Camp Gyno

2 08 2013

I don’t have a TV, I don’t even watch TV shows in my computer, so I am quite out of the commercial loop, but this ad came to my attention linked by a friend. It is the Camp Gyno commercial, it basically sells tampons to pre teen girls. Everybody loves it, I watched it and made my skin crawl.

Now, please, don’t get me wrong. The commercial itself is awesome (albeit too long at almost two minutes!), the creative team did a great job, the actress is darling, and they portray periods as something positive and normal (about time!), I love how she calls her period “the red badge of courage” and how they use anatomically correct terms with no shame or challenge. So, what is the problem, you might ask. I have an aversion to anything unhealthy being put in direct contact with a mucous membrane (repeatedly day after day for years), especially at a young age, when the reproductive system is going through its development.

Prolonged retention of menstrual blood in tampons has been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Think about it, blood is full of iron, and bacteria thrive on iron! Not to mention that tampons are made with fibers that, if they are non organic, have absorbed tonnes of chemicals as insecticides, have been bleached with chlorine. Traces of dioxin have been found in tampons, according to the FDA these levels are of no concern, but according to EPA there are no levels of dioxin that are safe. Furthermore, dioxins have been found to be associated to endometriosis, a problem that is also linked to infertility, in studies performed in monkeys. Endometriosis in on the raise too. Given that I have not studied the topic, I would not blame it on tampons, but it might be one more factor that is contributing to this problem.

And have you heard of the moldy tampons? Apparently it is not so out of the ordinary to have mold growing in them, and think about this, you are about to pop that thing in a dark, moist environment, the paradise of fungi. Sure, this time it was “just” bread mold, but are other fungi growing and thriving in tampons? It horrifies me!

Of course, I maybe am too hippie for tampons, but if I had daughters I would suggest them not to use them, after all there are better alternatives out there. Menstrual pads might be a less invasive option, you can see if they are moldy right away (never found a moldy one!), they are not inserted into you and they are not related to TSS. Menstrual cups and cloth pads are also available, and more and more women are using them unapologetically, even though some people might think them weird or gross. I just know I would not want to expose my daughters’ young developing systems to harmful chemicals and potential TSS.
Do you use an alternative to tampons? If so, which one and how do you like it?





Nursing Ignacio: My battle with breastfeeding III

4 02 2013

This is the third part of my breast feeding story. You can find the first and second part here and here.

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Breakthrough

I am a scientist, and as my friend Julia would put it “You can take the scientist out of the lab, but you cannot take the lab out of the scientist”, so it was a given for me that I needed to keep track of my progress one way or another to see if what I was doing was working at all. I did record painstakingly how much formula Ignacio was taking, how much breast milk I was expressing and giving him, and how many minutes he was staying at the breast. Each time he fed I recorded everything I could. I then graphed all those variables, made tables, analyzed them statistically, but the data seemed confusing and chaotic. Babies do not feed exactly the same amount at each feeding and the bars were going up and down with no much visible reason. I tried to find a pattern, so I logged each feeding, then grouped the data in days and graphed each day, and finally I did the same per week, averaging the data for seven days, so I would get an idea of how much supplement (breast milk plus formula) he was taking per day for each week. That was the grouping I needed to see a trend. Having a daily average of formula consumption per week gave me a clear look at how things were evolving. Once I saw that the trend was that we were using less and less formula, some very heavy weight disappeared from my heart, I was joyful for the time being, my efforts were working! The most encouraging thing for me was to read about how it gets to a point in which babies arrest their increase in milk consumption, so if I could work things out little by little, I might be able to exclusively breast feed (EBF) my baby at last.

I kept working in this fashion. I was a little more relaxed about going out, but not much, I was reluctant about using the NSS out of the house because Ignacio did not like it and he would fight me a bit and disrobe me, and I felt terrible each time I’d give him a bottle, because I felt I was sabotaging myself. As time progressed things seemed to be going on better, but there was always that need for supplementing with formula, which was driving me crazy. My husband would tell me “It’s OK if you don’t get 100% production, we are using just a small amount of formula, you are doing a great job!”. But I just kept thinking of all those adoptive moms, and how many did reach full production.

