Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Pet Peeve

I have to write this, because it's been bothering me for years now, but for some reason the last few days it won't leave me alone.

I hate the way we refer to doctors' involvement in a birth in this country. It drives me absolutely batty. And I know I said "doctors", but I mean midwives too, most of them (and most of us) use this terminology and when I'm dictator, I'm going to glare very sternly at anyone who uses it, and maybe make them give me five dollars. For now I'm just going to beg all of you lovely, mindful people to pretty please think about the language we use and decide for yourself if my objections are valid.

Women say in this country "Dr/Midwife Sally delivered my baby". It's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me, people. Like someone peeing in my Coca-Cola.

The problems with this:
1. In most cases, the only thing a doctor does at a birth is arrive in time for the grand finale, coach the woman in pushing (which she doesn't need anyway), and announce the baby's sex (again, unnecessary...I'm guessing most people able to have sex can figure out on their own which one the baby is).

2. Even in cases which require some sort of dramatic intervention (forceps, surgery, whatever), saying that the doctor delivered the baby completely robs the woman of any sort of crucial role in what happened. In this phrasing, the doctor, not the woman laboring, is the star. I always want to ask, "So, what were you doing while the doctor was delivering your baby?" not out of a desire to humiliate, but because I want women to realize that the doctor is there for them. The show can't go on without them.

3. It implies passivity. That birth is something that is done to us, not something we participate in. I think it was Henci Goer who put it like this: "There's a big difference between being the magician who pulls a rabbit out of a hat and merely being the hat." Who wants to be the hat?

4. It's just sloppy English. The word "deliver" (as a transitive verb) has 9 meanings at Only one (#7) concerns birth. The rest are either nonsense in this context (#1-6, #8), or truly horrible when applied to the doctor's role in birth (#9). There's got to be a better way to say this.

I'm open to any and all suggestions for a replacement phrase. Sadly, I have caught myself saying this from time to time, and it always makes me sad. Because any doctor worth the money knows that s/he's not the magician when it comes to a birth. The laboring woman is. The doctor is more akin to the magician's lovely assistant- sometimes crucial, sometimes clumsy, but always second fiddle. Stand there, look pretty, help me if I need it...good doctor.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


I'm happy to report some improvement here. We seem to have finally found a med combo that is working for Jeff. That's the first thing, but it's affected everything else. We're getting along better, he and the kids are getting along better. Dinner time is becoming more predictably pleasant, instead of being our daily exercise in falling apart as a family. This is a great relief.

On the less-happy front, I had my first episode of can't-wake-up syndrome today. This is really typical for me in winter, and I was sort of hoping it wouldn't start this year. But, blessedly, Jeff not only ran the household and got breakfast this morning, he also fixed the clogged pipes under the kitchen sink and did the dishes. When I finally dragged my ass out of bed after 11, he told me he'd been hoping to get more done. I was overwhelmed. I still am. For months now, we've been living lives of bare civility and occasional angry outbursts, also occasional affectionate outbursts. Between me being ill and untreated and him being ill and ineffectively treated, things were not going well. But my hope for the future of our family, which never died completely but needed life support at times, is now getting steadily stronger.

It's a good time for it. Because the feeling we've had for a long time, that there is something off about Allie, is getting stronger as well. It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't live with us, because 90% of the behavior that concerns us happens at home, with only our family around to witness it. But here's some highlights:

Allie asked us the other day, out of the blue: "why do some parents hate their children and kill them?"
She has started hitting her siblings again, and seemed poised to choke Eva with a jumprope the other day (put it around her neck and started pulling the ends in opposite directions), although I intervened before the actual choking started
She screams inconsolably when I leave the room until I return
She is becoming more defiant, lying more, and refusing to listen to Jeff or me in most instances
She has out-of-control screaming tantrums, where she is mentally unreachable (but obviously terrified) and cannot participate in calming herself down- we have to wait them out, sometimes for a half-hour or more

