Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Legalization of Marijuana: The Philosophy is Different Than What People Think ...

I can't seem to get away from the discussion on legalizing marijuana.  It's on the news, it's on Facebook, it's in casual conversations.  Everyone seems to want to weigh in on this one, yet I can't fully understand why.  I've come to the conclusion that the only people who are going to win on this one are the sociologists.

Realistically, marijuana is less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco, both of which are legal (if heavily regulated).  Using the "it's dangerous" argument is just illogical, unless you're willing to explore making booze and butts illegal.  That whole "gateway drug" theory has long since been disproven.  

So why is it such a big deal?

My theory is that people just like to have something to complain about.  

No, seriously, hear me out.  

I think the idea that pot is this big, bad drug has been pretty much taken off the table.  According to an article I read on WMUR this morning, 60% of New Hampshire taxpayers are in favor of "legal, taxable marijuana sold by licensed stores for recreational use".

The barriers have been eroding for some time, and the legalization of medical marijuana has effectively shown that it's not really that big a deal.

True story ... a man was dying of lung cancer, and chemotherapy was wreaking havoc on his appetite.  His wife was told by the doctor that marijuana therapy would probably help him gain weight, but unfortunately it was illegal in New Hampshire.  His wife was tearfully sharing this with her daughters, and it was quickly pointed out to her that they could run over to UNH and have marijuana for him in about twenty minutes.

So, yeah, it has been moving slowly toward legalization.  The stigma has largely disappeared.  Pot smoking is no longer associated with certain negative stereotypes.

And yet the hold up continues.

Right now, the vocal majority are united in the whole "Let's legalize it" cry.  People from all walks of life are joined against the government, either by speaking out publicly or through regular tokes in the privacy of their homes.  These voices run the gamut of rich and poor, of educated and uneducated, of urban and rural.  In the battle against the government vis a vis legalization of pot, there is a strange equality that has come forth.

As soon as pot is legal for recreational use (and make no mistake, it will be), that unity is going to crumble.

Watching this unfold is a sociologist's dream, really ...

Republicans are going to start slamming Democrats about how this is just one more thing the government is trying to control.  Democrats are going to try to make pot taxes exorbitantly high to finance some sort of social issue du jour.  The wealthy are going to complain about taxes on pot.  The poor are going to complain about taxes on pot.

The same people that sell untaxed cigarettes and alcohol are going to get in on the action afforded by marijuana.  Cops are going to be paid off to overlook the difference between the legal ounce and possession of two or three ounces.  Crooked politicians are going to finance underground pot farms and receive kickbacks from illegal sales.

It's going to be a giant clusterfuck, in other words.

This sounds awful, but I am kind of looking forward to it, just because it will be interesting.  

I have no vested interest in marijuana being legal.  I mean, my own personal relationship with cannabis has ended; high school and college were ages ago.  I feel like it should be legal because there is no compelling reason for it not to be, but it doesn't really matter that much to me.  The truth is, if I wanted to get my hands on pot, it would be easy; however, if pot was legal, I would have no interest in buying any.  That ship has sailed for me.  When I am at social gatherings when bowls are passed, I choose to say no, yet I have no issue with those that choose to say yes.  (This is an awkward paragraph, yet I feel like it needs to be included)     

I am reminded of that old adage, "Be careful what you wish for."  I think, in the case of legalization of pot, it's going to lead to another saying ... "May you live in interesting times." 

I think we will be.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Hesitating Sharing of the Joy"...or "The Fragility of Life"...or "How I Almost Died Giving Birth": Not Your Typical Birth Story

I almost died giving birth to my daughter Gabrielle on December 16th.  

There, now I've said it.

When my other daughters were born, I shared every detail.  I am a compulsive "over-sharer" on Facebook.  I have had this blog (and mostly written regularly) since 2009.  I am not one to keep my mouth shut (or, I guess it'd be keep my computer keys clickless or something).

But I have been very reluctant to talk about that day despite people asking (and being a bit bewildered by my recalcitrance, I suspect) because frankly I have never been more scared in my life.  Also, it feels wrong to talk about a day of such great joy as being terrible and scary.

Virtually all new mothers have that "first pic", the one where they are holding their baby for the first time.  I have one, too.  

The difference is that Gabrielle had been born some time before this picture was actually taken.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that my husband captured this moment--the first one of my newborn and I--just after her second bath.

I've been struggling with how to write this piece, grappling with whether I should do a play-by-play of Gab's birth or just focus on the strange and intense feelings the extremes of that day brought forward in me, which is of course the philosophical bend that I try to find in everything that happens.

Forgive me if I go too far one way or the other ...

My water broke around 2:30 a.m., and we headed to the hospital pretty quickly as it was almost an hour away and we already knew that I would need to have IV antibiotics during delivery.

The doctor decided to start pitocin right away because I was only 2 centimeters dilated.  I was very upfront about wanting an epidural as soon as possible; this was my third go-round with childbirth, after all, and I saw no reason to suffer agonizing pain needlessly.

The epidural started off okay, with the cold wash, the burning lidocaine, and the need to stay completely still. However, it started to hurt as the anesthesiologist moved the needle then the catheter around. A lot! She seemed to think I was being something of a drama queen as I got lectured on the difference between pain and pressure. I didn't care as long as the contractions stopped hurting.

