“Don’t You Want Your Baby To Live?”

A great many weeks back, my aunt posted this article on my Facebook wall and wanted to know what my response was. Now that I am finally getting around to writing something about it, I can’t find the post, so it’s going here instead. Aren’t you lucky to get to read it?

The Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) collects voluntarily submitted data on home births from midwives themselves. They don’t do anything with the data themselves except organize it, and accept applications from researchers who do want to do something with it. There is no nationwide requirement for reporting data from home births. MANA comes the closest, but since they do not have the backing of a legal mandate, all the information must be submitted voluntarily. This means both the midwife and the mother both have to agree to submit information. This agreement is made in writing on a release form at the onset of prenatal care with all the other initial paperwork. The midwife starts submitting information to MANA immediately, and continues doing so until the six-week postpartum visit is completed, and the client-midwife relationship comes to an end for that pregnancy and birth.

I bring this up because in various circles there are accusations that the data collected by MANA is “cherrypicked” to include the maximum number of positive outcomes and the minimum number of negative outcomes. It is obvious from the process described above that such cherrypicking is impossible. Nobody knows exactly how a birth will unfold before the birth, in fact, unfolds. So unless we are going to run completely contrary to the universally recognized wisdom that birth is ultimately unpredictable (although not without indicators) and begin claiming that every birth can be accurately foretold from, say, the 12-week mark, or any mark prior to the conclusion of birth, accusations of cherrypicking are a lousy attempt to discredit the information which MANA collects.

This is a link to the study itself: Outcomes of Care for 16,924 Planned Home Births in the United States: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004 to 2009

I highly suggest reading the whole thing. I am a big proponent of reading original source documents rather than relying on paraphrased commentary by third parties. The water has the potential to get much, much too muddied for truly informed discourse on the subject. I dislike it equally when proponents or detractors of any contentious issue do not read the source material in question, and draw faulty conclusions or simply parrot what some other commenter, who may have an axe to grind, may have a conflict of interest, may be biased, or may simply not be up to the task of correctly interpreting the facts, has to say.

The point of contention here is how home birth stacks up, safety-wise, with hospital birth. In order to have meaningful results, we must start with meaningful data. In other words, the data on both sides must be comparable in every significant way, or else you are comparing apples to oranges. This fact sheet gives an excellent background summary on the issues involved in gathering information on home birth and the difficulties encountered in trying to isolate truly comparable data sets: Interpreting Home Birth Research: Understanding Conflicting Evidence. I don’t want to rehash it all here when it’s already laid out so well, so please read the whole thing before we continue.

So let’s get in to what statistician Dr. Brooke Orosz actually has to say about her analysis. First off, there is no webpage with the full text of her analysis to link to; there’s just a text document to download. MANA_STATS_response Orosz

Let’s go through it.

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WIWS: Sans Baby

Ironically, on my first Mothers’ day after Der Kinder was born, I went to Mass by myself. (I was pregnant with him last Mothers’ Day so of course he came along.) The Fardreamer was under the weather, so he had to stay home anyway, and he offered to let Der Kinder stay behind because I was running a twitch late anyway and babies just exacerbate that.

So that means I didn’t have to worry about Baby Logistics when I got dressed! :D And here we are for another round of What I Wore Sunday:

Mmm-hmm, those are Christmas lights not only still strung up, but turned on. We are soooo Klassy.

Mmm-hmm, those are Christmas lights not only still strung up, but turned on. We are soooo Klassy.

Veil: I didn’t have to tie it back pirate-babushka style! Still the same soft black with pink and blue roses and vines.

Blouse: It didn’t need to be nursing-friendly or super-long to sustain repeated hiking-up of the baby! I haven’t been able to wear this blouse for almost two years, which is really sad because I love it. I bought it very soon before getting pregnant so it hasn’t seen a lot of use, which is a shame. It’s from Coldwater Creek; another clearance-plus-other-massive-sale-discount purchase.

Skirt: black riding skirt, Chaps brand, found at … sigh… Goodwill. It looks and feels like soft and substantial wool, but it’s actually polyester-rayon so I can machine-wash it. W00t!

Shoes: Same black heeled Mary Janes from Payless Shoes.

Der Kinder is not pictured as he didn’t wear Sunday clothes, of course.

