Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Chilled at Church

purloined image from the internet
 Getting  Naked at Church

I try to get to church early enough each week to enhance my spiritual experience.  I attend church by myself and because of that, I get the opportunity to exercise the spirit of Sister Bednar who asks, “Who needs me to sit next to them today?”  Like many church goers, I begin the day in the spirit of warm acceptance but sometimes I end the day in a bit of a chill. 

A little back story, I have a disorder that causes discomfort from cold temperatures.  My budget is successful during the summer months because I avoid air-conditioned superstores and all restaurants without patio seating.  When I spend an hour in the cold, I spend an equal amount of time heating back up and getting the hips, knees and fingers moving again.  Waiting for the thaw can be awkward at closing time. 

Most weeks, I sit for an hour at church and solidify, then I spend the first part of second hour standing outside basking in the regenerating heat of Oklahoma.  It’s a pleasant time spent people watching—an activity that could be augmented by the addition of a bench, but a chair might encourage exactly what we as a church are trying to avoid;   people being more comfortable outside than in.  

Clothing myself in church chic is a particular challenge as I wear thermal long underwear in an updated fashion,  but I’ve made it work for ten years.  It’s not that hard to add a sweater, stockings and a fleece throw.  

The church cold-challenge is nondenominational; I’ve discussed this conundrum with my favorite survey group in the supermarket checkout lines and most women are in agreement.  Many churches are frigid—some more metaphorically than literally.     I’ve learned that shedding my layers— of shame, recrimination and remorse—helps me to become more transparent.  And that allows God to shine through me to others more readily.  And that’s what I’m aiming for.  

This particular Sunday is Mother’s Day and I’ve chosen fashion over wisdom so I’ve donned a pencil skirt.  Me, myself and I had spent the morning in the jacket-or-sweater debate, but I still came to church woefully under-dressed.  Ours is the second meeting in the building so the chapel has been pre-chilled and the thermometer is set at its coolest.

 I’ve always found it interesting that a temperature of a church is managed by those wearing the most clothing.   I choose not to think too simplistically and call it a gender thing, but I muse on the generalization that men are typically more warm-blooded than women and I wonder if it stems from the epigenetics evolving from that the time period when women wore sixty petticoats and stifled in air-condition-less-ness.   Men learned to withstand the chill, mostly by donning their long underwear for all season and leaving them on until they rotted off in the spring.   But that’s another muse—for another time. 

Today, I pick up my church bag and I make the trek from my front right corner pew to the left back bench, right below the thermostat.  I tweek it up two notches—not yet to normal, just up toward normal and then I sit down right in front of it.  Not many minutes later, the “suit” approaches.  He walks up and shakes my hand and says, “So I noticed you switched up the temperature?”  I grin and rehearse the entire argument I’ve related above, ad nauseum.  He smiles and moves on to greet more people and I sit warming with the peaceful organ music.
I watch the congregation and note that most of the men have given up the suit coats and are in shirtsleeves, but still I ponder on the meta-physical temperature in the church being managed by the suits.  I’ve spent years in stake callings and I know that the days spent in the suit are definitely warmer when the pressure of leadership makes you sweat it out.  But on a typical day, I  suspect that most of us leaders could benefit from a little training in the leadership model of Jenn Shirkani and  Emotion IQ—which focuses on the well-being of others first.   Perhaps all of us in the “suits,” could benefit from making our actions more deliberate.  We could extend a little more compassion and understanding by sacrificing ourselves and learning to put other’s thoughts, feelings and comfort at church before our own.  Like another great leader in spiritual philosophy… Christ. 

I come to the conclusion that it must start with me, so I give up my comfort and my moment of selfishness and move to sit next to a person who is also sitting alone.  We may as well share our solitude together in the overflow section. So there I am in the back row, watching as another suit walks over and tweeks down the thermostat. 

And I get it, I do.  I understand.  Maybe they are considering others first and reacting to the furious-fan-frenzy going on in the menopause section.  (How have I missed out on that pleasure?)  They may be more intuitive to the feelings and comfort others than I imagine. 

So it’s a matter of two things, my attitude and other’s motivations.  And the question for both of us may be, “Am I being deliberately thoughtful of others?”

