Sunday, February 27, 2011

What Christians Should Know Before They Circumcise

Family Matters
Many people claim "religion" as a basis for circumcision, but there are a few errors with this. For one, many Jews have abandoned the practice as archaic (just like women being secluded as 'unclean' on their periods). Another is that though it is a Muslim tradition, it is not only not in the Qur'an, but it violates the exact phrase "We have indeed created man in the 'best of moulds'." (Qur'an 95:4) and "The One Who has 'perfected everything' He has created and began the creation of human beings from clay" (Qur'an 32:7)

Still, those two groups aside, it is Christians where the puzzlement ultimately lies, as it circumcision is expressly spoken against in the New Testament and the Bible couldn't be more clear:

"Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you be circumcised, Christ will be of no advantage to you." – Gal 5:2

"And even those who advocate circumcision don’t really keep the whole law. They only want you to be circumcised so they can brag about it and claim you as their disciples." – Gal 6:13

"For there are many who rebel against right teaching; they engage in useless talk and deceive people. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. They must be silenced. By their wrong teaching, they have already turned whole families away from the truth. Such teachers only want your money" – Titus 1:10-11

"Watch out for those wicked men – dangerous dogs, I call them – who say you must be circumcised. Beware of the evil doers. Beware of the mutilation. For it isn’t the cutting of our bodies that makes us children of God; it is worshiping him with our spirits." – Phil 3:2-3

"And I testify again to every male who receives circumcision, that he is in debt to keep the whole Law. You who do so have been severed from have fallen from grace." - Gal 5:3

"As God has called each man, in this manner let him walk. And thus I command in all the churches. Was any man called in the circumcision [Old Covenant]? Let him not try to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in the uncircumcision [New Covenant in Christ]? Let him not be circumcised! Circumcision is nothing. And uncircumcision is nothing but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called." - 1 Cor. 7:17

"And some men came and were teaching the brethren, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.' But Paul and Barnabas together had great dissension and disputing with these men. . . Then Peter stood up and said to them 'Why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?" - Acts 15:1-2, 7, 10

"But if I still proclaim circumcision. . . then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished." - Gal 5:11

"I wish that those who are pushing you to do so would mutilate themselves!" - Gal 5:12

Just food for thought. According to the New Testament, you are not a Christian if you are circumcised unless you become 'uncircumcised'. It's not cleaner. It doesn't prevent HIV. It does cut down on UTIs... for 12 months in a population that suffers few to no UTIs (little girls get FAR more). No baby is born with a full grown man penis, so he'll never look like his father (especially since he has mom's dad's genes in there, too) and men don't actually compare penises that much anyway. A little boy is going to care more about the hair than if the tip is pointy or round. It's not even the majority--80% of the world is intact. And finally, just because he doesn't consciously remember it, doesn't mean he doesn't remember at all.

Finally, I know this is a sensitive topic. I am not criticizing anyone's choices, I am simply providing a short bit of information that, on top of my belief that everyone should have a say in their own body regarding cosmetic surgery as well as the fact that the adult penis is easier and safer to alter (and the men get better drugs to kill the pain after, while infants in the first 7 days have less natural pain relief). I have no issue with circumcisions, mine is an issue of consent. I don't agree with infant ear piercing, either.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Women's Fertility

Most women know the basics of their cycle. It's typically 28-30 days, you ovulate in about the middle of that and if you're pregnant, menses stops. But that's a very, very basic understanding. Did you know that your cycle actually has four parts? Did you know that your body temperature changes to reflect that? And did you know that that fluid that seems to change so much is also a reflection of that? Did you know that your cervix changes? Even your saliva changes!

First, we have menses. That's your period. It lasts 2-5 days in the average woman and your cycle starts on the first day that you bleed--not the first day that you spot. That's Cycle Day 1 or CD1.

On CD 1, your temperature will be a little above its lowest and cervical fluid (also known as cervical mucus or CM, but fluid sounds better, doesn't it?) will be obviously hard to determine. Your cervix will be hard, like the tip of a nose, high up in your body and closed.

