alicia: November 2004 Archives

I don't understand

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There is a story, possibly apocryphal, about a child who repeatedly bashed his head against the wall. When asked why, the child replied, "Because it feels so good when I stop."
There are people who carry anger and bitterness against the church, against organized religion, against Christianity. Many of them have endured great pain and suffering in their lives. Some have come to the conclusion that their sorrows are because of the (to them) malign influence of religion. They become anti-Catholics, anti-Semites, anti-Christians and some even become crusaders for their cause, trying to protect others from the influence of religion.
I guess I can understand the crusading zeal - I have my share of it too. I want to protect those I love and even those I have never met from what I see as the errors of common value systems such as secular humanism, scientism, the worship of sexual expression as the highest good, or whatever. So on some level I can understand those crusaders out there who want to restrict or eliminate various 'Christian' values such as traditional marriage, monotheism, sin and redemption, chastity, faith, or whatever.
What I don't understand is why some of these persons spend the time and energy seeking out the weblogs and other outlets of those whose values are in opposition to theirs, and why they try so earnestly to convince those of us who hold these values, to change. They must find it frustrating, even painful, much like the child bashing his head against the wall.
I must confess, I find myself admiring their missionary zeal even as I shake my own head in disagreement with their viewpoints. I personally don't take the time and energy to seek out the weblogs of, say, radical feminists, atheists, secular humanists, and argue their points. Maybe I should.
I remember, though, that when I was in their midst, I would not have been convinved by any kind of argument. My then-belief in moral relativism would have kept me from being persuaded by any argument, at least to the point where I would have had to change. I could not be converted to Christianity until I became convinced that there was and is an absolute truth, and that my task is to find and follow that truth wherever it might lead.
So, I will reply to those who visit here and have questions, concerns, or comments. I will follow links that I have been given and will consider the wisdom of commenting. But I have decided not to become a frustrated and frustrating missionary. Does that make me a moral coward? Or am I simply trying not to cast pearls in the slop? Or is it a little of both?
If I truly believe in what I profess, do I have a moral duty to proselytize? Or do I run the risk of alienating those I would like to see converted? The great commission was given - "Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." How best should I follow that commandment?

what a way to spend Advent


Thyroid issues will take one of the CRM crew off-line for a while.
Please keep him in prayer.

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit


At the 6th Catholic Carnival

The season of the midwife

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I have always seen Advent as the season of the midwife. Advent has a secular meaning -""The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important - an arrival that has been awaited (especially of something momentous)". Today's readings from Mass Matthew 24:37 - 44 and Romans 13:11-14 both tell us that we will not know the hour but that we need to be prepared. So too is it with childbirth - we know the approximate time that the child is expected to arrive, but babies don't often arrive exactly when expected. As a matter of fact, only one in two hundred will actually arrive on the exact date that was estimated in advance. The EDC is the estimated date of childbirth, not the exact date - we can only know the exact date after the fact. So too for the children of Israel - they could know by signs and portents that the Messiah would be arriving, they could even know into what tribe He would be born - but they could not know until after the fact that He had arrived.
Tradition tells us that Mary had an easy childbirth, as she was protected from the 'curse of Eve' (Genesis 3:16-19). She did not bring forth her child 'in sorrow' - no, her sorrow was to come much later on. She must have had signs that the birth was imminent - such that she could prepare the manger and so on - but I am sure that she did not have the hours or days of hard work that most mortal women go through in preparation for giving birth. And I have heard that she had no midwife - something I find hard to believe if only to have a companion )as Joseph would not have been able to touch her at all once her labor began - not until the 40 days had passed).
Not all women experience severe pain in childbirth - but it is hard work. In Genesis, Adam was told that he would toil (etzev) to bring forth fruit from the earth by the sweat of his brow, and Eve was told that she would travail (etzev) to bring forth fruit from her womb. Eventually, God had mercy on His children - he sent the men draft animals and tools to help him plow and plant - and to women he sent the midwife.
Midwifery is mentioned early in the Old Testament. A sad reference is to the birth of Benjamin and death of Rachel - Genesis 35: 16-19 , probably a breech birth, as the midwife told Rachel she had a son even before he was fully born. My favorite reference is to the midwives of Egypt - Shifrah and Puah in one translation, Sephora and Phua in the Douay-Rheims translation. Their civil disobedience, their action to preserve life in the face of a culture of death, makes an admirable example to the midwives, nurses, and physicians of today. In Exodus 1:16-21, we learn that God not only approved but He rewarded those faithful midwives.
Being a midwife means spending a lot of time seemingly doing nothing, simply waiting on the baby and helping the mom cope. If I have done my job well, I will seem to be unnecessary. If I have helped a mom to stay healthy during her months as a lady-in-waiting, her hours of labor will be more manageable. I think that God has given us the equivalent of midwives to help us prepare for the coming of our Messiah - He has given us the sacraments and the priests to minister them to us. We are cleansed by Penance, fed by Eucharist, healed through both these sacraments and also through the Anointing of the sick.
The word "midwife" in English comes from the old English words mit (with) wyf (woman) - with woman. In Spanish and Portugese there are two terms for this calling - partera and/or comadrona. Partera is to assist in parturition, comadrona is a mothering companion. There is also a lovely idiom for giving birth - dar luz (to give light). The mother gives light to the child she is bringing forth. Sometimes, in the moments of birth, we joke around and tell the baby "come to the light". I have noticed over the years that, left alone, labors tend to happen more in the night time and that babies like to arrive with the dawn. Most labors these days are not left alone to find their own rhythms, but I know that of my 6 children, 5 were born between midnight and dawn, and none between noon and midnight.
Christ is our Light. In Advent we await the coming of our light, but we also have a responsibility to move towards that light. It is no mistake that, in that hemisphere which first became Christian, Advent comes as the days are becoming shorter and shorter. Have you ever noticed that the colors of the dawn in winter are the purples and rose of Advent? Lately I have had to leave for work before sunrise, and as I am driving south I can see the first streaks of purple turning rose with the sunrise, and I am reminded of the candles of my Advent wreath.

