Category Archives: Family Life

Keep Your Yanni out of my Yoni: Sort of a review of Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth

As Matlida or I may have mentioned before, I will be popping  a lil human out of my vagina in a few months now. I’m sorry, was that an indelicate way to phrase it? Should I have said “I’m going to bring forth life from my sacred womb”? Well, don’t hold your breath, because I don’t fucking talk like that.

Some shameful background admissions: I grew up in Northern California. I was a pot smoking, Birkenstock wearing, Phish listening teenager. I wore jewelry with my zodiac sign on it. I bought books about Wicca. Hell, I even believed that astral projection was possible.

Yes, I thought this was a thing. Stop laughing.

But I still drew the line somewhere. I could never bring myself to completely drink the koolaid. I never went for dreadlocks, for instance. As soon as my armpit hair started growing, I started shaving it. There was a boundary I could not cross when it came to New-age trends and beliefs.  I think the line was most tangibly drawn by the language used by so many of my peers. Or maybe it was the abundant paranoia. Or the stink of B.O. that permeated whole groups of people. Or the constant repetition of unsubstantiated claims being purported by obscure authors who went by exotic sounding monosyllabic names. But I digress.

When I went to college I had the reverse experience that many people have. I became less “open-minded”.  What I actually mean is I learned that I should use rational thought to determine the legitimacy of claims and to only put stock in those that had some semblance of supportive evidence. I learned to remember that I had inherent biases and that the inadvertent confusion of correlation and causation led to a ton of false beliefs. I had an epiphany: Humans can be kind of  morons and we need to take precautions not to completely misjudge the world around us. Believing in auras and telepathy and magic might seem awesome and make the world more like our fantasies, but it doesn’t make those things any more real. Actually, it takes away our focus and attention from the awesome things that are verifiable and beautiful. (Disclaimer: This is not to say I don’t think people are entitled to have unverifiable beliefs if they bring them comfort. But if you have to choose between acceptance of science and your spiritual beliefs, and you choose your spiritual beliefs, then we probably won’t get along.)

Sorry, I got a bit sidetracked. What I wanted to talk about was my experience reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Though I have fully embraced the practice of conventional medicine, it seems there is a trend in U.S. medicine in particular to embrace an over-willingness to intervene when it’s just not necessary. I may be a skeptic, and an agnostic, but I can still appreciate the spiritual and emotional elements of child labor. There is something profoundly beautiful, awe-inspiring, and just frigging amazing about the whole thing. I mean, there is a baby inside me! I’m getting kicked and tickled from the inside right now as I write this!  Childbirth is something I want to experience with a touch of sensitivity, a bit of setting, a smidgeon of solemnity. I get it, ok! Some of it, anyway.

The book itself is very helpful in describing the whole birthing process, from water bursting to final thrusts. It shares a number of women’s birthing experiences and shares their advice on managing and overcoming the pain using mental techniques. Helpful, and yet I was cringing during much of the book. not from the graphic descriptions of the birthing process. Instead, it was from the use of terms like “yoni”,  “plane”, or “spirit guide” (I’m pretty sure that third one was in there somewhere).  One woman shared her method of imagining your vagina is a cave near a ravenous ocean, and the ebb and flow of the torrential tides correspond to the contractions. I think she meant her vagina, anyway. She called it a yoni.

This is a yoni. I don’t have one. I have a fucking vagina.

Is this supposed to be an empowering word? It’s vagina in another language. Or did she mean one of the other definitions of yoni? Like “sacred temple”? How about “stable”? Is my baby a pony? Language like this immediately puts me off. Can’t I use the English words without selling out to the man? Does my desire to give birth in a hospital diminish the spiritual import of my child’s birth? No, damn it. It doesn’t. It’s up to each of us to marry our spiritual side with our clinical or rational side. Ina May has assisted thousands of births. She seems to be  a reliable source for information on the birthing process. But hers is not the only way.

