Twilight Sleep: a Thing of the Past?

A friend and I were talking about our experiences with giving birth to our eldest children, and the discussion naturally turned to pain relief.  In discussing that, I had to ask whether the era of “twilight sleep” is truly a thing of the past.

For those who don’t know about it, twilight sleep is when the mother is given an injection of morphine and scopolamine.  The morphine was to deaden the pain and the scopolamine produced an amnesiac effect so she wouldn’t remember the pain.  This was the common practise from c1914-the 1940s or a little later.  Unfortunately, it also had the effect of hampering bonding by removing the mother from the experience of birth.  It also depressed the baby’s central nervous system.  And so the practise fell out of fashion.

Or did it?  True, they no longer inject women with scopolamine to induce an amnesiac state, and morphine itself isn’t usually used, but other opioid drugs such as pethidine or diamorphine are commonly used.  My friend and I both received these injections: I was given pethidine (combined with an antiemetic) and she was given diamorphine.  We agreed that the drugs didn’t actually deaden the pain, but they made it so we couldn’t truly respond to the pain.  In my case, the antiemetic also made me incredibly drowsy.  Both drugs cross the placenta and have a depressive effect on the baby’s respiration, and may interfere with breastfeeding.  This isn’t sounding too different from twilight sleep.

I have to say that I also don’t see the point of giving an amnesiac drug during labour.  I won’t say that I forgot the pain, but I didn’t care about it once the child was born.  The endorphins we get during labour are also quite powerful.  A little support in a calm environment can go a long way, really.  I’m not saying women shouldn’t have access to pain relief if they want it, but let’s make it pain relief that actually relieves pain instead of depressing our ability to respond to it, and pain relief that doesn’t have the potential to interfere with/hamper breastfeeding or depress our babies’ breathing.

Crafty Thursday

It’s been quite a busy week for us.  We’ve gone to the zoo, we’ve splashed in the paddling pool, we’ve played outside, we’ve walked down to the river, we’ve had dentist appointments, and we’ve ridden on trains and buses.  All that is to say that I’ve not had time to do much in the way of knitting or sewing.  I did finish two skirts, and I’ve continued working on my sweater.

Co-Sleeping in the News

You may have read recently about co-sleeping being blamed for the death of an infant.  Any time a child dies it is tragic, and I am in no way trying to minimise the parents’ loss.  I cannot fathom losing my child, to be honest.

That being said, I am also appalled that co-sleeping is being blamed for the death.  Co-sleeping is not to blame – unsafe co-sleeping is.  See, the mother had drunk a bottle of wine on an empty stomach before falling asleep with her child.  Advocates of co-sleeping would all agree that mothers should not co-sleep if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol (see Dr McKenna and UNICEF’s study and statement.  (By the way, it’s perfectly fine to have a drink when breastfeeding, in moderation.)  Yet despite this, the article ends with the following lines:

Health bosses have also warned parents against falling asleep with their baby.

A spokesman for NHS Bolton said, ‘There is no advice which can guarantee the prevention of sudden infant deaths but there are a number of things parents and carers can do to reduce the risk to their baby.

‘The safest place for a baby to sleep for the first six months is in a cot, Moses basket or crib in their parents’ room and it is dangerous for a baby to sleep in a normal bed or on a sofa or armchair.’

Notice that they don’t say “co-sleeping is safe if you follow these guidelines” or “don’t over-drink when caring for an infant (regardless of where they sleep but especially not if co-sleeping)”.  No, they instead say that any bed-sharing is dangerous.  Full stop.

But what if a child had been placed in a cot to sleep, but there were extraneous blankets and toys in the cot and the baby suffocated?  Would there then be a prohibition against cot-sleeping?  No, they’d simply remind parents not to put extraneous items in the cot and to place the child on his back with his feet to the foot of the cot.

Yet when it’s a practise followed by “attachment parents”, as with co-sleeping or babywearing*, then the reaction seems to be to condemn the practise outright without acknowledging the benefits of the practise and the fact that it can be done safely.  This is infuriating not just because these are practises I like, but because it doesn’t give parents the full picture and therefore makes it more difficult for them to make informed decisions.

Actually, I just noticed that Bolton’s hospital were awarded Stage 1 UNICEF Baby-Friendly status, which means their policies and procedures were evaluated.  If I’m not mistaken, that means they should have a policy written that allows for safe co-sleeping, since co-sleeping certainly makes breastfeeding easier.  That almost makes it more infuriating, since it was a spokesman from NHS Bolton who is quoted above.

