Same job, different uniform.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

What's Worse?

Making preparations for an induction, then getting your induction re-scheduled twice due to a doctor's illness?


Picking up a message at 2:30 in the afternoon that your doctor left at 9:00 in the morning saying she was feeling better and would we like to come in before noon for the induction?

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Friday, January 30, 2009

My Favorite Pregnancy Picture

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

What is "Natural?"

A couple of things have gotten me thinking about this. One is, not surprisingly, labor and delivery. The other is the Little House on the Prairie books that I finished re-reading this month.

Like a lot of Americans, I've become more inclined to think well of products labeled "all natural" and usually for good reason. While "organic" is so overused it borders on absurd, "all natural" usually indicates no preservatives or no added hormones or generally less crap. I'm pro whole wheat and I vote.

Of course, in the 1880s you didn't have the options that we do today. Your food was organic because you either grew it yourself or you bought it from the guy who did. Food was carefully caught or harvested and carefully stored. They weren't processing the heck out of everything and there was no throwing away leftovers in Styrofoam boxes. Things were all natural by default.

The problem is, to paraphrase Bart Simpson, nature is a hideous bitch goddess. Like us, she is corrupted. What was good and pure is compromised.

Take the Rocky Mountain Locusts that extended their breeding ground into the Great Plains in the 1880s, devestating millions of acres of homesteaders' crops. Two competing "natural" forces collided: man, tilling the ground to produce food for survival and a bunch of hungry grasshoppers.

The Earth has always been meant to produce food for man (whereas we could argue about whether or not man was meant to hunt to survive), so in an important sense, farming is natural. So, too, do locust have to eat, and they frequently travel in swarms, so it was completely "natural" for them to migrate east for more food.

... A cloud was over the sun. It was not like any cloud they had ever seen before, wrote Laura Ingalls Wilder in "On the Banks of Plum Creek."

There was no wind. The grasses were still and the hot air did not stir, but the edge of the cloud came across the sky faster than the wind...

The Cloud was hailing grasshoppers. The cloud was grasshoppers. Their bodies hid the sun and made darkness. Their thin, large wings gleamed and glittered. The rasping whirring of their wings filled the whole air and they hit the ground and the house with the noise of a hailstorm.

They ate everything that was green and good; every leaf, every ear of corn. They ruined Pa's crop, and then they laid their eggs for a frightening reprise.

Au naturale.

It is no wonder we developed pesticides. Man, unlike beasts, can develop artificial means to protect itself against predators or the elements. Isn't that a kind of natural?

The truth is, we don't know precisely what nature should look like, only what it does. And sometimes it ain't pretty.

All creation groans Scripture says. Not unlike a woman during childbirth I suspect. In anticipation. Agony and beauty wonderfully, horrifically, inexplicably entwined until the end comes.

This is why we need thoughtful people to wrestle with questions of medicine and science. We are not called to conquer nature, but sometimes we have to try to temper her awful power--not because we can but because she is imperfect too.

And I will go easier on women who opt for comfort measures during childbirth. What is natural is not always good.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

So it's Saturday Night

And today mom and I did a bunch of walking. The baby dropped and I have been having contractions off and on. It is amazing how, at this point, you're saying "Bring on the pain" because it's been nine long months of vomit, indigestion, heartburn, joint pain and anticipation.

Women I trust suggest that nine months of pregnancy is God's way of preparing us for the trial of child birth.

Sorry, there won't be any pictures.

Since I've been having contractions off and on this evening, I felt the need to tie up all those loose ends. Valentine's Day Dinner tickets for the Newman Center. Press releases and event calenders are working. Downloading Skype for my family's sake. Updating Facebook.

I'm telling the baby not to worry, to hang in there. There's only one way out of this!!!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Snap Heard 'Round The World

Chapter 1

It seemed normal enough. I had arrived in my classroom portable (via the front door) a couple of minutes after the first bell rang and made a bee line for the back door to let my shivering students enter after their morning hug. After the first wave of students were in the room getting settled in for the morning I made my way to my desk and started focusing on the teaching tasks for the day.

