Thursday, April 26, 2012

Giving Birth is the Least Important Thing You’ll Do As a Mother

Before I get into this, I can’t tell you how many nights this topic as kept me awake.  I’ve felt a lot of disappointment, I’ve shed tears, I’ve been angry.  And then, in the end, I’ve decided that I’ve wasted a lot of time thinking about it.  A friend recently did a post on her blog that mentioned it, and it got me thinking again, and this is the conclusion I’ve come to:

When I was first pregnant with Thing 1, I got me a midwife and made plans to birth in a birthing center.  It was the experience I wanted.  But then my pregnancy and body intervened and I ended up with my caesarian birth.  Now, I’m not one of those women who feel like they were pressured by doctors, bullied into it, and left with lots of angry, resentful feelings.  Because of the circumstances, I had some warning and was able to work through my feelings and prepare myself.  I also had the best OB-GYN ever.  And I can say, without any hesitation, that the day Thing 1 was born was the best day of my life.  I feel the same about the day that Thing 2 was born.  It was amazing.  And for either day I can sincerely say that I have no regrets about the decision making process.

Despite the fact these two days were so wonderful, for some reason I still like to beat myself up over it.  Outwardly, I’ve been all “It was the best thing for us, I’m grateful for the modern medicine that we have when we need it…” blah, blah, blah.  But internally I’ve just felt a lot of guilt.  But that is stupid.  Guilt?!?!  Guilt for WHAT exactly?

In the post my friend did on her blog, she talked about how she’d be confronted with the idea that mothers who give birth unmedicated love their babies more than women who birth via cesarean.  I hope that I don’t need to point out to you how ridiculous that is.  But, I’m going to frame it like this anyway:

I know a group of women (including my sister) who have built their family through adoption.  They are the best moms I know.  Unequivocally.  (Sorry other moms I know, it’s just how it is.)  Their love for the children is not less because someone else birthed them.  (In fact, I would argue the opposite, but let us leave that out of it for now.)  So then let me ask you this:

How important can birthing be to motherhood if someone else can do it for you and it doesn’t affect the way you mother at all?  It is kind of an ordinary biological process when it comes down to it. 

And if that is the case, it can’t really matter that much to your baby if he or she is born au natural in a birth center, or if you’re opened up for retrieval.  I can pretty much guarantee that your baby could care less.  The end result for them was the same.*

I’m not arguing that birth is not important.  I’m just arguing that it is a moment.  And it is a moment that, in the long run, doesn’t really matter to your baby at all.  And it has absolutely no bearing on how you love or parent that child.  It is a moment more about the woman than it is the child.  It is a moment that she will carry around with her for the rest of her life.  It is a moment that she will remember often in other quiet moments as she ponders the life of her child.  And it is a moment that she will celebrate in a private and special way every year on that child’s birthday.  But it is a moment that each woman deserves to celebrate, no matter how the birth happened (even adoptive mothers). As such, the woman should just have the experience she wants.  Be that at home or in a hospital, embracing the pain or all drugged up, there is just no reason to feel guilty about it.  Your baby doesn’t care, and it is no one else’s business.   

From here on out, when I hear someone expressing horror at the way someone else chose to do the birthing process, I’m going to put my foot down.  I’ve always been an advocate for women being able to choose the experience they want to have, but what may need to be pointed out in conversations about these things is the implicit idea that if someone births “naturally” they are doing what is best for the baby because they love the baby more.  That is bogus.  And it is self-righteous.  I think I’ll have no more of it.

*There are people who argue that the end result is not the same because of the risks involved.  I’m gonna head that off at the pass by calling it out.  Stats for cesarean births in the US are horribly skewed by two things.  (1) is that a majority of women who deliver this way are minorities who live just above or below the poverty line.  Another stat to describe this group is that they often go without quality prenatal care, for a variety of reasons.  If access to good healthcare didn’t SUCK in the US, it would vastly change the cesarean stats.  I’m not saying that there aren’t doctors who push it unnecessarily.  I know that happens and I think it’s sad.  When I advocate for women having the experience they want, it includes women who don’t want or need surgery. I’m just saying the whole thing is part of a greater problem and the data about health risks to the mother are skewed by other factors. (2) is that cesarean stats generally include preterm emergency deliveries.  That data is, of course, going to skew the reports on the health of cesarean born babies.  I hear people, all the time, attribute health risks to cesareans that should actually be attributed to preterm birth.  People ought to get their facts straight.  And then donate to March of Dimes, because that is important.

