Thursday, January 22, 2009

Firstborn's words

Since I posted about Firstborn not doing "real" babbling, she spent most of yesterday evening saying dada and this morning made a sound starting with k when she saw kitty for the second time. (Last time it was "kee" and this time it was k'gha or something). I really wasn't worried, but now she's doing great. She is also starting to get into fingerfoods (though still not big on being spoonfed anything with chunks). She's been sitting in the high chair while we eat dinner at the table. Two days ago she got a frozen sweet potato French fry, a cooked one, and a piece of rice cake. She highly enjoyed mangling her French fries and even ate some of them. Last night she had six peas and a piece of rice cake. Much to my surprise, she ate most of her rice cake and at least two peas (though she hasn't liked pureed peas and hadn't eaten her rice cake previously). Since the rashes have been toning down now that I'm using All instead of store brand detergent, I'm pretty sure that was the cause of the worst of it.

The odd thing--which I noticed and no one else would have if I hadn't pointed it out--is that she seems to lose 5-10 weight percentile points on their computerized growth chart each time. When I told the nurse, she said that since Firstborn looks fine the chart must be wrong (huh?). When I told the doctor, she said something to the effect that as long as she was staying in the same curve the percentile didn't matter. But when she looked at the chart, she started from today and went back: 19th, 26th, 33rd, 42nd.... and she did say it seemed odd. She mostly attributes it to increased mobility and decreased breastmilk, but that only explains this month. Again, I'm not real worried; she is gaining, eating, and has rolls on her arms and legs (but not a fat tummy or face). But we are going back in a month for a weigh-in, just to keep an eye on it. My personal theory is that her birthweight has to do more with my genetics, but her size as she gets older has to do with her own genetics--so if she is small she may be like her daddy, who is smaller than his younger brother in all their pictures after 3 years old (but you wouldn't know it now). Her height fluctuates between 60 and 40, probably depending on when she hits growth spurts.

I have an appointment for me scheduled next month too. They might even prescribe something beforehand. They said it was fine to be on them while breastfeeding. I asked if it would be okay for the baby if I conceived, but then also said they'd take me off it if I did. Hmm. I will talk more with either my doctor or my pharmacist before I take it, and I won't take it if it might harm my children. I still think pregnancy is the best cure, and if I had more confidence I could get pregnant I probably wouldn't bother with medications.

Milehimama--I am one of those people who doesn't really trust modern medicine, but doesn't really trust herbs either. But give me the information, and I will at least discuss it with the doctor, especially if the drugs they recommend aren't really safe.

Thanks all for commenting.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I can tell I am starting to get depressed again.

The good thing is that I can tell. I am completely aware that it is some sort of hormonal thing. Before, I was depressed for a reason, and that could have been a part of it. Now, I am so in love with my new baby and my wonderful husband that almost nothing in my life could be better. I am happy. Sometimes I am just full of joy, and it's a wonderful feeling, and I don't want to lose it. But that depression is creeping back again, and honestly, if it's just a hormonal imbalance, I have no problem, theologically, with treating it. Now I know how I feel when I am not depressed, so I am not afraid of changing who I am.

So maybe I should get some sort of evaluation? Should I be on drugs? If all I need is some sort of drugs to make my hormones work, that wouldn't be a danger to a baby, I would think. My other options include: 1. Getting pregnant again (and if it were that easy, I would be); or 2. Lots of feel-good-horomone-releasing activity (which while it sounds good, and goes well with #1, I'd probably need more than I can get). So I think I will ask about this today at Firstborn's appointment (her doctor is a family practice doctor).

Other things I am going to ask about:
Rash control: Firstborn does not have diaper rash, but she does have heat rash (the doctor suggested baby powder before, which is working on these most of the time) and another dry rash, mostly on the legs but somewhat on the arms, which I am attributing to the type of detergent I bought a while ago. I've stopped using that detergent on her clothes, and was treating the rash with lotion but am now using baby oil. It's getting better, but I suspect it's more the change in detergent than the oil instead of lotion.

Talking: I'm not really concerned about this, but Firstborn makes up her own sounds rather than using sounds that will facilitate speaking in English. She isn't combining vowels and consonants; few of her sounds qualify as either, but she is proficient and growling, buzzing, squealing, clucking, coughing (yes, on purpose) and trilling. I figure this isn't really a problem because she is learning new sounds and adding them to her repertoire, but the baby books say she ought to be saying things like da-da-da and ga-ga-ga and ma-ma-ma by now.

