Not a Pacifier

By Sarah for Nurshable: Joy in Gentle Parenting
Read more by Sarah here.


Dear Daughter,

You are three weeks old. You nursed pretty much straight through the night last night, as I sort of drifted in and out of being fully awake.

You’re going through a growth spurt.

When you switch sides I feel the sting of letdown. Sometimes you nurse eagerly and gulp down the milk. Sometimes you become upset because you don’t want milk. Or you don’t want the fast flow of my over-active letdown. Sometimes you just want to lay in the semi-dark and nurse peacefully while your little dark blue eyes stare at my face and your little feet kick the still-soft skin of my belly which was your former home. Sometimes you want to comfort nurse. When this happens I kiss your forehead and switch you back to the “empty” side and let you lay close. You are a wise little creature that understands what it is that you need.

I am not a human pacifier.

Usually when a mom says that, it’s an expression of frustration that their infant insists on suckling for comfort. This is not what I mean when I say this.

I am not a warm human substitute for a cold silicone and plastic doohickey.

Your father may sometimes be a human pacifier. You suckle on his pinky finger during diaper changes or when I desperately need to wash my milk-stained body in the shower and remember for a few moments that I have two arms with two hands and that the dimensions of my body do not include an oddly independent nine pound female child that is frequently suspended from my body in a wrap of lightweight gauze. Your grandfather may be a human pacifier, as he holds you lovingly while I get your big brothers ready for bed or eat a hot meal without waiting for it to cool first- a luxury of not being afraid of hot bits of soup falling on you while I eat. Your brothers may briefly be human pacifiers when they offer up their pinky fingers for you to suck on, always imitating their daddy.Your grandma may be a human pacifier when she offers you her pinky finger to suck on and sings you Russian songs from her childhood.

But my breasts are not pacifiers. Comfort sucking is not time wasted. It’s part of the job that my body and you have. It is how we evolved. We are the product of a long process of evolution that causes you to seek out my arms and my breasts, to suckle for comfort, to communicate with my immune system, to stay close and warm and protected, to stimulate the supply of your food, your antibodies, the components of breastmilk that scientists can see but cannot identify the function of.

Maybe you want the comfort of non-nutritive suckling because there is something that has you stressed out. Maybe you want a slow flow of high fat hindmilk that comes from comfort nursing. Maybe your body has some bacteria in it and you need the closeness so that your immune system can communicate with my immune system and it all can be taken care of without either of us ever knowing and without you ever becoming sick from the foreign invaders that your body cannot cope with but that my adult immune system attacks with the ferocity of a mama bear defending her cub.

Independence will come at your pace. “I DO IT MYSELF!” will become the phrase of the moment soon enough. The need to peel off and be independent is as natural a need as the need to breathe, to sleep and to eat. It comes from within the child when the child has the ability. It has come from within your brothers as they get older. It will come from within you as well. I can see it already as you bob your head against my chest in the wrap and peek over the side eager to strengthen your muscles and look at the world.

I choose to neither hold you past when you wish to be held, nor deny you comfort while it is something that you seek. I push you gently to be independent, recognizing that your world naturally expands within your comfort zone without me needing to push you past it into tears.

I am not a “human pacifier”. I am what you have a biological and evolutionary need for. I will not devalue your needs by implying that you lack the wisdom and understanding of what those needs are. I will not devalue your needs by becoming frustrated by your refusal to accept something that does not meet those needs. I want you to listen to your body from the beginning, to understand the difference between a healthy need of yours and a pacifying object. To have an understanding that dates back to the beginnings of your time on this planet.. That comfort comes from having your needs met, not from distracting yourself with something pink, pretty and plastic.

No manufacturer makes what you need for happiness, little one. I want you to understand this from the beginning of your life. Happiness comes from love, from closeness, and from deep inside of you. Seek this happiness, and never be distracted by things that simply pacify you rather than satisfying your needs.


Sarah is a gentle parenting mom of three who writes at Nurshable. Learn more about her passions and how to 'wait it out' when it comes to baby sleep at her site

Words of Wisdom and Encouragement

"If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart; so it has been with the best people who have ever lived." -Jeffrey R. Holland 

Be brave, my heart. <3 Have courage, my soul.

If you feel you don't fit in, in this world, it's because you're here to build a better one.

"Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, 'You owe me.'
Look what happens with a love like that - it lights the whole sky." -Hafiz, The Gift

May you always see the light, even in the darkness.

Surround yourself with people who love you for being you.

May the voices that cheer you on, always be louder than those that don't.

Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it.
Right is right, even if only YOU are doing it.

