The World is Ending and All I Have to Wear is this Chambray Shirt

I don’t mean to sound apocalyptic, but stuff is getting real. Hurricanes, fires, floods. Rampant overt racism. Plans to round up groups of people and ship them off to who knows where.

Even if you are not directly affected by these events, you can feel the many different holes that are slowly tearing themselves open in the everyday fabric of society. Those who previously existed hidden within those holes are now feeling emboldened to come out and bully others for no other reason than they now feel empowered to come out of their holes and bully others.

Meanwhile, life goes on. I get my kids ready for school in the morning. I put on a happy face and greet the other parents and teachers, wishing everyone I see to have a good day. They return the sentiment to me. Kindness goes a long way.

After dropping the kids at school, I return home to check my Twitter timeline, which consists of a healthy mix of protest tweets against the latest outrageous act of the Trump regime, disaster tweets documenting the newest natural disasters, and moms asking you to answer their poll about whether you would prefer to drive or fly to Disneyland this year.

So what do I, as a middle-class, white, suburban mom, do? Do I continue to play my fiddle as Rome burns? Do I put on a false face and act like the erosion of common decency, the manifestations of climate change, and the scarily backward time-lapse of America isn’t bothering me? Do I put on my chambray shirt and post of picture of myself on Facebook asking people to comment on whether they like it or not?

Or… do I try to close one of those many holes that’s opening? Do I try to block the way, standing strong, chest out, feet wide, hands-on-hips, like some middle-aged wannabe Wonder Woman?

It’s risky (and, yes, sometimes embarrassing not to fit in with the model of what I should be doing as a white suburban mom). But if I posted my own personal Twitter poll about how I would prefer to get from this point in time to some time in the future, I would choose to be a middle-aged Wonder Woman. I’m putting my whole mom-self out there with my needlepoint skills and my Wonder Woman attitude, and I’m going to try to sew up as many of those holes as I can. The future that my kids inherit is worth both the risk and the embarrassment.

I dressed up as Wonder Woman for Halloween one year when I was a kid. Maybe I can find my old mask packed away somewhere and wear it with my chambray shirt.

Opinion: The Reason Why Jon Ossoff and Archie Parnell Lost

by Scott Archer

Like most people, I have been closely watching our country slide into chaos as promised by the elected president. And like most, I am terrified at the fast pace that things are moving in the wrong direction. Terrified of the emboldened Trumpets. Terrified of the divisiveness of the Republican cesspool the electorate has gathered to serve at the pleasure of His Almighty (our current president). But tonight, in a moment of clarity, I recall the George W. Bush presidency, and the same feelings suddenly come back to me. This is not new, this is a constant cycle, almost predictable. Sure, we now have a few more insane additions, such as the whole Russia thing, but the Republican agenda has always remained the same over time. The biggest difference is that now you have a person who speaks what is on his very, very small mind, and has millions of followers who have felt suppressed for many years that he has now emboldened. Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and both Bushes have upheld the same Republican principles that they fight for today.

Historically, I have always voted Democrat, but I haven’t always been left-leaning. I was a pretty conservative Democrat. My family on both sides were from the South, Tennessee to be exact. And yes, the 2nd Amendment, ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps,’ and ‘you should be proud to be a ‘Merican boy’, was the way I was raised. First Church of the Nazarene! Brimstone and fire! Until I started traveling. Meeting the others who don’t think that way. Those who think for themselves, seek the truth, don’t rely only on inherited beliefs. But I certainly do understand the comforts of belief for those who are easily pleased. Or, as I so affectionately call them, the ‘happy idiots’. I was one of them. But, then I grew up…

So, why did Ossof and Parnell lose amidst all the Resistance, all the money (over $40M), all the hype? It’s quite simple, really. There is a huge disconnect in the leadership of the Democratic party. They do not understand the modern democrat(ish) populace. The truth is, Bernie Sanders would have won if he was just a little more to the Right, or, deleted the word Socialism from his dialog, I’ll rant on that in another post, but he is closer to getting it right than the Democratic leadership.

