What’s the point of pregnancy? – Updated

15/04/2009

Our first child was born by emergency ceasarean after the placenta gave way at 34 weeks.

We hadn’t got to unusual events at ante-natal classes so I had no idea how dangerous this was for the baby and me and I had only the vaguest idea about ceasars.

That might have been a good thing because almost everything I read about them after the birth was negative. Women who’d had them had wanted to have “natural” deliveries and because they hadn’t been able to they felt cheated, they felt they’d failed, they felt guilty.

That was 24 years ago and I’d hoped that things might have improved in the interim but today I came across the story of a baby who died  after an unassisted home birth and the Did I cheat . .  . post at The Hand Mirror which in turn reminded me of Plan C,  from last year which included this:

I was very very unhappy with the caesarean black-out the midwife seemed intent on, especially as our ante-natal class facilitator had gone on at some length about the evilness of any intervention in the birth process, practically portraying the various drugs as Death Eaters and casting the C-section as Voldemort himself.

How can anyone who regards themselves as a health professional make a woman feel this way?

And why do women put so much pressure on ourselves and each other to have “natural” deliveries?

 

 Birth is a natural process but so too is death and you only have to wander round old cemetries with so many graves of young women and their babies to realise what happened when it was all left to nature.

 

The whole point of being pregnant is to have a healthy baby and if delivering one requires assitance from health professionals, midwives and/or doctors, then we should be grateful they’re available.

Rather than seeing this as a failure we should be thankful that we’re not like women in other times who didn’t have access to modern medical practices,  or those in other countries now who still don’t have the luxury of first world health services.

Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different, every delivery is different. But pregnancy and delivery aren’t competitions and they shouldn’t be political campaigns either.

 

Hat Tip: Clint Heine  

UPDATE: In light of Sandra’s comment – the baby in the link above didn’t die because it was a home birth, it was because the mother refused any assistanace.

 

UPDATE 2: Azlemed posts on birth . . . why do women feel like failures.

 

 


Did you see the one about . . .

27/03/2009

The Wool Over our Eyes at NZ Conservative – does the Dim Post have a rival for satire?

Clark to take Tizard to New York at The Dim Post

Tall Poppies & Patriots at MonkeyWithTypewriter

Are nations just larger unions at The Visible Hand in Economics

How economics can get you a date at Anti-Dismal

ACC & the oh-shit circuit  and The dipstick a 21st century measurement system at Frenemy

The Slow Death of GP Services at Macdoctor

Biffo on the bog at Inquiring Mind

If you can imagine at Rob’s Blockhead

Land as woman at The Hand Mirror

One of the beauties of having a small brain . . .  at Laughy Kate


One down another to go

18/02/2009

The Electoral Finance Act has gone so the government can turn it’s attention to addressing another threat to freedom of expression – the Guilt by Association law Section 92A.

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See more at:  goNZofreakpower, MacDoctor, Hand Mirror,  Not PC, WhaleOilKiwiblog,  Juha Saarinen and Russell Brown.


Mars and Venus

02/02/2009

If proof was needed that men and women come from different planets it’s the posts and comments on yesterday’s Herald editorial  at The Hand Mirror  and Monkeywithtypewriter.

Apropos of that I offer an illustration of the comprehension void between men and women which came in an email, I’m not sure who to credit as the author though some websites attribute it to  Dave Barry.

The Difference Between Men & Women

 

Let’s say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts, they have a pretty good time.

 

A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

 

And then one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine and without really thinking she says it aloud: “Do you realise that as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?”

 

And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Gee, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by out relationship; maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.

 

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

 

And Elaine is thinking: But hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward … I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading towards marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

 

And Roger is thinking: … so that means it was … let’s see, February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s which means …lemme check the odometer …Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

 

And Elaine is thinking: He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from out relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed, even before I sensed it, that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.

 

And Roger is thinking: And I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a goddamn garbage truck and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

 

And Elaine is thinking: He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.

 

And Roger is thinking: They’ll probably say it’s only a 90 day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re gonna say, the scumballs.

 

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centred, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

 

And Roger is thinking: Warranty. They want a warranty? I’ll give them a goddamn warranty/ I’ll take their warranty and stick it right up their …

 

“Roger,” Elaine says aloud.

“What?” says Roger, startled.