Accidentally I found the right position for my child to latch and nurse happily.

Accidentally I found the right position for my child to latch and nurse happily.

I remember one particular night, it was so crazy hot that the AC just would not keep the house cool, so we moved the bassinet to the living room for Ignacio to be more comfortable. We also went to the living room because our bedroom was an oven, and at about 5 AM Ignacio woke (once more!) to feed. Greg went to the kitchen to prepare a bottle and I snuggled Ignacio against me to keep him happier in the meanwhile, and to my surprise, as I was laying on my side he started to nurse from my breast! Alone! No NSS. He nursed, and nursed, and nursed, and I could have cried of joy. When he was done I offered the other breast and he took it, and he was happy and needed no more milk! I was ecstatic.

The next day I emailed Nancy and she called me to ask questions, she suggested that I use the same position during the day for some time, and then we could work on getting him to nurse in more comfortable ways. So I did. Each time I would pick him up and lay in bed on my side and bring him to my breast. He actually did nurse like that, sometimes from one breast, sometimes from two, and when he needed I would go and bring a Lact-Aid bag for him and keep nursing with expressed milk. Nursing in this position was challenging, I was laying a lot of total hours by the end of the day and my hips and shoulders were sore, but it was working. A week or week and a half later I tried to nurse him sitting up and it worked! I was so happy!

Sometime there I did hit the three months mark, but I felt I was so close, and Nancy had so much faith in me, that it felt wrong to give up just then. In between all this progress, I remember one particular terrible day, I could not express *any* milk, I thought I was doomed again and that was the end of it. Ignacio was terribly fussy and I needed to give him a lot of formula… and the next day I got my period. I learned from experience that the day before and the first day of your period, your milk supply dips, but it goes up again… and your child gets crabby! He actually was PMSing!
From then on everything went smoother, Ignacio was happier without all the tubing and me too, and I found that I needed to supplement so little that I didn’t worry before hand to prepare anything for the day, just the few days he would need something I would go ahead and prepare some formula. Until one day I noticed that I had not prepared anything for a week. And then two weeks, and that was it! Going a bit into the fifth month, I was EBF my baby!

Yay mom, we made it!!!

Yay mom, we made it!!!

You have no idea the sentiment of achievement this brought to me, and it still does. It was a lot of work and it was a lot of sorrow, it was tiring, challenging and more than once I just wanted to give up. But I didn’t, and it is till the day of today that I feel proud of myself because of that as I’ve never felt before. It would have been so easy to give up, a lot of people justified it for me saying that I had given it a honest good try and that it was OK not to nurse, but I just couldn’t be in peace with that.

Ignacio nursed for 15 months,  I am satisfied about how things turned out for us. It was not all rosy, some days I was rolling my eyes at having to sit with him for an hour while he nursed, some days I just was tired of waking up through the night to nurse him (believe me, he was a challenge for a long time at night!) and some days I just was not too happy of having to nurse him every hour and a half. But those days I reminded myself of how much I actually had fought for it, and I was happy because when everything seemed lost I could prevail over self doubt and hardship and I could give my son the best I had, my own milk.

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Conclusion:

Breastfeeding can be very hard. There is a lot I did wrong:

I did not educate myself enough about breastfeeding before having a baby. I trusted “I would know what to do”.
I did not wait a little longer before introducing formula.
I stopped pumping following advice that was not valid. If I would have been more educated I would have taken the option of not listening.
I did not use a NSS, instead I used a bottle, which was a very bad idea.
I waited too long to get help. I should have called a LC before Ignacio stopped nursing all together.

This is what helped me succeed:

Excellent support system. Without my husband, my mom, mother in law and sister, who took over tasks for me to pump, I could not have done it.
I read a great book full of practical advice.
I had an excellent lactation consultant that cared and worried about me and my baby.
I pumped 8-10 times a day.
I went to the Pittsburgh Breastfeeding Center
I used a NSS, which kept the baby at my breast for longer.
I did not give up.

