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In order.

1. My roasted beet, goat cheese, and cranberry salad for lunch. I roasted some beets this morning and walked down the hill to get lettuces for it. But of course, pregnant lady is pregnant and right now I am thoroughly enjoying my chemical laden Cool Ranch Doritos. Serious tasty yuck. I was actually craving the chemicals. Shhh, don't tell anyone.

2. Adam returning from his 2.5 week trip to the US (he doesn't leave til next Thursday). Mostly because I'm exhausted just thinking about taking care of B for that long all by myself. I've been so queasy and tired. I really hope it passes soon. But Adam is also going to bring me back some special loot from the States.

3. I keep forgetting to mention this. Adam, B and I are going to Paris for a week in a November! We'll be spending the Thanksgiving holiday there with Adam's parents. Adam's parents went there last Thanksgiving and totally fell in love with Paris. They don't speak French know anything about art beyond Monet's flowers and definitely know nothing about French food. Such a very very unlikely match! And yet: love. So they are going back. And it only costs £50 round trip per person for us to get there. WIN! I've never been to Paris and I am *so excited*.

4. Having a baby. It still feels quite abstract. And February is a long way off. I'm scared about what this is going to do to my studies. But I'm thrilled to have another child.

5. The Twig is coming to visit me next summer! She and I talked via Skype yesterday and she said she had enough miles for a free trip to the UK. Yay!
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I am pregnant. Yes, you already knew that. What you may not be aware of is that I can already sense the pregnancy hormones coursing through my veins. And what that means is that my tact is even more diminished than normal. I read a one page article in the Economist and one paragraph set me off fuming. Now, all the thoughts I had were thoughts I would agree with on a non-pregnant day, but it's the *intensity* of it that is rather surprising.

However, I kind of like it. It's nice to just be in a Fuck All Y'all place. Or a place where I can freely cry. God, I wish I could cry normally, so relieving! The next 7.5 months would be an extremely bad time to try to convince me that feminism is a form of mind-control by the lesbian separatists. Or that Obama is really a socialist. Or basically to disagree with me on anything.

Please note that you have been warned.
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It is now official to announce:

I am pregnant. Not very far along, but pregnant. Official due date is March 1, but I have no expectations of going 40 weeks. I'm aiming for full term this time around: 37 weeks, which puts me at Feb 8. I'm totally thrilled and so far I feel fabulous - like, better than I've felt in year. Three cheers for hormones!

Dr. Tiller

Jun. 2nd, 2009 08:16 pm
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I'm having a hard time with Dr. Tiller's murder. I have missed it on the news cycles, thankfully, but it is all over the internet. Having built and birthed my own child I am more sensitive to this issue than I was 2 years ago. I have heard from thoughtful, though dogmatic, individuals that a person cannot be both pro-life and pro-choice, but I think these politicized terms are a false dichotomy. I claim both. Maybe out of a desire to piss off each side. I hate the abortion debate with the power of a thousand white hot suns. It in no way addresses the issues at hand. Yes, abortion is killing the unborn. But an eight week old fetus is not the same entity as a 29 week baby. If you mourn the passing of a first trimester fetus, then I think you ought to be vegetarian. Squid are more intelligent than a fetus. If it's the potential for human life you are concerned for, then why aren't you doing more to support the lives that exist here and now? Approximately 25% of all pregnancies spontaneously miscarry in the first trimester. Are these women murderers or culpable in some way?

And yet, I would weep if one of my close friends chose to abort. I have had a good friend, pregnant, wonder if she should keep her baby, and I have talked with Adam about offering to adopt the baby if she would consent to carry it to term.

Abortion sucks. It is something that I wish no woman ever had to choose. Sure, there are some stupid women out there who are careless and use it as birth control. Sure. But I'll take them as collateral damage to protect the rights of women who are raped, who have no health insurance and are told their child will have severe disabilities, whose partners are abusive and know that her home is no place for a child, who are starting out in life and are partnerless, who didn't have access to birth control to begin with.

There are plenty of professions I don't agree with, plenty of individuals whose morals and choices disgust me. Do I think they deserve to die? No, I do not. Those who rejoice in Dr. Tiller's murder are misguided and cruel. They are as cruel as the man they claimed deserve to die.