A lot of people are ready for a woman president, I will include myself. But if we are being honest, Hillary was not the right woman. She, and her husband have always been tied to questionable political ethics. But our want, our need, for equality, the hope of Yes! Hell, yes! there can be a woman president suddenly, and without noticing it, got in the way of our clear thinking. I wanted my girls to see it happen so bad, that I too cheered on the less crooked of the two candidates.  We justify what we do as Democrats, just as the Republicans justify what they do. We justify what we do to suit our own agenda. Like it or not, it’s the truth.

I personally loved Obama, but he was not able to get everything done and we assumed, in our state of bliss, that things would continue to get better. He did move things in the right direction, but all the while, those who were unemployed, undereducated, but proud ‘Mericans, just weren’t getting what they needed. The middle class is quickly slipping, jobs are not coming back quick enough, and baby boomers just won’t retire to make way for a new workforce who wants to advance to the future.

The Democrats will not stand a chance if they continue in the mindset of “Vote for me, I will make Washington less corrupt” (see Archie Parnells ad), or “Vote for me, I’m not Trump.” I was at a Democratic gala here in my home town, and heard these words come out of the mouth of Representative and Deputy Chair of the Democratic Party Keith Ellison: “Whoever we vote to the ballots, no matter what our feeling toward them, we must rally around that candidate for the good of the party.” Um, wrong! I will not rally around a candidate who is the lesser evil. This is the disconnect. People are tired of that mindset. The new generation of the democrat(ish) populace do not think that way. We’re tired of it.

If the Democrats, or anyone, want to win against the Republican ills, you better be looking, and vetting, and backing a candidate that is a proven leader, has proven leadership behaviors, ethical behaviors, and a progressive (but not too progressive) mindset. While I am ready for a very, very progressive agenda, most people are not. They still have fear, and it needs to move a little at a time in a progressive direction, otherwise, it’s “feel the Bern” all over again….

Mansplaining 2.0: Sexism in the New Resistance

This post contains adult language. This post is a continuation of my earlier blog post Division in Social Movements: How to prevent a movement from collapsing.

Mother’s Day 2017: I’m reveling in the homemade gifts and cards my kids have made for me. Filled to the brim with hugs and kisses and the sweetness of my 7-year-old twins on what my daughter called “You Day, Mommy.”

I spend the next couple of days reflecting on what I went through to become a mom of twins and on my life, including the struggles I have faced over more than forty years of life as a girl and then a woman. I am reflecting on my own mother (passed on 10 years ago), the strength she had, and the sexism she had to overcome in her day. It doesn’t end there. I reflect on her mother, and her mother’s mother, and generations of women, feeling the strength of each of them inside me as I continue to try to manifest and demonstrate the strength, kindness, and calm reason I’d like to pass on to my daughter and son.

On twitter, I’m reminded of the disadvantaged status women still have in society—from how we treat Mother Earth,

to how the Republicans are trying to strip women of their basic healthcare and reproductive rights,

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to how women are not paid equally for the work they do, to the fact that in America we still don’t have paid maternity leave, while so many other countries do (including Iran and Mexico at 12 weeks paid leave).

I laugh at, and agree with, a quote that has been falsely attributed to Betty White: “Why do people say ‘grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive! If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina! Those things take a pounding!”

Then, 3 days after Mother’s Day, I see a tweet by a leader in the local resistance movement that says: “Thx MOC Kinzinger for testicular fortitude MOC Roskam lacks. Must be the Seal in you. Go hold Peter’s trembling hand.” (This is in reference to Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger from Illinois calling for a special prosecutor or independent investigation into Trump’s administration, and Republican Representative Peter Roskam from Illinois supporting everything Trump and the other Repubs in Congress do.)

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Ok, I think. Someone is trying to be cute and funny with this tweet, but the fight against the current Republican administration is personal for me. It’s personal for all women, as gains that we have made over the last 8 years are being swiftly thrown aside by white men who are hiking up their testicles and doing their best to quash any sense of power women may feel they have.

I politely respond to this tweet by pointing out the unnecessary use of gender-biased language (esp. in the wake of the new women’s movement). “Testicular fortitude?” I tweet. “I’m not sure one needs testicles to exhibit bravery and stand… up for what is right.” I also offer a link to my blog post about how sexism played a role in prematurely tearing apart the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

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This is the reply I get: “Let’s not lose focus by concentrating on wrong things. It’s a word in a Tweet. Bill Maher said it best.” And I’m offered a clip of Bill Maher.

