Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sex, Gender, & Monogamy Ramblings

In the days following Trump's victory I must have written "I'm a straight cis married white woman, I'll be fine, but we need to stand up for our vulnerable neighbors" dozens of times on social media. Well... I decided it's time to share that as it turns out, that's not entirely the case...

I had decided to not talk about it because it didn't feel important to how I interact with people; because it had been my impression that gender and sexuality are generally more fluid than we like to admit so, to me, labels feel arbitrary; and because I'm married to a man that I'm super obsessed with and people would see me as all of the above anyway so... why complicate that?

Well, get comfy cause it's complicated story time.

When Eric was getting to know me as a single person (I was married to his drummer when we met) I was sexually non monogamous with a very strong aversion to romantic relationships. We don't say nice things about women like that: she has low self esteem, assume a history of abuse; daddy issues; looking for validation, generally damaged. None of that really applied to me, I just find relationships to be really difficult and sex and love are fully separate to me. I loved not knowing who I'd meet when I went out, I didn't want to exchange numbers, or have breakfast... When my girlfriends would lament over guys not calling, I identified with the guy, and was usually annoyed with my friends for being so needy or not honoring "no strings." Needless to say fostering close female friendships was... difficult...

So, monogamy. Human beings are not naturally monogamous, 80% of early populations were not, and I definitely didn't get those genes bred out of my line. I'm a more extroverted processor and in the past I have wanted to talk about monogamy being challenging, but I've usually been met with

Experts think we likely became monogamous because children are very vulnerable and needy and getting them to adulthood is a long, difficult task and we eventually figured out that there were a lot of benefits to two parents raising the young. Some animals practice this social monogamy, but are not sexually monogamous, like 90% of birds to name one. Our culture is open to admitting that marriage is hard, but we still make monogamy a moral issue instead of an evolutionary one.... but some of us have more or less of our ancestor's non monogamous traits and that's something to be aware of:
"While researching consensual non-monogamy, I found that many (or maybe even most) people seem to want to be able to have multiple lovers themselves, and want those lovers to be monogamous with them. Basically, it seems more natural for humans to want a personal harem, so each of us get to enjoy sexual variety, but insist on sexual exclusivity for our lovers, so we don't have to deal with jealousy." Hopes&Fears
I am not, by the way, polyamorous. Fostering intimate relationships with more than one lover is my nightmare. My abilities with one are shaky, and probably successful mostly because of my partner. However, even though Eric knew who he was marrying (he'd say he maybe knew too much), deep down he thought he'd cure me of it. He didn't like to talk about it for a long time (like 9 of the 10 years we've been together), and couldn't relate at all because he is fully the opposite of me, the most socially/sexually monogamous human I've ever met. And I knew that about him too. I also knew I wanted babies, lots of them. I knew I wanted a partner to raise these little people with. I knew that for as much as I enjoyed going out and hooking up, it did take a lot of time, energy, and didn't contribute to my life goals. I was/am fully obsessed with Eric and chose monogamy to be with him, when people post on social media about how they are so into their partners it kinda makes me roll my eyes but he really is the only person that can handle me and totally is perfect for me emotionally, spiritually, and physically... but that doesn't change my natural inclinations and sometimes I want to talk about this journey, the successes, challenges... but when I talk to other women... we are just nowhere near on the same page most of the time.

So... this leads me to gender. As the public has become more aware of the struggle for trans rights an the differences between gender identification, presentation, sexual preference... etc... I've been apart of more conversations trying to help people in my network of family/friends to understand those differences. I hoped to be a good ally to people I cared about.

Well, one day, after another conversation about what being trans means, I could not stop asking myself what feeling male or female even was. I don't feel like I'm in the wrong body, that's why when I learned what cis and trans meant I was like... cool, check cis... but this other question of FEELING and identifying with a gender was haunting me. So I was like... ok I'll just google: what does it mean to feel like you are a woman... or a man. Ok, nothing helpful. I'll look up what are considered the traits of each gender. I already have known that I am far more masculine in how I interact with people and in many other areas of my existence. When I became a birth professional, and especially when I started serving on all female Boards, it really became apparent. I ended up reading articles about how women behave in board meetings, and had to abandon my natural, very masculine behaviors to try to accommodate and mirror the more feminine communication styles of my colleagues.

