Broken

I know a while back I posted a blog about public defenders and how it inspired me to be more proactive in my community and vowed to do some volunteer work that I had been putting off until the “right moment” in my life and just do it.  So in case you didn’t know I successfully completed the training and wanted to talk a little bit about my experience so far.  I guess there will be two separate parts here, one in regards to the system itself and one specifically about my case (which I can’t get too specific about).

What exactly am I doing?  Well I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate (or CASA).  This is a program that exists in many counties across the nation, and in certain cases of child neglect or abuse the judge assigns a CASA to the case.  My role is to interview the child, parents, foster care, child development specialists, doctors, teachers, etc and then try to compile a report for court hearings that happen every 3 months so that I can make specific recommendations for the child (or children I represent) in court.  I try to make recommendations in the best interest of the child.  This sometimes can be towards reunification with the parents (or parent) or sometimes away from the parents.  The key is to make those recommendations based on as much evidence as follows.

After my first training session one of the volunteers who I had sat next to, when we walked out of the session looked at each other and were thinking the same thing and he said to me before I could say to him “I can’t believe they have volunteers doing this.”  So if it seems unbelievable to you, this is one of the first things I learned:  We really don’t love children as much as we say we do.  The full-time workers of the program say that it’s even hard to get donations for abused and neglected children.  I came in with some pre-conceived notions about Child Protection Services or Child Youth Services taking away children from good parents and getting involved in the private lives of families unceremoniously most of those notions have melted away.  Children services have to act when a report is made, but for the most part I see them dealing with such reports that are unsubstantiated fairly.  That’s not to say that there isn’t mistakes made.  I also learned that it’s a civil service job, and there are no specialized qualifications to do it.  It doesn’t pay particularly well, workers are often overloaded with cases, and many just use it as a stepping stone to a better job, so there is high turnover, meaning that few of the workers are very experienced.  So mistakes are made, and there is some incompetence, but is this their fault or the fault of a system that isn’t treated as important as it should be?  Just like with public defenders, attorneys that are supposed to represent the children in court are also overloaded.  In our county there are 3 lawyers trying to represent 400 children.  It is not possible to do your job well under such circumstances. I’ve learned that despite bad things you hear sometimes about foster families most people who do foster care are phenomenal people and make a big emotional investment into children they may care for, for up to a year and half and will not get to keep them.  I can’t imagine going through that myself.  Many foster families do end up adopting the children for that very reason. I’ve learned that federal child protection laws didn’t happen until the 70’s and that the very first child abuse case was tried under animal protection laws.  The obsession over the rights of the unborn continue in this country while those that are born are overlooked.  I am convinced that if we put our compassion into making sure that every citizen was treated humanely, abortions would drop at an alarming rate.

The case I was assigned is a sad one, although perhaps by far not the worst.  And I guess it goes without saying that any case of child abuse or neglect will be a sad one.  I can’t describe the case in a high enough detail so that it could be recognized so I will simply give vague details which I am sure are not uncommon.  We have one child just over a year old, we have a father with a criminal past addicted to heroin.  We have a mother addicted to heroin who went into early labor while on heroin and had a newborn baby going through withdrawal symptoms for opiates.  A baby who would later die at the age of 8 months due to an accidental death.  We have parents who are not married.  We have parents who do not have their own home, their own phone number.  We have a mother who does not even have a job, and a father who is just trying to make ends meet.  Neither of them have enough money to support themselves let alone children.  There are many who may already be judging these parents, and I do not disagree that there is a reason that their children were taken away from them.  This is not a mistake.  This is not government overreach.  This is making sure a child has a safe environment to grow up in.  Addiction has taken them, and they cannot seem to get out of it.  They have made less and less visits over time with their remaining child, and at the last court hearing didn’t even show up.

