Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Rise Above"

"So then...Rise above."  It's easy.

We've all heard that term before.  And I'm so sick of hearing it come from the mouths of privileged, heterosexual, white male-dominated individuals.  This term isn't something that is encouraging, believe it or not.  What exactly are people rising above? Their peers?  Their family?  The answer is simple.  They're expected to rise above oppression with very little resources to do so.  Why is it a good thing that they must work harder than the more respected demographic to get something accomplished in life?  Do people even realize what they're saying when they tell others to "rise above"?

Funny, because where I live most of the people don't need to "rise above."  Where I live, children are born into a world that makes it easy for them to get a formal education.  This is a place where our schools are decent, and actually help our children more than they harm.  It's a part of the country that isn't considered "low-income" or "impoverished."  I recognize that in other parts of the world, people aren't so fortunate.  Don't people ever stop and imagine what it would be like to be born into the less fortunate class?

What if you couldn't afford a TV, diapers, a car, your electric bill, healthcare, birth control, groceries, a gym membership or a college education?  If you couldn't afford these things, but wanted these things.. wouldn't you still want them?

What if you were the product of parents who sold drugs in order to make a living and try to provide for you?  Would you really tell them not to sell them if it was the only way they could put food on the table?  Would you not follow in their footsteps after seeing the cash flow in from it?

What if you were born into a place that was considered low-income, and the schools were so underfunded that it made it nearly impossible to find teachers dedicated enough to teaching that they would accept a lower wage than they would in a nice school district?  Would you really take school seriously?  What if the school you went to was more dangerous and harmful than it was beneficial?

What if, when you graduated high school, you went on to take a college entrance exam and realized that what you were taught in high school wasn't enough to get you accepted into college, because the school you went to taught at a slower pace than the more privileged areas?  Wouldn't it feel like you had wasted a lot of your time?

What if birth control was hard to come by because you didn't have enough money?  And when you fell pregnant at a young age, an abortion wasn't an option because it was too expensive?  Wouldn't you want to apply for welfare?

What if, when you were granted welfare, the only way they would give it to you was if you were making less than $300 a month?  What if, after income, Welfare offered you just enough money to scrape by.. say $600 a month, which is coincidentally just $100 more than your rent and bills?  Your other option was a job which earned you $550 a month.

What if you didn't have enough money for daycare and no family to help you?

What if the rest of the world expected you to survive on $550 a month?

What if the $550 a month that you earned was an income you made from having two jobs?  Wouldn't you want to find a way to make more money?

What if someone told you that they knew of a way for you to make more money - by selling drugs or your body.. wouldn't you feel tempted to do it so that you could provide your children with a better life?

What if, on your $550 a month income, your baby was sick with a fever and you couldn't afford to buy a bottle of Baby Tylenol or take your baby to a doctor?  Wouldn't stealing a bottle of baby Tylenol seem like a good choice?  Or checking into a hospital with no intention of paying for their services?

What if you were the baby of this mother who did what she could to survive, but she ended up in prison for  stealing?

What if you were thrown into the foster care system, and were so lonely that you felt like you had no one?  Would you seek friends in odd places, even if the only friends you could find were friends associated with gang violence?  It's a proven fact that humans thrive on companionship.. don't you think you would want this very basic need to be met?

What if this gang made you feel accepted and offered you something that your mother was no longer allowed to give you: family, love, trust, companionship, attachment?  If you were being deprived of these things and gang relationships were the best you could get, don't you think you might consider it?

What if you made some choices that had caused some run-ins with the cops?  What if the cops put you in jail a few times and you had a criminal record?

What if this criminal record made it nearly impossible to get a good job, or apply for student loans?  The only jobs available were jobs which earned you less than $9 an hour?  There is no inheritance or money that's just handed down to you from previous generations.

What if the gang you were in turned on you, and because of your recent run-ins with the law, and you didn't feel comfortable calling them to tell them about your history with gang-violence?  How would it feel to have no one on your side?

And how could you possibly "rise above"?

Funny, isn't it, when you finally look at what it really means to "rise above."  It's unfair that the people I described are held to higher expectations than rural suburbanites.  And what's worse is that this scenario isn't all that uncommon.  Even in movies notice how the people are able to rise above.  They either get lucky and get noticed for their dancing, singing, rapping or drawing skills or they luck out and end up with a bleeding-heart teacher determined to make the lives of his students more meaningful.  Sheer luck is how they are able to rise above.

