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Under The Pump

8 Oct

So when Dottie was born, she needed to be taken to the special care nursery and we were separated. When we tried to breastfeed a few hours later she wouldn’t latch. Over the next few days we tried again and again without success. We took her to an osteopath and saw many midwives and lactation consultants, it just wasn’t happening and no-one was sure exactly why.

Initially I hand expressed precious droplets of colostrum around the clock. When we went home from the hospital I upgraded to a double pump and my new life as a pumper began. I pumped every 2 hours for 30mins for the first week, leaving little time for sleep or even caring for Dottie.

Once my milk supply was established we were building up quite a stockpile so I decided to drop back to 3 hourly pumping and then 4 hourly. Still it was hard work and I couldn’t have done it without Bob who became a night feeding pro! Then the pain began…

Firstly my breasts became engorged and full all the time. Although pumping is a good way to express milk it does not at all replicate a baby’s natural feeding rhythm so my body didn’t really know how to cope. Then I started getting lumps from blocked milk ducts. They were incredibly painful and could lead to mastitis. So now I had a dilemma, pumping relieves the pain of engorgement but then tells your body that it needs more milk. So if I pumped before the specified time I would get some temporary relief but would make the problem worse in the long run.

This continued for weeks. I was determined to give Dottie the best start I could but the pain and sleep deprivation was beginning to take it’s toll (not to mention the fact that I was missing out on caring for her). I ended up getting mastitis several times and the lumps continued… as soon as one cleared another would appear and I often had a few at a time.

When I was pregnant, I was excited about having a dairy free child. I never imagined that breastfeeding would be so difficult for me but when I was faced with the difficult reality, I had to consider dairy-based formula as an option.

I resisted to start with. I hated the idea of 1) feeding my daughter something inferior  and 2) supporting an industry which I am passionately opposed to. I may have eaten some meat during pregnancy but I never once consumed dairy or even wanted it. I soon realised though that hating something which could in fact be my saviour was futile, I needed to find appreciation for it and in essence love it.

It took some time but I was able to feel gratitude towards baby formulas and the cows who make them possible. And then one weekend I was pushed over the edge. I was in so much pain, pumping provided no relief. I was living on paracetamol, I couldn’t lie on my side or sleep at all. Bob had to take nearly a week off work to look after me and help care for Dottie because I couldn’t even lift her up. That was enough. We switched to formula. And thankfully I was emotionally ready.

I was planning on continuing to pump with the objective of cutting down to just a few pumps a day. The lumps and pain continued. The blockages were so bad that pumping wasn’t providing relief from the constant agony. So, I stopped cold turkey. I figured that I didn’t have much to lose. I’d have a few days of pain and it would be over rather than having to deal with the pain indefinitely. And I have NO REGRETS WHATSOEVER.

Dottie was fed breast milk exclusively for 6 weeks and although it’s not what I’d hoped for, it’s better than nothing. Once the pain was gone, I was able to sleep! Precious sleep. I felt human for the first time in what felt like forever. I was able to hold Dottie and hug people again and I could finally start being a Mother!

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100 Bad-ass Posts

6 Jun

So apparently this is my 100th post. I’m actually surprised that it’s taken 3 years to get this far but I suppose it’s a milestone worth celebrating, especially as it’s been 3 years almost to the day since I began the badlet blog adventure. I started this blog as a way for me to vent my “bad” side, share my journey and search for the truth. I intended it only for friends (and as a creative outlet for myself) initially but have since gained followers on Twitter, Facebook and WordPress.

Some days I feel as though I live two different lives, especially working as a counsellor, feeling the pressure to be a good role model etc. but the Badlet blog has kept the other half of me alive… the half that swears and has strong opinions, judgements, challenges and is a little bit weird.

I’ve complied a list of my favourite posts below with a little description. I enjoy looking back on where I’ve come from and how I’ve grown – I hope you do as well. Thanks to all the readers – I know you’re out there, the stats don’t lie, leave me a comment sometime! Much love, Badlet.