It’s easy to pile on the layers and put up a shield against the chill, but at church sometimes it’s about having the courage to dare to be more naked. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Final Eng 101 - Yeah, I'm finally starting College.

The Pluck for a Pardon

Thanksgiving is a three-ring circus in our family.  The fun begins when the troop arrives--eight siblings with children and grandchildren bursting from vehicles, tumbling out the side doors and cascading out the back hatches.  The great-grand parents serve as ringmasters who oversee the big top; we unfold tables and set-up chairs for a hundred in our community hall. Everyone is welcome and this year we invited an expansion pack of in-laws that added even more clowns to the crush.
With a group that big, there can be no sit-down dinner with elegant china, lacy tablecloths and a succulent, bronzed fowl.  It’s a challenge to grab paper and plastic as the group swings past the main table scooping from industrial-sized vats of mashed potatoes, gravy and corn.  Then they flip back to the platters of turkey and stuffing.  Back and forth from a side-table of salads to another filled with drinks.  The meal culminates with a heart-stopping landing in front of the dessert table laden with nearly a two-person-per-pie ratio. 
Our family dinner traditions include a freak show of vegetarians and gluten-free-ers.  The great-grand parents were charter members of those food groups long before food became fad.  Those epicureans have been joined the past couple years by new foodies that eat paleo, keto and whole.  These odd-balls wander past dishes marked clearly with labels like vegetarian, g/f, c/f, and sugar-free.  Our family’s food habits may seem finicky at first, but if you take the time to get the whole backstory of their medical odyssey, then empathy spills forth and the bullying and snark fades away.  The odd-balls are embraced because the goal is to have no medical reactions served up with dessert. Insight creates understanding and that is a laudable life goal.   
After dinner half of our group disperse to their second-meal destinations and a collective sigh releases from the gaffers and grips who juggled the seamless presentation of the food-free-for-all.   The rest of the clan sit down to some serious board gaming and govern-mental problem-solving. 
Tempers flare in the after-meal conversations, but conflict is one of the standard side shows of most close relationships.  Humans have an inborn yearning to connect.  Through each one of us runs a streak of unique that is seeking its place in the crush and rejection by those who matter the most is humanity’s greatest fear.  Through my own personal journey, I have come to know firsthand how the prickly Me, Me, Me Monster--that bullying narcissist—learns to pull in its quills and lower its defenses when offered acceptance and love unfeigned.     
Soon, we welcomed the occupants of the second chorus of clown cars and their contribution to the table of diverse desserts.  Amidst the carnival chaos, two of the grand-nieces fled the brouhaha to take a refreshing stroll outdoors.  They wandered a block or two away to visit a friend who is also visiting relatives in our little town from their own little town.
When the girls returned they cornered me, and they made an intriguing comment, “Auntie, we just visited a friend whose Dad said he knew you years ago, from high-school.”
That innocuous phrase is one I dread.  “I knew you from high school,” is anathema for me because I know that if I hear it in person, I should probably duck.  More than likely, those words will be followed by a slap on the cheek, or a sock on the chin.  And I when I come-to from the knock-out, I will have to shrug and admit, “I deserved that.”  Angst and regret are painful anecdotes from my high school memories.  
“He said that we shouldn’t mention to you that he said hi, because you guys didn’t get along all that well.”  Their comment didn’t completely drain the pool of candidates, but it helped.   A hammer slammed down and rang a bell in my memory, and I knew to whom they had spoken.  
I may not have been the nice one at school, but back then, I felt I was equally matched in offensive talent by only one guy.   While I was adept at tossing a verbal dagger, he had the deadliest knife-toss in the school and he could set his target spinning in circles in a cascade of random jabs. 
He was the subject of my decade-long retribution nightmares until I finally woke up and learned to embrace the bully creed, “The best bullies are built by bullies.”  I evolved and in our last years of high school, the two of us could sling an arsenal of steel-tipped barbs with deadly accuracy and heaven help the innocent victims in our way. 
So now, thirty-five years later and eons wiser, I thought I would take the opportunity to walk over and face him.  I would look in his eyes with forgiveness and say, “Hey, I imagine that being the youngest of seven brothers couldn’t have been easy.  I’m sorry for sending you that Valentine cookie in our Senior year that said, ‘Drop Dead,’ and I’d like to ask for your forgiveness.” 
Yeah, I wish I’d done it.  But in life’s freak show, there lingers in me that porcupine girl who has become comfortable with the pain from her prickles. 

