Before everything went to crap at 24 weeks, I was absolutely crunchy, prenatal yoga, planning on all natural childbirth, laboring at home, extended breastfeeding, attachment parenting, feeding on demand, cosleeping, you name it I was on the bandwagon. But then things went terribly, terribly wrong, I ended up on hospital bedrest at 27 weeks, a 29 week emergency c-section and a 1lb 11oz micropreemie in the NICU for 3 months and everyone in my “community” of natural childbirth, breastfeeding is best, attachment parenting community COMPLETELY ABANDONED ME.
I keep reading about the breastfeeding and natural birthing debates and I keep getting more and more pissed off. First of all, I will never suggest to anyone, ANYONE, that they go to a lactation consultant because I asked to see LCs 5 times in the hospital. FIVE TIMES. They were useless-and one actually caused more harm than good and nearly caused me to lose my supply completely. Then when I got home and I was determined to build a breastfeeding relationship with Lily I called 4 different breastfeeding organizations, posted on message boards and even sent a message to the breastfeeding doctor up in Canada asking how I could breastfeed and fortify. I got NO HELP AT ALL. All I got was the same useless crap about increasing supply. Well, I HAD a great supply, I didn’t need help building a supply, I needed help getting calories in my baby. I was strongly motivated and willing to try ANYTHING, but I got NOTHING. If I couldn’t breastfeed because it wasn’t possible with my situation, fine, but at least fucking SAY SO, don’t just disregard my question completely and give me the party line.
Secondly, I am SO ANGRY about the complete and total disregard of high risk pregnancies. All I ever read/hear about are how low risk, normal pregnancies are better served by midwives and non hospital births and that gives them the best chance of having a breastfeeding relationship. Well wonderful. What about the rest of us? What about those of us who aren’t low risk, who will HAVE to have c-sections or aren’t candidates for midwives or out of hospital births? We aren’t worthy of a positive birth experience? We should just suck it up because it was our fault for getting sick in the first damn place? Why is there NO MENTION of what could change for us? Things like having our babies in recovery with us if our babies are born healthy, rooming in with preemies once they reach medical stability in order to develop a breastfeeding relationship, not separating mother and baby if both need medical attention. Why is there no mention of how to make the best of a c-section? Because like it or not, some women will HAVE TO HAVE THEM. It isn’t their fault, they didn’t fail or screw up or do anything wrong, but sometimes c-sections are, in fact, necessary. So if that is the case, why isn’t there any effort whatsoever to make that incredibly traumatic, terrible experience LESS traumatic and terrible? Why is there absolutely NO RESOURCES to help support high risk mommas and their babies, who, BTW, are MORE likely to be born with health issues and therefore MORE likely to need help learning to breastfeed and MORE likely to need the nutritional and health benefits of breast milk but significantly LESS likely to get breast milk because their mommies are ALSO sick and the people who are supposed to help them refuse to.
The crunchy mom community doesn’t CARE about those babies or those mommies. The crunchy mom community dismisses us as if we would contaminate their cause, which I guess we would because if they acknowledge us then they would have to acknowledge that sometimes their way isn’t the best way. Sometimes their way isn’t the only way. Sometimes their way doesn’t work at all. Maybe that would weaken their crusade, but the benefit would be that EVERY woman, regardless of health, could have a positive birth and postnatal experience.
I'm reading this book called "The Triple Bind" which talks about the pressures on teenagers and young women and why they lead to stress, anxiety and depression in significantly higher percentages than boys. Basically the premise is that girls today are expected to do everything boys traditionally were expected to do (get good grades, be athletic and involved in sports, be leaders in school and extracurricular activities, hold down a part time job) while being all those things girls were traditionally expected to be (empathic, compassionate, considerate of other's feelings above your own, self depricating, and always willing to help out) and all the while fit into a mold of feminine beauty (thin, toned, put-together, and in many ways, white) that is not only unattainable by the vast majority of people but for those for whom it IS attainable it takes a considerable about of work (constant diet, exercise, hours of makeup and hair every morning) and they have to do all of this AND make it look easy, as if they didn't have to even try.
