Kathy Petersen’s Blog

We’re going the wrong way!!!

Posted in children by Kathy on October 20, 2009

Recently, I’ve read several articles and blog posts and facebook stuff that is talking about how horrible America is for not providing maternal leave — the “best” we have is 12 weeks unpaid leave following the birth or adoption of a child, or for a primary caregiver to take off of work to care for a sick family member. One woman said that we need to “demand” paid leave, and that every country has paid maternity leave, ranging from a few weeks up to a year (I think Canada gives 52 weeks paid leave). The running theme through these posts is that paying mothers not to work after having a child is showing that maternal-infant care is a high priority, that the breastfeeding relationship is a high priority (because, really, how many working moms are able to successfully 100% breastfeed their children for the first 6 months, which is the AAP recommendation, and continue breastfeeding for the entire first year?), that “women count,” and all sorts of other feminine/feminist/woman-centered catch phrases and lingo that is designed to grab women’s attention and get them to say, “Yeah!”

I know some women truly have to work; and others just want to work although they could stay home. But a large percentage of working moms who are currently griping about not being able to afford to live on one income, or who can’t take 12 weeks unpaid leave, could actually do it. It would just require quite a bit of sacrifice on their part. I know, because I’m living it. Other than socks and underwear, I can’t recall the last new article of clothing that I bought in the past 5 years. Most of my clothes are older than that, and the remainder have been bought at yard sales or thrift stores (probably less than $50 total), or were given to me. Same thing for my children — they have my brother’s sons’ hand-me-downs, and an occasional yard-sale purchase, with the extremely rare new item of clothing. The only ones I remember, in fact, other than a bag of socks, was when both my kids got car-sick and threw up on themselves in the car, and we bought them each a shirt ($4 apiece, I think) for the ride home. Most of the gifts we give them are likewise from garage sales and thrift stores, with an occasional new item. Sometimes when I look at an item, I think, “It’s not so much the cost of X, but the cost of X plus all the peripherals it requires to run optimally!” — Like an iPod — while that’s expensive by itself, then you have to get a sock (or several socks, so you can be “unique” like everybody else), an arm band, a wrist strap, the earphones (and earbuds and headphones, depending on your mood), and then you have to pay to download stuff or have a subscription… It all adds up. Or satellite TV — not just the cost of installation and the contraption, but the monthly bills, plus the ever-present temptation to increase your service so you can get this or that channel, and the occasional pay-per-view thing… and then because you have such a nice satellite, you want to get a bigger TV so you can see better, or enjoy it more… and then because you sit around watching TV all the time, you gain weight, so then you get a Nintendo Wii, which is expensive for the contraption, plus you have to buy wrist straps and hand-gadgets, a step thing, and multiple games…  Because you do it a little at a time, it creeps up on you, and you’ve spent your entire annual income with nothing to show for it, and at tax time, you wonder, “Where did it all go?”

The generation before mine didn’t have to worry about that as much — there were very few electronics on the market, and they tended not to be “the gift that keeps on taking” with all the peripherals and monthly fees. But there’s peer pressure now, and the “I see it, so I wanna get it” pressure, and “everybody’s got one, I want one too” pressure. And it’s not easy! It’s not easy saying, “No!!” It’s awfully tempting to leave my kids so I can work for stuff — stuff I see that other people have and enjoy, and I would like… but I choose not to.

And that’s one thing that really bugs me — I have made the choice, the sacrifice, to stay with my children rather than have a bigger house, nicer furniture, better clothes, more gadgets; and then there are people who are feeling like it’s their “right” to stay home with their kids, and make somebody else pay for it.