 

“Please don’t torture yourself like this,” she says. Her eyes beginning to brim with tears. “Maybe I should never have … Oh God I feel so ….” (She breaks down, sobbing).

 

“What?” says Roger.

 

“I’m such a fool,” Elaine sobs. “I mean there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight and there’s no horse.”

 

“There’s no horse,” says Roger.

 

“You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Elaine asks.

 

“No!” says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

 

“It’s just that … It’s just that I … I need some time,” Elaine says.

 

(There is a 15 second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work).

 

“Yes,” he says.

 

(Elaine deeply moved, touches his hand).

 

“Oh Roger, do you really feel that way?” she says.

“What way?” says Roger.

“That way about time,” says Elaine.

“Oh,” says Roger. “Yes.”

 

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eye, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.

 

“Thank you, Roger,: she says.

“Thank you,” says Roger.

 

Then he takes her home and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul and weeps until dawn whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV and immediately becomes deeply involved in a return of a tennis match between two Czechoslavakians he’s never heard of.

A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what and so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it. (This is also Roger’s policy regarding world hunger).

 

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyse everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification.

 

They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

 

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing squash one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine’s will pause just before serving, frown, and say: “Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?”

 


Fashionistas should stick to own kitting

23/11/2008

Just a couple of week’s into John Key’s tenure as Prime Minister and the fashionistas are after his wife Bronagh.

Her fashion crime? Wearing the same outfit twice.

Shock, horror! 

It’s just as well I’m not in a position which brings me to the attention of the fashion police because not only do I wear the same outfit many times I do so over many seasons. If it wasn’t for a problem of wardrobe shrinkage (when you hang clothes in the wardrobe and find they’ve shrunk when you try them on a few months later) I’d be wearing them for a lot longer.

Bronagh appears to be a confident woman, comfortable with who she is and what she wears so I hope she ignores the unsolicited advice.

Wearing something more than once isn’t a fashion faux pas, it’s displaying environmental and financial sense.

We’re continually being exhorted to reduce, reuse and recycle so wearing an outfit just once is simply wasteful and  when we’re facing the worst financial crisis for decades it could also be regarded as profligate.

The fashionistas should stick to kitting out those who seek their advice and leave attractive and well dressed women like Bronagh to enjoy their own style, which includes wearing outfits as many times as she likes.

That way she’ll be a role model for the majority rather than a fashion horse for the few because while the fashion police have a vested interest in getting women into new clothes as often as possible that’s neither sensible nor possible for most of us.

UPDATE: The Hand Mirror  and Kiwiblog also comment on this.

UPDATE 2: goNZo Freakpower writes from experience.

UPDATE #: So does Madeleine at MandM


Tumeke! rankings for October

22/11/2008

In response to a comment on the Tumeke! blogosphere rankings Tim Selwyn admits he counts the number of posts and comments manually.

That’s a huge task so it’s no wonder it takes two or three weeks for him to do it.

The results of his work show one new entrant in the top 20 – New Zeal moves up 7 to 16 which puts Homepaddock back one to 17.

Kiwiblog retained its first placing and was also first for the average number of comments.

Homepaddock was third for the number of posts – a place I don’t expect to maintain because I’ve been writing fewer posts since the election.

The biggest gain in the top 20 was No Minister which went up 6 places to 4th.

Among my other regular reads Roarprawn gained 2 to 11; Dimpost  dropped 1 to 13; Inquiring Mind  was steady on 15; Poneke  went down 1 to 18 but was 5th for the highest average number of comments (and second in that category for blogs done by individuals rather than a number of contributers.) If I was judging the quality of comments, Ponke would rate highly – he manages to attract mainly intelligent and often witty comments with few which confuse personal invective and debate.

Keeping Stock dropped just 1 to 19 in spite of a decline in the number of posts while cruising for a couple of weeks; and the Visibile Hand in Economics also dropped 1 to 20.

 The Hand Mirror was steady on 22, NZ Conservative was up 1 to 23 and also did well with the average number of comments, due in part to their popular Friday night free for all; Big News leapt 16 to 26;  Anti Dismal gained 8 places to 29 and Something Should Go here gained a couple to 34.

