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Knitted in the Womb Notes

Location: Allentown, PA

I'm a Christian wife and a mom to three daughters and two sons. I'm a member of the board of directors of EmPoWeReD Birth. In my "spare time" I'm a doula, and a certified childbirth instructor.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Now how ironic is this?

As anyone who has ever lived with me can attest (and I've had many roommates over the years--filling out the criminal background check paperwork for church is insane), my biggest housecleaning nemisis is papers. Everywhere, they are just everywhere.

And I married a man with the same problem. Add us together, and yes, now it bugs me. Particularly those darned newspapers that MUST hang out around the house for at least a week before being read.

So, ahem...I accepted a job working for a newspaper.

Now that's irony. ;-)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Don't mess with the mommies...

You've heard it said "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

Well in this case, the woman scorned was a mom...and...well...she certainly did manage quite a change from "corporate America." LOL!


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Spanking isn't harmful?

For those who say that spanking never killed a kid...

Boy, 4, frightened of spanking, dies in fire

Now I have no idea how severe the "spankings" were in this household. But this is just tragic. I've pointed out before that the threat of a spanking might actually induce a child to sin...I'd never contemplated that it could to lead to a child refusing help to leave a burning building.

Previous posts on my blog about parenting:

Hey...it's my 2 year anniversary!

I made my first post 2 years ago today! I was posting then with marvel at my 4th child's upcoming first birthday.

The progression of "1st birthdays" really is funny.
  • 1st child--we planned a party at least 2 months in advance, inviting "great aunts" and out of town family & friends. I was up until 2 or 3 a.m. decorating an "ABC Blocks" theme birthday cake. We made up votive candles with her picture on them as favors.
  • 2nd child--we had a comfortable picnic in the backyard with a few close family members and friends. I was up until 2 or 3 a.m. decorating a "Circus" theme cake--complete with animal crackers. Favors????
  • 3rd child--A week before the party we remembered to invite Nana (unfortunately Poppop was in the hospital with his first bout with cancer). I recycled the "ABC Blocks" theme for a cake, and probably spent less time decorating it than the first cake--fewer icing colors. We had 3 guests.
  • 4th child--The day of the birthday I stopped at the grocery store over lunch and picked up the free "First Birthday Cake." I think Nana might have come...I don't remember.
Today we are looking forward to his 3rd birthday. He peed on the potty for the first time today--much to his own amazement and his mom's happiness. Maybe a day with no diaper changing is coming soon?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

5 Point Harnesses a la You-Tube

So have you seen the You-Tube video about the importance of 5 point harnesses on carseats? It seems to be doing quite the rounds these days. In case you haven't seen it, here it is:

Importance of a 5-Point Harness Carseat

As a mother of 4 children I certainly understand the importance of proper restraint of our most precious cargo. As a certified child passenger safety technician...this one is "preaching to the choir." I hope that the video inspires some people to better restrain their children (could we play it on jumbo screen TV's downtown???). My children have all rear-faced until they were nearly 2 years old because that is the safest position in the car. Katie--who turned 6 in June--still rides in a 5 point harness carseat. A seat that is tethered by way of a tether anchor that I had added to our mini-van after purchase (Ford will put these in your Ford vehicle FREE of charge!) Of course she's only 37 lbs...LOL!

The video mentions one of the problems with small children using lap-shoulder belts too soon--they tend to put the shoulder belt behind them or under their arm. However, they miss one problem with small children that many parents over-look. Some parents--in a desire to spend less time buckling their kids in--rush to teach their children to buckle themselves in. But kids don't always do a very good job of completely latching the buckle. I'll have to admit--that is the first thing that came to my mind when I watched that video--did that little boy buckle himself in? And if so, was the female end of the buckle just loosely resting in the male end, such that it easily came out? I don't know--they say they consulted experts who confirm that the seat was buckled in--which to me would indicate stress patterns were on the booster and/or vehicle buckle. I do know that in the 80's there was a problem with some seatbelts that if your elbow hit them just right they would pop open--and people died because of that. The quote they had about Buick seatbelts was strangly familiar to me--perhaps from the Reader's Digest article that I read several years ago talking about that issue from the 80's?

Okay...I'm going to be a bit "controversial" here.

The "100% effective" that they kept flashing in that video really annoyed me. Carseats are NOT 100% effective in eliminating death, even when used appropriately--some crashes are unsurvivable. It is simply a false expectation that a 5 point carseat will prevent *all* motor vehicle deaths. A rear-facing seat with a 5 point harness reduces the risk of death by 71% over being completely unrestrained, a forward facing 5 point harness reduces the risk of death by 54%, and over all carseats reduce the risk of hospitalization by 69% over being unrestrained. These statistics assume that the restraints are properly fitted and used (which, ahem, the picture of the older sister in the Britax seat illustrates misuse--the harness is visually too loose)--but even with that, you can see that it isn't a 100% reduction.

I went ahead and visited on the "in memory of" website that a link was posted to in that video. There I was able to read a bit more details about the crash. I really wanted to see some photos of the vehicle, but unfortunately, they did not post them.

What I gathered from reading that site is that this was a side impact crash. They were crossing an intersection with a yellow flashing light in their direction and a red flashing light in the crossing direction.

Side impact crashes are among the most deadly because you have very little "crush zone" between the point of impact and passengers. Though they account for only 25% of crashes, they result in 50% of traffic fatalities.

The mom saw the car coming at her and tried to warn her husband--who was driving--too late. There is no indication of how clear the intersection was as far as being able to view approaching traffic as you drive into it. Was there a blind curve near the intersection that the intersecting car popped out of after the dad looked? I don't know because it isn't stated--but I suspect that any "excuses" for the dad's failure to see this approaching vehicle would have been presented in the story.

The mom--who was seated in the front passenger seat--had minimal injuries, thus leading me to conclude that the incursion occurred further back in the vehicle--near the boy. I would expect to see some significant incursion into the vehicle at the point of the crash, but as I said, no pictures were posted.

The crash occurred at 45 m.p.h.Vehicle seat belts are only crash tested at 30 m.p.h.--as are child safety seats, so this crash involved speeds a full 150% of the speed the buckles are designed to sustain. I would speculate that during the incursion the booster seat was literally pushed sideways, straining the buckle latch until it popped. This would have happened with a 5 point seat as well--perhaps even one that was secured with LATCH. In fact, it may have happened faster because the Britax seat they reccommend is much wider than the Turbo booster they were using.

Due to centrifugal force, as the vehicle started to roll the booster and child were thrown out the window next to where the child was seated. Had a 5 point seat instead been tethered down it would have likely stayed in the vehicle because of being tethered and/or because of being too big to go out the window, but swung around as the vehicle rolled. Very likely it would have struck a fatal blow to the sister sitting on the driver's side of the vehicle. Kyle may also have still died as he may have sustained "battering" injuries as his seat was tossed around.

Do I support extended use of 5 point carseats? YES! My daughter who turned 6 in June still uses one, as does my son who turn 5 in February, and my son who turns 3 in January. My "just turned 8" year old daughter used a harnessed seat past her 5th birthday--until she was 40 lbs. She still uses a booster, and will for quite a while since she is only 50 lbs and our mini-van does not have head rests.I just can't support that they will ALWAYS prevent death.

A more protective measure in this case would have been the dad slowing down as he approached the intersection--which had a flashing yellow light (generally these are installed after someone has died at that intersection) to take the time to cautiously look in both directions for approaching traffic. I was taught in driver's ed that you should be able to stop for a yellow light if you see approaching traffic--that you should not proceed through the intersection until you have determined that there is no cross traffic, even if the cross traffic has a stop light, yet obviously this dad did not do this.

As another note, on the "in memory of" website, the parents reccommend using side curtain airbags with child safety seats. While this is a noble reccommendation of them, this pairing has not been crash tested, and thus if you do it, you are using your child as a crash test dummy. Air bags and carseats do not always make a good mix--as it demonstrated by the fact that there is no recorded instance of a standard airbag going off in a seating location with a rearfacing seat and the child is not killed.

So anyway...80-90% of carseats are installed or used incorrectly. In all of the carseat checks I have been at, I have *never* checked a seat that did not have errors that could put the children at risk. One seat came close--the only error was in how the tether strap was threaded--but the parents had not changed the threading from how it was when they got the seat from the Health Dept (their son had broken his leg and needed a special seat). Since the seat didn't have the directions with it (GGGRRRR!!!!), they had no idea it was mis-threaded.

So bottom line...we do our best. PLEASE--keep your kids in a harnessed carseat if at all possible until they are 40 lbs or 4 years old--which ever comes LAST. After that...if you can get a seat with a higher weight limit on the harness, that is great. But if you can't--use a booster until they can sit properly with just the vehicle seat belt--which might mean you need to use a booster until your child is 11 or 12 years old. But don't feel guilty if you can't afford a $250 Britax carseat. And please--get a check done for any of your carseats--just schedule an appointment. It takes just 20 minutes per seat.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Government and its role in keeping people in poverty

A while back some aquaintances of mine told me that their apartment had been broken into, and several hundred dollars stolen. Loosing this kind of money is difficult for anyone, but particularly to this couple. They suffer from mental delays, and survive on the husband's minimum wage part-time job at Walmart (where he is really abused--but Walmart's despicable treatment of employees is a whole 'nother post!), the wife's part time house cleaning job, and minimal government benefits. I have to admit, I wondered why in the world they--of all people--would have several hundred dollars stashed in a file cabinet in their apartment.

The wife later told me that they were trying to save money to buy a small house. It still didn't make sense to me why the money wasn't in a bank--I knew they had a bank account--but not wanting to pry, I didn't ask.

