Monday, March 30, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
First off, I think its important to state that DH and I are Christian pacifists. We believe that it is immoral to inflict violence on another person. We don’t own any guns, though DH would like one. Because I spent a significant portion of my childhood on a farm, I feel that guns are tools. Because we have no use for a firearm in town i.e. no danger coyotes in the yard, I feel no need to own one. If we lived in the country and had “varmints” then I would say sure, lets get a gun. DH grew up in the city and as such, he has a different outlook on them. First there is the gadget factor, it’s a neat boy toy. Second there’s his underlying political belief that in case of an invasion (of lord knows what, Martians maybe) he would need to be armed to protect his family. Personally, I think that one is complete B.S., and I’ve told him so. Thirdly, he claims he would like to go hunting, but his general aversion to the outdoors makes me question this motive. Either way, it all comes down to the fact that we don’t believe in violence, war, and in my case, owning guns when there is no practical use for one.
So, given all of this, why would I think that exposing children to violence isn’t a big deal? For one, violence is part of human nature. It’s a side of our personalities that we all possess. Even though I think its immoral to inflict violence on another person, there are days where I would really love to do unto someone what I would never want done unto me. I think that it is important for children to come to terms with that side of human nature so that they’re not consumed by it once their hormones kick in later on.
As a child, violence was never hidden from me. I watched the nightly news. I read classic literature. I even played violent video games. But, in the presence of all of these things, I always had an adult nearby that was ready to put things into context. It was pressed into me that yes, violence exists, but when its on the news, its there because its bad. When you find it in literature, its there to fully depict the human experience. When you find it in a video game, its fantasy. My grandfather along with all of his brothers, were veterans of WWII. All of them saw heavy action, and my grandfather, at 83 years-old today, still suffers from what we now call PTSD. As a child, I listened to their war stories along with all of the blood and gore of war. I am still affected when my grandpa tells about when his ship was sunk, and the man next to him was bent over, holding in his own intestines. That’s real violence and I believe that because I was exposed to it through his stories, and saw his reaction to it, I was better able to navigate my own violent feelings.
It wasn’t that long ago I read an article about mothers who are still having troubles telling their children about what happened on 9/11. One mother talked about how she covered up the newspaper if there was any mention of it for fear her child would get curious. Another mother shied away from the topic anytime her young daughter asked about it. To me, those behaviors are more dangerous than letting the child see the newspaper, or having a conversation about what happened. Violence is like sex in that if you don’t discuss it with your children early and often, one day you’ll be surprised that they’ve gotten their values about the subject from someone else.
When it comes to violent video games, DH and I have been talking about how much is too much too soon. The fact is, we own lots of video games rated M for mature. I’m insanely fond of all the Grand Theft Auto titles. DH plays Call of Duty, and we’re both nuts about the Resident Evil line. Even though we’re Christian pacifists, we like shooting people, and each other, on screen. The first three years of our friendship were spent killing each other on 007 Goldeneye. But now, we need to question whether or not we want our small child exposed to that. There are several options. First we could give up our video games and stick to Mario. While its an option, its not likely to happen. Second, we could hide them from the child and play them when the LO is sleeping or away. We could treat it like pornography, something the parents do but they don’t want Jr. to know about. Or third, we could continue on playing like its no big deal, though we have to find a better way of venting our frustration at the game than cursing. While I have no problem letting my children watch something like Saving Private Ryan, I’d prefer they not hear the f-bomb come out of one of their parents mouths.
I hold reservations about letting a first grader play something like GTA. I just don’t think they’ve got either the coordination or the mental facilities to play and understand such a complicated story line. Never mind the fact that I’d prefer not to explain to them what a “gimp suit” is. However, that changes by the time they’re in middle school. I’d let 10-12 year old play a violent video game, so long as I was playing too. Just like I wasn’t left alone in the face of violence, I wouldn’t leave my child alone.
Now, I’m sure someone is going to read this and be horrified. Hasn’t she seen the studies?! Yes I have seen the studies. There are many of them out there that link exposure to violent media with violent behavior in adolescence. However, the one thing that the majority of the studies noted, was that parental involvement and limits on the amount of time spent with said violent media, greatly reduces the risk of one’s teenager engaging in violent behavior. The bottom line seems to be, don’t leave your child alone to play GTA for six hours each day and then wonder why he comes out warped. Its that whole “everything in moderation” cliché.
Ultimately, there’s a good chance our child is going to be exposed to violent media fairly early on. DH is adamant about being a dad, he can’t wait to get his hands on this little bundle of joy. That means he’s going to be left alone with the baby/toddler/child. When DH is left to his own devices, he ends up on the PS3 shooting things. Its his hobby. Honestly, I’d rather have him baby wearing and playing Call of Duty than dragging our child to the shooting range like most dads around here.
In addition to the exposure to questionable video games, we’re going to continue watching the news. We will likely discuss world matters with our infant long before she can do much of anything. There’s also the History Channel. As a historian, I’m addicted to it. History is full of violence, and the child is going to be exposed to that. I also love fishing. The child will be exposed to impaled worms and gutted fish before its first birthday. Then there is the bible. Some of the first words spoken to me were “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Thus will be the case with this child. She’ll be pretty tiny when she hears the story of how Jael nailed the king’s head to the floor through his temple.
My ultimate point is, exposure to violent media in and of itself is not psychically harmful. The harm comes when a child is left to form his or her own opinions without guidance from trusted adults. We are of course going to use our own good judgment. If something seems clearly age inappropriate we’re not going to be stupid about it, however, I think we’re going to be a lot more lenient on the topic than some. There is good and bad in the world and you can’t shield your child from all of the bad. Its better to give your children the tools they need to navigate a world full of violent media. In order to do that you have to let them see what they’re up against and help them understand. I know there are tons of parents and experts out there that would be horrified by the thought of parents allowing a five year old to watch Saving Private Ryan, or a child witness a parent playing Resident Evil, but I’m horrified by the thought of those parents and experts supporting any war for any reason. I am confident that my husband, baby wearing while playing violent video games with his slacker friends is not going to result in a warped child.
Just for the record, our child is NEVER allowed to watch either Barney or TeleTubbies, for any reason. I'm afraid it will melt her brain.
Speaking of cribs we're not going to use . . .
In today's NY Times, there is an article about how more children are dying in the New York child welfare system. Its yet another sad example of how "the system" is failing children and families. According to the article, in 2008, 49 children died while being served by the child welfare system. The article goes on to quote officials about how and why the children died, and what the agency was going to do about it. And then, right at the very end of the article, we get this little gem.
"Sharman Stein, an agency spokeswoman, added that 14 of the 49 deaths were attributed to “co-sleeping,” the practice of babies or children sleeping in the same bed as their parents, a significant increase over the past few years. She said such fatalities were being reported in higher numbers due to increasing public awareness of baby safety and recommendations against co-sleeping."
". . . such fatalities were being reported in higher numbers due to increasing public awareness of baby safety and recommendations against co-sleeping."
