The good news and the bad news for the Duchess of Cambridge

A couple of weeks ago, I said to my sister, “Kate’s pregnant,” referring to the Duchess of Cambridge.

“How do you know?” she asked.

“Because,” I told her, “the British press was filled with daily stories about her, showing her going her and there, and always talking about her perfect style.  Suddenly, though, she’s vanished.  She’s not showing up anywhere.  so I’m betting that she’s pregnant and suffering from morning sickness.”

I was right, not only about the pregnancy, but also about the morning sickness:

The acute morning sickness suffered by the Duchess of Cambridge causes nausea and vomiting for up to five months of pregnancy – or, in rare cases, until the baby is born.

Known as hyperemesis gravidarum, it  afflicts one pregnancy in 50 and is much more serious than the nausea commonly experienced by expectant mothers.

The condition can lead to severe dehydration and puts both mother and baby at risk of being deprived of essential nutrients.

[snip]

Sufferers can be left vomiting up to 30 times a day, with exhausting and hazardous consequences. They cannot eat or drink without retching and may lose up to 10 per cent of their body weight, which can trigger a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine known as ketosis as the body tries to compensate for lack of food by mouth.

Hospital treatment for these women is essential, as without intravenous feeding and fluids they are at risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated.

That was me during both my pregnancies.  As I would tell anyone who would listen, Charlotte Bronte died from hyperemesis gravidarum.  Fortunately for my pregnancies and my health, I was able to benefit from Zofran, a medicine created for people undergoing chemo and radiation.  While I was beyond miserable 24/7, for more than nine months, I didn’t throw up so much that I had to be hospitalized.

Sadly, this misery was nothing new to me.  As a young woman on the Pill, I also suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, since the Pill tricks your body into thinking it’s pregnant.  It took over a year for the doctors to stop telling me I was neurotic and start connecting my 24/7 vomiting to the Pill’s toxic effect on my body.  I therefore never got any medicine to treat the nausea. During that very long year, I lost over 20 pounds off an already small frame, and my cumulative GPA plummeted by 12 points.  That same year, one of my friends almost died from a blood clot brought about by the Pill.

You can understand, therefore, why I view the Pill with deep, deep suspicion and think it’s unconscionable the way the Leftists in government and in the medical establishment want to give it to young women like candy.  The same people who rant against cigarettes are totally copacetic about something that has the potential to be just as, if not more, harmful than tobacco.

I got one more side-effect from hyperemesis gravidarum — it wore me out.  I was younger the three times I was so sick, and had fairly good physical and emotional reserves.  I never missed a day of school or a day of work despite the fact that I was driving the porcelain school bus between five and twenty times a day (and night).  I had goals and I had my pride.  Now, though, when I’m old enough that I should have deeply engrained discipline, I don’t.  If I like it, I do it.  If if I must do it, I will do it.  And otherwise, I find it hard to motivate myself.  This is especially so when I get sick to my stomach.  I can power through pain, but I can no longer power through nausea.

I wish Kate much luck.  She’ll need it.

A world without consequences

If you’re on the political Left, have we created a world without consequences?  I first started thinking this when someone I know called Bristol Palin a slut because she had a baby.  Not because she had premarital sex or got pregnant, but because she had a baby.  Girls in Marin, who are also have premarital sex and probably getting pregnant, are not sluts, because they have abortions.  It’s a perfect example of Leftist consequence-free ideology.  Not only are you free from the burdens of a baby (and, while there are joys, the burdens are undeniable), you’re also not a slut.

Confess that it was your lack of responsibility that Left four men dead in Benghazi, not to mention massive amounts of confidential information in Al Qaeda’s hands, and nothing happens.  In a normal world, Hillary would have been fired.  In Leftist world, she’s applauded for confessing.

Break all of your campaign promises — close Gitmo, lower unemployment, reduce an “unpatriotic” deficit, lower the seas, avoid involvement in other wars, make the world love us — and there are no consequences.  Instead, if you’re Obama, you get reelected.

This sounds like a pretty peachy keen world from a kids’ eye view:  Endless actions without consequences.  I’m not sure this center will hold, though.  In the 1970s, gay men thought they had it all — unlimited sex and antibiotic resistant sexually transmitted diseases — but AIDS came along.  Those women who’ve had repeated abortions have too often discovered that when they want to get pregnant, they can’t.  (I don’t know the statistics on this last one, but I know personally many women  who have experienced this.)  Mother Nature eventually makes her point.

Will the political world eventually spell out its consequences too, irrespective of human intervention?  Will the Hillary’s and the Obama’s eventually experience the natural consequences of their actions?  If conservativism comes to the fore, they will.  But what if it doesn’t?  What will be the stopping point for their current ability to behave as they will without any downside?

