Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My CBC Piece

Xavi's First Birthday
I'm a member of a local vegan group on Facebook, Vegans of Regina. I became a member when it had only 31 others. Our numbers have swelled to over 500 people.
About a month and a half ago, someone that I didn't know personally, posted a query for the other members:

"I think it would be interesting to talk to someone who is vegan and also has kids who are vegan about what that is like. Let me know if you or anyone you know would be interested."

A couple people tagged me and, of course, I responded, "Haha I have a vegan 20 month old."
6 days old. White Lotus Photography


 The poster contacted me via private message and we arranged a date and time to do an audio interview and get some pictures taken.

Carlos didn't want to be involved because he doesn't like having his private life made public. 
Carlos is vegan, btw.

The interview went well and there were no questions that I didn't expect. Which I was grateful for. It was all questions that I had thought a lot about before I was pregnant, during my first pregnancy, and my second pregnancy, and during the many, many hours I sat quietly nursing my newborn.

"What made you decide?" It's morally consistent. I'm doing it because I believe it's right, why would I have my child do something that I think is morally wrong?
 "Do you do supplements?" Yup. B12 spray, liquid vitamin D, and liquid iron occasionally.
 "What if they go to a birthday party?" I'll have something similar for them to eat, and I'll talk to the host. "What if they don't want to be vegan?" Obviously, I'll be disappointed like any other parent when their child decides to do something opposed to how they were raised.

Babywearing while I hung laundry (10 months)

 "What is your response to people that say that you're forcing your way of life?" I think we all 'force our way of life' on our families. That's what parents do, they parent.

It was a bit of time before the poster interviewed a doctor, then their team wanted to make a video of Xavi and I playing and snacking. We were able to get together and film on a hot, hot afternoon at a local park. Xavi gave the videographer furrowed brows for the first few minutes but warmed up quickly, smiling and waving at the camera. I answered essentially the same questions in the audio interview. That evening, CBC News Regina played the minute and a half long video of me answering questions interspersed with Xavier playing and eating his carrot breakfast cookie. It was a strange video because it came across like I was trying to defend our veganism. Mostly because of the way it seemed like I was offering answers for questions that people didn't hear because of the way it was edited. Which, I suppose, in a way it can be read that way. I'm not looking for other's approval. That isn't why I volunteered to be interviewed.
I volunteered to be interviewed because I know there are other people that want to parent as vegans and I want them to know it is an option and is totally possible. I want nonvegans to know that it is safe and healthy and appropriate to raise your children vegan.The next morning the written article was published and the radio segment was aired. Sadly, I only caught the last few minutes because I was so busy momming that I completely lost the time. The few minutes that I did hear sounded positive though and I was very happy with. 

Man alive, I sound different on the radio!

Xavi reads a book with Chaos (21 months)


There were also a couple points that I want to clarify from the article that didn't ring true for us. When the author wrote that Xavier "He hasn't had a bowl of yogurt or a spoonful of ice cream." That isn't accurate. While it is true that he hasn't had yogurt or ice cream made from another animal's milk, he has had yogurt made from coconut milk and sips of our soy milkshakes.

The pediatrician, Dr. Ayisha Kurji says toddlers "
going through picky phases and you're already limited in terms of choices". I don't believe nonvegans understand how much of the edible plant world expands when you become vegan. In the first couple of months of becoming vegan, I kept a list of foods that I tried. I had over 40 foods that I had never eaten before. That's astounding. Even though it seemed like what I "could" eat as a vegan, narrowed, it actually increased substantially.

I did make the conscious, well-thought out decision to not read the comments. Like I stated earlier, not looking for approval. Haters opinions aren't going to change how I raise Xavi. But I know myself well enough that I would fixate on the negative comment and play it over and over in my head and try to work out the best response to it. I also know that my response to those comments isn't going to change their minds. It's extremely rare for someone to react the way we want on a Facebook comment thread. Often it devolves rather quickly into passive aggressive comments and name calling. Neither of which are productive. So, I decided that comment reading was a waste of my time and energy. One of my fellow mom-friends did screenshot a couple of supportive comments for me. 

That made my heart happy.

Saturday night, we got together with my younger sister and her boyfriend for supper. We went to Selam for some Ethiopian food. Vegan, obviously.
While we ate, we talked about the comments they had read. I think the most memorable was someone claiming that "he looks pale." 
Ummm okay. Hahahahaha
Yeah, if you were comparing him to his primos ("cousins" en espaƱol) down in Chile. He is half Latino and when he stands next to any of my white friends children, he is vastly darker.



Or someone else commented that, "of course his name is Xavier and he's vegan. When he's grown, he'll be eating kale, doing yoga, and wearing a man bun."
Yeah, so that sounds awesome.

Another person commented on the fact that my boyfriend was not in the interview, and it was suspicious so he must be off eating a steak.
Again, Carlos is vegan.
He said that he was tempted to respond with, "I was with your wife." 
BAHAHAHAHAHAHA
He didn't because he knows it's fruitless. But again. So funny!

