Intergenerational Communcation

last night, my 5-day-old daughter had a panic attack.  I wonder how many times I’ve seen infants have panic attacks
(especially when I was working in daycare) and never realized what it was.  we just have this acceptance of “oh, babies cry!” without questioning the drive or emotion behind it.  she went from what appeared to be fairly calm (which I’m thinking now was actually attempting to shut things out) to a screaming shaking franticness, where she was acting like she wanted to nurse, but was too panicked to latch on, in a manner of minutes.

once we realized what was going on, it was something we could deal with.  I’ve had panic attacks since I was 11, and I’ve realized the best way to deal with them is just lowering the stimulation level as much as I can.  so we did the same for her.

it made me think further though, about something that has already been on my mind.  communication between grown-ups and children.

this thought process had been stimulated by two things.

one was an article in Parenting magazine (a magazine I normally despise, but peruse occassionally, and sometimes has random gems) about ‘Mommy Guilt’, which mentioned the concept of using a ‘safeword’ with kids, to let them know that you’re at the edge of your rope, and about to lose your temper.  or, alternately, if your kids catch you losing your temper, and they feel frightened or uncomfortable, they can use the safeword to remind you to… well, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

it was a fascinating concept to me, because you rarely hear people talking about how to empower children during conversations.  the majority of articles written about communication with children seem to be about… well, manipulation.  how to get your kids to do what you want them to do without them realizing it.  the idea of giving a child a tool so that they can make a choice about the emotional scaling of a conversation or situation is brilliant, especially coming from a magazine which is usually writing about how to get your kids to do what you want them to do without realizing it.

the second thing which got me thinking along the lines of communication with children is the movie Martian Child, with John Cuzack and a kid I strongly suspect is The Littlest Culkin.  there’s a couple scenes in here that are amazing grown-up/kid communication (and a few that absolutely fail on that point), but the one that really jumped out at me is where the kid is doing a series of repetitive movements (that seem mostly based on pinky fingers), and gets John Cuzack to join him, watching his movements and mimicking them, even though they don’t necessarily make sense to him.  afterwards, the kid looks up at him, grins, and says “nice talk”.

most often, when seeking “quality conversation” or “nice talks” with our kids, we are trying to have adult conversations.  we may not be asking them adult questions, but we’re trying to fit them in adult formats.  kids don’t talk the way grown-ups do.  their conversations are much more faceted, and move beyond the shallow, “how was school?” or “how was work?” where adults attempt to describe their reality.

kids worlds are not dominated by reality, so neither are their conversations.  kids converse through allegory, through fantasy, through play, through art, through tickling, through cooking.  and if you let them lead the conversations (which may or may not fit in your description of ‘conversation’), when they need to talk with you, they will come to you.

when Israel first started art therapy, I admit that I thought that they were going to be doing alot of talking.  asking about his emotional standing, his struggles at home and at school… but he was leading the conversation.  and if the conversation was “making a cake out of dried beans, paint and blue glitter”, so be it.  the conversations that children seem to get the most absorbed in are the ones they have with other kids, deep within the realms of fantasy.  they will talk at great length, about the things that frighten them, the things that empower them, what’s most important to them, who they look up to, all the things that parents try to pump them for in “nice talks”.

when we force kids to participate in parent-led conversation, we can often squeeze out the information that we’re seeking, frequently with our kid waiting patiently, ready to run off on their next adventure, which, if we knew how to listen, would tell us more than the strained “so, how was school?”  that we drug out during the dinner process.  at the end of our conversation, we release them, feeling proud for knowing where our kids are coming from, and having such positive, teaching and affirming talks together.  we love to dig for any kind of life frustration, so that we can offer them advice, and dig for any part of their character we can help make more well-rounded.  for our sake, they tolerate this pretty well, for a period of time.

eventually, they end up tired of doing their obligatory communication, and we end up with monosyllabic responses.  “Good.”  “Fine.”  “Yeah.”  “‘Guess so.”  which leaves us frustrated and wondering, “why don’t my kids want to talk to me?”  well, they tried to.  our conversational gaps are just too large.  we’re having talks that we lead, for our benefit.

when Israel comes home from his dad’s house, or from school, I’ve missed him.  often I start pumping him for information right off the bat.  “how was school today?”  “what did you learn?”  “what’s your favorite class?”  “did you have any problems with the other kids?”  the responses are often a “I don’t know”, with his eyes not connecting, one tentative buttcheek already sneaking off the couch as he inches away towards play.

