Thursday, January 28, 2010

wow, more inside than out

I saw a post about a 9mth old saying how they had now enjoyed their baby for longer than mum had been pregnant, so I ran the numbers for Grace, from the earliest possible date of conception, she was 8mths and 2 days from then at birth, she's 8mths and 4 days old, so whatever way you look at it she's been longer outside than in, not that this really signifies anything, but with my numerical mind, it feels significant.

Tesco bans shoppers in nightwear and bare feet

See article here.

I can see there problem with bare feet, but wouldn't a notice stating it was at your own risk cover that one?

Are they going to start defining what nightwear is? If I wear it in bed at night does it become nightwear? So those old sports trousers that I wore in bed during pregnancy are forever banned from seeing the light of day?

I don't know if this Tesco is 24hrs, but if you have to do an emergency middle of the night shop, getting dressed isn't high on my list of priorities.

But then you are talking to the woman who deliberately has outside shoes for slippers, so that if I forget to change them, no one notices.

Friday, January 15, 2010

more on breastfeeding in public

Wikipedia have a page on this subject, which of course will change, but that doesn't stop me from commenting on what it says right now!

What it says about China (public breastfeeding is embarassing), doesn't surprise me at all, I noticed similar in Korea, I saw mothers trying to feed bottles of what was clearly breastmilk, not suceeding, or running out and reluctantly offering the breast.

That women in Saudi Arabia breastfeed in public, even when veiled, doesn't surprise me in the least, it fits other reports I've seen of breastfeeding in other muslim countries as well as our personal experience with an Egyptian muslim we met in antenatal class, she kept her head covered and carefully scheduled her baby swim class to avoid a man seeing her (and would graciously skip class if a dad wanted to join in or take photos), but had no problem breastfeeding in front of those same men.

I'm very happy to read the 84% figure of Brits who feel comfortable with breastfeeding in public, if done discreetly, it's interesting that mothers are less confident. I dislike the qualification of discreetness, but having never seen a nursing cover in the UK and very limited availability of nursing clothes, breastfeeding discreetly probably has quite a different meaning in the UK to in the US.

So we move on to the United States, source of very many controversies, Bill Maher's comments wind me up, though to some extent lactivists have brought this on us by hammering that it's ok because it's natural, because like he says, so are plenty of things that we really don't want to see! It's more about a baby's need to eat frequently, there are plenty of places where you don't expect an adult to eat, but you might feed a toddler a non messy snack, babies need to eat and the bathroom isn't the place to do that, I don't particularly like breastfeeding in a restaurant, booths and spaces between tables can make it quite awkward, but practicality means it happens.

I don't know who Barbara Walters is, nor have ever seen "The View", so I'm not aware of the context of her remark about being uncomfortable sitting next to a breastfeeding mother on a flight. Flights are one of those situations where you really do lack choices, even a mother who never breastfeeds in public will likely have to do so on all but the shortest flight, so what to you expect the woman to do? Particularly if you consider that breastfeeding in an airline seat is probably unfamiliar for both mother and baby and she's probably trying to avoid flailing limbs from giving someone a whack as well as dealing with a baby who might not find it as easy to latch on as usual.

I had the sweetest most sympthetic people around me when attempting to deal with a non breastfeeding 20mth old who was not at all impressed that she had to sit on my knee and not try and climb over to dad and was avoiding all attempts to distract or calm her down, which she eventually did once the seatbelt signs were switched off, but at that moment, I really wished that she was still nursing.

I wasn't a breastfeeding mother when the facebook controversy began, though having seen some of the pictures, their excuse of exposed breast violating their decency policy was bizarre some of the time, though not always and they certainly haven't demonstrated that they enforce that policy at other times, so it really does look like they were considered obscene because of what they were doing, not what was on display and that facebook reacted without much thought to whatever complaints were received.

fade out, fade in

I'm been noticing that some things that are consequences of being depressed, rather than actual symptoms fade out a lot more easily than they fade back in.

Take meals, dinner in particular, I'm not going to claim that I had some amazing system and produced beautiful, nutritional dinners on a daily basis, but things chugged along ok. I had my system and was improving it, getting used to products and sizes available in the US etc. then along comes depression and gaps start to appear, take outs and convenience food increases, fresh ingredients decrease and eventually reduces to zero and I don't really even notice.

Thanks to scheduled delivery with Amazon Fresh, groceries appear, but given they haven't yet got it all wired into our fridges and freezers, sandwich fillings multiple, but we have no bread to put them on, or vice versa.

We survive, people bring meals around (thank you!), but often I don't remember who brought what, or what they brought it in, resulting in random containers multiplying and I've no idea who to return them to (shout if you think we have something of yours!).