Supplementation graphic starting at two months of life, when I introduced the NSS. I lied to myself, I kept pushing for EBF after the third month.

Supplementation graphic starting at two months of life, when I introduced the NSS. I lied to myself, I couldn’t give up at month three.

I am expecting my second child now, and of course I am a little anxious about breastfeeding, given that it was so hard with Ignacio. However, this time I have experience and resources, and I know where to go for help as soon as I see things are not improving.

I hope this very long story helps someone out there, I hope you do not feel judged if you decided to go for formula, if you found it too challenging, did not have the support you needed, or if you just did not want to deal with it. But if you do want to nurse and are facing trouble, I hope this will help a little bit. And if you feel like, you can drop me a line, I will be more than happy to explain further and to go deeper on anything you want.





Nursing Ignacio: My battle with breastfeeding II

1 02 2013

This is the second part of my breast feeding story. You can find the first part here. Third part here.

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The darkest days

I could see that my efforts were not good enough, I was trying what was advised, but it was not working. I realized this, but an insane voice in me kept saying “You just keep trying, you can’t give up, it will work”. When Ignacio was four weeks old he stopped nursing all together. He would open his mouth and cry batting at my chest. I cried too. My husband hugged me and told me it was going to be all right, he was healthy after all. But I just couldn’t give up hope thinking that it was not going to work, at the same time that I could see it was just not working anymore.

I decided to call the breast feeding helpline, where a nice woman told me it was going to be hard, and to keep trying. It didn’t really help. I called again the next day, talked to another woman, not nice at all, who told me that if it was up to her, she would just ban all bottles and burn them, and that my baby was just too old to do anything about it, he was never going to nurse again. I hung up and cried. I am not the crying type, so me crying two days in a row for the same problem was a bad sign. By then my mom was not with us anymore and my mother in law was taking her place, helping as much as she could and trying to comfort me too. I remember her telling me “I would have already given up”, not in a “you should give up, it is useless” way but more in a “you go girl!” way.

At one month, his formula intake was more than breastmilk. So disheartening!

At one month, his formula intake was more than breast milk. So disheartening!

I remember complaining about my problems in DeviantArt, where I have an art account, and one of the artists, Ania, now one of my dearest friends, suggested me to call her mother in law, Nancy Mohrbacher, who is a great Lactation Consultant (LC). Little I knew back then that this woman is THE LC, and she not only has a lot of experience, but she is the woman to whom LC go to for advice and learning. Ania also suggested me to buy Nancy’s book: Breastfeeding made Simple. I do not think I can recommend that book enough, but I’ll talk about it another time. I called her, we started email communication and she suggested to pump in a different way: instead of doing it every so many hours, do it whenever you can, even if it means every 30-45 minutes, at least eight to ten times a day, because that is how babies nurse. Eight to ten times a day!!! Holy tasks, Batman! But I set to do it, and this is where my mother in law’s help was invaluable, she took care of Ignacio, feeding him, diapering him, while I would sit at the pump. I started reading Breastfeeding Made Simple while pumping, to maximize the amount of things I was doing.

I remember going to Ignacio’s regular pediatrician check ups and the doctor asking me if he was BF or formula fed. I explained her about how I was struggling and I was trying to get breastfeeding to work, how much I was working to get things straight and how I was determined to get it done. As we were leaving she suggested “It is OK to pump, just don’t do it too much, don’t exhaust yourself”. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I walked out of her office seriously considering changing practices. I know she probably was thinking of my well being, and in theory she is very pro-breast feeding, but I about had it by then with her mal-advice and wanted someone who not necessarily would cheer for me, but that would not nicely giving her opinion against of what I was working so hard to achieve. I now have a terrific pediatrician whom I just ignore when he suggests something I am not willing to do.

I gave myself three months to fix all this mess. I felt horrible giving myself a time limit, I felt I was putting a time frame to give up on my baby, but from a child development standpoint three months was the most I wanted to keep my baby inside, not enjoying the outdoors as much as I really wanted him to. My whole life revolved around pumping to increase my milk supply, so going out was not much of an option.