Adelaide July 2009 – Not funny at the time but hilarious later – If it will be funny later, it’s funny now.

Hobart Sept 2009 – Glass O Whine – Trying to understand why people ‘need’ to drink alcohol.

Hobart Sept 2009 – The world would be so much shitter without you Colin – My discovery of the life changing book “No Impact Man”

Hobart Nov 2009 – My favourite kind of people – The realisation that Tasmanians are mostly redneck bogans.

Hobart Dec 2009 – Use what you have instead of buying more crap – We survived for 2.5 months.

Hobart March 2010 – This post is for you – All of you.

Hobart August 2010 – Idiots – Talking about yourself is not the same as having a conversation.

Queensland Dec 2010 – I’ll miss you like a cold shower – The truth about living in Tasmania.

Queensland Feb 2011 – Pieces of paper – Is the receipt really necessary?

Queensland April 2011 – The smart state – First impressions of life in Qld.

Queensland May 2011 – Cast your vote – Voting with your dollars.

Queensland May 2011 – Chit chat – Confessions of an anti-socialite.

Queensland May 2011 – Zuck it up – My take on Mark Zuckerberg’s meat challenge.

Queensland Jun 2011 – I need a big loan from a girl zone – Surrounded by boys!

Queensland Aug 2011 – Love is natural – No matter who you’re attracted to.

Queensland Sep 2011 – 10 reasons why I don’t have a TV – For real!

Queensland Feb 2012 – Judge not – My struggle with eating meat while pregnant.

Queensland Mar 2012 – Bad ass for life – Despite having a baby on the way!

Queensland Apr 2012 – Ask a question – Instead of talking.

Dogs

28 May

So I know that I’ll be seriously outnumbered on this one considering that dogs are the number 1 pet around the world however I feel the need to vent my frustration.

I’ve had my fair share of unpleasant dog experiences, from being attacked by a dog as a toddler, to being chased and cornered by several aggressive dogs as an adult and just generally not enjoying many unavoidable dog by-products e.g. poo, unpleasant smells, barking, drool, licking, crotch sniffing, being jumped on etc.

The problem perhaps isn’t necessarily with dogs themselves but with the way that people keep and care (or don’t care) for them. I understand the appeal of having a dog as a pet. They are fun, cheerful, loyal and can be great companions but they also require alot of work and attention – to a level which, most people that own dogs are not willing to undertake.

Caring for a dog could almost be a full time gig. Take my Mum for instance, she is the ultimate dog lady. She has her dog that she has raised from a pup which she is devoted to but she also can’t say no to dogs that need to be re-homed as often cares for 2-3 dogs at a time. She bases her time and her commitments around what the dogs need as well as working full time. However if the truth be told, it’s probably still not enough. The dogs don’t get as much exercise as they need even with a park visit and play time in the back yard every day.

My heart goes out to the dogs who rarely get taken on walks. In fact, many dogs don’t get much more attention than their owner yelling at them telling them not to bark/jump/do some other undesirable behaviour. They are probably barking due to lack of attention. This is one way they can get their owner to interact with them.

This post may seem quite judgemental however I honestly wouldn’t be complaining so much if other people and their dogs didn’t have such a large impact on my life. There are two dogs living in nearby houses that not only bark at me when I am in my own front yard but also have owners who leave them outside unsupervised. Neither of these houses have fences so as a result, the dogs roam free around the street easily at least once a day. They poo in our driveway and terrorise our cat. Even after having spoken to the dog owners about my concerns, this still happens on a regular basis.

Recently my cat Dusty was attacked by another dog that had escaped from it’s house further up the street. It’s escaped close to a dozen times in the past fortnight but the owners have “not yet had time to find where she’s escaping”. If they don’t have time to do this, they don’t have time to own a dog!! This makes me so angry. Poor Dusty was attacked not just on our property but on our front verandah by this huge, undisciplined puppy. She spent 4 days in so much pain that she was unable to walk to her food bowl and now 10 days (and a $200 vet bill) later, she still has painful wounds requiring both anti-inflamatory and antibiotic medication, which she absolutely hates.

