healthcare, politicians, politics, sexism, slut shamers

How I feel when a man mansplains avoiding pregnancy…

Sigh… It’s not even 8:00am, and I’m already feeling a bit irritable, mainly because my nose was all clogged last night and I evidently slept with my mouth open. I was parched when I got up, and had a bit of a headache. It’s just another day of COVID… which hasn’t made me very sick, but has definitely been a real pain in the ass to deal with. Adding to my frustrations are the horrors of the world today.

Then I opened Facebook and saw the below post by Amy Klobuchar.

Yes, Amy. This is very important stuff!

The first comment I saw was this:

Codify reproductive rights and that will take care of contraceptives. Those men in black robes need to be shut down. I shouldn’t have to fight for this again at 76 !

Shockingly, she received laugh reactions and a shitty response from another woman, who stupidly wrote this:

So I’m sure you need birth control or an abortion at your age.

Seriously? This clueless bitch doesn’t think that older women might want to engage in the fight to bodily autonomy, just because they aren’t going to be affected by pregnancy or necessarily need birth control anymore? At least one person commented to that effect. But then I saw a comment from a man named Scott:

or you could use your time productively and promote not becoming pregnant in the first place. But that is never a thought is it?

Wow… does Scott have any fucking idea of what he’s writing about? Does he know how many of his fellow men pressure women to have sex with them? Does he realize that a lot of men can’t be bothered to use condoms? Even fewer of them will consider having a vasectomy. I have no issues with men who don’t want vasectomies, by the way. If you’ve read this blog, you know why I feel that way. But I do think that if you’re going to have the nerve to mansplain to women about personal responsibility and pregnancy, you really should walk the walk. Somehow, I doubt Scott does.

A woman addressed Scott with this comment:

do you have any clue how many people choose to have babies and who end up aborting a fetus because of miscarriage, the inviability if the fetus or other pregnancy complications?

Apparently not because anyone who did wouldn’t be thinking about every abortion being a problem. When pregnant women die because of a medical emergency that was preventable I guess that means you’re not as prolife as you think you are.

Scott came back with this ignorant comment:

the life of the mother should always trump the life of the baby.

This is not what most abortions are about though, and you know it.

First off… Scott doesn’t know what other people know, and what they don’t know. Secondly, while the life of the mother *should* always “trump” the life of the developing fetus, the sad fact is, that DOESN’T always happen. Especially right now!

Last night, I read a sad and disturbing news story on NPR about a Texas woman named Elizabeth Weller, who very much wanted her baby girl to be born. But Weller’s waters broke at 18 weeks gestation, which meant the pregnancy wasn’t going to be viable. It was May 2022, a month before Roe v Wade was overturned. Texas still has that shitty law from last year, which pretty much bans all abortions and has had a chilling effect on the treatments physicians are willing to give to pregnant people. This lady went to see her doctor, who told her that she could either terminate the pregnancy, or go into the hospital and try to carry the pregnancy until the 24th week of gestation, when developing fetuses start becoming viable.

Weller and her husband decided that it would be best to terminate the pregnancy, even though they really wanted the baby. They knew that even in the unlikely event that she was able to maintain the pregnancy until the 24th week, the baby would likely be born with serious birth defects. But when Weller’s OB-GYN tried to arrange the procedure, she ran into significant obstacles. Doctors would not help Elizabeth Weller as long as her fetus still had a heartbeat. They told her she’d have to wait for the fetus to die in utero. In other words, she’d have to get really sick and put her health on the line before they would take action. So much for the life of the mother, eh?

This is not the first time I’ve read a story like this. I’ve seen stories like Elizabeth Weller’s from several different states. I’ve also seen many smug, self-righteous, arrogant comments from people like Scott, stating that if a woman’s life was in danger, the doctors would help her. What Scott doesn’t seem to realize is that right now, doctors are afraid of being arrested or sued for giving women abortions, even when an abortion is clearly medically indicated. Elizabeth Weller was forced to go home and wait until she had a high fever and was passing discharge from her vagina that smelled bad enough to make her retch. This is not good medical care, people. It’s torture. It’s cruel and nonsensical to treat women this way. This should not be happening. Moreover, nobody should have to justify or explain why they want or need an abortion! Especially to sanctimonious dickheads like Scott!

Scott continued his mansplaining, though, with this comment:

men have no say in getting you pregnant, only you do.

Seriously, Scott? Where the fuck have you been?! Tell that to the disgusting male RAPIST who impregnated a ten year old CHILD!!!

I wish it was only men who were making these ignorant comments, but there are plenty of old biddies weighing in, too. A woman named Kaye keeps commenting on Klobuchar’s post that abortions are not contraceptives. Duh, Kaye. This post wasn’t about abortion, it’s about making sure that women have access to contraceptives. There are politicians and judges who are considering taking away those rights. That’s what Amy Klobuchar is posting about.

I don’t think people like Scott and Kaye have really considered what taking away reproductive rights will do to our society. I can think of quite a few consequences just off the top of my head. Here’s a list:

  • Health care costs will go up, because women will have to wait until they get very sick to get abortion care. That will mean more needlessly complicated and costlier interventions.
  • Fewer people will want to be OB-GYNs, because they will be too constrained by uninvolved parties in delivering care, and they will have to pay even higher malpractice premiums than they already do. OB-GYNs have among the highest malpractice insurance premiums already.
  • There will be more children with special needs, and more children in the foster care system.
  • There will be more child abuse, because people will be having babies they aren’t prepared to parent, and they won’t necessarily want to give them up for adoption.
  • There will be more poverty, because children are expensive to raise.
  • There will be less privacy, because some folks will feel the need to intervene in other people’s personal business.
  • More men will be accused of rape, and that will mean more of them will go to prison.
  • More women will be accused of “murder”, and that will mean more of them will go to prison.
  • Some women will stop having sex with men voluntarily, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I hope no woman lets Scott have sex with her, given his caveman attitude.
  • There could be an uptick in domestic violence and divorce, as women won’t want to risk getting pregnant. Men will be sexually frustrated, which might cause them to drink more alcohol and engage in violent behaviors. There could be more drunk driving, and we all know what that leads to.
  • There may be an uptick in mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Some people may even turn to suicide, if a situation seems desperate enough.
  • Women will be less healthy. Some will die.