Maybe I’ll get up the pluck next year, when the traveling circus returns.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Man Plan -- (A Satire)

The Man Plan    reposted  from 1-12-15

The men who lead our church youth group have an easy-going leadership style. They don’t get caught up in minutiae.  They stay flexible and just go with the flow.  

Guys plan with a laid-back attitude and I watch with awe.    Maybe it’s a gender thing that is uniform in church leaderships worldwide? 

Men don’t sweat the small stuff.  While women spend months on details like  “the  table centerpiece,” the guys live,“Let it Go,” long before it was a song.

In our house, the cool and calm planning attitude of man gets twisted by the whirlwind that is woman,  and when it does, the blustery moments usually result in tornadoes.

Like last night.  My husband tries to balance his natural man-planning with mine, the wifely PCD’r (planning compulsively disordered) .  It was our weekly-annual planning meeting, and as usual, I took the lead.  

“There is a youth activity planned; Let me have our son explain it to you,” I say.

The son shuffles in and mumbles, “It’s our turn to be in charge of the Wednesday activity.” 

“Really,” the husband looks shocked, “Already?  Are you sure?” 

His response surprises me.  I expect the male to have a, “be cool fool, we got this,” attitude.  He must be channeling his femistique.symbols-004The guy knows that the boys and girls take turns overseeing the planning—and that means somehow his time and space  has warped six months and that rift has created a deep-down fissure that could prove treacherous.

I interject coolly, “It doesn’t matter.”   I figure if he’s switching up genders, I will too.

“No,”  he recovers, “It does matter.  It’s important to follow the calendared plan.”

Still,  I can tell the unfamiliar underpinnings are chafing.
“Well,”   I replied, “You are right, and if there were such a thing as a plan...” 

The importance of a plan!   I have learned this from my study of a compilation of leadership books that could be titled, “The Mindset and Element of the Seven Habits of  Leadership Skills”.   Every one of those leader-building books insist that ‘The End Will Begin’ only if it’s calendared. 

So I persist,  “…let me give you an imagined scenario of how the man-planning process would go.” And I began relating the story as I have watched it played out over my decades of experience in youth activity planning. 

And to enhance the experience,  I will perform this in a duo of male voices as I did for him:  
(First, in the bass of a radio announcer,)  "A day in the life of a male youth leader.  The alarm rings and the hand reaches for the cell phone and the eyeballs squint at the day's calendar. Brainwaves begin  to roll in."

( The vocal pitch changes to treble,)

 “Hmmm, wonder who’s in charge of the activity tomorrow night?” as the man scans his smart phone.   “Whose week is it anyway?”

(Changing back to the Elvis voice.)  "And a distant memory from a planning meeting begins to struggle up  from the depths and belches a vague recall."
 (Back to the Sinatra voice,) “Seems like I heard the older group’s got it.  I heard they were planning something that sounded like fun.” 

(Bass,) "And the relief endorphins kick in."

(Tenor,) “Wow, great.  Wonder if they need help? I’ll text them tomorrow."  

(Bass,) "But then just as he’s rolling over, his calendar pings."

(Tenor,) “Oh, but I have that late meeting at work tomorrow.  I’m sure they will let me know if they need anything.  Yeah, they have my number.” 

Now, I’ve been using my voice skills, and my psychic man-channeling that’s been honed through thirty-some years of close marital contact, so as I wind down and slam the imaginary smart-flip phone shut, (because no one has ever effectively demonstrated the end of anything without a satisfactorily slam of something,)  I look at the man and his cub and say, “And that’s how it will go.”

“So honey,” I conclude in my normal voice, “I think that if you plan it, all will be okay.” 

My husband, the consummate critic of my acting skills, quirks a questioning eyebrow and says, “Maybe we just better be sure.” 

“Hey,” I counter the criticism , ‘ I cleared this activity months ago with the young women leader.” 

