Category Archives: Holistic Life

Guns and America

In the issue of guns and mass killings in our country, everyone immediately lines up on their side of the argument. In this corner, we have gun control. In that corner we have violent media. In another corner we have mental illness. And over there is the bad parenting crowd. In the middle, we have gun owners and advocates who want their guns, no matter what. The arguing never changes and action never happens.

Let’s look at the big picture for a minute.

It’s all of these things.

ALL of them.

An effective solution must incorporate some of everything. Once we understand that, once we ACCEPT that, we can begin to take intelligent action.

With the Big Picture is established, we can begin to break it down. I have no real order to my list, certainly not order of importance. If all these things fit together, there’s no single thing that’s more important than the others. Let’s just discuss them.

Violent Media

Entertainment Industry: this is on you.

You own it. You profit from it. And every man and woman who has worked in a violent movie, written a violent script, drawn a violent graphic novel, created a violent video game: you walked with Nikolas Cruz onto that school ground and pulled the trigger with him.

You can’t get out of it. You are murderers.

Until you stop creating and selling blood and body counts, our society will never be able to solve this problem.

It is possible to create entertainment that has conflict and action (and a good story – remember those?) without body parts and gore, and without deaths numbering in the hundreds or thousands. You create rally cool explosions and ten-minute long car chases that destroy buildings and bridges, and you litter your fictional streets with dead bodies and blood.

We can see only so much of this before we are numb to it, and the dead cease to be people with lives and loves and hopes.

We can see only so much before it’s easy to walk into a school and litter the playground with real bodies.

Mental Illness

There’s little doubt that mental illness plays a part in many mass shootings. At the very least, a shooter is a disturbed individual, and intervention, therapy or medication may have prevented violence. But this issue is part and parcel of our miserable health care system. It will be addressed by solving that problem. The thorny issues of how to spot the problems, how to report them, and when to act on them will begin to be answered once we make mental health a regular part of health care.

Bad Parenting

This issue is always thrown out by the people with perfect children. It almost doesn’t need to be talked about. But as someone who does NOT have perfect children (just darn good ones, but also one very troubled one) I suppose I can say a few things here.

Kids need guidance. They need to learn self-discipline. They need to face the consequences of their choices and actions. All of this happens differently at different ages and with different abilities. The goal is a human who can handle himself in a reasonably intelligent manner by the age of 18.

It’s true that some parents want to make everyone else responsible for their child’s mistakes. That’s just tiresome. If you’re one of those parents, trust me, everyone around you knows it. They are ridiculing you behind your back. I hope that thought embarrasses you. Now go make your kids do some chores and get their homework done.

“Bad parenting” is just a buzzword. The truly troubled individuals who are killing people were not always brought up by bad parents. They weren’t necessarily spoiled or neglected. They probably were not brought up by atheists either, despite all you folks who insist these things happen because we no longer pray in schools.

Something that would really help is better communities. We’ve become too individualistic, too self-reliant. How many of your neighbors do you know? How many of your friends are the parents of your children’s friends? How much time do your children spend doing interesting and constructive things with diverse groups that include people of all ages? Not just church services, and not just youth sports groups. How about picking up litter or building homes for the homeless, or making a trail in the wilds? Is there a community garden they can work in? Volunteer work in a nursing home or hospital, or maybe helping an elderly neighbor clean out gutters? And are you out there with them?

There is so much a community can do for its families. There is so much we NEED to be doing. This is a hugely neglected part of life in America, and we’re paying for it in the currency of lonely, bored children. I don’t mean that kids should never play or hang out with their friends. That needs to be done, too. But they are doing that. What they are not doing is being part of a community, and that’s largely because we, the adults, are not part of the community. We need to change that.

One last point: Did you read the section above on the Entertainment Industry? As parents, we can’t get away with just blaming them. We are responsible ourselves, to keep our kids from seeing bloody and violent movies and video games. I know this is hard, and even impossible, on some level. Kids will access them somewhere, somehow, no matter what we do. But by refusing to allow them, we can at least minimize exposure. And our kids will be more aware of the influence these things can have over them. Whether this helps or not, I don’t know, but the problem is so serious I think we must try.

And parents need all the help they can get, which must come from the community. I’m thinking of rating systems. They’re a joke at this point. Somehow, the movie rating “PG” has become a defacto “R,” with some of those movies containing more and more graphic violence. We’ve all become so used to violence in our entertainment, that we’re exposing our children to it at younger and younger ages. It’s time to demand that this stop.

