Windy Twilley

Yarn keeps me from opening fire.


The Wedding of the Century

This weekend I attended the wedding of a dear friend from college, who now lives in Galveston, Texas. I'd never been before, but was impressed. It reminded me a lot of Key West, with the itty-bitty cottages and tropical foliage.

The best part of the ceremony were the vows. They were cobbled together from the couple's favorites:

"In the presence of God, family, and friends, I make these promises to you:
To love, honor, respect, and adore you
To protect you and take care of you, and allow you to take care of me
To communicate openly and listen carefully
To encourage you and be your advocate
To trust you and to be trustworthy
To take the time to relax with you and appreciate each moment we have
To be tender with you when you're troubled
To laugh with you when you're funny,
And to conspire with you when you're mischevious.
Thank you for finding me.
In all that life may bring us, my love and friendship are yours.
Let us create a home that celebrates good food, passion, laughter, and a
growing love for one another.
I am proud to become your husband/wife."


Forever Pregnant?
Washington Post writer spins benign guidelines into slippery-slope nightmare

I’m not a betting girl, but I’d wager that January Payne has read one too many Margaret Atwood novels. Her May 16 article in the Washington Post, entitled, “Forever Pregnant,” is an attempt to incite outrage over a set of common-sense guidelines recently set out by the CDC .

The title of the article is, by itself, an incendiary device. What woman wouldn’t get her hackles up at the suggestion that she should be “forever pregnant?” (And what man wouldn’t flee in fear from a woman who was eternally nauseated, grumpy, and hungry?) As a former newspaper reporter, I know that most writers do not get to choose their headlines - but I also know that the headline should not directly contradict the story it tops. There is no suggestion, either in the CDC report or in Payne’s article, that the federal government wants to keep all women between menstruation and menopause shackled in the chains of pregnancy.

The CDC released a set of guidelines on April 21, 2006, in a report entitled “Recommendations to Improve Preconception Health and Health Care - United States.” The full text of the report can be found here. Its stated goal is “to improve the health of women and couples, before conception of a first or subsequent pregnancy.” It discusses the importance of creating a “reproductive health plan,” which “reflects a person's intentions regarding the number and timing of pregnancies in the context of their personal values and life goals.” Or, to put it another way, don’t have babies willy-nilly.

This is common sense to most of us, but not to January Payne. “This means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.”

Horrors! What outrageous suggestions! I’m willing to bet that, even if you had a complete hysterectomy, your doctor would still tell you to do most, if not all, of those things. Additionally, Payne’s shrill “all women” is contrary to the stated goal of the study - but would she say that non-reproductive women should start drinking regular Coca-Cola and eating chicken-fried bacon, with smoke breaks in between? Probably not - although chicken-fried bacon sounds tantalizing, doesn’t it?

Having a baby is probably the most physically grueling process the human body can endure. Doesn’t it make sense to prepare for it? Lance Armstrong didn’t stub out a cigarette before hopping on his bike at the Tour de France. The winner of the Boston Marathon probably wasn’t out doing shots the night before. But for some reason women believe that their bodies can just leap into action at the flip of a switch.

The starting point for the CDC’s report is the idea that half of all pregnancies are “unplanned” - so most women don’t realize they are pregnant for a month or more, at which point damage to the fetus may have already been done. It’s hard to quit smoking when you’re staring down the barrel of a pregnancy test. It’s hard to eat right and exercise when you can barely keep Saltines down and spend hours of your day wondering if you will make it to the bathroom before you throw up on your shoes.

Maybe it has to do with our increasing idea of “fertility on demand.” Women have unprecedented control over when we procreate, and maybe we’re beginning to believe that babies can be scheduled, like a bikini wax or an oil change. And perhaps we do not understand that, in addition to merely being “unhealthy,” behaviors like smoking, or doing drugs, or even pounding Twinkles a dozen at a time, can affect how smoothly your pregnancy goes - and more importantly, how healthy your baby is.

January Payne doesn’t understand that. Instead, she invents the inflammatory term “pre-pregnant,” as though the CDC wants to turn women into walking wombs. She also neglects to list the CDC’s ten recommended guidelines for preconception health, which include ludicrous suggestions like “personal responsibility across the lifespan.”

The CDC’s report follows on the heels of a report from Save the Children, which ranked the infant mortality rate in the US low on the list of industrialized nations. According to that report, 7 out of every 1,000 American babies will die, mostly the result of birth defects, low birth weight, and SIDS. All three of these conditions can be ameliorated through proper preconception and prenatal care. Payne writes that infant mortality in the US is “three times that of Japan, and 2.5 times that of Norway, Finland, and Iceland.” This is a classic scare tactic. 7 out of 1,000 is point-zero-seven percent - a tiny fraction. If I have one M&M and you have two, you have twice as many as I do - but neither of us has enough to satisfy the choco-lust inside. Similarly, if you double and triple tiny numbers, the resulting numbers are still very small.

