Saturday, May 15, 2010

I Surrender

I've given up on trying to install the child-proof latches on our cupboards here in the house. Since we've moved back in to our house (after being away for nearly 5 months) we've discovered a whole new need to child-proof things now that Peanut can open doors and climb up drawer handles and really nothing seems to be out of reach anymore. I've been relying rubber bands and heavy hand-weights strategically placed in front of cupboard doors, along with the heavy utilization of the one or two really high and out of reach places that we still have in order to keep her from poisoning herself or setting herself on fire. You know. Things like that. Today I was going to tackle a few of the cupboards while she was out of the house with her father. And then after wrestling with the tools needed to do the installation, and trying to work around a very pregnant belly, I finally gave up in a fit of tears. Yes I'm at that point in the pregnancy where I'm very hormonal and the sheer fact I couldn't install a child-proof lock brought me to tears.

One of the reasons that it's so frustrating is that I've always prided myself on being handy enough to manage some basic fixes around the house. I can't fix a leaky toilet, for instance, but I can do some minor repairs and installation of small products that come with instructions and require only the use of a hammer and/or a screwdriver. I'm just that independent! But pregnancy changes things. And one of the things that I'm lamenting is the fact that during my first pregnancy, everyone was all, "Don't climb up on the chair! Don't lift that! Let me help!" And this time around it feels like the Mom-syndrome has set in. "You're a super-mom now, it's your job to do all of these things simultaneously and without any assistance." Ultimately it makes me think that this is really and truly my last pregnancy. Gboy and I may decide at some point that we'd like to add another child to our family, but I don't feel like another pregnancy is the route we'll be taking. I'm done with the nausea, the exhaustion, the hormones, the limitations on my own body. It's a miracle of life and all that, and I'm grateful that we got pregnant not once but twice, and some part of me appreciates the beauty of it all, but pregnancy is not fun or easy as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, instead of dealing with childproofing, I decided to clean the windows. It's spring cleaning time and I think the urge to get things done before the baby arrives has really motivated me. Enough that I fought off the desire to nap or otherwise rest despite the fact that some R&R sounds really good right about now. But I just don't feel like I have the luxury of sitting around and resting. Too much needs to get done. And Gboy is working his butt off to get a project completed before the new baby arrives; this is the downside of self-employment. He's here but he's not *here* - not available much of the time because he's, you know, trying to make a living.

I'm thinking that as long as I continue to be vigilant, we'll be okay without store-purchased child protection locks. I have learned to be creative with my home grown child proofing solutions! And in just a little more than 3 weeks my parents will be arriving to help out with Peanut before the new baby is due to arrive. I figure my Dad, Mr. Handyman, might actually like a project to work on here around the house. Nothing too onerous. Just a little child-proofing!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Birthing Around the World

Last night I watched "The Business of Being Born" and found it fascinating. Living in Seattle, we have a lot of options for natural childbirth and medication-free, low intervention births. Doulas and midwives seem to be plentiful and home births aren't unheard of here either. Needless to say, much of the information in the movie was familiar to me.

Having said that, it was still an incredibly inspirational movie about the power of women to give birth on their own terms without medical interventions and without the need of specialists or doctors or hospitals. What I find myself pondering is the cultural implications raised in the movie. For example, the movie suggests that something like 80% of all births in Japan have a midwife in attendance. While I think that's admirable (keeping the tradition of midwifery alive and relevant even in hospital or clinic settings as opposed to what we have in the U.S. where midwives are often unwelcome in hospitals) I wonder how accurate or meaningful this fact really is.

I had the sense from a number of women (both Japanese and non-Japanese) that I've heard from who delivered babies in Japan, that labor and delivery generally involves the pregnant mother lying on a bed while a doctor runs the show. Sure a midwife may be in the room, but I've never gotten the sense that comfort measures or encouraging a less "medical" or standard hospital delivery was part of their job responsibilities. If this is the case, and the hospital stay accompanied by doctor delivery of the baby is truly standard in Japan, then I'd argue that the mere presence of a midwife isn't sufficient to make things different in a meaningful way. It may be true that maternal mortality and infant mortality rates in the U.S. are both worse than the rates in Japan, but isn't it possible that this is because epidurals aren't widely available? (And if epidurals aren't used then the labor is less complicated and "risky" for a variety of reasons.)

All of this just makes me wonder about cultural similarities and differences. Does the fact that doctors and hospitals are seen as "the" place to give birth transcend Japanese and American cultures? Are midwives in Japan truly more influential in Japan than they are in the U.S., or are they simply more visible without any real influence on birth outcomes?