And another criticism was about my shoes. I guess they looked like leather. 
The shoes are not leather.
I bought them about 5 or 6 years ago at Payless Shoes for $6.00 and they are "accidentally vegan".

I'm very conscious of my purchases. The stuff in our home is vegan. Everything from food to clothes to personal hygiene products to toys to cleaning products. Everything save for our cat's food.

I was concerned about private messages that I could potentially get from particularly aggressive critics but I've only received pm's from people thanking me for being interviewed and being "brave". Honestly. People are going to judge our parenting no matter what we do.
I know I have supportive family, friends, and doctors. Those negative, unsupportive judgements aren't going to change how I parent.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My Miscarriage *trigger warning*

On Friday, November 29, 2014, I was officially 13 weeks pregnant.

We made it past the first three months that many consider risky for disclosing your pregnant status. You're more likely to lose a pregnancy in those delicate 12 weeks. I was in the clear.

It's been two years since my miscarriage. I'm happy that I told people about my pregnancy before you're "supposed to". I won't hide my loss because they're so common yet somehow we never hear about them.
This was my experience having a miscarriage. It was awful and traumatic. It was probably one of the worst experiences I've had and I have a lot of life experience, as many readers know.

That Friday, two days after my thirty-third birthday, I woke and finally wasn't nauseous. I decided to get my body warmed up with some pregnancy belly dance-just gentle stuff like hip circles-before the 25 minute walk to work that morning. I had a little bit of spotting but tried not to worry about it too much. Spotting is fairly common and often inconsequential. On my way to work, I texted my doula/RN neighbour just in case. She responded that I had likely done too much and told me to take it easy.
At work, I took calls as I normally did but with this nagging thought interrupting my problem solving for callers. It was hard to focus. Jennifer, my doula, told me to drink lots of water and lay down once I got home. At home that afternoon, I tried to relax and not do anything. I kept spotting and had started cramping.
On Saturday morning, Carlos went to work. I sat on the couch with my dog and kept drinking water. The cramps were steadily getting stronger. I made some hot chocolate and watched Four Rooms starring Tim Roth.
As it got later in the day, I decided to shower to get ready for my work Christmas party. I heard Carlos come home as I finished. As I stepped out of the shower, big gobs of blood fell out of me. I immediately opened the bathroom door and called for Carlos. I told him what was happening as I choked up. We hugged and shared the same anxious look. I texted my supervisor and told her we couldn't come to the party.
We ordered Indian food and tried to relax. I kept in contact with Jennifer. She said to go to Emergency if I soak through a pad. At this point, the cramping was nearly unbearable and I couldn't eat my food. Carlos insisted we go to Emergency.
We went to the hospital at 8pm. When we arrived at the General Hospital, I spoke with the admitting staff about my symptoms. They were taking my blood pressure and as I stood there, blood oozed through my pants and down my legs. I had soaked through the pad. I was admitted right away and we were led to a private room just off Emergency. I was in excruciating pain. The cramping was horrendous. Worse pain ever. I vomited twice.
A nurse brought me pads, a gown, and hospital underwear. I soaked through a couple more pads and "free bled" into the toilet a number of times. They took blood samples and tested me for a urinary tract infection. I spoke with Jennifer on the phone and she could tell when the pain was really bad. It became hard to speak. It came in waves. Like contractions. I learned later that this cramping was worse, by far.
Poor Carlos was helpless as he sat on a hard chair next to the hospital bed as I writhed in agony, worried about our little fetus.
I was given saline solution and morphine (they said it was safe for baby) intravenously and Gravol to help the morphine-induced nausea.
Several hours after arriving, a doctor had come with a portable ultrasound machine to check on our baby but she wasn't able to see anything. She told us we'd have to wait till the next morning for a vaginal ultrasound.
I drank more water and ate some fruit since the morphine started to work. My sister brought me pajama pants and slippers since I had bled through the pants I had arrived in. Carlos went home for awhile to care for Mannie and Chaos and get some sleep. The morphine helped me sleep.

In the morning, they needed the room we were in so they wheeled my bed into a hallway and we waited there. At 8am, we went for the other ultrasound. I was still on saline solution and morphine in my IV but I laid half naked under my gown and hospital blanket in the hall for the rest of the day. They wouldn't let me have any water in case I had to have a D&C (which they never actually said, just that I may need a "procedure").
We waited in that busy corridor the entire day. An ER doctor finally came at 4pm and told us, with countless strangers bustling past us, that the pregnancy wasn't viable. There was "no yolk". He said that my body would likely expel the sack in the next day or so and I wouldn't need a D&C.

*Side note* The way the hospital handled this situation was not appreciated. We were given no opportunity to have a private moment after our second ultrasound. Telling us about the loss in the hallway was absolutely not the way to do it. This clinic is the answer.

The next day, I saw my regular doctor and she explained a bit more about what a blighted ovum was and told me there was nothing that I had done or hadn't done that caused the miscarriage. She said that sometimes it was the wrong sperm with the wrong egg. A bad recipe. Over the next several weeks we tested my blood's hCG levels to ensure it was decreasing.