Some time later I figured it out--at least I think I did. They received food stamps, something they desparately needed due to their low income earning potential. But in order to get food stamps they have to have less than $2000 in assets. This includes owning a house or any type of retirement savings. So in order to save that down payment for a house (I wonder if they knew buying the house would result in loosing the food stamps?), they had to do it "under the mattress" so to speak, so that they had no assets on the books.

Now I know there is all kinds of controversy about government benefits, and people who are capable of work but sit around and collect benefits. But there are some people that really can use a helping hand. This couple was a perfect example. They work hard, but there is no way they can even make a "living" wage. These people are the result of "mainstreaming" of the mentally disabled population--30 years ago they would have been housed in a state hospital, hidden from public view. Today we try to allow them to live normal lives with a little bit of government assistance...and in the case of this couple, they found love and even have a child together. And in their attempt to live the American dream...the very government that is supposedly helping them is keeping them enslaved to poverty.

It doesn't stop there of course. My sister has a learning disability, so like this couple, she receives government benefits to help her make ends meet. Recently my husband and I moved her from the state where she and I had lived as adolescents and where she has been in an "assisted living" program for the last 12 years, to live in the state I live in--to our town so that she could live close to family.

Trying to transition her government benefits has been a nightmare, to say the least. The Public Housing Authority (PHA) in her previous home failed to tell her of forms that needed to be completed before they could transfer her case to the PHA in my town. The result of this is that her lease at her old apartment ended on October 15, but as of this past Friday, the PHA in my town still did not have all of the necessary paper work to open her case.

The really crazy thing we found out was that she could not get "permission" to move until her last month's rent was paid at her old apartment. Even if the paperwork had been promptly filed by the PHA where she used to live...she would have been unable to sign a lease for a new apartment until-at best-less than a week before her lease on her old apartment had run out. Of course this is assuming that she had a new apartment waiting in the wings despite not have "permission" to look for one yet--and that the PHA inspector would inspect it and approve of it the same day...which of course we would not expect them to do.

Fortunately my husband and I are her landlords...so we let her move into the one bedroom house we bought for her without having a signed lease. Of course this is a problem...after having been told my the PHA office where my sister used to live that there shouldn't be a problem with her renting from us, we found out less than a week before she was scheduled to move that she isn't allowed to use HUD benefits to rent a house owned by her parent, sibling, grandparent, or child. It never says anything about "in-laws" in the code, so we kind of hoped that if we just put the property in my husband's name, we could get away with that. But the "nice" lady at the local PHA office is over-interpretting the code, saying even if the property were owned by a cousin or uncle, it still wouldn't be allowed--even though the code specifically names the family relations I listed first, not a general description like "any first degree relative" or "any blood relative." Huh? They would rather she rent from some slum-lord in center city than rent a nice little house in a nice neighborhood from her family? It's not like we are making a profit off of this! Should I mention that I describe this PHA employee as "nice" only in the most sarcastic of tones, and that she had a sign on her door the day I met her that read "the witch is in." There is wording in the code about a possible exemption if the recipient of HUD benefits has a disability that the property is uniquely able to accomodate--so we are hoping to get by with that.

So anyway...my point in this whole long tirade about the Public Housing Authority is to say that this is why people who receive HUD benefits get "stuck" in substandard living conditions--they can't afford to move out because they know they will have a lag in getting their benefits transferred.

And it's not just in moving that HUD keeps people in poverty. The way HUD works is that they determine what the "fair market price" for renting a particular size unit is, and that is what they set the benefit level at. The amount that they will pay for a person's apartment is decreased by one third of their income.

Now I agree with the concept that the HUD benefit should be related to the income a person makes--a person making more should not get so much of a benefit. But one third of their income? Most people budget 25% of their income to rent, not 30%. So we are taking the poorest segment of our society, and expecting them to spend a larger percentage of their income on housing that is generally of lower quality than the rest of the population would accept. This leaves them with less money to possibly save to help dig themselves out of the rental situation.

Then there is the problem of getting employment. Most employers are not exactly jumping up and down waving to disabled people and saying "PLEASE, come work at MY company!" No...they hire disabled workers because the government gives them tax breaks for doing it. But in order to get the tax break, the employee needs to have a "job coach." Well my sister had one in the state she used to live in. She worked for a Wegmans grocery store where she used to live, and because she had good job evaluations, they told her they would have no problem giving her a job at the store in my town. We spoke with the HR manager at my local store in June about this, and he confirmed that he would give her a job.

Well on September 29 my sister and her advocate made a visit down to talk to the PHA folks and the folks at Wegmans, and we ran into a couple of snags. First of all, there was a new HR manager at Wegmans, and she knew nothing about my sister (did I mention that my sister didn't do the communications with Wegmans that she was supposed to be doing concerning her move?). She was fine with hiring her, but she explained that Cindy needed to have a job coach first so that the store would not miss out on their tax break.

Well supposedly stuff was being put in the works to transfer her job coaching needs to my state. But when I called the job coaching office following the news from Wegmans, they told me that though they had her application, because she had not put her specific new address on it, she had not yet been assigned a job coach. Giving my address and saying she was moving to my town was not enough. She hadn't put an address on the application because we still didn't have approval from the folks at HUD, so weren't sure if she was going to move into the house or not... Not only that, but they had not even contacted her existing job coach to get her files.

So anyway...the job coaching folks told me that they would "fast track" her request especially since her coaching needs are minimal--and certainly would call me soon to schedule her first meeting with a job coach. I had the impression that "soon" would be early the following week. I gave them the phone number of her existing job coach, who they said they would contact. That was Friday, October 6. The following week I played phone tag with that job coach, and when I got in touch with him (I think it was about Oct 16 before we actually spoke), he told me that no one from the office in my area had contacted him yet, so he hadn't sent out files. I played phone tag again with the local office--as did my sister's old job coach. Grrr... I finally got a call from the local office during the last week of October.

So my sister finally had an appointment on Nov 1 that we THOUGHT was with her job coach. Turned out that it was an intake interview...and they still didn't have all the necessary paperwork from her old job coach to "officially" determine that she is eligible for coaching--never mind that she has previously been approved in this state for job coaching by the exact same agency (in another city--but same agency). Oh, it could be another 4-6 weeks before she is even assigned a job coach. Keep in mind that her last day of work was October 5. So she's looking at an excess of a 2 month lag in employment. She's been putting in applications without the aid of job coaching, but so far has been unsuccessful in finding alternate employment.

The latest problematic area I have found is in Social Security Disability payments--SSD. My sister gets SSD. $611 a month. This is a very helpful part of her income. But my husband and I had hoped--as part of moving her near to us--to encourage her a bit toward independence. One of our specific goals is to get her working full time. We acknowledge that this will be difficult--and will most likely require her to work two separate jobs at barely over minimum wage.

The unfortunate snag that we have had thrown in the works of this is that we just learned that if she earns over $900 per month for 9 months (not necessarily consequetively), she looses the SSD benefit. There is no "if she earns over $900 a month she looses 50% of the amount over $900." She looses ALL of it.

Well at minimum wage, she would need to work nearly 25 hours a week to replace that $611. Oh...except that as her income goes up, her HUD payment goes down. So really, to replace that $611 plus the lost HUD benefits, she needs to earn $925 at minimum wage, which is about 35 hours a week--not even considering that by earning more money she might get put into a different tax bracket and loose more of her income to taxes. She currently works 20 hours a week--so she would need to work a combined total of 55 hours per week to have a paycheck that would equal the government benefits she is currently receiving. And keep in mind that because of her income, she relies on public transportation, so often encounters commute times of up to 2 hours one way, even for a simple cross-town commute. Given that her work shifts are often 6 hours or less, she could easily spend an additional 20 hours per week commuting.

So bottom line...is it really realistic to expect her to be able to replace that SSD payment by working? Is it any wonder that people who receive government benefits like this are "content" to just collect benefits and not work? If they do work, they loose their benefits, but it is very hard to earn more than their benefits will provide by working. So by receiving SSD she is essentially being capped at an earning potential of $10,800 per year--just $1000 over the poverty level as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Which I find to be an absolutely unrealistic figure...because I remember how it was to struggle to make ends meet when I graduated from college in 1994 and was making $25,000 a year. 12 years later, less than half of that is supposed to suffice???? Granted...that $10,800 is just what she earns by working...her combined government benefits bring her highest possible total income to about $22,000--close to $25,000, right? Except that adjusting for inflation means that the $25,000 I made while single was nearly $32,000 in 2005.

Yep...she's coming out about $600 a month shy of the income that I had trouble making ends meet at--and I wasn't living an extravagant life.

Sigh. Ultimately, I think that we will encourage her to find a job that will put her over that $900 limit. Because really and truly, living independent of government "help" will be the best thing for her. But for now, we will tread carefully, and fully weigh our options before we put her in a position where she looses government benefits that she so much needs.

Monday, October 30, 2006

What could I possibly gain from having a foreskin?

Okay...I personally wouldn't gain much from having one, because I'm female...but it is a question that many men ask when they are considering whether or not to have their sons circumcized. It goes like this:

"One of my arguments [about why our son should not be circumcized] was the same as your statement above...."loss of function". However, my dh (dear husband) was unmovable with that. He has lived with his penis being circ'd his whole life and doesn't feel he has any "loss of function."
I've never done this before...but my hubby has...I'm going to "borrow" an entire post from someone else. It is just so funny...I have to. KWIM? So here it is...one person's response to the statement above when it was made on the Circumcision Debate disscussion board at Parents Place.

You know, If our DH's based any other decision on such faulty reasoning we would smack them upside the head with a 2x4, but since it's circumsion it suddenly makes sense?

It's like someone is going to give us a brand new Lexus. But DH says, "No Thanks! I had a Lexus once and my KIA Sephia is so much nicer. Drives better than a Lexus. No way I'd get one of those."