That’s the “going the wrong way” bit — I would LOVE for somebody to pay me to stay at home and take care of my children. I would LOVE to generate an income from doing what I’m supposed to do. But until some rich person comes up to me and offers to pay me to watch my own children, that ain’t gonna happen. What will happen, though, if legislation like this ever were to pass, is it would make women less employable, because such a law would undoubtedly color an employer’s decision on whom to hire. If they choose a man, they won’t have to deal with this whole paid leave thing, and trying to find somebody to hire for the weeks or year after a woman gives birth. [That has been one of the unforeseen problems with the Americans with Disabilities Act — fewer disabled people were hired, out of fears of future legal problems.] Such a thing may even be unconstitutional, unless men are likewise given paid leave after the birth of a child (the old “equal protection” clause), and that would more than double the problem. Secondly, who is going to pay for this maternal leave? The company? The government? Either way, it screws things up. If Walmart suddenly has to pay thousands of people not to work, what do you think that’s going to do to prices? And if “the government” (that’s you and me) has to pay, then that’s going to result in much higher taxes. Either way, somebody else will be required to pay for you to take your paid leave. And if the collective “us” (either as consumer or taxpayer) has less money in our pockets (due to higher taxes or prices), that means more people will have to work more hours, in order to be able to afford to eat, live, and buy things. And if there is less money to spend, that means that women who would have chosen to stay at home with their children, and been able to do so on one income, no longer can, so they will be forced into working outside the home, thanks to women “demanding” that somebody else needs to pay them not to work.

Are you ready for Another Child

Posted in children by Kathy on May 22, 2008

So I saw this link when I was tag-surfing, and thought I’d take the quiz myself. There were several questions, like how old is your youngest child, how much sleep you get per night, why you want another baby, can you afford to raise the baby, etc. The most surprising thing to me, is that after I answered all of the questions honestly, it said, “It sounds like you’re ready to have another child!” And I’m thinking, “Do what??” Because, I don’t really want another child right now. Right now, my life is balanced (as opposed to chaotic or overwhelming… although there are plenty of those times right now), and I kinda like “balance” (as opposed to chaos and being overwhelmed). I have several months of chaos and being overwhelmed, and I like balanced just fine, thank you very much! 🙂

So, I figured that since most of my answers were negative or neutral, this quiz would tell me that I wasn’t ready to have a baby. Surprise, surprise! (But, you know what? I’m still not ready to have another baby!)

Pro-abortion poster

Posted in abortion by Kathy on May 19, 2008

I just saw a picture of a woman (presumably in the UK, since that’s what the blog post was about) holding a poster reading, “Every child a wanted child; every mother a willing mother.” My first thought,

She certainly was “willing” when she had sex!

Take some responsibility, people, before you make a baby, and then you’ll have to take a lot less responsibility afterwards.

(Oh, and just to make it clear, I’m not saying that rape victims are willing. But since only .3% of all abortions are done in the event of a rape [according to Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute, which would hardly pretend the number is lower than it really is], I’m talking to the 99.7% of women who get abortions for reasons other than rape.)

Plan B

Posted in abortion, Christianity by Kathy on April 30, 2008

What to do when your plans don’t coincide with God’s plans? This couple had to face that challenge when their baby was diagnosed prenatally with lethal birth defects. The doctors suggested she have an abortion. They refused. Although they didn’t plan on having a baby with a birth defect, or any abnormalities, they graciously accepted what God gave them. Their baby was born and died on April 7, 2008. Yes, just a few weeks ago. Yet they tell their story with more smiles than tears. While they prayed for a miracle until the end, they accepted “Plan B” (which is always God’s “Plan A,” as the mother said), as what was best from them, given to them from the hand of a loving Father. I’m in awe.

Forced Pregnancy?

Posted in abortion by Kathy on April 23, 2008

I promised another post about the woman who is upset about the funeral procession in Knoxville for aborted babies. This is it.

In her post, she wonders aloud where the crosses and funeral processions are for women who died due to pregnancy, and then she linked to a site that shows the U.S. maternal mortality rate. She uses the emotional term “forced pregnancy” — as if the only women who die from maternal complications are those who were raped.

My definition of a forced pregnancy is one in which the woman was, you know, forcibly impregnated. She calls it “forced” pregnancy, when women are “coerced” into not having an abortion [but of course, I guess women are never coerced into having an abortion (p. 37)?? And, so much for having a “choice,” huh? Isn’t remaining pregnant a “choice”, or is abortion the only “choice”?], or do not have easy access to an abortionist. I don’t consider a pregnancy that results from consensual sex to be “forced,” and furthermore, I think it is a slap in the face to victims of sexual assault to speak of a consensual act as being “forced.”

