The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
SWAMPS & SENSIBILITY
Teen Pregnancy: Break the Pattern
I left the shelter of my peaceful home for a very emotionally draining but highly educational workshop one day last week. Entitled "Teen Pregnancy: Break the Pattern," it was presented by Jan Stanton, MA, director of Heart to Heart, a program of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, headquartered in Chicago. Those attending were social workers, midwives, nurses, and educators working in school systems, health departments, and as prenatal instructors. There were doulas, counselors, and educational administrators. We all were enlightened, educated, and charged by the presenter to go back to our respective jobs and make a difference in the lives of these children who have been so grossly mistreated.
Stanton began by quoting statistics, statistics that brought tears to our eyes and gasps from our throats as we thought of the innocent young people who have had no one to speak up for them, no one to intervene until the damage was done. Statistics such as:
Stanton's purpose in coming was to encourage us to help break this vicious cycle in several ways. Through the Heart to Heart program that she directs in Chicago, teen parents are encouraged to learn how to protect both themselves and their children from sexual abuse. This is accomplished by increasing the parents' knowledge of child development and the importance of allowing this process to unfold completely. Positive parenting skills are taught, and the young parents are put in touch with community resources for support and information on the prevention of further assault.
I attended the workshop with 3 other women who work as I do, as birth educators and doulas. We were impressed by the repeated encouragement to help these teen parents empower themselves, through using their creative skills to protect themselves and their children, and through giving names to their feelings and emotions instead of shutting themselves away from the world and their reactions to it. Attendees were in turn encouraged to share both what they have seen work to effectively help their clientele, as well as voice their frustrations with a reporting, protective, and policing system that fails both professionals and victims with consistent equanimity.
This was a difficult day for me in more ways than one. As Stanton was talking about the ways in which teens who have been abused at a young age start to act out and stagnate in their path through the stages of healthy personality development, I suddenly felt as if I had been kicked in the very center of my being. She was describing one of my daughter's best friends!..............and I know now that my suspicions of a decade or so were most likely correct. At the time that I suspected the girl was being abused by her father, I studied on the topic a bit, and asked a few trusted people what they knew about the issue. With the overzealousness of the system in Florida that truly has caused untold grief for many families who were falsely accused of harboring abusive situations, I knew I had to tread very carefully.
As I realized it would be all but impossible to get any evidence, the family also moved away from our circle; contact was not really reestablished until about 2 years ago, and by now the father has passed away.
I was not sitting there purposely trying to match what Stanton was saying to this troubled young girl's name.....(in fact, this girl has been a bit far from my thoughts recently because of concerns of my own).............this young girl who has recently caused her mother and friends so much grief.....Instead, I heard my inner voice cry out her name as Anguish Personified kicked me in the gut............I hurt physically in that moment of realization, and I still hurt almost a week later as I sit here wondering what to do.
When I got home, my husband greeted me at our gate, and though I had planned to wait to discuss what I now felt to be true, I blurted out to him what I've written in the last paragraph. He was silent for a moment, then said, "Nah, I still think you were wrong about that." Well, sure, the father was one of his/our best friends for over 20 years........I still don't want to believe it myself. As I started to reel off some of the statistics that were churning in my head, he stopped me and, with tears in his eyes, said quietly "But then, I find it hard to believe that *anyone* would be capable of doing something like that to a child." I think he knows that there's a stronger than strong possibility that I was right. We both know that if there was indeed abuse, it ended with the father's death. But, from what we've seen of this young girl's actions in the past year or two, the repercussions are still unfolding.
So I sit here tonight, in the sheltering shade of my beautiful oak tree and the love of my family, wondering how and when I can approach this situation. Do I mention my suspicions to the widow who has no time for anything but getting to work and trying to make ends meet? Do I approach the girl who used to be so close to me, - who I knew before she was born, who I helped to overcome suck confusion so that her mommy could breastfeed her - but now is surly, arrogant, and no longer will meet my eyes when we talk? Maybe I should strike up a conversation with the sweet guy she was dating for a year until he got tired of her verbal and actual promiscuity and ask if he thinks I could approach her? Do I honor my own code of ethics that makes me ready to listen, but slow to ask outright unless I feel a pregnancy or labor are at stake?
I have a poster in a hallway that has various quotations on it. The reason I bought it was for the following sentences: "It is sometimes frightening to trust my intuition. It is always disastrous not to trust it." My intuition the other day, aided by that swift psychic kick in the gut, told me that I was correct way back when. My intuition tonight tells me this saga is not over. Oh, how I wish I had a road map. I know what to do and what to suggest - when and if - this girl ever seeks my help. But the path to get us to that point.......where is it?
(Sue LaLeike has encountered her share of sad situations in her almost
20 years of working with the natural/alternative birth movement, but none
quite so close to home as this. She is a childbirth educator, a doula,
a freelance writer and media reviewer, and, one week from tonight, will
be an official empty-nester as her only child leaves the safety of this
tree house on the edge of the swamp for the bright lights and excitement
of the greater Tampa Bay area.....so it's no wonder she feels especially
poignant and sorrowful over this situation with this young teen who may
well end up in her prenatal classes if *someone* doesn't intervene.)
To reach Jan Stanton and the Heart to Heart program for information
on bringing one of her workshops to your area, contact:
The Ounce of Prevention Fund 122 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 2050 Chicago, IL 60603 312.922.3863 (voice) 312.922.3337 (FAX) HN3852@handsnet.org (Internet)The Online Birth Center News is copyright 1997 by Donna Zelzer. The individual writers hold copyright to the individual messages. Copies may be freely distributed electronically, as long as
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