Saturday, April 19, 2014

Boy or Girl???

We will find out the gender tomorrow all together, but before we do, I thought it would be fun to go through all the old wives tales and other gender predictors to see how accurate they end up being.

This is the first time that we have done anything like this, and I have to say it is fun!


Heart rate - If it is above 140 it is supposed to predict a girl, below is a boy. The heartrate was 166 at the first appointment and 154 at the last one, so this goes for GIRL.

Cravings - If mom is craving salty food it is supposed to mean the baby is a boy. If she's craving sweets, it is supposed to be a girl. This one goes for BOY.

Morning Sickness - If mom is very nauseous, it's supposed to be a girl. If she's not too nauseous, it's a boy. This one predicts BOY.

Mood - If mom is moody, the baby is a girl. If she's happy, the baby is a boy. I'm going to say that I've been happy, though other people might answer differently! So, I'm calling this for BOY.

Sleeping - If mom is sleeping on her right side, it's a boy. If she's sleeping on her left, it's a girl. There's no option for if mom is sleeping on whichever side does not contain a five year old boy, but I'll go ahead and say right just because it is more comfortable. So, GIRL.

Headaches - If mom is having headaches, it's a boy. If not, it's a girl.  According to this, it's a GIRL.

Skin - If mom's skin is soft, it's a girl. If mom's skin is dry, it's a boy. All the way on this one for BOY.

Hair - If mom's hair is growing slower or it is thinning, it's a girl. If her hair is growing faster and thicker, it's a boy. Considering I could shave my legs three times a day and still look like a yeti...gonna go with BOY. (What??? It's true....)

How mom is carrying - If she is gaining weight everywhere, it's a girl. If it's all in front, it's a boy. Well, I haven't been able to hide the bump in front since about 8 weeks along, so BOY.

Mayan calendar - BOY.

Chinese calendar - GIRL.

The final tallies are......

     BOY                 GIRL
        7                        4

We'll let you all know!!!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Marijuana - Truths, Lies and Misinformation in the Media

This is something I've been meaning to write about for a while now, and something that I've been asked to write about several times in the past year especially given the current pro-pot climate in the state I live in, Colorado. Instead of writing out a lengthy post, I'm going to try to hit some of the high points (no pun intended) in the questions people have asked me about safety, use, abuse and more. When the law first went into effect here in Colorado, I wrote a long post about what the law actually meant. You can read it here if you want. I've written about it in other contexts a few times, and will try to cite some of those posts as this continues.

First, let me preface everything that follows by saying two things. One, I have never used marijuana personally. I've been what I would consider marijuana adjacent, in other words, around people smoking, but not directly inhaling myself. In all likelihood, there wasn't enough in the air around me to ever experience a contact high (one of the great misconceptions about marijuana is the phenomenon of the contact high, which actually requires exposure to a whole lot more smoke than most people understand). Two, I am generally in favor of legalization of marijuana for a laundry list of reasons totally unrelated to any using I haven't done. To some people, I'm considered an anomaly because they can't understand why someone who admits to not using a drug would be in favor of legalization, but I can assure you that I have my reasons. Some of them are as follows:

- making drugs illegal doesn't make them go away
- people have used marijuana for thousands of years
- it is mostly harmless in most situations
- there are legitimate health benefits
- I object to the criminalization of possession and use of drugs
- I have worked in prosecution in the past
- our jails are full of non violent drug offenders
- if people need help to overcome addictions, they need help, not jail
- tax revenues

Having said all that, I want you all to know that I do my best to present the most accurate and objective information here, particularly when it comes to drugs. If you find something flawed with my reasoning or would like to disagree, please feel free to do so, just keep it civil. I'm going to thank you in advance for that.

Okay, so let's get to the actual subject matter at hand. If anyone has additional questions or concerns, please feel free to add them in the comments or on my Facebook page and I will try to get to them. I've sort-of become a resident expert on the topic just because I have a legal background and live in CO.


Classification of Marijuana
Marijuana defies classification unlike many other drugs because it has such a wide range of effects. It is considered both a depressant, meaning that it decreases transmissions in the nervous system and a hallucinogen, which means that it can alter perception, thought, emotions and consciousness.