Modesty Police list of misdemeanors:

1. Neckline: TOO LOW!
2. Sleeves: TOO SHORT!
3. Skirt: SHOWS CALVES! (or ankles, take your pick)
4. Shoes: HAVE HEELS!

Just goes to show that no matter what you do, someone will say it’s not enough.

The Modesty Discussion: Nuns Edition

I was reading a post on WDTPRS that concerned an article written on the Religion and Politics website that compares “conservative” nuns (as exemplified by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia) and “liberal” nuns (as exemplified by the Sisters of St. Joseph). The article has its own point and conclusions, but what leapt out to me from the page was this:

“Their simple, sensible-shoe, old-lady garb was, in its way, more modest than the bright white habits of the Dominicans.”

Did your jaw drop, too? Did you just flinch back and think What?! quite loudly, too?

For a very long time I have been reading the volley back and forth in the discussion of modesty. Sometimes it’s pleasant, a gentle game of badminton. Sometimes it devolves into a harsh battle of racquetball, with both opponents aiming not at the other’s actual position but at something else entirely, both missing – or at least not directly addressing – each other’s points.

Part of the discussion of how to be modest is what modesty actually entails. There are a few working definitions out there but the three prevailing ones are:

1. Make sure X, Y, and Z are adequately covered. Exactly what constitutes X, Y, and Z are hotly contested (thighs, knees, elbows, neck, wrists, hair?) as well as what “adequately” means.

2. Modesty is a matter of the heart. It manifests in one’s attitude, demeanor, and behavior. (This is generally used by people who are defending the shaky position that clothes have nothing to do with modesty, usually because they wore strapless gowns at their wedding Mass and they feel personally attacked.)

3. Do not attract attention to yourself. If everyone’s in jeans and a t-shirt, that’s what you wear. If everyone’s in bikinis, that’s what you wear too. This is often used as a bludgeon to shame women who wear skirts and dresses, and who cover their heads at Mass.

The author of the article is obviously working with the third definition of modesty. For comparison’s sake, let’s see pictures of both sets of nuns.

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WIWS: Wherein Kittenchan Shows Her Face

Back from my internet sabbatical. I gave it up for Lent, and it was really good for me.

I’ve been wanting to do the What I Wore Sunday linkup for a long time – pretty much ever since it started – but I never got around to getting a picture of myself until this week. I think it was a comment thread on one of Simcha Fisher‘s posts in the National Catholic Register – another fine and frisky debate on pants versus skirts, I’m sure – that had a commenter talking about WIWS and basically laying out a challenge to traditional-types; “Show us how you manage to wear skirts and a veil and not look dreadfully weird and/or dowdy” kind of thing. I like the spirit of show, don’t tell, so here’s the first installment. Hopefully my husband will not think I’m so strange if I do this every week and make him get used to it. It worked with cloth diapers, why shouldn’t it work with “Why the heck do you want me to take your picture?” I’m not exactly a traditional-type all the way, anyway; I still usually go to the OF Mass and I don’t think playing Dungeons and Dragons is a sin. Also I wear pants. Pbbbbtht.

Anyway. Here we go.

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Est in Rama

A reprint from the editors at the National Catholic Register, first published on January 17th, 2007:

America, we won’t go away. Many people wish we would, and heaven knows we would rather be doing almost anything else. But we can’t go away, and we won’t.

I’m sure you’ve seen us. We may have made you angry, or sad, or we may have made you turn quickly away and find something else to look at.

You may have seen us two days before Christmas outside the Planned Parenthood building. The old man with the rosary, the college kids in sweats, the sad-looking woman clutching brochures and an “I Regret My Abortion” sign — that was us.

Maybe you felt offended that we stuck abortion in your face as you rushed out to do last-minute shopping, cheered by Christmas songs on the radio. Well, we felt offended that the “clinic” was open that day. We wanted to enjoy ourselves, too.

Or maybe you heard one of us at a town meeting you attended at the school or the senior center. Maybe it was a savvy young woman lawyer that you heard voice the pro-life argument. Or maybe the voice of the pro-life movement you heard was a halting, nervous voice that got a little too angry or whose words got a little too tangled. In either case, that was us, too.

We may have made you uncomfortable that day. We’re sorry for that. But we’ll be there again at the next town meeting, too. And the next. And the next.

We won’t go away, and we won’t stop talking about abortion. We won’t stop saying, again and again, that this is wrong, and it has to stop.