Now, let’s discuss the elephant in the room.

Gun Control

If you are against restrictions and regulations of guns, you are the problem. You are responsible for every murder done with an assault, automatic, or semi-automatic weapon.

Now that I’ve really made you mad, let me talk about what sensible gun control can look like for civilian Americans:

  1. No assault, automatic, or semi-automatic weapons of any kind, ever. I think the standard should be one bullet per trigger pull. Any weapon that shoots more should be outlawed.
  2. One gun per person.
  3. A license is required before a purchase can be made. In order to acquire this license a person must:
  4. Be at least 25 years of age
  5. Pass extended background check with NO license going to anyone convicted of a felony, battery, assault, domestic violence, stalking, threatening, mentally ill… I’m sure there are more, and also nuances among some of the ones I’ve listed.
  6. Show proof of completion of an approved, official training course in the laws pertaining to guns, and in the handling, shooting, storage, and safety of guns. The course should also include enough first aid to handle accidents.
  7. Show proof of insurance that covers loss, theft, damage to property, and injury/death to animals that were not being hunted for food, or injury/death to humans.
  8. If your gun is lost or stolen, you cannot replace it.
  9. A second gun can be bought only upon surrender of the first gun for recycling or reuse.
  10. Renew license every three years by passing a new test of your knowledge and shooting ability.

Beyond this, we must all follow rules and restrictions for the use of guns. Just like we can’t drive a car anywhere or any way we like, we can’t use guns indiscriminately. For example, no guns allowed in public places.  They should be restricted to hunting situations or shooting ranges. Ammunition should also be highly restricted – perhaps no more than five per year in the home. But you cannot shoot your gun in the home or on your property, unless it’s in self-defense. You must take the gun to a shooting range to practice.

And – this is vitally important – guns can only be purchased at retailers licensed to sell guns. No gun shows, no private sales.

I’ll admit this is all draconian. You’re throwing up your hands and saying there’s no point in having a gun at all under these conditions. Which, frankly, is exactly what I think. That’s my bias, I’m afraid. I don’t understand why you want one or what you want to do with it. Maybe that’s something someone can explain to me.

I know, I know – you want it for self-defense. But in a practical sense, that just doesn’t add up for me. If you are going to safely have a gun in your house, you have to keep it locked away from children, and have the ammunition stored separately. If someone is threatening you or your family, how are you going to have time to get all that together? But if you don’t store it like this, your family lives in constant danger of accidental shootings. Not to mention, it’s very easy for a crook to find your gun and use it against you.

So what’s the point of having it? Honestly, I don’t get it. So, I’m standing by my list.

There is one more very important step to consider before we’re done.

The Cleanup

Putting all these regulations and restrictions in place would be a wonderful start. But it’s only the beginning. The hard work must still be done: finding and confiscating the plethora of guns that are everywhere in our society.

We have to register all the guns that are currently in circulation. And most importantly, we must remove any assault-style, automatic, or semi-automatic gun, and the ammunition they use.

THAT is going to take some work. It will require a national effort that reaches into every city, town, and hamlet. It’s an undertaking fraught with opportunities for danger or corruption., Where do we put the guns we gather up? How do we make sure they are not sold to arms dealers, foreign or domestic? Or stolen by the same? How and where do we safely store and destroy the ammunition?

I refuse to believe it’s too hard to do. We need to roll up our sleeves and do it anyway.

An important first step will be to declare a moratorium on the manufacture and sale of any new guns or ammunition. Don’t whine that this will put people out of a job. Businesses lay off people for far less important reasons. I don’t know if anyone has ever counted, but I am certain that there are more guns and bullets on this planet than will ever be needed.

If you insist on a strong military, then gather everything up and give it to them. They might actually have the infrastructure to handle the influx. And they are the only organization in our country that needs these things.

Once we’ve stopped (or at least, paused) the influx of new guns and ammunition, we start gathering what’s out there. If you already own guns, you have to register them. You have to surrender outlawed types. And no, we aren’t paying you for them. You spent your money on something you had no need for, and that was drastically dangerous to everyone in the country –  that’s on you. The taxpayers are already paying for the damage that’s been done, and now we’re paying to destroy them. We’re not giving you money, too.

If you have lots of guns and bullets, and a law is passed to restrict the number you can have, you’ll have to surrender the extras.