thank you

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to all who commented on my post 'paranoid', below.
I have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder for most of my life. As the days get shorter, I find that I have more mood swings and that I tend to over react to seemingly minor incidents. I try to reality check myself before I blow off at the handle. I really appreciate that you all have dropped by to remind me that I am not alone in the blogiverse!
Advent is coming! Get out the wreath and the candles and prepare to prepare for the birth of the King of Kings!

quiz alert

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You scored as Catholic. Welcome to the One, Holy, CATHOLIC, and Apostolic Church!
You my Friend are a Catholic.

family planning rant

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Dawn Eden notices that the MSM hasn't got a clue how contraception and abortion are linked.
I work in an aggressively secular environment. I stay here because I think that I am able to be a little bit of leaven. Maybe I'm fooling myself. The facility gets a fair amount of funding from Title X federal family planning funds. There is a full file cabinet drawer of info on contraception. When I came here, there was nothing in it on NFP except for a 1970s vintage booklet on fertility awareness that had been photocopied so many times that it was almost unreadable. That drawer now has some basic info, brochures from 3 local teachers, the front and back copied from a non-sectarian NFP book and info on lactational amenorrhea for childspacing.
I make the effort to tell women just how hormonal contraceptives function. (three mechanisms, one of which is abortifacient -may suppress ovulation, but not reliably;usually alter cervical mucous to inhibit sperm transport;render the uterine lining inhospitable to a developing embryo, and slows embryo transport through the tubes to the uterus such that the embryo can not survive the transport time). I remind them that fertility is a state of health and that to make ones self infertile is to create a biologically unhealthy state. They listen and then usually go on using their pills or their depo.
I keep hearing news stories about how we are increasingly the most obese nation around, especially our women. I wait in vain for some one to link the prevalence of hormonal contraception (especially depo and until it was off the market, norplant) to this problem. I wince thinking about the women now in their 30s who will have osteoporosis in their 50s from prolonged use of depoprovera. Yes, the obesity from the depo might partially offset the calcium depletion, but still.....
I still need to do my research, but I am convinced that there is a double standard about the approval of unsafe drugs - my impression is that the death risk (heart attack et al) from Vioxx, the muscle wasting risk from Baycol are actually much lower than the risks of serious consequences from hormonal contraceptives. The Pill kills 0.3 to 1.9 women annually in every 100,000 users ages 15 to 29. (If you click on this link, you will notice it is info on the patch, but scroll hafway down to find the mortality table (table 3) for contraceptives of all kinds). This table is a little deceptive - for those methods that have a direct risk of death, they list the actual deaths occuring during the usage period - but for other methods they list the death risk from the theoretical pregnancies that would occur if the method did not succeed at preventing conception/implantation. There is also no consideration of possible excess mortality and morbidity related to increased risk of obesity, hyperlipidemias, hypertension, delayed childbearing, or breast cancer. To be fair, there is some good research that taking combination OCPs for more than 5 years does reduce the risk of ovarian cancer - but so does pregnancy followed by breastfeeding such that there is a prolonged natural amenorrhea.