This was so hard but I truly appreciate my body's wisdom. And because I had told everyone about my pregnancy "early", I had so much support and a surprising number of women I know shared their own experiences with miscarriage. Including my grandmother.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Raising My Offspring Vegan

First Message-wear for my fetus 
My friend had emailed me the Oh She Glows post "Will You Raise Your Daughter Vegan? My Answer May Surprise You". I am familiar with Angela Liddon's work, I do have her first cookbook and they're great tasting dishes. After reading her post a couple of times, my emailed response to my friend was, "That's such a lame response. Being vegan isn't about diet. It's about standing against a socially sanctioned wrong. Diet is just a part of it." Just a quick email of my initial thoughts. Of course I went on to think about it much more.

This is why I'm raising my child vegan.
It's clear to me that Angela Liddon isn't vegan for the animals (original definition of vegan) and if she is-or claims to be-she hasn't thought critically about her position. I can read between the lines when she says that she "personally experienced benefits and drawbacks to labelling my own diet". Her feelings have been hurt. She goes on,"I don't want to push my beliefs on her". Um...isn't that what parenting is?! So, you don't want to be a parent...

Here's my line of thinking. If I'm a parent who sees how devastating rape is and doesn't believe it's an ethical way to behave, but at the same time I refuse to instill that same anti-rape value in my children, how is that ethical or even consistent? And once Junior is a teenager and he starts raping people, do I condone that choice? Absolutely not.
Part of the problem is that because animal use is so widespread and accepted by the great unwashed, it seems unreasonable to stand against animal use and to teach your children vegan values. But if it were rape, that's much more sound and the masses would support your "pushing your beliefs".
We have very little control of how others behave. To 'control' our kids choices and teach them similar values to our own (I reiterate-this is what parenting is) is one of the things that we do have some control of, at least at the start.
Angela Liddon doesn't want to label herself or her daughter. Personally, I'm very comfortable with being labelled as a vegan. Our brains are constantly trying to organize the world.
It's obvious that the violence inherit in the animal exploitation industries don't enter into her decision making. She fantasizes about "an excitement for healthy food, understanding its impact on our energy, etc." The closest she gets to talking about nonhuman animals is "etc". She doesn't want to restrict her daughter's pleasure. She doesn't want to "stop her from enjoying some of her dad's chicken or a birthday cake at a friend's party". Angela still sees "dad's chicken" as food. I don't. That's what separates us.
Look, I understand why she's in the position that she's in. Her husband isn't vegan, and that can't be very easy if you were concerned about other species rather than your own health (I'm divorced, I know). In the first paragraph, she writes that her husband "is happy and healthy which is what matters." <sigh> What  about the billions of other sentient lives?
I also don't believe her readership is exclusively vegan. In fact, a number of my non-vegan friends have recommended her blog to me. Could she be attempting to appeal to the non-vegan readers? It's obvious reading the comments on her blog that most readers are praising her decision. I am not.

Damn rights I'm raising my child vegan. Just like I intend to raise them to not be sexist, or heterosexist, or racist, or any of those other isms that put those that are different from us as separate and not worthy of moral consideration. I refuse to raise them speciesist.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Re-Introduction To Reading

Yes. My last post was nearly a year ago. A lot has transpired since my spine surgery.

I am not writing about any of that in this post. I was, however, inspired to write by a new Twitter friend, @beanloveblogger, when she tweeted me her own blog post about the similarities she found in reading the book, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, featuring zombies and her experiences with her own brain injury. I really appreciate her perspective. It very much reminded me of my almost identical experience comparing my brain injury experience with a book by Daniel Waters entitled Generation Dead. Oddly enough, also presenting zombies.


My Dad had found a copy of Generation Dead with a large display of books that were free for borrowing (or taking) at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre. I was going to various therapies there, early in my recovery. At the same time, I had just received the prism for my eyeglasses to help with my diplopia, so I was seeing singularly and could read for a period without exhausting my healing brain.


Now, I do want to mention, that although I was 28 years old at the time, and Generation Dead was written for a much younger readership (amazon says it's for reading level grade 7 and up), I was quite childlike in my cognitive abilities.
My brain
was horribly damaged mere months ago, give a lady a break.


As mentioned in previous posts, I love reading. Zombies were one of my favourite topics. This was well before The Walking Dead came to television.
See post: Zombie Love and Saving My Brain
Anyhoo. I was excited to read.
Generation Dead is a story about a phenomenon of teenagers coming back from the dead as "living impaired" or "differently biotic", and how the community handles the change. Specifically, this story focuses on three characters, all in high school. It was enthralling to me because a lot of the characteristics of the differently biotic were eerily similar to what I experienced learning to walk and talk again. They shuffled, and moved funny, they mumbled and their speech wasn't always clear. There were definite themes related to how we treat different groups of people (class, colour, ethnicities, sexualities, and abilities). But what I really took from the story (stories, really, I also read Kiss Of Life and Passing Strange) was that-and spoiler alert-the living impaired kids that were able to "recover" from their deadness were the kids that had love and support from friends and family. This is also very much true in how my recovery has played out. My family and friends were and are amazing throughout my life. They are part of the reason that I've recovered so well from the undead.