It is an interesting read, especially given that it is written by a male psychologist. I'm not done yet, but so far he hasn't really talked about the role that boys play in all this, or the role of male privledge, such as the fact that the REASON women/girls are expected to look that way are that women are responsible for male atrraction. If you "let yourself go", or even just age, it is perfectly reasonable for your boyfriend/husband to look somewhere else because he can't possibly still be attracted to you-you have failed at keeping him attracted.
The other thing I am finding interesting about this book is the problem I've been having a lot lately when reading about/talking about feminism or male/female dynamics. And that is the refrain "women can do anything men can do". The problem is not in that statement, its in the suspiciously absent reverse-which is that men can do anything women can do. And I think that is the root of a lot of these problems-the things that "women can do" aren't valued-AT ALL- in this culture. "Feminine" qualities and "women's work" are not important, not valued, not even acknowledged really as work at all. Raising children, especially baby care, is considered busy work, something that is easily pushed off onto someone else so the parents can go out and "contribute". Creating and appreciating beauty-a beautiful home or a beautiful garden, creating peace and harmony, is wasteful, or better yet, something that you get when you retire, if you ever make it that far. I find myself wondering why feminism hasn't focused its lens on this absense, creating the push for men to acknowledge that they need these things as well as women. Men like a beautiful home as much as women do, men need a peaceful sanctuary, time with their kids, a focus on themselves and their relationships as much as women do. So why aren't we pushing for that? Pushing for men to acknowledge that they need it, and they can do it, just as well as women?
I struggled with writing this post because I have very, VERY strong feelings about this. I am an infertile person. I had unexplained infertility which means that there was no reason I wasn't getting pregnant. My husband and I discussed the lengths to which we would go to get pregnant. I, BTW, was willing to go a lot farther than him. We decided that if it came down to it, surrogacy was not an option we would pursue. However, in my oh-so-naive imaginings of the future I gave serious thought to the possibility of becoming a surrogate to help another infertile couple. Well, turns out I don't do pregnancy very well, so that option is out of the question. But I am a very big fan of surrogacy, just as I am a fan of any sort of organ donation. Because that is what surrogacy is.
Being a surrogate means you are providing the use of your organ to someone who cannot use theirs (or does not have one). It is the same as providing a kidney to someone who has failing kidneys or signing papers to allow your loved one's heart to be harvested so someone else's loved one can live. The only difference is that you get to keep your uterus when you are a surrogate.
Being a surrogate is a generous, loving thing, just like donating a kidney. But the result of your donation does not belong to you, any more than the person who donated a kidney has rights to any part of the recipient's life or the person who signed the donor card to give away their husband's heart has the right to the child that heart saves. You do not get to take back the kidney if you don't like the lifestyle of the person who has it and you do not get visitation with the person who was saved by your loved one's heart. And in surrogacy you do not have custody rights to the child your organ created.
I have a MAJOR problem with this statement from this article: Katz-Rothman takes issue with the concept of surrogacy itself. She explained, “The language of surrogacy is wrong. She is not a surrogate. She is not standing in for someone else. It’s her baby. If you want to make an adoption agreement, make an adoption agreement. You can’t erase this woman like she doesn’t count. She’s not substituting for the mother of that baby—she is the mother of that baby.” NO SHE IS NOT. She is not the mother. That baby is NOT hers. She has offered the use of her uterus for the express purpose of creating a baby FOR SOMEONE ELSE. Does she have the right to back out of the contract? Abort the fetus? Engage in behavior not approved of by the parents? Yes she does. But she DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO THAT CHILD.
Adoption is different. A birthmother (who is the ONLY mother until she signs the paperwork giving up her parental rights) has not agreed to give the use of her uterus to another person, she has used her uterus herself and is giving away the product of that use. It is a completely different scenario.