Also, yesterday over at the Motherlode, there was a discussion about whether parenting ability was natural or learned. The study Belkin cited found that younger women thought that parenting was naturally inherent and the older mothers thought it was learned. I commented, as usual, and here was what I said:
My husband and I just had this discussion on the way home from the midwife’s yesterday. After a two hour drive we decided that everyone has the propensity to parent, however, if one has no parenting role models, then their road will be far more difficult.
Having said that, I find it interesting that we may have come to that conclusion because we are younger. With me at age 26 and him at 23, we’re going to be Millenial parents. As such, I left a job because my employers weren’t willing to work with me in terms of work/family balance and I have yet to give birth. Come fall, both my husband and I will be returning to grad school and baby is going to go with us. I just finished sewing a “manly” baby sling for DH so he can babywear while I’m in class.
We’ve decided that we both want to pursue our educations, however, the most important part is that we raise our own children. That means that we will organize our professional lives around avoiding daycare and possibly home schooling. If that means that I stay at home and clip coupons, and our household resembles a 1950s redux, then so be it. However, I do have to hand it to the men of my generation. All of my husband’s slacker buddies just think its awesome that he’s going to have a sling to carry his baby around in. That means he’ll be able to watch the baby, and still play Call of Duty with them. ;)
Those who use daycare are still raising their children. They still feed them, bathe them, diaper them, nurture them, get up at night with them and love them. They just get help for part of the day.
“We’ve decided that we both want to pursue our educations, however, the most important part is that we raise our own children. That means that we will organize our professional lives around avoiding daycare and possibly home schooling.”
A few thoughts:
To me, this comment speaks to a lack of worldly experience in and of itself. To name a few…that you can “plan” out your life this far ahead of time and assume that it will work out as planned (though of course it might, through good fortune); and, the implication that the vast numbers of people who use daycare are simply letting others take care of their parenting work for them.
I think of myself at the commenter’s age, and I believe that I might have said similar things.
Soon to be Mother Mary also thinks that her husband will be playing violent video games with his friends while wearing his newborn in a masculine-colored baby sling. So I think whether or not daycare = not raising your own children is the least of her naïveté.
I’m sure they’ll learn soon enough, and I wish them well.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
It was actually pretty easy. Originally I had wanted a Hot Sling but they are now out of our price range. A few weeks ago I decided to make my own. I took home-ec and did ok. Recently I made basic curtains for the nursery, so I figured a baby sling couldn't be too hard. I found a pattern free online from Karma Baby. I spent a week or so reading the pattern and confusing myself, so I just went ahead and bought some material from Hobby Lobby and went after it. The pattern makes alot more sense once you have the fabric in your hands. My fabric is a cottony-twilly something. (You can tell I'm not a seamstress.) Its pretty soft, its the sort of stuff thats going to get softer as you wash it. Its also black. DH and I are leftover goth kids so most of our wardrobes are black (ok, well all of our clothing. I do have some purple, but thats just prettier black) DH is all about babywearing so I had to find something that he would wear too. When we go back to grad school this fall he'll have baby while I'm in class. So DH can be cool while he takes care of the LO we've gotten this diaper bag.
Ok, back to the baby sling.
It took me about an hour to make my sling. The hardest part was figuring out the "french seam." I don't know if I did it right, but it looks ok and seems really strong. I tested my sling out on my kitties. LuLu, my 25 lb. princess fit right in and though she wasn't happy about it, was able to be carted around the entire house. Each kitty, except poor Jo, got a ride in the new sling. I tried to get a picture, but the kitties weren't impressed. Wilfred stayed in it the longest while Calliope wanted nothing to do with it. Of course now my creation is covered in fur and has to be washed again, but the image of our grumpy Siamese kitty laying in a sling looking helpless was pretty priceless.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The decision to choose a planned cesarean delivery with no medical indication is perfectly reasonable.?!?!?!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
"There are a lot of doctors who say it's O.K. to take a baby out a little bit early because they're going to do well . . . But still I think it's important to note that the infant mortality rate for late-preterm infants is three times what it is for [full-]term infants. This is not a difference that may be perceptible to the average obstetrician/ gynecologist doing 300 deliveries a year. But when you're a statistician like me and you're grouping millions of births and thousands of infant deaths, you can see a difference there. Basically the longer that baby can stay in utero, the better it's going to do."
This important piece of information combined with the article from earlier in the year about how early c-section poses greater risk for infants should be enough for women to start questioning their doctors about why they need that induction or c-section at 39 weeks, but there are so many factors that go into the rising rate of late pre-term births. Part of the problem is that so many hospitals now refuse to offer VBAC for women who have already had a c-section. Instead they are "encouraged" to schedule their c-section at 38-39 weeks so they don't accidentally go into labor. That is a major contributing factor to our rising c-section rate. Of course all of those would-be VBACs are classified as "patient choice" c-sections. Nevermind the fact that there is little "choice" involved. For those who are actually "allowed" to attempt a VBAC, they're often told they need to induce labor at 38-39 weeks "so the baby doesn't get too big." Even though we know that induction of labor puts one at increased risk for a c-section in the first place, that doesn't change doctors recommendation. Either way, if you succeed with your VBAC at 39 weeks you have a late pre-term baby, if you fail and end up with another c-section, you still have a late pre-term baby.
In addition to the VBAC moms, there are the fat moms, like me. Going into pregnancy, I knew I had a greater risk for giving birth by c-section, not because of my weight, but because of my doctor. First there is the assumption that I'm at higher risk for pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH). That assumption combined with doctor's habit of miscuffing larger women leads women like me into either an early induction "because your blood pressure is too high" or into the operating room because "big women have big babies." Provided one escapes the "high risk" tag of PIH you still have to worry about the gestational diabetes (GD) situation. We know that if a woman goes into pregnancy with already diagnosed diabetes, then she is already at greater risk for complications. However, the evidence for how increase blood sugar caused by pregnancy influences outcomes, is slim. Henci Goer has written extensively on the subject. In a nutshell, even though the diagnoses and treatment of GD has not been shown to significantly improve outcomes, if a woman is diagnosed with the condition she is generally "encouraged" to induce at 38-39 weeks "before the baby gets too big." Whether your induction succeeds or not doesn't matter. Either way, you have a late pre-term baby.
So, now we have the VBAC moms and the fat moms on the late pre-term baby train. Next up, any other mom that has a doctor who wants to be somewhere! Its well known that doctors like the "convenience factor" of induced labors and scheduled c-sections. Natural labor can happen at any time: Nights, weekends, holidays, while you're out playing golf etc. Induced labor and scheduled c-sections let you practice from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Of course, if you want to schedule an induction or a c-section, you need to do it before the mom goes into labor on her own at an inconvenient time. That means, inducing or scheduling sometime around 38-39 weeks. Which in turn makes for . . . wait for it . . . more late pre-term babies!