Yes, pregnancy can also be a cause of mortality and morbidity. I won't deny that. Abortion can also kill the pregnant or recently pregnant woman. Maternal mortality in women aged 21 - 29 was 7.4 to 7.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. If the choice was strictly between hormonal contraception and pregnancy/birth, it would seem that the risks are higher with pregnancy - but there is a flaw here - the flaw is in an assumption that one women using a contraceptive for one year equals one pregnancy, and the other logical flaw is to assume that the only way to prevent pregnancy is to use hormonal contraception. NFP properly used can be as effective (as hormones) at preventing conception if that is the desire of the users. NFP is more effective than barrier methods and spermicides. As I see it, the major health risk of NFP is that the users may decide to have relations on a fertile day, and then have a pregnancy. That is why communications and joint decision making are key to effective practice of NFP if the intent is to delay or avoid pregnancy. It is not a good method of family planning for women who are in abusive relationships, for example. If a woman has no power to say NO and have it respected, then NFP will probably not help her to delay or prevent childbearing. But that is not the fault of the method, it is the fault of a culture that denies women the right to say no, a culture that has so separated sexuality from procreation that women are literally surprised that they got pregnant without planning to.

From City Journal

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is anyone out there? have I managed to totally alienate my few readers? Nahhh. I would guess that you are all too busy with your lives and getting ready for Thanksgiving to drop by and comment.

music and meaning

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(in honor of St. Cecilia)
I have a 45 mile commute (one way) to the clinic and hospital where I work. That works out to spending anywhere from 7 to 9 hours a week in the car. I listen to a lot of radio. I split my time between listening to NPR (Maine, New Hampshire, and 2 Boston stations) and WXRV out of Boston.
I have noticed that there are times when listening to certain songs will bring me back to a time in my life when I was in the car, listening to that same song. Since WXRV isn't ruled by corporate America, its play list isn't limited to the Billboard charts or the focus groups - it is more radio as I remember it. For example, they are the only commercial station I have heard play Mindy Smith's hauntingly beautiful song "Come to Jesus" in the regular rotation. But I digress. Actually, sitting in the car my thoughts often digress quite a bit. A bit of music can be for me as compelling as Marcel Proust's fragrance of Madeleines and I am off in a revery of some kind.
Music is a powerful tool. I learned my ABCs to music and I bet that you did too. I learned my multiplication tables by singing them long before I knew their meaning - and I was using the tool of multiplication at the age of 6. I don't remember not knowing so many of the things I learned through music. I learned the seasons of the church year through singing "Advent Tells us Christ is Near". I acquired an unfortunate distaste for Sts John Bosco and Therese of Liseaux through being forced to learn certain schmaltzy 'hymns' to sing on their feast days. Sappy 40's Tin Pan Alley tunes, yuck!
I think we have all had tunes stuck in our brains from time to time. I think so musically that most of the time I feel like I have an entire radio station in there! That is why liturgical music is so important. Some of the stuff that has crept into Catholic hymnals, both of the throwaway and the other kind, is not worthy of the traditions of the Church. Some of it is downright heretical, to boot. I can handle bad music better than I can handle bad theology. One is a matter of taste, the other of doctrine and dogma. Kumbaya may be boring and not terribly appropriate, but it is theologically correct to ask God to "come by here" when we are in need. It is not, however, correct to assert that we become bread and wine or that we can raise ourselves up without the help of God. I wonder which came first - bad catechesis or bad church music.
It isn't, for me at least, an argument against recently written hymns. My taste in musical genres is eclectic - dare I say catholic? - and Gospel, folk, polyphony, antiphonal chant; Latin, Greek, Spanish, English; a capella, guitars, piano, organ or full on orchestra - I think that these can all be a part of worship and prayer (maybe not always at Mass, but we have lots of other ways in addition to Mass to praise and worship and call upon our triune God. Nope, my concern is for the messages that are percolating into our brains through the music. 'Inclusive language' with its message that the only way to equality is sameness; First person God where we speak as if God's creation is on the same plane as God (get a clue, we aren't); and the aforementioned subtle heresies of language. Those are my concerns.
Liturgical music should be aimed upwards and outwards. The melodies should waft upwards like incense spiraling to the heavens. The words should reflect the eternal truths of our faith. The musicians - singers, instrumentalists, composers et al - should not be seeking applause or self aggrandizement but rather the glory of God. If the congregation applauds the music, we have not done our job.

Viva Cristo Rey


The cry on the lips of many martyrs, "Long live Christ the King", is the fitting close to the church's year. "Jesus, remember me, when you come into your Kingdom", said the good thief.
Heaven is not a democracy, it is not a republic, it is a kingdom.
The Church is the kingdom on earth - imperfect, flawed, sinful - but still Christ's Kingdom.
It is not a democracy. We get our marching orders from the King of Kings.

