Category Archives: Pregnancy/Prenatal Care

Cross post – Book Review: Beyond the Sling

A cross post review from my other blog:  In this day and age of detachment parenting Mayim Bialik, or Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler for you Big Bang Theory fans, attempts to address the myths, the trials and tribulations, and the benefits of attachment parenting.   As an advocate for birth empowerment as well as a prosthelitizing believer in natural childbirth the words of a woman with a PhD in neuroscience held allure.  To me it was about finding someone who had done a home birth, breastfed (even did extended breastfeeding), and unschooled her children who was so credentialed the world was sure to stand up and see the validity in what so many of us non doctorate holding moms already know: learning is innate, our bodies are designed to propagate our species as well as take care of our young, and submitting to your babe’s needs does not mean you are permissive.


Unfortunately, when I caught a few clips of her on television while promoting this book it seems as though the world does not want/need credentials to view these things with validity, and instead seems to hold fastidiously to the notion that kids should be separate and independent of the parent almost from birth – the sex life of the parents holding higher import than bonding of each parent with their children.

This book takes on the issue of a sex life and the family bed with anecdotes and personal examples, but the most important aspects -the biology, anthropology, and psychology of infants-  are dealt with in both a blend of science and personal outtakes from her life.   Take, for example, this bit from her chapter about gentle discipline and particularly about the notion of telling a child to stop crying/discouraging them from crying:

Tears have been found to contain small amounts of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.  Crying may serve to release tension and stress from tiny bodies, and it is normal and healthy.  Seeing crying as a natural and reasonable form of communication removes the stigma our culture associates with it.  It may not be the most effective communication tool, but it is sometimes the only one small children have in their limited arsenal.

As was typical of her work this was followed up with a bit of psychology as well as an example from her own family:

Some family and friends found it funny (or perhaps uncomfortable or unsettling?) and mocked our boys’ crying, albeit playfully.  This is, frankly, not at all helpful, and it perpetuates the idea that children shouldn’t cry when we think they shouldn’t.

This next bit I’m sharing simply because I found it beautifully stated – from the same section, but in a subsection called “Violence”:

The distinction between hitting in anger (as in “the heat of the moment”) as opposed to hitting as part of a purportedly “calm,” regimented spanking is an academic one but not a practical one; both methods involve hitting a child, thereby causing a tiny brain to release neurotransmitters and hormones to cope with pain and fear while suppressing fight/flight pathways.  The simplest reason we don’t hit is this: hitting is hitting.  It’s not love.  It’s not teaching.  It’s hitting.  You can say you are hitting with love, or that you are using hitting to teach something, but it’s still hitting.

Her sections on breastfeeding and natural childbirth are equally important, although for more information on the benefits of these practices I can not recommend Pushedor Born in the USA (I will review Dr. Marsden Wagner’s book at a later date) enough.  It is my sincerest wish that more people would read this book with an open mind.  Kids have nothing to lose by a parent reading this and taking much of its wisdom to heart and everything to gain.

Have you read it?  Have a favorite or not so favorite section?


Lots of Contemplations

The last couple of months (yikes!) have found me in a very contemplative and negative space.  It hasn’t been enough to read about the unhindered and justified hatred running rampant or the devastation wrecked by Mother Nature, but on top of all that I wandered into an emotional space the likes of which I hadn’t experienced in years.  Now, quite obviously, hormones are very possibly contributing to some of these feelings, but it would be disingenuous for me to blow them off simply as pregnancy related mishigas.  [There’s also been the issue of a little one who has been catching everything under the sun thanks to being anemic.]

Because I am hormonal I decided to take some time and simply allow myself to truly think about all these goings on before heading to the internet to write some kind of massively vitriolic or weepy post.  [Luckily, hormonal for me does not mean oblivious.  Usually.]  This led me to the quandary about what to do with the things I like writing about.  Surely politics and philosophy come into play here and, I’m sad to say, these tie in with pursuing home birth as well, but so does writing in general and the things I’ve been reading.  Separate blogs have been contemplated, but I’m unsure as to how on Earth I would manage THAT when I’ve obviously been falling behind on only having the one!  So, what I’ve decided is to work with this blog for all of it and see if I might be able to work out a schedule and a layout that would allow for easy perusing.  I do not have a schedule ready yet, so please don’t ask me.  I’ll dedicate myself to figuring that out this week, though.