ETA: Because of the murder issue, I am coming down hard on the "pro-life" side of things, but I also am not a fan of the "pro-choice" side of politics. When NOW or other sorts of "feminist" organizations start branching out and doing more for women's health in general then perhaps I'll be inclined to give them money. Women's health includes more than just the right to abort. It includes advocating for pre- and post-natal care for women, it involves pressing for the rights of midwives and homebirth, it involves working for access to birth control and education. Etcetera.
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I wish I had seen the Saddleback debates. (See this article for my reference.) John McCain immediately answered the above question with "at conception."

Aaaarrggh!

I too am pro-life! Which is why I'm against the death penalty, pro-environmentalism, 100% in favor of sex ed and birth control, and pro-choice.

McCain must know that his answer is nothing but a ploy to rope in conservative voters. How, o how, can we assign human rights at conception? This kind of thinking is so troublesome on many many levels. We cannot even pinpoint conception. Does this mean that every woman having intercourse must assume the possibility that she is carrying another life? How do we apply human rights to a being that is in utero? At what point do those minimal rights that the foetus can participate in override the human rights of the mother? I want to know McCain's answer to that!

Muslim law (in general) says that a baby gets its soul/becomes a person at 120 days. This is approximately 4 months, which is about the time the baby's movements become noticable and about the time the threat of miscarriage has passed. I would advocate that baby rights could start at about this point. This makes more sense. If we ascribe rights to a clump of cells (which is what a foetus is for the first couple of months) merely because it has the potentiality for life then testicles and ovaries need to be guarded as well. Do we then give human rights to sperm and eggs? Uh.... wait a sec. That means that all humans carry the potentiality for life (not counting that humans are already alive) and therefore deserve human rights... which they already have.

To all those people who loved McCain's answer and who go along with the theory that "life begins at conception" I want to know what they'd do if they were faced with crippling poverty, the news that their foetus had severe genetic disorders that would either severely limit the child's development or cause bankruptcy due to being underinsured, the reality of rape, etc. It is all fine and dandy to go on and on about "life beginning at conception" if never faced with a reality other than a wanted and healthy pregnancy and child. I want ALL foetuses to be wanted and healthy, but sadly that's not the reality all of time.

Granting human rights to clumps of cells limits the options for already living and breathing women (and their partners) and places the possibility of "moral failure" where it doesn't need to be. As if women need one more thing to monitored for and feel guilty about.

I hate the "pro-life/pro-choice" debate. It's a false dichotomy, a ruse, a moral distraction for the real issues that we struggle with. I want to a see a politician refuse to even entertain these sorts of ridiculous baited questions.
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I want more babies. Two weeks after bringing B home I was already thinking about when to have the next one. Bennett is the easiest baby ever and I think it might be slightly false advertising. He's chill, can be taken anywhere and sleeps through the night. I realize I have been spoiled by the baby gods, but I accept this as making up for that month in the NICU.

A big dilemma for me has been about spacing. Three years apart? Less than two? What if I really truly do want three kids? Adam asked me a very clarifying question: do I really want to be pregnant again? Oh boy. Nope. Not right now. Sure don't want to be pregnant. We agreed that when I can think about being pregnant without a sigh of resignation or weary dismay, then we'll think about getting pregnant again.

***
Last week I got an email from some one vaguely in my social circle. In some ways she was saying "I support you in your call to have a child" but she mostly was granting us permission to breed "as long as you don't have more than two." She has problems with children; she thinks the world needs fewer humans, more animals and plants.

The world does need fewer stupid people. (And fewer greedy, ignorant, mean people, too.)

I realized I used to think this way too (short of people needing my blessings on their reproductive choices). Now, though, I think that a family of 10 could conceivably live much gentler on the earth than a family of 3. Think of all those 2.5 kid families out there, commuting in their SUVs, lawns with pesticides and wasteful water uses, eating fast food, not recycling, buying loads of stuff, etc etc. Those people have a much heavier footprint than a family growing their own produce, cloth diapering, not owning a car, etc etc.

My issues with large families stem from an inherent distrust of the patriarchal construct usually associated with religions and cultures that encourage lots of children. But they aren't the devil in and of themselves. I wish my family was bigger.
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Yesterday was GREAT pregnancy day.

It started out with the right amount of time for taking care of my morning routine, but not so much time that I dawdled, thus making myself late. I prepared wisely for the heat: sun hat, ass kicking maternity halter top that was worth every stinkin' expensive cent I paid for it, boxer shorts under the skirt with the silver skull and sparkles, flip flops, sunscreen.