Under the DEA, marijuana is a Class I controlled substance, which is reserved for the most dangerous substances in the nation. You'd probably be interested to know that cocaine is a Class II. Tell me how that makes sense exactly? The classification of marijuana has been a highly politicized event, and there really isn't much evidence to support lumping it in with the other substances considered Class I. This classification also dramatically limits medical research, as does the fact that marijuana is derived from plant sources that cannot be patented (essentially giving Big Pharma no incentive to do exhaustive research because they can't be assured patent protection down the road...welcome to our jacked up system). There is talk of possibly having it reclassified given the current trend of legalization.

Benefits of Marijuana Use
The conventional wisdom tells us that it mellows most people out and causes increases in hunger.

There is a large and growing list of medical benefits associated with use as well, which is why marijuana is legal in many more states for medical usage than for recreational usage. Use has been long recommended for cancer patients in particular as it can alleviate pain and increase hunger in patients whose appetites have been diminished by treatment. It reduces nausea and vomiting as well. I'll vouch for the awesomeness of this first hand as it made the final weeks of my father's life much more pleasant and manageable. Plus, he ate a lot of peanuts when he was high.

Many people with AIDS and other conditions benefit in the same ways as cancer patients, as can anyone with a condition that gradually worsens over time. Patients with chronic pain, glaucoma, nerve and muscle disorders can benefit from use as well. One of the most exciting new developments is in the treatment of seizure disorders, particularly in children. The cannabidiol is extracted, most of the THC removed (which is what creates the "high") and children who were out of other medical options are able to resume normal seizure-free (or at least severely enhanced) lives because the seizures stop entirely or decrease in frequency and significance.  Parents are now moving to Colorado from all over the country to seek this treatment for their children. It is also being used in some patients with multiple sclerosis.

This article cites some of the lesser known, but documented benefits of marijuana.
- can stop HIV spread in the body
- slows Alzheimer's
- slows cancer spread
- pain reliever
- can help with opiate addiction
- can help depression, anxiety and adhd
- can treat epilepsy and Tourette's
- can help with neurological damage
- can prevent blindness from glaucoma
- can lower insulin levels in diabetics

There are probably a heap of other potential medical benefits that we just don't know about yet because it is an area sorely lacking in adequate research.

Risks of Marijuana Use
In most medical cases, the benefits of marijuana use far outweigh the risks, and so we tend not to worry about them as much. Much concern has been raised, however, over the safety of marijuana use in the recreational community. Some of these concerns are legitimate, some are unfortunately fueled by misinformation in the media.

First, marijuana is a hallucinogen, and people can and do react to it differently, even people who use it frequently. The nature of the drug is to be heavily varied, and shops here locally sell countless different varieties, all with slightly different concentrations of the compounds that make the drug a drug. Some people can become delusional and paranoid on it and their behavior can be altered as much as their minds. It does not work as just a depressant in all situations, and users should be aware of the potential it has in this capacity. I know quite a few people who had horrible experiences with it, particularly on their first try.

There is a case here locally of a young man who recently consumed six times the recommended amount in the form of an edible, then began shaking, screaming and throwing things before jumping off a hotel balcony to his death. As quick as the media is to tie his death directly to marijuana use, it needs to be emphasized that he used far more than he should have. It also bears mention that consuming six times the legal limit of alcohol could kill someone, as could consuming six times the recommended amount of several other legal prescription drugs. Even Tylenol is lethal in amounts we wouldn't ordinarily consider that dangerous.

There is another case here locally where a man who consumed a joint and an entire edible shot and killed his wife. Again, quick to blame the marijuana, many are overlooking several important issues: he had violent priors, he was taking other medications at the time which could have interacted, the police took over 15 minutes to respond (she was on the phone with them saying he was tripping and threatening for 13 of those minutes). But, yeah, let's just blame the pot.

Second, there are long term risks that are fairly well documented. Long term exposure can affect memory and concentration, particularly when used long term by children and adolescents. It can also affect growth in children and adolescents. Though many people believe that marijuana is not addictive, it can be for approximately 10% of those who use it. It can trigger or worsen certain mental health conditions, namely psychosis, depression, suicidal thoughts, and possibly schizophrenia. Some studies have shown that frequent use tends to result in people having poorer job outlooks throughout life as well as higher obesity rates.

Third, it can be associated with certain cancers, though the connection isn't solid in many cases. Many components of marijuana are considered carcinogens and in some ways they are even more dangerous than the compounds in cigarettes because people tend to inhale deeper and hold it longer than with cigarettes, plus joints are not filtered. Smokers tend to use cigarettes more frequently and consistently than users smoke marijuana though. Far more common than cancer diagnoses are chronic lung problems that develop simply because of the damage that inhaling smoke repeatedly can do.