“Yeah, still…” his dubious mind balks at my unfamiliar faux-male casual attitude and he hesitates, proving his ignorance of  the critical component of church calendaring,  'estrogen.'   He turns to the budding planner, my son, the micro-male and says, “Who can you call?” 

“Well,”  I stifle the response that resounds in my head, “that would be the young woman leader.”     

I’m more than a little shocked that flipping out the female card hasn’t trumped and my mind races ahead to what deeper issue he may have that I haven’t already mentally considered and resolved. 

“Honey,” my husband, the long-term analyst-for-a-living rebukes, “I just don’t want to have to do this again in a month, if it’s not our turn.” 

And there we have it;  the real crux.  My mind leaps to a resolution and the drama drag queen begs to emerge.

“Oh, I get it.  Let me allay your concerns.  Let’s visualize next month, and imagine the thoughts of one of the other young men leaders,”  and with a throat clearing,  I drop back into my man-channeling persona. 

 “Announcing a day in the life of a typical man.  Brainwaves begin  to roll in,” booms me.

My tenor, “’Hmmm, wonder who’s in charge of the activity tomorrow night?’ flipping open that magical smart/flip phone.   ‘What week is it anyway?’  

"And a distant memory belches a vague recall."

“I remember that great activity from last month and the guys planned it… so it must be the girls.”  

"And with that, all youth-activity-centered-thought ceases and the mind shifts to other world-related problems."

"The next month arrives and again youth-activity-centered thought belches," 

 “Hmmm, wonder who’s in charge tomorrow night?  Is it my week?  Ah, I recall that great activity … but it wasn’t last month as that was the girls, so it might be us...” 

"And the man pushes the button and says, 'SIRI, Text  the other male leader.'"


Back in my own voice at home, in the kitchen, the husband watches enrapt with a slight smile on his face and I know I’ve entertained.  

Then I wrap it up, “And every other month from then on,  that ‘great’ activity will be remembered and remarked upon.”

And the coup-de-gras--the last word?   I got it.    

"You may not have to ‘plan’ again for six more months.”   

And that's it, the brilliance of The Man Plan.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Facts and Fallacies of Modern Birth Practices

