Category Archives: Motherhood

The Saga of Friendy the Croc

There is no amount of logic or scientific training that can prepare someone for having a four year old.   They are absolutely irrational.  The latest saga of irrational behavior in my house revolves around a Croc.  A Croc named Friendy.

Figure 1:  Last known image of Friendy the Croc. Circa 2008

Friendy was Little Isis’s right Croc when he was about 20 months old.  One ill-fated August evening, we took Little Isis to a minor league baseball game.  There, Friendy the Croc fell off and was lost under the bleachers.  He was never seen nor heard from again.

Friendy was not mentioned in Casa de Isis for almost three years.  After all, he was a Croc – the most despised shoe on the planet – and I won’t lie that I was a little happy to see him go.  Not that I had anything to do with his disappearance.  I am completely innocent of any malfeasance in this case. 

Friendy remained a forgotten memory for three years.  Until about 8 weeks ago when Friendy returned to our lives.  Little Isis was riding in his car seat when I heard a little voice ask, “Mommy, do you remember that black Croc that I lost at the baseball game?”


“(sigh)  I really miss that Croc.”

A week later he asked about the Croc again.  I told him I was sure that the Croc was gone and he absolutely lost his mind.  He cried and cried and cried over this poor, poor Croc. He told me that he wanted to give the Croc to the new baby.   I tried to explain that (to my dismay) we could get new Crocs for the baby.  This did not soothe him.  I tried to explain that the Croc is just a thing.  It did not soothe him.  I am sure I tried 600 other rationalizations that also did not soothe him.  Eventually he fell asleep.

A few days later he rementioned the Croc and started again with the tears and shenanigans.  This time, however, I got the real truth.  He told me that he was worried that having the baby would hurt me and that he would have to take care of it.  If he didn’t have two Crocs, how would the baby have any shoes?  I asked him why he thought I would be too hurt to take care of the baby and he answered, “Well, the baby is in your belly?  Your belly has to break open for the baby to come out.” 

I figured that no bit of reality could be any more horrible than what he was imagining, so I figured I might as well let him see the truth.  I showed him this video from BabyCenter.  Before you click it, it is about as graphic as birth videos come.  But, she’s got one hell of an epidural.  He seemed totally relieved to know the truth and to see that the woman in the video was fine afterwards.  As I reflect, some of his friends’ mothers have had babies recently and I wonder if he had been told about a C-section?  Who knows, but he has seemed totally cool about it all, making sure to tell everyone we know, “My mommy’s junk is going to get huge.”

Still, the Croc continues to make an appearance whenever Little Isis is upset about something.   He flips out over the Croc for a day or two and then we get to the real issue.  You can’t ask him what the issue is at the time, because all he will do is lament over the Croc.  Attempts to get at the heart of the matter simply make matters worse.  Tonight, we indulged another Croc flip out, except this was exceptionally epic.  He got in the shower and wept like I have never seen.  He told me, “That Croc was my best friend.  He always made me feel better when I was sad. Do you know he had a name? His name was Friendy.”

Fucking Friendy.

So, now we wait and see if he will reveal what is bothering him.   You can’t tell your child, “Would get some fucking control over yourself?  You’re crying over a fucking shoe!!!”  At least, not unless you want to pay for his therapy later in life.  For now, we just look at the Croc as a flag.  An ugly, squishy, hole-filled flag that Little Isis uses to tell us that something is wrong.

More wrong than Crocs.

Your Home Birth is Not a Feminist Statement

Yesterday reader Becca alerted me to an article in Ms. Magazine from the author of the twitter feed Feminist Hulk.  Feminist Hulk is a bit of a feminist icon around the Twitterz, smashing patriarchy 140 characters at a time.  What seems to have attracted Becca is the fact that Feminist Hulk had a home birth.  Becca asked:

@drisis is it wrong that I now wanna have a home birth if I’m every crazy enough to do it again?

