Month: March 2013

Cinderella is Eating my Daughter and So is the Media

So recently my three year old has decided that being a princess is the way to go. She has princess pants, princess dresses, princess skirts, and best of all, a princess dance. (None of these clothes actually have princesses on them. It’s just a matter of what she feels like wearing that day that makes it princess or not.)

It is fitting that I’m sitting by and watching the transformation of my regular old daughter into mini royalty as I am currently reading a book called “Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture” by Peggy Orenstein.

I’m only shortly into the book but I’ve already read some fascinating information. Here are two studies by researchers that really caught my attention.

The First Study

Researchers took two groups of middle school age girls and showed them a series of commercials and then had them fill out a survey asking them what they wanted to be when they grow up.

One of the groups watched commercials of neutral things like phones and pens.

The second group of students watched the same commercials but this time they added two commercials that showed women in traditional gender roles. The commercials were for things like acne medicine or brownies with images of women smiling over the stove.

After the kids watched the commercials they had them fill out a questionnaire asking them about what careers they might be interested in.

The girls that watched the commercials that had the women doing things like fretting about their skin or cooking brownies showed less interest in science and math based careers.

Think about this outcome. What does t.v. and the media do to our children and specifically to our little girls and women of the future?

The Second Study

Researchers took two groups of college students and had them try on either a sweater or a bathing suit before taking a math test. These were all students that were good at math. They then looked at the scores to see if there were any differences that would not be due to chance.

This is what they found.

The young women who took the math test after trying on the bathing suit did worse than the group of women who tried on the sweater before taking the math test.

The boys did the same on the test regardless of whether they tried on a bathing suit or a sweater.

Body image. Self esteem. How we feel about ourselves.

It can affect how one performs on a math test.

If you’re a girl.

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Eradicating Polio in South Sudan

My mother was around 11 years old when she got sick with what they thought was the flu or some similar illness. During the course of the illness, she got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and fell to the floor. She would never walk again without the aid of a crutch and a brace. She was separated from her family for months while she was treated for polio during the epidemic that swept the country. Today, she has some signs of post-polio syndrome. Daily chores are made more difficult; walking is not easy. She’s an amazing woman and has taken on this disability with pride and dignity. As I think about my own child, I would be devestated to watch her go through the same experience. I would not wish such a disease on any child, in any country, especially when we have the medical knowledge to take action.

Save the Children http://www.savethechildren.org is an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of children around the globe. This is one of their actions.

—-Christina

South Sudan: The Long Trek to Eradicate Polio

http://www.savethechildren.ca/everyone/blog/#womensday

Volunteers across South Sudan are battling to eradicate polio among children under five in South Sudan, through a five-day “house to house” campaign. The campaign is organized by the South Sudan health ministry, and Save the Children is supporting it by lending vehicles and in Mvolo county. The effort is to catch the children who have not been vaccinated at a health centre or through an outreach program.

Delivering polio vaccinations

To ensure that children get the two drops each of the polio vaccine, vaccinators must walk for long distances, where they find families eagerly waiting for them. Villages are far apart and roads are very poor, so vaccinators have to trek long distances between each village on foot or by bicycle. In Mvolo, Western Equatoria state, the mobile immunization team shared their experience with me, of conducting house-to-house immunization in the county.

Immunization and access

“It is difficult for us to achieve full immunization here in Mvolo County, because there is a big population that stays deep in the rural areas. They’re not easily accessible. In Lessi Payam, five of the villages are not reachable and this is a big challenge for us,” said County Health Officer William Dalli.

“I have no bicycle to move around when I am carrying out the immunization, so I move on foot. It is very far because the families live far apart and I have to go to each family,” Asumpta Achol shares.

Those who have bicycles face challenges too: “I use my own bicycle, but when it breaks down, it becomes difficult for me to move. Even with the bicycle I get tired when I ride for the whole day,” says Manase Dogbanda.

Final push to eliminate crippling disease

Save the Children conducts vaccination against polio, measles and tetanus on a regular basis both at health facilities and in outreach programs. We also provide support to the annual nationwide immunization campaign, alongside World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. South Sudan is one of few remaining countries that still has a serious polio problem and the disease has crippled many children.