Birth has transitioned historically from a natural and organic process to a procedure that is typically accompanied by medical intervention.  This evolution of birth, its rights, its freedoms and its oppressions affect women and children on a national scale.  And whether good or ill, medical intervention is a decision that should be purposeful, not routine. 
Birth practices prior to the twentieth century utilized an organic approach to birth.  Birth occurred in homes and women were aided by other women.  By the turn of the century, hospitals were replacing homes, and by 1935 half of all women living in cities were giving birth in medical facilities.  By 1950, only a quarter of births occurred outside hospitals.  As birth moved from homes to hospitals, infant deaths did not decrease, but in fact rose seventeen percent.  Deaths in hospitals did not begin to decline until the use of sulfa drugs became common and physicians finally agreed to improve their sanitation procedures (Goer, Thinking, 202).
As mothers birthed during the first years of the twentieth century, modifications on the natural process were rare.  Medical interventions in labor and delivery and pain relief were initiated by the surgical branch of specialized medicine called obstetrics and women became the test subjects for medical interventions.  Today, birth without any medicinal or physical intervention is rare and women and newborns continue to bask on the cutting edge for progressive advancement in labor and delivery protocols (Gaskin p 3).
With the advent of medicine and science, the biological process of what was once a natural occurrence has transitioned.  Today most of us join the proponents of medical advancements to agree that medicine has improved many aspects of birth.  From high-risk pregnancies, and the mortality of premature babies to medical advancements that impact couples who suffer with infertility, medical innovations have assisted those who suffer with physiological birth challenges.  In addition, without the surgical specialization of the obstetric branch of medicine, life-saving, emergency surgical interventions like caesarians would be even more dangerous.  Medical intervention appears to be the wave of the future.    
Yet, within the current birth practices, which inventions and actions are the result of sound medical advancement and which interventions can actually cause birth complications (Carroll).  Could our ignorance of these issues be contributing to an increase in the birth mortality rate of both mothers and babies in America (CIA)?
As medicine and nature blend, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers—parents-to-be, to make informed decisions based on a full evaluation of labor and delivery options.  These decisions must include risks and benefits of birth interventions in these decisions because the method and manner of birth can affect the growth and development of children throughout life.  However, individualized childbirth decisions can be difficult to make because comprehensive studies on birth practice are complex and nuanced and many times the studies seem too complicated for a consumer to evaluate in the process of deciding the best method for childbirth (Blanchette).  
An evaluation of current birth strategies and care giver alternatives are important in taking responsibility for one’s one health choices. One of these is which professionals will attend the birth.  98% of births are now attended by obstetricians--physicians whose training is in the medicine and surgical interventions of childbirth (Goer, Thinking, 243).  Family practitioners are medical professionals trained in all aspects of family medicine and who are typically birth attendants in rural areas who have minimal options available for pain relief and surgical interventions.  The third labor class of delivery providers are certified nurse midwives—specially trained and more frequently, state certified to attend birth with minimal interventions. 
The decision of birth facility is critical to birth outcome (Van Der Hulst). Birthing facilities must be evaluated, ie., hospitals, birth centers within hospitals and births in a home environment.  An evaluation of the financial benefits and risks to the medical and insurance industries may be relevant in the birth decisions. 
The primary focus of mothers, birth professionals and this paper’s examination is a positive birth outcome—the child.  The birth process of a child has been proven to affect the growth and development throughout childhood.  As medicine and nature meld, women and children’s health can benefit from solid, statistical information that focuses on obtaining relevant education and evaluating diverse information related to the physiology of birth.  This knowledge is what empowers a personal birth experience. 
It seems that this is a simple evaluation and that by making an effort to gain knowledge, women will become informed participants rather than merely patients. But the truth is more complicated.  Less than 2% of births in America occur with no medical intervention (Gaskin, 5), and a review of the consequences of this casual acceptance of the current medical practices of birth intervention must be made to ascertain why.    
As the medical facilitation of birth has increased so have the risks to the mother and the baby. A woman in America has a greater risk of dying from childbirth than do those in the 40 other industrialized countries and that risk is increasing.  The maternal mortality rate has doubled in the last thirty years (Amnesty).  These numbers are so alarming to birth professionals that recently an industry-wide call for the formation of a National Maternal Mortality Review Committee has been made.  The request, published in the July 2017 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, makes the case that, “…these numbers are four to five times higher than that of the best-performing nations.”  It goes on to state that, “In fact, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any high-resource country” (Clark). 
 In addition, the birth mortality of newborns in the United States has dropped below seventeen of the high-resource countries in the world (Hamilton), and caesarian rates have increased drastically in the last three decades (Osterman).  One-third to half of all babies born today (Goer, Thinking, p 202) are caesarian births. This is “in spite of the fact,” states Dr. Louis Weinstein, chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Thomas Jefferson University, that a Caesarean is 6 to 20 times more dangerous than a vaginal delivery” (Donaldson).   Nearly one in four American women gives birth by cesarean section and “one-half to two-thirds of these major abdominal operations were not needed.” (Goer, Myths, 17)   

Birth is no different than any other consumer based commodity.  Supply and demand are precursors for the wave of medical birth alternatives.  Labor/delivery techniques have changed to meet the demands of a free market economy that caters to the consumer and feeds the need as it grows.  Obstetricians are aware of the prevailing trend and because their specialty is trained specifically in the surgical aspect of birth, these physicians are positioning themselves to be aptly suited to meet the market demands with labor and birth efficiency. 

To get a jump on the prevailing trend, a preemptive study on optional caesarian birth was conducted in Texas in 2006. It investigated how much on-demand caesarians (c-sections) at 39 weeks could benefit babies.  This conclusion was based on extrapolation of the number of injuries suffered by vaginal birth babies multiplied by the estimated increase of babies that would be born c-section if women were allowed to opt for an optional c-section at 39 weeks.  The conclusion was that injuries to babies that occur during vaginal birth would be greatly lessened with the optional request for caesarian birth at 39 weeks, because the baby would not be delivered vaginally (Hankins).  This study neglects to address the significantly increased dangers to the child of c-sections.  

