Friday, June 29, 2007

Midwifery in Missouri

I'm deviating from my usual reading-materials-only format to post briefly about the midwifery legislation situation in Missouri. The MSMA has filed a lawsuit with the state in an effort to get the midwifery provision overturned (declared unconstitutional). Birth is a business in the US and this lawsuit makes that abundantly clear. The MSMA is joking if they think their lawsuit has anything to do with safety for mothers and babies.

The Governor of Missouri has come out in support of our legislation. I shared my thoughts on a politics blog as follows:

"I am politically liberal & have not been a special fan of Gov. Blunt. However, I'm so encouraged to see that he is "hearing" the voices of the people on this issue and not just the voice of big business--lets face it, for the MSMA this is NOT about the safety of mothers and babies. It is about politics, power, and money, nothing else. There are relatively few families in Missouri who would even consider homebirth with a midwife. It does not make any sense to restrict their choices in this way, particularly because in many other states families DO have the choice of midwifery care (and it is even covered by Medicaid in several states). There is not a single study that shows homebirth and midwifery to be any less safe than hospital birth, indeed, there is ample evidence that hospital births carry significant health risks for both babies and mothers. It is time to place the burden of proof on the medical profession--can they prove that hospital birth with an OB is actually safe? Studies so far indicate that maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates are 2 to SIX times higher for hospital births with OB care."

For an exploration of this issue from a consumer rights perspective, check out Susan Hodges excellent and informative article: Mother-Friendly Childbirth Is A Consumer Issue

This issue cuts across partisan lines--ALL women deserve access to midwifery care, not just pro-life women or pro-choice women. We cannot be divided by political party lines--midwives are good for women and babies. Period.

Magazines only this week...

I haven't finished any books this week, only magazines. I read Utne Reader, UMR Magazine, International Doula, and Mothering. I didn't mark any pages in any of them, but each had something interesting to offer. International Doula has changed its format and looks even nicer than before. The cover photo was from PregnantEarth and is gorgeous. I also read the ever fabulous and informative Friends of Missouri Midwives newsletter ;-)

I went back through my posts this year out of curiosity and it looks like I've read more than SIXTY books so far this year. Is that weird?!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


A final thought about perfection--"If you really were a perfect mother, everyone would hate you." LOL! I love it! I accidentally saw this quote from this book: A Mother's Guide to the Meaning of Life, when I was adding books to my Amazon wish list (don't I have enough books???!!!)

And now, it is totally time for bed. It has been fun to have a Friday blog binge :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Postpartum Depression

I just wanted to note that I've decided to blog only on Fridays. So, consequently, I have a bit of a backlog to write about!

I got the book Hillbilly Gothic from Bookins this week. The subtitle is "a memoir of madness and motherhood." I am a "momoir" junkie and thus love basically any book that is about a woman's experience of motherhood, regardless of how closely it mirrors my own experience. I guess that is my way of saying that I didn't identify with her story that closely, but I truly enjoyed reading the book anyway. The memoir is set in Knoxville. I didn't mark any pages to go back to in it, which means I didn't get a lot of insights/things to ponder from it. I thought it was good though--funny at time, depressing at times. She definitely had a "birth is torture" attitude and then didn't seem to connect how her experiences contributed to her feelings toward her baby (this was the part I couldn't identify with--I *get* the feeling of being totally derailed by the reality of motherhood, but I don't really identify with seeing the baby as an inhuman "other" who is out to torture you! Like I said, I really like reading about other women's experiences though, even if I don't identify). She also didn't seem to realize how much she was overdoing it after the birth (such as going to wedding less than two weeks after giving birth and leaving the baby to be babysat--no wonder she was a weeping mess. She really need the "cocoon" of being with her baby, not immediately struggling back to being "independent"! Let me be clear, I felt a lot of empathy for her, not blame or like she "should" have done things differently).

Anyway, she ends up on the psych floor of the hospital and the book bounces between her experiences there, her family's history, and her experiences with her baby. It was an interesting read!