Fourth, the risks of marijuana use during pregnancy and the effect on the fetus aren't as clear as we would like to think. Many women continue to use it throughout pregnancy, particularly for the benefit of nausea suppression, but there do appear to be slight risks of developmental problems. It does seem clear that marijuana use during pregnancy is safer than cigarette smoking or alcohol use, but it is not without risks.

Misconceptions About Marijuana Use
There are many people who make the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug, meaning that it pushes individuals to try other, more dangerous drugs, many of which are far more addictive. It's not, and this has been documented time and again, yet the argument still keeps being raised.

There were fake reports all over the internet within days of legalization here that several people had died over overdoses. It's just not true. There has never been a documented death from overdose. Ever.

Some here insisted that legalization would dramatically increase the crime rates. The opposite has happened, and crime rates have actually gone down.

Many cases in the media discuss marijuana as a factor in crimes without addressing other contributing factors, one of the biggest of which is that marijuana can be laced with other substances, particularly in areas where it is still illegal. I draw the parallel here between a person who consumes an alcoholic beverage intending to consume alcohol, but is unaware that someone has slipped something into it. In these cases, the person is intending to smoke pot, but not intending the expose themselves to whatever else might be mixed in.

Another issue that arises frequently is that people are concerned with users driving under the influence and wanting to know what the criteria are for declaring someone unable to drive. As with literally any other substance that people use to alter themselves in any way, driving under the influence is illegal. It has always been illegal. It is illegal to drive on prescription medications, on cough syrup, after alcohol use, after using any substance, legal or not, which impedes your judgment. The fact that marijuana is now legal doesn't legalize driving under the influence. That law remains the same, and in fact is probably even stronger now in this respect because they are looking into setting specific limits to determine intoxication, as exist currently with alcohol.

One area that is discussed frequently in the media, and misunderstood by many people, is whether use can result in you losing your job, even now that it is legal here (and in several other states for medical usage). The answer is, so far, yes. Employers can drug test you and can demand clean tests as a condition for employment, regardless of whether the substance is legal or not. The issue of whether medical marijuana users can lose their jobs is actually being litigated now in the state and the results of that case could have far reaching effects because it involves not just the issue of employer rights, but of health care privacy. 

Other Miscellaneous Topics
I was asked if there is a difference between vaporizing and smoking marijuana. Vaporizing marijuana isolates the chemical components that create the high but eliminates many of the toxins that one would be exposed to during smoking. At least one study has shown that vaporizing elicits the same level of benefits while dramatically reducing the risks. 

The issue is a bit complicated by the presence of e-cigs on the market now, but those work differently  than marijuana vaporizers do. E-cigs are considered a replacement for regular cigarettes, but still can trigger nicotine addiction and may expose users to harmful inhaled metals. They are not currently regulated, so the facts about safety aren't as clear as they should be.

Another question came in about my personal views on marijuana, namely whether I would use it now that it is legal and how it's legalization has changed what I will teach my kids. First, I have to say that I might use it in the future. I might not. I can't honestly say what I will do. I'm not necessarily opposed to trying it, but I haven't found a compelling enough reason to in the past (even though there were plenty of opportunities). I don't know. I know that there are specific medical conditions that would push me to try it faster if I developed any of them, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend using it to other people in those circumstances.

As for my children, they already know what marijuana is and have known for many years. They know that my father used it. We did not hide his pipe or supplies, though he did smoke it outside (as he did with cigarettes). They were told from the beginning that it was just like any other medication he took related to his cancer, that there was a reason he needed it and that it helped him. I never saw it as more complicated than that. Now that it is available recreationally here in the state, I am fully aware that my kids will likely be presented with many opportunities to try it. My perspective as a parent is this (and it hasn't changed with legalization): treat it as a drug, understand that it is a drug, that it is not guaranteed to be safe, that it can affect you differently than other people. If they want to try it, I wouldn't necessarily tell them not to, but would not seek it out on their behalf (outside of medical reasons). Once they are of legal age, I hope that they treat it like alcohol, with an understanding that it can be abused, that they need to ensure that they are in a safe place to try it, that they may not drive while under the influence, that they need only try a little at a time if they choose, and that they can call me 24/7 and I will be there without question. Marijuana doesn't concern me nearly as much as other drugs do, and those will have far more caution attached to them.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

At our age...

