Taking Back Birth: A Rant
Here’s a common refrain I’m seeing a lot of these days in the online world: “I’d love to have a home birth, but my husband is against it, so how can I go about having a natural birth in the hospital?” The husbands seem to usually be against it because they’re “afraid of something going wrong.” And the women seem to throw in the towel so easily! What’s going on here?
When did we women allow men to take over birth and birthing decisions? I know the whole history of modern obstetrics becoming medicine’s most lucrative industry and virtually obliterating midwifery and woman-centered birth practices; it’s outrageous enough that we’ve been conditioned as a society to believe that pregnancy and birth are inherently pathological, and best-managed by a male-dominated medical specialty. But it goes beyond that: not only does a mostly male population of doctors control birth in Western culture, husbands and male significant others are apparently dominating the decision-making at home, some even going so far as to push their wives to get epidurals because “it’s not fair to make [him] have to watch her suffer.” Are you fucking kidding me? There’s something really wrong with this.
I understand wanting one’s partner to be on board with whatever big decisions need to be made in the life of a couple or family. I understand having enough respect for one’s co-parent to want him to be part of the decision-making effort. Why in the world, though, would his opinions and fears (which are unfounded, by the way) trump? He is in possession of neither a womb or a vag; he will never grow a baby in his body, and he will never, ever give birth – neither in a hospital nor in a bedroom nor in the woods, with or without drugs.
I’m just going to say it: men need to shut up and let women choose how and where to give birth. Birth is women’s business. Ladies, would you let your husband decide if you use pads or tampons when you get your monthly? We deserve autonomy over our bodies. Isn’t that something we’ve spent years and years fighting for? Assuming we women are in our right minds and have all of our faculties about us, you, Men, need to respect us enough to trust that we won’t make decisions concerning the well-being of our offspring lightly, that we are not being reckless, and that we actually do know best – certainly better than you, oh wombless, vag-less man – about our reproductive and birthing capabilities – about something so intrinsically female.
Before you put the kibosh on how the mother of your offspring wants to give birth, before you make a decision based on fear (and possibly negatively impact what will be a life-altering experience for her, potentially influencing everything from how she sees herself as a woman and mother to how she bonds with her baby), do yourself a favor and do your homework. You are almost certainly basing your feelings on misinformation. Really. And even if it’s still out of your comfort zone, respect her enough to trust her.
Ladies, take back birth. It’s your body that’s going to go through this, not anybody else’s.
I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to write here in the spirit of Thanksgiving. For me, in my attempts to be the best person I can be (often falling short), it’s important to have a genuine awareness of all the things that add to my life positively, and to acknowledge those things regularly, whether to myself or outwardly.
I went back and read what I posted this time last year: Thankful. This struck me:
“I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I know now that nobody ever gets to say ‘I’ve paid my dues.’ I have no doubt that life probably still has a few more curve balls in store for me, and I hope I can weather them. And although I’m certainly not wishing for more hard times, I respect the lessons and opportunities the hard times have afforded me. Without rain, you can’t appreciate the sunshine.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but just around the corner from that writing things began to spiral downward into one of the darkest periods of my life. From depression and PTSD following cancer treatment, to Michael’s emergency surgery and multiple hospitalizations earlier this year, to continued concerns about his health, to fallout with extended family, to the protracted battle with the school district over Finn’s educational placement, I can say with honesty that this past year has been, in some ways, far more difficult than the year Michael was battling cancer. At least then we had a plan. At least then there were Highly Trained Professionals dedicated to getting us to the other side. Now we’re just left with the aftermath, free-falling. And then top it all off by a surprise pregnancy.
So what is it I want to say about gratitude in the face of all this? (Because the truth is, it’s hard – really hard – to not feel sorry for myself sometimes.) Well, this is the rain I was talking about in that post last year. The clouds are still swirling overhead, but I trust that one way or another, the sun will shine again. It always does, eventually.
In the meantime, I am thankful for the friends I have in my life who bring out the best in me by seeing the best in me; who I not only trust with my deepest and darkest, but who honor me by trusting me in the same way; who listen and support without judgment.
I am thankful for the reflection and introspection these hard times have afforded me; for the insights I’ve gained about myself, my marriage, and my family; for the strength I’ve discovered in myself yet again to make it through the hard times. I know that in the end, I won’t be broken.
Take Back the Holidays!
A little late to the party here, as I guess this is somewhat old news, but what the hell is up with stores beginning their Black Friday sales ON Thanksgiving this year? Have we lost our collective minds? Is any shopping deal really worth stealing time that should be spent with family?
I understand the economy sucks and businesses are doing what they can to increase their bottom lines, but we, the consumers, are suckers for feeling grateful for this favor, this opportunity to shop early. The real receivers of the favor are big business! Nothing wrong with trying to make a buck, but I think this is going too far. Is nothing sacred anymore?
