Saturday, March 31, 2007

Our Social Butterfly

One of Casey's teachers called me yesterday just to fill me in on Casey's progress (how cool is that, by the way!). She was telling me how much he'd grown and improved -- how much better he pays attention now, and how well he is doing answering questions.

Here are some things I learned about Casey:
  • He will try new foods (!) at school-- she asks him to take a friendly bite before throwing it away, and he does. (As you might imagine, we'll be sending in some new foods in his lunch this week!)
  • He is very popular. He is the only child in the class who plays with all the children in the class-- boys and girls. In fact, just the other day he was "kickin' it with the girls in the kitchen." (Ah! Smart boy!)
  • He understands quite a lot and can sometimes answer two-part questions. Last week when the teacher asked who he loved and why, Casey said, "My mommy and daddy because they take care of me!"
  • He insists on taking off his shoes before nap time. But he takes them off and puts them back on by himself.
  • He can dress and undress himself on his own.
  • He can almost completely make his own bed (!) for nap time (which means putting a fitted sheet on the mattress/pad).
  • He is generally a happy kid, and all the teachers know who he is.

It's so nice to hear a positive report. I know that teachers get busy, whether they have 5 students or 180 students. And so special kudos to Casey's teacher for taking 20 minutes (!) to chat with me about how wonderful my son is!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Civil Litigation

So I've written in the past about how I'm in my last semester of law school and I'll be studying for the bar this summer. In August, I received and accepted an offer to work at a prestigious law firm here in San Diego after the bar. The offer was to join the firm, but not to any particular practice group. By the end of the summer, I knew I wanted to work in the litigation group, but so did all the other summer associates I'd worked with. And I knew it was unlikely there would be enough spots in the litigation practice for all of us. Still, I weighed my options-- I could have applied to other firms this fall to ensure a litigation position somewhere else in San Diego, for instance. That would have meant interviewing at law firms right after I returned from China, and I just didn't think that would be great for bonding with Marcie. Plus I really like the firm I worked at last summer. They are one of only two firms named as one of the 100 best places in the U.S. for Working Mothers. So I took the offer (immediately and without hesitation), and I've been waiting ever since to see which practice group they'd place me in.

For those of you who don't know this, different lawyers actually do completely different kinds of things. Corporate attorneys who work on mergers and acquisitions, for example, do very little research of case law. They rarely (if ever) write briefs, appear in court, or write legal memoranda. They interact with clients quite a lot, advising them. They stay very current on laws and changes in laws and regulations. They tend to be pretty good at networking because it benefits their clients to know who to merge with and/or acquire. Litigators, on the other hand, are what we tend to see on television. They sue people and they defend lawsuits. They research caselaw, write legal briefs, appear in court and make oral arguments. They negotiate to settle claims, and sometimes they even take a case to trial. Now, there are different types of litigation, of course-- people who sue (or defend) medical malpractice suits or personal injury cases, or reclaim money for insurance companies (called insurance subrogation work). There are positive things about both types of attorneys. And there are disadvantages to both types of work. One thing I've discovered is that I really love litigation work and am not so hot on corporate work. I'd do it and do a good job at it, I think. But I wouldn't love it.

Anyway, today I got the news. I've been assigned to our litigation group! This could mean doing employment litigation, or securities litigation, or regular business litigation. All of which sounds fantastic to me because it involves litigation! No word yet on when I'll start my new, fabulous job (which is not to say I don't love my current, fabulous job-- because I sure will miss my colleagues!). But that's okay for now. At least now when people ask, "Do you know what kind of law you'll be practicing?" I can say, "Yes. Civil litigation."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Heading for Buckeye Territory . . .

I finally booked our tickets to Ohio. Casey has been asking to go on a great big airplane, so we thought, "Heck! Why not!" And we purchased some air tickets.

Just kidding. As much as we enjoy indulging Casey and his transportation requests, and as much as we've enjoyed our train, bus, boat, and trolley adventures, this trip is because we love visiting Casey's birth family. The fact that we have to travel by plane to get there is just an added bonus for Casey. Or not. Guess we'll see what he thinks after the long day of travel.

Still, there's something exciting and final about having actually purchased tickets. Wow.