So what typically happens to the people on the other end of the spectrum?  Typically they have better access to birth control.  Or their parents are more supportive of teen pregnancy.  Their schools aren't complete crap, and the teachers actually want to teach in their district because they have a bigger budget than low-income areas.  They are encouraged to go to college, because they're taught that criminals are bad (which are, of course, usually Blacks or Hispanics) and they don't want to get mixed up with "those kinds" of people.  And the best way to avoid them is a college education.  Their parents would most likely be able to provide them with some support through college; whether that's a college savings fund, a place to live, a place to sleep or just a little bit of money each month to make sure they aren't starving.  They  have a higher chance of living in a place where there are houses for rent and being able to split the rent with other college kids.  There aren't really any violent gangs and if there are, they're not a huge threat to their town.  When violent crime happens in their area, it's a big deal.  Most of the cops spend the days enforcing traffic laws or shooing loiterers.  There are plenty of reasonable paying jobs.  The worst encounter these people have had was "that one time driving through the ghetto in Denver where all the hookers are."

There is nothing to rise above.  Life is already easy being born into a world of opportunity.  And it's luck.  No one asks to be born a specific way.  We just are.  If you were born male, white, heterosexual and with a little bit of money, you have no right to talk about what it means to rise above unless you've truly researched what it means and understand that it's an impracticality for those born different than you. Pin It now!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Gift For Birthing Moms

One of my close friends is due any day now and is planning on having an HBAC.  I will be attending as doula, and another close friend of ours will be attending her birth as her photographer.  The photographer and I wanted to do something special for her.  Not her baby. But her, exclusively.

We're both big into the idea that women need as much encouragement as they can get in labor.  Since birth is so often overlooked, we decided to make her a little book with positive words to build her up.  We are calling it a Birth Affirmations book, although not everything in it is technically an affirmation.  There are poems, song lyrics, personal letters and empowering quotes.  We will be presenting it to her either in early labor or in the next couple of days so that she can read it and remember the good energy and reminders throughout her labor.  I would encourage all doulas to do something similar to this, especially for those tricky births - like HBACs, VBACs, planned cesareans or women who don't have a lot of familial support.  This is a nice gift, because you can really be as creative or as simple as you want!

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Diaper of the Week: Good Mama AI2s

These diapers can be custom made and are made with a variety of materials.  Most materials are high end and great quality.  There is usually a hidden layer of PUL for waterproofing and the inserts snap in like most AI2s.  The people who make these diapers are stay-at-home-moms (and dads too) and can earn a small living making this.  But does that make them worth it?

Some Benefits:  These diapers are very trim and can fit a tiny newborn very well.  They are very easy to use and most of their designs are extremely cute.  They are mostly waterproof, which brings me to...

Some Drawbacks:  No amount of troubleshooting would make these diapers better or more absorbent, other than adding a cover over them.  I have done everything I could think of to get these things to not leak.  I've stripped them multiple times (and no, I don't use vinegar which does a number on PUL), I've increased the size, tried different inserts, doubled them up.  They  just do not want to hold up.  And really, what's the point of putting a cover over a supposed AI2 diaper?  On top of that, they're expensive.  Most of the time, people choose to cloth diaper for economical reasons.  If used exclusively, these diapers would cost over $1,000 for a complete stash.  So yes, they are just a tad overpriced.  Also, these don't fit larger kids.  My daughter is 3, and is 29 pounds.  If you're still diapering a toddler, these diapers are extremely impractical.

All-In-All:  I would suggest buying one for fun if you see a print that you must have.  However, I would suggest buying it used to save a bit of money.  Yes, I am cheap.  That's why I use cloth diapers.  I cannot justify spending $40 on just one diaper.  Sorry!

