On Mississippi and the Murder of a Pregnant Woman

I read this article on CNN this morning and I’m left pondering something about Mississippi’s law regarding murdering a pregnant woman and being charged for two murders.

If the murder victim was not yet visibly pregnant and the killer had no idea the woman was pregnant, does that still count as taking two lives in terms of murder?

CNN visitors: Please read the comments before jumping to conclusions about how I personally feel regarding this case and issue. Also, please make sure you understand what it is I’m asking.

Post Miscarriage: 8 Weeks Later.

It’s been 8 weeks since the D&C and miscarriage. I’ve received some email asking how things are going and I’m just now getting around to answering that question.

Physically

I’m (finally) no longer pregnant. It took a while as many of you suggested it might. And it was frustrating, more frustrating than I can possibly say, but eventually things worked themselves out. What I find most interesting about the whole ordeal is that I got back on track physically right around the same time I felt solid mentally—like really solid. There were days I hated biology with every ounce of my being (sort of like when people hate the weather when it interferes with their sporting events or vacations), but perhaps it did me a favor.

Now that time has passed and I feel better, I realized once again that body and mind are not two separate entities. Why I tend to separate the two, I have no idea. All I know is that instead of hating biology so very much, I should have seen it as a necessary mourning period. Granted, I didn’t want to hear that back then. I don’t want to hear that now. You try telling that to a woman after a miscarriage, a woman who’s had her future ripped out from under her and wants nothing more than to get that future back again. She’s going to tell you to kindly shut the hell up. And if she’s too much of a wimp to say that to your face, she’ll be thinking it.

But retrospect is funny.

Mentally

I feel like a different person. There were days back then when I seriously questioned whether or not I was going to survive. No joke! It reads a bit melodramatic now, but I really felt that way. Granted, I did suffer postpartum depression again, and to put it bluntly: that sucked. But a month or so after the miscarriage, things started to get a little brighter; six weeks later, brighter still. I’m now 8 weeks out and I feel OK again, happy even.

I suggested right after the miscarriage, that I wasn’t the same person I used to be. And that’s still true. The difference is, I wasn’t particularly pleased with that fact back then. I worried I might not like the new person I was becoming, that she might be too cynical and bitter, resentful and anxious. But I’m not. I came out OK, hopeful even. In fact, this miscarriage put into perspective a great deal that I probably would have continued to ignore had it not happened. Don’t get me wrong, I’d do anything to not have a miscarriage be a part of my history, but since it is, I’m trying to see it in a positive light. (I did the same thing with 9/11 after the initial terror wore off.)

The cliché is true: sometimes really bad things give way to great things. I’m still waiting for the great this time around, but I have no doubt it’s coming my way.

On Motherhood.

Having a miscarriage made me realize just how much I love being a mother, and that my new title in life is Mother. I’ve been a little reluctant to embrace that fact. (Why do some working women feel that motherhood is somehow less important than making money in the corporate world?) Truth is, being a mother is a full time job, and an important one at that. I’ve said as much before, outloud with conviction. But it was only after having the miscarriage did I begin to see it for myself. Mothers are responsible for molding the next generation, a generation that will likely be saving us from the mess we created.

That’s important stuff! We’re important people!

(And don’t you forget it.)

On Womanhood.

I think the second biggest realization that came from this is that I love, love, love (times one hundred thousand) being a woman.

I received a great deal of email after my miscarriage. So many of your stories brought tears to my eyes. The pain many women have endured, the heartache they’ve been through, it’s baffling how any of us are still whole and haven’t lost our minds completely.

For weeks I read stories about great loss. But no matter how different each story, there was one common thread among them all: hope and strength. Every last email sent to me held at least one of those two themes. And that saved me from my loneliness.

Looking Ahead.

Who knows what the future will bring Toby Joe, Emory and me. But I do know this: I’m making it my duty from here on out to pay your kindness forward.

