Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A few thoughts about contraception

I wonder what you think about contraception? Now, there's a dinner party conversation topic for you!

Actually, what I am really wondering about is - have you ever even thought about it at all?

Because I never did. Not once. When I got married I went on the pill because that was what everyone did. Not one person ever mentioned other options. No-one encouraged us to see how different methods worked. No-one even mentioned it. It was assumed you would use contraception (because who wants a baby as soon as they are married?! - again assumed) & it was assumed that everyone used the pill because that seemed to be the most effective, but beyond that - no guidance, no info, nothing.

And now I find myself thinking about it a little more. What sparked this initially was reading God, Marriage and Family by Andreas Kostenburger a few years ago. He has a fantastic chapter on contraception, how each method works and how to think biblically about it. Because what almost no-one talks about is how each method works, which ones stop fertilization from occurring and which ones stop a fertilized egg from implanting and surviving.

And over time, I am coming to realise that the difference between the two is quite large. I didn't think about it at all in my early twenties, but now I wish I had a little more.

What some contraceptives do is clear cut: so IUDs & the morning-after pill prevent implantation, whereas condoms prevent fertilization. However, the big grey area is the pill, beacuse it claims to do both. And of course, we cannot know which method has worked for us. Perhaps it stopped fertilization, or perhaps it stopped implantation.

He also addresses the issue of permanent contraceptive methods, once the family is complete (so much as we can decide these things!)

So I guess what I am thinking now is this:

1. Be informed. Find out about various methods and what they do. A doctor can help with you with this, although you have to ask. Many will just write a script for anything, no questions asked. This also includes being informed about the potential side-effects of any method.

2. Let your theology guide your practice. If you really have a problem with using any method which stops an already fertilsed egg surviving, you need to make choices that match that. And yes, they may be less easy, more messy and less spontaneous choices - but you have chosen that it is worth it. I want to be careful at this point however. I don't think I am ready to speak out wholesale against the pill - but I still think it warrants thought.

3. Be prepared & willing to have children. If you are having sex, you must be willing to have a child as a result. If you are married, whether or not you 'want children', you need to be willing to have children - because you have chosen to have sex. As any group of women with children will attest - no contraceptive method is completely reliable.

4. Acknowledge that no matter how much you want to be, you are not completely in control. This is proven to us is so many ways as women: contraceptive failures, the desire to conceive going unfulfilled, the way a pregancy takes over our bodies, and the changes that occur during and after birth. God is in control, and whether we agree with him or not - he has designed our bodies to work the way they do. Our times are in his hands.


***

To follow another rather strident discussion relating to the pill, you can see ProWomanProLife here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Children's Authors - Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton. A fun place to start this series on our favourite children's authors. Sandra Boynton books have been around since I was a child, growing up in the USA in the 70s and 80s. (I'm not sure if they were in Australia though until more recently).

She is an author and illustrator, and most books feature animals - in fact, I can't recall any with people. Hippos feature often. Our favourite is Hippos Go Beserk.

It's a counting book, starting
One hippo all alone
calls two hippos on the phone.

Three hippos at the door
Bring along another four...
Nine hippos come to work
ALL THE HIPPOS GO BESERK!
Cleverly, she then counts backwards as all the hippos leave again...
..three hippos say "good day"
the last two hippos go their way
one hippo alone once more
misses the other forty-four.
It's a great read, and appeals from ages 1 and up (all ages really). We have it as a board book, and it is falling apart after being loved and well-read by all three.


Another one featuring hippos again is: But Not the
Hippopotamus

With fun rhymes and great illustrations, it looks at being left out:
A moose and a goose together have juice
but not the hippopotamus
A bear and a hare have been to the fair
but not the hippopotamus
In the end, they all invite her to join in...

..saying "Hey, come join the lot of us!"
And she just doesn't know - should she stay, should she go?
But YES the hippopotamus
But not the armadillo.
This one (left over from my childhood) lives at Nanna and Grandad's house and is enjoyed every time we visit. Again suitable for all ages, and grownups have fun too.


Another simpler one, mainly for toddlers is Moo Baa La La La! It's a fun way to learn some animal noises:
A cow says MOO
A sheep says BAA
Three singing pigs say LA LA LA!
"No, no!" you say, "that isn't right.
The pigs say OINK all day and night...
QUACK! says the duck
A horse says NEIGH
(It's quiet now, What do you say?)

Other ones we have enjoyed include:
The Going to Bed Book
and Opposites.

You can find more about Sandra Boynton at her website, which gives you an idea of her sense of humour as well! I was tempted to order the sterling silver hippo earrings as a memento for my sister and I of our childhood, but I wonder where I would wear them?? (and they weren't that cheap either!)