In a Strange Land was down 3 to 52; Monkeywith typewriter gained 1 to 56; exexpat dropped 6 to  59;  goNZo Freakpower  gained 9 places to 87, Cicero made a first appearance at 65 and Macdoctor debuted at 71.

I couldn’t find John Ansell on the list, I’m not sure if that’s because I didn’t look properly or his blog is too new to register.


Style beats fashion

20/09/2008

Is there any other industry which treats its customers as badly as the fashion one?

They design clothes which suit a tiny, in terms of both number and size, minority of women and in doing so fail the majority of their would-be customers. 

If you regard fashion as art, the unusual and often unattractive creations which are modelled on the cat walk may be of interest. But if you’re looking for real clothes for real life which fit well, suit you and and are practical and comfortable you’re unlikely to find them there or in the many pages of glossy magazines devoted to fashion.

It’s not very easy to find them in retail outlets either because most don’t realise what this billboard points out:

 

 

There are 3,000 million women in the world and only eight are super models. 

But there’s a little glimmer of hope that maybe they’re realising that healthy women have breasts, hips, and bums; and that the majority are considerably bigger than many for whom most of the clothes are designed.

The standard size of a model at Fashion Week is just 8, but today  plus size models  will be sashaying down the cat walk in clothes which go up to size 24.

It’s easy to look good when you’re young and slim. But when time and gravity have taken their toll if you want clothes that flatter it’s better to forgo fashion and opt for style.

In related posts Karl du Fresne asks: Celebration or Degredation? and Stargazer at The Hand Mirror  writes on being out of fashion.


Equal rights vs equality

19/09/2008

The Research NZ survey  has generated debate at No Minister  and The Hand Mirror  over equal rights and equality and a post on the issue at No Right Turn.

The discussion reminded me of this Garrick Tremain cartoon which I cut out of the ODT several years ago.

My memory of what prompted the cartoon is a little vague but it had something to do with whether women would be admitted as members.

I don’t know what the upshot was then but am fairly certain membership is open to women now.


75th anniversary of first female MP

14/09/2008

Elizabeth McCombs  became New Zealand’s first female MP 75 years ago yesterday, almost 40 years after women first got the vote.

She won a by-election for the Labour Party in Lyttelton after the death of her husband, James, who had held the seat.

Some Labour leaders were not convinced about her candidacy as James had only won by a slender margin in 1931. In the end they had no cause for concern – Elizabeth was elected with an overwhelming majority.

In her time in Parliament Elizabeth tried to keep women’s issues at the forefront, advocating causes such as equal pay. But she had little opportunity to effect change. Labour was then in opposition and she died less than two years later, in June 1935.

Hat tip: No Right Turn

Update: The Hand Mirror has a fuller post here.


Sticks and stones

07/09/2008

Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me; when your’re dead and in your grave you’ll suffer what you called me.

That takes me back to the playground but it was a serious issue which reminded me of the schoolyard rhyme – whether or not it’s appropriate to use the term “gang rape” as an analogy for attack by words.

A post by Chris Trotter in which he used gang rape as a metaphor for the media coverage of Winston Peters led to an eloquent post by ex-expat and several heart felt comments at The Hand Mirror.

Today Deborah Coddington also used the expression:

… those bandwagon jumpers who used the article to excuse their media equivalent of gang rape. 

The Dim Post picked up on that and said:

A new cliche is trying to force its way into our political discourse. Now, as my readers know, I’m not in favor of hysterical hyperbole at the best of times. . . – but cheerfully throwing accusations of gang-rape around really is a bit beyond the pale and should be reserved for those who really are demonstrably guilty of this hideous crime.

I’m not going to go in to the difference between verbal, psychological and emotional abuse which are all serious matters and rape, gang or otherwise; nor am I going to discuss why employing the term rape in this way is offensive because I don’t think I can add anything to what the ex-expat has already said so well.

I’m going to confine myself to language and the point that a metaphor should not get in the way of what it is being used to express and the term gang-rape does. It offends and upsets people so that it obscures and distracts from the point being made.

To illustrate this look at this sentence by Karl du Fresne:

I squirmed at the brutal mauling Coddington got from people who were plainly unaware that she was present.

Gang rape versus brutal mauling – the first becomes the talking point, the second expresses clearly the strength of the attack without distracting from it.

