Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I was working on a client yesterday who asked me if it's true that if you massage a pregnant woman's feet you can put her into labor.  "No. Absolutely not." I said.  And she asked why there is so much mis-information about pregnancy and massage--and if it's so dangerous why is there pregnancy massage anyway?  And I replied, "There is pregnancy massage because it is good for mother and baby and there is mis-information because people love to scare pregnant women."  She chuckled at this.  I don't think she believed me.  But I was dead serious.  Let me tell you some things I'm supposed to be afraid of while I'm pregnant:

Eating sushi will give me parasites that will eat my baby.  
Drinking a cup of coffee will give my kid ADD.
A glass of wine is going to land my baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.
If I don't eat organic produce, my child will come out with 3 arms.
Apparently, if my feet are massaged the wrong way, I will be instantly thrown into an uncontrollable labor.
If I don't have my baby in a hospital, I am an irresponsible person who lacks common sense and has no concern for the well-being of my baby.

This last one was pretty much told to me by said woman on the table, though she has no idea of my plans for giving birth to this child.  However, without knowing any of my ideologies or own values, felt free to share hers while I massaged her, gabbering non-stop.  She told me her wrist really hurt and that it was leftover from the epidural she received 15 months ago during the hospital birth of her child.  I was a little confused and asked if it was the IV spot and she told me, "no, it was from nurse Frankenstein who grabbed my wrists so hard, they hurt more than the epidural itself, all in an attempt to not let me move."  Well, that certainly sounds unpleasant.  And then she proceeded to tell me her best friend lost a baby because she was seeing a midwife, "which may as well be a witch doctor...I mean, forget the doctor and his 8 years of medical training when it comes to the well being of your child...let's see a hokey-pokey midwife! Duh!" I believe was the quote.  Essentially, the woman was having some cramping around week 24 and called her midwife, who told her to get some rest...and then never called to get a second opinion on it from her backup doctor.  And went into a labor a few days later, losing the baby.  The friend believes had she called the doctor, he would have admitted her to the hospital, they would have given her drugs to stop the contractions and the baby would be here today.  And that may be true.  But why does one misstep by a midwife make all of them "hokey-pokey?"

I was on anti-depressants for five years and came off of them when I got pregnant.  BUT--my primary care physician, who didn't know me that well, and didn't ask me very many questions, told me it would be best for me to get off them while I was TRYING to get pregnant.  She told me to wean off them and gave me specific instructions.  She had 8 years of medical training, so I trusted her.  The way she had me come off of them made me go nuts and I almost killed myself.  I called her to let her know, and after my 3rd message to her office, she called me back.  She all but admitted she didn't know what she was doing with psych drugs and I needed to see a psychiatrist.  It was a reminder to me to use common sense and while doctors are knowledgable, they don't know everything. 

Nobody. Knows. Everything. And everyone, no matter how tragic, makes mistakes sometimes.  I had an intuit that I shouldn't go off the meds right then and in that way, but ignored it.  And paid for it.  So the lesson here is: trust yourself more than you trust anyone else and tap into your common sense.

I want to have my baby in my house, in an environment I can control, not surrounded by beeps, bright lights and craziness.  I am not sick.  My baby is not sick.
"But what about if there's an emergency?? What then!???" is the most frequent question.  We are all programmed to believe any and all births are dangerous and to be afraid.  "Well, we'll call an ambulance if we need to.  Midwives are trained to recognize emergenencies and the woman we're planning on using has only had to call an ambulance once in 30 years. Those are good odds."  People don't want to hear about the odds, though.  They're too invested in the fear.  And I'm a huge feminist, so it doesn't escape me that the fear is all on the woman...the guilt...the worry.  We're supposed to be submissive and do what the good doctor has dictated we do.  "But more women and infants die in hospitals than at home..."  I say.  This is a proven statistic...and people will say "huh. I didn't know that."  But still take no comfort in my idea of a home birth.. "America has one of the highest infant-mother mortality rates in Westernized civilization.  We have the same rate as Cuba."  But still....the safest place for me, is apparently, according to... well, everyone--the hospital.  Why are we so willing, as a nation, to sweep facts under the rug?  Global warming isn't real.  The Polar Bears would be dying whether we were here or not....hospitals are safe....It doesn't matter if cows are injected with hormones...cloning animals for food is a good idea....Money seems to be at the root of all of these ideas that are killing us and I find it utterly tragic.  So I choose to not give my dollar to big businesses I find not in my best interest.  And nothing I do is uninformed.  I have read more books on midwifery, birth, hospitals, than the amount of books I read in college.  More interventions at hospitals cause complications in delivery than help...and I trust my body.  I trust my intuition.  And I am pro-choice for women to make whatever decision they are comfortable with when it comes to their body, their birth, their life.  Plastic surgery...abortion...home birth vs. hospital....I think if we take away these freedoms, we strip women of control over their own bodies.  And if THEY aren't controlling them, I beg the question....who is?