while I’m digging for reality, for him that was just the obligatory part of the day.  he’s already been there, and doesn’t want to relive it, now that he can get on to the business of being a kid.  however, if I ask about the meaningful part of the day, “what did you play at recess?” the stories come pouring out.  stories about battles with knights and aliens and how he was a kitten with super-powers and a Ben-10 Omnitrix that could transform into any other creature.  cartoons, video games, stories, and his own imagination brew up powerful fantasies, in which he can be strong and powerful and decisive in a world that doesn’t hold him a back or limit him.  and my brain fogs over.  frustrated that he won’t talk to me about anything “real”.

when we learn to participate in child-led conversation, we learn to really listen to their stories and fantasies.  we can learn what it is that drives them, what’s important to them, and appreciate their imaginations and creativity.  our children feel fulfilled, because we have an interest in them, in the things that really matter to them, and not just the random factoids that surround them, and contribute so little to their actual experiences of their realities.  we accept them.  our instincts may be to still try and fit in some adult conversation, but watch how quickly your child shuts down when mid-lego or mid-teaparty you try to bust out some “so, how’s school?” or try to sneak a moral into battling pirates.

instead, we have to break out of our grown-up programming.  once we have the ability to get down, be in the moment, and lose our mindless drive to ‘accomplish’, we’ll realize that playdough, pirates, dress-up and fantasy are communicating with our kids.

the question may still remain: what in the world does this have to do with my daughters newborn anxiety?

we do the same thing with infants as we do with children.  there is this tiny little being who through their very existance recreates your universe and we are desperate for a connection with them, for acknowledgement.  very few people seem to think of the emotional needs of a newborn.

it is a transitory time.  coming from a realm where everything is muted, and gentle, the womb is very much a sensory deprivation tank, which they need, for their senses are only newly acquired.  imagine experiencing going from complete black and silence, with no feeling whatsoever, to a stimulating sensory world.  it would be virtually intolerable.  therefor, the womb functions to allow slight stimulation, as their senses develop in utero.  once they can hear, they hear muted sounds.  once they can see, they can see muted light.  once they can taste, there are diluted flavors (did you know amniotic fluid takes on the flavor of what the mother eats?  interesting fact.).  though they can feel physical sensation, they are suspended in liquid, with no direct contact to their skin, though as they grow larger they can kick and feel the uterine wall around them, and those who choose to interact with them from the outside.

then when they come out, we should let them slowly adjust from this soft, silent world, to the stimulation of lights and sounds and touch, and interaction.

…but with our need for interaction and connection, it’s easy to forget.  it’s easy to say “oh, babies just cry sometimes.”

this is why I think my 5 day old daughter had a panic attack.  she was sleeping.  Ethan got home, and my tits hurt, since she hadn’t nursed for hours.  I decided to wake her up to nurse her and change her diaper.  both of us were excited to interact with her, since she’d been sleeping, and Ethan hadn’t really seen her all day.  we pressed in, as I was changing her, talking to her and touching her face and body, laughing over her expressions and movements.  Ethan turned her, so he could see her eyes, and within moments she had a full-on baby meltdown.

I held her over my heart and rocked her until she was calm enough to latch on.  and even then she just lay in my arms, her eyes tightly closed, breathing with rapid panic breaths.  and that was when I recognized what was happening.  she’d been trying to communicate with us, trying to tell us she’d had enough, that she couldn’t deal with any more.  but we were desperate for interaction,  and didn’t notice her cues.  I went and googled “infant overstimulation signs” today, and she was using all of them.  flailing arms, looking away, rapid breathing.

when babies are born they get passed around like hot potatoes.  everyone wants a piece.  everyone wants to get to hold them, squeal at them, play with their toes and fingers.  we think about what we want.  what we need.  we don’t think of their precarious position, or their emotional needs.

even with infants, our communication should be lead by them.  when they look at us, when they make eye contact, we should respond, but we cannot force our children to communicate on our terms.  they are their own creatures, and their own entities, with their own personalities.  we must, in all stages of their lives, let them be themselves, and communicate in their own ways, according to their needs.

