Sunday, March 25, 2012

In Which it Gets Personal

For those who don't know me, one thing not explicitly mentioned in the little blog bio to the top right is my lifestyle and background.  I'm an Orthodox Jewish wife and mother.  The kind of orthodox Jewish wife and mother who met her husband in a community in which women and men who are not of the same immediate family do not touch each other even shake hands; the kind of Orthodox Jewish wife and mother who outside of the shower keeps her hair and body completely covered from view.  For those who do know me you may be wondering how or why I've become so very involved in an atypical political activity.  So this post is going to be very personal.  It's not for the easily bored, or those opposed to TMI or tl;dr, I'm warning you now.


When our youngest daughter was born almost five years ago, I suffered a placental abruption during labor, which went un-noticed initially by the doctors attending.  About the last thing I clearly remember about the birth is the spectacle of the obstetrician yelling at the anesthesiologist for causing me to be losing consciousness by mis-calculating his dosages, while the latter began explaining that so far he hadn't actually administered any medication yet.  Things went into high gear at that point and my daughter was found limp and blue, unable to breathe.  She was intubated twice, then whisked off to the NICU while the doctors worked on saving my life.  The one other thing I remember clearly from that period is a second obstetrician from the practice appearing as out of nowhere (she had realized there was an emergency and run over from the adjacent physician's office building to help), leaning over me to adjust my head-scarf for the sake of my modesty.

Once I reached the recovery area, still bereft of my baby, the first doctor came in, white and shaken.  He explained very clearly what had happened and his medical opinion that while my husband and I were still quite young and very fertile (his words), we must never, ever, consider another pregnancy as it would almost certainly be fatal for both me and any baby.  The second doctor looked in and told us that never in their years of practice together had she seen him so shocked and surprised at a birth gone so nearly wrong.

Birth control is not an option for me.  It's a medical necessity for my life, my marriage.  The possibility of abortion should birth control fail is always hanging over me.  And there are certainly thousands of women out there of every background, every religion, every belief system, with their own personal, compelling, and legitimate stories.

Our bodies are ours.  Our moralities are a matter for ourselves and our spiritual advisors.  Our medical and our religious decisions are to be made in consultation with our chosen advisors and specialists.  None of this involves politicians or legislators.  In thrusting themselves into our lives they're missing the big picture, focusing on ridiculous if sad stories which yet have no reason to be legislated out of existence.

For my observant Jewish friends I would add this thought.  While we believe G-d gave Jews 613 distinct commandments for observance, he gave non-Jews only seven.  These seven include not to commit murder, to set up a legitimate judicial system, and to refrain from tearing the limb off a live animal of any kind for consumption.  If you are advocating for a system which would eliminate my rights to medical care that is both medically necessary and halachically approved and appropriate, please reconsider.  Maybe you should reflect on whether you should examine the degree to which you have been influenced by non-Jewish thinking which over-emphasizes certain issues as socially important, and then consider moving on to defend the stone crabs.  The eating of stone crabs by the American population expressly violates those seven "Noahide" laws yet no Orthodox Jews I know stands against that halachic crime.  I suspect it's due to the fact that the latter is not seen as a problem by the Christian population, which has influenced the Jewish population far more in morality than we would like to think, while the Christian-oriented politicians focus on the former.

Oh, and as to the baby I bore at the beginning of this whole Jeremiad...she's almost five now.  I can still clearly remember the nurse I talked to the night of her birth, the nurse's accent, and her words, "Your baby is very sick.  They're working on her."  She's almost five years old now.

Remember:  if you are in need of a hand-crafted female reproductive system product to send to a legislator, please fill in the form here.  If you are a crafter available to provide projects from free patterns, you can go here to let us know.

5 comments:

Erika said...

Your story is so powerful and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing it. Your daughter is beautiful and I am honored to work together to make the world a better place for our daughters.

essiewb said...

Thank you. Every story, every viewpont, is priceless.

Anonymous said...

A very moving and scary story. Thank you for sharing. I am very happy that both you and your daughter survived. She is very beautiful.

Sophie Golden said...

Your blog is so inspiring and encouraging. Thank you very much for posting.
Your daughter is just lovely.
Have a Pesach Sameach!

Shayla M said...

I know that you wrote this a long while back, but I just wanted to let you know how much it moves me. Thank you.