Thursday, September 13, 2012

So why does all of this matter? An argument for crunchy parenting

(Warning: Please forgive my sometimes strong tone & generalizations. I am very passionate about this topic.)

I was your typical c-section, formula-fed child of the 80s complete with Pampers and Johnson's & Johnson's. My mom, like many in those days, just didn't know any better. She had issues with breastfeeding and there was nobody there to help her. My brother had been a c-section due to "failure to progress" and nobody cared to help mamas have a VBAC back in those days.

She was however very AP with me and nurtured my intelligence so much so that I was reading words & sentences by age 2 and entire children's books by age 4. I remember being impatient in my first grade class that nobody else could read fast enough when we would take turns going around the room and reading a paragraph of the story, and being so proud of myself that I could spell the word "apartment".

Although most of my crunchiness started when my daughter developed severe eczema at 2 months old; Due to my family medical history, I was hyper vigilant about toxins even in pregnancy. I knew, both instinctively and intellectually, that I needed to protect and shield my baby from all of this.

There are many moms out there who feel like me and something changes in their habits once they become pregnant. They stop dying their hair and getting their nails done. They trade in their Windex for Vinegar. They hold their breath when walking past someone smoking a cigarette. Once the planning begins - They decide to give cloth diapers a try and trade in their Tide detergent for Rockin' Green. They invest in an organic mattress and bedding. And they take childbirth classes centered on helping mom deliver without drugs. Once baby arrives they buy only non-toxic wooden toys, breastfeed well past 1 year, and do such "outrageous" things like co-sleeping and babywearing and not vaccinating.

However there are far too many moms who are oblivious to all of these things. They don't think that these things matter, they believe that if it's out there in the stores it is safe. They think that moms who are into organic items are over-the-top and over-protective. They think that it's much ado about nothing! They think baby must be on a regimented schedule including sleeping through the night at any cost. They think breastfeeding is too hard and formula is just as good. Below are some common arguments we have all heard time and time again and the trouble with each of those arguments as well.

Common Argument #1: "But I was formula fed or my mom vaccinated me and I turned out "fine"! Sure I turned out "fine" I was even reading at age 2 and tested as gifted & talented by age 6. But how much more "fine" could I have been? I suffered from severe reflux that affected my eating habits and still does to this day. Somewhat socially awkward, at times I suspect that I have mild Aspergers. And my brother is not "fine" at all - he has autism. Not to mention every adult on my mom's side of the family who has passed, died from cancer - and we also have a plethora of other disorders like more autism, bipolar disorder, and brain tumors, and most dauntingly ALS in just about every member of my dads side of the family. At age 25 I already feel tremors from time to time that scare the heck out of me. I was not ovulating on my own and had trouble conceiving and had to turn to Clomid & Synthroid to have my daughter. And how do we know that cancer isn't caused by formula and chemicals in baby products? That reflux isn't exacerbated by c-sections which deprive the gut of good bacteria? How do we know if my brothers autism could have been avoided? If I would have been even smarter? If I could have been shielded from the potential cancer and ALS that lay in wait for my 40s and 50s and perhaps even sooner? Dig deep enough into any family, any individual, any claims of being "fine" and you will find a story like mine, though probably not quite as extreme. Just because you survived into adulthood and are somewhat healthy doesn't automatically equal "fine" and "fine" could have been "great" .. !

Common Argument #2: "If BPA, non-organic food, phlatlates, etc. are so bad then why don't we see kids dropping dead all over the place?" Umm hello! SIDS? Childhood leukemia? And it's not always so drastic or sudden. Autism, ADHD, depression, eczema, allergies, asthma, obesity and other lifelong chronic disorders and afflictions are abundant, especially in Western societies. And I don't need to tell you how prevalent cancer is these days, I think we all know at least one someone with cancer. Or Alzheimer's. Or ALS. Or PCOS. In fact I think we'd have a harder time finding kids we know WITHOUT any of the conditions listed above than WITH them. Western doctor's happiness to prescribe drugs aside, this is not just an increase in diagnosis. These disorders, ALL disorders in fact, are on the rise with no end in sight.