I’m sure if I felt like it, I could sit here and think of even more consequences to this ridiculous idea that women shouldn’t be allowed to control their own healthcare decisions. Politicians are already talking about trying to restrict potentially pregnant people from leaving their states to access abortion care. It’s absolutely SICKENING that they’re talking about this. I grew up hearing about how lucky I was to be an American, because we’re so “free”. Tell me, what is so “free” about passing laws that punish pregnant people for making decisions about their own bodies? Why in the world should someone like Greg Abbott, current governor of Texas, have any say whatsoever in decisions a woman makes regarding her own reproduction? The United States is turning into a police state, especially for WOMEN!!!!

I, for one, am glad that the 76 year old woman on Amy Klobuchar’s Facebook page is willing to speak up for other women. She’s old enough to remember when women had far fewer rights than we have now. She remembers what it was like to be a woman of childbearing age who had no right to terminate a pregnancy. In those days, people had more privacy, though, because there was no Internet. Nowadays, the Internet can trip up a person, as creepy social media sites collect information about users. Oppressive jerks like Scott want to put women behind bars, simply because they think they should have a say in what another person does with their own body!

I’ve said it before. I’m so tired of thinking and writing about abortion. It’s not something I will have to face. However, this issue is a slippery slope. No, it doesn’t directly affect me anymore, but who’s to say that the next invasion of privacy and intrusion into healthcare practices won’t affect me? Has Scott considered that this issue is just the tip of the iceberg? He’s very naive if he doesn’t realize that the powers-that-be will eventually be coming after freedoms that are important to him. Many of those folks truly believe that they have different rights and privileges than the rest of us have. I am reminded of Martin Niemöller, who wrote a very famous poem about the dangers of looking the other way:

Americans better wake up. The abortion issue is just the beginning, and it’s distracting us from a more sinister situation that is brewing. Niemöller, by the way, wasn’t all that innocent himself. He wasn’t all that interested in fighting Naziism until the Nazi movement threatened him directly.

As I close today’s rant, I want to share this July 25th video by Rachel Maddow, which shows how it’s later than we think. We’ve got idiots like Marjorie Taylor Greene talking about turning the United States into a “Christian Nation”. Listen to Rachel’s talk about former 50s era politician Gerald L.K. Smith, and his “America First” party. Listen to what Mr. Smith said back in the day, and compare it to what Marjorie Taylor Greene is saying now. It’s scary as hell. Mr. Smith was a racist, Nazi sympathizer, and anti Semite, and he wanted to be president. Smith died in 1976, but there are lots of other people just like him who are in politics now. They want to be in charge. Abortion rights and access to contraception are just the beginning of what they want to take away from rank and file citizens.

This is a fascinating look at the past… and the future, if we don’t take action. Listen to the clip she includes about Doug Mastriano, who is the Republican nominee for the governor of Pennsylvania. Scary shit!

So, you see, this issue isn’t just about abortion. And we should all fight against ignorant people like Scott and Kaye, and do our best to defeat people who want to take away our freedoms and rights to privacy. I have seen some very scary ignorance regarding pregnancy and abortion from people like Scott and Kaye. There will be real consequences if we don’t reverse this trend now.

Now to move on to guitar practice, before I have a stroke.

Standard
complaints, controversies, healthcare, law, modern problems

Well… most of us knew this sad and scary day was coming…

I wasn’t surprised yesterday when I read the news about Roe v. Wade, and how six out of nine Supreme Court Justices voted to overturn the landmark decision that has allowed American women to legally access abortions since 1973. I was about to include the word “safely” in my previous sentence, but decided against it. Because truthfully, accessing abortion in the United States hasn’t been safe in years.

I can remember as far back as the 1990s, hearing and reading about doctors who provided abortions being murdered by gun toting, right wing zealots. I can remember hearing and reading about women having to face throngs of protesters when they visited Planned Parenthood, even if their visit was simply to get gynecological care or treatment for a yeast infection. I’ve read more than a few stories about parents who bravely sought late term abortions of their very much wanted developing fetuses due to a medical catastrophe, only to be confronted by some intrusive asshole holding up a sign and pictures of mutilated fetuses, screaming at them for “murdering” their child.

So many times, the people who presume to tell strangers what reproductive choices are appropriate for their lives have no ideas about how to care for babies that are born to people who aren’t ready to be parents. Their usual stock answer is to put the baby up for adoption… but that conveniently ignores the fact that there are many thousands of older children languishing in foster care, waiting for some pro-life person to give them a home. Those who want to adopt, often prefer to adopt babies… preferably babies that are completely healthy. They also don’t pay any mind to the fact that giving up a baby is very traumatic, and many times, the baby is given up only because of finances.

People who regularly read my blog may know that I like to read advice columns. Recently, I read a post written by a mother whose daughter gave up her baby girl for adoption. Years later, the daughter who “chose life” yearned to have a relationship with her long, lost child. The young woman wanted nothing to do with her birth mother, and this was crushing to her– as well as her mom, who had written for advice. I remember reading the comments left, most of which were pretty shaming toward the birth mom. People wrote things like, “What did she expect?” and “This is what happens when you abandon your baby and give it up for adoption!” and “Birth mom is just going to have to suck it up.” With that kind of judgment from the masses, is it any wonder that so many pregnant folks who don’t want to be pregnant would opt for abortion? At least with an abortion, there’s no wondering… and no one has to know or judge.