Anything you keep, you will have to pay to register and insure – each one separately. You will have to pass a test, written and practical – to obtain a license to keep them. If you can’t afford to do this, then surrender the guns and ammo.

Marlene, you’re nuts.

Yes, I know this is not likely to be implemented. There are too many people who don’t take the danger seriously enough, or who just don’t care. But America has become a war zone, and as an American, I think that’s intolerable. It’s one thing if a foreign enemy attacks us relentlessly and we are fighting a real war in our country. But we’ve done this to ourselves and that is completely ridiculous. This is a drastic situation and it requires drastic action.

Gun owners and advocates, I’m begging you: take this seriously. Look at what our country has become. Our children – kindergarten through high school –  go to school and practice how to hide in a closet and not make a sound for fifteen minutes. People go to the movies or shopping, or out to eat, and keep looking over their shoulders, pushing worry and fear into their guts, knowing that at any moment, a hail of bullets could shatter everything in their lives.

No reason. No warning.

Knowing that it probably won’t happen, doesn’t help the fear and anxiety go away. We live with it now, every minute of our lives. Our children live with it. And many, many innocent Americans have paid the ultimate price.

Gun owners and advocates, I’m asking you: is this the country you want? Don’t you think it could or should be different? Why won’t you help us?

 

 

 

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The Foundation of Gender Inequality

This article is so perfect, you must go read it right now. It’s NYT, so if you don’t subscribe you might not have access, but I encourage you to try. The title is interesting: “The Men Who Want to Live Forever.” But those men (billionaires, of course) are just an excuse for author Dara Horn to zero in on the bottom line for gender inequality: throughout human existence, women have been almost exclusively responsible for the care, feeding, and comfort of other human beings.

Men have not.

More than any of the millions of words written about patriarchy, sexual harassment, glass ceilings, or male-posturing-resulting-in-war-greed-destruction, this essay brings the point forward in an easy to understand way. Men feel free to do all these things because they (as a gender) have never developed the empathy that comes from the day-to-day caring of vulnerable humans.

I am not saying that all women have empathy, or that they all enjoy caring for other people, or even that all women are good at it. I am not saying that is what women should be doing, exclusive of all else.

I am not saying that all men have no empathy, or that no men ever physically care for someone else. My own son is a nurse – thus I have positive proof that men can be caregivers.

But let’s first acknowledge that male dominance is the Way of Life on this planet, and has been for most or all of human history. Let’s acknowledge that the rules, religions, and laws of human history have been made by men, and for the benefit of men. They exist to protect and ensure the dominance of men.

Let’s acknowledge that through all of our species’ history, very few men spent time in the physical care of other human beings. This is their handicap. This denied them to opportunity to develop deep empathy. As Ms. Horn points out, caring for someone else forces the caregiver to see the world from someone else’s point of view. What does this person need?

And then, one more step beyond figuring out what the other person needs: the caregiver must then fulfill that need.

Oh my gosh, if more men – if all men  – spent their lives sharing equally in the care of vulnerable human beings – children, the elderly, the ill, the injured – I believe we would see the end of patriarchy. Men and women would be partners in the existence of the human species, and in the societies we build.

Because this is the core of life. Not power. Not money. Not dominance.

Caring.

Those rich and powerful men who want to live forever? Let’s see them spend all their years in the care of others. To actually be responsible for the humans around them.

To quote Captain Kirk: “Above all else, a god needs empathy.”

Let’s fix this.

Relaxis Report: Meh

I’m sad to say the Relaxis pad is probably not going to work for me. The few early successes I had never translated into dependable use. Most often, the RLS symptoms were not alleviated, and occasionally, they got worse. It worked SOMETIMES, but the not-working times were hard on me. I lost even more sleep trying to find a vibration setting that would do something, and often couldn’t fall back asleep at all. I don’t need ANOTHER thing keeping me awake at night. I can do that all on my own, thanks.

I decided not to use it at all over the Thanksgiving weekend. I hosted the Thursday meal with friends, then had a houseful of kids and adorable grandkids (happy about that!) Friday – Sunday. I needed to sleep! So I went back to the pills to get through the nights. Boo – hiss, yes. But it worked and in the end, that’s what matters.

I want to do one more experiment in the car. We have a round-trip to and from Sacramento in a couple of weeks. That will be the big test. I don’t have a lot of hope, but I’d hate to send the thing back and wonder forever if it might have helped with travel.