-Domestic Anarchist

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Trying to Remember What Matters

We’ve been trying so hard to move, but it seems like anywhere that’s actually in our price range is either a slum, an  undesirable area, or is ancient, and hasn’t had lead paint testing done.

new baby + lead paint = bad combo.

it looks like I may have to accept that we’re going to be in a one bedroom apartment when Sydni’s born.  …really, at times, that doesn’t phase me at all.  it’s already kind of crowded with just the three of us, but children and parents having separate rooms is a very american mentality.

it’s cultural programming, really, that makes me uncomfortable.  trying to get outside of “what should be” and what other people think, and just accepting what is, is what it comes down to.

and what is… honestly, is pretty good.  we live in a good area, everything is easily accessible to us, we’re on the bus line for Israel’s school.  and most importantly.

I have a happy, creative, intelligent child, who is perfectly content having a bunkbed over ours, and a happy, creative, intelligent husband, who may not be completely happy with our living situation, but is always there to remind me that sometimes things just don’t work, and eventually they will, with the confidence that was part of what made me fall in love with him.  the quiet calm under his chaos.

we have a new member of our family coming.  I have never rejected someone on the basis of “not having enough room”.  nor, whenever I had someone coming to visit, especially family, have I gone, “oh god, where are we going to put them?”

we have always had the mentality that as long as there was floor space, we had room.  …not that we’re going to put a baby on the floor of course, but Israel and I, and Israel Ethan and I, have slept in a large variety of different places, without suffering any kind of damage.  it’s not like Sydni’s going to come out and be like, “well, you guys certainly didn’t plan this very well did you?”

although, I must admit, that’s probably a very common mentality around us right now.  but since when have we ever been ones to worry about what the people around us thought?

-Domestic Anarchist

hormones

the past couple days it’s becoming hard to kind of gauge and keep track of where I’m really at.  I know I need to keep writing, but I feel so scattered.  there’s alot of stress in our lives right now, we’re attempting to move, and I’m just hoping it goes through before the lovely Sydni-Fae makes her appearance.

there’s just this… edginess and exhaustion that’s setting in, that I don’t really remember in my pregnancy with Israel.  of course, that was 6 years ago.  there’s a chance I’ve just forgotten.  I’ve added dandelion tea into my daily intake, which will hopefully increase my energy levels slightly, as well as bolstering Sydni’s liver and helping prevent jaundice.

I’m reading Ishmael again.  which is always awesome, every time I go back to it, it jumps out at me.  Ethan got me my own copy this time, and I’m delighting in being able to high-light and write in the margins of my very own book.  brilliant.  I hope to pass it on to my children someday.

-Domestic Anarchist

The Medical System and Midwifery

the american medical system has become a self-serving system, driven by greed, hospital perogatives, and the pharmaceutical companies.

the FDA supports this, every step of the way, okaying foods and medicines w/ side affects, banning or limiting forms of medicine that place power in the hands of the people, and twisting research to be more financially profitable.

one of the worst (or best) examples are the studied done on the connection between vaccines and the presence of neurological disorders in both children and the elderly (did you know alzheimers, which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder {ASD} has increased dramatically since the flu shot has been introduced?  now available at your local grocery store, pharmacy, and wal*mart!).  the ones that are NOT funded by the pharmaceutical companies, are suppressed, little seen and little heard, and they show HUGE connections.

The ones that are funded by the pharmaceutical companies will not include autistic children, OR children with severe ADHD in their studies, saying they are ‘unable to participate’.  nor do they include unvaccinated children at all, instead dividing them into the categories of ‘high exposure’ and ‘low exposure’.

why would the pharmaceutical companies want to lower the occurance of ADHD?  or doctors, for that matter, the handful that are aware of the potential relation.  their offices receive funding from the pharmaceutical companies, and the pharmaceutical companies MAKE BANK on every child who is diagnosed with an ASD.

I’m not necessarily saying that ALL doctors are money-hungry motherfuckers (but why is it people want their kids to grow up to become doctors?  for the positive impact they’re going to make on the world?  no.  for the same reason why they want them to be lawyers.  the income.  the medical system and the legal system are two of the most corrupt sub-systems that exist within our wicked corrupt system.), but the ones who are not, are trained, as is everyone in our culture to NOT ASK QUESTIONS.

and unfortunately, the medical schools also receive funding from, guess who, the pharmaceutical companies.

branches of medicine that do not benefit the hospitals or pharmaceutical companies are under attack.
midwifery is already illegal in many states, due to it’s low level of medical or medicinal intervention, and regardless of the fact that midwife attended births have lower levels of complications than o.b. attended births.