Ok, taking all the emotional, inflamatory stuff out of the conversation, lets put it like this:
If you were hired to build a car, you had the skills and equipment to do so and you were paid for your time and efforts, then you have certain rights. But you know what you cannot do? You can't tell your boss at the end of the project that you've grown rather attached to that car and then run off with it. That is stealing. And if the car is a baby that you agreed to build for someone else, then running off with that baby is KIDNAPPING. Because it is not your child.
I completely support any and all efforts made to ensure that both the parents and the surrogate understand their rights, understand the implications of their actions and have legal support to ensure those rights are protected. But in the end, the child that is created belongs to its parents, not to the surrogate.
In addition, I find the language of this article really insulting. If a woman chooses to become a sex worker (which they compare surrogacy to) then it is her right to do so. Yes, there is a system in place in this country that creates a class system where some women feel desperate and turn to prostitution to pay their bills. And prostitution is not exactly a safe profession. But the fact is, the change needs to be to change the system so that women are no longer forced into a position to make that decision in desperation, not to take the only source of support away from those women who rely on it. Surrogacy is the same thing. Are there possibilities for abuse in a system that is completely unregulated and the courts are baffled by? Yes. But I have had the pleasure of knowing a couple of surrogates and they talk with pride of the service they provided and the children they built. One woman was a single mom to two young children. She was able to stay home with her daughters and put herself through nursing school due to surrogacy. It was a hell of a better proposition than waiting tables or working retail. Now she is a nurse, doing exceptionally well, and she is planning on becoming a surrogate again because she feels it is a valuable service. It is HER body and therefor HER choice to use it how she will.
Maybe I feel so strongly about this because I am an infertile person, and the rights of infertile people are stepped on in every single discussion about reproductive technology so I am a bit sensitive. But the truth is, WAY before I was even thinking about kids I questioned a system that did not acknowledge the best interest of the child. I remember the Baby M case. I watched the news coverage. And I was outraged (at 10) that the courts stole that child from her mother and father and placed her with a stranger. Just about everyone I know would say that it takes a heck of a lot more than a uterus to make someone a mother, and yet for some reason that is the only quality the courts look for in these cases.
I just finished reading two books on education, "Dumbing Down Our Kids" written in 1994 about how the standards in America's schools are sadly lacking and how we are producing high school graduates who are barely literate and "The Overachievers: the secret lives of driven kids" written in 2006 about how our competitive culture has created unrealistic expectations for children to perform and that the frenzy over college admissions and getting into Ivy League schools has caused too much pressure to be placed on kids.
These two books paint completely opposite pictures of the American school system. Perhaps because they focus on different things, the first book focused on the average, the kids in the middle, the second on the kids at the top. Perhaps because they used the same statistics (comparing American schools to schools in other countries) to further different agendas. So which one is right? I think they both are.
I completely agree with the idea from the first book that high standards are a necessary component of any educational system. I think that children, and adults, respond well to clear, high, consistent standards and most will put out the effort to meet those standards. The problem is that there are no clear, consistent standards, let alone high ones. Kids in different schools learn different things. This is unacceptable. If we are to have grades, then those grades should MEAN something. A 2nd grader should be learning the same thing as every other 2nd grader, whether they live in Alaska, Texas or New York. In addition, the letter grades should mean something as well-an A grade in California should be the same achievement in Tennessee, and an F grade should fail regardless of where you are going to school. We can't HAVE a discussion of "good schools" vs. "bad schools" if we can't DEFINE what it is we are talking about in the first place. Which is a HUGE problem (though definitely not the only one) with "No Child Left Behind", which is that the states are allowed to define their own criteria for what "left behind" means. That is bullshit. If a child is "left behind" in California because they score less than 50% on the tests and a child in Alabama is "left behind" when they score less than 20% on the tests, then those tests are MEANINGLESS.