Throughout all this, the company rep has been in touch with me and he’s continued to offer suggestions. He has also stretched my trial period to the end of December, so I can do the car trip. It’s possible (he says) that the pad will help in the car or plane even if it doesn’t work at night in bed.

I don’t think he really has a lot of hope either, though.

Remember when I first got the pad and we did the high-vibration test to see if I was averse to vibration? The test I passed quite easily? Well… it was a fluke or something, because the more I used the pad, the more I grew to hate the vibration. Almost to the point of nausea, especially because I was afraid it would make the symptoms worse. The last time I tried to use the pad, I turned it off after just a few minutes and kicked it to the floor. Then I took a half-pill.

So it seems I’m stuck with the medication. I’ll keep doing everything I can to reduce symptoms: timing and quantity of meals and alcohol, yoga, leg stretches, etc. But if I need extra meds to get through a car or plane trip, I’m taking them.

Life is short and I have things to do.

 

American Women Die in Childbirth

As a natural childbirth teacher and doula, I know all this already. But this article in Quartz is a credible and accurate summation of the seriousness of America’s problem.

This post is not intended as a scare tactic for women. I simply want to point out that it’s a serious issue that has not been exposed enough.

I’m going give you one quote from the article, that says all the important points beautifully:

Jennie Joseph, a British-trained nurse midwife who has been practicing in the US for the past 26 years and runs Commonsense Childbirth, a birth center which offers midwifery prenatal care in Orlando, Florida, sums it all up effectively: “It’s racism, it’s classism, it’s sexism: All of these things are at play and […] the intersection with capitalism and power,” she told Quartz. “[Women] are dying of a system that’s broken.”  (I added the bold).

Americans – especially American politicians, along with the religious right – want a country where women have no access to birth control, no access to abortion, no access to adequate pre-natal care and even less access to post-partum care, no societal support in the form of visiting nurses, doulas, lactation consultants, no help in raising the children they give birth to, and NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ANY OF IT.

Women are not heard in American medicine. This is a real and known problem. Reproduction is just one part of it, but it’s a huge part. Please read the article.

 

 

Update on Relaxis

I have a few more days (or nights) of data, some good, some bad. In general, I think the pad is working, but I’m still a long way from having it perfected.

One of the exceptional things the Relaxis company does is that a representative stays in touch for the trial period. Carl has called me twice since I got the pad (six days ago) and will call again today or tomorrow. These calls are useful. I can explain what’s been happening and he can offer suggestions for improvement or assurances that things are going as they should.

A drawback to this is that he may give advice based on not enough data. For instance, on our second call, after I’d tried the pad for two nights, I mentioned that the pad had reduced my symptoms but that I could still feel them a little. He suggested I try higher settings to see if that worked better, reminding me that I need to experiment with the settings to see what my response is.

That night’s slightly higher setting helped a little more and the next night (Saturday) I tried a little higher to see if it would help more. Umm… no.  Using the higher setting gave me my worst night in a long time. It made everything worse. It was so bad, I was moaning. The nerve sensations reminded me of labor contractions, which I know how to handle. I had five kids without drugs and taught natural childbirth to others. I thought if I handled the RL waves like contractions, maybe I could get through them. But these waves were wildly intense. They only lasted about 4 seconds, but the next one started about 3 seconds after the previous one ended. With labor, at least you know the contractions are doing an important job, and it will all end once the baby is born. But this… there was no point and no end in sight, so in desperation, I took another full dose of Sinemet, then stood up for 30 minutes before going back to bed. I did not use the pad at that point, and happily, the medicine did the trick. I fell asleep around 4:00 and slept until 7:30.

So last night, I put the setting back to a lower level. No pills, just one episode of RL, and the pad made it go away almost immediately. But I never fell back asleep. I’ve been awake since 2:00.

That’s not unusual, although I’m never happy when it happens. That’s typical insomnia – adrenaline and hyper thoughts making me wide awake and ready to fight. But here I have a suspicion: that last night’s episode was caused by – or made worse by – the vibrations. I think this because in addition to the usual adrenaline, my whole body felt vaguely… tingly. Like the nerves were reacting to an electrical field or something. Or maybe that they were still vibrating slightly as an after-effect of the session with the pad.

I will discuss this with Carl when he calls, either today or tomorrow. I hope it’s tomorrow because I’d like to see if it happens again tonight. I’m kind of afraid that this reaction is a game-ender – the kind of side effect that means I can’t use the pad. I hope not, because as I said, I think the pad is working.