 

Is a familial genetic legacy the right reason not to have a baby? No! *UPDATED*

PJ Media has had two interesting posts about whether familial genetic legacies are the right reason not to have a baby.  David Swindle passes on an article about the fact that well-known “comedienne” Sarah Silverman (I use the scare quotes because I don’t think she’s funny) announced recently that she will not have children because she and her family have a history of depression.  Silverman can’t bear the thought that any children she has might suffer the same fate.  Conservative blogger Kathy Shaidle also thinks that her family’s genetic possibilities — in her case, shortness — makes having babies a bad deal for the babies.  (Shaidle offers up a number of other reasons why she wouldn’t have a baby, all of which make it clear that she’s thought the subject through carefully and really isn’t the maternal type.)

Neither woman is concerned about a life-threatening genetic problem, the kind that mandates that the child will suffer terribly and die young.  Both are concerned, though, about traits that have affected the quality of their otherwise successful lives.  Within this framework, Silverman and Shaidle are both wrong.  There are many reasons not to have children, but their genetic concerns aren’t the right reasons.

To begin with, there’s no guarantee that a child will inherit whatever genetic problem exists in the family.  Keep in mind that babies aren’t clones.  They are, instead, the end result of thousands of years of genetic mix-ups.  My great-grandmother had fraternal twin girls.  One was six feet tall, the other five feet tall.  They represented the two genetic extremes in just one family line.  I’m five feet tall.  My (male) cousins on the maternal side hover around 6’7″.  They married short women; I married a tall man.  All of our children are clocking in at average.  Nature does what nature does.  We can make some educated Mendelian guesses about the probable outcome when a couple have a baby, but those are just that — guesses.

Things get scary when we take those guesses out of the hypothetical realm (“I’ll never get pregnant because of this-or-that possibility”) and into the realm of making affirmative decisions about those little fetuses (“I’m pregnant and I know what’s wrong.”).  On the Today Show, Nancy Snyderman, the science correspondent, waxed enthusiastic about plucking “defective” babies out of the womb:

SNYDERMAN: Well, you might learn that a child has a severe genetic problem. It gives parents a chance to decide whether they’re going to continue that pregnancy or not. This is the science of today. It is running fast into the future. And I think the future will be such that you’ll find out that your child may have a genetic hit. You can fix that genetic problem, and improve your chance, a child’s chance of having a healthier –

STAR JONES: When will you know about this?

SNYDERMAN: Well, it’s out there now but it’s too expensive.

DONNY DEUTSCH: But obviously there’s another flip side guys, there’s another flip — Look, I’m a pro-choice guy, but at the end of the day what’s stopping people, “Oh, my son is going to be blond, I want — ” You’ve got to do it for the reasons you’re talking about, but –

SNYDERMAN: I get the genetic-engineering issue. But the reality is we’ve already jumped out of that with amniocentesis.

JONES: Correct.

SNYDERMAN: So, the science is there. The problem is that science goes faster than we have these societal questions. And that’s exactly why we should have these societal questions now.

Donny Deutsch may be a liberal, but he honed in like a laser-guided missile with his question which, rephrased, is “who’s to decide what constitutes a defect sufficient to justify terminating a nascent life?”  Snyderman pretty much brushed him off.  Her answer, rephrased, was “with knowledge comes power.”

Snyderman is obviously an acolyte of the Peter Singer school of ethics/eugenics.  Peter Singer holds an endowed chair at Princeton, which means that he daily gets the opportunity to sell his views to the best and the brightest, young people who move on from Princeton to positions of power and responsibility.  This matters, because his academic output includes such books as Should the Baby Live?: The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Studies in Bioethics), Animal Liberation and In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave.  The title of that first-listed book — Should the Baby Live? — pretty much sums up the man’s philosophy:  he advocates euthanizing handicapped infants.  He is, of course, reviled by the handicapped community (and rightly so).

The moral abyss Singer creates with his euthanasia musings is highlighted by the fact that his animal liberation writings make him a founding father of the animal rights movement — a movement that’s come to full flower in PETA insanity (which analogizes the death of chickens to the death of Jews in Hitler’s gas chambers). Singer explicitly believes that a healthy animal has greater rights than a sick person.  If you need a further insight into Singer’s warped world — and let me remind you that this warped world gives him tremendous status in academia, not to mention worldwide accolades — Singer has no moral problem with bestiality, provided that the animal consents, an attitude that places him at odds with the same animal rights movement he was so instrumental in creating.

