Archive for November, 2009

Concerning Birth

Posted in Open Letters to Matthew Griffin on November 17, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

Dear Mr. Griffin,

We both had intended to try the home-birth/midwife experience. We shared the joy of the learning and the birth videos, the questions as to why the father was not wearing a shirt or, for that matter, pants in so many these videos. Oh, I lament the plans of birthing pools and gold medallions, for our decision was made for us. But you, good sir, you still have the hope before you. I have great hopes for this journey that you are now still on and I encourage you to embrace it. Take your shirt off and hop in the birthing pool. Bust out your gold medallion (but only if you have sufficient chest hair for contrast.) Perhaps grow a John Oates moustache. It is your experience to have. Of course, in all of your primping and preparation for the big day and the video that you will no doubtedly post on YouTube and link on Facebook, you may also want to recall that Mrs. Griffin will actually be doing most of the hard work, so be careful when choosing your birth-day bling; you wouldn’t want to overshadow her.

The torch is yours now, sir. Bear it with pride.

With great hope,

J.S.Smith

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The Nature of Plans

Posted in Reflections on November 17, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

A bit more than nine months ago, we endeavored on a new adventure. Alright, so after five children, maybe it’s difficult to imagine calling number six a new adventure, but we decided to do something different; crazy different. We decided to have the baby at home with a midwife; No doctors, no hospital, and no anesthesia. Given, the presence or lack of anesthetics during a birth has no direct effect on me; it has a profound direct effect on my wife and, therefore, a profound indirect effect for others present. This, of course, in the present age includes me.

But we were prepared. We started seeing a midwife. She gave us tons of books and videos to educate us about the process. This is a natural event. Billions of women have given birth. For most of the history of the world, births happened at home. In many countries, births still happen at home. The United States has the highest percentage of hospital births in the world and, as result, the highest percentage of birth interventions (inductions, episiotomies, and unnecessary c-sections.) In the hospital, things occur according to rules and policies. You can accept these standards of modern medicine, or you can reject treatment and go home. You do not negotiate. Their strongest policy is the C.Y.A. policy, and should we blame them? No, but knowing what they are bound to, should one wish to control his or her own experience in a natural event, one should not put that experience in the hands of a doctor who is highly trained in all emergencies and possibilities except the norm. When one is trained to look hard for abnormalities, he usually finds them.

And the pregnancy progressed normally. Six weeks out the baby was head down and ready to go. November 1st, the day after the due date, Faith started having some heavy labor pains at church and, after passing the kids off to some friends, we rushed home to meet Dawn, the midwife. After several hours of heavy contractions, labor stopped. We went through the rest of the week with the same periodic contractions that had been happening for the last trimester until Friday. Friday it kicked in again, but again did not last. At this point it was decided to do a castor oil induction on Saturday morning. I won’t explain how this process works, if you are really curious, look it up. It really seemed like we were progressing. Contractions were hard and consistent. After several hours, the midwife checked and said that there was no more dilation and she couldn’t feel the baby’s head. After much debate and hard thinking and conversation, we decided to go to the hospital. Something seemed off and, though no one was sure what, we wanted to be safe.

After arriving, they started checking for heart tones and position of the baby, and finally performed a sonogram to see where she was. Apparently, this sweet child, whom we had carefully prepared to bring into the world in the safe and loving environment of our own home, decided to stage a protest. She had left her good head down position and flipped over, now sitting cross-legged inside my wife’s pelvis. The doctor said she could try to flip her, which would have about a 50/50 chance of working. Failure meant a c-section. Before this was tried, contractions would have to be completely stopped and after, if it worked, she would have to artificially restart labor before her water could be broken giving our little protester time to flip back over which would result in a c-section. The alternative to these multiple interventions was a c-section. We were tired from a long day, and a long pregnancy. On one hand we were given the option of fighting for several more hours with a 70 to 80% chance of a c-section, on the other we could opt for a c-section now and have a baby within an hour. We decided to go ahead and have the c-section.

It was tough giving up this idea of a natural home birth; Hard to decide to go to the hospital; Harder still to choose major surgery to finish this long process. By the time the doctor had made the incision to help Chloe be born, she had turned again. She was transverse, wedged sideways across my wife’s abdomen, and, in turning, she had wrapped the umbilical cord around her neck twice. This meant a second incision and a bit of added urgency in the O.R. although they did well to hide it from us.

In the end, we have a beautiful baby girl, Chloe Emma, our sixth child and fourth daughter. She was born at 8:40 PM on November 7th weighing 8lbs. 2ozs. and measuring 19 ¾” in length.  Our desire for a natural experience, outside of the norm for the society we live in, was dashed. Perhaps having had our sixth child should suffice for continuing to push the boundaries. Perhaps we should just be content with the six times that we have been blessed so far. I think so.

