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Yahoo’s New CEO: She’s No Role Model for Women

21 Jul

Marissa Mayer  is not a role model for Working Motherhood. Her stance that she will only take a few weeks of leave (or rather, won’t take one at all, but will work at home through her leave)  does a disservice to all working women when we do not have any mandatory paid maternity leave in the US- especially when inadequate maternity leave directly effects the health of mother and baby.

Yeah, there’s a 20 percent dip in infant mortality with an extra 10 weeks of leave and a 40 week leave saved the most lives in a study- likely because mothers were able to successfully complete 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding and breastfeeding with solids for a longer period than that. Other studies found lengthened leave tied to lower school drop-out rates and a higher IQ while mother’s rate of postpartum depression decreased with each extra week of leave. Adequate maternity leave is important!

A slap in the face to the working and lower-class women who have ever fought for paid maternity leave, Marisa’s choice almost seems like an upper-class privilege to turn away paid maternity leave.  And it is. Flexibility to have her partner stay home if he wants, or to have a nanny- and her ability to set her own hours, and a private office for pumping are unique features of the someone in her position. Proving that you really can’t have it all- Meyer shows that breaking down the glass ceiling means you might not be able to enjoy the maternity leave so many women fought for.

The Family and Medical Leave Act enacted in 1993 finally gave women just 12 weeks of UN-paid, job-protected medical leave. Despite the relatively new law, all we see is a trend of  women taking less and less of the maternity leave that is allotted for them.  I cannot help but wonder if this number is directly correlated to the rise of women into higher-paying, higher-profile jobs.

And we all know that she doesn’t know what she is getting into anyway. 13% of women suffer from postpartum depression. It takes 6-12 weeks to recover from a c-section. It might be a year or more before she gets any sleep (but she can afford a night nanny).  For so many reasons, only about 25% of women return to work full time after childbirth before children are school-aged (many go to part time or switch jobs, work from home or start a business). But women who make more money are more likely to go back to work.  The lure of a high-paying, high-profile career  is more likely to compete with the urge to stay home with that baby.

With the price of daycare, many working and middle-class two-parent families tighten the purse strings and choose stay-at-home parenthood until children are school-aged. Although more than 70 percent of moms with kids younger than 18 participate in the labor force, the number drops to 63.9 percent for moms with kids younger than 6, and just 56.5 percent for moms with infants, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Again it is precisely the people who can financially afford to take maternity leave (Ms. Mayer’s job will not be in jeopardy because if she takes more legal maternity leave, simply because of how high-profile she is)- who don’t. White, educated, gainfully employed women choose to take less maternity leave than anyone else in the last census report on the topic, even though for many of these women, maternity leave available is longer and is paid.

Let’s break it down again. Most women must have and must take (and deserve paid) maternity leave because: it is healthier for mom and baby physically and psychologically, they can’t afford for their partner to say home, they can’t afford a night nanny, they need to properly establish a breastfeeding relationship.

But I’ll add one more thing. THE BRAIN JUST DOESN’T WORK WELL, POSTPARTUM! It is operating in a primal state and you will be at your absolute worst at work. I tried to get back into life coaching after a week out and I was a total space case. Maybe after reading this my clients will call me for a refund. And then there is the mommy guilt. I don’t know a single working mom who doesn’t have that. My own sometimes feels debilitating even though I currently set my own hours.

I really wish that women with high-powered, highly visible careers would take all of the unpaid (and especially paid!) maternity leave available- in order to set a national example and precedence. These are hard-won WOMEN’S RIGHTS~!  But I wouldn’t want to force any individual to do anything. The point of having a rights is that you get to make choices. It just seems to me this is one of those rare opportunities where women can use privilege as a way to make life better for everyone.

I think Ms. Mayer is saying one of two things. “Hey, when you have a high powered career, you can’t afford to take Maternity Leave.”  Or, “I love work so much, I can’t wait to get back to my job.”  I truly hope for her sake that the second sentiment is true because I can really respect that. I have a good friend who is going to probably go back to work soon after having twins.That is because she loves her job (and she owns the company and when you own a small business, the rules are very different) and I can relate.

But I can also say that all of my  35-40 year-old friends with “real jobs” took lots and lots of maternity leave or quit their jobs post-baby.  I couldn’t find any statistics on it, but I can tell you that 80 percent of the women I know changed their original work plans after meeting that baby.

So I really just feel sorry for Ms. Mayer. She told the entire world and her company that she wouldn’t be taking any real maternity leave, before she had any idea what she would feel like postpartum. That’s quite a pickle to be in when your brain’s turned to goo and you realize you just love wiping up that little baby’s poo.

Today Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day: No More Babies for Me

15 May

This is the hardest post I’ve ever had to write. And I am crying through it. And I might not get out of bed today.