People who are against abortion also tend to be against welfare, and they never hesitate to condemn anyone who seeks help when they need it. They are usually against universal healthcare, mandatory leave for new parents, and requiring birth control to be covered by health insurance. Hell, they are also against having to have health insurance! And by God, many of them are just fine with people owning as many weapons as they want to own, no matter how deadly they are.

Then there’s the other side of the abortion spectrum. What about all of the developing embryos that were created by people who dearly want to be parents? Those embryos, which to most of the pro-lifers should be considered full fledged babies, are usually discarded when people have had as many babies as they want to have. But now that states can determine what constitutes personhood, there could be a real issue with procedures such as IVF. I’ve often thought about the many children who have been killed in schools by crazed young men with guns. How many of those children were conceived with help from a reproductive specialist? How many of them represented years of dashed hopes, massive money spent, and dramatic upheavals, only to be gunned down in a classroom? We can’t seem to do anything about the gun nuts, but we can sure as shit force people to gestate, even if it might threaten their well-being… or even their lives.

I saw many people opining about this decision. Most of the people I know are heartbroken, angry, and vowing to vote blue. Some of my friends still have friends who are happy that women are now going to be forced to gestate. A lot of the people who don’t have a problem with the Supreme Court’s decision are men, or women who are beyond their reproductive years. It always makes me cringe when I read a comment from a conservative white man who has no empathy for women. It usually doesn’t take long before they make a comment about women’s “personal responsibility” and birth control. They’re often pretty clueless about how to access birth control and what it takes to get it– and afford it. They don’t ever think about the number of rape and incest cases that never get reported, and assume that people who are pregnant and don’t want to be got that way because they were “irresponsible”. I often see and hear them saying things like, “She made her bed. She needs to lie in it.” Really… they think babies ought to be punishment! Like– if a woman has a baby she isn’t ready to raise, that will teach her to keep her legs closed. Well… isn’t that disgusting?

They never think about the times females are in situations in which they are pressured to have sex. The female might not have wanted sex, but she likes the guy she’s with… and HE wants sex. But he doesn’t want to bother with a condom… or the one he’s had in his wallet for over two years has a tiny hole in it. The types of people who blame women and want to “teach them a lesson” by forcing them to birth never think about that scenario. And if you point out to them that all pregnancies are caused by men, they want to argue about it and slut shame.

And then there are the people who say that this ruling hasn’t made abortion illegal, it’s only put the decision back into domain of the states. That conveniently ignores the fact that there are many states that have had trigger laws on the books for ages, just waiting for Roe v. Wade to be overturned so abortion can be made illegal immediately. And there will be other states that will rush to push through legislation that stops abortion, forcing the women with means to go to other places to get what they need (or want), overloading those states’ or countries’ systems. And the women without means will suffer and possibly even die.

Yesterday, I commented to a man who made a statement about how this decision hadn’t made abortion illegal, and was only shifting the responsibility to the states. A woman responded that those who want abortion can “always go to another state”. As if that’s the easiest thing in the world for a teenager with no money or transportation to do… But then she ended her comment by asking me if I wasn’t glad my mom hadn’t aborted me. I had to laugh at that, and I took great joy in telling her in very blunt terms that no, I AM NOT GLAD my mom didn’t abort me. I explained that if she had aborted me, I would not have been any the wiser. Developing embryos are oblivious. They have no concept of life or death, right or wrong, heaven or hell, or anything else. And if she had aborted me, we both would have been spared significant pain.

I was born in 1972, and abortion wasn’t legal everywhere at that time. Even if it had been legal in Virginia in 1972, I doubt my mom would have had one. My father wouldn’t have wanted her to do that because he was a conservative, white, southern male, and I think he liked the idea of being the father of four. But he wasn’t the one doing most of the work of child raising, and to be frank, my mom was not very good at the job. I had to hear many times about how upset she was about being pregnant with me, how obnoxious I was, and how her friends didn’t want to go anywhere with her because of me. And you know, all of that might have been true… but it’s not the sort of thing any parent should be telling a child. I heard it repeatedly, not just from her, but also from my siblings. In fact, when she’d get annoyed with me, my mom would even say “Where did you come from?!”

I grew up feeling resented and put up with… and although I had most of everything I needed or even wanted, in terms of material goods, I wasn’t cherished much. I have often felt rejected by the people who are responsible for my being here in the first place. It’s not so bad now. I’m 50, and don’t rely on my mom anymore. My dad died 8 years ago. We clashed a lot, and I think he was often ashamed of me. There are worse things that not being born… or even dying. Anyway, whenever someone thinks they’ve burned me by asking if I’m not glad to be here myself, I always delight in telling them “no.” I think babies should be wanted and deeply cherished by their parents. I also think that ideally, babies should be raised by the people who birthed them, because even the best adoptive parents can’t erase the biological connection that children have with their parents. People want to know where they came from; if they didn’t, DNA tests wouldn’t be so wildly popular.

I noticed this morning that my response got a few likes, as well as a comment from the woman who asked me if I was not glad to be born (which I didn’t bother to read). It also got at least one angry reaction. I want to ask the angry reactor if she would have preferred it if I’d lied. People who ask such personal questions of perfect strangers should be prepared to handle the truth. I don’t feel ashamed of myself for feeling the way I do. My life hasn’t amounted to that much, in spite of my best efforts when I was younger. If I died tomorrow, my husband would be devastated… but I don’t have any descendants, and my family of origin mostly feels alienated. I live in country that isn’t really my home, and my home country is becoming a place I don’t recognize anymore. I don’t look forward to the process of dying, but I would be lying if I said that dying wouldn’t probably be a relief. Because it means I no longer have to worry about anything at all… or engage with clueless idiots who don’t understand why people are so very upset about this ruling, and what it will mean for all Americans.

Well… I probably ought to close out this rant… because I suspect some people might not like it very much and may feel the need to “correct my opinions”. And while I think that writers should be brave enough to be truthful and tackle the rough subjects, this feels pretty raw and painful. I’m glad I’m 50 now, and this ruling will have no bearing on me, personally. And I’m also glad I don’t have any children to worry about. The United States is quickly turning into a dystopian hell.