Upon walking to the BART I got a "Hi beautiful" from a passerby. Now, certain male populations seem more willing to make commentary on women passing by and I usually disregard it when it comes up; but I have been feeling like a bloated, puffy, sweaty, smelly, obese hobbit these days and the man's comment on my obviously pregnant form seriously made my day. Adam is always telling me I'm beautiful, but it's so easy to write him off. I'm not proud of that, but it's true. He's also telling me that I'm constantly checked out, but I never notice and I cynically chalk up the looks to having large breasts. But yesterday I noticed that I was getting checked out a lot and it really boosted my confidence.

I also got my hair trimmed, treated myself to a slightly spendy but freakishly healthy lunch at a live/raw/vegan restaurant, and then met Adam and our awesome coworker at the pool hall - where they drank beer and played pool and I drank free tonic n' limes. Oh gin, I miss you!

To top it all off, the day turned out to be the perfect temperature for a summer's day. Not the scorcher I'd feared. And lil' Bennett was active but not kicking the crap out of my uterus.

I am grateful for great days:
for not too hot
for being healthy
for a (seemingly) healthy baby
for access to healthy food, made by people being paid a living wage
for friends, near and far
for comfy good looking clothes
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Not very articulate today. I am TOTALLY procrastinating working on some staffing reports. Argh, staffing. Bane of my existence these days.

My weekend yoga retreat was wonderful. Only 12 of us, 13 if you count lil' Bennett-in-the-belly, and many people were quite kind to him! One lady (hot, so hot. Do I ever miss the ladies sometimes!) even knitted him a beautiful green hat one night! The yoga was great. I feel better than I've felt in months - my hips feel normal, I'm not waddling. Just amazing. It was also great to hear birds and bugs. I saw toads and hawks, and heard wild pigs and horses. AND, I saw the biggest butterfly I've ever seen! It was horribly incredible. Body the size of both my thumbs together plus some and wings the size of my hand. I really miss nature.

Thoughts on yoga and pregnancy )

But, I had to come home. What did I do? I immediately went to the movies with Adam and [livejournal.com profile] alizarin71, and concurrently with [livejournal.com profile] hrafntinna. We saw Iron Man. So fun! Totally not a feminist movie, but what the hell. Robert Downey Jr was everything I'd hoped he be, by which I mean fabulous. Gwyneth Paltrow played her part well and I loved the chemistry between her and RD Jr. My only criticism was that after wonderfully detailed and engrossing first and second acts, the third act felt like the director all of a sudden realized he was running long and had a Holy Shit! moment, cutting out stuff and speeding things along to the rather anticlimactic Fight Scene. I would have happily hung around for another 20 minutes for a more cohesive third act. But still. Good fun. Recommended for a good summer flick.

Okay, that's it for now.

Upcoming

May. 1st, 2008 08:43 pm
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To celebrate spring, to celebrate the last days of my independence, I am going on a yoga retreat here over the weekend. I am SO excited. My yoga teacher is leading it, so I know I won't have to worry about anything.

I am also downright exhausted and underslept. I'm so tired of being uncomfortable and peeing all the damn time and I know it's only going to get worse before it gets better. I hung out with [livejournal.com profile] qibitum and her 9month old today. So cute, so snuggly. I am both excited to meet my little guy and overwhelmed with the thought/fear/realization that I may never be productive again. All of sudden a nanny sounds like a GREAT idea. I suppose this waffling is normal, especially as I start winding down the pregnancy.

I take it back! Do overs, right?? I don't need a baby. Sheesh, what was I thinking? Just kidding!

and also

Who is this little guy? What does he look like? Can't wait! So excited to have a family with Adam.


This vacillation is taxing.
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I have no belly button anymore! It is flat!

My version of the nesting syndrome has nothing to do with cleaning and everything to do with STUFF. We don't have anything (except some clothes and blankets). We need STUFF. NOW. It's totally bizarre and irrational. But there it is.