To my fellow women: Don’t ever stop reaching out to one another. I truly believe that by doing so we can save lives. We’re beautiful people, us women.

(And don’t you forget it.)

City Moms

The previous post has me thinking a bit more about whether my feelings regarding being a SAHM are specific to New York City. I can’t answer that question because this is the only place I’ve lived as a mother. But I do think that those of you who suggested as much might be onto something.


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Let me set the record straight: I love being a stay-at-home. I know that I’m lucky. If I have ever given anyone the impression that I’m ungrateful, I’m sorry about that. (Keep in mind, however, we sacrificed a mortgage and a home of our own to be able to do this.) My only frustration is that I wish that more moms were able to stay home. That’s the cultural aspect of this problem I wish we could change. I think America’s families are far too strapped.

I still stand behind my statements regarding feminism, culture and motherhood. I do believe that we must work hard to make sure that mothers who choose to (were able to) stay home with their children are given more options regarding community. I do think that there is some anger directed at women who gave up office jobs in order to stay home with their kids. 

I also don’t think there is equality between men and women in the workforce. Until that happens, I think women are going to feel less likely to want to stay home with their children (even if they can) because (other than the obvious reason of spending time with their kids) there is no real incentive to do so—no payback.

There’s no easy fix to this. There’s no one way to look at it. And I think it’s safe to say that every single one of us will have a different opinion on the matter.

I recently had lunch with a friend whose sister has spent her entire life in a wheelchair. Her name is Sunny Taylor. Sunny once lived in New York City. Getting around for her—like, living a normal life—was very difficult. She is very outspoken when it comes to just how difficult it was and can be.

For example, the curb cuts in New York City are terrible. And just entering businesses posed a huge problem for Sunny. (There have been numerous times where Sunny was unable to join friends at a restaurant or pub due to the lack of handicap accessible doorways. In fact, the first time I met Sunny, I had to step outside into the cold in order to speak with her.) Forget about using the subway system here, out of the few elevators we are offered, many are either out of order or stink of human excrement. And don’t get me started about Access-A-Ride drivers. They are notorious for being some of the angriest, most reckless drivers on our streets.

Eventually, Sunny moved to the Bay Area, where the standards are much higher when it comes to handicap accessibility, more so than any other major U.S. city. 

The most interesting part of our conversation, however, took place when my friend compared my life as a mother (toting a stroller around) to that of her sister’s. Her statement floored me. 

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I’m not, for a second, equating motherhood to being confined to a wheelchair. That’s reckless, shallow and a little crazy. But I am suggesting (as was my friend) that we often face the same lack of consideration in city planning and infrastructure.

Before I became a mother, I never gave curbs much thought. Before I became a mother, I never thought about the height of steps, how heavy a door might be for me to open, or whether or not a certain sewer was prone to clogging. Now? I anticipate these things before I even leave the house. And before, if I was met with an obstacle in my imaginary walk, I would stay in to avoid it. But that felt like giving up. It’s also quite alienating, so I got over that hurdle and now I just deal with it. 

I think New York City is a bit of an ageist. She’s accepting of many cultures and religious beliefs, but she doesn’t really like the elderly, the handicap or the very young. These three groups of people have several things in common: they either aren’t (or can’t be) in a hurry; it takes them longer to get places; and they often rely on help from the people around them, ie. a community.

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New York doesn’t like that, culturally speaking.

Moms fall into this group as well. You see, when it comes to a person in a wheelchair, people tend to apply pity onto that person even if they don’t want pity. (Although, I have seen my fair share of soulless bastards get annoyed even at a handicapped person for taking too long to get on a bus.) But for a mother? For someone with a child in a stroller? To have compassion for a breeder? A person given a choice? Nuisance! Get out of my way! 

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Reactions fueled with by this belief used to bother me a whole hell of a lot more. I’m getting used to them now. I’m not sure if that transformation has to do with the sheer exhaustion that comes with being a city mom just trying to buy some damned juice already, or because I actually stopped caring what other people think.