But… on the positive side, at least I’m feeling somewhat better. Second COVID test was also negative. Of course, some people want to insist that it might still be COVID, and I should test again in a week. If I’m still sick, I’ll do that. But this really feels like every cold I’ve ever had… and I have no doubt that colds still exist. I don’t understand why people seem to want me to have COVID. What difference does it make, as long as I get well? It’s not like I ever interact with people, anyway.

ETA: I forgot to add that just yesterday, Germany’s leaders struck Hitler era legislation that forbade physicians from “encouraging” abortions. Doctors were being fined thousands of euros simply for providing factual information about abortion. And it was a brainchild of Hitler and is only just now being stricken from the books. The USA needs to take a lesson from more civilized countries.

Standard
ethics, Ex, family, healthcare, lessons learned, love, marriage

Moms really should be ready for the challenge…

Yesterday evening, I read a heartbreaking article in the Washington Post written by a retired pathologist from New Hampshire named Thomas Gross. The doctor wrote about having to perform an autopsy on a tiny four month old baby girl. It was his first time doing an autopsy on a baby, and the job was breaking his heart. But because the baby had died under somewhat mysterious circumstances, the procedure had to be done. So Dr. Gross began to explore the baby’s organs.

Dr. Gross described the ghastly condition of the baby’s pancreas, which was swollen to twice its normal size and covered with huge, angry looking, blood filled blisters. Her pancreas was abnormally rigid. The baby had previously been healthy. She’d started smiling and laughing spontaneously, and was even sleeping through the night. But then she suddenly got very sick, and spent her last hours vomiting, screaming, and crying inconsolably, in obvious pain. Dr. Gross soon had the answer as to why the baby was so sick. He discovered that the disease that had killed the four month old girl was pancreatitis. According to Dr. Gross’s editorial:

The condition was caused by a bacterium known as Haemophilus, type B (HiB), once a common threat to children. The epidemic stopped abruptly after 1985, when two American physicians patented an immunization for HiB. By 1987, the HiB vaccine was approved for use in all age groups. Cases of Haemophilus infection in children in the United States dropped precipitously in just a few years from more than 20,000 cases before the vaccine to just 29 cases in 2006. Deaths now occur almost exclusively among unvaccinated children.

The baby’s parents, no doubt loving and well-meaning, had chosen not to vaccinate their baby. They probably had never heard of Haemophilus, and it never occurred to them that she would get so sick that she would die. The girl’s parents probably weren’t around when babies routinely got sick and died of preventable infectious diseases like measles and polio. Besides, nowadays, everybody’s got the Internet, daytime TV, and social media to inform them, so they don’t always want to listen to what actual doctors recommend. Dr. Gross writes:

Many parents are too young to remember when young children died from measles, polio, smallpox, strep throat and influenza. They don’t remember when there was nothing that anyone could do about it except sit and watch. When the polio vaccine first appeared, mothers dragged their children to the public health clinic and stood in lines around the block to get them immunized. Before the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, pregnant women infected with rubella would invariably deliver horribly disabled and disfigured babies. Many children still die from measles; they are almost exclusively unvaccinated.

I could feel the palpable sadness this now retired physician still felt for the tiny patient whose memory still haunts him. Then I looked at the comment section on Facebook. At that point, there were only a few posted. One of the very first comments came from a guy named Chris who posted something along the lines of, “A lot of the people posting ‘sad’ reactions would have applauded the mother’s choice if she had terminated the pregnancy.”

It pisses me off when people– especially MEN– feel the need to conflate the abortion issue with every other issue even slightly regarding the welfare of babies. Chris wasn’t the only one who brought up abortion, either. So, although I know I shouldn’t have done it, I decided to respond. I wrote something along the lines of this:

A lot of “anti-choice” types are also against vaccines. If this baby’s loving parents had vaccinated her, she’d probably still be alive.

I noticed that Chris immediately responded to me. Another man gave me a “laughing” reaction. I decided to ignore them, because I didn’t want to get into a pissing match with them on such a pleasant June evening. I knew I’d be tempted to rip into him– in a much less delicate way– than the pathologist cut into the baby about whom he wrote his heartfelt editorial. Guys like Chris make me angry. They lack compassion, and they don’t see how sometimes terminating a pregnancy is actually the kindest thing a person can do. Aside from that, the story had NOTHING to do with abortion. It had to do with making wise and informed decisions for one’s offspring. In this tragic case, the baby’s parents, who obviously loved their infant daughter and hadn’t wanted to abort her, inexplicably chose not to vaccinate her. The unfortunate decision these parents made, on their daughter’s behalf, caused the girl to suffer needlessly. Ultimately, their baby paid with her life.

Being a parent is a huge responsibility. This baby’s parents no doubt wanted to embrace the challenge, yet they made a huge, fatal mistake that cost them dearly. This story, like so many others I’ve read, only underscores how very important it is to be ready for the job of parenting. Ideally, that job starts before an infant is even born. Prenatal care is so important, but we live in a country where access to healthcare is difficult and expensive. So many people focus on forcing others to gestate, but they don’t pay attention to whether or not the pregnant person is up to the challenge, and they don’t want to see to it that moms are ready for the awesome responsibility of raising children… or if they even want the job.

Of course, sometimes shit happens. I don’t want to dump on the parents in this sad story, because even years later, they probably still feel absolutely horrible about what happened. And they probably thought they were doing right by their baby, even though the whole sketchy “autism connection to vaccines” has been debunked for a very long time now. Dr. Gross wrote:

In 1998, the highly respected British medical journal the Lancet published a study suggesting an association between immunizations and autism. The author did not show immunizations cause autism. He merely pointed out that, in 12 cases of autism, all 12 autistic patients also received vaccines against measles. Incidentally, so did a hundred million other kids who had not become autistic.

