Latest homebirth/birth center study of 80k Oregon women shows higher infant mortality

This is an article about an analysis of births in Oregon, where homebirthing (and to a lesser extent use of birth centers) is extremely popular at rates above the national average, and where the women are mostly of more “slim” BMI and other conventional health markers.  The takeaway is that infant mortality is rare homebirthing or birthing at a center, but occurs at a greater relative frequency than in hospitals.  There was also a higher risk of neonatal seizures, needs for infant ventilators and blood transfusion need for mothers in out of hospital births. Minor complications like tears were lower, however.

This analysis excluded all the actual high-risk to OBs women (breech, twins, etc.), and that’s a big flaw, because women with “weird” (breech) or genuinely high-risk conditions are a big chunk of the homebirthing pool (not the birth center pool, since they are excluded from nearly all American birth centers) and that is one of the reasons there is so much antipathy towards homebirthing (even though those women doing so is itself a response to obstetric mismanagement with hospital birthing).

The basic takeaway is that if you’re a low risk, healthy woman, homebirthing or using a birth center is not unreasonable and probably will be easier overall in terms of recovery, but yes, your baby is more likely to die if you birth away from high-tech emergency equipment.  By excluding the high-risk women who choose to homebirth, though, the discussion of how to improve obstetric management for those women remains left off the table.



My kids make me laugh an average of an hour a day

It may not sound like much, spending about 60 minutes of every day laughing aloud specifically due to stuff the kids do, but it seemed like a lot to me when I realized just how much time I spend laughing at their tiny person antics.

I wonder if it will be twice as much when they’re teenagers.  Only time will tell.

Immigration restriction led to Sex in the City lifestyles for young women.

There is a narrative among the more reactionary and dissident conservatives out there that immigration restriction in America in the 1920s led to a (white) paradise of family wages and happy housewives until 1965.  One of the subtexts of this narrative is that the women were purer and less scandalous because they could easily count on marrying at 18-19 to a 21 year old husband who was already making a middle class income.

Good thing it’s a subtext, because it’s not really real history at all.

As early as 1940, young women were flooding out to live alone, something they pulled ahead of young men in doing by 1960.  After all, nearly half of the supposedly glorious immigration restriction period of American history was the Great Depression.  This gets left out of the “easy middle class income on one salary” reinvention of history.

Prior to immigration restriction, almost nobody (including young men) lived alone.  As immigrants flooded in, boarding and rooming houses accommodated them.  And extended family living was more common even among “nuclear” German and English descent households.  People also labored for room and board and other barter goods rather than wages.

Once the labor pool was restricted, though, the resultant increase in wage work (along with urbanization) allowed even young women to move out and live alone in larger and larger numbers.  The median age of first marriage for white women was around 23 until the 1950s and two decades later had already begun the return back to that level, with the current age of 26 mirroring historical levels from before the late 19th century.  The window of time in which young white American women were barely twenty when they married was a small one historically, hardly a generation in length.

So the Benedict Option was tried 20 years ago and failed, now what?

That’s the question for the next year, for me at least.  I find it interesting that I’ve spent years reading a lot of right-wing and conservative this n’ that and yet despite the totemic symbolism of homeschooling in conservativeland (it’s a totem because even most conservatives don’t, but it’s considered something “more conservative people should do”), there’s been no self-awareness from those HIPPIES about how their HIPPIE PROJECTS led to children who are complete intersectionalist progressive SJWs.  And no signs that conservative men are interested in the recent history of being a HIPPIE but with more clothes on and how all that seems to be a place you get to when you try to Benedict Option without, you know, being monks.

I guess I would have discovered all this sooner if I’d been getting enough sleep, but such is life.  Sometime next year there’s a rumor I might get more sleep.

A homeschooler’s history of homeschooling

This extremely popular homeschooling resource clearinghouse is run by a twice-married, very smart and career-oriented work-at-home mother who had two children about 15 years apart (one from each marriage, she is still in her second marriage) and homeschooled the second one starting when he was about 9 or 10.   That was around the time she figured out how to work from home in a very specialized way that allowed her a lot of free time and flexibility in home educating her son.

I put all that intro out there because most of the homeschool resources people still use now in 2015 come from these older people (mostly women) who were very diverse in their backgrounds and generally very brainy and immensely intellectually talented types who wanted to have kids anyway.

That page contains a very interesting piece of homeschooling history, the recollections and documentation of the conservative Christian homeschooling wing of homeschooling by Cheryl Seelhoff, whose divorce and adultery caused some major rifts within that community (which as you’ll learn from the history was really many little sub-communities who were openly inspired by the Amish and Mennonites and who often wouldn’t even let remarried people into their homeschool circles or home church circles, much less a woman who was at-fault in the classic sense for her divorce).  She herself is an interesting figure in homeschool history, as someone who provided a lot of resources and support even after she received ostracism from so many other homeschool big names.

The direct links to Seelhoff’s history are below, they are pdf scans, but quite readable and high quality.


There are several very interesting books about the history and evolution of homeschooling, links to which can be found at the site of this homeschool researcher who wrote one of the most comprehensive ones.  Yep, there’s academic research on homeschoolers, quite a lot of it, some of it pretty high quality.

Anyway Seelhoff’s  history basically shows that the Superwife thing has been going on for a really long time among conservatives, as the mothers were expected to bake, can, garden, make their own clothes and those of their daughters (for modesty), homeschool, and be constantly pregnant or hoping to be while dad earned an income, but usually not a high one.  The major differences between these 1980s and 1990s homespun jumper folks and modern conservative Christian homeschoolers doing that is that the 1980s and 1990s folks mostly did bother to live near enough to each other to provide direct encouragement and support via numerous home churches.  And in what might unkindly be thought of as a kind of pyramidism, and more kindly as a conscious networking before internet, they often had “home businesses” selling each other “home-centered living” and “home schooling” lifestyle magazines, newsletters and curriculum, along with various Christian literature about how Biblical various practices were or weren’t.

