What The Fuck?

That’s all I could think when I swept my finger along Emaline’s gums this afternoon, in an effort to figure out why she was screaming bloody murder. I had a clue, as she’d been spewing copious amounts of drool for the last several days.

And then I felt it. And then I saw the white patch. Waaaay the hell back. Not molars, maybe bicuspids? It was freaky. She would not stop screaming so I couldn’t take a better look. I had Todd feel around. He agreed, it was definitely a tooth.

But is this totally abnormal? And did we just experience the worst of it? We didn’t have time to answer these questions as she continued to scream hysterically like never before.

Quick, put her in the blanket, I said. We put her down in the middle, and each of us grabbed the ends, and picked her up, and started swinging side to side, back and forth, for a good thirty minutes. Then we gently placed her on the bed.

They have things like this at stores. They’re battery operated. They’re called swings. I whispered these things to Todd, sarcastically. Oh I will never put my baby in a battery-operated machine, no, never. But stand there like idiots, cradling her in a blanket, swinging her back and forth together until she dozed off peacefully unaffected by the monstrous tooth poking through, because it’s the only thing that would stop her from crying? No problem.

Sometimes I really wonder what my priorities are!

On and on and on and on…

A very long rambly post…

A while back, I interviewed with a pediatrician. He was part of a practice that exists a mere 10 minute walk away from our home, so I figured that as long as he was “ok” with delaying vaccination (I wasn’t about to argue not vaxing at all, since we were likely to move before that became an issue) and seemed to have a great deal of experience, I would just choose him. He was fine with the vaccination thing, but gave me the stupid speech about responsibility to society and whatnot, but with my pressing lack of time, I decided he’d probably be our pediatrician simply for the sake of convenience.

Then I started looking into all this homebirth stuff and though to myself, well if I’m doing it this way, why not go all the way? And suddenly I had people recommending to me an MD who practiced homeopathic medicine, supported homebirths, did a home visit and did not vaccinate. Hmmm. How nice would it be to actually see a pediatrician who is on the same page as us, who won’t prescribe antibiotics for a simple ear infection, who can actually supplement and support my research on vaccinations, etc. The only warning I got from someone is that she doesn’t have the greatest bedside manner.

I called the office today and the receptionist gave me a 15 minute “meet the doctor” slot with her tomorrow morning at 9:15. I accepted it even though getting out of bed, being dressed and driving 5 miles is going to be tough before 9:15. A few hours later though, the doctor herself called me back. Sure enough, she was very prompt and quick to the point.

“I see my receptionist has scheduled you to see me tomorrow at 9:15. I am very busy tomorrow and my appointments are full, so can you come in at thursday instead?”

“Well, I’ve got an appointment at 1:00 so as long as…”

“And where is that appointment?”

“Cambridge.”

“And where in cambridge?”

“Near inman square.”

“Then you can come in at 12 and I’ll have you out by 12:30 and you can make it to your next appointment.”

“Oookay…”

“I see you have a 508 area code. That means you have a long drive. I wouldn’t want to risk you coming in late.”

“No, I live really close by. This is my cell phone.”

“Ok, well anyway, I’ll see you on thursday at 12:00 then. Goodbye!”

After relaying this conversation to Todd, he said that it sounded like we were going to be the best of friends. All prompt and official and not about wasting time. I actually really liked the way she dealt with the situation. One, she personally called me and two, she doesn’t want her patients to wait and actually cares about scheduling conflicts. I’ve read good things about this doctor. Yay!

