Relaxercise

Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

 

I have 30 minutes (after H is abed) to go out for a walk/jog (jolk?) (wag?).

 

Assuming H goes to bed at a decent time.

 

And it isn’t already dark.

 

Or raining.

 

Or there’s too much work to do.

 

Sometimes I get to go and sometimes not.

 

It’s hard to get in shape this way.

 

Troy calls it “relaxercise” since it’s just a wee little time away from the young un’s.

 

Sometimes I wonder why I stress myself out about it so much. I wonder why I’m working so hard to achieve these goals that I have set up and that I somehow feel like I need to accomplish to raise my children the way they need.

 

Why not just start working again, part time or full time?  I would at least make enough to pay to put the boys in daycare/preschool.  They’d adjust. Right?  Presumably, since most kids go off to care these days, they would as most kids do.

 

or just put Little M in school next year. And H a few years after that.  Then I could work full-time, from home, the sound of silence a soothing balm to my ear.  Maybe some time for a coffee that I don’t have to reheat, time to get out to the garden on a lunch break, or a quick walk.  Maybe (probably) even being a better parent, more calm, less shout-y for it. Free to do my own thing again.

 

Why don’t I do that?

 

Why do I always take the hard way?

 

 

Single Parenting and the Decline of the Middle Class

Of course you’ve heard all about how the wage disparity between the classes is the worst its been since the days of the robber barons. I needn’t tell you about the middle class working longer hours for less pay nor about how 80% of the national wealth is owned by 20% of the population (if it is even that much of the population; i’ve seen figures showing less).

I’m not going to complain, mind.  I am grateful for the life we are able to afford:

heat (which has been a bit spendy this winter)
whole or organic foods / pastured meats
access to information
personal transportation
clothing as needed
more than adequate housing

but also:

our house is 1400 sf.  This is more than adequate for our family; indeed, I can’t see owning anything larger because….there’s that much more to clean…but it is on the “small” side in our current culture of mega-homes (I see this trend changing even now)
Our cars are at least 10 years old (safety is an issue here for mine; we’re looking to buy something newer/safer this spring, altho not NEW. I’m grateful we’ll be able to do that)
We keep the thermostat at 60 to save heating expenses.  We haven’t frozen yet.
I make as much as possible from scratch to make our food money go further. It means much more time in the kitchen (I’m grateful to be able to do have the flexible time to do it)
The pittance of income that I actually earn sometimes causes a great deal of stress with my child (again, grateful I can do it, however)
We don’t have cable TV (we don’t even have a TV) nor do we have Xbox or Wii or whatever-the-current-thing-is
Our furniture is second hand, cheaply bought or hand=me-down (and looks it!), excepting the few good pieces that have been handcrafted by my amazing stepdad and his wondrous wood-working skills.

the list goes on but what I’m getting at here is that we don’t live an extravagant lifestyle yet I personally am constantly reminded how good I really have it, especially when compared to most of the rest of humanity both in the whole history of the world and currently.

I’m not complaining. My point here is that even the decent, comfortable middle class lifestyle that it sometimes feels we are scrimping for and ekeing out comes at a great cost.  T works for a Fortune 500 company and the job is one he enjoys and that we are glad he has.  But for the past month and a half he has been regularly working 6 days a week, 12 to 14 hour days due to the year-end schedule of accounting.  I think I’ve mentioned that he won’t even be able to take time off when his new baby is born, which is very soon.

While I appreciate that at no other time in history has life been so full of creature comforts and that most men have never had the luxury of “taking time off” (who cares for the animals if you don’t?  who gets the crops in on time if you don’t? that wood isn’t going to chop itself), still it’s easy to be bitter about the excess amount of work that is required of middle class employees these days, when they can’t even fully participate in seminal, milestone events, just to earn their salary (T’s is at the bottom of the range for his position. It’s not lavish but it is certainly enough). 

My Point:  The flipside, of course, is that, while husband works, someone still needs to care for the children. That someone is mom.

There are hundreds, thousands, millions of women for whom this is the default case and you know what? Women get by. They make it. They are tough. But regardless, it is hard to be the sole caregiver. I’ve only been doing it for 6 weeks or so but it is emotionally toll-taking, whether or not the mom admits it.  Again, our society is not set up to deal with this kind of situation right now.  In the past, when you lived next to your mother or your aunt or your sister or your schoolmate’s second cousin, the tasks were easier to accomplish (I guess. However the isolated pioneer women like Ma Ingalls did it, I’ll never know) or if not easier, at least you had the company of other women in your community to ease the path and help churn the butter.  The idea of the nuclear family that is so prevalent and so held as the ideal today is harmful and detrimental to not only the societal fabric but also to mama’s sanity!