It prompted me to get another book off my shelf that has been languishing there since I last bought wholesale books to sell on Amazon: The Mother-to-Mother Postpartum Depression Support Book. I zipped through this one really quickly. It was interesting and caused me to dig out my journal following L's birth. In hindsight, I definitely think I experienced some elements of PPD (and, really, probably after Z as well). However, I'm not sure how much was actually a PPD experience and how much was my perfectionistic, overachieving, Type A style clashing with the reality of motherhood--for example, I really like positive feedback and it has been such a struggle for me to adjust to what is often a thankless and devalued (by society) role. I know cognitively that I need to value myself, etc. etc. & not need to seek outside validation, but it is hard for me to feel sort of socially/politically "invisible." I'm not explaining this well--I feel like I was groomed by my education to be an "agent of social change" & I often feel like I am not doing that (though then I remember a phrase from one of Peggy O'Mara's Mothering editorials that said, "see your mothering as a political act" & that helps. I just find I don't feel as *purposeful* in parenting as I used to feel in my professional life. This is a *personal* issue/struggle/lesson for me though & I need to stop seeking external answers!). I have always been very ambitious and achievement oriented and it has been hard to "mold" myself into the cracks around mothering little ones!

Back to the book, I was a little disappointed that many of the stories seemed lacking in detail--they got very familiar (as in, they all said very similar things and lacked specifics). Also, of course, I was saddened to see how many of the mothers in the stories stopped breastfeeding to take antidepressants--with the message being, "you have to take care of yourself and your baby will be better off not being breastfed if it helps you get well." This bothers me because it is NOT an either-or situation. You can overcome depression AND continue to breastfeed, they are not mutually exclusive! There are a number of antidepressants that are considered compatible with breastfeeding (thought the knee jerk response of the medical community is usually, "you have to wean--medication isn't safe for the baby."Ranty side note--and yet you CAN take antidepressants while pregnant and also morphine and any number of other powerful drugs during labor?? Hmm.)

I also got and read the summer issue of Attachment Parenting.

Buddhism for Mothers

"If you want to know what your future life will be like, look at your life right now."

I finally finished reading Buddhism for Mothers. Yay me! It was a really profound book and I hope I can implement some of the ideas into my daily life--one thing that struck me is that I really think I am looking for something that will just *click* and I will magically be able to behave/think in a new way. This book really hit home for me that you have to have a *practice*--your attitudes or habitual ways of responding do not change overnight, practice is so important (i.e. not a "quick fix," but like years of work and consideration!) The quote above reminds me of something that I remind myself of almost daily: your thoughts create your reality. We create our own suffering.

Reading this book also helped me remember to look at some of the assumptions that underlie my day to day life (and how they cause my own suffering, LOL!) Like, "I should always feel good." "I should never get upset." "I should never get mad." "I should always be unflappable and calm." "I should always be totally patient." Typing these out looks totally ridiculous and very obviously in error/unrealistic, but those are still some of the "tapes" that play in my brain if I actually watch myself thinking instead of just hopping on the thought train. In another book I'm currently reading, the author has a concept of a "baseboard" (of emotional response) that you "plug into" whenever something bothers you during the day. This is SO true too. I'm starting to watch myself "plug in" to the baseboard and my baseboard reaction is usually to be overly black and white about issues or to catastrophize about fairly small things--such as, XYZ happened, that means I'm a bad person...

Anyway, good stuff. If I stopped reading so many books, maybe I could actually go back and re-read some of this stuff that seems so helpful and actually GET it, instead of hopping merrily along to the next book in my pile! ;-) In the last couple of months, I've developed a new habit of reading multiple books at once. I NEVER used to do this before and didn't understand how anyone could. It just seemed ADHDish to me--like *focus* on something and finish it! However, I have found that I enjoy going from book to book as the mood strikes me and finishing them when I'm ready, instead of doggedly sticking with something to the bitter end, because I am trying to follow the "rules" of being a good book-reader, LOL! I think I'm better able to absorb the good stuff from books when I take a break from one for a while and read something fresh and then return to the previous book when I'm in the mood for it again. I have four in progress right now. This book took me the longest to finish of any book I've read all year, I think.