The next phase of your cycle is called the follicular phase. That's when your follicles are maturing and growing eggs to be released in the next phase. You grow 5-7 eggs and release FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) that causes the follicles to mature your eggs. They start producing estrogen that, when it peaks, stimulates the release of LH (Luteinizing Hormone) that is detectable by ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). The reason that they require a dark line to be positive is because when the LH peaks, that's when you release your egg(s). The LH surge (the highest concentration of LH) occurs 12-24 hours prior to ovulation but LH begins to rise about 36 hours before ovulation. Your temperature may go up and down a little, but it will stay in the same vicinity during these two weeks (approx).

Next is ovulation. In a woman with a textbook cycle, this happens on CD 14. This happens when the biggest, most mature egg is released at the peak of your FSH release. Sometimes two or even three mature enough to release. This is what causes fraternal multiples. The rest of the follicles and developing eggs die around CD7 or so.

Just before and during ovulation, your fluid will become watery or like the consistency of egg whites. That's fertile fluid and yes, the most fertile is called EWCM (egg white cervical mucus). It gives sperm the ideal environment to reach the egg (and facilitates sex). Your cervix moves down and opens, becoming soft, like lips. Your temperature may plummet or it may not move at all.

Sperm can live up to five days in a woman's body, so if you have unprotected sex as close as that, you have a chance at having a baby--and probably a girl. It's not very likely, though--sperm rarely lives more than three days and it depends on how 'hospitable' your body is to it.

The final phase is called the luteal phase. The corpus luteum is the dominant follicle, that is transformed by LH and starts producing progesterone. The day after you ovulate, your temperature jumps. In the space of three days, it can rise as much as a whole degree.

Now, all of this temperature stuff can only be monitored first thing in the morning. Basically, you set an alarm that lets you have had at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep (mine's set for 9:30am, but I woke up every day for the last two weeks at 8-something and temped--it's important to temp when you first wake up, before you do anything else, to be the most accurate) and take your temp. Write it down or memorize it (or use a thermometer that remembers) and go back to sleep or get up for the day.

The luteal phase ideally lasts 14 days (the 'two week wait' is what it's referred to by women waiting to see if they are pregnant for any reason). Few things are ideal, however, and it can last 12-16 days and be perfectly healthy. 10 days is considered the minimum length of a LP to last and still be able to become pregnant. Now, it ends on the day your period starts, so that's why it's important to last long enough for a baby to implant. I had a 7 day LP and still managed to get pregnant, but I lost the baby. A LP that short is defective. My first baby was conceived with a 10 day LP (approx, as I wasn't temping).

The luteal phase is largely the reason for variations in cycle. If you ovulate on CD 16, you might have a 30 day cycle. If you ovulate on CD 12, you might have a 26 day cycle, so on and so forth.

The cervix closes and rises back up into the body at this point. It becomes firm again and fluid can vary from this point and doesn't matter much. You can start producing 'fertile' looking fluid as your menses approaches or when you become pregnant.

If you are not pregnant, the corpus luteum dies, your temperature drops and within a day or so, you begin menses.

If you are pregnant, your temperature stays up (but can fall after a couple weeks, so it's important to stop temping so you don't become frightened if it drops--it becomes useless after you're already confirmed pregnant).

You can read more about the phases of your cycle here if you like or in the book Taking Charge Of Your Fertility, which is the highest rated book for learning about how your fertility works. I prefer Fertility Friend myself, as it's basically the Cliff's Notes version, but I haven't read TCOYF to say for sure. You can sign up for an account to track your cycle at Fertility Friend, too!

If you want to chart your temperatures, it's important to use a BBT thermometer (I do not recommend Walgreens Brand--while I have successfully used it to chart for the last two months, it is horribly inaccurate in that it seems to have preset temperatures that it is unable to vary from.. my old one from Wal-Mart was slow and the kids lost it, but it worked much better... most drug stores carry them) as it measures to the hundredth of a degree and not just a tenth. Speaking from experience, yes, this matters.

An interesting thing about pregnancy tests and ovulation predictor kits (or ovulation tests) is that the hormones they detect are similar. You can use an OPK to detect pregnancy! The POAS lady describes it this way: Think of them as identical twins, where hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin--or pregnancy hormone) is wearing a hat. Now, an OPK can only look at the face of the twins, while the HPT (home pregnancy test) looks for a hat.

