Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category
On this date two years ago Nina was heavily pregnant with Joost. This new addition to our family had been expected to be born around the middle of December but he was clearly finding his accommodations inside Nina to be very comfortable and so was in no hurry to leave. By Christmas Eve he was nine days over due but as all was well so there was no concern, besides people worry far too much about “due dates”, this modern obsessiveness about dates has been brought about by over medicalisation of birth in paternalistic societies. Our first pregnancy had over run as well, with Mariaske arriving 21 days late. Nina was still charging about, helping with our holiday guests, seeing to our other three children and generally making every other women sick with just how easy she made pregnancy look ! We were all wondering if Christmas Day would be the day, but happily that particular cliche’ passed without incident.
As we got closer to the day the longing inside me to see my child seemed to become almost physical, a sort of morning sickness of the barren and unfulfilled. At that time every mother and child I saw was a simultaneous moment of exultation and despair. I don’t know why it is that we women feel such a deep need to create life from within inside ourselves, why we yearn for a time when our own flesh will bring us comfort, but I did feel it, most exquisitely. That’s an experience that most women, women with their own children , miss out on in life, the intensively female grief which accompanies the fear that through our baroness those little lives will never exist.
When Nina had been pregnant with Mariaske she had breezed along though it and I had been carried along in her wake without a worry in the world, but with Joost Throughout her pregnancy with Joost I could not stop watching Nina. I was much more tense, always feeling like I was holding my breath with thoughts of what could go wrong always in my mind. I was terrified that we was putting Nina at risk and for what, we had three lovely children already, my genes were nothing special ! However, I was scarred for this slim chance that I might, against all the odds, actually one day hold a child of my own.
Once a week on Friday nights our other children would have Mama ( “Nina is Mama, I am Moeder -Mother) stand in bra and panties against the measuring wall in their bedroom and carefully draw around her baby bump to mark the progress of our pregnancy. Outwardly I would be smiling and happy but inside I would be relieved that another week had safely passed for Nina and baby, my happiness coming from that.
It is strange how all this had come about. The reason Nina was having Joost because of of silly incident that resulted in me having a second intra-cranial bleed. This bleed had wrecked havoc on my visual cortex causing me many visual problems. It was while I was in hospital recovering from surgery for this that a blood test revealed that I might still have a functioning ovary. An ultra-sound scan confirmed that not only was one ovary still present healthy and functioning, but that eggs were present. No doubt they had been sustained over the last ten years by my cousin Tyjardia’s wonderful efforts with bio-identical hormones to keep me from dropping into early menopause following the loss of my uterus when I was twenty years old. On learning the scan results Nina had instantly demanded that those eggs be harvested and stored, she wanted them and as soon as humanly possible – who was I to object ! Five months later, and two rounds of IVF, a kind donation from our very good friend Nik and the eggs raided from my very own larder and she was pregnant with a child of mine. Ever since loosing my womb I had never dreamed that I might still see, hold and nurse a real child of my own, but now here I was holding my breath, drowning in the enormity of what she was doing for me.
During the day on News Years Eve we had gone out for lunch with friends at a restaurant on the Vrijhof. Normally at this restaurant Nina would order their baked fish but on this day she just settled for a light salad. I looked at her and she just smiled back and I knew, and she knew I knew, and for just a little while we shared that little time, a private little secret that her labor was just firing off its first little warm up shots as we sat in that lovely companionship with friends and family. We had hoped to get back home without any fuss from everyone else, but then someone observed that Nina was not eating much. Our excessively bright and sharp daughter Hilke stated that “Mama is not eating because baby is coming”. I was never sure if everyone stopped because of the content of her news, because of the calm way she had delivered the statement, or because of the looks on Nina and my face that she had known all along ! Then the dam burst and the questions flooded in as we tried to re-assure everyone that it was just the barest of first contractions and that our newest child was not about to be born there between desert and coffee !