There will be an end for me and fortunately I am in the position to be on the recieving end of further help when the time comes to add to the family.  But scrimping, saving and working unconscionable hours, while the reality for most in our society today, is in the long run an unteneable situation. 

Who knows what will come next?  I very much wonder.  Perhaps not a lifestyle that is easier but perhaps a lifestyle that is made easier by a restoration of family and communal contact.

The Great Debate: Some Thoughts, A Prodigious Post

T and I are now considering homebirth as an option for this labor.  I have always been a strong believer in the natural ability of a woman’s body to give birth.  After all, from a genetic perspective, it’s what we are created to do. And even though the task or gift of doing a great deal of work to pass on genes has been used by The Other Half as a means of repression and subjugation throughout history, it remains that we are well-suited to usher in new life.

However. Little did I know, when I decided to look into this option for myself, that I was launching myself into a raging debate concerning perceptions of newborn safety, what exactly constitutes both risk and emergencies, women’s rights and, maybe even above all else, the medical industry’s firm belief that the hospital is the best place for delivery.

After all, you NEVER KNOW when something will happen and even a seemingly-healthy pregnancy can have drastic outcomes. Why take any risk at all?  Especially of a precious newborn life!

And yet women have been birthing successfully without medical experts for all of human history, as witnessed by the vast overtaking of homo sapien sapien of every other living species and the subjugation of most of the usable surfaces of Earth and its resouces. Yes, lives have been lost, it’s true and this is where the fear comes in. WHAT IF?  But modern medicine now provides top-quality maternity care throughout much of the industrialized world as well as top quality neonate care, if needed.  Couple that with increased sanitation, disease treatment and prevention, and increased nutrition and  you see much greater survival levels.

How can it be possible that every single woman has as great a risk of birth issues?  To read some information, a young, middle-class suburban housewife with no health issues is at equally great and grave risk of birth complications as a poor, crack-addicted woman with no access to pre-natal care.  Can that possibly be the case?  What are the rates of true emergency birth sitations in the U.S.?  It’s impossible to know. What constitues an emergency in a hospital bed (failure to progess <i.e., doc thinks things are moving along quickly enough for him to get home to dinner with his family…excuse my cynicism>? mom’s skyrocketing blood pressure? shoulder dystocia?)?  How often are interventions like “emergency” c-sections truly necessary?  OBs would certainly not admit that there were any unnecessary ones at all, it seems.  How can 30% of births actually need that kind of major intervention?  Would the human population have done as well for itself if 30% of babies had died in the chidbirth process throughout history? Is there really a statistic like that?

In trying to get a clear picture of what constitutes safety or risk in homebirth, the Internet is certainly not a friend.  For every study that shows homebirth as a safe option for low-risk mothers with professional midwifery care, you will find another study that claims the opposite is true. I have seen report results showing outcomes equally safe if not safer than hospital births and I have seen research results claiming a neonate mortality rate that is THREE TIMES that of a hospital birth.

Clearly, there are supporters and detractors. Both sides accuse the other of bias, of skewing results, of manipulation and of fear-mongering.

Which side stands to gain what?

Homebirth and other midwives support home birth as a valid option (as do some OBs and doctors as do some entire medical systems of other countries). Why?  What are their motivations?  Income? Women’s right to choose?  A desire for babies or mothers to die? Ego?  Putting “natural” before any other consideration?  Less drain on the health care system?  Personal experience of many cases of successful, normal, uncomplicated (or complications that can be dealt with through adequate midwifery training) births?  (Have they just “gotten lucky” in that case?)

The medical industry (in the US) is strongly and vitriolically oppsed to homebirth. Why?  What are their motivations?  Extensive years of training? Extensive years of training in all the potential risks of birth?  Lack of experience of uncomplicated births?  Too much experience of negative outcomes? Income?  (C-sections are expensive and highly-billable) Ego?   

There’s no way to get a straight answer.

Turn to myself then. What possible motivations do I have in considering homebirth as an option?

Am I a thrill-seeker, as the medical industry accuses moms who homebirth of being?  Certainly I am not a risk taker by any stretch of the imagination. At the slightest hint of things going south, I would prefer to go to hospital than “wait and see”.  And yet, I have lived in a foreign country for over three years, a country in which I could not initially speak the language nor could I even read the alphabet.  AND one of the things I loved best and hated most was the fact that you never, ever knew what was going to happen next; life was continally and slightly off-balance, even if some days you didn’t stumble. It was always a puzzle to figure out every day. So.

