viva tutte le famiglie!

“No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed….procreation ‘must be an act of love’, saying: ‘You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be. …I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog. ..The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”

Thus speaks iconic fashion designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana…

Domenico Dolce (left) and Stefano Gabbana at their latest ‘Mamma’ catwalk show (AFP)

because, you know, coming off of their triumphant Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015 “Viva la Mama” show, where they celebrate moms, motherhood  and the family, they are also experts on family and parenting…as two men who have never been parents…ever…are.

I remember when I knew everything about parenting and raising up children…I was 18 and I was certain a family member was absolutely doing it all wrong while dealing with their strong-willed 3 year old. Being the expert that I was, I made sure they knew…and everyone else. Fast forward nine years later, I was dealing with my own strong willed 3 year old child and I realized that I would have absolutely bitch slapped 18 year old me if she was there in that moment telling me what to do.

Absolutely.

Positively.

Sometimes we need to just keep our expert opinions to ourselves.

Here’s the thing Signori Dolce and Gabbana, you are correct in that everyone is entitled to their own opinion…no matter how ridiculous in my humble opinion. I am a woman in a traditional marriage with my darling husband with our family (which you apparently celebrate). Four of our perfectly wonderful children were conceived by us in the, ahem, conventional way, carried 8 months or more and after relatively easy, short labors, delivered into our arms. Our 5th child, also conceived in love, but by means of “chemistry”, as you define it by a man and woman struggling with infertility. He grew for scarcely 6 months in another woman’s womb (his biological mother’s) and as god, fate, timing or whatever force of nature would have, he, soon after his birth, became my child…my husband’s child…our son…our daughters little brother. Our son made of flesh, blood, bones, a brain, a heart, a soul…not a plastic child but absolutely a real child…very much real for the last thirteen years.

Your opinions, whether from the heart or flippant, I find to be hurtful and insulting. I understand that they are in defense of “traditional families” whatever that is supposed to mean to the majority of thinking people all over the world in 2015. Families today, in my neighborhood, my workplace, my city, my state, my country, literally all over the world can be defined as a mother and father and children, or a mother and mother and children, or a father and father and child, or a child and aunt and uncle, or foster parents and children…and on and on and on. Children are conceived in love by intercourse and in a laboratory, via IVF, via surrogate or sperm or egg donor. And children are adopted. While you have been designing and creating fashion for more than 30 years, the last 25 years as an RN in the NICU I have been privileged to witness the creation of more families than I can possibly keep count…families with straight parents, married parents, co-habitating parents, separated parents, divorced parents, single parents, gay parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, parents who struggled for years and years with infertility, parents welcoming a total oops in spite of the best birth control out there, jailed parents, addicted parents…name it and I will confirm for you that yes, those kind of parents too…all parents to real, living and breathing children…no matter how they were conceived…children, all part of a family…perhaps not your kind of family but still, nonetheless, a part of a family.

Yes, Signore Gabbana, we do need to “respect the ideas of others”. Here is mine…

A child conceived via IVF, born to another woman calls me Mom and is very real, very natural and absolutely my child. Everyone is entitled to express their own opinion no matter how ridiculous. But a living, breathing, loving human child remains, always, real…

and at 13 sometimes too real!

Viva il bambino sintetico!

Viva la famiglia!

Viva tutte le famiglie!

 

parental supervision advised

Recent events in the education of my favorite son have proven to be pretty exciting these days. Last month, after months and months of planning, preparation, education and communication our school district went live going digital with over 23,000 Panasonic 3E tablets issued to all the students in the district to be utilized in the classroom and for students in grades 4-8 to take home with parental permission and high school, well, I don’t know because I have no student in high school. But based on what I’m seeing in social media world, high school students are taking their devices home.

Going digital is every where. It’s now and it’s real and it is in pretty much every workplace setting…whether we like it or not. It only makes sense that we equip and educate our children…all of our children. Of course pretty much every child out there is tech savvy already with a strong selfie game by the time they are two. But for those who do not have access at home, here is an opportunity and it is exciting. At least I think so.