Dr. Hartung takes Higher Risk Pregnancies to Woodwinds Hospital

Dear Birthing Community of the Twin Cities Greater Metropolitan Area and Chicago and wherever Women have traveled from to give birth with Dr. Dennis Hartung at Hudson Hospital of Hudson, WI.

Several of you have asked me to let you know what Denny has to say about this. He’s emailed Emme and she’s shared that message. Today Denny and I were able to talk on the phone and he’s asked me to share these primary points:

There were no bad outcomes.

There has been no sanction of practice.

Hudson Hospital participated in a policy review on nursing care and some physician practice policies. The good birth outcomes supported by Dr. Denny, his nurses and colleagues were not included in the decision made following a recommendation Hudson Hospital instituting strict policies. Water births for instance will have many more restrictions. VBAC women will have continuous monitoring with OR staff in house.

 

Newborns will be given all tests and procedures.

The reason breech vaginal birth is suspended is because not all the physicians in Denny’s group agree to his attending VBB. The review board recommended to stop breech birthing until all the physicians agree to reinstitute VBB. The strategic public letter sent out by Hudson on the 7th of

March also mentions refusal of homebirth transports.

Denny informs them that refusing a patient at the door is illegal. But even if a homebirth family comes in, I noted, and as the letter describes, the new Hudson policy is to refuse patient informed consent and informed refusal. The letter implied physicians want to do everything they can for the mother and babies, regardless of family choice, this is implied in the letter.

Denny is concerned about patients’ rights to choose between interventions and procedures that have conflicting data and, thus, no assured result. So that if a woman declines an antibiotic for GBS or a cesarean for breech she should have that right since the data isn’t weighed in the favor of the intervention.

He’s not sure the administration understands the implications of instituting strict and restrictive policies at Hudson. 1/2 of Denny’s patients come from the Twin Cities. The other OBs, John Sousa and Alissa Lynch (sp) receive an overflow of his patients, and the Pediatricians receive a higher income simply because some of the group income is shared among them. Everyone there has benefited from the family-friendly care that has been given at Hudson Hospital. Dr. Hartung’s presence has benefited Hudson Hospital greatly.

Denny will hope to care for women having Breech, VBAC and/or Twins at Woodwinds now. (If I may, this seems to be an inconvenience for him, but a benefit for us in the Twin Cities!)

Denny also asked, with deep sincerity, please don’t make your social network initiative about him, he said this is about women’s right to informed care and how policies not based on evidence based care or the parent’s choices disrespect women and families. 

Robbi Hegelberg asked in the letter to area homebirth midwives and birth centers for questions to be directed to her at 715-531-6012. I suppose they will also see it after they project their 2013 income and then find that without Denny’s right to practice evidence based care that their patient numbers will drop dramatically. (That’s a little personal note!)

Dennis Hartung will continue to work at Hudson Hospital while increasing his presence at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury to meet the needs of his patients living in the Twin Cities area.

 

Dr. Hartung welcomes families to his care in Woodwinds, and Jeanette Schwartz, Lead Nurse at Woodwinds is happy to welcome him to come there more frequently. Laura France is the Director of Obstetrics. At Woodwinds, each Doctor makes their own practice decisions, as he understands it at this time. FYI, Denny doesn’t practice  at Regions or Joe’s.

Please don’t say things that might give Hudson any reason to sanction Denny Hartung for libel. (I know you won’t.) That’s important because it could very well come back on him, and this insight is not coming from me. I know you will be fair without name calling or blaming. Robbi and the other board members need to hear why we won’t be referring hospital birthing parents to Hudson any longer, that refusing informed consent and informed refusal is in violation of a woman’s right as a patient and as a human being, and I could go on, but I’m staying diplomatic here. Volumes of mail, calls, emails, and social network posts will make a difference. For those of you inclined, please say prayers, send victorious thoughts and/or light candles for Dennis Hartung. Denny very much appreciates this support from the community and in return he, too, is devoted to all of us, serving the birthing community with all his heart.