I am strongly considering growing my hair out. As Adam says, vote for bob.
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Spring is on in full force here in the Bay Area. I barely seem to leave my couch these days. Sadly, walking is starting to make me ache in areas seemingly unrelated to my legs. I'm just so damn tired all the damn time. I really really want to indulge myself in the energy that I feel when I wake up to birds chirping and fresh, bright sunshine in the morning. I think I'm starting to get a (very small) surge of new energy thanks to spring. I have an itch to read the books piled up on the coffee table, to get out of the house, to finish some house hold projects. Still not feeling quite as motivated to sing or study, but I know that will come. (I actually dreamed last night of performing in an opera - which was really more like a musical - one I hadn't rehearsed for. But my improv worked and I sounded great. A decided subconscious shift from trying to sing only to find enormous wads of gum clogging up my mouth.)

I think part of me might also be entering the Nesting Phase of pregnancy. Some women seem to get this from the start. I'm not surprised it's taken me 2/3 of my pregnancy to get here. All of a sudden I realize that I have 11 weeks left - 11 weeks to prepare. Now's the time to read all the books I want to read, finish moving into our apartment (hang the stinkin' art!), wash the floors, get those side tables we've talked about, purchase the baby needs, etc. Now should also be the time to get cracking on the dissertation outline. But I've just given up for the time being. I'll do it. But I know if I hound myself I'll have an anxiety fueled crying jag. Ah, hormones.

The arrival of spring and the looking ahead to July also makes me a bit sad. Summer is coming and I won't be making my yearly pilgrimage back to SE Alaska. This year, around the 3rd and 4th of July I will not only be wondering if the Pea is immanent, but I'll also be sad that I'm not in Juneau. No long 18 hour days, no hikes in the rain forest, no whale watching off mum and dad's deck, no fishing, no foraging beach lettuce, no communing with the mountains or the sea, no seeing the friends I see for maybe one or two days a year. I'm sure once the babe is here I won't be thinking of this. July will be a blur of bonding and boobs and poop and baby.

Nerves

Apr. 16th, 2008 06:43 pm
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I stayed home today. For several reasons. One is I work part time so I can take which ever two days off I need to. Another reason is that I have pulled a muscle in my side/stomach area which is incredibly painful. Sitting all day is just fine, but the jiggling of the muscles when I walk or stand for very long makes the pain really bad. I think this occurred the other night while getting out of bed. This belly and lack of ab control makes it difficult to get out of bed 4 times during the night. Or at all, really.

The last reason is that today was that coworker's review. I was not part of the formal review. A little birdy told me that the meeting was three hours long. I realize that I'm so stressed out about this that I've made myself slightly nauseated. My pulse is racing a bit, I'm having a bit of a hard time focusing. Sort of the tiniest beginning of an anxiety attack. Did she talk her way into staying? Would she really want to?

I have spent my day off on line ALL DAY. I caught up on a week's worth of email and I bought some maternity clothes. It's getting too hot for my jeans. I'm tired of wearing jeans and tshirts to the office. Time to upgrade. But why, oh why, are maternity clothes either really frikkin' expensive or so cheaply constructed? Most of what was out there did not scream out "Wear me!" I dropped a pretty penny. But I figure that, like last time, I'll have to send most of it back because it won't fit right. I bought another belly band/huggalug. I love my blue one. I bought a black skirt with a sparkly skull and cross bones on it (I just couldn't find a sundress that I wanted to wear!). I bought a light weight sweater and a pair of capris from Old Navy and three super gorgeous tops from Isabella Oliver. Beautiful clothing, but none of the pants are in short inseams and everything is priced at $120. I don't get it.

Maybe I feel so bad because I've mainly eaten strawberries, chocolate, tea, and ice cream today. Time for some real food and some pleasant distraction.

Vacations

Apr. 12th, 2008 04:01 pm
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Adam and I suck at taking vacations. We often sabotage ourselves - talking ourselves out of spending money on them, or only going to see friends or family, which is important, but defeats the purpose of a private vacation. I usually use my paid vacation time to get home to Alaska. Even then I am such a Planner and Doer that I make sure I get my fishing, hiking and socializing in. This year I'll be using my paid vacation as maternity leave.

At my last midwife appointment, the midwife pretty much told us to take a vacation. I've heard from one or two other new moms that spending some quality time together before the baby comes is crucial. I think we should take a vacation too. We never even took a honeymoon! I talked us out of that one....

But what do we do? Where do we go? We don't have a ton of money. We don't own a car. I'm thinking it might be nice to get out of town over Memorial Day weekend - 4 whole days! But everybody else will be vacationing then too. Our work schedules are super flexible; getting time off is no problem at all, but it would be nice to vacation on a paid holiday, rather than lose money! We can't go camping (no gear, not comfortable at this point in my pregnancy). Adam doesn't like the beach (at least, he doesn't like sandy beaches) and I don't like the hot, so I'd prefer to go north rather than south.