Just for what it’s worth, this website says that in 2004-2005, by extrapolating known (or is it suspected?) rape cases (64,080 women) and the medical estimate of one-time sex resulting in pregnancy 5% of the time, yielding 3,204 pregnancies as the result of rape. They admit that these numbers are not known for sure, because of the different factors that may have prevented pregnancy, including women being on birth control, rapists wearing condoms to avoid DNA detection, and sexual assault with objects or on women too old for pregnancy. This figure is probably higher than in past years, but just for the sake of argument, let’s say that this number has been constant for the past 35 years (since Roe v. Wade), and that none of these women had an abortion. The latest figures for the U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate is 13/100,000 live births, although the number is probably actually higher. Let’s say that it is 20/100,000, and has been for the past 35 years (although the reported number has varied, and was below 10 for over a decade at least). Let’s also say that none of these deaths was due to abortion (although many women do die from abortion). That means that approximately 22 women would have died from a “forced pregnancy.” So 112,140 babies would have to die to save 22 women.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that our MMR is horrible when compared to other industrialized countries. But this is something that abortion advocates conveniently forget — maternal mortality includes deaths due to abortion. Maternal mortality (depending on the country) is the death of a woman within 42 days or within 1 year of pregnancy, regardless of how the pregnancy ended (abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, or live birth) — and this death due to something related to pregnancy or childbirth (dying in a plane crash wouldn’t count). But, abortion-related deaths are more likely to be covered up or coded as due to something else (for example, an abortion might cause a deadly infection or hemorrhage, and the death would be listed as due to infection or hemorrhage, rather than abortion); and even the government recognizes that maternal deaths are under-reported by 30% (and very likely higher). [This under-reporting is primarily due to coroners not knowing or not checking to see if the woman had recently been pregnant. When researchers have undertaken the task of matching death certificates with health records, they uncovered quite a few deaths that should have been reported as “maternal mortality” when they weren’t.] So, when pro-abortion people start talking about how abortion should remain legal because “maternal mortality” is so much higher than women’s deaths due to abortion, they’re either deceptive or ignorant. “Maternal mortality” is the whole pie, but abortion-related deaths are a slice of that pie.

And I read something recently that showed that when deaths due to abortion are compared to the rest of maternal mortality, it’s not a fair comparison, because almost all pregnancy-related deaths in the first half of pregnancy are due to abortions. Women just don’t die because of pregnancy in the first half of pregnancy. The only exception would be ectopic pregnancy, but these pregnancies are rare (and more likely if the woman has had a previous abortion); and while they can be deadly, they usually are not because they’re diagnosed and treated (with abortion if caught early enough; with another surgery if the fallopian tube has already burst) before the woman dies. It’s possible for a woman to bleed to death following a miscarriage, or a D&C procedure after a miscarriage; but, again, this is extremely rare, and also the D&C is exactly what happens during an abortion (it’s just that it removes a living fetus, instead of a fetus who has already died), so if a D&C can be dangerous after a miscarriage, then it certainly can be as an abortion.

Most maternal deaths happen in the late stages of pregnancy, or during or after childbirth ( complications of diabetes, blood pressure, etc., hemorrhage, C-section wound infection, or the doctor accidentally severed a blood vessel during a C-section, etc.). In the late stages of pregnancy, if the woman’s health is being severely compromised (and by extension, her child’s health would be suffering too), then she can be induced or have a C-section, rather than an abortion. And this is what happens. I’ve read a lot of birth stories, including some in which women got severely ill; and none of them chose an abortion. I’ve heard of women who were diagnosed with cancer, and the doctor pressed them to have an abortion so that they could begin chemotherapy, and they refused. Knowing that their chances of surviving cancer were slim to none if they continued the pregnancy until the child was far enough along to have a good chance of survival, they chose life for their child and death for themselves. “Forced” pregnancy?? Give me a break!

Misconceptions about pro-life

Posted in abortion, Christianity by Kathy on April 16, 2008

There have been many abortion-related blog posts lately that have had the refrain, “The problem with people who are pro-life is that they are just against abortion, but what do they do for these mothers or babies?” The implication, of course, being that if someone who wishes that abortion were illegal (except to save the mother’s life), then that person must be willing to accept the “burden” of the baby whose life is spared because the mother could not have an abortion.

