This fantastic post is by Elizabeth Coffman, a documentary film maker and film scholar on the blog Inside Higher ED. While the post is not about being on bed rest, Coffman brings up the very interesting facts about maternity/family leave (or the relative lack there of) here in the United States as compared to other countries world wide. This is a fabulous segway into a topic that is near and dear to my heart and one that I want to be a strong advocate for. Increasing family/maternity leave will be heartily discussed in subsequent posts. Enjoy.
By Elizabeth Coffman May 27, 2009 10:53 pm
The two-income family is one area in which I received no helpful advice while growing up. I was born in the mid-1960s, raised by a stay-at-home mom and working dad, watched The Brady Bunch on TV and discovered feminism in college. I have always wanted a career, a family, and a house (one, not two…) and never really thought about the time, the money or the hours in the day necessary to make it all work.
Staying home with the kids? It wasn’t an option for me. When my children were born I was the one with the tenure-track job, so my husband stayed home (since he needed to finish his dissertation). We could not afford day care costs on my salary, and my (soon to be ex-) husband found it impossible to finish a dissertation with two children under the age of three running around.
Talk about pressure and misunderstandings… As much as my ex and I like to think that we are a product of the postmodern political generation, we both maintained damaging stereotypes about work, parenting, and gender: I never should have commuted to work and left him home with the children. He should have finished his dissertation and earned as much money as I did.
Many of you know elements of this story already. Aeron Haynie reminded me of Judith Warner who analyzes in her columns and books how our consumer-driven society has created a cult of competitive “hyper-parents”—paranoid moms and dads who worry that their children will be “left behind” some mysterious achievement rope, and are running themselves ragged trying to cross it. As Aeron discussed last week, the commitment to university teaching is not generally about a Suze Orman-type interest in acquiring ‘big money’ (unless you want to study how it works). What has become clear to me in the last two decades is that the two-income family has some mythical qualities to it that need to be more effectively deconstructed, particularly in the media, but also in universities.
First, we need to have a broad, political discussion asserting that the two-income family is not working for many people. This economy, our government, and our own illusions have failed us. Yes, women have fought their ways through many glass ceilings and are allowed to dream about ambitious careers and new identities in unprecedented numbers. But women are just starting to figure out that we’ve been trumped by the economy. For most of us, supporting a house with children requires two incomes now. In addition to the complexities of managing two adults with full time careers, raising young children and maintaining a home is difficult. (I won’t even approach the single parent challenges…).
Acknowledging these challenges does not mean that women do not have to work as much because they are the ‘natural’ caregivers, but it does mean that giving both parents better choices about parental leaves should be federal law. The United States is shockingly behind the rest of the world on maternity/parental leave compensation. I was shocked by exactly how far we are… (We line up with Lesotho.)
Second, we need to inject Elizabeth Warren’s research more fully into the mainstream media. Warren, author of The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke and the new leader of the Congressional Oversight commission for the 700 billion dollar stimulus program (TARP), greeted me on Charlie Rose the other night. Warren is an endowed Harvard law professor (2 children, divorced, remarried) who has written several national bestsellers and maintained successful blogs on law, politics and the economy with the Warren Reports, Talking Points Memo, and The Huffington Post.
I listened to Warren describe how, since the 1980s, families with children have endured a 100% increase in housing costs, while increases in wages have not kept up with inflationary costs. In real wages, two-income families do not make any more than single-income families made in the 1970s. Warren understands that the fault lines of the economic crisis — the foreclosures, the bankruptcies, the credit defaults—are primarily the result of families who cannot afford to survive in today’s inflated marketplace. Many of us were quickly approved for those 1st and 2nd mortgages that few of us could safely afford. Our big houses and empty savings accounts are not prepared to handle a crisis that carries big financial repercussions with it—e.g. divorce, medical issues, job losses.