I recognize that there’s a difference between refraining from pregnancy because you, the potential parent, are concerned about a hypothetical birth defect, and aborting a baby that is actually proven to have that defect.  The problem is defining “defect,” which leads me to the second reason Silverman and Shaidle are wrong in deciding not to have babies because of family genetic histories.

The fact is that one person’s “defect” is another person’s opportunity.  For example, the Time article to which PJ Media links makes clear that there’s a connection between depression and creativity:

But what the commenters didn’t mention is that the same genes that can cause depression may also encourage the sensitivity and sensibility that gives Silverman her creative talent. Indeed, some research suggests that the same exact genetics that might lead to depression can also lead to mental superhealth, depending on whether a person endured high stress in early childhood or had a calmer, more nurturing environment.

I can actually speak to that point.  Some of you may have noticed that my blogging has dropped off in the past six weeks.  I don’t believe that the timing is random.  Six weeks ago, I started taking tricyclics to deal with chronic, aggressive, and debilitating migraines.  I’m happy to report that the medicine has worked.  My migraines haven’t dropped to zero, but having two mild headaches in six weeks is an extraordinary reprieve from the pain and sickness that was dogging me.

That’s the up side.  The down side is that I’m having a much harder time writing.  The sizzling connections that use to race across my brain and come pouring out onto my keyboard are gone.  I sense them, but I can’t grasp them.  You see, tricyclics are antidepressants.  Although I’m taking a fraction of the clinical dose for depression (about 0.1 of the clinical dose), the medicine is still working on those parts of the brain that would have produced depression and that apparently do produce creativity.  I’m flattened out.  Not completely, but significantly.

I’m currently making the choice to lose some of my creativity in favor of freedom from pain and sickness.  But it’s my choice.  I’m a sentient being and I can make these decisions.  I’m neither a “never was” that never even got conceived or, worse, an “almost was” that got aborted.  In a year or so, I’ll try going off the medicine and see whether my brain has stopped being hysterical, so that I can be both pain free or creative.  Again, it will be my choice.  I live in hope.

Oh, and that bit about hope — it’s the third reason that Silverman and Shaidle are wrong to make genetics a reason not to have children.  Medical advances mean that the same problem that debilitated grandma, and inconvenienced mom, may be nothing to the child.  Having a baby is always a gamble.  We gamble that we’ll stay healthy, that they’ll stay healthy, and that the world will stay healthy.  We gamble that, when we read a horrible headline about a school bus accident, that this type of accident will never happen to our family.  There are no certainties in life.  Just as there’s no way of knowing whether a pregnancy will result in a child with a genetic problem, there’s also no way of knowing whether, in that child’s life, there won’t be a solution.

Anyway, some things don’t need a solution.  I’m only an inch taller than Shaidle, but I’ve found it a problem only when buying a car.  I’ve ended up buying Japanese cars, not only because I like their suspension and reliability, but also because they’re the only cars that have seats that raise up enough that I don’t need to sit on a pillow.  If there weren’t Japanese cars, then I guess I’d sit on a pillow.  Other than that, and the occasional frustration when a tall person sits in front of me at a show, I’ve never felt handicapped by being short.  Heck, I’ve never even felt short.  I have a large personality, which more than compensates for any height deficiencies.  Indeed, it’s so large that most people are quite surprised to learn that I’m “only” 5 feet tall.

Even if medical advances can’t help (or pillows aren’t available), what exists within a person may well be the determining factor in that person’s success.  My uncle was a genius with four fully operating limbs — and he was a complete failure in life, poisoned by a combination of Communism and his own character flaws.  At the other extreme is the amazing, inspirational Nick Vujicic, who was born with only a single little flipper.  Nick does more with that flipper, and with his incandescent personality, than most whole-bodied people can ever hope to do.  We wouldn’t have missed him if he’d been aborted.  That is, no one would have gone around saying, “Gosh, it’s a shame that Nick Vujicic was never born.”  However, his birth, and the message of hope that he shares, is something valuable and, knowing him and what he does, we can definitely say that the world would have been less light-filled without him.

If you don’t want to have babies, don’t have them.  On the down side, they’re hard work, messy, frustrating, and expensive.  (The up side, which all parents know, is for another post.)  Just don’t use your genetic weaknesses as the justification for your decision.

UPDATE:  A true update, regarding an event I attended the same evening I wrote this post.

Charles Krauthammer makes pertinent points about the “free” birth control aspect of ObamaCare

These aren’t new points, but I like the way Krauthammer expressed them, as part of a longer article about the problems with ObamaCare and the fact that those problems, after going underground for a year, have burst into the light again:

Serendipitously, the recently issued regulation on contraceptivecoverage has allowed us to see exactly how this new power works. All institutions — excepting only churches, but not church-run charities, hospitals, etc. — will be required to offer health care that must include free contraception, sterilization, and drugs that cause abortion.