In other industrialized countries, they are reducing their rates of pre-term babies by reducing the risk factors for spontaneous pre-term labor. By ensuring that women receive proper nutrition, education, and pre-natal care, they are able to lower their pre-term birth rate and thus their infant mortality rate. In this country we are still neglecting the nutritional, educational, and medical needs of minorities. Thats why the pre-term birth rate and infant mortality rate amongst non-hispanic black Americans is almost twice that of the white population. That situation, combined with doctors who believe that its ok to get that bun out of the oven a little early, means that the United States, the richest country in the world, ranks 29th for infant mortality. That is unacceptable.
On the ground level, we as mothers, doulas, caregivers, midwives, etc. need to educate ourselves and other women on the risks of having a baby early. As citizens we need to lobby our leaders to make sure that every woman in this country has access to pre-natal care and good nutrition. As pregnant mothers we need to be pro-active in the doctor's office. We need to be educated about the maternity care system and we need to question the doctors when they want to induce us or give us a c-section. We need to have the confidence that we were built to have babies and that doctors cannot improve upon nature. Some people might ask what the big deal is with our infant mortality rate. Seven babies out of 1,000 doesn't seem like a big number, but in reality that adds up to more than 28,000 infant deaths per year. Thats more than the total population of the largest town closest to me.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
In the mean time, waltz over to the Motherlode for Lisa Belkin's new post. She has a way of posting reasonable questions that really bring out the crazies. Read the comments and then marvel at how those who support a woman's right to choose in terms of birth control and abortion, would take control away from that same woman when she wants to actually give birth. Its like listening to pro-lifers who support the death penalty.
Here was my response:
I’m always wary of making more laws when we don’t enforce the ones we have, parenting laws included. As for the proposed law in Colorado, that is an example of good legislation that needs to be passed to support families. There is a reason we have the problems we do in this country in terms of childrearing, and many of them could be solved by providing mothers and fathers with sufficient workplace support.
Once again I’m amazed/appalled by those that believe 1) you should have to have a license to engage in the most basic of biological functions and 2) that such a license should hinge on arbitrary guidelines like income, or high school education, because as we all know, no wealthy person has ever abused a child and no high school drop out has ever amounted to anything. Kathy, #31 doesn’t want to let anyone who has been a victim of abuse parent a child because she’s afraid such a person would be a burden on her taxes. Nevermind that millions of victims rise above their circumstances each day to become something more than just a victim. Kathy wants to re-victimize them by denying them control over their bodies.
Its for these reasons that people should not be allowed to make laws governing who can raise a child and who can’t. If the commenters on this post and others like it are any sample of the population at large it shows that few understand the compassion it takes to work with families or children, and that the vast majority of them don’t have the empathy to question why things are the way they are.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Commenter #18, identified as MJ must be my soul sister. She writes:
I am a new mom in her 20s, and this defensive type of article is EXACTLY the sort of thing that gets me riled up. The reason why nursing mothers are fighting so hard for breastfeeding is to try to make it socially acceptable again. Sure, you can go ahead and say that it already IS socially acceptable, but just look at the Facebook ban on nursing photos and the lack of “lactation rooms” in workplaces, and you can see that there is still a stigma attached to breastfeeding. Like many women my age, I blame the previous generation’s feminist movement’s focus on having everything for men and women be exactly the same. News flash–men and women are NOT biologically the same! We carry the babies, we nurse the babies, we are the mommies. My husband and I have what I call a more enlightened equal marriage. Instead of trying to divide every task exactly down the middle, like the author’s Canadian friend seemed to be doing, we realize that we have different abilities/strengths and divide the housework and childcare duties according to those. Yes, I feed the baby during the night, but that’s because I have the boobs! Because I get less sleep at night, he does more of the share of the housework during the day. It’s ludicrous to think that men and women are exactly the same. We need society to realize this, and provide the kind of support for families that women are crying out for–laws mandating that employers provide maternity leave and the support new moms need when they return to the workplace. When you feed your baby formula solely because it is more convenient, you are giving up the fight for the rest of us. We need to stick together and demand that society supports us in our choice to breastfeed!
Exactly. This is what I was trying to get at in my response to the Debra Dickerson posts but I don't think I got it out as eloquently as I would have liked.
So, MJ, whoever you are, rock on sister!
Rosin's article is an example of the growing backlash against women who choose a more traditional approach to motherhood. Her response, "We are in a time of incredibly intensive parenting,” “Why now, when women have less time and more opportunity than ever before? You would think some other form of parenting would be thriving now." is indicative of the disconnect between the two groups. As a woman who has taken up the banner of pregnancy and motherhood rights, I've discovered that more traditional feminists view me and my compatriots as confused at best and turncoats at worst. They don't understand why, when we could be out there making money, we quit our jobs, clip coupons, and raise our children. Because of this, we have a situation where traditional feminist organizations like NOW will only lend token support to the issues of pregnancy rights.
The problem I had with Rosin's article was that she attempts to do exactly what she accuses the lactivists of doing. Where they have tried to guilt her into breastfeeding, she tries to make them out to be air-head fad followers. Its the same old mommy wars: "You're a bad mother because you're ambitious. You're a bad woman because you're not." It wasn't helpful in the last millennium, and its not helpful now.
Dickerson's articles are a prime example of how Second Wave feminism has little to no value in the third millennium. I grew up with with their rhetoric. You don't need a man and a family to be fulfilled. You want corporate success! Money and power, thats where its at, just like all the boys have.
I'm sure that was great for them. They grew up in an era where a man thought he was superior just because he had testicles. But for me, it means something else. By the time I reached adult hood, the vast majority of men I knew were ready to be equal partners with women. The second wavers have given me an economy where I HAVE to have a job if I want to survive. They assumed that no woman would ever choose to raise a family of her own volition. In their minds any woman who stays at home to raise a child just doesn't get it.
In Dickerson's first article she rails against the young women of today for not caring about abortion. To Dickerson's generation, ending a pregnancy was the only justified reproductive choice. Thats the reason why when women like me go to the major feminist organizations and ask for help in reforming maternity care they turn a blind eye. Having babies is a medical issue, not a reproductive choice. No one chooses to actually reproduce, they only choose not to.
Dickerson's second article gives the modern reader more insight into the thought process of the Second Wave Feminist. She claims that the promotion of breastfeeding is "just another conspiracy to keep those of us with vaginas barefoot and topless in public." Now, I'm not positive that she's serious, but its worth looking into. Dickerson comes from that generation where anything that ties a mother to the home or her children must be viewed with suspicion. Its all a ploy by "the man" to keep women shackled so they don't take away their toys.
I grew up thinking that I was an anti-feminist. That happened because it seemed incredibly stupid to me that women wanted to be men. I had benefited from the first and second waves of the movement, but I couldn't identify with their rhetoric. I have never been made to feel like I was limited because of my gender. I have always wanted my doctorate and no one has ever said that I shouldn't or couldn't do it. I've only met one or two male chauvinists, and they were both old. I didn't find out that I wasn't anti-feminist until I went to college and took my first feminist theory class. It turns out I just think the emancipation feminists have issues. I enjoy being a woman. I have a vagina and that makes me happy. And for the record, its a vagina, not a pussy, cunt, coochie-snorcher, twat etc. Its a V-A-G-I-N-A. I refuse to have a "cunt-positive" attitude. It was vulgar when it was owned by the men and its still vulgar when owned by the women. Second Wave feminism figured if you can't beat 'em, then join 'em. By pretending to be one of the boys and putting down femininity they felt they had succeeded. Today, they're the grannies that don't want to babysit.
