Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Sanctity of Life

This post is prompted by the recent passing of new legislation in regards to abortions.  If you are sensitive to such materials, this is your fair warning not to read further!

Yesterday I heard a news story on NPR about Oklahoma's state congress overriding a gubernatorial veto on abortion laws.  Brad Henry is a Democrat and I have voted for him twice.  I couldn't imagine him being irrational enough to veto something that was reasonable and that would protect the rights of children.  He is a father, a Christian, and I have agreed with him on about 90% of the decisions he has made for our state. 

Looking for answers, I found a few news articles calling the legislation "strict," "ridiculous," and "a violation of women's right to privacy."

I must take a moment to let everyone know that I am pro-life.  My stance comes not from my religious leanings, but from the miracle that is my son.  When I was pregnant with him, some of the testing that indicates birth and other defects came back questionable.  On ultrasound, he looked healthy, but the doctors and specialists said that could be misleading.  The issues could be with his brain and how functional he would be after birth.  My (then) husband and I were given statistics and percentages and then were asked what we planned to do as far as keeping the pregnancy.

By this time, we had gone through several rounds of blood tests, multiple ultrasounds, and were being asked if we wanted a procedure called CVS.  We went home and talked, cried, screamed, considered and basically wore ourselves out over what to do.  By dawn the next day, we knew what to do:  we would follow through on the natural course and just see what happened.  We would forego any further testing, aside from growth ultrasounds or maternal/fetal monitoring during labor.

Turns out, my water broke at 26 weeks gestation while on a mini-vacation in Texas.  I was hospitalized until I was stable and then allowed to drive back to Tulsa where I went into the hospital with pProm  and cervical dilation to 2 cm.   Once again I was stabilized and my body held on to the pregnancy until 30 weeks, 3 days gestation.  Our son was born weighing 3lbs 6 oz and measuring 16 3/4" long.  He had respiratory distress, transient tachypnea of the newborn, jaundice and some other minor preemie issues.  What he didn't have any signs of were mental or physical impairments.  Later, he was diagnosed with mild hypertonia and has just in the past few years been able to overcome his muscle issues and run like a real boy. 

By the way, he's almost 12.  He's on the academic bowl team, plays a mean game of basketball, loves to play (and beat) video games that I can not even understand, and is going through his very first crush.  He's normal, healthy (after some issues with asthma, that are barely even a blip now) and alive.  When I was given the option to terminate, I was also given the option of not terminating.  We saw him on ultrasound;  we heard his heart beating.  We knew the life that was in him.

My fear for women getting abortions is that they will not be afforded the same opportunity.  Costs are high and over half of the abortions performed in the United States are for women who are low-income.  Will those women be allowed to have an ultrasound because someone else, like Planned Parenthood, is paying the bill?  How many abortions could these places do in a year and still be financially viable if they have to give ultrasounds to every woman?  Would a state law ensuring an ultrasound to every woman seeking an abortion drive the abortion clinics into financial ruin?

The short answer is, I don't really give a crap about the financial gain of the abortion clinics or doctors.  But the reality is, if they aren't there to perform the abortions, desperate women would seek back-alley abortions and not only kill their babies but possibly even themselves.  I've known a couple of older women who got illegal abortions before the time of Roe v. Wade, and their experiences were scarring and not just in the physical sense.  Of the women I know who have gotten abortions, most were not overly traumatized by the procedure itself, when performed in a clinic by a clinician and staff trained and licensed to perform abortions. 

I also know a few women who have gotten legal abortions and they say that if they had been able to see the baby on ultrasound, they would have reconsidered.  One of these women did reconsider and has a beautiful five-year-old son.  Sure, there are those of you out there who would not have changed your mind and are comfortable with the decision you made.  But the more I talk to women who have undergone an abortive procedure, the more I get the feeling that society, rather than self, was the motivating factor in their decision.  Also, it seems that women who get or contemplate abortions try to separate themselves and life from the baby they are carrying.  One woman I spoke to told me that she didn't kill a baby;  she had only gotten rid of "tissues of pregnancy" and "she couldn't afford a baby and all the things a baby needs" and she would not ever regret the abortion.