promises, promises


Some of you may have noticed that I have ADD - I get easily distracted. The upside is that I can multitask and keep track of chaos - the downside is that I have way to many half-finished projects hanging around. I was reading the last issue of Faith and Family (thanks to whomever in the St. Blog's Women's club suggested that mag!) about some one who comes into your home to help you get organized and chuckling as I read it. I still intend to finish my series on Vioxx and the FDA - the news lately on that topic is getting even more interesting - but I haven't been able to muster the energy to find the citations for the facts I want to cite. Unlike Dan Rather, I do fact check especially with controversial stuff.
In OB, things tend to run in sets. Around the board, when we report off to each other (and soemtimes get informal consults) we refer to this as "The flavor of the week". One recent week, the flavor was hypertension. I think we must have admitted somewhere between 5 and 7 patients who were pregnant and had blood pressure issues over the course of the week. It could have been more, I wasn't counting the ones from the other practices at our hospital. I know that there was a 24 hour call period where I had two patients at term being induced for their blood pressure. The good thing was that their pressures stayed OK enough and their labs were normal enough that I didn't have to turf them to OB management. The bad thing was that I had to not only manage the patients but also watch the student staff (residents, med students) very closely and but teach at the same time. That meant that I had to cancel 12 patients appointments in the office and reschedule them for later.
One of the moms had a very nice birth and a baby who was a great nurser (yeah!!!) but the other one was still remote from delivery when I left at 0830 and turned her over to the other midwife in the practice. That meant that she had to cancel 15 patients and reschedule them! Add that she went on vacation 12 hours after the end of that shift and you get the picture. 27 appointments to rebook within a few days. Thankfully the pregnant moms understand why - they know that if it's their turn we'll do it for them. It's a little harder for the Pap smear and gyn checkup stuff - sometimes these women have arranged time off from work for their annual and it is rough to be rebooked at the last minute. Anyhow, what I was getting at is that being busy at the hospital spills over into being busy at the office - and having totally sleepless nights on call translates into getting home and sleeping rather than doing housework, getting organized, or preparing for the holidays. And writing? well, I try to answer the urgent and important communications in my life, email or otherwise. But mostly the posts I want to write are sitting in the back of my brain, percolating.
I must also confess that there are activities in which I participate regardless of my state of sleep or not. For example, the second Friday of every month is our local Ultreya (cursillo event) and I don't miss that if at all possible. And last night we had our annual Cursillo dance which was a blast. I try not to miss choir rehearsal and Sunday Mass is non-negotiable.
I see that many of my fellow bloggers are talking about Thanksgiving. I suppose I could too - but I probably won't. It isn't that I don't have things to say, but that if I am going to write a long post I really want to get to my backlog of ideas and thoughts. But who knows what will fall out of my brain in the next few days. I am really glad that there are other bloggers out there who can keep up with the other stuff of life. I don't any more feel the compulsion to put a "me too" out there.



It has been all over St.Blog's since it happened, but I will also chime in on the news - the gentlest blogger in the parish has gone to his eternal reward.
He was the first to link to me way back when I was an insignificant microbe of a blogger, and updated the link within a few hours of when I moved my URL. He always struck me, like Karen Marie Knapp, as one of those souls whose prayers keep the universe together.
His funeral arrangements follow - taken from the comments box of his last entry. His health has not been good, and he was apparantly planning a visit to his earthly physician - but now he is in the hands of the Great Physician.
Jerry - please pray for us.

Angel in the Waters


Some of you may remember when I first posted the link to this beautiful children's book.
I had the occasion to meet the brother of the author. Turns out that Regina is a homebirthing, midwife supporting
,mother of many. Her brother is also a wonderful human being who will make a fine physician some day.
I'm thinking about ordering several copies of the book to give away - maybe I will even put some in the office waiting room - now there's a subversive idea! ( I work in an aggressively secular setting). I encourage you to go and do likewise.
If we want quality children's books we need to support them.

Language is Power


for engineers


pray for me!

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Tomorrow I will be giving a talk on family planning to around 10 couples in a marriage prep course.
I will have about 40 minutes - that's all. I have total carte blanche. I have prepared a set of handouts and brochures already. I have teaching schedules and contact info for most if not all NFP teachers in New Hampshire.
Those of you who have gone through marriage prep in the Catholic church - what do you remember about this talk? What worked? what didn't?
I have lots of different ideas about how to approach this, but I haven't written an outline or prepared lots of AV stuff - I am relying on the Hopy Spirit to help me on this one.
Addendum - there were 9 couples there. I didn't get a lot of questions, but neither did I get any snickers or yawns. One couple there had already been through a course, and had some intelligent questions. One couple there was from Maine and were more interested in midwifery than NFP - I gave them my contact info and I hope to hear from them soon. I enjoyed myself and I hope that the other 8 couples will sign up for an NFP course before their wedding days.



"A Contemporary Approach to Women's Health Issues: NaPro Technology"
medical conference will be held March 11, 2005 from 9:00am-4:30pm in
Fargo ND. Dr. Thomas Hilgers, Director of the Institute for Human
Reproduction will be the guest speaker. This conference is intended for
medical professionals, natural family planning instructors and
interested persons. To obtain more information about this conference,
contact Rachelle Sauvageau, Diocese of Fargo, 701-356-7910 or by e-mail
at rachelle(dot)sauvageau(at)fargodiocese(dot)org.