The other four countries listed in that group are very different from the United States, in that none of them has a large low-income or immigrant population. Additionally, the United States is known for its high-risk obstetrics and neonatal care. Babies that would simply be miscarriages or stillbirths in other countries are vigorously treated and given every chance at life here.

Unlike universal health care schemes, the CDC’s recommendations are helpful to all women, regardless of their insurance (or lack thereof). “Healthier women have healthier pregnancies,” said Merry Moos, a professor in the University of North Carolina's maternal fetal medicine division who was quoted in Payne’s article. And if the overall health of women in the nation was improved, there might not be such a pervasive “need” for health insurance.

Now that’s a shocking idea.


The Man in the Moon

Most days at my house, Tyler is running around in his pajamas when I leave for work. Yesterday he decided to be gentlemanly and walk me to the door. We said our good-byes, got our hugs and kisses, and I walked out onto the porch. I turned to look at my baby, expecting to see his sweet little cheeks pressed up against the glass.

His cheeks were on the glass, all right - his buttcheeks. My son, my darling boy, the light of my life, was mooning me. Me! His mother!

That's Monday for you.


The End is at Hand

Tyler has discovered that his bed no longer has bars. He can get into it (and, more importantly, out of it) whenever he wants.

Two nights ago I tucked him in and took the dog out. When I returned, Tyler came running from the kitchen.
"I was just looking for my flashlight, mama," he said, as though this made it okay. "I need to see the dark."


A Midsummer Night's Sweater

I made this sweater last fall for a friend's daughter. It remains one of my favorite kid color combinations. I've recently gotten back into a crocheting mood, after knitting for months on end. I'm currently knitting a pair of red socks for a friend, and crocheting a pair of preemie baby booties for an acquaintance. The socks are my own pattern. I worked in a panel of open diamonds down the back - even down the heel flap - so that they can be worn with clogs.


John McCain

This is an excerpt from a speech McCain gave over the weekend at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.

"By all means, let us argue. Our differences are not petty, they often involve cherished beliefs, and represent our best judgment about what is right for our country and humanity. Let us defend those beliefs….But let us remember, we are not enemies. We are compatriots defending ourselves from a real enemy. We have nothing to fear from each other. We are arguing over the means to better secure our freedom, promote the general welfare and defend our ideals. It should remain an argument among friends; each of us struggling to hear our conscience, and heed its demands; each of us, despite our differences, united in our great cause, and respectful of the goodness in each other. I have not always heeded this injunction myself, and I regret it very much."

At first, I was nodding and smiling. Yes, I thought, why don't we all just get along?


I get hung up when he says "defend our ideals." I no longer believe that we all share these ideals. The Founders set them out pretty plainly, in the form of "inalienable rights... chief among these Life, Liberty, and Happiness." Earlier drafts substituted "property" for "happiness." I think we have lost sight of the idea that freedom itself is a right. Instead, we are quick to call on the government to fix everything from obesity to OPEC. Every time we ask its assistance, we become its slave.

McCain has proposed some pretty harsh limits on freedom - most notably, the campaign-finance reform bill that bears his name. While he rails against Congressional pork (as well he should), he is quiet on issues like education spending, which sucks up more money for less result. I understand that - a politician would be tarred and feathered for suggesting spending cuts on education.

We will need a brave man (or woman) to turn the tide of governmental bloat. We will need an army of brave men and women to break our bondage to the federal government, to live up to our ideals. If these are not the ideals McCain is talking about, if these are not the ideals embraced by those on the other side of the debate, then they are indeed my enemy. The enemies of freedom should be lumped together, no matter who they are or where they live.


I have become my grandmother.

See those navy-and-white saddle oxfords? THOSE RIGHT THERE? I never thought I would be the kind of mother who would subject her child to navy-and-white saddle oxfords. But there you have them. And his hair, usually a mess of cowlicks and bedhead, has been glued in place by the power of the almighty Water and Comb. I remember pitying my brother at this age, because he was subjected to similar torture. I remember my grandmother's lectures on "training" one's hair, as if the bends could be straightned and the cowlick un-licked by sheer force of will. But when I got Tyler dressed on Easter morning, I did it blithely, cheerfully, willingly.

Doesn't he look adorable? I make myself sick.



Our nightly ritual has expanded from a simple rocking to an all-out Bedtime Extravaganza. At 7:45 or so, Tyler gets in the bath. He has decided that he must stand on the edge of the tub (holding my hands) and pee into the bathwater before he gets in. I know. Ew.

After scrubbing up, he wants to brush his teeth. In the bath. In the bath filled with pee. What the hell?, I ask myself, You've already drunk a cupful.