In response to trends, advocates for fewer caesarians have statistics that counterbalance the positive effects of optional caesarians with studies of their own.   A 1992 Dutch study proved that over the course of one decade between 1982-1992, that c-sections caused 700% more deaths than vaginal births, 28 per 10,000 (Goer, Thinking, 23)   Henci Goer, a birth researcher and pregnancy and birth educator and the author of Obstetric Myths versus Research Realities:  A Guide to the Medical Literature, challenges studies like the optional c-section one and considers them to be spurious and merely created to promote the intervention of major surgery without valid statistics garnered from accepted birth study protocols (5).  Ms. Goer, invites women to consider that, “Cesarean section is the most common major surgery performed in this country… despite the health risks, pain, recovery time and expense.”  She also claims again in a subsequent book, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth that, “The consensus of medical literature is that half of these operations were not needed” (1). 
In addition, epidurals continue to be the drug of choice for birth.  Proponents minimize the risk to babies suggesting that with the large numbers being performed, that epidurals have been improved and are safe (Thorpe).  The average rate of epidurals in the US is 61% (Osterman) yet “an epidural increases the odds of cesarean for lack of progress somewhere between 2- and 8-fold, especially in first-time moms and causes fetal distress in about 10% of babies,” (Goer, Myth, 3).
In addition, numerous studies on the effects of labor analgesia and infant brain development have proved that epidural analgesia is connected to increased duration of labor, medical interventions in instrumentation related to vaginal delivery and in birth by cesarean (MacArthur; Eddleston; Thorpe). 
            Advocates for the medical industry say they are just giving women what they want, and of course it’s up to the consumer or insurance providers to ask, “At what cost?”  A hospital makes significantly more on surgeries and epidurals vs. natural birth.  Doctors also make significantly more and therefore the suggestion to limit or eliminate birth intervention is going to come from that direction.   Jenene Turley, a prenatal birth educator felt compelled to publish a peer-review paper for the Journal of Prenatal Education entitled, “How I Teach Evidence-Based Epidural Information in a Hospital and Keep My Job” (Turley). 
            The two sides, medical interventionists and natural birth advocates who are debating the issue ostensibly join in empowering mothers, but each differ on what “birth empowerment,” actually means.  Medical professionals argue that empowering women is accomplished through alleviating the discomforts associated with birth, i.e., the inconvenience, pain through drug intervention and the benefits of cutting edge technology.  Natural proponents offer a biological and organic alternative to low-risk birth situations and insist that this empowers women through education and involvement. Their model of care is not based on the obstetricians “normative standards” of the progression of labor occurring on some prescribed schedule, but instead on a pattern that is individual to each patient.  Midwives follow the tenants of noted French physician, Michael Odent.  “One cannot help an involuntary process.  The point is not to disturb it” (Goer, Thinking, 199). 
More discussion on the impact of knowledge on the empowerment of the personal birth experience is called for and insight on what may happen when the patient takes an active interest and more responsibility in health care could be the subject of subsequent research.  What might be the result to the mortality of babies in America and the mortality rates of mothers if education encouraged them to transition from patients to proactive participants in evidence-based labor education?
Evidence-based education must begin at the ground-level.  For example, while strolling through the New York City Natural History Museum, one may expect to see exhibits theorizing the evolution of man.  In the children’s area is an exhibit explaining human birth with a scale model of a baby and the mother’s birth canal.  The exhibit descriptor explains that due to evolution, the human brain has evolved such that the skull is so large that medical intervention has become necessary to complete the birth process.   Aside from the inherent inaccuracies in the scientific theory of evolutionary process, (Darwin would say that if growth over time has forced an increase in skull size, then that same impetus would influence the evolution of the pelvis,) this exhibit in a prominent city museum is an indicator of the nation’s general opinion of the need for intervention in the natural process of birth as well as an indicator of the need for better birth education. 
Current methods of birth practice may reflect scientific opinion, but medical practices fail to adapt when the studies manifest negative results.  Surgical obstetrics is tradition based and has become so enmeshed in the economy of health care that any modification of these practices—even those evidence-based—does not motivate change.  The question is how can that be?  And a possible answer is offered by labor and delivery educator Henci Goer, “Obstetric practice does not reflect the research evidence because obstetricians actually base their practices on a set of predetermined beliefs.  If you start from this premise, everything about obstetrics, including the inconsistencies between research and practice, makes sense.”  (Goer, Thinking 4).      
Neither extensive studies nor grass-roots advocacy has had an effect on obstetric labor and delivery techniques, yet maternal mortality and infant mortality rates continue to stymie medical interventionists.  Kathleen Harper, an obstetrician practicing in Nevada wrote a paper calling for more obstetricians to be trained—blaming the increase in the maternal mortality rate in Nevada on the lack of obstetricians (Harper). The author of the paper failed to clarify what is causing the mother and infant mortality and is perhaps unaware of what is adding to the death statistics.   Hemorrhage is the #1 reason for delivery-related deaths—and obstetricians rely on surgical intervention to treat this problem.  Most hospitals, although mandated to provide operating facilities, are not prepared to facilitate emergency surgeries (Goer, Thinking, 206), and delivering mothers bleed out before they ever get to the surgery.
 A significant majority of the deaths--African American women—are a 3-4 times greater risk (Bond).  Substandard social structures is one contributor to the problem.  Training more obstetricians will not solve the issue of social inequality—nor can their methods become part of the answer.  The obstetrician’s traditional birth practice of vaginal delivery involves releasing the mother from the hospital within 12-24 hours and not seeing the mother again for a week.  This practice exacerbates the risk to those in difficult social circumstances.
The Maryland study of maternal mortality identified drug use as the other major source of the mortality issue. (MDOHP) This problem can be addressed with the same answer, improved home health care professionals, trained and required to attend a pregnant mother in prenatal and postnatal visits in the home.  A professional, like a midwife, identifies interventions for problems related to social inequality.  Only midwives are required by law to make extensive before and after-care visits and only those visits can reveal on-going health situations that could be resolved through existing social programs.  Until we begin to utilize the birth practitioner who is trained to address these failures, we can continue throwing doctors at the problem without ever experiencing a solution. 
There is cautious optimism about the evolution to healthier birth practices.  Smart consumers—made even wiser through clearer information and better education will grow to understand their responsibility in this issue and demand changes via the economics of supply and demand.  Just last month a newscast was finally shown by CBS TV news, which quoted an Associated Press article from December of the previous year.  It recommended to laboring mothers that they require that their doctors allow the umbilical cord to completely deliver all of the cord blood to the baby rather than clamping and cutting the cord immediately upon birth. This small change had been proven to positively affect the well-being of children as long as four years later (Andersson.) The newscast went on to say that although the new policy would cut into the hospital economics (which has a lucrative business in selling umbilical stem cell blood for research,) the long-term health of a child would benefit.  But, that study was published back in 2015.
It’s easy to get lost in the mortality numbers and caught up in the birth statistics, but there is more at risk than our national standing in the World Health Organization’s mortality standards.  Women are laboring and delivering babies along the cutting edge of technological advancement and consumers must become educated in the true facts of these medical options.  Birth cannot always be managed, scheduled and manufactured with the precision of an assembly line; humans are not machines.  Caregivers must take their focus off expediency, tradition and consideration of normative procedures and refocus on the individual’s simplistic progression through the birth processes.  If even one child or mother is at greater risk because of the expediency of medical interventions, then consumers must respond more judiciously and advocate for safer alternatives.  Safer birth demands it.  