For months and months before the big day, our school district was informing us what was coming. Regular discussions and presentations were at school board meetings. Information was being sent home, updated on school web sites and the school district web site. The local paper published articles regularly as well. Teachers were discussing at back to school nights and individual teacher conferences what was to come. There were parent meetings with members of school board, faculty and Panasonic offered all over the district where parents could have the opportunity to ask more questions, actually see the devices and even play with them late last year. Up until the big Go Live day schools regularly sent home updates via flyers, monthly newsletters, emails and robo-calls. Our kids had assemblies talking about the Big Day and, at least under our Big Top, we heard about it from our very excited student. Technology was coming to our schools. A parent had to be literally living under a rock not to know what was coming. We knew under The Big Top since before last year at this time that this was coming…and we could not wait.

Then the day came just last month and Ta-Da!!!

We opted to give Daniel permission to bring his home on weekends and the day that he received his device because we wanted to see it too! As Daniel started it up, he carefully explained to us the dos and the don’ts of caring for and operating his tablet/laptop. He basically recited nearly verbatim the clear handout (with pictures) in English and Spanish that was sent home to the parents. We praised the boy on his care for his device to which he shrugged reminding us that we told him he has to take good care of his technology always.

Don’t you just love it when your kids actually listen to you and do what you say?

Me too.

Also, he added, Mrs. B. spent a great deal of time prepping his class with the basics of their tablets/laptops. Thank goodness because Mom and Dad appreciate his prompting as we get ourselves acquainted with it too.

So six weeks later, the local paper wonders how the students are doing with their devices and discovers that cracked screens from students stepping on the devices…as they are getting out of bed is the biggest reported problem. No actual numbers are reported, but the district assures that it is small number comparatively.

Of course the comments immediately flood the paper’s social media sites because people are clearly upset about this…this is a big deal. Comments pour in all mostly pointing fingers at schools, the school district and teachers because clearly THEY are not being responsible. One parent loudly, shrilly complains that the schools had not adequately prepped parents and students for this. Schools are not teaching her children safety and and responsibility. Technology is important but some parents don’t want their kids to use it or access it….she expresses these comments via Facebook using her iPhone. And the “amen corner” chimes in.

But here is a novel idea…How about parents take responsibility to teach their children to take care of all the technology devices they use and what websites their children access?…Yes, I asked that.

Why does this remind me so much of sex education with our kids and parents of my kids’ friends suddenly realizing that when their kids are 12 that OMG, the school is going to talk to them about their changing bodies and maybe sex and they are just kids and OMG!!! They are going to talk to them about that!!! We haven’t even had THE TALK because they’re just babies and OMG!!!

It’s simple to suggest that parents need to take responsibility here. It is too simple. Parents, who clearly are tech-savvy enough to shrilly comment all over social media of the evils of tech in their child’s school and tech being forced upon their child via their iPhone should be able to pass on some of that to their kids. Given the fact that most toddlers I know seem pretty adept navigating mommy’s smart phone or their own tablet to play games or watch Frozen for the jabillionth time, I would imagine the small group of #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns parents have kids who are savvy enough…the leader of their group has a high school aged child who I imagine is quite busy on twitter, tumblr and kik. Shame on her for not passing on info to her mom who claims having no knowledge until December 2014…and since mom chose to judge my parenting when we engaged in a thoughtful debate on this subject…shame on mom for not being on top of her child’s school activities as well as perhaps her child’s online activity.

As another parent expressed: I am a bit concerned as to why the children/ kids/teens are allowed to “go to bed” with their tablets. It is a learning device, a digital book if you will…. parents should be supervising the usage of these things, the tablet should be put in a backpack or put away on the table or something, these items should not be being broken and used as a baby sitting device.

Disagree all you want, but truth of the matter is the parents need to step up and be responsible for their kids actions.

