30 March 2006

Spitting Mad: NIH State-of-the-Science Conference: Cesarean Delivery on Maternal Request

Just so's y'all know what I'm rampaging about, check this out: http://videocast.nih.gov/PastEvents.asp?c=998 or if you just want to read it, go here: http://consensus.nih.gov/2006/2006CesareanSOS027html.htm#Statement. Bluntly put, these people are out of their fucking minds. And they're in charge, ostensibly, of our health. Got that? People in charge of women's health that cannot decisively determine that a planned vaginal birth is more healthy for mother and baby than an elective cesarean at 39 weeks gestation. I'm nearly beyond words just now, I'm so upset, and that should tell you all something. If you listen to all three days (which I didn't, because I just knew I'd die), you'd have noticed something. You'd have noticed a lot of men and a lot of MDs and very few women. Very few survivors. One woman's daughter, after listening to them go on, remarked that it sounded to her like they think that babies have fangs. If this is truly the state of things, if these ...these.... oh, adequate terms of opprobrium elude me, I'm so upset..... people... can't figure out the difference between coerced cesarean and maternal request with Amber Marlowe's case still in the freaking courts, how can they think their way through anything??? It is apparently not about birth. Or about common sense. Or about faith that maybe God/ess made us OK. Or about health either, in any demonstrable, supported-by-the-goddamned-research kind of way. It is about power. It is about control. I have little flashes of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale going through my brain right now. If they can't tell the difference between real birth and technocratic birth, then we are far more doomed than we think. I could keep going... in fact, this may end up being the most heavily edited blog I've ever posted. They can't figure out why the VBAC rate is plummeting yet the elective cesarean rate is skyrocketing. I would have loved to have one of them come along with me in my search for a care provider willing to work with me in my VBAC. They can't figure out why primary cesareans are skyrocketing. They should read their own press. Their base assumptions are flawed, their logic is flawed... I'm screaming, inside my head, on so many levels, I'm quite sure my eyeballs are going to shatter from the reverb. I used to think that "women's rights" were wrapped up in Roe V Wade. I was so wrong. The real fight is here. Right here. Everything that matters starts with birth.

The American Travel Cringe

Since the first time I found myself staring up into a skyful of stars I didn't recognize, I have adored Australia. There is something about it that makes you want to just roll around, revelling in the spirit of the place. After my first visit, I became a minor student of Australian culture. Not so much the Fosters-and-INXS kind of export culture, but the beetroot-on-burger kind. And stumbled upon the Australian Cultural Cringe. It certainly explained why Australia, despite all reasons why it should be so, was not yet the center of the universe. But then again, I'm an American. A nation that prides itself on knowing more about everything than anyone, but still supports the following embarassing statistics:

  • Only 27 percent of American adults hold a valid passport
  • 25 percent of American adults have never left the U.S.
  • Only 36 percent have visited more than two countries
  • Only 42 percent of Americans have ever held a U.S. passport
You want cringe? *That* is material for cringing. The American Travel Cringe. My pal Isabel is not a product of America, directly, having been raised in Turkey, and then ports, well, everywhere. She's utterly fearless. Her blog about packing up and walking the Camino de Santiago with her cat Arthur is linked to on the right nav. I tell bits of her story to people, and they freak. Spain? A woman? Alone? With a cat??? The logistics freak them out. The very notion that it's an utterly doable thing, even if she did sidetrack into other fabulous adventures, is ungraspable for a lot of people. I'm finally getting around to getting Kestrel's birth certificate, only because I need to get his passport, since he's over six months old and therefore needs one now, to get out of here should we be stricken by wanderlust. I was mentioning this to a work acquaintance the other day, and they were flabbergasted. The mere idea of a passport for a baby was so... unusual. But then again, this adult I was speaking to didn't have one. Hadn't ever left the country, and so hadn't ever needed one. How bizarre and insular is that? We live within one border, we speak one language, we eat one hideous diet, we watch one television, and we think that's The World. And now who's cringing?

22 March 2006

Ain't Worth the Stink II: What's in a Name?

In my first marriage, I kept my surname. Call it providence, call it premonition, but I knew I needed to keep my name. Which made it vastly easier to reassert myself when it all came tumbling down. As for my first name, my Ex had a nickname for me that was an abbreviation of my full name, that nobody liked. Even the sound was a little irritating. Fast forward to second marriage. Well, second dating. Jason, within weeks of our first meeting, began calling me Ree. Ree! Try saying it without a little smile or a squeak entering your voice. If you try to yell it, glower it, say it menacingly, the ending vowel sound twists, and it isn't Ree any more, it's something else. Ree somehow stuck. All kinds of people don't even know my birth name, because Ree is more.... well, it's way more who I am now. And then, there's the last name. I knew, deeply, that I wanted to be a Unified Front with Jason. And that meant we had to have the same last name. It just felt right. And during that time, between Marriage 1 and Marriage 2, I'd realized that actually, the Fergusons I come from are a pretty miserable band of folks (who are almost without exception dead, and so utterly beyond offence at anything I write here.) I only know one other Ferguson, my pal Daymon, whose blog is linked to in the left nav here. Hella funny guy. He and I used to bag on our banjo-picking pinchmark white-trash ancestors with abandon. Fun stuff...but I digress. I was stoked to end my line of Fergusons with my marriage. Tah-dah! Ferguson eradication! Imagine my chagrin and dismay when the two worlds merged, horribly, on a credit card solicitation (I'm beginning to think they're portals to hell, dropped in bulk shipment.) Ree Ferguson. Ugh! Ugh ugh ugh! Even typing it gives me the creepies. The symbol of my survival and triumph, paired with, well, the symbol of my colorfully alcoholic and wildly disfunctional ancestors. Concurrently enraged and chagrined, I set out to trace the heinous pairing back to its source. Oh goodness. Seems I'd left traces of my old name all over the place. My PADI instructor card. My REI membership. My freaking credit report (speaking of a hellmouth. But yet again, I digress). I've been a Hudson for nearly six years at this point, but there were still all these weird little lingering bits of... well, of trapped energy. Trapped in the past, anchoring some little bit of me back there. It's been really illuminating, figuring out which Items of the Name to eradicate with tactical nuclear devices, and which things to take out, dust off, pretty up, and replace within the structure of my new (real?) life. Bits of me I see fit to nurture, bits of me that died along the way. Cleaning house this deeply feels really good. I feel all kinds of psychic dust bunnies being swept out of corners they've lurked in for, well, six years, and I'm applying hairspray and a match to the lot of them. I suppose on the mercantilist upside, at least from here on, I can tell the charming operators on the "Do Not Contact" phones exactly how out of date the lists they're purchasing are.

