Two-tone twins

two tone twins

This is a picture of a father, mother, and twin girls (picture from here). The parents’ mothers were both white and their fathers were both black. Although the girls look the same to me, as far as facial features go, based on skin color alone, they would be classified as different races. While the odds are a million to one for this sort of thing to happen, this is actually not the only case. In fact, the next example is doubly odd: a couple had one set of “two-toned twins” followed by a second set!

two tone twins2

But they’re not the only ones, because here is another set:

two tone twins3

And yet another set!

two tone twins4

Finally some boys — I was beginning to think it was only a girl thing! (the link also has a YouTube video on the boys)

two tone twins5

Surely I’m not the only one to think that race should not be so divisive! As Acts 17:26 says, God has made from “one blood” or “one man” all the nations of men. We would do better if we did not try to divide ourselves into so many artificial groups, especially when based on something as frivolous as skin color.

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Trio of Hospital Birth Posts

For the most part, these are just lovely births, although the birth of twin Baby B made me cringe. Oh well, can’t win ’em all!

Part I

Part II

Part III

Enjoy!

Rights, Ethics and Choice

So by now, everyone has heard of the octuplets in California. When I heard about them that first day when there were no details beyond the bare sketch, I made several assumptions about the mother — including “little” things like… she was married… her husband was there… they had no other children, or at most one or two… that one or both of them were gainfully employed… — you know, logical assumptions when dealing with people who can afford fertility treatments. I assumed she was like Bobbie McCaughey, who had septuplets. As the days since the original story have passed, and more and more facts and details have surfaced, I was stuck somewhere between disbelief (“She’s already got six kids, and she has fertility treatments for more?” and “She’s not even married??” and “She’s living with her parents???”) and shock.

Let me insert one little correction of the media reports: they do not implant embryos; they transfer embryos. Believe me, there’s a whole bunch of women who have undergone or who are undergoing fertility treatments that are screaming at their TVs and newspapers every time they hear that the doctor “implanted” however many embryos in the woman’s uterus.

I could go a lot of different ways with this topic, and have avoided it since that first day because I just couldn’t believe what was being said about her, and thought it must be false. Then as it was verified, it just disgusted me. Now, I read that the same doctor transferred seven embryos into another woman who is currently 5 months pregnant with quadruplets, has no insurance, and is going to be staying at a county hospital on the California tax-payer’s dime for the remainder of her pregnancy, which with quads is probably going to be another two to three months.

Obviously, being pro-life, I do not agree with “selective reduction” — an abortion procedure in which they kill one or more embryos or fetuses to allow the remaining ones a better chance of life and health. It makes me think of the Holocaust, and what if the Jews crammed together in cattle cars on the way to death camps had taken to killing each other so that the living ones could have room to sit down and be comfortable. Yet, it is little short of a miracle that these octuplets survived to 30 weeks and (since I haven’t heard of anything negative, anyway), seem to be doing well. It is not their fault that they are here, and that they were conceived as they were, so I wish them the best; but I just have to shake my head in disbelief at their mother, and wonder what sort of life they will be destined for.

Currently, we have no laws governing how many embryos can be transferred during this fertility procedure. I prefer it that way. BUT I have a feeling it will be soon changing, and it will because of this doctor (perhaps him alone; maybe others will be found that also play fast and loose with the fertility industry’s guidelines… and common sense). It’s not best for the children to have four or more babies crammed inside a single uterus; and it’s very difficult to deal with them and raise them, especially in those high-need baby and toddler years. Naturally-occurring quadruplets and quintuplets are quite rare — I doubt that there are any naturally-occurring sextuplets or above, but the famous Dionne quintuplets who were born in the 1930s in Canada were obviously not the result of fertility treatment!

But stories like this highlight the sometimes opposing viewpoints of patient’s rights and doctor’s ethics. There is a line from the movie Jurassic Park that has Jeff Goldblum saying, “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”I think that pretty much sums up this whole problem.

Just because this doctor could transfer so many embryos, it doesn’t mean he should. Just because this mom could have more fertility treatments, after already having six children under the age of seven, and living unmarried with her parents who have filed bankruptcy, doesn’t mean she should.