I’m sorry #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns mom but all of your apples and oranges and slippery slope arguments fall flat. We were prepped. We were given ample time and the forums to express questions and concerns. Our kids have been educated in class on the care of their devices and safety. We have been repeatedly also informed of basic device care and safety for our children while using their devices. Ultimately we as parents must choose to continue to support, encourage and educate ourselves and our children of the care of their devices and safety…as responsible parents do. Like sex education, or morality, or basic respect for people, animals, places and things, ultimately this is the job of the parent, including you, #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns mom, to be present, be aware and teach our kids proper respect for things given to them. If your kid was irresponsible enough to take the device to bed to be “doing homework” and crack the screen, I imagine that you are engaging with me on the Bulletin’s Facebook page via your iPhone with a cracked screen.

Yes, I went there. You question my own parenting in our back and forth discussion implying that I don’t care for my child’s safety I think it’s fair.

Ultimately, it is one of MUSD’s students who pretty much said what needed to be said: I personally think the tablets are awesome if used correctly. I have never been more productive. I am a senior in high school and the tablets have allowed for me to get a lot of small assignments done between passing classes, allowing me to reduce my workload at home. Also, in applying to colleges it’s really nice to have all the materials necessary at my fingertips. During lunch and brunch I fill out scholarship applications-something I had to wait to do until I got home to my computer before. Although I use my tablet for the intended use of improving my educational experience, I am highly aware of their misuse. I have classmates who got their tablets and downloaded games immediately and only waste their time. My peers are extremely careless when it comes to their tablets so it’s no surprise to me that so many are broken. I don’t think the tablets are the problem. The problem is the students’ individual negligence towards them. Whether we like it or not our future will be ruled by technology so it is really great that MUSD is giving us this advantage over the students of other districts. Of course there are going to be problems with the tablets, but learning to deal with them is exactly the type of ‘real-life’ application every body claims to want in their education.

and then a teacher, I know personally, who admittedly struggled with the going digital process shared: I have so enjoyed the last few days with the students having their own computers. I guess I wasn’t surprised things have gone so smoothly, since we were towards the end and most of the bugs had been worked out. The kids have amazed me not with how much further ahead of me they were, which I expected, but how much they were willing to help each other out. I did find I had much to teach them (especially about word processing), but for much of the time my job is to just stay out of their way. They also are taking a whole new interest in completing their work and behaving in class. I realize this won’t last, but you can’t fault me for enjoying it while I can…

Back it up #MUSDgoingdigitalconcerns mom. You sit down and focus on your kid’s safety and use and care of their digital device and I will with mine.

 

numbers for the ass-hats, anti-vaxxers and other nimrods

This morning I came home after a pretty busy 12 hour overnight shift in NICU-Land to a very sick little boy, who has been sick all weekend with god-knows what because he has no fever, no appetite, is pale and is coughing and wheezing.

I need to remind myself that he is thirteen and no longer a little boy except for the fact he is pale with dark circles under his eyes and mostly wants to just lie on the couch with one of his sisters, Zelda or his mom close by for comfort and reassurance as he struggles to breathe.

But I digress…

I come home after a busy 12 hour overnight shift in NICU-Land to a sick child. I am exhausted. He is too as breathing is work right now. All we both really want to do is just curl up in bed and sleep except…

My new, next-door neighbor is busy building loudly just under my bedroom window…where the sick child and I are trying to rest and sleep a little. Hammering, drilling, loud, loud, loud, loud!!!

Ugh!!!

I get up and go out to talk to my new neighbor…asking how long is he going to be hammering, drilling and using his loud, hydraulic equipment to erect this thing under my bedroom window is going to go on.

He’s going to be here awhile, he tells me. Is that a problem?

Well, yes. I tell him why. He looks at me for a beat, shrugs and tells me he has to get his tuff-shed built now. Then being the awesome new neighbor that he is, he moves all the loud hammering, drilling and hydraulic equipment action over directly under my bedroom window because ass-hat neighbors are the best neighbors when you are a night-shift nurse sleeping during the day.