America, you know more about the unborn than you ever have before. Life magazine used to sell out when they put an unborn baby on the cover. Now, we’ve seen National Geographic’s “In the Womb.” We have sonogram photos at the front of our baby books and we saw our children for the first time in utero, through a video monitor.

America, you know more than ever that abortion hurts women. Those of us who have had an abortion know the guilt at what we’ve done and the anger at those who made it seem inevitable, who refused all help except the kind that kills. Those of us who have a friend who has had an abortion know it is a topic that we must never, ever discuss. It causes too much sadness, inflicts too much pain that can’t be relieved.

America, you know what abortion is, and we know you know. We won’t stand by and pretend with you that nothing is happening.

And we won’t go away, because we can’t make abortion go away from our own consciences. Abortion stings us. The sting is there when we see an empty playground and remember that 1 in 3 children in America dies by abortion. The sting is there when we read of successful surgery saving unborn children in the womb, and remember that babies don’t survive the most common surgery in the womb.

Is abortion necessary for women’s rights? Ask the teens impregnated by older men and brought to the “clinic” by them, too. Is it a matter of choice? Ask the women who wanted to have their babies but were badgered and pressured and tricked and even forced to kill instead.

But doesn’t abortion help women? Ask the ones who died on the operating table — or the ones who say they wish they died because the depression is too much to bear.

What would America be like without abortion? We can’t even imagine. In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey gets a glimpse of what Bedford Falls would be like if he hadn’t been born, but then he returns to a world where that tragedy never happened.

We won’t get to return to the world we could have had.

Did we abort a statesman who would have changed the course of this country? Did we abort the musician who would have taken that art — and our emotions with it — to new heights? What cures, stories, jokes, athletic feats or technological innovations did we abort? What great actor is missing from our movies, what great teachers will never inspire our kids at school?

No, America, we won’t go away, no matter how much you want us to or how much we want to go.

We want to think we would have told the slave-sellers, “No way. Not here. I will use every legal means to stop you.” We like to think we wouldn’t have sat still in World War II Germany as the trains rumbled by. We wish we could have sat with Rosa Parks or prayed with Ruby Bridges on the way to school.

But we can’t do any of that. What we can do is remind you, America, in season and out of season, of the words you were founded on: “All men are endowed by their Creator with the right to life.”

So you’ll see us shivering in the cold again this January for the March for Life. And you’ll see us next January, and the January after that, and the January after that, until we wear you down at last and there’s no more reason to march.

And if we die before you change, America, we’ll be able to stand before God and say, “I defended the defenseless. I stood for the weak. My brothers and sisters couldn’t cry ‘Stop,’ so I cried it for them. And I refused to go away.”

I remember the marches of years past. When I was little, my parents took me along to one, and it was huge. We wound through the streets with a police escort. My parents and I were in a Catholic section, so we had a group Rosary going (albeit with a bit of a delay given how spread out we were) and some hymns. I held a sign that was almost as big as I was.

Like this, except I did not have a snazzy red and black jacket.

Like this, except I did not have a snazzy red and black jacket.

I remember my mom telling me to stay away from a couple of hecklers (“heckler” was a new word for me that day) who were tagging along because they were throwing rocks. When we were taking the bus back to where our car was parked, we saw the mom of one of the kids in my class on the bus with us and waved at her, but there were so many people there was no way to shove ourselves through to say hello and chat. (On a side note, when I got back to school I mentioned that he and I had both been at the march. The other kids jumped on that with the illogic that only crazy grade schoolers understand, declared it was a date, and teased us [and by us I mean me, because I had already become The One To Tease] about being boyfriend and girlfriend. This made life very awkward because even though I liked his mom a lot – she was the playground lady least likely to punish me for being a victim – I was not fond of her son in the least. I even went to one of his birthday parties when I was little, and I only remember two things about it – the oddity of having a body of water with bumper boats in it indoors, and that his mom gave me a ride and let me eat Pop Rocks which were rather disappointing in that they didn’t really explode.)

In fourth grade our teacher was telling us about abortion and since 1. my parents were very active at the time and 2. I was an insufferable know-it-all (it was a defense mechanism, all right? And I got in trouble for using my other one), I was very dramatic in my adamance that she NOT tell them was partial birth abortion was. Her face went a little funny and later I became pretty sure it was because she was not planning to go there at all, but the cat was out of the bag and now everyone wanted to know what it was. So, turning the tables, she made me explain it. I couldn’t finish – I got too emotional and started describing it in terms WAY too graphic for a fourth grade class – so she had to salvage the end of that.