Today, a caterpillar. Tomorrow, a butterfly.
Don't lose hope. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

"Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you. Their opinions aren't your problem. You stay kind, committed to LOVE, and free in your authenticity. No matter what they do or say, don't you dare doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth. Just keep on SHINING like you do." -Scott Stabile

"Hate has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet." -Maya Angelou

"The coolest people I've ever met have the most colorful pasts. They've lived lives of risk, made bad choices, learned lessons, explored, and they're not afraid of being real. Tattered tapestries woven of similar threads, they're my kind of people - my favorite shades of crazy." -Stephen L. Lizotte

Self-help
How to stop time: kiss.
How to travel in time: read.
How to escape time: music.
How to feel time: write.
How to release time: breathe.

What's the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since Day One she's already had everything she needs within herself. It's the world that convinced her she did not. -Rupi Kaur

Everyone wants to be the sun to lighten up someone's life; but why not be the moon to brighten in the darkest hour...

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

"The best thing you can do as a father is make sure they see how you love their mother." -Matthew McConaughey

Sometimes it's okay if the only thing you did today was breathe.

People inspire you or they drain you. Pick them wisely. -Hans F. Hansen











Family's Professional Photos Delivered with a Hilarious Twist



We've all invested in something that didn't pan out to be as great as we thought it would be... big or small, there's something most parents have looked back on and wished they could have a do-over. For Pam and Dave Zaring of Missouri, it may be their most recent family photos. After Pam says she went many months upset because their "professional" photographs were not being given to them, the portraits finally arrived in the mail. And what she found is worth a whole lot of good hearted belly laughs -- at least $250.00 worth.

"This is NOT a joke," Pam shared with her Facebook friends in a public post. "She said the shadows were really bad [...] and that her professor never taught her to retouch photos."

The internet is ablaze with laughter over the finished product, that the photographer added her copyright watermark to, saying she "stands by her work" and the funds will not be returned.

As of this writing, the family has yet to receive their original photographs.




Be a Lady



“Be a Lady,” they said...

Remove your body hair. Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Shave your bikini line. Wax your face. Wax your arms. Wax your eyebrows. Get rid of your mustache. Bleach this. Bleach that. Lighten your skin. Tan your skin. Eradicate your scars. Cover your stretch marks. Tighten your abs. Plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles. Lift your face. Tuck your tummy. Thin your thighs. Tone your calves. Perk up your boobs. Look natural. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be confident. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard.

“Be a Lady,” they said...

Wear makeup. Prime your face. Conceal your blemishes. Contour your nose. Highlight your cheekbones. Line your lids. Fill in your brows. Lengthen your lashes. Color your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. Your ends are split. Highlight your hair. Your roots are showing. Dye your hair. Not blue, that looks unnatural. You’re going grey. You look so old. Look young. Look youthful. Look ageless. Don’t get old. Women don’t get old. Old is ugly. Men don’t like ugly.

“Be a Lady,” they said...

Save yourself. Be pure. Be virginal. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t flirt. Don’t be a skank. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around. Don’t lose your dignity. Don’t have sex with too many men. Don’t give yourself away. Men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be so uptight. Have a little fun. Smile more. Pleasure men. Be experienced. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virginal. Be sexy. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls.


“Be a Lady,” they said...

Don’t talk too loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. Be pleasing. Don’t complain. Let him down easy. Boost his ego. Make him fall for you. Men want what they can’t have. Don’t give yourself away. Make him work for it. Men love the chase. Fold his clothes. Cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job. You’ll make a good wife someday. Take his last name. You hyphenated your name? Crazy feminist. Give him children. You don’t want children? You will someday. You’ll change your mind.

“Be a Lady,” they said...

Don’t get raped. Protect yourself. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that. Don’t show too much. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. Have a buddy. Walk where it is well lit. Stay in the safe neighborhoods. Tell someone where you’re going. Bring pepper spray. Buy a rape whistle. Hold your keys like a weapon. Take a self-defense course. Check your trunk. Lock your doors. Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes. Don’t look easy. Don’t attract attention. Don’t work late. Don’t crack dirty jokes. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.

Just “Be a Lady,” they said.



Author Unknown

Intact Billboard During FGM Trial in Michigan




Help us bring this billboard to Detroit!

Over the past year we have received many requests to host a quality, pro-intact billboard in an ideal location in Detroit during the next year while the FGM trial takes place. While we do not typically feel that the exorbitant costs of billboards in less-traveled areas are worth the payout (especially when traveling billboards cost a mere fraction of the amount and are seen by just as many in large metropolitan areas; or maternity expos at large venues reach thousands of expecting mothers for pennies-to-the-dollar of a billboard), this is one exception.