* apologies if I have misquoted any of these books, I was going off memory for some!

Friday, July 24, 2009

At home and not happy

This is the title of an article in this month's Adelaide's Child magazine (and therefore I presume also in Sydney's Child, Melbourne's child, etc).

One disappointing thing about these magazines is that they do not provide copies on the internet (it's a free magazine, so one wonders why not? and they don't even have an email address to send this suggestion to!). So sadly I cannot give you a link to the article, but hope instead that if you are a parent, you are able to get your hands on a copy.

This article At Home and Not Happy, written by Mary Kirby, really stood out to me, mainly because of the honesty in her writing:
I am sick of motherhood. Completely sick of it. More accurately, I am completely sick of stay-at-home motherhood.

I have two children, a three-year old boy and a 15-month old girl, and I laugh bitterly at that oft-proffered advice to 'enjoy the pre-school years because they're gone before you know it'. In my past life, nobody ever felt the need to advise me to enjoy something. If an activity was enjoyable, I simply enjoyed it, without making a conscious decision to do so. The fact that when it comes to raising children, people feel the need to remind you to 'enjoy yourself', validates my experience that parenting toddlers full-time is filled with many more moments of frustration, boredom, self-doubt and resentfulness than periods of unbridled pleasure.
She goes on to make a number of comments about the division of labour in the home when mothers stay home and also about how if her husband does anything at all for the children, he is immediately labelled a 'great father' where she does the same things and more all the time. She ends with:
I don't want to write an article that complains about the burdens of being a stay-at-home parent, but ends with a declaration of how much I love my children, or how stressful it was at the time, but now we all look back on it and laugh, in order to reassure people that despite the difficulties, parenting is a noble and worthwhile pursuit. Perhaps one day I will look back of the toddler years with fond memories of my children's innocence, and chastise myself for not enjoying these fleeting years more. However, here in the midst of toddler-land, I'm finding lots of aspects of being a stay-at-home parent very tough, and I want to be honest about this so that anyone else with similar thoughts knows that they're not alone.

In many ways, I am thankful for her honesty in this article, she echoed thoughts I have had and I know friends have had. We have chosen to be mums-at-home, but we struggle with it - because it is hard, hard work, unrecognised by many and unappreciated by the little ones we care for.

However, it also concerns me. I hope her children never read the article when they are older, and it is not complementary about her husband, mother or mother-in-law either. The way she finishes also raises questions - surely she does love her children, and that makes much of what she does worthwhile. And the points she makes at the end, are often the point - it will pass and you do love them.

So, it made me think - for those of us who are mums of young kids, or those who have passed this stage, but remember it clearly - what helps you to keep on going??

Here are some thoughts (or some things that have worked for me at times):

1. Remember the grace of God. God loves us, he cares for us and he strengthens us. He loves our children and he has given them to us as a precious gift for a short period of time.

2. Remember how you would feel if you did not have your children (or for those for whom conception was difficult, remember that grief) and thank God for them. Many women grieve the loss of children, through miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility or the lack of opportunity - and would happily trade your daily drudgery for their pain.

3. Be open with others. I have found opening up with close friends (especially those whom will pray) about the challenges I face as a mother has helped me many times.

4. While it seems like forever in the middle of it, remember that this, like everything is another season of life, and it will pass.

5. Remind yourself that your goal is to see them mature and grown, both in Christ and as responsible adults - and that takes time, a lot of time! We are not there yet, we cannot expect more of little ones.

6. No amount of dissatisfaction or discontentment with being a mother is an excuse for sin. We are still to be self-controlled, gentle, loving, kind and patient. (And if you are like me, to pray daily for it!)

7. Some practical things I have found helpful:
- when the children are really bothering you, get out a camera and try to take photos. Babies are usually photogenic and even a screaming photo is worth having to show them later! Older kids often like to pose and smile for the camera. It can break the bad mood feeling as you have fun smiling for the camera together.
- more seriously, and related to #2 above, when you are up in the middle of the night (again) and are exhausted and want to sleep - pray for friends who are trying to conceive, knowing that they long to be up in the middle of the night holding their child.
- if you are listening to crying (again) and trying to get a baby to sleep (again) - be thankful that you know where they are and that they are safe. It's very likely that in their teen years you will long for them to be home and safe in bed at night.


Do you have any other suggestions?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Grief and change

If you have not already found it yourself, I highly recommend Molly Piper's blog.

She has great things to say on a number of different topics, however, the most helpful one is her writing about the stillbirth of her second child, Felicity. She has done a very helpful series titled 'How to help your grieving friend'.