The Lancet later admitted that the paper’s authors failed to disclose financial interests. The lead author was publicly discredited. The Royal Academy of Surgeons rescinded his license to practice medicine. The Lancet withdrew the article from publication.

But the damage was done. The loving parents of the baby on my table, well-educated and well-meaning, had chosen not to immunize her. Had they succumbed to the Internet hype that immunizations cause autism? Had they ever heard of Haemophilus?

Maybe the parents just didn’t know. The baby was just four months old. Timely vaccination might have just slipped their minds. Maybe they were planning to get her vaccinated at a later date. Who knows? What we do understand is that the baby developed a likely preventable life threatening disease that ultimately killed her in a painful way. If she’d been vaccinated, maybe things wouldn’t have turned out this way.

Continuing on this same theme, this morning I read another “Am I the Asshole” column. It was written by an older woman who came of age at a time when most women were expected to be wives and mothers. The letter writer explains that she wasn’t much into being a mom, but nevertheless, she had two children, a boy and a girl. Her children were “good kids”, and she did the best she could by them. But she admits that she was very relieved when they grew up and moved out on their own. She finally had the chance to do her own thing and discover herself.

The letter writer’s son, John, got married and had three children. Her daughter just has pets. Mom treats her daughter’s pets like grandchildren, which upsets her son. He thinks she should be more deferential to his human offspring over his sister’s dog and cat.

I don’t think the mom in this story is an asshole; however, I can empathize with John. John’s mom sounds a lot like my own mom. My mom had four children, and she often told me that she hadn’t wanted four children. Since I am the youngest, that means I frequently got the message that I wasn’t welcome. I remember watching my friends with attentive mothers and feeling painful surges of envy. My mom took care of me the best way she knew how, but she was never one to dote on me. My mom couldn’t wait for me to be on my own, and that was a message that hurt me a lot. She has also referred to my dogs as her “granddogs”.

I’m not saying my mom doesn’t love me. She does, in her own way. Our relationship is better now, too, since I don’t physically need her anymore. Now we can be friends. But I do remember what it was like to be raised by someone who was sometimes cold, and didn’t seem to care that much about me. Or, at least that’s how it seemed when I was a child. I see things differently now, and have come to respect and appreciate my mom more. It’s become easier to see her perspective now. There are a lot of issues I don’t have to deal with that my friends with more attentive moms do. I was also lucky in that I have always basically gotten along with my mom, in spite of her “hands off” parenting style. I think a couple of my sisters had a much tougher time with her than I did. On the other hand, my sisters got along much better with our father, while I had a lot of issues with him that still haven’t been resolved and probably never will be.

I think John should find a therapist and talk about these angry feelings he has toward his mom. He obviously still feels very hurt about how he was raised. He could tell his mom wasn’t that into raising him, and he knows she’s not going to be “super granny”. I don’t blame him for how he feels, but it’s not appropriate for him to punish his mom and try to force her to be someone she’s not. In the end, his kids will suffer, and when he inevitably loses his mother, he’ll still have a lot of unresolved angst, like I still do about my dad. I can’t help but realize that if my mom and the letter writer had been freer to make choices, John and I would have both been spared significant pain… and we would have been none the wiser, not having been born to mothers who would much rather be doing something with their lives other than mothering.

I’ll end this post with another personal story from last night. Regular readers might know that my husband, Bill, just became a grandfather for the third time. His younger daughter, who is an excellent mother, just had a baby last week. We sent her a package with treats from Europe. There was a Harry Potter hot chocolate mug from France that we picked up in March, but couldn’t fit in the last box we sent. There was chocolate from Germany, and a few gifts from our trip to Italy. In the box we sent were two books that I picked out for the two older kids. One was an activity book about Florence. Ideally, the kid would be in Florence as he or she explores the city, but I figured younger daughter and her husband could use the Internet to teach the kids about Italy and do the activities. The other book was a charming story I found about growing up independent.

I was wandering around in the bookstore at the Uffizi and this book caught my eye. It had really engaging illustrations featuring a baby zebra from West Africa. I don’t remember the book’s title, but I do remember the story was about an independent little zebra who wanted to try new things that he wasn’t quite ready to do. His patient and gentle mom told him that one day, he’d be on his own and he could then try all the things. But for now, she was there to guide him and teach him. It was a comforting, positive, and healthy message.

Unfortunately, Bill and his daughter have both been on the receiving end of Ex’s repeated manipulative ploys involving children’s literature. Ex has a bad habit of using books and music to make other people feel like shit. So Bill felt compelled to read the book from cover to cover in the bookstore, just to make sure there wasn’t a message in the story that would make younger daughter feel bad. Fortunately, he decided that I had made an appropriate choice, so he sent her the book. Hopefully, she’ll like it. It’s a book that I doubt her mom ever would have sent, since it’s about children growing up with a strong and protective role model who actually wants them to be independent and self-sufficient someday.

I think Ex loves being a mother, but only because it means she has family members who literally owe her their lives. She uses them as tools to further her own agendas. Her children aren’t stupid, either, because they can read between the lines. They get the messages she sends when she uses a book like Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree in her object lessons. She compares herself to the tree, and her children (and Bill) to the selfish little boy who takes and takes until there’s nothing left. But the reality is, the children are always giving to their mother, and she’s never satisfied. That has caused them pain, because obviously, their mother wasn’t up to the challenge. Her goal probably should have been to raise her children to chase their own dreams and live life on their own terms.