Kandace in Lakeville

Breastfeeding in the ICU: Medically Unavailable Mother

NICU-Mom-bfing-150x150

http://theleakyboob.com/2012/04/breastfeeding-the-icu-support-and-facebook-support-that-keeps-on-giving/

When Serena Tremblay responded to a call to share breastfeeding photos on The Leaky Boob Facebook wall, she didn’t think she was sharing anything extraordinary as she sat at the computer with both her sons, Gooney Bear-17 months  and Gorgeous-3 years, with her and her husband making dinner.  It was the first breastfeeding photo she had of Gooney Bear and she just wanted to share.  Including a bit of explanation, the Alberta, Canada mom celebrated her breastfeeding success with the community on The Leaky Boob:

“A nurse helping my 1 day old son nurse while I was in the ICU following his birth. At this point I was a quadriplegic and could only feel his soft hair and skin when he was placed by my neck to cuddle. Breastfeeding is the reason he was allowed to stay with me in the hospital for 5 months while I lived on the physical rehabilitation unit learning how to walk again (complications from when he was born). It’s amazing how much baby stuff you can fit in a hospital room. We are still breastfeeding strong at 16 months! If this is not a success story I don’t know what is :D

Within minutes there were hundreds of responses and within hours, thousands of shares.  The photo went viral, moving across the internet as an inspirational image and celebrating not just one woman’s breastfeeding success story against all odds, but celebrating every breastfeeding success story for all women.

Even if that photo captured Gooney Bear’s one and only feeding at the breast, this is a breastfeeding success story.  As it is, however, Gooney Bear is now 17 months old and still breastfeeding and these weren’t the only issues Serena and Gooney Bear had to overcome.  Together the pair battled tongue tie for 9 weeks, needing to use a nipple shield, dairy, soy, and gluten sensitivities, and all that on top of the 5 months Serena was hospitalized.

The magnitude of attention sharing this one photo received was a bit overwhelming for Serena.  To her, while this photo documents a personal success story and extraordinary time in her own life, it is also something that just is.  We don’t always realize how our stories, our struggles and triumphs, can impact someone else.  People were so inspired by Serena’s photo; moms told her they were getting ready to quit breastfeeding due to difficulties and her photo encouraged them to find a way to keep going.

“Someone else is in tears, not sure they can keep going, but they see my picture and they think they can do it, they can get through what they are struggling with.”  Said Serena when she and I talked on the phone last week.

The result of a rare birth injury, Serena was fully quadriplegic after the birth of her second son on October 19, 2010.  Her memory of everything following his birth is full of different events but lots of holes and no sequential order.  She was intubated, lucid, in the ICU, and could only feel sensation from her neck up.  The nurses and her husband would place Gooney Bear in the crook of her neck so he could snuggle and so she could feel him at least a little.

Nobody really knew what to expect for Serena’s recovery.  She regained the use of her arms on day 2 and finally saw Gorgeous again for the first time on the 24th, 5 days after the birth of his little brother.

“One of the hardest moments I’ve ever gone through, you know?  When he walked into the room, it felt like he was shy and didn’t know me anymore.  He was 22 months at that time.  After a little bit he came and sat on the bed with me and had a snuggle.  It was very hard.”  She shared.

There’s no doubt Serena Tremblay is an incredibly strong woman.  Fighting an uphill battle with her body, she never gave up.  But she says that’s not how she got through that difficult time.

So how did she get through it?  In talking with Serena one main theme emerged: support.  Her husband.  The nurses.  Her family.  The other patients on the rehabilitation floor when she moved there.  Family members of other patients.  The hospital volunteers.  The lactation consultant.  How did she get through it?  With support.  Lots and lots of support.

In the face of not knowing what was going to happen to his wife, Serena’s husband, a heavy duty mechanic, stayed with her and then with Gooney Bear.  When she was in the ICU, he slept in her bed on the maternity ward so he could be with their baby.  He advocated for breastfeeding for the pair and he and the nurses took turns helping their precious baby boy latch.  Without asking, he took pictures, a bunch of pictures and that’s how the first feed was captured on film, something for which Serena is very thankful.

Support.

The nurses on the maternity ward went above and beyond, the first nurse coming down to hand express Serena so her little boy could have his mom’s colostrum that first day.  There is much love and gratitude in Serena’s voice as she speaks of her nurses, they were heros that got her through every day.  From that time hand expressing her milk, the nurses just kept bringing the baby over on demand, whenever he was hungry, to the ICU to breastfeed until her husband or grandmother could help her or she could do it herself.