Solids: The child refuses to eat anything which is not pureed. I can get her to eat a little, but she clearly finds any sort of chunk repulsive and once she figures out that's what she's going to keep getting, she refuses to continue. I got her to eat a piece of rice cake she'd soaked in apple juice today (~4 bites) and some of my homemade baby food (sweet potatoes and rice) but she would not eat the whole bowl. Normally Firstborn loves rice, apple juice, and sweet potatoes, warm or cold, so the issue has to be texture. I'd love to keep making my own baby food, assuming I can make the time for it, but if the baby won't eat it, it won't save money.

Today's sign of pregnancy: Stupid tests, give me the right answer!

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Monday, January 19, 2009


This article was shared in the comments on another blog:

If you don't want to read it, it's a take on a couple who screened IVF embryos for possible genetic cancers. The article is pro-life. There were 11 children conceived in a dish. Six had the gene for breast canceer. Three had "other defects." These nine children were put to death, and their remaining siblings were given a chance. One of these died (likely also a casualty of the IVF process). The remaining daughter then became an infant, thus gaining some civil rights.

The family will now know they are not passing on the cancer gene.

Obviously, I find this abhorrent. If there were a way for me to take those nine little girls and boys myself, I would do it in a heartbeat--cancer, other defects, and all. After all, most of us don't have any guarantees. I can deal with "might get cancer someday," and I'd rather have "will definitely have cancer some day" than "was killed at the instruction of her own parents."

I am reminded of a Star Trek episode, the Masterpiece Society
The Enterprize is trying to save a colony of people who have genetically engineered the perfect society. Geordi (the chief engineer, born blind) is able to come up with a solution based on the technology that allows him to see. Throughout the course of the episode, though, it also becomes clear that Geordi would never have been allowed to be born in that society. (There are other themes and subplots too, which I am ignoring).

And I am wondering, how many of us are perfect enough that we were worthy to be born? I have weak eyes, as does my husband. His back is bad. I probably have the "fat gene," and I have polycystic ovaries. My husband has mild hypoglycemia, and I had gestational diabetes. I imagine most have a similar list. And of course, we all have a sin nature. We have caused pain to others. There was only one perfect human being--and he caused his mother just what those parents of the eleven were hoping to avoid: watching her child die at a young age.

Mary saw the child who had been a miracle beaten until he was unrecognizable, tortured, and stabbed. She saw her son die through no fault of his own, but because of the Fall and mankind's sin.

Wouldn't it be better if he didn't have to go through that?

Today's sign of pregnancy: hormones, insomnia, hormones, warmth, hormones, libido, hormones, and hormones.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Less kids to focus on ministry

I promised to post about those who say they want only a couple kids to focus on ministry. This post ignores the fact that I find all forms of birth control unacceptable, because that would obviously be another reason not to contracept. I just want to challenge this mindset.

First of all, that's rarely the reason. It just sounds more Christian than "I don't wanna drive a minivan" or "I hate being pregnant" or "I need sleep." Are there some couples who decide to really throw their lives into ministry, or go to dangerous places, and decide that they can't bring a child? Yes. But most people who say this are probably talking about teaching Sunday School and leading a Bible study. And to those going to situations where there is poverty and danger? There are children there. In most of these places, if American culture hasn't contaminated them, children are welcomed and valued--as Scripture states they should be. That part of the culture is one missionaries should be encouraging. I can't conceive of going into long-term ministry in a place and saying, explicitly or implicitly, to people with children, that they are better off not having children at all. How can they model Christian family life to those people without any children? The idea that children should have everything and never work and never be in a difficult situation is not found in the Bible. That may be a cultural value, but my understanding is that being a missionary isn't about propogating cultural values, but Biblical ones. Granted, I have never been a missionary (at least a long-term missionary). But I don't trust the theology of people who deliberately sterilize themselves, so I don't know why anyone who believes openness to life to be a positive good would trust them on other matters of theology either.