I give up on sleep and focus on caring for Daniel and plotting as my friends and I are currently planning my revenge on Facebook. I’m sure that I won’t follow through because I am me. Although the tossing handfuls of birdseed into his yard certainly does appeal.

Truthfully, I don’t expect my neighbor (or even my family) to be silent during the day when normal people are living their lives as they do while the Vampires that is the nocshift are trying to sleep. Twenty-five years of daytime sleeping has given me strategies for sleeping when I can, where I can and learning to cope with those strange daylight dwellers. Still a part of me expects, wishes, hopes and dreams for the daytime species to at least give me a heads up when they are having a party going on right here, or are digging a pool or building a shed directly under your bedroom window…not because I am basically a bat…no…how about because of common courtesy…being a good neighbor…with good manners.

Hey, I am going to be building shit directly on the other side of our fence and it is going to be real loud for a few hours and I don’t know if it will bother you or not but I thought I should at least give you a heads up that it is going to be real loud here between our two homes.

Is that hard?

For some yes.

I might be getting some bird seed and soon…

Meanwhile, in the news, mainstream and Fox and even all over social media is the Measles. Today’s moment of pure WTF idiocy came courtesy of my own Facebook timeline:

This whole battle of those who didn’t vaccinate their kids bugs me. We were all doing fine until millions of illegals were allowed across the border against our laws. Stop the infighting and let’s blame the real culprit.

Um…

Wow.

Of course everyone has an opinion about the measles and to vaccinate or not to vaccinate now that measles has been in the news since December. Opinions are strong too. Mine is vaccinate your kids…dammit! I’ve said it before and I will say it again.

But let’s look at numbers because even nimrods have opinions…Facebook timeline proves that every day, literally.

102: The number of currently confirmed measles cases in the United States to date this year.

59: The number of 2015 measles cases linked directly to a December 2014 visit to Disneyland. Eleven more cases linked to Disneyland were caught December 2014.

More than 1,000: The number of people in Arizona that are currently being quarantined and monitored for 21 days for possible measles exposure…that can be linked to the December 2014 Disneyland visit. Measles is that contagious.

90 percent: The number of people who are not fully vaccinated who will get the measles if they are exposed to the virus.

2: The number of hours the measles virus can live, either in the air or on a surface. It’s much more transmissible than Ebola. Before 1963, an estimated three to four million people in the U. S. got measles every year, and of those people, 400 to 500 would die, 48,000 would be hospitalized and 4,000 would develop encephalitis.

1968: The year that the measles vaccine as we know it today was developed and first distributed. The vaccine dramatically lowered the number of cases and in 1989, when a second measles vaccine was recommended the measles rates dropped even further.

1968 was also the year that I came down with measles (yes, I had both measles and German measles as a small child). Mommy-Dearest was pregnant with my sister, Valerie. My brothers had not had measles. So six-year old me was separated and quarantined for a little more than three weeks away from my family. What first grader wouldn’t be able to handle that and not be afraid? Stir in the rare complication of optic neuritis and yes, measles are indeed marvelous for a small child! True I get to enjoy a lifetime of immunity so no shots for me but whatever!

2000: The year there was no continuous measles transmission for more than 12 months which meant measles had been eliminated in the U.S.

No more measles!!!

Whoo-hoo!!!

Unfortunately an increasingly connected world and decreased vaccine rates because of people blindly believing “Doctor” Wakefield’s made-up studies and personal beliefs and whatever bright, shiny belief held fast to have collided to create measles outbreaks all across the U.S….the same nation where 15 years ago there was no measles.

That’s super awesome!

20 million: The number of measles cases around the world every year.

92-94 percent: The herd immunity threshold or the number of the population needed to be vaccinated to interrupt the transmission of the disease, especially to the more vulnerable of the population who can not be vaccinated.

9 percent: the number of students at my son’s school who currently have opted out of vaccinations for medical or personal exemption.

75.1-80 percent: The percentage of school-aged children here in the Central Valley who are immunized.