I'll surface soon

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Been very busy at work and home. Short on sleep, too.

non-partisan information

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Birth stories


Selkie's first birth
Pansy's speedy election day baby
If you want yours posted, send me the link!
Elena's stillbirth

babies having babies

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If any of my readers wants to research some of the good statistical questions from the comments box below, feel free. Specifically- has child abuse or infanticide risen in conjunction with the increase in abortion-on-demand?
I can just make observations - anecdotal evidence if that. It has seemed to me that news stories about child abuse and infanticide have been increasingly common over the last 30 years of my life but maybe I just wasn't paying that much attention the first 20 years. Or maybe the problem has always been there and prevalent but didn't get the media attention.
I do know that there have been enough 'dead baby in the dumpster' stories that several states have found it necessary to pass 'safe haven' laws - basically formalizing the legal and anonymous abandonment of a newborn in a designated 'safe place'. I don't know if that has worked, though.
I also remember that, in my first 6 months out of nursing school, I took care of a young woman who was in our locked room (hospital jail cell). She was locked up awaiting trial on infanticide charges. She birthed her baby in the bathtub at home, and when the baby didn't breath or cry right away she panicked and threw her out the window. I never knew the rest of the story. She was on our floor for a couple of days, then went back to the women's jail.
I've spent much of my professional career as an RN and later a CNM taking care of pregnant women who don't have much in the way of options. There are days when I dream of finding an affluent yuppie clientele - the kind that bring their personal masseuse or chiropractor along in labor. But for whatever reasons, I have found more often that I have been working among the low-income and disadvantaged population. It is rare that one of my patients is married and actively desired the pregnancy for which I am seeing her. It does happen, and I am grateful when it does because it gives me the strength to keep going, and it also tempers my tendency to get cynical. But I see a lot of girls, legally minor children, who are pregnant. They can't consent to get a tattoo or ear piercing, but they are having babies. We follow the state laws about reporting the pregnancy as evidence of statutory rape (where applicable) - but the response from the state agencies has basically been a big yawn.
Adoption is not unheard of but is pretty rare. Abortion is actually more socially acceptable to many of these girls and their families. There isn't any public evidence. It is interesting why some moms don't place the baby for adoption - often her mom doesn't want her to. I see that a lot. Sometimes grandma takes over and raises the kid, more often grandma has the baby shower and takes some pix and then is unavailable when the baby mom needs help. Maybe what we need is to acknowledge that a minor child is legally incompetent to act as guardian for anyone? Even (especially?) her own child. Maybe mandating a temporary guardian for both the baby and the mom is an answer.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the moms I see are not getting pregnant to collect welfare. They aren't thinking that far in advance. They are getting pregnant because they are having sex, and they are having sex for many complex reasons, not just because "it's fun". Cutting off welfare would probably not decrease the teen pregnancy rate, but would just result in more of those babies living in deeper poverty. Nor would it be likely to lead to more of these babies being voluntarily placed for adoption. There has to be a better way to deal with these complex issues and to protect these babies from becoming the target of abuse or neglect.
I personally think that we prematurely closed the 'homes for unwed mothers' of previous generations. If these high risk moms had a safe and supportive environment to be mothered and thus, learn how to mother their infants, it would make a huge difference. There are waiting lists at the few remaining facilities of this kind - and I know that at least one made the decision recently to exclude girls under the age of 18 (in other words, they won't provide help to those who need it most).
Stopping child abuse has been an ongoing challenge. Something I thought about putting in my previous post (but didn't) is that the first child abuse case brought in the USA was filed under an animal abuse statute. Our culture even over 100 years ago gave more legal rights to domestic animals than to children. The recognition that children are not miniature adults has only been around for the last 100 years or so - and the forces of evil are fighting against that recognition (see TeenWire's efforts to reduce the age of consent and to normalize pedophilia etc). I think that my commenter's observation that
"I think a pretty good case can be made from the other end - that the lack of value society places on children has given rise to a generation of young adults who don't value life, either unborn or otherwise" is pretty astute.
Stopping abortion is also not going to be easy. It will be packing two pounds of worms into a one pound can. We can't go after the problem from only one angle. We need to eliminate or reduce incentives to abortion, we need to reduce factors that lead to those pregnancies prone to being aborted, we need to figure out how in real life we can love the sinner and hate the sin. If we can do the job well enough, it won't matter if abortion is legal or illegal - it will simply be unthinkable.
Respecting life starts at the beginnig of life - it doesn't end there. Fr. Frank Pavone in his talks always challenges his listeners - "What have you done to support life lately?". Maybe we need to figure out a way to adopt a pregnant woman (who may not be as cute as her unborn child but may certainly be more needy) and put our values to work.
what say you all?

why we blog

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from Mr Riddle
what he said!