And then we remind him, "Honey, that Lexus was stolen out of the driveway before you even got the chance to drive it. How do you know the KIA Sephia is just as nice?"

"I just know! I'm glad that Lexus was stolen before I got to drive it. Probably saved me a lot of trouble. And by golly, I'm going to make sure our son has a KIA instead of a Lexus too!"

"Hold still honey, I don't want to miss with this 2x4."

But when it's cutting up our sons genitals, he must now what he's talking about, right?



Friday, October 27, 2006

Natural Labor Induction--Dinner and a Date

So often when I talk to women in the last weeks of pregnancy, what I hear is a recollection of all the "natural" methods they have tried to induce labor. And frankly, I find this disturbing.

I have to admit, the most after my due date that I've gone with any of my 4 pregnancies was 2 days...and I was in denial that I was in labor when it started because "I'm not having this baby for another week--I have things to do!" And each pregnancy there after I birthed at 39 weeks on the dot, so with the exception of the 4th I was still repeating the same mantra as labor started "I'm not having this baby for another week--I have things to do!" By the 4th I had accepted my reality, and predicted the birth date 2-3 months in advance.

So anyway, bottom line...I've not been one to eagerly pursue induction (though I was induced with my second--water broke but no labor). But I've also not gone through the waiting many women experience when they go past their "best before date." Oh, wait, that's an "ESTIMATED due date!" I can't really say if I wouldn't be in the "what can I do to get this baby out?" camp if I did go much past my due date. But the thing I find most disturbing is the women who are starting the natural induction techniques as early as 37 weeks.

Just because it is "natural" does not mean that it is "risk free," which I think is a distinction that many people fail to make. Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac are all natural. So is a bite from a Viper. Blue and Black cohashes have been linked to heart problems in the infant. Castor oil can cause the baby to pass meconium in utero. (Note: It has been pointed out to me that many midwives dispute this notion linking castor oil to meconium. I don't know of any research one way or the other...so for now I'll drop that from my list of "known" side effects and just stick with the annoyance of running to the bathroom over and over and over...) Nipple stimulation and walking really don't seem to work to induce labor so moms may needlessly tire/discourage themselves trying these methods (but they can be very effective for augmenting labor). Most importantly, if the natural method does trigger labor a few days sooner than it would have started on its own, who is to say that the baby is quite ready yet? Or the mom's body? My own experience with having my membranes stripped in my first pregnancy (without my consent) was that I had a very long labor--I think in part because my body was not quite ready to labor yet. There were other factors too, but I think that one was high on the list.

So when moms ask my opinion on labor induction, my first advice is that they try to hang in there...the average nulipara (woman who hasn't given birth before) will be pregnant for 41 weeks 1 day, while the average multipara goes to 40 weeks 3 days. So for many women, they are stressing about being "late" when they haven't even reached the average gestation for their situation. Further, for there to be averages, some moms have to go even longer than that.

Beyond that, I encourage moms--really and truly--to QUIT trying to start labor. Try to take their minds off the question of "will I EVER have this baby???" I know..hard to do. With my 4th pregnancy I experienced for the first time being tired of being pregnant...and I was only 6 months along--LOL!

But seriously, adrenaline, created from stress, can inhibit labor. So I think that trying to relax and just giving the whole "I've got to get labor going!" thing a break may be very helpful.

I encourage moms to take a day weekend for some pampering. If she has older kids, she might want to get them involved in this, though she should use her own judgement on whether they would relax her, or keep her "on the ready." Anyway...I encourage mom to take a nice long soak in a tub complete with dim lighting, scented candles, and some soft music. When she gets out, perhaps the kids can have heated towels waiting, and maybe they could have been preparing the master bedroom to be a haven while mom was bathing--putting fresh sheets on the bed, setting up a light snack and some candles, music, and dim lighting. Mom should enjoy the snack. Let the kids (if they can do it well) give a foot massage. Let partner give a full body massage (kick the kiddos out of the room for this of course--LOL!). If the massage leads to something...hey, go for it. But if it doesn't--mom shouldn't stress herself and think "I need to have sex, it might kick start labor."

Mom should then take a nap. A nice, long, deliciously decadant one. One of those ones that mom wakes up feeling kind of like a cat who was basking in sunlight, and wonders with thankful amazement at how the kids didn't wake her up (because they were sent outside or to friends to play, or DH kept them busy reading books).

When she wakes up, her kind hubby will have dinner ready for her (yes, he will, mom should let him know that is his job. ;-), or will have made arrangements to take mom to a restaraunt that makes her feel relaxed & pampered. This is not the time for a buffet or fast food (unless you want to have DH bring Boston Market food home to eat by candle-light--that is yummy!). Mom should let someone else serve her.

Mom can tuck the kids into bed to get those nice maternal hormones going. ;-) Then more massaging if she is in the mood--at the very least, a nice cup of chamomile tea, and off to sleep early.

If calming down the adrenaline in her system allows labor to begin--GREAT! She is well rested for the task. And if it doesn't--GREAT! When is she going to get a chance to rest like that after the new baby comes? ;-) And taking the break will allow her to be more energized to pick back up on trying some way to give labor a kick start.

And that's it. It's worked for several of my clients. ;-)

Other posts on my blog about pregnancy:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

News about birth...

It's a busy, busy week when it comes to news about birth.

First, I simply must say, since I've so many times posted my frustrations about birth, that I recently attended a really great birth. The mom and the dad worked SO well together...it was one of those situations where, as a doula, at times I felt like I was intruding on a very private moment. But they wanted me there.

Mom worked SO well. Then she hit that classic "I can't do this anymore, I just want an epidural!" moment. I suspected transition because her water had just spontaneously ruptured, but didn't say that because she had been 5 cms barely an hour before. She had been able to be easily disuaded from an epidural an hour earlier, and I could see that wasn't happening at this point. So I did my "good doula" job, and started making suggestions to propell the nurses along in doing what they needed to do to get her ready for an epidural--suspecting all the while that it wasn't going to happen. But you know what needs to happen...getting that all important IV put in and running the bolus of fluids to prevent a drop in BP as a side effect of the epidural... Except that research shows that the bolus of fluids does NOTHING to prevent the drop in BP...but hey...

And what do you know, she was in transition. A few contractions later and I could hear it just as the nurse returned to the Jacuzzi room with the tray of stuff for putting in the IV--she was ready to push! It does amaze me sometimes how hospital staff don't know that sound, and they need to do a vaginal exam to verify. Or maybe they do know it, and like me, they aren't willing to say anything because if they are wrong it will be upsetting to the mom... I knew what they were going to find--baby's head was "right there!" Mom pushed for barely 15 minutes before holding her precious little girl in her arms.

Was really hysterical when a nurse--not the fabulous nurse who had been assigned to mom for her labor, but another of the myriad of hospital staff that showed up in the room for the "precipitous" birth--tried to convince her that she should lay down on her side to push to "utilize gravity." "What exactly about this position doesn't utilize gravity?" shot back the not-so-patient-at-that-moment mother. She was kneeling on the bed with her bum on her feet, back to the Dr, leaning slightly forward. Not exactly the most "OB friendly" position, but it was working for her. Nurse made up some cockamamy explaination about how the tailbone was UNDER the baby with the end of it running nearly parallel to the floor. Wished I had a model pelvis with me at that moment to show the nurse how it was currently oriented, and how the end of the tailbone was actually pointing straight down to the floor. Anyway...mom stayed where she was at and kept pushing.

I really do find it funny though...when mom is in a non-standard position that is really working, she is often encouraged by the hospital staff to switch to a "more productive" position--that is, one that is more conducive to the medical procedures they want to do. But if mom is in one of those "more conducive" positions, she is told how she is making great progress and should keep using this position, this is a fabulous position--even if she pushes for an hour in that position and doesn't make ANY change to the baby's station.

ANYWAY...this post is about Birth in the news...

National Public Radio did an interview this week with Tina Cassidy, the author of the new book "Birth: the suprising historyof how we are born." Among the many things discussed: baby'srotation, Dr. Bradley's contribution, midwifery and natural birth today. Definitely worth checking out.

Also in the news, the long awaited report on the 2nd "Listening to Mothers Survey" have been released. The news is not surprising to folks who advocate natural childbirth. They showed that no, women are not selecting cesarean with no medical cause in great numbers, despite recent media reports that attempt to blame the rapidly rising cesarean rate on "maternal request" cesareans. They also found that 4 out of 5 women who birth via cesarean reported pain at the site of their incision 2 months after the birth, and twice as many women who birthed via cesarean felt their post-operative pain interferred with daily life than did mothers who birthed vaginally. The survey further found a rather high use of interventions even in vaginal birth, including a 56% urinary catheter rate, 34% induction rate (35% of those for non-medical reasons), and 47% Pitocin useage rate.

This survey is definitely worth looking at if you are interested in birth information.

Fashion Free Zone

My oldest daughter is turning 8 in a few days, and selected for her birthday the "Fashionista" themed party gear from Birthday Express.

I'm not sure if there is any connection at all here...but my six year old daughter, Katie, approached me the other night and told me that we have to get rid of all "fashion clothing." I was somewhat bemused. I try not to look too dreadfully out of style, but I'm not exactly a trend setter when it comes to clothing. ;-) I'm more of a "traditional basics" kind of girl. So I asked her what she meant.

Pointing to my shoes, she said "we can't have fashion. You need to get rid of those."

"Those" shoes were a pair of rather plain black loafers. These are shoes that while I find them to be "acceptable" for the office, when I'm wanting to look really put together, they are the flats that I wear for driving and walking across the parking lot, shedding them when I reach my desk for a more polished option.

If she wanted to pick a pair of my shoes that were "fashion," perhaps she could have selected my brown faux crocodile heels with the white stitching--a walk on the wild side for me, they always garner compliments. ;-) Or perhaps my black open back heels with the fun crisscrossing straps.