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First of all, “Let’s not lose focus…” he says. I have not lost focus. My eyes are on the prize. I’m focused on fighting for the rights of the downtrodden (that includes those of us that have two X chromosomes and birth babies).

Second, let’s get to the clip. I don’t have high hopes that Bill Maher has anything eloquent, relevant, or NOT misogynistic to say on the topic given that the one editorial of his that sticks out in my mind contains this quote about his preference in women’s pubic hair styles: “New Rule: Bring back a little pubic hair. Not a lot, I’m not talking about reviving that 1973 look that said “I’m liberated” and “I’m smuggling a hedgehog.”I just want a friendly, fuzzy calling card that’s a middle ground between toddler smooth and “Dr. Livingston, I presume?” It’s supposed to have some hair on it. It’s a pussy, not Dr. Evil’s cat….”

Ok, so let’s look at what Bill Maher has to say on the topic at hand (transcript below):

Transcript: “While the sting of defeat is still fresh and the horrors resulting from that defeat pile up, liberals must examine all the reasons why we keep losing elections—starting with Democrats have gone from the party that protects people to the party that protects feelings. From “ask not what your country can do for you” to “you owe me an apology.” Republicans apologize for nothing. Democrats apologize for everything. Can’t we find a balance? In 2016, conservatives won the White House, both houses of Congress, and almost 2/3 of governorships and state legislatures. Whereas, liberals, on the other hand, caught Steve Martin calling Carrie Fisher beautiful in a tweet and made him take it down. … Liberals do this all the time. They get offended for people who, themselves, would not be offended. … [He goes on to mock celebrities who have offended people by not being politically correct and their subsequent apologies.]

The majority of Americans are actually with the Democrats on the issues: raising minimum wage, sensible gun laws, path to citizenship, abortion rights, pro-environment, you name it. But we keep losing. Now there’s a lot of reasons for that. But the one we can immediately fix is that too often Democrats remind people of a man who has taken his balls out and put them in his wife’s purse. And, please, someone tweet me right now and tell me how that was inappropriate so I can tell you to:

GO FUCK YOURSELF.

[He talks about another celebrity that was accidentally politically incorrect and subsequently apologized about hurting peoples’ feelings.]

Things like this don’t matter at all. What matters is that while you self-involved fools were policing the language at the Kids’ Choice Awards, a madman talked his way into the White House. What matters is that while liberals are in a contest to see who can be the first to call out fat-shaming, the Tea Party has been busy taking over school boards.

Stop protecting your virgin ears and start noticing you’re getting fucked in the ass.” 

Ummm, ok. So you have to be an asshole to be in the resistance? If that’s so, then I’m out.

And is this local resistance leader telling me to go fuck myself?

Once I vigorously shake my head in an attempt to get over all that was thrown at me in that 5-minute video clip, I am able to say to myself: Wait a minute, a leader in the local resistance thinks Bill Maher is right when he says that the reason Trump is in the White House is because liberals care about each other’s feelings? THAT’S NOT WHY TRUMP IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE!!!! Trump is in the White House because he (and Putin) rode the wave of disenfranchised, poor white people feeling discontented because NOBODY in government cared about them!

That being what it is, being an asshole is not the way to build a government that works FOR the people. It’s just not. And this movement will never be anything but a flash in the pan if whole segments of the resistance are told not to be so sensitive and are tossed aside when they point out that something is happening that is divisive.

I have to be honest, I didn’t watch the Bill Maher video at the time, before responding with the following series of tweets: “I’m not attacking…never attacking. Merely pointing out a problem that could divide the movement. I know you want to move forward, but you can’t move forward without including everyone. This fight is for all of us. Gender-biased language removes me from the fight. I just wanted to point out that language is a reflection of an attitude that may be unconscious. We’re all in this together. We’re on the same side. Let’s try not to foment division in our social movement.”

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I never got a reply.

So what can we do to ensure that those in leadership positions in the resistance don’t marginalize the very groups they’re supposed to be fighting for? Besides just pointing it out. This will take some thought.

Please check out my earlier blog post: Division in Social Movements: How to prevent a movement from collapsing.

UPDATE: Bill Maher has subsequently issued an apology for using the ‘N’ word on the air on 06/12/17.