I didn’t approach the dog owners initially because we didn’t see it happen and can’t be sure that their dog was definitely the culprit. We heard it happen and saw the dog on the loose so I thought it was a pretty safe bet. Today the vet confirmed that the wounds were from a dog. So now I’m not sure what to do. The owners say they’ll “probably try to find where the dog’s getting out in the next couple of days” but part of me wants them to take more responsibility for the impact their dog has had on our lives.

I’m still torn about what to do on this.

I’d love to see more examples of responsible dog ownership (and pet ownership in general). Pets can enrich our lives and teach us important lessons about love, forgiveness and gratitude but we need to be willing to make the required commitment to ensure that both the pet and the people/animals they encounter are happy and safe.

 

Judge Not pt 1

28 Feb

As you know I have come on an amazing journey to eating vego – vegan – and back again. At each stage as I discovered something new about the food I was eating I slipped into judgement mode towards everyone around me who continued to eat mindlessly. I started to use my own beliefs to decide right from wrong. But as much as I believed that the way humans raise animals for consumption is fundamentally “wrong” I found that dwelling on the oblivious actions of others served only to make myself miserable without actually achieving anything worthwhile…

When you say the word “vegan”, most people will roll their eyes and think of hippy activists, aggressively preaching their cause. (Closely followed by thoughts of a diet of tofu and lettuce). Why is this? Surely the average joe wouldn’t just assume that someone would stand on a soapbox about their dietary choices… it’s probably because they’ve had an experience with a preachy vegan. Sad but true. I don’t care what your cause, if you find yourself saying “My beliefs are right, your beliefs are wrong”, you’re preaching. Being preached to evokes in people the feeling of being under attack, and how do humans respond to attack? They defend.

If someone has a strong belief that meat is a better source of protein that plant foods, it doesn’t matter how much “right” information you shove down their throats, it’s unlikely that they’re going to see your point of view because of the emotion that defending oneself arouses. The truth is, no-one is going to accept anything you tell them until they are ready to hear it. I learnt this the hard way. But once I realised that telling people how wrong they are actually achieved nothing, I let it go. I realised that all that matters is being true to your own values.

Once I made peace with what everyone else was doing and just focused only on things within my control not only did I feel better but obviously my energy had changed because out of nowhere people were “ready” for the information I had to offer. This is the essence of leading by example. Do good for yourself, let everyone else be and you will inspire people. As it turns out, my initial approach was wrong… I thought I had to fix other people but actually all I needed to do was to fix myself!

Read part two of this post here.

UnAustralian

25 Jan

So it’s been a few years since the bombardment of ads from Meat and Livestock Australia telling us to eat more lamb. They have been very successful in their attempts to associate lamb with Australia Day and to bring lamb back as a popular option. The commercials have won people over with their humour, patriotism and jests at minorities and foreign countries – and as a result, thousands of people will be eating barbecued lamb today.

Their campaign has been very successful, and just as with the dairy industry advertising drinking milk for strong bones – people have begun to believe the message without realising that it’s a result of advertising. In this case the message being that it’s unaustralian not to eat lamb.

If “not being unaustralian” means being a drunk, racist, consumption-mad, shirtless meat-head then I’ll gladly choose unaustralianism any day. There will be no lamb (or meat) consumed at our place today not that I consider Australia Day much of a cause for celebration anyhow. Perhaps instead of eating lamb I’ll simply be grateful for the lifestyle and abundance made available to me as an Australian resident and enjoy eating plants, that grew without suffering.

They’re Afraid

9 Jan

Check out this commercial by the USA’s “Got Milk?” campaign. It’s a blatant (and poorly executed) attack on dairy alternatives claiming that if you have to shake it, it must be bad for you (and will terrify your children). The dairy industry has been preaching their false nutritional claims through advertising for well over 50 years but now that they’ve been banned from saying  “we need to drink milk for strong bones” they’ve changed their approach to attacking the competition. How immature.

