder and I truly don't know that I could get past that. However, if he just allowed attraction to happen and it was a mistake, well, that's a little more understandable. We could, with time and effort, work through that, probably. I wouldn't necessarily see that as being worth destroying our entire life. Unless I was already unhappy in the relationship, because then I would see it as time to move on.

Honestly, if he ever had a one night thing with someone, and it involved protection and wasn't going to happen ever again, I wouldn't want to know. I think a lot of people tell their significant others about events like that out of their OWN guilt, not out of any interest in full disclosure. And what does it do? Just causes hurt and pain. If it's done and there's no pregnancy risk or risk of disease, just shut up about it!

But you know what you don't do?

You don't knock somebody up and then lie about it for ten years like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You don't wait until you fulfill your selfish ambitions to blow two families apart. Two families, because the person he had a kid with was married too and just pretended that that kid was her husband's. That's just fucked up. That's the situation where you come clean, and you apologize your ass off and you deal with the fucking fall out, whatever it may be. Because you've just put a new person on Earth, and they haven't done anything wrong. They deserve honesty THEN, not ten years later. They deserve to not have their preteen life become a media circus. Ten is awful anyways, because it starts the liking of the opposite sex and the ugly phase of puberty and all that. Doing it while Perez Hilton blogs about you is probably a fucking nightmare.

Fail, Arnold. Just fail.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The No-Poo Report: Being Crunchy for Beauty

We live in an area that appears to have the hardest water known to mankind. And this has become a problem. Clothes wear out faster. Soap doesn't come off as well. And my hair has been TERRIBLE.

Originally, we planned to get a water softener and fix the whole mess. But we're contemplating a lot of different things as far as where we will live next year, and so I'm holding off.

But my hair could not wait anymore.

Yup, that's right. I'm vain enough that I just prioritized the way my hair looks over like everything else. But, for real, guys, it's bad. It's crunchy on the ends and greasy at the top and I never feel like it's totally clean. And I hate it. I have used pretty much every shampoo/conditioner possible in an effort to make it better, and it hasn't worked worth a damn.

I have some friends who are way more into natural stuff, and for a few months, several have told me that I should "no-poo" my hair. No-poo is a very unfortunate moniker simply meaning "cut out the damn shampoo and conditioner and put baking soda and vinegar in your hair."

This, in no way, sounded like a good plan. So I blew it off. Sorry guys. Also, no-poo people tell me that it takes awhile for your hair to not disgusting upon starting no-poo. One friend helpfully told me that her hair looked like shit for a month, "but then was awesome!"

Well, I didn't want disgusting hair for a month. And, yes, I had heard "cheaper" "less toxic" and "environmentally friendly" also get mentioned as pros, but somehow they didn't overpower having terrible hair for at least a month. Which, I guess, shows you that I suck at being crunchy, lol.

But last night, my hair felt awful, and I was irked, and so I, without really thinking about it, leapt into no-poo full force, mixing up baking soda and water and working it through my hair without even saying anything to anyone.

Which led to this conversation:
Shane: "Um, what's on your hair? What are you DOING?"
Me: "It's called no-poo. You use natural stuff and it's supposed to make your hair suck less and stuff."
Shane: "No-poo?"
Me: "Yeah, dumb name, huh?"
Shane: "Does that mean your hair is constipated?"

I love that man.

Anyways, so I baking sodaed, and then I got in the shower and rinsed, then I ran apple cider vinegar and water through my hair.

First no-poo issue - OMFG, apple cider vinegar STINKS. I had to rinse my hair like 24 billion times to feel like it was cleanish and nonstinky. This can apparently be resolved by using white vinegar and mixing essential oils in it. A blog I read suggested vanilla and a stick of cinnamon to make your hair smell yummy. This I will try.

Ok, so out of the shower, de-vinegarfied, and I ran my hand through my hair, which, for once, had like minimal tangles. And felt softer than normal. My scalp felt better, too.

This morning, my hair was still surprisingly manageable and tangle free, my natural wave is more noticeable, and my color is brighter. The only downfall is that my hair is a little static-y. Soft, but static-y. Is that normal? Should I be doing something differently? I have no idea.

So I'll give no-poo (I still hate the name) awhile to work its supposed magic. We'll see. But if my hair gets all gross, I am going straight back to shampoos, no matter how toxic they are.

Monday, May 2, 2011


In case you haven't heard, spoiler alert! Osama Bin Laden is dead. And I'm pleased as punch about this.

There are people who think that I shouldn't be, though.

As soon as the death of Osama was announced, my Twitter and Facebook blew the fuck up. Most people were happy. Some were skeptical. Some were bitterly talking about Obama. And some were talking about how terrible we all were.

"How can you people rejoice," one post said, "in the death of a human being?"

Let me break this down for anyone who feels that way.

Osama Bin Laden wasn't your average Joe walking down the street. He wasn't even your average murderer. He was the founder of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, as you may or may not remember, has claimed responsibility for the deaths of thousands. It wasn't like they just existed with 9/11. They've done much, much more.

It's not like Osama was a poor, sad, downtrodden man, either. He was a wealthy, college educated man. He didn't have a terrible life that somehow could excuse his vileness and hatred (although, really, it couldn't. Sorry.)

He had advantages and prosperity, and he allowed hatred to twist him into an evil person who longed for the death of others. I may use the word hate sometimes or say things like, "OMG, traffic should DIE IN A FIRE" but I've never actually, really hoped for the death or anyone. And I doubt you have either. Osama did though. He hated you. Yup, you. He wanted you dead. Along with anyone else reading this blog who isn't a total extremist. You have kids? He thought they were a blight on the Earth and wanted them dead too. Picture your child as a brand new baby; sweet, innocent, perfect. Osama would have happily murdered your child at that point. Why? Because your child was born in a society that he didn't approve of.

As far as "he's just a figurehead" this is kind of true. He was a figurehead and most of the stuff carried out in his name was not committed by him. But people who blow off his death as unimportant miss something important. PEOPLE FOLLOW FIGUREHEADS. Hitler didn't kill everyone who died under his hand, but he was a figurehead who used his power to inspire people to cause the death of others. And it wasn't soldiers or people in the line of fire, so to speak. He inspired people to cold bloodedly murder innocent people by preying on their despair and religion and hopelessness and promising them better. He was a charismatic man who used other to fulfill his twisted, dark, evil desires.

And those who are sad because he was a human being and could have been rehabilitated or treated better - he was shot in the head. We didn't burn him alive, or bury him, or, you know, give him the choice between jumping from a building or waiting to be crushed. We also didn't hijack a plane he was on and terrorize him for awhile before using him to kill others. Nope, that's what his followers did to our innocent citizens. We had a trained marksman shoot him in the head, upon which he died. Some people who think about these things far more than I do say that that is one of the least painful deaths. God, how horrible are we, right?

I'll address rehabilitation just because people have said it, but it's laughable. Sorry, you can't rehabilitate someone who is that twisted. You can take them out so that the people they effect with their hate, the people tat they spread their twisted disease to is lessened. That's best case scenario, and that is what we did.

So, no, I don't feel bad that the man is dead. I'm glad. If that makes me a bloodthirsy savage or someone who isn't intelligent enough to understand the sophistication of how terrorism works, so fucking be it. But I will end on a quote from our President, who I believe summed it up perfectly:

"His demise should be welcomed by all
who believe in peace and human dignity."