Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

Dominic’s Birth Story

Once again, I’m going to put the disclaimer on this that this has very real details from my very real birth. If you don’t want to read about it, click away. Go read something else for the day. But lots of people put their birth stories on the internet, and this is my place for mine. Because I’m not sure if my doulas and nurses want to be identified or not, I’m just going to use an initial for them. Oh and I’ll scatter pictures of him from my pregnancy all the way up to present time throughout the birth story. Oh and I tried to get all the details correct, but parts of this have been blurry since the beginning so that’s my other disclaimer.

So this story starts on Friday morning. Friday morning I woke up at like 6:50 am, not that unusual, I usually can’t sleep that long after Nick goes to work at 5 am anyways. I started having contractions pretty quick after I first woke up – at roughly 7 am I had my first one. On the one hand, I didn’t think this was anything because I had had contractions on and off for a week-ish. On the other hand, I was sort of “on notice” because my OB/GYN had stripped my membranes and thought I was likely to go into labor in 24-36 hours when I had my appointment on Thursday (for reference, I was at almost 2 cm when she checked me). So I got up and did my normal thing. Turned on the news, made some breakfast, things like that. The contractions kept going, but I was nervous timing them would jinx them until I think both my friend Laura and Nick told me I should start timing them.  Around noon they got stronger and closer together and I kept going back and forth. Am I really in labor or not? I asked Laura a bunch of times probably (she had given birth one time already). Around 1-1:30 I texted Nick and told him I thought he should come home from work. He asked if I could wait an hour so he could try to get a leave early approved. I told him no, I wanted him home. I probably could have waited the hour, but I was a little scared and I didn’t want to be home alone.  Eventually Nick came home and we called the hospital and they encouraged me to stay home as long as possible. So we stayed home for a little while longer. Around 3:30ish, Nick wanted to go to the hospital. I was less sure about going, but I thought if he felt we were ready, I was ready to go.

Took this when I was pregnant, not sure when but it’s like the first “official” photo I took of my being pregnant, personal photo

We arrived at the hospital and were shortly checked into OB/GYN triage. Here they hooked me up to a monitor to decide whether or not to admit me. After being monitored for a little bit (at first they placed the monitor too high and it wasn’t picking up my contractions very well, but it did after it was moved), I was checked and I was 3+ centimeters, so they decided they could admit me. So then we went upstairs to labor and delivery (or I think technically they call it the women’s care center or something like that). Shortly after that our first doula(s) arrived. We had our doula M and then a doula in training, C. We met with our nurse B, who read over our birth plan, asked me a few questions to clarify things (she even asked me about things that we hadn’t put on there – did we want the Vitamin K shot for example?), and then took out the things that I said we didn’t want (she took out the IV fluids, things like that) and put a sign on our door that said no male caregivers please (though she did warn me if I pushed the emergency button, everyone would come running, but otherwise, I’d be able to keep it to just females, something that was important to me) and brought us the birthing ball, like I had requested. I was sad because her shift was up almost as soon as we got there so then we had a new nurse, but all the nurses were great.

Photo by Katrice, see link below, 35 weeks

Thus began a long, long night. Most of the time was spent rotating between walking the hallways, where I would press down on Nick’s hand and he would press back up during a contraction, because resisting against the pressure seemed to help, and then sitting on the birthing ball and leaning back into Nick during the contraction. This was helpful to me because I was having a really hard time getting my breathing under control. I would start breathing really rapidly during a contraction because it would hurt but leaning back into him, he would make his breathing really slow and deep and I was able to sync up with his breathing and that helped a lot. When we were walking, we did the same loop and I would give the doulas the tour since I remembered where everything was. I continuously listened to “Beautiful Things” by Gungor on repeat the whole time I was in labor. We briefly spent some time in the tub, but then I decided I didn’t want that and went back to the walking/birthing ball rotation. At one point, my feet ached from all the walking so C and M gave me a foot massage. I was intermittently monitored during this time, but it didn’t bother me too much since they always let me keep doing whatever I was doing. Since Dominic was doing so well, they also pushed their time limits for me and didn’t monitor me quite as often as they would other patients. Oh and we went through like 5 different nurses that night (no kidding – I have no idea why, but yeah, 5 is an accurate count).

Photo by Katrice, see link below, 35 weeks

Sometime after midnight, the doulas switched out and I got doula B. For a while there were 5 of us, which was pretty funny, because the nurses kept commenting that every time I did a lap around, my party got bigger. I was still pretty chipper by this point – the contractions were tough (or I thought they were tough then) but I felt like myself in between contractions. Around 3:30 am, I decided to ask to be checked. They hadn’t checked me at all since that first time and I wanted to know how much progress I had made. When they checked me I was still 3 cm. At this point I felt really disappointed and discouraged. I felt like I had worked so hard only to be in pretty much the same place as when I came in. I cried for at least a half hour after that and B and Nick had to console me. At this point I was pretty much ready to quit. We decided to all try and get some rest. Nick fell asleep right away, but I couldn’t partially because I was still having contractions and partially because I was so disappointed, so I laid on my side for a while and B and I watched cartoons and Law and Order. Eventually I fell asleep for about half an hour, but then I woke up again, having more contractions.

Immediately after he was born, personal photo

Eventually, we decided to wake Nick up. He left for a bit to go get breakfast and I ordered a breakfast sandwich from the hospital’s menu. Around 9 something, they asked me if they could check my cervix again. This is the only time that they asked me if they could check me. I started crying because I was terrified of being checked and being told I had made no progress again (okay, everyone kept telling me that I was making progress, that my body needed to do these things to make labor progress, but it sure felt like no progress to me). The doctor who was on though was very nice and eventually I agreed to be checked. And I was still at 3 cm. At this point, they decided to send me home. This was hard for me – I cried a lot again. In retrospect, this was the best they could have done for what I wanted for labor, because the other alternative would have been to do some kind of intervention to speed labor  up like breaking my water or pitocin and I didn’t want those things. I had a very sweet nurse then, A, and her and Nick and B all managed to calm me down. Though I pretty much cried all the way home from the hospital. It was heartbreaking being at the hospital for so long, thinking that this was it, that we were going to meet our baby, and then to leave the hospital still pregnant and empty handed, not knowing how much longer it would be until I progressed enough to move things along. They told me it could happen later that day or not for another two weeks and that devastated me. I was so ready to be done being pregnant and I had been so ready to meet our son.

20 minutes to half an hour after he was born, personal photo

At home, we played Mario Party – that was what I told Nick I wanted to do. Towards the end of my pregnancy, this video game really just calmed me down and distracted me, so I decided that’s what I wanted to do to try and not feel so awful. After that Nick and I both napped and the contractions spaced way out. I was able to get in about an hour and a half of sleep. I let Nick sleep for a little while longer but then I felt restless and woke him up again. We lay in bed for a while talking and cuddling. This didn’t last very long because my contractions got so much stronger all of a sudden and I had been laying on my back which made them hurt so bad so I had to get up. At this point I noticed I had missed a call from the mail lady so I decided to walk down the block and catch her because I knew it meant packages and I thought they would cheer me up. During the walk I definitely noticed more contractions.