But she chose my very servicable loafers.

I never could get her to explain what was so wrong with "fashion" that we had to get rid of it. But I found her choice of what was "fashion" to be amusing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Are weddings about family...or a formal ceremony?

As an offshoot to a discussion about churches, one member of an e-mail list I'm on shared the following story:

Last Oct. when we were in Kansas for my Mom's wedding my oldest son (then 11) went to church with his cousins. (Ages, 7, 11 &14 at the time.) Right in the middle of the service the pastor stopped and said "Courtney H. (my 14 year old niece) turn off your cell phone and STOP text messaging while I am preaching!" Benjamin was shocked, appalled and embarrased that he has a cousin that would do such a thing! LOL I was impressed that the pastor would put a stop to it in the middle of service. Turns out she was text messaging the person behind her!

Okay...this is just SO much a touchy point right now! My husband has 2 older brothers. The oldest is actually a pastor, and performed my husband's and my wedding ceremony. The 3 brothers are close in age, but DH's older brothers got married right out of college, while my husband and I married just 11 days before he turned 36. So our four kids are significantly younger than their cousins.

June 2005 the middle brother's oldest son Doug announced his engagement with plans to marry in June 2007. We thought this long engagement was not a good idea...but hey...not our life... We later would find out that it was the bride's parents' idea--they wanted her to finish college before getting married, which I suppose I do agree with.

Anyway...This spring the oldest brother's oldest daughter Allie announced her engagement with plans to marry on December 16, 2006. Okay...not *exactly* when I want to be making time for a bridal shower and wedding, but I'm happy for her, and can understand the allure of a December wedding. :-)

In late August suddenly SIL--wife to middle brother--started making oh so cheerful bubbly phone calls to family..."Guess what? Doug decided he is just too lonely, and he can't wait to get married, so he is moving the wedding up to December 9! Isn't it so wonderful, cousins getting married just a week apart!"

Ummm...NO! It is NOT wonderful, it is down right tacky to plan your wedding one week away from your first cousin's wedding. But DH will not let me say anything, so all I can do is smile and bite my tongue when we are together and she starts gushing. (NOTE: I later learned that Doug had received word that he was going to be shipping to Iraq several months before his original wedding date...once I learned that I had a LOT more sympathy for his change in date. He wanted to make sure he was married before he shipped out, and didn't have a lot of options since his bride was still in college.)

So anyway...we had accepted that this is the way things are. Then we get the invitation to Doug's wedding. Addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Steven R...." Which of course I know means "no kids." GGGRRR. DH doesn't believe me, but allows me to call SIL to clarify. I mean really, they expect us to give up two weekends during the holiday season, and now we aren't even going to be allowed to spend it with our children? In fact, we would have to spend probably about $65 for a babysitter given that we will be at the wedding for 7-8 hours minimum with travel time figured in--if we are going to be blessed enough to be able to find a sitter willing to give up a whole Saturday in December??? Do you know how hard it is to find a suitable sitter for 4 kids?

So probably fortunately, SIL wasn't home when I called. So when she called back, she got DH, and he talked to her pretty civilly, but explained to her that if we couldn't bring the kids to the reception, then we probably would not attend the reception because the kids will be really hurt if we exclude them from the wedding ceremony. A couple days later she calls back and says that several members of the brides' family had been sending back RSVP's with children listed on them, and so they had decided to allow children to come to the reception. YAY!

Then last week the invitation came to Allie's wedding. Again, "Mr. and Mrs. R...." I told DH he should call his brother to clarify, but he refused. Said "Doug and Lynn were swayed because of people just RSVP'ing kids, so we are just going to do that with this one." I wasn't happy with this, but just went along with it. Brother-in-law called up. Isn't budging. So DH explained to him that we would just attend the ceremony, but not the reception.

But it isn't just the reception--all children under 10 are banned even from the ceremony! It's going to be "formal," and they don't want children to disturb it. GGGGRRR!!!!!!! Which I have to say, REALLY torqued me, because when we drove over 4 hours to attend BIL and SIL's 25th anniversary with them, our daughters were just bubbling over with their excitement about attending Allie's wedding (wanting to be flower girls because they were just flower girls the previous weekend at a wedding for my youngest female cousin), and neither of them had the courtesy to pull me aside and say "you know, we probably will not have children at the wedding, you might want to explain this to them." And again, this wedding is a couple hours drive from our house, so we are looking at needing child care for 8+ hours.

BIL insists that he has attended nearly 200 weddings (he is a pastor after all), and there was never children at them. DH said he actually kind of got the impression that this was something he told brides and grooms that they should do--but I don't know about that. He never said anything to us about not having kids at our wedding (which, BTW, is one of the things that always bugs me about "no kids" policies at weddings. Steve and I actively embraced having kids at our wedding, putting "Children's Menu" as a meal choice on the RSVP card. Yet with 150 guests in attendance I can only think of less than a dozen children under the age of 10 that attended the wedding (including 2 children of middle brother, and oldest brother's youngest child had just turned 9 barely a week prior, I think his next younger child may have been 11)--and they certainly did nothing to be disruptive. So what is the point of offending your friends and relatives? It probably cost us well under $100 for the kids' food. I think that brother-in-law just didn't notice the children at all those weddings he's been at because they weren't disruptive!

So anyway...oldest brother-in-law simply is not budging. No kids at the reception OR the ceremony. I was brought up being taught that it was rude to deny anyone the chance to celebrate the wedding ceremony if the person wasn't disruptive--even a complete stranger off the street. But here we've got a pastor telling us that his nieces and nephews--1st cousins of the bride--are not welcome simply because their age is in the single digits. Because they might be disruptive to the solemness of the ceremony. As if a 14 year old text messaging (or the 14-15 year old altar boy who seemed to be cracking jokes with himself during my grandmother's funeral) isn't disruptive! Of course I don't exactly think the Pastor handled the text messaging well (he didn't need to humiliate her--would he have similarly "called out" an adult texting during the sermon? He could have spoken to her after the service, or he could have made a general comment about text messaging being inappropriate.).

In a tongue in cheek kind of way...I suggested to my husband that we get a "money holder" gift card to give the bride and groom, and put a note in it explaining that our gift to them is hurting our children deeply by paying $X for a sitter so that their wedding would not be marred by the presence of such unbearable creatures as CHILDREN. Of course I will not really do that...but it is tempting--especially with the "they can't come to the ceremony" thing.

The last time I went to a "no kids" wedding was my cousin's wedding 5 year's ago. Since we were traveling across the state and would have to spend the night, there was simply no leaving the kids (just 2 at that time) home with a sitter. So we took them to the ceremony (which they loved!), but then my grandmother's neighbor babysat them for the reception. But from the minute I walked into the reception hall without my children, all I heard from my relatives that rarely see the kids was "where are the girls?" "you HAVE to go get the girls!" I also noted that there were just as many kids at that reception as had been at my own. My relatives harassed me to the point that I finally did leave the reception, drove back across town to my grandparents' house, and got the girls. And they had a GRAND time.

Of course I also know that a part of excluding children is a cost factor...people simply feel that they can't "afford" to feed the kids...or even in some cases adults that they would have "liked" to invite. When hubby and I were planning our wedding (which we paid for ourselves, no help from any parents), we made our guest list first, and then having that number, we then determined how much we could afford to pay per person for the reception, and sought out a facility that fit into that budget.

Weddings are about celebrating the commitment of marriage with family and friends. NOT about setting out to have the most stunningly formal event you can possibly put yourself into debt for. If you can afford a formal event, WONDERFUL. But I think that it is selfish to sacrifice having close family attend an event in favor of having an expensive reception.

Don't forget that kids are people too. :-(

Thursday, September 28, 2006

So who is giving the "help" here?

Is there anyone out there that hasn't read a list of amusing stories about the zany things that folks who answer "help line" phone numbers have to deal with? Well I've got my own story, that just happened this morning when I called the IT helpline at my workplace to get some issues with my phone service straightened out.

I dial in, get pre-recorded messages with answers to common problems, then get told to stay on the line...

After a moment it seems as if my call were transferred or something--there was a click, then silence. I glance over at my phone and notice that the light is not lit up anymore. I hang up the phone, then connect again to dial the help-line back--but as soon as I push the button to connect, a voice says "Hello, did you just call the IT helpline?"
Me: Yes I did. But I seem to have gotten disconnected somehow.

Helpline: I'm sorry, I did that by accident.

Me: Oh, okay, well I have 2 phone problems I need to get resolved...


Helpline: Okay, I'm going to walk you through resetting your phone step by step. First, do you see the silver cord connected to your phone?

Me: Yes.

Helpline: Okay, unplug it from the phone.

Me: (pause, waiting for more directions) So are you going to give me all of the instructions up front, then I will go through them?

Helpline: No, I'm going to walk you through step by step.

Me: But if I unplug the phone cord, we will not be connected anymore.

Helpline: (long pause) Oh...yeah. Well I don't want you to have to call you back if it doesn't work...maybe if I e-mail you the instructions...

Me: If I have to unplug the phone as part of resetting it, it doesn't matter how you send me the directions, if it doesn't work, I will have to call you back. Why don't you just tell me what to do, then I'll hang up and do it?

Helpline: But I don't want you to have to call back...(pause)...maybe if I go ahead and enter the repair ticket without you resetting the phone (type, type, type) oh, it wants to know what happened when you reset the phone...well I guess there isn't any way around this. Okay, I'm going to e-mail you the instructions.

LOL! Usually it is the person calling into the "customer helpline" that is spacey, not the helpline staff! Oh, and BTW, resetting the phone did not fix the problem, so there is now a repair ticket in on my phone.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

BBBbbbbbrrrrr! It's cold in there!