We continue to survive, I try to buy things for the cupboards and freezer, so we always have something on hand, but I forget where I put them, or even that I ever bought them and I forget to check the labels (who knew that tomato paste wasn't necessarily wheat free).

So whilst I feel like in terms of depression I'm better today than I was in March, dinner landing on the table is worse than various points even after then, when there was still some underlying organisation.

It would seem like as my symptoms get better then so also should dinner, but it seems that there is definitely a significant time lag and that I'm going to really have to take some steps to try and pull things together.

My freezer keeps throwing chicken thighs at me, obviously I went through a phase of buying them in bulk if they were on sale as they are in packages from different stores.

Having plenty of things on hand actually makes menu planning harder, I used to plan 5 or 6 meals each week and I'd have a pretty good idea without looking what I needed to buy and what I should have on hand, so it was a pretty quick process and I could cope with any inaccuracies. Now, planning a week of meals seems like a huge task, I would have to check almost every single item, which even then might not be very reliable, given how many different places I've discovered pineapple in recently. So I don't plan, which may save me a big task on one day, but instead presents a daily challenge.

I feel like to get things going again I need to take an inventory of my cupboards and freezer, but when am I going to do that? I do have a plan for tonight though, coconut pork with peaches.

I use dinner as my example, but it seems like the same applies across all areas of life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Depression and Spirituality

I've read a couple of books, talked with various people, but perhaps I was just so depressed at the time I couldn't even extract a summary.

Bullying in the Church of England hit the news this week, which led me to a support site and a page on there really struck a chord with me.

For me there hasn't been bullying in my recent past (oddly enough I received a letter of apology for bullying that happened 20+ years ago, I never responded, I didn't know what to say, I didn't perceive that I had been bullied, so what do you say?), but the possibility of post traumatic stress disorder has come up, so as I read through, the ideas of illness and injury both applied.

I have particularly noticed difficulty in praying, it's always something I felt bad at and undisciplined at, but knowing that it was usually something I put effort into scheduling with other people. In September 2008, I began meeting with a small group to pray for the church that would become The Downtown Church, I went because God very clearly commanded me to be there, not because I wanted to be there! As time went on I found it harder and harder and many times someone would find me in floods of tears in the foyer. As I look back and see the early signs of depression, difficulty in prayer and bible study started to occur around the same time, but not before.

I realise how far I've come as a believer since my last battle with depression, during that, even getting me to church was fairly hit and miss and if I made it, listening to the sermon was not high on my list of priorities. But I have grown, I've missed a few Sundays in 2009, but only a couple were not physical illness and it's not just habit, it's because it's grown in importance as something I should do as a believer, such that however bad I felt I usually made it.

I find it hard to worship, often I don't join in with the singing, listening to it encourages me, but to truely worship is hard.

I'm still finding it very hard to pray, I want to pray before I read the bible and I do, but it's hard. It would be surprising if it were otherwise because depression effects how your mind works. I love to cook, but it's not just lack of motivation and low energy that makes it hard, actually functioning in the kitchen can be a struggle, there are things I do now to make it easier that I wouldn't have needed to do before, and hopefully won't need in future, such as having to get every ingredient out and lined up rather like they do on the TV. Following a recipe became very hard work, but having the imagination to go without was missing too (I'm the kind of cook that does both), but slowly it's improving, I was rather pleased with a chicken and cashew nut stir fry I produced earlier in the week.

However, I don't believe that depression cannot have a spiritual element, I can't go into the theology of demonic activity here, but if they are there, then medical treatment may not help until they are dealt with. However if I'm having a bad day, to quickly label it as satan discouraging me ignores the physiology, if I had a bad night of sleep and then random bad stuff happen in the day, it's hardly likely to be a good day!

Guilt, I'm not sure I even want to go there, feelings of guilt are a normal symptom of depression and I do feel I got into a cycle of depression, guilt, trying, failing, more depression.

I'm getting better, but I'm still depressed, we've found a treatment that seems to work, slowly I'm pulling bits of life back together. I'm abiding in the word each day, praying is much harder. Our church has a women's prayer meeting at 6.45am on Tuesdays, I'm being cautious and saying that for now, until I can get the get up at 7 habit down, it will have to wait, but it's on my radar, February maybe.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

word barriers

In order to communicate we need words, sometimes words describe a concept, otherwise we'd always have to talk with long descriptions of the concept and communication would be rather long winded, same with definitions.

The problem is, or at least it is for me, that I have a hard time remembering the name that applies to a concept or definition. When introduced to group theory, I understood the words applied to the 4 defining rules, so I knew that associative meant you could put brackets anywhere and it didn't make a difference, so when the word was used, I knew what we were referring to, even if it took me time to apply it.

