Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why is Govt Promoting Marriage?

This is a topic that has been a interest of mine, and a major focus of my research throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees. My readers can think of it as part of my grand scheme to make our society and country a better (safer and happier)place for children and families.

From the Department of Health and Human Services, Adminstration for Children and Families:
Benefits of Healthy Marriages

For Children and Youth

Researchers have found many benefits for children and youth who are raised by parents in healthy marriages, compared to unhealthy marriages, including the following:

More likely to attend college
More likely to succeed academically
Physically healthier
Emotionally healthier
Less likely to attempt or commit suicide
Demonstrate less behavioral problems in school
Less likely to be a victim of physical or sexual abuse
Less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol
Less likely to commit delinquent behaviors
Have a better relationship with their mothers and fathers
Decreases their chances of divorcing when they get married
Less likely to become pregnant as a teenager, or impregnate someone.
Less likely to be sexually active as teenagers
Less likely to contract STD's
Less likely to be raised in poverty

For Women
Researchers have found many benefits for women who are in healthy marriages, compared to unhealthy marriages, including the following:

More satisfying relationship
Emotionally healthier
Less likely to be victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or other violent crimes
Less likely to attempt or commit suicide
Decrease risk of drug and alcohol abuse
Less likely to contract STD's
Less likely to remain or end up in poverty
Have better relationships with their children
Physically healthier

For Men
Researchers have found many benefits for men who are in healthy marriages, compared to unhealthy marriages, including the following:

Live longer
Physically healthier
Increase in the stability of employment
Higher wages
Emotionally healthier
Decrease risk of drug and alcohol abuse
Have better relationships with their children
More satisfying sexual relationship
Less likely to commit violent crimes
Less likely to contract STD's
Less likely to attempt or commit suicide

For Communities
Researchers have found many benefits for communities when they have a higher percentage of couples in healthy marriages, compared to unhealthy marriages, including the following:

Higher rates of physically healthy citizens
Higher rates of emotionally healthy citizens
Higher rates of educated citizens
Lower domestic violence rates
Lower crime statistics
Lower teen age pregnancy rates
Lower rates of juvenile delinquency
Higher rates of home ownership
Lower rates of migration
Higher property values
Decreased need for social services

[Source: Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition: Twenty-Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences, September 2005.]

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Human Microbiome Project

The same friend who told me about outsourcing health care told me about a fascinating research project that he is working on as an employee of a bio-tech company on the East Coast.

You've heard of the Human Genome Project which catelouges all the genes in the human species. This is a little different: they are looking at all the organisms that live in the human species.

The average human body, consisting of about 10 to the thirteen power (10,000,000,000,000 or about ten trillion) cells, has about ten times that number of microorganisms in the gut. Somewhere between 300 and 1000 different species live in the gut,[3] with most estimates at about 500. These microorganisms are helpful the human existence: the microorganisms perform a host of useful functions, such as fermenting unused energy substrates, training the immune system, preventing growth of harmful species, regulating the development of the gut, producing vitamins for the host (such as biotin and vitamin K), and producing hormones to direct the host to store fats. However, in certain conditions, some species are thought to be capable of causing disease by causing infection or increasing cancer risk for the host.(see references on

The Human MicroBiome Project is trying to figure out what all of those microorganisms are, just as the Human Genome Project sought to determine all of the genes in our genome.

The process is not a pleasant one, definitely a study I would not sign up for. Participants are given a strong antibiotic that kills all of the microorganisms living in the digestive tract, and then they are asked to collect stool samples over the next weeks as the flora repopulate in the gut. Then the lucky lab techs get to analyze the stool samples.

Many holistic oriented, health conscious people, especially mothers, are aware of the importance of maintaining healthy intestinal flora for proper immune and health functioning. The Human Microbiome Project has the potential to make that information for well-known and accessible to the public, providing evidence for the importance of microorganisms in association with health and disease with applications across the medical and healthcare fields.

Outsourcing Health Care

A friend informed me of a new concept that has implications for childbirth: outsourcing healthcare. Evidently, there is a new trend for insurance companies, to cut costs, to send patients outside of the United States with cheaper healthcare services for procedures, etc. The example my friend told me about was patients being sent to India for heart transplants. While there, patients are given "gold-star treatment", first class flights, nice hotels, limos to and from the hospitals, gift baskets, etc.