But, how can a homebirth, which typically is less quick to offer intervention, where you stay in the comfort of your own home, surrounded not by bright lights and strange people giving you orders, but by only those you know and are comfortable with and trust, immersed in a pool of warm bathwater if you so desire, how can that possible be more of a “thrill” than a rapid ride to a hospital in the middle of hard labor, not being even able to walk a step once you get there, being told to strip oncee you get there, assured that you’d soon be drugged up, told that you couldn’t possibly be ready to push because you “weren’t dilated enough” when actually the resident made a measurement mistake (how could I possibly make up the fact that I actually NEED to push, buddy?), baby taken from you because possibly his heart rate had dropped though they weren’t sure if they were hearing YOUR heart beat or his, and spending 5 days in the NICU watching your brand-new little one crying from cold and not being allowed to hold him on the off-chance that he might have birth-induced brain damage?  Now, THAT, my friends, that is High Drama! That is Thrilling!  That is the stuff from which episodes for hospital shows are created.

Am I putting my own desires for peaceful birth event above that of the safety of my unborn child? AM IA BAD MOM FOR EVEN CONSIDERING THIS?  Shouldn’t I scrap both homebirth AND birth center and just rush straight to the emergency room when I go into labor?  Isn’t that the wise thing to do?  Certainly, my bitter experience with Miles has an influence in my decision.  But I certainly don’t want to just go it alone, without resources or help, either.  If the (well-experienced) midwife says, ‘we need to go to the hospital” I’ll be the first one in the car.  But.  Will we get there in time?  Does my longing for peace, comfort and a warm bath trump my desire for a healthy and whole baby?  This one is a little murkier for me.  I would never place my own desire for the way I want birth to go over the health, safety or life of my little one.  But, am I?

Here is another question:  My first birth was 16 hours (more on that later), Miles’ birth was FOUR. What’s next with number three?  From all the women I’ve talked to with experience in this, Number Three is a wildcard. Could be longer, could be shorter. Shorter?  What, three hours? Two? An hour and a half?  What if I go into labor during the day and T has to drive 40 minutes home and then we drive 20 -25 minutes to the birth center (it would still be roughly 20 minutes to get to the closest hospital, which, by the way, has a very high c-section rate and zero tolerance for women who want to birth naturally)? What if, in the middle of February, it is snowy? Or icy? What if I feel the urge to push?  I WILL NOT have a baby in a car.  That seems even riskier that staying home to me.  Call an ambulance?  If it’s bad weather, they won’t be able to drive any faster. I WILL NOT have a baby in an abulance.  Isn’t it a much more logical option to stay home and have the midwife make the 20 minute trip to ME instead of waiting for someone to come get me and then going to the place where I can birth?  I never expected Miles’ labor to be as rapid as it was. I don’t want to get caught this time.

The homebirth midwife I am considering is extremely qualified, practical, organized and a planner (this was a big one for T^^).  She has years of experience in the facilities-setting, including several years attending births at the local charity hospital, where she saw truly at-risk women:  drug addicted moms, pre-teen moms, moms over 60 years (can you imagine??? groan). She has attended over 700 births since 2004 through her own practice.  She brings with her all types of paraphernalia including three stages of drug treatment for hemorrage, oxygen for both mom and baby, suturing and the accompanying numbing agents. She has delivered breech babies. She has resuscitated infants and is trained and certified to do so. She has experienced transfers to the hospital that is close to us (which also has an in-house NICU) and has at least a working relationship with the staff of the maternity ward. She has said that while this hospital is not natural-birth friendly, they are at least not hostile to women who have tried to homebirth and have needed to transfer.  She calls ahead to alert the staff of the situation and give them the history of the birth so far and stays with you during delivery.

(Really, isn’t that almost the best way to do it?  Try at home and then if you need true extensive, emergency medical attention, go to those who provide it?  Because the chances are, you won’t need it.)

So.  There you have it. All my thoughts so far in a not-so nutshell.  Everyone knows someone who has birthed successfully at home. Everyone knows someone (or knows someone who knows someone) who had a true emergency that required immediate attention, when even a 20 minute delay would be fatal.  Sadly, the latter instances make for much better Internet fodder than the former.

I’ll continue asking questions and thinking.  This is not a decision to take lightly and any decision, once made, can be changed if necessary.

This is not the end of the story but the beginning of a process. With time constraints!

10 more weeks and we’ll hold this precious new little one! 

Now, THAT is something to anticipate.

Mennonite Encounter: Aftermath

The Mennonite church rocks and not just because the congregations always sing in 4-part harmony, often a cappella.  AND all four verses.

Top that, Methodists.

Amidst an American Christian culture (and yes, it is distinctly American) that seems to be running amok and is sometimes frighteningly Taliban-esque in its overtones, the Mennonites are one of those branches that stand out from the crowd. Or rather, stand apart from the crowd and just go about their own business.

And what is their business?  As far as I can tell, their business is peace (they are so in your face about their peace, already! ha. just kidding), justice, equality and striving to live more simply so that others too might live, not just local neighbors but global neighbors.