The law, as it stands, is not appealing to me simply because it is so very restrictive.  I would like to see ultrasounds offered and given.  I don't want to see women forced to shame over trying to seek medical advice or procedures and I do not ever wish to completely outlaw abortions (see above).  My concern, though, is for that unborn child, the one that doesn't get a say in any of this.  That unborn child who doesn't need $300 car seats or expensive outfits and toys.  Babies do require a certain amount of money to raise;  believe me, I know, as I have seven of my own!  But our society makes women believe that without certain advantages, babies are too costly and women just aren't ready. 

There are over 1 million abortions performed in this country annually.  If an ultrasound, given but not forced, saved 1% of those babies, the benefits would outweigh the costs infinity- fold.  You certainly can not put a price on human life.     

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The true face of NIP (nursing in public)

After my last entry on breastfeeding, some of my more modest friends commented on the blog letting me know that they felt like I had misrepresented NIP (nursing in public).  Even though that entry was intended to be a bit over-the-top, I thought it best for the cause to come back and show NIP for what it truly is. 

You can google 'nursing in public' on google images, and come up with a variety of pictures of women breastfeeding in public.  Here are a few of my favs...

This is one of my own.  I was nursing Millie and Natalie was "helping" take care of her sister.


gotta love this one ;)

And a facebook page dedicated to showing a historical view of NIP

I also referenced a nurse-out in my other entry and would like to link to the pictures of that here so that you can see what it looks like to nurse in public, en mass.!/album.php?aid=14167&id=112296455456403

I also love this blog post about NIP.  Really on point and just tell-it-like-it-is enough so that there's no wading through sentimental B.S. or the BF vs. FF wars topics.

To my fans (all 4 of you!), I really DO wish to portray breastfeeding in a positive light, but there are only so many hours in the day and most of mine are filled with raising my little family.  If you really want to see what NIP is like, come follow me around for a day and you'll see (or not) how much of me I put out there when we are NIP.  I'm too embarrassed to wear shorts in public after having birthed five children, so there really isn't all that much to see.

In closing, I'd like to remind people who are offended by even the thought of a woman NIP that we are in control of our eyes and our minds.  See what you wanna see, do what you wanna do, be who you wanna be...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oh no she didn't!?!?

That's what I said this weekend when we were back in the play area at Barnes and Noble.  Natalie had been playing at the Thomas the Tank Engine play table with some rowdy kids.  (Those kids acted like they could tear up a concrete block!)  They were there with their grandfather, mother and two older sisters.  The youngest was a boy of about two years and he was "all boy" as my grandmother would say.  Once, the little boy got rough with his older sister and the grandfather grabbed the boy and told him to "get over here and rough up grandpa."  Then the older man commenced to punching the little boy until the younger started to cry. 

As I watched the kids play, I made sure Natalie was the gracious one as long as she wasn't being a complete doormat.  My internal dialogue was off and racing by this time.  "I would never let my kids act that way," I assured myself.  And I sat back and gloated in the fact that my child was behaving well and had been raised properly.

The oldest sister comes over to play and I'm just waiting for her to rough Natalie up.  Sure enough, she starts taking all of the trains and is not letting Natalie play.  I steel myself to get onto the older girl for being too big to be over there when Natalie turns to her and says, "Are you fat?"

I just stopped cold.  I had no idea what to say and I was floored that Natalie had asked such a mean thing, even if that girl had been being mean to her.  You can bet that at that moment my perfect mommy image quickly deflated and I felt like a hair on a toad! 

I pulled myself together enough to ask Natalie to apologize and then told her about being polite and not pointing out if she thinks people are fat, ugly, etc.  We continued to sit there until Bill came over and I told him what had happened.  He was mortified and he restated our position on proper play to her.  Natalie didn't really understand what she had done, but she was very sorry that she upset us and hurt the girl's feelings.

And here I thought I was being such a wonderful parent.  I stay home with them and take them to play dates.  I breastfeed and we Attachment Parent and selectively vaccinate them.  We have read the books and the research and we avoid the "training" and try to parent from the heart and with a steady hand.  Where had we gone wrong?

But had we gone wrong?  After we got home, I remembered a story I read about a mother taking her three-year old into the ladies room at a store.  While in there, the kid made all sorts of funny comments on what his mother was doing.  It was a cute story, but then again it wasn't me in the bathroom with my kid telling everyone in there that I had to wipe 12 times and I still had poop on my butt.