For the women of my generation we're facing something different. We look at the second wavers and they're still bitter. We're not sure about what. Maybe its that whole $.70 on the dollar pay discrepancy. That sucks, but we're working on it. For me, I look at my MIL (the step-mom) She's now in her early 40s which means she didn't come of age until after the bra burners had run out of cross your hearts. She did what they told her to. She went to college, got her degree, joined a law firm and made partner by the time she was 36. When I first met her she ran around in t-shirts that said "Who are these kids and why are they calling me mom?" She had snarky desk calendars with all the fun feminist sayings on them. A few years ago her biological clock started ticking and like many women her age, she realized she couldn't just hop in the sack and make a baby. According to the second wavers she had it all, but regardless of all the boy toys she had acquired, it turns out she was still a woman. She still had those desires that the second wavers just knew would disappear if women could enter the corporate world as equals. Tens of thousands of dollars later and who knows how many IFV cycles, my MIL was able to have a baby. Last Thanksgiving we went to visit. Early one morning I was having coffee with my MIL and she was wistfully staring at my new bump. I asked her if she thought they'd have more kids. She told me she'd like to, but she didn't have time. Over our conversation it came out that she would love to spend more time with her only child, but with her work schedule there was no way. My tiny BIL is being raised by his nanny. Both his parents work ridiculously long hours so they can keep up their lifestyle.
When I was in that feminist theory class my sophomore year, I had just gotten divorced from my first husband. I had lived that dreaded life of the young marriage that feminists rail against. Most of the women in that class were women's studies majors. When they found out that I'd gotten married at 16 they asked if he was the first boy that told me I was pretty. He wasn't. They couldn't accept that I had used him to get out of a situation I couldn't stand. Each Thursday morning these ladies would troop into the classroom and start in about Wednesday night. They'd all gone to the bar, inevitably one or two of them would have a one-night stand, and then have a fit the next day because he didn't call. Our instructor, a good old fashioned second waver, would console them. It wasn't their fault. Those nasty men had made them feel like they had to sleep with them to be accepted. Thats when I realized that Second Wave feminism was no longer about giving women more choices, it was about blaming men.
Second Wave feminism holds no promise for me. I am choosing to raise children. I am choosing to pursue a Master's Degree while breastfeeding. NOW only wants to support me if I want to do those things without jr. in tow. Sure they'll lobby to make sure I can have someone else raise my spawn, but as far as they're concerned, no reasonable woman wants to raise her own children. I've come to realize that Second Wave feminists put down young women like me because they're afraid. They're afraid that if we succeed at hybridizing Betty Crocker and Rosie the Riveter, then they're toast. They'll have to face the fact that women aren't men and that we don't need a man's success. We can forge our own path, and it doesn't have to involve power suits. My feminist heroes are not Betty Friedan and Simone De Beauvoir, they're Ina May Gaskin and Sheila Kitzinger. They are women who work towards empowering women to be mothers. Thats something that Second Wave feminism almost took from us. To answer Dickerson's question about what young feminists are doing here is my reply:
I talk to young women all over the place about their birth experiences. I connect them with those who are willing to help them like ICAN and the NAPW. I take every chance I can to lobby legislators about increasing access to midwives and health care professionals that actually care about their birth experience. I attend nurse-ins even though I'm not nursing yet. I make it a point to let mothers who are breastfeeding in public know that they are supported. I know its not working to end pregnancies, but guess what, thats not the only struggle out there. Women have a right to bear their own children and to raise them how they see fit, even if that means they stay at home and god forbid, breastfeed.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Lets look deeper, shall we?
Rosin sets the tone of her article by claiming the advertising slogan, "Breast is Best" is the "upper-class parents’ jingle." Because you know, its only those hipster urban mommas in their expensive clothes and spiffy strollers that choose to breastfeed. She recounts how other mothers at the playground left her out of their social circles when she "made the mistake of idly musing about breast-feeding." That statement makes me wonder what exactly was it she said?
Rosin goes on to list the purported benefits of breastfeeding and how she has decided its all poppycock. After all, she found a study! She cites the study from 2001 published in the Journal of the American Medical Association you can find it here. Rosin quotes the conclusion, "There are inconsistent associations among breastfeeding, its duration, and the risk of being overweight in young children." It was the word "inconsistent" that set her off. She takes that point and runs with it. After all, if the results are inconsistent, then that must mean that breastfeeding isn't all its cracked up to be. Right? Well turns out that either she didn't read the rest of the conclusion, or that it just didn't seem to fit in her article. The rest of the conclusion states, "Breastfeeding continues to be strongly recommended, but may not be as effective as moderating familial factors, such as dietary habits and physical activity, in preventing children from becoming overweight." (emphasis mine) Thats right folks, it turns out that you can breastfeed all you want, but if you wean the kiddo onto french fries and cheeseburgers, you're still going to have to fight obesity. Turns out that breastfeeding, like most things, is to be used as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Rosin also goes after the science that claims babies receive antibodies from their mother's milk. She cites an article by Dr. Sydney Spiesel. In it, he claims that "human babies are never able to absorb maternal antibodies from milk or colostrum into the bloodstream." Thats correct. He cites a study found here. At the end of the abstract there is a neat little nugget that states, "In humans, milk excreted antibodies play a major role in protecting infants from infection by pathogens having a mucosal portal of entry." (emphasis mine) It turns out that the blood stream is not the only place the body can fight infection. Whadduya know. You can also avoid infection by preventing pathogens from ever entering the blood stream in the first place. That doesn't sound as "pedestrian, and less powerful" as Rosin would like you to think it is. Rosin takes Spiesels declaration that the antibodies don't enter the blood stream and uses it to fight the "magical thinking " that breastmilk protects babies from infections. Though she does later cite another study which found a 40% reduction in gastrointestinal infection . She goes on to diminish the results because, "in real life, it adds up to about four out of 100 babies having one less incident of diarrhea or vomiting. " You know, only 1.6 million fewer bouts of an illness that often results in hospitalization for dehydration. I'm not sure why that's not significant to her, but its pretty significant to me.
If one looks past the misleading statements directed at the scientific bunch, you can get to the root of the article pretty quickly. Rosin describes her reaction at discovering that a magazine had won an award for their article on breastfeeding. To her, the advice amounted to the magazine declaring, "The root of the problem is not the sudden realization that your ideal of an equal marriage, with two parents happily taking turns working and raising children, now seems like a farce . . . You just haven’t quite figured out how to fit 'Part A into Part B.'" Ahh . . now we see. This isn't about babies, its about how her husband doesn't do his part at home. If the arguments that breastfeeding isn't backed by science or the insinuations that its just another one of those upper-class fads like Baby Einstein DVDs isn't enough to make you burn your nursing bra, then this ought to do it. Breastfeeding is anti-feminist!
