Friday, September 26, 2008

Babies, sex-ed, abortion and life

I'll be honest I don't really like Miss Palin. There are several reasons, aside from her lack of experience, and that she sounds like a high schooler running for student government when giving speeches... sorry was that a personal attack? :) I do love her hair, a lot. Like, I want it.

Honestly I am having some problems with the abortion issues in this election. Here are my thoughts and how this involves me not thinking Sarah is all that educated on this issue (although lately her TV interviews make her sound uneducated on many issues).

For starters I hate abortion as a method to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Science has long proved that life begins as conception. Last week the Discovery Channel did a series on the human body, it started with conception and showed 8 week old fetuses having the ability to feel heat, touch and move away from lights and others invasive feelings (most states allow abortion up to 18-24 weeks). So we know that the way a baby is extracted from the uterus for an abortion is incredibly painful to this little human. The other problem I have with abortion is that the baby only has rights if it is wanted. Here is what I'm trying to get at, if a woman is carrying a wanted pregnancy and is murdered than the killer is charged with 2 homicides, however a baby unwanted and aborted is not considered to have the same rights as the baby murdered. Hmmm not sure how that is fair?

Here is my struggle, I want women to have choice when it comes to their bodies. I have never been in the position to make the choice of keeping an unwanted pregnancy, I have no idea what that is like to walk in the shoes of a woman finding out she is pregnant and does not want to be. I cannot grapple with the idea of forcing anyone to have a baby, to become a parent. Of course some would say "well no one forced them to have unprotected sex and get pregnant." Yes that is true, but life is not that black and white. When it comes to this area there is so much gray its not even funny.

Here is what bothers me about Sarah Palin and others who agree with her. She is not only against abortion but she is also against comprehensive sex education and she is completely against any form of birth control. She believes in abstinence only school educational programs. Here is the problem with abstinence only programs, they don't work. The states who have chosen to go this route have the some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy's, STI's (sexually transmitted infections) and teen abortion. So here is the problem, not only is she against giving teens the resources to prevent pregnancy (over 50% of high school teens report having sex before graduating) but she is also ignorant to the fact that they are going to have sex, and if you don't offer education about how to protect from unwanted pregnancies than they will get pregnant! I'm just being practical, kids in love with raging hormones make dumb decisions, and people we are not just talking about kids here, we are talking about college age people and adults. Teens are not the only people having unprotected sex. This issue is so much bigger than that, I realize, but I just want people to understand that our mentality must change. We cannot believe that every family sits down with their kids and tells them how babies are made and how to prevent it, and we cannot believe that everyone is out there teaching their children how to respect each other and protect women from unwanted pregnancies. Not every little boy is going to be raised with the understanding that they can prevent STI's and pregnancy by respecting a woman enough to use protection or abstaining. I recently heard that over 40% of teens wished they had abstained until later in life, hind-sight is always 20/20 (See Family Album recource below). We cannot sit around in our little middle-class homes with our protected children believing that every child they encounter is going to be given everything ours have. This is a really scarry world for some (many actually) children, they are abused, abandoned, neglected, and exposed to way too much inhumanity than any little human should ever have to endure.

Here is what I want: the Republican (pro-lifers) and the Democrats (pro-choicers) to sit down and come up with a practical plan to just prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Its not about giving women more choices, and its not about just teaching abstinence, its about comprehensive education that teaches how things work, how things happen, how to keep things from happening and how to respect one another. I'm not bashing the Republican party only, it totally pisses me off to hear a pro-choice advocate talking about the need for partial-birth abortion (or infant euthanasia--I'm glad Europe had the guts to call it what it is). I will say that there has been a Republican dominance in government leadership for a while and nothing has been done to over turn Roe vs. Wade. Not only are the Republicans in office not fighting against it but they are not even trying to reduce the amount of abortions. (Please read this article on Jim Wallis' blog about someone actually doing something to reduce abortion rates: here)

Here's my issue in a nutshell, the pro-lifers fight for the life of the unborn baby... but once its born the buck stops there, they have no plan as to help these women support their babies (and Palin has no plan to help them prevent further pregnancies!). Its like the Republican party says, "we really care about unborn babies, but screw the rest of humanity" like what about health care, who is going to pay for the birth of the baby, a single person can only be in welfare for 2 years so once that baby is two if the mother has no other income what then? What about women who have no support system. This is often not thought of because those of us making decisions/laws have support systems. Sarah Palin's daughter (who is 5 months pregnant) has a mother who will care for her when she gives birth, not just financially but also emotionally and physically. But there are about 800,000 teens (just teens not counting adults) out there who will or have already become pregnant this year. Not all of them will have support. In fact being pregnant might cause them to become even less supported than they already are. On the other side I want the pro-choicers to come up with plans to help prevent the pregnancies all together so that a woman does not have to go through the pain of even having an abortion, or making the decision of what she is going to do with an unwanted pregnancy. How about instead of pushing for more and more rights for the mother, we push for more and more programs to support women and education that will prevent unwanted pregnancy all together.