We still haven’t tried it for travel and I really want to see if it helps with that. We’re going to my daughter’s in San Jose on Saturday, and that will be our big experiment. Even if the pad helps only with car trips, it’s worth the price. Even better if it helps with plane trips. We won’t be flying for the rest of year, so I won’t have a chance to try that yet.

The experiment continues….

RL Hope… Maybe

So sorry to keep you all in suspense for two days! I’ve used the new pad for two nights now. That’s not enough time yet to know if it’s going to work or not, but here’s how it’s gone so far.

Night 1: I used the pad once at about 12:30, on almost the lowest setting. The pad will vibrate for 35 minutes, then turn itself off. I turned it off after about 20 minutes, as my legs seemed to have calmed down and the vibration was… well, not a problem really. I just wasn’t used to it and it was keeping me from falling deeply asleep. I was sleeping lightly, and really, that’s better than what I’d be doing without the pad. But once I turned it off, my legs stayed calm and I went back to sleep until about 4:00. At that point, I felt wide awake. No restless legs, but I wasn’t able to go back to sleep. I got up at 5:00.

This is pretty typical for me.

But the interesting thing was that I didn’t take any extra medication during the night. I usually take one full Sinemet before bed and have one more pill, cut in half, ready to take as needed during the night. I didn’t take either half pill. THAT was an amazing thing.

Last night was not as good. I had one episode at 12:30 (that seems to be normal – I guess the bedtime medicine wears off about then). I took one of the half pills, then used the pad for the full 35 minutes. I’m getting used to the vibration and managed to go to sleep before it turned off. I woke again around 3:30 with restless legs and tried the pad again without taking the other pill. I think the pad helped, but I could feel light sensations in my leg the whole 35 minutes. But when the pad went it off, my leg was calmer and I could lay still. I couldn’t get back to sleep though, and got up about 4:45.

Maybe if I’d taken the second half pill, the pad would have worked better and I could have gone back to sleep. Or maybe not. There are lots of times when I’ll take a Sinemet around that time and while it might calm my legs down, I still don’t get back to sleep.

So the jury is still hearing evidence. I was told that it will take time for the pad to reach its full potential with my body. Two nights is not enough time for real results, so I’ll be patient.

I think I should continue to take medicine as needed. That’s what Carl, the company representative, said I should do for a few weeks. Perhaps the pad will make the medicine work faster, and maybe help the effects last longer. That’s something to work toward. My tendency is to always want to stop taking medication as soon as possible, so I have to keep the goal in mind. Keep taking the meds if I have a problem at night, use the pad, give my body time to adjust. Maybe eventually, I can reduce the meds. But don’t rush it…

I guess this means I have to be patient. Darn!

 

 

Cautious Hope

Wow, am I excited. It’s here! See?

20171031_122936.jpgAnd what, you ask, is that? And are you excited or cautiously hopeful? Make up your mind.

You sound a bit put out. Hush now, I’ll explain.

This… thing… is a Relaxis Pad. FedEx delivered it today, after a day or two of delivery snafus or delays. I was beside myself wondering when it would get here.

Hold on, I’m telling you.

Relaxis is supposed to alleviate restless legs. Now, I absolutely know that there are no guarantees. It might not do a thing for me. But we had a trial run and I’m… cautiously hopeful.

 

 

20171031_123207.jpg

 

 

 

 

Please work. Please, please, please, please….

 

 

Here’s the long story: I’ve had RL for twenty years. The lost sleep cannot even be calculated. The agony, as it has worsened over the last few years, has driven me nearly insane. I hate taking medication, but  I’m never without my Sinemet, no matter where I go. I take that stuff like it’s my True Promise of Everlasting Life.

So recently I was taking a Sleep Improvement Class. I have other sleep issues besides RL, but the RL dictates everything about my behavior and success, or lack of it. And last week, at the last class, the instructor mentioned she’d found out about this thing that might help.

It’s the only non-drug treatment for RL that’s approved by the FDA. It’s only available by prescription. And it costs a fortune, but there’s a 30-day return guarantee if it doesn’t work for you.

Call me skeptical, yes. But I’m not going to pass up a chance. So I asked my doctor about it and she asked the neurologist, who said he’d heard of it but didn’t have much knowledge, but he didn’t think it would hurt to try. So I picked up a paper prescription, took a picture of it, and emailed it, along with an order form, to the company making the things.

http://myrelaxis.com/

Then waited at the extreme edge of impatience for the thing to get here.