In the end, even though I don’t advocate choosing cesarean if you don’t need to (the recovery is worse—although not as bad as some would have you believe, but again that is more about mother than baby.  do what you’d like.), the risk of a cesarean birth is not that much greater than giving birth at home hours away from the closest maternity ward.  And I’m not saying that is dangerous either.  More power to you if it is what you want to do; I’ve had friends who’ve had great experiences with it.  But they are not better mothers than the friends I have who chose comfy hospital births with painkillers.  That is all.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Simple Woman

Find it HERE.


Outside my window... A rainy, cold day.  I don’t hate it.

I am thinking... about dye free children’s medicines.  All children’s medicines should be dye free.  What in the world purpose does pink medicine serve?

I am thankful... for my new (to me) crock pot.

In the kitchen... I made dinner in my new (to me) crock pot.

I am wearing... jeans and a t-shirt.

I am creating... reasons to have more chocolate covered cashews in my life.

I am going... to put the Things to bed soon.  Sweet glory.

I am wondering... if we are ever going to hear back on the house we’ve put an offer on.  One of these days I’m gonna do a post all about our house hunting adventures.

I am reading... Forever by Maggie Steifvater, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

I am hoping... that any one of those books gets more interesting to me this week.  I’m moving through all three of them pretty slowly.

I am looking forward to... this week.  It’s finals week for my professor husband, which means summer is nigh at hand.  We think he’s gonna be teaching all summer, so there is no time off really.  But it is less busy anyway.

I am learning… that we just really need to get a second car.  We’ve been making the whole one car family thing work for awhile now, but it is getting old.

Around the house... I don’t want to talk about it.  Both Things are sick (AGAIN!) and it is impeding housework progress.

I am pondering... getting some good glass loaf pans

A favorite quote for today... "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

One of my favorite things... thinking about the future when my Things will be older.  I adore them now, but I firmly believe I was meant to be the mother of an older crowd.  I will miss baby-ish-ness, but I think it's gonna get better from here.

A few plans for the rest of the week: not much, since I have two sick Things.

A peek into my day...
This is from about a year ago.  When Thing 1 still had some baby-ish-ness.
It's all gone now.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Buffet Rules!

I got two email alerts from CNN Breaking News tonight.

The first one letting me know the results of the latest polling. Apparently Obama is ahead of Mittens by 9 points (16 points for women, no big surprise there). But that is not the really interesting thing. The really interesting thing is that the same poll revealed that 72% of people are in favor of Obama’s proposed Buffet Rule that would tax millionaires a larger percentage than the working class.  Okay, hold that thought.  (Also note, I take heart in not being in the minority on something, for once.)

A few minutes later the second one came, letting me know that the Buffet Rule failed to get the 60 votes it needed in the Senate to move to the floor.  It was very much a party line vote and, as such, had no chance of doing any better in the House.

Okay, bring those two things together: we learn that even though 72% of Americans are in favor of the Buffet Rule, every single Republican in the United State Congress is voting to block it.  So, that means that every single Republican in the United States Congress is only concerned with 28% of the American people. 

Shouldn’t someone be getting angry about that?  And I can tell you the problem.  Big business and the wealthiest of Americans bought the Republican party a long time ago.  They haven’t been serving the American people for decades. 

We can only hope that Republicans only get 28% of the vote in November. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On Parenting, part 3

I’ve been thinking a little bit lately about cultural differences in parenting. It started more than a year ago, with the advent of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. I’ll admit upfront that I haven’t read the book. And it’s not because I’m horrified by that style of parenting. Well, maybe I am a little, product of the society and generation that I am. But even if I weren’t, one thing I know for sure about myself is that I don’t have the stamina for it. We could debate the merits all day long, and I still know I’m never keeping my child up to 3 in the morning while I terrorize them into playing the perfect piece on a musical instrument. I’ll be sleeping, thanks.

