Saturday, January 30, 2010

What a difference the years make...

Mike and I split up shortly before Rhi turned one. That was just about two years ago.

I was pretty much a wreck. It was really hard to be on my own after the longest relationship I'd ever been in. And I was a stay at home mom, so I was broke, and had no income coming in. What the hell was I going to do? Add to that the monstrosity of a home Mike and I were buying. It was insane, and needed a billion pounds of work. Work I for sure COULD NOT do on my own. Work that would cost me a ton of money to contract out.

Add to that the fact that I had, at the time, Mike's horrible truck, a gas guzzler with a leaking brake line. Oh, and did I mention a baby? "Leaking brake fluid line" and "baby" are not two things you want to put together, for sure.

And even once I had a job and car and such, things were hard. Mike and I weren't the nicest to each other at first, for obvious reasons. Our relationship has evolved a ton since then, but, at first...jeez. It was wretched. We couldn't have a civil conversation. And we got back together a few times, just to break up again.

The end of a marriage is a gut wrenching thing. Even if you know it's not working, even if you know it can't's heartbreaking, and horrifying, and terrible, and a million more adjectives, not one of them good. I never felt like more of a failure, like more of a terrible person, mother...

I'm very glad to be done with that part. It's not something I'll ever forget, though. Even thinking about that time can bring me to tears.

Luckily, like I said, things evened out. Luckily, because I know tons of people whose relationships never did, who still deal with an ex who brings them strife or pain. Mike and I, I can honestly say, attempt to treat each other with tons of respect and try to help each other in whatever capacity that we can.


Back after we'd first broken up, I remember telling a friend that I was sad because I really wanted another child. And I was certain that now, I wasn't going to have one. It broke my heart. You see, I determined long ago that thirty was my personal baby cutoff. Some women's biological clocks start then...mine was over at that time. The end. After thirty, my uterus, I decided was closed for business. And I was certainly not going to find someone to spend forever with by the age of thirty. Not when I was just now freshly split at 26. (Or 25. I honestly can't remember if it was before or after my birthday.)

So I dated...a lot. And it was frustrating, as dating always is. Fun, sometimes, but frustrating.

Enter Shane.

If you gave me a pen and paper two years ago and made me write a list of the way I assumed my boyfriend would be, I assure you, it would not have added up to a profile of Shane. Shane and I are vastly different people in a lot of ways. I'm the emotional, passionate one - he's the logical, analytical one. I am quick to do something once I've decided I want to and he'll procrastinate even if he KNOWS he has to do something. We can't even agree on a damn radio station. I love pop and he...doesn't. I love seafood, and vegetables. And mushrooms, yum! He loathes all of those things. And, dear god, I could write a much longer list. It's got the makings of a situation comedy written all over it, let me tell ya.

And, yet, here we are. We're happy, despite the fact that I'm not sure we can ever see eye to eye on lots of stuff that I'd once thought was important. And, against my own odds, we're having that second child that I wanted but was sure I'd never have.

Life's pretty crazy sometimes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pat Robertson and Haiti

So unless you live under a rock, you know about the earthquake-torn Haiti (and hopefully a few ways to help, should you be so inclined.) But you may not yet have heard all about why it happened. I mean, I totally just thought it was a terrible natural disaster. Thank dear baby Jesus that Pat Robertson was there to correct us all.

Pat Robertson, for those of you lucky enough to not know, is a televangelist and the host of the 700 Club. He also once ran for President, and thank the lord, didn't win, and has famously said things like 9/11 was God punishing us for gays, lesbians, abortions, et cetera. He's the real epitome of a good Christian, let me tell ya. (/sarcasm) Anyhoo, Pat Robertson wants you to know that Haiti made a pact with the devil, and now God is punishing them. This pact apparently took place during the time of "Napoleon the third and whatever"(gotta love Robertson's amazing grasp of history there) and only now is God retaliating. Little late, isn't it, big guy? Were you waiting for the element of surprise?

Seriously, though. What happened in Haiti was a disaster and a tragedy, but one of very natural origins, not a godly punishment dolled out for something that happened in a (skewed) historical timeline. And it's incredibly distasteful and disgusting that someone who claims to be a Christian would be being such a douche about it.

What's more disgusting, though, is that you know people buy what he's selling. Think about it. The man didn't become what he is because no one listens to his nonsense. This is the truly horrifying thing about religion. (Please note: in the next two sentences, if I just offended you by calling religion horrifying, you will understand what I mean and probably forgive me.) Religion can be twisted by charismatic yet evil people like Robertson to make those who are easily led rush into blind hatred. Obviously not all religions or religious people do this - I saw several pastors on Twitter emphatically stating that they disagree completely. But there are a lot of easily manipulated people out there. and people who have agendas full of hatred like Robertson can and do seduce a lot of them. It's scary and bad.I sincerely believe that if the end of the world happens by the hands of humans, it has a strong chance of being because of some horrible person manipulating generally good teachings (because most of the teachings of most religions are generally good, decent ones) into something awful and convincing others to go with it. 