I'm not saying that what Natalie said was cute.  What I do believe is that what she was saying is that she's just a very curious four-year old.  She was simply wondering if the girl (who wasn't really fat, but did have some roundness in her features, aka 'baby fat') was fat because she was bigger than Natalie.  We still need to teach her public appropriateness, but we have to find a balance so as not to squelch her inquisitivity. 

So, does anyone know how to teach a kid how to be curious without being hurtful to others?  I can't recall having this issue with the other four!  I guess all I can do is to try to teach her what is nice to say out loud and what needs to be kept to internal dialogue.  It is a damn good thing I didn't say "Wow, I must be the world's most awesome parent because my kid is behaving perfectly and I don't discpline with force" to those people.  I HAVE said that before, online, and now the virtual crow is just as fowl (pun) as I supposed it would be!    

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don't Panic

There's so much stuff out there.  It's like a buzzing in my head all the time and I want to swat at it, make it fly away like some bothersome bug on a damp summer's day.  It drones on and on and on and I find myself taken over by it.  What is it?  Why do we bother? 

"IT" is the warning that "X causes Y."  We are bombarded with it;  IT is ubiquitous.  So how do we know what to listen to and what is total whooey? 

I am pondering these things as my youngest child reaches that magical time in her young life when people start demanding that I feed her solid foods.  They will atoll that breastmilk is either deplete of nutrients or just plain weird after six months and insist that they all fed their four-month-olds bacon and eggs for breakfast and they turned out fine.

But did they?  What have we done to ourselves by eating what we eat?  And what has been done to us? 

The worry (and possible hysteria) that drives me is the fact that baby food comes in plastic containers.  I don't know if any of you have watched the news or listened to NPR or caught glimpses of the warnings via yahoo mail, but I am personally concerned about a little molecule commonly referred to as BPA.  Bisphenol-A is a molecule in some plastics that leaches out when said plastic is heated.  Baby foods in plastic containers have microwave instructions printed on the labels, so you can begin to see where I'm going with my panic.

To steal a phrase (from my 14 year old daughter), I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, so I'll give you a link to information on BPA and let you decide which information you'd like to believe.  BPA is controversial, as are most things that our government decides to study and put out recommendations on.  It seems that our government feels that small amounts of BPA as an individual contaminant are "okay" and we really shouldn't worry about something that is so tiny and insignificant.

So why am I worried?

I came online to resolve my panic when I found that at WIC we are going to receive baby foods for our six month old.  Upon checking into their program, I then discovered that the foods they gave were of only one brand and were packaged in plastic containers.  After doing a small amount of looking online, I contacted the manufacturer of the baby food (a VERY popular brand I'll refer to as "G") about the possibility of BPA contamination from the plastic baby food containers.  I received no response.

So I went looking and you know what I found?  A press release, dated November 2008 about how the government had looked into BPA leaching into things like baby foods and their recommendations that a little wouldn't hurt.  Seems that, at least obscurely, brand G wasn't too concerned about the leaching of BPA because the government wasn't concerned.  Oh, they would be making their bottles BPA free to follow current market trends, but they were confident that the food containers they were using were bisphenol free.

If that's the case, why didn't I receive a response from the folks at brand G?  I did get put on their spam mail list.  Guess that's my answer?

After more looking around, I found some articles about BPA-free bottles leaching BPA.  Sure, it's PPB (parts per billion) but how much is too much?  When does the BPA molecule start binding instead of passing through our body?  How many days, months, years of exposure to PPB does it take to start affecting our immune systems or our fertility?

So now I pose to you this question:  What do we worry about?  I'm having a difficult time figuring out whether I should worry (okay, obsess) over the possibility that my children are being exposed to BPA, in minute amounts, in plastics, aluminum cans, and on cash register receipts (?).  We worry about EMF's and over-exposure to violence on television.  I don't let them stand too close to the microwave or drink too much juice.  I do worry about the big stuff, without question, but how much of the parts per billion or trillion do we even know about and which ones are worth our time and energy to be concerned about?

I have decided to take a deep breath and just go with the flow.  Sort of defeatist, I realize, but what else can I do?  I just hope that our bodies can evolve into processing some of the mutitudes of things that are around us that are impossible to worry about or that we stay ignorant about all of the junk and just plug in and plug along.