Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Some Nice Words

This is just another challenge~~a stage of becoming.
It is one of many challenges you have faced.
You will face more and you will get through them, too.
You must accept this.

I have everything.
I am safe. I am loved. I am not alone.
Everything I need to get through this-- it's all right here.
I am strong,
and I am going to lean on the strengths and spirits of others.

I have
Good friends.
A sense of self.
A sense of humor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Anna Quindlen

By Anna Quindlen

July 11 issue - In theory, access to the drug called Plan B should be a no-brainer. It's safe, it's effective, it's easily available in dozens of countries. But Plan B is a drug used to prevent pregnancy, and nothing about preventing pregnancy in America is simple, except for the fact that so many women do it as a matter of course.

Plan B is an emergency contraceptive that works by inhibiting ovulation, fertilization or implantation. It won't work if you're already pregnant, but it will stop you from becoming pregnant if your everyday contraceptive failed or you've had unprotected sex. But because it must be taken within a few days—it's sometimes called the morning-after pill—it's important to have ready access. Canada, Britain, France and a host of other countries allow women to get emergency contraception without a prescription. It's even distributed at public clinics in Peru, where abortion is largely illegal—and an estimated 400,000 illegal abortions are performed annually.

More than a year ago, an advisory panel at the Food and Drug Administration voted 23-4 to allow Plan B to be sold over the counter in the United States. In a highly unusual move, the agency rejected the panel's recommendation. In an even more unusual move, federal guidelines sent to hospitals earlier this year on the treatment of rape victims did not mention Plan B, although one study suggests that the vast majority of women who become pregnant through sexual assault can avoid it by taking the drug.

In a smart and provocative new book titled "Marriage, a History," social scientist Stephanie Coontz quantifies what most of us know: "The relations between men and women have changed more in the past thirty years than they did in the previous three thousand." Education, access to the workplace, assumptions about ability, ambition and attachments: the division of male actor and female enabler has crumbled. And no wonder. As Coontz reports, a 1962 Gallup poll showed American women were satisfied with their lives, but only one in 10 said she wanted the same life for her daughter. There have been many changes in the lives of those daughters, but one of the greatest has been the ability to control when, and whether, they would bear children.

But as surely as the pill led to great freedom, change has produced great outrage. The rise and righteous indignation of the powerful religious right have been fueled by the transformation of women's lives. So many of the objections to legal abortion over the past 30 years have been objections to female sexual freedom. So many of the arguments have suggested that modern women are either licentious or blind, that they end pregnancies heedlessly or don't know what they're doing.

Feminist advocates have always suspected that the anti-abortion movement is less motivated by the sanctity of life than by opposition to women's rights. The fate of Plan B could settle the issue. Emergency contraception is the ultimate middle ground in an issue in which the middle has often seemed to be a black hole. One study has estimated that if Plan B were easily available, it could cut the number of abortions by half.

Yet the American Life League, the far-right wing of the anti-abortion movement, has said the organization is opposed not only to emergency contraception, but to any oral contraceptives or IUDs because they constitute "early abortions." In Colorado, rape victims aren't even told about emergency contraception in the ER. The governor, Bill Owens, said that to require hospitals to do so would raise "serious concerns" for Roman Catholics like himself, concerns more important than those of a woman carrying a rapist's child.

By contrast, Sen. Harry Reid, who also opposes abortion, spearheaded a measure, recently defeated along partisan lines, promoting education about emergency contraception. And there's not a mention of Plan B on the home page of the National Right to Life Committee, perhaps because the nation's most influential anti-abortion group knows that Americans may have a hard time finding a profound moral dilemma in a pill taken just a day or two after unprotected sex.

A bill that would allow pharmacists to dispense Plan B without a prescription in New York sits on the desk of Gov. George Pataki, who is still deciding whether to sign. Also in limbo is the question of whether the FDA will eventually allow the drug to be sold over the counter nationwide. It would be nice to assume that both decisions are awaiting scientific evidence of efficacy and safety, but that has existed in abundance for some time. Instead they are awaiting political calculation: more clout in the middle ground, or at the fringes that seek to push women backward?

If easy access to a pill that has been shown to significantly decrease the number of abortions is not a welcome development, what is the real point of the anti-abortion exercise? Is it to safeguard life, or to safeguard an outdated status quo in which biology was destiny and motherhood was an obligation, not an avocation? America leads the industrialized world in its abortion rate. Perhaps that is because it leads in hypocrisy as well.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I Thought I Could Handle Anything

I really did. Nothing ever phases me. I'm a truly even keel kind of person. There's very little that ever upsets me.

And then I found out I have a 3.5 cm tumor in my head.

I've known about the acoustic neuroma for a couple of weeks now. Based on my few symptoms, we figured it was small-to-moderate (maybe 1 cm) and not affecting much other than my hearing. I've been doing all the research and this is a benign growth that is manageable and treatable.

Today I got a copy of the radiologist's report from my MRI. 3.5 cm. That's considered large. It's still treatable, but the risks go up. I can live without my hearing on one side - it's the possible facial paralysis that's a bit scary.