abuse-stop-child-abuse-28564872-765-540-2But one of your jobs as a CASA is to gather information about the parents and part of that is a little bit of snooping on their Facebook profile.  When I saw pictures of the mother it was clear she was just a child.  Barely out of high school. She had pictures of her with her children.  There were smiles, and genuine happiness.  Pictures like any family might have and they were beautiful.  In notes taken by Child Youth Services workers there were noted about how the mother sincerely said how much she loved her son.  As a child of an addict myself it reminded me of my situation in a lot of ways, although heroin is a much harsher drug than alcohol, that there are two separate truths to the life of the addict.  As I look at the pictures I see the same love that I have in my pictures with my child.  I know they are filled with it at least at certain moments as much as I am.  But a portion of their life, thoughts, and physical actions are also governed by heroin.  Perhaps a bigger portion now.  And as I look at a picture of someone who is a child herself, and who has a mother who is also a heroin addict I have to admit that I cried and wondered what chance did she have but to follow down the same dark path.  Where does it end?  How do we break the chain?  Even as I have compassion for the innocent child to protect them from a life of having heroin addicted parents, who will have compassion for these parents?  Is there any hope for them?  Will they have their lives turned around?  Just 10 years ago the mother herself might have been a case for the courts if anybody had bothered to report the destructive actions of her mother.  There is an ocean of pain out there, and it feels like trying to tear down a mountain with a small rock hammer.  The only answer it seems is more hammers.  I have no idea how to convince people to pick one up.

There are 6 months left before the case comes to a close, likely too little time for the parents to get their act together enough to keep their remaining child.  There are already other family members willing to adopt and give the child a stable and happy home.  The child is just a few months older than my son.  Sweet with a beautiful laugh and I am glad that his odds for a better life have gone up, but I am certain his struggles are not over.  At some point he will wonder who his parents are.  He will have to wrestle with the idea of why he was abandoned by his parents and whether or not there was just something inherently wrong with him.  I hope that he is young enough now to not let thoughts override who he will grow up to be under his new adoptive parents. I hope he will forgive and know that he is his own man someday and is not destined to continue the cycle.  I hope he will know good love.

Let’s Pause Here

Dhyan_pandaI would describe myself as someone who embraces change, even when it sometimes isn’t easy. To me, change is the one true constant in the universe. My son is 20 months old and there are times, where I would swear that I could live at this time forever, because he is so sweet, and so pure. I think in an instant it makes us remember a time when things were simple, and completely joyful in their simplicity. So when I look at my son, I know that is what he is thinking and feeling right now.  Sticking a straw out of my mouth is amazing, that picture of an elephant is amazing, this rice is amazing.  Life is amazing. They don’t even know enough to appreciate it and the best part is that you get to appreciate it for them. And that is a beautiful feeling. The idea that such innocence and purity could last forever is a fantasy, but an extremely good one to hold on to. Because if you can just add just a little bit of that into the world, happiness can only grow.

Headlong

Well between being a dad and a professor, blogging has taken a backseat.  This of course doesn’t stop the ideas from flowing, so I just thought I’d get at least one of them out even though I’m having to wake up at 5:30 am to do it!

My blog post is once again inspired by my son.  One of the things my son likes to do is drink, whatever we might be drinking, from our glasses.  I find myself enjoying this quite a bit, because it’s clear that he wants to do things like we do.  At times he will often try picking up our glasses and try to drink from them, with of course disastrous results, but his drive to be like us is clearly strong.  The reason why I enjoy this so much though is because there is something wonderful just being around someone who is clear is striving each day to be more than they are.  You might say, well of course babies/children strive to be more than they are, because they have to grow and develop those basic cognitive and locomotive skills.  So I know I’m not saying anything groundbreaking, but it made me reflect on a number of things that I think have meaning at any age, and gave me some important reminders as I move forward in life both as an individual and parent.

As I was reflecting on this last night it occurred to me the importance of failure.  While, as parents we marvel at our child’s successes I wonder how often we think of their failures.  If I really start to think about it I know that every achievement of my

From http://www.wholeheartedleaders.com

son is built on the back of many more failures.  Whether it was a failure sit up, stand up, walk, or clutch an object in his hands, these activities failed numerous times before he was able to master them in any meaningful way.  And it occurred to me that if you are not failing at anything right now, you quite simply are not growing.  In these early stages of life the failure to success ratio is high.  My son is constantly reaching in ways that exceed his grasp, but is undeterred by failure and this is something I find wonderful and inspiring.  While he still needs help sipping from a drinking glass because he cannot lift it up to his lips in a controlled way on his own, I know that he will get it.   Sometimes I wonder if I slow his progress by helping him though.  He’d probably learn a lot faster if I let him fail more often, but of course the amount of spills I’d have to clean would be a drain on my time and resources.  It takes away from other things that I could be doing which would be important for parenting or important for myself.  And of course in some cases these failures might be detrimental to him as well.  We need fluids, and if we are constantly spilling ours then we aren’t getting the sustenance we need.  This is, of course, one of the things we must balance in life.  Doing an activity that we’ll fail at is an energy cost, and thus we must have energy in excess to afford to fail.  Growth implies risk, and risks can be costly.  That doesn’t change the fact that without taking risks we tend to stagnate.

