Friday, October 27, 2006

Le Tabou

It's funny that the French, who like to accuse American's of being prudes, are actually more prudish than us on this subject:

French mothers challenge taboo at 'Big Breastfeed' demo

In related news, a new study shows that infants breastfed for longer than six months have significantly better mental health in childhood. I suppose all these studies on the benefits of breastfeeding should be taken with a grain of salt. There is no way to do a controlled study on the benefits of breastfeeding since many mothers can't breastfeed that long, or at all, even if they want to, so there would be no way to randomly assign mothers to breastfeed their babies or not, and, of course, that wouldn't be ethical anyway. Breastfeeding is such a personal choice and dependant on so many factors related to both the mother and the child that any differences seen between children who were breastfed and those who were not could be completely unrelated to breastfeeding.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What an interesting finger

Researchers at Ball State University have suggested that giving 15-month-olds books with photographs may make it harder for them to learn how to read. Reading requires an understanding of the concept that symbols in a book stand for real objects. 15-month-olds tend to treat a photograph of a thing as if it were that thing and so may have a more difficult time grasping the concept of symbols if they are shown a book with photographs than they would if they were shown a book with more abstract pictures.

Of course my three-month-old son is not at this point yet -- he treats the book itself like the object it is, and, like every other object he can get his hands on, he puts it in his mouth. All of which reminded me of this passage on confusing objects acting as signifiers with the objects they signify:

A finger points to the moon


What an interesting finger
let me suck it

It’s not an interesting finger
take it away

from R.D. Laing's book Knots

Two more reasons

why it is better not to mess with the natural process of labor:

Drug-induced labor increases complication risk

Babies can sometimes be injured during c-section

I guess I am lucky, my labor went relatively smoothly, and the only intervention I needed was an IV for fluids and glucose because I couldn't keep anything down. I know it isn't always that way, and sometimes interventions are necessary, but they shouldn't be routine.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Baby Bootcamp

Taking care of a newborn is a lot like the military's basic training. I can say this because I have done both. In both situations you are deprived of sleep and food (no one actually deprives you of food in either situation, they just don't give you any time to eat it) and in both the purpose is to break you down and destroy your concept of what your life is so that it can be replaced with a new one. This analogy helped me a lot in the difficult first few weeks when I realized another similarity: just as basic training is a short part of a military career, so the newborn stage is a short part of being a parent. I think I am a better person for having both experiences, but I don't think I will necessarily look back fondly on either of them -- I like to have a little bit more control over my life.

Applying to Law School

I decided relatively recently that I wanted to pursue a career in law. It wasn't a lifelong dream or anything. In fact the thought of myself as a lawyer was a little strange to me. I always wanted to help people, and I guess I didn't realize that you could do that as a lawyer. Since it has taken me a while to decide that I wanted to be a lawyer I will not be a traditional law school student. By the time I start I will be ten years out of college, in addition, I am married and I have a baby. Going back to school will not be a strange experience for me though: with the exception of the two years immediately following the completion of my undergraduate degree I have been going to school in one form or another pretty much continuously since I was three. I enjoy it.

So anyway, I have begun my applications for Fall 2007. I am applying to two schools that will definitely accept me and two that I should have a 75% or better chance of being accepted. All in New York, because that's where we live and where my husband's job is. You can check the progress of my applications here.

I am planning on working in public interest law after I graduate, so I do not expect a big paycheck. With that in mind, I am wondering whether I would be better off going to a lower ranked school with a large scholarship or a higher ranked school and having lots of debt. Both situations are hypothetical since I haven't been accepted anywhere, or received any scholarship offers yet, and it is always possible that one of the higher ranked schools will off me a big scholarship, but assuming that were my choice, which would be a better option? So far I am leaning toward a higher ranked school and lots of debt based on the advice of a friend of mine who went to Harvard (and may be biased, since that was the choice he made). He said that if I go to a higher ranked school it won't matter too much what grades I get because having gone to the school will be enough to get me good job prospects. But if I go to a lower ranked school I will need to work harder to prove myself to potential employers. Also if I were interested in clerking or pursuing an academic career (and I might be) then I need to go to a higher ranked school. If anyone has any opinions on this I would love to hear them.