Friday, January 8, 2010

For Serious?!?

Did you know that there are people who believe that HIV doesn't cause AIDS?

I'm quite literally shocked by this.

These people, often called HIV deniers or AIDS deniers, have a couple of trains of thought. Some completely deny that HIV even exists, while others attest that it's a harmless passenger virus that doesn't cause AIDS. If they do believe AIDS exists, they attribute it to a multitude of non-HIV things, like the drugs given to HIV patients to keep them alive longer.

What's terrifying about this is that there's a small minority of idiots actually making people think that taking HIV meds is a bad idea. So there are earlier deaths resulting from that. Plus, they don't think HIV is passed sexually, so it's no big deal to them for someone infected with HIV to have unsafe sex with someone who doesn't. The social irresponsibility of that is simply disgusting. And possibly worst of all is that these people, if made pregnant, don't think it's necessary to take drugs to keep their fetus from getting HIV. Quick fact: if given the right medications during pregnancy and if  the mother abstains from breastfeeding, the fetus has a 1% chance of becoming HIV positive. 1%. Great odds. But HIV deniers have no qualms about not taking those medications, and usually do breastfeed.

As a parent, I find that criminal.

When you're pregnant, you have an inherent responsibility to that fetus. You're growing a life. Your needs and wants and lofty ideals come in second to the child you are responsible for. The end. It's why, even though I might want a margarita like a man on the Sahara wants water, I don't drink one. It's why people quit smoking. It's why people who are sure they want intervention-free home births turn to regular obs when they have pregnancy complications. Because ideals aren't as important as the child you're entrusted with.

Stupid people have always upset me. Dangerously stupid people like this terrify me with the potential for harm that they have. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Vaccination Nation

(The title is only because when it popped into my head, I internally snicked to myself and thought, 'Heh, like conjunction junction.' How easily amused am I?)

When I first had my daughter, I wasn't sure if I would vaccinate her. The anti-vax movement had been particularly vocal right before her first vaccines were set to be administered, and I spent countless days, during her naptimes, not doing the sensible thing and sleeping or doing the housework that I was oh-so-behind on, but studying vaccines. I called my father, hysterical, crying, freaking out, worried that, either way, I was dooming my kid to something awful happening. 

I couldn't, in all of my research, find any good, controlled evidence that vaccines did terrible things to kids. So, I sucked it up, and I let Rhiannon get those first shots. And I watched her like a hawk. She slept ten minutes later than normal - was that an adverse reaction? Yet as paranoid as I was, doomsday never happened. Rhi was fine...healthy, happy, growing, whip smart. I breathed a little easier. Then came the MMR vax, and I panicked once more. People I knew called this the autism shot, anti-vax sites, blogs, et cetera linked this shot, and especially the mercury in it, to autism. I was gripped with horrible fear. I researched, and things were so confusing. The link to autism seemed to not be factual, but anti-vax stuff was so emotional and seemed convincing, full of horror stories and anecdotes. I went into Rhi's doctor's appointment totally unsure what I would do. So I sat down with her doctor, and I blurted out all of my fears. He listened, and didn't condescend, which is part of why he's so amazing. He assured me that thimerosal had been removed from vaccines years ago, that it wasn't ever even in MMR, and that studies of it even showed that thimerosal didn't adversely effect anyone. It wasn't taken out because of proof, but because a "better safe than sorry" approach was  taken. He wemt on to explain that he had had a couple of patients with measles that had had very serious complications from it. He went on to say, "I only recommend for my patients what I would feel comfortable doing with m y own child. If Rhiannon was my daughter, I would give her this vaccine without a moment's worry." He also explained a little bit about herd immunity, and how important it was.

So she got the vaccine. I'd be lying if I said I didn't still worry. But the sky didn't fall. 

Many, many parents are opting out of vaccines for reasons that aren't based in fact. There's a lot, lot, lot of misconception out there. Luckily, since I had Rhi, people have made information much more easily accessible. I absolutely love the site (excuse the lack of link, I wrote this on my phone.) It's got a lot of information, presented very plainly, with lots of easily accessible citations, and a plethora of links
explaining things like herd immunity, why the vax schedule is the way it is, et cetera. And USA Today put out a great article yesterday about the effects of lowered herd immunity. Like I said, linking is damn near impossible from my phone, but if you Google the headline "Missed Vaccines Weaken Herd Immunity in Children" you will almost certainly find it. Anyone with vaccines concerns should look at those for a really realistic viewpoint.

I will absolutely vaccinate our newest daughter. Not only that, but those in the closest contact with her will get whooping cough boosters to ensure that we don't unwittingly bring home something detrimental to her. I don't have the hesitation I had with Rhi at all. Sure, I'll still watch carefully for reactions...nothing in life is 100% safe, after all. But there's a wealth of information showing that most vaccines fall firmly into the category of reasonable risk.