Considering the heat wave that the Northeast has recently been experiencing, you might think that I've been running my air conditioning a bit too much based on this post title. But that's not the case at all.

I've been wanting a full sized freezer for a few years. Preferably an upright model. But we haven't gotten one because "we are going to be moving soon, lets wait until after we move" and "we can't really afford it right now" kind of reasons.

Well I bought one yesterday, and I'm just so thrilled. Guess I'm a cheap date. LOL.

Really--the freezer cost only $30, so that's a cheap date in my book. I got it at a yard sale. The owner's adult daughter opened the door to show me the inside, and I was blasted with cold--so I knew it worked. I asked how much they wanted, the mom said $30, and I said I'd buy it. Before even knowing how big it was or frost free (its a manual defrost...oh well), or anything like that. Really, I figured at $30, I couldn't go wrong. You can't get a new freezer delivered for less than $50, let alone the cost of the appliance. By my estimates, I saved over $300 from the cost a new freezer of the same size. Yes, so it's probably about 20 years old. That just means it will probably still be running when a new freezer is sitting out at the curb.

Who ever would have told me 10 years ago that I'd be more excited over getting a freezer than a new outfit would have gotten a really strange look from me. But for now, I'm very thankful that God has provided what will certainly be a useful tool to my family.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Baby Talk is buzzing...

Apparently Baby Talk magazine has received 700 letters to the editor already about the cover of the August edition of their magazine. I think those baby eyes gazing up at his mother are just adorable, but apparently some people are more concerned about the exposed breast.

Never mind that many of the people who are so concered are likely the same ones who stay up to watch the Victoria's Secret special on TV.

CBS Channel 3 News out of Philadelphia covered the story tonight. Of course they had to talk to some newly minted moms (still in the hospital) to get their take on things--one supportive of the cover, the other not so supportive. The "not so supportive" mom claimed that she had tried to breastfeed, but it was just too hard. That is really sad that she didn't have the support she needed to even make it a couple of days!

She then went on to pontificate on how she feels that breastfeeding shouldn't really be pushed on moms so much because society really doesn't accept nursing in public:
“There’s alot of pressure to breast feed,” said Agnes. “In today’s society, you can’t do it anyway. People look at you like you’re disgusting,” she continued.
I've breastfed 4 kids in public, and never once got asked to move. I would guess that half of the time no one even noted what I was doing. At least 5% of the time I actually got positive comments or encouraging looks. I know there are some moms that do get asked to move...but come on...here is a mom with her first baby not even out of the hospital yet, and she thinks she knows that society at large is going to make her feel uncomfortable if she were to breastfeed in public?

This is a problem, and one I think that in a way, "lactivists" have created. The envelope really has been pushed and pushed to the point where society is pushing back. I think that moms who have nursed in public and not had it be an issue really need to speak up more to let the next generation know that it really isn't that big of a deal. Making a huge issue out of every situation where a store clerk who likely doesn't even have children asks a nursing mom to move really isn't helping paint a portrait of nursing as a natural part of public life.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

16 Year Old Killed in Childbirth by Medical Error

Recently 16 year old Jasmine Gant in Madison Wisconsin was killed when a medical error occured. What happened? She was pregnant, and went to the hospital to birth her baby. Apparently she was Group B Strep positive, so was prescribed IV antibiotics. However, instead of hooking up a bag of antibiotics to her IV drip, a bag of epidural medications were hooked up. The antibiotics would typically be run in over the course of about 30 minutes, I would guess that the same sized bag of epidural medication would be expected to be run in over a time period of several hours. The mother started seizing, and eventually died--my guess would be that she died before the mistake in medication was even discovered, so while resucitation efforts were underway, she was probably continuing to receive the medication.

To read the media accounts, it really seems like the nurse who attached the medications is being hung out to dry. And she certainly does bear a large part of the responsibility. She should have visually confirmed that the label on the IV bag was for the correct medication. Further, it appears that there is a systemic problem in that particular hospital were the barcoding system that is in place to prevent such medication errors is not actually used by the nursing staff.

However, there is a HUGE key question that is not getting asked. Because the medications used in epidurals are controlled narcotics, they are generally kept under lock and key. As a doula who has worked in several hospital, I've never seen them accessible to the nurses, but rather kept in a cart that the anesthesiologist has the key to. Several other doulas have raised the same concern in the doula community. The anesthesiologist mixes up the medication cocktail on a "per customer" basis--it is not premixed and placed in IV bags. So why in the world was the nurse in this case even able to have access to a bag of IV fluid with epidural medications in it? Where is the anesthesiologist in this picture?

Bottom line folks...don't let something get injected into you (or your loved one) or hooked up to your IV unless you personally inspect the label.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cindy's Moving Adventures

My sister is moving! Read all about the on-going process at the blog my husband and I are starting for it (we might even get Cindy to blog as well!). Here is a picture of the front of what we hope will be her house:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes...

Apparently my almost 6 year old daughter is a bit too sure of her cuteness. Here is a conversation we had at bedtime tonight:

K: Mom, you just can't say 'no' to this face.
M: Yes, I can.
K: No, you can't. It's too cute.
M: K, your face certainly is cute, but I still can say 'no' to it.
K: No, no one can.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Quotable Quotes...

I don't know the source of this quote...but it is very spot on.
If I were an Iraqi, bound to a bed, clothes taken, denied food or water and lied
to...the American Media would care. But I'm just a woman giving birthin America,
bound to a bed, clothes taken, denied food or water and lied to.

Another "spot on" quote:

"We have not lost faith, but we have transferred it from God to the medical
profession."- George Bernard Shaw

Do you have any favorite quotes? Please share them!

I guess it was about time...

Apparently I'm pregnant.

Expecting a baby boy...so say the wise folks at On-line Pregnancy Tester.

Oh, he'll be 8 lbs 3 0z, have black hair and brown eyes. Which is really amazing because I have 4 kids who weighed between 6 lbs 11 oz and 7 lbs 8 oz at birth, have blonde/red/or light brown hair, and blue eyes. And my husband and I have blue eyes. Which does leave one wondering...who is the father?

The pool guy apparently. And he's really hunky. ;-) Now where is that pool, other than on the "we have a dream" sketches my husband and I have made of our back yard?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Medicine in America

Recently I was told about a new blog...a mom venting about her coerced cesarean birth. She writes:
The experience made me see how combative the relationship with obstetricians and
their patients have become. In my case, my obstetrician Dr. Claudia Holland
burst into the operating room while I was strapped to the o.r. table, shouting
at me that she wanted my verbal consent because she "didn't want to be charged
with assault." Is this an incidence of a single individual with anger-management
problems or the current state of obstetrics in the U.S.?

Unfortunately, I don't see this kind of problem as simply an obstetrical problem. Its a rampant problem in medicine. There are some good, respectful Dr's out there. But unfortunately it seems that more often than not, Dr's expect to have cart blanche to do whatever they deem fit in the treatment of the patient.

I've gone toe to toe with my children's pediatrician over the issue of vaccinations. It started out that I wanted to delay vaccinations for my 4th child. My first 3 were nearly fully vaccinated (no chicken pox or pnemecoccal). But my 4th had a bit of a cold when he went in for his "2 month" well baby visit, and he was only 6 weeks old to boot, so I wanted to just wait until he was 3 months old to start. Just one itty bitty month...and as I said, I had a history of complying with vaccinations.

Well my pediatrician hit the roof, and yes, did her best to coerce me into having the injections done--including having me sign a form indicating that I was refusing the shots against medical advice, and my child could suffer dire consequences because of this. I later found the exact form on the AAP website, along with instructions about how it could be use to convince "waivering" parents to consent to vaccinations.

But I'm a stubborn type, and stood my ground. And then I went home and did what I should have done 3 children prior. I actually started researching vaccines. When I finally brought my son back when he was 4 months old (that's right, I didn't bring him back at 3 months), I only had 2 of the 5 shots done that had been planned.

And the whole thing has created a huge rift in my relationship with the pediatrician. I'm always nervous about what is going to happen when I take my son in--even though I refuse to see the particular Dr who blew up with me. As a result, he's now 27 months old, and hasn't been to the pediatrician since he was 9 months old. I don't think this is a good thing. I know he has a problem with learning to talk, and would like a referral to get speech therapy, but am just not sure I want to deal with the lecture that I think I will get.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Outrageous gas prices

Tulipgirl brought up the issue of gas prices on her blog, and I started to reply, but my reply ended being, well, a blog post...so here it is!

Prices are as high in my area as hers. I paid $60 to fill up our mini-van today. Whenever I do this my husband will say "why did you fill it up, prices are going to go down?" But my reasoning is always that they are probably going to go up--at least that is what I keep reading, so I'm going to "stock up" now!

I've got mixed feelings about the whole thing. Obviously the prices hurt my wallet. But I do think the gas companies have a right to make a profit. From what I've heard, they are making around $.90 per gallon in profit. The gas I bought today was $2.87/gallon--which apparently is just about as low as you can find it in my area. With $.90 profit in that, it amounts to a 30% profit for the oil companies. And this is where people are being drummed up in outrage. 30% mark-up!!! How outrageous!!!

The cost of most consumer products includes about 30% advertising and 30% mark-up. So the gas companies are getting their mark-up. Maybe. I doubt it a bit. Why do I think that? Well because of the other costs that go into gasoline, namely crude oil and taxes.

The government taxes gasoline so heavily, that well over 20% of the cost of your gasoline is taxes. That may actually be why there can be such a variation in prices across the nation--why states that are very far away from the oil refineries like Wyoming and thus have higher distribution costs--have lower gas prices (about $2.50/gallon) than states with refineries in them like Texas (about $2.90/gallon).