First day he was on the outside, some time in the morning, personal photo

When I got back, I told Nick to make some dinner and I sat down to read a magazine that had come in the mail. Around 4 the contractions really picked up and got stronger and I was all of a sudden in a lot of pain. I was having a hard time handling it so Nick put me in the bathtub which made it better but I was still in a lot of pain. At some point during this, dinner was finished but I was no longer hungry for it. I told Nick our code word for pain medication several times, but as we were at home, I couldn’t do anything about it. He also pushed me to try a little longer, telling me that he knew I really didn’t want it. I would tell him “I know, but it hurts so bad.” At this point I also started having the shakes on and off, which freaked me out because I could not stop shivering, especially my teeth. It wasn’t continuos, but it would come and go for the rest of the evening until I delivered.

Little guy sleeping on daddy, personal photo

Around 6 he called the hospital and he decided we should go back. I was a little nervous but I was in so much pain. He helped me get my clothes back on and I threw up twice. He went to get the car and I could barely handle the contraction I had while he was gone. He went so fast all the way to the hospital and I kept telling him to slow down.

My mom holding little guy, personal photo

M met us at the entrance and they took me back to ob/gyn triage almost immediately. This was the only bad nurse we had during my whole stay. First of all, she wouldn’t let both M and Nick back with me, so I had to choose between them. Second of all, she put the wrong wristband on me and because I was so in pain, I didn’t notice, but when my doula was trying to get back, she told her there was no one back there by that name and then the nurse asked me if I went by any other name and that’s when Nick checked my wristband and she had given me a wristband for some 17 year old girl named Brittany. Plus she was super slow. And she was asking me all these irritating questions, that I was trying to answer, even though I was having really bad contractions and she wouldn’t take Nick’s answers for me, she needed to hear them from me. And she asked some really dumb questions too. Like I have a drug allergy and she asked me if I knew what I had taken the drug for and I said I didn’t know, which she then followed up with “Well do you know if it was prescribed for a bladder infection?” I said I didn’t know. Though later I thought to myself, if I don’t know what I took it for, why would asking me if I took it for something specific change my mind? I don’t know. Anyways, like I said, the only bad nurse in the bunch. Oh, I threw up more when I was here.  They did a cervical check and I was 5-6 cm so they readmitted me. I was able to ask that they fill the tub so that it was ready for me when we got up there. The nurse who had discharged me that morning A, was just finishing up her shift and she was really excited to see me again and then after she left we got nurse B again, so I was excited about that.

Little guy sleeping on Nick’s shoulder at a wedding, August 2nd, almost 3 months, personal photo

M met us up there and as soon as we got to my room, I left it to go to the tub room. I quickly stripped when I was in the tub room, but didn’t even bother to take off my socks, because I knew if I had any chance of getting through this, it was going to be in the tub. The tub is kind of high and when I had used it the day before, I had needed the steps, but this time I just sort of bounded over the side of the tub and got in it.

Little guy playing with daddy, personal photo

This time in the tub I used the jets. They felt really good as counter pressure, but eventually it hurt my tailbone, so I would scoot off it when I wasn’t having a contraction and then move back in front of it when I was. I was in the water up to my shoulders but my face would get really hot, so Nick was spraying cold water with the shower head on my upper back while the rest of me was in the hot water. Every time I had a contraction, I would move in front of the jet and lean forward and grab onto the metal bar on top of the tub across from me and do low moaning ooo’s (at M’s suggestion, which really helped) and I had this sort of pattern and crescendo, decrescendo to them. This lasted a while and in between the contractions I would ask how much longer this was going to be (which to her credit, M would always tell me that she didn’t know, which is a good answer because it’s true, but it didn’t stop me from continually asking) I also kept asking “I’m having a baby this time right?” To which her and Nick would tell me yes, I was having a baby and no, they weren’t going to send my home again. Eventually I couldn’t sit up anymore so I switched to lying on my side.

Little guy in sling for church work day, 3/18/12, 3 months, personal photo

Eventually I asked to be checked again and they tried to check me in the tub, but the way I was positioned and with still being in the tub, they couldn’t tell more than that his head was pretty low. So I labored in the tub for a bit more before I decided that I wanted to get checked again. So I went back to the room and got checked again – more progress, I was 7-8 cm. At this point I decided to stay laying on my side in the bed. I was pretty tired, since I had only slept maybe a combined total of 3 hours since Friday morning and that would be a stretch (at this point it’s Saturday night, in case you haven’t followed the timeline). Laying on my side the contractions were hard, but with the oooing and gripping onto the side railing (and I think Nick was putting counter pressure on my back too, but I don’t quite remember), I was able to make it through them and close my eyes in between. Nurse B here was awesome because Nick and M and B were all telling me what a great job I was doing. At some point, M noticed that I had started bearing down involuntarily during the last three contractions that I had and suggested to me that I might want to think about being checked again. I agreed and they told me I was complete. And I was like, “Does this mean I can start pushing?” And they told me I could and I was so ecstatic – I was so happy. They asked me how I wanted to give birth and I said squatting, so they set up the bed for that. I started out pushing that way and screaming like a banshee each time. Someone (I don’t remember who, maybe M?) suggested that I try to make less noise and focus my energy on pushing. I didn’t think it would help, but I tried it and I was surprised how much it allowed me to focus and work through them to push because vocalizing had helped me so much before. I pushed in a lot of different positions for an hour and 15 minutes (okay, I thought it was just an hour, but Nick just informed me it was an hour and 15 minutes)- Dominic was taking his sweet time coming out and I couldn’t seem to stay pushing in one position for very long. Some of the different ones I pushed in were squatting, squatting with a towel around the bar and pulling on it (referred to as the tug of war I think?), side lying, some weird contortions I don’t even think there are names for and more. You could see his head for a long time though. Nick says for about an hour of the hour and 15 minutes, they could see his head gradually coming out. M, Nurse B, and Nick kept asking me if I wanted to feel it, but I kept telling them I didn’t want to feel it until he was all the way out. I knew that if I felt him and I couldn’t get him out like right after I felt him I was going to be frustrated. As it was, I kept asking how long it was going to be, how many more pushes, but M and B told me they didn’t know, just that it would be soon. At some point, they asked me if it was okay if they put baby shampoo on his head to help it come out better and to help keep me from tearing and I told them that was okay. Eventually, I pushed out his head and his whole body came out right after that, with only one minor skidmark tear. I never felt the ring of fire sensation that so many people describe, I think because his head came out so very, very gradually. The doctor also said that she might tell me to stop pushing or to push gentle to help keep me from tearing, but she never had to do that either, or at least I didn’t notice. Anyways, as soon as he came out, they placed him on my chest and they asked me if I wanted the cord clamped right away or if I wanted to wait. I told them I wanted to wait, so they waited, while me and little guy bonded and the placenta slipped out (that was a weird sensation but it was no big deal after pushing the rest of him out). It was so awesome having him on my chest right away because he was SO alert when he was born. He was able to self-latch twice in that period of time (almost immediately) and we were able to really bond. Eventually, Nick cut the cord, and they took him over to weigh and measure him. 20 and a half inches and 7 lbs 9 oz, May 6th 12:41 AM. He had tolerated labor so well – his heart rate had been strong the whole time and even Nurse B commented on that. After he was weighed, Nick held him for a bit and we were left alone for a while to have our first time as a family. Nick switched the music to shuffle because he was sick of listening to the same song over and over again (now he will probably never want to hear that song again – literally one song the whole time I was at the hospital on Friday and the whole time  I was there on Saturday) and the song he said reminded him of Dominic came on and he rocked Dominic while he sang it to him, which was the cutest thing ever. It made my heart melt. Eventually the nurse came back and they moved us to the other side and Dominic got his first bath and then I just watched him sleep and tried to sleep myself.