I tried everything they suggested me to try, except domperidone because it is illegal in US. I tried fenugreek, which I think might have helped a bit, except Ignacio’s bum became covered in bleeding sores almost immediately each time I started taking it. I ate oatmeal several times a day, I drank malt every day twice a day and I drank 3L+ of water. Nothing worked for me. Being honest, if someone would have told me that I needed to dance naked under the full moon at midnight, I would have done it gladly.

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A new hope

As I started pumping, Nancy, who is extremely passionate about breast feeding and she really gets into helping moms, did a great job at giving me hope. She told me of babies that are given in adoption at 12 weeks that do nurse from their new mothers; she told me of babies being hardwired to nurse, and she told me that Ignacio was not too old to nurse again, it was going to be a lot of work, but I was willing to do it. Hope, my readers, changed everything for me. It was crucial in my wanting to put more effort into all this. She also found out we had a Breast feeding center in Pittsburgh, I needed to go see them and get hands on help. In the meanwhile tragedy hit the family, my sister in law’s fiance died unexpectedly, and my in laws had to return earlier than thought to Louisiana. My husband was not willing to leave me, but he needed to go too. Thankfully, my sister was arriving at the same time and he felt at ease so he left the day after she arrived. It was week five after delivery and I still couldn’t drive or do much because I was recovering from the C-section.

Somewhere in Breast Feeding Made Simple I read that never pregnant moms that adopt children can nurse and that gave me more hope, if they could do it, I could do it too, after all, I had all the hormones that they did not because I actually had been pregnant. Also I read about the laid back position and I decided to give it a try. Guess what… it worked! Babies are hardwired to nurse, and five weeks was not too old for bringing my baby back to the breast! Just as Nancy had said! Granted, he didn’t really nurse much, but he did nurse a bit, he took the nipple, did not fuss, did not cry of batted at me, and he just used the nipple as comfort, which I was totally fine with!

Lact-Aid nursing supplementing system, this one thing turned the tables.

Lact-Aid nursing supplementing system, this one thing turned the tables.

When my husband came back, at about week six, we went to the Breast Feeding Center, a great resource in Pittsburgh. In retrospect, I wish the LCs that I talked to before Nancy (all four of them) would have told me about it, since it would have saved us much pain, but maybe there was a conflict of interests there, who knows… The thing is that the Breastfeeding Center people did offer a lot of help. They gave me a Lact-Aid nursing supplementing system (NSS) and taught me how to use it, they showed me how to make breast feeding work better. By then Ignacio’s mouth was much bigger and his latch better, so things went smoother than before. I still had some pain, but nothing compared to how it was at birth. The wonderful thing about the NSS is that if you can keep the baby at your breast for 15 minutes, you can drop one pumping! So instead of pumping 10 times a day, I would avoid some sessions, which gave me and my husband much needed rest; we were literally obsessed, our lives turning around how many times I had pumped and when I was going to pump next. Ignacio was not crazy about the NSS, and he moved and unlatched a lot, but overall, it was working, he was actually taking milk from me and the tube, and for the most part he was not being bottle fed through the day. I did follow the advice of the LC at the Breast Feeding Center and I did bottle feed at night, to avoid all the frustration and fuss. I don’t think Nancy though it was a good idea, given that your prolactin spikes at night, but being a very professional lady, she did not say anything and respected the LC’s opinion. I did not think of all this at the beginning, I was happy to have full breasts in the morning to get a lot of milk to supplement during the day.

I had some sad and discouraging days, especially each time Ignacio would hit a growth spurt, I would see my effort being dwarfed by  his new intake requirements. Each time I would seem discouraged, Ania would contact Nancy, who would contact me to give me a pep talk, ask for precise information and give me advice. Those two women were key in those days of my life, their dedication and support were fantastic.





Nursing Ignacio: My battle with breastfeeding I

30 01 2013

I have been thinking a lot whether I should write this post, mainly because breastfeeding can be a sensitive issue and some people take it as a crusade to take sides on nursing vs. formula feeding, and some people will take it wrong no matter what I say. For months I evaded the topic, but the truth is that what I have to say might actually be helpful to some mom out there that is in a situation similar to mine, and if one woman out there finds help in my story, then I will be happy.