Consider the cascade of arbitrary bureaucratic decisions that resulted in this edict:

1) Contraception, sterilization, and abortion pills are classified as medical prevention. On whose authority? The secretary of health and human services, invoking the Institute of Medicine. But surely categorizing pregnancy as a disease equivalent is a value decision, disguised as scientific. If contraception is prevention, what are fertility clinics? Disease inducers? And if contraception is prevention because it lessens morbidity and saves money, by that logic, mass sterilization would be the greatest boon to public health since the pasteurization of milk.

2) This type of prevention is free — no co-pay. Why? Is contraception morally superior to or more socially vital than — and thus more of a “right” than — penicillin for a child with pneumonia?

Read the rest here.

Maternity clothes and fecundity

Perhaps this isn’t true for every community in America, but the trend in the San Francisco Bay Area when it comes to maternity clothes is for the expectant mother to wear clothes that fit her like a second skin.  With some women, you can practically see the stretch marks:

This is a far cry from maternity clothes in most of the 20th century, when women opted for a full style that indicated pregnancy, without showing the details:

Here’s a question for you:

Why is it that, during an exceptionally fecund time in American history, women wore maternity clothes that played down their pregnancies, while in an era when pregnancy is viewed as a self-indulgent way to destroy Mother Gaia, women flaunt their pregnant bodies?

Biology will have its way *UPDATE*

One of the things the feminists insist upon is absolute equality, whether that means depriving men of the opportunity to participate in college sports simply because there aren’t enough women to create parity, something that’s now being done in the sciences as well; or allowing women to engage in sexual activity as if they were men. I’ve commented on that last point before in the context of the new type of rape claim, which has women getting themselves completely incapacitated through drugs or alcohol, falling into bed with a stranger and then later, when regret hits, crying rape (Laer calls this “gray rape”).

The fact is that, no matter what the feminists insist should be reality, when it comes to sex, women operate at a handicap level men don’t: historically, they were the ones who got pregnant. In modern times, we’ve been able to control that outcome, whether through birth control or abortions — both of which can be inconvenient, unpleasant or downright dangerous. Even removing or diminishing the inevitability of pregnancy, though, doesn’t do away with the hits nature imposes against women who step out too often sexually. It is women who suffer disproportionately from sexually transmitted diseases. As the African experience shows, when it comes to heterosexual sex, women are more vulnerable to HIV. Even without that scourge, women suffer more from sexually transmitted diseases: for men, chlamydia is a nothing; for women, it can create infertility, lead to greater vulnerability to HIV and, in pregnant women, put the child at risk. Likewise, for men, HPV (human papillomavirus) is an unsavory inconvenience; for women, it can be the trigger for cervical cancer.

Given the risks sex has for women — pregnancy, dangerous or emotionally devastating abortions, death in childbirth (a rather old-fashioned risk, but still a risk), HIV, infertility, and cancer — monogamous sex within a stable marriage is a great societal gift to women. I’m not talking, of course, about a situation in which the woman is expected to be monogamous, while her partner gets to do an Eliot Spitzer. That’s a dreadful situation, and Isak Dineson (Karen Blixen), whose husband infected her with syphilis, is the perfect example of the horrors of a one-sided demand for monogamy. Rather, I’m talking about the idealized relationship that sees a man and a woman meet, fall in love, get married and only then begin to have sex — with each other, and with no one else. It’s even okay if they meet, fall in love, have sex with each other only, get married, and continue to have sex with each other only. In our sex saturated society, where there’s always the promise of a new bedmate, this may sound a little dull, but it has its great compensations, for men and women both. Sexually variety is lessoned (which is, I think, a great hit to the men), but safety, affection, stability, and ease of access are all greatly increased. Even if it’s not always achievable, it should certainly be our goal.

The flip side of this idealized and increasingly arcane view of sexual relations is the new morality that tells girls that, if boys can sleep around, girls should be able to do so too. In the guise of equality, we’ve told our innocent young girls, girls who know only the world we offer them, that it’s just fine for them to “hook up” with a strange guy, have sex with multiple people, and basically to treat their health bodies as drive-throughs for men. Boys, of course, being nobody’s fools, willingly participate in this emotionally sterile culture.

If you’re curious about this degraded culture — one that is now the norm for American teenage girls and young women, and of course for the boys with whom they have sex — there are three excellent books on the subject. The first is Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, which describes the raunch culture in which our young girls (and boys) are encouraged to live; the second is Carol Platt Liebau’s book Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls, the title of which is self-explanatory; and the third is Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons: A Novel, a novel describing a young college woman’s experiences in this nihilistic sexual jungle.