After reading the article in which Feminist Hulk says:

While I value the ways that obstetrical science has made birth safer for women with high-risk pregnancies, mine was a low-risk pregnancy and I was compelled by the many studies that show the midwifery model of care is as safe as hospital birth, often with fewer interventions and post-birth complications. Unfortunately, though Certified Nurse-Midwives legally practice in all 50 states, I gave birth in one of the handful of states which still does not license Certified Professional Midwives. I am active in attempts to push midwifery licensure through our state legislature. I still chose home birth, though, and am so lucky to have labored in an environment that made me feel relaxed and safe, with a birth team that gave me tons of love and support. And for anyone who asks, “What if something goes wrong?” all I have to say is, “Something did go wrong.” I suffered a postpartum hemorrhage and lost about a quart of blood. My birth team responded with speed and skill to stop the bleeding (and they would have transferred me to a hospital without hesitation if they encountered a complication that required additional resources). I owe them my life, and I have nothing but faith in the quality of their care.

Home birth as a way to find a loving supportive environment and fight the enslavement of the patriarchy is absolute, utter nonsense.   It’s one of the only medical scenarios I can think of where women place health and welfare in jeopardy in order to feel “in control” and avoid intervention. 

Amy Tuteur  wrote a great piece in 2009 at Science Based Medicine on the increased neonatal mortality rate associated with home birth.  According to 2004 data from the CDC, comparing midwife-assisted births, infants born at home were 3x more likely to die than infants born in a hospital setting.  Similar data were discussed in 2010 by Harriet Hall.  A meta-analysis of studies of planned home births versus planned hospital births reveals that infants born at home, with a midwife in attendance, are 2x more likely to die than infants born in hospital with an MD or midwife in attendance.  That is fascinating given that it is typically the “lowest risk” women who are advised that they may be good candidates for home birth.   Let me say it even more clearly…

 Infants born to the lowest risk women at home are 2x more likely to die than a cohort of infants delivered in hospital, which includes some of the highest risk pregnancies.

Apparently these interventions some women try to avoid have some benefit.  Even more interesting, up to 37% of home births result in emergency transport to a hospital.  But what is the overall neonatal mortality risk?  The overall risk of neonatal death is 0.3%, or 3 in 1000 live births.  That risk increases to 0.6%, or 6 in 1000 live births, if you deliver at home.  As a comparison, the risk of developing cervical cancer, which we are all screened for annually ad speculum, is only 8.1 in 100,000.  An increased neonatal mortality of 0.3% represents 12,948 dead babies (based on this).  My mind is boggled.

If you can look at those data and still decide that you’re still sufficiently dedicated to your own empowerment to choose home birth, then I say “You go get ’em, Gloria Steinem!”  But, you should know that I’m going to judge you.  Choosing to deliver at home because it makes you feel empowerful isn’t a feminist act.  It’s a selfish one.  It’s no different from the attitudes of the anti-vaccine mothers who choose delayed vaccination schedules, or no vaccines at all, because it makes them feel safe and in control of their children’s well-being.   You might feel empowered, but the data tell us that you are hurting your children with your choices.   I can think of no other women’s health area – Pap screening, breast cancer treatment, HPV vaccination,  in which forgoing a treatment shown to improve health outcomes would be flown on a feminist banner. 

Only the choices that affect our children.  Because we are powerful women and we know what’s good for us and our children. (snark?)

If feminists care about empowering women during child birth, they should do so in an evidence-based manner.  The data demonstrate that the safest place to deliver is  in a medical environment.  We should be continuing to ask how can we make women feel empowered in an environment that offers the best chance of survival for their offspring.  This home birth talk is shenanigans.

And if you still insist on a home birth, you should have to do it as it was truly intended to be done…

Martyr Moms and Self-Congratulating Dads

Some people just suck. And yes, as I type that I am stomping my well-shod feet on the floor indignantly.

