Saturday, December 17, 2011

When the keyboard makes one god...

... humanity is chipped away. I don't personally know Michelle Duggar, and 19 (21 with losses) children isn't my thing. But being open to God's blessings is - and tearing down a grieving mom... is not. Megan said it beautifully in this post:

Raising Human Beings and Life Lessons from the Duggars

Yesterday I read that Michelle Duggar from 19 Kids and Counting had a miscarriage. Even though this is someone that I don't know, I was heartbroken for her. And then I was MAD. Underneath every news article about her miscarriage (which I'm sure would be difficult to talk to the media about) were hundreds, sometimes thousands of comments of people being so ugly and hurtful and condemning. They said things like, "God killed your baby because he doesn't want you to have any more children." and "What did you expect?" and "Anyone who wants to have too many kids deserves to have this happen to them."

People. Who are we? I don't care what in the world you think about this family. I don't care if you are a zero population growth proponent or the spawn of Satan himself- when did we get to the point where we feel like we get to tell a mother that her child deserves to die and secretly rejoice a little bit when someone goes through a tragedy. Like the loss of that child's life is the ultimate "I told you so." When did we become so entrenched with our own negativity that we forget that an actual life was lost and that an actual mother is grieving?

I have never had a miscarriage. I've been fortunate and blessed to have had two pregnancies that resulted in two live births. But I've had friends who have had miscarriages and it is awful. I do not pretend to have any inkling of what it feels like to miscarry just because people close to me have walked through it any more than having a black son makes me know what it feels like to be black. But, I think that it is a pain that would be indescribable. My friends have all said that it is a mix of sadness and guilt and shame and confusion and loss and hurt so deep that you wonder if you will ever feel normal again. I would think that no matter if it was your first baby or your 20th baby that loss is loss. Who are we to diminish someone's pain? Who are we to say that that baby didn't matter to it's mother and it's God just because there are 19 other children in the family? Have we gone so far down the rabbit hole that we think one human life is just easily replaced with another one? Have we forgotten that we are told that each one is precious and created for a purpose?

I think that so much of this backlash stems from how we view children. I'm very guilty of it myself. I've often said that I will never be that mother who finds joy in changing diapers or doing laundry even though it is part of the package deal. I do however, find such complete and utter joy in my children- even though they drive me nuts sometimes. :-) I think I'm normal, but I also think that our society has shifted the way that we think about children. They are no longer viewed as blessings. They are seen as something we "do" for 18 years. We have lost out on the magic of what it means to care for someone.

We are so tied to our technology and our careers and our pettiness that we forget that there are actual children wanting us to delight in them. Not to get too religious here, but I'd like to think that if we are going to call ourselves Godly parents, that we would remember that God revels in our very existence and delights in the uniqueness that we each bring and the utter JOY that gives him. There are times when I look at my children with that kind of love and amazement and times that I can't muster that for all the gold in Fort Knox. But it doesn't mean that I shouldn't STRIVE for that. I should make it my goal as a mother to make them feel that they are delighted in. I saw this the other day on pinterest and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

How true is this and the way we so often ultimately view our job as mothers raising the next generation? I think that's why people like Michelle Duggar get crucified. We just can't comprehend that someone can find so much delight in each little blessing. We believe that it is out of the realm of possibility that someone could possibly like raising 19 children. I hear her called naive. I hear her called an idiot. And I wonder if those throwing insults are secretly just a little bit jealous of the pure joy that she finds in raising children. Seeing someone doing it well makes us feel bad about the way that we are doing it and instead of rejoicing that someone has found their bliss, we work extra hard to tear them down. When they announced that they were pregnant with their 20th child, people said that they were irresponsible, unfair to their other children and why couldn't they just be happy with what they had. It is just inconceivable to most people that each one of their children is a BLESSING when we are bombarded with the message every single day that children are a burden and that caring for more than the average 2 children detracts from our enjoyment of life. People- our children ARE our enjoyment in life.

I'm just as guilty as the next person at sometimes looking at my children and thinking that I need a break or that I need to do "something more" with my life. We've been tricked into thinking that being a mother is not enough. We've been told so many times that money, success and happiness can't happen with too many children in tow. But what if we took a step back and remembered that our source of joy comes in our community and relationships with other people? What if we remembered that the world's definition of success is not the same as God's definition? What if we remembered that the lives of the children we are entrusted with matter more than all the other "stuff"? What would that look like? Would that look like the pure joy that Michelle Duggar has for raising children? What if that wasn't so radical? What if delighting in each creation was the norm, instead of the exception?

My hope for myself today (and each day) is that I will live as though I am raising human beings, not managing inconveniences.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stem cells could be the secret reason why breast is best

Stem cells could be the secret reason why breast is best

By Susie Mesure
Sunday, 22 November 2009

Breast milk, long revered for the nutritional advantages it gives a newborn, could be just as vital in terms of infant development, a leading scientist will claim this week. Up to three different types of stem cells have been discovered in breast milk, according to revolutionary new research.

Dr Mark Cregan, medical director at the Swiss healthcare and baby equipment company Medela, believes the existence of stem cells means breast milk could help a child "fulfil its genetic destiny", with a mother's mammary glands taking over from her placenta to guide infant development once her child is born.

"Breast milk is the only adult tissue where more than one type of stem cell has been discovered. That is very unique and implies a lot about the impressive bioactivity of breast milk and the consequential benefits to the breastfed infant," said Dr Cregan, who is speaking at Unicef's Baby Friendly Initiative conference this week. His research has isolated adult stem cells of epithelial (mammary) and immune origin, with "very preliminary evidence" that breast milk also contains stem cells that promotes the growth of muscle and bone tissue.

Scientists will use his discovery, made at the University of Western Australia, in Perth, Australia, to attempt to harvest stem cells from breast milk for research on a range of issues – from why some mothers struggle to produce milk to testing out new drugs that could aid milk production. "There is a plentiful resource of tissue-specific stem cells in breast milk, which are readily available and from a non-invasive and completely ethical source," Dr Cregan said.

Advocates hope the discovery will help to lift the UK's breastfeeding rates: only one-third of babies are exclusively breastfed at one week, the number dropping to one-fifth at six weeks. At five months, only 3 per cent of mothers still exclusively nurse their babies – although the World Health Organisation recommends that babies should consume only breast milk until they are at least six months old.

Rosie Dodd, campaigns director at the National Childbirth Trust, said: "This finding highlights the many factors that are in breast milk that we know so little about and that all have different advantages, such as helping a baby's immune system to develop."

Dr Cregan said the discovery of immune stem cells was the "most exciting development", adding, "It's quite possible that immune cells in breast milk can survive digestion and end up in the infant's circulation. This has been shown to be occurring in animals, and so it would be unsurprising if this was also occurring in human infants."

British scientists gave a cautious welcome to Dr Cregan's discovery, warning that just because stem cells exist in breast milk did not mean that they could be used to develop a therapy – the ultimate goal of stem cell research. Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, said: "It may give us some insight into specific breast diseases and is potentially valuable when it comes to drug discovery and drug development but it is fanciful to think it could provide routine therapies."