Monday, April 30, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
"Don't Ignore Infertility"
Infertility is one of the hardest things a couple will have to go through. Support is so crucial so the process doesn't swallow them.
For those that haven't had to struggle through infertility, whether primary or secondary, it's hard to know how to support a friend. One in eight couples now suffer through infertility, whereas a couple years ago it was one in ten. It may not seem like a lot, but chances are you know at least one couple that is having trouble getting pregnant and/or keeping a pregnancy.
One of the best things you can do is not ignore their infertility. For a lot, it feels like they are failing. It may not be logical, but one thing that is so important is raising a family and when you can't? It is so incredibly difficult to live with. Friends and acquaintances you were close to pull away, and that can make this process even harder.
Don't ignore their struggle. You can still be happy for yourself and your family while supporting them when they need it most. Don't offer platitudes to make their situation not seem as huge. Most personal stories and advice that I've been given in the four years we've been trying to have a second child leave me in tears because they're just a pat on the head. They're stories of "oh this woman I knew" and "just relax and it will happen".
If you are wondering what you can do? Become educated on this issue that so many people are struggling with. Be there for them. Learn what you can do as a family member and friend. And if you're still wondering? Ask them what you can do. Even if it is just a simple thing like remembering a date that's important to them while they go through this.
In the end, just don't ignore. What an important message, which you can take to other parts of your life.
And for those struggling through infertility, their is hope and their is support. Resolve is an amazing organization and a great place to start. And I am always available if you need someone to talk to (firstname.lastname@example.org). And in the end, let's break the stigma around infertility and realize love and support are so much more important than struggling alone.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
I've never had a home birth and I'm not sure I ever will. I thought I should get that out at the beginning, just in the interest of complete honesty, because what I want to address is the topic of out of hospital births and I think it's important for others to know that I don't have personal experience with out of hospital births. What I do have personal experience with is the anxiety a mother feels while making her birth decisions and I think every woman should have the right to choose the birth environment that makes sense to her.
I have known at least four smart, well-researched women who have had births at home or free standing birth center births and I fully supported them in those births and would support anyone else who also chose to birth outside of a hospital and here's why: Home birth does not equal a nineteenth century birth that eschews all modern medicine. Home birth just means a birth that occurs at home. (If any interventions had seemed necessary or if complications such as infection, bleeding, or anything else had arisen, I know that each of them would have been at the hospital in a minute! In fact, one of my friends did have some hemorrhaging and she did not hesitate to go to the hospital because that is what hospitals are for--helping people who need modern medicine or interventions before, during, or after birth!) People who choose to home birth are not necessarily anti-interventions and anti-medicine, they are just anti-interventions unless they are necessary and appropriate.
A person who home births is no less anti-necessary medicine than a person who tries safe, effective home remedies for a cold or an injury before going to the hospital. The truth is that for most healthy women who are at low risk for complications and whose baby is at low risk for complications, the hospital with all of its bells and whistles is not necessary and being in the hospital (many argue) puts that low risk woman in danger of interventions that might be unnecessary in a lower stress, more familiar environment like the home. Home is also usually within a comfortable driving distance of a hospital. After all, we trust our home to be safe enough that if any kind of dangerous accident happens there (like a tree falling, or a poisoning, or a fall down the stairs, or a knife/chainsaw/lawn mower incident--all of which, by the way, are more common than a catastrophic birth experience), we will get to the hospital in time or we wouldn't buy that home to begin with.
I get why people are nervous about home births. The thought of anything happening to a newborn baby is too awful to contemplate. If you are that afraid that something will happen in your birth or with your newborn that it will need immediate attention and cannot wait the ten or fifteen minute car ride to a hospital (or whatever distance the nearest birth center or your home is from the hospital), than you are absolutely correct to birth in a hospital. You have decided that you are fine with a twenty percent increased risk of getting a c-section and a much higher risk of having some other kind of intervention, and I don't think anyone will judge you for it. You weighed your risks and your options and you made a choice that the ability to have interventions if you need them is more important to you than the risk of having interventions you don't need. That's fine. Conversely, if you have researched it and you are willing to take the risk that the distance your house is from the nearest emergency room might be too much if something catastrophic happens in your birth, than I think you should have the right to take that risk without judgment as well. A mother who chooses home birth or an out of hospital birth has probably weighed her risk options and used the same kind of reasoning, love, and care to come to her own decision. No one should assume she hasn't. She isn't being selfish. She just chose to take a slight risk of something happening without immediate intervention, over a much higher risk of an intervention happening without it being necessary.
