Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Train of Thought

Ever since watching the Oscars on Sunday night I've been getting walloped by some kind of cold/congestion thing. It's clouding my brain and slowing my efficiency, except when it comes to random useless thoughts. Observe this morning's train of thought. (*Warning to any male readers - girl talk ensues*)

It all started when I read about fistula injuries in Africa.Reading about teenagers whose childbirth complications make them incontinent social outcasts reminded me of how lucky I am to be a woman in a country and century where giving birth no longer means risking your life. American women today are unlikely to join the historical record of stories that end "died in childbirth."

Then I started thinking about the c-sections and inducements and incubators that mean mom and baby can now both survive when not everything goes as it should. Of course, this doesn't mean birth is a piece of cake. Babies are still born too early, too small, too fragile. Just yesterday I heard about a woman at the shelter where another VSC girl works. This mom went in to be induced, and 36 hours later she's not even in labor! Another shelter resident is diabetic and recently was delivered of an 11 pound baby girl. With all our medical prowess and understanding of how to create life, we still can't control how children grow and choose to enter the world.

Then I told Grant Intern #4 about the doctors offering free fistula correction surgery in Africa, and that made her tell me about suburban moms who donate extra breast milk to African orphans. It sounds crazy, but they pack baggies of it in dry ice and ship it off. (Reminds me of those old threats of "There are starving children in China who would love to eat those peas!!") It's a little inefficent, but it's also a profound expression of giving of yourself and solidarity with the poor.

Then Intern #4 made a comment about wetnurses, and my head snapped back as nerdy analysis shot through my brain. "Omigosh!! That's, like, a reversal of the wetnurse ethnic roles that defined previous eras!" I exclaimed, picturing 19th century women outsourcing their maternal roles to slaves or house servants. Or even Pharoah's daughter fetching a Hebrew slave to suckle baby Moses. ("It's like you just had a seizure," observed intern #4.)

Then I started thinking about Eve, the "mother of all the living" whose departure from the approved produce section brought painful childbirth upon us all. I really love the sound of her name, and I would love to give it to my future daughter. I worry that Future Daughter would hate me for it, though. Can you imagine sitting through religion class saddled with a name associated with nudity, disobedience, and generally ruining the world for everyone else? I have a hard enough time being named for the matriarch who mistreated her slave and generally laughed in God's face.

Then I thought about how Eve can also represent Everywoman. Sure she made mistakes, but girlfriend was a pioneer too. She had to figure out marriage, childbirth, fashion design, and cooking without any mom or aunts or girlfriends or women's magazines.

Then I remembered the imaginary/composite/Lifetime movie client description I need to write for an upcoming grant application. I suddenly knew how I could begin describing the typical poverty-stricken single mother. I named her Eve.

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