Secondly, parenting is a ministry. Not only is it a ministry, it is one of few we can be certain God has given to us, specifically. The Bible is very clear that God creates children. If a person, using the normal biological act, gives birth to a son or daughter, God intended parenting that child as a ministry for his or her parents. I've done nursery, and Sunday School, Pioneer Clubs, and even been a Sunday School Superintendent. I never felt called to it. I was filling a need, and that is good; I'm not saying one should only do ministry when one feels called. But there can be no doubt God intended me to be Firstborn's mother. When I feed her and play with her and read to her and walk with her, when I teach her and love her, I know with certainty I am doing something God intended me to do. How could I leave her with someone else and a bottle of something made by scientists so that I can teach someone else's children, when I am sure God means me to care for the first baby and not at all sure I am called to teach the others? Maybe in some other season of my life, when I don't have a very young child, I will teach Sunday School again. I still take a turn in nursery often--I would do it every week if I could. But if my baby and another are both crying, who do you think I will comfort first? When I have left Firstborn in the nursery, I have trouble concentrating anyway. My ministry in my home, to my family, must come first. I have no business teaching Sunday School when my living room looks like it was hit by a Christmas tornado. If I can get my home under control, and Firstborn can get through it without nursing, I would teach Sunday School if I was needed. But if I do these things to the detriment of my own family, my priorities are misplaced.

Third, children are not a hindrance to ministry or spiritual growth, and the insinuation that they are is a lie straight from hell. I'm convinced that any ministry God wants me involved in during this season of my life will be one where Firstborn fits in. Are there ministries that would be more difficult with children? Absolutely. But the church is a body with many parts. Single people, childless couples, and couples who no longer have young children are all important parts of the body that can participate in these ministries--and ministries that really can't be done by someone with children, even many children, are fewer than most probably think. At the same time, mommies are part of the body. Nursing mommies shouldn't be prevented from participating in church functions, or made to feel unwelcome. They should try and keep themselves modest, and their children from being a distraction, but the church needs to be open to all its members, from the one-month-old to the ninety-year-old. I love hearing babies cry during the service. Even in my struggles with infertility, it seemed such an affirmation of life. I like that my church has a "parents' room" where those with young children, babies, or children with disabilities who might distract others can sit and still hear the sermon. I don't like that the sound quality is awful and no one makes fixing it a priority. I don't like being told I can't go on a women's retreat with my nursing daughter. I don't like the expectation that my husband and I cannot be ministered to at the same retreat, or that my spiritual growth depends on seperation from the family unit God has designed. I think that there should be more effort to minister to the body rather than its parts. I think that families with children of all ages, families without children, nursing mommies, the elderly, and single people should all feel like part of the body. And I think that the body's best work can be done when the whole body is present, and that the body can be best cared for when we care for the whole body.

Lastly, the couple that wants to "focus on ministry" is also focusing on themselves. It may not seem that way, but think about it--they are only considering the ministry they can do. If they have only two children, they may do more. But if they had 11, how much more would those extra nine do for Jesus? And if those nine had an average of six children each (the average before birth control was widespread), that would be 54 more souls, and 54 more workers for the kingdom. If Christians were to have all the children God wanted us to, we could see some very big numbers. And if God wants that couple to only have two, he can make that happen as well, without the use of birth control. But what would it say to the world if we trusted in God enough to give Him control of the future? And just think, in the next generation, they'd be voting. The liberals are already concerned about the fact that we have more children. I can't wait to see who my future children are--missionaries, lawyers, politiciana, artists, builders, pastors; single people devoted wholly to God, or mommies and daddies raising up a new generation of soldiers for the cross.

Today's sign of pregnancy: Joy! and hormones.

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The problems of different types of birth control

This grew out of a post still in progress, but the tangent was getting longer than the main point.

The Bible does not prohibit birth control flat-out. Well, there is that part with Onan, but no one is sure that's necessarily what it means, and it doesn't necessarily speak to all kinds of birth control. So, I will.
I don't necessarily see birth control as wrong, but all forms of birth control have problems that make them unbiblical.

Hormonally based birth control carries the possibility of killing babies. No, I'm not making this up. Everyone who isn't pro-life and everyone who's pro-life and Catholic seems to be aware of this. But somehow right-leaning evangelicals have missed it--probably because they didn't want to hear it. It can prevent a blastocyst (that is, baby) from implanting in the uterine lining (that is, living--continuing to grow and thrive). If you can't see how that is intrinsically evil, I recommend you study Exodus 20:13. I actually think these should be illegal, just like abortion. I don't intend to make all birth control illegal, just those that harm someone other than the user. The rest of these are between the user, their partner, and God. But hormonal birth control is wrong unless your life depends on it.