I link to her today because of the post she just put up about how the events of the last 2 years have completely changed them:

One of the things I’ve been grieving this last year is simply that I used to be a happy person. It used to be that my days were primarily happy, with the occasional interruption of melancholy or difficulty. For the last 22 months, the opposite has been mainly true.

One of my good friends uses the phrase “secondary losses.” I think that’s what this year has been—a whole bunch of secondary losses. The loss of innocence. The loss of happiness. The loss of youth.The loss of simplicity. And when you experience those secondary losses, you grieve...

So if you’re a mom like me, living without one (or more) of your children, take heart that this is indeed one of the hardest things you will ever live through. But that also means that you lived.

She has some really good things to say both to those of us who are grieving, and those of us walking beside them.

The birds and the bees

I appreciated this post from a woman, trying to explain some of the finer points of sex and pregnancy to her son.
Today I was driving the six kids and my oldest daughter was reading a parenting magazine article discussing pregnancy after 40. She asked me: “Mom, would you have a baby at 40?” “Not on purpose,” I answered. A snicker came from the back seat where my smart-alec of a son was sitting. “You mean you can have a baby by accident?” he asked cynically. That guy knows about the birds and the bees, you see. Without thinking I said “Yes, of course.” “How can you have a baby by accident?”...
All of the details that needed to be explained here still lie before us...thank goodness!



Photo from stock.xchng

Fiction reading

While recently on holidays I had a chance to catch up on some fiction reading that I had been looking forward to for some time. Gladly I was not disappointed.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

What a great book. A very powerful and moving story of two women in Afghanistan, prior to and during the reign of the Taliban.

I reviewed Hosseini's other book, The Kite Runner, a few months ago, having really enjoyed it. However I think I preferred this one. I felt (without any way of knowing how to judge it!) that this one was written better. Perhaps one is more comfortable with writing the second rather than first novel? (any novelists out there want to weigh in on this one?!)

It is not a nice story, just as the story of women under abusive husbands and the Taliban is not a nice reality. However, there was something compelling about it. I enjoyed the whole book and highly recommend it.


World Without End, Ken Follett

A massive book, which makes me a very happy woman! Some may find books at 1200+ pages too long, but I love them. I think most books just aren't long enough. I had almost finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by the end of a day's travelling, so it was never going to be long enough to keep me going for a whole week of lazing by the pool. Thankfully World Without End was next on my list and it did the job admirably.

It is labelled and marketed as a sequel to Pillars of the Earth (reviewed briefly here), also a great read. While having read Pillars will help with a few references in this book, it is not necessary to have read it first. This book is dated 200 years after Pillars.

It charts the lives of 4 children in the 1300s in the cathedral city of Kingsbridge throughout war, plague and life in in medieval England. If you enjoy a glimpse into times gone by, how people really lived, what it was like for lords and peasants, what the plague did to society and how the church reacted to these events - this is a great read.

A quote on the front cover "You won't be able to put it down" - was entirely true for me, as G will testify!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back online

I have enjoyed my little break from blogging, and am now officially back on-line.

The school holidays have been really good. More enjoyable than normal, which is largely due to my change of attitude. A lot of this can be attributed to a parenting book I read (review to come soon), and quite possibly to the decision to get off-line for the holidays. We all went to the park, fed ducks, went to the library & museum, did craft, cooked and just had fun spending time together. It was a good time and now we are all looking forward to Term 3 with some renewed energy.

I have still been reading lots, so there are lots more reviews to come in the next few weeks. At the moment, my plans for this term are:

- to keep working through Going the Distance chapter by chapter, on Mondays
- to start a children's (mainly pre-schoolers) authors series, on Saturdays
- to continue with other book reviews, sometime midweek
- any other things, when they come up!

Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Weeks gone by and weeks to come...

Don't know if anyone has noticed, but the blogging has slowed of late. The main reason - Husband & I just had a wonderful week away on our own for our 10th anniversary, while my lovely parents minded the kids(earning themselves many brownie points for years to come!). I have come back from holidays to realise that I enjoyed the break from technology as well, so for the next weeks I will be on 'blog holidays'.

This coincides well with school holidays also starting next week as I would like to give the children more time over those 2 weeks.

So things will be sort of silent here until Term 3 starts again. In the meantime, I will also be thinking about what to do here over the next 6 months. Here are some things I am already planning:

- to read My Seventh Monsoon, along with the Equip book club;
- to continue to work my way through my proposed 2009 reading list;
- to continue the series working through Going the Distance;
- to start a series of our favourite children's authors (for pre-schoolers mainly);
- to review some of the great fiction I read over the holiday;
- to share a few more thoughts as I read through the bible; and
- to interact a bit more with other blogs and news.

If you have any other ideas I would love to hear them.