Sophie Currier will get extra time to pump milk for her baby. See here
We have baby fine soft hair at my house. This is hair that will slide out of any barrette or braid. This is hair that tangles when someone only looks at you. This is hair that tangles when someone doesn’t look at you. Combing it is a nightmare–but it constantly needs to be combed.
Neutrogena’s line of triple moisture products works for our baby-fine, fly-away, easily tangled hair. I’ve used it for over a year. The shampoo and conditioner clean well, leave no residue, and don’t weigh the hair down. They leave it less tangly than others. The leave-in conditioner is a true breakthrough. The tangles just comb right through after we put that on. It does not make your hair stiff as many of the leave-in conditioner sprays do. Barrettes still fall right out–but at least the hair can be combed.
Do you have fine hair? Or do you have children who do? How do you manage it? My 8 year old princess wants to have very long hair, but she has the same poor hair genes I do. How can I keep her looking nice when nothing will stay in?
See more Works-for-Me-Wednesday tips at Rocks In My Dryer
So, I thought the case of Sophie Currier was open and shut, but then I did a bit more digging. Hers is not the ideal test case for advancing the cause of nursing mothers. Because she has dyslexia and ADHD the exam board had already granted that she take the normally one day test over the course of two days. It’s one thing to ask for a concession, it may be another to ask for concession on top of concession. So much for that. Anyway, even if Currier is a poor standardbearer (and I’m not sure that she is, I’m simply not sure that she isn’t), her case raises interesting issues.
One thing that surprised me was the venomous tone of so many of the comments on her blog. The mommy blogs I read are all of the type that attract sympathetic commenters. People comment because they agree with you and want to say something nice. Currier’s blog is wallpapered with people who wanted to tell her what a whiner she was, what a disgrace to working women she was, what a disservice she was doing for nursing mothers, how stupid she was, how her litigiousness was the root of all ill in our society, what a poor physician she would be, and how foolish she was to choose to have children during medical school. Whew! Ouch.
All of this fills me with 100 different blogposts I would like to write, but as always, I don’t have time.
So, two questions:
1. When one has a disability, when should one ask for a concession or accommodation? What is the force of “should” in the previous sentence? When is it morally proper to ask for/expect an accommodation? When does it make sense to ask for an accommodation from the perspective of life efficacy?
This issue is becoming very real for me because my daughter has a disability. She has very poor fine motor control. This makes her handwriting nearly illegible. She can write legibily but only with great difficulty and extremely slowly. Unfortunately, her challenges are beginning to color her entire school experience. I don’t want her to decide that she hates school or even worse to conclude that she simply isn’t very intelligent. From that perspective, it makes sense to give her the wings that keyboarding allows. She can type much faster than she can write. She will never write well. Why not let her start typing everything now? It’s pretty clear that if we push it, her school will make accommodations that allow her to avoid most handwriting. But avoiding handwriting now, when her struggles are the greatest, means she will need an entire lifetime of accommodations. She will be unable to fill out a job application without a computer or help from another person.
So: When is it best to soldier through a problem, doing one’s best in light of disappointing results? When is it best to throw in the towel and acknowledge one’s limitations?
2. How should the availability of birth control color how we view timing of motherhood and working motherhood decisions? Many who left comments on Currier’s blog felt that she had no business planning pregnancies for the lifestage she did given the demands she knew her program would present. These weren’t people urging Currier to become a SAHM, but rather people opining that if she was serious about being a physician she didn’t have any business shorting that side of her life in order to bear children.
This is a photograph of me nursing Duncan during a break in the graduation ceremonies when I received my PhD. I know something about school and I know something about nursing, so recent newsmedia coverage of the Harvard medical student who asked for extra time on her licensure examination caught my eye. The student, Sophie Currier, has a blog on which she makes her case and where many of her colleagues have attacked her. Is Sophie a whiner or a winner?
AP coverage initially made the case sound open and shut. Currier has to take a 9 hour exam and asked for extra time in order to pump breast milk for her 4 month old baby. The exam board turned her down. The judge rejected her request saying,
“The plaintiff may take the test and pass, notwithstanding what she considers to be unfavorable conditions. The plaintiff may delay the test, which is offered numerous times during the year, until she has finished her breast-feeding and the need to express milk.”
When I first read this I was appalled. What was that judge thinking? Unfavorable conditions? As a person who struggles with engorgement, clogged ducts and mastitis, I don’t believe that having insufficient time to pump is merely an “unfavorable condition.” It is a very big deal. Breastfeeding mothers can’t simply skip a day. I imagine there’s considerable individual variation, but at times I have had trouble just skipping 4 hours! And, supposing we forget pain and suffering, what about the importance of sustaining the milk supply? Not nursing for an extended period is not a good idea. The result is a precipitous drop in your milk supply. This is a problem that is hard to fix because when your milk supply drops, your baby still needs milk. If you feed the baby artificial baby milk or previously pumped milk, you miss the stimulation your body needs to trigger an increase in milk production.
