Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Foxx Amendment to H.R. 1216

The last few weeks have been crazy and busy and rather wonderful. Of course, the busier one is the less time he or she has to sit down and blog.  And I do want to write about my RI friend's visit, Z's birthday, my Aunt and Uncle's trip here, my computer dying, T's sudden and enthusiastic entry into the world of temper tantrums, and the most embarrassing thing that has happened to me as a parent in public thus far.  I plan on getting to most of that stuff, but today I read something that has me in such a tizzy it motivated me to get back to posting.

Let's be honest. Writing about politics is not going to win me a lot of friends.  And much of the political blogging out there is just preaching to the choir, which is a colossal waste of time in my opinion.  Most of you guys reading are my friends who share a lot of the same political beliefs as me, and I wish there was a way for me to reach those who disagree, but I honestly have no idea how to do that.  And yet my horror and frustration are so acute that I can't help myself and I'm preaching to the choir anyway.

I am pro-choice.  This does not mean I am pro-abortion.  I have known several women who have used abortion as birth control, and that cavalier attitude towards pregnancy sickens me.  I have also known several women who were careful, still became pregnant, and made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy.  Probably because I went on the pill before I was sexually active for medical reasons and stayed on it for 15 years I have never had to contend with the impossible decision of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.  Yes, T was unplanned.  But we were working towards starting a family, or more specifically Z was working hard on wearing me down.  So I have no idea what I would do if faced with an unwanted pregnancy, particularly if  I was young and single.  But no matter what my choice would be I am grateful to live in a country where I am free to make it myself.  And I am worried about the current attack on reproductive rights of American women.

My problem with the proposed provision on stripping federal funding for abortion training extends far beyond a women's right to choose.  And this problem is what I would like to share with those who are pro-life.  If this provision becomes law there will be a generation of doctors who are not trained on a basic procedure that saves women's lives.  If a surgical abortion is performed in the first or early second trimester it is either 1. suction and scraping, or 2. dilation, suction, and scraping.  The latter is referred to as a D&C.  And over a period of 13 months I received two of them.  Because D&Cs are not only used in abortions.  They are used when part of the placenta is left behind after childbirth, and they are used after missed or incomplete miscarriages.

When part of the placenta is left in the uterus after childbirth a woman can start to experience heavy bleeding, which can lead to passing huge blood clots, which can lead to hemorrhaging, which can lead to death.  I only got to the huge blood clot stage before seeking help.  And I was nowhere near death, but it was scary enough and I was grateful that my doctor was able to perform the procedure to fix the problem.  This complication happens in 2% of deliveries.  What if doctors were not trained in how to perform this procedure?  The mortality rate for complications from childbirth would skyrocket.

My miscarriage was in the "missed" category.  My embryos had stopped developing weeks before the miscarriage was discovered via ultrasound and blood test.  The D&C was performed in order to save me from the emotionally and physically painful experience of passing the "products of conception" myself after a waiting period of an undetermined amount of time.  Was it a life or death medical necessity? No. But it certainly made the indescribably awful experience of losing a pregnancy slightly more bearable.

This legislation goes beyond the abortion debate and attacks the rights of all women in America.  Would any pro-life person want to deny women suffering from the issues I experienced access to this procedure? I truly am shocked it is happening in the 21st century and appalled it was proposed by a woman, Rep. Virginia Foxx.  What if she had a retained placenta?  What if her mother or daughter did?  Do we really want to punish all women over proposed restrictions placed on a legal procedure?

OK, that was kind of heavier than usual.  So how about some pictures of T to lighten the mood?

He thinks all screwdrivers are chisels and uses them as such. 

 He's at the shop at Z's work. He loves hanging out there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chasing Normal

Every once in a while I’m sort of hit with the realization that I’m not doing a great job in the living normally department.  I get used to the way I live my life, it seems pretty average to me.  I actually forget the impact that my agoraphobic tendencies have on our situation.  So I guess I should say I also forget the whole family is not doing a great job in the living normally department because of my problems.  It really is crazy how normal mental illness feels when it's your baseline.  It's awesome that we live in a time when not normal is embraced, where weird is good, and the geeks are the cool ones.  But I'd rather be normal than nuts any day.  

This weekend, for the first time in months, I went to a location that wasn’t a preapproved “safe place” with Z and T.  Please let me repeat that.  For the first time since January I left the house with my family to go somewhere that wasn’t the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the therapist’s office, or walking distance from my front door.  Z really wanted me to go to the Farmers Market so we could pick out some veggie plants for our yard.  I mean, he really wants me to go every week, but this time he had a convincing argument.  He knew I'd want a say in what we were going to try to grow.  He even stayed home late on Friday morning to let me sleep in because going to the market would mean losing a sleep-in day for me.  And that was after he stayed home late on Thursday morning as a complete surprise so I could get extra sleep. 

I’m not sure how I managed to not chicken out, but I went.  Mother’s Day weekend is a big plant weekend at the Syracuse Farmers Market and even though we arrived just after 7:30am the place was humming.  By the time we left it was a madhouse.  Crowds are not my favorite thing during the best of times, and T is no longer content to hang in his stroller while we do our shopping, so it was pretty stressful.  I didn’t quite freak out, but I wasn’t terribly patient or pleasant to Z either.  And by the time we got back to our driveway I was shaking.  And frustrated.  And angry.   What can’t I do normal things?  Why is a stupid trip to the Farmers Market so fucking hard for me?  Why do I let myself get so discouraged when it doesn’t go perfectly, rather than be happy I was able to go in the first place?

The previous weekend Z and T zipped around town together doing various errands.  And I felt sad and left out.  Which is a great way to feel because it means I am tired of living the way I’ve been living.  For me feeling trapped is much better than feeling content about my situation.  I think that might have been part of what helped me get off of my ass and out the door on Saturday.  On Sunday afternoon Z took T to a barbeque for his graduating seniors.  It was hosted by a colleague of Z’s who lives about a half hour away.  Z really wanted me to go as well.  I felt like I was letting him down, but I just couldn’t do it.  If it was somewhere closer, more like 10 minutes away, I think I would have gone.  But the 30 minutes there and back was just too much especially considering how hard a simple Farmers Market trip turned out to be.    

I tried to spin it, I told myself I was lucky to have a couple of hours alone on Mother’s Day to watch crappy TV and take a nap.  There was even a House marathon on.  But it didn’t really work.  I felt trapped, I feel trapped, I know Z feels trapped.  How long will it be before T starts to realize his mom doesn’t leave the house like other moms?  I understand every weekend is a new opportunity to work on this stuff, but sometimes I feel so pissed that anxiety is often the ruling force in my life.  At times concentrating on the positive is too exhausting to manage.

OK, I don’t want to end in such a bleak place.  So how about this?  It’s easier for me to manage new places if I’m alone.  Last week I had a babysitter so I could run some glamorous SAHM errands like going to Target and I realized I was starving.  Major pregnancy hungry that needed to be addressed immediately.  I spotted a sushi restaurant and went.  Going out to eat alone used to be one of my favorite things.  It felt so amazingly normal and fantastic.  Pretty cool.  

This is cropped from a photo one of Z's students took at the BBQ and I'm not quite sure how to credit it because I don't know the photographer and I'm not sure she'd like her name in some random blog.  But it is my current favorite picture of the two of them.  T took his Daddy's hat off and got it onto his head all by himself.  Man, do I love my boys.

T's come up with a new peek a boo game. 

He doesn't get how sheer the drapes are. 

      If you go to our Farmers Market on Sunday it is a Flea Market and you can score an awesome slide for $10.  It goes without saying that the boys made this trip without me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Imaging Future Hard Conversations

T won’t be 21 months old for a few more weeks; we are years out from having conversations about current events and ideological issues.  But as I’ve been processing the death of Osama bin Laden and the subsequent reaction around the world I can’t help but think about how I want to talk to my son about all of it.  I want to be as honest with him as possible about what happens in this world.  And I want to talk to him when I see our fellow citizens engaging in activity that is confusing.  I also want to be honest with him about my own flawed reasoning and reactions based on my personal experiences.  If he were older I’d tell him this: 

