[Friday Wrap Up]: 24

…delivered on Saturday.

Among the pieces I enjoyed this week:

I’m figuring out where I fit into the life of my partner’s child:

Moving beyond gender binaries in parenting…I’m trying so hard to keep this perspective front and center in the midst of being in a nursing program where the institution still favors the assumption that a pregnant person identifies as female/woman/mother. 

“I wasn’t raised with a narrative that allowed me to see any possibility for myself outside of “mother” or “Child-Free,” and I couldn’t see myself as a mother, so I embraced a Child-Free identity with the fervor of the convert. My closest friends throughout college all more or less shared my attitude — having kids was a fool’s game. My cisgender straight or straight-ish boyfriends got vasectomies as soon as they could pay for them.

But after transitioning to male, I found I could let my guard down. No one was pressuring me to be a mom. No one was giving me knowing looks or saying “You’ll change your mind” or asking when I was due if I happened to be knitting myself a hat. In fact since I entered a friend circle of mostly LGBT folks, few people seemed to care what my opinion on kids was at all. And in a profession that like it or not seemed to involve a high degree of kid contact, I suddenly caught myself in a sea of kindergartners giving me snotty hugs goodbye, feeling… kind of wistful.”

The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In:

A follow-up ten years later of three mother who left high-paying jobs to stay home and raise their kids. The biggest critique I’ve seen so far to this piece is how simplistic it is. A decade later and we’re still eye-ball deep in the Mommy Wars of the privileged. 

“But most people don’t make life decisions based on statistics or the collective good. And not a single woman I spoke with said she wished that she could return to her old, pre-opting-out job — no matter what price she paid for her decision to stop working. What I heard instead were some regrets for what, in an ideal world, might have been — more time with their children combined with some sort of intellectually stimulating, respectably paying, advancement-permitting part-time work — but none for the high-powered professional lives that these women had led.”

15 Weeks:

An amazing reflection by a college friend integrating her pregnancy and impending parenthood into her identity, while recognizing the many ways in which parenthood is a privileged status in our culture. As a student nurse/nurse-midwife, former doula and teacher, and still undecided about whether I will pursue parenthood, this piece resonated strongly.

“A few days ago, a TSA agent in rural Alaska asked me how many weeks along I was. This was a first. Most of the time people can’t tell I’m pregnant or they are embarassed to ask in case I’m not. It was nice. I felt seen, and I would be dishonest not to admit that this is something I have longed for–to be seen and welcomed as part of the parenthood clan of humankind.

That this longing to be part of the parenthood clan was a painful one arose both from the very personal and simple and timeless struggle of wanting children and not yet having them, and also from a frustration with our cultural rhetoric around parenthood and the inclusion/exclusion it creates. We have all heard countless times phrases such as: “There is nothing as meaningful as being a parent” or “you can’t know love until you are a parent” or “you don’t know anything about kids until you become a parent.” I have heard these things through my lens of living a life in which, since I was eight years old, I have been dedicated to ending child abuse and interpersonal violence. I have heard these phrases as a schoolteacher working 80 hour workweeks for my struggling students; as a sexual violence educator for kids and a victim advocate; as a social worker/epidemiologist specializing in interpersonal violence, child trauma, and healthy child and youth development; and as the person at the party who is super happy playing games with the six-year-olds.  I have always loved children and felt completed by having them in my life and making a difference in their lives–whether as a professional or auntie. And I know I am not alone.

There are countless aunties and uncles–of the blood and non-blood type–and adopted grandmas and grandpas, foster parents, step-parents or partners, teachers, social workers, policy-makers, pediatricians, and so many others who DO have wisdom about children and who DO have meaningful connections with and love for kids, and who live lives rich with meaning. (Not to mention people whose lives are rich with others kinds of meaning as well, such as great social or scientific innovations, community-building, etc.) Some of these people never become parents. Some won’t become parents for a while. I reject a discourse that says that these people’s work and love is less important than those who biologically bear children.

Abortion Stigma Webinar Summary:

A joint venture between ANSIRH and Ipas, exploring the elements of stigma in abortion care, mental health and clinical experiences. Participants hailed from around the world with a range of goals for gathering together virtually to discuss this topic:

  • To learn how to reduce shame and stigma with young people seeking reproductive healthcare services
  • To discover new ideas on how to combat anti-abortion legislative initiatives and media attacks
  • To explore tools to develop a stronger evidence base for advocacy
  • To gain inspiration for research topics
  • To understand strategies and language use around abortion

End of Life, at Birth:

A heart-felt reflection from a neonatologist on the ethical landscape of decision-making around micro-preemies–those babies born before 28 weeks. This is perhaps one of the more challenging aspects I anticipate in my future work as a midwife…navigating the conversations around how to move forward when we know that there are severe anomalies that will impact the life and health of an infant. I am so glad that we are talking more and more about this in the mainstream media. These conversations, like so many others around stigmatized pregnancy experiences, need to come out in the light. It’s an incredible burden for parents to have to face alone.

“Sometimes, I think we doctors need to do more than inform. On occasion, I’ve offered to make a life-or-death decision for parents. If they agree, they are essentially making the decision, but are shifting the burden to me. It’s harder for parents to say, “I unplugged my baby,” than to let the doctor do it.

This Is Not Just a Story About Prostitution:

This is how the story opens:

“First, a word of warning: This story features photos about prostitution. But under the surface, it’s more than that. It’s a story about photographic access, and how a friendship led to an intimate portrayal of a taboo subject. These are not just photos about prostitution; they’re photos about a woman who goes by the name Eden. Taken by Alicia. Her friend.”

Check out the photos. They’re marvelous.

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