If you have any ideas or suggestion, please share in the comments below.

Please like and share with your friends.

Talking Until We’re Blue in the Face About Climate Change and Carbon Dioxide

The science of climate change has been explained many times to many people. Some people understand it, and some people don’t. Many people that don’t fully understand the process that unfolds with too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere understand that the scientists who study climate change know the process step-by-step. The scientists study it, tell us what will happen if the problem isn’t cared for, and suggest possible solutions.

But there are other people who do not fully understand the chain of events that happens when too much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere who think that because they don’t understand it, it doesn’t exist and that the climate scientists don’t know what they’re talking about.

I would like to detail another complicated reaction. One that happens when too much carbon dioxide builds up, not in the atmosphere, but in the human body. There are scientists that study this, tell us what will happen if the problem isn’t cared for, and suggest possible solutions.

Every person that denies the events that occur as a result of too much CO2 in the external environment needs to think about what they would do if too much CO2 built up in their own internal environment.

Here goes:

In living organisms, including our own human bodies, there is a system called homeostasis. This system exists to make sure each element in your body stays balanced with all the other elements. It ensures that your body, as it exists, remains in a constant state that is compatible with life. When one element is thrown out of whack, we have compensatory mechanisms that gear up to balance this out. Our bodies are amazing machines when it comes to homeostasis.

But what happens when our homeostatic mechanisms are overwhelmed?

Let’s look at carbon dioxide, for example. We all know that too much of this gas is not good for our bodies. And most of us have the scientific knowledge to understand that we breath in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide. We breath it out because it is not a useful gas for us.

Normally, we can balance the intake of oxygen and output of carbon dioxide even if we are faced with a little bit of extra carbon dioxide in our bodies. This happens by way of our bodies’ remarkable mechanisms of homeostasis.

But before we get into our bodies’ homeostatic mechanisms when it comes to carbon dioxide, there is one fact that needs to be understood: CARBON DIOXIDE IS AN ACID. So too much carbon dioxide in your body acidifies your internal environment. This is not good. And our bodies do what they can to expel this potential poison.

The first thing that our bodies do to get rid of extra carbon dioxide is to speed up respiration. That is, we start breathing faster to blow off the extra CO2. Unfortunately, this is where some people run into trouble.

What happens if we are unable to expel carbon dioxide through respiration (breathing)?

First of all, you may think this is an uncommon problem. After all, everyone you see around you is breathing. But there are certain subsets of people who are not always efficient at the oxygen/ carbon dioxide gas exchange. Like people with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, or sleep apnea.

Many people suffering from these conditions have difficulty exhaling due to swollen and constricted airways as well as excessive mucus production. One can hear this difficulty exhaling as the sound of an expiratory wheeze when listening through a stethoscope.

Those in the health profession may observe other subtle symptoms in long-time sufferers. They sometimes refer to these types of patients as blue bloaters. Blue, because their lips may appear blue from cyanosis (bluish color of the mucus membranes and extremities due to lack of oxygen in the blood). Bloaters, because these patients often appear bloated or stocky because they are holding onto extra, unusable gases.

If you took a blood sample from an artery of one of these chronic patients, you would see that the partial pressure of carbon dioxide is way higher than it should be. That is to say, there is an increase in amount of CO2 in the blood that is being pumped AWAY from the heart to be used by the rest of the body. Additionally, the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood decreases, because the carbon dioxide is saturating the blood. The body is not getting the fuel it needs to function. Furthermore, the body is using the little oxygen it has to power itself and creating more CO2 as a byproduct of metabolism.

This leads to something called respiratory acidosis (carbon dioxide combines with water to form carbonic acid, H2CO3) and can ultimately be measured as a drop in the pH of the blood. The body tries to fix this in two ways:

  1. It tries to balance the extra acid by producing more base (in the form of bicarbonate).
  2. It tries to excrete the extra acid via the kidneys (meaning that your body tries to pee out the carbonic acid and hold on to the bicarbonate).

After the body maxes out the effectiveness of these two methods of maintaining acid/base balance, it may move on to another compensatory mechanism: increased erythropoiesis. That is to say, it will increase the number of circulating red blood cells. These extra red blood cells, the body thinks, will help more oxygen circulate through the blood. It makes sense because oxygen attaches itself to the hemoglobin in the red blood cells as if it was riding on a trolley through San Francisco. It travels to where it needs to go, then hops off to power a muscle somewhere.