The problem for all the feminists, and the men who recognize a good thing when they see it (no strings sex), is that nature will bite back. And so today, we read that 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease, with chlamydia and HPV topping the list. These diseases disproportionately affect African-American teens.

I’m willing to bet that, in the next few days, there will be articles about how this is Bush’s fault because he’s cut back on sex education. The fact that it’s African-American girls who bear the brunt of this epidemic means people will cite the usual culprits of racism and poverty, with the crackpots invariably claiming a Jewish plot. People will write that we need to improve birth control, that we need to improve sex education, that we need to improve screening for diseases, that we need to cut down on racism, that we need to spend government funds to fight poverty amongst African-Americans, and that we need to take the embarrassment factor out of sex so that teens will learn about birth control, disease prevention and disease treatment. (This last idea will, of course, be the most stupid, because it is the nature of ones teen years to live in an agony of embarrassment about everything. You can’t remove embarrassment, since it is the dominant underlying teen condition.)

The one thing no one will suggest, whether they’re coming from the MSM, the government, the liberal blogosphere, Hollywood, or anywhere else that has a loud voice across America, is that we start changing the culture, both among white and black teenagers. No one will suggest that movies and TV shows begin to do what was done in before the sexual revolution, which is to send out to teenagers the message that sex is for marriage and adults. Nothing in any medium will start to say that girls and boys should treat their bodies as something precious; that the sexual urge, although strong, can be controlled; and that there should be room in male/female relationships for love, affection and respect, all of which get pushed aside in the headlong rush for the bedroom. All that will happen is a shrill demand for more money to facilitate more teen sex — more sex education classes; more condoms that won’t get used; more clever advertisements about STDs, advertisements that teens will assiduously ignore; and ever more strident demands from the feminists and their opportunistic male fellow travelers that girls should approach sex in the same cavalier way that boys have been encouraged to view it.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey notes that the study was small — only 863 girls — and urges an expanded study to see if the numbers still hold. I agree with him. However, I think my points will hold up even if subsequent studies show that only 1/5 or 1/6 teenage girls suffers from STDs.

I also want to note in this update that I am not advocating a sharia like crackdown on young women and sexuality. I think that is an equally appalling way to go, premised as it is on a male fear of female sexuality and a profound lack of respect for women. They’re protected, not for their own good, but because Islam preaches that they are simultaneously dangerous and worthless. I envision a new social paradigm that says women are valuable and that we should be encouraging them to treat themselves in that way — and to be treated that way. They’re not just bodies for pleasure, but they are complex human beings made up of mind, body and soul, all of which should be treated with dignity.

UPDATE II: In England, what happens when you try to teach children morality along side sex ed and to remind them of religion in a religious school (not teach them, just remind them), is that you get hauled before Parliament as a fanatic (emphasis mine):

A Roman Catholic bishop will be forced to explain himself to MPs today over fears that he is imposing religious “fundamentalism” on children.

Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, will be questioned over his ban on what he calls “values-free” sex education in Catholic schools in his diocese and his order to put up crucifixes in every classroom.

His summons to appear before the House of Commons select committee on children, schools and families follows a 66-page document he produced last year which angered some MPs because of its strict line on sexual morality.

In the document, called Fit for Mission?, Bishop O’Donoghue wrote: “The secular view on sex outside marriage, artificial contraception, sexually transmitted disease, including HIV and Aids, and abortion, may not be presented as neutral information.”

He said “so-called” safe sex was based on the “deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against Aids”.

And he added: “Schools and colleges must not supuseful-port [sic] charities or groups that promote or fund anti-life policies, such as Red Nose Day and Amnesty International, which now advocates abortion.”

Although sex education is mandatory in all secondary schools, Bishop O’Donoghue insisted that in every lesson – even science classes – it must be taught solely in the context of “the sacrament of marriage”.

The bishop has been criticised by Barry Sheerman, the chairman of the schools select committee.

“A lot of taxpayers’ money is going into church schools and I think we should tease out what is happening here,” said Mr Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield.

“A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be to call representatives in front of the committee to find out what is going on.

“It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith.

“But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked.

“It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops. This is taxpayers’ money after all.”

The bishop said yesterday that his document had been in response to pressure from parents.

“Many parents go to great lengths to bring up their children properly and they feel that schools are not cooperating with them as well as they should,” he added.

He said Whitehall’s sex education policies had failed and 30 years of “throwing condoms at children” had simply resulted in increasing levels of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.