Dhyan_box
Sometimes my son even enjoys falling. 🙂

So what deters us from this completely necessary quality of risk?  Since risk involves the uses of resources and energy, there are environmental factors that simply put limits on the risks we can take.  The beautiful thing about children (and often scary at times) is that they think nothing of the risks they take.  No matter how many times he fell trying to walk, or get down from the sofa or bed, he still did it.  As we grow and become aware of more things we learn restraint.  If I lived in one of many places in Africa where clean drinking water is scarce, one of the things I would make dead sure of is that I didn’t leave a glass of drinking water within in reach of my son, because drinking water is precious and we could ill afford to have any spilled.  So the risks we are willing to take or let others take are governed by the energy and resources (or the perceived energy and resources) we have available to us.  I think this is something we forget.  It is very common in the world to denigrate the poor and criticize them for not lifting themselves out of their poverty.  Since risk leads to growth, and risk is at least partly a function of the security of energy and resources in our lives, those that have limited resources simply cannot achieve as much as those of us with privilege can achieve.  While there are always remarkable stories of people crossing that boundary, on average a person who starts off with more will always have the potential of achieving more.  Therefore we’d be well served to stop judging those in poverty and that they require our compassion to help raise them up.  Should I wish to let my son fail at drinking water from a drinking glass I have the resources to supply him with endless amounts of water.  It seems that the path to a better society comes from those of us who have an excess in resources finding a way to create an environment for those in need to have some minimum level of security so that they feel safe to take risks.

Our inability to take risks can also be impacted by our memories of failures.  There comes a point where feelings of failure can be somewhat traumatic.  It can make us not want to try something again.  I have postulated, not sure if it’s true, that one of the reasons why babies don’t form a lot of memories is because if they did they might be scared to take risks.  This is something that a young child absolutely has to do just to be able to master basic movement and communication skills.  My son has fallen hard at times, and after a few minutes he is back trying the same thing again.  This short term memory seems a blessing at this age but it won’t last forever.  Of course if we reflect on failure we would see that it is teaching us something, and that we probably should worry about failure a lot less than we do.  If you’ve tried something a number of times and still failed, well maybe the lesson to be learned is to not do that activity anymore.  That in of itself can be a success.  Learning about what you can’t do, moves you in a different direction to try things that you have a better chance of succeeding.  If energy and resources are finite then there is wisdom in not continuing in an activity once we realize that it is beyond us.  This means the only truly detrimental failure is the failure to never try.

dhyan_cutlery
My son, failing to use cutlery in any meaningful way. 🙂

 

It’s easy once you get to the age of 40 to play it safe.  Likely your life is already full of failure and it’s simple to say “enough is enough” and just survive.  I was joking yesterday with my wife, given the extremely fast rate my son is figuring out how to use an iPad (and believe me we don’t give him a lot of access) that maybe that’s why kids always have to figure out technology for their parents, because once you have kids it’s easier to stop learning and let them (who learn things much faster and easier than you) do it for you.  Ultimately this is not the type of person I want to be.  I want to continue to grow, and over the last couple of months I’ve realized there are numerous areas of personal growth that I want to achieve and while I may like myself, to rest on my laurels would also be a mistake.  I watch my son attempt tasks that are beyond his abilities and must remind myself that I must never stop trying to push my limits, and to take chances doing things that have a high chance of failure.  It’s surprising how cautious we become as we age.  It seems that perhaps the real secret to staying young is to maintain at least a shred of fearlessness and at least an ounce of self-confidence that defies what we think we know of ourselves.   I must also remember to turn my parental instincts in a way that supports experiences of failure for my son.  I’m not saying that I would intentionally cause him to fail, but only to remember that loving my son is not about preventing him from ever failing, but rather allowing him to fail, and stepping in at the right time to help him learn the most from his failures.  So smile at your failures.  They got you this far, and here’s to hoping you have many more.