Let me first say though, that while I am a strong supporter of breast feeding, I do not think a mom is not a good mom for choosing formula over breast milk, we all have our own reasons to do certain things (past sexual abuse, going back to work, cultural stigma, etc.) and I am not familiar with every woman out there. And this is my story, this is what happened to me, it is not judging, it is not bashing, it is just my own private struggle.

I also decided to break this post in more than one post because it was looooong! The second part can be found here, the third part here.

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Before baby:

Breastfeeding is easy, right? I mean, we are mammals, we evolved to breast feed, it has to be simple, otherwise we’d all be dead. That is why I did not worry much. I took care of informing myself about the benefits of nursing, how it would be much better for me and my baby, but when it came down to the mechanics of it… meh, it has to come as natural as eating. My OB discouraged me from taking the BF class at the hospital saying that it was rather dumb (He was right, by the way, according to what I heard from other moms) and explaining me that they had excellent consultants on site to help me through. My mom told me it was a very easy and simple thing to do and that I needed to learn nothing, it was going to come naturally to me.

I did order a book through Amazon, though, but for some odd reason the shipping got delayed over and over, and since I was really busy with all the other stuff that pregnancy brings, worrying about my baby because of a risk pregnancy, and trying to finish all the work I needed to finish before having my C-section, I rather put it off of my head deciding that “I was going to take care of buying a book later”. Later never came and I found myself not really having prepared at all before my baby’s birth.

Trying to make the football hold work. Still at the hospital. Nighty courtesy of Photoshop.

Trying to make the football hold work. Still at the hospital.
Nighty courtesy of Photoshop.

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The beginning of the end.

If you follow this blog you know that Ignacio was born via C-section at week 37. While there are a lot of books and blogs saying that the fact that a baby is “small” or slightly premature does not affect breast feeding, I think that Ignacio was not ready to nurse because he was not fully ready to be born. Don’t get me wrong, his lungs, brain and circulatory system were just fine, but the fact is that his tiny little mouth could have done a lot better if he could have stayed in a little longer, plus we know that the baby triggers labor and the mom’s body gets ready to receive the baby.  His latch was not good, I called the hospital lactation consultant and we worked on the latch, but despite working on it and finally being told that it looked good, I now think his latch was still not good given the excruciating pain I felt while trying to nurse him.

Furthermore, Ignacio lost a lot of weight, within less than three days he lost 10%, now I know that C-section babies are born waterlogged, but I didn’t at the moment, and when this wonderful nurse that had done a great job so far told me that she was really worried that Ignacio was just not getting enough food, of course I worried. Now, please, do not get me wrong, this girl was just fantastic. She put in a call for the breastfeeding specialist to come back as soon as she could and in the meanwhile tried to work on Ignacio’s latch, she brought a hand pump and helped me express milk to give to Ignacio, and gave me a bottle to give him my own breast milk. She suggested to use a nursing supplementing system, but did not really demonstrate how to use it, and I was just too tired to understand much about anything. We took the easy and familiar way: bottles.

By five o’clock in the morning my then pediatrician blasted into the room telling me “Constanza, wake up! Your baby is starving!! you have to feed him!” which sent my husband and I into this adrenaline rush, she got me to sit up and try to nurse my newborn in the football hold (a preferred position for C-sections moms in the hospital) which me and my baby did not like, I tried to nurse him semi-reclining but she kept saying “Sweetheart, you need to sit up! sit up straight!”, it was just not working. I was exhausted after two nights of no sleep at all and I just wanted to go home and make all the breastfeeding work, I never imagined it was going to be so difficult!

Later the lactation consultant came and asked me what I have been doing to feed Ignacio. I told her I was expressing milk, I was first putting him to the breast, but as he kept falling asleep and doing the fluttering nursing, I would give him expressed milk in a bottle, and then, if needed, formula. She nodded approvingly and asked to keep doing that. She placed a call to my OB so he could fill a prescription for an electric pump. Since the pump was not ready for when I was released, our insurance sent us the pump home. I have to say everybody was doing their best to help me and my baby succeed, I felt taken care of at every moment, I have no complaints about that at all! So, after I arrived home I set up to feed our baby as much as possible from the breast, I would pump while my mom was bottle feeding him, I would store the milk in the fridge, I would nurse him as much as he would take, but he was just simply not much into it, he’d either fall asleep or start fussing at the breast, so I would end up giving him a bottle again. We were supplementing with breast milk and formula.

