I tend to see the world in pretty stark black and white terms. For some reason, it’s harder for me to see the nuances. I have to consciously work to to see the in-between shades of gray and sometimes I don’t do as well as others.
1. After I pressed “publish” on my last KIOS post, I realized that I’d forgotten the most practical option of all regarding how to move forward in our clothes purchasing. It’s not perfect of course but it does help me to feel like it’s possible to make some incremental changes. The option, of course, is to think deliberately about where and how I buy the clothing that I do end up buying new. I did get at this option in the resources that I linked to further down in the post (particularly the ethical buying guide from Art of Simple and the Free2Work website). However, in my list of options, I neglected to say that even when buying new from chain stores, it’s possible to make more responsible decisions. For example, both Adidas and Reebok get fairly good grades and so it would more sense for me to buy a pair of running shoes from them as opposed to a cheaper brand with a worse track record on hiring practices.
Thanks also to my friend Harmony for her comment on FB that she likes to buy “more thoughtfully with long-term wear in mind.” This is another point that the author of Overdressed often emphasizes – that the frequent throwing away/buying more of clothing is a big part of what’s so unsustainable about the way most Americans dress themselves. Harmony’s example was to not buy “those cheap Target sandals that die after one season.” I rarely [never] buy cheap shoes – I basically wear a pair of Danskos in the winter and a pair of Birkenstocks in the summer and usually each pair will last me 3-4 years (or longer) before I have to get a new pair. I’d never thought about this in terms of sustainability. I just hate wearing uncomfortable shoes. But it’s definitely better to wear on pair of shoes a longer time rather than be fairly frequently throwing your shoes away!
2. When writing Mark’s birth story, just before I finished editing Part 4, I read a magazine article detailing some truly horrific birth stories of women being absolutely mistreated (really abused) as they were giving birth in hospitals. This prompted me to add my third point to my conclusion, namely that I was really glad we’d delivered in a birth center because who knows what would have happened to us with the kind of labor we had if we’d been in a hospital. In her comment on that post, my friend Erin very gently pointed out that she had had a very similar labor with her first child in a hospital and that they received excellent care with no pressure to consent to any interventions that they didn’t want. She wrote,
I guess my opinion is that it’s not so much the physical location of the birth as the attitudes of those attending it–just like so many other experiences in our healthcare system. Of course, I would agree that those types of providers might be found less frequently in a hospital setting, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that hospital birth must equal threats and cascades of interventions.
[And now I’m just rewriting the response to her.] She’s totally right. In some ways, we ended up needing Special Beginnings for Mark’s birth because we had decided to go to Special Beginnings. I never would have gone to the hospital as early as I did if I’d known I only had a short drive to get there. Looking back, we probably wouldn’t have gone to the hospital until 7 or 8 at night at the earliest (i.e. twelve or more hours later than we went with Mark) and at that point, we would have been fine as far as the hospital’s labor clock was concerned.
A woman’s birth experience is ultimately dependent on several factors: as Erin said, the healthcare providers’ attitudes, along with hospital/birth center policies, how informed the laboring mama is, and how much support she has to help her advocate for herself. In the end, I don’t take back my statement that Special Beginnings was absolutely the best place for us to deliver Mark. It was. However, I certainly could have phrased my statement in such a way that didn’t demonize hospitals quite as strongly as I did. (Although I can’t help adding that in many ways, hospitals deserve all the criticism they get!)
Feel free to point out any more black and white thinking that you read, OK? You’d think that by age 37, I’d be better at seeing the shading, but I guess it’s probably something I’ll have to work on for the rest of my life.
(And am I the only one who can never decide if it’s spelled “gray” or “grey”? Here’s the answer in case you’re curious.)