This is one of those topics that I have been tossing around in my head for a while now, and it's something that becomes a more pressing issue it seems with each passing day.

By definition, in fact.

The wonder about us humans is that we generally aren't very good at anticipating things. In our society especially, we tend to hang on to youth with a death grip. We don't want to accept that time is marching us forward. We pluck the gray hairs in defiance. We plunk down huge amounts of money on expensive creams. We make bizarre faces at ourselves in the mirror until the lines start to disappear, then somehow convince ourselves that these contorted expressions are good enough.

Good enough to satiate our denial for now, anyway.

We are getting older. We all are. It's part of that whole time/space continuum thing. Until and unless someone actually figures out how to manipulate it all, we're stuck here, getting a little bit older every day.

For a long time, we celebrate it. We still do with our kids, though the celebrations of their birthdays usually comes with a bittersweet taste to it because we've already figured out what they haven't yet - that you don't ever get to go backwards and someday you're going to get to the point where you'd give anything for a few moments of naive youth back.

Kids don't care yet. To them, another year older means milestones and achievements. It means more candles on a cake, more privileges, more freedom.

To us, it usually just means that we'll forget how old we are for a few months, that we'll have that blank lost expression when someone asks our age and we have to try and do math to figure it out. As if that isn't bad enough, some of those years that tick by mean that it's now officially time to make some appointment we've been dreading. The appointments that used to seem like they were so far off in the distant future, back when we were young and we thought that where we are now was old.

Except that we don't feel that way, not usually anyway. We still feel like we're in our 20s most of the time, at least most of us do. In some ways, we've actually improved as we've gained a few more years. With those years, at least for me, has come eye opening self awareness, a better understanding of what clothes, makeup, hairstyles look best on me. I've stopped trying to follow trends and fads, I do what suits my personality these days. I've embraced my nerd more, I've embraced the maxi dress, I've long ago conceded that I have to dye the gray hairs I used to pluck and now use my hair as another accessory, another way to express myself.

I'm more me now than I ever have been in my life.

This getting older thing isn't all bad, because it brings wisdom with it. We accept things about ourselves far easier than we used to.

We tolerate less, we become more outspoken. We hone our bullshit detectors and learn to start cutting toxic people out of our lives. We become more deliberate with our friendships. We stand up for ourselves. We're more confident, and we take no prisoners.


We're particular. We know what we like. We don't bother wasting our time or energy on cheap imitations anymore. Our tastes have evolved.

C'mon, seriously...all one needs to do is analyze their personal wine evolution. Mine went a little bit like this.

- Strawberry Hill
- Wine coolers
- White Zinfandel
- Chardonnay
- Reds. Only the reds.
....and now I've become allergic to the sulfites and can't even drink wine....

But it isn't all personal growth and epiphanies, this aging business.

We don't all ease into it gracefully. Some of us are actively in denial. Some of us don't just feel like we're still in our 20s, we act like it. We push our bodies to do things that they just aren't so good at anymore....and then we end up sitting in some orthopedist's office getting the at your age speech. If you've been in that chair nursing an injury, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

There are tremendous downsides to getting older, this much is true, and I won't even for one second pretend that they aren't real.

By the time you're our age, chances are that some of those fairytale weddings you attended have ended in nasty divorces. Maybe some are clinging to each other for dear life, but refusing to really fix the problems that led them to the end, and so they're just going through the motions now. We could have been one of those couples. We almost were.

By the time you're our age, you likely have friends who've lost a parent. Maybe you have friends who've already lost them both. Maybe you are the one wandering around the universe without your parents, as I am, often wondering when you ever got to be old enough that you should have to be in this place already. You don't feel like you're old enough to be parent-less, yet here you are, and in some ways you never really felt entirely grown up until now.

By the time you're our age, you probably already know people who've been diagnosed with cancer, with diabetes, with heart disease. We don't seem old enough to be in a place where we are visiting friends in the hospital (or are there ourselves), and yet here we are. We have to become more conscious of our health for the simple reason that it isn't optional anymore. The days of being clueless and irresponsible have to remain in the past if we want to keep going forward. It's a perspective changer, for sure.

By the time you're our age, perhaps you've already lost a friend. Maybe you found yourself gathered and teary and reminscent about someone that you shared parts of your life with who wasn't in the generation ahead of us or ahead of them anymore, but someone who was one of us. Maybe you've had to say goodbye to someone who was a cohort, a partner in crime, a buddy, a friend. There's little in this world that can shift your view on life more than seeing it end before we deem it should. Death truly is the great equalizer.

