Breastfeeding…

I’ve been thinking a fair bit about breastfeeding these past few days. It’s not a subject I’ve thought about much in a while but definitely one I have experience with seeing as I’ve nursed for five and a half years total, albeit many years ago.

One of the very first things I learned when I started breastfeeding was to stroke the baby’s cheek. One gentle stroke from cheekbone to the side of the lip and baby will turned toward that side and open their mouth. This is the time to squish your nipple and shove the whole thing, areola included, right toward the back of the baby’s mouth… aiming for the throat. They won’t choke, they’re expecting it. That lets the baby put pressure on the milk ducts and squeeze milk or colostrum out.

The second thing I learned was how to remove the baby. This is more important when baby has teeth but is still good to know just in case baby doesn’t latch on correctly. Stick one finger into the back jaw, just about where the wisdom teeth will eventually come in, and twist very gently. The baby will open their mouth.

If the labour was rough for you then it was rough for the baby too. Expect some exhaustion and disinterest in things like nursing. Don’t worry too much (the nurses will worry for you) the baby has extra fat for a reason. Just keep plugging away. Try a different position. They might nurse better while lying down, goodness knows Kait did. If you want to try this position, lie on your side then put the baby in front of you and on their side. Put your bottom arm above the baby’s head then use your top hand to guide your bottom nipple into the baby’s mouth. It sounds more complicated than it is. Your partner can help if needed.

The milk comes in around the third day. You will not sleep through this. Your breasts will become hard enough to chisel concrete and your nipples will be flatter than pancakes, which makes nursing interesting but still doable. Grab a nipple, just below the areola and squeeze, it’ll squish enough to push into the baby’s mouth and will immediately start leaking milk. This tends to perk up the “I’m not that hungry” baby. If you can’t squeeze it into shape enough, just hand express a bit. You don’t need to know how, your breasts are so full you could probably just poke one and it would be like, “You want milk… okay”. They’ll be dripping all on their own. But rubbing in gentle circles just below the areola will help.

The milk coming in is the part that actively hurts. If you want a break, step into a nice warm shower and let the water run across your breasts. You’ll let down enough for some relief. Expressing milk helps too but is a bit of a vicious cycle because you’re telling your breasts that you need more milk when you really want them to make just enough for the baby and not the whole neighbourhood too. It’s a good idea to sleep with a towel under you because you can (and will) leak through your breast pads. Your body will eventually adjust.

Early breastfeeding feels like you’re nursing with two left hands while riding a unicycle. And the unicycle’s on fire. Neither you or the baby know what you’re doing and you’re going to feel like you got half an instruction book and the baby got completely different instructions. Just give yourself time. You will be a pro at it by the 4th week and, by a year, you can nurse a baby who’s standing upside down and half behind your back… with a finger in your ear. And you will. But, for now, enjoy your relatively immobile wee one.

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Kait as a newborn

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Searching for sex ed in Ontario…

When Kait was in her early teens, I agreed to send her to a sex education program run through our Unitarian Universalist congregation. This program was comprehensive, informative, and LGBTQ friendly, something that couldn’t be said about the school’s program at the time. When he got old enough, Colin got sent to the same program for the same reasons.

In 2015, after several years of research and discussion, our then premier, Kathleen Wynne, unveiled a new program. It was comprehensive, informative, and LGBTQ friendly. Young children were taught the names their body parts, including their genitals, while older children learned about consent, sexting, and online bullying. And LGBTQ students were addressed as well.

We have a new premier now, a buffoon named Doug Ford. He’s not only scrapped the new program but has set up a snitch line so parents and students can report any teacher who uses any material from the now scrapped program. The old program, written in 1998, did not include online bullying, which makes sense since we were on dial up. The new program does. So if a teacher addresses online bullying, they could be facing disciplinary actions.

Meanwhile a generation of students need education.

That’s were the Canadian Unitarian Council comes in. They are offering to teach any student in Ontario the OWL program (Our Whole Lives). From their press statement

The Canadian Unitarian Council is deeply concerned that the loss of comprehensive sexuality education in Ontario schools will leave children and youth vulnerable at a time when they most need accurate information and empowerment to make good decisions. Asha Philar, OWL Coordinator for the CUC states, “The Our Whole Lives program gives youth the tools to make healthy and age-appropriate choices and helps LGBTQ youth find self-acceptance and support. Without access to accurate information and learning opportunities, Ontario students are put at risk and we fear that LGBTQ youth will face even more barriers to acceptance.”