When I was in high school, I took an intro to law class with a spectacular possibly-Nordic teacher who was an Honest To Goodness Lawyer. I’m pretty sure she came down each morning from her Cloud of Awesome to teach Catholic school kids about law and the legal system as her Good Deed for the day. Anyway, one the projects we had to do was research a landmark American court case and present it to the class. Well you bet I snatched up Roe v. Wade before some lesser entity got it and screwed it up. We were in groups of four and I wound up with three of the genial jocks – our school was too small for cliques to be completely isolated so most people got on well enough despite stereotypical high school self-selection into different packs – who wouldn’t know what Roe v. Wade was if you planted 50 million crosses in their yard. So we were doing research in the computer lab, looking up arguments and putting together our Powerpoint presentations, and joking around about colored pencils and other random stuff high schoolers joke about when given some freedom in the classroom, when I heard one of my group mates say, “We need a good picture for this slide.  Just put ‘abortion’ into Google.” As I spin around I hear the tippety-tap and tap of the search term and enter key, and suddenly I am throwing out words like You don’t want to search for that and We could get a picture of Norma McCorvey instead to three of the best football players on our team huddled around a computer screen saying, “Hey, that looks like a baby.” “What’s wrong with it? Where is it?” “Click on it, let’s see a better view.” And then: “Oh my God.” “Oh. My. GOD.” The rest of the (smallish) class came over. Shock. Noises of disgust. Silence. “Yeah,” I said flatly. “That’s what happens in an abortion.” They had never known before. Juniors in high school, not stupid or sheltered, but raised in a society where people talk about abortions and “choice” and terminations but they never knew, never heard, never saw what an abortion DOES. What an abortion leaves behind.

I am going to the rally today because no woman should think that she has no choice but to leave her dismembered baby, a chemically burned baby, a tiny little wandering baby behind. I am going to that rally today to show my support for a world where there are more choices than “choice”.

Internet Void Monday

Since 7 Quick Takes is in hiatus because Jennifer Fulweiler is recovering from bilateral pulmonary embolisms and is either going to or has had a baby recently (Larry was a bit vague), and since 3 1/2 Time Out Tuesdays is on hiatus because 7 Quick Takes is on hiatus, AND because I don’t know of any internet linkups for Monday that don’t require pictures because my otherwise responsible husband managed to lose the camera cable in our wee apartment over a week ago so I can’t upload any…  Here is Internet Void Monday. I know you all care oh so very much.

1. When Der Kinder is awake I don’t like diving into projects (chores) because he wants attention and caretaking all the time and I don’t want to be pulled in different directions. But then when he sleeps, 1. I don’t want to wake him up and 2. he might wake up at any time. That is why today, when Der Kinder has slept essentially since he woke up this morning, I have not dared get anything started, much less finished. ~sigh~ I would be so much more productive if I were someone else. Someone with gumption, and who does not have postpartum depression causing a severe lack of wanting to do anything besides mainline Dwija’s blog and wish I could take charge of my life the way she has hers.

2. I’m running out of places on the internet I can talk about certain people without them reading about themselves and getting upset. I originally made the policy of Total Anonymity on this blog because I wanted to be able to speak freely about whomever I wanted to, but then I put up those dang baby not-registry posts and let people whom I know in real life read them, so now they know this is me and where to find me. Not that I just want to whine about people all day long, but because sometimes I just want advice on how to handle a situation, or indeed just whine somewhere, get it all out of my system, and pretend that people are nodding along and patting my hand, so that the next time I encounter this person I don’t have I really want to complain about you but I can’t so I have it all bottled up and ready to come out in unfriendly passive-aggressive ways, or not come out at all and just cause me to have crying jags in the middle of nowhere which really upsets anyone else who happens to be around in the back of my head the whole time. I guess I could slink back to Livejournal but let’s face it, that place is a desert nowadays and I like having the feeling that somebody might actually be reading what I put on here. I’m sure the person I have in mind will never come back here again but I just don’t want to risk it. Yet. All right, fine. I’ll say it anyway. My [relationship redacted] is as sweet as pie and helps out in a pinch an awful lot, but we have very, VERY different ideas about baby stuff and by some things she does I don’t think she respects my position as mother. It bothers me. However what I think bothers me even more is the tension between being grovelingly grateful for most things and then there are other things for which I should be grateful too but since I actively don’t want them I don’t feel grateful, and that makes me feel like a miserable grasping utilitarian picky snob. And since it feels forbidden to bring up the subject with anyone because it makes me look like a terrible person, I can’t even ask for advice for how to prevent this problem in the future. It’s such a hydra.