Of course, the problem with that is that there are all sorts of laws that make it illegal for people to engage in certain activities, without regard to arranging for contingencies: thievery is illegal; it is not up to honest people to freely hand out money to would-be thieves in order for thievery to be illegal. That’s the same logic.

However, for those who still say that in order for a person to stand against abortion, he or she must be willing to take on the burden of these babies, here is an article about a woman who does just that. Since 1995, she and her husband have had 92 foster babies — most of them for just a few weeks, until the birth mother decides for sure whether she is going to raise the baby herself or put the baby up for adoption. The woman is white; most of these babies have been biracial or black. And the primary reason that the husband gave for being a foster parent (or “interim parent”) is so that the woman won’t have an abortion.

Babies are Expensive?

Posted in children, frugal by Kathy on March 15, 2008

Continuing the frugal posts, I’m going to move from food to kids. I wish I had written down how much our kids have cost us, but since I didn’t, I’ll link to this blog that did. My kids are now three years old and 21 months old, and I confess I’ve written down very few specifics, so I’ll go on memory:

Food–no clue, since I never bought formula or baby food. I also didn’t really keep track of our total food expenditures, so will just have to guesstimate from the USDA food chart. But it doesn’t show food for the first year of life, so that doesn’t really help too much. I think they assume that babies will either breastfeed which is free, or drink formula which is expensive; and then move to expensive commercial baby food. I breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, and then added in table food gradually. I wasn’t compulsive about it–basically if there was something on the table that he could eat (soft enough and not heavily spiced), I’d put food on his high chair tray; and if there wasn’t, no biggie–I’d just nurse him. So my kids ate very cheaply for the first year of life. Since my family’s monthly food expenditures are on track with the “thrifty” monthly expenditures of the USDA chart, I’ll assume those are accurate for my kids at their current ages.

Diapers–I used disposables until my older son was 7 months old. Then I switched to cloth. Currently, I use cloth at home and disposables when we’re out and at night. My older son is potty-trained, but uses diapers at naptime and overnight, as well as on car trips that take over say half an hour (he will go in his car seat if it takes too long). My younger son is working on potty-training–every time I put him on the potty he produces something, but he’ll happily pee in the floor too, so he’s not quite got it down. So I currently spend about $30 a month on diapers for the two of them. Cloth diapers can be extremely cheap, but I’ve seen some that would rival the cost of disposables, because these diapers come in several different sizes, and require several different wraps. I got my cloth diapers from clothdiaper.com and the vinyl covers from TLCare. Do not get the Gerber plastic covers–they tear within a few washings. I got 4 dozen of the “regular” size diapers; then when my younger son was born, got a couple dozen of the infant size. I could probably have folded the larger diapers in such a way to make them fit a newborn, but that’s an awful lot of diaper on a tiny babe. With shipping and everything, it probably was about $100. If you get some of the fitted diapers and especially the all-in-one diapers, be aware that they take forever to dry, so you’ll need to factor in extra energy if you dry them in the dryer, and extra time if you hang them to dry. I probably spent about $315 on disposables in my first son’s first year of life, plus more on the diaper wipes. I use old washcloths cut in half for my wet wipes when I change a cloth diaper.

I did buy a breast pump for about $40 when we had to go on a trip when my older son was a baby, but I didn’t use it much other than that.

Clothes–probably spent about $100 (all from yard sales!) for my older son’s clothes through about 15 months of age; after that, my brother handed me down his kids’ clothes, so I haven’t had to buy them any clothes since then.

Doctors’ visits and medications–maybe $500 total for both kids. They’re rarely sick, but we don’t have insurance so we have to pay the full amount out of pocket when we do go.

Our crib (including mattress) cost $65, and we got a matching changing table at the same yard sale for $30. I bought a toddler bed when I was pregnant with my younger son, for $20 (including mattress).

Toys, books, birthday presents–typically gotten at yard sales, and I’ve probably spent about $50 total for both kids. You can get a lot of toys and books for $50!

I bought a double stroller from my brother for $25, and a high chair from a yard sale for $10.

Everything else–playpen, exersaucer, single stroller, car seats–has been handed down to us. There are advantages to having grandkids #7 & 9.