As it turned out it was some twelve hours later after an uneventful labor that Joost finally slipped from Nina’s body. Joost arrived after surprisingly little effort and into my waiting hands in our bedroom, watched by our three children, our midwife Anna, two dogs and a cat. As a throughly satisfied Nina sat back I placed Joost onto her chest and as I did I could feel myself unwind a little inside. As my son lay there and rooted about for a nipple another part of me unwound, he was fine and showing normal behaviour. There was just the after birth to be delivered and we were safely there. As is our custom here everyone in the bedroom stayed quiet and just left birth mother and new baby to get acquainted until her body was ready to birth the placenta. I do not think I had ever been so unaware of my surroundings as I was then, my entire consciousness was there with them on my love’s breasts, over her thumping heart, and my son. I drank in every detail of him, desperate to know him, to imprint on me.
A little later while Nina and Anna attended to the afterbirth I held Joost for the first time. With my blouse off I held Joost to my naked skin so that he would get to know me as well. I have grown up holding babies, my mother was a doula for 40 years so I have handled babies for longer than I can remember. All our children are precious to me, adopted, birthed alike but right there and then I was holding this beautiful little soul whoes loss I had already grieved over some ten years before when told my womb was gone – I wanted to yell for joy for what I thought I had lost but now was here in my arms, and I wanted cry with relief that Nina and Joost were safe and well – caught between these two mountains of emotion I did the only thing I could do. I sat on the floor and asked his brother and two sisters the come and say hello.
Much later, alone and out of ear shot I wept and wept until purged and when I was done I went to our son’s cot, scooped him up and put him to my breast. While he suckled I put my face to his head and drank him in, trying to fix this new reality deeply in my mind.
So here I sit on one of the couches in our living room typing this. On the opposite couch my better half is asleep on her side with Joost tucked up ever so tightly against her and her arms enfolding him. Together like that the painting “Mother & Child II” by Gustav Klimt came into my mind. I want to reach over and catch that little run of dribble from the corner of Joost’s mouth and lightly push the hairs of Nina’s fringe that had fallen across her closed eyes, but I restrain myself
In a moment I am going to save this file, put the laptop down, slip over to the other couch, put my face to my son’s hair and drink in his lovely smell once again.
With all my grateful thanks to my Wife for this most wonderful of gifts.
Judith van der Roos.
“Sigh No More”
Today it has been pouring rain in Gelderland so aside from going out to the barns earlier to tend to the animals we have all been stuck inside watching the waves of rain sweeping back and fourth across the fields and woods. These sorts of days always produce slightly restless and frustrated children so this afternoon we cleared my mothers big refectory dinning table and got out her paints and pencils.
As the children made a start I found a book of poetry and started reading one from William Shakespeare
From this my lovely little daughter Mariakse and I drew and doodled and doodled and………………………………
In het Nederlands:
Sigh No More, dames, Sigh No More.
Mannen Waren bedriegers Ooit,
Un Voet in zee, en un op de wal,
Om un ding constant Nooit.
Dan zucht niet zo, but Laat ZE Gaan,
En Wees JE Blij en bonny,
Het omzetten van al your Geluiden van Wee
Into hey nonny, nonny.
Sigh No More liedjes, zingen niet meer De
Van stortplaatsen Zo saai en Zwaar.
De fraude van de Mannen werd Altijd Zo
Sinds de zomer van eerste was lommerrijke.
Dan zucht niet zo, but Laat ZE Gaan,
En Wees JE Blij en bonny,
Het omzetten van al your Geluiden van Wee
In hij, nonny, nonny.
An estimated 300,000 babies were stolen from mothers at hospitals, sold for adoption by catholic clergy in Spain.
I was baby sitting at my sister’s house the other day and watched a BBC documentary on British Forces TV. We do not have a TV in house it was kind of pure chance I saw this as I did (and the BBC close caption everything, bless them!). The programme detailed a financially lucrative baby trafficking crime run by the Catholic Church in Spain for fifty years over which up to 300,000 Spanish babies were stolen from their parents and sold for adoption over a period of some five decades. The children were trafficked by a secret network of doctors, nurses (who were mostly nuns), priests and nuns in a widespread criminal practice that began during General Franco’s dictatorship and continued until the early Nineties.