Guess What We Found!

Way back when, in preparation for our trip to China, we set up Marcie's nursery. As you may (or may not) recall, we had a little . . . uh . . . difficulty because we couldn't find the screws to our crib. We ended up borrowing a crib from my brother Bryan and sister in law Tram. They are expecting a child in June, and although they don't plan to transition the new baby to the crib for about 6 months after the birth, we will be returning the crib in time for his (or her) birth. As it happens, Marcie is ready (we think) to transition out of her crib, and we'll begin that process in the next few weeks. (Yes. 16 months is early. But she is a climber. And she sleeps better in the bed than the crib. And Casey transitioned just fine at 18 months-- a mere week before he flipped himself out of the pack n play at his grandparents' house.)

Of course, given that we are about ready to break down this borrowed crib, what did we find in our study this weekend? Yup. The screws. Apparently we'd put them in a safe place so we would know right where to find them when we adopted our second child. No idea why we thought that we'd remember putting them on top of the filing cabinet in the back corner of a closet in the study would be the perfect spot for them. As you might imagine, we'll be taping them to the crib for future use . . .

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bravery and Confrontation

Today we visited the Wild Animal Park to check out the new tour into the Heart of Africa. It's a bio-diesel bus ride that lasts between 20 and 30 minutes and drives through enclosures belonging to animals from Africa. The usual tram ride we are accustomed to has been closed down and will be closed for about 4 years. I guess the electric tracks used to break a lot. So we missed our usual tour, but it was nice to try out something new.

We approached Simba Station and proceeded through the switchback lines that pretty much define all lines these days. The Animal Park has metal ones installed, and they had several sections of it still closed off so we weren't forced to wind through an insane number of switchbacks. We couldn't just duck under the rails because we had the double-wide stroller with us, both kids buckled in. And that meant everyone behind us was pretty much stuck, too. There was a family of five in front of us, and they did duck under the rails. But it's not like they cut anyone off.

Imagine my irritation when we arrived behind this family of five, after following the trail through the metal fencing to our spot in line and there was another woman behind them-- in front of us. Now, we had wound through the line long enough behind the family of five that I was confident the only way this woman could have ended up between us and them was if she had ducked under the metal poles. Which meant she also cut in front of the five to seven parties of people behind us. Now I admit one person in front of us really isn't that big a deal-- it wasn't going to keep us off the bus we would normally have ridden on. But still. People should not cut in line.

I'm not sure what I was thinking, but the next thing I knew, I was talking to the this woman. "Excuse me, you're not with that group in front of you, are you?"

(I have to interject here to just let you know that I have this cold, the tail end of which leads to major laryngitis. Not only do I not have control over how audible every syllable is, but this laryngitis has pretty much destroyed my ability to modulate my voice. So I guess I was kind of loud. Not intentionally, mind you. But it probably made the woman even more uncomfortable than be confronting her in the first place.)

She told me she was not with the group in front of us. And if she had said she was, I probably would not have pressed further, even though I would have known she was lying. But she admitted she was on her own. So then I said, "So you do know, then, that you just cut in front of us and all the people behind us, then, right?"

She actually denied it! She said she hadn't cut in front of us at all. "Really?" I pushed even further. "Because when we got in line we were immediately behind that family in front of you. And we followed them all the way through the line until they began ducking under the bars. And we couldn't duck under the bars because we have the stroller. So the only way you could have ended up between us and them is if you cut in line. By going under the bars."

Ok. So I said my piece. But she didn't let it go. She actually said something along the lines of, "Well the line isn't defined by the fencing/bars. That's just ridiculous!" And of course, I couldn't let that go.

"Of course it is," I responded. "That's why all those people are behind us. Because we blocked their way in the line. That's why the Animal Park has the metal bars-- to show people where to go. And you just cut in line in front of all those people who waited their turn behind us."

She said, again, "That's ridiculous." And then, as she passed us to go to the end of the line, she said, loudly enough for my kids to hear: "You bitch!"