Everything old is, as ever, new again.

Why widows came to be treated poorly, or, single mommas have always been around.

The modern hyperfocus by some Christian-identifying conservatives on how *widows* should be treated better because they’re not at all like those wicked, awful, hypergamous single mommas is basically the result of broken tradition-passing and a complete inability to understand that the “grass widow” has been with humanity for a very long time.  Women sometimes claimed to be widows when they were not but as the story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus shows, there were plenty who didn’t even use that fig leaf.  The text does not definitively indicate she was widowed five times.

The Bible repeatedly refers to the fatherless, and also widows, but it would not have had the precision understanding it has when it’s used to justify giving nothing but rude words and a closed church door to single mothers and divorced mothers.

Christians, Jews, and Muslims are specifically told not to sexually regulate and speculate on just how the “widow” came to have “fatherless” children.

The fruits of patriarchal regulation are specifically commanded to be shared with the naughty.

I think the strain of disgust and revulsion these types have for single mothers and divorced mothers having any kind of support for their children comes from the individualism that conservatives are so prone to. Since they don’t understand or want to be part of real patriarchal social structures, they can only think about support in the narrow, literal terms of marrying such a woman or paying child support to her.  There is so much more than that in caring for others in your neighborhood and church though, and none of it involves “man up and marry those scandalous dames” at all, not even a lil’ bit.

It’s worth noting none of these guys are beating the bushes to go provide support to those saintly, superior literal widows and orphans, of which there are still plenty around and about.  No, it’s all talk and justification for not doing anything for women you can’t have sex with or don’t want to have sex with.  And as for the women lining up to concur that only the right kind of individual woman is entitled to help with her children, that was a driver of fun stuff like socialism, other women not wanting to deal with the wrong kind of woman.

Single motherhood does have a sort of status in wider society in that single (and to a lesser extent divorced) mothers are more willing to bully or beg people (nearly always other women, which makes the panic over some stray man having to do anything for them even more sadly funny) into helping them with child care so they can work.  And people will give them verbal encouragement.  This is real, I won’t downplay its existence.

But it’s hardly some carefree, easy path.  And contrary to popular belief, a lot of explicit law and social norms work to sharply limit the number of children such women do have.

And related to this, raising children has historically not been so totally expected to be the work of individual parents to individual children at all.  It was much more collective.  Jane Austen’s mother bore seven children, and every last one of them was shipped off to be raised by *gasp* another man and his wife! when they were infants and then brought back to their parents when they were around toddling age.  That particular kind of foster care is but one of the many traditions among Western societies in which raising other people’s children was just part of the social fabric.  Apprenticeships for both boys and girls at ages seven or eight were also one such tradition.  And many of those kids, particularly the boys were quite utterly raised by a man who wasn’t their dad.

Weirdly, all this is mysteriously ignored by people who freak out about a child having strongly masculine, healthy and Godly men in their lives if mom was improvident about how the kid got into the world.  Christ’s love isn’t zero-sum.  You can love the grass widow and the not-grass widow and their children.  This very issue is, incidentally why we have so many of those awful government programs and nonprofits for supporting single mothers’ children.  It was the increasing unwillingness to share with the naughty and take on the burdens.  Some frontier woman turning up at her city sister’s doorstep with five kids might well be a widow, but it was just as likely she “married the wrong man” (as Betty MacDonald put it in a sequel to The Egg and I) and just left and wanted to come home to family.  And fewer and fewer families wanted to deal.

Never-married motherhood is terrible for kids, and the harshness of taking away the children of those women to be raised in other families was an attempt to compensate for that.

A Tale of Two Patriarchs, a Manosphere Patriarch and a Practical Patriarch

Once upon a time in Alaska, there lived two men who felt called by God to go live out in a cabin in the woods with their huge families.  One was a patriarch in the manosphere mold, one was very much not.

The manospherian patriarch called himself Papa Pilgrim.

He married a teenager who was about 20 years younger than he was.

He had 15 children with her.

He required that wife and children all refer to him as “Lord”.

He used “dread”, both metaphorical and literal.  This is, apparently, deemed perfectly Christian and proper for husbands to do by manospherians.

He did not submit to any male authority, religious or otherwise, assuring his family that his authority was ultimate and needed no constraint.

They lived in the woods on hundreds of acres, the children recording music and touring, the entire family developing impressive homesteading and survival skills as well.

As time went on, despite those skills, the family could not make it through the harsh Alaskan winters reliably, so the manospherian patriarch had his family go spend a particularly harsh winter with another very large family (nine children).  I may have left a couple of things out.  Nothing that would be considered bad in the manosphere of course.

As it turns out, the manospherian patriarch ended up in jail because the practical patriarch heading the family of nine felt it was his duty to subject the manosphere patriarch to the rule of law for the manosphere patriarch’s mistreatment of his family.

The practical patriarch also raised self-sufficient children, was openly and clearly the buck-stopping head of his household and lived a simple, back to the land kind of life with his wife and nine children.  Some of those children even married the children of the manosphere patriarch.  But the practical patriarch regularly sought his close to his own age wife’s input and her advice and counsel were a big part of his ultimate decision to bring external authority into the situation.  The manosphere patriarch’s children were astonished that a husband and wife would have private time with each other to reconnect and be close as a couple, they were used to such private time being a sign of their father’s displeasure with their mother.

Their mother did not stand by her man, she stood by her children, who came to forgive her slowly and painfully over time.  The manospherian patriarch died alone in jail, unrepentant.