Thursday we spent outdoors in the cold, preparing the flowerbeds for winter. One of the harder things for me about living in New England has been the seasonality of life. There are seasons in Southern California, but they are more subtle and for years I was accustomed to pruning my roses just before Christmas and planting my bare-root shrubs and trees during the kids' winter break. Having to plan for snow and frost is rough for my psyche.
Gardening is, however, not only good for the body but good for the soul. It gives one time to reflect on all kinds of things, some of which is immediately forgotten, some of which percolates through the mind.
John took the time to write a little about what he was pondering during the gardening spree. I had some thoughts too, welling up as I was planting bulb after bulb (the last of the winter bulbs were discounted anywhere from 20% to 50% so I think I overbought - I know that I planted over 100 of the little beasties and John did his share too. I hope they all bloom!) But the news I heard when I got into work yesterday morning blew all those garden thoughts away. I just don't understand how anyone can beat an infant. Period. I just don't understand it at all.
I think that maybe part of what has happened is that our culture is so focused on planning and control that we don't easily tolerate the inconveniences of life. Margaret Sanger and the Planned Parenthood types have succeeded to a large extent in changing the cultural mileu. I have repeatedly seen that much of Gen X and Y don't seem to get that sex and babies are connected. Kids are repeatedly surprised that they are pregnant, despite the fact that they were having sex (often with more than one person). The contraceptive mentality is so pervasive that kids don't think they will get pregnant without wanting to - even if no contraceptive is used. Dawn Eden has gone into some of this in greater depth as she has dumpster dived PP. But I think that even she misses some of the points about the reasons God gave us sex.
Getting pregnant is seen as an inconvenience, not as the natural consequence of using the sexual faculties. A baby is seen as a burden, not as the greatest gift that God can bestow. An out-of-wedlock pregnancy is no longer seen as an informal marriage proposal. (old joke - a newly wed can accomplish in 6 months what it takes a cow or countess 9 months). Have any of you out there tried to explain the concept of a 'shotgun wedding' to a young adult? The amazing thing is that so many of these marriages did work, because the families of both parties pulled together and because the expectations on marriage were less about romantic love and infatuation, and more about learning to love each other and to work together to form a family.
Abortion has been promoted on many grounds, including the idea that a baby is better off killed in the womb than tortured or beaten after birth. It is a false choice, but horrific cases of child abuse like the one cited above are sometimes used as fodder for that argument. But I wonder if the dehumanization of the fetus and embryo that is a necessary part of abortion 'rights' has spilled over into a dehumanization of the human infant and human child? When we have so-called 'ethicists' like Peter Singer who state that parents should have the right to euthanize a born child, why are we surprised at reports of less formal infanticide or child abuse?
There is a large and vocal group that states the way to prevent abortion is through the promotion of effective contraception, and (though this part is usually whispered) encouraging the sterilization of 'the unfit'. It seems logical - people who aren't pregnant don't usually get abortions. It takes a lot more thinking to see how contraception, by encouraging 'free sex' and by disconnecting sex from babies, can actually lead to an increase both in abortion and in unexpected parenthood. I really think that we need to get across the idea that if you aren't ready for parenthood, you aren't ready to have sex. And in my ethos, being ready for parenthood means being married. Not having a certain income or various material goods, but having that sacramental relationship that will help you to get through the rough spots of sleepless nights anbd colicky babies, of sassy teenagers and rebellious toddlers.
I am actually not happy with the concept of a planned or unplanned pregnancy. Pregnancy is not really something that can be planned. It can be anticipated and prepared for, it can be a total surprise, it can be a happy event or a totally shocking and unhappy discovery - but it can't truly be planned. If you live in New England, you learn to expect snow in winter, but you can't really plan to have a white Christmas.

urgent prayer request


Karen Marie is in the hospital again
I had the opportunity to spend several hours in her company earlier this year. She is a wonderful feisty woman who bears up under some pretty stiff infirmities with grace and courage. Please hold her in prayer.
Our Lady of Lourdes, intercede for her!

comments on theology of the body


and a Jewish wedding
from dawn
Oh how I wish I could get this across to some of my patients!

a poignant diatribe

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thought provoking thoughts

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A married couple post about the meaning of the sexual union and what our cultural misunderstandings have done to us all.
He speaks here and here
She speaks here and here
Thanks to Happy Catholic for the links

wonderful birth story

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for a wonderful new Moss baby

Put this on my Christmas List


A documentary record of the birth of a baby
delivered by Dr Grantly Dick-Read
I had the opportunity to see his film "Childbirth without Fear" (1953, 16mm, 18mins) about 20 years ago. I dearly wish that I had a copy to show modern moms - or even my residents!

Playing God?