Okay, so back to the book. I thought the final half seemed mostly about meditation and how to practice, not specifically about motherhood and Buddhism (which is why I bought the book!) It was good, but I could get Buddhist philosophy and meditation ideas from many other books. I wanted this one specifically for the fairly unique combination of mothering AND Buddhism. The first half met that need a little more. I appreciate that the author has two children and also a non-Buddhist husband--makes her suggestions seem so real and reality based, instead of a totally remote monk-life-in-a-cave ;-)

I may or may not share more later. This entry has become too long as it is!

Oh, one final note. I do not consider myself to be Buddhist, just for the record. However, I feel I can learn a lot from the philosophy and ideas (as other authors have noted, Buddhism is not a religion, it is a way of looking at the world/life). I have another book called Buddhism Without Beliefs that I'm really excited to read (I'm interested in ideas without the religious underpinnings of some books).

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Radical Simplicity

Yesterday I finished reading Radical Simplicity by Dan Price. It was a great little read--wonderful little sketches and good content as well. It was not a "how-to" book at all, but the chronicle of one man's experiences with VERY simple living (i.e. he lives in an 80 square foot "hobbit hole"). Unfortunately, the last chapter of the book had a very sexist comment in it that totally irked me and cast a pall on my enjoyment of the rest of the book (which was high until I read that comment). So, I'm having trouble writing about all of the good things about it, because of the bad taste that was left from one of his closing remarks!

One of the things I gained from the book was, AGAIN, to take life as it comes and to enjoy the simple things in life. I always want to speed, speed, speed. Slow down. I keep getting this message and then buzzing along and forgetting it...

Another thing from this book was in the opening section he says (paraphrasing here) that there are three really important decisions that people make that impact their ability to live a simple life:

1. Where you live.
2. Who you choose for a partner.
3. The work you do--do you love it?

The subtitle of this book was something like "creating an authentic life." This is my main focus--I want to live truly, deeply, richly. I want to make sure I am living an authentic life--a true life. I often become bogged down in details or minor stresses and keep waiting for "later" or thinking ahead (planning and/or worrying) to the future--I feel like I need to get all of the "business" out of the way and then, then, I can do "what I really want to do." Well, the time is now. I also need to be conscious of my responsibilities--I have a tendency to just take on more and more and more. During this season of my life with small children, it is OKAY to be "slow" :-) (and actually probably more valuable than anything else I can offer).

It is late and my thoughts are disjointed accordingly (this is why I shouldn't stay up late, but should get up early instead, when I am sharp and fresh!).

Edited to add something I forgot--this book also made me start to get the declutter bug again. I can feel it strike. I start casting my eyes about all the rooms looking for things to get rid of it. It is kind of funny (and can also be fun). I have too many other things on my plate right now to embark on a major decluttering mission though!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Motherhood Confidential

Two days ago, I finished reading Motherhood Confidential. I'm having trouble thinking of words to describe it. It was....odd. Sometimes really funny, sometimes just confusing and hard to follow--it was co-written by two women and one of them especially had a stream-of-consciousness style with lots of capitalized words and pop culture references and euphemisms and sort of nicknames-for-things-puns/jokes-that-I-didn't-always-totally-get. I've been interested in reading this book since I saw it advertised in the back of a magazine (Mothering, Brain, Child?? I forget which one), but the description was so unclear that I didn't want to buy it. Much time passed and it got down to like 11 cents on Amazon, so I finally bought it. It is about two best friends--actresses, writers, and film makers--who drift apart over the "motherhood divide" (one is a super involved attachment parenting mother with a very high need son and the other is a self-described "detachment parent" with a relaxed and adaptable son). They alternate chapters (which have very funny subtitles such as "in which Joan discovers a cure for popularity" :-D I found the style kind of disjointed (and maybe actually a little crazy??) and a little histrionic/overly dramatic, but it was still a good read. I like all mothering memoirs basically, particularly ones that are scathingly honest (this one is). Another criticism is that I felt like it assumed pre-knowledge of the authors--like there was some background information missing or something that would make the text flow better.

