Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lawmaker may propose cutting epidurals, C-sections from medicaid

A bit of a delayed response on this bit of news, but it's still worth sharing.  Lawmakers in Utah are considering a proposal to overhaul Medicaid, starting with cuts in the most interesting of places- epidurals and elective Cesareans.  The move would be an attempt to minimize the spending the state says it makes for out-of-state college students "freeloading" on Medicaid (because apparently Utah has an epidemic of pregnant college girls) since they might not technically be employed, yet still dependent on wealthy parents residing elsewhere.  However, despite there being examples of how the rates of these procedures go down when insurance refuses to pay the high price for them, the motivation of this particular move is troubling.  

I agree with the response this has incited that denying a woman an epidural she is desperate for based on her insurance provider is classist and totally misogynistic.  On the other hand, exclaiming epidurals an issue of choice just doesn't sit well with me.  I guess it's that old feminist line of thought that says we have the right to escape the pain of childbirth, as if the pain of birth was, in fact, meant to punish us for being women.  It's not going far enough for me.  The right to a healthy, normal, empowered birth is a feminist issue.  This argument to protect Medicaid-sponsored epi's reeks of the sentiment that lower class women aren't capable of a normal, non-intervened birth (which is suspiciously useful to the state- can you imagine if poor women everywhere started having supported, empowering births?  Watch out!)  I agree that women who are systematically denied education and resources contributes to the lack of informed consent, and therefor the cascade of interventions, which makes an epidural sound pretty nice.  But nobody here is talking about providing the women effected in this situation alternatives (such as implementing hospital midwifery programs, like this one, and this one).  They're just fighting to protect the epidural.

This is a classic case of a few bad apples spoiling the bunch, because sometimes an epidural can be a useful tool, not every college kid has wealthy parents, and the overwhelming majority of pregnant women on Medicaid are there for a damn good reason.  It's just disappointing for me to see that the biggest reaction to this has been so unimaginative and classically self-blaming.  We should really be taking this opportunity to talk about how to empower the women this would effect, to look at the evidence, and try to create something positive out of a poorly motivated, yet opportunistic, change.  The question here should be, "Do we need the epidural?"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Motherwork as an oppressive state

I really didn't think I would be a stay-at-home-mom.  Ever.  

In fact, if I were to have gone to a fortune teller as a twenty-year-old, have her look in her deck and tell me that I would someday, very soon, be a stay-at-home-mom, married to a man who worked full time bringing in all the money, I would have demanded my money back.  Or punched her in the face, or both.  Obviously, I think my son is the most amazing human being I have ever met (and, for the record, I'm not the only one) and I consider my role as a mother one of sacred trust from the universe, however I wasn't really expecting the reality of this society's lack of appreciation for the work I'm doing to slap me in the face so.. hard.  I'm actually pretty upset about it.

As with everything in motherhood, it's too complex to completely explain, but other mothers have an intuitive sense of what I'm talking about when I say, "I've had it!"  Trying to explain it to others has been met with perplexed and apologetic responses such as, "But isn't it great that you get to raise your kid the way you want?" or "And you're doing such an important thing!" as if that's enough to shut me up and make it okay that I'm volunteering so much time for the benefit of society at large.  This is why the whole "cute baby reward" argument doesn't chalk up to me.  It's not okay for me to sacrifice paying work (believe me, if I got paid for my motherwork, I would shut right up) for a cute baby to cuddle with every night.  That's not the point of it for me.  It's hard work to consciously parent and to be bringing this kid up as a person who values the people around him (his mother included).  The U.S. minces no words in its value on this work.  And it's a hard pill for me to swallow.  Every.  single.  day.

I try hard not to resent my partner.  It's really hard!  The important thing with that is my compassion for his experience.  He would rather be parenting than working.  And I would rather be dragging the meat home.  This is why I married him!  I realize that he, too, is a victim in this nuclear set-up.  I wonder how this happened- is it just that easy to fall into this kind of situation for people?  Is it that prescribed?  The most difficult part of it is that I'm the one who's in charge of finding yet another solution.  And while I understand that any revolution or change comes from the ground, or those at the bottom, it just makes me wonder how much of that contributes to any sort of oppression.  How are the burnt-out expected to make their own lives better?  Where is the support?  I'm expected to schlep my car-seat-hating baby around town, find free childcare every week, feed him with my body, grow my own food, go to class, get good grades, AND organize that childcare co-op with all of the other isolated mamas in town that will magically solve all my problems? 

Again, I don't expect anybody without children to grasp this reality, to be fair.  It's also hard to hear things like, "I'm so glad I don't have kids", when I am asked how I'm doing (because I tell the truth).  Obviously, I don't have a single-handed solution, so I can't script the support, but hearing those types of things further undermines the great job I'm doing, and my contribution.  And right now, I'm out to make it known that my motherwork is a contribution to society, and that all mothers (and papas doing motherwork) are currently providing a free service in raising the next generation of rabble-rousers.  And it's damn hard work.  The last thing I need is to have some child-free privilege flapped in my face (intentional or not), because I value my work.  I just wish I wasn't so alone. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010



I've been full of it lately, feeling really connected again to my sexual power, my vitality.  I am sliding down a little, intoxicating my body with coffee, smoke, and fatty foods, preparing my journey back inward on this slope toward the darker me in my cycle.  Taking advantage of my wild heathen, getting a lot of good love-making in while I can.

I recently did my professional labor assistant training with toLabor (The Organization of Labor Assistants for Birth Options and Resources).  I'm a doula!  A doula with no births under her belt, but a few I'm holding in the hands of my future- a mama due in October, one in December, and I have an interview this week.  I'm just so eager to put all of the wisdom I was handed into practice already.  I'm being as patient as I can.  

Just checking in, I guess.
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