In my opinion, this doctor was unethical in his transfer of so many embryos — and these babies are paying the price. Even if they grow up without any lifelong disabilities from having been born so early, they really ought to have had another ten weeks or so in their mother’s uterus. While I’m sure they are receiving top-notch care where they are, no technology replaces the womb.

Part of me doesn’t even want to get started on this mother, for fear I’ll be too unkind, or that I won’t be able to stop the harangue. But just because she as the patient had the “right” to have fertility treatment, does that “right” trump the doctor’s ethics in limiting the number of embryos transferred?

Of course, this discussion on patients’ rights vs. doctors’ ethics assumes that there is some sort of conflict between the two. Ideally, there will be no conflict — because both doctor and patient would be guided by some common sense! Unfortunately, it seems that there was no conflict in this case, and that both doctor and patient were blissfully going hand-in-hand off the same cliff.

“Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy” — a review

Wonderful!

Beautiful photography!

Excellent advice!

It’s hard to top the words of praise Dr. Christiane Northrup and others — both doctors Laura Keegan has worked with and mothers she has helped — have given:

like having a wise and loving grandmother show you exactly how to nurse your baby… Laura has created a manual of wisdom and celebration… what you need to know to get started in establishing a comfortable breastfeeding relationship and to solve problems should they occur… Before this experience, I never would have believed that learning the correct latch in this book meant that I would spend less time nursing my twins than I did nursing my firstborn and without the pain of sore nipples…

Plus there are many, many more in the opening pages of the book — a variety of mothers who had difficulties nursing for many different stated reasons (one mother was told that her baby had an “abnormal suck”, one baby was slow to gain weight, several mothers had cracked nipples), who resolved all those difficulties with the techniques brought forth and beautifully illustrated in this book.

Once you go past the introductory words of praise and the table of contents (which you can see by going to BreastfeedingwithComfortandJoy.com and clicking on “click here for excerpts”), there are beautiful photographs on every two-page spread — usually one large picture on the left-hand page with explanatory text on the right-hand page, but frequently a series of smaller pictures (for instance, several photos taken just seconds apart showing a baby properly latching onto the breast). These pictures show a variety of babies, from the tiny, still-wrinkly newborns to those oh-so-chubby babies of several months old, with several “milk-drunk” babies who have fallen asleep while nursing, and smile that sweet, satisfied smile. The pictures primarily show good latches and good positioning, with only one “what not to do” picture — this is important, because it is much better to show what to do rather than what not to do. In this way, women get strong and repeated correct images of how to properly breastfeed.

One thing that struck me the strongest while reading this book is the statement she made about how that women in this country often “automatically hold their babies and their breasts in ways that work for bottle-feeding since that is what most of us have imprinted in our minds” — as opposed to women growing up in cultures where breastfeeding is the norm. And it is this “incorrect imprinting” that is the root of so many problems with breastfeeding.

I remember my Daddy kind of poking fun at organizations like La Leche League, or wondering out loud why it was that women should have such problems with nursing their babies when animals don’t have that problem. To be honest, I never had any problems with nursing either. The only times it hurt were when my children got to that stage (about 6 months old?) where they are easily distractable and frequently turn to see what made that noise without letting go of the breast first; and also a couple of times when I was pregnant and nursing, my 10-month-old son would occasionally latch on incorrectly (I don’t know why — we’d obviously been nursing for quite some time), and it would hurt, so I would take him off and start him again (and I couldn’t tell you what was the difference), and it wouldn’t hurt the second time. And sometimes when I hear stories of women who have had just dreadful pain while nursing — like my sister-in-law whose nipples cracked and bled the whole time she nursed her oldest child, and she had terrible pain with every feeding (I give her full kudos for sticking with it for 11 months — I think I’d’ve given up much sooner!) — when I’d hear stories like that, I’d sometimes wonder why it is so hard for some women, when it was so easy for me. Now, I think I know most if not all of the answer.