3. Something I would very much like for my birthday is for one or more of my friends to come over and help me overhaul my clothes. By that I mean sit on the couch with Lucas while I try on everything I own and tell me that I really shouldn’t keep it anymore, or if it’s actually worth keeping. Then take pictures of all the combinations I can make with what I have left so I can remember outfit options later on. Finally after all that I want to sit down and come up with versatile pieces I can add to increase the wearability of things I already have. Finally – shopping! It’s a pretty intensive project but it’s basically free – just the gas for transportation – and I really, really, dearly want to do it but I will probably never get around to it myself plus the needing someone else to be an objective third party and take pictures.

4. Speaking of friends. I love my friends. Perhaps too much. Perhaps to the point where I’m afraid to ask them for things because then I’m a whiny burden and no one likes those and they will not want to be friends with me. Or maybe I ask them too much, all the time, and they tune it out. I wish people would visit more. Even the most rotten of chores seems like the easiest thing in the world when people visit. One of my friends said that’s a thing that goes along with being depressed, not wanting to do anything but the prospect of people makes things better, and something that depressed people need is company. At the New Year’s party when I opened up about some of my birth trauma I had friends who said the best thing in the world: that they would be there for me. I haven’t heard from them since, and yes I have reached out to them. I don’t need a shrink, I don’t need meds, I just need people. People make things better. This is proven anytime someone comes over or I go to see people elsewhere. Heck to a lesser extent the days gets better just when the Fardreamer comes home. It sounds like a crutch – I shouldn’t need to have someone supervise me in order to get things done. So I feel worse about myself; I feel incompetent, lazy, immature, irresponsible. I feel like I am the sole reason why this household is cluttered and dingy, the laundry is in several states of not put away, and the kitchen is slowly being conquered by tiny bugs. (GROSS! I know! I feel like a complete failure and I’m so ashamed of it. So, so ashamed.) Well, how about you try being depressed and lonely for a few months and see how productive you are, I say in bitter defense. It never makes me feel better. I just stare at my spoons instead.

Who are we kidding, it’s Monday and I feel bad enough already. I don’t want to get into anything else. No wonder people don’t read this blog. It’s the downest downer in town.

*Apparently it is NOT on hiatus. So much for trusting Larry. But seeing as it is not Friday, and I very much want to have happier things to talk about on Friday so this blog does not devolve into nothing but doom and gloom (I actually do have other things I want to write about, such as an article in Our Sunday Visitor which very much needs comment), I’ll post this now anyway.

Where I’m From

I am from glow-in-the-dark praying hands, from Ford, and Butterscotch the stuffed bunny.

I am from the house with a park in the backyard. Brown shag, swamp cooler, and the kitchen smells delicious. Then off-white tile, leaky roof, and the kitchen still smells delicious.

I am from the iris, the mulberry tree, and the stray cats.

I am from opening Christmas presents one at a time and from storytelling, from Sprout and Slivfka and Ronayne.

I am from the puns and the pedants, from engineering and English.

From Daddy has to tuck his cars in first and get your thumb out of your mouth. From just leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone. From you’re benched. From go sit on the wall for the rest of recess.

I am from clown homilies and musical drivel and banalities, so I left. But then I came back because the truth transcends time’s silly trends. Even when I don’t know anyone there, I’m at home.

I’m from Savannah and Wyoming, Ireland and Italy, Czechoslovakia and the Cherokee Nation, butter dips and Nesselröde pie and Anne’s Answer #2. And lots of boxed macaroni and cheese.

From his too-frequent business trips and the blue van that would bring him home, with all his ties, and the mother who made lists and picnic lunches and read to us until she wanted to fall asleep. On Saturdays he gave us whisker burns, and I pretended that I didn’t like them. On school days she gave me refuge in the library from fights.

I am from the old blue chest of drawers in the garage, stuffed full of unlabeled photos. Stuffed with discolored love.


Inspiration from here, and the template from here.