In conclusion, I feel the need to say I know many fears are rooted in things that are true--too much coffee, too much alcohol, too many fries....all bad for me.  But do I deserve that glare at Starbucks when I order one cup of coffee with my baby bump?  I don't think so.  But I get it anyway.  And doctors, hospitals, have their place and I'm glad they exist and I'll be the first one there if it is deemed necessary...but I do I really deserve the lecture because I'm not starting out there?  I don't think so. But I get it anyway.  And am I judging anyone's choice to birth in a hospital because they think it's best for their baby, their body? Hell NO!  I'm just tired of being told how afraid I should be. About everything. 

I choose to walk my life in love and freedom and education and choice.  Fear is for someone else.

(But they got me on the sushi thing.  I haven't eaten any of it since being preg.  Though, FYI....women in Japan eat raw fish while pregnant. And Japan still has people!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

I was bullied as a child and didn't commit suicide.

Though, honestly, I thought about it.  A lot.  And I think it is miraculous that I made it through.  I describe my elementary and high school experiences in terms of "surviving"  and "getting through."  I never got my locker peed into, but I hung out with a girl who did.  In fifth grade, I overheard Katie whats-her-face saying to Vinny Anderlionis (the cool, cute boy all the girls liked), "I DARE you to ask out Jen Tobin."  His response?  "Who's Jen Tobin?"  And she, "the short nerd with the glasses..."  I'm not sure what had happened in Katie's life to blacken her heart and suck out her soul, but clearly, she had no concern for anyone else's feelings, and never even tried to keep her comments out of earshot of her victims.

That Summer, she invited me to her birthday pool party.  My friend Colleen, who was also invited, informed me she invited me just for the present.  So I went.  Because I wanted to swim in her pool. And I brought a shitty gift.

Society is fooling themselves if they think this is a new problem, this children killing themselves due to harrassment at school.  I'm not sure exactly what has shifted among us (because clearly the hate still exists) but I'm happy to see parents not sweeping the issue under the carpet as it has been.  The recent media attention these suicides has gotten has been focused around these kids being tormented for being gay (or kids believing the victims were gay) but I just want to point out that kids get bullied for being shy, smart, short, different, poor, black, having glasses, standing up for themselves and indeed, liking people of the same gender.  Hate really doesn't discriminate.

I blame the parents.

We can point fingers at teachers and principals and the kids themselves, but where does everything in a child's life begin?  At home.  With their hateful parents.   I inherited a lot of things from my folks.  The idea that you need to work 9-5.  The word "Chink"  and the belief that if you let a black man into your home, he's most likely going to steal something.  Now, this blog is not to call my parents out on their ignorance or make them seem like awful people.  They have evolved since my childhood and to be fair, they inherited these things from THEIR parents.  It's all passed along like diseased genetics, this thing called hate.  And whether or not we experience it via our religion or lack of education as a whole, is almost irrelevant.  It exists.  And the question is: How the fuck do we change it?

I'm the first person in my family to graduate college on my father's side, and perhaps, the only one.  I lived away at school and found myself face to face wtih people of different races, homosexuals, JEWISH PEOPLE for Christ's sake.  I didn't even know Jewish people existed outside of the Old Testament.  I didn't know they were still a real thing.  Was I sheltered as a child? Maybe slightly.  In a school where the one half Chinese kid was exotic (remember our friend Vinny?)  I'm pretty sure I had never MET an honest to God "Homo" in my life.  We took a family trip to San Francisco when I was 15 and I spotted a man wearing purple socks.  My father felt the need to point out, "that guy's a little light in the loafers."  I wasn't sure what that phrase meant exactly, in a literal way, but I was sure his purple socks indicated his love of men.  And really, weren't all men in San Francisco gay?  It was, in my house, pointed out that being gay was "disgusting." So was touching yourself.  I never really took heart to either of these ideas because the lights would go out and my hand went straight down my pants.  And honestly, I didn't see the problem with a man kissing another man. I DID, however, find it disturbing that my father believed every gay man he came into contact with would want him and try to turn him gay.  I mean, my father was ok-looking, but I'm not really sure why he thought he was so hot.  Most gay men have much better taste than to fall for a straight guy who drinks too much and owns nothing but flannel.  Just sayin'.