Rosin's next line of attack is to compare her baby to Betty Friedan's vacuum cleaner. She blames radical Christian crazies, like the La Leche League and loopy liberal socialists, like the Our Bodies, Ourselves crew, for making women like her feel that they needed to breastfeed. They just didn't understand how good it was under the male-dominated medical model of motherhood. After all, her own mother fed her on Nestle formula, and she turned out happy and well adjusted.
To the author, breastfeeding in the real world just isn't realistic. Rosin claims that, "It is a serious time commitment that pretty much guarantees that you will not work in any meaningful way." This one really burns me. Tell that to my mother-in-law. She breastfed her special-needs son for over a year, and managed to make partner at her law firm. Heck, tell that to the billions of women all over the world that manage to breastfeed their children all the while working in a "meaningful way." As proof for how anti-feminist breastfeeding is, Rosin points to the fact that the National Organization for Women lobbied against the American Academy of Pediatrics' statement that breastfeeding should be continued past 6 months. You know NOW, that bastion of support for mothers. The one that refuses to even take a stance on pregnancy rights because its a medical issue.
What it comes down to is Hanna Rosin doesn't want to breastfeed but she does it anyhow. Instead of taking responsibility for her decision she instead attacks the other side. Once in awhile she makes a good point. She talks about the problems breastfeeding mothers have in the workplace. She says what most know, that employers don't want to give breastfeeding mothers the time they need to pump. She cites the fact that lower wage workers will have a harder time than professionals. I just can't understand why she thinks these are reasons NOT to breastfeed rather than reasons to change a system that makes mothering more difficult. She also cites the mother's mindset. "[I]f a breast-feeding mother is miserable, or stressed out, or alienated by nursing, as many women are, if her marriage is under stress and breast-feeding is making things worse, surely that can have a greater effect on a kid’s future success than a few IQ points." To that I say, EXACTLY. If breastfeeding is making her life that difficult we need to find ways that help her succeed rather than stressing. If breast-feeding is ruining your marriage then my suggestion is a marriage counsellor. The problem likely lies in your husband and not your baby. Rosin believes that the decision to breastfeed should be weighed against other concerns like, "modesty, independence, career, sanity." To me, breastfeeding is not a barrier to these things, but rather they are challenges to overcome. The entire article seems to be Rosin's personal justification for making a decision she's not wholly comfortable with. I'm sure there are other women out there that feel the same, but why can't we just take responsibility for our decisions instead of attacking those that choose a different path. I have a close friend that wouldn't even think of breastfeeding. When asked about it she'll just tell you, "I don't want to." Its no big deal. Her children are fine. Its her choice. Rosin needs to make her choice and stop beating up on those who go down a different road.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In modern obstetrics it is common to clamp the cord immediately after birth. There is this vague idea that leaving the cord alone may cause jaundice. Some have said that clamping the cord immediately has its origins in the early part of the century when heavy sedation was widely used. Clamping the cord immediately prevented even more drugs from entering the baby's body than would have otherwise. Like many other obstetric practices, early cord clamping (ECC) is just another one of those things doctors do because thats what they do. Today there is mounting evidence that ECC is not only not indicated, it may in fact be harmful.
Several controlled studies have shown that delaying clamping and cutting the umbilical cord helps pre-term infants adjust to the outside world as well as increasing iron stores in infants for up to six months. This in turn reduces the risk of anemia and intraventricular hemorrhage. According to an article found at Science Daily, researchers discovered that "the average transfusion to the newborn is equivalent to 21% of the neonate's final blood volume" Thats alot of blood. If I was deprived of 21% of my blood, I'd probably feel a difference. In all cases, researchers have noted that the risk for jaundice is either exaggerated or that it isn't statistically significant.
So what about cord blood banking? Science is finding out that babies need that blood immediately, but can't we do both? Probably not. According to the Cord Blood Registry FAQ, amount matters. They say that the collection amount is important. The more blood you have, the more stem cells you get. Logically that means if you're going to bank your blood then you can't afford to let that baby have any now. The Cord Blood Registry website also that the, "Cord Blood is collected from the umbilical cord immediately after the birth of the baby and after the cord has been cut. This blood is routinely discarded and collecting it does not alter normal birthing procedures." This assumes that you're going to a provider that routinely does ECC as part of their active management style. It seems that you can't have it both ways.
You may be asking yourself, "What does the mainstream medical establishment say about all of this?" Well, as usual, the answer is a bit confusing. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out in favor of public cord blood banking. Their FAQ on the subject cites cost as well as the fact that using your own cord blood to cure a disease you have is unlikely to work. If you have the disease now, you will have the genetic predisposition for the disease in your cord blood. The problem one runs into is that the AAP has also published studies in favor of Delayed Cord Clamping (DCC). The article in Pediatrics, their official journal, states that DCC "has been shown to be safe and should be implemented to increase neonatal iron storage at birth." So, the AAP recommends both delaying cord clamping and banking cord blood.
In our situation, we initially considered banking our baby's cord blood. We did some research and found out that price would be our initial hurdle. We also weren't convinced that we would ever need it. We were aware of the fact that if our child ended up with leukemia then her cord blood would basically be useless as a cure because the cord blood would have the same tendencies. We were unaware of the fact that public banks exist. They work like a regular blood bank. You donate, someone who needs it gets it. You don't pay them and they don't pay you. After we started researching cord clamping in general, it really became a non-issue. We've decided that our baby needs the blood in the cord. There is no scientific basis for leaving any blood in the cord. Its becoming pretty much accepted that you should wait for the cord to stop pulsing before you clamp and cut. That happens anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes. In that amount of time the baby gets a whopping 21% of its blood volume. Because the baby is still getting oxygenated blood from the placenta there is a little more time to get acclimated to the outside world and establish breathing. Like many other modern obstetric practices, its going to take awhile for practice to catch up to the science.
My Midwife: Michelle
My midwife lives two hours away. She's the closest one to us and the ONLY travelling homebirth midwife in the STATE. I found out about her before I got pregnant and started corresponding with her then. By the time we were pregnant we were pretty sure that she was who we wanted. After a few weeks of meeting OBs and checking out that side of the story, we didn't need anymore convincing.
Michelle is in her 40s. She's a petite little thing, and absolutely adorable. DH keeps having fantasies about her demonstrating perineal massage techniques on me. She is the mother of 11 children, all born at home. All of the kids are homeschooled and they all live in a renovated schoolhouse out in the country. Michelle has two apprentices, one is a larger, happy lady. She's probably in her 30s-40s. The other is this slight little creature with a feather touch. She's probably younger than I am. Michelle's practice is always bustling. When we arrive for our appointments there is always someone just coming out of the room and when we leave there is always someone waiting. She does her prenatals on Tuesdays.