We all know that the economy will take years to improve. Housing costs may drop a bit, but wages have frozen at universities and endowments have dropped precipitously. So why aren’t more U.S. academics standing up and yelling, “This isn’t working for us!” or “We need government-subsidized child care from 12 weeks on if you want both parents to work!”?
Other countries (the more ‘socialist’ ones…) do it differently. In France, for instance, besides a mandatory maternity leave of 16-26 weeks at 100% compensation, the country offers subsidized public day care and a guarantee for re-employment if either parent leaves work until the child turns 3. The silence on these issues in the U.S. media is disturbing (but not surprising). Its neglect by the academy should be embarrassing. Let’s make better parental leave a part of the national health care discussions.
See the original post at (http://tinyurl.com/ldaosk)
This post is from KeepEmCookin.com, another informative site for women on bed rest. I thought that is was such an excellent post that I wrote the owner of the site and got permission to reprint it here. This is great stuff. Enjoy!!
A lot of women will give you the evil eye if you tell them the painful contractions they have been having aren’t real. And it’s easy to dismiss your contractions as “Braxton Hicks,” but a manual or ultrasound examination of the cervix is the only way to tell if contractions are resulting in cervical change, which is the definition of “true labor.”
Also called “practice contractions” or “false labor,” Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular, and they may stop when you change position, lie down, or drink a few glasses of water. The amount of discomfort or pain can vary from woman to woman. “True” contractions will come at regular intervals, become more frequent, and won’t stop with a change in position or by lying down or drinking water. Contractions may feel like a tightening of your belly, lower back pain, or menstrual cramps. Or all three at once! True contractions will cause your cervix to soften and dilate, which is wonderful if you are at 37 weeks or more. It means that the labor process has begun (though it could be hours, days, or weeks until you are in active labor) . If you haven’t made it to 37 weeks yet, call your doctor immediately to see if you should come in to have your cervix checked.
If you are waiting for a return call from your doctor, drink multiple glasses of water and lie down on your left side.
“I have been having contractions for ____ minutes/hours, at ____ minutes apart. I have been lying down on my left side for ____ minutes/hours and have had ____ ounces of water during that time. The contractions feel like ____ and I’d rate the pain as a ____.”
ROUND LIGAMENT PAIN VS. PRETERM LABOR CRAMPING
Pregnancy brings so many aches and pains that it can be difficult for you tell when they are normal or when they are a sign of something not being right. Round ligament pain results from the stretching of the uterus, which is completely normal. But, this type of abdominal pain and sometimes spasms can feel similar to menstrual cramping, which is a sign of preterm labor. Round ligament pains may come on suddenly with movement and may be sharp, or they can stick around and feel dull and achy. The pain will be along the bikini lines, frequently on the right side, and can cause discomfort from the groin to the hips. With the cramping of preterm labor, the pain will be in the area above the pubic bone and below the belly button. You may also be having pain in your lower back. You may have other signs of preterm labor as well. Please click here for more symptoms.
“I am having pain in my abdomen/hips/groin/pubic area. It started hurting ____ minutes/hours ago. It does/doesn’t feel like menstrual cramps. I am/am not having lower back pain.”
NORMAL BLEEDING VS. WARNING BLEEDING
Bleeding is common, but it is NOT normal, sister! Consider it a warning sign and call your doctor at the first sign of bleeding. In the first trimester, bleeding can be a sign of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or other complications. In the second and third trimesters, bleeding can result from placenta previa or placental abruption, or from other threats to the pregnancy. Bleeding following a manual exam or intercourse is generally acceptable, but never hesitate to call your doctor to describe your symptoms. If you are unable to reach your doctor, go to your hospital’s emergency room or labor and delivery department.
“I have been bleeding for ___ hours, and changing my pad or pantyliner every ___ hours. I do/don’t have a fever. I have pain in my ____. I am/am not having cramping. I am feeling tired/dizzy/faint.”