This simply demonstrates how much they are struggling to advertise a product that is bad for you, cruel to animals and bad for the environment. No surprises there. Watch the video below or watch it on you tube here. The comments in response to this video are FANTASTIC!

Bold Native

8 Jan

Watch here for free! It’s a feature film about animal liberation activists. It’s good!

Find out more here http://boldnative.com/

#9 – I wonder if people realise …

12 Sep

That animal foods are far worse for the environment than plant foods. Here’s why. (click the dots to find out more).

Have a look around that website, it’s really informative.

If this is news to you, you might want to read my animal products post from a while back.

#8 – I wonder if people realise…..

20 Jul

That chia seeds contain 6 times more calcium than cow’s milk… and that contrary to what we’re led to believe, dairy products are more likely to give people osteoporosis than to prevent it as well as promoting the risk of fractures and cancer. Cows don’t automatically produce calcium, they get it from what they eat: plants.

Also watch this next time you have 40 mins spare.

Vegans on guard!

14 Jun

I recently heard a great quote…

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

-Arthur Schopenhauer

This made me feel al bit better about all the shit I cop from people all the time about not eating meat and also explains a few things about climate change haters too…

I believe that some people don’t ever mature past the first two stages. Well that’s certainly been my experience anyway. This is the ego at work. The ego serves only to protect and preserve one’s own self image even at the expense of all others. Most people though, don’t realise that this is what they are doing. They take great pleasure in pointing out all the ways that I’m not living a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle…

“If I point out your flaws then I can feel better about myself.”

and do their best to make avoiding animal products look ridiculous….

“If I make a joke of vegetarians then it’s easier to justify my own meat eating.”

I don’t know how many times upon discovering that I’m vegetarian, people have said to me, “If we are not supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat? (Insert smug chuckle)”. In the beginning this used to fire me up because: 1) I’m not claiming that humans are ‘not supposed to’ eat meat and 2) This question is designed to fire me up. This is not interesting conversation nor is it respectful, friendly or even remotely attempting to show an interest in my dietary choices. If you’re genuinely interested, let’s talk. If not, shut your mouth.

Sometimes I do get a little opinionated here on the blog but you know me, you know that generally I’m not preachy at all about this stuff. I could be the type to come around to your house and smugly crap on about how everything you eat is terrible for you, many vegos/health-nuts do this. But I respect individual’s right to make their own choices in their own time.  You can eat/do/think whatever you want. So why are people picking a fight with me?

The quote above holds so many answers. It all makes so much sense to me now.

Even occasionally thesedays when I’m under attack I can’t help but get defensive. Yes I do struggle with the idea that someone could have me all wrong. People usually choose one typical animal product to hound me about. Here are my responses!

Eggs. Yes I eat eggs. No I’m not 100% vegan. For the time being eggs are a good complete protein for me to include in my diet. I pretty much only eat them at home. Once I step outside the house I usually won’t touch anything using egg as an ingredient. I know that even the free range/organic eggs involve some level of cruelty once their laying slows down but I just do my best to purchase from local, ethical farms for now. Some farms sell or give away their older hens to prevent them from meeting their end just because they don’t produce 1 egg a day any more. See my post on animal products to read more about chickens raised for egg production.

Leather. Yes I own some things that are made from leather. Yes I know that this is the skin of a dead cow, I’m such a bad vegetarian, shame on me. I’m a real fence sitter when it comes to leather. On one hand, I don’t like that an animal has to die (after having a pretty mediocre life) to get it and on the other hand, leather is a sustainable, ‘natural’ material that makes alot of sense. Let me explain… would you prefer synthetic, oil-based, potentially toxic clothes/couches/seat covers/shoes/bags that break, scuff and wear out OR would you rather use a fabric that although it involves some cruelty/environmental damage will last for many years, reducing the need for those items to be replaced as often and thus breaking the cycle of obsolescence? This is a tough question to answer. Some people simply cannot justify the environmental devastation caused by cattle farming not to mention the animal cruelty/slaughter no matter how ‘sustainable’ leather may appear.  My personal opinion has a focus on waste reduction: If humans are killing cows for food anyway then why not use the skin to make something useful? From this stance I’m a believer in leather for now although I buy it sparingly and prefer second hand where possible. If however, our eating and farming habits changed then I would have to reevaluate my stance on this.