Some forms of birth control mutilate God's temple--our bodies. Cutting or removing parts of our bodies which God created and which are working fine should not be something Christians do. There are people out there who think that getting a nose-ring is disrespectful of their bodies but have had a fully functional organ removed or made nonfunctional by cutting. Really, hormonal birth control can fall under this category as well--it changes what God has made and made well into something other than what he intended. So even if there were no chance of hormonal birth control killing a child (for example, the pill for men) it is seeking to change something which God designed that is working fine. Killing sperm (or, if they design some other drug or device, killing an egg) seems questionable for this reason as well. Again, I am not referring to removing a defective body part to save one's life. It is like the difference between removing an arm because it is gangrenous and removing an arm for no good reason.

What's left are sexual practices and barrier methods. Barrier methods come between a husband and wife in the act of marriage. It just seems weird that anyone would want a piece of rubber between themselves and the other person. From what I've heard, no one does, but for the "danger" of getting pregnant or the danger of getting a disease (not present in monogamous marriage). I can't say from experience, but it seems that this would alter the experience. And even if it didn't, I am not romantically intereested in a piece of plastic. My objection to sexual practices is about the same. If a couple does something non-reproductive because the regular act doesn't work at the time, or on occasion for another reason, that's one thing. But if it is regularly occuring to stop reproduction--that's not God's design for marriage. The couple is defrauding each other. And I don't think NFP (for prevention) is any better. The basic premise is that the couple does not have sex when they are likely to conceive. The problem is that this is also when they are most likely to want sex, and when sex will be most enjoyable. God designed us that way. I say they are defrauding each other. Paul allowed abstinence for prayer--he did not talk about abstaining so that you wouldn't have kids so long as you pray. And the verse in Ecclesiastes about "a time to embrace and a time to refrain" is not about NFP--it's actually probably about abstaining during infertile times (during menses and a week after).

And if a pregnancy were really so grave a risk that it was worth defrauding each other or mutilating God's temple, why would one use a method that had "failure" rates? Even sterilization can "fail." Wouldn't abstinence be better?

For me, unless there were a very good chance pregnancy would kill me, I can't see myself using birth control. This doesn't mean that no Christian anywhere should use birth control. If I lived in China, I would use birth control. If I lived in such poverty that my children could starve to death, I would consider it. But that's not an issue for me, nor is it an issue for anyone in this country, or most industrialized nations. And if I were talking to someone in a desperate situation--oppression or poverty--I would hope I could find better ways to help them than helping them decide whether using condoms was within God's will.

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So when God said "the whole world," he meant....

Suppose when you were watching a special about Billy Graham, someone said, "When God said to evangelize the whole world, He didn't mean that Billy Graham should do it all himself!"

How would you respond to that? What does the attitude make you think?

It certainly seems to be saying that evangelism isn't always good. That God doesn't always want it.
Which would make me wonder about the speaker--where did he or she get that idea? Presumably, if the speaker is a Christian, he or she thinks that evangelism is sometimes good--but why would it be possible for there to be too much? Perhaps too many new converts would prove too great a strain for the church. You have to disciple them, teach them, train them... not that anyone was worried about that at Pentecost, but this is modern times. It just isn't normal now for the church to get whole bunches of new believers now. Just think if your church held an outreach, and so many people were saved that it doubled in size. You might need a bigger sanctuary, or more chairs, or another service. It might be expected that almost everyone would take a newbie under their wing--even those not involved in the outreach! And updating the directories, the birthday lists... these would be a logistical nightmare.

Maybe Billy Graham should start practicing disciple control. He could just stop preaching each time after he got a reasonable number of converts. Or if he wants to keep preaching, at least take the gospel out, since that would solve the problem. Practically everyone has already heard the gospel--maybe we have gone forth into all the world and made disciples, and we're done now. And if you're nodding your head right now, God help you, 'cause I can't.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm making an analogy. Quite a while ago, I heard a comment very similar to the one above. It went something like, "When God said to be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth, he didn't mean that [person in question] had to do it all himself!"

Let's take a moment to compare and contrast Genesis 1:28 with Matthew 28:19-20.
Because I know I'd be too lazy to look them up if I didn't know them:

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Both commandments occupy special places in the Bible; Genesis 1:28 is God's first command and first communication with human beings, and Matthew 28:19+20 is Jesus' last words before being taken up to heaven. Both commands are about creating followers for God, dedicating new lives to Him. So why are many churches concerned about one, while most ignore the other?