I truly believe that we cannot begin to expect teens to stay abstanate across the board if we simply tell them "sex is hands off, that's all you need to know for now" and expect them to be content. Also we cannot expect women to choose birthing a child when many of them will have no resources after the child is born. I personally know what it is like to go through a pregnancy without maternity insurance and the fear of what will happen if I birth a sick baby. It is completly terrifying. I still clearly remember the day (at 34 weeks) we were approved for insurance coverage of my pregnancy and how hard I cried because I was so thankful. How do we expect to reduce the rates of abortion if we cannot give these women the care and support they will need, and I'm not talking about "here's ten bucks and a sack of used baby cloths". Life is not as tidy as we would like to think it is, or ought to be.

Family Album number 98, 110
Discovery:From Conception to Birth
Center on Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting

Monday, September 22, 2008

Music for Kids again!!!

NPR always has something up their sleeves. I just wrote a few weeks ago about kids music and then this evening NPR did a great story on some bands doing a good job at making some fun and good kids music. Here is the link

Grown-Up Bands Craft Kids Songs

they have done other stories on kids music, there are links to each story at this current story.

Kids music just gets better and better.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

God's Love, Mother's Milk

My husband found this article in Christian Century; God's Love, Mother's Milk: An Image of Salvation. It addresses why the image of the nursing Virgin disappeared in Western art. How most Christians today see "the primary symbol of God's love and care for humanity is a cross" which the author, Margaret Miles, brings up the interesting point that our focus is on the violence brought upon the Redeemer, yet for the "first five centuries of the Christian movement the crucifixion was not depicted visually..." However there is another image that presents God's love for humanity; paintings, drawings, and sculptures of the Virgin Mary, breast exposed, nursing the infant Christ. "In communities under siege from plague, wars and malnutrition, the Virgin's breast was a symbol of God's loving provision of life, the nourishment and care that sustain life, and the salvation that promises eternal life."

I did a Google search for "Madonna Nursing Christ Child" and found so many beautiful images I was almost brought to tears thinking of what this single act of nourishing our children has meant through out all of history to so many children and mothers and ultimately all of humanity. How it is such a beautiful act of comfort and love.

I loved this article and wanted to share it with you all.

Picture by: Guido Reni

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Children's Music

Finding good children's music can be quite the challenge, as much of it is not GOOD music. It might have run rhymes and silly-ness that children love, but the actual sound of the music is often, well... bad. After you listen to some of the stuff out there you may become discouraged. BUT have no fear there IS good music out there for kids that parents might like too. Finding good music was a top priority in our house so here is what we have discovered thus far (our list is not extensive, as we still just make our kid listen to what we like seeing as we are the one's who turn on the ipod):

Elizabeth Mitchell: You Are My Little Bird (she has other but this is our fav.)
Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell: Catch the Moon
For the Kids
For the Kids too!
For the Kids three
The Innocence Mission: Now the day is over
Putumayo World Music for kids
Big Smith: Hillbilly Music for Kids

My daughter is also a fan of: Feist, Hem, Over the Rhine, Matisyahu and They Might Be Giants. These all seem to be fun to listen to also.

Foogo, plastic bottles and bamboo

I have been getting a lot of emails these days asking me what I know about plastics. Maybe because we use as little plastic as we can, or make sure the one's we do use are BPA free. Anyways I am no expert but here is what I can tell you about plastic:

Canada has banned the use and sale of plastic bottles that contain B.P.A. and polycarbonate in infant bottles. (here's an article) Due to the high toxicity and their ability to jack up (you can quote me on that) hormone's in animal testing.

Plastic cannot maintain its integrity... at all. It is never safe to put your plastics in the microwave (even if they say micro safe), or dish washer (even if they say top rack safe). The high heats break down their make-up and dumps (or you might see the word's "outgas" and "leach") the chemicals into the containers contents.

If you look at the bottom of your plastic container, number's 1-2-3-4-5 are "supposed" to be save, chuck the rest.

Health Observatory (download here) has a Pdf that can be read and is a great guide for what is safe and what is not.

Here's my deal, call me paranoid: we like to experiment here in the USA until we find out after the fact that our experimentation has backfired on us... or killed us. Lets take maternal health for example. You know like back when they used to take x-rays on pregnant women to check their pelvis and then... oh crap its giving babies cancer. So back to the plastics, yes there is not any conclusive evidence that we are getting enough toxicity though our plastic water bottle, or that our babies are going to be brain damaged by boiling that plastic evenflo, but if its making rats have infertility issues I'm not sticking around to let my baby grow up to find out she has issues with infertility as well. We are also seeing rates of cancers that were once very rare on the rise, especially in organs and systems that flush toxins out of our bodies.