I’m not a mom myself. I always wanted to be a mom, but that wasn’t in the cards for me, for a lot of reasons. And because I barely know Bill’s daughters, I don’t feel like a mom to them… or a granny to younger daughter’s children. I do sort of feel like a mom to my dogs, though…

I don’t know if my overall message is getting across in this post. I know Bill is glad I’m here, warts and all. And I know my mom, ultimately, is glad she raised me. I do wish she’d wanted to do it from the get go, though… and I know enough people who haven’t had happy endings after being born into situations where the mom simply wasn’t up to the job. So that’s one of many reasons why I’ll always be in favor of allowing pregnant people to make choices, and that’s why I get triggered when losers like Chris conflate the abortion issue with any story about babies who die. Life is tough enough. Babies, especially, should be wanted, loved, and cared for by parents who want them. Pregnancy shouldn’t be an obligation or a punishment, and it shouldn’t be up to anyone to solve another person’s fertility issues. Moms, especially, should be ready for the challenge of motherhood before they accept it.

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book reviews, celebrities, healthcare, mental health

Repost: My review of Brooke Shields’ Down Came the Rain…

One last repost before I hang up my blogging efforts for the day. This is a book review I wrote for Epinions.com in October 2006. I am posting it as/is.

Having come of age in the 1980s, I have always been very familiar with Brooke Shields’ work as an actress. Brooke Shields has always appeared to be a woman who has it all… looks, brains, money, a successful and apparently fulfilling career, and at last, just a few years ago, she seemed to have found love in her second husband, Chris Henchy. The one thing that was missing was a baby.

Shields was having trouble getting pregnant. She had once had cervical surgery to remove precancerous cells and the surgery had left her cervix shortened and scarred. As a result, in order to have a child of their own, Shields and her husband had to undergo in vitro fertilization. Shields got pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage that was so emotionally painful that she almost decided to give up on her dream of being a mother.

But Brooke Shields found that she couldn’t forget about having a baby. She underwent IVF again and got pregnant, and this time it stuck. Nine months later in May 2003, Brooke Shields and her husband, Chris Henchy, became the proud parents of Rowan Francis. And then, Brooke Shields found herself holding a ticket into the hell of postpartum depression. That hell is what prompted her to write her 2004 book, Down Came The Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression.

I read this book partly because my husband, Bill, and I have been trying to have a baby. Like Brooke Shields and her husband, we have some issues that may prevent us from conceiving naturally. I also have a strong biological history of major depression, so I may be at risk of postpartum depression if I do have a baby. Also, I found this book used and dirt cheap at Fort Belvoir’s thrift shop. I doubt I would have thought to buy this book at its full price or even borrow it at a library, but I am glad I read it. It turns out Brooke Shields is a pretty good writer and her topic is both timely and relevant to a lot of new parents.

Down Came The Rain is not an autobiography of Brooke Shields’ life, although it does include some information about her family. The information is personal, but it also has something to do with Shields’ state of mind and stress level as she embarked on her quest to become a mother. First off, Shields and her first husband, Andre Agassi, were divorced after two years of marriage. Shields doesn’t write much about their time together, except to explain that they had both wanted children, but the opportunity had never presented itself. Not long after the split with Agassi, Shields met and subsequently married Chris Henchy. Then, Shields’ father became very ill with prostate cancer. He died just three weeks before Rowan Francis was born. All the while, Shields was also dealing with insecurity about her future in show business. She had taken time off for her pregnancy and Rowan’s birth.  

Divorce, remarriage, fertility issues, childbirth, career issues, and the loss of a parent are all extremely stressful events on their own. With all of those issues combined together, it must have been almost impossible for Brooke Shields to function. Shields also had serious medical trouble during the birth of her daughter. The child had to be delivered by Cesarean section; the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Shields’ uterus had herniated and she almost had to have a hysterectomy. Somehow, Shields and her baby survived the birthing process intact. Shields was left to recover from major surgery as she became acquainted with her baby daughter and the huge role of being a parent.

To be sure, I could empathize a bit with Brooke Shields. She’s a human being and certainly not immune to human problems like postpartum depression. Shields initially didn’t want to go on Paxil, the antidepressant that helped her get through her ordeal with postpartum depression. She didn’t like the connotations that she needed a drug to help her with her moods. I can identify with that sentiment. When I had depression, I didn’t want to take a drug to feel better, either. I liked to think I could will myself to feel normal. Once I found the right antidepressant, it became enormously clear to me that clinical depression is a very real biological problem that affects the whole body. Brooke Shields also came to that conclusion. She started to feel better and was able to function with the help of antidepressants. Like me, she became a believer in the drugs’ efficacy, despite her very famous public feud with Tom Cruise about their usefulness.  

I applaud Brooke Shields for writing this book about her very personal and painful experiences with the hell of depression and her success using antidepressants. I think it’s always helpful when people talk about personal experiences with mental illness because it helps reduce the lingering stigma. I also like the fact that Shields apparently no longer feels ashamed of her use of antidepressants. Too many people don’t seek medical help for depression because they fear becoming “hooked on happy pills”. As someone who has experienced depression and has taken antidepressants, I can affirm that the pills never made me feel “happy”. Indeed, they made me feel normal, which was a huge improvement over feeling hopeless and suicidal. 

On the other hand, as I was reading Down Came The Rain, it was very clear to me that Brooke Shields has advantages that most women don’t have. For one thing, she hired a baby nurse to help her as she was getting over her postpartum depression. Although Shields makes it clear that the nurse was temporary and she had no intention of handing over the job of raising Rowan to hired help, most women don’t have the financial resources to hire baby nurses when they suffer from postpartum depression. In fact, far too many women can’t even afford to take the antidepressants that Shields took as she suffered with postpartum depression. And it also occurred to me that some who read this book may even feel somewhat bitter about the fact that Shields was able to afford several rounds of IVF, too. That’s a procedure that is well beyond the budgets of many Americans.  

Clearly, with her financial resources, Brooke Shields can afford solutions that are well above the grasp of many women. I don’t mean to imply that Brooke Shields wasn’t right to use whatever means necessary to get past her postpartum depression; I just think that some women might resent the fact that they don’t have access to the resources that Shields does. Shields explains what she did to get over the depression, but she doesn’t offer solutions for ordinary women who can’t afford to hire baby nurses or seek out sophisticated medical help.  