My legs were shaking. I'm not sure why I confronted this woman. I did not respond to her calling me a bitch. A woman in front of the family that was supposed to be in front of us turned and gave me a thumbs up. The man behind me tapped me on the shoulder and thanked me for saying something. I swear, I'm not normally confrontational about stuff like that! I might complain-- even loudly-- to Jason about it, but I wouldn't normally confront the person. I have no idea what came over me. . . and I secretly avoided the mean woman in the brown jacket the rest of the time we were at the park. But at the same time, I'm kind of proud of myself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Recently Overheard

Kids say the darnedest things. I think there's a whole section on that in one of the parenting magazines. But I've decided to compile a very brief, recent list of what I've overheard these days (well, some of this is with the help of teachers, family members and friends-- they're good listeners, too).

Casey's teacher asked him: Casey, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Casey's reply: (Pregnant pause) Hmm. A SANDWICH!
Um. I think maybe he didn't understand the question. But doesn't it paint the most hilarious image in your mind? I just keep picturing him in a little Oscar Meyer Weiner Dog outfit, with his little head sticking out of the dog, just waving at people.

Casey was throwing toys in the classroom today.
As she observed something fly past her, one of his teachers says: Oh my, Casey. What is going on with the toys?!?
Casey replied: I don't know. I guess the toys are just falling from the sky!

Marcie threw her sippy cup off the table and onto the floor at a restaurant over the weekend. Without skipping a beat even though he was sitting on the other side of the table, Casey called out: FUMBLE! I'm not sure he knows what the word means, but he used it correctly!

This morning on the way to Grandma's house with Marcie, she squawked at me from the back seat: Mama! Mama! Us. (That's her word for bus.)
Me: Oh Marcie, what a smart girl! But that's not a bus, it's a truck.
Marcie: Us.
Me: No, Marcie. Truck. It's a truck. Truck.
Marcie: Us.
Me: Truck.
Slight pause.
Marcie: Uck.
Me: Yup. A truck.
Marcie: (Small giggle) Uck.
That's my girl.

I'm sure I'll think of more. I'd love to hear what crazy things your kids have come up with!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

This post is for my dad. He is Irish. In fact, so is my father-in-law. I have two Irish last names (though Jason insists it's Scottish). Anyway, I remember my dad always wearing green on St. Patrick's Day. Even in his pilot's uniform, he'd manage to sneak in a green tie-- or a green hat. Not a St. Patrick's Day goes by that I don't think of him. (Yes, he's alive. I realize that sounded like he might not be. It's just a day that reminds me of him.)

So these are pictures of the best I could do with getting the kids into green today.

This is Marcie in her first outfit of the day. She threw up/ spit up her antibiotics all over it, so we had to change her. (For obvious reasons.)

And this is Marcie and Casey. Sorry it's blurry. I don't know if it's because I don't have a steady hand, because they were wiggly, or because the flash didn't go off. Probably a combination of the three.

Visiting the Fire Station

Last Sunday for Casey's reward, we took him to the Oceanside Fire Station. As it happens, Casey's Aunt Tiffany (Jason's sister) is dating one of the fire fighters stationed there, and he offered to give Casey a personal tour. So we took him up on it. Now, it's a little tricky to schedule a personal tour, as you might imagine, because the fire fighters are actually working. That means they might be called out at any time.

So we go there on Sunday morning, after they'd returned to the station from an early morning call.

Now, Casey is enamored of fire trucks and ambulances. But he's only seen them out in the open-- never parked in their cramped space in the garage. So when we entered the fire station, he was a little intimidated. In fact, I think he's exact words were, "I want to go home now." Nice, huh? Here Bobby goes to all this trouble to show us the fire station, and Casey wants to go home.

Of course we didn't. We let the kids climb on the truck. Sit inside the driver seat. Stand on the back of the ambulance. Touch the pole which (theoretically) the fire fighters could slide down. We checked out the kitchen and the TV room and the locker room area.

Then Bobby took us back down to the fire truck, where he let Casey try on his uniform! This was the best part.

As we were leaving, the guys were sent out on a call, so we waved good-bye from our car to the roaring sirens as they passed.

Of course, Casey has been talking about the fire truck since our visit. He wants to know when we can go back. He likes to tell us how he got to see the big fire truck. Far cry from the kid who wanted to turn around an go home right away!