Anyway, what I really remember about the whole Tiger Mom media frenzy, is her daughter Sophia’s response to it. I remember reading that and thinking, “Wow. She’s way more articulate and mature—and accomplished—than your average teenager.; Weird that she doesn’t seem to think her mother was abusive…” So, while there may be a lot to say about the scarred lives of children raised this way, it is clearly working for some of them. (Let me also insert here that I'm sure their wealth played a great part in the opportunities of Amy Chua's children. But still...)

And as for the lot about children being scarred raised that way – I’m not sure I believe that either. There are some, perhaps. But you can say the same for any parenting style. One thing I have gleaned from other things I’ve read by Amy Chua is that she loves her children very, very deeply. And that her ultimate goal is to help her children “be the best they can be—which is usually better than they think! It’s about believing in your child more than anyone else—even more than they believe in themselves.” I can’t fault her for that. And that sentiment is why this book is on my “to be read” list.

Do I think Americans parents should make it more of a practice to push their children to the edge of insanity in their efforts to achieve greatness? Maybe not. Do I think we should be making our children work harder—work until it hurts—and to push them to reach past limits they thought were impossible? Yeah, I do think so. And while I may never keep my child (or myself) up until 3 in the morning rehearsing whatever, I probably will be willing to point out that something they’ve done is not good enough and demand that they try harder. I will force them down the more difficult paths wherein they can experience more learning and growth. I will push and they will struggle. That is my job.

Another book that got some buzz (not nearly as much as Tiger Mom got, but some) from the media more recently is Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. So, I didn’t read this book either. It’s also on my “to be read” list, but there are a lot of books ahead of it. I did, however, read several articles about it, like this one and this one.  And then I found this one, that isn’t really about the book but about the same kind of thing. The gist is that French parents demand more of their children, and so have better behaved children. Apparently French children have no tantrums and are the image of perfect politeness. That might be true, although I doubt it is all the time. (For the sake of disclosure I’ve vacationed in France twice and can’t remember witnessing a single meltdown.  So, maybe…)

Just like the tiger mom Chinese style, I don’t see myself adapting to an entirely French way of parenting. I’m foursquare against corporeal punishment, so spanking is out (apparently very common in France) and I can’t see letting a 3 month old cry it out (also common in France). What I can see is teaching my children the value of waiting, the importance of respecting others, and that the world does not revolve around them. And I can see using some French parenting methods. 

One thing I already do is have a designated snack time.  I feel like keeping my children from eating all day long encourages them to eat better at mealtimes. I’ve been doing this with Thing 1 since he was the age Thing 2 is now. He still goes throw picky eater stages, but generally comes out of them when he gets hungry. (I also only make one meal at a time. He is welcome to eat it, or wait until the next time I’m ready to present food.) And, really, my kids do pretty well at mealtime. And I think they do fairly well when eat out. (More disclosure, someone close to me recently let me know they DON’T think that Thing 1, my three year old, does well in restaurants. Take that for what you will.) Either way, I know we don’t struggle a lot with our kids at mealtime. I don’t subscribe to the idea that children should be seen and not heard, the way that French parents seem to, but they could be onto something nonetheless.

I thought a lot about these two approaches earlier this year when the Things got strep and I had to administer meds to Thing 2 twice a day for 10 days. He hates taking meds more than anything else in life and fights it every time. He has since he was 6 months old. I complained about this in a facebook status—such a big mistake. Everyone and their dog wanted to give me advice on how to administer those meds. (And most of them apparently assumed I’m a completely inept mother.  “Just be calm and act cheerful!” “Gee, thanks, I hadn’t thought of that.”) It struck me how many of those methods were coaxing and tricking and doing anything but just make the kid swallow the meds. Funny thing was, I’d tried them all long before. No one actually presented me with a new idea—even though in my efforts to be polite I pretended they did. I guess the secret is out now.

