I always love riding the metro on Women’s Day – it’s like being in a flower shop with all the bouquets. Even though the holiday is officially on Saturday, most offices are congratulating their female colleagues today. So – Happy Women’s Day!
“In Russia, corruption and human rights are actually one and the same issue. The Russian elite controls the media and represses dissent precisely because it wants to protect its wealth. At the same time, the elite knows that its wealth derives directly from its relationship to the state, and thus it cannot afford to give up power in a democratic election.” -Anne Applebaum from this article
A couple of friends threw me an amazing baby shower back in November. There were games, presents, a handmade banner, and quite possibly the most delicious chocolate cake I have ever tasted.
One of my favorite cards contained a little list of 5 pieces of advice from one of the more experienced moms in the crowd. I think it may be up there among the best words of wisdom I’ve had yet about this whole parenting thing.
Thought you might enjoy reading:
Always keep in mind that, as parents, we can and must teach our children of God’s mercy and love but there is no formula that will bring them to faith. God is the only One who can reach their hearts. To think otherwise is to trust in our own effort rather than God.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Therefore it is good to remember continually that your love for them and for God ‘covers a multitude of sins.’
Do not allow the opinion of others to unduly influence the choices you make on behalf of your children. It is fine to listen with an open mind but in the end what is right for some children could be completely wrong for yours…I believe that this is why the Bible doesn’t contain a child rearing manual. The combination of your personality and talents and the personality and talents of your child are from God. He uses the combination of these to create the person He wants each particular child to become.
Study the way Jesus interacted with His disciples. There are many ways in which He interacted with them and taught them which can be applied in raising children – ie. He allowed them to fail. He didn’t lecture them and leave them, rather He allowed them to come along with Him in His ministry and taught by example (and much more). And just for encouragement – He did get exasperated with them from time to time!
Pray, pray, pray, pray….
Isn’t that beautiful?
What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever received?
I’m so glad it’s the weekend. Economist husband has been out of town on a business trip the past few days, and he’s finally back. We are so ready for a few days off together!
By the way, this is the last post in February – tomorrow is March 1! The first official day of spring. Which means I can congratulate you all on not only making it to Friday, but making it to the END OF WINTER!
One of the most difficult things about writing for me (especially nonfiction!) is getting up the confidence to write something about which I know very little.
Confidence in writing is a problem for both fiction and nonfiction. For nonfiction you wonder if you’ve done enough reporting to tell a true version of a story. What if you missed something? What if you’re biased? What if you haven’t included enough angles to give a clear picture of a very real situation? For fiction, on the other hand, there’s the fear of not telling a story well; of not arranging your words and sentences in a way that’s compelling and clear; of filling your pages with cliches, or sounding dumb. There’s always the fear of failure. And it’s not just a problem for writers – you need confidence in any creative field. You have to have the courage to just put your work out there at some point.
I remember being in awe of my coworkers my first months on the job at a news agency. Their articles, bolting out reports in short, unadorned sentences struck me as courageous and larger than life. They reported on their subjects with confidence, and just seeing their words on the page in black and white seemed to make the stories true; right. Reading their work on a computer screen, I felt their writing was so much more legitimate than my own.
I still struggle with this. Another word for it is perfectionism. How can I have the confidence to write about something that I’m not necessarily well acquainted with? There’s always someone out there that knows more than me about any given subject I’m writing on.
Ariel Levy, a staff writer at the New Yorker, had a solution for this issue that she described in an interview with Max Linsky. What she said is:
“The story is more important than your ego.” -Ariel Levy
In other words, there is always a chance that you will mess up whatever it is you are writing, thus subjecting yourself to humiliation. In the end, however, it is more important to finish your work and write your story than it is to avoid embarrassment. Don’t let your ego get in the way of finishing your work.
I find that incredibly encouraging.
Are there any projects – writing, creative, or otherwise that you’re working on, and struggling to be confident with? Any advice for the rest of us?
P.S. the podcast with Ariel Levy’s full interview can be found here.