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The Mother Debacle

My sister is in NYC visiting with my older sister, and my mother is in Worcester visiting with my grandmother, so Todd and I are alone until Sunday probably. I gently coaxed my mother in spending the week in Worcester, mostly because my grandmother just got out of rehab today and can’t be expected to be alone in the house after open heart surgery, and because she’s not going to want to leave me (ugh) when I’m so close to my due date next week, so she might as well provide the support now while she can. Of course, even with a good distance of 50 miles between us, she still manages to raise my blood pressure. My mother, aside from being severely hurt from her marital relationship and being so good at playing the victim, is sometimes impossible to contend with because she is just so DAMN hurt. All the time. For example, she will take with her to her grave the fact that I asked her why she had to turn on the kitchen light (which is adjacent to our bedroom) at 6 am in the morning. She totally freaked out. BECAUSE SHE HAD TO MAKE COFFEE OF COURSE. I wasn’t upset when I asked her, I just needed her to know that with our door slightly ajar, the light streamed in and woke us up. And nowadays my priority is to get as much sleep as I can get. I’m just greedy about it. The simple solution was for her to close the door when slightly ajar before she turned on the light, but to her my statement meant that I didn’t want her in the house, and why did I tell her to come visit anyway (I didn’t tell you to come for three months, mother) and how she did EVERYTHING to make our stay comfortable in Lebanon and I have taken the joy out of her being a grandmother, she’s just not HAPPY anymore, THERE’S NO HAPPINESS, in fact, she’s just going to start screaming and crying and explaining that as soon as the baby is born and IS GOD WILLING HEALTHY (because she refuses to believe anything but negative stuff about this GBS hype) that she is GETTING ON A PLANE IMMEDIATELY AND LEAVING ME ALONE BECAUSE THAT IS OBVIOUSLY WHAT I WANT AND DID YOU KNOW THAT EVERYONE KEEPS SAYING THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW IF YOU WILL EVEN LET THEM HOLD YOUR BABY, WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE WITH YOUR HUSBAND SO BADLY, THIS ALONE STUFF ISN’T RIGHT. (Maybe because my husband loves me and doesn’t beat me up? I know, this positive relationship thing is foreign to you, I’m sorry. Hmmm…)

So in a nutshell, that is just a slight example of what I have been having to deal with. The worst part of it is all these fights lead them to think that I am a total stressball and more than once she has mentioned that “the pregnancy hormones are making you this way.” And yet she asks ME to count before ten before I talk. Wow. Dear readers, was I a stress ball before she entered my physical environment? I think not.

Either way I have been handling it better and realizing that I need to simply be MORE QUIET and less DEFENSIVE. Even Todd is sick of her bringing up certain things repeatedly (”So I’m confused, tell me AGAIN who might get sick, you or the baby?” “The baby.” “So…”) Todd told me she wasn’t allowed to bring it up again with me, but with the incredible technology called Telephone she is able to continue with her monologues.

“So I talked to aunt and other aunt and other aunt and aunt talked to the head of the OB department in her hospital and they all said blah blah blah.”

“Mother we’ve discussed this many times before, I have done my research, and I Know all about their mainstream ideas. They aren’t researching the effects of their treatment, they aren’t considering that their interventions are creating the risk of infection, they are simply practicing what they are taught.”

“But the head of the OB…”

“I don’t care. I said I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’ve told you everything I can.”

But she brings it up again today.

“So I was talking to aunt and she told me again that the head of the OB department said that the antibiotics DON’T cross the placenta so it won’t get to the baby. He said that it just fights the infection in the vagina while in labor.”

“Mom, regardless of whether or not that is true, and I don’t think it is, that’s not the ONLY reason I am refusing antibiotics.”

“Oh I’m not telling you anything about your decision I’m just saying you seemed so sure that it crosses the placenta and aunt said that he said it didn’t!”

“OK, I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I need positive thoughts before going into labor, and I can’t change that everyone you have talked to about this without my permission isn’t going to be worried, because they don’t know what I KNOW and I will respect that, but please don’t talk to me about this anymore.”

“Oh I agree that you need positive thoughts before going into labor, but I just wanted to let you know that the OB said…”

I didn’t argue with her because I needed the conversation to end as soon as possible. Soon after though, wondering if I’d simply lost my mind, I consulted Dr. Google to double check. Now obviously either 1) something got lost in translation, 2) my aunt simply flat our lied or 3) the OB is the biggest fucking idiot alive. What the hell would the point of IV antibiotics during labor BE if it DIDN’T cross the placenta? Ughhhh.