Figure 1: I did a Google search for “indignant”, thinking I would find some hilarious picture to put here and found this website full of creepy bunnies. I don’t know if I think they are awesome or if I am afraid they will give me nightmares. The bondage bunny is kind of stressing me out.

This last weekend was a big weekend for Little Isis. We had our first annual Little Isis Day Party. You see, Little Isis was born on Thanksgiving. This means that the poor kid never gets a birthday party like his friends. We are always out of town for Thanksgiving Weekend. The weekend before is no good because we are preparing to leave town. Then, I need at least 6-8 weeks to recover from all the family-filled holiday shenanigans. Plus, last Thanksgiving I was in the hospital, almost dying. But, since he is at an age where kids are having birthday parties, and he really wanted one, I told him he could pick any other day of the year and we would have “Little Isis Day.” He picked June 18th and away we went…

The morning of Little Isis Day, one of Little Isis’s preschool friends was also having a birthday party. So, I planned to take Little Isis to his friend’s house and then return with him that afternoon for our fiesta. When I arrived at said child’s house with my spawn in tow, I was greeted by the child’s father who, with a live parrot perched on his shoulder and a handful of juice boxes, was obviously running the show and said to me:

Oh! Hello! You’re Little Isis’s mom? I always see Mr. Isis picking up Little Isis from school. I guess we thought that Little Isis didn’t live with his mom.

stake through the heart.jpg
Figure 2: Gahhhhh!!!

I totally take the kid to school!! (Sometimes) And I totally also pick him up!!! (Sometimes) 

But I do a lot of other stuff too!  I cook dinner! (Sometimes)  And I clean the house! (Sometimes)  And I do household remodeling projects! (Sometimes)  And I read stories at bedtime! (Sometimes) 

I can’t help it if Mr. Isis and I happen to have worked out a fairly egalitarian household.  At least, I hope that’s what he thinks.  Maybe I’m not so sure?  I feel like things work well for us and that’s good enough.

Then today I read this post on CNN called “A Father’s Day Wish: Dads, Wake The Hell Up!” The author writes:

In case you are wondering, I am that dad. The one who works out of the house. The one who drives his kids to school, packs lunches and pushes swings and arranges play dates and attends teacher conferences and — generally speaking — frequently finds himself alone in brightly colored rooms filled with women and tykes.

Along with my wife (who, until recently, also worked from home), I wipe snot,
clean poop, order time outs and say no — Really, no! I’m being serious, no! —
to the damned ice cream man and his Satanic siren call. I know all of my kids’
friends, and most of their tendencies (Ashley and Emily love dolls, Lucas only
wants to talk about Derek Jeter, Tyler digs applesauce).

Hence, I have been sent here today, on behalf of the stay-at-home mothers of
the world, to convey to my fellow pops a message of love and hope in this
lead-up to Father’s Day: Wake the hell up.

His female friends “oohhhhh” and “ahhhh” over his involvement with his children.  They weep to him about how worthless their husbands are.  He then goes on to a list of 10 things dads should start doing including “No golf on weekends”, “Do things you don’t want to do”, and “Change diapers.”

What the hell kind of first rate asswad doesn’t change a diaper? Who needs to be told that as a parent you’ll do things you don’t want to do?

I grow weary of the martyr mom and self-congratulating dad.  The dad who seems to want bonus points because he interacts with his child.  I say say “Fuck you, show-off-dads!”  What the hell more do you fuckers want?  An award?  A pat on the back for doing all of the normal parenting stuff parents have been doing for ages and actually giving a shit?  That’s not special.  That’s being a parent.  I say, “suck it,” unto thee.   But, I have just as much disdain for women who complain that their husbands/partners contribute nothing to child rearing, living in a self-imposed martyrdom that they reinforce. 

But, I’m going to go snuggle my child now.  And I am going to do it without a scorecard.

Daycare Didn’t Screw Up Your Baby, But Who Cares?