So, here are some photos from our visit:

Marcie, Casey and me on the front of the fire truck.

Casey and Marcie's Aunt Tiffany, modeling the fire fighter gear to show Casey it's really okay to try it on.
Casey's turn to put on the fire fighting gear. Jason helps with the boots and pants.

Bobby helps Casey with the jacket. It's Bobby's uniform.

All dressed up and ready to fight fires!

After removing the fire fighting gear, you can see Casey still has his fire fighter badge and his fire hat.

Marcie insists Aunt Tiffany let her hang onto the shiny pole. . .

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ear Infection(s)

As you can see from the title of this post, we have the pleasure of entertaining more pain here at the S. home this week. Poor little Marcie. She's been sporting a very slight fever for three days, and last night she was up three times with a tight-sounding cough. One different from her usually raspy, rattling hacking sound. So off to the doctor we went.

Turns out she has an ear infection in her right ear (same as last time!). Probably has one in her left ear, as well. Hard to tell with all that wax, apparently.

She's a trooper, though. We start her on the amoxicillin tonight. She's fussy. Needy. And keeps asking us to po-po her-- which means to hold her in Cantonese. How can you deny a kid who actually asks you to pick her up and hold her in two languages?!?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Un-fun of Parenting

When I read other mom blogs, more often than not, I'm touched by their diligence and compassion as parents. More often than not, the mom is writing something heart-warming about how much she loves her kids. Or what great things her kids are doing. And even if she doesn't explicitly say so, you can tell that's how she feels. Sure, every once in a while you get a sense of exasperation. But it's fleeting.

Sometimes I worry that this blog comes across as a string of complaints. And in a sense, it's a nice place to pour my concerns, my hesitations, my frustrations. To vent my failures as a parent. With every post, though, I ask myself how I would feel if my children were reading this (and understanding it) day in and day out. Would it be a fair representation of our lives? Would they be able to sense from my writing how much I love them? Would they be able to tell how important they are-- how central they are to my world?

When Jason and I were first married, I used to wonder what life would be like if something awful were to happen that took him away from me.

(Sidebar: I think about this stuff kind of frequently. Not in a morbid, death-wish-kind-of-way, but from the perspective of always having a plan. I like to have a Plan B. In my mind, I plan what I'd do in an accident. It makes me feel safe to know I have a back-up plan. This is part of what prompted one of my friends to purchase for me the book The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, which includes brief lessons on things like how to escape from quicksand, how to escape from a python, and how to break down a door. On a separate note, I just discovered the Worst Case Scenario website. I'll have to remember to bookmark it!)

Anyway, back to what I was saying. When I was first married and I'd wonder what I'd do if something terrible were to happen to Jason and leave me all alone, the thought didn't completely devastate me. I would be upset, of course (who wouldn't be?). But I thought I'd be able to pick myself up and move on forward. Of course, as the years of our marriage passed, and I became more and more dependent on being an us instead of just a me, I began to realize how difficult it'd be to do that-- to pick myself up and keep on going.

Then we found Casey. Or he found us. Maybe some of both. Anyway, my perspective shifted again. Not only could I no longer imagine my world without Jason, but now I couldn't imagine my world without Casey. And then we added Marcie to our family. So now I have triple the people the worry about! I'm not one of those overbearing-keep-my-kids-locked-inside-for-fear-something-will-happen people. I'm not a big risk taker. But I do believe in living a little. And in encouraging my kids to do the same. My point is that I just cannot imagine life without one of them. I don't want to imagine it. I don't want a Plan B. My life would feel less whole and less complete without them.

So why do I feel compelled to explain all this? Because a lot of the time on this blog, I seem to be complaining. I actually find writing very therapeutic. And I won't write just for myself. I mean, I suppose this blog is just for myself-- but it sure does help to know there are other people out there checking in on us and reading this. Gives me a sense of purpose. Like maybe someone else is commiserating, so it wasn't a waste of my time to right it down. Plus, I really do plan to archive it all for my kids.