With that round of meds I actually did try many of those methods in the first couple of days—sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Mostly it worked for two days and then didn’t at all. And mostly I just resorted to holding Thing 2 down and making him swallow. Which made him really mad… the first few times. I have to tell you, though, by the end of that 10 day period, homeboy was just sitting down and taking his meds when I told him it was time. It seems like there is a lesson in there about firmer parenting. (Yet more disclosure, I’ve had to administer meds again since that 10 day period and he still hates it and fights me, but I’ve learned to just make him do it and he gets over it.)

There are probably a lot of ways that I coddle my children, but I’m working on it. And I try to remember that they are 3 and 1.5 years old. There will be less coddling and more demanding as they grow, and the capacity grows to deal with that (both mine and theirs). I am, just simply, determined not to raise disrespectful children who always choose the easy path. I know that they can be so much greater than that.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Simple Woman

Find it HERE.


Outside my window... Kind of a perfect spring day.

I am thinking... about how awesome dark chocolate is.

I am thankful... for Easter, and other religious holidays, for the reminder to focus on what matters.  Jesus loves me, y’all.

In the kitchen... a roast is in the oven, thanks to William.

I am wearing... jeans and a button down shirt. 

I am creating... new boards on Pinterest to help me decide how to decorate a new house… if we get to have a new house.  Stay tuned.

I am going... to look at a house for the third time tomorrow, and then another one for the first time.

I am wondering... when Thing 2 will not be sick any more.  It’s been such a killer winter.

I am reading... Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, and Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

I am hoping... the Easter candy doesn’t make the Things loose their minds this week.

I am looking forward to... May.

I am learning… a lot about real estate.

Around the house... man alive, I hate to fold laundry.

I am pondering... some political things.  I’ll spare you.  For now.

A favorite quote for today... “The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.” –Adam Smith  (okay, maybe not so much with the sparing of the political things.)

One of my favorite things... Did I already mention dark chocolate?

A few plans for the rest of the week: An Easter egg dying party on Tuesday.  Hopefully Wesley gets better and we get some play dates planned.

A peek into my day...
Thing 1 finding an Easter Egg
Thing 2 finding an Easter egg
Easter egg hunting (and finding).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why Americans are short sighted

This is a kinder, gentler title than what I initially wanted.  Just so you know. 

Since the health care mandate case (or cases, really) was (were) argued in the Supreme Court last week, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the issue.  For a couple of days there, I had to just keep my mouth shut all the time, because engaging in discussion over it threatens to explode my head.  I just don’t understand people. 

There is a lot of objection to the idea that federal government can tell you that you have to buy health care.  And it seems that the way people address the issue, there is just the assumption that the government is trying to control us, trying to make us buy into their system, or trying to force us into a single payer system (which we should all want anyway, but that’s a different conversation).

I’m sorry, but how are so many people so clueless?  How is it possible that so few people are considering the idea that the new health care law includes the mandate because it’s smart.  It makes perfect sense. And it’s better for everyone involved.  Seriously, if we could all just take off our government-is-evil-and-all-that-they-do-is-nefarious glasses for a sec?  Bear with me here.

One of the new provisions of the health care mandate is that you cannot be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions.  I’m not going to waste time arguing the importance of that, because if you are opposed to it, I mostly just don’t want to know you.  (I considered inserting a rant here about how America is the only industrialized nation to allow insurance companies to make a profit—or to not provide some kind of universal access to health care—and how it is disgusting and embarrassing that because of that we’ve ever allowed them to deny sick people coverage… but I’ve decided that’s a bit off topic and want to stick to the matter at hand.)  Without a healthcare mandate—requiring everyone to buy into insurance or pay a fee if they don’t—insurance companies will now be required to cover more people who will need more expensive care without a way to make up that cost. And so they will end up charging higher premiums to cover their costs. So, sick people in America will go from not being able to get insurance at all, to not being able to get insurance because they can’t afford it. And, please, don’t argue with me about whether or not it’s our responsibility to make sure all sick people have access to healthcare.  That’s another conversation that will make me realize I don’t want to know you.

