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  1. I had to do a research paper on childbirth in Puritan New England, and how it is relevant to The Handmaid's Tale. I would love any feedback, suggestions, grammar/spelling corrections, etc. Thanks in Advance! Childbirth is primeval. It has been going on since the beginning of mammals, but birth is entirely different now then it use to be. "In the healthiest seventeenth century communities, one infant in ten died before the age of five. In less healthy environments, three children in ten died before their fifth birthday." ("Childbirth in Early America," 2011, para. 6). However, it was not the actual birth that killed women and children, but complications they did not know how to fix. Such as: dehydration, hemorrhage, and infection, just to name a few. Although it still does happen, infant fatality is much less common today. In general, most of a colonial woman's life was focused on children and childbirth. "On average, women had about nine children, and about 90-95% of women bore children. Their children were typically born about 2 ½ years apart..." (Brewer, para. 1). In a typical colonial birth, a midwife attended instead of a physician. Men were not allowed to attend a birth, unless there were medical complications. A woman was also never alone during childbirth, "In colonial America, the typical woman gave birth to her children at home, while female kin and neighbors clustered at her bedside to offer support and encouragement." ("Childbirth in Early America." 2011, para. 8). Unlike today, there were no painkillers to aid in childbirth, aside from alcohol. Women were told that pain was "God's punishment for Eve's sin of eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden". ("Childbirth in Early America." 2011, para. 10). What ever occurred after birth depended on the wealth of the woman. Wealthy women were expected to spend weeks in bed regaining their strength, whilst poorer women usually had to begin working after a couple of days. Nowadays, we are aware of the proper precautions we must take for a safe infant delivery. This was not the case in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Infection was a very dangerous possibility due to lack of hygiene. Many diseases and epidemics spread just because hand washing was not as common. "In fact, it was common during those times for doctors to attend autopsies of recently deceased people who had died from very contagious diseases and then to attend a birth without washing their hands!" (Martell, 2008, para. 27). If something like this happened today, the offending physician would be fired and/or sued! Another likely cause of fatality was improper positioning of the baby, or obstruction. "Obstructed labor was perhaps the number one cause of death to birthing mothers, previous to the 1600's. With the invention of forceps, came a great increase in the survival rate of mothers and babies during childbirth. Previous to this time, death during childbirth was "an expected" tragedy." (Martell, 2008, para. 18). Forceps are still used today for women who need assistance with birth. It is highly unlikely for a mother or child nowadays to die due to a breach infant. The actual act of birth has remained unchanged, we can't change that, but the way we deliver babies has changed drastically. The majority of women in the United States no longer have children in their homes with a midwife, although it is still common in some parts of the world. The most common type of birth in America is with a physician in a hospital. Unlike the seventeenth century, we also have multiple forms of pain control, the most popular being an epidural. "In some hospitals, over 80 to 90 percent of women who give birth use an epidural for pain control, and nationally, around 70 percent of women have an epidural during birth." ("The Epidural," 2006, para. 1). The risk of infant fatality has also decreased immensely. Our knowledge of infection control, cesarean sections, and the use of forceps and vacuums, allow the infant death rate to be very low. Even though the novel The Handmaid's Tale is set in the future, the births resemble upper-class Puritan births. Fertility is very rare amongst the women of Gilead, so birth is a ceremony for all of the handmaids. A doctor, the wife of the commander, and all of the handmaids, surrounded the mother. While the mother was in labor, the handmaids were told to chant together to help her birth the child. Even though the handmaids would give birth to the child, they acted more as wet-nurses than mothers. They could keep the baby for a couple of months to nurse it, but then the wife would take care of it. By the time this novel was written, there were already medications available to help with the pain of childbirth. However, the women of Gilead were allowed no drugs, as it might interfere with the health of the child and birth was already rare enough. The actual birth ceremony is only mentioned once in the novel, but childbirth is the heart of The Handmaid's Tale. The lack of fertility is the reason why Gilead and its extreme rules were created.
  2. I had the same problem my junior year! I felt like I wasn't involved in anything. I would suggest looking up organizations you can volunteer at. It's very easy to start, and even though you don't get paid, it feels good to help out. Also, I'm not sure if you're high school offers CTE classes, but if they do take one! I'm currently enrolled in a nursing aid class, and will be a certified nursing assistant by the end of my senior year. Talk to your counselor or teacher if you are unsure that your school has any CTE classes, but I'm sure they must. If nursing isn't your thing, they have quite a few other classes.
  3. Hello everyone! Below is my admissions essay to UW for the prompt:Tell us a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. I would love criticism on how to improve sentence variety, flow, ideas, vocab, etc. Any idea you have on what you believe would make this essay better is welcome :) My feelings that day were equivalent to abandoning a best friend in the middle of the Sahara. He was utterly helpless, and nothing I could do would save him. The person in question was my foster brother, and also the one person I have been closest too. The likelihood that I will ever speak to him again is low, but he has influenced me more than anyone else ever will. James was my brother's first best friend, and would always ride the bus home with us in a futile attempt to avoid his aunt. Although my brother and James were nearly inseparable, they did get in fights pretty often considering their stubbornness. After these constant bouts, James would vent to me. One day he told me all about his parents. His father was currently in jail, while his unemployed mother lived a couple hours away with his four half-siblings. Because of his parents, James had been living on the streets before his aunt agreed to take him in. Although his childhood was heartbreaking, I immediately gained respect for how strong James was. My problems were trivial. James helped me to realize just how fortunate my life is. When his aunt lost custody of him, my family stepped in. We aspired to legally adopt James, but we were only able to take him in as a foster child. He adapted to our home with ease, and I connected to him in a way I never could have with my blood brother. The two of us would sit in my room and talk for hours about life, people, and the future. Then his persona changed entirely. My poor father had to endure countless meetings involving his truancy. Because of his absences, we were deemed unfit to keep him; regardless of the fact that he was fed, clothed, safe, and loved in our home. Custody now belonged to his birth mother. I remember that last drive down to the slums of Olympia vividly, it was the last day I ever saw James. When we pulled into the deteriorating house's driveway, his mother was already outside. She beckoned us to follow her to the top level of the house. I noticed the dust and grime caked onto the floor. James' older sister was feeding her mother's baby as she sat on a couch crammed beside the kitchen. This was where we were leaving my best friend, my little brother. His mother broke down into sobs once the door closed. She was remarkably grateful that we had kept him safe and promised she would do the same. Months later my brother finally contacted James. He had just been released from juvenile detention and was living on the streets with his friends. His own mother, the person whom the court decided was a better suited caregiver than my family, had forbidden James to live in her home anymore. My immediate reaction was rage. I could not believe she would give her own child a death sentence by making him live on the street. Once I calmed down I realized it wasn't entirely her fault. His childhood influenced his recent decisions. He was simply going back to what he knew. Living with James for those few months taught me that I do have the ability to influence people. It may be too late for my brother, but there are plenty of children that will suffer the same fate if no one steps in. Volunteering at Housing Hope is just what I needed to make a difference. Before meeting James I never thought I would be able to change anyone's life, but seeing the children at Housing Hope grow is proof that I am. Because of James, I now recognize myself as a leader.
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