Thursday, December 24, 2009

A new sister

I have a new sister. My depression stemmed from not being contacted until several days after she was born and finding out that mom had some complications. The baby, despite being a little early (33 weeks or so), is remarkably healthy. She was just under five pounds. I guess she has some jaundice but is otherwise perfect. She's the first girl who wasn't named with an R name - but the TWOPers will find it humorous just the same - her middle name is Blessing (which is what I'll call her from here on out for privacy's sake).


  1. I hope you can see her sometime soon. I hope your Mom is doing well also.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Another TWOPer chiming in (albeit w/a different screen name)....

    I hope you can see her soon as well, even if it's only a picture. I'm glad she's healthy (I had jaundice as a baby too, I don't think it's a big deal), and I hope your mother is too.

    Merry Christmas!

  3. I'm glad both your mom and your sister made it through mostly ok. Hope you get to see her. Merry Christmas!

  4. congrats! I'm so glad she's doing alright! :)

  5. Glad she's doing okay! I know it's hard to be out of the loop. It gets easier, even if the relationships don't get better. You adjust to a new normal.

    Merry Christmas to you! I hope you have a good one!

  6. I'm glad to hear she's doing well. I was wondering why she wasn't named an "R" name though?

  7. Hi Ruth,

    I found your blog through TWOP. I don't even know what ATI or IBLP mean, although I do know about the Quiverful movement. As a writer on medical topics, especially women's sexual and fertility issues, I am familiar with the leading textbook on obstetrics, Williams Obstetrics. That textbook points out that "the cunning of women and of men" has obscured the NATURAL fertility rate of women by ARTIFICIAL new ways such as not breastfeeding infants properly, by ARTIFICIAL diets and lifestyles for girls and women, as well as by ARTIFICIAL contraception.

    Of course, the truth is that a condom is no more artificial than a baby bottle. Both interfere with a woman's natural fertility. As far as we can discover by observing hunter-gatherer societies, the natural course of a woman's life is to mature sexually at about 19 (which was the age of first menstruation, on average, in Europe until the 19th century as well), although these women often marry and have sex earlier than that. In natural societies, all women marry except the 1 or 2 percent who are severely handicapped, disfigured, mentally ill, or chronically sick. Women also hunt alongside men, and are very active in other ways, and because of this activity and their natural, calorie-limited diet, they have low body fat -- one of the reasons they reach sexual maturity later.

    In natural societies, women do not use contraception, but they do not ovulate more than a handful of times in their lives either. They rarely menstruate, because they are either pregnant, lactating, or anovulatory because of low body fat.

    On average a woman naturally has 3 or 4 children over a 20-25 year window of fertility. Children are nursed 40 to 50 times a day, very briefly each time, for 3 to 4 years. It's this frequency of breastfeeding which suppresses ovulation, and which makes "lactational anovulation" ineffective as a method of birth control for years in modern women -- most of whom don't breastfeed at all past the first few months anyway.

    When the natural woman's fertility returns, because all women who are physically capable are sexually active, she immediately gets pregnant again, unless she's hungry or has returned to an extremely active life and her body fat is too low to permit ovulation to occur.

    Thus, you can see that women get pregnant about once every 5 years in this natural mode of life. I'm sure it sounds extremely UNnaural to anyone reading this, because a few thousand years of change have resulted in most of us taking monthly periods and almost constant fertility for 30+ years for granted. In those few hundred generations, artificial methods of food production and storage, artificial ways of feeding babies, and artificial gender roles leading to a sedentary life for most women is what allows the Quiverful movement to exist. It is not what nature intended -- to anthropomorphize, since nature of course doesn't intend anything.

  8. (continued because too long)

    You can get the textbook Williams Obstetrics from any college library and read the first few chapters to confirm what I've said, and to get references to the anthropological and population studies which back it all up.

    The point of writing this is so that you can tell your father and others that their ideas are based on a book written by men describing a nomadic, patriarchal life, and later an agricultural one which included specialization of labor and even more difference in gender roles. Neither of these lives are natural. Instead, they are radical departures from the millions of years during which we evolved into human beings, and hundreds of thousands more in which we developed our earliest cultures. ("The evolutionary landscape" and "the indegenous or hunter-gatherer life" are terms frequently used to describe the two phenomena.)

    These new ways of living are also based on human intelligence (and greed, and other things), which led us to develop more reliable food supplies and to create wealth. And to subjugate women, to come up with the idea of human slavery, and other less savory things.

    It's not that I'm criticizing modern life -- it's hard to see how things could have turned out any other way. I just like to educate people about how they would have lived if they had been born at any other time than this tiny slice of human existence represented by the last couple of thousand years.