Unfortunately, too many red blood cells can be produced. When this happens, it is called polycythemia. Simply stated, too many red blood cells can clog up your blood vessels, leading to impaired circulation and even stroke.

Another thing your body does when faced with decreased oxygen supply is to cut off circulation to parts of your lungs. This increases the blood pressure in your lungs, which increases the amount of effort the right side of your heart needs to exert to push the blood through your lungs, which can then lead to right-sided heart failure.

On top of all that, increased levels of CO2 in your blood causes headaches, confusion, sleepiness, and increased intracranial pressure (in and around your brain).

Scientists who have studied this know what’s going on and know how to make it better. They’re called physicians. I’m sure that if you had any of these symptoms, you would trust the experts with your care.

There are other scientists who study what happens to the earth on a larger scale if too much carbon dioxide builds up in our external environment. They’re called climate scientists.

Think about it.

Reference: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/301574-overview

A Secular Easter for the Restivus

It it always important to remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays in the same ways. There is always someone out there that does something different. And different is ok. Teaching our children this as we celebrate our holidays is an integral way to move us toward a more tolerant and accepting society. This post is how our family celebrated Easter this year, starting with learning about the history of this holiday.

Before the Christian religion co-opted Easter as its own holiday, the Anglo-Saxons celebrated the goddess of fertility and spring, Eostre. The symbolism surrounding modern-day Easter can easily be explained by exploring how the Anglo-Saxons celebrated: Eostre’s earthly symbol was the rabbit and, quite obviously, eggs are symbols of fertility.

As I reflect on this, I cannot help but notice the switch from celebrating a woman for her life-giving power to celebrating something quite the opposite. In any event, our family set out to commemorate Eostre, do some science, and enjoy a lovely spring day.

First, we started a little science experiment to make an egg that bounces. The experiment is still in progress. But we did the first step:

  1. Place egg in bowl and cover with vinegar.
  2. Wait 3 days for the completion of a chemical reaction between the calcium carbonate of the eggshell and the acetic acid in the vinegar. (You can see some bubbles of carbon dioxide forming on the egg below.)

We’ll see if it works.

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Next, we dyed eggs experimenting with natural materials. The materials we chose were beets, purple sweet potatoes, spinach, and turmeric.

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To make the dye, we placed a generous amount of each into their own pot of boiling water along with 2 tablespoons of vinegar and simmered for 30 minutes.

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After straining the natural materials from the dye mixtures, we let them cool for a bit before placing the already hard-boiled eggs in them to soak up the dye. Natural dyes are not as intense as the dyes from the store, but they are beautiful.

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And you get mashed purple sweet potatoes!

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We finished up our family secular Easter for the Restivus with mud puddles and shooting hoops. Fun!

UPDATE: After 4 days, we removed our eggs from the vinegar and, sure enough, they bounced!

My son shot this video as he instructed his sister to bounce it higher.

She didn’t, so he bounced his higher. This is what happened:

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Motherhood, Medicine, and Institutionalized Sexism: A Personal Story

(Originally posted on JanetteDeFelice.com 10/14/2016)

Discrimination and Motherhood

I have never before felt discriminated against before I became a mother. I was always encouraged to follow my passions, my dreams, always excelled in school. I never felt the need to take a home economics course, as I was going to be a career woman. Never did I think that institutionalized sexism would hold me back.

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Excited about pursuing a career in medicine.

I became a mother later in life, not getting pregnant until age 35. I had pursued every dream, every passion, as I had been encouraged to do up until that point. I did, however, start to feel my biological clock start ticking around age 30. And, when I finally met and settled down with Mr. Right, we started trying to get pregnant. Nothing happened.

Not knowing whether or not we would be successful with a pregnancy, I decided to move on with my life while we continued to try to have a family. After the untimely and unexpected death of my mother, I was propelled to follow another dream of mine. To attend medical school. (I say “attend medical school” instead of “become a physician” because I guess I didn’t really know what the day-to-day life of a doctor was at that time, let alone residency – the required low-paying position that leads to licensure and board certification.) I had already taken all the required pre-medical courses and decided I would take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) and see how I did. Well, I scored pretty well. So I decided to apply to medical school and got in.