I also agree with the overachieving culture depicted in the second book. I actually talked about it in my last journal entry. I am definitely infected by the competitive American culture where the more you produce the "better" you are. That is the clear message of our society. A person who has an average job, who works 40 hours a week and comes home and watches TV at night and has no real hobbies but is fairly content is of LESS VALUE than someone who works a 70 hour work week, has hobbies like skiing or running that they never have time for and who is stressed and somewhat depressed. This conversation occurs often in discussions about stay at home moms. A woman who gets a degree, starts a career, then has a baby and decides to stay home to do all the childcare herself is "wasting her time", whereas a woman who gets the same degree, has the same career, has the same baby but continues to work is a productive member of society. And yes, there is guilt on both sides, but the message is really clear, from both the "working mothers are child abusers" and the "stay at home moms are victims of the patriarchy" sides-a stay at home mom is ONLY valuable to her kids, she has no inherent value as a person.
I guess I see myself as caught in the middle of these two opposites. I went to an amazing public high school. I took so many AP classes I honestly can't remember them all. I got 5s on all my tests, except History and Government, the former bored me to tears, the latter completely baffled me, and yet I got passing scores on both of those. I took 5 science electives in high school, along with 2 English electives, but no art or music because I couldn't fit any in to my packed schedule. I had enough extra credits to enter college as a 2nd semester sophomore, and college was easy for me. Easy enough that I skipped most of my classes and managed to maintain a 3.5 GPA with 2 majors and 3 internships. The idea of doing my best was important to me, but I never had to.
I think there is a really easy answer to the charges in these two books. That is, get rid of age-based tracking, get rid of teaching everyone at the same pace, and start teaching kids at the pace THEY need to be taught. For me, I am not a math whiz. I was in the advanced placement math track in school, but I wasn't like the other kids, the mathletes who could do math puzzles with ease. That was not me. I feel that the way I advanced through school in math was appropriate-I felt sufficiently challenged, I could meet the challenge, and the work wasn't overly burdensome to me. On the other hand, English and science were WAY too slow. In grade school I was in the gifted and talented program and yet the books we read were so UNBELIEVABLY boring. I used to read my sister's books for fun (she was in the GATE program as well, just 3 years ahead of me) and I would pour through books from the library so fast my mom couldn't keep up with my demands to go get more. I was intensely curious about science and took so many science elective because I was interested in learning more. Even today I am fascinated by new science coming out. The school curriculum was not enough to keep up with my interest. Social studies was my least favorite subject because it was boring as hell and I didn't learn anything I WANTED to learn. To me, the dates of the Civil War was MUCH less interesting and important than the social and cultural atmosphere at the time of the war, but I was only taught dates until I was in high school. And lets talk about the art and music I missed out on. I know who Da Vinci, Bach, Mozart, Handel, Matisse, etc are, but if you played me a piece of music or showed me a painting I would be hard pressed to name who created it unless it were one of the very, very select famous few popular in modern culture (i.e. the Mona Lisa). That is really sad. Art and music are important precisely because they reflect and inform our culture.
It wouldn't be that hard to do it-kids move at their own pace and once they show competence in a subject they can move forward in that subject without having to move forward in all subjects. A kid could be in "5th grade" math, "2nd grade" english, "8th grade" social studies, etc. Everyone would be tracking based on their own strengths and weaknesses, which reduces the stigma of being tracked behind, because EVERYONE would have some subjects they did worse in. The standards could be specific and demanding without putting undo burden on teachers to manage everyone at the same age which doesn't in the slightest mean that every kid in that teacher's class should be learning the same thing.
Most important, to me, is that by allowing kids to put energy and focus into their strengths it builds a culture that appreciates individuality and personhood significantly more than the patently false "I'm a rugged individual, I do everything by myself, I don't need help or support in any way" conformity that permeates our culture.