*  thinking of the knee-jerk reactions when it was shown that certain carriers were unsafe, though most babywearing is perfectly safe and even beneficial

Book Nook

I had Buggly Bear’s Hiccup Cure by True Kelley as a child, and my parents brought it to us when they last visited.  I sat down and read it to Charlotte during one of the few times she wasn’t demanding a book written by Julia Donaldson and/or illustrated by Axel Scheffler.  I honestly wasn’t sure she was enjoying the book at the time, but ever since reading it she’ll randomly come up to us and say “Hic!” like Buggly Bear does.  I guess it made an impression on her.  Kieran won’t let us try any of the hiccup cures on him, though.

But I Don’t Wanna!

I was reading a post over at The Ranter’s blog that really hit me.  She was talking about not taking the time to honour God and not taking the time to fall in love with Him.  Yeah, I’m guilty of that.  So often I think “but I don’t want to pray right now – I just sat down and actually have a minute without the kids and just want to sit”.

In reading that post, though, it occurred to me that my feelings really shouldn’t affect whether I do something or not.  Do I choose not to change my daughter’s nappy just because I don’t want to do it?  No.  Do I turn my children away when they want me to read, even if it’s a book I don’t especially like or just read 5 minutes ago?  No.  So why can’t I do the same for God.  I may not always feel like it, but I should do it anyway as an act of love.

I can’t say that I don’t have time, because I do if I just prioritise.  I can also pray as I’m doing housework.  While I’m not at all consistent in this, I do find it helps to mentally put myself before the Tabernacle, on my knees before Jesus.  Hopefully, with the grace of God, I can remember to do that more, doing everything while mentally before Him, if I can’t be there physically due to my responsibilities (and whether the parish is open).

Jessica

Today would’ve been the 29th birthday of a childhood friend, Jessica.  We grew up together, going to school together from Kindergarten to 12th grade.  We lived 5.5 miles from each other.  We were constantly at each other’s houses and knew the entire families.  We’d had a falling out our senior year, something I still regret.  I was a bit of an ass that year.  We went to different universities, and therefore didn’t talk as often, but it was nice knowing she was there.  She came to my wedding with her boyfriend, though we didn’t get to talk much then (that’s the way it goes when it’s your wedding, it seems).

When I was pregnant with Kieran, she sent me a wrap and some dinosaur toys.  I wore Kieran in the wrap quite a bit when he was small.  Then she was pregnant with her son and we talked a lot more.  Of course we then both got busy with various things and didn’t talk as much.  I hadn’t known she was pregnant again with a little girl.  Last year my best friend sent me a note to make sure I knew that Jess had died.  Of course, being an ocean away I didn’t know.  As it turns out, she’d gotten a kidney infection during the pregnancy.  It was bad enough that they needed to operate, but something went wrong.  She and her daughter both died.  I miss her, and then I feel hypocritical because I didn’t talk to her all that much before she died.  I wish I had, though.  I did just talk to her mother this week.  It had been a year since I’d last spoken with her, and it was nice to chat.

Eternal rest grant unto them, Oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon their faces.  May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

O Good Jesu, Hear Me

I’m continuing with looking at the Anima Christi prayer. If you want a more in-depth theological look at it, I highly recommend Micah’s posts over at The Ranter’s blog. Here’s the full text of the prayer:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
For all eternity
Amen

O good Jesu, hear me.

On the face of it, this doesn’t seem like a profound statement.  OK, so it’s a prayer to Jesus and we’re asking Him to hear us, what’s the big deal?  I sometimes (OK, often) forget how amazing this is.  Our God isn’t far-off and we don’t have to wake Him or somehow make a fuss to get His attention.  He’s listening, He’s with us.

I think it’s apt that this phrase falls today, the day we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi here.  The day we celebrate the miracle of the Eucharist, wherein Jesus gives us His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Of course we can always talk to Jesus and know that He hears us, but going before Him in the Blessed Sacrament and talking to Him there, bringing Him our cares, worries, hopes, joys: ourselves, in short.  Well, it’s amazing to think of, and to be reminded that He is there, waiting for us and listening.  While we entreat Him to hear us, perhaps the real reminder here is that He is there waiting for us, there offering Himself for us so that we might have eternal life.  I’m going to post the Gospel reading from today below.  I know I’ve gotten a little off the topic of the Anima Christi prayer, but I think these things work together.

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
 whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51-58)