Also, it’s important to know that Down Came The Rain is not the story of Brooke Shields’ life. This is strictly an account of her experiences with postpartum depression. She explains what the depression felt like, how it affected the people around her, and what she did to get over it, but that’s about it. If you’re looking for a whole lot of insight about Brooke Shields’ life outside of her experiences with postpartum depression, you might be left disappointed. There is no photo section, although there is a small picture of Brooke Shields and Rowan on the inside of the book cover.  

All in all, I think Down Came The Rain is a good personal account of the phenomenon of postpartum depression. And if after reading this book you’re left wanting to learn more about postpartum depression, Shields includes a reading list and addresses to reputable Web sites that offer information about the disorder. I think Brooke Shields has written a valuable book that will help a lot of people who are caught in the throes of postpartum depression, whether they be new mothers or the people who love them. What’s more, Shields’ story ultimately has a happy ending, since she has gone on to become a mother again. On April 18, 2006, Shields and Henchy became parents again to daughter, Grier Hammond… ironically, on the very same day, and in the same hospital, where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had their baby girl, Suri.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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controversies, ethics, healthcare, law, sex, sexism, slut shamers

The vast majority of “pro-life males” make me want to hurl!

Ah abortion… yet another topic I am tired of thinking and writing about these days. And yet, it’s a topic I can’t escape, because so many people are posting and talking about the abortion issue, since the Supreme Court is considering overturning Roe v Wade. There have been so many articles written about this subject. If one pays attention to the Internet, as I do on a daily basis, it’s impossible to ignore the headlines. I suppose I could practice some self-control and not read some of this stuff, in the interest of controlling my blood pressure. But anyone who reads my blog, knows that self-control isn’t always one of my fortes.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few weeks, is that when I read the comment sections on anything having to do with abortion, I inevitably run into the stereotypical “pro-life male” commenter. That’s a man who feels compelled to self-righteously “mansplain” to women why they think women should be forced to maintain an unintended pregnancy. They usually use loaded words and phrases like “murder”, “sanctity of life”, and “kill”, and they whine about hypothetical taxpayer funded abortions, which is NOT a thing. The Hyde Amendment of 1976– that’s 46 years ago, folks– makes public funding of abortions against federal law. But I still see comments from dumbassed “pro-life males” about how they don’t want to pay for abortions with their tax dollars.

“Pro-life males” usually take on an air of disgust, as they sanctimoniously preach about “protecting the most vulnerable”, shaming anyone who dares to question whether or not a gestating human has the right to privacy, autonomy, or self-determination. They loftily opine about how “irresponsible” and “cruel” pro-choice people are. How can a “decent” person not want to “protect the most vulnerable”? “A developing fetus can’t defend itself”, they reason; therefore, it’s up to these high and mighty males to be the white knight for these unknown beings!

I would like to know, where are these guys when those babies are born? I never see these “white knights” talking about continuing their valiant fights, “protecting the most vulnerable and innocent” by offering to pay for their care or, supporting their mothers, or even babysitting them! I’d like to ask some of them how many special needs children they’ve adopted. Hell, I’d like to ask them how many dirty diapers they’ve changed… and how many times they’ve gotten up in the middle of the night to breastfeed a crying infant. I’d like to ask them if they’ve experienced any permanent changes to their bodies and bank accounts after a baby has been born. I think we all know the answer to those questions, don’t we?

I often get queasy when I stumble across “pro-life males'” holier-than-thou screeds, which NEVER address anything more than “protecting” a developing embryo’s or fetus’s “right to life”. They never want to talk about anything other than that barest of minimums of “protecting babies”… maintaining the precious embryonic heartbeat. They don’t address whether or not the pregnant person should be granted some assistance of any kind. To read their words or hear them speak, it’s always the woman’s fault for being “slutty” and “getting herself pregnant”. I can’t remember ever reading any comments from these guys concerning providing women and children access to affordable and high quality healthcare, housing, food and medicine, child care, or education. I never see them mentioning anything about the responsibility society has toward the so-called “vulnerable and innocent” babies whose mothers were forced to give birth to them. Usually, these guys just want to lament about the “irresponsible” women and how much people who need welfare disgust them for being “lazy”.

From what I’ve seen, most “pro-life” guys just smugly want to focus on maintaining, at all costs, the heartbeat of the developing embryo, the pregnant woman’s circumstances be damned! And then, when that embryo eventually turns into, hopefully, a healthy baby, they no longer give a shit about the baby’s welfare. They never cared about the woman’s welfare, so now there are two people who are left to figure out how to get through life with so much stacked against them.

Pro-life males never seem interested in contributing money to make sure the developing fetuses are getting the best chance at starting off life on the right path. They have nothing to say about how “cruel” it is for a developing embryo or fetus to be growing inside a pregnant woman who can’t or won’t take care of her health. I never see them concerned about pregnant women’s access to competent medical care, making sure that those developing fetuses don’t suffer because their mothers aren’t healthy. In fact, most of these guys seem to lack any charitable thoughts whatsoever toward anyone but the voiceless potential babies being carried by perfect strangers. They only have negative words for them. And they usually get decidedly pissy when women tell them they shouldn’t get a say about forcing someone else to be pregnant.

God forbid anyone encourage them to do their parts in preventing unplanned pregnancies, either. They bristle at being advised to use condoms, get vasectomies, or– perish the thought— simply keeping their dicks in their pants! To hear them speak, or read their comments, one comes away with the idea that preventing pregnancy is solely up to the females. They are almost always solely focused on the so-called “trampy females” who lack self-control and have extramarital sex for “fun”. Never mind that it’s usually the men who are demanding sex or, in some sad cases, forcing women to engage in it. Never mind that sometimes, women seek abortions for reasons that are very personal or even tragic. Their narrative is that women who consider abortions are always irresponsible, selfish, and out of control.