I also understood the meaning of commutative, you can do things in any order, but the stumbling block was my inability to remember that an abelian group was a commutative group. Abelian is apparently in honour of someone called Neils Abel, but the capital letter is not used. Calling abelian groups commutative groups would have definitely helped me overcome that stumbling block, but not when the new words weren't (to my knowledge) derived from a name.

Monotonic was a word it took me rather too long to get my head around and a question beginning "If f is a monotonically increasing function..." left me stumped, I could look up the definition, but couldn't remember it and thus when something was explained as "because f is a monotonically increasing function", what they did with the symbols was meaningless.

These days, I think I have my head around that definition and many others, and it's often down to google or wikipedia, which didn't exist when I was a student. I had books and they usually had indexes, which I did use, but it's clear in retrospect that I do struggle to connect words and meanings and I with a new word I need many and varied examples to hammer it home. Unfortunately the speed of university teaching, at least at the university I attended doesn't allow for that and it did seem to be the biggest barrier for me in some areas.

I still have trouble now, but it tends to come up more with words in bible studies and sermons, or general theological discussions. I've come across Calvinism and
Arminism, I've looked them up, I've discussed the concepts of both of them and if you have a conversation with me about those concepts I'll be able to respond, use the words and I'll try hard to disguise that I've lost the plot, but in my mind probably all I'll be able to recall is that Methodists are one and Anglicans the other! Go any further with theological words and you'll lose me completely, but the irritating thing from my perspective is I've looked them up, I've read about them, I may have an opinion, or have decided it's something that doesn't effect my core beliefs or how I lead my life, so I'll leave it to the experts.

Maybe this is how everyone is, we just don't talk about it and most of us are clueless when they come up, or maybe not! With theology the words blow my mind so much, that I struggle to get past the hurdle of is the word a definition, one that has a widely accepted meaning, but as all Christians are not in agreement may hold the agreed upon meaning with different levels of importance or simply not believe at all, or is the word or phrase in common use, but has different meanings to different people! It's complicated!

It's almost as if words that never entered my head in childhood can no longer be assigned a meaning in my internal dictionary. I'm sure I heard words that I didn't understand and the meaning of them has changed in my mind, but if the word isn't there then it takes hearing it many times for a space to open up and a definition to be assigned.

I am seriously rambling now! I've been thinking of this for two reasons, one has been recalling mathematical jokes, the other that we are beginning a sermon series on doctrine at church next week and I'm wondering if I'll end up completely lost, or only a little bit!

Monday, January 4, 2010

looking forward...

The new year and reading others reviews of the last year, or even the last decade and also making new year's resolutions make me oscillate between wanting to do something similar and wanting to find some sand to bury my head in!

I haven't made any new year's resolutions, I rarely do, though there are a few things that I've decided to do over the last few weeks.

One decision I made was to read the bible chronologically, I've only done this in a very rough interpretation, the bible as a novel, I don't recall the author and I think that there are more than just the one such text around, but this time I want to do it from the version we use at church. I found a nifty website that will produce you a schedule, including links to the text available at, I didn't look for this until the 1st January, having decided to wait to start until then, but you can choose to start on the 1st or 15th of any month (the programmer in me wonders why if you're going to give choice why can it not be any choice). I've set the page as my homepage, I plan to read from my bible rather than online, but have already found the online link useful to cross reference something.

Another plan was to exercise more, which resulted in us buying a low end stationary recumbent bike, then me feeling guilty I wasn't using it much because I was still feeling grotty after swine flu, but I have now managed to do reasonable chunks of time though at fairly low resistance and moderate rpms. I don't know if what I've been doing will continue to work with our schedule, but at the moment I'm working out in my pajamas, before I shower, which saves excessive changing of clothes and extra showers!

So whilst these aren't new year's resolutions in the traditional sense, they are resolutions in some way, but hopefully ones that as the came out of desire and thought that aren't ones so easily thrown aside!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Unborn babies often get "womb names", I think I was Jemima (or maybe I dreamt that!), when I became pregnant with Sausage Boy, a few people we knew were calling their unborn babies names from the bible that were unlikely to be used for real.

As DH and I share an initial and my parents share an initial, we were not going to go the route of having the whole family share an initial, so it seemed to me like giving the bump a name beginning with A made sense, so I started at the beginning of the bible and read until I found an A name that I liked, I didn't have to get far before we settled on Arphaxad, it's in Genesis 10!

I was reminded of all this because I read that chapter today, but in the ESV I bought because our church here uses that version (I used to use the NIV), but it is spelled Arpachshad, rightly or wrongly, that grates on me, I can be pretty confident if that is the first spelling I'd seen I'd have skipped over it to the next A name!

My knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet and pronunciation is pretty hazy, I may have been making the sound of "Arphaxad" in my head wrong all the time and I'm almost certainly mispronouncing the intended pronunciation of "Arpachshad", but it's not a transliteration system I'm familiar with and at this moment in time, not one I like! Though that is just due to the emotional attachment, not any linguistic knowledge.

I remember exchanging emails with my Gran and she sent me as graphic of Arphaxad in Egyptian hieroglyphs, which, for want of a better word, I found exceedingly cool!

Whilst I'm on this topic, Banana Girl was Zadok, which relates to Sausage Boy's real life name, though we ended up having her share our initial and our attempts to avoid that were a frequent topic of conversation on bus rides and a point of unspoken dispute resulting from me asking to call her that at a time and place DH felt unable to refuse. Grace's in utero name was much more gradually reached upon and not much used, but officially, she was Runner Bean!

breastfeeding, whenever and wherever

I stumbled across this article today

Whilst I don't agree with her 100%, it does pretty much sum up how I feel, including being close to tears when asked to cover up, though the one time that happened to me, there wasn't even anything on display! The other bad experience that I had implied that the act of breastfeeding was disgusting and that me covering up wouldn't have made a difference, no tears there, just anger.

I quite like to wear dresses, so the idea of not wearing dresses, particularly in summer, has been a slight frustration for me. Maybe button up dresses were "in" back when this article was written, in 2001, I had a button up maternity dress bought on clearance in 2002, so that would make sense.

However, whilst a button up dress never occured to me as appropriate attire for breastfeeding, I did quickly find that a shirt of blouse was much easier to lift than to unbutton whilst juggling a baby, regardless of your desire for discreetness!

I have a picture of me and Sausage Boy 3 days after his birth, where I am wearing a shirt unbuttoned from the top, he's not even latched on, I'm not sure whether he was pre or post feed, but I'm holding him with one hand and a glass of champagne in the other!

I don't know whether it was my dad or mum who took the picture, but I was definitely in male company beyond my husband! (Events since then have revealed that I have a smaller comfort zone than my dad when it comes to my breasts)! I don't care that that moment got caught on camera, but nor would I breastfeed like that other than in my own home amongst fairly restricted company. These days I wouldn't even do that in my own living room, if my neigbours can wave to me in there, it's not exactly a private place!

I have pulled down a swimsuit when I've felt there is no other option, but any negative feelings are still more about my comfort than anyone elses, there are plenty of bikinis out there that reveal more and you won't find me wearing one of them!

So my breastfeeding manifesto wouldn't be quite as brazen as the author's - I'll breastfeed in whatever I'm wearing, because if I'm with my baby I'll be wearing something convenient to feed in and given I usually have trouble doing up a nursing bra one handed it isn't going to involve undoing buttons.

The second statement is something I aspire to, but inside myself, I'm not there right now.

It's her final statement that really sums up why I feel this way, because though I prefer to breastfeed discreetly, reality doesn't always allow this, early on it can be due to the duo learning what to do and many other reasons.

Until recently, I hadn't given much consideration to the "desexualise the breast" aspect though I think it subconciously influenced my thoughts, I've thought about this quite a lot recently and would now consider it part of my reasoning behind how I choose to breastfeed.

You may notice I use the word breastfeed, not nurse - primarily it's a language issue, we use the word breastfeeding in the UK. Living in the US for 3 years has made me slip into many american linguistic twists, including at times referring to breastfeeding as nursing, I'll probably still slip into that at times, but I'm now making a concious choice to call it breastfeeding, because that is what it is, you can nurse a baby using a bottle because nursing describes the emotional relationship, even if a modern american dictionary would give one of the definitions as breastfeeding.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A wierd dream

I had an odd dream this morning.

Someone died - which though not for me a common occurance in dreams isn't particularly remarkable.

The quirk arose as I didn't know the person had died and was seeing her in all the places I'd expect to see her and thus other things that were happening didn't make sense.

So the next time I saw this person, I tried to talk to them and the response was finger to lips "shh....", with a look that said, I'm with my family, don't let them in on our secret.

I suppose it's kind of logical that if you are seeing visions of a dead person, it might not be a good idea to announce that to the bereaved family, but then logic doesn't usually apply to dreams.

So I woke with a mixture of feeling, including that I was going crazy and that I should have noticed as everytime I'd seen her in the dream she was wearing the same clothes and had her hair exactly the same way - but of course it was a dream, so I was only dreaming that I was having visions and not recognising that I was having them. I was still left with a nagging feeling that I needed to check this person was still alive. Thankfully as I became fully awake, I could rationally put the dream into perspective as just a dream, but there is still a bit of me that will be anxious to see this person the next time I'm present where she usually would be and hoping that she isn't wearing the same clothes as in the dream.