But I want to be clear that no matter how much I kvetch, it should never underscore my love. I don't just love Casey and Marcie when they are angelic, when they are healthy, or when they are polite. I love them when I'm cleaning diaper explosions, when I picking up toys, when I'm telling them to stop asking me when we are going to see the fire truck for the 500th time. I love them when they are throwing things and screaming and asserting their independence. I love them when they are asleep, when they are crying inconsolably, when they are in destruction mode. I love them when they are hugging each other and when they are pushing each other, when they are playing quietly and when they are singing and dancing loudly. I even love them when they run off into the street nearly causing me a heart attack. One of my goals as a parent-- maybe the most important goal of all-- is that they know how much they are loved. Despite their mistakes. And despite my mistakes with them. And there will be mistakes because that's how we learn.

So when I write about the un-fun parts of parenting, it's not because it's all I'm focused on. I mean, I do seem to write about un-fun a lot. But no one should take that to mean I don't enjoy parenting. I enjoy it very much. Un-fun and all. And someday, when Casey and Marcie are adults and they read through all I've written about them, I hope they can read between the lines of my un-fun posts, too. I hope that it's there that they will see that throughout our crazy adventures as a family, all my worrying about their mischief and misbehavior is because I love them. And because I want them to be happy, healthy, confident, productive members of society. I think that's a gift my parents gave me-- a sense of self and a streak of independence, but backed with the ability to make mostly good choices and a recognition that I will continue to learn from mistakes throughout life. What a great gift. I hope I can pass it on.

Daylight Savings

It's kicking my butt. I thought for sure my early risers would just sleep in later. Not so much. Now they want to climb in bed with us, under the warmth of our covers, and wiggle and giggle and keep us awake.

I'm not even sure what time Casey joined us. We didn't fall into bed until around 2:00am this morning, and he was there, squishing me in the space between him and Jason when Marcie woke up around 5:15am. Jason went to calm her and ended up bringing her to bed, where she bounced on my stomach and called out, "Daddy." I took her back to her bed around 5:30am and fell asleep with her until I was starting my date late. Again.

Casey joined us in the early morning hours yesterday, too. When I got up with Marcie, he decided to take over most of the bed. Marcie and I came in to wake up Casey, and there was Jason-- huddled in a tiny corner while Casey sprawled regally across the rest of the surface. I should have snapped a photo.

How are you all doing with the change in time? I'm really missing having sunshine-- or even just light, really-- to help me wake up.

Oh. And Marcie is sick. A slight fever we're watching. And a cough. I suppose it could be teething, but she pretty much has all her teeth. When she gets sick, she is really fussy. I don't blame her. She's not too sick to tell me she wants nilk. And when she finishes on sippy cup full, she signs and says "more" simultaneously. She continues to amaze and impress us every day.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Declaring Poop

Despite our rough beginnings with Marcie, she has become quite regular in the bowel movement department. We can more or less count on her to need a diaper change after breakfast and after lunch. There are, of course, some exceptions-- but it holds true for the most part.

Today after lunch, she was toddling around the family room, when she paused and looked at me quizically. "Mommy. Poo poo," she said.

"Did you go poo poo, Marcie?" I asked. "What a good girl for telling Mommy."

Sure enough, when I took her to change her diaper, I discovered poop.

I think this is cool. Maybe she'll be out of diapers sooner rather than later. . .

Friday, March 09, 2007

Home Sick

Casey's preschool called this morning. They started by telling me they thought he had a fever. 99.1. Uh. That's not a fever for Casey. So I asked them to tell me more. They described him as listless, tired, sitting with his head down, asking to lay down. Just not himself. No complaints about anything hurting. Just not himself.

He's been home with me since.
We watched Alladin and ate Cheeze-its. Jason gave him popcorn for lunch. He wasn't going to eat anything else, and we figured some calories were better than none. We watched Alladin. We put new batteries in his trains so he could play. We observed the trash truck from our front window. We folded some laundry. And Jason even let him eat MnMs for dessert from his popcorn lunch.

He's still listless. Nothing we can specifically pinpoint. Just not himself. Maybe he's depressed? I don't know why he'd be depressed. But could that be it? Can a four year old get depressed?

It's nap time now, and I'll go lay down with him and count with him to help him fall asleep.