In my research I read about nonbinary people and genderqueer, people who are gender fluid... I read about all the labels... and was so afraid of the labels... I didn't want to talk about identity and then have people be like "well you don't look ______" or have people in the LGBTQIA be like "yeah... you are doing that wrong." Being in a really amazing monogamous relationship with a man has made discussing sexual preference feel pointless, and of course very sensitive because the truth is I don't have a strong preference towards only men or women, which I feel like would cause people (including Eric) to worry about the stability of our relationship. All directions were landmine laden, and still feel that way.

Relationships are work... and being in one with me, whether romantic or platonic, definitely is. The last couple years I have had to use every ounce of my relationship fostering abilities in my professional life, leaving little energy to work on my relationship at home. Eric and I cannot hang out too much. We love being together, and are never get sick of each other. He is for sure my best friend. But we still need to communicate our needs and accommodate and care for one another and I had no energy for it. I zoned out and shut down a lot. One day not that long ago I was pretty sure we would be filing for divorce that Monday and raising our little ones together in a platonic relationship. The sadness of that day was suffocating... but it didn't go that way...

Eric and I share everything, I'm not a secretive person anyway, but I didn't want Eric to feel scared or threatened in our relationship so I didn't share the above regarding gender and not feeling like I really felt male or female and how and why relationships are hard for me... then I finally just cracked open... and he said it all made so much sense. Heart eyes emoji everyone. I was shocked, and grateful. Since then, we have found this amazing place where we aren't trying to put each other in boxes and assign roles that don't feel right, and I am being aware of how much energy I give to my friends, clients, colleagues, and my work. Nothing outwardly has changed, I'm happy with my body, comfortable with my pronouns, still honoring the decision I made to choose monogamy and I'll never ask Eric do something he is uncomfortable with.

The moral of the story is that relationships, sexuality, gender are all super complicated, even when everything appears to not be. I suppose this would all make me a queer person, but the many articles I've read outlining who is and is not allowed to use which terms honestly makes me very hesitant to share that super openly. I have a lot of LGBTQ friends but never felt compelled to share because I didn't know exactly where I was at. I've been sitting on this for a really long time. I started blogging to share the deep dark things that make people feel alone, so that they could see that I share those feelings, and they aren't alone. So... I'm sharing this now, I hope it made a little sense.

Monday, January 9, 2017

TTC Baby 5: Holla! Hashimoto's in the House!

On Saturday I was telling friends at dinner some fave things doctors have told me about my body, like "You are overweight because you eat too much, you don't see fat people in concentration camps" and "oh no you don't have PCOS, plenty of us are just carrying some extra around your middle" *sticks out male non-PCOS belly* ... and I totally have PCOS by the way... like my PCOS has PCOS... all the PCOS.

Eventually you start to think maybe you are crazy when you are told you are fine but you for sure don't feel like you are fine. That's why I'm SO grateful for practitioners who take the time to figure out what is wrong until not only labs look good, but the person feels good. I know that's what Laura Paris at Paris Healing Arts is doing... AND I love that she makes awesome spreadsheets to help me understand my labs. Check this out!

My progesterone isn't even right there, it's actually 0.1, which absolutely could contribute to a pregnancy loss if I wasn't doing all this preconception work. I cannot recommend seeing Laura Paris before conceiving enough, or someone in the functional medicine field. I had 2 doctors tell me this year that I didn't have Hashimoto's. On what that is: "Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease, a disorder in which the immune system turns against the body's own tissues. In people with Hashimoto's, the immune system attacks the thyroid." So, Laura ordered a lot more testing, they took all my blood, and found some interesting stuff. I have more tests ahead, but I feel really good about not having a doctor just shrugging their shoulders being like "yeah you are just fat, kbye."