Which it DID, today.

The deal is, once it arrives, the patient unpacks it and gets on the phone with a company representative. “Carl” was professional and helpful. He had me sit on the pad and turn it on, then talked me through the controls. It’s not difficult or confusing, but he had some tips, then had me increase the vibrations until it was pretty high. While I sat with the thing grandly shaking, he talked about hard-of-hearing patients liking the high setting because then they could hear it. Then he had me turn it down.

This was a test.

He explained that some people can’t handle vibrations and this time at the high speed nearly always brings that into the open. These people almost never succeed with the Relaxis and they have to return it.

But I passed.

Which means I get to try it out for the next few weeks, experimenting with settings and circumstances to see if will stop the symptoms. I’m not sure what it’s actually doing that a normal vibrating pad doesn’t do – I’ll ask that on Friday when I talk to Carl again. But the idea (I think) is that the frequencies used actually trick the brain into thinking the legs are moving. It therefore stops sending insane signals to the nerves.

The best, best, best part? We got the portable version with a battery. It travels. I was seriously this close to never going to visit my kids again because car rides and plane trips have become pure torture. There is only so much Sinemet one person can take, after all. So my cautious hope is underlain with a solid thread of please work excitement. Please, let me have my life back.

I will report, probably more than you want to hear. Tonight is the First Night.

Let’s do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Service?

This article in the NYT was interesting. Mind you, I have nothing but derision for Kelly’s attitude toward the American people he’s supposed to be serving, but he’s got the right idea with a national service.

I agree. I think we should have a national service in which all Americans, except for the most seriously disabled, should be required to participate. Not just – or even primarily – military service. We should not live our lives or run our country in devotion to war. There are a thousand other things people could do during their service: build homes, schools, or other public areas, teach, feed, care for elderly or children, serve on juries, pick up litter, serve as emergency responders… we could consistently build and maintain a highly functional society whose people understand they depend on each other.

Timing and length of service is debatable. Immediately after high school? Or after college? Or perhaps there could be alternatives people could choose. Some tasks will require skills or education, so people who go into one of those areas might wait until after college or other training. Some tasks just need a few weeks of OJT, so they might be for new high school graduates.

Like the military, people should be paid for this time in service. Health care is a given, as are a regulated work week, time off, etc. It’s a job, but the work is devoted to something the country needs to have done. There should be a basic training period like the military has, although it may not need to be so physically rigorous. That will depend on the unit’s assigned task (MOS in military terms). But the point of it is to build community among the cohort, and this is something that is sorely needed among Americans today. We are too fragmented and too disposed to ignore each other. Basic training and a couple of years in community service will at least be a time in our lives when we knew what it was to work with others toward a common goal.

And we’ll get things done that need doing. We’ll finally be able to maintain our infrastructure and we’ll have access to bright minds and nimble ideas to improve on the old and build the new. And with the training and skills people get during this time, they’ll be able to go out and find or create jobs that will support them and continue to contribute to society as productive citizens. Who knows, maybe we’ll reduce homelessness, too.

And just maybe, we won’t hate each other so much.

 

ACOG Makes New Recommendations

Holy cow. Is it April 1st? No really, tell me if it is, because this is almost TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE: Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth.

Just to have the new recommendations safely in more than one place, here they are, straight from the document:

  • For a woman who is at term in spontaneous labor with a fetus in vertex presentation, labor management may be individualized (depending on maternal and fetal condition and risks) to include techniques such as intermittent auscultation and nonpharmacologic methods of pain relief.
  • Admission to labor and delivery may be delayed for women in the latent phase of labor when their status and their fetuses’ status are reassuring. The women can be offered frequent contact and support, as well as nonpharmacologic pain management measures.
  • When women are observed or admitted for pain or fatigue in latent labor, techniques such as education and support, oral hydration, positions of comfort, and nonpharmacologic pain management techniques such as massage or water immersion may be beneficial.
  • Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should inform pregnant women with term premature rupture of membrane (PROM [also known as prelabor rupture of membranes]) who are considering a period of expectant care of the potential risks associated with expectant management and the limitations of available data. For informed women, if concordant with their individual preferences and if there are no other maternal or fetal reasons to expedite delivery, the choice of expectant management for a period of time may be appropriately offered and supported. For women who are group B streptococci (GBS) positive, however, administration of antibiotics for GBS prophylaxis should not be delayed while awaiting labor. In such cases, many patients and obstetrician–gynecologists or other obstetric care providers may prefer immediate induction.
  • Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor.
  • For women with normally progressing labor and no evidence of fetal compromise, routine amniotomy need not be undertaken unless required to facilitate monitoring.
  • To facilitate the option of intermittent auscultation, obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers and facilities should consider adopting protocols and training staff to use a hand-held Doppler device for low-risk women who desire such monitoring during labor.
  • Use of the coping scale in conjunction with different nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic pain management techniques can help obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers tailor interventions to best meet the needs of each woman.
  • Frequent position changes during labor to enhance maternal comfort and promote optimal fetal positioning can be supported as long as adopted positions allow appropriate maternal and fetal monitoring and treatments and are not contraindicated by maternal medical or obstetric complications.
  • When not coached to breathe in a specific way, women push with an open glottis. In consideration of the limited data regarding outcomes of spontaneous versus Valsalva pushing, each woman should be encouraged to use the technique that she prefers and is most effective for her.
  • In the absence of an indication for expeditious delivery, women (particularly those who are nulliparous with epidural analgesia) may be offered a period of rest of 1–2 hours (unless the woman has an urge to bear down sooner) at the onset of the second stage of labor.

Do you have any idea how amazing this is? Women have been fighting for DECADES in this country, to have these very things be standard medical practice for the average woman with an average pregnancy. I spent years training expectant parents how to navigate the American medical system in order to BE LEFT ALONE DURING LABOR, unless something is actually wrong. I taught them how to negotiate with their doctor so the laboring woman could stay out of bed, move as much as she wanted, in whatever position helped her, and to deliver in whatever position helped her. To not be put on an arbitrary time table with the threat of C-section hanging like a club over her head.

And now, out of the blue… it’s here. Have we won the war? Will this actually happen? Will doctors take it to heart and incorporate it into their practice? Will medical schools begin to teach students how natural, intervention-free labor can be? Will they let their students see intervention-free labors during training? Will newly-trained obstetricians actually UNDERSTAND that birth is a natural process?

I’m almost hyperventilating, I’m so excited.

As long as it’s not April 1st.

 

 

 

 

Keeping Busy and Out of Trouble

I just finished a busy and interesting year as president of my writers club – the Mt. Diablo branch of the California Writers Club. I’ve been with this group for 7 or 8 years, and for the first few, I kept my head down. Not volunteering, not me, nope. I know what happens when you volunteer…

But my lovely and talented critique partners (you know who you are) were all members of the Tri-Valley branch, and they all held positions on the board. At various times one or the another of them was secretary or president, program chair or membership chair, etc. It was interesting listening to stories of their activities and I admit to feeling the odd twinge of guilt now and then. My branch was always asking for volunteers. I was mostly retired. Surely I could do something. 

Eventually I gave in and took over the membership chair position. I found I really enjoyed it, too. I liked being retired and I loved spending days with my husband, but I did miss the challenges and camaraderie of work. It certainly helps that everyone else on the board are nice, interesting, and amusing people. Like any volunteer organization, people come and go, but we all work together very well, I think.

After two or three years of handling the membership work, the board asked if I’d take on the presidency. It was rather abrupt – usually the vice-president steps into that job, but we were short-handed and they promised to babysit me as I learned the ropes. It took some learning, too. I’d never chaired a meeting before, or made an agenda, or facilitated between co-workers. Mostly though, it felt natural to take it all on, including running the general meetings once a month. There’s a bit of me that’s a natural ham, and public speaking is just downright fun.

I trip up now and then, especially on the details. I’m a big picture person and I often need a reminder about the little things to do. Thank goodness for my digital calendar and pop-up notifications! I’m also STILL not any good with faces and names, and being president gives me ample opportunity to embarrass myself and the poor person who’s name I can’t remember. I do recognize all the board members by now, though! In fact, here we are at our recent planning meeting for the next fiscal year:

2017 2018 CWC Board of Directors They are Judith O., Kimberley Ingalls, Lucy H., David G., Andrew B., Elisabeth T., Judith Marshall, Judith Ingram, Danard E., and Al Garrotto. Missing are Lyn R., Jill H., and Ann D. The statue is not on the board!

You probably figured out that I’m president for the upcoming year, too. I blame it all on my critique group.