What do you think are the odds that come Monday he'll tell us he doesn't feel well and he wants Mommy to stay home with him again? But I'm hoping that this little bit of TLC will fill whatever need it is he has today . . .

Gosh he sure is cute. Even when he's needy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wrongful Life Lawsuit

This week the Mom Blogs posted a topic for comment and discussion. Here's the Associated Press Story:

Woman Sues Doctor for Child-Rearing Costs After Failed
Wednesday, March 07, 2007

BOSTON — A woman who had an abortion but still gave birth has filed a lawsuit against two doctors and a family planning organization seeking the costs of raising her child.

The complaint was filed by Jennifer Raper, 45, last week in Suffolk Superior Court and still must be screened by a special panel before it can proceed to trial.

Raper claimed in the suit that she found out she was pregnant in March 2004 and decided to have an abortion for financial reasons, The Boston Globe reported in its Wednesday editions.

Dr. Allison Bryant, a physician working for Planned Parenthood at the time, performed the procedure on April 9, 2004, but it “was not done properly, causing the plaintiff to remain pregnant,” according to the complaint.

Raper then went to see Dr. Benjamin Eleonu at Boston Medical Center in July 2004, and he failed to detect the pregnancy even though she was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, the lawsuit alleges.

It was only when Raper went to the New England Medical Center emergency room for treatment of pelvic pain in late September that year that she found out she was pregnant, the suit said.

She gave birth to a daughter on Dec. 7, 2004.

Raper and her lawyer, Barry C. Reed Jr., refused comment when contacted by the newspaper, and a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood said the organization does not comment on pending litigation.

Massachusetts’ high court ruled in 1990 that parents can sue physicians for child-rearing expenses, but limited those claims to cases in which children require extraordinary expenses because of medical problems, medical malpractice lawyer Andrew C. Meyer Jr. said.

Raper’s suit has no mentions of medical problems involving her now 2-year-old daughter.

I think I'll address the article from two perspectives. Perspective One will be my reaction as a mother. And a mother who benefitted (twice!) from the decision of other women to place their children for adoption. Perspective Two will be my reaction as a law student. And a law student who has actually done a tiny bit of research on wrongful life cases (at least in the area of failed contraception). Feel free to skip one perspective and read just the other. Feel free to read them both. Feel especially free to leave a comment about what you think. Just be nice.

Perspective One: Mom Who Has Adopted
Well, the obvious reaction is: Why not just place the child for adoption?

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Maybe too easy . . .

Ms. Raper (kind of an unfortunate name, given the nature of the law suit) may have simply been emotionally unwilling or unable to walk away from the child. But that doesn't mean she has the financial resources to support her daughter.

My guess is that she had a moral reason not to opt for the abortion when she discovered she was still pregnant two or three months before the baby was born. And I certainly can't say I disagree with that reasoning. I've never been unexpectedly pregnant. Or pregnant at all, really. But my guess, based on what I hear other women (who have experienced pregnancy) say is that at some point, that baby is a real person to you. That's not to say the baby is or is not real person all along (I'm not commenting on whether it's moral to opt for abortion in the first place). It's just to say that there comes a time for many women that they somewhat suddenly perceive the child they are carrying as a child. And not as a mass of cells or a fetus or whatever other term you'd use. When she found out she was still pregnant, it probably was far enough along that to her it was a child, making abortion no longer a (moral) option. And since the lawsuit doesn't tell us the date of her September visit to the doctor, we don't know if it was still in the time frame in which abortion is legal in Massachusetts anyway. Again, just my guess.

So, for the sake of argument, let's assume she could not legally get an abortion when she discovered her pregnancy in September. This brings us back to the first reaction. Why not place the child for adoption? Well, although adoption is a great plan, it's not a simple road to follow. And my guess is that people who cavalierly throw out that choice-- just adopt-- are people who haven't been in a position in which they've needed to consider that option.

Adoption is hard. The decision to walk away from a child-- a child you've carried and cared for (at least for a few months) is difficult. And very final. Not unlike abortion I realize-- but different because you always know that child is out there. You always wonder how she is. If she's well cared for. If she knows your decision was a decision of love. Perhaps Ms. Raper knew she didn't have the emotional fortitude to walk away from her daughter.