Returning Your ticket

Let’s say you are on a big cruise ship. Over 6,000 men, women, and children are on board.  This cruise ship promises to take you to paradise and it’s not a lie either. A place where everybody is happy, nothing bad ever happens, and everybody gets along in love and friendship.  Children are laughing and smiling and running around.  Nobody

From http://www.freefitnesstips.co.uk

is hungry or hurting.  Everybody lives in harmony.  There was no charge to even be one of the passengers.  You’re on for free and who wouldn’t pass up such an opportunity.

As you are making your way to paradise, the captain announces that due to some unknown structural defects that they need to get rid of about 100 passengers or the boat will sink.  Fortunately there are an equal amount of bad criminals who have done some bad things and don’t really deserve paradise on board and the captain knows who they are and asks everybody else to throw those people overboard.  Would you still want to be on that boat?  Keep in mind that by even looking the other way, you are an accessory.  But many people, I think, given the promise of such a wonderful destination they could make it work for their conscience.

Now rewind the scenario and the same announcement comes on and says we need to unload 100 passengers or we all sink, and paradise will never be reached.  It’s only 100 people and still some 6,000 people will get to go to paradise.  But everybody wants to go so nobody volunteers.  People get tense and some people start deciding for themselves who might be bad or good, who might be too old to survive the journey and thus can justify getting rid of them.   Would you still want to be on the boat?  Again doing nothing to help still makes you an accessory.  In this scenario, not that the group who stays must develop some sort of justification for why those people will have to die.  Judging them without evidence, making assumptions, perhaps developing a philosophy that gets people to volunteer, convincing the more gullible of passengers that they will get to paradise anyway by making the sacrifice (even though they don’t know that to be the case, no matter how strongly they believe it to be so).

Let’s rewind again except this time the captain announces that his good friend the Grim Reaper will be coming around and taking the lives of 100 people at random.  It

From http://wiki.urbandead.com

could be your child, your friend, your wife.  Slowly everybody watches 100 people keel over without knowing why they had to die.  Would you still want to be on that boat?  If you stayed, what justification would you come up with to be okay with those deaths?

Let’s rewind one more time.  Instead of the Grim Reaper, the captain announces that everybody will be restrained while a psychopathic killer, wrought by the same person who made the paradise, will be coming around to kill 100 random people.  Having little control over his actions and lack of moral center, he will beat, rape, and torture these people before he kills them.  Many or all of these people are innocent.  Most importantly some are children. Young children, perhaps even babies.  Children in their innocence and purity must be physically and sexually abused in order to reach this paradise.  Would you still want to be on the boat?  What justification would you invent to be okay with this if you stayed?

In one the most influential books to me was The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  In that book one of the Brothers Ivan is having a conversation with his younger brother Alyosha in a chapter I believe called “Revolution”.  Ivan is an atheist and a collector of news stories around Russia of atrocities committed against children.  He questions the religious harmony that Christianity offers (I do not single out Christianity here, only relaying the religion that was used in the book).  We are all supposed to follow The Bible and follow its moral teachings.  The goal being that we will all come to know God on Earth and secure our place in Heaven afterwards.  But we are also supposedly given free will and thus some do not follow.  This allows for the possibility of great harm to innocent children: abuse, rape, torture, death (not even counting all the natural/accidental causes that take the lives of children).  Ivan claims that if this is the price of harmony then he would like to “respectfully return his ticket” to the Creator.

In reading that passage, I could not help but agree with Ivan.  Being a father now only reinforces that idea more.    If there is a Creator who is omnipotent and decides what happens to all His creation and that there is a reward of Heaven for those who are good, then I submit that this existence is simply not worth the price given all the suffering that does and has taken place already to get there.   There are of course many other atrocities that happen to adults, that make it not worth the price either, but it is especially hard when I think of the harm that comes to children.  The logic of a Creator who commands us to act according to His moral guidelines in order to achieve some post material existence paradise at the expense of harm to innocent people, simply does not add up.  It’s not enough for me to say that “God works in mysterious ways” or that “no one can know the mind of God”.  It’s not enough for me to know that God has taken the innocent up to Heaven either.  Because what is the point of this existence if they had to suffer here?  And for the life of me I really don’t understand why that can be enough of an explanation for anyone else.  I’m open to any and all explanations as to why the tears of a suffering child are worth this paradise?