September 11, 2001 is obviously a loaded day for all Americans and I am no exception.  I believe that bin Laden was an evil man, that we were at war with him, and that it was right to kill him.  I believe that the world is a better place without him.  But I can’t help but chafe at the glee, the celebration that many Americans delighted in.  We go to bed early so we didn’t hear the news Sunday night.  Part of my morning ritual is listening to Morning Edition in the bathroom, so yesterday I learned what happened while I showered.  One of the first clips I heard was of people celebrating at Ground Zero late Sunday night.  And it nauseated me.  Granted, a lot about Ground Zero nauseated me when I lived in NYC.  I couldn’t help but hate the tourists who had their pictures taken in front of the gaping hole in the ground with huge smiles on their faces.  It felt like the photos were just checks off of a list of hot stops they got to show their friends they visited.  There was little solemnity or respect for the dead.  With the vendors selling their gaudy Twin Towers memorabilia and the tourists grateful at the lucky coincidence that Century 21 is located just across the street (talking about killing two birds with one stone!) I avoided the area as much as possible.  And yes, I know my condemnation of those tourists isn’t fair or reasonable.  It’s ugly and full of misdirected rage.  Obviously I haven’t come to terms with my anger and upset and horror surrounding that day.   

When I’d walk by the site I’d try to keep my mind blank so I wouldn’t cry, but I was unable to stop playing scenes from  my brief history in the area in my head.  I’d think about hanging out with my dad in the WTC Marriot when he was in town, or the night Z and I took him to Windows on the World.  I’d remember the goofy socks I’d bought Kevin for Christmas one year at the GAP in the basement mall, or how I’d time myself as I tore through the lobbies cutting through the center to my boss’s apartment to deliver her mail on my way home from work when she was on maternity leave.  I remembered being so excited when we found the bridesmaids dresses for my wedding on sale at the Tahari in the World Financial Center.  Or how my mom bought me some clothes at the Brooks Brothers across the street when I stared temping after I graduated from college.  And then I can’t help but remember how that Brooks Brothers was used as a temporary morgue in the days after the attack.  It took about two years for me to be able to walk in there again so I could buy Z the perfect present.  I’d think about those places and wonder where the people who worked in them were, which of them died.  I’d think about how most of the locations don’t exist anymore and how hard that was for my brain to process.  Mostly I’d think about how stupid I had been before the attack, how unsuspecting and na├»ve and sure that nothing like it could ever happen.

So clearly my opinions are tainted by my experience.  But I don’t think that cheering was the right call.  I was depressed by a lot of what I read on social networking sites.  Quoting Team America?  I loved that movie, can’t get the song “America, Fuck Yeah!” out of my head years after seeing it.  But, frankly it embarrasses me to see the irony of the song disregarded.  I wonder what the South Park guys think of their work being co-opted by the very flag wavers that they were mocking.  Celebrating the might and power of the USA when it took nearly a decade to find this guy?  That seems like a joke to me.  Especially because he wasn’t striking at our military prowess that day, he was striking at our core beliefs.  He wanted to make us hypocrites.  He wanted us to ignore our values as Americans and torture terrorists to find answers, he wanted us to selectively disregard Habeas Corpus, he wanted our citizens to distrust and persecute fellow Americans who were Muslims, he wanted to prove to the world that our ideals can’t hold up against attack.   He wanted to make fools out of us, to show we weren’t really what we professed to be.    

The results of his attack have been mixed and I don’t really feel qualified to address them intelligently, but still I am proud to be an American.   And I want to celebrate the parts of this country that are great.  I’d be proud if we would celebrate our joy at being citizens of a country that is built upon one of the most extraordinary documents ever written, the Constitution.   I understand the desire to feel unity, especially when so much of the political rhetoric is so fractured.  But there is nothing connected to September 11th that makes me feel like celebrating, even the death of bin Laden.  I feel a huge sense of relief at his death, but I do not feel like whooping and cheering.  Again, I’m glad he is gone.  I think it was right to kill him.  I even think it was a victory of sorts, but I also think it is a sober occasion.  One in which we should honor those who died and remember the terrible things that happened that day and feel grateful to the amazing men and women who are working to protect us overseas every day.    

So yes, I’d tell T something like this, I’d tell him what I felt.  And then I’d ask what he thought. 

So how about some pleasant pictures to lighten the mood?  We put in 3 fruit trees last summer and I was worried the never ending winter would crush the life out of them.  But the two that are supposed to be flowering...are flowering!  Maybe we'll get a few cherries and peaches this year! 

We found out these are called checkered lilies.  Hopefully my sister-in-law with her mad photography skills can take pictures of them some year because they are off the hook awesome.  And checkered.  Really.  Weirdest flower I've ever seen. 

Yes, Z wears this hat in public when it rains.  Seriously. 

Sadly, T has figured out how to get the bib off.  The good thing is he looks hilarious while he's doing it. 

And this is what T looks like when he is in the middle of saying, "I pooped!"