I know I told her we’re not allowed to talk about it anymore but I have this urge to forward about ten billion different studies and articles to my aunt, either that or an email with the following sentence in bold, font size 10 billion: THE OB YOU SPOKE TO IS A FUCKING IDIOT.

But let’s give him the benefit of doubt and assume that something got lost in translation. Even though we’re all speaking English here…

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I should talk about my actual pregnancy, huh? Everyone expects me to say that I’m feeling terrible, cranky, uncomfortable, etc when they ask how I am. My response is “I feel great!” Well, I do, physically, feel rather good. It makes me wonder if I will ever go into labor. Or if I will even recognize it. I’m sure I will. I just wonder how this prevalent concept that pregnancy is uncomfortable, especially in the last weeks, came into being. I’m not swollen, I have no heartburn, I poop regularly, I have a decent amount of energy (ie I can cook, clean, go on errands, deal with stupid people and perhaps walk around the block twice if I am so inclined. OK, so I’m a little lacking on the exercise front.) I continue to hold my breath and wait for the ball to drop. Something tells me though that I am going to continue to sail smoothly into labor.

I had my last appointment at the birth center. I talked to a different midwife and we commiserated together on how ridiculous certain protocols were and how the medical industry is very much money driven. She was completely sympathetic about my situation. Baby is fine and healthy, as usual, and the heartbeat continue to thump loudly. She is head down, but I have gotten conflicting reports as to whether she is anterior or posterior. I have sworn off my comfy recliner chair, both because it is no longer very comfy (my body trying to tell me something?) and because it is unfavorable for turning a posterior presentation. That said, I’m fairly certainly little E is sort of in between, because she ONLY kicks on the very extreme right side. But she also has her nightly rave concerts in which she goes totally batshit crazy, so much that I’m starting to doubt it’s the baby making all that racket and that maybe I am having “false labor” contractions after all. Who knows. That’s the only time I ever feel uncomfortable though, at bedtime, when the child becomes demonic and starts stretching my uterus in 10 different directions all at once. It’s never painful, just extremely powerful.

My homebirth midwife offered the rental of a birthing pool, but I think I am going to decline for a few reasons. A few silly reasons. I’m not sure if I will be able to figure out when my water breaks (if it hasn’t already) when I’m in the pool. I’d rather know, because of the group B strep. Also, I’ve read that the water is just SO relaxing, and I don’t want to take it slow and easy and relax. I want to do exactly what my body wants, and go as fast as it needs to, without intervening. I also want to use gravity as much as possible, and I’m not sure being in the water is condusive to that. I’ve read conflicting reports on the increased risk of infection in water, so I don’t really have an opinion on that. The point is, as much as I’m not concerned about being group B strep colonized, I am concerned to the extent that I will be smart about it. I won’t do anything to stall labor or prolong the chance of infection. Baby will make her descent, hopefully not too slowly, and I should have nothing to worry about. But what I can control, I will. So my vagina is a one way street and nothing is welcome going upwards. I am glad my midwife agrees with this and respects that I want ZERO internal examinations. We will go over that a few times just to make sure she understands.

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Aside from needing to establish more getting-to-know-you time with my midwife, I am essentially ready for childbirth and a baby. The diapers are all washed and clean, we have loads of sheets and towels and whatnot, we have washed baby clothes, we have food in the freezer and fridge, we have copious recipes making their way through my mind as I debate, hmmm, what should I whip up while in early labor (if I have that)? Will it be delicious corn muffins, or a decadent healthy chocolate cake, or will I simply be mashing about 10 ripe avocados to feast on after birth? Yes, I do think about silly things. For example, I get so excited that my midwife is vegan, but surely she’ll appreciate my vegan chocolate cake to celebrate the birth of baby E, right? I mean, how many vegan clients could she possibly have? And when she returns the next day, won’t be be delighted to know that the traditional mughle that we are offering her is a vegan dessert as well?