Yes, I've heard it said in many venues that there is close to $1/gallon in taxes in the cost of gas (the most recent data I could find on the web was from 2000, and indicated about $.50 per gallon--varied state to state).

Crude oil costs $72 per barrel today according to the nice folks at CBS news. Now that doesn't mean much to me...how big is a barrel of oil? Looked that one up too, and found a reference that says it is 42 gallons. From which you get about 19 gallons of gasoline.

But wait, doesn't that work out to the gasoline costing more than $3 per gallon even before profit and taxes are added in? Nope. Because the 23 gallons of "waste product" are sellable products. Like mineral oil or petroleum jelly, which are widely used in the cosmetics industry. So lets assume though that the $72 per barrel cost for crude oil is evenly distrubted to each gallon of initial 42 (which means we assume NO waste from the crude oil)...thats still $1.76 per gallon.

And remember, the profit in gasoline is not all going back to the "big oil companies." Your local gas station needs to make some money to pay the employees--your neighbors who might like to be able to feed their families. The 11 o'clock news tonight (4/28) reports that the average gas station makes $.10 per gallon profit on a cash purchase--but that gets cut to $.05 when a credit card is used due to the credit card surcharges. Either way you slice it, $.10 per gallon of the cost of gasoline is going to the local station.

So even if you take the 2000 data of $.50 per gallon in taxes, and add to that $1.76 in crude oil cost, and $.10 for the local station, you come to $2.36 per gallon. That means there is only $.51 left for production costs, distribution, advertising and profit in that $2.87 per gallon gasoline I purchased this afternoon.

What happened to $.90 per gallon profit? It certainly has gotten eaten away. I really think that most of that $.51 is going to actual production and distribution costs.

That's right. I don't really think that there is a lot of a profit margin in gasoline. At best, there is $.51, which amounts to only a bit higher than a 15% profit margin. How many companies could stay afloat on a 15% profit?

The profit margin is in other products sold by the petroleum industry. Perhaps keronsene, jet fuel, I don't know. I tend to think that it is in the other "petroleum products" that are sold to industry.

For example, lets take baby oil. Its over 99% mineral oil...and mineral oil is what? A by product of the purification of gasoline from crude oil. The petroleum industry sells mineral oil to the cosmetics industry, which uses it as a diluent in MANY cosmetic products. Anyway...straight baby oil sells for $2.19 for a 4 oz bottle on Amazon. com. That works out to $70.08 per gallon!

Why isn't there a public outcry about the outrageous profit margin in the sale of mineral oil? I will submit that the price of gasoline is used by politicians (and the media, not that THEY have an agenda...) to whip the public up into a frenzy because it is a product that is used by nearly all Americans, and in large quanities. It's easy, because quite frankly, most Americans don't bother to think analytically about these things.

I know that a lot of fuss has been made about oil executive salarys. And when they make "tens of millions per year" as was reported in one venue about Exxon, that is troubling.
But how much per gallon are those salaries really costing the average consumer? I've tried finding out how many gallons of gasoline are sold per year. Can't find it. I can find that there are about 300 million people in the US. So if 30 oil company execs each had a 10 million dollar pay cut, that would still only amount to $1 per person in the US. That's hardly significant. Especially when you consider that I would estimate that my family of 6 is purchasing well over 150 gallons of gasoline per person in a year.

Now don't get me wrong...its not that I think that oil execs should still keep making these obnoxious salaries. I'm just trying to point out that those salaries really aren't affecting gas prices significantly. What they are more likely significantly impacting are the salaries made by "rank & file" employees at the gas companies.

In the end, I think that really the most important contributor to current gas prices is OPEC. Oh, well that and environmentalists who will not let us drill for oil on our own turf.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Embracing Motherhood

As the mother of 4 small children, I'm pretty busy. The kids make messes. They can be trying at times. But I guess I just don't understand the fascination that the American Christian church has with separating mothers and children.

I mean this with all due respect...but when one balances the amount of activities where families are separated into age classifications in church as compared to those where full family participation is encouraged, the scales are sharply tipped to "division." I found it refreshing when I joined a new church about this time last year and was told that children were expected to worship with their parents on Sunday mornings. But then I've been puzzled when I related this to other moms in the church, and they stared at me blankly and said they'd never been told anything like this.

A common theme I hear in "parenting" advice is "date night, date night, date night." Couples must get away for the sake of their marriage. Church bulletins commonly advertise events "for moms only," "for couples only, no kids please."

I've even been frustrated to find that as I helped to start a local chapter of a national organization that is supposed to support mothers in their godly calling, most of the "support" given to the mothers has NOTHING to do with being a good mother. I've learned make sure I decorate with items in odd numbers, even numbers aren't as visually appealling. I've learned that integrating seemlying unrelated bits of knowledge is one of my spiritual gifts. I've learned that apparently it is too difficult to plan an "outside of the regular group meeting" social activity that involves even husbands, let alone children.

One time I asked my grandmother about this. She managed almost 59 years of marriage. Not all of them happy--every couple has their struggles. They even had a brief separation while they adapted to the change of my grandfather being retired. But she and my grandfather loved each other deeply. Her response to the concept of a "date night" was that this was a luxury that she and my grandfather rarely had until after their children were grown and out of the house--so that would be after over 30 years of marriage because their 5 children have a broad age range. Even as a mature couple, she commented in her reply to me that one of my cousins had been over that day, and the 3 of them had cleaned out the basement. And she felt that she'd built more lasting memories, strengthening of her marriage and general family ties in that day of "work" than she could build in several dates.

Do I have any solutions? I don't quite know. I'm going to be talking to the leader of lay ministries in my church about where I can best serve in ministry...but I'm seriously thinking that a new ministry of some sort that reaches out to families would be good.

Friday, April 21, 2006

My rant on Pitocin

I attended a birth yesterday. Second time mom, had a Pitocin induction with her first baby for medical cause, and did NOT want to "go there" again. Unfortunately the same medical cause ended up showing up again, so after an unsuccessful attempt at starting things with 3 doses of Cytotec (don't even get me started on the lack of informed consent on that one!), she was on to Pitocin.

Pitocin seems to be almost synonomous with hospital labors anymore. I wonder how many women who labor actually manage to get through without using it at some point. One client I had switched OB practices because she had been informed that when she arrived at the hospital in active labor she would be put on Pitocin. No waiting to see how labor was progressing and if it was really needed...it was just the policy of this practice to use Pitocin on all laboring women. Medical staff will often explain away any concerns with the use of Pitocin by saying that it is just a synthetic form of the same medication that your body produces. Which is true. But that doesn't mean that putting it into an IV is the same as letting your body produce it!

One of the major problems I have with the use of Pitocin is how strongly it is generally used. It is usually used at strengths MUCH greater than what the body would naturally produce. In the case of my client today, it got to nearly 3 times the strength the body would naturally produce. Here is an excerpt from the 3rd page of the package insert on Pitocin:

The initial dose should be 0.5 – 1 mU/min (equal to 3-6 ml of the dilute oxytocin solution per hour [10 units oxytocin in 1000 ml saline was suggested a few paragraphs earlier “piggy backed” with plain saline]). At 30-60 minute intervals the dose should be gradually increased in increments of 1-2 mU/min…[. Once] the desired frequency of contractions has been reached and labor has progressed to 5-6 cm dilation, the dose may be reduced by similar increments.

Studies of the concentrations of oxytocin in the maternal plasma during oxytocin infusion have shown that infusion rates up to 6 mU/min give the same oxytocin levels that are found in spontaneous labor. At term, higher infusion rates should be given with great care, and rates exceeding 9-10 mU/min are rarely required. Before term, when the sensitivity of the uterus is lower because of lower concentration of oxytocin receptors, a higher infusion rate may be required.

My client was started at a dose of 6 mU/min. That's right...she was started at a dose that 6 to 12 times the reccommended starting point. And this after getting 3 doses of Cytotec. Then the midwife put in orders for the drip rate to be increased by 2 mU every 15 minutes. The nurse seemed to get around to upping it every 30 minutes when it was first turned on, but then later in labor she was coming around after 20 minutes to increase the dose.

When I got to the hospital my client had been on Pitocin for 2 hours, and by that point she was up to 12 mU/min. So not only was she at twice the level that would be found in a natural labor, but she was definitely above that level that is supposedly "rarely required." Of course I haven't had a client yet that I've been with as a doula who got Pitocin and didn't get to this level. Sigh.

As I indicated above, they didn't stop there. This is where the nurse started showing up every 20 minutes to increase the dosage, and in short order it was at 16 mU/min. I'm not sure why, but at this point the nurse to stop increasing the Pitocin. I don't know if the midwife told her to stop because the contractions were coming more regularly, or if the nurse just got busy, or if it was because of concerns with the baby's tolerance of the Pitocin (I know that I noted at a certain point in the labor that the baby was having late decels, but I didn't want to write that in my notes, because if someone saw that they might say that I was "practicing medicine." I know that I wanted to note it somehow though, but looking back, I don't recall when exactly that was, or what I did to note it. The only thing I can come up with is a notation I made that the baby's heart rate was 104 10-minutes after the Pitocin was raised to 16.) 40 minutes passed between changes to the Pitocin level, and this change was to drop it back down to 12 mU/min. It stayed this way for the next hour, during which time the mom labored really well, contractions were coming 2 1/2 minutes apart, about 55-70 seconds long.

However, there was trouble with keeping a good reading of the baby's heart rate on the fetal monitor unless the monitor was manually held in place, and even the contractions weren't picking up well. The midwife started talking about internal monitors. We discussed options, and I pointed out to mom that since she was 5-6 cm dialated at this point, she could consider just turning the Pitocin off, then she wouldn't need the constant fetal monitor, and could use Doppler. I also offered to manually hold the monitor.