So I estimate the total to be $1600, plus the cost of food. And I will likely resell most everything once I’m done with it, so will recoup some of that money. Actually, I already have sold all of the baby clothes I purchased. I’m keeping the more durable items because I might have another child, and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find them for the price I’d sell them for. Still, if we were to move before I got pregnant, I’d have no problem selling them so I wouldn’t have to move them.

Justifying abortion

Posted in abortion, Christianity by Kathy on February 17, 2008

When I was in college, one of my teachers related the story of a former friend of his who in college was extremely active in the pro-life movement. She volunteered at the crisis pregnancy center, organized marches, handed out brochures outside the local abortion clinic….. and then she got pregnant unexpectedly and unmarried, so she had an abortion. She still remained pro-life, but justified her abortion by saying she had too much good to do, and having a baby would stop all of that good.

In another discussion, I happened across a blog in which the author justified her abortion because her baby was diagnosed prenatally has having a lethal birth defect. She said that she never expected to have an abortion–she was a “good little girl” who was a virgin when she got married, and thought that abortion was a non-issue in her life, because she had no reason to have an abortion. Until she was told that her baby could not live after birth. Then she said that she just could not bear the thought of continuing the pregnancy, knowing the baby was as good as dead, knowing the baby would die either before, during, or right after the birth.

But are these justified?

To justify is to “declare right.” These women (and I’m sure there are countless others) would say that abortion in general, or abortion in theory is wrong, but that their abortions were right. Perhaps they may have changed their minds and are now among those who say that abortion is not wrong. There are many women who will spout the line that abortions should be legal, and that abortion is right…. for other women. I’ve read a couple of blogs recently that said that. One young woman took her blog down after her abortion (or perhaps it was a miscarriage–it wasn’t clear), but in a post she said that she while she was grappling with the decision to have an abortion for medical reasons, she still considered abortion to be good, but she felt like she was a murderer in contemplating having one. She (and others) wouldn’t go so far as to say that abortion should be wrong (although this particular woman felt horribly guilty about planning an abortion, which shows that she truly considered it to be wrong),  but that it was wrong for them.

Although the two women mentioned at the top of the post justified their abortions to themselves, does that make them right? No. One way to determine that is to look at the consequences of not having an abortion. Had the college student not had an abortion, she would have gone through pregnancy and birth, and could have given her child up for adoption. Her life would not have been put on hold. She could have continued to do good. Perhaps some of her activities may have needed to have been curtailed for the last couple of months due to her personal comfort level. Had she given the baby up for adoption, she probably wouldn’t have even had to curtail her schooling at all. (My first year in college, one of my classmates had a baby and was back in school a couple of days later. She did not give him up for adoption, but was raising the baby herself. If she could do that, this other girl could have too.) The second woman found it “impossible” to continue her pregnancy with the knowledge that her baby would just die. But what if there were no legal abortion in her case? What if the only safe abortion for women to undergo was a first-trimester abortion; and for her to have had an abortion would have been to risk her life just so that she didn’t have to continue carrying her baby? Would she have found it tolerable then? Would it have been so intolerable to carry a lethally deformed baby to term, if there was  a high likelihood of her dying as well? If it were illegal, would she have attempted to procure an illegal abortion, just so she wouldn’t have to continue her pregnancy? What if she didn’t have an abortion at all? Well, she would have given birth to a baby that might have died. (I say “might have” because the prenatal diagnosis may have been wrong.) I don’t minimize the emotional hardship that she would have had to have endured, but many women have done the same thing. What makes her so special? What made her feel like she could escape that trial? She claimed to be a Christian, but that is not my understanding of true Christianity, to take the easy but immoral way out of a dilemma. She murdered her child to have “peace of mind” for a few months. That is not right.

Calcium for cramps

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on January 11, 2008

For premenstrual cramps, I swear by taking calcium. I also do that if I’ve worked muscles too hard, and it helps me to sleep at night. When I was pregnant, I would ward off leg cramps by taking calcium–and I had some doozies if I didn’t take it! My sister-in-law taught me that last one, because it worked for her. It just makes me wonder how many aches, pains, and diseases we take for normal, or something we can’t do anything about anyway, when we actually can! The answer is right in the vitamin aisle.