Works Cited
Amnesty International.  “The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the United States,” March 2011,
Andersson, Ola, MD., PhD., et. al., Effect of Delayed Cord Clamping on Neurodevelopment at 4 Years of Age, A Randomized Clinical Trial. Jama Pediatr. 2015;169(7):631-638. Doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.0358 July 2015, Web
Donaldson, Susan. “Trying to Take Back Childbirth.” ABC News, July 28, 2008, Reproductive Health/story?id=5462833&page=1
Blanchette, H. “Comparison of obstetric outcome of a primary-care access clinic staffed by certified midwives and private practice obstetricians.”  Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1993; 168(5);1407-1413.
Bond, S. “Maternal mortality rates increase in the United States with risk of death 3-4 times higher in African American women.” J Midwifery Womens Health. 2011 Jul-Aug;56(4):404-5.
Carroll, JC et al. “The influence of the high-risk care environment on the practice of low-risk obstetrics.”  Fam Med 1991; 23(3): 184-188.
CIA Central Intelligence Agency (US).  October 2017
Clark, SL., “The Case for a National Maternal Mortality Review Committee.”  Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Jul;130(1): 198-202
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Hankins, GD, Cesarean section on request at 39 weeks:  impact on shoulder dystocia, fetal trauma, neonatal encephalopathy, and intrauterine fetal demise. Semin Perinatol. 2006 Oct;30(5):276-87.