I think the time has come for a more practical post on pregnancy and prenatal healthcare in Moscow. When economist husband and I were thinking about whether or not to have baby in Russia or the U.S. it was pretty hard to find info or reviews on prenatal care in Moscow. I would have loved an insider’s guide. So, for what it’s worth, here’s a look at prenatal care in Moscow from someone who’s by no stretch of the imagination a medical expert (also, keep in mind that this is my first pregnancy, so I don’t have a lot to compare to):
STATE CLINICS: I didn’t go to any state clinics for any prenatal care, but I have visited Russian state clinics (one of which was considered quite good) for different medical procedures connected to obtaining visas or my Russian residency permit, and have also visited friends who were receiving care in state hospitals. These clinics were, in a word, awful. The buildings were old, dirty, and crumbling. The staff were short at best, and downright rude/cranky at worst. The medical equipment was old, the buildings depressing, patients were sometimes kept in hallways, and the bedside manners of nurses and doctors was harsh. I could tell you stories of crumbling ceilings, stray dogs wandering the hospital grounds, having to walk shirtless across rooms with the door open for a chest scan while a nurse smoking a cigarette shouted instructions at me from another room. Or the time that a nurse jabbed my arm for a blood test, and then literally threw the vial across the room into a huge bucket of other samples (was my vial correctly labeled? Would the flimsy cap come off, and my sample be contaminated?) I actually left several of those (fairly routine) clinic visits shaking and in tears. Each and every one of my experiences in a Russian state clinic was stressful at best, and frightening at worst. I have to say that I’ve developed a slight phobia connected to Russia’s state medical system.
(UNRECOMMENDED) PRIVATE CLINICS: I have only one or two experiences visiting a random private clinic in Moscow (neither of which was for prenatal care). The clinics were a step up from state clinics in terms of cleanliness and newer equipment, but there’s not really anything else I can say to recommend them. I found that staff were not professional, and generally felt like they were just looking to make money off of me – hunting for new ways to charge me fees and come up with a diagnosis that would require as many expensive medical tests as possible. At one recent visit (I needed a simple lab test to pinpoint an infection) I had to pay close to $100 just to “consult” with a doctor. The “consultation” involved me telling her what test I wanted, and her trying to convince me to pay another $1500 for a battery of tests I clearly didn’t need or want (“No, I don’t have AIDS, or tuberculosis, and I don’t want to test for these.”) When I refused to go forward and pay for the extra tests, they refused to refund my “consultation” fee.
EMC (EUROPEAN MEDICAL CENTRE): This is the clinic economist husband and I visited for all our prenatal care up until about 33 weeks of pregnancy. (After 33-35 weeks they send you off to another clinic as the EMC is not a birth clinic.) I was extremely happy with the care I received at the EMC. The clinic itself was spotless, comfortable, and pleasant. The equipment was perhaps more up-to-date than that often used at some places in the U.S. (4D ultrasounds for example). The staff were polite, approachable, and very helpful. I saw Dr. Loginova and Dr. Panfilova for all of my visits, and they were both fantastic. I can highly recommend both of them. They both spoke English, and their bedside manner was fantastic – soothing, professional, informative. They also provided me with their personal emails and phone contact information and were quick to respond to any random questions I had throughout the pregnancy (“I have a sore throat – what medication is safe for me to take?”, “They’re painting the stairwell in my apartment building – are the fumes dangerous for the baby?”, etc.) I liked that the doctors were informative but not pushy. I felt like all the medical decisions made were mutual decisions between me and the doctor – not the doctor insisting on a certain type of treatment, and expecting me to just obey. I did a lot of reading, and comparing notes with friends and family doctors in the U.S., and I think that pretty much all the medical advice I was given at EMC was sound. If they have a weakness it’s over-monitoring. My pregnancy, however, ended up being a bit complicated, so I was quite happy to have had a consistent record of monthly ultrasounds for example. Another thing to consider is that the EMC is quite expensive. Our insurance didn’t kick in until the 6th month of pregnancy, so we ended up paying for those early visits out of pocket. For us it was worth it to have peace of mind about good care (and they even gave us a small discount once or twice when they found out we were paying on our own), but it was still quite costly. Thankfully, they are able to estimate costs up front if you call them, so you might want to get a quote before going in.