Now I'm questioning everything I'm feeling. If I have a headache and feel slightly dizzy at the end of the day, is that because I've been up for 14 hours taking care of two small boys on 5 hours sleep, or is it the neuroma? Is my left cheek really feeling a little tingly and heavy, or is that psychosomatic because I've read about those symptoms? Do I really feel touches of vertigo, or is that unconscious stress about the whole situation?

And now that I know all this, I just want to get in to see the specialist and get this over with. But it's still gonna be a while.

Yeah, this one is throwing me a bit of kilter. And I really didn't expect it. I'm not afraid for my life - truly. But I am gettig into the stage of self-pity and "Why me?"


Monday, July 04, 2005

Have You Met My Companion... Guilt?

I have an acoustic neuroma in my left auditory canal. This is a non-cancerous tumor growing on or around the nerve that carries sound from my ear into the brain. The tumor interferes with the nerve, which means I can barely hear anything on my left side. This is sometimes merely annoying and sometimes a big problem, depending on the situation. And I'm trying to deal with the fact that I may need to have *brain* surgery while also facing the prospect of being permanently deaf on the left side at the ripe old age of 33. While also realizing that I have had a mild hearing loss on the right side, completely unrelated, since the age of 6.

Today I discovered how this may affect my children, and I'm now feeling incredibly guilty even though there's nothing I did to cause the AN in the first place. But I'm a mother, and guilt is one of the mantras of motherhood.

This morning, Brett got up when the baby did at 6am. He changed the baby and brought him to me in our room to nurse. Brett then went to his workshop in the basement since it's the only time of the day he can get uninterrupted time alone and h's desperately trying to finish our new dining room chairs. I lay down in bed to nurse Jonah and dozed off while he ate. When he was done we both went back to sleep, nestled together. It was quite cozy. There's nothing like snuggling with a 4-month-old baby. However, I was sleeping with my right side on the pillow, so only my bad left ear was open for hearing anything. (Bad Mommy!)

At 9:15, Jonah woke up and starting cooing and grinning at me. We played for a few minutes, then I picked him up and we went down the hall so I could change him. Once there, I discovered the door to Elliot's room open; Elliot was lying on his floor, kinda listlessly playing with some of his toys. And there were tears in his eyes and running down his little rosy cheeks. (God, I'm crying myself as I write this!) Apparently, he'd woken up and come running down to our room as he always does. Elliot found me curled up asleep with Jonah and completely ignoring him - since I couldn't hear him talking to me! Brett, in the basement, couldn't hear anything going on up on the second floor. So Elliot, after giving up on me, went back to his room to cry because there was no one around to pay attention to him and help him get dressed. And I have no idea how long he'd been up by the time I found him.

It breaks my heart that he would think him Mommy and Daddy weren't there for him when he wanted us. No 3-year-old should feel like that.

We're now teaching Elliot to tap my shoulder if he needs my attention. And I just know I'll cry everytime he does it, remembering why he has to.

The Night of the Bath

Last night was Bath Night. Usually we handle this by Brett giving Elliot a bath in the regular tub while I give Jonah a bath in the baby tub on the counter. That's how we started things last night.

Brett had just put Elliot in the tub when I came in with a naked Jonah. I put him in the baby tub and reached to hang up his towel on the peg board. As I do so, I hear him start to grunt. Now, he hadn't pooped in about 4 days. Brett and I look at each other with alarm, but it's too late. Jonah sighs with relief as the poop starts to float around him. (It's breastmilk poop, so it's very runny. Imagine what that does in water!) Brett quickly grabs Jonah out of the water before Jonah gets the stuff on his hands, since those would immediately go to his mouth. Yuck! Brett holds Jonah, dripping both water and runny poop, over the baby tub as we try to figure out a plan of attack for cleaning both baby and tub. Then Jonah starts grunting again. Uh-oh! Yup, more poop, right into the already yucky water. I clean Jonah's butt so it doesn't drip any more, and then Brett holds him, bottom over the sink, so I can work on the baby tub.

I take the tub and start dumping the water into the toilet. This takes several rounds of dumping water and flushing since otherwise the toilet would overflow. As I'm doing this, I hear Brett exclaim. Not only had Jonah pooped again (into the sink this time), but he'd peed, too. And Brett had only been watching for the poop. So now, we not only have poop in the sink and all over Jonah's butt again, but we have pee on the counter, down the cabinet, and all over Brett's leg and the rug. (I'm
trying really hard not to laugh too hard at this point!) I clean Jonah's butt (again) and start to wipe down the counter to keep yet more from running down the cabinet. And then Jonah poops and pees, AGAIN! Again, I clean up Jonah and the counter. While Brett continues to hold Jonah over the sink, I disinfect the baby tub, rinse it out, and fill it with water again. Finally, we can put Jonah back down in the tub and hope he's all done.

It still took another 10 minutes to finish cleaning up the mess - including the sink, counter, rug, toilet, and Brett's clothes. I don't ever remember a mess like that!

What a night!