alicia: February 2005 Archives

Book Game

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Here are the rules:
(Stolen from Nikkianna)
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

"In many ways, my story exemplifies the history of my generation. I was caught up in the same adventures that seduced my peers and kept us wandering from idea to idea, experience to experience, spiritually homeless. I dived into middle-class American hedonism, surfaced in Eastern mysticism, raced back to Christianity, vacillated between Catholicism and Protestantisn, drifted into modernist heresy, then tied up at radical feminism,before falling into the abyss of deconstructionism, the most lethal of all assaults on my mental and spiritual well-being."
Prodigal Daughters by Donna Steichen

interview game


Harvard University president Lawrence Summers has suffered acrimonious condemnation, and may have jeopardized his job, for suggesting that the underrepresentation of women in engineering and some scientific fields may be due in part to inherent differences in the intellectual abilities of the sexes. But Summers could be right.
(MATT CRENSON, AP National Writer)

I think that it is obvious that there are differences in general between men and women. One is not superior to the other, and both can be taught to do all kinds of tasks. One of the greatest physicists in history was a woman, Marie Curie. Albert Schweitzer M.D. was known more for his nurturance than for his technical skill as a physician. I personally think that the disparity in the number of women vs men in the so-called hard sciences has more to do with a 'one size fits all' theory of education than with any innate differences in intelligence. I learned math and science in a very different way than my brothers did. I actually know and use more of these than either of my brothers do, also. But I flunked chemistry in High School because the way it was taught was so alien to my way of thinking and learning. My brothers have excellent language skills and use them regularly - but they both struggled in High School because the ways in which language was taught were oriented to a feminine way of learning. To quote Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young, "Summers also touched feminism's third rail: biological differences between the sexes."

Another factor is that women, by and large, are simply unwilling to sacrifice their legitimate desires for family on the altar of scientific ambition. The last page of Sunday's Boston Globe magazine (alas, not available on-line) pointed out that the tragedy isn't that most women are unwilling to put in the 80 hour workweek routinely, but that most men are. I used to get lots of folks saying to me, "you're so smart, why don't you just become a doctor?" to which my reply is pretty much, "I don't want to give up 11 years of my life". My family came first. We wanted a large family and I knew that would mean that there would be other things that wouldn't happen. I have few regrets, and none at all about having six children.

I watch the struggles that our OB residents go through, and it makes me sad to see what choices these young women are forced to make. The work week for residents was recently decreased from the triple digits to the double digits, and there is still wailing from the older docs that the new residents aren't paying their dues, and that they aren't going to be as well qualified when they graduate.

Interview questions

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Pick me! Pick me!
Posted by Dale Price at February 25, 2005 10:08 AM

OK, Dale, Here you go.
1. Why did you name your solo blog "Dyspeptic Mutterings"? Do you really suffer from chronic indigestion?

2. Why 2 blogs?

3. What is your favorite devotion, and why?

4. If you could have supper with 2 saints, who would they be and what would you serve?

5. Do you have a favorite Bible verse or saying? What is it? How does it speak to you?


OK, I'll play
Posted by Valerie at February 25, 2005 09:24 AM

Valerie, Here you go.

1. What was your impetus for deciding to homeschool?

2. Do you miss being a childbirth educator?

3. What saint are you most likely to call upon when your children are acting up?

4. What book did you just finish reading? Why did you decide to read that book, and would you recommend it to others?

5. Are you more comfortable barefoot or with shoes on? What are your favorite shoes, and why?

granola conservatives redux


some links I just rediscovered - a blog is a great filing cabinet!
Rod Dreher
Peter Kreeft

Nicene Creed, deux

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Eutychus Fell posts
" I must say, I prefer "seen and unseen" to "visible and unvisible" -- the first puts the burden on us: God made things and if we can't see them, tough luck; the second (visible and invisible) puts the onus on God: God made things invisible -- ah, so why even bother to look if we already know we can't see."

look at the context here:
"maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible."
God made ALL things. Even if we can't see them, He still made them.
Visible and seen, as you point out, do not have the same meaning. Visible is a state of being, seen is past tense. I am visible even if you don't see me. Seen and unseen subtly diminishes God and exalts humanity, and I am glad that we are going back to the more accurate translation.
The Church Fathers at the Council of Nicaea fought and argued every word, every point of grammar, and one phrase (the filioque clause) was a proximate cause of the schism between East and West. Words matter.

Have you ever read through the Latin for the Nicene Creed?
here is a great little bit of history and commentary on this creed.