When we arrive I always have to pee. I've been in the car for two hours, and have usually had to stop once. I head to the bathroom they call the "Rockwell" (its decorated in Norman Rockwell pictures) and I pee on my stick. By the time I get out we're usually ready to head in. Her exam room is decorated in a sea scape motif. Everything is light and fluffy. She checks my blood pressure and has me go weigh myself. Then we start talking. She asks how I've been, how my bowels are (she's big on that one) what I've been eating, how everything at home has been etc. It usually takes about a half hour. At some point we go to the bed to check baby's position and heart tones. This bed is the most awesomest bed ever. I could totally sleep in it. She pokes around and tells me this is here and that is there. Sometimes she has her apprentices come and check too. Afterwards we go sit down again and we talk about what we need to be doing in the future. She checks my kick count chart, answers any questions I've brought, and we set up the next appointment. The whole thing takes about an hour. When you compare these appointments with the total 7.5 minutes I've spent with my backup OB over three visits, there's no contest.
Yesterday started out clumsily, it seemed to be an extension of Monday. DH hasn't been feeling well. He has a sore throat and a tooth thats bugging him. I was on him to go see our nurse practitioner Monday morning but he wouldn't go. He then called me around noon on Monday and wanted me to get him an appointment. I got him one at 3 p.m. Our NP wasn't sure if it was the sinus infection or if the tooth was bad so she gave him some pain killers. Yesterday we left at noon so we could make it to our 2:30 appointment. We were less than five miles out of town and DH looked pale. I asked if he was alright and I got the standard male response: I'm fine. He wasn't fine. We had to stop at the first rest stop so he could throw up. The NP had given him a narcotic pain killer. They always make him sick, but he wont admit to that. I took over driving and we headed on down the road. About an hour into our trip DH looked pale again. I asked him if he was ok. Standard male response: I'm fine. He wasn't fine. He vomited in my purse and all over his pants. . . . Super.
We got to Michelle's and DH stayed in the car. I went in by myself. I sat down in the chair and pretty soon another couple walked in. We sat visiting and we realized that we were both booked for 2:30 . . . Super. Michelle came out and apologized. Our last names were very close and she got us mixed up, but it was no big deal. I went in and got examined. I had to have my first internal exam because I was contracting the day before and we had a bit of a time getting it to stop. She wanted to make sure I wasn't dilating too much. I wasn't. I am dilated to 1cm but she said that was no big deal. She just didn't want me at a 3 or a 4. We found out that baby is laying ROA. We had never been able to figure her out before this. She's got her bum up in my ribs and she's snuggled up against my right side. She's not engaged yet, but she's definitely head down. (yay!) We got the heart tones through the fetoscope. Baby has been too wiggly for this most times so we've had to resort to the Doppler. Everything went fine at the appointment and we're set up for two weeks from now.
On a financial note, we had to pay Michelle upfront and out of pocket. Thats not abnormal for a midwife like her. She told me yesterday that the insurance company we use actually paid her for another client! She's going to turn in everyone's insurance now and hopefully, we'll get reimbursed. Blue Cross/Blue Sheild will pay a homebirth midwife in most states, but up to this point, they've never paid for one in our state. Hopefully thats changing.
We made it home.
When we got home I stood in my house and took stock of the situation. The sink is full of two day old dishes. Laundry is all over the bedroom. The living room is full of evidence of having someone with a cold dying on the couch. The trash can is full of Kleenex. The Vick's rub is laying open on the coffee table and a half empty glass of orange juice sat next to it. The kitchen table is full of well . . everything: Bills, plastic grocery bags, a hair brush, paperwork of all kinds, you name it. Our lives had exploded. I asked DH what happened. He reminded me that we had both been sick, had to take a day to go to the midwife, and there was the issue of the sick kitty.
The sick kitty
My poor Jo is dying. I am foolishly holding out for a miracle. I cried all Monday night when we brought her home from the vet. They told us that she has anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Some wanted us to put her to sleep right away but we just couldn't do that. We've made her a nest in the basement. She has access to the spare bedroom where she can sleep on the bed. She's been getting her favorite kitty food along with some tuna each day. She has her own private bathroom. In spite of all of this, she has chosen to sleep in the laundry room on a pair of DH's work pants. She's now eating normally and seems fairly happy. She doesn't move much. When you pick her up she hugs and purrs and beeps (she's never meowed) just like always. After a while she gives you a look like "why are you still here" and we put her back on her pants. We're going to keep up this hospice care until its obvious that there's no longer any enjoyment to life. So long as she's happy and eating we're going to keep loving her. I want to find a way to when the time comes have her knocked out before we take her to the vet to do the final deed. I don't want her to be scared. We're going to bury her under the tree in the front yard. We're looking for an angel statue. We are so terribly sad. DH says Jo has to leave us so our baby can have a guardian angel. Just the thought makes me cry.
This is *for the most part* the post I was going to put up yesterday, but I needed to rest. I wouldn't dream of telling my midwife that I ate a package of pizza rolls and chased it with grapes as a bedtime snack. I've only gained 12 lbs for this pregnancy so I feel ok about that. This morning we woke up and resurveyed the house. We vowed to do better and put our lives back together . . . and clean off the kitchen table.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I can't count the number of times I've either heard this or read it. It seems like almost every woman that has had her baby in the hospital has had a situation where she just would have died if her brave doctor hadn't been just around the corner to snatch her out of the clutches of death. It's starting to grate on my nerves.
I'm not sure how to handle these women. My midwife comes from a strict Christian background. Her advice is to smile innocently and turn the other cheek. I don't want to invalidate the feelings of these moms but one of two things have to be going on here.
Either they believe that childbirth is so dangerous that its a miracle anyone ever survives it.
Their doctors are making childbirth so dangerous that its a miracle that anyone ever survives it.
If I were having a conversation with a colleague or if I were debating the situation with one of the ACOG automatons, I would just start pulling out statistics and discussing the risks of all the interventions.
But I'm not.
I'm visiting with the receptionist at the vet's office.
Or I'm engaging in small talk with the checker at the local grocery.
Or I'm explaining to the Vicar where we'll be when she is called to pray for us.
I absolutely dread having a conversation with another women these days. It always starts out the same.
"Oh how far along are you?"
"Not much time left!" *belly pat*
(I know its coming. . . )
"So, you're having it at _____ Med Center, right?"
(Its the only hospital with an obstetrics ward in the area. EVERYONE has their babies there. 45% of them get a c-section out of the deal.)
Then I'm stuck. I'm not going to lie. I can't. My response is always the same.
"No, we're not going there, we're having the baby at home."
They looked shocked, and it begins.
"Do you think thats wise? When I had Jr. I would have DIED if I hadn't been in the hospital."
Then the reasons start.
"My blood pressure dropped, I had to have an emergency c-section."
o O (It happened when you had your epidural right?)
"I bled so bad, I needed a blood transfusion"
o O (They were in a hurry to get the placenta out, weren't they?)
I just listen, and try and get out of the conversation as quickly as possible. They all insinuate that I'm naive. If there's more than one woman involved, they'll give each other that knowing look that says, "She'll find out."
I don't know how to tell them that yes, they would have died if they hadn't been in a hospital, but they also wouldn't have had those problems if they hadn't been in the hospital. The only ones worse than these ladies are the dreaded
"But, my baby would have DIED if I hadn't been in the hospital!"