I also understand why many doctors and nurses are anti-home birth and don't understand why anyone would choose it. I have known a couple of nurses who work in NICUs or labor units in hospitals and they cringe to think about babies born outside of hospitals because in their line of work they have only ever seen home birth babies and mothers with complications. However, that's because the only time out of hospital birthing babies or mothers come to the hospital is when there is a complication. Nurses and doctors know very little about healthy home births because they have never been involved in them. Because only about .67 percent of women in the US had home births in 2011, I have to believe that most hospital interventions and NICU resources are used for hospital births. In fact, elective inductions (choosing to have your labor induced when it is past your due date or for another non-medical reason--a trend that has grown to nearly 30% of all births in some hospitals) result in more babies being placed in the NICU than home births.
However, what I don't understand is people who get angry with women and try to take their right to choose their place of birth away from them simply because they would not make that same choice themselves. It is not as if most of these women are denying medical help when they need it; they are simply denying medical help unless or until they need it. There is a world of difference between those two statements. I respect women's rights to make their own, educated medical decisions no matter if their choices agree with mine or not. Other people should do the same; it's not like they are trying to take away the right to choose birth in hospitals.
Thanks for reading,
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
I don't have that. I'm okay with how mine go because I'm prepared for it, not that they are fun by any means, but I've learned that when it is like this, eating healthy for me and my daughter flies out the window.
Most of the day (without medication to help and lots of natural remedies combined day to day), I can hardly stand up with feeling sick or rushing to the bathroom, so I can't stand up and make healthy food from scratch. It's just not possible.
My natural food side cringes, but my sustain my family side realizes that it's okay to not eat healthy if something is stopping it.
If you came and looked at my pantry right now, most people in this community would shudder and walk away judging me. And you know what, I'm okay with that.
It's filled with foods my daughter can make herself, foods I can make with very minimal effort, and a lot of foods I wouldn't dream of feeding my family except in times like these.
Sometimes, you have to go with what works. Sometimes, it is completely okay to buy plastic containers and bags, to buy very cheap food with tons of preservatives, to do what you have to do to make it through.
Life throws you curve balls. Nothing can go completely how you plan or how you envision your life to be. This is a struggle for us, going from eating mostly home cooked meals to eating a lot of what I consider junk, but it's how life works.
If you can't always eat healthy and how you want your family to eat, that is completely okay! Don't feel that you are any less of a great mother or father, because you are amazing. You do as much as you can, and let the "slack" fall where it may.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The idea of a due date is such a wonderful thing, especially if you know when you ovulated. You can know the exact date your baby should be "ready" for birth! That's huge! Or is it?
The biggest issue with due dates is that date is implanted so far into your brain that even if you know you aren't overdue until 42 weeks, your mind automatically goes from "I have time left" to "OMG WHY WON'T THIS BABY LEAVE MY UTERUS, YOUR TIME IS UP!"
Which is actually a very understandable thing when you're big and sore and exhausted, but it's rough seeing women all the time going from happy to completely miserable all because they have passed their due date.
Back in the day, when birth was normal and something to not be feared, you didn't have a due date. You had a due season. It was perfectly acceptable to tell others that you were due in the spring and they wouldn't keep prying. Their eyes would gloss over and they would imagine a baby in the spring and how wonderful that would be.
Now, if you don't tell people your exact due date, obviously something is wrong. They push and push until you tell them or you walk away from a very pointless conversation.
A due date should not be that big of a deal to other people. It just shouldn't. Is it their body growing and birthing another human? No, it isn't, and your "eviction" date shouldn't be the highlight of their information.
Due dates have become so entrenched in our society that everyone's pregnancy is defined by this one specific date. Some doctors won't even accept a date that isn't from your last menstrual period even if you know your ovulation date. It's all so controlled and laughable!
Pregnancy is a time where you should be focused on the journey to motherhood, not focused on one particular date. I may be different because of my history, but I believe pregnancy should be enjoyed for every second (even when you are miserable, you're still growing another human which is amazing!) and not counted down until the end date you receive.
I wish we could go back to due seasons, or even due months. That would be so much less stressful for everyone, but especially for the pregnant woman not needing to count the days until her baby is ready for birth.
So yes, I give out a due month or season. And no one, no matter how much they beg and prod, will change that.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Often, when parents talk about the questions from their children they are not prepared for, they are referring to the questions regarding sex, drugs or religion. Yet, I haven’t been too worried about these. I have no problem being straightforward about sex or explaining that at some point hormones will take over my children’s bodies, give them urges they feel they have no control over, but that they nonetheless are responsible for. I have no problem saying they should without question stay far away from doing any drug that involves a needle, but at some point they may be curious about marijuana, in which case, they again need to be responsible and safe, be with people they trust and not do anything stupid like mix drugs and alcohol and proceed to take themselves for a drive. Religion may be a bit sticky as I will have to explain why some people have one and why we don’t, or that religion is one of those things that in theory was meant to teach all of us how to get along with each other, but instead has led to thousands of years of war. I suspect the religion question will get a little complicated actually.