1 in 10: The number of children with measles who will get an ear infection which sometimes can result in permanent hearing loss.

1 in 1,000: The number of children with measles who will develop encephalitis, or swelling and infection of the brain. This complication can leave children deaf or mentally impaired.

1-2 in 1,000: The number of children with measles who will die from the disease. You know, like Roald Dahl’s little girl back in 1962. So no, the measles isn’t a harmless childhood disease.

0: The number of anti-viral therapies that exist for the measles. Unlike the flu or HIV, there is no anti-viral treatment for the measles. The only option is to support and treat the symptoms, let the disease run it’s course and hope for no complications.

There’s that. and nowhere do millions of illegals allowed across the border against our laws come into the picture.

Vaccinate your kids! Get your own titer checked and, if need be, get a booster or be an ass-hat nimrod. But if that is what you must be please make sure you have some really good insurance because the rest of us do not want to pay for your stupidity..truly.

 

forever devoted to those committed to my care

While talking on the phone to a patient’s family, they tell me that it makes them so happy knowing that I am there taking care of their loved one.

And in that moment, I am reminded of just one of the eleventy million reasons why I am lucky to have the best job ever.

Eleventy million?

Yes, in spite of my suspect math skills I know that isn’t a real number. But it should be as it represents a virtually infinite number of reasons why I love what I do. Every day there is something to remind me like hearing a parent express to you their trust and their gratitude.

It’s what I do and I love that I get to do what I do. It’s what I pledged to always do almost 25 years ago when I received my nursing degree, as I recited the Nightingale Pledge.

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.

Composed in 1893 by Lystra Gretter, an instructor of nursing at the old Harper Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, it was first used by its graduating class in the spring of 1893. It is an adaptation of the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians. While the words are dated, the meaning rings true today as I put on those scrubs, pick up my patient assignment each night and spend the next often exhausting 12 hours caring for tiny humans and their families.

Coincidentally this past week in Michigan, the Michigan House of Representatives, led by Speaker Jase Bolger just passed the bill, HB5958, that would allow discrimination to become sanction by the state. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, akin to one that made nationwide headlines in Arizona but was vetoed, appears to merely force the government to step aside if a person’s “deeply-held religious beliefs” mandate they act, or not act, in a certain manner. Although subject to legal interpretation, under the Religious Freedom law, a pharmacist could refuse to fill a doctor’s prescription for birth control, or HIV medication. An emergency room physician or EMT could refuse service to a gay person in need of immediate treatment. A school teacher could refuse to mentor the children of a same-sex couple, and a DMV clerk could refuse to give a driver’s license to a person who is divorced.

Personally I share the frustration and outrage expressed by friends who identify themselves as LGBT over this legislative action. I doubt seriously they will seek out a church who preaches hate from the pulpit to preside over their wedding vows, or a ultra-conservative Christian bakery to make their wedding cake or do any other business transactions with those that openly expresses such hate. But imagine an openly LGBT person seeking emergency care in a hospital. Can a healthcare worker really refuse to provide emergency, life-saving care to them because it goes against their deeply held religious beliefs? Would a god actually condemn someone who has studied and pledged to provide care for all individuals needing it?

In 1950, The American Nurses’ Association adopted a Code for Professional Nurses that applies to all nurses, including those involved in patient care, administration, education and research.

Provision 1:
The nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems.

Provision 2:
The nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community.

Provision 3:
The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.

Provision 4:
The nurse is responsible and accountable for individual nursing practice and determines the appropriate delegation of tasks consistent with the nurse’s obligation to provide optimum patient care.

Provision 5:
The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to preserve integrity and safety, to maintain competence, and to continue personal and professional growth.

Provision 6:
The nurse participates in establishing, maintaining, and improving healthcare environments and conditions of employment conducive to the provision of quality healthcare and consistent with the values of the profession through individual and collective action.

Provision 7:
The nurse participates in the advancement of the profession through contributions to practice, education administration and knowledge development.

Provision 8:
The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public in promoting community, national, and international efforts to meet health needs.