The point is: I care a lot less now. I think.

I guess when it comes down to it, that mentality, that level of impatience for a person, is what I wish I could change. Wherever it comes from, whatever started it, I wish I had the power to change it. I wish that when a mother prepares to leave her apartment she doesn’t do so carrying all the excess mental baggage she’s collected along the way.

Because, seriously? We have enough to carry.

Stay-At-Home Mom Equals Stay-At-Home Kid?

Em is in school three days a week. He loves it. It took a few weeks for him to adjust, a few weeks of holding onto my neck for dear life every morning, but those days are gone. Now, he doesn’t even say goodbye. He just walks into the “The Science Center” (an area in the room with cool textures, shapes and sounds) and doesn’t look back. 

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It’s been great.

It’s also been expensive.

We’re in an awkward position as a family, a position I imagine many New Yorkers are in. It’s the position where the amount you pay out is dangerously close to the amount you take in, so you can’t ever really get ahead where a savings is concerned. That’s not to say we don’t have a savings. We do. It’s just not enough for a down payment. So, should we continue paying for things like Em’s schooling (or living in an overpriced apartment), we’ll never get ahead in order to buy our own home. 

You see the predicament? 

Today is the final deadline to reenroll Em in school for fall. We definitely can’t afford the 5-day; I would have to currently have a full time job to make that worthwhile. We can’t really afford the 3-day either. We discussed the 2-day school week, which we can afford, but we’d have to tap into our savings in order to do so.

Toby doesn’t want to do that. I can’t say that I blame him. We’re in the middle of a recession right now. Even the most secure job right now isn’t all that secure. Who wants to tap into their savings when the future is so uncertain?

I want Em to interact with kids his own age regularly, especially since kids thrive on repetition. Plus, he loves it. He has made amazing progress in the brief time he’s been attending school and I have met some pretty great mothers there as well. Socializing is very important to me.

It’s conceivable that I could arrange regular playdates with kids in the neighborhood. After all, that’s what my mom did with us. But I face another roadblock.

While there are other stay-at-home mothers living in Brooklyn, we are a small minority. Out of all the mothers I hang out with, only one has parenting listed as her full time job.

Living in a city has its advantages. I love Brooklyn and I adore the mothers I have come to know over the years. But I’m a minority here. That’s all there is to it. If I were to start a regular playdate, I can tell you exactly how that would look: it would be Emory, myself, and a couple of Tibetan nannies toting around someone else’s kid. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I do not sit in judgement of this, I’m merely telling you how it is here.)

There are weekly readings offered at our local library, which I have been to a few times. They are great for him. He listens and interacts with the other children (for a scant 45 minutes, but still). Me? I leave feeling even lonelier because almost every other adult there happens to be a nanny. (I’ve also been turned away because they only have room for 20 people.)

I’m not complaining. I usually only complain when I know how to go about fixing something but really don’t want to deal with it. This time, I want to figure it out. I’m willing to make it happen—I want Em and myself to find a regular group of kids and moms to socialize with. I just have no idea how to.

Taking Em out of school is fine. But taking him out of school also means no more regular social time and that’s not something I feel comfortable with. 

I’m in search of creative ideas and answers to this problem (and yes, I think it’s a growing problem). Getting Em around other kids is something I am very passionate about. I wish there were more communities and events in place for SAHs. Our culture seems to be built around both family members having to work outside of the home. I reckon this change took place sometime after the feminist movement—which is great, I am all for equality—but I can’t help to ask: what example were we trying to apply equality?  

Perhaps feminism needs to be redefined entirely to meet present day needs within the culture of now. In some ways, I think the future good health of our society depends on it.