Oh, but what about open adoption, you wonder? Is that any easier? Sure, you have an opportunity to hear about your child. To see photos and to visit face to face. To know she is safe and healthy. To know she is loved. To know the difficult decision was based on her best interests. But it means you say good bye over and over and over again. And it means taking a risk that the family you choose for your child won't follow through with their promises-- that they will lose contact or (worse) cut you off, leaving you to wonder how well they are caring for her at all. Being willing to take that risk, and being able to say good-bye repeatedly are not easy. That doesn't mean people shouldn't do it, obviously. But Ms. Raper, like all of us, is entitled to choose to raise her daughter. And really, who can fault her for doing so?

If financial stability were the only reason Ms. Raper considered abortion in the first place, it leads me to believe that her decision to raise her daughter makes sense-- it wasn't that she didn't love her and want to keep her. It was that she worried about the financial costs of caring for her. And my guess is that once she held that little girl in her arms, she realized she would move heaven and earth to provide for her child. And so here she is, trying to do just that.

Whether or not she should have opted to place her child for adoption, she didn't. She chose to carry the baby to term. She chose to raise the child. So now what? That brings me to:

Perspective Two: Law Student
The news article explains that a person cannot sue physicians for child-rearing expenses unless there are extraordinary medical expenses. There is no indication that Ms. Raper's daughter has any problems. Which means there's every indication this case will be kicked out of court before it even really gets going.

Still, it's an interesting question. Someone on the Mom Blogs wondered how far a ruling like this would go-- if you could sue a doctor for medical malpractice for not aborting a fetus, then would it eventually extend to filing a lawsuit for failed contraception? The short answer is no. It never will. Here's why:

If you use birth control and you read the instructions, the only 100% effective way of preventing pregnancy is abstinence. The pill is not 100%. Condoms are not 100%. The ring is not 100%. Neither is the patch or the shot. And even used in combination, nothing prevents pregnancy-- even when you use the items as instructed. That means as consumers, we know and understand that when we use contraceptives, there is a chance they will not work as intended. We are assuming the risk.

Going to the doctor is different, though. When we go to the doctor to have a medical procedure, he tells us the statistics. The odds of developing a complication. The side effects of anesthesia. The chances of death on the operating table. These risks are outlined for us. And if there is a chance that the procedure won't work even when performed correctly, he tells us that, too. Now, I'm not a doctor (obviously), but it seems to me that if an abortion is performed properly-- even based just on the standard of what the reasonable, typical standard of care in the medical profession is-- probably there is no fetus growing inside you at the end of an abortion. That's what makes this different. If contraceptives are used correctly, they might not work but they might not. If an abortion is performed correctly, it will work. Apples and oranges.

There are reasons not to provide compensation under a wrongful life claim-- even for medical malpractice. Like how this will affect Ms. Raper's daughter for instance. How will she feel knowing she is alive because of a botched abortion? How will she feel knowing that her mom blames the doctor for making her strapping her financially? Are these reasonable questions to ask? Perhaps not. But I'd venture to guess that they will come up-- after all, lawsuits are public. And what if the doctor really didn't do anything wrong? What if a certain percentage of the time, the procedure just doesn't work as intended? Do we discourage doctors from performing the procedure for fear they will be sued by a person who had other options? (And perhaps we do want to discourage doctors from performing the procedure-- but that is an entirely different legal question. One which this post doesn't address.)

In at least one case, a woman did sue a pharmacist for child raising experiences. That was an instance where he switched her pill prescription for some other drug. She thought she was protected, and she wasn't. She sued him for negligence and won. Interesting because even if he had filled the prescription correctly, she might still have become pregnant. So it was an unusual outcome. But his clear negligence outweighed the statistics. And perhaps that would win the day here, too.

For the sake of argument, let's say Ms. Raper isn't responsible for the expenses of raising her daughter because she didn't want the child in the first place. Let's say the doctor is at fault for negligence. And let's even say that Ms. Raper cannot afford to provide her daughter with some essentials. Then what? Do we remove the child from her custody? The courts wouldn't do that in any other case, would they? Wouldn't the state take action to try and keep the family together? So should the State pay to raise this child? Or should the doctor who ensured its life? Or should Ms. Raper be forced to figure it out on her own-- after all, she's the one who became pregnant in the first place.