Keeping Christ in Christmas

Posted in Politics, Religion, and Society on November 5, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

I was recently asked to join the cause “Keep Christ in Christmas” on Facebook. Let me start by saying I hate Facebook causes. I have joined a couple that I thought were worth while, but for the most part they are ridiculous. Causes are good; causes on Facebook are virtually useless. That being said, I had multiple reactions to this cause that I wanted to get out.

1. Who’s trying to kick Christ out of Christmas? Are these the same people who campaigned to ban God from the public schools? You know he’s still pretty upset about the Supreme Court limiting his omnipresence. The Supreme Court ruling on the Supreme and final judge; they might have been overstepping their authority. Perhaps the stores who have stopped displaying signs that say “Merry Christmas. After thinking, I realized that Wal-Mart and Target putting up signs that say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” have no more power to remove the son of God from a day or season than the Supreme Court of the United States have over banning his Father from any place He desires to be. Do we not understand what omnipotence and sovereign mean? God (Father, Son, and Spirit) is not bound by the decisions of humans, corporate entities, or even government bodies. 

2.  On the other hand, maybe I read it wrong. Maybe the sinister person who set up this cause is trying to bind Christ to one day: “Keep Christ in Christmas and leave the rest of the year alone.”  I think many Christians negotiating on Christ’s behalf would take the deal if he was also allowed Easter. “Give us his birth and death and resurrection and we will be happy with motivational speaking in place of sound preaching of the gospel for the rest of the year.” Well, again as much as he can not be banned from a day or season, he can’t be bound to one either. He broke the gates of death and hell, but he’s bound to one day a year? I think not. Though, if your church fits the description above, he may not be in attendance, not because of any limitations, but rather by choice.

3. When we say Christmas, what do we mean? Are we referring to the pagan mid-winter holiday hijacked by the church and infused with new meaning as an attempt to better capture society? We do realize that most of what we associate with Christmas is not in any way related to Christ, don’t we? Although we have all seen the picture of Santa kneeling before the manger, Santa does not appear in any gospel account of the nativity. Nor does the “Little Drummer Boy.” There is no mention of a decorated tree, no snowman, not even winter to be truthful. Angels there were, and a star, but no silver bells. To be clear, I like Christmas, both the secular festivities of it and the celebration of the birth of Christ (though misplaced in the calendar.) I like Christmas songs, both secular and religious (except “Angels from the Realms of Glory” don’t ask, I don’t know, I just don’t like it), and we will sing them around the house throughout the season and listen to our favorite recordings of them. But to join the cause of keeping Christ in Christmas, a merging of sacred and pagan traditions, well, it’s silly. Are you part of the seasonal shopping mayhem? Do you put up a pagan tree? Graven images of snowmen and feminine angels(all angels in the Bible are described as masculine)? Of all of your Christmas decor, how much is Christ related? A two-inch baby in a small nativity scene perhaps. Maybe before we join such causes we should evaluate are own surroundings and behavior.

In closing, if it is the stores that offend you by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” then either don’t shop at those stores or make a point of saying the offensive “Merry Christmas” when the cashier gives you the tolerant all-encompassing “Happy Holidays.” I do, and most of them quickly change over to “Merry Christmas” themselves. They wanted to say it to begin with, but are bound by silly policy.  If it is the public schools that your upset about, please sit, I have some shocking revelations. The schools are government institutions. The government is supposed to be religiously neutral (remember that “wall of separation” that Jefferson talked about.) Further (I really hope you’re seated) this is not a Christian nation and never has been. We cannot expect a secular government to respect religious holidays. So, if you are sending your children to a state sponsored school, a tax supported institution, and you are so very deeply upset that they don’t celebrate Christmas that you need to start a cause on Facebook, stop sending your kids there. There are options. At my kid’s school, they can pray, read the Bible, celebrate Christmas and Easter, sing songs about Jesus, and any theology they might pick up is totally in line with what me and my wife believe. Sounds great doesn’t it? It’s called homeschooling. Maybe, just maybe, we would be less concerned about keeping this one day or season for Christ if we were more concerned about letting him have the whole year. Probably just craziness, but that’s how we think out here on the fringe.

Fashion Police

Posted in Open Letters with tags , , on November 3, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

Dear Madam,
Whereas we appreciate your Halloween spirit, we would note that the addition of tights to a costume that we imagine was purchased from a lingerie store does not make make it appropriate for public viewing. Also, we would note, that when selecting your costume, you may want to consider your body type. The tights while not reducing the overall whoriness of your attire, did add an unfortunate extra curve to your shape where, under your form-fitting costume, the top cut into your gut
.

Please be more considerate of the image you are forcing others to see while selecting next years costume, and throughtout the rest of the year.
Thank you,
J.S.Smith

Hello from the fringe

Posted in Uncategorized on November 3, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

Inspired by so many of my blogging friends, I decided to try my hand at it.

I will fill this with nonsense, humor, sarcasm, and occasionally some insight I have in various areas.

I hope you enjoy.