I have heard about the birthing mother's receiving celebrity treatment for extra cash-- $15,000 for continuous labor support provided by an obstetrician, extra special hospital accomdations, incentives, etc. but outsourcing takes it to a whole new level.

Next, will there be reports of U.S. insurance companies sending birth women to India, France, Spain, etc for gold-star scheduled inductions to decrease costs?

In order for that outsourcing to be effective in the case of labor and birth, the birth would have to be scheduled, otherwise women might be living out of hotels for 2-6 weeks waiting to go into labor. I can't imagine how that could still be cost-effective. So let's assume that a woman is put on airplane at 38 weeks and the induction is schedule for a day or two after arrival.

Would that be cost effective?
Do we need to see more inductions of labor and scheduled c-sections?
Would those births be granted dual citizen status?
How would the birth stats be reported--in the country of birth or in the United States?
Will this be a new trend or will common sense prevail?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Northwest Taking Legal Action Against VBAC Bans

This was recently posted on ICAN, providing legal representation for women seeking Vaginal Births After Cesarean (VBAC), inspite of hospital policies in the Northwestern United States banning them.
I’m a lawyer with the Northwest Women’s Law Center in Seattle. I’m
investigating possible legal responses to bans on vaginal birth after
cesarean at hospitals in the northwest states - Alaska, Idaho, Montana,
Washington and Oregon. If you are currently pregnant and want to have a
VBAC, but are facing a hospital policy that would require you to have a
c-section regardless of whether you want it and whether it is medically
necessary, and are willing to consider working with a lawyer on this, we’d like to talk with you. Please email us at Our services will be provided free of charge.

I believe this is a follow-up to the Seattle PI editorial from September 2008.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


The last couple of weeks could be called the weeks from Hades. Between me and Peter, he had his comprehensive exams to be advanced to Ph.D. candidacy or ABD status (all but dissertation) and I was making the final revisions to my thesis that were suggested by my committee at my defense. On top of that, I'm in my 11th week of pregnancy, the week where either my dream from a few weeks ago would be realized or not. I guess maybe the stress of those weeks could have resulted in a miscarriage but thankfully they haven't.

I'm still pregnant, yay!

Peter passed his exams! yay!

My thesis is done, mailed and delivered! yay!

Not surprisingly, my house is a mess. I guess that's what we'll be working on today. After my massage (my reward for the last couple of weeks).

Willem present at birth

Someone recently asked me the question if I planned for Willem to be present at the birth of his younger brother or sister in May. I have given lots of thought to that and had an experience in the past week that have really made me think about it.

I do want my Chunka to be present while I'm laboring and birthing. My dream is that he'd play with his cars and toys, cuddle with me, come to me give me hugs and kisses, and nurse occasionally, and be asleep for good parts of it. I'd love it if he played in the water with me and made me laugh through labor. Realistically, it could work out that he's sleeping through the night while I bring his brother or sister in the world. But in all fairness he'll be 2 years old, the process can be long and require lots of concentration and space; he may need a place away from mom for both of our sakes. He'll definitely need some of his own support and help because I'll be a little busy during that time.

I was trying to make plans accordingly by asking my doula friend to be there for him during labor and birth. She was okay with that for awhile and then she got freaked out when she realized that she and Chunka won't know each other and he could be uncomfortable with her. She also realized that as a doula/midwife/child care person, her focus would be pulled in all sorts of directions even though she's hired to be there as help for the kid. I understand that and I'm glad she told me that sooner than later, because I'd really be stuck in a lurch if she told me that and I was 33 weeks pregnant.

Now I'm trying to find out what my Plan B is. I do live in a very supportive community where I have friends living next door and across the courtyard. Chunka is comfortable with the kids and the parents, and he'd be nearby so taking him somewhere is not a big deal and having someone bring him back is not a big deal either. Sounds ideal, but I'm very concerned about how supportive my neighbors/friends are of homebirthing. Everyone has had their kids in a hospital and I have no idea how much fear/doubt/discomfort they have regarding homebirthing.

One neighbor is probably more comfortable with it than the others (she's the one who lives right next door, in fact we share a wall). Her sister has had babies at home and is a Bradley instructor and her mom has been a Lamaze instructor. I think she's comfortable with birth but I need to ask her if she's willing to help me out when I'm birthing next door to her.