LEAKING URINE VS. LEAKING AMNIOTIC FLUID
One way to tell if the wet sensation you’re feeling is urine or amniotic fluid is to take note of the smell. If you’ve ever changed a diaper, you know the smell of urine. The smell of amniotic fluid isn’t quite so easy to detect. It may be sweet smelling, or odorless. If you aren’t sure, consider the quantity and frequency. A small trickle that doesn’t stop is likely to be amniotic fluid and so is that big gush you see in movies . Occasional wetness is likely to be urine. If you have been having contractions and the contractions suddenly become more intense when you stand up or use the bathroom, that also can be a sign that your water has broken. Your doctor can do a simple test in the office to determine if any amniotic fluid is present and can also discuss with you any signs of preterm labor.
“I think I may be leaking amniotic fluid. I first noticed it ____ and it keeps going. Should I come in to have you check the pH or do a ferning test?”
NORMAL DISCHARGE VS. LOSING THE MUCUS PLUG
A white, thin or milky discharge called leukorrhea is normal in pregnancy, and abundant! It can be odorless or have a mild, inoffensive smell. But, if it is causing itching, burning, or inflammation, it is more likely to be a yeast infection and you should contact your doctor. Also call your doctor if the discharge is any color other than white or it has a bad smell. It may be bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted disease.
If you notice that the discharge has become clear and sticky like egg whites, and you are not yet 37 weeks, it may be a sign of preterm labor. The mucus plug may be deteriorating as the cervix begins to soften and dilate. The mucus plug can be expelled gradually, or in one or more gel-like globs that can appear clear, white, or yellow and may be tinged with blood.
“I noticed a large glob of mucus in the toilet/in the shower/on my toilet tissue. The color was ____ and I did/didn’t notice any blood.”
Never think you are being a nuisance; your medical professionals are experts and are there to help.
If your symptoms continue, call again or go directly to the Labor and Delivery department of your hospital. Think of it as an emergency room for pregnant women!
I’ve been stuck. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve encountered several business obstacles that have been really frustrating.
When I started this business, I knew that I was going against the grain. Most organizations focus on providing resources that will help mom have a healthy baby. While this is important, the feeling that I got when I had high risk pregnancies is that my needs, my feelings and my health are all secondary to the needs of the baby. Consider some of the mother/baby organizations and events. The March of Dimes March for Babies’ mission is to see that every baby gets their 9 months. Admirable but what about the mom? How are we supporting her as she does her best to grow and nurture this baby? My local chapter of Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies has chosen to focus on the issue of breastfeeding. Again, a worthy cause, but not much focus on the needs of mom except as it relates to the welfare of the baby.
I specifically set out to serve moms with high risk pregnancies. After having had 2 high risk pregnancies myself, I often felt alone and isolated as I tried to deal with feelings of inadequacy (Would my body fail again and miscarry?), fear, feeling guilty for complaining (I was sick all day for all 9 months of my pregnancy with my daughter!!) and physically struggling to fulfill my family and home obligations. “Be happy.” I was told. “You’re pregnant. Don’t go borrowing trouble.” That was not at all my intent. I was simply a frightened mom-to-be who did not have her family close by to help and whose husband traveled frequently.
www.KeepEmCookin.com Angela Davids cheated preterm labor twice and delivered two healthy, term children. Here journey was not an easy one and as a result of her experiences on bed rest and in the hospital, she started KeepEmCookin.com, a place where women can share experiences, learn about their options and gain support.
www.Storknet.com Created in 1996 by Maribeth Doerr, Storknet.com has grown from a list of resources to an information rich website of more than 10,000 pages covering pregnancy, parenting and more. Storknet.com has interviews with experts on a variety of topics, discussion groups, pregnancy tools, books and other resources.
www.Sidelines.org Candace Hurley and Laura Maurer first started this site in 1991 as Candace sought to fill a gap. She had been a part of RESOLVE, a national support group for infertile couples. Whiel she knew of several organizations that support families with premature infants or who have lost infants, she found nothing for families trying cope with high risk pregnancy. Over the years Sidelines.org has grown tremendously and provides international peer support for families coping with high risk pregnancy.