I grew up reciting the 1549 English translation (raised Anglican, remember?) and was rather irked by the inaccurate translations foisted upon the english speaking Catholic parishes by the ICEL. (See my previous post on the topic) I am personally pleased that we will be returning to a more accurate (even if more complex language) translation.
The following is from the 1962 Missal
Nicene Creed (Latin first, then English)

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem coeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium. Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum, not factum, consubstantialem Patri: per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem descendit de coelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine: ET HOMO FACTUS EST. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis; sub Pontio Pilato passus, et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas. Et ascendit in coelum: sedet ad desteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est com gloria judicare vivos et mortuos. cujus regni non erit finis. Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem: qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre, et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per Prophetas. Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum. Et vitam ventura saeculi. Amen.

I believe in one God, The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. (here all present kneel) And became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary: AND WAS MADE MAN. (here all arise) He was also crucified for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who spoke through the prophets. And one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I await the resurrection of the dead and the life + of the world to come. Amen.

Friday Five

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Via Julie D.
1. Name 5 things in your fridge (steering clear of the regular suspects: milk, eggs, etc.).
Leftover pasta, tapioca pudding, wasabi cream cheese, blueberry-pomegranite juice, half a can of tuna.

2.Name one thing that is always in your pantry and tell why.
I have an extensive collection of canned beans and canned seafood, and when I use one I replace it. I am able to throw together a nutritious meal in minutes using these as protein sources and adding in whatever else I have on han.

3.What one gadget would you most like to throw out the window? On whom would you like it to land? Don't touch my gadgets! My husband's popcorn popper, on the other hand, is always falling out its cupboard and attacking me.......

4. What is the last thing you cooked in your microwave?
Last night, I used it to precook a white sauce and the broccoli that I used to throw together a crockpot cream of broccoli/cheddar soup. Mostly the microwave is used to heat vegetables and leftovers.

5. If you could go to a grocery store right now what would you buy?
Who's paying? If it was a supermarket sweep, I'd get lobster, shrimp, salmon, lots of good wine, fresh pasta and imported fruits and vegetables. But if it were on my nickel, probably bananas, bread, grapefruit and salad greens. I tend to keep my larder fairly well stocked, so that if we have a disaster of some kind we could keep going for a week or so. I think that's a legacy of growing up in the land of earthquakes to two Depression baby parents.

Interview game

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Via Rebecca of Doxology
Here's how it works. She posed me 5 questions and I am answering them here. If you want me to interview you, drop me a line in the combox and I will get back to you. Answer them on your blog and send me a link. If you don't have a blog and still want to play, I'll post your answers on my blog. I'll take the first 5 comers.

1. What made you decide to become a midwife?
short question, looooonnnnggg answer!
I grew up fascinated by the history of health care, and I remember reading books on the history of obstetrics and midwifery when I was 8. I actually wrote a school paper related to that when I was in the 5th grade. I am the oldest of 6 kids, and I remember lots about my mom's pregnancies as well as her breastfeeding the two youngest. It never occured to me that it would be controversial! When I was 10 I read my mom's copy of "Childbirth Without Fear". When I was in High School I read "Thank you Doctor Lamaze" and I also saw a lot of UCLA student films (my dad was taking classes) and I think about 1/3 of them were home birth films. When I was pregnant with my first child I read through three libraries on everything I could find related to childbirth and parenting and that included a dissertation by Lester Hazell (home birth and midwifery proponent) on home birth in the San Franciso bay area. I knew that I wanted to have those kinds of births myself, but at the same time I was scared (my mom nearly died at age 21 during her third pregnancy from blood clots) and I saw myself as being a bit of a wuss. I mean, I was the kid who if anyone else threw up promptly did likewise. I had two disappointing hospital births (not nightmares, just not the way that I think they should have or could have gone) and after my second child I decided that I was going to do something about it.

2. What is your favorite Catholic tradition?
You know I'm a convert, right? I don't know about a lot of the small t traditions.
There are many that were part of my Anglican upbringing, and one that I regularly follow is pancakes on shrove Tuesday. I am also very fond of blessed palms and we always have them in the house from Palm Sunday to Ash Wednesday. For the last several years, we have followed the tradition of abstinence from meat on Fridays. But I don't know if I have a specific favorite tradition. My favorite devotion is the Rosary, even though I have trouble getting in a complete one daily.

3. If you could be in a movie, what would it be?
I'd like to make a movie that would be a Catholic version of the book Immaculate Deception (about the lies women are told about childbirth). As far as already extant movies, I have no idea. I am not a movie watcher, either at home or in the theater.