The FGM case is a landmark one that is sure to receive national media attention, and is an ideal time to draw the connection between all forms of genital cutting. In addition, the trials take place in a Michigan location that is deep in the heart of a cutting culture (see Jonathon Conte's map here). For these reasons, we set out to accept template designs, and a number of ideas and examples were presented. Through various focus groups and public forums, a billboard (its wording, colors, domain, and image) was selected that reflects genital autonomy for all, and stirs people to think about this subject from another perspective in the midst of the FGM trial. Please feel free to message the Saving Our Sons Facebook page with questions or concerns you have.

• The neutral colors of baby's fingers wrapped around an adult's finger represents babies of all sexes, and reinforces the message that all babies deserve protection.

• The tag line 'Say NO to Infant Circumcision' was chosen because it will not be lost on viewers. While we prefer to use the term 'forced genital cutting' or 'genital mutilation' over its euphemism, most in Michigan (and the U.S. at large) agree that female genital cutting/genital mutilation is wrong, and the phrase does not stir the same emotional response in people. The concern is that they would see it in relation to the trial taking place and think, "Yes, cutting girls is wrong..." not making the bridge in thinking to this being about boys and intersex babies too. Because this is a billboard (not a personally held sign or face-to-face interaction), it needs to quickly move people to think and be curious enough to check things out themselves. A professional billboard is needed that will result in the most awareness raised in a positive manner, the most parents empowered with information they've not previously been privy to, and, ultimately, the most babies saved.

• The color of text was chosen because it has been shown in graphics studies to be most quickly read and retained by the human brain, and because it reflects the culturally-stereotypic color for boys.

• The IntactBaby.org domain brings the ubiquitous term intact front and center, and is short and sweet. The website can be formatted to have material on the trial, and its relation to male genital cutting at the forefront while the billboard is in place.

We are not expecting to raise enough for a digital billboard, which costs significantly more, so we are currently opting for a less expensive print billboard, in a prime location, heading into Detroit, as close as funding will take us to the courthouse. This will likely be $8,000 for 1 year. We have been in contact with several billboard hosting businesses for specific quotes and location options, and will update below with progress to goal and specifics as this is determined.

Should we not receive enough funding for a billboard, those who donate will have the option of receiving their donation back as a refund, or have this go toward the SOS Odyssey Traveling Billboards and Rallies that will take place during the trial in Detroit. The SOS Odyssey costs approximately $1,000 per 4-5 cities covered for 3-4 event coordinators heading things up, and reaches between 20-80K commuters per day, depending on location.

Thank you for your generous donation to erect this intact billboard before the trial begins!




Individuals and Businesses Supporting the Intact Billboard in Detroit

★ Michelle and Chris M.
★ Jennifer R.
★ Jennifer and Chris D.


Also at YouCaring


Related Graphics














Positive Birth Affirmations

By Neve Spicer © 2018


Positive Birth Affirmations 

Regularly practicing positive birth affirmations during pregnancy can have a powerful effect on your mind and body when it comes to birthing your baby. They can help you to achieve the calm and controlled birth that you want.

There is nothing 'airy-fairy' about positive affirmations. Just ask sport psychologists. They are well aware that an athlete's frame of mind directly affects how their body functions. Confidence and positive belief improve physical performance. This principle holds even truer as a woman progresses through labor; her calm and confident mindset help her uterus (aka Wonder Muscle) to function optimally. This, in turn, creates the best chance of a quick and easy delivery. 

But here's the thing:

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) research has shown that around 80% of our 'self-talk' (ie, our internal dialogue) is negative. Our beliefs are imprinted on us from an early age but, sadly, these are often negative. It’s very common for women to have fears and negative assumptions surrounding birth. Perhaps these stem from inaccurate stereotypes on TV, or women sharing birthing 'war stories'. Either way, they are neither necessary nor helpful.

The good news is that we can literally reprogram our brains. It's actually pretty simple. Afterall, our brain can only hold on to a few pieces of information at a time. By repeating positive affirmations, they soon 'squeeze out' the negative thoughts, leaving your subconscious pleasantly full of positive beliefs about birth. Emotionally, you'll notice a sense of confidence and calm as you approach your baby's beautiful birth.

I'm passionate about positive birth affirmations. They played a powerful role as I birthed both of my children. (Pictured is the moment my second child, Dara, was born into water at home. It was a beautiful experience.) That's why I chose to bring together the most gorgeous and effective affirmations that I could find. Here they are, below, in one place accompanied by the stunning birth art of Amanda Greavette.