Ignacio was about a week here, so tiny! In this photo he is being fed expressed breast milk.

Ignacio was about a week here, so tiny! In this photo he is being fed expressed breast milk.

Because he lost so much weight at the hospital, the pediatrician wanted to see him the next day. Since I was just off of the C-section and I live in a 3rd storey up the stairs with no elevator, we decided that my husband was going to bring the baby to the pediatrician while I stayed put, so I did not have to move too much up and down the stairs. Ignacio showed great progress, he actually not only recouped the weight he lost but also he gained some more! My husband explained the pediatrician that I was pumping a lot and trying to get my milk production going. She answered that if I was serious about nursing long term I would do good in not pumping so much, maybe once or twice a day. I should try to just put the baby to the breast, else I might end up dealing with blackened nipples and not having enough milk in the long run. Of course this freaked me out! I wanted to nurse my dear baby so bad! So I dropped the pumping to about three or four times a day, which now I know it was a terrible mistake, but back then I was very naive about all this.

It soon became evident that my milk production was not enough, Ignacio hit a growth spurt and I saw all my improvement being nothing compared to what he now needed, so we started buying more and more formula and he started to consume more formula than breast milk. I was completely heart broken, I found that I was thinking of myself as a failing mom, while my mother was telling me it was not such a big deal and my husband kept telling me our baby was going to be OK and healthy no matter what. Intellectually I knew that, after all I was always supplemented with formula and I was passed to cow milk very early in infancy, and my husband was completely soy formula fed, we are both healthy and fit adults with PhD’s in science, so we are proof that people who are formula fed can be healthy; but I wanted to breast feed my baby so bad! I knew it was the best option for our family.





If you believed in a drug free life, you would smoke marihuana.

24 07 2012

Wait. What!?

OK, so this was not exactly what she told me, but it was the jest of it. A friend and I were having a conversation via Facebook about marihuana with recreational uses being legal or not, about mothers that smoke dope at the end of the day to relax and how it has a more negative press than a glass of wine. She was cool with marihuana, and I am not. I am a super legal person so even if it was not a drug, only because it’s illegal I would have a problem with it. Enters the third person, who felt very attacked by me (I don’t know this person, so nothing I said was personal and nothing I said was disrespectful to anybody) because she does smoke pot. She thought she would be very clever by challenging me to disclose what is in my drug cabinet and my cleaning closet because you know… of course legal drugs are much worse by default than marihuana, to what my father laughed and said “Of all people she calls *you* off!” because, as I told her, she would only find ibuprofen for me and then I make my own cleaning products out of baking soda, tea tree oil, vinegar and Castile soap. So yes, she really didn’t have a point. To what she answered:

Because, of course, that makes a lot of sense.

Now, I think that besides her obvious interest in legalization of marihuana for recreational uses, I think this is an issue rooted in a deeper problem. We tend to see everything natural as good just because Mother Nature gave it to us. Let me remind you that the worse and more toxic poisons known to humans are actually of natural origin (Hemlock, anybody?). Some mushrooms contain alkaloids that will dissolve your liver within 48 hours, snakes can kill you within minutes, spiders can necrotize large areas of tissue and even cause death, and many plants will give you nasty side effects and even cause death if ingested (except grasses, grasses are the only family of plants known not to have toxic members). Furthermore, most drugs are of natural origin, such as marihuana, cocaine, etc.

Cannabis leaf.

I would also like to point out that just because something is of natural origin we should not think of it as ‘not drug’ because by definition a drug is a substance that, when ingested or otherwise incorporated into the body, has a physiological effect on the organism. But because plants carry different substances according to where they have been grown, under what conditions and in what kind of soils, it is oftentimes impossible to know exactly what is going into your body.