I also think not-so-positive thoughts and silly concerns, like, oh my god, I don’t have ENOUGH baby clothes! (I probably don’t, we’ve only filled about three small drawers with clothes, but I tend to think that stuffing a closet full of clothes before a baby is born is equally ridiculous). Or, how will I tell each and every person who walks in here to wash their hands before touching the baby without seeming totally anal? Or, if I’m unable to wash dishes, will people do it the RIGHT way? The silly thoughts are good, really, and much better than our late night morbid conversations about the WORST thing that could possibly happen, but we don’t need to go into that.

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Before I begin catching up with everyone’s blogs, I leave you all with my favorite chocolate cake recipe ever, adapted from The Candle Cafe cookbook to be a healthier, fat-free and equally delicious cake. And it’s so easy to make too!

Sift these dry ingredients:

2 cups spelt flour (or 1 cup spelt, 1 whole wheat pastry flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cococa powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix together these wet ingredients:

1 cup soymilk
1 cup maple syrup OR agave nectar
3/4 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix very well with a fork. Pour in a non-stick bundt pan and bake for uh… 35-60 minutes. Yeah it’s a wide range but I never time it. I just watch it through the oven door and test it after a while.

Hmmm, who knows. Maybe I’ll make cake AND corn muffins.

Monday Memories

Monday Memories: Did I ever tell you about the time I got arrested?
It was February 15th, 2003. The United States was on the verge of starting a full blown war with Iraq. Most of the world was unhappy with this. So on February 15th, millions of people gathered in several different cities around the world to protest.

New York City was the only location out of all these cities that didn’t grant a marching permit. Everyone else in the world got to march, but not New York.

A few days earlier, I’d gotten on a bus and headed to New York to visit my sister. On the day of the protest, my sister, her boyfriend and I all packed lunch and snacks for the day, and bundled up as warm as we could, as the temperatures were sub-freezing. We started walking towards the protest area. Hundreds and thousands of people filled endless blocks, streaming out past the police barricades, going far beyond what anyone imagined. First Avenue filled up, and quickly people streamed into second and third.

We were desperately cold, but the passion I experienced at that rally is something I’ll probably never experience again. The sheer amount of people, the speakers, the puppets of Bush floating around, the clever posters, and the protestors lifting the police barricades and sending them overhead down through the crowd – it was hard to complain about the cold. I think people felt even stronger, perhaps more rebellious because we were the only city that wasn’t allowed to march.

Several hours later, the rally ended, and people started streaming out and filling the streets to go home. Inevitably, though, no matter where you looked, there was a group of people beginning to march. Peaceful marching, along the sidewalks – but still, it was marching, and the cops did not like this. They were not prepared for the numbers that they kept downplaying.

My sister’s boyfriend had left us to go to work, and feeling quite energized, I convinced my sister to follow one particularly large crowd. We marched past the U.N. building; we marched anywhere the police weren’t blocking, chanting anti-war slogans and feeling so full of hope. Eventually they started forcing our large group to break up, shoving their terrified horses into the crowds, blocking us with their bodies, telling us that we weren’t allowed to be walking on these sidewalks. Whose sidewalks?

We continued to march, turning corners and avoiding the cops. We played drums on anything we could bang on as we continued to walk, we became more and more invigorated as they tried to beat us down and separate us. At one point, we had to turn into a side street, and someone led us underneath very narrow scaffolding under a building where construction was taking place. There were about 30 of us on each side of the street at this point, and suddenly, we were surrounded by cops.

We tried to keep moving, but apparently the cops had a different idea. They blocked us from every corner, and we stood there in the cold, waiting. It took nearly an hour, but soon enough, a bunch of paddy wagons pulled up and it became obvious. We were being arrested.

Not one to remain calm in situations like this, my sister started freaking out, insisting we were getting out of this, making it seem like it was so much more than it really was. I explained to her it wasn’t a big deal – that obviously hundreds of us were being taken in and processed, and that no matter who she called; she wasn’t getting out of it. Some of the cops were assholes, but most were understanding. They didn’t want to be filling up the city’s precincts either, but some major asshole gave the word, and they had to follow orders.