I am finding, however, that the questions I don’t know how to answer are the ones that are already coming at me from my three year old. Random mundane questions. Questions like, “Why does Mommy’s hair get dirty and mine doesn’t?” I don’t know. I don’t play in a sand pit. I don’t play with friends who dump dirt and leaves in my hair. I don’t play with play dough and then put it on my head. Yet I have to wash my hair – which for some reason is a chore I hate and if I ever am ridiculously rich, it is a chore I will happily pay someone else to do for me – while my son doesn’t. His hair doesn’t get dirty. Except for the time a kid smacked him in the head with a popsicle and last week when he scratched his head with his paint brush and consequently painted the back of his head green, his hair doesn't require washing.
I find I say I don’t know a lot.
“Why was that kid mean to me?”
“I don’t know. I suspect someone was mean to him, now he feels bad and sometimes people deal with feeling bad by being mean to someone else, often someone smaller.”
“Why do they do that?”
I don’t know.
"Why did they put that building there?"
I don't know.
"Why is that kid sad?"
I don't know.
"Why do I need shoes? Why can't I just wear socks outside?"
"I don't know actually. It's not raining or snowing. It's rather warm. Still, we wear shoes even when we'd rather go barefoot."
On the more complicated side of things, we recently pulled out of a playgroup, because one of the parents had a tendency to be overly affectionate and ignore the personal boundaries of the children. After a number of red flags, I realized I had a legitimate safety concern. After my husband and I told the other parents why we would no longer participate, I told Fyo that we wouldn’t play with his friends X and Y any more, because we had a disagreement with the parents.
“Are they mad at you Mom?”
“Yes, they are.”
“Why are they mad at you?”
“Well, I had a concern and I felt uncomfortable. Basically, we had a disagreement about the personal boundaries of children.”
“Well...I don't know. Do you think we could come back to this one later?”
Oh. And politics. I don't really know how to explain politics. When my dad was visiting, I was ranting about the current Republican Party’s war against women and sexist legislation they are trying to push through in various states. My son put his spoon down in his cereal bowl, and said, “Mom! Why are you yelling at your father?”
“Because I’m ranting about the sexist backlash running across the country at the moment. It makes me angry.”
“Because it’s degrading and it’s limits women’s access to healthcare and choices, and when you limit women’s healthcare and choices, it impacts the lives, health, and potential of children, and when you impact the health and potential of children you impact the health and potential of the country.”
“Because that’s how I think it works.”
“Why do you think so?”
Then I looked at my son, and calmly said words I never thought I would say, which were, “Now you sound like my high school History teacher.”
Then later in the day, “Why can’t I have a hot dog in the park?”
“Because the hot dogs they sell in the parks aren’t good quality meat.” My dad, however, proceeded with a description of pink slime.
“What’s pink slime?”
“Exactly the point,” we said.
Some parents do fear the embarrassment or social awkwardness when their kids ask loud questions in public places about disabilities or minorities. So far this has been smooth sailing for us. Thankfully, New York City is a diverse city, so kids have a lot of exposure to a lot of different people, and so far, my son hasn’t had any issues with my answers to the questions on these points:
“Why is that little boy brown?”
“Because that’s the color of his skin. What color is your skin? Different people have different colors of skin.”
“Why does that woman only have one eye?”
“Because something happened to one of her eyes.”
These are a little like a koan. But when my son saw a four year old strapped into a stroller sucking on a pacifier, and asked, “What is that in her mouth? Why?” I was stumped. I don’t know.
“Why do Nana and Grand Dad live in Texas?”
I get agoraphobic in Texas, so I really don’t know why people live there. But I said, “That’s where their families lived, so that’s where they chose to live too.”
“Why do the Abuelos live in Los Angeles?”
“Because that’s where their house is. Abuela lived there when Abuelo fell in love with her, so he moved.”
"I don’t know. He hates the traffic, the suburbs, and the sprawl, but he likes warm weather. It made sense to him."
And most recently, when he sees his baby sister nurse, “Why don’t I nurse any more?”
I don’t really know what to say to this one, but finally say, “it was just something we grew out of.” This isn’t true. He would have nursed until he left for college if he had his way, but I don’t have the heart to tell him that I just got tired.
“When baby goes back into your belly, can I nurse again?”
“Yes. Absolutely. If she finds her way back inside, the nursing is all yours.”
“I like baby on the outside, but I liked her more on the inside. When do you think she’ll go back inside?”
This one I’d actually love to say I don’t know to. But I don’t. I say, once babies are out, they stay out.
“Do you love baby? Do you love me?”
Finally! Questions I know the answer to!
"Yes, I love you both immensely."
Why do parents love their children?
“I don’t know. I just do. I love you because I love you.”