I'm working on a huge post compiling the evidence on gender swaying still... just wanted to share this and encourage anyone thinking of getting pregnant who doesn't keep totally healthy, to get checked out.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Baby 5 TTC: Always the Troll

I didn't say many words at Thanksgiving dinner with family but of the words I did say, I believe "study," "evidence," and "research" made up a substantial wedge of my conversation pie chart. Anything for which there is no evidence doesn't interest me much, unless we are talking about the lack of evidence for it...

However, there is that period of time when something interests me, and I don't know what the evidence is, and I engage with the experts or believers to get that evidence. I always expect people to care about what research there is to support practices... how else do you determine what is true? What is true is important, why would you want to consume untrue things?

2004: Read in the tone of optimism and curiosity: "Hey [insert faith based institutions and teachers], havin some problems reconciling these teachings with these other teachings from the same source or with reality, can you please help me?"
>>> "You have a head faith, not a heart faith." "I'm going to cling to this theory and ignore anything else you say that conflicts with it." "All that matters is [insert not the thing I'm asking about]."
*General shunning*

2008: Read in the tone of optimism and concern: "Hey fellow Republicans, I'm having a hard time reconciling social conservatism with personal liberty. If we are the party of fiscal conservatism lets just focus on that and not controlling personal choices because clearly we are alienating a bunch of people who might otherwise agree, why are we doing this? Help?"
>>> "WHAT'S NEXT SEX WITH MY DOG????" um I don't know what that has to do with... "HOW DO I EXPLAIN THIS TO MY CHILD????" I just... "LIBERAL MEDIA!" OMG I'm on your side stop yelling at me in all caps!
*General shunning*

2012: As always, optimistic: "Whoa fellow birth professionals! Did you know these studies totally conflict with these principles many of us are teaching in our classes? We should for sure work together and make sure we are providing the best evidence possible! I'm so excited to work with you!"
>>> "What's the big deal with evidence lately?" "This [insert fringe expert] says [insert claim] and I respect them so I believe that claim instead."  "I did this and this happened so those studies are not true." "That evidence conflicts with what I already believe so, it's wrong." *crickets*
*General shunning*

2016: Enthusiastically joins every baby sway group on the internets: "OMG there is SO MUCH cool information and so many options! PGS and IVF, sorting, spinning, diet, pH, positions, timing, supplements, turkey basters, charts, ions... so there has to be some studies and research I can look up on some of the basic principles of swaying like that X and Y sperm are significantly different and are impacted by changes in pH and I'd love to hear some success stories from sorting families or families conceive a baby of the opposite sex after 4+ more of one sex. I am SO ready to mix semen with lime juice (splime) and conceive this baby via turkey baster if you can just tell me if there is any evidence this could possibly work! So excited, thanks for the help everyone!"
Skip to general shunning. Just fucking ignored over and over.

[insert not that clever Snakes on a Place reference about crickets on the internets that I'm resisting the urge to write.]

I always feel like I'M the asshole. Someone on DiaperSwappers even wrote a blog post about what a troll I was, almost 10 years ago... but the trend continues. Like, I'm the big buzz kill for wanting to know what is true and real in this world. Fuck me right? What is true is so important! Are things for which there isn't great evidence that are still valuable? Totally. I incorporate a number of them into my life, but I'll readily share "Yeah, so we don't have quality evidence for this thing, here is why that may be, here is why this thing still may be valuable, here's options, alternatives, etc" or "There is not great evidence to support this thing but I really enjoy it and it adds to my quality of life and I have reasonable expectations as to what I'm going to get out of this thing." Super valid.

In one group there was a share that really excited me. Another mom looking for evidence shared this thread from a swaying coach that I thought made a lot of sense. Most of the comments were about how that coach had ripped people off. Ok so the messenger maybe sucks but what about the studies she is linking to? No interest.