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How do IVF babies turn out?
I would like to say that, in my 10 years as an L&D nurse, I never saw an IVF mom have what we call "An uneventful pregnancy". I saw more than I would expect (even given the age and other medical issues) of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, dysfunctional labor - and a cesarean rate that approached that of Brazil (greater than 75%).
I wondered then, and still do, if some infertility is God's way of protecting some women's health and life?
I made the decision that, as a midwife, I would not take as patients women who had needed this major of an intervention to get pregnant. I think that the midwife is a specialist in normal pregnancy, and that these pregnancies are not normal and should be cared for by specialists in abnormality. I have gotten a little flak on that from some of my colleagues.
One of the interesting things I have learned in studying natural fertility in depth is how many protective measures the body has! Cervical mucous is designed to speed healthy sperm to a waiting egg, while trapping and destroying malformed or unhealthy sperm. One of the most common assisted fertility techniques, IUI (intrauterine insemination) bypasses the cervical mucous. Why not use measures to enhance the health and quantity of that mucous, rather than bypass?
Or why not help men to have healthier sperm through lifestyle measures such as avoidance of excessive heat, avoidance of harmful chemicals, etc?
The infertility industry exists to bypass normal fertilization, not enhance it. It is a sad commentary on our culture.

On Arlen Spector's comments

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The NY Times weighs in.
I think that his initial comments were a matter of 'open mouth, insert foot'. His later 'clarification' did little to calm the storm.
I tend to believe that he was simply trying to state the obvious, not to threaten to block pro-life appointments. However, he showed an appalling lack of common sense and that, if for no other reason, makes me willing to lobby against his expected appointment.
I will also say that I was puzzled and hurt by Senator Santorum's earlier endorsement of Mr. Spector over his pro-life opponent. It reminded me a lot of how the Republican party in NH schemed to oust a pro-life, pro-family Senator and replaced him with 'moderate' Sununu junior.
I may have voted for more Republicans in this last election than I have ever before in my life, but that doesn't mean that I whole heartedly endorse the party.

Young, confused, and catholic

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I've watched from the sidelines as a brother in Christ has see-sawed through some pretty tough times, and I have always tried to keep him in prayer. I ask you also to remember him in prayer.
Nathan has a lot of struggle and angst, but I think that God is going to do great things with him - eventually. I dimly remember being his age and struggling with all these issues - obviously my issues were not the same ones that he has - but conversion is seldom a one step process. Like Nathan, in the end my issues boiled down to one single issue - obedience.
Nathan - just keep listening to God and to the Church, the Bride of Christ.

I wonder if there's a connexion

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Elizabeth Edwards has breast cancerMrs. Edwards had a needle biopsy performed at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where Dr. Barbara Smith confirmed the cancer, Ginsberg said.

He said the cancer was diagnosed as invasive ductal cancer.

That is the most common type of breast cancer, and can spread from the milk ducts to other parts of the breast or beyond.

More tests were being done to determine how far the cancer has advanced and how to treat it, he said.
Did Elizabeth Edwards use donor eggs?
Edwards has publicly stated that she "used fertility treatments" and "took hormone shots" in order to have Emma Claire and Jack. (She wouldn't comment for this story.) That doesn't really explain much since any fertility expert will tell you that "taking hormone shots" is part of nearly all high-tech fertility treatments used today.
Breast cancer is so common, it is often hard to elucidate why one particular woman gets breast cancer when another is spared. Being pregnant ealry and often, with prolonged breastfeeding between pregnancies, seems to be protective. Treatment with synthetic female hormone analogues such as birth control pills and Premarin seem to contribute. The jury is out on the massive hormonal treatments associated with assisted reproductive technology, but I would have to consider that there is at least a potential risk involved.
Anyhow, please pray for Mrs. Edwards and her family.

election brief


Get Religion has some insightful responses to the MSM angst about the influence of Moral Values on the most recent election.
I remember listening to the NPR coverage Wednesday Morning and wondering why they were all so surprised.
I try to vote my values, not my pocketbook. I assume that most others do likewise. Certainly those who vote to tax themselves at higher levels to support the poor are voting their values above their pocketbook. Those who vote to support abortion are voting their values just as much as those who vote pro-life.

A benefit for Blessed Arrows

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Please consider supporting this ministry - details in the letter below.
Christmas Nativity Tradition
Hello! I want to let you know about a fundraiser we're working on to help support our favorite ministry - Blessed Arrows - which helps fund reversals of vasectomies and tubal ligations - and to bless many families (hopefully yours!) in the process.

We have a very special Christmas tradition which we've done for the past 13 years and it gets better every year ;-) I've been trying to share this wonderful tradition with other Christian families because it's such a blessing and really puts the focus on Christ during the Christmas season. I wanted to send this out early so you all would have time to start a Nativity Tradition with your own families this year.