My question to you all is this: when did the term “feminist” or “working woman” stop including “stay-at-home mother”? Staying home to raise children shouldn’t be seen as giving up and it shouldn’t mean kissing your other career goodbye. A person who chooses this route should not be made to feel like lesser of a feminist, working individual, or asset to society compared to someone who leaves the house and visits an office every day. 

I think that because of this transformation and way of thinking, there is a huge void for stay-at-home moms where community is concerned and because of that void, and the isolation that comes with it, choosing to stay home and raise our kids becomes the less appealing option. And that, my friends, is a crying shame.

But I’m not yet willing to give up that easy. Let’s get out of our living rooms and put on something other than sweatpants and start a SAH revolution. 

On Feminism

It’s a simple question, I just want to know what you think of when you hear (or read) the word feminism. What type of woman do you consider a feminist? When does feminism rear its head in your everyday life? I’m not looking for text book definitions, because we all know that terms tend to change once they are applied to our actual lives.

I realize I’ve brought somethig like this up before, but this is for a different purpose and I’d love to hear what you have to say. If you dislike leaving comments, please feel free to email me. Also, feel free to do so anonymously. (Anything goes, my friends. Don’t hold back.)

Thank you in advance!

What is Feminism? Is it Dead?

I’m not sure if you’ve had the unfortunate experience of reading about the ugly display that took place on Thinking and Drinking with Lizz Winstead last week. I’m guessing that if I heard about it, everyone has.

To put it bluntly: It was a train wreck.

Nutshell: Lizz Winstead (host of “Thinking and Drinking”, previous writer for “The Daily Show”) asked Tracie Egan and Moe Tkacik to be guests on the show because “Their work on Jezebel has made them role models for young women everywhere.” (One 20-year-old blogger who was in the studio audience stated that Moe is her “Feminist Superhero.”)

Moe and Tracie are said to have arrived drunk and they proceeded to get drunker. The conversation started off with jokes about abortion and how many they’ve had. They talked about how the pull out method is the most fun way not to get pregnant. The conversation then moved on to rape. Some of the things these women said about rape had me opened-mouthed and speechless. I was in bewildered awe over the seemingly blatant ignorance.

I am not a reader of Jezebel. I am by no means someone who can speak about their writing history or their background. I do not know their audience. After having watched the video, however, I am happy I never got to know these two women—as writers, role models, bloggers, whatever. They came off as arrogant, childish, and worst of all, irresponsible. As someone unfamiliar with Jezebel, I have been turned away entirely.

But! The whole situation has left a horrible taste in my mouth. And I am not sure why. Perhaps it’s because these two are seen as role models.

I am left asking one giant question:

When did feminism become about sexually explicit vulgarity, sleeping with a different guy every night, or boasting about the number of abortions you’ve had?

(I bet Lydia Lunch and Lung Leg are pissed off—two generations too late. Sorry, ladies! Who knew fisting might one day become a symbol of feminism?)

I fail to see how getting blasted drunk and having a lot of sex is feministic. The way they acted bugged me, sure. But I think what bugs me the most is that they are looked up to and respected. Plus, they’re probably making close to a hundred grand a year doing this, acting this way.

But my husband said, “You CAN’T change the world. There are going to be idiots. I don’t know why this bothers you so much. Let them go. But if you really want to make a difference, contact the editors and producers. If they think advertisers are going to back out, they will reprimand the writers.”

OK, so I’m not going to try and change the world or contact anyone involved because it won’t do any good. He’s right about that. That’s why I chose to avoid linking to either of the women’s sites because I’d rather not add fuel the fire. (If you want to find all the “good” stuff, they can do so by clicking the above link to Lizz Winstead’s article.) My words will mean nothing—just take up some more virtual space. I can’t ask these women how they’re feminists. I’m a teeny tiny voice in a sea of millions. (Plus, I am sort of a pussy when it comes to online fighting.) But I do want to ask one parting question:

What is Feminism? Is it Dead?

Because I think it’s dead. And I think a hideous intruder has risen in its place.