And what about the store employees who are being required to go to work on Thanksgiving night (Target will open at midnight on Thanksgiving, and Toys R Us opens at 9:00 pm on Thanksgiving!)? To those of you saying they should just be grateful to have a job in this economy, I say “That’s really easy to say if you’re not the one being asked to go to work on what is traditionally a family holiday!” Besides, one can be grateful to have a job and still rightfully expect boundaries to be respected. Do you realize what going to work at 9:00 p.m. or midnight means? It means these poor people will likely have to try to sleep during actual Thanksgiving day in order to pull an all-nighter. Which means they won’t be spending a lot of QT with their families. And this is okay?
Let’s take back the holidays. Family should come first. And it’s we, the consumers, who can change this trend by refusing to shop on holidays that should belong to loved ones.
My Mission to Find The Perfect Panties
Your fearless commentator is back, tackling the topics nice bloggers won’t touch. In the past I’ve brought you Feminine Products, Bra Buying, Men’s Underwear, and of course, the never-popular anti-God rants. Now I bring you my in-depth analysis of women’s underwear. You’re already riveted, aren’t you?
While I am no panty aficionado, for as long as I can remember, a quality panty has been a priority to me – ever since I was a wee girl and I had wee panties with the days of the week stitched onto them.
I loved those! And that’s what I was raised on: traditional bikini panties. I wore them well into adulthood, until I became professionally employed and was required to dress up in office attire every day, and suddenly I became conscious of panty lines.
Ugh. Really unattractive, am I right?
This was a fairly easy fix, because at the time women were still expected to wear pantyhose to the office (does anyone under 70 still wear pantyhose?). So I just nixed the panties and let my pantyhose serve double duty. However, under casual wear, this wasn’t an option, and I’ll be honest: commando – especially under jeans? No thank you. For some reason, I have this suspicion that denim seams would not be so forgiving on the pink parts. Ouch.
That was when I discovered thongs. Previously only for hookers and sluts, thongs were becoming widely acceptable in the ’90s for us average, upstanding girls. Initially the thought of having a slice of fabric nestled in the ol’ butt crack did not appeal, but I found that in reality, it’s not even noticeable. I became a Thong Convert. Comfortable, shields the girl parts from harsh seams, and most importantly, no dreaded panty lines! The next best thing to wearing nothing at all.
I’ve been a loyal thong wearer for over 15 years now. Sadly, however, I have been informed by my midwife that thongs are unhealthful. They promote UTIs (and I am prone to them, sooooo . . . ). Why? Well, that slice of fabric that nestles in the butt crack? It tends to slide, spreading cooties from one unmentionable part to another. Ick.
So I have spent the last few days on a Mission to Find the Perfect Panty to replace my beloved thongs. It’s actually sparked some very enlightening conversations with my lady friends, and it’s given me an excuse to go shopping.
Here’s what’s out there:
Briefs. I’ve never worn these, except perhaps a maternity version the first time I was pregnant. Nobody under the age of 70 should wear these. Seriously. Even on a hard body, they look like Grandma Underwear.
Traditional Bikini Panties. This is what I grew up on. Not a fan. Panty lines and riding up peeve me.
Cheekies. Really, that’s what they’re called. I never heard of these before I began this research project. Who wears these? And what is the point, except to say “Please do me. Now.”? Totally not functional, and I can’t imagine that anything that purposely rests halfway up the butt cheeks is comfortable. However, if you are a Victoria Secret model and can pull this off, more power to ya!
Hipsters. These are something of a panty-boy short hybrid. Cute. Not sure how functional or comfortable, as I didn’t try them. If the goal is to eliminate panty lines, I think a little more coverage is called for.
After extensive research and a lengthy survey on Facebook, I concluded that boy shorts might fit the bill: full coverage without being matronly, comfortable, no panty lines. Which ones though?
Victoria’s Secret boy shorts: didn’t like at all. Major creepage. Thumbs down.
Barely There boy shorts: didn’t like. Flimsy microfiber fabric, felt like wearing skimpy shorts made out of pantyhose. Plus creepage.
Maidenform Dream boy shorts: recommended by a friend who considers herself a Panty Expert. Really, really like them! Soft, comfy, excellent coverage. The true test: wearing under snug jeans. They do ride up a smidge with bending and moving around, but not terribly. No major panty lines. At $10 a pair, they’re a little on the pricey side. I bought several pairs and am keeping them.
Soma Intimates Vanishing Edge boy shorts: These are the winners! The secret is a light silicon line on the inside edge of each leg hole, preventing slippage and creepage. Super soft and comfy and attractive. They’re actually a little skimpier than the photo shows; they’re a lower rise in the waist and the ones I got don’t go down quite so far on the legs. The only drawback is the cost: at $15 a pair, they’re not cheap. But I found them on sale at the Soma Intimates store today at 5 pairs for the price of 3.