Early in December, we purchase a nativity set, including a stable. We get some small (shoebox size) boxes and then package each piece of the nativity individually for mailing. On the outside of each package, we tape an envelope which contains a devotion and song related to that particular piece of the nativity. For example, with the package that contains the first Wiseman, we might include a devotion that tells the significance of the three gifts; gold,
frankincense, and myrrh, along with the carol, We Three Kings of Orient Are. We also cut the front cover off of old Christmas cards (such as a picture of the Wisemen) and include that in the envelope along with any other related item such as a bookmark, coloring pages of the Wisemen, crafts, recipes, etc. Instead of packaging the baby Jesus for mailing, we wrap that box with Christmas wrap and decorate it with bows and ribbons, we also include in the envelope a special Christmas card which we sign.
We prayerfully choose another family that we know -- not well enough, though, that we might see them too often and provide an opportunity
for our children to accidentally let the "secret" out to one of their children. We choose a family whom we would like to encourage or for whom we have been praying for. We then begin mailing out the packages one per day (we get all of the packages stamped at once at the post office, then bring them home to mail in our own mailbox). We do not put a return address on the packages -- however, due to recent terrorism concerns, we have the children decorate the outside of the boxes with stickers, crayons, markers, etc. to make sure the packages look Christmassy & "friendly" - not suspicious. We first mail out
the stable, then the donkey, cow, sheep, shepherds (one per day, of course), Wisemen, Joseph, and finally, Mary -- scheduled to arrive in their mailbox on Dec. 24th.

Beginning on the day that the other family will receive the first package, our family starts bringing out our own nativity set -- one piece per day. We allow the children to sip hot chocolate, or Christmas tea (instant tea, lemonade mix, orange drink mix, cinnamon, cloves and sugar) and eat popcorn during these times. We have a lot of candles for our Christmas decorations and we light them (taking care, of course, with all our little ones) and have our devotions by
candlelight. This creates an atmosphere in which the children are respectful and captivated with the devotions. We then sing the carol and read the devotions that we sent to the other family (we keep copies for ourselves). Since we try to choose a family with children close in age to our own, we then assign each child to pray for the corresponding child in the other family and Warren & I pray for the parents.
On Christmas Day, we bundle everyone up and deliver the baby Jesus personally -- caroling as we go! The receiving family is always so surprised to learn who's been sending these packages and we always enjoy this special time. So far, every family we've done this with (this will be our 13th year) has told us that their Christmas was the most memorable and blessed,
Christ-centered Christmas because of receiving the daily reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

After sharing about this tradition I had quite a few requests for more information from others who were interested in starting a similar tradition for their own families ... so, this year I've set up a webpage to make our "Nativity Tradition Packets" available which contain everything you need to begin your own tradition this year - excluding the Nativity set.

If you have any questions, please email me : vyckieb at conpoint dot com. I pray that many families will be blessed by this very special tradition this Christmas!

Please note: This is a fundraiser: ALL PROCEEDS from the Christmas Nativity Packets will go to support the Blessed Arrows Reversal Ministry .

God bless!



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The elections are over, now I hope we can get on with other important stuff. My dear husband tumbled into bed last night around midnight after close to 16 hours solid work making sure that the radio station would be able to do all the various remote broadcasts without any major glitches. Today he got up at the usual early hour to get the women in his life out the door to school and work, and then helped the gas man to install the lines and set up our (new to us/used) gas stove. Hurrah!!! After 4 years of tolerating an electric range, I am finally going to be able to cook with gas again!
I also had a couple of nice births this week - one where the mom graciously allowed me to let a medical student catch her baby (her 4th) and even let me teach him, on her, how to do an atraumatic placenta birth. The other mom was having her second baby and had her teenaged older daughter in the room. Big sister got to cut the cord and be among the first people to hold the little princess.
So it has been a reasonable week for me, despite the election furors. We had some fresh Brussel Sprouts from the CSA - I couldn't remember how I cooked them last year but I did remember that Erik suggests blanching them first, so I did that, and then cooked them on low heat in some garlic butter. Brussel Sprouts are about the only cruciferous vegetable that I didn't like, but I think I have figured out how to make them enjoyable - as long as I don't have to eat them out of season I should be OK.
My computer is still out for repairs. It's annoying, because all my blogging shortcuts are on it, and I don't want to leave trails on other computers so I am doing all kinds of stuff the long way. The result is that I am not posting as much as I usually would. I realize that I need to finish up my observations on the FDA etc - I have stuff drafted in my mind but writing it and adding in the links is more work than I am up to right now.
I hate the transitions to and from daylight savings time. I find myself waking up now at 0330 and only getting back to sleep just about the time I should be getting up.
Whoops, gotta go. One of the docs is asking me to go translate for him with his Spanish only speaking patient. more later.

A new soul

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on the eucharist


From President Bush


Why you should vote for me
I've voted. The lines were very long, but at least they didn't run out of ballots! NH has on-site voter registration, and several precincts ran out of the OCR ballots. They made photocopies, and people did vote, but those ballots will all have to be hand counted.
When I checked my voice mail the other day, there was one real message and 8 political messages.
Life in a swing state.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by alicia in November 2004.

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