Helpless

From http://deviantart.net

My baby is not much of a crier.  So when he does cry it feels a bit worrying.  Of course a baby will have different cries.  Sometimes those differences are subtle and they change a bit as they grow day by day.  There is one for wanting a dry diaper, one for hungriness, one for loneliness and just wanting to be held, and there is a whiny one for a toy they can’t reach (so you give it to them and they become bored 30 seconds later but then want another one!).  But there is one cry that seems very different to me.  This is the one in which they are in pain or misery: maybe teething, gastric discomfort, sleep deprived and tired, perhaps an ear infection.  Whatever it is as a parent you will know this cry.  They wail at the top of their lungs.  They are inconsolable.  There is no reasoning with them because there is no way you can communicate with them except to simply hold them and hope your warmth and love eventually calms the down.

There is a helplessness to babies, especially before they can understand language well and before they can move on their own that draws us towards them, that pierces our heart so deeply that we move almost unconsciously to try and take care of them.  But that cry of pain is a helpless cry for which there is no immediate solution.  You must simply bear it and simply wish each and every moment that such cries will stop.  Hopefully it is just a matter of the pain passing, the medicine working,  sleep arriving, or whatever it is (because sometimes you just don’t know) stopping so that that helpless and desperate cry will stop.  And I have to admit that the first time I experienced this cry when I was alone and I didn’t want to bother my wife who was getting some much needed time out with a friend, I despaired and felt helpless myself.  Not knowing what to do.  Of course this is part of what all babies go through and it’s not traumatizing for them, it’s just life.  Nevertheless it brought tears to my eyes and feeling like a terrible father for not being able to take my son’s pain away.  In that moment I felt utterly helpless as he wailed and wailed in my arms.

As I was able to let my mind catch up to my emotions it occurred to me how fortunate I was to have medicine, how fortunate I was to have a 911 to call, or a pediatrician that has a 24 hour answering service, or just people in my life in general to turn to.  Sometimes it just takes the reminder even that all of this is just normal and that everything will be fine.  Then I started thinking about all the mothers out there in the world who must listen to that cry for which there is no help.  There is no medicine.  There is no spouse.  Maybe they are just desperately tired after a long day of work and could use their child’s smile to life their spirits, but instead the baby is sick and wails into the night.  I started thinking about all the babies whose cries go unheard.  Helpless as they are and even through their tears there are no arms to hold them.  I have to admit I cried again, but it’s probably worth all our time to take a moment to remember this.

From http://images.fineartamerica.com

It is a sad reality though that “helpless” is not only something we all feel, but is sometimes the actual state of things.  How many times have you felt helpless in your life?  I’m sure there have been plenty.  We might have felt helpless against a bully at school, a loved one dying from a terminal disease, helpless against the abuse of a parent or guardian, helpless because there is nobody to go to when we are in trouble, or helpless against a traumatic event, accident or natural disaster through no fault of our own.  Maybe you have a loved one with an addiction.  Whether a child, sibling, parent, or friend.  In such cases no amount of help will do much good unless they want it, and the feeling of helplessness mounts.

There are certain realities that are hard to face.  Perhaps even harder than facing death.  As we grow we feel more powerful, we feel like there is more we can do to affect change, help ourselves and help others, but in the end we are always subject to forces outside our realm of influence.  Life is a mixture of experiences both in and out of our control.  Recognizing the difference between the two seems, to me, a lifelong struggle.  All we can do I guess is to continue to love and care – about ourselves and others, and hope that feelings of helplessness will pass quickly for all who walk on this earth.

Let the Children Play

An idea had been running around in my head that, like oft times before, has required the harmony of 3 separate melodies that on the surface seem disparate and maybe even discordant:

  • Watching the behavior of my child as he grows
  • University politics
  • Interacting with some wonderful people at a wedding I went to recently

The idea is that we might all still actually be children.  Of course this isn’t altogether too radical of an idea, but it seems to me that we too often separate “the child” from “the adult” and it has been observation that perhaps the distinction between the two is somewhat arbitrary or at least highly subjective, depending on your definition of the two categories.