Support.

Never once did she hear anyone say “why don’t you just put him on the bottle.”  People said that, people that weren’t involved, but not the nursing staff.

Support.

It’s clear to Serena not only how she got through, but how she went on to have a positive and ongoing successful breastfeeding experience with Gooney Bear.  ”Support, support, support.  I’d like to narrow it down and say it was one person but it was everyone.  Why am I successful?  Probably only because of support and because I was determined, I just wanted to do it. Gooney Bear was able to stay with me in the hospital because I chose to breastfeed.  If we had given him bottles they would have sent him home with my husband.”

At a time when nurses, doctors, and hospitals often get a bad rap about providing insufficient breastfeeding support and sometimes down right sabotaging breastfeeding relationships, Serena’s story not only offers encouragement for moms encountering breastfeeding struggles or indeed as a testimony to the strength of the human spirit; her story also gives hope for what true breastfeeding support in the hospital can look like.  Serena’s hospital didn’t realize at the time, but they’ve gone on to provide breastfeeding support extending well beyond this one patient.

When her tube was removed and she was finally able to speak, Serena refused to say anything until she was holding Gooney Bear: she had yet to tell him she loved him.

“I wouldn’t speak to the nurses because I wanted my first words to be ‘I love you Gooney Bear.”

Through out her 5 month hospital stay, ICU for 4 days, maternity ward for 1 month, and the rehabilitation unit for 4 months; Serena was able to keep Gooney Bear with her, breastfeeding on demand and pumping for him to have expressed milk while she was at one of her regular therapy appointments.  Managing her way around the ward and even the whole hospital, Serena says how it’s amazing how much you can do in a wheelchair with a nursing pillow and a baby on your lap.  Often a breastfeeding baby.  During that time she dealt with many of the common issues breastfeeding moms face.  Once a nurse pulled a double shift and helped care for Gooney Bear during the night so she could work to get rid of a stubborn clogged duct before it turned into mastitis.  Even for the regular every day challenges of parenting life she had support, the nurses and other patients or family of patients would take turns holding Serena’s little guy so she could eat, after all, who would turn down cuddling a precious baby?

Today many of those relationships continue, their support and all that Serena and Gooney Bear gave back formed bonds of friendship that last.  Friends from the rehabilitation unit remain in their lives.  Serena and her family go back and visit the hospital staff regularly and they are all happy to see them, often crying at the progress Serena has made since she left the hospital over a year ago.  Her recovery has been remarkable and though it’s ongoing she’s accomplished so much and doesn’t take for granted what she can do.  Their family is like any other family, they like to do things every normal family likes to do, “we just have to do them a little differently” Serena shares.  Their friends understand, they were there, they have seen where they’ve come from, they supported them in the journey and in the ongoing part of that journey today.

One of the nurses that helped Serena so much is expecting her first baby soon.  Serena is looking forward to being able to support her now, encourage her in her own breastfeeding and parenting journey.  Understanding how crucial support is, Serena is already there.

“It was a horrible thing and I wish it hadn’t happen – but it did and so many good things came about from it… if my story can help one mom to get support, receive support, or give support then it was worth it.”  And so Serena shares her photo and her story.

Sometimes I am asked why people share breastfeeding photos on Facebook and other social media settings.  This is why.  It’s celebrating our personal triumphs- whatever they may be; sharing a special moment, encouraging the global community of mothers by normalizing breastfeeding, inspiring others, and giving support.  Thousands of people have been inspired and encouraged by one photo with a simple caption.  Our stories make a difference and if a picture is worth a thousand words then sharing breastfeeding photos is like breastfeeding support spreading exponentially around the world.  In the global community we’ve moved on to via the internet, sharing our photos and stories online can often be the start of support for someone.  Just ask Serena, you never know how one image can make a difference.

 

My gratitude to Serena for being so brave in sharing the original photo in the first place and then to be willing to open up and share more of her story for my readers here.  All photos in this post are the property of Serena Tremblay and used with permission.  To protect the privacy of her family, Serena opted to use nicknames for her children and as the details regarding the birth injury were not important to the point of the story, she asked that they not be included in this article.  With an open medical investigation into Serena’s case, we appreciate your respect of her privacy on these details.  ~Jessica