Part of me knew, however, that if my husband and I were successful in our quest to start a family, my career would probably suffer. But what was I to do? Not pursue an interesting and challenging career? Not pursue having a child? Both noble pursuits indeed. In the end, I figured it would all work itself out. And I entered medical school in the fall of 2008.

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Late night on-call studying.
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Scrubs and socks.

Medical school was hard, as anticipated, but nothing I couldn’t handle. So I decided to throw some fertility treatments into the mix. As anyone in the know knows, juggling a relationship with a significant other while in med school is quite a challenge. Try being the perfect wife, the perfect student, and the perfect female procreating specimen. Well, lest you say it cannot be done, I am here to tell you that it can.

The first couple of quarters, I earned all A’s and B’s (well, one A and the rest B’s), and served both as a student representative to the Educational Affairs Committee and as a news editor for the student newspaper.

By the end of first year, after one abandoned IUI (intrauterine insemination) cycle in which my follicles were overstimulated and one IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle, I became pregnant. And not just pregnant, but pregnant with twins. The first time I saw two little specks on the ultrasound at 6 weeks, I knew my career would be in jeopardy. And I kind of freaked out.

I was supposed to participate in a summer research project regarding medical education, but was not able to because of my unbearable morning (all-day, all-night) sickness. I had wanted to participate in research about medical education because I, as an experienced adjunct professor in the humanities and child of a grade school teacher and college professor, saw many flaws in the way I and my colleagues were being educated. There had to be a better way than just memorizing astounding amounts of information, regurgitating with a number 2 pencil on a scantron, and repeating.

And the method of feeding all that information to the students? An instructor would stand in the front of the lecture hall reading a pre-prepared PowerPoint presentation word-for-word. There was no actual “teaching.” No wonder I continued to do just fine even after I stopped attending class to travel to the city for fertility treatments.

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Studying in the hospital–neurology notes at my knee. (NOTE: According to my OB/GYN clerkship supervisor, none of my experience with my high-risk twin pregnancy counted toward having any knowledge of OB/GYN.)

“And Who’s Going to Take Care of these Babies?”

At the point that I backed out of the summer research project, I was still telling people that I had a “medical issue.” I was a bit frightened about coming out and telling others, the dean of students included, that not only was I pregnant, but I was having twins. The day finally came when summer break ended, second year started, and I started looking like I had been eating a few too many potato chips.

I made an appointment to discuss some “personal issues” with the dean of students. She was a female who had previously given a presentation to the students about what it was like to be a woman in medicine, about her difficulties getting pregnant, about a spontaneous abortion experience that altered her career decisions, how she had an adopted a now college-aged daughter, and how she lived in a different state than her husband so they could both pursue their careers. I figured this meeting wouldn’t be too uncomfortable.

I think my attitude really said it all about how I was influenced to feel as a pregnant woman in medical school. I went into the meeting apologizing. (For what? Who apologizes about willingly and successfully starting a much-longed-for family?) I told her I was pregnant, and she took that in stride. But when I told her I was having twins, she asked me, in a condescending tone, “And who’s going to take care of these babies?”

I was somewhat taken aback and totally offended. I was a married 35-year-old woman. I replied, “My husband and I are.” Um, ok. This does not bode well for my career.

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Day after emergency C-section to deliver 32-week twins.

“Doesn’t your job offer parental leave for new fathers?”

I remember naively asking my husband, “Doesn’t your job offer parental leave for new fathers?” as I was studying for medical school exams while caring for newborn premature twins. The answer was a big no. This was so astounding to me. I painfully came to the conclusion that just because I was a woman, I was the one who was supposed to sacrifice my career. Ouch! Never had I expected such discrimination in the land of opportunity. I refused to let this phase me, however, and continued straight through school and hospital rotations until a year later when I just physically could not continue, due to stress-related back pain and severe lack of sleep.

After a 6-month leave of absence, I returned to hospital rotations, and received glowing recommendations from my superiors. I graduated soon after and was offered two different resident physician positions outside the residency matching system.

For many reasons, I turned them both down.

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Mama and son.

“Mama, why are you a little bit mad?”