She was an extremely intense baby, and she has always had periods like this ("difficult stages" is our family nomenclature), but as she gets older, not only are they getting worse, but they're getting more and more out-of-sync with expected, normal behavior-for-age. She reminds me of my brother, which is a very scary thing. Since her preschool screening was A-OK, I think our next stop is a referral to a behavioral specialist for evaluation. Hopefully they'll take our word for it, because she is still her normal, bright, charming self when not at home. I wish I could see inside her head and know what is going on with her, because I know what a wonderful girl she can be.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The days pass

I've been struggling, ever since I posted last, with whether or not that last post should remain up or not. Not so much because I swore (I do, occasionally, and we have a rather liberal attitude toward "bad language" in our house), but because I was so open. I have trouble being vulnerable. But in the end, it remains up, and will remain up, because I decided if I can't be honest here, I'm in a whole heap of trouble.

I'm not angry all the time. Right now, I'm not angry at all, just anxious to get started with start getting better. Such is the dualistic nature of this disease, I guess. Daily doses of evening primrose oil (suggested by a friend) seem to be heading off my descent into depression for the time being, but I'm wondering if that is also the cause of the low-grade mania I seem to be dealing with on and off. But for now, I'll take the low-grade mania, even though it's only in fits and starts, because I know when I detour into full-blown depression I will slip from finding it difficult to get daily tasks done to feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having to make lunch. It's hard to describe what it's like to be completely paralyzed by contemplating simple, routine tasks- except to say that I dread it immensely, and while I love autumn, winter to me is a sinister season that sucks away everything I am and everything I love, until I'm left with only the memory of life and enjoyment.

But there is a silver lining, even now. Being aware of my cycling has helped me immensely in managing my emotions. It doesn't help me manage my moods, but that's where drugs come in, I guess. To explain what I mean, differentiating between moods and emotion: sadness is an emotion; depression is a mood. Fear is an emotion; anxiety is a mood. This may not be how a psychologist would categorize things, but it is aiding me, so I'm keeping it. A mood, for me, has emotional manifestations (crying while depressed, biting nails while anxious, talking fast while manic), but in itself, it is not an emotion, and it is not necessarily responsive to emotional triggers...petting a puppy probably won't make me happy while I'm depressed, nor will talking about our atrocious financial situation bring me down when I'm manic. The more I think about it, the odder it seems how completely disconnected my moods are from my emotions. And how disconnected my self-perception is from reality (or, if not reality, at least from others' perceptions...but if you tally up enough people's perceptions, and they agree on the whole, I think it's fairly safe to call the sum "reality"). I think part of the reason this diagnosis in general has been such a crushing blow to me is that I'm a type 4. For someone (in this case, a doctor) to tell me that my perception of reality has some serious flaws was basically telling me that I can't trust my perceptions. And if I can't trust my perceptions, what *can* I trust?

So I'm lucky beyond words to have Jeff. For now, I trust him more than I do myself. And thankfully, he trusts me enough to tell me when I'm full of it (like when I question the validity of my diagnosis). A lot of the time, he can see my mood shifting before I can...example: when I'm getting manic, I start to talk pretty fast. And interrupt people. And talk over them. And almost shout (which I don't realize I'm doing). I don't notice the change until I'm literally stuttering because my brain is running so far ahead of my mouth (which is struggling to keep up). He can hear the change in my speech way sooner than that. It sounds like a small thing, but with something like manic depression, even a small warning that a shift is coming can head off a minor (or not so minor) disaster. Oh, I'm getting manic? Perhaps I should postpone that shopping trip until my mood settles a bit (of course, once I *am* manic, convincing me to postpone *anything* can be a major undertaking...which is why I end up scrubbing the bathrooms down at 4 in the morning).

Small victories, but victories nonetheless. It's not all doom and gloom here...but there are definitely good days and bad.

Since I probably won't be posting again before Friday, happy birthday Michelle and Chico!