Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gender Bender

I'm considering buying this onesie for my daughter:

I was mistaken for a boy until I was, oh, about 9 years old, so it's no surprise that my daughter would meet the same fate.

Fact is, she does look like a boy, especially if I dress her neutrally. Yesterday she was wearing a yellow t-shirt and white pants. On three separate occasions, people assumed she was a boy with such confidence that they didn't even bother to end sentences in which they used the pronoun HE with the type of upward lilt that signals a question or at least a socially appropriate degree of uncertainty.

You might think I'd rush to correct them, but whenever this happens I'm torn about what to do. Sometimes I just stay silent and smile. Boys are challenged more, engaged more, interacted with more vigorously. If people think she's a boy, maybe my daughter will receive better treatment -- better in the sense of more stimulating, less coddling. Then again, maybe she'll get a complex.

I'll have to think about this some more before adopting a consistent strategy. In the meantime, I've got her dressed in her pink Clash London Calling tee (thanks Auntie Monica) and pink pants. I need a break from my complex, you see.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

WTF? WTF??!!

Okay, so there's this new campaign designed to make more women breastfeed. One of the ads shows a pregnant woman riding a mechanical bull and suggests that not breastfeeding after delivery is just as risky. This has caused some controversy, understandably. You can read more about it here and view the commercial here.

As a communication scholar, here's my beef:

Amy Spangler, a nurse who is involved with the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee and who influenced the campaign, actually said, “What the campaign is doing is really sharing information and there are no studies to show that sharing information and helping people make informed choices in any way contributes to them feeling guilty about that choice, whatever it might be.”

No studies? Woman, are you nuts? Have you done a proper psycinfo search to find the THOUSANDS of studies (okay, maybe not THOUSANDS -- no wait, I bet it IS thousands) in my field, communication, that focus on message framing and the cognitive and emotional effects thereof? No, you haven't. Clearly you haven't. Or you have but you don't want to admit it. No, I'm pretty sure you haven't. Dumbass.

Ads of this type use what we call a "fear appeal." Fear appeals are risky. If you frighten the audience too much (i.e., by equating some behavior with something as dangerous as, say, riding a mechanical bull while pregnant), you will turn them off. Mission NOT accomplished.

What pisses me off is the way these campaigners are so hesitant to focus on the positives of breastfeeding -- not for the baby, mind you, but for the mother. Their fear? Activating incest schemas. The reasoning is that if you tell women that breastfeeding will release feel-good hormones, make the uterus contract, and promote bonding, it'll freak people out. Heaven forbid the mother should get any gratification out of it.

But what pisses me off even more -- not as a mother but as a scientist, dammit -- is their horrific distortion of the effect sizes revealed in the research. Is not breastfeeding as significant a "risk" as riding a mechanical bull while pregnant? Hell no! There is no risk associated with formula feeding, unless contaminants get into the water drunk by the cows, which, incidentally, is the same water drunk by the mother. No, let's be straight here -- there are benefits associated with breastfeeding, not risks associated with not breastfeeding. And no, the two are not equivalent. Risks refer to potential losses; benefits refer to potential gains. They're both based on a status quo of reasonably normal health.

And the benefits of breastfeeding are not huge. They're minor -- we're talking less than a percentage point for most diseases. But from a public health perspective, even half a percent in risk likelihood is big. Financially. Which is why it matters. If you can reduce the risk of asthma, say, by half a percent, when you expand that effect size to a nation of 300 million, well, that's significant. But if breastfeeding your kid gives her 1/2% boost in asthma immunity, well, you need to make a decision as a parent about whether that 1/2% boost is worth your sanity.

This is just more woman-hating bullshit. Let's scare 'em, that always works. Meanwhile, we get to stand there in the checkout line staring at magazines that scream BODY AFTER BABY. Every breastfeeding book on the market warns against dieting while breastfeeding because it reduces the milk supply. Yet we hear in one ear that our gods -- sorry, doctors -- insist that we breastfeed while in the other ear we hear that our other gods -- sorry, the media -- insist that we crash diet to model on the Victoria's Secret runway six weeks after giving birth.

Damn, I hate this country almost as much as I love it.

p.s. This is the first evening that I've allowed myself to have 2 glasses of wine after putting the baby to bed. Clearly it was more than I could handle.

Friday, June 16, 2006

In Honor of the Upcoming Tweekend

I realize there's nothing more twee than pairing pictures of babies with adult captions or dialogue, as illustrated by this poster:

But I just can't help myself.

Fi and her friend Josie happened to be wearing the same Old Navy onesie, so we were forced to take some pictures. This is the one I keep sending to my friends:

They look like two old ladies watching something off-color on TV. Josie is the jolly type who laughs at dirty jokes and enjoys a glass of sherry at 4:00pm. Fi is the prim type who gets her hair set once a week and is mildly shocked yet secretly captivated by what passes for TV entertainment these days.

In this one, Fi is a journalist asking penetrating questions that Josie, her subject, is attempting to dodge:

Here they're riding a rollercoaster:

And here they're channeling Cheech and Chong:

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Lesson #1: You'll never learn to sit up straight in the Bumbo seat if all you do is hunch forward.

Lesson #2: Who cares? Hunching forward in the Bumbo seat is FUN.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Fi arching her back

Gateway to the Breast

Sorry about the title; I was trying to make some kind of baby-related pun about St. Louis' nickname. I promise I won't talk about breasts or breastfeeding. In this post. Okay, that's not really true--I have to mention breastfeeding in the list below. But nothing beyond that, I promise!

Anyhoo, G and I decided to take an impromptu trip to St. Louis for the weekend on the advice of multiple friends that this is the "easiest" time to travel with a child. To give you a sense of just how easy-peasy it was, here's a list of what we brought:

Clothes for 2 days plus extras in case of spit-up or poop blowouts
Baby wash in case of same
Baby bathing suit and surf shirt (yes!! as if she surfs!) in case hotel has good pool and we get the urge to swim (it didn't and we didn't have the time anyway)
Burp rags
Mess o' diapers
Boudreaux's Butt Paste
Wearable blanket that's like a fleece bag with arm holes, for sleeping
Digital camera for capturing precious moments like K at the St. Louis zoo posing next to a guy in a ram costume with "Ramby" embroidered on the chest where a car mechanic would have his name stitched, which was only fitting because "Ramby" was sponsored by Dodge Ram, and no I wish I were kidding but sadly I'm not
Medicine for treating thrush colony that gentian violet failed to massacre
Car seat
Small toys for playing with while strapped in car seat
Baby Bjorn for carrying baby kangaroo-style
Diaper bags (two, one of which is manly looking), fully stocked
Avent bottles, rings, nipples (sorry Jonna--fleenies), and lids for feeding
Bottle brush for washing bottles in hotel sink
Small bottle of dishwashing liquid for same purpose
Breast pump
Bottles, connectors, and "horns" for pumping
Lids for collection bottles
Vest thingy with holes for hands-free pumping (the most ridiculous item of clothing I've ever owned, far more ridiculous even than crotchless panties, which I've never owned--I had to write that because my dad sometimes reads this blog, but in truth I never have owned them, I mean, come on, ewwww)
Car adapter for breast pump so I can pump in the front seat and smile upward at passing truckers
Coolers with ice and ice packs to store pumped milk
Small glass bottles of formula just in case there isn't enough milk (but thanks to a weekend of overeating, there was plenty)

Then of course there was our own luggage.

Yep, it sure was easy. Nice and easy. I'm so glad we're taking advantage of these easy, easy days. Yep. Eee-ZEEE.