4. What's your favorite book and why?
If I told you that when we moved cross country we gave away over 1000 books, and still half our shipping weight of household goods was books, would that help you to realize how impossible it is to answer that question?
There are about 250 books on my collection that I re-read on a regular basis. Asking my favorite book is like asking me my favorite child. Some I love more than others from time to time, but that is enormously variable. My favorite genres are science fiction (hard techno but also some other subgenres) medical oddities and history ( like Rats Lice and History or Rh, the intimate history of the conquest of a disease), and apologetics, but I have been known to read the phone book under sufficient provocation.
Why? I'm a conpulsive (some say convulsive) reader.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Physically, I would like to have the body I had when I was 20, in the space between birthing my first child and getting pregnant with my second. I don't want to be that girl - I just want to have that body back! And this time I would take better care of it. I also wish that I had been more generous with God. 6 kids seemed like a lot at the time (not including the many miscarriages), especially since I was also slowly working my way through the education and training to become a midwife. But we could have done more. There were times when I hoped that God would surprise us with another one but He respected what I told Him I wanted. Now it is almost too late barring a miracle.



I'm back, I've not been able to access my blog or any of since early this morning.
I love my readers. I have one who without fail sends me tons of links that might be of interest. I don't post all of them, but it is so helpful when I am so limited for time to hunt things down.
Here (thanks to that reader) is a link to the powerful Newsweek article about our holy father.
"John Paul's personal Calvary has become his most powerful message".

So very true, and what a witness, what a testimony.

"The spectacle of his condition crystallizes his ferocious attachment to life—the most central, coherent and consistent teaching of his papacy—whether that life is threatened in the womb by abortion, or in old age by euthanasia."

I'm old enough to remember the death of Blessed John XIII and the subsequent papal conclave. I remember the conclave that brought us JPI and how surprised all the pundits were, and even more so the next conclave a month later. The Holy Spirit has more surprises in store for us, I am sure.

Anyhow, go read the article. If you have the money, buy the print edition too. Let's encourage the MSM to publish more articles like this one. I am also betting that this issue will be worth quite a lot when JP2 is canonized.

il papa

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is back in the hospital according to a news report I just heard on TV. Haven't found any links yet. Please pray!

Spanning the Globe

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reflections on psalm 23

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The Lord is my shepherd
I have fought depression and anxiety my entire life. This Lent has been especially difficult. I have some thoughts as to the whys, but insight does not always (or even often) turn into action, or even any ideas as to what action is desireable. For me, the worst part of depression is not sadness. I think that I could handle the sadness. For me, the worst part is the numbness. One of the good things to me about faith is that it isn't a feeling. If I judged my devotion to God, or His attention to me, by my feelings I would be lost. God granted me an intellect, and so very often I just have to take it on my intellectual knowledge that He cares.
I shall not want
Today is the 31st anniversary of my marriage to my dear husband. God granted me a great gift in this spouse. He is not perfect but then, neither am I. My husband has been my anchor in the storms of life. Sometimes I have treated him badly, sometimes I have treated him well. Sometimes I have seen that anchor as a millstone. The graces of the Sacrament of Matrimony have prevailed over our human selfishness and stupidity so many times that I would have lost count were I trying to keep track. I pray that God will grant us many more years together to try to work out our salvation "with fear and trembling".
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters
I have been having a recurrent nightmare lately. In it, I see the faces of unborn babies at various stages of development. Some are perfect, some are grotesquely misformed. Some are missing parts of their face, their skulls are deformed - too small, too large, grotesque. A few of the babies I can see their bodies as well. Once again, some are perfect and some or horrendously imperfect. The imperfections include a heart beating outside the chest, the spinal cord protruding from the back, the intestines in a membraneous sac outside the abdomen. What all these deformities have in common is that I have seen US reports of babies with these conditions. I have talked to the moms about the news. I have sent these moms to see the specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, knowing that the chances are good that he will only be able to confirm the bad news, that he will not be able to offer any hope for restoration, that most of these conditions cannot be fixed in or out of the uterus. Knowing that even for those conditions that can be fixed, our culture doesn't tolerate imperfection, and even repaired the babies will still have lots of problems.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
In my nightmare, the babies are calling my name. They are asking me why I didn't try harder to save them. They are asking me why I didn't stop their moms from shortening their lives.
Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
I wake up in a cold sweat, stomach churning, doubting my self, angry at God. I know that God does not desire evil but that He allows us fallen humans to exercise our free will. My intellect can accept what my heart rebels against.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Sometimes in my nightmares, I am confronted by the mothers. "Why didn't you tell me?" they ask, "Why didn't you tell me?". I vainly protest "I tried to!" Yet I know full well that I hadn't tried hard enough, that I was unwilling to offend, to risk alienating them from me. God help me, I know that decades ago I was so concerned about their immediate well-being that I neglected the long term impacts of their decisions when conversing. I can hear myself saying, "Do what you think is right" instead of "Think about this irrevocable decision not only for what it might mean today or tomorrow, but next month, next year, 10 years from now, a lifetime from now."
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Lord, let it be so. Please forgive me. I know that I have done evil. I know that I have left good undone. Thank you for the second, third, and umpteenth chances you have given me. Restore those of your children that I have damaged through my sins of comission and omission.
Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Lead all souls into Heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy.
O heavenly Father, grant me the grace of your Perfect Mercy, and spare me your Divine Justice.
Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, be merciful to me a sinner.
For the sake of Your sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