These women are worse because instead of just insinuating that I'm an idiot for not going to the hospital, they're also insinuating that I'm endangering my child by not going to the hospital. Their reasons are just as scary and iatrogenic as the others.
"My baby's heart almost stopped after a contraction!"
o O (They turned up the "Pit" didn't they?)
"When my baby was born he didn't breathe right away"
0 O (Did you have drugs in your system?)
"We both ended up with an infection, Jr. had to spend three days in the NICU."
o O (Where did you get that infection?)
I am not about to tell a mother who felt her child was at risk that it was the fault of the person who supposedly "saved" her from disaster. Its not only cruel but ineffective. Like me, these women were doing what they thought was best, but how do we get around this?
None of these women ever have to justify their decision to give birth in the hospital to a Vet Tech. When their babies suffer some sort of birth injury, everyone says "those things happen" or "you did all you could." If my child comes out as anything less than perfect then I'll have to deal with the "See what happens if you don't go to the hospital?" comments.
How do I deal with these women?
I'm not going to get them to understand why we're doing this. It will do no good for me to explain to them that if something goes south, then I'll go to the hospital. If in eight weeks this baby is transverse and we can't turn it, we'll go to the hospital. If it looks like the baby isn't tolerating things well, then we'll go to the doctor. I'm not anti-doctor. Most home-birthers aren't. We just don't want to have to fight for a natural birth.
In real life, you can't tell these women what really happened. I think many of them know that things shouldn't be this way, but the only way to absolve themselves of the guilt that comes (whether warranted or not) from being run over by the medical establishment, is to internalize the justifications given at the time of birth. Online, its a different story. I've seen many message boards where women are willing to beat each other up with the birth ideology stick. I see natural birth mothers accusing the medicalized crowd of being bad mothers. Whenever a study comes out in favor of natural birth, the medicalized mothers start going on about how its just another way to "guilt" them. It seems like anything that puts a knick in the medicalized birth mindset is seen as a threat to the psyches of the women who believe in it.
These women think the women who have had c-sections and want things differently next time should just "get over it." They think that women like me, who are actively pursing a natural birth, just aren't facing facts. I seriously doubt that the majority of these women feel this way. I think that deep down inside they feel just as violated as those who have embraced their feelings; they just don't know how to handle it, so they accuse those who have a different outlook of being the ones on the fringe.
Its all so complicated. When I started TTC, I realized that the mommy wars begin even before conception. Those message boards are just as vituperative as some of the birth boards. In real life things aren't always as clear cut. Its not the Natural Nellies against the Medicalized Minnies. I have three good friends that are totally supportive of my choice. One has never given birth before. Her only experience is with her sisters who are the sort that have every complication in the book and nearly die on a monthly basis; thats just how their pregnancies go. The second friend is a two time c-section momma who is fighting tooth and nail to change the way things are done. The third is a mom who has picked the birthdays of all three of her kids. On the chosen day she goes in, gets induced, and five hours and one epidural later gives birth to her child. Her husband is always there to make sure the doctor "puts in an extra stitch." I don't know how, but it works for her. She's fine, her kids are fine, I don't judge. If these three women can be supportive of a home birth, then anyone can.
What it comes down to is that "giving birth" means different things to different women. When I am cornered into telling someone that I'm having a home birth, I'd prefer not to be judged on my decision. I don't judge them for going to the hospital. Just because my experience will be different from yours, it does not invalidate your experience. I know its overly simplified but just because I bought a banana today doesn't mean I'm demonstrating a personal criticism of your decision to buy an apple. Maybe after I have this baby, when I see one of these ladies, and they're pregnant, I can't ask them where they're giving birth. When they tell me, then I can say:
"Do you think thats wise? I could have DIED if I had been in the hospital!"
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Its about 2 a.m. on April 12, 2009. I wake up from a deep sleep, I can’t quite figure out what’s going on. The muscles in my abdomen are tight. It doesn’t really hurt but it makes it so I don’t want to stay in bed. I wonder to myself, “am I going into labor?”
The sensation leaves me and I get up and go to the bathroom. I pee some, just like I do every night. I get ready to go back to bed and I am suddenly STOPPED by the sensation. I have to grab the wall for support. Now THAT was a contraction. It lasted the better part of a minute. I go to the kitchen and get a drink of water. While standing in the kitchen it hits me again. I’m in labor. I head to the bedroom and wake Jake up. He’s pretty asleep. I tell him whats going on. He asks me “are you sure” I say yes, and have another contraction. They’re about four minutes apart and they last for about a minute each. Jake slowly gets up. The kitties are confused, so they start crying for food. He goes and feeds them. I start thinking that I’d better make the bed. Its now closer to 3 a.m. and all the lights are on in the house. I call Michelle and wake her up. I tell her whats going on. She decides that she may as well head out. She says we’re having a baby today, on Easter Sunday. I know its going to be about two hours before Michelle arrives. We get the bed made, get the birth kit hauled into the bedroom and decide to turn out the lights and try to get some rest. Michelle said she’d call when she gets to town. For the next couple of hours the contraction pattern stays the same. The contractions are intense but not really painful. They make me tired. I’m surprised at how incessant they are. It reminds me of a ticking clock, that annoys me. I decide to get up and take a shower. Jake is thankfully back to sleep on our new plastic coated bed. When I’m in the shower the contractions get worse. They actually hurt now and I let a moan escape. Its getting close to 5 a.m. Michelle should be here soon.
At 5:20 michelle calls, she’s just hit town, she’ll be here in a few minutes. We get up and get all the kitties, their litter box, and their bowls into the basement. They’re going to have to stay there until the baby comes. I decide to call Melissa. Its early and I know she wont be awake. I’m kind of glad for that. Even though I want her here, I don’t want her here. She doesn’t answer. I leave her a message. I wont call her again. Michelle checks everything and says I’m doing fine. My blood pressure is actually normal because now I don’t care. This baby is coming no matter what. M. decides that I’m in a good labor pattern. She thinks I should try some breakfast. I decide that I want toast, so Jake makes me some. I eat it and promptly throw up. Then I throw up some more. Its just about 6 a.m. and I’m in transition.