I find each of these options totally dissatisfying. Why should the State pay when the child could be placed with a loving family who will adopt the child as its own? Why should the doctor pay when she might not have done anything wrong? And even if she did, isn't that the risk you undertake when you opt for abortion? But why should Ms. Raper pay? She actively tried to prevent the expense. There's no easy answer here.

My guess is that it doesn't matter from a legal standpoint because caselaw says the doctor won't be liable for malpractice in a wrongful life case unless there are extraordinary expenses. And here there aren't.

So what can we learn from all of this? Make sure your doctor is qualified? Practice abstinence? Never trust anyone?

I don't know what the right answer is. But I can't blame her for choosing to keep her child and raise her. Regardless of the amount of love and joy Ms. Raper will receive from being a parent-- and despite my (personal) disappointment that she didn't place her daughter with a financially stable family who desperately sought a new family member-- raising a child sure is expensive. And while we may think none of those three parties (the State, the doctor, the mother) should pay, we can all agree on one thing: the child should not bare the expenses. Literally or emotionally. I sure hope she comes through this alright.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Three Sticker Morning

As you know, we've been using a reward system for Casey to help him recognize the difference between good behaviors and bad behaviors. We only give stickers. We never take them away. And these next two weeks, in addition to stickers, we're trying something new. Instead of removing Casey from a situation where he can't control our impulses, we are removing ourselves. Yup. You read that correctly.

On Saturday evening when Casey pushed Marcie, instead of putting him in time out, I simply picked up Marcie, told her: "Mommy is going to keep you safe. Mommy will not allow Casey to hurt you," and walked out of the room with her. Casey was less than pleased. He actually followed me to try to hit me. So I closed the door. And after he stopped yelling, I went back to talk to him about his behavior. I have no idea if it will work, but I'm going to give it a shot-- nothing to lose really. And what precipitated this move is that when we put Casey in time out, he throws things at us if he's mad. And if we send him to his room, he reads or plays quietly. Option A (time out with him throwing things) isn't helping him calm down-- and it puts us in harm's way-- mildly so, anyway. Option B (time out in his room) gives him plenty of time to calm down, but he gets to play, and that's not much of a punishment for his poor behavior. But for some reason, removing myself from the situation is such a shock to him, I think it might actually work. If we're consistent. I'll let you know in about a month-- that's how long I like to give these things.

Anyway, we are also continuing with the stickers. And Casey had a tremendous three-sticker morning. Marcie actually woke up before him today, so she was finishing her sippy cup when he came in the room. Immediately I congratulated him for sleeping in his own bed all night long. (For those of you keeping score, this is only the second time he's stayed in his own bed all night since mid-January.) We went to his room and added a sticker to his chart. I asked him to take of his pajamas so he could get dressed, and he immediately did. Now, I admit it helps that his class has a make-believe trip to Japan scheduled for today. We carefully packed his backpack for the trip last night-- two Thomas trains, a stuffed bear he received from Aunt Tiffany for Valentine's Day, a pair of socks, and a pair of underwear-- so I just had to remind him that he needed to get dressed for his big make-believe flight on the great big pretend airplane to Japan today, he was rarin' to go. After dressing and brushing his teeth, he received another sticker.

His third sticker came when he came whining and crying (sort of) to me that Marcie had taken one of his chicken nuggets. She hadn't. I actually threw out the chicken last night after he went to bed, but she had a graham cracker stick in her hand, and they are the same color as the chicken nuggets. Still, he came to me instead of pushing her, and that was a major break-through as far as I was concerned. So we put another sticker on the chart.

All in all, a good morning for Casey. And for me. And not bad for Marcie, either.

By the way, Marcie has learned the word "mine." We think this is astounding, of course. Casey didn't learn the word "mine" until he was around 3 1/2 years old. Last night she had something Jason wanted, and when he asked for it, she actually said: "No. Mine," and toddled off. It's hard not to grin in those situations-- even when being defied.