I was kidding myself for the last few months when my wife and I were contemplating having a second child. I wrote out a pro/con list that I almost posted here but then it came down the question of how you properly weigh “Get to try again for my ideal birth” on one side of the chart and “Terror, Liver Failure, Possible Death”  on the other? The “No” side of having a baby was longer but things seemed to have different weights. How can you measure the joy of birthing a soul? How do I measure my own life?

I was extremely sick for 18 weeks with Hyperemesis Gravidarum: extreme morning sickness (and the rest of the pregnancy was filled with gallbladder disease, aggravated by the HG.)  Am I ready to willingly, willingly do it again and even risk death? I mean, for straight religious women who do not believe in birth control, it doesn’t feel like choice. But we have to plan and chart and buy really expensive sperm.

During my pregnancy and afterward, we said no more babies, but I think that is what many new parents say. Now our little girl is grown up and I would really love to nurse just one more and we would love to give Iris a sibling- but a pregnancy would actually just be RECKLESS for me, as far as I can see.

So a few days ago I decided that I won’t be having another baby. I wasn’t going to think about this at all for a few years but then I was told I need a surgery for a birth injury that would need to happen after birthing and breastfeeding is done for good.  The world’s first Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness day was looming and I couldn’t any longer ignore my reality and cover it with dreams of home births and baby names. I also realized that I have PTSD from my pregnancy (and I made an appointment with an appropriate therapist- one who deals with grief and parenthood). I feel relieved to have finally made the decision and so, so sad that I feel possibilities or souls have been taken away from me because of a disease.

First Days of Sickness

The worst part of it is that I have never been allowed to feel my grief. Everyone has said that my partner can just have the next baby (she’s older than me and doesn’t want to), or that we can adopt. That would be what they tell someone who has had a long process of infertility. Sure, there may be other options, but talking about them right away   ignores the mother’s process and tries to hide her grief. How about someone just says something like “I’m really sad for you?” I’d like that.

Sure, we could try again to get pregnant. But if we inseminated again, I would the terrified and shaking during the insemination. While waiting to find out if we were pregnant, I would be terrified and shaking. Part of me would be hoping for a baby and the other part of me would be praying I wasn’t pregnant. After finding out we were pregnant I would be waiting anxiously for which minute would start the process. First low blood sugar and fainting, then the throwing up and I would be unable to get out of bed most days (or take care of my first child). Then the hyper-salivation would start and I’d be unable to leave the house without towels. I would lose many pounds. I wouldn’t allow myself to bond with my baby because I was so terrified I would lose her. The enamel on my teeth would further erode, I would see blood in my vomit when my esophagus tore.

HG ruins marriages because of stress, ruins families financially, takes women away from older children, causes long term health consequences and emotional trauma. For me the main emotional trauma was nobody taking my condition seriously until it was almost too late. People thinking I was overly dramatic and wussy, people thinking I was making myself throw up. I withdrew from friends because nobody understood and because I was so disgusting. I was depressed and when people wanted to help, I literally had no idea what to tell them to do. The only thing that made me feel better was to be on an IV and my medical team wouldn’t give me IV for my home. I prayed to get through each day without allowing myself to ask to go to the hospital again.

Sure, I could go for it anyway like all of the many women with HG who try to forget enough to get pregnant and then pray it is better the next time. Maybe the medical professionals and midwives would take me seriously this time before I damage my liver again. At least I would know more about the medications, at least I would know to get IV hydration immediately. Still, the chance for having HG again is 85% and there is a possibility that it will be much worse subsequent times.

Moms die. So many desperately wanted babies are aborted to save the mother’s life. I was reminded by two docs that this was an option for me. This was my first baby but I understand why moms may choose this especially to be around for older children!  Many, many babies just die due to complications of HG. The names of the babies and moms lost are on the HerFoundation page today. A similar message from a few mothers to the babies: “I wish I was strong enough.”  No mother should be made to feel like her baby died because she wasn’t “strong enough”.

We Are All Mother Enough

We Are All Strong Enough

Please spread the word about HG by posting this link on your blog, Facebook or Twitter:

http://www.helpher.org/

The study being gone at USC is extremely important and has already yielded important results which will all eventually help treat and find cure for HG.

If you are a mom of two normal and healthy pregnancies, you are needed badly as a control! Email Marlena at : nvpstudy@usc.edu

Please consider donating here: http://www.helpher.org/specialpages/give-hope-campaign.php

Please sign the petition for government funding for research! http://www.helpher.org/about-her-foundation/petition.php

Co-Sleeping, Feed-sharing and Second-Parent Bonding

21 Oct

My latest post over at NPN (which was written a few months ago)

http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/co-sleeping-feed-sharing/

I am glad that it isn’t my parenting that is getting attacked on the NPN Facebook forum, instead, it seems to always be my actual family and my sexuality. I feel some combination of egged on and actually disheartened that somebody has to leave the forum for disrespectful commenting every time I mention my queer family.

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