Any suggestions? Seriously. Vacations have me stumped.
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After being awake at 5:45, teaching two classes yesterday, and then spending the evening with [livejournal.com profile] alizarin71, [livejournal.com profile] hrafntinna, and Adam, I was bone achingly tired. I woke up this morning feeling sick - just wiped out. Not hungry. Achy. Unable to mentally function until close to noon. Ugh. The teaching and dinner were worth it though. Great food, great company, great conversation.

Work was hard. I barely had 5 minutes to compose myself. The only quiet time was first thing in the morning. Thankfully this was the time my 3 yr old niece in Anchorage decided to call me. Apparently she woke up and wanted to tell me that she missed me and loved me much. I thought I would die from cuteness! But then work took over. Prepping for our conference on Sunday. And..... having a pow-wow with the Executive and Founding Directors over this problematic coworker. I will not be present at her review and I don't know what they will decide. My gut tells me that she won't be let go. I just want there to be some resolution. The whole situation is emotionally taxing. However, I walked away from our meeting feeling heard, respected and valued. Moments like this make me want to stay with this organization forever. I feel very honored to work for such a healthy workplace, to have such supportive coworkers, and to be a part of something vibrant in the Jewish community here. I feel very lucky to be part of this rich community as a non-Jew.

To complicate my day even more, Adam and I left work early to go to a midwife appointment in SF. I was beat, but got so giddy afterwards. I haven't gained as much weight as I thought I had! I have gotten larger in the belly, but I've only gained 4 lbs this month, putting me at 27 lbs total. I thought it was closer to 30! I'm healthy, measuring about 26 weeks (I am actually 27weeks, 4 days), and little Bennett is kicking up a storm with a strong heartbeat. Adam was so excited to hear his heartbeat. I feel closer than ever to Adam. It's really beautiful.

The last upper of the day was getting my first installment of cloth diapering supplies. Who knew diapers could be so fun?! I got 8 brightly colored prefolds and some plain covers.

The last downer of the day is that the Golden State Warriors (the Bay Area basketball team) did not make into the play offs.


[OMG, I'm watching tv and I just saw an ad for Al Gore's new nonprofit, We, and the commercial features Rev. Al Sharpton AND Pat Robertson on a couch together cracking jokes about being left and right and how it's important to agree on caring for the planet. WHOA.]
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Today was the day I went in to two of my friend D's 10th grade theology classes at an all boys' Catholic high school and talked about abortion in a social justice context. I was nervous. It's been years since I've been in the classroom, I haven't been sleeping well, I just wasn't as prepared as I normally would like to be, and well... it's a Catholic high school.

My friend D: we met at grad school, his undergrad is in Latin and Greek, his master's is in Patristics (early Church fathers), he's an Eastern Orthodox convert, and he's goofy and brilliant too! I am very honored that he asked me to come in and talk to his students. Before I go into what I said (I know some of you will be very interested, others not so much), I want to say that I was soimpressed with the school and the students. Who knew that a classroom of 15 yr old boys could be engaged and respectful in such a discussion?? They never once mocked each other for their opinions or ideas. Of course, not everyone seemed enthused or contributed - I mean, they are 15. But in comparison to my two years spent working primarily with 15 yr old boys in a public school, I was beyond impressed.

Personally, I have some issues with private school. But over the course of the morning I found myself thinking, "Wow, I would totally send my son here!" The grounds are nice, the faculty I met were open and friendly, the school's motto is "A De la Salle graduate is a man of faith, integrity and scholarship" - character traits I can get behind. The Catholic order that runs the school focuses on social justice. Catholicism, while not my favorite partly because of their strong adherence to dogma, is a very broad denomination. Some orders, like the Jesuits, focus on teaching, some on serving the poor, some on priestly duties; there is a whole array of emphases and attitudes in the Catholic Church. D had told me a little about this particular school and that the 10th grade theology curriculum was all focused around social justice. I think this is unbelievably cool. So while the official Catholic Church stance on abortion is unequivocally "NO, and no birth control either!" the curriculum for this unit encourages broader discussion about the issue. I can only dream that public schools would allow this sort of discussion around the topic!