If the purpose is for the writer to get attention then hyperbolic metaphors work. If the purpose is to add colour and clarity to a piece then it is better to employ a less offensive, less emotive but far more apt and effective turn of phrase.


Sunday social

07/09/2008

Keeping Stock has a Friday Forum, NZ Conservative has a Friday Night Free for All, Friday Feminist is cross posted on both The Hand Mirror  and In A Strange Land, Adam Smith at Inquiring Mind does a Saturday Rant and here at Homepaddock there’s the Sunday Social.

It’s an opportunity to look back at the week that was, forward to the one ahead or to chat about the weekend.

We’re in Dunedin after the celebration of an 80th birthday at Plato last night. The cafe was a hostel for seafarers and is decorated in retro-style, stuffed to the gills with 50s and 60s kitch. That was very appropriate because I met the birthday girl in 1959 when she moved next door with her family. I was two at the time, so was the youngest of her four daughters and we’ve been friends ever since.

The birthday girl was an only child until she was about 19 when her parents had another daughter. Soon after that her mother had a stroke and the BG gave up her studies to look after her mother, care for her sister and teach her father to cook.

She married, had four daughters, immersed herself in home, family, church and community. I know no-one who has done more for others and done it both graciously and willingly. Her husband had a heart attack and died whens he was just 51 but she didn’t allow that tragedy to make her bitter and has carried on caring for and giving to her family, friends and society.

People like this don’t make the headlines but they make our world a much better place. As one of those paying tribute to her last night said, it’s angels like her who make heaven on earth.


Tumeke blog rankings

21/08/2008

Tim Selwyn has published the July rankings for the New Zealand bologsphere on Tumeke!

Kiwkblog and Public Address retain first and second places respectively.

The Standard and Whaleoil swap places at third and fourth.

Frogblog, Not PC and No Minister are steady at numbers five, six and seven and The Hive is up one place to eight.

No Right Turn is down one to nine. Tumeke!, Poneke, Inquiring Mind and Cactus Kate retain their places from 10 to 13.

Keeping Stock is impressively up 11 at 14; New Zealand Conservative has jumped seven to 15 and Homepaddock has moved up five to 16.

The Visible Hand in Economics is down one to 17, Liberty Scott is steady at 18, the Dim Post moves up 13 to 19; and The Hand Mirror is down six to 20.

Links to all these sites are on my blogroll.

Tim comments:

Apart from the bronze, the top dozen are rather static. The big movers seem to be the more right wing blogs that have picked up their traffic count and content output – the latter driving the former most likely: Keeping Stock, NZ Conservative and Home Paddock helping to displace left Labour blogs of Jordan Carter and Tony Milne.

The ranking is based on Alexa rank for traffic plus the number of posts, comments and links.

Thanks, Tim for the time and effort you put it working it all out and thanks to all of you who visit, link and comment and thereby contribute to Homepaddock’s improved place.


Peopleism next step for post-feminist progress

10/08/2008

When a friend is asked why her surname differs from her husband’s, she says it’s because he wouldn’t change his when they married.

 

That the question is even asked is a sign that feminism hasn’t achieved all it set out to. But I am not sure it’s the best vehicle for continuing the journey towards equality – if indeed that is where we ought to be aiming, because some say that women who want to equal men lack ambition.

 

Moving on from that, there are many ways in which life is better for women of my generation than it was for those before us because of the battles fought and won by feminists.

 

But while the barriers which used to stop women following traditionally male careers have largely disappeared, has much improved for those in what were traditionally female occupations whether it’s men or women who are doing them?

 

Feminism has helped women who want to break through the glass ceiling but it has done less for those who clean up behind them. And while it’s generally accepted that women can go where only men went before, the reverse is not necessarily the case.

 

So while women may be accepted as mechanics or engineers, a man who chooses to be a kindergarten teacher, a midwife or to stay at home with the children is likely to be asked, “Whad are ya?”

 

Whether it is a man or a woman who is left holding the babies, the role of primary caregiver is still an undervalued one and that can be said about a lot of other ocupations, paid or unpaid, regardless of who does them. Because when it comes down to basics, it’s the job not the gender which counts and feminism has done nothing to change that.

 

If you shear a sheep it is a job, if you knit its wool into a jumper in a factory or at home for money that’s work too but if you do the knitting for love, it’s only a hobby. Getting a lamb from conception through to chops in the butchery is real work, but getting the chops from the butcher’s to the dining table and cleaning up afterwards is not.