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Birth/Motherhood Affirmations

We spend so much time focusing on the baby during pregnancy, that very seldom are the mothers recognized or offered encouragement.  Usually women are scared or given negative thoughts and comments during pregnancy.  The person I would like to do these for is a dear friend of mine who has a home birth coming up.   As a woman who has given birth a few times, I recognize that the mother is the one who will be putting the most time and effort into her labor/birth.  On this page, I would like to invite friends to offer their encouragement or words of wisdom that aren't nagging or imply inability to birth.  Any negativity or comments that are not respectful or conducive to her wishes will be removed immediately.  I will go ahead and start, just in case you're wondering what kinds of things you might be able to say to help a woman who is counting down the days.  This can be as long or as short as you would like.  Once the comments are all gathered up, they will be printed and put into a special book.  It can  be one simple word that has a lot of power and meaning to you (courage, bravery, strength, love,etc.), a poem, a letter, a YouTube video that links a special song, wishes that you have for her or positive memories from your own birth.  Be as creative as you would like!

And please remember to keep this a secret!

Alexis, you are a strong and brave woman.  Women have been giving birth for billions of years, since before we were monkeys falling out of trees.  You will do great and you will make it through labor, birth and beyond great.  Congratulations on your upcoming journey! -Darah Pin It now!

Monday, March 11, 2013

No Time To Waste!

But I got a new camera.  Oh hai, picture spam!

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ezra Miller - My New Favorite Actor

Okay.  So I didn't have a favorite actor to begin with.  

In light of my women's studies, and a huge feminist transformation in the recent years I've managed to take notice of oppression (of genders, races, sexuality, disabilities, religions, etc.) I notice things as minor as ads and I can identify things as extreme as contributions to rape culture.  

Anyway, a few months ago I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower and oh my god, did my inner teen fall in love!  I will be honest, I had high hopes for it to begin with.  I love those movies about people who are quirky or dysfunctional.. you know the type - Little Miss Sunshine, Precious, Juno, Running With Scissors, Donnie Darko.  I'm disappointed in myself when I say this, but I haven't read the book.  This probably subtracts from my credibility, but don't worry!  I've added it to my 2013 bucket list and I WILL get around to it - probably over spring break since I won't be bombarded with school and my birth commitments will have simmered down.

I expected it to be good, because let's face it - Emma Watson is the shit.  And then I was introduced to Ezra Miller.  I thought he was fabulous from the get-go.  The movie addressed some issues that have widely been overlooked and under-addressed.  Very subtle slut-shaming confrontation.  Sexual abuse (which is often ignored in males, or implies victim-blaming.)  Homosexuality in teens.  Drug enlightenment.  Teen feminism.  Mental health.  Teen pressure/self-image.  And of course the importance of screening The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight.  Then, as I was scrolling through Facebook the other night, Unpacking the F Word posted some pictures.  

Can you say, awesome?  Okay, I don't want to sound like a weirdo.  I do not typically pry into the personal lives of actors.  To be honest, I think most of it's crap and I don't like to feed into how the media typically portrays men and women.  However when I saw these .gifs I was dying to know more about the kid!  It turns out, we have a few things in common!  I'm a major advocate of the queer community, and it just so happens that he is as well.  He's a politically active feminist.  He's also a high school dropout - something that is highly stigmatized, but shouldn't be.  And of course - he's adorable (just like me... KIDDING!)  

But really.  This kid needs more attention.  I so badly hope to see him go far.  The world needs more famous figures with this mentality and devotion to calling attention to the misogyny that shrouds societies and governs our world.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Anti-woman Obstetrics

By now, if you've read a few of my blog posts, you know I'm very pro-woman.  I'm not a huge supporter of hospital birthing or mainstream obstetrics.  My objections are not only personal problems, but public issues that should be addressed.  I have serious doubts about our birthing system and the industry that surrounds it.  I use the word industry, because that is all it is to the vast majority who work in maternal healthcare.  Women are cattle in an assembly line waiting to be slaughtered.

I feel that the policies that hospitals and obstetricians hold over women are policies of misogyny.  No faith is put into the woman or her abilities to give birth to her baby.  Often, women are told they are not capable of pushing a baby out.  Her body isn't built for it.  Frequently women believe it because they feel they have no choice.  And too many times is this reason unfounded.  Too many times, it's a straight up lie.