So what did I talk about? )

Overall, it was a really successful and enjoyable day. I'm going back next Thursday to speak to D's third theology class. I look forward to it.
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*We got a new bed. WE GOT A NEW BED!! I am so excited about this, can you tell? It's a queen sized faux temperpedic with a real wooden bed frame. I pray that this improves my sleeping.

*Adam is awesome.

*I think I look a little bit like an alien when I see myself in mirrors.

*This next week is freakishly busy. Loads of work stuff. Mostly prepping for another conference next Sunday in Palo Alto. But it's also time to deal with a coworker that's sucking the joy out of working at my nonprofit. It's time for her 6 month review and I have proposed we fire her. I will spend tomorrow trying to cover our asses if that's the case, since this person is also a lawyer. And I am not.

*This is also the week that I am (finally) going into my friend's theology classroom in an all boys Catholic high school and talking about social justice issues around abortion. I'll let you all know how it goes!

*[livejournal.com profile] hraffntina is coming to the area oh-so-briefly, but I am so happy at the prospect of seeing her for however short a time.

*I've been struggling with a lot of anxiety and worry this week, and feelings of failure.

*Tonight, Adam and I are going to discuss throwing ourselves a baby shower.

*I ordered the first few things for cloth diapering yesterday. How is it possible to be so excited about purchasing diapers?
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I am watching Oprah's show featuring the man who is having a baby. Yes, you read that right. He's a FTM (transgendered man) and he's pregnant. So far, it's been a great show and the couple is very articulate. I have some bioethical concerns about messing with the human reproductive system. But I also believe in the human dignity of every person and their inalienable rights to express their personhood. And this Oprah show has the double interest for me of transgendered and pregnancy issues.

Yoga

Mar. 31st, 2008 09:56 am
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Last night, I went to yoga class for the first time in two months. I've been doing a gentle practice at home most mornings, but I finally felt recovered enough from Feb to go back to class, and also my teacher was back from a two week trip. Being pregnant I didn't want to go to a class with a sub, some one I didn't know.

But class last night was great. Mellow but challenging enough for my body, now 30lbs heavier! Downward facing dog still feels awesome, which is a relief. The really exciting news, and the reason I'm posting, is that I can still go upside down!! I was able to do two handstands! I needed help getting up, but once up I was stable and comfortable. We also did partner supported back bends (dhanurasana) and I could still do that, too! And they felt sooooo good. It was all the hip opening stuff that I had to sit out on. My hips are not happy. Time for the chiropractor.
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I'm currently reading Pushed: The Painful Truth About Chilbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block. I'm only a few chapters in, but it is already confirming both my limited experiences in the pregnant world and the reading I've been doing. Before getting pregnant I was already wary of the medical world and leaning more toward the side of natural childbirth. Now 6 months into this pregnancy I am more than ever convinced that natural - and by that I mean as little medical intervention as possible, even outside of a hospital - birth is the best way to go. Each medical intervention isn't a bad thing on its own. I'm glad we have many tools to help women birth healthy babies. However, it's the attitude of the hospitals and the messages sent to women that bother me the most.

Women are increasingly "choosing" (there is some debate over this word - are they actually choosing? being strongly suggested to choose it by their doctor? choosing it when all of the other interventions aren't "progressing"?) elective cesareans. Some are choosing it because they fear the damages caused by vaginal birth. Birth is treated as this problem waiting to happen, rather than a bodily function that we are evolutionary designed for. Of course birth is hard and scary, but when left to progress in its own time, births do not have to cause damage to the vagina and other parts of the female body.

And that's the problem. Left to progress in its own time, monitored by patient and knowledgeable staff. There is no patience in the hospital. OB/GYNs have to get a lot of stuff done before their shift is over and make enough money to cover their incredibly high malpractice insurance costs. Hospitals don't have the time or the staff to let a woman labor for 24 hrs - or more. And one intervention inevitably leads to another. Once women are hooked up to IVs, monitors, catheters, etc she has to labor on her back - which is the WORST position for a laboring woman. This position is for the convenience of the doctor, not the mother. No woman left to her own devices labors this way.