My kids are very tuned in to my facial expressions these days. “I’m not mad. I’m just thinking.” I’m thinking about how I worked very hard to get through medical school and I feel like I’m precisely nowhere. Well, that’s not exactly true. I get to spend time teaching and guiding my school-age children. I get to have on the planet the people that I wanted to put on the planet, instead of having them raised by someone outside of my family with a completely different value system. That’s something.

Before seeking a residency, I got advice from many physicians (mostly male). “Your kids will be fine,” they would tell me. But I don’t want my kids to be fine. I want them to thrive. I want them to feel safe, like someone’s there that has their backs no matter what. So this is the sacrifice I made. I guess it wasn’t such a difficult choice when the only two options were to devote my life to being an underpaid resident physician, working both day and night hours, missing out on contributing myself to the early lives of my children, or to devote my life to two little human beings who, I often pictured to be floundered in the world without their dad (working a lot) or their mom (working even more).

My husband has now advanced at his job and I feel happy to give him the support that he gave me during medical school. I have even begun to feel proud at times and to reframe the traditional marriage model as a partnership.

Still, the field of medicine calls to me. And I have a call for the field of medicine in return. At this point however, because of the timing in my life, I think that ship has sailed for me.

But there are other women out there who want to pursue medicine AND motherhood. This male-centric model of medical education has got to be pushed aside to keep up with the times. (It’s important, when understanding where the male-centric model of residency comes from, to explain that medical residents were traditionally young, single men who actually lived in the hospital.) Times are changing, more varied and diverse groups of people are aching to join the field, aching to help people. If we had more flexible, extended residencies that allowed people to tend to both their work and family lives, we wouldn’t have a shortage of doctors. Instead of keeping the barriers up and keeping the non-traditional, highly educated women out of the field, they should be welcomed and accommodated for.

I now hold an M.D. (medical doctor) degree, and I’m apparently qualified to do absolutely nothing. Leaving medical school owing many hundreds of thousands in student debt, the only job I could get (outside of residency) was teaching clinical skills at the medical school from which I graduated. The pay was about $16,000 a year. Quality childcare for the twins was about $19,000 a year. Thinking that one opportunity might lead to another, I put my children in preschool and just paid the difference. Given the amount of education and debt, after almost a year, I decided it didn’t make sense.

I am currently a work-at-home mom.

5 MORE Easy Ways to Make a Positive Difference RIGHT NOW

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post called 5 Easy Ways You Can Make a Positive Difference in the World RIGHT NOW.

Here are 5 more:

1. Divest. Move your money from a for-profit bank to a not-for-profit credit union. Credit unions offer the same benefits as banks, but you become an owner. The purpose of a for-profit bank is just that – to make money. Banks invest in things like the Dakota Access Pipeline and expect a return on their investment. Putting your money in those banks helps them invest in projects that you may not support. Credit unions are a much better option.

2. Find your park. Did you know that park rangers for the National Park Service were early leaders in the resistance? They were the first group of federal employees the Trump administration gagged because they sent out that famous (now deleted) tweet decrying Trump’s claim that the inauguration crowd was YUUUUGE.

Also, on January 24, 2017 Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Oversight Committee that refused to investigate Trump, introduced House Bill 621, to sell off 3.3 million acres of federal park lands. Luckily, because he was met with such resistance he withdrew the bill.

Support the NPS and post a picture with the hashtag #FindYourPark. (If you’re in the Chicago area, the closest is Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.)

3. Subscribe to a reputable news outlet. Show your support for investigative journalism (and the 1st Amendment). With the Republican majority in Congress, freedom of the press seems to be the only check or balance we have on executive power these days. You can even give a gift subscription to someone who may need to be a little more informed. As the Washington Post‘s new slogan says: Democracy Dies in Darkness.

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4. Support STEM/STEAM education. STEM/STEAM teaches critical thinking, creativity, ingenuity, and problem-solving. Students who are educated Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math are, literally, going to save the world.

STEAM, not just STEM Education Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

5. Take care of you. Seriously, fighting fascism is exhausting. Especially when you feel like just one little, tiny person fighting a giant cabal. Take a day or two every now and again to recenter yourself. Then get back in the fight again!

Do you know of any more easy ways to change the world for the better? Please share them in the comments below.

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