The attachment parenting mother ends up homeschooling and there was some really funny writing about that. Also, a point I identify with: "[re: son going to Waldorf school] I knew he would be nurtured there for the unique individual he was. His sensitivities would not be labeled defects to be cured, but cherished as mysteries that would later unfold to reveal more of who he was meant to be. Unfortunately, there were 27 other children in his class--one of them a bully--whose mysteries were all equally cherished." Ain't that the truth?! LOL! I also identified with this mother's worries about "not being Waldorf enough" about various things. I feel that way too sometimes (though "not AP enough" is where my various frets emerge). The conclusion of the book is pretty much to scrape off the "dogma-doo" of ANY style and just be your own you (and also the mother that you naturally are). Interestingly, the writer's whose style was more difficult for me to follow, was the mother whose "issues" I identified with more strongly (the AP mother).

Another good point from the book: "Babies and motherhood are indeed distinctly different entities." I believe this--I think it explains how you can thoroughly love your children without reservation or question, but not always love motherhood or the experience of mothering (particularly in our dratted mother UNfriendly culture!). Along the lines of the mother unfriendly culture, another good point from this book: "Motherhood might be revered in poetry, but outside the subcultures that support the one-earner nuclear family, staying home with one's child is often considered a waste of a woman's talents and education. And although the women's movement declares every mother a working mother, I'm not so sure. Because, if there is no pay, no Social Security, and no time off, how can it really be bonafide labor. Unless. Unless you're taking care of someone else's child. If you're a nanny, a teacher, a foster parent--well, that's worth a paycheck. Even the federal government will pay a poor working mother's childcare provider to watch her three year old, but it won't pay that mother to do the same job at home. Evidently, caring from one's own child is not real work."

This is something that has always bugged me! Both the social worker AND the mother sides of me!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Simplify Your Work Life

Yesterday I got Simplify Your Work Life from Bookins and I finished reading it this afternoon (a bit of skimming over the financial planning section, because I feel like we've got that taken care of pretty well and it was not new information). As other reviewers noted on Amazon, it is definitely geared toward white collar, executive types (i.e. "shut the door to your office and take a nap" and "train your assistant to read magazines for you and highlight the important things." Um. Suuure.) Anyway, it did have good reminders about doing the important things and not getting bogged down in the little things that don't matter in the long run. A few other good suggestions too that I may share when I have more time to do so (or may never share, which is most likely!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Recent magazine reads...

I also recently finished reading several magazines--the May/June issue of New Beginnings from LLLI. I was reflecting on how much this magazine meant to me in my early months of mothering. It was the most supportive and validating "voice" out there! It still is an excellent magazine, but it really touched me when I needed it (now, I need it less, but still enjoy it when it comes). I was also pleased to have one of my responses to one of the Mother's Situations published in this issue--even if it is fairly small, I do so love a publication credit! :) This one was about "From Mother Mode to Lover Mode" and they took that title for the article from the body of my response (uncredited), which I thought was fun :)

I also read two issues of Ode magazine. I enjoy it usually, but I'm thinking it might clutter up my "simple" life a bit to try to keep up with it--it usually ends up in a stack of to-read stuff, instead of being devoured right away like many of my other subscriptions. That's why I had two issues to read at once (plus, today I found another one that I'd packed to read at Craft Camp in April and never read or unpacked!)

I also read Brain, Child. Now THIS, I devour. Literally. (well, I guess not literally, but you know what I mean). I often use food-related words to describe how I read. I gobble, I devour, I consume, I swallow, I drink, I eat up, I guzzle, I gorge on the printed word. I really do feel like I take it into myself, so maybe food words are apt descriptors. Anyway, I DEVOUR Brain, Child. I love it. I would probably keep my subscription to it above all others, even Mothering magazine (gasp!). I love how many ideas it brings together under one "roof," I love how it makes me think and consider and to laugh and to, occasionally, cry. It is so, so good. I read it cover to cover in a matter of seconds (well, hours) and then pine for it for the next three months...

Today, I just read the newsletter of the Missouri Midwives Association as well. Legalization of midwifery barely squeaked by this session (OMG! I can hardly believe that it is true! CPMs are technically legal in MO beginning in August. Yay!), so that was the main focus of this issue.

Immaculate Deception II

As I still slog through my Buddhism books (they're really good, I swear, but I can only handle small doses!), I also finally read Immaculate Deception II. It was so good. Suzanne Arms has such a passion (and also a lot of anger that comes through sometimes strongly in her writing). I love her activism attitude and her approach to birth change.