I am going to give birth in a hospital. I realize incense won’t be allowed and there won’t be a drum circle outside the door (I’m not knocking it, that would be pretty awesome). But, the compromise is all the technology, sterility, and know-how that will be there. I’m going to resist unnecessary interventions and have my people know my wishes in case I can’t communicate them.  I completely admire women who opt to have home births. They are braver than I. If they want to chant, have a naked midwife, and blast Enya through cockle shaped speakers during labor, good on them! I just hope they get their children vaccinated or else we’ll have a serious fucking problem.So take from the book what works for you and, if you’re like me, try not to dwell on the shudder-inducing hippy talk.

I hope this doesn’t sound too angry. I’m really a happy, sympathetic person. Just keep the Yanni out of my yoni. (And vaccinate your kids.)

This is a Yanni. I don’t have one. I have a fucking vagina.

 

 

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How to (Not) Support Your Partner Upon His Vasectomy: A Step-by-Step Guide

So, he’s going to get the big V! You’ve debated about it for hours, days, or years and finally decided that his swimmers are getting kicked out of the pool for good. For my husband and I, it was less a rational discussion and more of a battle cry oft repeated through a complicated third pregnancy. L’Shana Haba’ah Vasectomy! Although our dedication to sterility waned a bit immediately after our beautiful baby was born, a few months later we looked again at our three children under five, our inability to save or find me a job to cover the cost of daycare, and our seemingly unending future of sleep deprivation torture, and decided to do the snip.

The Vasectomy: This time it’s HIS turn

Assuming that your partner has been like mine, a true mensch and a source of support and (most of the time) assistance through long pregnant days and sleepless newborn nights, you’ll want to extend the same courtesy to him for what is a psychologically daunting procedure. Men do seem to care a great deal about their balls. I don’t understand it, but I can be there for him. That’s why I’ve created this simple step-by-step guide- your partner will be so thankful.

1. Act Casual

It’s not a big deal, this whole thing, right? In fact, you should be like me and model such excellent nonchalance that he’ll think that you actually forgot about it. And that you didn’t schedule a babysitter or actively plan to be at his side. Okay, maybe you did do that, but you did make some last minute calls when he asked why you didn’t plan to come to his (minor!!!) surgical procedure. That counts!

2. Express Support and Concern

When he does seem like he wants to discuss the upcoming procedure, be there to hear his concerns. And voice your own, of course. About his health, and about the fact that you won’t be able to have any more babies any more ever, and doesn’t he think that the timing is a little crazy and that this decision is a little rash, after all? Why make it permanent? Sure, you don’t plan on having more children- but what’s wrong with condoms for the next 12-15 years that you remain fertile? They don’t bother you!

3. Document the Process

Even though he might be feeling apprehensive and a little irritable, make sure to take pictures of the process to document it for your blog. He’ll thank you later, I promise.

This is not annoying at all

4. Encourage Recovery

After the procedure, go ahead and leave him and the three kids at home while you rush to the pharmacy to pick up his Vicodin prescription. If there happens to be a long line, feel free to sit and wait in the lobby area. If there are a few new US Weekly magazines to peruse while you wait, no problem. He and the kids will be fine.

5. Maintain Comforting Routines

After a traumatic incident, it’s often best to keep up with your normal routines. If he regularly wakes up at dawn with the kids on Saturday while you sleep in, why change that now? That icepack he was up changing all night long was sure to keep down the swelling.

6. Help Transition Back to Normalcy

Although taking narcotics post-procedure is helpful, your partner might need you to suggest backing off of the heavy-duty stuff or transitioning to Ibuprofen instead. Even if he had what his urologist called “a bleeder,” for safety purposes he should ease off the Vicodin. Because he’s got to save some for you! (Note: I’m just kidding!)

Houston, we have a bleeder

7. Harness His Other Sources of Support

Make sure that others can also support him by letting all of them know. Is he walking a tad funny? Point it out in a loud and clear voice so that they don’t have to worry. Does his bulge seemingly protrude? Assure everyone that’s it is just an icepack from his recent vasectomy! No cause for alarm!

8. Be Authentic to Your Own Emotions

As carefully as you’ve handled his concerns and fears, you must find the space to share your own to preserve the balance in your relationship. So if he forwards you a birth announcement from an acquaintance four days after the procedure, feel free to let those tears flow. You’ll never have another newborn, after all. At least not with him.

Estimated Cost of Family Planning/Creation Procedures:
You- $78,000 (3 births)
Him- 35 bucks

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