I asked if I would be back to Massachusetts on time because I had to be at my job on Monday, and they said possibly. One by one, they took our names, hung our backpacks in front of us, hand cuffed us, and led us to the back of the police truck.

The separated women from men. There were about 6 guys in the front, who we weren’t aware of for a while, and 12 of us women. Because the arresting had become so widespread, they had no place to take us to. In below freezing weather, we all sat in the back of the wagon, turning numb, our shoulders aching, some of us singing beautiful songs, others screaming and breaking down, and others sitting quietly, not saying a word. There wasn’t a single source of light, as it was dark outside, so we were all faceless creatures with only voices to share.

We spent nearly 5 hours in the back of the wagon, and eventually figured out how to pry our hands out of the plastic handcuffs. We had to be careful, because we feared they could open the doors at any moment and we’d get caught. Those who had a hard time releasing themselves were helped by others. Some offered hand cream to making pulls the hands out of the plastic easier. Snacks were passed around, and some who could just not hold it any longer peed in a bag, the pee stream trickling onto the cold hard floor, some of us shrieking with amusement, others with disgust.

We banged on the door occasionally, demanding to know what was happening, explaining that we had to pee, we were hungry, cold, frozen-stiff. The cops really didn’t have a clue what was going on. All they knew is that they’d arrested so many people; they had nowhere to put us. My sister started screaming at them at one point, and one asshole from the outside responded “Well you should have thought about what you were doing” like we were two year olds. Crazy. Very often, people from peace groups or lawyers would talk to us through the wagon doors, letting us know they were working on helping us.

Finally, five hours later, were headed to Precinct 7. We quickly slid our hands back into the cuffs, hid all the evidence, and filed out of the wagon one by one. They put us in a large bright room, and couldn’t really contain us. We shared food, demanded to be released from our cuffs, and repeatedly asked to go to the bathroom immediately. They processed us quickly then, putting 4 people each in a cell that couldn’t have been larger than 8 by 8 feet. There was a cold, metal toilet in there, as well as a single short bench. They took our bags away and placed them on the walls opposite the cells, out of reach, and let us take whatever food we had in them to each. I was really thankful I’d packed lunch when they handed out cold cut sandwiches on white bread for dinner.

We all started to lighten up a little bit. We started singing “In the jungle” and many other songs. We cracked jokes that were truly funny, and we passed real food from one cell to another. Some people took out cigarettes and passed them around to our faceless neighbors from one cell to another. Hours passed, and one by one we were taken to be interviewed by someone who was possibly the world’s dumbest cop.

“Uh, what color are your shoes?”
“You mean the ones you’re staring at?”

“Ok, you’re wearing a…uh… sweatshirt?”

“So uh, what were you doing when you got arresting?”
“Walking.”
“Were you in the streets?”
“No. We were walking on the sidewalks.”
“Uh huhh…”

At some point, we really wanted something out of my sister’s bag which was against the wall opposite the cell. I came up with the brilliant idea of taking off a shoe, holding it by the shoelace, and swinging it through the bars to hook onto the bag. Once it was firmly against the bag, the plan was to drag it towards us and snatch some breath mints and a cell phone.

My sister failed terribly at her first time by swinging the shoe throw the bars and LETTING GO. We were now out one shoe, and everyone was laughing hysterically. I grabbed the other shoe before she could attempt again, and skillfully hooked the shoe onto the bag and dragged the bag nearer to us. We snatched what we wanted out of the bag and threw it back against the wall. One of the cops was really pissed later on when we asked for the other shoe – he couldn’t figure out why on earth we’d have thrown it out there.

The hours started to drag. They said some machine wasn’t working so that’s why it was taking so long to process us. Some of us tried to get comfy on the floor. We took turns on the hard bench. We talked to our faceless other cell mates about life.