in reply to a combox question

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more detail on tubal ectopic pregnancy treatment
scroll down, it's the second item on this page

statements from authorities

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Bishop's statement on anencephaly
National Catholic Bioethics center: On Early Induction

interesting statistics


From my inbox
Some stats on very low birth weight infants (500-1500 gms) which is where 22 weekers would fall. These are taken from Minneapolis Children's Hospital and Clinics 2002 VLBW statistics report.
Occurence of complications are as follows:
Periventricular Leukomalacia: 3% (this is what leads to cerebral palsy)
Chronic Lung disease 26%
Necrotizing Entercolitis 5%
Intraventricular Hemmorhage (IVH) 25%
Severe IVH 7-10%
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) 31-42%
Severe ROP 10%

Survival WITHOUT morbidity ` 49%

At 4 years of age former 23 weekers have a 36% chance of having normal neurodevelopmental outcomes, 13% have mildly abnormal outcomes and 51% have severely abnormal outcomes (n=53)

I would refer you to an article entititled Survival and Long Term Neurodevelopmental Outcomes of Extrememly Premature infant Born at 23-26 weeks Gestational Age at a Tertiary Center by Ronald Hoekstra, Bruce Ferrrara, Robert Couser, Nathaniel Payne, and John Connett, The article appeared in Pediatrics Vol 113 January 2004

She is absolutely right

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that we don't know all the facts.
Over at Elena's blog, Anne posts this comment:

There is no age of "viability" for my baby. She is not viable. I would give my own life to change that. With all due respect, Alicia is a nurse midwife. Not a doctor, not my doctor, not my priest, councilor, or any other person involved in my care. Nor does she have all of the information in my case. I pray that when I go in, a miracle will take place, and that my baby will be perfect and whole. But you don't know, either, what physical condition I am in, or what risks this presents to me. I am not taking my baby apart, only delivering her peacefully, should that be the ultimate outcome. It has not been yet. And the catholic church does not teach that I should carry my baby if I am at risk.

Thank you for respecting my wishes on my blog. But I'm starting to believe what people say about opnions and everyone having one. I am fiercely pro-life, and would protect my babies rights to the end of the earth, even if she could live only a short time. That is not what we know to be true right now.

I hope your blissful ignorance of your baby turns out great. I wish you all the best. But I wish to GOD people would stop judging my situation as if they know what's going on when they don't.

I only know what Anne chooses to post. I only know what I have learned through my 20 years in OB. I know from experience that there are many ways in which the process of fetal development can go wrong, sometimes horribly wrong. I've personally seen moms with prenatal fetal diagnoses of Exencephaly with encephalocele (Part of the skull missing and the brain protruding into the amniotic fluid), heart outside the chest (can't remember the
long Latin name for that one), total renal agenesis, Trisomy 13, Trisomy 18 and a whole host of other less serious conditions like spina bifida, Down syndrome, clubfoot. I've also seen moms with pretty severe health conditions go through some pretty high risk pregnancies.

But without all the facts, I am not competent to have an opinion on this particular case. That is why my post below was aimed at discussing the general moral and ethical principles that the Church calls on us to follow - and maybe a little bit of a call to all of us, myself included, to be willing to embrace suffering.

I also have a bit of a quibble semantically. Viable is a term that is being tossed around a lot, and it seems that we have some very different definitions of the term. Obstetrically, we usually mean the gestational age at which a baby, if born, might have a fighting chance of survival. When Roe V Wade was handed down, the bottom age of viability was pretty generally held to be 28 weeks, and the stratification of allowable state intervention into a woman's personal decision re: abortion was based at least partly on that. The question being posed (and I think it is a valid one) is "Can a baby who has anomalies incompatable with prolonged extrauterine life properly be said to be viable?" I think that another question that may arise would be,"In the case of a baby with these conditions, does that placenta (and thereby the mother's body) constitute ordinary or extra-ordinary life support?"

Twenty-five years ago I was in the camp that held it didn't make a real difference when in pregnancy one delivered a baby with life-incompatable anomalies. I no longer believe that.

Maternal-fetal conflict is an area of biomedical ethics that I have studied extensively. It covers not only situations like EIFWAIL but also matters like does the court have the right to order a mom to undergo a cesarean for the health of her baby. In reality, there is very seldom a true conflict between the needs of the unborn and the mother, but those rare cases make for anguish and agony all the way around.

First off, let me say that this is not the post I had wanted to write this Sunday. I wanted to post on Terri Schiavo, I had some thoughts about the literature of ideas and how science fiction can be a near occasion of sin. But an issue has come up and I seem to have rubbed some nerves raw.