At our age, we have learned that time is as much an enemy as it is an ally. We know that nothing lasts forever. We know that things inevitably change, they always change. Perhaps this is why we get better at living in the moment, enjoying the little things in life, as we get a bit older. We learn to value the beauty of everyday more, we need the big moments less.

We start to tolerate the wrinkles more because they're part of a skin we're more comfortable in. We make the appointments we'd rather avoid because we've learned that we have to, that it's better to know than live obliviously. We slow down, but not too much, just enough to take the edge off in the hopes of avoiding injuries because we've learned the hard way that everything hurts more and longer now. We re-embrace naps and books and lazy afternoons.

Occasionally we dread getting older, but mostly we welcome it.

We start to understand what it means to live like we're dying, because we are. We all are.

It just took us this long to learn it.

...because you know...at our age...everything takes longer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why We All Need To Care About Thigh Gaps....no, really....

At least three or four times a day, I see some story float by my news feed about thigh gaps. There is usually some extreme close-up shot of some young woman connected to a story about how their thighs are to be celebrated as an achievement in thinness, are supposedly desired by women of all ages, are this goal that we are all striving for, starving for.

I shake my head every single time.

I shake my head because I have daughters rapidly approaching the age where social media is going to impact their lives. The last thing I want to have them see floating by on their news feeds someday is a false proclamation that their beauty, their desirability, their worth, their value can be measured in the space between their thighs.

In all likelihood, this thigh gap thing will have faded by then and we'll be on to the next false measure of beauty being thrown at us from all angles.

As an adult, even as one who has struggled with anorexia in the past and whose mind can still drift that way when things spin out of control in my life, I am mostly able to ignore all the noise. I can see this movement for what it is, a fad, a trend, another way to attempt to demoralize young women by making their appearance more important than anything else.

I've never had a thigh gap, not even when I was starving myself and spending hours a day exercising to the point where I was fainting. Not even then.

You know why I didn't?

Because my body isn't designed that way. God knows I tried. My thighs in particular are not thin and even when I was literally killing myself to try and get thinner, I couldn't.

My body isn't designed that way, and neither are the bodies of my girls.

Even when they are thin, they don't have thigh gaps. They likely never will, because they are my children and there is something about our bone and muscle structure that prohibits such a gap even in the absence of fat.

And then there's the matter of fat.

I know, it's the F-word.

I saw another picture float by yesterday, and it said something to the effect of this:


I may have fist pumped the air for a hot second.

I did, but then within mere moments another post about thigh gaps appeared and I realized immediately that the ratio of body positive messages to body shaming ones is so skewed that it's no wonder that young girls in particular get sucked into believing them.

This is why we all have to care about thigh gaps.

Not because they are desirable...in fact most people I know (and most studies I've ever seen on the subject tell us) like women in all shapes and sizes. Even the ones whose thighs touch. Honest.

Not because they are even attainable...because many, many girls and women don't have body types that would ever create thigh gaps, no matter how thin they are. Other girls and women naturally have thigh gaps. People come in different shapes and sizes, and that's okay.

Not because they are any indication of beauty...because we are all beautiful in our own ways and because our uniqueness is the most beautiful thing about us. If we all looked the same, what a tragic and dull world we would inhabit.

Not because they are any indication of worth...because women have been fighting this fight to be valued for more than their physical attributes since the dawn of time and we aren't about to lose this war over the size of our thighs, especially when photoshop is so frequently involved (sometimes painfully obviously) in the twisted messages in the media.

Not because any of us really care if our thighs touch...because most of us don't. Even those of us who have struggled with eating disorders in the past. Most of us are more worried about whether we are strong and healthy and centered and fulfilled than measuring the circumference of one body part.

Not because we as women should even be giving this movement a moment of attention...because honestly we shouldn't. The more people talk about it, the more traction it gets. However, just because we feel like we shouldn't be paying attention to it, doesn't mean we can ignore it. We absolutely must talk about it...

...and we must because right now there are millions of little girls seeing the same messages we are seeing. We must work to undo the damage the media is doing to them. We must teach them to find their value internally, to push away this notion that they are supposed to seek approval from a society that will readily tell them if they are "hot or not". We need to build them up and teach them to be strong and healthy and centered and fulfilled.

We need to teach them that no one gets to define who they are or how worthy they are, regardless of the size of their thighs.