Then comes the post-bath greasing with the lotion (Tyler will smell like a baby until he is 25, if I have my way), and the Application of Pajamas, Preferably Spider-Man Or Rocket Ships but Absolutely Not Those In Your Hands PUT THEM BACK MAMA RIGHT NOW.

By now it is 8:15. Todd reads him a book and then I go in for a snuggle. After a few minutes, I'll get up and we'll begin the real stalling:

Mama: Night-Night.
Tyler: Night-Night.
Mama: Love-Love.
Tyler: Love-Love.
Mama: Don't let the bed bugs bite.
Tyler: Don't let the spiders bite. (pause) Don't let the skee-toes bite. (pause) Don't let the tigers bite. (pause) Don't let the monkeys bite.
Mama: (trying to wrap it up) Don't let the goldfish bite.
Tyler: No, Mama! Goldfish not have teef.
Mama: Okay.
Tyler: Don't let the sharks bite.
Mama: Okay, I'm leaving now.
Tyler: No! Not done yet.
Don't let the animals bite!
Don't let the kitty cats bite!
Mama: Tyler, I am leaving.


Last night, as I was indulging my inner Microsoft Money 2006 (TM) Nerd, Tyler espied a box of Cheez-its on the computer desk.

Tyler: Want some of dem clackahs, mama. (May I please have a cracker, mother?
Windy: No, baby. You've already brushed your teeth.

Tyler gets very pensive, then looks at me with a serious face.
Tyler: Mama, leave.
Windy: What?
Tyler: Go away. Close yours eyes.
(Windy shuts eyes)
Tyler: Close yours eyes harder, mama!
(Windy squinches face)
Tyler grabs the box of Cheez-its, as if to say, I didn't want you to have to see that.


Maybe I should switch my home page. got me angry early in the morning, again with an inflammatory article about babies in the US. This time they’re trotting out a survey that says that our infant mortality rate puts us at the bottom of the industrialized nations, “better only than Latvia.” (Oh, horrors!)

Dr. Mark Schuster, a pediatrician, said “Every time I see these kinds of statistics, I’m always amazed to see where the United States is because we are a country that prides itself on having such advanced medical care and developing new technology ... and new approaches to treating illness. But at the same time not everybody has access to those new technologies.”

While pregnancy may feel like an illness, especially in those first nausea-drenched months, it’s not. To speak of it as such borders on offensive, because if you speak of it in terms of disease, you can blanket highly controversial measures in terms of “therapy,” or “remedy,” or even “cure.” Because pregnancy is not a disease, all our cutting-edge medical technology cannot do much to help the average pregnant woman.

So what makes American pregnancies so dangerous? The article points to racial and economic inequalities, but fails to show the complete picture.

“In the United States, researchers noted that the population is more racially and economically diverse than many other industrialized countries, making it more challenging to provide culturally appropriate health care.”

What, exactly, is “culturally appropriate health care?” Aren’t these the same people who advocate a uniform health care system, blind to racial, economic, and cultural divides?

With the immigration debate reaching a fever pitch, I fail to understand why the researchers did not mention this as a factor. Many Mexicans make the harrowing trip across the border for the sole purpose of delivering their babies on American soil. Millions of illegal immigrants reside in this country, and deliver their babies in American hospitals (at the expense of the American taxpayer).

This is the sentence that got the smoke pouring from my ears: “The researchers also said lack of national health insurance and short maternity leaves likely contribute to the poor U.S. rankings.”


How does a short maternity leave (which typically occurs after a baby is born) result in a higher infant mortality rate? It is a mystery left unanswered by Save the Children. It seems to be a journey through connections, rather than a direct link. Companies that offer short maternity leaves tend to employ under-educated women in those positions. Under-educated women tend to come from poor backgrounds. They are also statistically more likely to be overweight, smokers, and single mothers. Overweight smokers tend to have premature and unhealthy babies. But to correlate the length of maternity leave to the health of an infant is just absurd.

What would national health care provide that programs like WIC, welfare, and Medicaid do not? Would they have the power to force women to attend prenatal visits? The programs are in place to help women who want it. The folks at MSN weave the noose for their own rah-rah-socialist-health-care neck, when they report on a second study, out this week, that damns American baby boomers. “That study showed that white, middle-aged Americans are far less healthy than their peers in England, despite U.S. health care spending that is double that in England.”

What’s the solution? Obviously, we should spend more money on health care!

Another factor left unaddressed by the study is a profile of the breeding population of America as a whole. While the poor and undereducated (despite a national education system, by the by) tend to breed young and breed often, there is a growing segment of the population that tends to breed older and at great risk. The sharp rise of fertility treatments (one of our cutting-edge medical technologies) has led to a parallel rise in high-risk pregnancies, multiple births, and even infant deaths.