After my whole birth experience, I highly, highly, highly recommend that just about anyone giving birth have a doula. My doulas were awesome – I truly believe that they are the reason I was able to stick through such a long labor and still have a natural birth in the end. If you’re in the Milwaukee area and considering a doula, I highly recommend them. You can find their website, Mothering the Mother, here.

Oh and as promised, Katrice took the photos I credited to her. You can find her website here.

I know it’s long, so if you made it all the way to the end, thanks for reading! If you have a moment, could you vote in my poll and help me pick my new name?

Advertisements
2 Comments »

My Feelings on Pregnancy

I’m writing this today because I need to be honest, with myself and with other people. I am going to warn you up front that I am going to be honest and candid and if you know me in real life and don’t want to read it, click away. Go read something else for today. But if you want to know what I was thinking and feeling, then read this, because I feel like this is something not many people talk about, but it’s not always an uncommon experience. Because there are expectations that certain people in certain situations should act a certain way.

And I felt like the expectation on me was that I should have loved pregnancy. I should have been head over heels about being pregnant. This baby my husband and I wanted very much. This was not a surprise to us. I have always wanted to have children and I have always wanted to be a mom.

But here’s a secret. Here’s a confession, if you will.

I hated being pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love my son with everything I have to love him with. He is wonderful, I already know that, and every time I felt him kicking then or see him smile now, I feel so blessed to be his mother.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I hated being pregnant. At first I felt a lot of guilt about this. I wondered, how could I love my baby and hate being pregnant? Was that even possible? I felt like I somehow loved my baby less because I hated pregnancy (which I know isn’t true but it took a lot of time for me to convince myself that it wasn’t true). I felt selfish too, like I was making this all about me. And I felt ashamed, because I know there are a lot of people who struggle with infertility who would give anything – anything – to be able to be pregnant like I was. To have gotten pregnant so easily like I did. And I wish with all my heart that they could get pregnant, but it doesn’t make me like it anymore or change my feelings. Wishing they could and knowing how lucky I am doesn’t change my feelings.

And I felt, a lot, at first, that I didn’t even have the right to hate being pregnant. For the most part, my pregnancy  was easy. I never got really sick with morning sickness and both Dominic and I stayed healthy with no complications. Towards the end, however, I had a lot of back pain, somedays enough to make me feel completely useless (for example, I would try to do dishes and I only get maybe 5 dishes done before I had to stop because I was just in too much pain). And eventually I was in such pelvic pain that it was hard to walk and sometimes even to just shift the way I was sitting hurt. But even before all that, I really hated being pregnant.

And I know, I never expected pregnancy to be a walk in the park. I knew it was a serious responsibility and I knew there were a lot of side effects, but still, I expected that I would love it or at least like it. Not that I would hate it.

I hated it, for one, because pregnancy made me feel so out of control. I never expected to feel so out of control of all the changes that were happening in my body. I never expected to feel so out of control of my emotions. It’s frustrating to me to be able to get a full night’s sleep the night before and yet still fall asleep for 2 or 3 hours when I sat down in the afternoon. It’s frustrating to me to be in pain and to know that the only thing that is really going to relieve it is to give birth – I mean, I had ways to temporarily fix it, but no way to fix it for good. It made me feel really helpless.

Another reason I hated it is because I felt so emotionally unstable. I could cry at the drop of a hat (well, I didn’t drop any hats, but I bet if I did drop a hat it would have made me cry). I cried almost every single day for almost my whole pregnancy. And I didn’t want to be crying – I really didn’t – but I just couldn’t help it. Things I cried about included knocking over a full bowl of cereal so that it spilled all over the floor, accidentally dropping a plate in the sink where it broke, ruining dinner, taking my vitamins, getting a parking ticket. And that’s only like the tip of the iceberg. At one point, I had a complete breakdown in church where I just could not stop crying and I’m not even sure why I was crying anymore. It made me feel like a crazy person. And this was not just tearing up sometimes, this was full on crying. One day I could not stop crying for hours (3+) and I couldn’t go to class because I could just not stop crying. There were other times where I cried so hard that I could not breathe and would start hyperventilating and Nick had to work really hard with me to get me to calm down because like I said, I could not breathe.

A third reason that I hated it is because there were many of my friends and a little family, who I know were well meaning, and who I know were well intentioned, who acted like pregnancy was the only thing that was going on in my life. And I know they were excited for me and like I said, I know they meant well, but I was still a person besides from everything that was happening in my uterus. I still wanted to talk about all the things that I liked to talk about before. And not everything was somehow subtly connected to the baby, though sometimes I would ask questions on Facebook and people would jump to the conclusion that it had something to do with the baby when it didn’t. This just made it harder on me because there were days I just didn’t want to talk about being pregnant because of my feelings about pregnancy. There are days I just wanted to talk about, well the things I liked talking about before – what’s going on in the world, what good books I’ve read lately, things like that. Those things made me feel like I was still a person who had value outside of being pregnant. If somebody made me feel like my whole world revolved around being pregnant, then it was especially hard for me when I had those feelings. I felt pressure to appear like I loved it, even when I didn’t. Please don’t feel offended if I never said anything to you when I was pregnant. I was so ashamed for a long time about feeling this way that I didn’t really open up to many people.

Somedays I didn’t know if I could make it through the end. But I knew I would because I was committed to my son and I needed to make it through for him.

What I recognize now that I couldn’t recognize before is that I was probably suffering from prenatal depression (also known as perinatal depression). It’s kind of similar to postpartum depression, except that it happens when you’re pregnant as opposed to after you give birth. While I was pregnant, I had some good friends suggest this possibility and I kind of ignored it. It wasn’t that bad, I told myself. This is totally normal, I also told myself. But after giving birth, I can see through the fog I was in then and what I was experiencing was not normal. There were days when how I felt emotionally really effected my ability to function, in by that I mean I could hardly function at all. I wish I had gotten help while I was pregnant, but I was so afraid to talk about it. So please, if you think you are dealing with this, get help. E-mail me, if nothing else, because I will listen.

And I feel lucky because I have a husband who lovingly supported me through all those feelings, who was amazingly compassionate, who was amazingly loving, who was amazingly supportive. I could not have made it through this without the support of him and the support of the friends who I was able to confide in.