 

Whoever is doing it, these domestic duties are still largely regarded as the unpaid and often unappreciated preserve of women in spite of the best efforts of generations of feminists.

 

There are a lot more important issues than who does the dirty work at home to worry about, but I’m not convinced that feminism is the best way to address them either.

 

One reason for my reservation is that by definition feminism means for women, which leaves a niggling suspicion that it also means against men.

 

Even if it is possible to be pro-women without being anti-men, feminism emphasises the differences rather than the similarities; yet it’s easier to win friends, and campaigns, by establishing common ground than by highlighting divergence. So we should be seeking solutions to our problems, not because we are women but because we are people and these are people’s problems.

 

Self-advocates in IHC call themselves People First  because that’s how they want to be seen. And surely that’s the best way to see everyone, as people, without labels and regardless of any differences between us and others.

 

I am not repudiating feminism, but suggesting there is a step forward from feminism to peopleism; where issues and concerns are addressed by people because they are people’s issues and concerns.

 

Sometimes a group of people or its members might be better able to help those in the group because of what they have in common. But almost always people from other groups have something to offer too. And sometimes by labelling an issue a particular groups issue enables those in other groups to ignore it because it’s not their concern.

 

In other words sometimes women are better able to help other women, but that doesn’t mean men might not be able to help too; and it might prevent the side-lining of important matters as women’s issues if they were regarded as people’s issues.

 

 

And we’ll know we’ve succeeded when my friend no longer has to explain why she and her husband have different surnames.

 

 

This post was prompted by Noelle McCarthy’s  column in the Herald  and Deb’s response to it at In A Strange Land. and The Hand Mirror

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Herceptin, health & politics

08/08/2008

Was Pharmac’s decision to not fund 12 month courses of herceptin based on clinical evidence or financial necessity?

Women’s Health Action Trust director Jo Fitzpatrick accepts it was clinical: 

[she] “reluctantly” spoke out yesterday in support of the decision, “because of concern at the high level of public misunderstanding about the drug and its effects”.

“Herceptin is promoted as the magic bullet for early breast cancer treatment,” she said. “People used to think – and many still do – that Her-2 positive breast cancer can and will be cured by Herceptin.

“We wish that was true but the evidence just isn’t there and people need to know that. At its best, 87 women in every 100 taking Herceptin get no benefit from the drug at all and may be harmed by it.”

And:

District health boards’ spokesman Murray Georgel said the lack of convincing evidence for 12-month treatments meant the decision was one “DHBs can understand”.

“In that context, and given the ability of DHBs to improve health through other interventions, it would have been concerning if Pharmac had come to DHBs and asked that the 12-month treatment be funded.”

But:

Other groups were scathing of the decision. Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition chairwoman Libby Burgess called it “a cruel blow for women and their families”.

She said the drug was “life-saving”, and Pharmac’s decision was “shameful” and “simply inhumane”.

Comments on my previous post  on the issue are also divided with Ed Snack saying it is important to judge the issue on science not emotion and he points to this link as a starting point. However Macdoctor  evaluates clinical trials and concludes Pharmac’s decision was a budget one.

But then NZ Conservative and several comments at No Minister  back Pharmac.

I am not qualified to argue about the science so I’ll move to the politics and this from TVNZ:

Diane Edwards from Herceptin Heroines says “there’s not a woman in this country that can afford to vote for this government after today’s decision”.

However over at the Hand Mirror Stargazer points out:

… national are saying they will fund the full 12 month course but legally would not be allowed to do so. unless, of course, they change the law to allow political interference in medical decisions.

She is right, Pharmac is independent and there are good reasons why neither the the Minsiter of Health nor the government can intervene. But that will be lost on most people because emotion beats facts in politics. Pharmac is regarded as an arm of government so unpopular decisions from the former will rebound on the latter.

Furthermore, Keeping Stock  points out the only other OECD countries not to fund 12 month courses of the drug are Turkey and Mexico.

As any parent will tell you “nearly everyone else does it” is not a convincing argument. But if most other OECD countries fund the treatment because they can afford to, even if the science is not settled; and we don’t because we can’t afford to then regardless of Pharmac’s independence we are justified in holding the government to account.


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