Oddly enough, the best argument I can come up with against birth control rests on the similarity of these two verses. Basically, under the old covenant we are to multiply, but under the new covenant we are to make disciples. And to some extent that is true. Paul said that to remain single and work for the kingdom of God was better than to marry. But, he didn't say anything about marrying and remaining childless. The change there is that once, marriage was normative, now, singleness is considered better. That's the difference there. Even if there were a form of birth control that were biblically acceptable (I'll post about that seperately, 'cause it just turned into a huge tangent), I don't think that couples should contracept to "focus on ministry" either (and I think I'll have to save that line of reasoning too).

And while the two passages in question are similar, they don't contradict each other. You can go forth with children, you can make disciples with children, you can teach with children. More difficult? Maybe. But not impossible. It's not explicitly or implicitly overwriting the old commandment.

So why is it that people are still trying to make disciples, but not trying to breed them? People do make excuses--
"Evangelism isn't my gift."
"I don't know any unbelievers."
--but we all recognize that those aren't good enough reasons to avoid spreading the gospel. We don't all have to be Billy Graham or Jim-Bob Duggar, but God expects us to take the opportunities presented to us. If someone doesn't go into the streets every weekend to share with everyone they can find, that's okay. But if they avoid meeting or interacting with non-Christians to keep from sharing the gospel, it's not. If someone is asked the reason for the hope that is given, and refuses to give an answer because they are afraid, and are already mentoring someone, and have already made a convert or two, and they don't have time to take this person to church on Sunday mornings--that's a problem. And you may have noticed how ridiculous that sounded.

Because we don't make converts. And we don't make children. God does. Only he can change a heart--or create one. I know I can't make children, no matter how much I try and pray. And no matter how much I try and pray, I can't convince someone to trust in Jesus.

All I can do is refuse to be used.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mobility; Baking; Bible

Well, Firstborn is making strides (or at least rolls and wiggles) toward true mobility. She can get to pretty much anything on the floor and within eyesight. Which means that M'Love and I have to actually get on this babyproofing thing. Or at least, cleaning up and vacuuming the area she usually plays in. And maybe after we clean we can get to the tree and take that down.

I had such lofty goals of actually getting the presents put away after Christmas, and of getting at least the living room cleaned up while M'Love had a week and a half off of work. But then between sickness and a general unwillingness to do hard work, it didn't happen. I just get so overwhelmed by the prospect of cleaning up I don't get out of the starting gate, and there is just so much stuff, and so few places.... We are hoping that today will be babyproofing day. But I suspect it's also growth spurt day. Yesterday Firstborn polished off 3 consecutive containers of squash for lunch, and might have kept going a bit longer had I not tried to fob off some mixed vegetables on her instead. Today she woke me up around 4:30 AM and proceeded to nurse for two and a half straight hours. I don't mind--I'm glad she likes her vegetables (at least the orange ones) and I read the internet or play games while she eats. As I write, she's about a yard from where I put her down, accomplished primarily by rolling. She's alternately fussing and squealing as she flails her limbs and plays with Blankie.

Firstborn is actually napping a little now. I think I just have to "train" her to do it, and I think I may try to get Babywise. It was recommended by somebody in my computer who says her children sleep. I made some candied citrus peel yesterday, and it turned out very good--you'd never know there was fruit involved. I also ended up with some extra sugar-stuff that turned into hard candy. My next endeavor in the baking arena will be to melt some peanut butter melts, stir in peanuts and marshmellows, spread in a pan lined with waxed paper, and top with some festive Christmas marshmellows. I want to bake more. It is relaxing and gives me a sense of accomplishment.

I like to cook, even though sometimes it can be a hassle with a child who always wants to be held. Last night for dinner I made some "Manager's special" (marked down) cheese & garlic sausage. I took it out of the casing (casings are ew), chopped it up, and fried it. I warmed up some leftover spatzlen, added some Italian pizza cheese, and added the sausage and some butter. Good stuff. I cook very multiculturally--last night was pirogis and chicken nuggets.

Last night while M'Love was drawing Firstborn's bath, I flipped open a Bible to a random page and Firstborn and I read Psalm 8. She enjoyed it and so did I. An added bonus was lots of body parts I could point out (fingers, hands, feet, mind). This inspired a (very incomplete) silly song version called "Under the Feet" (to the tune of "Under the Sea" from the little mermaid. Apologetix hasn't called yet. I really do need to get back into daily scripture reading and memorization, for my sake and Firstborn's.

Well, that's enough earthshaking social, political and religious commentary for the day.

Today's Sign of pregnancy: No, really, this time I'm sure it's pregnancy mucous

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