Feathers. I haven’t bought anything containing feathers since before I became a vego over 5 years ago. If faced with this decision now, I’m not sure which way I would turn… Feathers used for quilts, pillows and sleeping bags come from geese ducks and chickens. The best case scenario (given the circumstances) is that these birds are slaughtered for both their feathers and their meat. Like with leather, I would feel happier knowing that the body of the bird is also being used for another purpose and not just  being killed for the feathers then discarded. But there is no way to know for sure. Many ducks and geese have their breast feathers painfully plucked off seasonally, a practice that although ‘sustainable’ is not something that I agree with. Again, if I choose the artificially created alternative it’s likely I’ll discover that not only is the product inferior in quality, durability and earth-friendliness that it’s also made from something that I don’t want to be in close proximity to for hours on end while I’m sleeping. Thankfully I have no need to buy anything of this nature anytime soon although I would probably look into options involving natural materials rather than plastics before turning to feathers as an option.

Honey. Some people include bees and other insects when they are ruling out ‘animal products’ and therefore, honey is another product that involves cruelty and should be avoided. I personally agree that the majority of commercialised honey bees are terribly abused and mistreated however I do believe that it IS possible to keep bees ethically. I use honey that is organic and has not been heat treated from a farm that is transparent about their bee keeping practices. Raw honey is really good for you (in small amounts) and it lasts forever (literally!) so I think it’s handy to have around at home.

Wool. This is tough. Wool is used for so many things: carpet, clothing, felt, curtains, blankets. Many vegans are strongly opposed to wool with good reason. Sheep are violently sheared and are kept in extreme conditions. I get it. But once again, like with leather, I think that as a useful, sustainable material it outdoes it’s artificial counterparts. It lasts a long time, it’s biodegradable, it’s relatively easy to manufacture (at the expense of the animals). In saying that I do avoid wool where possible especially where a good plant based alternative exists. We will be re-carpeting our bedrooms soon and I’ve been looking into natural fiber alternatives to wool and plastic but wool would definitely be my second choice.

Fur. Breeding animals purely for fur is just plain cruel. The cause of death for many of these animals is being skinned alive. It’s truly horrendous.  And the animals aren’t then used for meat either so it’s a terrible waste for something which is completely unnecessary. We’re not cave men, clothes are made of all kinds of warm fabrics now. Fur has no place in clothing thesedays.

Gelatine. This shit is pure filth. I can’t believe people feed this stuff to their kids and have no idea about what it really is. Find out some really simple info here or a pro gelatine vid here which explains how massively processed it is and how much power it uses to create. Agar Agar is a perfectly good alternative which actually has nutritional value too. It does everything that gelatine can do. Agar also does not require so much processing which means it does not require masses of electricity like gelatine does. And gelatine usually goes hand in hand with sugar, food colouring and junk food in general – all stuff that I tend to avoid.

Hot Chips. Hot chips are not vegan nor are they vegetarian. I know, it’s not fair because hot chips are possibly the best comfort food ever. I love them. Have you ever wondered why when you fry potatoes and home that they don’t taste as good as from the chip shop? That’s because the ones from the chip shop have been pressure cooked with animal fat (mostly beef) before being frozen, transported to the shop and then cooked again in oil that is likely to contain flavour additives or animal products anyway. Occasionally it’s possible to find chips that are made without the animal fat but it’s rare. I must admit that this is my one downfall. I will cave for hot chips. I will throw all my values around organics, animals and health out the window for some salty, oily potatoes. I have seriously reduced my chip eating recently though and I feel great about it. I do give myself a break if I happen to be somewhere with limited food options although one day I really hope to give them up all together.

So yes… I know. I’m not a great vegan by anyone’s standards however I’m not afraid to be exactly where I am on my journey right now. I am informed and approach my life with awareness and am happy with that!

Also this girl feels it.