With the mandate for everyone to have health insurance, we’d all be buying into the system.  If you opt out, you pay a fee so that you are still buying into the system even though you’ve chosen not to have health insurance.  (Why anyone would do that, I don’t know.) This will mean both that everyone can be covered by health insurance, and that it will be affordable.  Since healthcare for the insured is currently costing American tax payers around $40 billion a year, this is the better option for everyone involved.

There is a reason the bill is called the Affordable Health Care Act.  It’s an economic agenda.  Requiring everyone to have health insurance will drive down the premiums for everyone, giving all of us better access to health care.  It’s that simple.  Objecting to the idea simply because the federal government is mandating it is obscene.  Shortsighted is just not actually a strong enough word to describe that line of thinking.

Instead of focusing on all of this, however, people keep talking about broccoli.  (Seriously, Scalia?  And how is it that this stupid argument went mostly uncontested?  Was Verrilli even trying?  Whose side is he ON?) As though your decision to not buy broccoli might affect whether or not other Americans have access to broccoli.  NOT. THE. SAME. THING. people. Please just read THIS, because I don’t want to talk about it anymore. (Worth noting in that article: the idea for the mandate came from the Heritage Foundation, an uber-conservative think tank. Priceless.)

The problem with us Americans is that we can’t see beyond our own spheres.  We are a selfish individualistic people who can’t grasp what it means to be a part of and have responsibilities to a larger society.  And we are so unbelievably wary of government—a government that we have ENTIRE control over—and obsessed with maintaining our “freedoms” and “liberties” that we are willing to let the private sector rob us blind and rip the fabric of society right from beneath our feet.  And it makes me so frustrated I want to swear, damn it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Simple Woman

Find it HERE.


Outside my window...  It’s sunny, but it’s not supposed to get too hot today.  Which I like, because that actually feels like spring instead of summer.  I’m not ready for summer weather.

I am thinking... about how I’m late in posting this survey this week.  Not that there is a deadline, but I usually do it on Sundays.  I didn’t yesterday because I was in the throws of the Bloggiesta blogging event.  In fact, I haven’t posted anything in a week… Since I get way more traffic on my book blog (which is just a few months old) than this one (which is several years old) I decided to focus on sprucing that one up.  It was a crazy html focused couple of days, but it was super fun.  I learned a lot that I’ll be applying to this blog over time.  I figure it’s probably about time I choose and theme and just go with it – instead of changing the look every couple of weeks.

I am thankful... for our trip to Richmond this past week.  William was presenting a paper at a conference, so we just went for a quick over night trip.  It was nice to get away as a family and we even met up with an old friend of William’s along with his family.  We had so much fun.

In the kitchen... bread is rising.  Here’s to hoping it’s finished before the Things want lunch, because I’m planning on sandwiches. 

I am wearing...  jeans and a button down shirt.

I am creating... html and css codes.  Well, I did all week-end.

I am going... to look at a few more houses this week.  The last one didn’t pan out.  Let’s just say it was not a satisfactory inspection.  There was a wiring situation that was time bomb-esque.

I am wondering... why any one ever chooses to go potty in the toilet.  Okay, really I’m not the one wondering this.  That’s Thing 1.  I’m just wondering if he’ll still be wearing pull ups when he’s 5.

I am reading... Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, and Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

I am hoping... that the cold Thing 2 has right now doesn’t last very long.  Poor kid has had enough illness this season.

I am looking forward to... our summer schedule.  William will be teaching classes all summer, but he will still be less busy than he is during the official school year.

I am learning… css code.  The first I’ve delved into that was this past week-end.  Its WAY easier than I thought it’d be.

Around the house... some laundry needs folding.  Meh. 

I am pondering... the beauty of offering children choices and letting them feel like they are in control of a situation—even though they are SO not.    

A favorite quote for today... "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. " – George Bernard Shaw

One of my favorite things... when Thing 2 wants a kiss, and so he just smooshes his face up against mine.
A few plans for the rest of the week: house hunting, mostly

A peek into my day...
        He kept climbing a few feet up the slide, turning around and sitting           down, and then scooching back down saying, “Weee!”  I’m not sure that’s how it’s supposed to work, kid.


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