Next, women are directed to perform tasks that are undignified, to say the least.  Women are told to put their legs into stirrups, with no regard to their personal privacy.  Women are forcibly given cervical exams.  A tool can be inserted, past the walls of her vagina, through her cervix and into her womb, which has historically been recognized as a sacred space.  A doctor has the right to scream in her face "PUSH!!  PUSH!!  PUSH!!", often times when her body isn't completely ready.  When the woman's body "isn't cooperative" the doctor then assumes the right to slice open her body and aggressively remove the baby from her body

1 in 5 women's labors are induced.  Nearly 70% of women receive epidurals during labor.  Those numbers are astronomically high.  So why is this?  Are those 20% incapable?  Are the 70% of women who receive epidurals weak?  No.  I see these options as tools to make the professionals in hospital's lives easier.  Who really wants a laboring woman screaming in their face?  And who really wants to deal with a phone call at three in the morning from a mother who's possibly in labor?  These two things are huge inconveniences to doctors, midwives and nurses everywhere.  So why not give them some Pitocin or Cerdavil or an epidural.  Women are blindly led into these scenarios.  The implications made by doctors and anesthesiologists is that these interventions are the optimal choice.  However, they aren't told about how epidurals interfere with the production of Oxytocin, or how they can cause permanent damage to the mother's body like life long headaches; or how epidurals can have negative effects on breastfeeding success.

Moms aren't informed ahead of time that receiving certain drugs require constant monitoring throughout her labor.  Mom is relegated to the bed where she is strapped to monitors.  It is a proven fact that being mobile in labor will help speed up the process.  However, when a mother is given Pitocin and other drugs she is rarely given the option.  The nurses often ignore requests for telemetry units or fail to offer it to moms because, to them, it's just another work day.  As for the epidural, forget it.  There's no possible way to move with an epidural in place.

Postpartum, mothers realize that breastfeeding comes with many hurdles.  About 45% breastfeed up to 6 months, while about 25% breastfeed up to a year.  Women are unsupported in careers or by doctors in their decision to nurse their babies.  Many doctors don't use breastfeeding-specific growth charts, and when babies don't gain a certain amount of weight within a certain amount of time, they inform the mothers that their babies are failing to thrive.  Those are some big, scary words.  How could a mother, who is responsible for her baby, refute this accusation?  She can't.  Instead, she is pressured into supplementing, which ultimately creates confusion about breastfeeding.  Her production is compromised and her sanity is shot.

These are only a few examples of how men have taken over something that should be up to women.  We fought so hard for control over our bodies and lives when abortion became a heated, legal dispute.  But we seem to not care what happens to our bodies after we make the choice to become mothers.  Women deserve better.  Women deserve to feel dignified, respected and their wishes should be honored.  Currently, obstetrics are anti-woman.  This needs to change.  Women deserve the chance to choose healthy birth options without being lied to for convenience purposes.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Atheist Ettiquette

I wanted to share some dos and don'ts for the Atheist world.  I get that we believe in science and reason and have the innate ability to question the things living outside of that realm, but there are some things we shouldn't do.  Yes, Atheists should have tact and regard for other human beings.    

Do:  Support humanitarianism.
Don't:  Go around killing people just because you know you won't go to hell for it at the end of your life.

Do:  When someone says they need you to pray for them, simply say, "you'll be in my thoughts" or "I'll be thinking of you."  Then offer to watch a movie with them later or do something nice to let them know you're actually thinking about them.  Don't just use it as an easy way to write them off your list (as people generally seem to intend when they let you know they're praying for you.)
Don't:  Go on a tangent about why praying won't do them any good.

Do:  Attend weddings at churches.
Don't:  Attend weddings at churches, and when asked for a moment of silence, behave rowdily and obnoxiously just to prove how much of an Atheist you can be.  It doesn't help our cause!

Do:  Feel free to let others know you're having a hard time, but when some people's automatic responses are that they will "pray for you"....
Don't:  say "or you could just give me $20 because that would help me make my rent this month," no matter how compelled you may be to do so.

Do:  Indulge in sex before marriage.
Don't:  Feel ashamed for it.

Do:  Talk about injustices.
Don't:  Act like they're nothing.

Do:  Be tolerant of religions.
Don't:  Let religious fundamentalists walk all over you.

Do:  Research the origins of circumcision.
Don't:  Do it to your son just because it "looks cool" when you are sufficiently given evidence that advises against it!  Tattoos look cool too, but you don't see us giving newborns tattoos now, do you?

Do:  Tell people when they are acting out of line if they sound like they are trying to indoctrinate you with the holy word of Jesus H. Christ.
Don't:  Stare blankly into space and every so often respond snidely and sarcastically, "Wow. I had no idea Jesus loved me. Or that it was an option to accept him as my personal lord and savior.  I haven't heard that a million times or anything."