The next several pages go into detail (in words and in pictures) about the differences between both maternal and baby positioning with breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding. And it is this that makes all the difference in the world. When the breast and baby are not in proper alignment, the nipple is subjected to abuse which causes pain initially, and if not changed, can lead to cracked and bleeding nipples. I’ve not had that, but I can imagine it to be not fun in the slightest. Yet, often women are told that even when they are in pain that there is nothing wrong — that happened to my sister-in-law I just mentioned. (Just for background, she didn’t tell me about her problem with breastfeeding until well after she had weaned her daughter — she first mentioned it a couple of weeks after I had my first son, when she asked if I was having any problems with pain, cracking, or bleeding. I think she was a little jealous and quite astounded when I said ‘no.’ She may have been a little perturbed at her “bad luck,” but I don’t think “luck” was the problem.) Anyway, when she was in the hospital after having had her baby, the nurse told her that she was doing everything right — despite the pain she was feeling. Because this “authority figure” (I believe she called her a “lactation consultant,” but I’ve heard that sometimes nurses are given that appellation or a similar one when they’ve had little or no training in breastfeeding, but they may be the only L&D nurse with breastfeeding experience, so they are the “go-to person” whenever a mom has a problem) told her that there wasn’t a problem, she persisted with an incorrect latch through months of pain and bleeding. It shouldn’t happen.

There are other sections (see the table of contents in the excerpts of the book) that deal with several other common problems or areas of concern — including many, many pictures of mothers breastfeeding twins, showing different positions for the babies to be in — as well as skin-to-skin contact, kangaroo care, colic, engorgement, etc.

Again, the pictures are just beautiful and both pictures and text are quite informative. It’s a must-have for any woman who has problems with nursing, or anyone who has contact with such women (midwives, doulas, nurses, childbirth educators…). I’m going to loan my copy to a woman at my church who is expecting her first baby any day now. I hope I get it back!

Twins Information

Here is a website with many links to twins stories and other twins information. (It says it’s under construction, and unfortunately, not all of the links work.) While much of the information and most of the stories promote twins home-birth, there is some information from “the other side” presented as well — much of that is in the mother’s narrative, for example, “My doctor was against a home birth because of….” or, “My doctor wanted me to have a C-section because….”

If you are pregnant with twins, and all you’ve heard is “mandatory C-section,” then this information may be beneficial to you to open up some dialog with your doctor. You may still decide to have a C-section (and in your case, it may be best), but if you have some reservations now about it, and want to make sure you are hearing all sides of the story and not just your doctor’s opinion, you will find these links interesting.

I didn’t read all of the stories, but just from glancing at them, I was amazed at the fact that most if not all of these women went to term, and some even went past their due dates. For twins. Who typically come before 37 weeks. Another fact — their birth-weights are all about what single babies weigh at birth 6-8 lb. And the time between the births of the twins was also surprising — one set was separated by 90 minutes! But most were closer to 15-20 minutes. My husband and his brother, as well as a man in our church and his twin, were both born 3 minutes apart (and a very important three minutes it is — the firstborn of a set of twins is still the firstborn, even if the other follows close behind). I suppose that these births were typical of the late 60s / early 70s births in which the mothers were heavily drugged and the babies dragged out by forceps, accounting for the short time-span between births. I remember reading some time ago that Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren were born 17 minutes apart; and another twins birth-story from about that era in which the babies were also born 17 minutes apart.

My thanks to Dr. Jen who shared this link with me.

Twins Birth Video

Click on this link for a video of the vaginal birth of twins. The first is vertex, the second is breech.

The video is short — just over a minute. The woman seems to be in a hospital, but essentially without intervention (no IVs in sight). They are speaking French, but I can’t tell where they are (France or Canada, most likely).

Birth Rape, revisited

Previously, I wrote about “birth rape” and mentioned an article in the UK. Recently, I commented on a med student’s blog, in which the author discusses this from his/her perspective. It’s an interesting read, and it’s always good to get other people’s perspective on it; but the reason I’m linking to it now is for the person who commented after me. She tells a horrific tale of birth rape, beginning with an induction which she feels was unnecessary. (She was told her placenta was failing and her babies were in “immediate danger of dying,” but her records indicate no such life-threatening diagnosis.)

I will comment, though, on her comment about Australia having a 66% “surgical birth” rate. It’s possible that an episiotomy is considered a form of “surgical birth” since it is an incision made with surgical instruments. One article from 2006 stated that the 2004 Australian C-section rate was 29% at the time. I doubt it has doubled in the last four years. It’s possible the woman commenting made a typo, but more likely she’s including episiotomies in this rate.

Stories like this are uncommon, but they should be non-existent. Be informed.