I did not like the judge’s phrase “[when] she has finished her breast-feeding.” 1) Calling it “her breast-feeding” makes is sound as though it is merely a lifestyle choice, as if this is about what color of hair to have. But breastfeeding isn’t some kind of feel good/I’m in touch with nature thing (or at least not only), it is about the health of mother and baby. See my other post here.
2) When did the judge think she would be “finished”? Sure, plenty of women in the U.S. only breastfeed for a few weeks or months. But breastfeeding much longer is better for the mother and the baby. The World Health Organization recommends nursing to age 2. Granted, the urgency of pumping would drop off before the baby turned two. However, if our society is going to welcome women into the workforce, it is a mistake to encourage women to see progress in their careers as balanced against the opportunity to nurse their children. Ultimately, fewer women will nurse and they will nurse for shorter periods. And other women who would have been assets in the workforce will opt out in favor of their children.
So today I went to Costco to get my new prescription filled. I was assured that this one will be safe for nursing since it is topical rather than oral. Finally, I can get rid of this infection. I pick up my prescription and head for the milk aisle. Oh, but what’s that? Duncan needs to go to the bathroom. We turn and head the other direction. While waiting for Duncan, I open the stapled pharmacy bag. I take the package insert out of the box and begin reading. It says the usual “Full clinical trials of difficult-to-pronounce-drug have not been done, but levels in plasma are similar to when hard-to-pronounce drug is taken orally. Due to tumorgenicity in mice and rats . . . . What? So my new more expensive, less convenient (because topical rather than oral) prescription, will have the same effect on my bloodstream (and presumably my milk) as the first prescription? The prescription with the big “DO NOT USE IF BREASTFEEDING” flap on the label?
1. My infection is still untreated, and it’s almost a week later.
2. I want a new doctor.
You can’t get through life if you read all the fine print. Anyone who owns a computer (not another EULA! ) or has bought a home (endless title & mortgage paperwork) knows this. I, however, have found some fine print that works for me : the pharmacy literature that comes with prescriptions.
Seven months ago, I was about to give birth. Today I have a charming nursling. Two different doctors have prescribed medicine dangerous for my condition (pregnant or breastfeeding) in these past seven months. When it happened last week, I was given every assurance that the Rx was safe to take while breastfeeding. The pharmacy info assured me that it wasn’t. After the fact, my doctor offered her apologies. I accept them (we all make mistakes), but I don’t know that I will trust her again.
Remember: you are the best guardian of your own and your sweet baby’s health. Rx mistakes are much more likely in case of pregnancy or breastfeeding. Beware!
P.S. Did you know that some medicines that would be fine to take in your second or third trimester should not be taken right before you expect to give birth? I didn’t–until I learned it from the Rx literature I’d been prescribed immediately before my due date.
See more Works-For-Me-Wednesday ideas at Rocks in my dryer.
Okay, I just got totally carried away commenting on a post at Mormon Mommy Wars Unfortunately, I was very late to join that thread and I don’t think anyone will ever read it, so I’m going to copy my comment here with a few modifications.
Did you see the Washington Post article that came out last week?
There is a problem in our country. Moms are constantly marketed to by formula companies. No one markets breastfeeding. The Washington Post Article I linked to discusses how the government was going to market breastfeeding, but then formula companies fought and fought and fought to get the message softened and they won.
I understand why people favor the softer message. There are a whole lot of women out there (my mother and most of my friends) who have fed their babies formula. No one wants to hear that they haven’t done the best thing for the baby. The problem is, too often we allow our reticence not to hurt others feelings (which is a good thing) keep the truth about the importance of breastfeeding hidden. And then another generation of mothers turns to formula. Unfortunately, breastfeeding can be really, really hard. We want to believe what the formula companies tell us: that formula feeding is almost equal to breastfeeding. That you’re not a bad Mom if you want to give your baby a bottle.
It’s true, you are not bad if you are that Mom. Those feelings make sense and there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way! But for your baby’s sake, you need to know what the best medical studies suggest about the benefits of breastfeeding. [I strongly recommend the book So that's what they're for! It’s hilarious and has a lot of great information.]
When mothers are fully informed about the health of breastfed babies vs. bottlefed babies breastfeeding is worth the struggle in most cases. Obviously, there are exceptions. But they are *exceptions.* [Unfortunately, in our country breastfeeding for any sustained length of time is the exception. We have it backwards.] It’s true that some women can’t successfully breastfeed (although it’s a much smaller number than the number of women who believe they are in this category). Some have had breast surgery, others need medicines that make it too dangerous. But most of us can.