And despite all of the mixed feelings I have about posting this: the fear that people will judge me, the fear that people will criticize me or call me a bad mother, the fear that people won’t understand, I still feel the need to post this. One, to be able to be honest. And two, so that maybe if somebody else finds this post and they are going through the same thing I am going through, they won’t feel so alone and so isolated. They won’t feel like they are a bad mother like I did for so many weeks until I finally confided in somebody and they told me that it didn’t make me a bad mother at all. Especially after I confided this in some mommy friends of mine, women who I look up to, who I consider to be great mothers, who told me they also didn’t like being pregnant. And learning this from them didn’t make me think they were any less great mothers or make me think they loved their children any less. I was so thankful to hear I was not alone and this was some defect whereby all other mothers who were like me just loved being pregnant.

So there you have it – I have been open and honest with you about how I feel. I’m not going to turn off the comments, but please be nice if you are going to post a comment. It was really hard for me put this out there – I am still afraid even after writing all of this. I’ve already berated and beat myself up enough for this, I don’t need someone else doing it too.

And as an editor’s note, I wrote this while I was still pregnant so I have tried now to make all the tenses agree, but if I messed up, I’m sorry. I didn’t have the courage to post it then, but I do now. I almost didn’t post it, but I did for two reasons. One, because writing and posting this is part of my healing process. And two, because this isn’t being talked about very much and so I hope that I can help somebody else.

Melissa

11 Comments »

On Becoming a Mother

Hi guys,

First off, I know it’s been forever since I’ve written and for that I’m sorry. I always try really hard to keep up, but I’m not always able to, for one reason or another. I will get back to my series, I just need to blog about this big life changing thing that happened.

Aka having a baby.

As I write this post, he’s sleeping in the bassinet next to me. It’s hard to resist looking at him every three seconds. He’s not even a week old yet. This is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life and now that I’m here, it feels so unreal to me in a sense.

I wanted to write about this for my blog because many women are mothers, have the potential to be mothers, and issues surrounding motherhood are women’s issues (and they’ve been in the news in big ways recently – the Time magazine cover showing a mother breastfeeding her three year old, the whole spat between Ann Romney and Hilary Rosen, things like that) because other women are capable of being mothers.

And even though I had wanted to be a mom my whole life, that didn’t mean it wasn’t hard. Because truth be told, pregnancy was really rough on me. It took a toll on me emotionally and physically and I just did not cope well with it. I loved my son and was looking forward to meeting him so much, but I hated being pregnant. It was a rough thing to go through and any woman who goes through it deserves a lot of respect.

I guess at the end of it, the real reason I am writing this post is because I think this whole journey of becoming a mother, from the moment I got that positive pregnancy test, until now is changing me. Before it was easy to talk about some of these issues because it was all in theory and when you put things in theory, you can say anything. But now, now all of this is so much more real to me, because I’m living it, and some of these questions that I had before me in theory are now ones that I have to answer honestly and in reality. I can no longer be distanced and removed from it because it is a part of my life. And I think these changes are for the better – because these are changes that I’m experiencing for myself and I can say, yes I did that or yes I would do that or no, that’s not what it’s like at all. I am sure you will see how this plays out in my posts in the future.

And at the end of the day, in perhaps the best way, being a mother is filling this place in my heart that I didn’t even know existed. Well yes, I knew there was room in my heart for children, but it’s almost like I didn’t know how much little guy was missing from my life until he got here. Not that I’m saying that women without children are unfilled – no, nothing like that – but for me, there is a sense of contentment in being able to hold him and care for him and love him and perhaps of all the things I am, this might be the one I love the best.

Anyways, I don’t know if you got my point out of all of that rambling, but I wanted to write about it. I am sure at some point I will write about my labor experience, for interested parties, but that’s not something I am doing at this point. I will also try and blog more regularly again, though no promises. Little guy and my family will always come first.

Melissa

6 Comments »

My Thoughts on the Contraception Controversy

So I know I’m in the middle of a series, but I have a few things to post before I go back to my series (I’ve been working on these, which is why I haven’t been posting as much). Because I need to make some things clear.

Mainly because I’m sick of people saying they speak for the women of America. I am a woman of America and I disagree with what they are saying when they say they speak for me, but that’s okay apparently, to make broad blanket statements about speaking for the women of America. They don’t speak for me, so I’m going to speak for me.

I’m not going to talk about the compromise right now, because it’s not really a compromise. Use your brains people – if insurance companies have to pay for it but not the employers, then how do you think the insurance companies are going to pay for it? They’re going to increase premiums for the employers. You can’t just pretend that there isn’t going to be a hidden cost and that we aren’t all going to end up paying for it.

And I’m not even going to talk about how I don’t agree with most things that are considered contraception, like the pill and the IUD.

I guess my problem is the definition of preventative care and defining contraception as preventative care. Because what does it prevent? Pregnancy – and pregnancy is not a disease. It’s a natural, normal part of life. In the great majority of cases, it is not life threatening and even when it is, there are really awesome OB/GYN’s to help you through it. Preventative care should prevent a disease and pregnancy is simply just not a disease. I’m a pregnant woman and I do not have a disease. I do realize that there is a very small percentage of women who are on birth control pills for health conditions that are not fault of their own. BUT, I do think that if we were to stop thinking that a birth control pill is an answer for these health problems, that we might be able to find real answers to them (for example, endometriosis, which is often managed with the birth control pill – there is currently no cure for this condition). Because to be honest, a birth control pill doesn’t really cure these diseases, it just manages the symptoms, at least from my understanding.  It is easy to prescribe a birth control pill and it’s easy to take a birth control pill, but it’s harder to search for a cure.

Examples of real preventative care include screening for diabetes, immunizations, screening for cancers, etc.

Now I want to talk about something that is real preventative care – that is prenatal care. And maybe I know all this because I’m currently pregnant, but it’s something that needs to be talked about.

Here are the benefits of prenatal care and why I consider it preventative. Proper prenatal care reduces maternal deaths, miscarriages, birth defects, low birth rates (3 times more likely without prenatal care), delivery complications (like preeclampsia and placenta previa), infant deaths (of which is near and dear to my heart since Milwaukee has high infant mortality rates – this is 5 times more likely without prenatal care), and premature birth.

Now the new law does cover some services associated with pregnancy. These include:

  • Anemia screening
  • Infection screening  (for certain infections)
  • Breastfeeding related support and in some cases, supplies
  • Folic acid supplements
  • Gestational diabetes screening
  • Rh incompatibility
  • Tobacco counseling

Now, while this seems like a lot, there is so much that is being left out. Regular visits are important, early ultrasounds to rule out ectopic pregnancy (which is life-threatening), anatomy scan (which is not necessary, but helps to discover birth defects, some of which we can now treat in utero and identify conditions like placenta previa which needs to be treated), iron supplements – I could go on.

I’m not looking for a handout, don’t mistake that. Yes, it can get expensive, but I love my child and so we find a way to make it work one way or another. I’m just saying, wouldn’t it make more sense, instead of fighting over contraception, which doesn’t prevent anything, we work on covering more services for pregnant women which has huge preventative effects. Remember how I mentioned one of the downsides to not receiving proper prenatal care was low birth weight? Well, besides the immediate risk to the infant which are very serious, I want to copy and paste something from the March of Dimes website about potential long term risks.