How to get the most out of these affirmations:

• Read through the list of affirmations.
• Choose the statements you like the most.
• Cut them out and put them somewhere obvious (eg, walls, mirrors, or in your handbag)
• When you see them, say them!



Neve is a natural birthing advocate and mother-of-two. She blogs at WeTheParents.org.


Positive Birthing Affirmations (Printable Poster)

Positive Birthing Affirmations (Printable Poster)



How to Help an Older Sibling Accept a New Baby



There can be a lot to think about when a new baby is on the way, and sometimes that can mean that an older son or daughter might start to feel a little left out. If they have been used to being on their own and having your undivided attention, then having a new member of the family can be a shock to the system and make them feel nervous about change. You want them both to bond and interact well with each other, while still ensuring that the older sibling feels as loved as always. Here are a few ideas to help the older sibling accept the new arrival.

Before the Baby Arrives

It is important that your child is involved in the pregnancy process; it will help them to understand what’s happening and it will give you both time together. You will need to explain what will happen when the baby arrives so that they are prepared and let them ask questions about what’s happening. They may feel a little worried or anxious about you and the baby, so it is important to reassure them and keep any anxieties at bay. One way that can help, is to let them come along to some of your appointments. Let them see the ultrasound, and although you may not take their name suggests seriously, ask them for their opinion on baby names. Also ask them if they can help you decorate the baby’s room and perhaps design something for the wall. The important thing to remember is to keep things light hearted so that they don’t become stressed. Try to Keep the Same Routine

Keeping a routine can be a big help, not only for you but also for your child. Before, during and after the birth, keep things as normal as possible including any after school clubs, weekend activities and doing homework. If you try to maintain things as they have always been, then your child won’t see the new baby as changing everything they used to do with you. Before the birth, you should point out that you or the baby might need to stay in the hospital for a day or two, that will prepare them if something unforeseen happens and you need to stay in a little longer.

Involve the Sibling with the Baby’s Routine

When the baby arrives, they will need to develop a routine as well as settle into their new home. It can be the most challenging time for an older sibling as your attention will be on the new baby for extended periods. To try and alleviate the situation, you can ask your child to help you set up the daily routine for you. They can help prepare changing station if you have one, and they can even help you change them if they are old enough. Encourage them to hold the baby for a little while and read the baby stories. They can even make some stories up to give them more involvement. At the end of the day, they can help you bathe the baby and put them to bed; then you can still have your nighttime routine with them as well.

Try to Manage Negative Comments

There may be times when your child might say something negative about the new baby or do other things to gain your attention. It is important that you try not to give them attention at that time, or it will reinforce the fact that negative behavior will get them more time with you. You should also reward good behavior so that they understand a happy family is the better option.


Spend Time with Them on Your Own

One of the things that your older child might miss is spending quality time with you. That will be at a premium when the new baby arrives, so try to make some time for just the two of you. It might be that you take a trip to the park as you used to before, or perhaps you take a trip into town to play some Escape Games. Try not to talk too much about the baby while you are together, or they might feel that he or she is intruding on your time. However, it is important to find out how they feel about the new baby. At a separate time, sit with them and talk about how they feel. Make sure they know that they can tell you what’s wrong and you can talk through it together.

Take Pride in Their Achievements

It can be easy to get so caught up in what the new baby needs, that you miss out on important achievements by your older child. It can be upsetting if you have always been to every concert or award before, but now you are not. Try to make sure that you attend the same things as before, even if that means taking the baby along too. In fact, they might like the idea that their little sibling is there to watch them. It will give them a sense of pride in being an older brother or sister.

Do things as a Family

As well as spending quality time with your child, you should also arrange fun things that you can all do as a family. It could be something as simple as going for a picnic in the park or going out for a meal. The more things that you all do together, the more your child will realize how happy the family is together. You can make them part of the decision process if you wish, talking to them and asking them what they think you should all do as a family. You can also include extended family as well; grandparents should also be made aware that you are trying to encourage a sense of friendship and love between the two siblings. Bringing a new baby into the household can be an unsettling period for your older child, but if you can give them the same love and encouragement as you did before, then they will quickly come to accept their new sibling.




Should I Circumcise My Son? The Pros and Cons of Infant Circumcision



New to the subject of infant circumcision and the benefits of the prepuce (foreskin)? The following are resources many families have found useful when looking at the subject for the first time. They are meant to be a starting point into deeper investigation and further research that is widely available today. If you only have a short period of time to spend on this topic, a blue star marks films with physicians' statements who are in practice today, as well as medical professionals' materials.