However, the midwife managed to convince her that it was imperetive that the internal monitors be placed, and part of what I think sold her on it was the promise that this would mean less fiddling around with the monitors. Yeah...okay. I've not had a doula client have an internal monitor scalp electrode placed, so I didn't have experience with that. The dang thing kept coming off! All told, she had 5 scalp electrodes placed in 4 hours. And it really irritates me that they call them a "scalp clip." I suppose that sounds better than the reality--"a corkscrew that we put into your baby's scalp." And YES, it hurts the baby! The heart rate would temporarily jump to over 200 every time one was placed.

So anyway...she got the first one placed, and what do you know, baby is having heartrate decelarations. The Pitocin was shut off STAT. After about 20 minutes things seemed to be stable with the baby, so what do they do? Turn the Pitocin back on at 6 mU/min. Didn't bother to ask the mom if she wanted them to do that. I pointed it out to her and asked her if she wanted Pitocin at this point. I don't really think she did...but I also think she didn't want to make too many waves.

So 20 minutes later the baby starts doing some NASTY decels. Down as low as 60, when usually much below 120 is "not good." I was scared. And feeling like pounding my head against the wall and screaming "you guys had a warning that this was going to happen!!! What in the world were you thinking???" Pitocin was back off again. I was honestly shocked that we weren't on the fast track to the OR. Seemed like half the available OB staff that was on the floor was in her room. Whispered instructions were given to a nurse to start counting equipment in the OR. Fortunately I will give that the OB who is the senior Dr. in the practice with the midwife is committed to avoiding cesarean, so he really worked with the baby to get the heartrate back to an acceptable range. Medication was given to stop contractions. And after about 10-15 minutes, the drama was over--at least the medical drama.

My client and her husband did really well during all of this. But understandably, it really shook them. They both cried. She was seriously wondering if continuing to labor was wise, or should she just go straight to cesarean.

Less than 30 minutes after the baby was stabilized, and while the mom is still very emotionally charged and trying to work through the "should I just have a cesarean?" question, the nurse quietly comes in and turns the Pitocin back on to 4 mU/min. BANGING MY HEAD!!!

I again let her know that the Pitocin is back on. This time she talks to the midwife about it. She isn't happy having it on. Midwife is "sweetly" insistant on the "need" to use it to get the baby out quickly. AAARGH! Mom is breaking down. She finally just can't deal with things anymore, and asks for an epidural. She REALLY didn't want one because of a previous bad experience, and she hadn't had one with her first. I really think that the emotions of the situation just left her unable to deal with things. And I don't blame her one bit. It also dawned on her that if she winded up with an emergency cesarean she would be put under general anesthesia unless she already had an epidural in place. She INSISTED that the Pitocin be turned off, so as the anesthesiologist was prepping the epidural, it was turned off.

Of course the nurse came back in and quietly turned it back on not 10 minutes later. Didn't ask Mom about it. She just asked for it to be turned off, and she didn't ask for it to be turned off because she couldn't deal with the pain, she asked for it to be turned off because she couldn't deal with the stress of wondering if it was going to make her baby crash again. But it was "only" 2 mU/min, so I think Mom just resigned herself to it when I told her it was back on. 30 minutes later it was up to 6 mU/min, then 15 minutes after that it was up to 10 mU/min.

And surprise, surprise...15 minutes later it is turned back off because of decels, and they are having her push even though she still has a lip of cervix, no urge to push, and baby is at 0 station (and in my experience, moms aren't ready to push until +2 station). I wasn't even sure she was "really" completely dialated, as she had been 8-9 cms just 30 minutes prior, and the midwife had this "let me see if I can stretch the cervix to 10" kind of hesitation before declaring her "complete."

Pushing wasn't really going well, the lip of cervix could not be reduced, and fortunately the baby's heart rate resolved, so midwife did one of the few reasonable things of the day, and told the mom to stop pushing and just rest until she felt an urge to push. Which she did an hour later, and in less than 10 minutes she pushed out her 8 lb 8 oz baby boy, Apgars of 9 & 9. But of course there was doubt as to whether she could actually push the baby out (since they expected the baby to be large, and the midwife had earlier been very insistant on how DANGEROUS it can be to deliver a large baby--never mind that she had pushed out her first baby at 8 lbs 7 oz with no incident), so the resident OB actually did the delivery (and overly agressive pulling!) so that vaccum could be used...of course she showed her strength by pushing so fast that they got the vacuum out of the package, but couldn't get it on before the head was half out (so it just laid on the bed unused--wonder if they will bill for a vacuum birth though?).

But hey, the joys of Pitocin don't end there. Despite the fact that mom had no significant bleeding, the midwife ordered that the remainder of the bag of Pitocin in saline be run into the mom. The drip rate was set at 250 mU/min. Here is what the package insert on Pitocin has to say about fast drip rates of Pitocin:

Water intoxication with convulsions, which is caused by the inherent antidiuretic effect of oxytocin, is a serious complication that may occur if large doses (40 to 50 milliunits /minute) are infused for long periods.

She was being dosed at 5 times the level that is listed on the package insert as considered a risk of causing water intoxication! And she was already seriously retaining fluid, as demonstrated by the very concentrated urine collection that had been made about 20 minutes before the birth. Of course the concentrated urine was interpretted as "she hasn't gotten enough fluid." Of course a logical person would certainly agree with that concept. (Rolling my eyes) She had "only" gotten 4 liters via IV plus what she's been drinking over the course of the last 20 hours. That is the equivalent of drinking more than 8 oz an hour around the clock--possibly closer to 12 oz, I didn't log how much she drank. Can you imagine how much you would be peeing if you drank that?

She wasn't dehydrated folks...she was OVER HYDRATED, and unable to get rid of it. But hey, the midwife ordered another bag of saline run into her.

The poor woman. She's going to have to leave the hospital with no shoes on, her feet will be so puffy.

Note: I have a Word document explaining how to figure out what dosage of Pitocin is being administered. Ask, and I'll e-mail it to you. If you are "lucky" the Pitocin is mixed as 30 Units in 500 mls of saline, then you can just read the IV pump to directly get the mU/minute. But if a different mix is used (such as the 10 Units in 1000 mls of saline that is reccommended on the package insert), then the charts I have in the Word document will help you to quickly find what dosage is being used. I STRONGLY urge pregnant women to take a copy of it and the package insert for Pitocin with them to the hospital in labor. If Pitocin is going to be used, ask the care provider if the dosing guidelines in the package insert are going to be followed, and if not, why not. Sometimes a "quick" labor is not as safe as a slow labor. Especially if your baby is thought to be compromised already, it may not really make sense to be trying to blast the baby out.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Women and marital relations...

I'm not sure why this is, but it seems to be a universal "truth" that once you get married, activity in the bedroom decreases. At least that is the subject of many jokes.

I've always found this to be sad when I've read about it. I believe that God has given a special gift to married couples to draw them closer together. When that gift is not enjoyed, I believe it can make for a less than satisfactory relationship. Research continues to bear out that people who are active in a monogomos relationship, they enjoy better health and longer lives.
This is perhaps somewhat niave of me...but when I was in my 20's, I'd always thought that the "not enjoying sex thing" was a "problem" of the older generation. "Surely younger women are more enlightened" went my reasoning. "They know it is okay and good to enjoy sex, so they allow themselves to do so." So when a friend who is about 10 years older than me started making pretty mild statements after I got engaged indicating that she had a lower drive than her husband and that I would encounter the same thing once I got married, I brushed them aside in my mind. "Surely she actually enjoys sex, she just doesn't want it as often as her husband."

I have to admit that I was completely floored when I first encountered women my own age who were quite unabashed about expressing their frustration at their husband's attempts at "getting things started." And especially when I heard comments like "I could never have sex again and die happy." Wow. Amazing. This thing that God created to be a unique bond between a husband and wife, something that really is intended to cement us together not just physically, but also emotionally, and here are Christian women saying they could quite happily do without.

So I decided to blog. ;-)

And that's where I got the BIGGEST surprise. I was surfing around trying to find links to support the idea that a healthy sex life improves your physical and emotional health (a concept that I know I've read about before), and indeed, I did find that, and mentioned it above. But the shock was on a website devoted to promoting the book Sex as Nature Intended It, I found more information than I expected. Some of course was right in line with what I thought, like a survey conducted by the book's author was reported to have found that:
In general, if a woman had wonderful lovemaking experiences with a man, she tended to speak glowingly of him and the relationship. On the other hand, if the sexual relationship was unsatisfactory, unfulfilling, and frustrating, she tended to be critical of the man and attributed their unhappy relationship to his faults. But perhaps, in many cases, it is actually the other way around. Perhaps the dissatisfying, displeasurable sex caused her to be much less tolerant of the man’s faults and nitpick him for things she might otherwise overlook if he were pleasing her in bed.
But as I said, I got a bit more than what I intended on--what I found was information on how male circumcision affects marriage and the female sexual experience. One researcher started a study, and came to a preliminary conclusion that men who were uncircumcized were more likely to avoid divorce, but unfortunately died before finalizing his research.

My husband and I did not have our sons circumcized for a variety of factors--the lack of a clear cut medical need (and here), lack of religious directive, knowledge that the original circumcision commanded to Abraham is not the same as the circumcision that is performed today, and the bottom line that it seemed to us to be an extremely painful elective cosmetic surgery that we felt our sons should be the ones to make the decision on (similarly, we do not have our daughters' ears pierced). But none of those factors had anything to do with the possible ramifications on divorce or the sexual experience their future spouses might have.

But according to what I read, the impact could possibly be significant. Dr. Christin Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom writes about the topic:
And intriguingly, because the area of sexual sensation is so localized in the tip [of the intact penis], the penis only has to travel a short distance to excite one set of nerves or another. In other words, it doesn't have to withdraw very far to receive pleasure on the outward stroke. This allows the penis to stay deep inside the vagina, keeping the man's pubic mound in close and frequent contact with a woman's clitoral area, which increases her pleasure and a sense of closeness....