Finally about 10 hours later, I was taken out. They took my picture and fingerprints and gave me a court date – ironically, the court date on a weekend that another anti-war rally was to take place. Finally, I was released into the lobby, where I found my sister’s boyfriend waiting for us. It was nearly 8:00 a.m. in the morning. We’d started this journey at 5 o’clock in the evening the day before. I was exhausted and famished.

For some reason it took another hour at least for my sister to get out. When she finally did, she was pissed as hell, because some officer tapped her on the head when she was dozing off and told her she’d have to “release” her shoe laces. ‘Cause, uh, she might suddenly decide to strangle herself or her cell mate after being in there for 10 hours.

We piled into her boyfriend’s car and he took us to a diner where we feasted for breakfast. We picked up the morning news paper and read the articles about our arrest, noting all the incorrect statements (the police department never wanted to admit that they arrested well into the hundreds of protestors) and we called our parents to let them know that we’d gotten arrested (because they knew we were at the rally) and that we were out and fine. My father was so proud – he really got a kick out of his two daughters being arrested in New York City.

On the bus ride home back to Massachusetts, I slept like a baby.

What happened later on at the court date (the day after the second rally I attended that year) they simply told us to stay out of trouble for six months and the records would be deleted from our files. The city essentially wasted millions of hours in man labor and court dates and whatnot because they didn’t want us to march through the streets of NYC.

Some people make it their life to be passionate and peacefully protest and get arrested. Unfortunately, reality gets in the way of life sometimes, and I really don’t think it does one any good to spend hours in a stinky jail cell – who are you teaching a lesson, anyway? From then on, any time I went to a rally, I was extra careful to just glare at the cops, and not to anything outrageous like, say, walk on a sidewalk in a city.

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How To Make Grapeleaves OR Proof That I’m An Idiot

You’d think the last think I would be do when visiting a chiropractor for a very painful shoulder is sit down and roll grape leaves. But why would I RELAX? That would be insane. Because I love you all, here is a picture essay depicting how to make grape leaves.

First you throw together 1.5 cups brown rice, 1 bunch of finely chopped parsely, 2-3 small roma tomatoes (minced), chickpeas, lemon juice, arabic pepper, sea salt, red pepper and a little bit of olive oil.

Rinse and drain the grape leaves.

Layer the bottom of pan with a few leaves, sliced onions and carrots, and potatoes too. I didn’t have any so I didn’t use potatoes.

Lay out a grape leaf, cut the stem, bang on the thick veins with the back of a knife, and put a spoonful of the filling lengthwise in the leaf.

Fold in the edges and then the top, and roll the leaf all the way down. Layer every rolled grape leaves on top of the veggies in the pan.

Experience excruciating pain in your shoulder.

Fill the pot with water and tomato paste (I just used water cause I’m lazy) to cover the grape leaves. Once the water boils, invert a dish on top of the grape leaves and place a heavy mug or can on top so they don’t float. Simmer 40-50 minutes or until rice is soft inside of the leaves. Put the leftover rice filling in a small pot, cover with water, and cook. The rice alone makes great leftovers.

Banana Bread

We’ve got the first of two six-hour natural childbirth classes tomorrow, so I decided to make banana bread. I needed something easy to snack on during the day, and filling, because I have a good feeling we’re going to lose Todd at some point during this six hour class if he isn’t constantly fed. Tonight I’ll be making a repeat of the stuffed shells to take for lunch.

I loosely followed this recipe with variations to make it healthier. I just tested a piece and it is moist, lightly sweet, and delicious. I don’t bake very often, and try to avoid whole wheat flours in general, but the occasional exception is fine. I used whole spelt for this bread. It is lighter than whole wheat.

Here’s the recipe that I adapted:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 unsweetened applesauce
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
2 cups whole spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened plain soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I probably would have used a whole teaspoon, but I ran out)
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Mash the bananas and add all the wet ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix well. Pour batter into pan. I used a 9×5 loaf pan, and as you can see it rose beautiful. Baked in the oven at 275-300 for at least an hour and a half. (I prefer to bake banana bread at longer and lower temps – I think this is what helped the bread come out so moist).