Today I watched an episode of House which followed Dr. Cuddy (the hospital administrator) through her day. I don't normally watch House, but I thought it was an interesting premise and it was actually an interesting episode. It made me think about an episode of Modern Family I watched last week in which the young blond SAH mom had lunch with a woman who had been a co-worker of hers before she had kids. Listening to the friend's life made the mom feel bad because the friend had a stereotypically glamorous life, with work taking her on trips around the world, several lovers in different cities and she was up for a promotion to work in Paris. That particular episode bothered me, but I wasn't sure why until I saw the episode of House today.
I would HATE to have that life. Either of those lives. I would HATE to have work be such a high priority in my life that I have no time to enjoy the rewards I worked so hard for-at a job that sounds really, really boring and awful (both jobs). I've been really conflicted about being a SAH mom-in terms of what it teaches my daughter about women and what they can do/accomplish in life-and worried about getting back into the work force when my daughter is old enough (or after I have a second baby). But today I realized that I don't need to worry about that. I was really, really happy as a therapist. I have absolutely no interest in running a clinic or becoming a supervisor or any part of the administrative staff. If/when I decide to look for a job again, I will be perfectly happy going back in at the level I left, which really is entry level because I had just become licensed. Besides, what I really want to do is write. Even if I make no money, I would be significantly happier as a poverty stricken writer than a well-paid clinic administrator.
I think that my inner conflict has been about acknowledging what makes me happy vs what I think sends the "right" message about what I am capable of. Because I am really smart. I am highly educated. I am capable of just about anything, and yet what I want to do is stay at home with my daughter and write stories. And thats Ok. I don't need to be anything "more" because for me there is nothing "more" important or fulfilling.
Since for some reason I can't actually post a reply on feministing, I will just leave my comment here, not that anyone will see it, but it will make me feel better. Also, I don't know why I am posting so many things on abortion rights, maybe because that is what is making me mad at the moment, but I swear I care about other things too.
This article talks about the pro-life campaign in Georgia targeting black women, saying that black babies are an "endangered species" because too many of them are aborted. The answer, they claim, is for black women to stop having abortions.
I think this particular issue has many layers, and the racist history of this country in which white doctors sterilized black women without their consent, deliberately infected black men with tuberculosis without their consent, and denied access to healthcare and education to black people of all genders, cannot be ignored in this instance. I certainly cannot speak with any sort of authority on the reality of being black in Georgia, nor of the realities facing a black woman with an unintended pregnancy. I don't know what the motivation is for black women to seek abortions, and I cannot, knowing the history of this country, say for sure that there isn't pressure for black women to abort more often than white women in similar circumstances.\
However, I also don't think that denying abortion to black women, or making it more difficult for black women to obtain abortions, is the answer. I can't imagine how that makes things any better in any circumstance. The answer, I think, lies somewhere in education, increased access to birth control and comprehensive health care, increased support for mothers of all races and help to for those stuck in poverty to move out of poverty (the system is set up so that it is VERY difficult to move out of poverty because if you attempt to save, be financially responsible or take steps towards increased financial security they kick you out of the system. There is no way to take steps out because it is an all or nothing proposition, and very few people can go from poverty level living to a livable income in one leap).
I think the other issue that needs to be addressed in this discussion is that black women die (yes, DIE) of pregnancy related conditions and childbirth significantly more often than white women at every income level. So there is something going on in this country with regards to black woman and pregnancy and heath care treatment. This has to be addressed as well.
I think what frustrates me the most about abortion rights discussions is that there is no discussion-one side says, "its a woman's choice" without really looking at what that choice means or what could be influencing that choice (I have known women in domestic violence situations forced into getting an abortion against their will), and the other side says, "Its a baby and its murder" without any concern over what happens when that fetus actually becomes a baby. Now, I know that many people on both sides of this issue are concerned with increasing access to birth control, health education (well, from my perspective that is most likely to come from the pro-choice side), etc, but the discussions about this issue rarely focus on the circumstances around abortion and instead polarize around the procedure itself. I think we should stop talking about it completely because the conversation is getting nowhere and instead talk about the harder issues.