Now, I am not saying that we should not look into herbal teas, I actually support the use of herbal teas in replacement of certain pharmacological drugs for minor ailments. However, it is also wise to acknowledge that just because something is natural does not mean it is good and just because it is generated in a lab it is bad by default. The key is balance and informing oneself with reputable sources.

 

 

***Corrigendum: The person with which I had this argument informed me that she is not a marihuana user. I deeply apologize for the misunderstanding, I frankly understood from the conversation that she was. It was not my intention to defame her***





My *very* not green vacation

23 04 2012

My husband’s family lives in Louisiana, they are a wonderful bunch that has welcomed me as one more of their own and we miss them a lot. Since it had been about a year and a half since the last time we had been down there we decided to go to visit them for Easter, and get Ignacio to meet his Cajun family!

The first question was: cloth diapers, yes or no? Even though I am a big fan of my cloth diapers and I really cringe to the idea of putting tonnes of disposables in the land fills, I do not like to impose my lifestyle on others. Since we were going to be jumping from relative’s house to relative’s house, and they did not cloth diaper and probably are not too fond of having poopy diapers in their washing machine, we decided to use disposables for the ten days that our vacation would last.

So we got some Seventh Generation diapers, they might be disposable, but they are made with plant fiber and they are at least trying, you know? I had read that they leak in the larger sizes, but our baby is a size 3 and he fits in the middle of the range for that size, we had no problems at all! Since we were really looking forward to traveling light and avoiding check in fees we only put as many diapers as would fit in our already quite full diaper bag, thinking of buying more when we arrived to Louisiana. Seventh Generation were fine, but they made my baby’s urine smell acrid. It really stunk each time he peed to the point that I was constantly checking for poop!

As we arrived to the airport, Alamo made a mistake with our car reservation and they did not have a car sit. They openly lied to us about them “needing to get it from the back and installing it”, but after over an hour went by they admitted to us that they did not have one. As they saw that we were not going to be happy returning costumers, the manager, whom until then had been busy elsewhere, came rapidly to us and offered to do as much possible as he could to fix they big mess (I mean, think about it, a couple with a baby, after traveling for hours, stranded in an airport because they cannot leave in a car without a car sit). My husband and him went to Walmart to buy a car sit (a crappy one, the only one they had) and to make things ‘better’ he gave us a different car. We had asked for a small, compact, sedan… he probably pitied us, this was the South, where people looooove their huge trucks, so if you are asking for a compact family car is probably because you cannot afford a huge SUV and you are to be pitied. So we ended up with an SUV, he wanted to be nice… I really wanted to say no, but my husband advocated for us just taking the car and go to his sister’s house. After all, we had started our day over 12 hours ago, we had a hungry and tired infant with us and we still needed to install the crappy car sit. So we just took the SUV. We received lots of compliments and envious looks for it around the city, while I was dying inside thinking on the gas consumption and the carbon footprint. I kind of promised my husband that our next car was going to be an ethanol/electric hybrid to compensate a bit (and if they don’t exist we’ll build it ourselves!).

See that monster behind us? Yes.... I tell you what, when we go back home, we'll buy a hybrid.

Back to the diapers…. Surprise! We could not find Seventh Generation! So my poor husband, after a long day of flights and rental car problems, got Huggies, from Kimberly-Clark, it felt like buying from Monsanto…. And my baby had to wear Elmo on his bum! :/ Oh…and guess what? When I opened the pack, they had scent! Fake baby scent! That “fake baby” scent that is reminiscent of old times bad baby powder… which brings me to the question… why would you cover the wonderful scent of your baby!? I get it, you don’t want your baby to smell like poop, but that is why you change him as soon as he goes, don’t you want to smell it as soon as possible so your baby is clean? Plus, why would you want to put an extra load of chemicals (perfumes plus stabilizers) against your baby’s butt, that is going to be in touch with them 24 hours a day! And because the scent was so overpowering my baby ended up smelling like fake baby all the time… So I was constantly checking for poop…. (see a constant in my vacation here?)

