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Chopsticks, also known as nimble lads

There's something I don't get about the Tim Tebow story, and maybe you can help me out.

In case you're not familiar with it — in case you know even less about major professional sporting events than I do, which would be difficult unless you actually shove a bamboo chopstick up your nose and, you know, wiggle it around a bit to erase any tiny flare of information about same that accidentally snakes its way into your consciousness, and in case you've been ignoring women's health and reproductive choice advocacy national news, a category I just made up in my own chopstick-damaged brain...

...Where was I?  I lost myself.  I think there must be a splinter lodged up there somewhere.  It makes me hard to do an thought.

Oh, yeah.  In case you don't know what's up, James Dobson's festival of evangelical intolerance, Focus on the Family, has announced that they're airing an ad during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother: "The 30-second spot from the international family-help organization will feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam. They will share a personal story centered on the theme of 'Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.'"  Seems they'll talk about Pam Tebow's choice — note choice — not to terminate her complicated pregnancy when advised to by doctors.

Now, y'all know by now how much I love abortion.  Does a body good.  Sticks to your ribs.  The other white meat.  It's what's for dinner.  In fact, I think everyone should be required to have at least one.  So obviously this pushes my buttons.  But leaving aside my personal feelings, and my opinion about airing such an ad during the Super Bowl, imagining which I leave as an exercise for the reader, I find myself sort of confused.

I was wondering, because it's my nosy-ass business, what condition Pam Tebow had that caused doctors to urge a termination for the sake of her health.  That's the story that I was hearing, that she'd chosen to risk her life for the pregnancy against medical advice.  I found this 2007 article from the Gainesville Sun that seems to lay it out:

[W]hile their prayers were answered [And, no, they weren't infertile. — Ed.], the pregnancy proved difficult from the beginning.

Just before her pregnancy, Pam fell into a coma after contracting amoebic dysentery, a bacteria transmitted through contaminated drinking water. During her recovery, she received a series of strong medications. And even though she discontinued the regimen when she discovered the pregnancy, doctors told Pam the fetus had been damaged.

Doctors later told Pam that her placenta had detached from the uterine wall, a condition known as placental abruption, which can deprive the fetus of oxygen and nutrients. Doctors expected a stillbirth, Pam said, and they encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy.

"They thought I should have an abortion to save my life from the beginning all the way through the seventh month," she recalled.

I'm having trouble figuring out what the real thrust is here.  Was she encouraged — begging the question — to terminate because the health of the fetus was thought to be compromised, i.e., deformed from the drugs or brain-damaged?  Or was it because her life was at risk — say, from bleeding caused by an abruption?

I have a hard time believing the former, just given the time and place.  I have an easier time understanding the latter, although it seems to me, and I am not a doctor despite the little rubber reflex hammer I tap people on the knee with instead of shaking hands like a normal not-crazy person, and the tongue depressors I carry around and shove into strangers' mouths without warning, and the nonconsensual pelvic exams I perform when I happen to see someone just lying there under general anaesthetic, practically asking for it, walking that walk, wearing that low-cut surgical gown...

Whoa, another splinter.

...But isn't expectant management generally the approach to an early abruption — early as in "from the beginning" — and wouldn't this have been the case particularly in the abortion-hostile cultural climate of the Philippines?

On the other hand, there's the possibility that the bleeding from an abruption was severe enough to truly jeopardize Pam Tebow's life.  That would have justified a warning that the only treatment was delivery, assuming such an option were available given, again, the time and place.  And significantly before term, that would have constituted a termination de facto.  But if she were losing that much blood, enough that she was losing significant ground, enough to recommend ending the pregnancy, wouldn't it have affected the fetus first?  Wouldn't Tim Tebow have been stillborn, or born with much greater disadvantages than just being "skinny" at birth, as his mother reports?

I'm not even sure what I'm getting at, just that I think I must be missing something and I can't put my finger on exactly what it might be.  I doubt I will; this seems to be all of the story we'll get.  The ambiguity may be intentional, or it may be simply the result of an imperfect recollection 25 years later.  Paul helpfully reminds me that even five years later I'm not entirely clear on what happened with Charlie, after all, and I have notes.  Hell, I don't know: Maybe Pam Tebow has chopstick flinders in her brain, too.

Can you figure it out?  What am I missing about all this?  I'll totally give an unwanted public breast exam to anyone who can help me out.

In other news, Ben eats a muffin, continues to have ears:


...and generally makes a compelling case for Occasionally Infuriating Toddlers, Ongoing Tolerance and Harboring of.  He wakes routinely at 5:30 AM.  He ruins dinner every...single...night by caterwauling as if he were being harpooned a mere five minutes into the meal.  He throws things, the heavier, the better.  He resists diaper changes by means of heedlessly flopping around on the changing table, frenziedly bucking his hips as if he were auditioning for a Lady Gaga video — I don't know, does she have any songs about being covered with digested blueberry waste?  (Does she have any songs that aren't?)  He is a rotten feral beast of a creature.  Except.

He likes shoes, asks for them by name.  At a dinner party a few weeks ago, he patiently brought a pair from the front hall to every unshod guest, as if it had been a regrettable oversight that we removed our muddy boots at the door.  He asks to be read to, fetching a book and then walking over to a chair and meaningfully patting its seat.  He happily emulates Charlie, eagerly brushing his teeth when his brother does; dragging a book and a blanket over to the sofa where Charlie's stretched out reading; dancing naked in the hallway before bathtime, a waggling Donald O'Connor to Charlie's floppy Gene Kelly.  He beams and waves when the cat warily enters the room: "Hah, ca'!"  In short, he eats a muffin, continues to have ears.

As for Charlie, he makes books on tape. 


Which I totally, unapologetically, God-my-kid-is-awesome love.  But even apart from how charming I find it ("Stuart Little.  Written by Eb White"), it's reassuring to know that if neither his first choice of career — a spy — nor his second — circus acrobat — nor even his third — crocus farmer, and I am not even kidding — pan out, he'll have a marketable skill to fall back on.  Not that I think he'll need it.  It's not like there's some global surplus of spymasters out there...who hawk saffron...wearing tights...on a trapeze....right?