★ Functions of the Foreskin: Drmomma.org/2009/09/functions-of-foreskin-purposes-of.html

★ Intact vs. Circumcised: A Significant Difference in the Adult Penis: Drmomma.org/2011/08/intact-or-circumcised-significant.html 

Why did circumcision start as we now know it in the U.S.? Hear from some original doctors on the matter: Savingsons.org/2012/07/circumcision-to-reduce-mens-sexual.html

Faith Considerations on Circumcision (resources by/for Jews, Christians, and Muslims): Drmomma.org/2011/01/faith-considerations-on-circumcision.html

Peer reviewed research (studies published in medical journals): Drmomma.org/2007/01/circumcision-studies.html

★ Are there medical benefits to circumcision? Read national medical statements from around the world: Drmomma.org/2014/08/medical-organization-position.html

Physicians' thoughts within the medical field today: FB.com/IntactCare

Well researched books written on the subject: http://astore.amazon.com/savingsons.org-20

Dr. Ryan McAllister's Georgetown University video lecture, Elephant in the Hospital (also included on DVD in the info pack below): http://www.library.georgetown.edu/gelardin/showcase/entries/circumcision-elephant-hospital

Dr. Christopher Guest's video, Circumcision: The Whole Story: http://youtu.be/SeAXantm4tE

Whose Body, Whose Rights? Award-winning circumcision documentary: SavingSons.org/2017/01/whose-body-whose-rights-circumcision.html

The Real Reason You're Circumcised from College Humor: Collegehumor.com/video/6966989/the-real-reason-youre-circumcised

Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t Circumcision Episode: SavingSons.org/2013/03/happy-birthday-penn-jillette.html

★ Intact Care: Drmomma.org/2009/06/how-to-care-for-intact-penis-protect.html
Circumcision Care: Nocirc.org/publish/pamphlet5.html

The two most common forms of circumcision in North American today: 

Gomco: Savingsons.org/2011/01/neonatal-circumcision-video-for.html

Plastibell: Drmomma.org/2009/08/plastibell-infant-circumcision.html [Note that the Plastibell is the type of circumcision most often referred to as a 'no-cutting' or 'no-blood' method.]

Outcome Statistics (Circumcised vs. Intact): Drmomma.org/2010/01/cut-vs-intact-outcome-statistics.html

Men speakSavingSons.org/2017/04/men-speak.html
Facebook conversations by men: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.487363627949430.115346.166998263319303

Over 250,000 men are restoring some of what was lost to circumcision. It improves sex in a wide variety of ways. Google 'foreskin restoration' and check out any of these resources: Savingsons.org/2009/10/foreskin-restoration.html

8 articles published at Psychology Today: Savingsons.org/2011/10/psychology-today-circumcision-series.html

For those with older sons who were circumcised: 
Public Page: FB.com/FutureSons 
Discussion Group: FB.com/groups/FutureSons
Related items from others with circumcised sons: Drmomma.org/2010/05/i-circumcised-my-son-healing-from.html 

What does this have to do with WOMEN? 
SexAsNatureIntendedIt.com
Book by same title: http://astore.amazon.com/savingsons.org-20

How Male Circumcision Impacts Your Love Life: Drmomma.org/2009/10/how-male-circumcision-impacts-your-love.html

Women's Health and Male Circumcision Resource List: Drmomma.org/2009/07/how-male-circumcision-impacts-women.html

HIV/AIDS and the African Trials: AIDSCirc.org and the HIV resource page: Drmomma.org/2014/01/hiv-aids-circumcision-resources.html

50 Reasons to Leave it Alone: Drmomma.org/2010/11/50-reasons-to-leave-it-alone.html 

If you'd like to join a community of parents (many with both circumcised and intact sons) to ask questions while making your decision, you are welcome to the Intact: Healthy, Happy, Whole group. Everyone is welcome to this safe-space community group.


The Info Pack (includes a DVD with several videos and full length articles); the smaller Expecting Pack; Postcards for friends; or have a professional exchange online correspondence: Savingsons.org/p/info-pack.html

Informational items (cards, stickers, bracelets, etc.): Savingsons.org/p/info-cards.html or at Etsy: Etsy.com/shop/SavingOurSons

Questions? 
Please feel free to email SavingSons@gmail.com at any time. Several clinicians volunteer time to field questions, and if we're not able to answer, we'll seek out a place to go for further information.

If you find these resources to be of use, please help support Saving Our Sons and work we do. We continue solely by volunteers' time and generosity. See current needs at: Savingsons.org/p/sponsor-son-waiting-list.html or give directly: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VQSSUQFGLFZXQ


The Penis: Sex Education 101 with Marilyn Milos



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