As a mother myself I cannot imagine the pain of having just given birth to be told my baby had died and that no I was not permitted to see them, to be then left having a suspicion that it was in fact alive but denied to me by a body as powerful as the evil Catholic Church.
This particular evil of religion began as a system for taking children away from families deemed politically dangerous to the regime of General Franco, which began in 1939. The system continued after the dictator’s death in 1975 as the Catholic church continued to retain a powerful influence on public life, particularly in the area of social services.
Just to be absolutely clear on this;
Catholic priests and nuns assisted a tyrannical dictator by stealing the infant children of his political enemies, no doubt the church was compensated in some way by the government.
Catholic priests and nuns lied to the families that their children were dead
Catholic priests and nuns sold the babies to those more wealthy and politically connected for financial gain in order to further boost the catholic churches vast wealth.
Catholic priests and nuns having found a good money spinner just kept right on stealing babies from mothers and selling them, but now it was just for money, a great deal of money.
All this came to light when two men, Antonio Barroso and Juan Luis Moreno, discovered they had been stolen as babies. Mr Moreno’s ‘father’ confessed on his deathbed to having bought him as a baby from a priest in Zaragoza in northern Spain. He told his son he had been accompanied on the trip by Mr Barroso’s parents, who bought Antonio at the same time for 200,000 pesetas. This was a fortune in those days, enough to by a very good apartment outright.
DNA tests have since proved that the couple who brought up Mr Barroso were not his biological parents and the nun who sold him has admitted to stealing him from his birth mother, lying to her that her baby had died and then selling him.
The church was deciding who were “appropriate” parents, a church riddled with pedophilia, theft, fraud and lies were deciding which women were fit mothers. The church forged official documents so the adoptive parents’ names were on the infants’ birth certificates.
It gets worse……..
Those birth mothers who maintained for years that their babies did not die – and were labelled hysterical or insane, some were even locked up in mental hospitals for many years with the connivance of the catholic church. Now finally they are believed as babies’ graves have been exhumed, revealing bones that belong to adults or animals. Some of the graves contained stones or even nothing at all. One hospital even kept a baby in their freezer to be wheeled out and shown to mothers that “their” baby had died
To summarise; the catholic church believes deeply that Abortion is an abomination yet kidnapping newborn infants from their mothers, making fraudulent instruments (birth certificates), baby trafficking for profit, lying to mothers and parents, profiting from crime, perverting the course of justice, threats & intimidation are all perfectly right and justified.
As the programme unfolded my belly actually hurt, and as the birth mothers told their heartbreaking stories I cried. It seems that only women who can produce a virgin birth are worthy of any compassion, the rest can just have their own flesh and blood ripped from them at one of the most pivotal emotional moments of their lives just so the evil edifice that in the catholic church can become even richer.
Now I am learning that this practice was not restricted to Spain. How can this depraved organisan be allowed to continue.
Author: Judith vd R
The women’s group that Nina and I are members of does some small work in helping women from around the world get aid that they need. One of the groups many activities is helping Iraqi women get access to specialist medical care. We have a lady and her nine year old son staying with us for a few weeks while he receives medical treatment at the University Hospital here in Maastricht. The boy Ziad is a delightful child, with a wonderful spark to him, though he is very clearly ill. His mother is outwardly a modest and reserved woman, tired, worn but I suspect she has a deep reserve of strength under there. As I was forming this opinion I was looking at the small, frail form of her son who at eight years old is two thirds the size of our eight year old son who is not a sturdy build himself and thinking that she was going to need that strength in the next few months.