All of a sudden, my bottom felt ridiculously hot, I couldn't move my feet, and my blood pressure started dropping. The anesthesiologist seemed to think I wasn't trying hard enough to move my feet at first, but I was too scared to be angry as my blood pressure continued to plummet...and Gabrielle's started to follow. I got dizzy and faint and started throwing up with an oxygen mask hooked onto my head...it was terrible.

The scariest part was that the nurses, the anesthesiologist, and my OB were clearly alarmed. I later learned, of course, that my blood pressure had dropped dangerously, had nearly disappeared for a moment or three, that I'm very lucky that ephedrine exists.  

They restarted the pitocin, and I was very quickly in agony.  If you've ever given birth, you know what "it's time to start pushing pain" feels like, and that's what I was feeling.  When the OB checked and I was only at 4 centimeters, I knew something was going on.  4 centimeters just didn't mesh with the frequency and intensity of my contractions, so she did a quick ultrasound. Turns out Gabrielle was facing outward (called "sunny side up" on birth boards), which explained the pain and the lack of quick progress.  (Not to put too fine a point on it, but the back of a head slides down the birth canal a lot more smoothly than a face)

I was kind of at the end of my rope (okay, I was about to scream in pain, with tons of dilating still ahead of me), so the OB said the only option for pain management was reattempting the epidural. Because of the epidural/blood pressure debacle, they did not want to give me narcotic pain medicine.  

The cause of the drama with the first epidural attempt was a bolus, and I was assured that it was incredibly rare and the odds of it happening again were astronomical.  In other words, there's no way I'd have another screwy reaction to an epidural.

Until it happened again...same dizziness, same blood pressure drop, same vomiting into the oxygen, and same fear.

When the OB reluctantly said a C-section was becoming increasingly likely, I was glad. I just wanted it over and the pain and fear to be gone.

This was my first C-section after having two pretty much uneventful vaginal births with my other two daughters. It was scary, to say the least. I was still freaking out over the two epidural attempts, and trusting that there would be no to minimal pain was hard to believe considering the way everything seemed to be going wrong.

They started the C-section, and my husband sat next to me and was very reassuring. I was dizzy and dozy from the medicine, and then my blood pressure dropped yet again and I had yet another round of puking into the oxygen mask.

It was only then that they realized that Gabrielle's shoulder was tightly lodged in my pelvic bone.  They could not get her out for awhile, and finally they had to get very aggressive.  As a result, my uterine wall tore and the OB had to call for backup and order blood for a transfusion...and everyone was very scared again, which of course freaked me out all over again.  I lost a lot of blood, and there was some concern that parts of my urinary system had been damaged.
Once Gabrielle was delivered, she was perfectly fine.  I heard her cry, and I wanted to see her more than anything, but they took her away while they tried to figure out how to solve the problem of me.  They called my husband over and gave Gabrielle to him.  He cut the cord, and they were ushered into a small room where they got to bond and hang out while my blood loss was figured out and remedied and I was stitched up.
It was only later that it occurred to me how serious the situation was as they literally left my husband alone with a newborn baby for an extended period of time.

This was over three weeks ago, and here is my beautiful baby next to me as I write this.

Trying to reconcile this beautiful miracle with the abject terror of that day is just ... well, difficult.  I feel like I should just forget it, get over it, say, "Well, that was interesting, guess she's going to be the kind of kid that keeps me on my toes", but I'm finding that it's not that easy.  

There is absolutely no connection between Gabrielle Rose, my surprise miracle baby, and the terrible events of that day.  But the events are still in my mind.  I have nightmares pretty much every night.  They just aren't connected to the baby.

Which I realize is a very good thing. 

What I can't figure out is where that space is.  Forgive me, I am having a very hard time articulating this, even to myself.  Basically, those hours of labor culminating in the C-section are lost in the Twilight Zone or something.  As soon as it was over, as soon as Gabrielle was okay and then I was okay, the fact that I almost died, almost disappeared from this world, could easily have left my other two daughters motherless ... it is just gone.  Except it's not.

I have these pics of my husband and older daughters with the baby.  We are all very happy.  It's a joyous occasion.  (And I am being 100% serious and non-sarcastic).

 Is it just that I have a better understanding of the fragility of life now?  Am I just struggling to get over an experience that was traumatic and suffering guilt because who wants to say, "The day my daughter was born was one of the scariest days of my life"?  

You see, the bottom line is that I was forced to gain a sudden awareness of how often that "almost" happens.  I think about my oldest daughter driving home from work late at night and just missing a tragic encounter with a drunk driver, my sweet 9-year-old getting into a car with a murderer, my husband getting attacked while walking downtown, and the zillions of other potential disasters the people I love encounter on a daily basis.

It's a scary world we live in, on so very many levels.

But I am so very, very fortunate to have this <3 div="">

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

So I Had a Baby December 16

I guess that's the easiest way to get back into writing this blog ... her birth was pretty intense and traumatic, but she is beautiful and amazing and already I can't imagine life without her.

Here she is, Miss Gabrielle...

And the first post-Gabrielle post will hopefully be coming tomorrow ... 

Are Minorities Discouraged from Taking Upper-Level Classes?: The Elephant in the Room

As a public school teacher for sixteen years, I sometimes feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen Standards come and go (and despite the brou...