Some studies suggest that individuals who were born with low birthweight may be at increased risk for certain chronic conditions in adulthood. These conditions include high blood pressure, type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes and heart disease. When these conditions occur together, they are called metabolic syndrome. One study found that men who weighed less than 6 1/2 pounds at birth were 10 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome than the men who weighed more than 9 1/2 pounds at birth (10, 11).

It is not yet known how low birthweight contributes to these adult conditions. However, it is possible that growth restriction before birth may cause lasting changes in certain insulin-sensitive organs like the liver, skeletal muscles and pancreas. Before birth, these changes may help the malnourished fetus use all available nutrients. However, after birth these changes may contribute to health problems.

So why are we focusing on contraception which will not make us a healthier society as a whole, when we could focus on making sure every pregnant woman gets proper prenatal care and make society healthier overall? That’s true preventative care.

Just my two cents, because no, those people tv don’t speak for me. I speak for me.

Here are my sources by the way:

Leave a comment »

Forced Abortions

I wish I could say that sex selection abortions didn’t happen. I really wish I could. Because most of the time, when an abortion is the choice to be made, it’s because the baby is a girl. It happens in places like India and China. Especially  China, where population police control the number of children you are allowed to have. Why is the rest of the world so slow to say something about it? It is girls that are being effected, more than anything, because of the high cultural preference for a boy.

I can not imagine what these mothers go through, how terrified they must be, knowing that if they get pregnant again or even if they get pregnant the first time and it’s a girl, someone might force them to have an abortion or pay an amount of money they can’t afford just to keep the child.

This is a truly sad situation that needs to be stopped. Girls are dying merely because they are girls. Watch this video about one mother in China and her daughters.

Leave a comment »

Maternal Mortality in the US

I read this really interesting article on how Maternal Mortality in the US is a human rights failure and I agree, it is a human rights failure. They even point to some parts that I think contribute to it – including an overuse of inductions and an overuse of c-sections. However, they fail to touch on another thing I think contributes – abortion. They talk a little bit about certain complications, like placenta previa, which they list as a common cause of death among pregnant women, but fail to mention that the risk of placenta previa is 50 percent higher after an abortion. So while they fail to mention these facts, I think there is a lot of truth in this article and you can check it out here.

Leave a comment »

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Do you know what Female Genital Mutilation is? I’m about to tell you and I’m going to tell you right up front, it will probably be graphic and not for the faint of heart, but I think it is very necessary to know what this is all about.

First it’s important that know that you may have heard of it before – it goes by a lot of names. Female Genital Mutilation, Female Genital Cutting, Female Genital Circumcision, Female Genital Alteration, Female Genital Excision, and Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting to name a few. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to refer to it as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The controversy over what to call it stems from the fact that people who practice FGM feel that mutilation is too strong of a word, but the people against FGM feel that it is mutilation and it brings attention to that. Some prefer circumcision, but many people this is drawing an unfair comparison between this and male circumcision (which I will admit will probably never be talked about on my blog and I am not very knowledgable about it, but it’s done – at the very least – for very different reasons. I feel it is outside of the scope of my blog, but for your awareness, there are people who feel that because there is such an outcry against FGM that there should be equal amounts of outcry against male circumcision). The World Health Organization (WHO) defines this as, “”all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” There are four different types. Warning Graphic descriptions.  “Type 1, excision of the clitoral hood, the skin around the clitoris, with or without partial or complete removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy); Type 2, excision of the clitoris with partial or complete removal of the labia minora; Type 3 (infibulation), excision of all or part of the labia minora and labia majora, and the stitching of a seal across the vagina, leaving only a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood; and Type 4, miscellaneous acts, including burning or cauterization of the clitoris, scraping and cutting of the vagina (gishiri cutting [where it is cut to make it larger]), and introducing corrosive substances into the vagina to tighten it.” (From Wikipedia)

To me, while they are all horrible, I think type three is definitely the most harmful and painful so I’m going to talk a little more about that one. In this one, sometimes the girl’s legs are even tied together for 2 to 6 weeks so that she can’t move and to basically allow the two cut sides to seal together. These two sides are usually stitched or glued together with things like thorns as stitches or eggs, sugar, and animal waste as a glue. Not only that, but this one is often cut open repeatedly as it is needed, either when she gets married so she can have sex or when she gives birth to children so that there is room for the baby to be born and it is sometimes sealed up again afterwards. Where people have this, the women speak of three feminine sorrows: “the first sorrow is the procedure itself, followed by the wedding night when a woman with Type III FGM has to be cut open, then childbirth when she may have to be cut again.” Type three carries the most risk of complications, which I’ll talk about further down.

“There were two circumcisers – they moved quickly from one girl to the next, cutting their labia. It was horrendous. And none of the girls cried out, because they’d had it drilled into them that they had to bear it without making a sound.” – Cath Holland

It can happen in hospitals under general anesthesia or it can happen by people referred to as “traditional circumcisers” typically with little to no anesthesia using unsterilized things (not even worth calling instruments) like broken glass, tin lids, razor blades, knives, and scissors to name a few examples. It can happen to girls all the way from infants to 15 years old or sometimes women right before they married or give birth to their first child. It happens in 28 countries and also in some immigrant groups in places like America and Europe (though until the 1950s, it was practiced in England and America to “cure” women of “female deviances”). It happens to singular girls and it happens to groups of girls at the same time. There are reports of girls being held down and struggling against the people holding them down so much that their bones are broken. The estimations of women who have been subject to this around the world range from 60 million to 140 million women. (Estimates work this out to about 4 girls a minute). An estimated three million more girls every year face the potential that this will happen to them.

“These families do not do this out of spite or hatred; they believe this will give their daughters the best opportunities in life. We would like a conviction, not against the parents, but against a cutter, someone who makes a living from this.” – Jackie Mathers

Why is this so bad? Besides the obvious, FGM has a lot of risky side effects: often times a lot of pain, shock, hemorrhaging (severe bleeding, sometimes enough that the girls die), infections (including tetanus and UTIs), urine retention (where you can’t pee), ulceration, fever, and septicemia. Long term you can face things like chronic pain, recurring infections, recurring cysts, difficulty giving birth, more likely to have a C-section, anemia, keloid scars (I do not know how to explain this – check the Wikipedia article on it if you’re interested), urinary incontinence, pain having sex, sexual dysfunction, menstrual disorders, fistulae (again, Wikipedia article), infertility, increased risk of HIV infection (though the jury is out on this – there are mixed results), chronic anxiety, depression, other psychiatric problems, kidney stones, other kidney problems, failure to heal, increased risk of hepatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, bladder stones, increased chance of episiotomy in labor, increased chance of extended hospital stays with labor, psychological effects that are similar to PTSD, Dysmenorrhoea (extremely painful periods), pelvic and back pain, the need for more “surgeries” later, and increased newborn death. The rates on the birth statistics for example are so shockingly high it’s clear to see this has very little benefit. For example, with Type III (which carries the most risks, but certainly not all – the others do too), the infant mortality rate is 55% high and the mother is 70% more likely to suffer dangerous hemorrhaging. I think if we focused on eliminating FGM, we could make huge strides in infant and maternal mortality. FGM is a huge factor in maternal/infant mortality in the areas where it is practiced. This is a real solution to help end the problem.