About three am she went back to bed and I tidied things away in the kitchen. Before I went back upstairs I went into the guest suite to find she had finally fallen asleep. I drew the duvet cover up over her so she would not be cold when she woke and while doing so I noticed a damp handkerchief in front of her. I was about to move it when I saw two photographs laying in front of her on the sheet, they had clearly been her focus as she had drifted off to sleep.I consider myself pretty hardened to the horrors that life can throw about, having experienced some of the worst of it myself, but even before I reached to pick them up I had a foreboding about these. Carefully I picked them up, aware that what I was handling was obviously very precious to her. In one photo there was a younger, fresher looking Amira, clearly distressed and holding a severely deformed newborn to her face. The way she was holding it showed all the love and care that I use when holding my own. The baby’s face was all out of proportion, there was the biggest cleft in it’s face I had ever seen splitting its entire nose and gouging deep into the upper palette. The back of the skull did not look like it was containing the brain, but rather it was spilling out under the scalp. Blood vessels under the skin were not right, they were poorly formed and grossly distended. The poor blighted child’s limbs would obviously never work properly even if the brain could control them, which I doubted, everything was all wrong. It was in short, a monster. The other photo was another newborn, though not a live one, nothing could live without a brain, eyes and with its viscera laying beside it on a green hospital surgical sheet, but even so a woman’s hand and arm were holding the childs still hand in a way that only a mother would. I knew it would be Amira again, the way she held her child in the other photo, the gentle way I had seen her touch her son told me that no matter what her children were blighted with her love was greater. Here was someone who saw past the appearance of scary monsters to love what was underneath.I carefully, reverentially, replaced the photos exactly where I had found them. I put the handkerchief back where it had been and then covered Amira’s shoulders before slipping from the rooms.
Depleted uranium, despite its rather benign-sounding name, is not depleted of radioactivity or toxicity. The term “depleted” refers only to its being depleted of the U-235 isotope needed for fission reactions in nuclear reactors. While the Pentagon has continued to claim, against all scientific evidence, that there is no hazard posed by depleted uranium, US troops in Iraq have been instructed to avoid any sites where these weapons have been used such as destroyed Iraqi tanks and exploded bunkers and to wear masks if they do have to approach. Recently a video has come to light, made by the US Military it talks about dealing with DU contamination making it very clear of the highly toxic and dangerous nature of DU. It rather blows claims by the US government to be safe. Many destroyed vehicles were sent to the US, where they have been buried in special sites reserved for dangerously contaminated nuclear materials. Thousands of tons of DU-contaminated sand from Kuwait, polluted with DU during the US destruction of Iraq’s tank forces in the 1991 war, were removed and shipped to a waste site in Idaho a decade years ago, very quietly. International health officials have been prevented or obstructed from doing medical studies of DU sites in Iraq and Afghanistan though some persisted despite documented threats by US contractors from Blackwater and had found sites to be extremely “hot” with radioactivity.
I had been reading a blog over at http://northernmum.wordpress.com/ about an embarrassing moment with her children brought to mind one of my own a while back, so here again is the story;
My oldest daughter, Hilke, is well known for being something of an embarrassment at times, as all children can be of course, but Hilke really does have this knack for dropping her mothers in it.
With my wife Judith still not able to see very much after surgery and me having a day off I had gone to collect our kids from school. Judith had asked me to collect a few items from the supermaarkt so I took the kids with me for a little bit of a treat. I should explain that we do not often go to the supermaarkt because most of our fresh produce either comes from my in-laws farm or from the local organic farm here. With Judith preparing our meals from scratch there is little need to visit the big stores so for our kids it is a bit of an adventure, especially the Albert Heijn just off the Vrijtofht which is not unlike a cave inside.
No sooner had we got into the store and we ran into some of Hilke and Nicholaas’s school friends and their mothers. Put any women together in a store and we go into gossip mode and shopping is relegated to a poor second place while we catch up on news and the kids are left to run riot through the store. We mothers happened to be standing in the toiletries isle talking when Hilke and friends come returned from their exploring. The children start to give their critical attention to the shiny and colourful products on display and I kept a little of my attention on what they were saying between themselves while continuing my gossiping;
“My mother uses this, it’s very good” said one little girl with all the earnest intent of a telesales operator trying to sell you something.
“But your mum has some HUGE spots on her nose, it can’t be that good !” replied another who was clearly an early developer of her Bitchy Gland.