Oh, I also threw in a couple spoonfuls of raw unsweetened coacoa bean nibbles. It gives the bread a nice little crunch. Yes, baking with really expensive raw coacoa beans is kind of stupid.

This is really easy to make and quite delicious, I encourage you to try it. Of course you can use sugar or maple syrup instead of agave nectar, and regular flour instead of whole spelt – but why would you? 🙂

Milk Confessions

Having worked in daycare for so long, I got the luxury of witnessing first hand the sheer idiocy involved in the practice of giving babies whole milk at 12 months of age. Before I preface this, please let me explain that I don’t blame parents who simply follow pediatricians’ instructions. They don’t know any better. They are simply brainwashed by the giant companies that influence the media, the “Got Milk?” commercials and the notion that doctors seem to know best. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t even blame doctors. They go through their entire medical school experience often without taking more than 2 hours of instruction in nutrition. Does this strike anyone as odd?

Introducing whole milk to a child, just because they’ve turned 12 months, is somewhat of a ritual in parenthood. I remember, when working in the baby room, how excited the parents would be: no more buying formula! Furthermore, the daycare center provided the whole milk, so all they had to do was bring bottles, if the baby was still drinking from bottles at 12 months. Easy peasy!

But oh, the horror, the pain these children went through. Without fail, transitioning to whole milk was never easy. I wasn’t even vegan yet, but I knew something was wrong. They would immediately become sick, congested for weeks on end, constipated with no relief in sight. It was so horrible for me to watch. I questioned this in my mind silently, wondering, is babyhood really meant to be this difficult? Don’t the parents wonder, why are my children becoming so sick all of the sudden?

Over the years I worked in different rooms. I graduated to the young toddler room, where, without fail, my theory held true. Children who brought in cheese and milk based lunches were ALWAYS sick. Children who loved their milk where often constipated, or the complete opposite, always having diarrhea. People blamed it on daycare, and the wealthy spreading of germs. Sure, that has something to do with it. But it also had to do with their dairy and sugar laden diet.

When I became vegan, I simply could not give children milk anymore. I did research and my actions were based on my love for children. I had since graduated to the older toddler room, where I took care of 9 2-year-olds. And that is when I started doing something I would have gotten fired for has anyone found out.

I started not giving the children milk at lunch time.

At first, they were a little perplexed. But eventually, my children who never got the cookies and sweet snacks that everyone else got, who never got the milk twice a day like the other classes often good – they became angels. When the center all became struck down with sicknesses, my class often had a MUCH lower rate than anyone else. People would say “geez, you don’t get a break, your kids are rarely ever out.” I would smile to myself, knowing the reason.

The only reason I could do this was because I had a co-worker who loved to learn from me. I would cook food and take it in to work to give her some all the time. She would ask me how to cook things, and eventually she completely agreed with my ideas. She was my co-conspirator. Together we hid the fact that we didn’t give the children milk. The person who heated up our lunches would bring the gallon of milk into the room. I would leave it there for about ten minutes, pour water into the cups, and return the milk. If someone walked in during lunch, and they were drinking water, the person simply assumed that they had already drunk their share of milk.

One case strikes me as incredible. We had a new boy who started, let’s name him Tommy. His mother was a young one, still in college, and not exactly the brightest when it came to nutrition. Tommy got nothing but packaged sugary snacks, and a prepared macaroni and cheese lunch every single day. His mother was extremely overweight. Tommy also got a bottle filled with whole milk EVERY SINGLE DAY BEFORE HIS AFTENROON NAP. And Tommy was over 2 years old.

Tommy was also extremely asthmatic. He was always sick. He coughed and spewed green and yellow boogers like you wouldn’t believe. He had to have his nebulizer from the very first day he started in my class.