The other neighbor is very openminded and non judgemental. She's a reader of my blog in fact so she knows exactly what my plans are, and since she knows that I'm worried that she would balk at being apart of those plans.

And the other neighbor, she's kind of in awe of me and never said anything negative about me giving birth at home this pregnancy but at the same time probably harbors all sorts of fears and doubts so I'm really hesitant to ask her.

Basically, I don't want to open myself up to all sort of questions and fears and concerns. Ideally I want someone there for him (and nearby me) who:
1) knows Chunka and he's comfortable with them.
2) is comfortable around birth.
3) lives nearby.
4) won't project their fears surrounding birth on me or my husband.

That's already made me reject the offers from two friends who live locally but further away from me. They are more likely to be more comfortable with birth but they wouldn't have the advantage of taking Willem for a nap at their homes or playing with their children nearby.

At least its still early in the pregnancy and I do have time to figure these sorts of things out.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

An emotional link to morning sickness?

Who has ever heard of 2 am morning sickness?

I hadn't.

And I really like that my bout of toilet hugging is connected to the worrying I was doing last night. I honestly think I worried myself sick.

That needs to stop.


I feel nauseous.

But not so nauseous to do anything about it.

Other than complain.


Indecision and Straddling the fence

Blame this post on pregnancy hormones, if you would like. I'm struggling right now on separate but related issues.

I can't decide if I can be confident that this will be a pregnancy that results in a living child or if I'm going to be experiencing a miscarriage in the next 10 weeks or so. Some may call it irrational, but I have this fear of miscarrying. I know that statistically I will likely experience at least one miscarriage during my childbearing years. Knowing that can kind of prepare me for it, but I don't ever want the current pregnancy to be a miscarriage. Willem was my first pregnancy and he was born alive and healthy and is a wonderfully loving one year old now. That makes me think that I'm even more likely to have a miscarriage with this one, because its bound to happen sometime, right? I think the only thing than can remedy these fears is some patience. I'll know within the next 10 weeks if this pregnancy will miscarry or not. Not very comforting. Of course, I have been turning to prayer to find peace on this issue. I'm hestitant to seek a priesthood blessing because of the outcome from the last (which is also contributing to my fears now). Maybe Peter is ready to try to give me another but he said after that last one that he's afraid too.

The other struggle I'm facing right now is overcoming my cultural heritage when it comes on being more reliant on my self and my God, instead of medical professionals. I feel drawn, out of habit, to make all the prenatal appointments, have the early viability ultrasound and all the bells and whistles of modern maternity care even though I know that its not effective, or based in evidence and best practice. I'm also drawn to the unassisted prenatal care because it seems like it can be part and parcel of unassisted birthing. Feeling like I'm being pulled in both directions, I struggling to figure out what my balance will be. I have a midwife that I will consult with on a semi-regular basis for prenatal appointments, even though many of the clinical services I'll decline (even though I'm tempted to take everything that is offered).

Having a midwife for prenatals (and back-up for the birth) is my way of making sure that I have an advisor, counselor and consultant when it comes to concerns and questions that I may have. Part of having a solid consultant/consultee relationship is taking the time to nurture and grow that relationship, which makes me feel obligated to schedule more prenatal appointments than I would like it. I also fear that feeling obligated to building that relationship will lead me to feel obligated to accept attendance at the birth.

Last night at my first prenatal appointment, I felt my first bit of accepting something that I otherwise wouldn't choose for myself, because of a sense of obligation. There were two other women who attended the appointment with the midwife. I had gotten a heads-up from my doula friend who works with the practice that one additional person would be there (a midwife assistant). But I was surprised that there was another person there as well, I think a student. I wish that I didn't feel that more people than I comfortable with are being pulled in to work with me. Next time if there are assistants or students present, I will likely request that they stay out of the room for my appointments because my goal is to build a relationship with the midwife, on the level that I'm comfortable with, as I figure out that balance between keeping professional emotional distance and building a trusting advising relationship.

And then to further complicate my feelings on that issue, I can go back to being afraid that I may just lose this baby anyway, making all this thought and worrying unnecessary. Sigh. Help thou my unbelief...

I'll accept prayers and positive thoughts on my behalf to those who are willing to give them.