Do:  Stand up for what you believe and say why you believe in it - i.e. gay rights, women's rights, scientific research etc.
Don't:  Start nit-picking the bible as a means of proving your points - i.e. "you mean you really believe a book that says some guy was able to fit 10 million (possibly more, seeing as no one knows how many different species of animals there are - and that's only a guesstimate of how many species of land creatures there might be) animals onto a boat?  So, science is crazy.. but a guy who's spent forever in the desert who's dehydrated and probably delusional ran into a burning bush that could talk.  Right."

Do:  Feel free to go to church with your family for Christmas Mass so they get off your ass about it - I mean really what's the worst that can happen?  People will pray for you?  In other words - waste their time talking to invisible long-bearded dude in the sky at your expense?  Whoooooo cares!  Plus, now that we have smart phones we don't even have to listen to the sermon if we don't want to.  
Don't:  Take more than your share of communion just because you didn't eat enough beforehand.  In fact, make the decision now whether or not you would like to take communion at all.

Do:  Tell your children about why you're an Atheist.
Don't:  Shame them if, for some reason, they decide they want to go to church with their friend.  Chances are they will come back unchanged and even further enlightened about why Atheism rocks.  I mean come on, sleeping in late on Sundays?  Masturbating without worrying that someone's watching you?  Saying "God dammit" when you're mad?  Religion can't even compete with Atheism.  

Do:  Express yourself.
Don't:  Belittle others.  And as hard as it might be - refrain from posting something like this to your religious family member's wall on Facebook when you're annoyed with them:

Or this:

Or any of these:

And no matter how tempting it may be, don't be this guy:

Do consider something a little more mild.  Like this:

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Favorite Search Terms

Every now and again I like to see how people come across my blog.  I check out the search terms and usually, it's something like "marijuana and pregnancy" or has something to do with proposition 300, which I wrote about a long time ago.  300 ended up passing last November, which has given dispensaries the option to re-open, so I went ahead and took the post down.  I still have a few posts about marijuana posted, but took a lot down as time has gone on.

I have a huge problem with Team Fort Collins, which was the main organization responsible for getting dispensaries closed down in Fort Collins.  Other than having a shitty attitude towards pot and small business, they also like to lie about who their supporters are.  Bohemian Nights (New West Fest) and New Belgium are two of many companies who do not back Team Fort Collins, but who they swear do.  

Anyway, back on topic, I wanted to add my favorite search terms.  That would be how people come across my blog while using search engines.

1.  sarah soria's blog - this one is just creepy.. but also funny because that's not my name.  A few people have searched for the blog using my real name which seems sort of stalkerish. 

2.  babies coming out of the vagina - yes, babies come out of vaginas.  Where in my blog I say that, I'm not sure.  I figured that was common knowledge.

3.  babies on drugs - okay that one is just not cool!

4.  is poudre valley hospital stupid about babies  - answer is yes, in case you're wondering.  And this search makes me happy for a variety of reasons.

5.  women breastfeeding incest - self-explanatory, haha.
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Okay, So I Guess Lavender Is Bad Now Too

I'm lucky I haven't ever been a giant fan of lavender.  There's something very overwhelming about the smell, and I don't mean that in a good way.  However, I always figured it was one of those things that was great for babies since it's all natural.  Right?  Wrong, apparently!

I've had trouble digging up much research but apparently it's now being linked to contributing to extra breast tissue in boys, which later in  life are considered man-boobs.  I had wanted to post a nice cloth wipe solution recipe up here that's really easy - just chamomile, lavender and olive oil.  But now I'm afraid to even post it!  I suppose I should have known that not all natural things are safe.  After all, poinsettias and aloe vera are poisonous to children, both of which are 100% natural.  The lavender wasn't a huge blow to me, but I have also been reading the same thing about tea tree oil.  

(The More You Know.........)

So since I can't post that recipe, I guess I will share an art project that my professor decided to add to her art display at school.  It's a modified line contour project.. which is a fancy way of saying that for most of the drawing, I was looking at the subject (rather than my paper) and it is all one long, continuous line.  Okay, okay - so I couldn't do one long, continuous line with a toddler and infant running amok, you caught me.  However, I made sure to pick up right where I left up any time I had to put down my charcoal.  

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