What happened next was so fast and chaotic, I didn't know who had let out the first cry, but what I heard bleating from my students' mouths was.....RRAAAAATTT!!! Pointing, jumping, scurrying of wee claws, disappearing into ceiling tiles, scratching, long tail, RAT!!
I didn't actually see it....thank the lord...but I heard it. My imagination filled the details in more than sufficiently enough for my tastes.
Of course you should know, or at the very least be informed, that my students' attention was completely shot for the day. I might has well have been trying to teach a porcupine to bake a cake. As each new student came in the room the story had to be told anew. It was a foot long! It was two feet long! It crawled up the extension cord! It's living in our ceiling! It should be our class mascot!
District maintenance was promptly contacted and on their way. My students were going to be working in the adjoining classroom that morning, anyway, so Wilton, the pest guy, could do his thing. He pulled me aside after having scoped out the situation and said that is was not good. It was more than one or two rats....there were feces everywhere. Awesome.

Chapter 2

After Wilton had done all he could do, which included setting different kinds of traps on the floor and in the ceiling, we resumed our routine and began their "Book Clubs." They chatted for a few minutes as they discussed the book and then all fell silent as they dug into the next chapter.

"SNAP!!" We all jerked to attention and listened and watched as the rat, for all we could hear and see, was thrashing, squeaking and scratching for his life. I froze waiting for the worst. Was this hairy bastard going to fall from the sky in the steely grip of the rat trap?? Oh Holy Moses!! The rat, so far, was staying on his side of the ceiling tiles.
My students knew what to do. Most of them ran screaming from the room. Was this actually happening?

They ran right into the building for lunch - thankfully it was our time.
After their goldfish and sandwiches, the assistant principal, hearing all about Ratgate '09 from my charges, decided to scope things out for himself and make sure there were no "live ones" in our rafters.
We returned from lunch and he was poking the ceiling tiles with a meter stick. I point to where we heard "the snap," he pokes it and, KA THUD! The rat is there, he is still dead and his is still giving me a major case of the heebee jeebees.
We left the room and learned about fractions in an alternative, rat free location.

I will never watch Ratatouille again.

I must return to my room, but I don't know if I can take it if.........SNAP!

How was your day?

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Better Left to the Imagination

Saturday was our child birth preparation class, and it rates among the top five most unpleasant experiences of my life.

The beginning of the class was innocuous, boring even. There was the basic anatomy lesson, an explanation of what's happening when you are having contractions and a vocabulary test.

Then WHAM. The nurse turns on a video about "natural" childbirth. Four couples are profiled and followed by cameras from the beginning of labor right up until birth.

I used to mock Hollywood's portrayal of women giving birth: Everything is clean and bright and short. There is just the right amount of sweat and screaming; then there's a baby and we smile and tear up.

Now I would give anything to go back to those air-brushed images.

Why do I want to watch a woman lying in her bed, humongous belly exposed, eyes closed, moaning, while her exhausted husband times her contractions? What am I learning?

Cut to the couple in the hospital bathroom, pregnant woman soaking in a hot bath. Now to a couple walking the hallways. Now we're in a hosptial bed while a red-faced woman battles nausea as she reaches the "transition" phase of childbirth.


Two videos later, I wasn't paying attention anymore. The final video was just footage of delivery--not even narration to help you forget what you're seeing. Just a bunch of women suffering. And I couldn't press mute.

Some things are better left to our imaginations. As my sister blogged after she delivered my nephew, pregnancy is deeply personal. No one needs to know what you went through in that room. You don't have to tell us it hurts like hell--we figured that out. You can show us different positions for delivery that might provide some comfort without images of women actually in them!

And if you want us to learn how to breathe productively, consider taking the time to teach us how instead of merely showing us!

Maybe our ancestors had it right: Close the door, kick everyone out and preserve this remaining fragment of female modesty. (And if we can't go back to that, then let's pass on the videotaping, shall we?)

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