no hospitals benefit from midwifery (except when the midwife is employed by the hospital, which frequently means it loses much of it’s benefit for the woman), nor do the pharmaceutical companies, nor do they benefit from birth centers, so now birth centers are ALSO under attack, leaving many midwives w/ nowhere 2 go, especially 4 women who have been culturally frightened of homebirth (which has been proven to have a lower risk of complications than hospital births, AND, I should mention, has been happening in ALL cultures for MILLIONS OF YEARS.), and are thus trapped into having a hospital birth, regardless of their wishes.

midwifery is on the brink of being driven back underground, as it was in the 70’s.

there’s a part of me that approves of anything that functions as successfully underground as midwifery has in the past, but the struggle lies herein-
ANY woman, deserves to deliver her child(ren) wherever she wants, w/ her choice of attendee, her choice of birthing style, and in the atmosphere that she desires.

if midwives are driven underground, women who are afraid of can’t afford a hospital birth, will often be forced to have UNASSISTED homebirths.  this is their choice.  but the removal of a midwives wisdom from these scenarios can increase the risk exponentially, esp. w/out pre and post-natal support.
much like the home or back-alley abortions of the past.  the medical system can’t stop women from doing what they want with their bodies, but they can make it a hell of alot more dangerous.

more and more hospitals are treating pregnant women as cash cows, especially if they have ANY form of insurance.  low income families are especially at risk, due to lower levels of education, and increased pressure from every resource they turn to which tell them to trust doctors indefinitely.  also, when a woman becomes pregnant, she automatically received state medical insurance.  which, in some areas covers only births with either an induction or a c-section (the two frequently go hand-in-hand), and in very few areas covers midwives or birth centers.

a higher # of high-risk pregnancies, means a higher level of funding.
the local hospital in my town (Mason General), is trying to get funding to be able to perform epidurals.

in order to justify this (since the World Health Organization only approves episurals in the event of high-risk, complicated labors and c-sections… who knew?), they are terming more and more women’s pregnancies “high risk” and scheduling inductions and c-sections.

in order to pull this off, pregnant women, whose protective instincts are at an all-time high, must be kept in a constant state of fear.

the only women’s clinic in town is owned by the hospital, and they perform this job well.  they even suckered me… for a period of time.

they had me labled high-risk, diagnosed with and medicated for a condition I do not have, but when they scheduled me for an induction without my consent (or even my knowledge) they had pushed it too far.

so began a month-long battle for my medical records and lab results, so that I could get a second opinion.

once we finally had them, the discrepancies were amazing.

the doctors notes and records did not allign in any way w/ the lab results.
what they had listed as a serious protein deficiency was stated in the lab results as “indeterminate”.  another condition they had me diagnosed with would have made it impossible for me to have EVER carried a child to term and whereas it requires 2 genetic mutations I only have one.  which makes me a potential CARRIER.  so, thusly, it’s a condition my children could potentially have, if they had a father with a genetic mutation as well.

meanwhile, the high-fat diet they put me on made me develop gall-bladder problems, so I couldn’t stop puking and ended up hospitalized with severe dehydration.  this was the high-fat diet they put me on after the high-carb diet they had me on caused me to develop gestational diabetes.  they put me on this diet in the fear that I wasn’t gaining enough weight for my bracket, even though the baby was regularly in the perameters of weight for her stage of development.

a word to any pregnant women in mason county:
DO NOT GO TO MOUNTAIN VIEW WOMEN’S HEALTH CENTER.
they are not working with your best interest in mind.  their interests are financial and they are on the hospitals payroll.  as early in your pregnancy as you can, find a midwife.  if you DO go to MVWHC, and they try to diagnose you with ANYTHING,

Get. A. Second. Opinion.

this, really, I can expand outside of mason county.  before you go to a clinic or a doctor, study your options.  look into midwifery and birth centers in your area.  if your insurance won’t cover them, see if you can set up a payment plan or some kind of financial arrangements.  some midwives even accept barter for part of their pay.  look into home birth.

there are situations where doctors and hospital births are indeed necessary, but if you’re being told that you are in one of those high-risk situations by someone who is making no financial profit for doing so, that’s when you can trust their opinion.  and even then… you can still get a second opinion.

also, midwives that are employed by hospitals are often called ‘medwives’.  they’re sort of a middle ground between the O.B. and the midwife.  they tend to be more laid-back than the O.B., but with still highly-medicalized beliefs and tendencies.  don’t think just because the name “midwife” is attached to someone they’re going to be the best option for you.

-citrus