PERINATAL MEDICAL CENTRE (PMC): I started visiting the PMC for pre-natal care at about the 33 week mark. I switched to PMC because the EMC does not provide birth services. If you are going to give birth at the PMC you have to sign a contract up front. This involves choosing an obstetrician (they have 5 different classes of doctors, ranked by experience and price), and then signing a regular or c-section contract. As I understand, for an uncomplicated pregnancy, they advise women to start making a weekly visit to the clinic to consult with their obstetrician, and take a cardiotocography (CTG) test to monitor the baby’s heart rate from 35 weeks on. Our pregnancy was a bit complicated, however, so I ended up spending a lot more time at the clinic. I will write more about the PMC in a birth post later, but for now I will say that, for prenatal care, I liked how clean the clinic was, and thought the staff were incredibly kind, friendly, and approachable. The obstetrician I chose spoke English (I speak Russian, but found that, when giving birth, it’s easier to speak in your native language!), and was also willing to give me her cell phone number which I used again a few more times with random questions about the pregnancy, birth, and post-natal care. On the negative side, the entire clinic felt a bit more Soviet (going right to the cashier to pay when you come in, and having to collect tickets or talons with stamps on them before making the rounds to different offices for monitoring, ultrasounds, etc.). Also, I thought that all the doctors, while polite, were much more pushy. I didn’t really feel like I understood why they were suggesting the treatments they were suggesting, and they didn’t seem to like my questioning their decisions. The whole decision-making process was much more stressful here. The clinic was extremely expensive (we definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford it without insurance, and even with insurance it was pricey), and the care and health advice were more dated and interventionist than I would have liked. Overall though, there isn’t another clinic in Russia I’d consider for giving birth, and the end result (healthy baby! healthy mom!) was good.
I’ll write a longer post about the birth at PMC later, but here’s a start for those of you researching prenatal care in Russia. Please feel free to email me if you have more specific questions.
How has your week been? We’ve been fighting head colds here, and it’s been a tough week of hot tea, headaches, and lots of naps. Thankfully, we seem to be getting better and are looking forward to a few days off together.
Other than that, a few links for your weekend perusal:
“In 2012, the sociologist Robin Simon and two of her colleagues measured the difference in happiness levels between parents and nonparents in twenty-two industrialized nations. The country with the greatest gap, by far, was the United States.”
The skies have turned gray in Moscow this week, and people are still buzzing about the Olympics. According to Vedomosti one in three people in Russia tuned in to the opening ceremony in Sochi! I love having all the world’s attention on Russia…
We’re doing well here. We were sad to say goodbye to my mom this week, but are happy it’s the weekend, and are planning to stay in and take it easy (read: SLEEP!) With Anna Grace up every 2-3 hours for feedings sleep is basically all I can think about. Even my dreams are about sleeping!
For the rest of you, a few links for your weekend browsing – have a great Saturday and Sunday!
I pretty much forgot that it was Valentine’s Day this week. It’s not really celebrated here in Russia, so economist husband and I tend to forget about it. Thankfully my mom was here this week, and she not only reminded us, but also volunteered to babysit Miss Anna Grace while we went out for a much-needed date!
We’ve been married almost 5 years, but it still feels like we’re newlyweds, so I don’t feel very qualified to give any marriage advice. Nevertheless, there are a few questions we try to regularly ask each other that I have found make the biggest difference in the world for feeling like you’re being heard, and you’re really hearing your husband (or wife).
The questions are as follows:
What am I doing that I should keep doing?
What am I doing that I should stop doing?
What am I not doing that I should start doing?
What are you stressed about?
What are you excited about?
What made you feel respected recently? Disrespected?
What made you feel loved recently? Not loved?
How can I bless you?
What about you? Do you have any questions that you find help you communicate with your loved one? Any communication tricks?
Are you on Twitter or trying to learn about it? I’ve used Twitter for work a lot the past few years. Where Twitter has REALLY come in handy, though, is the past few weeks as I’ve been up for midnight and 3am nursing sessions. Scrolling through Twitter not only keeps me awake, but helps me get caught up on the latest headlines.
There are a few favorite journalists and bloggers I like to follow for Russia, literature, ballet, and faith-themed tweets. SO, if you’re looking to find a few Russophiles or interesting Twitter accounts to follow, you might enjoy the following list (they’re all in English, unless otherwise specified):
“…life in Moscow was like living on the slope of an active volcano. “On one hand, the soil is fertile because it’s volcanic, and you harvest incredible bounties four, five times a year,” he said. “On the other, it’s a volcano, and you never know when it’ll wipe everything out.” -Julia Ioffe
I couldn’t have put it better myself. Would you agree?
The Winter Olympics in Sochi open today. We’re so excited, and are planning to watch the opening ceremony online in between Miss Anna Grace’s feedings. Will you watch? Do you have a favorite Olympic sport you’ll be looking out for later? (figure skating anyone??)