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Harper, Jenene, “Response to Nevada’s Incidence of Maternal Mortality with more Obstetricians,” Am. Jrnl Obstetrics and Gyn., May 2015
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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Refinement via Parenting

Dec 7 2016 In one of the quotes of the great Roman philosopher Cicero, he mentioned that, “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” That idea intrigues me. Gratitude is a virtue like kindness, loyalty, humility, forgiveness, honesty, trust and compassion, but what makes gratitude the greatest--the parent? I ponder a successful parent’s performance. I watch the example of my daughter and my two granddaughters-- born 16 months apart and I imagine her trundling and them toddling and the sampler of virtues that she personifies in her everyday parenting. In the space of one Face-time conversation, she is charitable with the one who wakes angry, compassionate to the teether, forgives the biter, exemplifies patience with the freeze-tag-hide and seeker, and she does it all with kindness and a cheerful demeanor. The responsibility of parenting has made her different—it has refined. Successful parenting demands that we refine our virtuous selves. Each virtuous attribute we strive to attain offers a challenge, and requires mental and at times physical submission. Each builds on another, kindness, forgiveness, patience, compassion—each demands the tampering of flaws and tempering of the natural being and if successful, refines us to a higher mind, to deeper thought and to responsible communal action. That is what a parent hopes for, through all of her own efforts—to raise virtuous progeny. It may seem simplistic, but in a drought of gratitude, none of the other virtues can flourish. Each becomes burdened by all-consuming self-ness of pride. Patience becomes a matter of willpower, humility is demeaning, forgiveness is granted spitefully, compassion is condescending, and kindness becomes mere tolerance. My daughter uses gratitude as a simple-yet effective way to persist through the doldrums of daily effort. Not only because each of her days are filled with gratitude, “I’m just grateful I caught it before it was a bigger mess,” or “before she fell further,” “before she dumped all of it together,” “before it flushed,” “before it crashed,” and my personal favorite, “before it started on fire.” It’s a life that is filled with edge-walking excitement and she spends it grateful for tender mercies as she lives, “just in time.” Gratitude can ennoble when one is supremely thankful for one’s circumstances. And when her day ends with, “I’m so grateful they are asleep!” it is because she has reached the apex of the challenges to her strength of will. She has bested a mortal body that has spent its day becoming refined by sacrifice and love unfeigned. And it is those parenting attributes that are what help us mere mortals begin to understand the penultimate virtue, Charity; the Pure Love of Christ.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Proven Way to Receive Inspiration

Imagine for a moment that a friend comes to you seeking advice on

How to improve your ability to  receive personal revelation.

You can only offer one idea.  What is it?

  • A General Authority (Marion Romney) asked this question to another apostle (Harold B. Lee).  He gave him this perfect suggestion.

  • Additional blessings are pledged to us if we do it.

  • Abraham used this suggestion in Genesis 19:27.

  • Moses used it in Exodus 34:4

  • Joshua did it in Joshua 6:12

  • The Lord-God followed it in Mark 1:35

  • This one advice has proven added physical health benefit. 

  • We are promised to not be weary, but be invigorated if we keep it. 

  • All of the Quorum of the Twelve live this answer daily.

  • It’s the #1 reason teens struggle with brain dysfunction.  

  • Not doing it is the #1 cause of depression. Elder Russell M. Nelson doing  it will rescue those  “defeated and downtrodden.” 

  • Research at BYU proves a decline in GPA for every time this advice isn’t maintained. 

  • It is adversely affected by blue lights of screen time. 
  • Aristotle recommends it as a main contributor to health, wealth and wisdom.

  • Ben Franklin said health, wealth and wisdom are consequences of this one thing.

Read the July 2015 Ensign article for the one simple change in your life that will improve it more than any other self help tip.   I promise--It's in the Scriptures.    

Young Adults, Fill Your Life With Energy   Randal Wright