The natural penis may be more comfortable for the vagina than the circumcised penis. The coronal ridge of the natural penis is more flexible; O'Hara likens it to the resiliency of Jell-O. The circumcised penile head is considerably harder--overly firm and compacted like an unripe tomato. This is because circumcision cuts away 33-50 percent of penile skin. As a result, the skin of the penile shaft can get stretched so tightly during an erection that it pulls down on the skin covering the glans, compressing the tissue of the penis head. The abnormally hardened coronal ridge can then be very uncomfortable to vaginal tissue during intercourse. Women sometimes experience a scraping feeling with each outward stroke and even report discomfort after intercourse or even the next day. The brain makes pain-relieving endorphins that may partially block any discomfort during intercourse itself. As a gynecologist, I can tell you that painful intercourse is a very common symptom in women, many of whom blame themselves or who feel that something is wrong with their sexual response....

Circumcised sex may cause the vagina to abnormally tense up and decrease its lubrication. Women report more problems with lubrication when having sex with circumcised men, possibly because of irritation from the harder tip and involuntary tensing against it, and also because the longer stroke length tends to remove lubrication from the vagina. Often an artificial lubricant is necessary.

This has certainly left me with a lot to ponder. According to Sex as Nature Intended It, it may actually be the woman that suffers the most in bed from male circumcision. A survey conducted for the book found that women who have had sex with both circumcized and intact men prefer intact men by a ratio of 9 to 1 (I have no idea of the validity of the methodology for the survey, having not read the book). Could it be that much of the dissatifaction with sex in marriage is set in the first 24 hours of a newborn boy's life?

Ironically, some of the women I've been in discussions with who were most vocal about not desiring sex, were also some of the most vocal proponents of circumcision.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I've been gone for a LONG time...

Not sure if any of you still read my blog...but yes, I'm still here. ;-)

I'm not even really sure that I can write this post. I've been putting it off for over 3 months now. I'm crying as I sit here now.

The last "real" post I made was on November 4. Yeah, I threw that thing up about Mexican food...but it wasn't "real," it was filler. Letting you all know that I was still here.

What I didn't know when I wrote that post was that my life was going to change very dramatically very soon. And the thing was, I even alluded in a way to what I was going to loose.

A few days after I wrote that post I got a call letting me know that my grandmother had been admitted to the hospital. At 78, nearly 79 years old, being admitted to the hospital happens. But this was the first time she'd been admitted since she and my grandfather had moved out of their home of over 40 years--a house that they had built, even living in the basement while finishing the first floor--and into a cottage in an assisted living community nearly 2 years prior. They'd moved because my grandfather was suffering from Alzheimers, and my grandmother from some hip and spine issues, so they just couldn't keep their home up. But my grandmother was a fiercely independent woman, and resented the high cost of living in the community, so in October she had moved them out into a private apartment. So "her," I had talked on the phone with her a week before the move and she seemed as vibrant as ever. But then her hospitalization soon after the move left my grandfather bewildered. So my aunts were having a bit of difficulty with him.

At the time I got the call my husband was recovering from mono (note to readers, you do NOT want mono when you are 44--it hits HARD and LONG), I was recovering from strep throat and perhaps a touch of mono myself. So I was already "down." In the days and weeks that followed we were to learn that my grandmother's condition was "serious," then she would bounce back, then she had perhaps 6 months, then finally the Friday before Thanksgiving we were told that she was worse off than the hospital Dr's had led my aunts & uncles to believe and "hospice care" had been approved for her. We had made plans to visit her over Thanksgiving when we found out that she had 6 months. When I got the call on Friday I spent some time crying with my husband. Somewhere deep inside I was sure though that I would see her the following Wednesday, and she wouldn't be *that* bad, and we would laugh, and hug, and talk like we had so many times before.

Stepping back a bit here...you need to understand that I haven't seen my mother since 1996, I have no idea where she currently lives. I met my husband in 1997. I also didn't see my mother from about 1978 until the day I graduated from high school in 1990. I had lived with my grandparents from when I was about 6 months old until I was about 5. When I struggled through years of abuse, I dreamed about running away to her house--even when her house was 350 miles from mine, I tried to calculate whether I could ride my bike to her house--could I tote enough food and a tent to make it? (Perhaps its good that I only recently learned about a man who ran home from college after he graduated--from Boston to Florida. That would have given me encouragement to try the bike ride!) While I was in college my grandparents house was my "home base." My grandmother was the first and only person I ever called "Mommy." She was my mom in the truest sense of the word. She loved and nurtured me, even when she knew my deepest, darkest secrets. She knew things about me that even my husband does not know.

So I got that call on Friday, and I was devastated. I cried to my husband that I wasn't sure how much more I could handle it...I did not want her to die, but the lingering illness was torture. What I wanted was not for her to die, but for her to miraculously recover!

On Monday she turned 79. That day I got a second phone call from my father to let me know that she wasn't doing well, he had called her to talk to her from his retirement home in Florida. By this time we had talked on the phone 3 times in one month, where as it is "normal" for us to go over a year between phone calls. I could hear the pain in his voice--a man that usually doesn't show emotion. He made some comment about "if you talk to her on the phone..." I don't remember now what it was that I was supposed to remember...I just know that I never even considered calling her. I'm not a "phone person," and I was going to be seeing her on Wednesday, so why go through the awkwardness? Oh how I regret that!

Wednesday was a short school day, so we intended to send the kids to school, then head out as soon as they got home. It was "grandparents day" in the second grade, and my daughter Jessica was eagerly anticipating her Nana & Poppop (my husband's parents) attending the festivities. Not quite 10 minutes before I would have left to take her to the bus stop, my father called. I knew when I saw his number on the caller ID what he was calling to say. There was just no other reason for him to be calling me so early in the morning. With a shaking and reluctant hand, I picked up the phone.

She had died in her sleep. I struggled not to break down crying right there...I didn't want to send my daughter off to school with the knowledge that her greatgrandma--who she loved--had died. I ran up stairs and threw myself into bed with my husband and sobbed. Getting a quick cry out of my system, I cleaned up my face, and went back downstairs. I quitely and perhaps somewhat robotically got Jessica to the bus stop, then broke down on one of the other mom's shoulders as the bus was pulling away. Jessica had questioned what was up with me, and I told her that I was just sad, and she shouldn't worry about it. She relayed this to her friend on the bus (the daughter of the mom I cried with), and her friend wondered if someone had died. Jessica told her that greatgrandma was very sick...but didn't really think that was it.

So we did go out to visit family...but for a funeral rather than to see my grandmother alive one last time. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday we had to delay the funeral longer than originally anticipated...it was not held until Monday, which was ironically my sister's birthday.

I then proceeded to fall into a period of depression. I tried to tell my Dr. about it, and he brushed me off..."call me again if you are still feeling this way in 2 months." I had just told him that I had lost the person who was most important to me in the world besides my husband and kids, and that I couldn't find the strength or energy to take any joy in the Christmas season or to do the necessary preparations. His response was completely inappropriate, though I did not realize it at the time. I'm coming out of it...am I totally out of the depression? I don't know. I have my moments.

And writing this blog...tough. I've gone through many tissues. I have not written it because I knew that to do so I would have to REALLY acknowledge my grandmother's death. Even as I wrote, I found myself so many times mentioning her in the present tense.

As for the allusion to her in my November 4 post...I mentioned at the end of the post 2 little girls and water on their bedroom floor. One of my grandmother's favorite stories to tell was about my sister and me "washing" our bedroom floor. She was sick, and had decided to nap while we did. We woke up, and she could not be roused. We wanted to help her, because we knew she was sick, so for some reason we decided to the washing our bedroom floor--which was linoleum--was just the thing to do. So we rummaged through our toy box and got out buckets. We filled those with water in the tub across the hallway from our bedroom, and carred them back and threw the water on the floor. Of course we hadn't picked up any of the MANY toys off the floor before doing this. And there was carpetting (red & orange & yellow & green shag--it was the 70's!) in the hallway, with one of those transition strips in our doorway. So we managed to get about 1/2" of water across our whole floor before our father came home from work and found us. And my grandmother would not let him punish us, because our motive was to help, not to be mischevious. Of course he still had to clean up the mess! (Yay grandma! Of course I would suggest that my sister and I should have been involved with the clean-up efforts.)

Ironically, I had a "bathtub" incident on Tuesday evening before my grandmother's death. Perhaps God's way of continuing the story to the next generation? I don't know. I wanted the kids to get a bath before our trip...and my husband works nights so this can be quite the task. I washed the boys. I took Sean, then about 22 months old, out of the tub and got him dressed in his bedroom while Jason continued playing in the tub. Once I got Sean into his PJ's he happily dove for his pillow and snuggled in...until he noticed that the bedroom door was open. Before I could react, he jumped up and ran from the room, and got right into the tub, PJ's and all! What a kid!

When I was in college and would visit, I would cringe in embarrassment as my grandmother bragged to anyone who would listen about "her granddaughter, the chemistry major...she'll analyze what's in those hoagies for you..." I'd both look forward to and dread the dozens of cookies she'd have waiting for me to frost at Christmas. Now I'd give anything to hear those words, and of course I always knew that she had those cookies waiting for me to frost because of all the years I hadn't frosted cookies as a child.

So to Grandma D, who taught me about sacrificial motherly love, sewing, cooking meatloaf and monkey bread, proofing yeast, picking vegetables from the garden, manograms, and so much more, who loaned me books ranging from The Handmaiden's Tale to Reclaiming and Championing your Inner Child, who always reminded me to "fight nice!" ... I love you, you will be in my heart forever!