“Why would anyone want to go and cut up a seven- or eight-year-old child? People need to wake up — you are hurting your child, you are hurting your daughter, you’re not going to have a grandchild, so wake up.” – Miriam, a victim of FGM

Then the question is to ask why? Why would something like this be done? It seems so awful, so unbearable. There are many reasons. Some people think it is just part of how parents raise their child “right.” The women are often seen as “cleaner” after the procedure. It is said to “ensure” that women remain virgins before marriage and during marriage don’t have affairs and is also supposed to help if a much older man marries a younger woman so that she doesn’t have a higher sex drive than him. It is also believed to lower women’s libido (which goes back to making sure that women remain virgins before marriage and don’t have affairs during marriage). Sometimes, they even try to sell it as rape protection (though this is twisted – here, let’s cut you up so that no man tries to rape you). Sometimes the labia and clitoris are viewed as parts of a man, so taking these away makes someone more feminine. Tied up with that is the belief in some places that if a man or a baby touches the clitoris they will die and/or it will make the woman’s breast milk poisonous. Sometimes they think this procedure makes a woman fertile (even though the exact opposite is true) or that it will take away bad odors or that it will prevent vaginal cancer (all fictitious “health” benefits). It is also sometimes believed that if the clitoris isn’t cut off, it will grow so big that it drags on the ground (again, another falsity). Some places think it keeps a woman’s face from turning yellow or makes it more beautiful. It is often viewed as a right of passage – something that turns a girl into a woman and women who are never mutilated are often seen perpetually as a child in their society. In fact, there is a story from Kenya of a woman who chose not to have FGM done to her and then later on when she decided to run office, the people running against her used this as something to attack about her. Often, it is not men pushing and promoting this like one would think, but older women or women themselves wanting it, being taught these things about how it is good for you. Though, the men play into this as well as they will often times not marry a girl unless she has had this done to her. Both men and women play into the idea that it is for the family’s honor and reputation. And even if the parents decide not to have this for their daughters, they still have to be wary of their relatives who believe in FGM, who may kidnap the children and forcibly perform this. There is a lot of back and forth over whether or not it is a cultural practice or if it is a religious practice. I don’t have the answer but I think the answer is that it can be both – it is a cultural practice in some places and some religions include it in their practices in other places. Some Muslims practice it, but they aren’t the only religious group to practice it and not all Muslims do (there is a lot of people who I think associate FGM with Islam, but it definitely should not be the case since many don’t and many communities practice it without religious associations and there have been Christian and Animist groups that practice it as well). In fact, it is believed that FGM was happening before Islam even existed and a lot of Muslims argue that there is no grounds for FGM in Islam.

“Human rights transcend cultural relativism by definition, but the cultural-religious argument has to be taken into consideration for implementation of policy.” – Stephan Isaacs

It’s not hopeless – people are really trying to bring an end to this. February  6th every year is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. I think also it goes to having a cultural change. I think that those people need to be taught that women can control themselves sexually and just be abstinent before marriage and then during marriage be faithful without someone needing to mutilate them. There is also evidence that this change will come from NGOs helping communities make these cultural changes more than laws, since in many countries, laws by overarching bodies seem to be resisted or not enforced. Indeed, many countries where FGM is practiced has laws making it illegal. Some Western countries help further by granting asylum to women who will have to go through forced FGM (though of course, they must be able to prove this). It is clear that the laws are doing very little, so the change needs to come from other places and there are many NGO’s actively working on it. Holding community meetings is another strategy that is being tried.  Educating people about the harmful effects is also being tried (and what I like about this is they often have respected women already in the community teaching younger women and girls about it – a much more sustainable and viable solution in my opinion). They also are trying to introduce alternative rights of passage and have had some success with replacing FGM with a separate right of passage ceremony. I believe, as do many people, that a harm-elimination strategy is best, as opposed to a harm-reducation strategy (one example would be moving it so it happens in hospitals so it’s “safer” – making the harm less, but not at all reducing it). That means completely eliminating the danger of FGM that women and girls face, not just making it less. Surgeons have also recently developed reversal techniques for this procedure. Of course, it’s not going to be completely like it was, but something is better than nothing for the women who have already gone through this.

This is another youtube video but embedding has been disabled. It is very graphic in nature and there is some nudity, but it does speak to two women who were mutilated at a young age.

Further Reading (Note, I haven’t read them, just found them):

Sources:

2 Comments »

Girl Child Soldiers

So I said that I would try and do my best despite having school and I totally failed this first week. However, going ahead, I think now that I know my schedule and I know that it’s not going to change anymore and that I’m recommitting myself, I will do it. This is one of the things that I do for myself and I miss it when I don’t do it. So I’m making a commitment to you, my readers, and to myself.

Warning: I will say this several times but the below is hard to handle and hard to read. It’s heartbreaking.

So back on track, I want to share a short film today. I will warn you it is VERY disturbing if you’ve never seen anything like it before and it does contain graphic images and language. It is a video demonstrating how children become child soldiers. I’ll talk about this and what it means for young girls after the video. I think, however, despite the fact that it is disturbing and graphic, it is something that people should see. I think sometimes it’s hard for me (and others) to conceptualize how adults turn small children into killing machines. I think this is something that the video does well – it takes it and puts it in a Western setting, in a school setting we’re familiar with, that we can imagine. And this is how it happens, on a basic level. So please watch, if you can.

War School (Short Film) from Pulse Films on Vimeo.

Before watching this video, I also had never realized that 40 percent of child soldiers worldwide are girls. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me that girls too were affected by child soldiering, but I mainly thought (wrongly) that boys were the only ones taken. I’m not sure why because I had even read stories of girls who were taken, but it never hit me until I watched this video that 40 percent (which is still a huge number, even though it’s less than boys, because it means that 2 out of every 5 child soldiers are girls). So obviously, it effects girls too in a huge way.

If you don’t know a lot about child soldiering in general, I encourage you to google it or ask questions here on the blog. At the basic level, it’s where a child is either forced to become a soldier in an armed conflict or joins “willingly” for promised benefits or out of feeling like there is no other choice.

I’m going to talk for a bit about girl child soldiers.Because they do differ from boy child soldiers in some ways, though many of the things they face are common problems. For example, something unique to girls is that they often report joining “voluntarily” to escape tough home situations – such as domestic abuse or sexual abuse or even just to escape being a domestic servant. So often times, if they aren’t abducted, their motivation for entering comes out of trying to escape other situations that are also bad. Pretty much, it’s a lose-lose situation. These girl child soldiers have been found in over 50 countries, so it’s not a problem that is just going to go away on its own.