So what are WE going to do regarding swaying? I've been planning to go low tech, so influencing my body's pH with a multitude of methods... but I've been sifting through these studies and I'm SO disappointed. One of the primary resources for people, and what many methods are based off of, is the research done by Tamara at InGender. Many of the studies are not studies, or don't seem to support her theory, like support some aspect of it but not enough to connect more dots. Here's a link to her studies.

I understand that the things for which we don't have evidence are often times the more comforting thing and that's why I end up looking like a troll, knowing that makes it no less frustrating when trying to find true things. If you have amazing resources, help me please.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Baby 5 TTC: Sway & Splime-ing in the Salinas Valley

I'm doing a thing that friends have said I should blog about, so hey there, let's do this.

I talked about Gender Swaying in 2010. I've been telling people I swayed girl for Ash, but doing the math... I was already pregnant when I first wrote about it. Here is a bit about what I'm talking about:
"I've also jumped on the TTC (Trying To Conceive) forums on some of my favorite mommy boards and I was soon asked "Do you have a sway?" ....? ...not unless I've had a few.  
Apparently that's not what they meant, they wanted to know if I was doing anything to try to conceive either a boy or a girl specifically... In short, there are high tech methods which include a turkey baster, home microscope, and desperation. And for those who haven't quite lost all self respect and would like to conceive without the help of kitchen utensils and chemistry sets, there are diets, supplements, positions, and scheduling. Well, I'm already cloth diapering, planning on EC'ing soon, and hope to birth a basketball team naturally... I can fit a little more crazy in my life. So I decided to research how to sway for a girl.
So X & Y sperm have different characteristics (or so I've read, I haven't seen them). Y sperm were once thought to be faster than X sperm, but actually X sperm are just heavier (carrying all those extra brain cells I'm sure!) so they swim in circles (ok, maybe not brain cells) while their boy sperm swim straight and therefore reach their final destination sooner. However, X sperm thrive in acidic conditions while Y sperm don't. There are some other factors, but it was enough for me to understand this much. So for a really great "girl sway" the mommy hopeful would follow a very specific diet to alter her body's pH to be as acidic as possible (as well as take supplements and do gross things with vinegar and tampons), refrain from anything that would give the Y sperm an edge (caffeine!), and choose to get it on at times and in ways that give the slow poke circle swimmers an edge. The diet goes on for weeks before hand. I was a little interested. It looked like some mothers opted for a "slight sway" meaning they were just doing some things to raise their girl or boy odds, like eliminating caffeine and lowering their sodium in take, but were choosing to steer clear of the vinegar tampons."
OMG I thought we were going to EC... I was so cute.

... and lime tampons seem to be en vogue in 2016.

Also... OH HAI Desperation.

I've priced the test tubes, centrifuge, microscope...

I also know how much it would costs to go to Mexico for Microsort.

I've explored IVF with PGS (Preimplantation Genetic Screening), locally, across the country, and abroad.

.... and the diet, and pH strips, and all the supplements, and... the underwear (sorry Honey).

Splime. I'm alternately impressed and like... wut?

So we are busy now, right? Y'all don't have time for a long post. When my blogging shifted from college rants (don't go look) to our first pregnancy, most of my friends didn't have babies. Now, so many babies... and it's the best... but babies tear apart houses when parents write or read long blogs so...

Here's our sway announcement. We are doing it. I'll share what method we've decided on soon.

One thing before I assess the damage to my house (yesterday Indy & Everett made a winter wonderland with cat litter while I caught up on emails). If Everett had been a girl, we would still be planning our 5th baby. People ask all the time if we are "going for a girl" and we just want another person. If this baby is a boy, that is fine, he will probably be way rad like his brothers. Should we have a girl, I'm not projecting gender specific expectations on her.. I don't expect to have a special bond, or that we will do special girly things, there's nothing I'm into that I couldn't be into with sons.

Future baby, there's no way you are not amazing. Whoever you are, you are wanted.

I'm interested in experiencing new things. This is an interesting new thing, let's see what happens.

Monday, April 27, 2015

To the Moms of All Boys Who Keep Writing About Being Moms of All Boys

There is a simple formula for a viral mom post right now.