The article ends with a quote from Kenneth Thorpe, a health care policy expert from Emory. “Our health care system focuses on providing high-tech services for complicated cases. We do this very well,” Thorpe said. “What we do not do is provide basic primary and preventive health care services. We do not pay for these services, and do not have a delivery system that is designed to provide either primary prevention, or adequately treat patients with chronic diseases.”

Again, to equate pregnancy with a chronic disease is insensitive to the point of offense. And his assertion that “we” don’t pay for basic primary and preventive health care services is blatantly false. The American taxpayer funds a host of programs to help pregnant women and their infants. According to WIC’s website, a single woman making $18,130 is eligible for the program. That’s almost $10 an hour - more than I make as a legal assistant.

The link between obesity and infant problems is well-documented, as are the links between uniquely American “poverty” and obesity. Because we allow our citizens such freedom - the freedom to choose Twinkies over turnip greens, for example - we have many citizens who make poor decisions. As a society, we have chosen to accept this risk as part of living in a free society, and we must remember that when we are faced with studies such as these.


I have to admit I'm disappointed with MSN's cover story today:
The High Cost of Having a Baby. It tries to make the situation look as bad as possible, and I think the writer is in desperate need of a visit to the grocery store.

Take this:
"Medical care for mother and child is a potentially significant expense facing new parents. The cost of delivering a new baby can range from $5,000 to $8,000 for a vaginal delivery to more than $12,000 for a cesarean delivery. If there are complications, those costs can increase dramatically. Even if your child is in perfect health, new babies require numerous well-visit checkups and immunizations."

What they forget to tell you up front is that figure is without insurance. Now, I realize that too many women don't have health insurance, but they're also not likely to be reading at the office, either. As I've said before, all my prenatal visits were 100% covered, and our normal delivery cost $300.

#2 and #3 are true - maternity leave and child care are expensive, but that is hardly a "financial shock." And if you don't see the cost of childcare coming, then perhaps you aren't bright enough to reproduce.

"The average baby goes through 10 diapers a day. If you use disposable diapers, that'll cost you about $2,000 by the time your little one is potty-trained! The cost of cleaning their little bottom with a wet wipe or two at each diaper change will add about $100 to your monthly grocery bill."

Well, yes and no. First off, a newborn might go through 10 a day, but by the time the little one is sleeping through the night (around 4 months), that number drops to 5 or 6. The larger the baby gets, the fewer diapers come in a pack. Tiny diapers come in a pack of 228 - for $30 at Sam's. Even with their estimate of 10/day, that's almost a month of diapers. Tyler's size (5) comes in a pack of 150, which is also a month's worth of diapers, for $30. And wipes, which come in a pack of 720, cost $13.88. If you go through 5,000 wipes in a month, you have issues.

Aside from that, these calculations are based on Huggies/Pampers, which are the most expensive diapers you can buy.

Formula is very expensive. Breastfeed if possible. It's super-cheap, despite what these retards say. I will insert the actual cost of their "nursing essentials."

"For example, you may need to purchase ($40) or rent ($15/month) a breast pump, an essential for moms who work outside the home. Nursing bras ($7.99 at Target), breast pads ($3.99/box, 1 box used), nursing tops ($0), lanolin ointment ($5, 1 tube used) and a breast-feeding pillow ($20) are also common expenditures." However, my breast pump was a gift, as was my nursing pillow.

"Crib? Changing table? Rocker or glider? Car seat? Stroller? Baby swing? Monitor? Bouncer seat? Doorway jumper?"
Crib: $0 (borrowed)
Changing table: used desk with pad, $20
Rocking chair: gift from awesome Amherst alums
Car seat: gift
Stroller: gift
Baby Swing: gift
Monitor: didn't have one
Bouncer seat: gift
Doorway Jumper: didn't have one

Baby clothes and shoes are not expensive, but since they can only be worn for a few months, the $3.99 t-shirts add up. But since clothes are barely worn before they're too small, hand-me-downs are usually in excellent conditions. We received bags of secondhand clothes, for free. When Tyler outgrew them, we passed them on.

Baby food in jars is expensive. But once a child gets rolling, they progress quickly into "real" food, which is easy and cheap to prepare. Why buy bottled macaroni and cheese when you can make a whole box and keep it in the fridge? Why pay for bottled oatmeal when you can buy packets? Tyler is 2.75, and he still can only eat 1/4 of a chicken breast. That, and 6 carrot sticks, is a full meal for him. The exception to this rule is french fries. He can eat his body weight in fries.

To sum up - if you plan on having a baby, and you have no health insurance, no friends, no family, and choose to bottle-feed and buy expensive diapers, you're screwed. If you have health insurance, a baby shower, and choose to breastfeed and buy Luvs, you'll be allllll right.