I want to take the time, in this my personal space to which you are invited, to explain a bit of why I have spoken as I have. I am not a theologian, I am not a moral philosopher or even a particularly holy person. I do not claim to have any special moral authority beyond that of any educated layperson who has researched and thought through this issue. All I can say that might make me a bit different is that I encounter the situation of an ominous prenatal diagnosis approximately once a year among my patients, and so I have been forced to think this through.

I am also not interested in judging the actions of another person. I am not competent to judge if some one other than myself is a sinner. Mortal sin requires 3 components:
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." (CCC). God calls us to love the sinner even as we hate the sin.

I was struck at Mass this morning by the second reading from 2 Timothy 1. Here is the King James translation of that reading and the verse just before it.
7:For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8:Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
9:Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10:But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel
and the NAB
7 :For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.
8 :So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.
9 : He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began,
10 :but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel

please pray

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UN Cloning Ban passes!


(from my inbox)

Hello. Thank you to all who prayed—your prayers definitely made a difference, and this decision WILL have an immediate impact. A decision was not reached until 5:50 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, but the final decision is a strong pro-life document that actually is better than we had hoped for. Below is first of all, the “official” press release from the pro-life pro-family coalition of NGO’s, followed by two posts from C-Fam, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, one of several key organizations involved. You may forward this. Having this ban in place will probably have a favorable effect on a cloning bill just introduced this week in U.S. Congress, and also is expected to affect a court case now in progress in UK which has granted two licenses to clone, the first of which is being challenged in British High Court. The document passed by the UN urges all member nations to adopt laws banning all forms of human cloning.

The bus came by


I have lots of internet friends, some of whom I may never meet in real life. One is Anne, who I have known for quite some time through the Association of Christian Childbirth Professionals. She posted this little reminescence, from which I snagged this quiz.
I missed the bus, myself. I have always seemed to be out of synch with my peers, either too early or too late on some trend. Maybe that's a good thing, I don't know.

Deadly Plague Outbreak Feared in Congo


(From the Washington Post)
Health Officials Suspect Disease in 61 Deaths, Hundreds of Illnesses
Thanks to Bene Diction for picking up on this one.

I have to admit to having an unholy fascination with epidemic diseases, especially the ones that have over history developed into world-changing pandemics. The classic book on the topic remains Rats, Mice, and History, first published in 1934 and still in print.
Laurie Garret's The Coming Plague, while a tad polemical, is another must read about the pickle into which we have put ourselves.
The global AIDS pandemic will probably (if humanity lives long enough) be held up as the textbook example of how not to manage an emerging deadly disease. Political correctness and economic expediency posed significant barriers to proper epidemiological research and containment strategies.
Meanwhile, please pray for all those affected by this and other scourges.

Guest Post - on marriage

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This is reprinted with permission from the author, who goes by Daniel J. Dick. Please feel free to email him at dan(at)nodivorces(dot)com
-----Original Message-----
This is a battle, and there is more of a battle than what you or I see. Some of this is the battle for control over our spirits and our souls. Some of this battle is to force you and me to give our faith to pessimism, negativity, sin, hatred, bitterness, and everyone of Satan's servants who sometimes come in godly clothing. The devil does not always come with horns and a pitch fork. That's mostly just a distraction.

Thank you Peggy Noonan


The Blogs must be Crazy
And thank you Bene Diction for finding this.
I especially like her item #6

It is not true that there are no controls. It is not true that the blogosphere is the Wild West. What governs members of the blogosphere is what governs to some degree members of the MSM, and that is the desire for status and respect. In the blogosphere you lose both if you put forward as fact information that is incorrect, specious or cooked. You lose status and respect if your take on a story that is patently stupid. You lose status and respect if you are unprofessional or deliberately misleading. And once you've lost a sufficient amount of status and respect, none of the other bloggers link to you anymore or raise your name in their arguments. And you're over. The great correcting mechanism for people on the Web is people on the Web.

There are blogs that carry political and ideological agendas. But everyone is on to them and it's mostly not obnoxious because their agendas are mostly declared.

"Bringing it all back home"

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Secret Agent Man


posts some appropriate Lenten reading
I especially like the William Blake (1757 - 1827). I reminds me of my copy of Emerson Lake and Palmer's wonderful album, "Brain Salad Surgery".

And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

An interface between medicine and religion


hip to snip?

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The ever erudite Mr. Luse


posts his review of Million Dollar Baby.
all I can say is, "Amen, tell it brother!"



been there, done that

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Fascinating reading

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Demographics and the Culture Wars
American birth rates today are the highest in the industrialized world — yet even those are nonetheless just below the replacement level of 2.1.
Thanks to my dear friend at Keel the Pot.