Have more than 1 boy and no girls.

List all the things people say to you in public about having all boys (you must be tired, your hands are full, they must keep you busy).

List all the ways having boys is awesome.

Bonus if you have an interaction with an older mother of all boys.

Yay moms of all boys.

*good feels*

This isn't going to be eloquent.

I'm a mom of all (four) boys.

I'm over the "mom of all boys" posts.

I'm kinda annoyed with the idea that all boys is any different than boys and girls, or all girls. Babies are babies, children are children. They are all loud. They all wake up at all hours. They all poop on the floor and put gross stuff in their mouth, sometimes in that order. In addition to being a mom of all boys and I've been in childcare for over 10 years, so I know what little girls are like. I've cleaned their poop off curtains too (shout out to Hailey).

But wait Cori, I've been a longtime follower (thanks!) and you said when you found out you were having a boy you were filled with a little dread.

You are right. I hate blood and I do think boys probably get stitches more. I'm not sure if that data has been compiled, but that is just my personal experience. So... that is that.

Also... they probably pee on the bathroom wall more.

... but other than that, if you have little kids in the house your hands are full. If you have any number of kids, even one, and you have hands... they will be full. Boys do not require more hugs, more nose wipings, more diaper changes. In my daycare I'm pulling little girls off bookshelves as often as little boys.

All moms of littles are tired.

All moms of littles are busy.

And so are the dads... shout out to them too.

I'm not buying into the weird comradery with having all boys as if we are experiencing anything harder than other moms. Like we have anything better than moms who have boys and girls, or just girls. These are cheap good feels... fluff pieces counting on getting lots of shares by other moms who just happen to conceive boys.

I do feel a little comradery with moms of all boys who might be a little afraid they will never know what it's like to have a daughter. Or moms with all girls who would like to know what it's like to raise a son. Those are genuine feelings, I get that. That, however, is different than the sentiments in these moms of all boys articles.

They are annoying.

Now I have to get back to having busy, full, tired hands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

and how about some body shaming with your morning coffee?

This won't be a long post.

I have lots of thoughts on bodies, and of course tons on my own. I spend a lot of time on my body: keeping healthy, usually unsuccessfully as I work uphill against metabolic disorders and hormonal imbalances; flexing in the mirror, feeling my body getting stronger but never seeing the results under that layer of fat that never goes away and I've never been without; trying to imagine what thin would even feel like and wondering how amazing my race times would be with 50 fewer pounds to haul over the finish line... and always of course bitterly jealous of anyone who has ever not had to live with all of the above.

This is what running usually around 20 hours a week, lifting heavy and often, squeezing in PiYo before bed instead of watching tv with my husband, eating a ridiculously clean, whole food plant based diet of only 1600 calories when breastfeeding and 1200 when not... and chasing after my four kids and four additional daycare kids daily gets me:

If you are thinking "if she just ate more calories, did paleo, was vegan, ate more healthy fats, ate fewer fats, drank these shakes or took these pills or read this book..." save it. I already have. I have also been employed by several gyms and have helped other people lose over a 100 pounds. Actually, I'd probably still be in fitness if a trainer and colleague didn't tell me that if I was going to be successful I would probably need surgery, and he was right. This is my lot. I don't love it, sometimes I hate it, sometimes I'm ok with it for a while because this literally has been my every day for so long and might be forever... 

I'm writing this for a few reasons. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that a friend said that is wasn't until she started working as a doula and seeing other women's bodies that she started to feel better about her own. I think seeing what other women look like, whatever that is, is important. Especially what we look like after we have babies... see that awesome skin over my pants... even 30 pounds thinner that is still there. Turns out, you can't run or lift or kickbox skin off.

I also had a moment with another doula in a hospital room, I was already pregnant with my fourth and didn't know it yet, and we were talking about postpartum bodies, and people have surprisingly told me how fit I am and I really wanted to take a picture of my belly and post it... because in reality, I am always so tempted to show those people my belly and be like "this is what is smashed under my spanx."