Then we need to teach ours sons the same thing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the hate crimes and dead babies edition

Normally I spend the entire week leading up to Tuesdays squirreling away stories to write about for TTPMOT. It isn't usually hard to find several things in the news or in my personal life to rant about. This week, though, there are two stories that I want to focus on. As a result, I'm probably missing a whole bunch of other stories worthy of mention, but that's the nature of the beast. Besides, I'm not CNN.

Off we go. I hope you are sitting down for this one.


A Hate Crime is a Hate Crime is a Hate Crime
On Sunday, a man with a long history of affiliation with white supremacy groups, a man who once ran a chapter of the KKK, a man who has a past filled with hatred and violence, took guns he bought through a straw man and his rage to a Jewish community center and a Jewish assisted living facility and opened fire.

He killed three people including a 14 year old boy. When taken into custody at a nearby elementary school, he yelled, "Heil Hitler!" from the backseat of the police car.

It took over 24 hours for the case to be declared a hate crime.

When the shooter is Muslim (or looks like they might be, whatever that means), the media tends to make that call immediately. Often, so do the authorities.

This man, Frasier Glenn Cross, is one of the most hate filled, toxic human beings to ever inhabit our Earth. A simple look at his history tells you as much. He is one of the most notorious white supremacists in the US, even going so far as to issue kill lists with varying point levels depending on the target.

He served time for plotting the assassination and robbery of Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. His sentence was shortened because he testified against other white supremacists involved in the unsuccessful plot.

This man perpetrated hate crimes Sunday, without doubt.

Our society needs to stop laboring under the assumption that hate crimes are only perpetrated by religious, racial and ethnic minorities. White Christians can be even scarier, even more violent, even more hate filled. Cross is a prime example of it, and yet he wasn't considered a hate crime perpetrator or a domestic home grown terrorist by anyone in the mainstream media right away. The reason?

Simple.

He's white.

It does not matter, as some have claimed today, that all three of the victims killed were actually Christian. He targeted them because of their presence at Jewish facilities and presumed affiliation.

This man is no less a monster than any other terrorist. This man is no less a threat than a person who hijacks a plane or straps a bomb to their body and rides a bus or subway train. This man is even more dangerous, many would argue, because we've been conditioned to believe he is not dangerous. We've been told that the enemies are over there, in these categories, look like this, are motivated by that.

Nope. Terror is everywhere. Hate is everywhere. Evil is everywhere.

...and it can look exactly like your average 73 year old white man.

How Do 7 Babies Die and No One Notices?
This is one of the most disturbing stories I've read in a long time, and if you aren't sitting down yet, I would encourage you to do so. Also...this is horrendous, so if you can't handle the details of an unimaginable crime, please stop reading now.

I'm serious.

On Saturday, Darren West was cleaning out the garage of the home he used to share with his wife and children. His wife who he had been estranged from for years, Megan Hunstman, had not lived in the home for several years either.

What they discovered has shocked the conscience of a nation and brought seasoned law enforcement officers and television reporters to tears.

In cardboard boxes stored in the garage, the bodies of seven dead newborn babies. The suspect? Their mother. 

After she was arrested, there were many questions that arose almost immediately. How had no one noticed that she was pregnant, particularly that many times? The babies were all full term, yet no one knew that she had been pregnant. Neighbors have stated that her weight fluctuated and she often wore baggy clothing, but none of them knew she had been pregnant. No one knew of the births or deaths of the babies, no one but her.

She confessed to having given birth to at least seven babies and killing six of them. She claims that one was stillborn. The remaining babies were strangled or suffocated immediately after birth, wrapped in towels or t-shirts, placed in bags and stored in boxes in the garage.

The identity of the father or fathers of the babies is unknown, and DNA testing is being conducted to confirm that she is in fact that mother. Her estranged husband and older children claim not to have had any idea that she was ever pregnant during the time period of 1996-2006 when the babies were born and killed, though they were all living in the home at the time.

West has served time for the manufacture of methamphetamine. Their other children, including one born during the time frame of the murders but allowed to survive, appear well adjusted and normal.

There is no indication of what her motive was. Her mental status is being evaluated as well as whether she ever sought out abortions. Mothers who conceal their pregnancies and kill their newborns are usually teenagers afraid to tell their parents, not married women in their 30s who already have children, and the case has baffled everyone.

What could drive a woman to repeatedly become pregnant and murder her own children?

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