Maybe it was that I was picked on myself, or that my mother really did instill in me the importance of being kind (if not afraid) to other people, but I never bullied other kids, even in my hurt.  I mean, I suppose I did some crappy things behind people's backs in self-preservation (the old eat or be eaten) but I certainly wouldn't have had the audacity to call someone a dork to their face.  And this, really, is the least of it.  The kids who recently killed themselves had their ribs broken, their sexual exploits secretly taped and posted on the web, etc.  Admittedly, that is a whole other level of hate.

 The problem I'm really having, though, the real issue to me, (aside from the obvious-beyond-terrible-point that kids are dying) is that parents who need to hear these things most aren't available for the hearing.  They are wrapped up in their religion, their "rightness," or they are uneducated and don't read blogs, or they really believe they are serving their children by scaring the shit out of them into believing that people who are different are bad.  We can all talk about all of this and try to reach the kids being affected, but until we rip the roots of the hate straight out of the ground and pour bleach on the unholy place they were planted in, we will continue to see the seeds of hatred, prejudice and injustice sewn in ours, the Land of the Free. 

 My husband teaches at a crappy school in LA and tells these kids that a lot of the thinking their parents have been doing for them is wrong.  (He and I are both former Catholics so aren't talking out our ass here.)  He explains to the Catholics in the class (which is most of them) about how being divorced, a parent out of wedlock and having sex before you're married are ALSO against their religion.  But, for some reason, their parents only choose to tell them the part about how being gay goes against God...  while they're banging strangers and multiplying like good Christian straight people.  Kids don't know too much about hypocrisy, they just blindly participate in it because it's what they're told to do.  And even more so, what they're shown.

 I really do believe in empowerment and I think if kids were made to help those other kids who have less (because no matter how bad off it is for you, there is always someone with less...) maybe there could be compassion in there over-riding the hate.  And maybe the kids being empowered could somehow pass it on to their parents...and the cycle could be halted one generation at a time...

We definitely need to keep talking about it.  To let kids know they aren't alone.  To stand up and say, "Hey, kid, I'm 35 and poeple hated me as a child...and now look at me.  I have a way better life than most of the fuck-wads who made fun of me as a child.  And I can call them out by name in my blog on the internet!  So hang in there so you can, too.  Because really....it feels good to be 30-something and see that kid who made fun of you bald and divorced."  Oh, and...

 "I don't care what they do/say to you...you are worthy of love.  They are afraid of your light...because darkness cannot exist in the presence of light...and darkness is all they know."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Let's bring back the commune, shall we?

I was parked in the 7-11 parking lot the other day, waiting for my husband to get his zero-calorie vitamin water and a scratch ticket, when I noticed a man saddling up to the RedBox right in front of the store.  And it struck me---people don't want to interact with people anymore.  I mean, I think I knew this, given the amount of numbers I have to press when calling my insurance company; if they can get away with giving me an automated answer, they certainly will.  But, we were in Fresh & Easy the other day (recommended by my friend Jessica who said it was just like Trader Joe's but with Coke!) and we didn't interact with anyone but the woman giving out samples of crackers.  ALL of the registers are do-it-yourself....and then this RedBox thing! Don't walk into a store and interact with (gasp!) PEOPLE!!!!  Just swipe your card, get your movie and run home like it never happened!  Maybe it's a product of the over-population factor...there are just TOO MANY people to interact with people anymore.  But then, there all of these people unemployed...so it leads me to believe it's just us.  Just us closing ourselves off to other humans.