This is just un-fucking-believable. There are SO many things to complain about with this case, like the fact that a woman can be charged with FETICIDE or the fact that she was arrested for confidential statements made to medical staff, but what I am going to focus on is the fact that this woman went to the hospital out of concern for her fetus, told the staff about her emotional state and ASKED FOR HELP and then got arrested. What the FUCK!?!
The fact is that it is an obstetrician's JOB to watch for signs of prenatal depression or anxiety. It is an obstetrician's JOB to watch for signs of domestic violence or other environmental stressors that could place undo burden on a pregnant woman. And if they find those signs it is their JOB to provide resources for their patient. Unfortunately, most obstetricians don't seem to know this. Prenatal depression and anxiety is JUST AS REAL as postpartum depression. Women who are pregnant are significantly more likely to be abused or KILLED in acts of domestic violence than women who are not pregnant. Who sees a pregnant woman more than any other medical professional? That's right, obstetricians. So why don't they ask these questions as part of the routine pregnancy visits?
This woman is seriously hurting, her children are hurting, and there is a significant amount of evidence that emotional states of mom affect the fetus, so the fetus is hurting. So what is the answer? Well, arrest her of course. That fixes everything. I mean, she was at a HOSPITAL. There are social workers who work at hospitals. Why was the first call to the police?
What is really sad about this case is that charges have been dropped and everyone is acting like that's it. But this woman is STILL hurting. There are resources out there to help her but no one seems willing to let her in on the secret.
I was, like many people, incredibly pissed off about the focus on the family super-bowl ad. Then I saw it, and my reaction was What the Fuck was that? I was confused. So I went to their website and I watched the video of the interview with the Tebow parents. Or I tried to. I got about 2 minutes in and had to shut it down. I'm still asking, what the fuck?
There are lots of feminist blogs out there which are saying that we (meaning everyone pissed about this ad) got played, that focus on the family got tons of free publicity out of the controversy and then ended up making a commercial that came across as rather benign. But I think they are missing the very real damage that could be/will be caused by this website.
In her interview, Momma Tebow says that she went to a doctor who told her that the fetus was a "mass of fetal tissue" or a "tumor" that she must cut out in order to save her own life. Instead of saying, "What the hell kind of doctor are you? You're fired!" and getting another doctor who might support her in a difficult pregnancy, Momma Tebow decides to forgo all prenatal care and just put her hopes in God to save her. Low-and-behold, out pops "Timmie" and mom and baby are just fine.
There are a ton of holes in this story, but I am going to take it at face value because I think the message it sends is a truly dangerous one. That message is that doctors don't know what they are talking about, pregnancy isn't dangerous and if you just believe in god's power you will be just fine.
I don't think people realize what its like to be in that position-to be sick or dying while you are pregnant with a child you desperately and hopelessly love and cherish. I was in that position a little over a year ago. I was dying, I was pregnant, I was terrified and I would have given anything for some hope that my baby would be Ok. My pregnancy was terminated to save my life, but I was lucky enough that my child was at a viable gestational age. There are many, many women who aren't so lucky. This website and this commercial belittle their pain. This website tells these women that they didn't pray hard enough, that they weren't in god's favor enough, that they shouldn't have listened to their doctors and thats why they have empty arms now. This website preys on vulnerable and terrified women who just want their babies to be Ok and are willing to grasp for whatever straws are offered. And that is dangerous.
How many women, and babies, will lose their lives thanks to this website? How many women and babies will die because they will avoid prenatal care during difficult pregnancies or refuse treatment because they think if they just pray hard enough god will save them? Prenatal care saves lives. Prenatal care saves babies. This message is terrifying because it targets those women who need good, supportive, competent prenatal care the most.