But none of that was enough to grab a camera.

A friend that is a mother, smart, very successful and old enough to know better posted this:

"Why is everyone so excited over Cindy Crawford's baggy,post baby tummy and giggly thighs? Aren't more of you wondering why she didn't get a tummy tuck with all that money? Come on already. And honestly, its kind of embarrassing - I can think of several women I know right off the bat ( 
___________ and ___________ ) who look 10x better because they WORK OUT - and ___________ has had 5 kids! I just don't understand the point of Cindy's pics. Are we supposed to feel better because she looks bad?"

It was such a blow, really, and I'm normally not that affected by internet ignorance. Maybe it's because I'm feeling particularly discouraged today...

But seriously... isn't it hard enough already? 

It's nice to not feel alone, or weird, to know other people go through what you are going through.

That's not particularly what I felt when I saw Cindy's photo, I wasn't thinking "oh, she's just like me!" because you all have no idea what I would give for visual confirmation of my abs, I have never seen them. They are a myth as far as I'm concerned.

What resonates from me is the shaming. If this person that I know in real life thinks that of her... fuck... there is no hope for me. It's already soul crushing to go to the gym and know people assume you are at the beginning of a fitness journey when you are actually 14 years into and have figured out there is pretty much no destination... just this... forever... and you feel shitty about it. It's awesome to know that when you start to feel a little better, someone will be there to let you know "oh no... you still look bad."


I feel better now.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Baby 4 Week 40: Rejected Birth Story Beginnings

40 Weeks

I'm very aware that every contraction could be the beginning of the birth story I'll write. I don't know if other women think this way... maybe it's because I'm a writer and I'm always thinking about where the story is in normal life. Or maybe everyone is thinking this. Either way, it's something I'm aware of, and there's been a few times that I've been like... yeah... this is not how I want to start my birth story. I'll share a few examples...

There was Monday night when the nausea was so bad I spent the first half of the night making myself throw up in the bathroom until I couldn't anymore... and could finally sleep. Induction by bulimia... not charming.

My midwife said that she knows I don't want to drink castor oil, but it can also be applied vaginally because there's lots of prostaglandins... cut to "honey... you are going to put castor oil on your penis..." Eric really wanted to post about the whole thing after... but he's not me and chickened out. Of my rejected birth story beginnings I think this was my favorite.

For some reason a prenatal turned into comparing movies we love, and my midwife left A Dirty Shame at our place (and I sent her with The Brown Bunny... we are both weird I guess). So Eric and I are watching the movie and I'm having contractions and thinking "no... this cannot be how we start this..." Eric rounded out the evening with making us watch the Lonely Island Creeper video, which is inspired by maker of the film.

I hope I didn't just violate some kind of confidentiality thing...

I don't feel too pregnant. Physically, I feel pretty comfortable. I'm still working out, RIPPED and BodyPump.

Baby is very low but not uncomfortable low, like he or she is falling out... just settled in.

I am not frantically trying to induce, but we are very actively encouraging. I had a great acupuncture session with Maureen Manning on Tuesday, and yesterday I had a labor encouragement massage with Danielle Rodhouse. I also asked my midwife to do a membrane sweep... or stretch or strip... she calls is cervical stimulation because that is the most accurate description of what is happening. What's a fourth term I guess. Either way it was definitely different than the other 5-6 sweeps I've had in other pregnancies! Way more intense, which I appreciate because if we are going to do it, then let's do it well! She stretched me from a 2 to a 3, I'm 70-80% effaced, and baby is at 0 station. I've been a little crampy this morning... hopefully all our efforts amount to something... but it's ok if baby isn't ready too.

Baby is around 8.5-9 pounds, active and happy. I'm up around 10 pounds total.

40 week belly compare? Ok...

40 weeks with baby 4!
40 weeks with Indy!

Ash was already here!

40 weeks with Milo!

What this week was like with my other pregnancies:
             Milo, Week 40: Strip Tease
             Ash was here already!
             Indy, Week 40: So What If We Aren't Ready

- Cori