Common Argument #3: "Oh come on, a little BPA from one bottle won't harm anyone! It's such a small amount!" OR "But this product has an amount of this toxin below the allowable limit from the FDA/EPA .. So it's fine." But these things don't exist in a vacuum. We aren't living in a pure rainforest with clean air, clean water, and clean food free of all chemicals from household products & toiletries. A single toy with BPA or a shampoo with SLS likely won't hurt us then. But it's the continual and daily BOMBARDMENT of our bodies and our immune systems with all these chemicals that stacks the decks against us in ways that most of us can't even imagine or aren't quite willing to admit just yet. We expose ourselves to thousands of toxins each and every day from the moment we wake up and hop in the shower. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, floss, facial cleanser, foundation, concealer, eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, lip gloss, blush, perfume - wait we aren't even out the door yet. When we come home later that night to prepare and cook dinner - hand soap, non-stick pans, plastic Tupperware, canned foods, the pesticides IN the foods, the processed crap IN the foods, the hormones IN the foods, the antibiotics IN the foods. Cleanup time - dish soap, dishwasher detergent, counter cleaner, air freshener, oven cleaner. Laundry time - stain remover, laundry detergent, fabric softener. Repeat the next day, and the next day, and the next day for 40 years. Breathe in the chemicals in the air from all the previous days and from our mattresses and other furniture and carpets. So you see, it is not just ONE amount of ONE chemical in ONE product. It's THOUSANDS of chemicals from HUNDREDS of products over DOZENS of years. The effect is cumulative.


The average American baby is exposed to THOUSANDS of chemicals & toxins before they are even born! Similar to the attitude of the past about smoking, I fully believe that in the next 20 years or so we are going to look back and think what the heck were we thinking? What did we do to ourselves? Why didn't anyone know any better? And we are starting to wake up, just barely. Whole Foods markets, organic food, crunchy parenting, BPA-free baby products, doulas, water births, home births, cloth diapering.. All of these things are becoming "trendy" or making a comeback. But we need this to continue. BPA is just a drop in the bucket. Natural birth is just the first day of many in a life. Breastfeeding for 6 months is not enough to get baby off to a good start especially in this current chemical-laden world.

At a time when chemicals are everywhere and toxins surround us daily, we aren't breastfeeding anymore. We aren't giving the immune system the boost it so desperately needs. To start with, we're depriving the gut of beneficial bacteria from a natural birth, we're taking away the bonding moments of baby being laid on moms chest. We are pumping mom & baby full of piticon, epidural drugs, and antibiotics. The second the baby is born we cut off the cord, taking away the precious lifeline still pulsating and pumping the last of that precious lifeblood. We stick needles to inject chemicals more directly into our babies, despite the fact that most of us do not have the STD they are vaccinating our babies for. They cover up their eyes with clear goop so they can't see and further traumatize this poor new human being. Then they mutilate their penises so they can be clean? Bathe them in dangerous chemicals from Johnson's & Johnson's and cover them up with toxin-laden Pampers. They push formula on them by giving away free samples. Baby is not even home from the hospital yet!!! Then Mom & Dad place baby in special outfits drenched in residue from it's bath in Tide or if Mom is "conscious" Dreft. They take baby home and place them to sleep on top of a dangerous cocktail of fire-retardants, VOCs and dozens of other chemicals. They leave baby alone to cry themselves to sleep in a new scary place. They continue to bathe baby daily and slather them up in chemicals to "clean" them and make them smell good. (Who decided that "chemicals" = "clean" anyway??) They continue to deprive baby of the liquid gold they need and force inadequate formula on them. Can you tell that just writing this makes me sad? THEN baby breathes in all the Lysol, Fabreeze, Windex, etc. used in the household. Baby is given toxic toys and teethers to chew on and play with. Baby is given Tylenol at the sign of the smallest pain and Benedryl to sleep better. Baby is started on Gerber - loaded with sugar and preservatives at 4 months old. If mom is "conscious" the baby gets pesticides from non-organic fruit at 6 months instead. Worst of all, baby is injected with dangerous cocktails in the form of vaccines 18 times by the time they are 6 months old! And mom wonders why baby is Colicky/fussy/constipated/clingy/can't STTN !!

Sometimes I look at the human race and marvel, how are we even surviving at all? Then I realize, we aren't ... not really. The world is becoming very adept at finding ways to kill us off. How many people die younger than they had to, much younger? And I don't think I know one healthy person - truly healthy. We all have one malady or another. And it's all so maddening and so unnecessary. We should be able to trust our government and our market to provide safe products. We shouldn't have to go online and find out Johnsons & Johnsons and mercury dental fillings and hundreds of other products are BANNED in other countries. Companies shouldn't make different versions for other countries and keep ours the same. Companies shouldn't label things "natural" when they are just as bad as the original products. Moms shouldn't have to spend hours of research and thousands of dollars just to create a somewhat safe environment for their babies. We shouldn't have to sit around and just hope that someday we can create a safer world. This should be natural to us - second nature - not something that is seen as "extreme" or "bucking the norm". What has happened to us? What has happened to our lives, our homes, our bodies, our families? We need to fight back against chemicals - every day - because the alternative is just not acceptable.

And in closing, this is why I fight:

So mamas, why do YOU fight?

This post is being shared at: Simply Natural Saturdays
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