The program is not free, the price for a several day program is $250, but it is worthwhile, especially considering the education our children are (not) receiving. If this program sounds like something you’d be interested in, please email owl@cuc.ca. OWL programs are available at many UU congregations from September through May and have age appropriate programs from kindergarten to adulthood.

Hopefully Ford will back down on his decision, especially faced with so much opposition but, until then, the Canadian Unitarian Council is there to fill the gap.

Colin and Kait at Niagara Falls

Colin and Kait. Happy, healthy, and educated

Exhausted to the bone…

I struggle to keep myself busy. Washing the never ending pile of kitchen dishes, feeding the cats, cuddling the cats, going out for a daily walk. I sing karaoke with a friend every Saturday, sometimes at her place… sometimes at a bar. I visit my parents every Sunday plus my groups all start in another few weeks. And I’m depressed through it all.

Depression leaves me bone weary, like someone filled my marrow with cement and left it to harden. Every chore, every task is that much harder. I’ll go to message a friend or call a family member and realize I just don’t have the energy. I still manage to take my walk most days but need a nap afterwards, just so I can function, something that irritates the heck out of Colin. The nap… not me functioning.

medsIt’s frustrating and a bit scary. I’m already taking Effexor, Abilify, and Lithium for depression (and clonazepam for anxiety). How much more can I take? What if this is the best I can get?

Every day I force my mind away from catastrophic thinking. If there’s a worst case scenario my mind has already come up with it and two alternatives. Will the bus crash? Will I get attacked on the trail? Will I fall and badly hurt myself? Will a train fall on me? Yes, that’s one of my concerns.

Every day I give myself reasons to live. It would hurt my parents endlessly. It would scar my children for the rest of their lives. My grandson would never know me. I’d wound my friends. Blackie and Lara would never understand why I didn’t walk through the front door to pet them again. Then there’s the person who would find me and the ambulance attendants. Too many people hurt for a moment of selfishness. Peace at too high a price.

So I stay away from the balcony, take my meds twice a day, go for a long daily walk, eat healthy food, get plenty of rest, and tell my negative thoughts to fuck right off. And I take my half hour nap, desperate for a tiny handful of oblivion.

 

When school isn’t safe…

Update: There is now a GoFundMe for Maddie and her family to move to Houston. Please click here for it!

TW: extreme transphobic comments against a child

Twelve years old, that boundary year, the line between childhood and teen. Still young enough to play on the playground but old enough to start worrying that the slide and swings are a bit uncool. The age where they’re cool in groups but going home to play Minecraft, Barbies, and lego. An age of innocence. And an age where grown adults think nothing of using the slurs of “it”, “half baked maggot”, “thing”, and “the transgender” if you’re not cisgender and/or straight. The adults also refer to a gay teacher as “the queer teacher” and want to get rid of them both, the teacher and twelve year old transgender girl Maddie.

These so called adults have children of their own and not an ounce of empathy between them. They cheerfully choose which children of theirs who will kick “his” ass in the bathroom with the ultimate plan of running her and her father out of town.

 

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Not even half an ounce of empathy

The child in question usually uses the staff washroom, which isn’t a surprise considering the attitude of the locals, but couldn’t find it in the new school and used the girls’ room once. That was enough to get these junior high wannabe adults blathering and egging each other on.

People act like bullying is a childhood issue and forget the kids are learning it from somewhere. This is simply more blatant than usual. How do you think they’d treat a trans adult who dared to move into their town of 492 people?

Sometimes bucolic just means inbred.

If I were her parents, I’d be moving as quickly as I could. The townsfolk would think they won but they’re like the apocryphal chess playing pigeon. Strutting around shitting everywhere, acting like they won. Meanwhile the family would be in better surroundings with better people. They could hardly find worse, no matter what the townspeople think.

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What Seth doesn’t realize is that, overall, 70% are supportive of trans people, wanting the government to do more to help them. Half the population of the States believes they should use the washroom of their gender and 61% in Canada. Seth’s an outlier, a dinosaur in wait of a meteor strike.