    I'm sure your father doesn't "believe in" evolution, although it's as much a scientific fact as the theory of gravity, and equally reliable and predictive. Your father also probably thinks the Biblical lifestyle is what God intended -- although he doesn't live it himself (there are still a few nomads and early agriculturalists around, but not in the United States) -- and is "natural". In a sense, it is, but only in the sense that everything humans do is natural by the very fact that we do it.

    So I guess I'm really writing this to give you a different perspective. I would suggest that you take some science classes while training to be a librarian (my college roommate became a librarian, and loves it). Science is the most fascinating and mentally freeing thing there is, as fas as I'm concerned. It freed me to be an atheist, and to challenge anything people tell me. I mean challenge in the sense of requesting data to back up what's being said. "Document or retract!" as we used to say on Usenet.

    As a result of science, I'm not only an atheist but also a skeptic and freethinker. I don't criticize people who continue being Christians -- I merely ask them why they believe in Jesus instead of Zeus or Thor. They are atheists too, after all -- atheists with respect to every god but one. What makes that one different? (Same question can be asked to Jews, Hindus, Mormons, Muslims, etc.)

    Anyway, stay strong in your own self. I know you are just now learning who that self is, and since that's something which usually takes place in the first decades of life, it must be much harder now. It sounds like your therapy and your writing helps. I hope you'll come to trust others and let them help as well.

    I'll be thinking of you, and hoping things improve with your family's attitude too. But you are on the right track now. It'll be hard at times, but please, Ruth, don't let them drag you back. You are clearly very intelligent, bright, sensitive, and compassionate. You've been through a lot already. You have a valuable story to tell. Keep on blogging -- someone may contact you to write a memoir someday. We need alternate testimony to contradict America's fascination with huge (destructive) families and fundamentalist lifestyles in any religion.

    Blessings to you!


  9. PS: There doesn't seem to be an edit function here -- so I just wanted to note a typo: it's 'indigenous', not 'indegenous'.

  10. Hi. I just found your blog and wanted to say I find it fascinating and important. I am sure there are other girls/women out there like you who desperately need to hear your voice. Merry Christmas and don't let the hurtful (cowardly) anonymous posters steal your joy. I think God is appalled at what people do in His name.

  11. Margaret,
    I'm glad to hear that you value science and reason, because I need to point out taht your post included some rather unscientific statements.
    Science is all about observation, measurement, and recording. Without all three of these there can be no science. Just think of the last time you went to the doctor. Did she close her eyes and murmer something in Hindi while forming an outline of your body with her outspread hands? I suspect not, although for some people this would be their preferred route. No, you were weighed, your temperature taken, and your blood preasure measured. All of these were written down on your chart. Then, when the doctor actually came in to see you, he looked at the chart and observed what had been recorded. At least mentally, he was comparing these figures with those that have been collated from many other doctors and even more patients, and noticing whether these numbers were in the normal range or not.

    Now, doctors can be wrong about what is normal, simply because they are consulting incorrect or inadequate records, or they are comparing them incorrectly. For instance, you may go in to the doctor with all the symptoms of potassium deficiency. The doctor orders a blood test, and your level is 3. Since 'normal range' for postassium is 3 to 5, he tells you that you're fine, and must not have a potassium deficiency. Too bad, doctor, you just committed a scientific fallacy. For this patient, normal is obviously at the high end of the scale, and she is deficient.
    But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe all women in 19th century (Victorian!) Europe had a personal gynecologist to whom they confided the exact month at which they began menstruating. Just show me the records, and I'll believe it.

  12. Hi Ruth, thank you for your blog, and best wishes to you on your life's journey!

    I just had to respond to White Man's comments. It is not necessary that "all women in 19th century (Victorian!) Europe had a personal gynecologist to whom they confided the exact month at which they began menstruating" in order for us to know something about general trends. Science is not just about measuring every single thing out there; it's about taking data from one sample and extrapolating. We do have medical records from the 19th century, as well as marriage and birth records, from which we can make deductions.

    As for puberty and child-bearing patterns in pre-historic women: no, we don't have written records (by definition), but we do have archeological evidence about population sizes, and we also have modern-day hunter-gatherer groups we can study. It's been documented that hunter-gatherers who don't use any form of artificial birth control (including abstaining from sex at certain times), give birth every 5 years or so, not every 1.5 years like Mrs. Duggar does.

    Search "menstruation rates Rachel Bayer" for one article on the subject, with footnotes pointing to other sources of information.

  13. Hunter gatherers don't need to use any form of birth control, artificial or otherwise. If they don't feel they can handle a larger family, they kill their babies after they are born. And this is well-documented.

    I don't have their medical records, but I do have the birth records of hundreds of my ancestresses, and it was quite typical for them to give birth before age 19. I assume this meant they had begun menstruating before then.


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