From http://www.kidspot.com.au

It has been a disappointing realization in a lot of ways that when I look at the behavior of some of the professionals at the university that their behavior is not too professional.  Perhaps I simply expected more out of a number of people with advanced degrees, but of course it is not different from any other workplace.  There are people that are petty, there are people that throw tantrums when they don’t get their way, there are people that are petulant, there are people that lie in order to not take responsibility, there are bullies who try to boss the other people around, and there are people who think the world is ending because in a metaphorical sense they’ve dropped their ice cream cone.  These qualities all seem quite understandable for a child to have.  Since they are still unsure of how the world works and how to properly interact with others we expect these behaviors in young people and as parents help correct this behavior.  But much to my surprise these behaviors are not something everybody grows out of and just as we think these behaviors will get us what we want as a child, there are many who see them as valid ways to act as adults.  I suspect that it does sometimes work or else they might change.  It’s simply unfortunate that they don’t see that there are other behaviors that a higher chance of success, but perhaps more importantly, lead to a better personal sense of well-being and happiness.

At a wedding this past weekend I met some wonderful people who are just easy to be around and a couple of them talked about how they felt like they’ve never really grown up.  I often feel that

From http://www.coulourbox.com

way too, but unlike the negative child behaviors I discussed previously these people demonstrated those things we love to see in children.  There were people who had a child-like wonder and fascination with the world, loved to play and be silly, were made happy by the simple things in life, loved to pretend for fun,  and took joy in just making you laugh or smile.

Now I may have overstated the idea a bit that we are just big children, but I think that there is definitely a child inside all of us and it might be worth asking the question “What child is inside of me?”  Is it the child that makes us others marvel and smile, or is it the child that drains other people’s energy, stresses them out or makes people just want to run away screaming?  As I watch my child grow it’s clear that behavior is not simply a result of innocence or naivety.  It’s clear that sometimes he just wants to play and sometimes he just wants to let out a yell so we look his way and pay attention to him.  As one grows and gains knowledge of the world, it doesn’t seem like any loss of innocence precludes any child-like behavior.

Sometimes in the face of the weight of the world a little time out for playing is probably the best way to maintain some sanity and gain one’s strength to keep pushing forward.  Sometimes when what you know seems sad, perhaps it’s time to learn about something else, or go some place new so your eyes can open with wonder.  Sometimes when you’re not smiling, do something nice for someone else and make them smile and see how much better you feel.  I think it’s important to carry with us the best part of childhood always, and I hope that as my child grows I can help him hold on to those beautiful qualities that give me such joy to watch now.

 

 

 

Parinternetiatrician

The internet gets a lot of flack these days.  And why shouldn’t it?  It’s destroying the fabric of modern society.  I know it to be true, because some very important people have blogged about it and I have watched some of their news reports on YouTube.  It’s always tough to stay current with these issues when you have a social media addiction.  I’m trying to not let it stress me out though. 🙂

Seriously internet and social media haters.  You’d be at least half as popular as you are now if it wasn’t for that massive exposure the internet gives your un-researched and unsubstantiated nonsense.   You can be addicted to a lot of things, some are far worse than others.  And “Experts” are always worried about addiction in kids.  Music, video games, drugs, sex, violence, texting, etc.  Right now my kid is pretty addicted to breast milk.  It’s ALL he eats.  I’m a bit worried.  I figure with enough things out there to get addicted to, at least there is choice.  At least theirs diversification in the things they are addicted to. 😉

Of course, I don’t think the internet is a bad thing, and to be quite honest it has been the greatest companion through this whole baby thing.  I want to of course make it clear before I say anymore that I am not suggesting the internet is any kind of substitute for a doctor in any way, shape or form, but let’s face it, there is a lot of stress to this process, and as a whole the information that is available on-line helps.  A lot.

In an effort to confuse you I’ll start of negating my previous statement, by saying that I was a bit annoyed at the internet at the beginning of the

From see7aa.blogspot.com

pregnancy.  A lot of information out there seems focused on worst-case-scenario things without giving you any sense for what type of probabilities we are talking about.  For instance when my wife was feeling incredibly thirsty in her first trimester, several sites said “this is normal” (good), “not getting enough water can cause deformation in your babies limbs” (scary).  I mean what the hell people? How often does this happen?  How little water was the person getting?  I’m yelling at my wife “Drink water woman…limbs are deforming!!”.