While they are in, they face unique hardships because not only are they involved in combat, but they are sometimes subject to sexual violence or rape or end up becoming a “wife” to one of the adult leaders (I put it in quotation marks because I do not feel these young girls who become “wives” of the leaders have any choice in the matter). It’s especially cruel considering the above fact that some girls enter into to escape sexual abuse and then end up subjected to it anyways. Truly lose-lose again. Also, because of the rape and the fact that some of them are “wives,” if they become pregnant or have small children, they are expected to keep fighting anyways. Imagine yourself as a pregnant girl or as a girl with a newborn and then being sent to the frontline of an armed conflict. It’s horrible and heartbreaking.

“Our work found that the vast majority were sexually assaulted. You’d be dealing with very high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, about 30% of the girls in the three countries we worked in became pregnant during captivity in the fighting forces and are now returning as girl mothers.” – Diane Mazarana

They are also sometimes chosen to be suicide bombers, specifically because they are girls and they may not receive as close of a body search as a boy would – so these girls are being sent to death. It’s also sick and twisted because many, many groups will claim they are empowering these girls by offering a better option to be “more equal” with men, even though that’s clearly not the case at all.

Additionally, once they are in they face a harder time getting out. They are often left out of programs designed to help them get out and reintegrate them into society, either on purpose or accidentally and often face more stigmas upon returning to their hometowns because they have been raped or have small children. All is not helpless though, because now that people and groups are becoming more aware of it, there are organizations working specifically to help these girls.

Let me close lastly with these words. “The problems of girl soldiers are only one small element in a much wider array of girls’ issues and denial of girls’ rights.” -Michael Wessells And I think it’s true – I mean, look at how much of the idea that girls are sex objects and can be used for sex goes into the unique situation that girls face when they become child soldiers. Absolutely all child soldiering should be stopped, but girls face unique problems related to their unequal status – like the fact that many communities shame rape so much, even though it is not the fault of the girls.

I will end with these pictures and quotes from girl child soldiers. They are harsh and hard to read and see, but they are the reality that these girls face. Note, the pictures and the quotes underneath them are (as far as I know) not the same girls.

“I’ve seen people get their hands cut off, a ten-year-old girl raped and then die, and so many men and women burned alive . . . So many times I just cried inside my heart because I didn’t dare cry out loud.” A girl child soldier from Sierra Leone

“There was no one in charge of the dormitories and on a nightly basis we were raped. The men and youths would come into our dormitory in the dark, and they would just rape us – you would just have a man on top of you, and you could not even see who it was. If we cried afterwards, we were beaten with hosepipes. We were so scared that we did not report the rapes The youngest girl in our group was aged 11 and she was raped repeatedly in the base.” – A girl child soldier in Zimbabwe

 “At the age of 13, I joined the student movement. I had a dream to contribute to make things change, so that children would not be hungry, later I joined the armed struggle. I had all the inexperience and the fears of a little girl. I found that girls were obliged to have sexual relations ‘to alleviate the sadness of the combatants’. And who alleviated our sadness after going with someone we hardly knew?” – Girl Child Soldier from Honduras

“When you are pregnant there is no hospital in the bush, if the baby dies inside you they will rip it from you by force. It happened to many girls not just me.” – Juliet, a girl child soldier in Uganda

“One boy tried to escape, but he was caught… His hands were tied, and then they made us, the other new captives, kill him with a stick. I felt sick. I knew this boy from before. We were from the same village. I refused to kill him and they told me they would shoot me. They pointed a gun at me, so I had to do it. The boy was asking me, “Why are you doing this?” I said I had no choice. After we killed him, they made us smear his blood on our arms… They said we had to do this so we would not fear death and so we would not try to escape. . . I still dream about the boy from my village who I killed. I see him in my dreams, and he is talking to me and saying I killed him for nothing, and I am crying.” – Susan, a girl child soldier from Uganda

“When I came back I really wanted to go back to school. I always dreamt about school and my friends from before even when I was in the bush.” – Juliet, a girl child soldier from Uganda

“One day, my battalion commander took me to his bivouac (a military encampment) to rape me. Then he said that if I rebelled or tried to flee, he would kill me.” – Bea, a girl child soldier from the Democratic Republic of Congo

“Many girls have been through hardship like me, they are denied an education. If you are not educated, you are nothing.” – Juliet, a girl child soldier in Uganda

 “My father didn’t want to see me again since he had heard people saying how soldiers had abused me.” – Josephine, a girl child soldier from the Democratic Republic of Congo

“Being responsible for other people was distressing. It’s either they die or I die in the crossfire because I am the one leading them.” – Aida, a girl child soldier from the Phillipines

” I feel pain from the rape, as if I have wounds inside, and I am afraid I have a disease. I would like to get tested but there is noone to help me. I was tested in the reception centre in Gulu , but I was never told the result. The doctor said that it is better not to know the result.” – A girl child soldier from Uganda

“I really want to rest and be with my mother… The best is to go home. I have this feeling that I’d be able to forget about the movement… I just want to laugh. I was always crying [when I was in the movement].” – Aida, a girl child soldier in the Phillipines

Books (As usual, I haven’t read them, just found them):

Sources:

8 Comments »

A Look At Catherine Ferguson Academy

When I heard about Catherine Ferguson Academy (CFA), it really peaked my interest. I feel that this school meets a lot of needs all rolled into one.

 “We want our girls to know that becoming a mother in your teens does not mean you are doomed to a dead end life.” – Ms. Andrews

This (former public) school meets a critical need as it is an all-female school for pregnant teenagers or teenagers with children. It has also been teaching these girls to farm and market their produce, helping their struggling community (the school is located in Detroit, one of the areas that was hit the hardest by the recession). They have a small organic plot that includes fruit trees, some farm animals, and beehives.  90 percent of their girls graduate from high school and it is required that they enroll in college to gradaute, which is pretty remarkable when you considering that, according to my sources, 90 percent of pregnant girls and girls with children drop out of school and only half will have their high school degree by 22. It flips those numbers clear upside down. It teaches them all of the regular high school subjects but also teaches them about parenting and other life skills to make them independent and productive when they enter the adult world. They also partner with other agencies and groups to ensure that girls get not just an education, but the support they need (like counseling for example). Above and beyond that, they expect something of these girls, which is a very different message than society at large usually sends to them. Additionally, it has won the Breakthrough High School Award.

“Your life isn’t over because you are pregnant. There is still school for you….One of the requirements for graduation at Catherine Ferguson is you must get accepted to a college. Principal Andrews and her staff will hunt down a college for you to go to, and money for you to go there if you graduate.” – Rachel Maddow (video below)

However, the school has faced some troubles. It was supposed to close this summer because Detroit is trying to reduce it’s spending. It makes sense on the one hand, because they were hit badly by the recession since the automobile industries are there, but on the other hand, why close an award winning school that meets such a critical need? Not only that, but Detroit itself has an illiteracy rate that it almost 50 percent. Closing this school made sense to very little people. The students were very upset by this (which shows, in another way, how big of an impact this closing was having on them) and actually held a sit-in at their school building, to which the police were sent to arrest these girls and a teacher. May I remind you that most of these protestors were pregnant girls or girls with small children? And the police felt so threatened they arrested them! There are a few sources that I found that suggests that the officers also treated them inappropriately, with excessive force and harassment.