What if, instead of going out into the community to “save” people, to “win them for the Lord” (yes, if you aren’t familiar with the lingo, this is one of the phrases), to proselytize, basically, to go out with an agenda of soul-winning, and go after this agenda disguised as a do-gooder, as someone handing out kindness and food and money and programs all the while with the main purpose of getting them into the church door and their butts into a pew, but what if, instead of that, we all went out into the community and shared kindness and food and money and programs for the main purpose of doing it because that’s what followers of The Teacher are supposed to do?

Think of the revolution.

Of course, I speak from my own cherished faith as a Christian, but what if EVERY faith background did this?  Offered charity and compassion because of a desire for them personally, themselves, to be more  like the one they follow, not to get the other person to follow that One?

I’m not a theologian and I don’t claim to be. I don’t claim to even be a particularly good Christian. (heck, I never even knew what Quiet Time was until I went to university. And?  Usually I would fall asleep during my Quiet Time. And I just asked Troy if he ever fell asleep during Quiet Time and he said “no” so I guess I WAS really the only one who did that and that shows you!)  Anyway, meditating yourself into a nap aside, I guess one of the things that makes me distance myself from American-style Christianity is the overwhelming emphasis of having strings attached. or at least that is how I perceive it.  I know it’s not always the case. But I know that with some people it is.

(and this is one of the reasons I think I support the current health care program overhaul. I’ve heard the argument that people want to help others through their churches, but again, there’s that “strings attached”. don’t you think maybe the government might be a good vehicle for us to do the Lord’s work of extending compassion and social justice? not always and it’s not perfect but it’s a good place to start, imho. AND it’s a lot easier when its just taken right out of your paycheck than to add that extra percentage to your weekly tithe, week after week, month after month, year after year. there’s lots of reasons to NOT add it in and not many to do so.)

Would Jesus act like that?  Did he really heal the lame and the blind just so they would go to temple or synagogue or home church or Wednesday prayer meeting?  Somehow, I kind of doubt it. Doing awesome stuff like that was, I think, just kind of an impulse, a compulsion; he couldn’t help it, it was just who he was.  And sure, he told them to go and sin no more, but really?  He just did it becaused he loved them in all their inopportune, unattactrive helplessness, put down and down-trodden, no resources and no way to buck the system or to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

So that’s one of the reasons I’m not an evangelical. I try to live simply and charitably because THAT’S WHAT’S EXPECTED OF ME. And usually I fail. But I try.  And if somehow someone wants to look behind that and understand my motivations, then we can go further but otherwise, I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and, hands off, I’ll just leave everything else up to God.

(or maybe I’m just lazy. remember, I often fell asleep during QT)

It’s a lot easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. MAYBE (yeah, actually, I’m PRETTY SURE) we need a lot less talking, a lot more listening and a lot more walking.

Because walking’s good for your heart.

I’m with the Mennonites; peace, justice, equality, simplicity. All that comes first and the rest all falls into place.

Fourth times the charm

It’s the fourth time you cancelled on me.

I think we’ll call it over.

Maybe next time I’ll rate higher. Or maybe not.

Thanks for playing!

~m

Good Friday

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

 

Words: At­trib­ut­ed to // Ber­nard of Clair­vaux, 1153

Music: Pas­sion Chor­ale, // Hans L. Hass­ler, Lust­gar­ten neu­er teutsch­er Ge­säng, 1601; har­mo­ny by // Jo­hann S. Bach, 1729

 

//

No News is…No News

T was supposed to hear yesterday about the job he interviewed for last week but he got an email yesterday saying they were “taking more time for consideration”. 

At this point we both have the feeling that he won’t get this one.  But as a) he didn’t expect to get an interview and b) we really didn’t want to move there anyway, perhaps its not ALL bad.

I was thinking the other day that it has been about a year since he started looking for a job to come up here and so its been about a year that we have really had no idea about the future or what it would look like from month to month.  And while humans actually DON”T have any idea of what the future hold from month to month, we do tend to allow ourselves to settle into grooves and at least THINK we know what to expect.

So this state of unsettledness has been going on for awhile and is getting wearing.

And to top it all off, T saw some positions with his company in the state of MAINE and i have been thinking with great longing of the state of Maine all week but I know it would be great foolhardiness to even contemplate moving there when our whole goal is to stay near family whilst the children (which of course, means the TT at this point) are little.

But, Maine….

This kind of scenery counts for a lot

But if we were going to move far away, we’d just move to Oregon and save the hassle of a coast-to-coast move:

Ok, technically it's Washington, but you get the gist.

 

But in the meantime, we’d just like a job, please, and we’ll be still satisfied even it is in the mid-west for the time being.

Flat fields for now are fine.

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