Okay so it takes a little time to get used to the tone of information on the internet.  Once you get used to it, you realize that it is really just trying to help you.  “Here’s what you should do take care of yourself, and here is what CAN happen if you don’t”.  When it comes to having a baby, erring on the side of

From thetvchick.com

caution isn’t a bad thing, and I had to remind myself how inaccessible such nutritional and pre-natal care information would have been 30 years ago compared to now.  Of course back then they would have given you a pamphlet.  Does anybody seriously read pamphlets though?  They are small, recyclable, and look so much better folded then unfolded.  Unfolding something is messy.  Nobody wants that.  What people want is a search engine where you can just type in “I’m pregnant.  Why am I so thirsty?”  Web pages don’t fold.  They have links.  “Yes Mr. Internet (or Ms. Internet) I would like to know more about the importance of water to the build up of blood, amniotic fluid, and nutrient flow to the baby”.  Click.  Brilliant.

Baby merchandise.  You need to get stuff for your baby.  But what stuff?  What’s really important?  In a consumer driven society there is no question companies prey on our fear of ruining our babies lives and thus convince us to buy the most ridiculous things and pay a lot of money for them.  The internet can save you money.  It’s a huge marketplace, and thus competition drives prices down.  It also allows you to read a large quantity of customer reviews.  It appears that a lot of people have babies.  It tells you if you really need something, or if you don’t.  If you want to go green, organic or whatever you can find it on the internet.  If you suddenly become concerned because you never took a baby CPR training class, you can find a YouTube video on it.  How do I swaddle my baby?  How do I burp it?  What are some good songs that I can sing to it?  Can I hire someone to sing them for me, because I can’t sing?  The answers are on the internet.  All of these things can be easily ordered on the internet with a click of the mouse as you quickly vomit into the pail next to you because of your morning sickness.  Wandering around department stores, or Wal-mart can make you nauseous enough, and they typically don’t put reviews next to the items you are looking at on the shelf.  Only the price.  Thank you consumer friendly internet!

The internet is also your friend in other ways.  Let’s say you are just walking along, you’re pregnant, and all of a sudden your wrist hurts like a bitch.  So you think to yourself well I’ve known a lot of pregnant people in my time and their wrists seemed fine.  I must be defective and I’m going to bring doom to my baby somehow.  You get a bit anxious.  So you go on-line and you find a forum where it’s a whole bunch of women talking about their hurt wrists being pregnant.  Bam!  Instant group therapy session.  You are not alone.  Others have had the problem.  This is what they did.  This is something you can try.  This is something to talk to your doctor about.  Again, the internet doesn’t replace your doctor, but there can be a big delay between you experience something or having a question, and calling your doctor and waiting for someone to get back to you.  It can be stressful wondering if something is really wrong?  Should my baby be sneezing?  Why is his eye crusting up?  Is this normal?  Is it the plague?  OMG please don’t let it be the plague?  I thought the plague was over.  But there was that rat yesterday…it’s the plague.  It’s got to be the plague.  Tell me internet is it the plague?  It’s not the plague?  This is common?  Happens in 20% of newborns?  Clogged tear duct?  Oh that doesn’t sound so bad.  Panic attack quelled.  It can be easy to think that any little thing is not common or that it’s a sign of something serious.  You will be hard pressed as a parent to find a question that hasn’t already been asked.  A baby3million times.  And you will be comforted just because at the very least you will know how much you should actually worry. or how aggressively you need to try and contact your doctor, or whether you should go to the emergency room.  I would say that if the question you have hasn’t been asked before you probably need to go to the ER, or run a spell check on your question., or check your internet connection.  Most people out there are just like you.  They get a bit worried over small things, and even that you are not alone. And they are responded to by well meaning, experienced parents who politely share their experience with you.  Sure a few people on their blame your baby’s problems on Obama, but those people are few and far between.  If you are still confused at the end of the deluge of internet information, the doctor is still there to call.  But just knowing other people are experiencing what you are is such a great help.

So we can criticize this culture of instant gratification, but you know what, some things can’t be instant.  Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that everything can be instant and you’ll be fine.  For instance babies still take about 9 months.  So thank you internet!  I appreciate you.  You’re not all pornography after all.  Who knows what else might be contained within your four walls…hmmm…that doesn’t sound right.  Actually what is the internet contained in? Hmmm…question for another blog. 🙂