One night Ignacio fell asleep before I could change him for bedtime. I was relieved though, he was wearing disposables, so there would be no problem, right? They are supposed to take 12 hours of pee. However, by midnight my poor baby was so wet that he was very uncomfortable and would not settle, so we had to wake him up to change him and rediaper him… so much for the beauty of disposables. Because of the scent (I assume) my fears were confirmed, and my poor baby ended up with a bright red bum in no time, but that is OK, we just covered the heck out of it with diaper rash ointment. If there is one advantage of disposables is that you need not to worry about them, you are going to put them in the trash can anyway.





Requiem for the Orangutan.

17 04 2012

I am so shocked that I really do not know how to start writing this post. I can’t even think of a title that can reflect what I feel right now, and though I try to keep all my posts clearly factual and not influenced by my feelings I know this one will be different.

Upon coming from vacation, and being away from news and reports, I found out that, in Jakarta, the palm oil industry has set fire to the forests to increase the plantation area and by doing this they have killed hundreds of orangutans either by the fire itself or just walking on them and shooting them while being trapped by the flames. The enmity of palm plantation owners and workers toward orangutans is long known, mainly because the orangutan, due to the reduction of their habitat predate on the palm trees, they need to eat, you know?

But the enormity of this is just unbelievable, with hundreds of these animals dead in one single event the population has been decimated possibly beyond repair. This has tragic proportions, researchers believe that the orangutans could become extinct in weeks to months. Several animals are in medical care, with people trying to save their lives, which due to the smoke and flames, are in danger. Blessings to the good people around the world. However, it is unlikely that the fate of the species in the wild will be different if these few animals are saved.

This is just terrible. I never thought that in this age that we live in I would see anything like this. Surely in the past we have pushed to extermination several species, and through slow habitat destruction we continue to do so, but the knowledge we have today, the understanding of population dynamics, habitat reduction and interspecific interactions should keep us from committing crimes like this. And all we can do is read the news with disbelief, because there is really not much we can do about what already has happened.

Several people, and groups have tried to warn about the palm oil industry for years, haranguing people not to buy good that contain palm oil. The main problem comes from the fact that palm oil is many times not listed as “palm oil” making it virtually impossible to know that you are buying it. Some of the names that palm oil goes by are:

Sorry, honey, we totally failed you.
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-Vegetable Oil

-Vegetable Fat
-Sodium Laureth Sulfate (in almost everything that foams)
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
-Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)

-Palm Kernel
-Palm Oil Kernel

-Palm Fruit Oil

-Palmate
-Palmitate
-Palmolein
-Glyceryl Stearate
-Stearic Acid
-Elaeis Guineensis
-Palmitic Acid
-Palm Stearine
-Palmitoyl oxostearamide
-Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3
-Steareth -2
-Steareth -20

-Sodium Kernelate
-Sodium Palm Kernelate

-Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
-Hyrated Palm Glycerides
-Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye
-Cetyl Palmitate
-Octyl Palmitate
-Cetyl Alcohol

-Palmityl Alchohol


(list retrieved from Say No To Palm Oil)

So how are you to know that “Vegetable oil” is palm oil and not, let’s say, soy oil? Or canola oil? This is how hard it is not to support the bastards that just killed the orangutan as a species.

So, while the Western World decries the most insignificant actions from other countries (OMG that French white model is posing as a black person in another country that has not had the same cultural or historical issues than US!!!) and we always talk about boycotting this or that company just because we do not like how much they charge, or we do not like their logo as in the London Olympics (I know, such a deep reason!), I feel powerless when I decide to really want to not buy this product.

This is, I think, where the power of government would be of use. Palm oil should be labeled as such, period, not as an unspecific name. Furthermore, I believe that since the Western World always is speaking about their deep concern for the species, environment and other Peoples, they should just shun Jakarta from any commercial transaction. After all, why would we keep negotiating with people that do not hold to our standards, that have completely different points of view about what is acceptable and what is not? In our private life, we reserve the right to invite people into our homes, or to shop in this or that market, why don’t we exercise that same right as a country?

This is the only way we'll ever see orangutans again. Behind bars in zoos.
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