Pausing by the tampons and sanitary towels the girls started a deep debate on feminine hygiene products. Dutch schools start sex education at age seven so they knew about periods even though none were menstruating themselves yet. I think their interest had much more to do with the wide variety and very girlie styling of the packaging rather than any interest in the contents but when one girl discovered a familiar brand she grabbed it and stated very clearly;
“This is the one my mum uses, only she buys a big super box of them!”
“Does it have wings?” asked Adrie trying to show some knowledge of the subject.
“No, it’s a tampon, it has a string not wings” replied Mahaultt.
“You tie it to your underwear with the string then?” Marysa, clearly unaware that it is worn internally.
Just when I feared that this could soon turn into a bit of a car wreck unless one of us mothers intervened my daughter jumped into the fray, from past experience of her contributions my heart rate immediately doubled;
“It’s a tampon, that means you stick it up inside you” she said with all the authority of a girl who is academically at the top of her class.
“OOooooohhhh!” was one’s response, “EWWWWWWWWW!”was another’s.
I am not, I should point out, a religious person, but with the intervention of Hilke I started to pray. I prayed like the life of my first born depended upon it. Those of you who have met Hilke, or who know of her will understand why only to well. She continued;
“You put them in your vagina to stop it up”.
By now the girls were starting to draw a small audience and I knew this was not going to end well, I could just feel it and but like a rabbit stuck between headlights I froze. Hilke was now clearly the leading authority on feminine hygiene products in this group and all attention swung around to her.
“So why do tampons have strings?” asked Marysa.
“So you can pull them out of your vagina when you go to the wc, all tampons have strings” she stated.
One girl noticing one particular box of tampons and picking it up exclaimed “Hey these ones have skirts, why do these have skirts, is that in place of a string, because you can pull skirts down” said the little asian girl whose name I can never recall.
“Do your mothers use these Hilke?”
CRASH ! The wreck I had been dreading happened.
“No mama uses sponges” she proclaimed over the shop noise and looking toward me as I tried to shuffle to the nearest cover.
“SPONGES !” came the loud and collective response, and as one they started to examine the shelves for sanitary sponges. It took them a few minutes to realise they were not on the shelves so I started to relax a little. Then one girl held up a large bath sponge in her hand and triumphantly, and very loudly, proclaimed…….
“Your mama puts THIS in her vagina ?” I swear the entire store stopped dead, I could have heard a pin drop if the frantic beating of my fibrillating heart was not drowning out all sound in my ears. Even the gossiping mothers came to a complete stop.
Gasps of “Mmmmuuuhhhh!” showed they were clearly impressed, or horrified, or perhaps both.
I think Hilke, upon seeing the expression on my face, sensed that her allowance was seconds away from being stopped until she reached her late teens and so attempted to ease the situation by telling her friends.
“No, no, no, they are tiny little sponges” Hilke added, slightly helping matters, “Like cotton wool balls. She orders them specially, you cannot buy them in here, they are special”.
By now men in the store were giving me full lengths looks as they walked past, I could guess what they were imagining. The gossiping mothers edged towards me and some sort of unspoken agreement between seemed to nominate one of them their spokeswoman.
“Sponges?” asked Mevrouw Klaas. At least the store seemed to be returning to normal after the revelation that one of their customers appeared to spend her menstrual cycle with a bath sponge shoved up her vagina.
I explained that in fact natural sponges were the very first form of tampon ever used and that unlike the tampons and towels stocked in stores like those on the shelves they were natural, hypo-allergenic and do not cause toxic shock to their users. Having experienced an intra-vaginal allergic reaction to tampons as a teenager I knew better than most the dangers of manufactured sanitary protection. They also caused no pollution during their manufacture, and contained no dioxins (the most deadly poison known to life on this planet and routinely used in the manufacture of tampons and sanitary towels).
In the end the girls interest moved onto something else, as did everyone else. On the way home I tried to explain to Hilke that it had been a little embarrassing for me but in true Hilke form she counted by saying that it shouldn’t be, “Periods were quite natural mama!” Yeah thanks Hilke I think I know that much better than you do given your age!. I know we have always been very open and straight with our kids but it does come back to bite us at the oddest times.