Provision 9:
The profession of nursing, as represented by associations and other members, is responsible for articulating nursing values, for maintaining the integrity of the profession and its practice, and for shaping social policy.

As an American, I am thankful for the First Amendment affording me and all American citizens the right to religious freedom…praise god for that! As a person who mostly identifies as a Christian, I am compelled to live by the Greatest Commandment especially in loving others as I (should) love myself. As a Registered Nurse, I am equally compelled my vocation, my pledge and my code to provide the best of care to each and every tiny human who passes through the NICU where I practice, regardless of who their parents are…whether they be straight, gay, married, single, under-age, US citizen, immigrant (legal or illegal), homeless, addict, mentally ill or convict. A life is a life and always precious and worth preserving to the best of my abilities as a nurse. Discrimination of any kind has no place anywhere in this day but especially in an acute care setting where I do what I do. Shame on Michigan House Speaker Jace Bolger and the Michigan legislature as well as anyone who cloaks themselves in such a ridiculous, hateful, discriminatory law in t6he name of whomever they choose to worship!

Let us be anxious to do well, not for selfish praise but to honor and advance the cause, the work we have taken up. Let us value our training not as it makes us cleverer or superior to others, but inasmuch as it enables us to be more useful and helpful to our fellow creatures, the sick, who most want our help. Let it be our ambition to be good nurses, and never let us be ashamed of the name of ‘nurse’.

~Florence Nightingale

touching a nerve

It would seem that the post I put up a few days ago touched a few nerves.Those words certainly fired mine.

Thank you everyone! I am beyond overwhelmed and encouraged by all of your words.

And then last night happened.

Jenny, The Bloggess, as she often does, found the words I was feeling last night and today:

I’m sad about last night for a lot of reasons.  And if you are human, and allow yourself to be so, then you probably are too.  Maybe it’s the verdict that upset you, or the destruction afterwards, or the long and difficult path that has led us here and has shown us we have so much further to go before we get to the place where we want to be…a place where kindness and compassion and vulnerability are the things which can be lauded and seen and encouraged and felt.  Or maybe, like me, you’re upset about all of those things and you feel too defeated to want to care anymore.

But if you’re like me, you can’t switch those emotions off.  It’s so much easier to turn those feelings of vulnerability and hurt into a shield of rage.  Rage feels powerful and strong.  It feels good.  And rage is important.  But not at the cost of compassion.  If, like me, today you woke up weary and wanting to become numb, or turn away, or lash out angrily at everyone involved then I feel you.  But I encourage you to keep compassion at the forefront.  Remember humanity.  Remember that your words and actions make a difference.  Remember that the majority of us are so much better than the worse things we see in the news, and that so many of us are leading a quiet revolution to be kind, and compassionate, and to listen to the hurt, and amplify the things that will make a positive difference in our world.  It’s a quiet revolution that will never be covered on CNN.  It’s a movement of people who redirect anger to kindness.  Who listen even when it’s painful.  Who take the hurt of others on ourselves and feel it so that we can become better people.  Who wade into horrible online threads and inject compassion and reason because we know that it can become contagious if done the right way.  Who hope that reason and empathy will somehow lead to a place which is safer for our children and grandchildren.

Yes.

I like to think that Jenny’s words followed by her call to action is what led to the staggering spike in donations to the Ferguson, Missouri library because perhaps what the citizens of Ferguson need most right now is a quiet sanctuary along with our compassion…especially if we just don’t understand.

I know that I don’t. even after spending part of my afternoon reading through just some of the Grand Jury’s transcripts.

Oof!

No I don’t understand. I imagine that I never will. But I can be outraged. I can also have compassion for people who are obviously hurting right now in a way that I can never possibly imagine or understand; and so while watching my own circus clowns as they enjoyed our new (to us) “dining room table” I ignored the hate and the rage expressed from all sides all over social media and I prayed, I gave what I could and I gave thanks that I could do these things.

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are ~ Benjamin Franklin