February 11 musings

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Sorry this is a day late. I had it all written out in my brain, but then yesterday turned into one of those days, running hard to stay on track from beginning to end. I'm still recovering from two nights in a row of only 3 hours sleep - I am wondering how long I will be able to continue midwifery as I age, given that it takes me longer and longer to recover from the sleep deprivation.
February 11 is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is also the birthday of Thomas Alva Edison( who, BTW, was home-schooled). It is also the birthday of another Tom, a guy I dated in High school for nearly 3 years. He's dead now. I don't know when or where or how he died. I occasionally pray for his soul, especially around February 11.
I seriously dated 3 guys before I met my husband. Two of them were cradle Catholics - the other later converted. They all played roles in my eventually becoming Catholic.
The first was Thomas - I met him at a dance at Bedford High School, Bedford Massachussets, in 1968. I was a freshman at Bedford High, he was a junior at a local Catholic HS. I don't know who introduced us, but we struck up a conversation about science fiction, which turned out to be a common passion, and rapidly developed a close friendship. He took me to a talent show at his High School, and while on campus I saw a sign advertising a club meeting for some 'right wing political organization' (I was a flaming feminist liberal at the time). I made a casually derogatory comment and tied the group to the Catholic church (again in a casually derogatory way). Rather than agreeing with me or getting angry, he challenged me to find out what the Church was really about. We dated through the end of the school year. He left to go on a school trip to Ireland about 2 weeks before my family left Massachussetts to return to Southern California. He and I stayed in touch for several more years - He went on to college at St. John's in Annapolis, and eventually went to either Haiti or Jamaica ( I can't remember any more, my mind plays tricks on me) to teach Math. He sent me a copy of Newman's "The Idea of the University" as a gift when I graduated from High School. I often think that had we remained in Massachussetts, I probably would have ended up married to him. I never went to church with him, but part of our dating caused me to really start thinking again about faith and God.
Todd was the next guy I dated. We met shortly after I registered for the High School from which I eventually graduated. It was a large public school in the part of Los Angeles where I had previously lived from age 7 to 10. Although my former elementary school classmates were also in that high school, I did not reconnect with a single one of them. I guess that I was just too different after having left and then returned. The 3 years when I first lived in that part of L.A. were the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade, which I attended at a small Anglican grade school. When we lived there the first time, my parents were active in the Anglican parish. During our absence, there had apparently been some kind of (financial?)scandal and the parish had been forced to close its school. Also, in the intervening years, my parents had stopped attending church entirely. I think partly it was an effect of their marriage as it was beginning to unravel. My mom would attempt to go Easter and Christmas but it wasn't the same. Todd had been raised low church Episcopalian and had gone to a Lutheran elementary school. He and I occasionally attempted to go to a Sunday service at the Anglican parish, but neither of us drove and it was a pretty long walk. I was also hurt and upset about the unspoken things that had happened, and so even as I was trying to explore faith and religion, I was also being pulled by the predominant culture of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll. Todd and I dated for about a year, and then broke up - but we remained friends (still are, to this day - he's my elder son's godfather).
Tom - I don't even remember how or where we met. It was an intense and eventually troubled relationship. But he was raised Catholic, and his mom (who I am sure is now or soon to be in Heaven - she died 20 years ago) was a wonderful witness of a loving and forgiving Catholic mom. When I started dating her son, and hanging around her house, she invited me to go to Mass with them. She invited me to sit in on CCD class. She answered my questions with great patience. I am sure that she prayed for me as she prayed for her sons and daughter. It was while I was dating Tom that I went through formal and informal classes to prepare to become Catholic. Because I was dating Tom, I decided to go to the local Catholic university rather than any of my other options. It was on the campus of that University where I was rec'd into the Church on my 18th birthday. It was through attending that University that I met the man I eventually married and with whom I will soon celebrate 31 years of Matrimony.
God has His plans. I would never, ever, have imagined all the bits and pieces that would eventually come together and put me where I am now. Last night at our Cursillo's Ultreya meeting, we were challenged to think of a time when we experienced "not a co-incidence but a god-incidence". There have been so very many times in my life when something that I thought was a devastating blow turned out to be a blessing. What is that saying? God writes straight with crooked lines?

no big surprise

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(seen several places around the parish)
Your Medieval Personality Type
You are a "nervous" Melancholic, with an abundance of black bile. Melancholics are characterized by the element of Earth, the season of Autumn, middle-aged adulthood, the color blue, and the characteristics of "Cold" and "Dry." Famous Melancholics include St. John of the Cross, St. John the Divine, St. Francis, and St. Catherine of Siena.

If you were living in the Age of Faith, perfect career choices for you would be contemplative religious, theologian, artist, or writer.

any ideas?