So, I fear that this is all my fault. I posted a letter from a woman asking about the effect of staying home with a baby for a year on a career in teaching and the well-meaning comments focused on the effects of daycare on a child’s development.
I will admit it. I totally released the Kraken on this one.

Many of the women who read this blog, including the woman who writes this blog, chose to put their infants in daycare and return to work. Maybe it helps them. Maybe it hurts them.
Why were so many of us quick to assure this writer that she could put her infant into daycare without doing harm? Maybe some of us put our children in daycare and return to work quickly because it really was the best choice – we weren’t happy staying home and were eager to return to careers. Or, maybe this is a way we reassure ourselves because we know the reality of the situation. Women who leave science to raise a family are regarded as less serious than those who stay and tough it out. Maybe this is our way of subversively telling each other what we know our colleagues are thinking – Put that kid in daycare and get back to work.
After all, it only took 10 comments before the hot, stinky truth was laid out for us all:

Many undergraduate institutions are expecting tenure-track faculty to maintain a proportionately scaled research program, and significant time off can be seen as a detriment to one’s research momentum.
As a recent hiring committee member, I can say that all things being equal, if I have to choose between a recent post-doc at the top of their game, and someone who’s taken a few years off, I would probably lean to the applicant without the resume gap.

Blogs can be a fascinating place. People feel free around here to say all the things they aren’t allowed to say, well, aloud. But, it’s no secret that this is what people are thinking. A woman who leaves for a period of time is wasting her education and potential. She’s not enthusiastic. She’s not at the top of her game and will always be light years behind.
I say “bullshit” unto thee.
I think the NIH also believes this to be bullshittery of the highest degree, which is why they have offered reentry supplements. Knowing some of the recipients, I can say that they are fierce scientists.
I don’t think that gender parity will be achieved simply when we can advance with our male colleagues. Real parity comes when the means by which we raise our children are not questioned professionally. Even when we make the seemingly unforgivable choice to stay home a while with them, cuddle them a little more, sing to them a little more, and love them a little more.
I hope that the letter writer from the last post makes the decision that is best for her. I can guarantee that, at the end of it all, I am not going to wish I had spent more nights at work writing grants or grading or doing experiments. I know that I am going to wish I had read The Pokey Little Puppy a few more times, or that I had pushed a little body on the swings a few more times, or that I had baked a few more cupcakes.
And I don’t really know if putting Little Isis in daycare at 8 weeks old was the “best decision” or “worst decision”. It’s just the decision I made at the time with the resources that I had and I know that even with the one I’m carrying now, I’ve worried that the people around me would think I was losing my momentum and drive. Even though I have never been more at the top of my game, that doesn’t seem to be enough to counteract that. Any momentum is stopped by childbirth.
But, here I ramble on. And, instead of rambling, I am going to go and snuggle my baby for a while.

On th Realities of the 24 Hour Work Day…

it’s 1 am here and I still have about 20 work emails to send out before I can go to bed for the night. That might sound late to some, but I should disclose that I fell asleep at 7pm watching The Avengers with Little Isis. I slept until 10pm before waking up in a panic, so it’s almost like I’ve gotten half a good night’s sleep already.
One of the emails I had to send was declining an invitation for next year to put together a scientific symposium. I wanted to do it, but it’s simply one item on a list of things that are not going to get done this year. I admit that I am freaking out a smidge over the relative lists of things that are and aren’t going to get done. I’m supposed to spawn this baby in late September/Early October and I have to cram 12 months of shenanigans into 9-10 months. I can sure try to do more in a day, but I also have to start saying “no” to more stuff and that’s freaking me out a bit. It makes me cringe to think of people saying, “Oh, don’t ask Isis. She can’t do it because she’s having that baby.” But, the reality is that I can’t do as much this year because I am having that baby. I just hate to think of people considering me a more limited scientist.
But that’s stupid. I am limited and I should just focus on grants and papers.
Have I mentioned that I don’t have a finished poster yet for the meeting I leave for on Saturday?