In the mean time I am going to do my best to get back to blogging regularly (I know I’ve said that before) and in that includes zipping around to all the blog buddies who I’ve been missing. It’s very scary, but I haven’t checked the email attached to my blog in MONTHS and this will be one of the first *gulp* things I tackle.  Over time.  Probably.  Forgive me.  Puhleeeeaaaasssse…

Thoughtful Consuming and Resentful Professionals

In my first “yeah, I’m back and how about that I’m pregnant” post I made mention of a new passionate subject for me.  Now, I have given fair warning that this would impact some of the subject matter of my blog, albeit not overwhelmingly, and this is a second one.  So, warning!  There is talk and commentary about my experience with a medical professional (without any of that “eeeeeewwwww” factor)!

As one who was raised with “trust your doctor” I found myself making a prenatal appointment with my ob/gyn for seven weeks into the pregnancy despite already considering, and being pretty sure, I would do a home birth.  Besides, what harm could it bring?  It would give me a bit of courage, some reassurance that all systems were go and I could go forth with absolute confidence.

I was so very wrong.

This was my second time with the practice, my prenatal care during my last pregnancy being with another practice, and I paid to have my records forwarded to this practice.  The first words out of the doctor’s mouth (different one than I had seen during the summer) when she saw me:  “Is this your first child?”

The physician then proceeded to talk about tests.  Things like amniocentesis and chronic villus sampling that are highly invasive and have a higher risk of miscarriage than the existing one of me having a child with the genetic disorders these tests can find.  The reason for the recommendation?  “The insurance companies are now covering it for people UNDER 35!”   Sadly, this is not an exaggeration of her exuberance nor even a shift in the words she used.

Blood work to ascertain disease in the baby were also encouraged despite me saying “no” twice and only ended conversing with when the doctor said, “How about if you sign up for it, then you can always say “no” later since we do that at a different appointment?”  The genetic workups I actually informed the doctor were in my chart from my previous records.  Again, it was a couple times before she listened and looked at the chart and said, “oh, yeah – no problems there”.

STD testing is mandatory in prenatal workups in my state and, oh so wonderfully, something that is billed to my insurance (with a high deductible this meant me) and so this was done at the first of FOUR visits they wanted me to have in the first trimester.  Lucky me, the doctor was so courteous as to insure I couldn’t get my lab results from the lab, only from the office, but the bill from the lab COULD and DID come to me.

Each question about tests I asked was greeted with a “well, I don’t know the cost – your insurance will take care of it”; relevance to the testing accuracies were cast aside and just stated that they would “give an idea” if there “might” be issues.  Asking about the odds of having a child with any of these issues and there was a redirection to the above without mention of the large chance of having false positives (these tests are not near 100% in accuracy – truly; they just give potentialities).  Without answers to any of these I felt the doctor was a salesperson, not someone to whom I should trust.  Trust would come from ready answers demonstrable of the physician’s knowledge; trust could also come from knowing the physician cared about what I wanted, what my views of birth are and what my experience had been; trust could be had from simply being listened to.  None of these things happened.

While it is easy for me to latch on to the hostilities of the situation, the frustration at feeling quite hopelessly like *I* had nothing to do with this process.  Me, the parent, the one with the occupied uterus, was not someone looking for care, but someone who was supposed to do what was told to her without question.  Prices, risks – all these things were not worth the physician knowing in order to help me make an informed decision; how can one help a patient be informed if you yourself are not any more so beyond a “this is the standard way we do things”?  It seemed as though her job was to market the product of tests and, in so doing, use fear to those ends.  My body was going to screw up this medical process, and it was my body which was to be measured and treated as incompetent.  And, barring that, it would fall upon the baby.

It is not an exaggeration to state that there was nothing of me in this despite me taking it so personally.  A biological, natural process that my body was doing was a pathology and not something bodies have been doing for millenia.  It was something to treat.

Sitting in an office, stripped down to nothing but the stylish gown the assistant gives you, and nothing was personal.  What is personal in this world if not having a child?

In the end, it wasn’t the lack of clothes under the gown that made me feel so naked and vulnerable, it was the gentle steamrolling of an industry that marched its way across me and seemed frustrated by my unwillingness to lay down before it and accept the fate they had chosen for me.  Each question showed me the frustrations of the physician, her inability to answer them somehow my fault all while the pure uniqueness of what I was doing was merely making her sit there for longer than she wanted/had time to be.  The doctor answered to herself, possibly her superiors, but she did not answer to me – the person who was paying for a service (my son’s birth with NO complications was over $10k) nor the body which would commit through action and intent to bringing another life into this world.

I walked from that room knowing that, in the hands of that woman (possibly others in the practice), labor that went longer than she wanted would end exactly how she decided.  And yet the child was mine.  The body to give birth to this hopefully healthy and robust child, also mine.

I started calling midwives that afternoon.

[Up Wednesday is my review of “Game of Thrones” – please come back and let me know your thoughts.]