On the first day, I gave Tommy his bottle filled with milk, because it was still a strange room for him and I wanted him to feel safe and adjust well to our class. The next day I watered down the milk to practically nothing. The third day I gave him JUST WATER. After a week, I told his mother he didn’t even want his bottle anymore. It was true. She couldn’t believe it. She was just too afraid to break the habit.

I also started throwing out Tommy’s yogurt. Think of me as evil, think whatever you like – in two weeks, Tommy was CURED. I am not kidding. His cough disappeared, he only needed the nebulizer occasionally at home. We started giving him fresh fruit, and I gently prodded his mother to bring healthier things, by suggesting he loved the extra grapes we served him at lunch, and so on. She was eager to please, because she really loved my teaching style, and did anything I said.

Summer arrived and Tommy’s mother didn’t have to go to school. So his fulltime schedule was cut down to two days. We lost major control over his diet. Tommy became really sick again. *sigh*

During my last two weeks at daycare, I was filled with dread and anxiety. Nobody knew that we stole most of the fruit from the kitchen to give it as snacks twice a day, instead of the required once, because I couldn’t give my children the sugary cookies. Nobody knew that they never got, or ever asked for milk. Nobody knew that I’d taught them to chug water like you wouldn’t believe. Nobody knew why my class was rarely sick. And yet I had to hand over my beautiful children to a girl who chugged diet coke all day long, who ate cookies and cakes for snacks.

I let her in on our secret, and explained that the reason I did it was because the children were truly healthier this way – and that they got enough milk at home anyway! I explained that we don’t offer juice either, except very rarely when it was brought into our room. I explained that when people talk about how there’s always leftover milk gallons these days, to just suggest that it’s because of summer, and in summer the children drink more water, and leave it at that. Sure, she was all about it. I didn’t tell her about throwing out half the yogurt for most of the kids who showed a propensity for getting sick, or who got dairy in their actual meals, which of course I would never throw out.

This girl was a big liar. When I came back to visit the daycare, my class was mayhem. They got endless amounts of milk, they got cookies for every snack time. People kept telling me my kids became WILD. It also might have something to do with our very different discipline techniques (read: I had one, she didn’t – I paid attention to my kids, she didn’t).

One day, I had hinted to one of the parents that I am closest to that the children in my class didn’t receive milk “very much or very often.” She was smart. Her response was, they get enough of it at home.

I also baked with my children, ALWAYS. The parents knew I was a health freak because I would make copies of the healthy vegan cookies we’d made that day, letting them know their children loved them, and suggesting they might want to make them at home. I did little thing, all the time, to try to change the way they fed their children. One little boy, S, got a giant white bagel for lunch every day. Over the course of months (this child was extremely sensitive and picky) and with the help of his cooperative mother, we eventually got him to have WHOLE WHEAT sandwiches with SOYNUT butter.

I never gave up.

But it always pains me that I never did more. That I was too afraid to copy articles about the hormones, the pus, and the crap in milk. I was too afraid to tell them what they were really feeding their children. I only try to lead by example, and of course, but not giving them what their body did not ever need and what was actually harmful to them.

So when I surf the internet and read blogs, it pains me when parents talk about transitioning to whole milk. It pains me because the act of parenthood is so sensitive. It pains me because I truly do respect anyone who is working toward the well-being of their child. I had witnessed parenthood in it’s various forms, and it is always difficult and parents really do their best.

It pains me that giant, greedy corporations have made it impossible to say “don’t give your kids milk” without being attacked. It pains me that when you suggest an alternative, non-mainstream method of raising your child, it is immediately assumed that you might be attacking that parent’s method of parenting. I want to say, I don’t blame you. I want to say, don’t be afraid. I want to say, most doctors don’t know crap. I want to say, look at your child, listen to him/her, listen to you gut instinct. I want to say, do research. I want to say, just because everyone else does it doesn’t mean it’s right…

But I don’t say anything. I just feel such sorrow and pain for the children who suffer. It takes too much energy to argue my points. I just wish it wasn’t so.