We are exposed to more chemicals than ever before, they cannot be eliminated from our lives or diets, but why not at least give it a try. Besides all plastic is made out of some form of petroleum, we Americans love our oil... why not give the ol' fossil fuel god a break and try out some glass or metal for once.

So that leads me to say we just bought the Thermos Foogo which I'm totally excited about. We got the Straw Bottle because its toddler safe/proof and also bigger kids will still use it because its a straw not a sippy cup. They do have the sippy versions but because they are more costly than the cheap plastic sippy cups with Dora, Barbie, or name your character, I chose to go with the one that will outlast they toddler years... that's if it does not get lost.

Here is a list of wonderful non-plastic products that are easy to incorporate into your life

The Container Store
Bambu (I don't recommend hot things in this product, but the kid utensils are great)
Waxed Bags (see ya ziplock)
Happy Sacks
To Go Wear
Klean Kanteen
Born Free Baby Bottles
More Glass Baby Bottles (I don't know a lot about this site yet I just found it)

This post does not even begin to touch on the topic of non-plastic toys, that can be another post all in its own. I just finished a great book called Children At Play and will eventually write about the importance of play and why specific types of toys matter in a later post.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What's a doula?

I am a certified doula. I also have my degree in Family Studies and Human Development, which is what led me to become a doula. One of my favorite professors, in her early early grad school days, was a doula , which was the first time I ever heard the word (which I'm going to explain in this post). She used some of her birth videos during the "birth" secion of my Human Development 101 class. Her favorite video to share was the birth she attended in which a huge military first time dad passed out as his son entered the world. We, the students, laughed at the drama, but didn't really get it, seeing as most of us had never given birth. What I loved about family studies was the information we learned about family dynamics, first attachments and how all of this shapes who we are as people and our capacity to love, and have healthy adult relationships, and how all of this starts at birth.

Before I go any farther on the human development stuff let me explain what a doula is and then tie it back to the above. A doula is a labor and birth assistant, in literal terms she is a womans' servant. But to put it in a more understandable way, like what she actually does during labor and birth, a doula walks alongside a woman and her huaband/partner helping meet the woman's needs. A Doulas work has many different tasks, it can varry from showing dad how to do a hip squeeze to relieve back pain, making sure mom is drinking enough fluids, giving foot rubs to parking cars at the hospital so that a laboring woman is never alone and her husband never has to leave her at the ER door. They provide continuous emotional and physical support, encouragement and care, they also serve as an advocate for the mother by explaining hospital proceedures, and routines. One of my favorite parts of being a doula is helping the dad get invloved. Birth can be very overwhelming to a new father, your in a hospital, mom is uncomfortable and there are machines and doctors or nurses saying and doing things he may not understand, is mom OK? I have really enjoyed being able to help dad help his wife. There have been several times I have been at a teaching hospital and nurses or docotrs in training get so into the birth they crowd around the bed knocking the dad out of the way, and the father of the child about the enter the world is going to miss the whole thing! This is the point in which I stick up for the the dad and say, "hey would you mind if the dad could stand next to his wife?" This is just one little portion of my job, but its great to see a father get to take on more invloved roles when someone is encouraging him or just giving him ideas about ways to meet his partners needs. The doula never replaces the husband/partner's roll but can greatly enhance it.

When it comes to the mom, a doula plays many different roles. At my birth I asked a good friend to be my doula, my favorite part of having her there was to have another woman notice the little things that needed done, she washed all the dishes at our house, inbetween putting pressure on my back during contractions (it was nice to come home to a clean kitchen), she pulled my bangs out of my eyes with clips when I was pushing, she kept telling me I was doing such a good job (I remember at one point she said something like "You are are making this look easy, you're doing such a good job" just when I was getting to the point of wanting to give up). My doula sat with me through the delivery of the placenta and told me how amazing my birth was, and that she was excited I had a girl (we didn't find out earlier), this gave my husband the flexibility to sit holding our new child while my doula helped me get cleaned up and into bed... and then she prepared a meal and fed us all and installed the car seat before she went home. She came by and gave me encouraging words when I was trying to nurse ("she's latching on so well, you're doing so awesome!") and feeling like my nipples were about to just fall off. It was wonderful having my husband with me, and he was encouraging, but when my doula said "you can do it!" I knew I could because she had... three times (now four as of 2 weeks ago).

A doula also provides postpartum support, with breastfeeding support, infant care and many other things. I was once hired to sit and hold the newborn so that mom could rest and dad could run a few errands. A doula can also be a great lifeline when you need someone to listen.

I think what I love about being a doula is that by being present for someone's birth the mental drama can be focused on the actual arrival of a baby joining its family, the focus can be on a baby developing its first relationships. I love it that I can be the person who is asked to communicate with the nurse, or who runs to the car for some forgotten item, or stays to comfort the mom so her partner can go and make phone calls, go to the bathroom or talk with doctors. A laboring woman needs to feel safe, encouraged and loved so she can put her energy into welcoming her baby into the world with her partner standing by her side. This is what a doula can offer to birth.