Friday, February 7, 2014

Can We Talk?

Sometimes anonymity is a good thing. Sometimes things happen and you really need to tell somebody. But it's hard to talk about. Like when you miraculously get pregnant after months of trying and suddenly things go wrong.

Other than being much harder to conceive, this pregnancy seemed just like all the others at 5 weeks. We had done this a few times. We were planning out fun ways to tell the other kids. Then one morning I had a distressing dream. I found a tiny preterm baby, my baby, drowning in my toilet. Immediately I pulled him out, cleared his airway, and held him. I dreamed it 3 times in a row and I pulled him out every time. But I felt like a horrible, neglectful, selfish parent as I lied in bed trying to wake up. I got up and went to the bathroom reliving the dream over and over. I kept seeing that tiny thing struggling, gasping, and coughing. I told myself not to worry, the baby was still safe inside me. But then I stood up and saw it. The toilet was full of bright red blood and tissue.

The bleeding went on for 3 weeks. The ultrasound said there was no heart beat. I've never had a miscarriage. How do you talk about it? When your friend at church is going on about her late period and negative pregnancy test, how do you tell her "I'm having a miscarriage right NOW and I'm in pain"? When you run into the Primary President and the Relief Society President and all they want to do is make small talk and send you on your way, how do you say "No, I have something to say. I really need you to listen"? They were the only women I came in contact with that day and I felt like reaching out and holding on to them.

Doctors always say it not your fault, it must have been a genetic error incompatible with life. But I still can't help wondering, what could I have done differently? I could have made my appointment earlier. I could have listened when the nurse put me on "pelvic rest" as a precaution. But we cheated a little. Did I kill my baby? I will never know the answer.

Either way I need to be careful how I judge others. I know women who chose to kill their babies, either by claiming they knew better than doctors, or having an abortion, or whatever. Maybe we're not so different. Maybe I can have a little more compassion.

It's been a long process but I'm finally feeling this today. It sort of feels like when you break up with a boyfriend and lay in bed all day watching TLC. I saw a commercial for chili cheese pretzel dogs at Sonic. If I muster up some motivation I might go get one. It's okay though. I'm giving myself a day off from chores and errands and diets. It's really okay.

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Ideas in Medicine

So, I'm an idea person. Third generation. This is my idea blog. Albeit neglected. The ideas are in my head. But quietly sitting down long enough to write them down...that's my challenge.

One of my jobs is in Maternal Fetal Medicine research. The other day as I was working on a new study about preterm babies, and I had the coolest idea! [insert lightbulb here].

Backgroud: The biggest problem with preterm babies are their undeveloped lungs. We give steroids to promote lung development, so the preemies can hopefully oxygenate themselves.

Idea: What if we could bypass the lungs altogether and intravenously administering hyper-oxygenated fluids to increase the blood's O2 saturation? A perfluorocarbon emulsion would be an ideal fluid, not to use as a blood replacement to deliver oxygen to tissues, but to bring oxygen to the blood in circulation. As long as it had a lesser affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen, the O2 would naturally diffuse into red blood cells within the antecubital or superior vena cava...just as it does in the lungs.

Forget all this nonsense about breathing liquid oxygen through the lungs! IV oxygen is no fuss, no muss because it doesn't require invasive solutions for CO2 removal. Since the impetus to breath comes from CO2 excess (and your lungs are not full of a foreign substance) you are free to blow off the CO2 naturally! Ventilation of air still occurs to prevent pneumonia.

This incredibly simple solution could have a huge impact on respiratory therapy, perhaps even supplanting the use of costly ventilators. It could also have various applications in areas such as scuba diving and space exploration.

Great idea, huh?

Friday, July 29, 2011

good old-fashioned sexism

I'm surprised how many young wives lately have told me their husband's won't let them get pregnant! They have the financial means, and she has a strong desire...but he won't allow her stop birth control. These husbands say that kids are noisy and difficult and would interfere with their recreational activities. So who has the ovaries in these relationships anyway?

I would like to explain to these guys something about women. Despite what you see on TV and movies, most women have an instinctive desire to become a mother. Sure some of us suppress this desire to conform with social ideals, but nothing really can root out what thousands of years of evolution have planted inside us. I would say this maternal desire is equally strong to a man's desire for physical intimacy. We enjoy intimacy too, but often a woman's ultimate fulfillment comes...well, 9 months later. Ideally both partners are generous to the others needs.

These husbands receive their fulfillment and enjoyment, while denying their wives the same. Throughout human history the privilege of physical intimacy is inseparably connected with the responsibility of parenthood. Perhaps artificially delaying parenthood to overindulge in leisure frustrates the order of nature? (To say nothing of what it does to Social Security.) For thousands of years if someone didn't want children, they just didn't have sex.

When birth control first came out 50 years ago, many conservative men denounced it. They feared their wives would take a hint from Loretta Lynn and avoid the pains of childbearing altogether, decreasing their dependence on men, and frustrating all social order. Isn't it ironic that men are now using birth control to exert dominance over their wives? 50 years ago a man couldn't get a vasectomy without his wife's permission, and now she can't restore fertility without his?

Not that this is the real issue, but children are noisy and difficult. They also bring great joy and satisfaction that far outweigh any sacrifice required on their behalf.

Ultimately the decision is personal. I only seek to empower women to fulfill their natural desires and become mothers! The choice to take a pill or other treatment into your body is yours alone. A woman doesn't need her husband's permission to stop. What century are we living in anyway? Definitely tell him what you plan to do. No secrets or surprises! But if he still thinks he's not ready, then maybe he too can forgo fulfillment and abstain.