“The attitude of the teachers was really plain. It was we can find a job somewhere else, but these young women, they can’t replace this school. If we don’t stand and fight with them for their futures, then they don’t stand a chance.”  – Shanta Driver from By Any Means Necessary

It got so much news media and support from the community that it will be remaining open as a charter school. While not publicly owned anymore, they still will not turn anyone away. They’re working right now to reach what they count to be 5,000 unreached teen mothers in their county and their willing to open more schools to do so. They’ve also recently partnered with another organization to start designing and building homes – another learning opportunity for these girls.

“Our principal tells us ‘smart mothers make smart children.’”

“When people at my regular high school realized that I was pregnant, I was told my chances of being a success in life were over. At Catherine Ferguson, they told me they wouldn’t allow me to be anything but a success. I love CFA and I am prepared to fight to keep it open, not only for myself, but for all the girls who will come behind me.”

– Ashley Matthews

I think this is so important because having a kid is not the end of your life and it doesn’t have to be the end of your education. That 90 percent of pregnant girls and girls with children drop out of school? We are failing those girls by not giving them a way to continue their education. Schools like this help to give those pregnant teenagers that education and through that education, help to empower them. That education and empowerment helps people to rise above the poverty they face. I personally think if there were more options like this  available to girls that abortion wouldn’t be so prevalent. Pregnant teenagers need support, like ways to continue their education, not abortion. And the demand for these schools is there, I believe, and they would be greatly appreciated. As it stands, there are only four such schools in the nation like this.

I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s also featured in the Grown in Detroit documentary, if you want to check that out.

Sources Not Already Linked:

2 Comments »

The Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Agenda

About a week ago this time, I was in New York City. It was my first time ever in the Big Apple. And what was I doing? Living my dream of being at the United Nations (UN). Not only being there, but participating as a youth representative for National Right to Life for the UN High Level Meeting (HLM) on Youth. And while I loved being there and the experience was really great, at the same time, I came away feeling frustrated and discouraged. Why, you ask? Mainly because of organizations like International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and their extreme Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (hereafter referred to as SRHR as their own abbreviation) agenda.

If you had asked me, I’d have to be honest. I have probably always known that IPPF and other organizations don’t just allow abortion, they encourage it. But, I had no idea it was so bad, to tell you the truth. I almost titled this post – Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights: The Bad and the Ugly, but I changed my mind at the last minute. But to me, it was truly sad and disheartening to witness how taken in by this idea (and in my opinion, lie) that some people are.

These are some of the things that I heard and that some people said and my comments in parantheses.

  • “Abstinence leads to greater infections of HIV and AIDS.” (This is one I really don’t understand. Back in the day, people could get it from blood transfusions, but now that we can and do test for it, one of the main ways to get it is to have unprotected sex or to share needles for drugs. And I don’t think there’s any correlation like ‘People who abstain are more likely to do drugs.’ Abstinence is the best way to prevent HIV.)
  • After having stated that the purpose of Y-PEER (an arm of IPPF) is to “empower youth to make their own health choices” I asked “Isn’t it our responsibility to protect youth sometimes? I mean, we don’t let them smoke, we discourage them from doing drugs, we don’t let them drink alcohol. Isn’t it our responsibility to protect youth from certain health choices?” To which the answer was (one sentence) “As a progressive education organization, we don’t believe in telling youth what to do and what not to do.” (This to me is really scary – it sounds like they would let young people do anything as long as young people were educated to me. Say I had a ten year old and my ten year old wanted to do drugs and he had been educated about what they did and how they work. By their own reasoning, my ten year old should be allowed to do drugs. That kind of reasoning is such a slippery slope.)
  • “Abstinence is impossible!” (To which I say false. I know for a fact that I am not the only person who was abstinent until marriage. And if I did it, clearly it’s not impossible. I am far from superhuman, trust me.)
  • “When the sexual and reproductive health rights of youth are upheld, they have greater access to education.” (This seems all backwards to me. How does knowing how to have safe sex teach you how to read? Someone explain please.)
  • “There is a huge problem in my country that people think children are a blessing from God so they keep having more of them.”  (First of all, children ARE a blessing from God. Second of all, if you are all about choices, how can you tell people that they are having too many children?)
  • One speaker implied that women who marry young are uneducated. (This really upset me because I married at 20 and I am almost finished with my Bachelor’s degree – early at that – and considering getting my Master’s. Even if I don’t get my Master’s, it would be because I have never felt strongly about getting a Master’s degree and I have other goals and dreams, not because I got married.)
  • After hearing a man talk about how it was time to listen to the young people all evening long, afterwards I approached him and the following exchange took place (I think it speaks for itself).
    “You keep saying you want to listen to the young people, but the truth is, you don’t want to listen to the young people who disagree with you.”
    “Well when all the choices are available, if you disagree, you don’t have to make that choice.”
    “But we know some things are bad for people, that’s why we try not to let people make those choices, like we make some drugs illegal.”
    “It’s just that our society was founded on the basis of freedom.”
    “But we restrict some freedoms for the protection of other people, like if I wanted to murder you, I couldn’t do that, because there are laws limiting my freedom for your protection.”
    “That may be so.”

We also saw blatant attempts to censor us. In their earlier events, they took questions from the audience. After getting many, many pro-life questions that they fumbled through the answers on, in their last event, they only took written questions so they could pick and choose which ones to ask. There were many questions we submitted that were never asked or answered.

They are trying to put all of this in under Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 which is on improving maternal health. However, when you listen to them and see their publications, it’s pretty clear that they don’t want to improve maternal health, they just want guaranteed access to contraception and abortion for everyone.

But abortion and contraception are not the answer to solving maternal health. Contraception doesn’t fix maternal health because it allows people to have more sex, thus increasing their risk of becoming pregnant, since no contraception works 100 percent. The reasons for that are two fold. First because abortions  actually hurt maternal health and second because it doesn’t address some of the real causes of maternal mortality.

There is a LOT of evidence to support these two points (By the way, don’t feel like you need to read them all – just a sampling will give you an idea of what is out there. I include them in case you are like ” I can’t get enough of this” as I sometime am) .

There are other ways to end the problem of maternal mortality. More hospitals, that are sterile and clean. Educating women about proper prenatal care. Having more trained doctors and midwives. Having the supplies and drugs on hand that are needed. Basically, providing women with the adequate care. Because women are dying from things we know how to treat and prevent. So we should channel our energy and funds into treating and preventing, not into abortion.

It’s my hope that after reading this, you’ve learned a little bit about why increasing access to abortion does nothing to reduce maternal mortality. I think the agenda they’re pushing – sex for anyone, with anyone, any time you want and if an oops happens then you should get an abortion, is healthy, normal, or good for society.

Further more, here are some links to read by others who were there or who reported on it. I’ll star the ones that talk about one or more events that I witnessed or pamphlets that I have seen and in some cases have in my possession and will be going over with a fine tooth comb to blog about when I get a chance that I can back up and say, yes, that really did happen.

PS, sorry I know I’ve said this a lot lately, but if you like my blog, please like my fan page on Facebook. Thanks!

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: