Monday, March 31, 2003

I just looked in today's mail to find the current issue of Crisis Magazine. If you don't subscribe, you will have to wait a while to find it on-line, and I am so glad I won't have to wait to read this issue. Articles on chant, the relationship of education and morality, a book review titled 'slouching towards infanticide', and a guest column by Mark Shea. What more could I ask for? How about an article that will help my 14 y/o daughter explain that science and faith need not be in conflict - that it is possible to believe in creation and still acknowledge the contributions of science? I am still working my way down the subscriptions to the magazines listed at the top of my blogroll and I am glad that my sub to Crisis went through so quickly.
I found a great new site via the Curt Jester - it is dedicated to the theology of the body and as such is of great importance to understanding human sexuality in a Catholic Christian context.
I just added a link to Project Rachel's new blog. So far I have seen only two posts but they are definitely worth reading.
DC area blogfest for this Saturday (April 5 2003) is announced by Eve Tushnet. Too bad I don't live anywhere near. New England bloggers, any thoughts for a similar event?
I've mentioned this before, but thanks to Victor Lams at et cetera for finding the link. Hormone Disrupters in our water supply - and this about Chemicals affecting women and girls. What are we doing to ourselves? God gave us stewardship of the earth - not to worship it, but not to rape it either. St. Francis, help us to learn how to worship God and care for His creation!

find your inner PIE @ stvlive.com

Link from Ellyn . I know, I should be doing more serious and important stuff, but first I have to check out what is going on around the parish!
What is really funny is that I don't like apple pie all that much - but my husband LOVES apple pie!

Sunday, March 30, 2003

I'm back, but no time right now to do anything except get caught up with my family. I had an impressive weekend at cursillo and can recommend the experience to anyone wanting to grow in holiness.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Over at Apologia, William Luse has this to say:
No man doubts the bravery of any woman. She will lay her life down for her children, but I don't want her to lay it down for me. I watched my own wife go through childbirth. No thank you. But that's what a woman does, give birth, in one way or another, every day of her life, and a society that asks its lifebearers to protect it and die for it is a society that has lost a big battle, if not yet the war.
In the comments box, I say "Our society no longer values this (giving birth) as a worthy gift to give. Women are being told that enduring childbirth is neither necessary nor heroic. They are told that childbearing is selfish, greedy, expensive, risky, and certainly not important in an "overcrowded" world."
I have been professionally involved in the care of pregnant women since 1981, when I became a childbirth educator. Prior to that, I was always the person that got the random phone calls about pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting issues among my group of friends. Over the last 20 to 30 years, I have watched some wildly divergent trends that, personally, I find quite alarming.
One trend is the 'child as a fashion statement/luxury item'. This is seen in the belief that one should not become a parent until and unless one has the resources to give said child (usually only one, maybe two) 'the best of everything'. I see this as a reflection of materialism and consumerism. It reflects the cultural confusion between needs and wants. Children are unique creations of God, in co-operation with their parents, and should not be seen as simply an economic unit. The flip side of this is the concept of children as an economic burden that may be intolerable. Many abortions and much contraception is justified under economic terms - "I just couldn't afford to have and raise a child right now. I need to wait until I have a (fill in the blank - home, better job, education, new car, etc)". With this attitude often comes a certain contempt for those who have children without all the 'assets'. Does every child need to have Baby Gap clothes and Adida sneakers? Does a 'right' to the 'best of everything' supercede the basic right to life? Those of us with large families have often felt the scorn of the general public. Our matronly figures are contrasted with the buff figures of others who (whether childless or small family) spend time, money, and energy to develop the culturally appropriate firm and trim figure. Our children are anticipated to become burdens on society - 'of course' in a large family children so not get the individual parental attention they need to develop into porperly consuming members of society! (Heavy dose of irony, folks).
Our attitudes towards child-rearing spill over into our attitudes about child-bearing. If pregnancy and childbirth is seen as a once or twice in a lifetime event, there is the consumerist tendency to try to make the whole experience overwhelmingly 'the best'. No less than perfection is demanded. The perfect pregnancy, without any aches or pains or loss of self. The perfect birth experience, with the parent-consumer being in total control. The perfect child, with no defects, major or minor. All of these demands for perfection war with each other, and very few are willing to realize that we live in an imperfect world, that we are NOT in control of our lives, and that every choice made involves a choice denied.
In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a move towards unmedicated family centered pregnancy and birth. Women were encouraged to view childbirth as a strenuous physical activity (which it always has been since the days of Eve - it isn't called labor for nothing!). In the wake of the Thalidomide disaster and the Rubella epidemic, it became obvious that the major way to protect the health of the unborn was to protect the health of the mother, and to use drugs and medication only when there was a clear advantage to so doing. Pregnant women were encouraged to make sometimes sacrificial lifestyle changes for the sakes of their unborn children, and to forgo pain medication during pregnancy and labor unless there was a clear medical indication. Many more women were also asked to undergo the risks of surgical birth for the sake of the health of their unborn child, and most willingly did so even if the medical indication was at times unclear.
Somewhere in the early 1990s, things started to change. Maybe it was the impact of almost a full generation after Roe vs. Wade, when it became clear that the unborn child has no legal rights until born alive. For whatever reasons, there was an overall paradigm shift in our culture, and it shows up in little ways and big ways. Women who endured labor under difficult circumstances were no longer applauded for being sacrificial for the sake of their child, they were jeered for being ' a martyr to your baby'. Cesarean delivery is no longer seen as sacrificing one's health and future well-being (and possibly child-bearing capacity) for the sake of the child, it is being seen as an easy way out of childbirth and a way to preserve a women's sexual function for the use of her partner. Women in general no longer train for childbirth as a physical, spiritual, and psychological event - they are rather more likely to seek indoctrination into the politically correct ways to give birth. Control has become such a central value of our culture that the rate of induction of labor (often for rather fuzzy 'indications') continues to increase, and the Cesarean rate is at close to its highest ever.
I have seen this in my own practice. 20 years ago, women fought against interventions such as induction of labor, fetal monitoring, repeat cesareans, routine cesareans for things like breech babies, epidural analgesia, and narcotic drugs. Now I have to work hard to persuade women that it is usually healthier to wait for labor to start on its own rather than inducing it as soon as the baby is 'big enough'. I have to deal with women who are so afraid of birth and so intolerant of pain that they want an epidural before labor even begins. I do not fault these women as individuals - they reflect our culture as a whole and while they are the majority, there are still women out there who have values more in tune with the God-created natural process. Women can no longer attain in childbirth the transcendance over pain and the sense of self-sacrifice that was once available to them. For that, they now have to run marathons, climb mountains, or be soldiers. Don't get me wrong. I think that women should have the right to do these other things. And yet we do not value women for the sacrifices made for pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. We only value women for the work they do that is clearly economically productive, and childrearing is only economically productive insofar as it produces consumers of goods and services. In order for those children to become consumers, their parents must earn wages at above subsistence levels. This usually means two working parents and two or less children.
At the top of my blogroll is a link to the site for Blessed Gianna. I suggest you read her story and ask yourself - "what would I do?".
There is a mind-set among the majority of the health care profession that the average person may not know. It is that there are known health risks to contraception and abortion, but that those risks are inevitably less than the health risks of pregnancy and birth. I was at a journal club recently that discussed the influence of oral contraceptive medication on eventually developing breast cancer. The consensus among the gynecologists present was that even if there is an increased risk for breast cancer in women taking OCPs, the risk of an unplanned pregnancy was such that it should offset the theoretical medical risks, and that if a woman wanted to be taking OCPs, the gynecologist should still prescribe them. There are some fetal chromosomal anomalies that are associated with an increased risk of the pregnancy complication eclampsia (which can be life-threatening). These chromosomal anomalies are usually fatal (eventually) to the baby, although a few babies have lived for months after birth before succumbing. Most obstetricians will strongly encourage women to abort these babies (usually 2nd trimester, as that is when the conditions are diagnosed) because they see no value to the mother risking her health and life for the sake of " a few more weeks or months of life for a baby that we know is horribly deformed and will die anyhow".
I will say that the majority of OBs and midwives will support a mother who makes a decision for life, even if they personally think it is foolish and risky to the mother. Pro-choice does indeed go both ways here - most of the time. But I think that what we are seeing over all is a reflection of a culture that does not truly value women as women. Equality does not mean identical.
I could rant on this for a lot longer, but I need to go pack and get myself together for the weekend. I hope to find some good conversation when I get back to my blog on Monday.

Pre-weekend Depression
This evening I will be going on a cursillo weekend. I will be out of touch until it is completed. As usual, just before any kind of spiritually significant event, things in my life are seeming to fall apart. An opportunity that I was really hoping for was withdrawn. Our finances have been hit with several unexpected expenses, and I am fighting off now 30 hours solid of a migraine headache. (Medications get it down to the point where I can function, but not well, not at all well.) All this tells me that the weekend will probably be an incredible event, as it seems that the enemy is pulling out all stops to try to get me to not go!
Prayers appreciated. If I can, I will try to post a few more short items later today, but after 5PM I will be silent until probably late Sunday evening or even Monday morning. Same thing applies to e-mail. I am leaving my laptop, my cell phone, and my pager at home. If there is a family emergency, my husband will have to drive out and get me in person.
Mallon's Media Watch is a blog that follows the 'traditional' blog format - mostly links with very brief comments. Lots of good info and links updated pretty frequently.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Monday Mission
1. Since we've covered the standard "where do you go when you die" question, let's get a little deeper. When you do die, would you like to be able to watch your funeral?
I think now that I would, but chances are I will be too busy.

2. Catholics must have the longest funeral services ever. I think there is a lot to be said for the traditions that they keep, but it was just so depressing. I'd like my funeral to be much more upbeat, like those I've seen in New Orleans. What type of funeral would you plan for yourself?
I want lots of music. I want the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy said the evening before, I want my choir so sing me out. I want my children and my friends to get together and celebrate my life on earth and pray for my soul in purgatory. I don't want to be canonized at the funeral. I want a great homily that makes those present really think about the 4 last things. When my husband and I got married, we focussed our energy on the wedding Mass, and let my mom worry about the reception. I want the same focus for my Requiem Mass - focus on the importance.

3. As a child, when I was angry sometimes I would wish that a parent or teacher would die. Thank goodness wishes like those are never granted. I think it probably takes the loss of someone important before you learn the value of life. When did you first realize that life was so fragile?
I think that I was rather young, I don't think I ever didn't realize the fragility of life.

4. When we said our final respects to Grandma H. today, I though about her impact on the world. No, she didn't cure cancer or make sweeping changes to society. But she did leave a legacy of four sons and a daughter, who in turn have children and grandchildren. And maybe that was her purpose, to launch future generations that will accomplish great things. Some of us are here to make a huge splash in the pond of life, others are here to direct the ripples in the water. Of the people you've known personally who have passed away, what sort of legacy, impact, mark or achievement did they leave behind?
My in-laws were both devout Catholic Christians. As my second parents, they helped me to become a better mother to my children and wife to my husband. They also raised 6 wonderful children including my husband.

5. One thing that struck me at the funeral, was that there were so many men were dressed in casual clothes. I was brought up to believe that men should always wear a suit to a funeral, as a show of respect. Maybe these men were never taught that. Maybe they just don't own suits. Maybe that I am just old fashioned and not hip to the times. Do you think there is an "appropriate" way to dress for attending a funeral? Or is it even important?
There is always an appropriate way to dress. Formal occasions call for formal clothing, unless you are some kind of emergency worker and had to rush to the occasion. But even so I think that being a little late but carrying oneself in a manner that speaks of respect is better than showing up sloppy.

6. Grandma H. was far enough along in life to have been able to plan ahead for her funeral, even down to the tiny details such as song selections. It was nice to finally attend a funeral where they didn't play "Amazing Grace!" My choices would be "Ode to Joy" and "I'll Fly Away." What are some of the more memorable songs you've heard played at funerals?
I don't even want to go there! The inappropriate choices at some funerals makes me wince in memory. One song I do want for my funeral (unless it is in Lent) is For All the Saints (sung to Ralph Vaughn William's Sine Nomine) - all 7 verses. Sung loudly and with joy!

7. I've been craving some home-made pickles for years now. Not just any, but the kind my dear Great Grandmother made. It's been over 20 years since she died, but I can still remember just how her dill pickles taste. No one in the family has even attempted to make them since. Today at the funeral I overheard someone wishing that they had asked Grandma H. for her home-made noodle recipe but now it was too late. Do you have any favorite foods that only one relative made, and the recipe died with them?
My grandma in law made a lemon pie, and I was able to get the recipe from her before she was too ill to remember it. Alas, I have not been able to get my grandmother's tuna casserole recipe, and she is still alive but unable to properly communicate it to me.
BONUS: Is it true, all of those things that they say about you?
I have no idea. What do they say about me?
Today's Comment Question: Do you like pickles? If so, what kind?
I love pickles, especially sour dills, pickled green tomatoes with tons of garlic, and pickled pepperoncini.

Lord, Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession is a new book by one of my favorite authors, Dr. Scott Hahn. Zenit has a nice interview with Dr. Hahn. Another book to add to my wish list!
The Official Site for the movie Thérèse is good. Click on 'flash site' for a brief trailer. I think the site is still under construction, as there were not many live links and I could not find my way to the advertised message boards. Still, you might want to check it out, especially those of you with the Carmelite focus to your spirituality. I am looking forward to the film, as I hope it can cure me of my overreaction to some of the more saccharine portrayals of the little flower.
update: I wrote to the webmaster for the site, and was told that I could find the links by clicking on the roses in the pop-up window after the intro. I still wonder how I was supposed to figure that out, though!

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Sacred Heart Church - Stations of the Cross
A Lented devotion, done well. Link courtesy of Dappled Things .
Sunday Quiz Day
(Links thanks to And Then? )
You're in the Air Force

What branch of the military do you belong in?
brought to you by Quizilla
Funny - I was an Air Force brat until I was 14 and my dad was medically retired.
You've got the JOY JOY JOY JOY down in your heart!
You've got the JOY JOY JOY JOY down in your heart!

What Bible verse is your life's theme song?
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Yep - me, my guitar, my flute and a full choir.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Speak the truth with love
My 14 year old daughter is a freshman at a public high school. Recently, we have had some interesting conversations about the ways in which she has been a defender of her faith in the classroom. It is through stories like this that I am coming to realize how subtly yet profoundly anti-Catholicism has pervaded our culture and society, even in a state where Catholics are the largest single religious group.
My daughter is taking geography and history. Her class has been studying World War II. When they were studying the Holocaust and Naziism, she pointed out that there were Catholics and other Christians who were also put into concentration camps and murdered for their faith. A classmate retorted something to the effect that he thought it was the Catholics who were putting the Jews into the ovens. My daughter brought up the example of Maximilian Kolbe, of whom apparently none of her classmates (even the Catholic ones) had heard.
In science, she is told by classmates that Catholics don't believe in various scientific theories. She gets taunted with the example of Galileo (on whom she did an "A" grade report and poster display in the 7th grade). She is accused of geocentrism, flat earthiness, and who knows what else. She and I have had some long conversations on these issues.
A great resource I have found is the book Did Adam & Eve Have Belly Buttons? by Matt Pinto. Even though she herself hasn't read it through, we have found good answers to many of the questions that have arisen over the last few months. We are still looking for some zingers for her vegan friends, though.
Here is an online bookstore that has some really nice board books for toddlers and babies - as well as a boatload of other stuff. Thanks to my fellow midwife Nancy for the link. Folks, please pray for Nancy and for the very few Catholic midwives out there who are faithful to Humanae Vitae and the church's teachings.
Irish Parents Seek New Inquiry in Organ Program
This article presents some difficult dilemmas in medical ethics.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Two Sleepy Mommies have an interesting thread going about economics, social justice, a living wage, stay at home moms, and Rerum Novarum (one of my favorite encyclicals, along with Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae). I strongly suggest you go there and read the posts and the comments - there is a lot of wisdom to be found.
I have been ruminating on this topic for years. Part of what has inspired some of the deeper thoughts has been from C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity. It is the chapter on social morality. Let me qupte you a few lines.
There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient Heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest - what we call investment - is the basis of our whole sytem.
It does give one pause for thought, no?
I would also suggest that anyone seriously pursuing thoughts about family structure, work, and morality, should read G.K. Chesterton. There is a compilation of his writings on the topic entitled Brave New Family that is truly excellent. Among the content in this volume is a comment about how the book Brave New World (the famous dystopia) simultaneously mocked and celebrated the famous Anglican Lambeth conference, where the Church of England broke ranks with history by approving artificial contraception.
One last random thought. The term Utopia was created by St. (Sir) Thomas More, as his title for a book that he modeled after Plato's Republic. He was looking to design an ideal society based upon Catholic Christian ideals. Also worth reading.
Chesterton Day by Day
MARCH 20th

I HAVE no sympathy with international aggression when it is taken seriously, but I have a certain dark and wild sympathy with it when it is quite absurd. Raids are all wrong as practical politics, but they are human and imaginable as practical jokes. In fact, almost any act of ragging or violence can be forgiven on this strict condition -- that it is of no use at all to anybody. If the aggression gets anything out of it, then it is quite unpardonable. It is damned by the least hint of utility or profit. A man of spirit and breeding may brawl, but he does not steal. A gentleman knocks off his friend's hat, but he does not annex his friend's hat.

'All Things Considered.'

Evil Isn't a Dream
Link courtesy of Karen Hall

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

It has begun.
I am at work. My husband and I try always to pray the rosary together every night when it comes on EWTN (2130 Eastern), even if we are not together physically. This evening, as the rosary ended, I thought to change the channel to CNN - just as I did my pager went off. It was my husband, and the message on my pager read "It has begun. Bush addresses the nation in 15 minutes" May God preserve and protect us all. I ask for special prayers for my oldest daughter. Right now she is on a plane scheduled to fly from Memphis TN to Paris France by way of Amsterdam. We have not heard of any change in plans, and I hope all goes well.
Karen Marie Knapp is back!!!!!!!!! Out of the hospital and blogging again. Praise be to God.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Disordered Affections has the funniest war comment I have seen in a long time, maybe forever. Go there. Read it.
I had been trying for 3 hours to publish the entry below. It kept giving me error 203, until I removed all the hot links. However, the links to the blogs and bloggers mentioned can be found over on my blogroll.
I just read at Kathy the Carmelite's blog that dylan is in the hospital. Kathy suggests prayers, fasts, and other spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Check her blog for details. Meanwhile, I am concerned about the fact that Karen Marie Knapp is still seriously ill, though recovering. And of course Al Kresta recently underwent major surgery for necrotizing fasciitis (aka flesh eating bacteria) and last heard his wife was also seriously ill. My husband, last night, commented on the new asian pneumonia that seems to be spreading rapidly. He and I were both seriously thinking about re-reading the book of the Apocalypse. What are the Four Horseman, again?
This-or-That Tuesday
March 18, 2003: A Little Bit O' This, A Little Bit O' That!
1. Cold frosty ski slopes or warm sandy beach?
Give me warm, minus the sand. The French Riviera will do just fine!
2. Chevy or Ford?
My 91 Chevy is still running after 254,000 miles.
3. Mac or PC?
PC for program variety, Mac for graphics and desktop printing.
4. Dial-up or high speed internet access?
High speed - but keep the dialup capacity for road trips to the boonies.
5. Small *family-only* wedding or large 200+ guest wedding?
My family and close friends made my wedding 200+. It can be done on a tight budget if one keeps straight the priorities. Focus on the marriage, not the wedding!
6. Would you rather be the bridesmaid or the bride? (if you are a guy, substitute best man or groom)
I've been the bride. That is a once in a lifetime, whereas bridesmaid can be recurring. Bridesmaid (or matron, actually) now.
7. AC/DC or ABBA?
8. Roses or daisies?
roses - preferably ones with heavenly fragrance.
9. Trashy romance novels or classic literature?
depends on the mood of the moment. I have been known to be reading both over the same time frame.
10. NEW! Thought-provoking question of the week...If you had to choose one...would you rather be blind or deaf? Why?
Blind. There is a lot more adaptive stuff out there, and with my myopia I feel half blind anyhow much of the time.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Kairos Guy has some wonderful insights on sacred space and liturgy.
My big complaint (probably because I am perenially in the choir) has to do with the quality (or lack thereof) of the music. Sunday I referred to one of the hymns as my Lenten penance. (The hymn - "We Remember" by Marty Haugen. Syncopation not done well by the typical choir, let alone the congregation, banal lyrics, and bad harmonies.) The organist also dislikes the song, but we are at the mercy of a decision-making process that is out of our hands. Now, we do some really wonderful stuff too, but every so often I go home wincing.

What Flavour Are You? I am Vanilla Flavoured.I am Vanilla Flavoured.

I am one of the most popular flavours in the world. Subtle and smooth, I go reasonably with anyone, and rarely do anything to offend. I can be expected to be blending in in society.
(If you were not Vanilla you would be Lemon.)
Link from Ellyn who got it from Michelle who says the quiz is rated R. I'd make it PG-13, myself.
Monday Mission

1. Do you have any plans for "Spring Break" this year?
work. my daughter's orchestra will be playing at Disney World, and I am working to pay for the trip!
2. Did you ever have any wild Spring Break experiences? C'mon, tell me the stories!
3. What is your most memorable vacation of your youth?
Cross country by car, camping at nearly every national park. Grand Canyon, too, where a thief stole our cooler of food and my dad's insulin.
4. What was the best vacation you've ever had as an adult?
Vacation? What is that?
5. Now, what is that "Dream Vacation" that you have always wanted to take if you had the time & money?
I would love to take my husband and show him Europe.
6. Have you ever take, or had the urge to take, a "blog vacation?" That is, just taking some time off from blogging?
If if did, I would.
7. You know how you get that creepy "danger" vibe you sometimes get from people you don't know? Has that ever turned out to be right? Or have you ever had a bad feeling about someone or a situation and not listened to that "little voice?"
In my profession, I get to meet all kinds. I try to always listen to the vibes. So far have not had any bad experiences, but I try to stay tuned in. I also carry my rosary and pray frequently.
BONUS: Do you wanna see me beggin' baby, can't you give me just one more day?
what the heck does this mean?

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Thanks to Michelle for the link.
You Are Romans
You are Romans.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Over at Two Sleepy Mommies, Peony Moss has a great post about Catholic board books for toddlers. I wish that our local Catholic book store carried these. I think I will go in there next week with the info and ask them to order some in. I have babies to buy gifts for, and this looks like a good thing to get them.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

I have found that for some reason, various blogs I read don't automatically update when I go back later to see what is new. I find myself hitting refresh to see the newest pearls of wisdom. I don't know if this is a function of caching on the computer I happen to be using, or if it is a blogger problem or whatever. Once recently, I spent quite some time writing what I thought was a nice piece. When I came back later to see if anyone had anything to say, it wasn't there until after I hit refresh. grrrr.
The end of pregnancy
whether ended by birth, miscarriage, or induced abortion, is inevitably accompanied by a maelstrom of feelings. A feeling that is not often acknowledged, especially in cases of the birth of a loved and wanted child, is grief. This feeling is also not often acknowledged in cases of induced abortion.
Grief is a feeling, and grieving is a process. Grief arises out of loss. When pregnancy ends with birth, one grieves the loss of the pregnancy, the loss of the dream baby (and confrontation with the real baby!), the loss of the dream labor. One is faced with bodily changes that may be rather devastating - aches and pains and loss of sleep, practical problems finding clothing that is wearable let alone attractive, and a host of other unforseen issues. Moms and dads can be overwhelmed with feelings that they judge as negative or unacceptable - anger, disappointment, apathy, hysteria - or can even experience serious depression.
It is not often acknowledged that this maelstrom of feelings can also be energizing. Out of some mothers' grief and anger have come many movements to help the next generation of mothers. Such movements include La Leche League, ICAN (cesarean awareness and VBAC), various childbirth education and preparation groups, and the movements for Baby Friendly and Mother Friendly birth places.
After miscarriage or stillbirth, these feelings are also present. For many years, women kept these griefs private. But a few women were energized enough by their grief to reach out to other grieving women and families, and through their persistence, most hospitals now give more support and and affirmation to all women suffering this kind of loss.
I think that we are just now beginning to see the foundation of a movement that will support the grief and loss experienced by those who intentionally aborted pregnancies. Rachel's Vineyard, Ashli's S.I.C.L.E. blog, and various post-abortion services have sprung up to help.
In the early days of other grief supprt movements, there were those who nay-said the women and men who were reaching out to try to change things. This is also happening with the pro-life post-abortion support services. Hang in there, sisters and brothers. It will be a long struggle, but eventually you will earn a small modicum of respect, even from your opponents. Hald fast to the truth of what you know, and just keep loving the women and men who are suffering in silence.
Pauline Bryant


I wish I was a foetus
I never would be bored
Sitting in my uterus
Swinging on my cord.

To worry obstetricians
I'd be a proper beast
I'd change position on the hour
Transverse, oblique then breech.

To student midwives I'd present
A mystifying case
I'd hide myself inside the os
And leave an empty space.

I'd tie my cord into a knot
And wave it through the cervix
I'd give the midwives such a shock
And laugh off all my vernix.

And when my membranes rupture
I'd be a right old pest
Presenting large diameters
I'd transversely arrest.

I'd tell my pal placenta
To get himself detached
To theatre then the lot of us
Would pronto be dispatched.

And when they start to caesar
I'd laugh and think "Tee hee!'
When no-one else is looking
I'll come vaginally.

Copyright; Pauline Bryant

Friday, March 14, 2003

International Eat an Animal for PETA day is tomorrow
The good folks over at Catholic Light and Envoy Encore mentioned this some time ago. I suggest supporting it for several reasons including the fact that Peter Singer, the notorious 'ethicist' , is a supporter of PETA concepts. Yep, he believes that animals have more of a right to life that unborn babies or adult humans with disabilities.
the friday five Mar 14, 2003

1. Do you like talking on the phone? Why or why not?
Not usually. I prefer to talk in person if at all. I get too distracted talking on the phone, and don't pay close enough attention to the other person.
2. Who is the last person you talked to on the phone?
My daughter.
3. About how many telephones do you have at home?
Two cordless house phones, and one cell phone per occupant.
4. Have you encountered anyone who has really bad phone manners? What happened?
All the time. Of course, phone manners are cultural. To me the worst phone manners are when a machine calls me and then puts me on hold! (like MCI or some other mega corps).
5. Would you rather pick up the phone and call someone or write them an e-mail or a letter? Why or why not?
It depends on what needs to be said. At work I have to call lots of people and talk to them about sensitive stuff, and frankly, it wears me out. You try making several phone calls to people to tell them that they have a social disease and need to come in with their partner(s) for treatment!
I prefer to communicate with my friends via email or in person. The phone is just a tool to arrange the in person stuff.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

This makes a lot, and I cook it in a foil turkey roasting pan.
4 cups rolled oats (not quick or instant). may also use part or all rolled wheat, rye, barley or other grains.
2 cups chopped nuts (I like pecans, but choose your favorite(s) - or use sunflower seeds, pepitas, suchlike)
2 cups chopped dried fruits - I like to combine flavors like apricot, dates, craisins, or whatever I find in my pantry. I am not that fond of raisins, though.
1/2 to 1 cup liquid sweetening. Honey for mildness, corn syrup for cheap, blackstrap molasses for nutritional punch. Or combine. Maple syrup and sorghum work well, too. Lyle's Golden syrup doesn't. can mix or match.
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil (cold pressed is best - like Hollywood brand)
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
(optional) 1 tsp cinammon or pumpkin pie spice mix.
Beat liquid ingredients together. May need to warm syrup a bit. pour over other ingredients in a large bowl or pan. put into roasting pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray (or lightly oiled). bake at 350, stirring every 10 minutes, until the toasty shade you prefer (usually around 30 - 40 minutes). cool in pan, stirring occasionally to break into small pieces. store in tighly sealed container.
I started to post a comment over at the Kairos Guy and realized that I would exceed the box's limits, so I am posting it here. You see, J.B. included some comments in his post about pregnancy, a topic on which I do know a little bit. Here is an excerpt from his much longer post (J.B., I hope you don't mind that I have truncated your writing - there is a lot of stuff there and I only want to address a few small points!).
Last summer, one of the pregnancy issues before us was the possibility that Mrs. Kairos Guy had a tubal pregnancy (which turned out not in fact to be the case). Now, I have no essential qualms with the Church's ban on abortion: it is fundamentally sound, and I support it. In fact, "support" is much too weak a verb to describe my attitude. I believe it to be True.[You're waiting for me to say "but," aren't you?]But. I learned, after the fact, and after consulting a couple of people on my cell phone standing outside the Emergency Room but getting only partially correct information, that even though a fetus implanted in a tube cannot live, and a mother who allows that fetus to continue gestating will certainly die, it is not licit for that woman to have an abortion. What IS licit is the removal of the entire fallopian tube in which the fetus is implanted, even though that too means the death of the fetus. At that point, we all get to pretend that the unburst tube is the problem, rather than the fetus, and we maintain the fiction that we did not seek nor receive an abortion, but that the death was the result of a "double effect." (I hasten to remind you again: there was not in fact a tubal pregnancy in our case). But it requires a great deal of fooling oneself to pretend that the only thing going on with the tubectomy was the treatment of the tube, and not the removal of the fetus before the fetus kills the mother. (As it happens, recent studies have suggested that there are medical benefits to a tubectomy not present in the "Dilation and Evacuation" procedure that is common for most women. The scarring of the tube that a D&E can cause greatly increases the chances of further ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. With a single tube, unscarred, pregnancy remains eminently possible, with little increased risk.
Let me recommend a resource for information on Catholic Bioethics. This center will answer questions by email. Also, the Pope Paul VI Institute, directed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers at Creighton University has a center for reproductive bioethics. Now for my comments.
I will be using mostly medical terminology . Embryo is a baby in the first trimester of pregnancy, fetus is the baby thereafter. By using these terms, I do not mean to imply any diminuation of the humanity or right to life of that child! Ectopic means not in the right spot, in medical terminology. Things other than pregnancies can be ectopic (like heartbeats). The most common kind of ectopic pregnancy is in the Fallopian tube. Rarely, a pregnancy will implant in other places outside the uterus. Such abdominal pregnancies can be carried to viability or even to term, and although abdominal surgery (laparotomy, not Cesarean as the uterus is not entered) is required for delivery, there have been multiple cases reported in the medical literature. It does carry an increased risk to the mother's health, depending on where the placenta implants. There have even been some pregnancies reported after hysterectomy, probably where conception occured but was not known before the surgery was done. At least one of these babies survived to be born healthy. Before ultrasound, we had no way to know for sure where and sometimes even if there was an ectopic pregnancy, and prudent physicians hesitated to subject mothers to possibly unneeded surgery, but also faced the spector of missing the diagnosis of ruptured tubal pregnancy until the mother was in extremis. 30 years ago, a friend of mine was clerking in a law office preparing a suit on just such a missed diagnosis that ended in a maternal death. So we who work with women in their childbearing years are hyper vigilant. Thankfully we have tools now that have made diagnosis of tubal and other ectopic pregnancies much easier and quicker.
It is generally believed that tubal pregnancies will inevitably end in the rupture of the tube and loss of the baby. This may not always be the case, as there is a theory that at least some abdominal pregnancies started out as tubal pregnancies but the embryo was expelled out the end of the tube into the abdomen. No one knows, and no one will probabaly ever find out, because now that we have the tools to watch, we intervene early to prevent this. The standard treatment for tubal pregnancy is to end the pregnancy as soon as the diagnosis is comfirmed. The Catholic teaching is and continues to be that removing the tube is licit, even though that will also abort (technical definition - end prematurely, cause untimely death) the pregnancy. The tube is damaged - at least that section of the tube containing the embryo. I know of at least one physician (Dr. Hilgers) who will attempt to place the embryo from the tube into the uterus when doing microsurgery for tubal pregnancy. I don't know if he has had any successes, but as a committed Catholic physician he believes that he has that duty to at least try to give the baby a chance. I am not sure that the principle of the double effect requires that the tube actually rupture or just that it be certain that the tube is damaged. I will defer that to a professional ethicist. What I do know is that the medical (non-surgical) treatment for tubal pregnancy is not morally licit. This treatment involves injecting the woman with a drug (usually methotrexate) that has the effect of directly killing the embryonic life, and thereby preventing further growth that could cause the tube to rupture. This technique is quite similar to early induced abortions done with RU-486.
Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E) or Dilitation and Curettage (D&C) have NO place in the treatment of ectopic pregnancy. These procedures are used to empty the uterus with vacuum (Evacuation) or scraping tools (Curettage). They are used both to complete a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) where there is excessive bleeding or parts of the baby and placenta are not expelled naturally, as well as to perform induced abortions. Any time the uterus is instrumented, there is a risk of infection or physical damage, and infected tubes are more likely to get scarred and therefore more likely to not transport the embryo to the uterus in the timely manner required to implant properly.
Ectopic and tubal pregnancies have become epidemic in our society. There are many totally blameless women who have suffered the agony of a tubal pregnancy. However, the risk of a tubal pregnancy is known to be higher in women in the following categories - women who have had pelvic infections (usually from sexually transmitted diseases, occasionally from such conditions as a ruptured appendix or other abdominal infection causing scars), women with endometriosis, women who have had tubal ligations (even after reversal surgery), women who get pregnant while using an IUD, Depo-provera, other hormonal contraception. (the hormones make the tubes slower at moving the embyro down to the uterus, and they also make the lining of the uterus less hospitable).
I realize this is a lot of info, and I don't mean to slight anyone or anything here. Please feel free to correct me if I have anything wrong, or to ask for clarification if I have been fuzzy in my speech.
I went downstairs to put dinner on (roasted vegetables, a mixture of brown rices, and maybe a bean of some kind) and discovered that my cats had been in the pantry. Specifically, they had shredded the plastic bag containing 4 1b bags of posole corn (dried hominy). There were small bits of dried corn all over the floor. Now, I can understand why they shredded the bag that my daughter's dried bonite flakes (a staple for Japanese cooking) was in, but corn? I just don't get it. I do have a pretty good suspicion which of the 6 cats is was, though. Probably Hazmat the carbo cat - the one that eats raw bell peppers, tomato chunks, and turns up his nose at canned cat food.
I guess I am going to have to invest in some more Tupperware (tm). If it keeps the weevils out, I hope it will keep the cats out.
Community Supported Agriculture
In line with the 'granola conservatives' mentioned in the article below, I would like to talk about what my family will be eating (and freezing and canning, Deus volante) this summer. We purchased a share in a local co-operative of small farmers. We had been trying to get to the farmer's market weekly, but were not always able to. I also haven't figured out how to grow stuff in this northern New England climate. My garden bed is currently beneath 2 feet of accumulated snow, and more is falling. In California, by now, I would be harvesting early spring veges! anyhow, here is a brief description of just what CSA is.
CSA is a relationship of mutual support and commitment between local farmers and community members who pay the farmer an annual membership fee to cover the production costs of the farm. In turn, members receive a weekly share of the harvest during the local growing season. The arrangement guarantees the farmer financial support and enables many small- to moderate-scale organic family farms to remain in business. Ultimately, CSA creates "agriculture-supported communities" where members receive a wide variety of foods harvested at their peak of ripeness, flavor and vitamin and mineral content.
... the goals of CSA support a sustainable agriculture system which . . .
provides farmers with direct outlets for farm products and ensures fair compensation
encourages proper land stewardship by supporting farmers in transition toward low or no chemical inputs
strengthens local economies by keeping food dollars in local communities
directly links producers with consumers allowing people to have a personal connection with their food and the land on which it was produced
makes nutritious, affordable, wholesome foods accessible and widely available to community members.
There are many kinds of CSA. All include payment in advance at an agreed upon price. In some, members of the community purchase a "share" of the anticipated harvest, while in others they sign up for a predetermined amount of produce over the course of the season. In most cases, this commitment implies a willingness to share with the farmer both the bounty from the land and at least some of the risks involved with production.

In return for fair and guaranteed compensation, consumers receive a variety of freshly picked, (usually organic) vegetables grown and distributed in an economically viable and ecologically responsible manner. Some farms also offer fruit, herbs, flowers and other products. In this way, farmers and members become partners in the production, distribution and consumption of locally grown food.

'Crunchy Cons' Creating New Religious Subculture
Finally, a group that I can hang with!!!!! Especially in the next to the last paragraph. Thanks to Two Sleepy Mommies for the link. (They got it from HMS blog).

Monday, March 10, 2003

I'm back from taking care of two flat tires. My husband got home late last night from his cursillo weekend, and he had to be out the door at 0500 this morning for a live broadcast (about health care and the uninsured - listen here for details). So he came around noon and I fed him lunch, and we went together with 2 flat tires to the Tire Warehouse down the road. My husband likes to use this store because the manager leaves Knights of Columbus literature laying around the store. Also they are very friendly and competent. I was afraid that the damage to the tire would be irreparable, and that I would have to buy a new one. I also knew that the rim on the spare was damaged beyond belief. Well, thanks be to God, they were able to repair the tire, and I was able to also buy a full-size (used) spare tire on a wheel - and the total for the two was under $50. Not only that, but it only took about 15 minutes. So I am back on wheels again.
Safe Haven Laws - are they unsafe?
This is a topic about which I have some conflicted feelings. New Hampshire recently passed such a law. On one hand, I hope never to hear another baby in the dumpster story. On the other hand, I would hope that women would face up to the fact of their pregnancies and take good care of the baby before birth.
Licensing, credentialling, and quality of care - Oregon USA
This is not the carefully crafted piece I am still working on, but rather is a few random comments. I have a good friend in Portland Oregon who has been a midwife for more than 20 years. She has been published in Midwifery Today, she organizes continuing education workshops for midwives, she is truly knowledgeable and skilled in her profession. And she is not licensed. She practices perfectly legally in her state. There was a court decision several years ago in Oregon that stated the practice of midwifery is not the practice of medicine, as long as the midwife does not use interventions that are considered medical (such as drugs including pitocin, surgery, forceps or vacuum, etc.). Herbs, physical interventions using the hands, etc. are not considered medical, nor is cutting the cord. There are no standards that exclude any kind of patient from the midwife's practice, other than personal choice on the part of the midwife and patient. Therefore, an unlicensed midwife can agree to attend breeches, VBACs, multiple gestations, or whatever - and can charge for services rendered. Most have transfer agreements with at least one doctor or hospital if needed. But no 3rd party payers (insurance, Oregon Health Plan) will reimburse for this care. Care with these midwives is strictly caveat emptor. Most are highly qualified, and are more than willing to provide references, educational background, and a written informed consent agreement to patients, but not all.
There are also licensed midwives in Oregon.
Certified Nurse-Midwives are licensed as nurse-practitioners, and must have a master's degree. Their scope of practice is determined through the Board of Nursing. The fee for this license is a few hundred dollars, not including costs for mandatory continuing education. CNMs practice can be at home, in birth centers, or in hospitals. Most CNMs have pretty strict boundaries on whom they will attend, and stratify patients in to one of three levels of care - 1) midwifery only, 2) midwifery with physician consult or 3) refer all care to physician. Most CNMs do not attend breeches or multiple gestations routinely.
Licensed Midwives must go through a credentialling process including verification of experience and a written exam. With licensing, the midwife is allowed to carry and use certain medications and controlled substances (pitocin, methergine, oxygen) under protocols. The licensing agreement also excludes certain classifications of pregnancy from care by this group. (I don't remember the exact boundaries, but they are the kinds of moms that a CNM would also consult on or refer out). The licensed midwife will also have working relationships with physicians for conslutation and referral. In Oregon, licensed midwives were able to bill insurance and the Oregon Health Plan until the move into HMOs. Licensing fees for this class of midwife is in the thousand dollar range, as the Board is required by state law to be self sufficient.
Anyhow, my friend was on the Board for licensing of midwives, and was licensed among the first group after establishment of the law, but has let her licensure lapse. And she isn't the only one. Licensure was held out to them as a potential for being able to practice midwifery with a firmer foundation. Legal recognition, 3rd party reimbursement, legal access to life saving anti-hemorrhagic drugs, more articulated transfer of care for the small percentage of moms who need it - these all seemed to be pretty clear advantages. But the reality has been different. There was an increase in overhead cost, a loss of autonomy, and the 3rd party reimbursement never really happened as promised. And so my friend, and many like her, are back to where they were before licensure came in. For hemorrhage, she uses massage, compression and herbs, and transports if needed. Although she has the skills to start an IV, and the knowledge of how to use anti-hemorrhage drugs, the costs of the license to use them are too high, both to her and to the families she serves.
Give your kids the gift of poverty is an interesting article I found at A European Reactionary from Queens. Robert Heinlein (sci-fi writer) had a few pithy sayings that I have found useful. One is "Don't handicap your children by making their lives too easy". (The other -"In an argument with your spouse, if you discover that you are right, apologize immediately!".)
I just realized that in my last template change, I lost the 'email me' link. It has been added back, at the top of the blogroll.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

I am trying to put together part 2 of my midwifery comments, but it is slow going. Part of it is that I don't want to overwhelm my audience, but there is so much that needs to be said! I have been studying this since I was 10 years old, and practicing for a long time too. It isn't really a 'sound-bite' type of topic, either. Your patience and prayers are appreciated.
Raymond Arroyo on Mel Gibson's new film from the Wall Street Journal. When will this film come out for the masses?
There must be a reason
This weekend, my husband is at Cursillo. It is so strange not to be able to pick up the phone just to share something with him. He was picked up by some friends Thursday evening, and will be back this evening. Ash Wednesday after Mass, the choir director asked if I could sing for 1030 Mass today, with a quick rehearsal at 0930. Sure, no problem. So at 0900 my duaghter and I walked out to the car with music in tow, started it, pulled out a few feet and something just did not feel right. Stopped, got out, and there was the problem - a totally flat tire. Called AAA who came out pretty quickly and put the spare (the donut kind) on. Of course, by the time all that was done we had missed 1030 Mass at our usual parish ( a 1/2 hour drive) so decided to go to 1100 Mass a little closer to home. Got about a mile from home, hit a pothole, and bang, the spare went flat. Called AAA again, the same guy came out and towed us home. Of course, it also started snowing while we were waiting. Someone, somewhere, just did not want us to get to Mass today. I guess I will have to listen on EWTN and make a spiritual communion. Question for you theological types out there - am I in sin for missing Mass today? I could have tried to drive my husband's car (which I have never driven in the 6 years we have owned it) but I thought I would be OK on the donut spare. I could have called a cab, but I just didn't think of it! By the time we got home from the second flat tire, there was no way to get to any Sunday Mass on time. In Oregon, we lived so close to our parish that we walked, and also in California that was an option. But here we are pretty far from everything.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

A update on Karen Marie Knapp at From the Anchor Hold, posted by her brother. Please keep her in prayer.
I'm in a book! On pages 77 - 79 of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is a story of a birth I was at during my L&D nurse days. Let me also quote Ina May from page 307 of this book. "it is not possible to determine solely by licensure, certification, gender, profession, or outward appearance the philosophy of practice of any given practitioner. Not all midwives work within the midwifery model of care; not all doctors work entirely within the limits of the medical model of care. Women are not necessarily more sensitive than men...." And I will add that all providers work within systems that may have a negative or positive impact on the provider's ability to give the best care. Money, politics, and culture all get into the mix.
Anyhow, I stopped housework when the delivery of this book came from amazon.com. Time to get back to work.
Have you ever tried to make up a bed with a kindle of kittens trying to 'help'?
Saturday chores. Offer them up!
I highly recommend The Joy of Natural Childbirth: Fifth Edition of Natural Childbirth and the Christian Family, even though it can be hard to find. Actually, any edition from the first on through the fifth is valuable. I read it when I was pregnant with my first in 1974, and it was one of the books that helped me to find my vocation as a midwife. The author, Helen Wessel, is now deceased, but I had the opportunity to meet her in 1983 at the ICEA conference in San Diego California. In addition to her deep Biblically based belief in God's creation in childbirth, she also was a strong proponent of NFP. She influenced the Sears' (well-known Pediatrician/RN married couple) and many others in her long life. Her work is being carried on through Apple Tree Family Ministries. I would be delighted if I could find a Catholic family group that could carry out some of this same ministry.

Friday, March 07, 2003

A reader alerted me to a debate going on over at the Exceptional Marriages (aka HMS) blog. It is kind of confusing to follow the thread if you haven't been a regular reader, but it has to do with a case where a midwife is about to go to jail for saving a woman's life by treating her with a drug that she obtained illegally. If you search the archives using the keyword 'midwife' you will find the debate. It starts with an article in National Review Online. Take a minute here and go read the article and the thread over at HMS.
Both Kevin Miller and Greg Popcak give reasoned defenses of their opposing positions. Duncan Anderson has a rather impassioned response to his experiences with hospital birth policies and procedures. All of these gentlemen have a lot of light to contribute to what is actually a quite complex situation encompassing politics, power,money, fear, and human life. None of them are midwives, and none of them are mothers. I don't know for sure, but I also doubt that any of them are lawyers.
It wasn't that long ago that midwifery was regulated by canon law, and midwives were seen as performing a valuable ministry in the service of life.
I am a midwife. I am a mother. I am not a lawyer, or a moral theologian, or a clinical psychologist. I have been involved with pregnant women and their families on a professional level for more than 20 years. I have studied the physiology, psychology, ethics, sociology, theology, anthropology and just about every other -ology of birth over the last 30 plus years. I have worked in women's homes, in birth centers, in hospitals ranging in size from 22 beds total to 18 thousand births a year (LA County/USC medical center Women's hospital).
As I posted earlier, in the early years of the 20th century, a concerted effort was made to completely eliminate the midwife. Part of the strategy was to turn nurses and midwives against each other, and it nearly succeeded. Even now, dominance games are being played over the bodies of pregnant women, as various providers of prenatal and birth care attempt to protect their own corner of 'the market' by bad mouthing the others. The behaviors of some care providers provides plenty of fuel. It may not matter whether the provider is the hospital labor nurse, a family physician, a traditional birth attendant, a perinatologist (specialist in medically difficult pregnancies), a professional midwife, an obstetrician/gynecologist (that's a weird marriage - medicine and surgery do not mesh well in the same body!), a certified nurse-midwife, or even a chiropractor or naturopath. (See my article What is a Midwife? for descriptions as well as some of my opinions). There will always be some who through pride or greed exceed their level of competence, or who are simply so attached to a certain ideology that they can not see any other paradigm.
There are unacknowledged issues in the Freida Miller case, as in so many other midwifery cases that have percolated through the courts since the 1960s. One is simply to define what constitutes the practice of midwifery. Is it a branch of medicine, a branch of nursing, or a discipline in its own right? If (as I and many others believe) midwifery is a separate discipline with borders and connections to both medicine and nursing, who should regulate midwifery (if indeed it should be regulated) in the public interest? What provisions should be made for the areas where midwifery intersects with medicine, nursing, and surgery?
Midwifery is a body of knowledge that does not require a nursing diploma or a science degree to be accessable. It requires both didactic (book or classroom) learning and experiential (apprenticeship, internship, preceptorship) learning. For a nurse to become a midwife often involves unlearning as much it does learning. It actually would make more sense to require a nursing credential and experience for medical school than it does to require nursing for midwifery. There is much more common ground (especially pathology) between nursing and medicine than there is between nursing and midwifery. The normal physiology of a pregnant, birthing, post-partum and lactating woman changes week by week, and is so different from that of a man or a non-reproducing woman that basics like what are normal vital signs and normal common lab values must be relearned. Just one example - at 28 weeks of pregnancy, if the hemoglobin and hematocrit do NOT drop to levels that in the non-pregnant would be considered fairly severe anemia, there is something wrong with the pregnancy.
In 90 to 95% of cases, pregnancy, labor, and birth can be handled, and handled well, without needing prescription drugs. Good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, marital chastity, and watchful waiting are all key factors. Hemorrhage, one of the 'big three' killers of women through the ages, can often be prevented with good midwifery skills (especially in the delivery of the placenta), but is one of the conditions for which most midwives prefer to have medication available. A real issue is that the same drugs that stop hemorrhage after the baby is out can also induce labor or abortion. Therefore, there are certain precautions needed when giving them. That is why they are prescription items. There are also non-drug ways that can help slow or sometimes stop excessive bleeding, and many midwives who do not have prescription privileges use only non-drug methods. (BTW - there are a few states where even nurse-midwives cannot prescribe medications). However, most midwives do carry and have been trained in the use of these drugs for hemorrhage. And many will continue to carry them, even knowing it is a violation of the state law, in the unlikely event of a situation like the one Freida Miller found herself in. They get these drugs in various ways. Some get them from physicians. Some get them from abortion clinics. Some go to Mexico where they can be purchased by anyone in a pharmacy. Some steal them. A few tell the women to get a prescription from their own family doctor, if possible.
Due to the politics of home birth, many physicians risk their own career and livelihood by providing any help to a home birth midwife, regardless of the midwife's credentials, licensing status, or other qualifications. A midwife who refuses (as Freida did) to divulge the source of her life-saving if illegal drugs, is probably protecting not only that physician but any others who may see it as their duty to assist those who attend women birthing at home.
In some ways, this is similar to the journalism jailings for refusing to name sources. Many see these actions, and the many other situations that have caused miwives to end up in jail, as a form of legitimate civil disobedience, similar to blocking abortion clinics, violating Jim Crow laws, smuggling slaves north before emancipation, and so on. Others see it as just being stupid or criminal.
It is not unusual for outside observers to be puzzled by the seeming intransigence of midwife defendants. Where licensing of some kind is available, they think, why don't these people just jump through the hoops to get the license? The answer to that is another whole story, one I will try to get to when I can.

The Friday Five
1. What was the last song you heard?
Some theme music for NPR's Morning Edition, in the car, on the way to work.
2. What were the last two movies you saw?
Parts 1 and 2 of the Lord of the RIngs.
3. What were the last three things you purchased?
(other than food?) A couple of really cool scarfs, decorative curtain rods for my dining room, and stuff to start seedlings. (Spring will come, eventually. Even to New Hampshire!)
4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
Clean house, buy groceries, clear off my desk, go to church.
5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
Various members of my office staff and some patients as well.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Two Sleepy Mommies post links to a discussion on a topic near and dear to my heart - the move towards elective (not medically indicated) Cesarean sections. I have a lot to say on this, but I am sleepy and have to work tomorrow. I will make one comment right now, though.
In the 1970s and afterwards, the country of Brazil had the world's highest Cesarean rate. The overall rate was estimated to be 75% of all births. Since normal birth was still the usual method for the poor and rural folks, this meant that the cesarean rate among the well to do and city dwellers was closer to 100%. In my current practice I see lots of women from Brazil. The majority of those who have had babies, whether in the last few years or 30 years ago, had cesareans. Many of the older women had cesareans because they could have their tubes tied or a hysterectomy afterwards. It was very much part of a culture that denied the procreative part of femininity while accentuating the sexual pleasure (for their husbands?) aspect. Comments I heard were along the lines of "I wanted to stay tight for my husband" and "It was easier to set a day and get it over with". What I find really interesting is the daughters of these women, often brought to the USA as children or teens, are rebelling against their mothers and culture by demanding vaginal births.
Who is really guilty of this sin?
Ashli provided a link to this article about a national organization protecting sexual abusers of children. No, the organization is not the church. Another read it and weep article.
Pdawwg: So you say you want a Sexual Revolution?
This really does say it all. My take - women lost the sexual revolution - big time.
An Ash Wednesday reflection from The Lady in the Pew. Excellent, as usual.
Te Deum laudamus
Thank to Jeanetta at De Fidei Oboedientia for finding me this in Latin, as well as a really nice Latin Language website that I have added to the blogroll.

A Catholic Blog for Lovers has an update on Karen Marie Knapp (From The Anchor Hold). Keep her in prayers, she is still in the hospital.
Thursday Three
1. What is the last book you read? What did you think about it?
The last book I finished reading was the latest by Kage Baker. Good science fiction. The jacket info was even more interesting, in that Kage seems to be a lapsed Catholic.
2. What were the last three books that you bought? I have a $20 gift check to BN.com. What should I get?
Last three books bought - I have 2 on order right now - Ina May Gaskin's new one- "Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth", and "The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church" by George Weigel. The last purchase before that was Mark Shea's "By What Authority".
3. Have you ever read any books that changed your life?
Every book read changes one's life in some way.
Bonus Question for Comments: Do you think it is wrong to pirate books, video games and music that is no longer being printed or pressed?
If it was in print, I would pay for it. If it is not in print, and I can't find a copy somewhere, what am I supposed to do? It is wrong to pirate, but I think the system needs to be revised so that there is access to stuff and the authors get paid without the big corporations creating an artificial shortage.
It is snowing again. My friends tell me that the daffodils are up in the Pacific Northwest. I will never forget my first winter/spring in Oregon, seeing daffodils everywhere, even in the freeway medians. In California I would be out in the garden encouraging my roses. Here, they are still buried under straw in their sandwich boards, trying to hibernate through the long winter. Dear God, why did you send me to this desolate place? I know that it is part of your creation, and that there are people who truly love and enjoy this climate, but not me! Dear Lord, help me to praise you in all things, even the long winter.
Have you noticed that most of those doing the Tuesday this or that love mustard?
I was griping in dylan's comment boxes about the lack of poetry in public education. I asked him to post the Te Deum, since he is the poet and so many who come to his site are seeking poetry. Then I realized that I need not limit myself - so here is it, from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. Does anyone have a site to find it in Latin?
Te Deum laudamus.
WE praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud; the Heavens, and all the Powers therein;
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
The Father, of an infinite Majesty;
Thine adorable, true, and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

THOU art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints, in glory everlasting.

O LORD, save thy people, and bless thine heritage.
Govern them, and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.