Below are a few examples of the so-called “pro-life male”. Notice the underlying hostility, misogyny, and disgust… Poor guys. You’d think that a woman’s right to choose is a personal affront to them! “Josh” had several comments on this subject. It really seems to cause him serious butthurt that women still have the option to choose… at least for now.

Having a penis doesn’t mean you don’t get to voice your opinion. Must have missed that in the constitution, the right to murder the most vulnerable.

Abortion is the killing of another person for convenience.

A woman pointed out to “Josh” that murder is not the right term for abortion. “Josh” then proceeds to whine some more.

Anyone who wants to kill babies and let “facilities” profit from selling their organs is sick. You’d think a bunch of veterans (who were lucky enough to not be aborted) would stick up for the ones who cannot defend themselves. Men need to have a say in it, to protect the babies, especially the ones responsible for the baby.

I don’t need a uterus to be a woman these days. That being said, abortion is murder.

I could probably spend all day finding more puke-inducing shaming comments like these, almost unilaterally from males who refuse to understand why a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy is none of their goddamned business. So often, I’m tempted to respond to these guys, but I know it’s a lost cause. Because they just don’t want to get it. They can’t see how having children permanently changes a woman’s life.

Yes, there are MANY women who are delighted to become mothers. But becoming a mother comes with huge costs… and so few of these “pro-life males” seem to care about that. I never see them offering to support women who are pregnant and need help. They very rarely express compassion, empathy, or kindness. It’s all about how the woman who has an abortion is a “murderer”. And then, they seem to think she should be sent to rot in prison. Gee… that’s good for society, isn’t it? Taking a woman out of the workforce to waste her life sitting behind bars. Especially if the woman has other children who need her. Those other kids are better off in foster care, right? /sarcasm

I have never cheered for abortion. I certainly don’t think it’s the ideal solution. I would prefer that people who don’t want to be pregnant simply avoid getting pregnant. However, I also don’t think I have the right to dictate to someone else what they should or should not be doing with their bodies. Of course I would prefer that unintended pregnancies due to “irresponsible behavior” didn’t happen. I would also prefer that women were never raped, have severe health issues, abandoned by the men who impregnated them, or experienced any of the other negative situations that would lead them to consider abortion.

I determined long ago that the circumstances surrounding how and why someone gets pregnant, and why they might want to terminate a pregnancy, is none of my business. Abortion is healthcare, and it should be private. I don’t need to know why “Josh” in the above comment might need to have his prostate removed someday, even if it means he can no longer pleasure the hypothetical woman (or man) in his life. What’s important is that he might need to have his prostate removed for health reasons that are not my business. The same thing goes for an already born woman who decides that she needs to have an abortion. It’s her health on the line. Her health and well-being should always come before that of a potential human’s taking up residence in her womb. After all, if she’s not healthy, neither will be the developing fetus.

I know that I have no right to tell someone abortion is only okay under certain circumstances. It’s true that developing fetuses have nothing to do with the circumstances of how or why they exist. They are “innocent”. But if abortion is truly “murder”, then how can there ever be a situation in which murder is “okay”? I would say abortion is less murder than “self-defense”. The woman is defending herself against negative outcomes of being pregnant, which can include everything from financial difficulties, to poorer health, to being forced to maintain a relationship with an abuser, to death itself. I never see these insufferable “pro-life males”, who lecture everyone about the “sanctity of life”, offering any solutions for the women who find themselves in difficult or impossible situations caused by pregnancy. Instead, they want to dehumanize the women by labeling them, criticizing their choices, and refusing to offer any help to them whatsoever. They can’t even spare a kind word of encouragement or understanding. It’s just non-stop slut shaming and willful ignorance about the conditions would drive someone to terminate a pregnancy.

I don’t think most of the “pro-life males” give a rat’s patootie about “saving babies”. The vast majority of them, from what I can tell, vote Republican. Besides forcing women to birth, they are also for gun rights and cutting welfare benefits. They don’t agree with healthcare for everyone. They don’t want to pay higher taxes so that vulnerable people can get a better quality of life. I never hear these guys talk about helping babies and children with special needs, who may or may not grow up to be adults with special needs. There’s nary a peep about making sure that the babies, born to the women who aren’t prepared to be mothers, are loved and cared for, so that they can get the best start in their lives. Nope. It’s all about blaming the woman– the woman, who CAN’T get pregnant without the man’s input, and will have to deal with just about everything that comes with making babies.

“Pro-life males” don’t seem to consider that their part of literal babymaking only lasts for a couple of minutes. Instead, they whine about having to pay child support or not getting a say as to whether or not a pregnancy continues. Or they equate paying a couple hundred bucks a month in child support to a 50/50 contribution. I wonder if those guys would take a job gestating a baby, especially since at this writing, the other parent isn’t legally compelled to offer any support to the pregnant woman. I wonder if, after the baby is born, those “pro-life males” would take a couple hundred bucks a month to raise the baby… if raising a child was just about dollars and cents, that is. My guess is that most of them would not be happy with that pay scale, especially since it also potentially means fewer job opportunities and promotions.

How is it that in 2022, we still have so many clueless, sexist, mansplaining, slut shaming, men in the world who have no concept of why so many women see abortion as a human right? Why do so many men not realize that there’s a huge price to be paid for making women gestate babies they don’t want? How come so many of them forget that every woman was once a developing fetus– something that they claim they want to “protect” at all costs? Why don’t they care more about people who have already been born and are struggling? Why are they so focused on everyone but the person doing the actual work?

I have never met anyone who is “pro-abortion”. Almost every case I’ve heard of involving abortion has been about someone making a very difficult decision. It’s a decision that doesn’t require mean comments from guys like “Josh”, who will NEVER be in that situation himself. What Josh and his ilk should do, is take a moment to muster some empathy. Any man who labels women as “murderers” for looking out for themselves– just as most men do– should never request sexual gratification from a woman. I hope Josh is a virgin. I hope he STAYS a virgin. Clearly, he’s not mature enough to handle the realities of what can happen when people have sex.

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