So there you go! You’re welcome.
I had my first prenatal visit with my midwife yesterday – for this pregnancy, anyway. If all goes well, this will be the third of my babies she will deliver right here in my home sweet home.
It was fairly uneventful – vitals checked, blood drawn, cup peed in, lots of talking. My blood pressure is a concern. It’s been somewhat of an issue in past pregnancies; I went into pre-eclampsia with the twins, but was able to keep it under control during my two subsequent pregnancies with diet and supplements. However, back in December of last year I was diagnosed with chronic hypertension – really no surprise, as it runs in the fam, and I’m well into my 40s now. So my GP played around with a couple different meds and finally got my bp down to a safe level, and BAM, I got myself in this here fix. So we had to change the meds again to something deemed safe to take during pregnancy. Not sure it’s as effective as the meds I was on before. My bp is under control for the time being, but there is a concern that pregnancy could cause it to elevate to an unsafe level at some point, which would preclude my having a home birth. The possibility of which makes me very, very sad. Of course I will not jeopardize my own or the baby’s well-being, but I want another home birth with all my heart. Which may be hard for a lot of people to understand.
I won’t bore you with a detailed accounting of the entire appointment, but I guess I want to use my being in the … ahem … family way again as an opportunity to talk about how awesome midwifery care is (and I’ve done the whole OB/hospital thing, so I think I can make some pretty objective comparisons).
Although most of my appointments will take place here at home, I will occasionally have to go to her office like I did yesterday, and her office is very homey. It’s been quite a while since I had seen her, and when Michael and I walked in, it was like walking into the arms (literally) of a dear friend – which she is. She’s not only been our midwife, but really a true friend during some very dark, difficult times, like when Finn was in the NICU after his birth, and when Michael was going through cancer treatment. She’s a peach.
She spent well over an hour with us, which is how all prenatal appointments go with her. Never a rush, always lots of time to talk about whatever’s on my mind. And after the appointment, she, Michael and I went to lunch together.
How many people have that kind of relationship with their OB?
So in a few weeks I’ll have an ultrasound to figure out exactly what’s going on in there.
In the meantime, I’ll try to come up with some other topics to post about. Maybe a good religion rant . . .
Okay, I’m really not on a mission to drive everyone batty by carrying on endlessly about my current delicate condition. But let’s face it: this is what’s going on for me at the moment, and it’s fairly monumental. So deal with it.
I had forgotten how difficult the first trimester can be – and it gets more difficult each time because: (a) my age continues to advance and I ain’t no spry spring chicken anymore, and (b) there are all those other young ‘uns to look after. Pregnancy symptoms are in full swing: nausea, splitting headaches, fatigue, insomnia. It could be worse; I’m not actually hurling, I just spend a good part of the day feeling woozy and carsick. This all bodes well for the pregnancy, I guess, but I confess that there are moments I just want to lie down and cry. Or at least nap. But the existing spawn won’t hear of it. So I muddle through the days, counting the minutes until I can crawl between my cozy flannel sheets and (try to) sleep.
In the midst of all this misery, however, a miracle is blooming. I don’t mean miracle in any religious sense – you know me, atheist to the bone. The miracle of life, though, if I may be so sappy. I noticed yesterday that my belly is poking out a little already (okay, I never did completely lose the bulge from the last few, but there’s a definite transformation taking place), the button of my jeans is digging uncomfortably into my skin, and when I stepped on the scale this morning I discovered that I’m up three pounds (I finally shed about 12 pounds during the early part of this year and got myself back down to where I was when Michael and I got married ten years ago; I now weigh more than I have in six months). It’s hitting me: this is for real. There is a tiny little baby growing inside me – something I thought I’d never experience again. And despite my shock and bewilderment, and despite my current state of discomfort, it’s all coming back to me what a privilege this is.
20 and Counting. Who Cares?
So the Duggars announced this morning that they are expecting Bambino Number Twenty. I feel an obligation to address this, since Michelle Duggar and I are clearly co-club members. You know, because they keep having kids because it’s God’s will, and we keep having kids because birth control is not our forte. Same club, obviously.
I understand why the Duggars’ news is newsworthy. I mean, who has twenty kids?!? What I don’t understand is why people are so quick to get their panties all in an uproar about it. Look, large families aren’t for everyone, but how do their (or my) reproductive choices affect you personally? If a family is taking care of its own, is self-sufficient, and is not subjecting its offspring to neglect or abuse, then who cares? You can say there is a larger picture that needs to be considered: the impact on the world, the environment, etc. Well, I suppose if everyone were having ten or twenty kids, it would be a real environmental problem, but it’s a rare family that has that many kids in this day and age, and with all the bigger shit going on, like war and genocide and intolerance and poverty, I just don’t think that the occasional family that produces a larger than average number of kids is going to make a global difference. Besides, like Michael pointed out to me as I wrung my hands over this latest
fiasco incident blunder joyful event of ours, “You never know, maybe this will be the person who discovers a cure for cancer.”