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A friend of mine is trying to contact Fr. Virtue, author of Mother and Infant: moral theology and motherhood. She has been unable to locate any contact information for him. If anyone has any ideas, please leave a comment or email me and I will pass it on to her. This has to do with a few projects, one of which might turn into a book eventually.

type 2 diabetes and outcomes


According to a study from Denmark, there are higher rates of sick and dead babies, as well as worse maternal outcomes for Type 2 than Type 1 or non-diabetic women.
I have a few theories on why this is the case.
First off, Type 2 diabetes can be hard to diagnose before it has done significant damage to the person's cardiovascular system. Hence, the placental implantation and development is adversely affected.
Secondly, Type 2 diabetes is seen as a non-disease by many of those who have it. You don't have many symptoms, and untreated, it takes a long time to die from it. Conversely, type 1 diabetes makes its sufferers very sick fairly quickly and it is dramatic in its effects. Coma gets attention.
Thirdly, until quite recently, there was little effort made to encourage those with type 2 diabetes to keep their sugars under tight control. Type diabetics are encouraged to check sugars at least 4 times daily, more often if sick or stressed. Pregnant type 1 diabetics test 7 times daily (at least initially). I am lucky if I can get a (non-pregnant) type 2 diabetic to test twice a week.
Another factor is that type 2 diabetes is usually treated with oral medications, and those are usually only given if lifestyle changes are unsuccessful. There is a psychological difference between taking a pill and injecting medication - injection seems to make things seem more real, more serious somehow.
I also wonder if many of these poor outcomes are among women who thought themselves infertile, and whose fertility recovered before they got their diabetes under control. I also wonder if the docs who diagnosed their diabetes and intitiated treatment gave these women the ugly truth about the impact of diabetes on reproductive outcomes.
It is extremely important for women with diabetes who are at any risk of pregnancy to keep their diabetes under very tight control before conception and during the entire pregnancy. This can drastically reduce the risk of major malformations (heart, kidneys, spinal cord) that occur in as many as 10% of babies concieved to poorly controlled diabetic women. Continuing tight control can also reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, macrosomia (huge babies), and other complications.
Gestational diabetes is a different topic, but anyone with a history of gestational diabetes should try to eat low-glycemic for the rest of her life and should be tested for type 2 diabetes on a regular basis. Between 40 to 60% of women with gestational diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Childbirth conference in Southern California


Presented by one of my midwifery mentors, B.J. Snell CNM
Details here.

A Catholic perspective on Childbirth

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A friend sent me this link, which looks to be a paper from a Christendom student. I haven't had a chance to read through it in detail, but the author cites all the same folks that I would cite for such a paper.

Shrove Tuesday

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Tonght we ate the last of the meat based leftovers in the fridge in preparation for 40 days without. It is something that we decided years ago to do as a family. We finished the meal with crepes - must eat pancakes on pancake Tuesday.
After dinner I picked up one of our 4 cats and I realized that he was ill - took him to the emergency vet and, as I suspected, his bladder is blocked. So he is in the hospital tonight getting a catheter placed and getting started on medications. These things never happen during normal office hours, no, they happen late at night. Please pray that he recovers quickly - the other cats keep looking for him!
On call tomorrow for Ash Wednesday - I am hoping that I will be able to slip out for an evening Mass. One never knows, though, and we have several moms due this week.
Look for a post sometime soon where I explain my remark about 'most cesareans become necessary by the time they are done'. I do think that we have way too many cesareans in this country, but it is overly simplistic to lay blame on any one group of persons. Last night was our quarterly journal club - we discussed the movement towards elective primary cesareans. Very heated discussion ensued. More on that later, also.

news from the smock momma

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St Gianna, St Gerard, St Ann and St Elizabeth, pray for her!

No Burger King theology, please

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Over at Open Book, I read a comment that basacally opined that the song "My Way" was the most anti-Christian song of the last several decades. I am inclined to agree.
For about 5 years in the 1980s I taught a name brand method of childbirth education that shall remain nameless here. (I am not interested in having the heirs to that name brand hunt me down and harass me for taking their TM in vain.) It's a very effective methodology, and I have no issues with its precepts (which btw are extremely politically incorrect). One of the things I remember from the main 'textbook' are quotes from two then-current TV ad campaigns. One was the margarine commercial "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature", and the other was the Burger King slogan "Have it your way". The basic concept of this childbirth method is that there is indeed a right way to go about the process of pregnancy and birth. If one subverts the process, bad things happen. I think that in Catholic circles, we would call this "Natural Law". God has written, on our very bodies, the truths of our humanity and how it relates to our eternal souls and our eventual destination.
The Pope has expanded on this in his monumental "Theology of the Body". I'm about 30% of the way through Christopher West's 10 CD set "Naked Without Shame" which is a weekend of teaching on the TOTB. It's dense, and I feel as if I am only getting maybe the top 10% of what I am hearing and am trying to learn. It has been a worthwhile struggle, though, and I recommend the 10 CD set to anyone who has long commutes.