So, an HPT cannot see LH (what the OPK looks for) and can only see hCG, while the OPK detects both. Since hCG is only present in detectable levels during pregnancy, a line is a line on the test, no matter how faint, as long as it shows up in the test time. Anything after 10 minutes is an evaporation line (which can still show the pregnancy line, but if it wasn't there a minute before, it's not a positive test). With LH, it's a surge that triggers ovulation, so only a nice, dark, clear line counts.

This is one of my own charts (when I got pregnant with Naomi) to show you how temperature charting works (note the dip at CD7--that's an implantation dip; unconnected dots were artificially high temperatures from illness; the - test lines were confirming that my early loss pregnancy had passed):

So, I hope that you now have a better understanding of how your cycle (and your body) works!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Hidden Growth Spurt

"My ten month old has been waking frequently at night. I'm exhausted. Help! What can I do? Is this normal?"

Basically every DDC or DDG (due date club/group) gets this question. The responses are usually flooded with confused mothers agreeing that they are going through the same thing. It also seems to be forgotten, as it's not only first time moms who ask this. Probably due to that sleep deprivation. Since pediatricians only talk about physical growth spurts, this one is almost never mentioned to moms to warn them that it's going to happen, and that really sucks.

Because it's going to happen.

I've seen it mentioned only maybe once in an 'about your baby' type of publication. The ten month developmental growth spurt. At this time in baby's life she has just started walking or talking or is making the first attempts to do so. She's typically teething and noticing the world around her even more, as well. Some babies develop separation anxiety at this age that can also contribute.

Now "ten month" is the average age, however, it can happen as early as eight months or as late as fourteen to sixteen months, depending on the child. It lasts anywhere from a week to a few months--again, depending on the child.

It's normal and it does pass. Parents who used some sort of sleep training method almost universally notice it is a complete failure during this time period. It remains ineffective for weeks to months, except in some babies, who may already have medical or psychological issues.

Parents who cosleep report getting crawled on, kicked a lot, rolled over on and just a general increase in sleep activity. Often, a wide-awake baby greets them with the desire to play and or nurse at four in the morning.

Parents who do not cosleep report babies who start escaping their crib, get limbs entrapped in their sleep, cry more often, need to nurse more frequently or simply sit up and start playing at random intervals at night.

Temperament tends to dictate baby's response to this time period--fussy babies fuss, laid back babies entertain themselves, clingy babies cling, etc. All in all, it leads to the same result: tired parents!

Responsive parents seem to have the best luck with babies with shorter times in this phase, but certainly not always. Some previously laid back babies become high needs.

"...even though babies achieve this sleep maturity some time during the last half of the first year, many still wake up. The reason? Painful stimuli, such as colds and teething pain, become more frequent. Major developmental milestones, such as sitting, crawling, and walking, drive babies to "practice" their new developmental skills in their sleep. Then between one and two years of age, when baby begins to sleep through the above-mentioned wake-up stimuli, other causes of night waking occur, such as separation anxiety and nightmares. " 1


This post is really meant to just give a head's up and an explanation as to why it happens. The 'how to get him back to sleep?!' is, unfortunately, so variable as to not be able to be answered in general (like most baby questions). Different babies have different needs to get through this time period.

Feed the baby (hunger at night continues well into the second and even third year for most children), make sure they're safe and comfortable and try to sleep through the crazies as much as you can. Some babies will let you sleep while they play until they're ready to sleep again (my first was like that--her growth spurt lasted about a month or a month and a half) and some will be super demanding (my second, whose phase lasted about two weeks and I was about to start crying with her by the end of it) and everything in between. The only constant is that "training" is totally ineffective during this time (not that it ever achieves the desired goal of a content, sleeping baby, regardless of appearances) and is basically just torture to everyone involved.

Try to prepare with your significant other for this time period if you can and try not to plan to start any taxing activities that could be really messed up by lack of sleep if at all possible. And just remember--like any other growth spurt, it will pass!