Michelle decides she wants to do a vaginal exam. I’m almost fully dilated. She’s kind of surprised I’m moving that quickly. I’m not, I’ve always known I’d have a fast labor. By 6:30 I’ve started to push. It’s the only thing I can do. I’m naked, I lost the night gown about an hour ago. I can’t stand things against my skin when I’m uncomfortable. Pushing hurts but it seems necessary. I can feel the baby moving down in my body. They were right about crowning. Forget the “ring of fire” it is just like pulling at the corners of your mouth. I’m almost afraid to push, but the urge to push outweighs my fear. I push for a little more than an hour. At 7:37 a.m. my daughter, Oriana Violet Parsons is born into her father’s hands. I had a little superficial tear, but nothing that some Neosporin wont fix. I am so tired, I feel like I’ve just ran a marathon. Our daughter is beautiful. Her head is a little molded but nothing serious. She’s pretty in pink. She lets out one big cry but as soon as she’s put on my chest she stops. She has beautiful blue/green eyes. She seems confused as to what she’s doing here. I coo, dad coos, we’re in love. I’ve never felt anything like this. Her body against mine seems so natural, so right. She’s a little bigger than I thought she’d be. She’s 7 lbs. 2 oz. and 20 inches long. She’s chubby and perfect. It doesn’t take long for her to start nursing. Gosh it feels weird! Its going to take some getting used to, but she seems to know what she’s doing. She doesn’t nurse for long and she drops off the breast. Michelle decides to cut the cord. She asks Jake if he wants to do it, but catching the baby was enough for him, he lets her cut the cord. She is now free from my body. Michelle wraps her in a blanket, puts her hat on her and gives her to Jake. He gets acquainted with his daughter while I move into a semi-squatting position. It only takes two pushes to get the placenta out. Its bigger than I thought too. Forget “salad plate” sized, that sucker is as big as a dinner plate. I decide that I don’t want to paint it. Its not as neat or earthy as I thought. In fact its kind of gross. It reminds me of some crazy sea creature. I don’t really bleed. Its no worse than a heavy period. I feel pretty good. My hips and legs are sore. Michelle wants to know if I can walk. I’m wobbly but mobile. She asks if I want a shower. Sounds good to me. I get in the shower, and clean up. I’m not in there long. I pee while I’m in the shower. Its actually hard to pee. I don’t know where my muscles have gone. My brain can’t find them. My tummy is so squishy. I can feel my uterus. Its like a softball in my stomach. I want to weigh myself, but I’m too tired. I get out of the shower and into some new underpants. I refuse the “mommy diaper” and opt for a huge maxi pad instead. I don’t want to put on another night gown. I’d rather stay naked.
While I was in the shower the bedroom was transformed. Everything was cleaned up and the bed remade. It looks really inviting. Jake is still sitting with Oriana. She’s falling asleep. He looks so happy with her. I go get in bed and they hand me my daughter. Jake and Michelle go over what needs to be done over the next few days. By now its after 9 a.m. I’m sure grandma is wondering why we didn’t come to church. The phones have been off so we wouldn’t know if she called. Michelle leaves around 10 a.m. Oriana nurses one more time before Michelle leaves. As soon as M. is gone Jake gets naked and crawls in bed with us. Its absolutely wonderful. I’m crying, he’s crying, Oriana is sleeping. We have a family. We decide to take a little nap. Jake wakes up a little before noon. At 12:30 we’re supposed to be at grandma’s for dinner. Jake calls her and tells her we wont be over, and oh by the way, she has a great-grand daughter. He gives her the stats and tells her to announce the news at dinner. We turn off the phones again and lay back down.
Birth was a little harder than I thought it would be. I knew it would be fast, but it seems like time stopped. I couldn’t tell one minute from the next. My body did exactly what it was supposed to. My daughter is perfect. My husband came through with flying colors. I feel a little beaten up, but nothing that a day or two of rest wont fix. I got scared a time or two, but we made it through. Michelle was great. Sometimes I got mad at her for bossing me around, but she knew what she was doing. The whole thing was just awesome.
The article focuses mainly on what I would call "older" moms. These ladies are all between the ages of 38-49. Depending on which demographer to talk to, these ladies are either at the end of the baby boom or they are the start of "Generation Jones." Their mothers however, would definitely be baby boomers. Now in their 60s, they would have been born into that creepy, Feminine Mystique, cold-war era that now only exists in my nightmares. The grandmothers in this article are all middle class to upper-middle class. Given the cultural leanings of the time, its really no wonder why some of these modern grannies aren't to keen on the idea of taking care of more babies. As one woman put it, “I was a stay-at-home mom. Then I discovered when I started my own career that there was a whole other world out there.” But what does this mean for all of the mom's out there who don't have supportive mothers? More importantly, what does it mean for the grandchildren out there who won't have a "Grammy" or a "Nana?"
In my situation, if it weren't for my grandma, I would have had no place to go. She was from that generation before the boomers. She was born during the depression. She stayed at home with her kids during the early part of the swinging sixties, but she went to work with the rest of the mothers during the 1970s. She was a career woman all through my childhood. In fact, she only recently retired, at the age of 75. She didn't continue to work because she had to, she did it because she loved her job. I think that because she was the child of immigrants who still had ties to the "old country" and because she grew up poor, her sense of responsibility to her family in general was more ingrained. Like Marian Robinson, she knew that families have to stick together to make everything work.
I had only one set of grandparents. My father was orphaned by the time he was a teenager. All of my great-grandparents had passed on by the time I came along. My child will have a drastically different experience. At last count my child will have three grandmas, two grandpas, four great-grandmas, and three great-grandpas. Thats a whopping seven grandmas and five grandpas. (My husband is from a VERY blended family) The vast majority of these people live either in Colorado, California, or Texas. There will be one set of grandparents and one set of great-grandparents here. My mother is neither willing nor able to be this baby's "grammy." My dad however, is ready to be "papa." He's likely going to be the one that babysits when we need it, gives advice, and will generally be the Marian Robinson of our family. My grandma is also ready to be a hands on granny. She wont be able to do as much as she did when I was little, but she'll be on call, I'm sure of it. Baby's great-grandpa here is a quiet fixture in his chair, but he's the sort that would love to have a baby babbling on the floor next to him. On this side of the family, this baby I'm carrying will be the first grandchild for anyone in a long time, and she'll likely be the only one until we pop out another. On the other side of the family, its a completely different story.
DH's family is a mish mash of half-this and step-that. The great thing about it is that no one differentiates. A brother is a brother, and a mother is a mother. His mother likely wont be in the picture, she has enough troubles keeping her own life together and raising the last of her children. For the great-grandparents this baby will be just one among the crowd. I think at last count she will be somewhere around number 27 - 29, depending on who gives birth first. She'll know who her great-grandparents are, they'll all come to the baptism and send cards, but its unlikely she'll ever have a really close relationship with the rest of them. That leaves DH's dad and step-mom. They don't realize it yet, but I have arbitrarily chosen them as THE grandparents for his side of the family. (evil grin)
My FIL and MIL (just a side note: is my husband's step-mom my MIL?) are both professionals. The are in their mid to late 40s and they have a five year old son. My SIL already has three children but I don't think they've ever seen this set of grandparents. We went out to visit the in-laws at Thanksgiving and we started discussing babies and grandparents. My MIL announced that she was too young to be "grandma" and would prefer the child call her "Aunt B___" and the child can call her son "Cousin D____." I was afraid of that. My poor baby is going to think that Grandpa L____ is married to Aunt B_____ and their child is Cousin D_______. I don't want to make some mean spirited joke about the Mason-Dixon line, but its going to happen.
My family situation is complicated, but my child will have close grandparents and far away grandparents. I know she will grow up with at least one close grandparent that she can form fond memories with, but what about all of the other kids out there, like the one's in the article? I feel sad for them that they wont know what its like to have a Grammy to love them, but maybe, if they're lucky, they'll find one of those wonderful "Aunties."