Lenten Purple
I wish that I could say that I changed the blog background from Ordinary green to Lenten purple, as was done over at Two Sleepy Mommies. But I was not that creative. It just happened that way. Lots of good Lenten articles around the Parish, and Karen has somehow managed to keep up with most if not all of them! How do you do that, anyhow, with a full time job, a Los Angeles commute, and a busy toddler?
Hectic week!
Here it is Thursday already! This evening my husband will be leaving for Cursillo (I am going in a couple of weeks). I would ask for your prayers for him. I would also ask prayers for me - I am waiting to hear about a possibility that has great potential, and I have been told to expect to hear sometime next week. I was so frazzled that I totally forgot an appointment I had monday afternoon - which is not like me! I thought it was thursday morning. yikes.
Of course, I got mixed up because I totally re-arranged my work schedule this week in order to be off Wednesday night for Ash Wednesday Mass in my parish. So I drove to work Tuesday morning early to be there for a meeting at 0730, and didn't leave to come home until 1730 on Wednesday. Helped two babies into the world in that time period, too, as well as seeing between 20 - 30 women in the office for regular appointments.
I have a question for those of you (I assume the majority) who attended Ash Wednesday services. At what point was the distribution of ashes? I thought that the rubrics specified that they are to be distributed at the end of the Liturgy of the Word, after the homily, and that they are to be blessed immediately before distribution. What happened last night was that the ashes were blessed just after the opening prayer, and the distribution of ashes was after communion - actually after the prayer of dismissal. How common is this? Is this OK? I mean, it did have the effect that NO ONE did the 'Judas shuffle' of leaving after communion. But it also seemed to me to have the effect of divorcing this beautiful rite from its rightful place. As an Anglican, I recall that we had a prayer service that incorporated the liturgy of the word, and then the ashes were distributed (only by the priest or deacons - not by lay people), and then more hymns and a solemn dismissal. How do the Eastern Rites and the Orthodox do ashes?
I am also percolating some thoughts about feelings on the end of a pregnancy - whether ended by birth, miscarriage, abortion, or whatever. Anyone who desires to share thoughts and feelings on this privately feel free to email me. The link should be over by the blogroll. No names will be included without permission. I am thinking about this because recently I saw several young women who had undergone abortions right around Christmas, and I was mulling over the feelings they shared with me. And then in contrast I thought about the other women who gave birth or miscarried around that time.
Oregon Euthanasia report
Read it and weep.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Monday Mission 3.09
1. Are there any television commercials on these days that are among your favorites? What is your favorite television commercial from your childhood?
I don't watch TV that often. My favorite childhood TV commercials were the Hebrew National one "We answer to a higher authority".
2. Sometimes we see ourselves as different than we actually are. For example, I like to think I am a pretty outgoing person, but in reality, I would be perfectly happy if I were left alone. How about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Would others agree with you?
I am an Introvery - at least according to my Meyers-Brigg - INTP. I would much rather speak to a large group on a topic I know that get down and dirty with a small group of close friends.
3. What kind of a worker are you? Do you like a job where you have a daily routine that you can count on every day? Or do you prefer to be in an environment where there is constant change and you never know what to expect from one day to the next?
I like variety within a structure. Not chaos, but not boring either.
4. I've found that when I go out for a business lunch or any type of meeting where you have to speak, a salad makes the best meal choice. It isn't sloppy and makes it easy to pause for conversation. I would think the same would be true for first dates. When you've gone out on first dates, what sort of decisions would go into your choice of dinner? Price? Ease of conversation? The "messiness" factor?
Salads can get pretty sloppy, too. I choose food by flavor and value, regardless.
5. "It's grouper" "Two Dollars!" "By choice, man!" The Donger need food!" are just a few of the movie quote that I can recite off the top of my head. These (and oh so many others) come up in the most unusual and inappropriate situations. Usually no one but me "gets it." Doesn't matter, I still have a good laugh. What are some of your all-time favorite movie quotes? Can't think of any right now. My kids go on about "elderberry wine" from one of the Monty Python flics.
6. What if it happened. All of creation is gone. Wiped out. And then come to find out that that there is no reincarnation, no chance to live life over again, no second chance. Turned out, there really was a God and Heaven and Hell. How would that make you feel? Do you want to go to Heaven?
I would know that I was right all along. After all, that is a basic for being a Catholic Christian. The whole point of life on Earth is to prepare us for Heaven.
7. Should everyone be allowed into Heaven? Or should there be criteria? If you were making up the guest list for Heaven, how would you choose who gets in?
It doesn't really matter what I think. God made the rules, and He will judge each of us. I would hope that I would make it in, and that those I love and care about will be there.

Government Support of Natural Family Planning
"It [contraceptive] doesn't work. [Artificial birth control] is more complicated than just giving condoms," said Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit in a media forum at Clark Field in Pampanga on Thursday.
I knew many Filipina nurses in my days in Los Angeles. I wish I could ask some of them about this news from their home country. I also wonder what kind of response this program will get from the Muslim minority and from the Evangelical Christian groups that are so busy in the Philippine Islands.
Link from The Accidental Choir Director.
Not for sheep has moved. Follow the links and read about a great retreat.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Midwifery again
My profession is one of the first mentioned in the Bible. Exodus chapter one has lots to say about midwives, and our responsibility to God and to the families we serve taking priority over the laws of Pharoah. It also mentions that God rewarded the midwives who obeyed him. There are very many midwives who have a strong Christian ethos that is incorporated into the way that they practice. However, I will say that it is very difficult to work within our current health care chaos (I refuse to call it a system) and maintain these values. I had a number of revelations while reading Scott Hahn's book A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God's Covenant Love in Scripture. Ideally, the midwife and the family she serves would see this relationship as more of a sacred covenant than a secular contract. I think that many come into midwifery with this level of idealism and committment. It often does not survive intact. Among the factors that may cause damage are societal and cultural expectations as to who has ultimate responsibility. There is a culture of fear. There is a lack of acceptance of 'unfortunate outcomes'. There is the tendency to assume that the birth attendant is ultimately at fault if there is any problem with the mother or baby.
Midwifery is at great risk in our current culture. There are financial pressures that make it difficult if not impossible for women and their families to choose to have a midwife attend them in birth, especially in some settings. In some areas, the only midwives available practice only at home, or in a birth center, or in a hospital. Midwifery should be avaiIable in all these settings. I long for the day when pro-choice no longer means pro-abortion but speaks to the right of a family to choose where and with whom to give birth. Because the midwives feared God, he made them to prosper. To me this means that I will not prosper, nor will my sister midwives, unless we first fear God. And this means that we must, MUST, obey the natural laws that God set forth. We must eschew support for immorality. We must speak the truth with love to those who seek our care. We must pray, and bless those who curse us, and praise God from whom all blessings flow.
A Recipe
Kairos guy, feel free to add it to the cookbook. This is for Davey's Mommy, who is afraid of her new pressure cooker. It is also a great lent recipe.
2 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs oil and a couple mashed cloves of garlic. put in bottom of pressure cooker, turn heat on to high. throw in 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (may use short grain white or brown rice, or pearl barley instead). saute grains in oil until coated and starting to toast.
Take one envelope dry vegetable soup mix (knorr or lipton) and sprinkle over top of grains. Pour over all a mix of 1 cup white wine, 2 1/2 cups water, and bring to boil. Fasten lid on pressure cooker. Bring up to pressure (15 lbs) and cook at that pressure for 6 minutes (white or arborio rice) or 18 minutes (barley or brown rice). Reduce pressure with a quick release method. Remove lid, and stir in 1 1/2 c grated cheese of your choice (I like a mixture of swiss and parmesan, but anything really goes). Serve and enjoy.
Another one - for people tring to figure out how to add flaxseed to the diet! Flax/fruit bars.
3/4 cup fruit juice
1 -2 cups dried fruit
1 cup ground flaxseed
put dried fruit in juice, bring to simmer and let fruit soften. Put into food processor with flaxseed meal, and mix into a soft dough. Press into a 9x9 cake pan (may need to use your wet hands). cut into 8 pieces, and refrigerate until ready to eat. Keeps 2 - 3 days.
Saturday Scruples
Link from Amy Kropp
1)You're driving alone on a highway at night when a desperate looking person tries to flag you down. Do you stop?
Not usually. I call 911 on my cell phone. I might pull off the road to do so.
2)You're summoned for jury duty in what promises to be a tedious trial. Do you pretend to have views which will disqualify you?
No , my real views and occupation are usually sufficient.
3)You smoke. Your teenager wants to smoke because you do. Do you quit?
I don't smoke, still 2 of my children started to smoke as teenagers. How can I get them to stop? They don't even live at home! Other bad habits I quit before having children.
A just war, or just a war? from the first issue (1991) of the now defunct journal Caelum et Terra. An interesting perspective from the past.
I just returned home from a graduation. I teach at the NorthEast Campus of the Seattle Midwifery School, and we just graduated the first class from this campus. (The Seattle campus is now 25 years old). The guest speaker was Ina May Gaskin, pioneering midwife and author. I first met Ina May in 1986, and she and I run into each other usually once or twice a year at conferences and so on. It was a pleasure to see her again. She was telling me that her newest book, Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth, is being released Tuesday. I have pre-ordered my copy and am eagerly awaiting its arrival.
Ina May and I always have these interesting conversations whenever we meet. Today we talked about the present and future of midwifery, the endangered status of normal childbirth, and the environmental pollution caused by the wide spread use of oral contraceptive medication and hormone replacement therapy. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It was also delightful to see the young women I helped to teach graduate and get ready to start their new lives and callings.
This is a lighter shade of background. I just don't want to end up unreadable, but I know that different monitors have different intensities of resolution. My laptop with the flatscreen looks different from my husband's desktop with a flat screen, and those are both different from the monitor on my desktop at work. I like Gordon Zaft's content, but I can barely read his blog due to the color scheme, so I am trying to avoid that pitfall.

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