Have you noticed all of the illness/ pollution/ struggling out there lately? Because I have.  I've noticed the people who come get a massage and tell me it's the only time in their life they're touched.  It's tragic, really, and I can't imagine.   I think we weren't meant to live this solitary lifestyle we've all so proudly set up.  I think, like dogs, we're really pack animals.  There are studies that show people who have more than 3 different groups of friends get sick less.  That babies who are held more frequently and have skin to skin contact are less likely to become serial killers.  There are reasons for this and it comes down to human-to-human contact.  We were meant to live with one another; helping each other pay the mortgage, raise the kids, make the food.  We were meant to socialize and sing together.  A one man band, while slightly entertaining, is no match for a 6 person band (Alright Alright!!!)  because it takes a village to create something cool.  Sure, there are artists who create amazing things all the time solo, but a lot of them go nutso.  Just sayin'.  So many folks I know are losing their homes, struggling to work and raise the kids, are depressed because they live alone...and I think a good old fashioned fucking commune is in order.  Or, at least, an intentional community.  Let's all pitch in and buy 10 acres of land and build some little houses on it...have a community farm...a social space for art and music.  We'll grow our own food, live off the grid and cook some amazing meals together.  We'll only have one veggie-fueled car and when we want to rent a friggin movie, we'll make it a Blockbuster night so that person can keep his job.  We'll have our own little space, but have spaces we share so that we're not doing it all alone.  We'll live long happy lives and our children will always have this great extended family to learn from.  It'll be swell....what do you say?  I'm eyeballing Topanga and I'm talking to YOU.

I know I sound like a dirty hippie.  I'm just tired of the traffic, the illness, the hopelessness I see around me.  People were all pumped up in electing Obama with their "Yes we can"  and I'm wondering if everyone still feels like they're able.  I'd like to harness that energy and throw it into an intentional community, a commune, a cooperation-station.  We need someone who can teach me how to sew...do you know anyone like that?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pregnant and bloated is the new black.

13 weeks.  That's how pregnant I am.  And yet...it feels like I've been growing this person for years.  I can't believe there's six more months yet.  And it was intentional and I'm grateful, but I feel as though I fall into the grass is always greener category of women.  I would see pregnant women smiling through the grocery store and hate them because I wasn't them.  And now, I see that bachelorette, Ali, in her skimpy bikinis galavanting in Tahiti as I suck on my frozen Mango pop, my breasts taking over my body, and the bloat stopping me from enjoying most things I eat...and I hate her for being so skinny and free.

Ah, how we are never quite satisfied.

Before I was married, I envisioned myself as that barefoot and pregnant woman who adored growing people.  I assumed one day I would even do it for other people.  "What? Having trouble getting knocked up?  Borrow MY uterus for awhile! Sure! Why not??"  And now that the little guy is actually in there, I feel like I'd be ok if someone just handed him to me and I could eat Shahi Paneer again without gagging.  Maybe it will improve in the next few months.  I'm looking forward to the little person getting bigger so I can at least feel the kicking and discomfort on a different level.  And crap, if I'm going to be complaining about how uncomfortable I am, I should at least have something to show for it.

Along with my distaste for all things edible these days comes an unprejudiced hatred for my wardrobe.  It's not even that things don't fit me yet; they mostly do.  I just can't stand anything I own anymore.  But buying new clothes seems silly, given that I'm just going to out-grow them in a few months' time.  It's too soon to get maternity clothes and I don't feel good about spending the food budget on cotton anyway.   So it's gray sweats and t-shirts these days because those items don't accentuate the baby-induced muffin-top I've been rocking.

Nothing in this life has made me feel my age as much as getting pregnant.  And I knew it would.  At 34 I looked at my husband and gave him the "it's now or never" speech about getting preggo.  And now, as it turns out, I'll be 36 when I deliver our child.  I'm not a fan of my Ob/Gyn who, on our very first visit, told us we "need" to do genetic testing because I'm 35.   Ah, 35...the number at which people carrying babies are deemed old.   (By the way, I'm not doing genetic testing.  It's not for me.  This kid is ours no matter what kind of weirdo things s/he winds up with. We already know she'll have a proclivity towards the super-natural and most likely be born holding a light-saber and by golly, I'm going to love her anyway.)

With learning I'm having a baby has come the mourning for things I never was. (Hence, this blog. Lucky you!)  The actor, the teacher, the circus performer...the professional traveler, the game show host...sigh.  So many things to be in so little time.  And yet, when I find myself overwhelmed by things I could or should be doing in my time off, I grab a sack of potato chips and do nothing.  Nothing conquers indecision like procrastination.  And besides, "if you can't achieve it in 20 minutes, it's probably not worth doing."--Al Fontaine, circa 1999.  But I digress...What I SHOULD be focusing on are things I am now and am becoming. Like a Mom.  I've cared for other people's kids for so long it seems I've become numb to the fact that I'm going to have my own.  None of them have ever called me "Mom," nor have I been the one they cried for.  So really, here I am gearing up for that.  I get to do all the work I ever did in raising a kid, only now I don't get paid. BUT--I DO get to be the one the kid freaks out for when I walk out the door..and I'm looking forward to the shoe being on that foot.