Completely lame. But it was all I could come up with. Still, from my lack of knowledge, I'm hoping he picks up on two things: 1) that it's okay not to know everything all the time and 2) that I'm open to the question and the conversation.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
I know that many parents choose home schooling and I completely support a family's right to do so. Until the last 200 years or so, home schooling was the norm. Consequently, many, many intelligent and revolutionary thinkers throughout history are products of homeschooling and tutoring. It is a well established and successful way of imparting education for those who choose to devote themselves to it and believe in it. Meanwhile, universal public education is a fairly new enterprise. It wasn't until 1918 that all then existing states here in the US had laws making school mandatory until the eight grade or age 16. So, public schooling is really still a fledgling project. Institutionalizing education has had a profound effect on it and, many critics argue, a detrimental one. You only have to rent Waiting for Superman or watch any investigative report and you know that our public school system is struggling. Currently, even though my son is only two and is likely four years away from any kind of kindergarten decision, my husband and I have been house hunting and struggling to find the school district we feel we could entrust our son's education to and, frankly, the search is enough to drive us both crazy. Meanwhile, I listen with envy to my friends who are home schooling or are planning to home school and absolutely believe that they have made the right choice for their family. I just don't feel that kind of conviction to home school myself. (I haven't completely ruled it out, either. I feel more than capable enough and willing enough to do it in the right circumstances and whether or not my son goes to school outside the home, I am completely devoted to his education.)
The truth is, there is a part of me that still has a soft spot for the great project of public education. Call it patriotism, call it idealism, but part of me (maybe the same part of me that caused me to work in a public school for four years in a low paying paraprofessional position and to ultimately get my teaching license) is still impressed with a social goal of providing education to all children regardless of race, class, "ability," or gender., (I am a licensed (although that license is about to lapse because of my current devotion to being a stay at home mom) special educator, so accessible learning for students of all capabilities is a special passion of mine.) Compulsory, free, public education was a way of making it possible for even children of parents who could not afford for someone to stay home and teach to still learn from dedicated adults. We may not be meeting all of our reading level goals here and we are struggling, but we enjoy a much more literate society than we did one hundred years ago. It was a revolutionary idea to say that no matter what education level your parents or grandparents obtained, we will try to provide an education that will level the playing field and whatever else motivations that caused compulsory education to become reality (including eliminating child labor competition in business), that was still a prevailing goal of compulsory education.
Furthermore, I can't help but think that I would not be the person I am today if I had not gone to school outside the home and frankly, I'm saying that even though the school I went to the longest during my thirteen years was not even that good. Of course, I had parents who read to me, supported me, and encouraged me to learn outside the home, too. (Just as my son will have.) What strikes me most when I think back on my education is the access I had to people and ideas I never would have encountered ordinarily. Many of my classmates are ones that helped me find my way to attachment parenting and whose friendship has helped me immeasurably in my ongoing journey into motherhood. Where would I be without them? School is doorway that opened up new worlds for me. Did I run into people who challenged the world view my parents subscribe to? Yes. However, I think that was a good thing. Because my beliefs were challenged, I had the opportunity to critically decide whether or not they were beliefs I wanted to own and integrate into my life. I feel like they made me stronger, and I would love for my son to have the same experience. I know that if he goes to school, he will be impressionable, at first, and that is why it will be just as critically important for me to be part of his public education as it would be for me to be a part of his home schooling education. He will still need me to help him discern real argument from propaganda and he will need me to model critical thinking. He will also need me to model strength in convictions and a level of participation that is exhausting to even think about, but that will be true no matter where he learns.
I also must admit that general book learning was easy for me and maybe that is part of why I feel a connection to public education. My primary methods of learning (reading/listening) are the traditional and most prevalent methods available in classrooms. However, after sitting in education classes, I know the traditional school environment I went to is not necessarily the one that my child will go to. There has been a shift in most education communities toward more progressive, constructive learning that encompasses more hands on, real world application, and self-directed, creative projects. Am I saying that is absolutely true for every school? No. But a part of me feels like if that is not the case, especially in a community funded public school, than everyone in the community should get involved until it is. Now, I am a realist in that I know there are many parents out there who do not want to have anything to do with their children's education, but for those of us who do, we can make a difference in the education of both those children and our own children if we make our doubts and criticisms heard. I feel like the last thing a school needs is docility in its parents or in its students and a part of me can't help but feel that if I do choose to home school, I'll be absenting myself from the fight. One of my main reasons why I feel I want to give public schooling a chance is because I do not want to accept the idea that the public school project should be abandoned. Call me vain, but I don't want my family's educational beliefs, our social beliefs, our environmental beliefs, our religious beliefs and even our parenting philosophy to be absent from the lives of the children in our community. I want my son to share his life, his philosophies, and his ideas with people I would never even know to introduce him to and I want it to be while I am still in a position to defend him and to help him stand his ground.
Thanks for reading,