I’d love to have a happy ending to this post, everyone loves a happy ending, but the reality is a child is stuck in a town where she is seen as vermin to be destroyed and not a child to be supported. A child who’s in hiding, along with her siblings, for their own protection. All I can suggest is to support the people you know and the people around you. If you see someone who’s trans, simply smile like you would to anyone else. Stand up for her (or him) if she’s being hassled. Be there.

If that’s not enough, you can buy “you can pee next to me” pins. I know there’s a similarly phrased one and I’ve totally lost the phrase. If you know it, feel free to remind me. There are groups like Transgender & Allies Circle of Trust where people offer, in part, support and empathy to newly out trans people. You can attend your local PFLAG meetings and find out what’s happening with the LGBTQ community in your area. They openly accept allies. And you can stand up to people like Seth and Eddie and Kevin. People who think nothing of attacking and harrassing a 12 year old.

The great pretender…

We were walking into our apartment and Colin, as usual, was chattering away about misogyny and misandry. I was paying more attention to getting our wagon of groceries past the front hall table than what he was saying, mainly because this is a regular topic on his part and I’ve pretty much heard everything. Plus it’s tricky getting the wagon around the table. Then, suddenly, he announced “and it goes double for my gender”.

“Which gender?” I asked since it wasn’t obvious by the conversation. “Male or female?”

“Male!” he yelled. “I’ve already told you this so many times!”

“And you’ve told me you’re female so many times before too,” I replied.

And, with that, he quieted down. “I can’t say that I’m female anymore,” he replied sadly. “It hurts me too much. I need to pretend to be male.”

I have so many emotions about this. Part of it’s sadness because he obviously wants to transition almost as much as he wants kids. Part of it’s anger because he’s been told, repeatedly, by fellow trans people that he can stop hormones for a few months and get his sperm back for conception.

I’m angry at the medical profession for being, once again, so far behind trans people on medical knowledge. They should be researching this information and, as far as I can tell, they aren’t.

I’m angry at Colin because he’s putting a non-existent child ahead of his own wellbeing. Maybe, someday, there’ll be a child but conception’s going to be damn tricky when he’s living in his bedroom 99% of the time. No one’s going to jump out of YouTube and invite him on a date.

And I’m sad because he’s so obviously not happy and not doing well mentally but keeps plugging away on the same route, getting more and more unhappy. But he’s a grown adult now and has to make his own decisions. Hopefully one day soon he’ll decide to put his own wellbeing first. Hopefully someday it’ll be his time to shine.

born to be awesome

 

How do I know I’m a boy?

Colin used to ask me this so often and it left me confused and a bit bewildered. How didn’t he know he was a boy? It’s something you just know. So I’d answer the question as best I could.

“You’re a boy because you have a penis and when you grow up you’ll be a man. Nothing’s going to change that.”

He’d calmly accept that answer and skip off, while I wondered if he was being bullied again and just wasn’t telling me. He’d already complained about being called a he-she on the playground, which is what I’d chalked the questions up to.

Fast forward through a lot of years, right up to the Q&A we did a few days ago, where Colin answered the question of “How long have you known you were trans” with…

“I honestly don’t know. Looking back, like when I was younger, I wanted to be a girl but I never knew why.”

All the time I thought he was asking because of being teased, he was asking because he felt like a girl. And that just breaks my heart.

But, at the same time, I had no real idea what transgender was. My only examples were Klinger on MASH, who is definitely not trans and a person in our town who was horribly nicknamed Terry the Fairy who paired a dress with hairy legs. I have no idea how he identified.

Our doctor wasn’t very trans friendly, something we discovered last year, and he’d have been sent to see Dr. Zucker, who is known for being transphobic when it comes to children. He felt that teens and adults knew their gender but that kids were flexible and responded “well” to conversion therapy.

I also would have needed to deal with my ex husband, who’d claim the sky was green if he thought it would hurt me. He’d have fought me long and hard and had someone in the background willing to pay for a lawyer.

So, in reality, it wouldn’t have made a difference, other than giving my ex some more ammunition and possibly traumatizing Colin, but I can’t help thinking of how I tried to help and cringing at my words. And I can’t help looking at Colin’s answer and wishing he’d had a better way and better choices.

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Colin playing in our backyard with our friends’ pick up truck