Truth be told, I think twenty kids is extremely excessive, and I cannot imagine how her body can continue to withstand all this baby-making (I have doubts about my own body’s ability to withstand this latest stunt, and this is only number seven for me). But where is the line supposed to be drawn? Who gets to decide? Whose business is it, anyway? It’s easy to get all judgy about someone else’s choices, but those of us who are judgy need to keep in mind that plenty of our own choices are being judged (fairly or unfairly) by someone else.
I wish them well.
Middle-Aged & Knocked Up: Pros and Cons
Just when I thought menopause was around the corner (not that I was looking forward to it), I get knocked on my ass by a surprise pregnancy. Not that I won’t love this little bugger, but I still feel slightly horrified and terribly shocked. I’ve expected horror and judgment from other people as we’ve broken the news (after all, people – even strangers who weirdly think our reproductive plans are their business – have been saying to us “You’re done now, right?” and “You know what causes that, don’t you?” for years), but to my surprise, everybody has been nothing but supportive and congratulatory. Maybe they’re all just throwing their hands up in resignation and secretly thinking, “Man, those two are just never gonna stop, are they? Are they on some kind of mission or something?” Of course, lots and lots of people are also finding a certain comedy in suggesting the possibility of another set of twins. I don’t think this is funny. At all.
I think I’m about 7 weeks now. Of course, I can’t be sure, because I didn’t think there was any need whatsoever to keep track of things anymore, so this is just a semi-educated guess resulting from staring at the calendar in a semi-trance and muttering, “When . . . ? . . . How . . .?” I’ll be having an ultrasound in a few weeks which hopefully will fill in the blanks for us. I’ve gained about a pound, which means nothing since I fluctuate a pound in either direction anyway, but my clothes are getting a little snugger, and if past pregnancies are any indication, I won’t be able to stuff my ass into these jeans for much longer. I’m tired and cranky and often nauseous, so I guess this is the real thing.
Here are some things to consider if you, too, find yourself middle-aged and knocked up:
~ When you announce the news to your kids, you can expect a look from your fourteen-year old son that silently says, “Jesus! Haven’t you guys heard of birth control?!”
~ Pregnancy is not cute on someone with wrinkles.
~ You’re not glowing. You’re probably just red-hot pissed off.
~ They don’t make a middle-aged maternity clothing line.
~ You can still expect facially deforming zits. Which is not, in truth, any different from being middle-aged and having PMS.
~ You will be eligible to join AARP when this child enters kindergarten.
~ Pregnancy fat will soon fill out all those wrinkles! It’s like free collagen injections.
~ You can now blame all the aches and pains of middle-age on pregnancy.
~ You get an unexpected break from having periods while in your mid-forties. Yay! You’ll still be bitchy, but people will tend to be more sympathetic to you.
~ Really, what difference does it make what kind of maternity clothes you wear? Nobody cares how you dress these days anyway. You’re past your prime. Which actually gives you some latitude you didn’t have as a fresh, young thang.
~ This is an excellent tool to embarrass your teenage son. Plan to show up at his high school and approach him in a crowd of his friends when you are about eight months pregnant. He might pretend not to know you, but keep saying, “Honey, let’s go, I’m going to be late for my pregnancy appointment!”
~ It actually might work as superb birth control for your teenage son!
~ Boobs, glorious boobs! They will be yours once again!
Time Keeps On Slippin’, Slippin’, Slippin’ Into the Future . . .
It seems like every year, we are rushed to the next thing sooner and sooner. No sooner is Halloween over, and we have Christmas foisted upon us. I was at Target the other day on Halloween morning, and already they were dismantling their Halloween displays and putting up Christmas stuff. Christmas! On October 31! And as soon as Christmas is over, Valentine’s stuff will be out. We can now expect back-to-school ads and store displays by mid-July these days, and by August you can’t find kids’ sandals. I understand planning ahead and being prepared, but something is getting lost in all this. Now is getting lost.
I don’t like it, this rush, rush, rush to the next thing. I think it plays a big part in this feeling that life just whizzes by quicker and quicker all the time. Plus it just burns me out. If I’ve been forced to “enjoy” Christmas decor and piped-in music since the end of October, I’m completely weary of it by Christmas day. There’s no novelty left when I’ve been slogging through it for two whole months.
Why can’t we savor the here and now? Let’s all just slowwwww down.