What I learned about childbirth and have also tried to apply to the rest of my life (and it is indeed a struggle!) is that instead of seeking to have it "My Way" I should be seeking to have it God's Way. The (oft hidden and forgotten) truth is that there are absolute truths, and those who seek after knowledge are called not to invent but to discover. There are items that are a matter of taste but the more I learn about how intricately God has intertwined His creation, the more I realize how few decisions are simply taste rather than truth. For example, I may prefer lavender (calming) scent to citrus (stimulating), but the effects of each of these on my brain chemistry is profoundly different. And just because I happen to prefer to eat starchy foods swimming in butter does not mean that these are the healthiest foods for my body. Denying the truths that God has written in our bodies and on our souls will have consequences, often negative consequences, and it may be years or decades before I recognize the connection (if indeed I ever do).
Take music as another example. We are coming in to Lent, and that means that many of us will be subjected to the words and music of the 'hymn' "Ashes". Music, especially with a catchy tune, is a very effective way to burn memories on the brain. I bet that most of us learned the order of the alphabet by singing it, and there is a generation of adults that learned grammar and math facts from singing along with "Schoolhouse Rock". What is the message of "Ashes"? "We rise again from ashes" - sounds to me like the Phoenix legend, or possibly a version of re-incarnation. Not particularly Catholic or Christian, to my way of thinking. Compare that with my favorite Lenten Hymn, "Forty Days and Forty Nights". verse 2:
"Should not we thy sorrow share
and from worldly joys abstain,
fasting with unceasing prayer,
strong with thee to suffer pain?"
Is that not more in line with what we are called to do?
This Lent, let us "just say no" to the Burger King mentality. Dear Lord, grant us the grace to echo the words of Jesus in His passion:
"Not my will, Father, but Your will be done".

Thanks, alexa!


I have been given a cute new pictogram!

(American Academy of Pediatrics Newest Policy Statement)

Considerable advances have occurred in recent years in the scientific knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding, the mechanisms underlying these benefits, and in the clinical management of breastfeeding. This policy statement on breastfeeding replaces the 1997 policy statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics and reflects this newer knowledge and the supporting publications. The benefits of breastfeeding for the infant, the mother, and the community are summarized, and recommendations to guide the pediatrician and other health care professionals in assisting mothers in the initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding for healthy term infants and high-risk infants are presented.

An article by a friend

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New Low- and High-Tech Calendar Methods of Family Planning (Medscape registration required)

Calendar-based methods are not usually considered effective or useful methods of family planning among health professionals. However, new "high-" and "low"-tech calendar methods have been developed, which are easy to teach, to use, and may be useful in helping couples avoid pregnancy. The low-tech models are based on a fixed-day calendar system. The high-tech models are based on monitoring urinary metabolites of female reproductive hormones. Both systems have high levels of satisfaction. This article describes these new models of family planning and the research on their effectiveness. The author proposes a new algorithm for determining the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle for either achieving or avoiding pregnancy.

More depressing news

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Preliminary data for 2003 indicated that 27.6% of all births in the United States resulted from cesarean deliveries, an increase of 6% from 2002 and the highest percentage ever reported in the United States. After declines during 1989—1996, the total cesarean rate and the primary cesarean rate (i.e., percentage of cesareans among women with no previous cesarean delivery; 19.1% in 2003) have increased each year. In addition, the rate of VBAC, which had increased during 1989—1996, decreased by 63% to 10.6% in 2003. Among women with previous cesarean deliveries, the likelihood that subsequent deliveries would be cesarean was approximately 90% in 2003.
Source: National Vital Statistics System, annual files, 1989—2003.
I fully recognize that most of these cesareans are totally necessary when they are done, but I am concerned that not enough is done to help women and their babies to be healthy before and during labor. I am also concerned that among the general public, there is a perception that a cesarean is the easy way to have a baby (especially a scheduled cesarean). Ask many of the readers of this blog who have been there (RoseMarie, recovering owl,) or especially those who have done it both ways (Elena?) and you will hear that in many cases, a cesarean is still a case of the mom sacrificing a bit of herself for the sake of her child (the reason that many moms in the 1940s were afraid to go to Catholic hospitals - the false idea that Catholic doctors would sacrifice the mother to save the baby).

Why are taxes high?

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one possibility - modern day Manicheanism
My husband and I have been talking over this topic for a while now, especially in light of the current discussion in the US about Social Security funding.
Both my parents retired about 20 years ago, at around the age of 55. They are both (each) currently the prime caretaker for their mothers (one 90, one 84). We will probably need to work until we are in our 70s if not longer. I don't think we are alone in this.

midnight thoughts


prayers and meditations


Pope in hospital

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please pray!

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by alicia in February 2005.

alicia: January 2005 is the previous archive.

alicia: March 2005 is the next archive.

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