08 March 2006

It Ain't Worth The Stink

I've been watching "What the Bleep Do We Know" semi-compulsively over the last few days (if you've never seen it, stop reading this RIGHT NOW and go find a copy!!!!!). Love that film. Love how it stretches my brain into new and interesting shapes. Anyway...in a fabulous act of synchronicity, my pal Pam sent me a feng shui kit. A book, some crystals, a mirror. So I'm reading that, with the dialog from What the Bleep in the back of my head. And I'm realizing some things. It is in our nature, apparently, to acquire material stuff, and then drag it along with us. And what's more, we also accumulate the junk our ancestors collected, and that stuff is more... fraught... than the stuff we accumulate for ourselves. But the stuff is memorabilia, carried around for the purpose of evoking memory. Just ask anyone. As a characteristic of Life on Planet Earth, we human beings have glitches. We have bad days, worse days, catastrophic gut-wrenching moments. It happens. Just ask anyone. According to the biochemists, and the psychiatrists, your brain synapes wire to each other associatively. So if you associate something with someone, the memory synapse associated with the person co-wires to the synapse associated to the something. Which is to say... when you see the thing, you remember the person, and all the co-wiring that's associated with them. Good days, bad days, catastrophic, gut-wrenching days. Fascinatingly, the brain cannot tell the difference between something in storage in your head (memory), and something you're seeing. Which means that a flash of memory of a train wreck is the very same thing as being at the train wreck originally. So whenever you see your stuff, it's the same as reminding yourself of the drama associated with it. Which psychologically and biochemically speaking, means you are anchoring yourself to the drama of the past. With all that in mind, if I asked you if I should keep anything at all that reminds me of my ex, what would you say? You'd say hell no, wouldn't you? Anything at all that reminds me of him should be pitched with great enthusiasm, right? And yet, when I hold up the objects, and say, "should I ditch this?" people almost always tell me no. It's worth money. Or it's useful somehow. Or I might need it. Or whatever reason. And every time I look at those things, my body gets treated to a biochemical wash of, well, catastrophic gut-wrenching. So I am once again rampaging through my home like a tornado, getting rid of belongings. Things that have intrinsic value, but psychic stink. And it's weird how much lighter I feel, and I'm not even finished yet. I wonder how good it's going to feel when I'm done...

06 March 2006

What a Continuum Must Be Like

This weekend, Nana and Ria came to visit, for the first time since Kestrel was born. And I was given a breathtaking glimpse as to what it must be like to raise children within an intact continuum. For those not familiar with the idea, the Continuum Concept is a book by Jean Liedloff, that examines the idea that babies are born with certain expectations of family and social structure, called a continuum, and that part of what's so screwed up about our culture is that our continuum is broken. (I'm grossly oversimplifying here. Go read the book. Really.) I've long believed that the nuclear family is a bad idea. No sane human being gives one individual sole responsibility for multiple children and then locks that individual into social isolation, while simultaneously delivering the cultural message that the work they do is without value. It's an ugly setup, a one-two punch that demoralizes and devalues homemaking and careproviding, while simultaneously creating an environment of extreme stress and scarcity for a child. I mean, of course a child who has to constantly fight with siblings, the housecleaning, the bills, the cooking, etc., to get its needs met, is going to grow up with self-esteem issues. It's nearly a given. So picture if you will, a well-oiled domestic machine. Four adults, two children. There's always one adult for playing, one for working, one for resting, and one to do whatever occurs to them. As a person tires of one activity, they swap smoothly with someone else in a different activity. Each person stays within their own comfort zone, and what's more, they're *mindful* about what they're doing, because it's the thing they've chosen to spend their energy on, not something they're forced into doing because it must be done and there's no one else to do it. It was bliss. The kids noticed, too. By Sunday afternoon, when everyone had left, both boys were happy, grounded little people, ready to calmly cuddle down to sleep. And I was right there with them. And today, I'm back to the normal nuclear grind, singlehandedly working, riding herd on two boys, and trying to stay on top of the mountain of housework. I'm stressed, and so are the boys. They can tell I'm not focusing on them, so the escallation for attention has started. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe I'm just a weener. Or maybe, I just really miss my continuum.