The more I learn about the history of childbirth the more I see how it's developed out a deep misogyny and disrespect for the female form. Modern obstetrics does not come from the centuries old practice of midwifery, but from the developing field of medicine in the 19th century. In the Victorian era middle and upper class women wore corsets, were encouraged to be inactive and undernourished (being small and helpless was a woman's natural form), basically causing all kinds of problems for pregnancy and delivery. Women needed to deliver on their backs, as it was unladylike for a woman to be on all fours, ass naked, in front of a man/doctor. The bodily restrictions of the Victorian age led to the development of ways to speed along awkward deliveries - induction. The mentality that womens' bodies were ill adapted to vaginal birth underpins our modern medicalization of the birth process.

I read a quote in Pushed explaining why one sex therapist had elected a cesarean. "Why ruin a perfectly good vagina?" she said. This to me reveals the deep anti-woman mindset of our birth culture that women are absorbing. What does this woman mean by "ruin"? I'm guessing she fears tearing (so do I, but when birth progresses at it's own speed this is less likely to happen), incontinence (occurs after 2% of births, most female incontinence is old-age related), and the ol' saggy vagina. Complications to the vaginal area occur in c-sections too, but these get less press. This woman probably doesn't want to "ruin" her vagina FOR HER MAN. I may be putting words in her mouth, but this attitude that vaginas just won't be as good after vaginal birth is nonsense and is driven by patriarchal ideals of women - all vaginas should feel like 15 yr old virgin vaginas, all 40 year old women should be as tight and firm and fit as 25 year olds. Puh-leeze.

I also think this anti-woman attitude toward birth is fear of the female form. Pregnancy and birth are the two things the male body cannot do. While I do feel quite vulnerable in a new and profound way being pregnant (I find that I do not jaywalk anymore, that I cover my belly in unfamiliar busy places, that I move more slowly, etc), I am also amazed at the capacity my body has to carry this life, to grow it and sustain it and me. I may be moving more slowly, be not quite as sharp mentally, but I am in no way compromised. The female form is powerful. We'll see how I feel once I've birthed this little guy, but knowing that I will be medically and emotionally supported makes me EXCITED to see what this body can do. Women's bodies are completely capable of delivering babies into this world. I think men and the patriarchal medical establishment fear this. Births are messy and all parties are out of control. To help get doctors home to dinner and to control the unknown factors, and perhaps even to keep women in their place, birth has been put on a time table and contained by tubes and meters and drugs. Women expect this to be part of birth. Without realizing it they are being told that they can't handle it; they are told that they should be scared.

The more I read the more I am deeply relieved that I will not be birthing in a hospital. My baby is not an "outcome," another statistic for hospitals and doctors to put into one column or another. I don't want my physical integrity compromised for the efficiency of the hospital staff. I am not a problem waiting to happen. And I don't desire my care to be mandated by statistics and litigious ass-covering. I don't want my care based on a fear of their being sued. I want my care based on my actual health. I'm scared enough as it is about the whole birthing process and I don't need doctors I don't know to tell me what my body "should" be doing, to infer that my body and my baby don't know what to do.

Birth

Mar. 6th, 2008 01:37 pm
theatokos: (Default)
I'm reading an amazing book on pregnancy and childbirth right now: Ina May Gaskin's Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's inspiring, wacky, and informative. The point of view is strongly pro-natural birth, but many of the pain management and labor easing practices could be used in the hospital too.

What's blowing my mind is that she talks a lot about the sexuality of birth. I know. Sounds crazy, right? Except, Gaskin makes it sounds totally normal and sane and even, dare I say, appealing! She encourages women to get as comfortable and secure as possible. Makes sense. She also encourages lots of hugging, kissing and sensual touch to relax women and their vaginas. I guess that also makes sense, seeing as how vaginas loosen and expand when sexually stimulated and this makes it easier for large items to slip in - and out! Breast stimulation also encourages the release of oxytocin which helps with pain management and facilitates the actual birth process. This is a natural way to get this hormone, as opposed to oxytocin administered externally in hospitals that want to speed along birth.

All of this is fascinating, but reassuring too. While it's gonna be real weird to stimulate my nipples in front of my mum, I also feel really empowered by the knowledge that I (and Adam) can be more "in control" of my own birth process. At least, I can be more than some sort of passive vessel, where others poke and prod me along. It's really a strange change of attitude, but I'm sort of looking forward to birthing my son. I look forward to this experience. Before I was up for the daunting task, but viewed it as that: a marathon to be run or a mountain to be scaled, something that would be hard but I'd be proud to say I did it. Now, I'm more looking forward to the journey itself.

And getting that from a simple book is priceless.

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