A giant baby was born to two normal sized parents in Wisconsin last Friday. The Big Enchilada, a girl whose real name is Delaney, weighed 13 pounds, 12 ounces at birth. According to a maternity ward nurse: "It was ready for a steak...It had quite an appetite." (Damn those gender-neutral caps and blankies.) Mommy got a C-section, so we can all stop imagining the wreckage.
Ok, we get it. Pregnant chicks can be hot, too. I'm not saying bringing the belly out from under wraps isn't a good thing. I'm thrilled to the bejeezus about all the sexy high fashion preggo ensembles the expecting can now stuff themselves into. And I hate to deny anyone the right to exhibitionism.
But the idea that Britney, of all the possibilities, looks like she'll be carrying Demi's torch as pregs on parade in Vanity Fair is...(like everything Britney) kinda skanky. You just can't go from nasty Catholic schoolgirl to slutty space chick to trashy junk-food eating ashtray-dumping ho-bag and then expect people to buy you as a luminous icon of maternity. Or can you? Maybe I expect too much from America.
Here's the original Demi photo in miniature glory...the only reliable link I found that wasn't connected to some perv-fest was in Russian, so you'll have to add your own captions.
A new study has identified a gene that actually keeps a woman's ovaries from aging, allowing her to conceive and give birth for a longer period than most. Maybe someday there will be a test a woman can take early on to find out exactly what time zone her biological clock is operating on, and theoretically, we can plan our families accordingly. But most women we know who are on the late side of the reproduction spectrum weren't just dillydallying around thinking their fertility was infinite. They were not ready to have kids for one reason or another...ie relationships that were not up to co-parenting snuff. Who would we all have bred with if we found out our biological clocks were on overdrive when we were 20?
After a week of all-night baby action (and...a marathon of leftover episodes of Alias), I had the following apocalyptic fantasy:
If you could somehow make it so all the babies in the world were up all night long, you could really do a lot of damage to the planet.
No, really...is it the moon or something? I heard another kid was awake all night this week too. Coincidence?
Does anyone else find it disturbing that Madonna, icon of independence, ambition and womanpowerstuff, feels compelled to specify that she obviously works only during the hours her children are at school? I do.
Eating fish when you're pregnant will make your baby smarter! Or maybe dumber! It depends on the fish. In a recent study of babies born to fish-eating women, scientists found that "For each additional weekly serving of fish, the babies' intelligence scores increased by 4 points, or an average of almost 7%. But for every increase of 1 part per million of mercury, the babies' intelligence scores dropped by 7.5 points, or 12.5%."
So women should eat good fish but avoid bad fish. Sounds easy enough, sort of. But which fish are good and which ones are bad? It's impossible to get a straight answer. Even the scientists seem confused. This article says that the worst kinds of fish are shark and swordfish, as well as white and albacore tuna. But then it says "Generally, the darker the fish meat, the higher the mercury content." Fine...except that every fish on the bad list actually has white meat.
Are we just supposed to guess which fish will make our babies geniuses, and which ones will give them brain damage? Is it size related? Fat-content related? Does geography play a role? Do some individual fish have more mercury than others? Can we get a little clarity on this issue? Or at least some innovation...pocket mercury detectors, clearly labeled low-mercury fish oil supplements...something?? And don't even get me started on those PCBs.
I realize that Father's Day is just a marketing ploy, like Valentine's Day, or Yom Kippur, but I thought it might be nice to jot down a few thoughts I've had since the birth of my nearly one-year-old son.
I once joked that fatherhood is the hardest, least-rewarding thing I've ever done. It was just a joke, although for while there it was also true. But things really do change once your child starts to develop a personality and an ear-shattering shriek.
I've learned not to be disappointed that my eleven-month-old doesn’t “get” Motorhead. There’s time for everything. I have much to share.
It’s a cliché, but after witnessing my wife’s labor I really did understand how much stronger women are than men. And when I saw my son’s pinched face pop out, his mouth already twisted in a scream, I understood why we’re wired to forget the first few years of life. But, of course, there’s always a video camera to negate nature’s decision to delete.
Baby time is a very different reality. If I’m the one with our son I need to stay in baby time. Anything that needs to get done must get done in baby time, and most things will not get done. It can be magical, too, though hard to explain. It’s like taking mushrooms that way. I can spend a whole day with him and go through so many feelings and discoveries alongside him, but if you ask me what we did all I can say, is, “We went to the park.”
There are so many books about sleeping, about feeding, about almost everything to do with birth and early childhood. I’m glad my wife read them.
But, really, there are all these theories and experts and it can be somewhat paralyzing, but we’ve really come to terms with our approach. When somebody asks me our parenting philosophy, I reply confidently: “It’s parent-led but child-directed. We place a heavy emphasis on a strictly enforced schedule that changes daily. We are fierce proponents of breast-feeding, but not human breasts.” I guess we don’t really have a philosophy. We have a child.
When my wife and I were contemplating having a baby I asked my father how he and my mother came to the decision. His reply was, “What decision?” He didn’t mean I was an accident so much that couples of his generation didn’t agonize over the question. They just had the kids. It’s what you did. At the time, I envied the clarity, but now I’m grateful for all the hemming and hawing. When I look at my son, I see somebody with a lot of thought put into him. He was years in the making.
There is something beautiful, if a little disturbing, about waking in the middle of the night to find your wife sniffing your underwear. Some people walk in their sleep, others, often new mothers, mistake their husbands for their infant sons and check to see if they need a new diaper. It’s all part of the miracle of life. My job is to make sure I don’t, in fact, need a new diaper.
Getting around New York City with a baby via means other than feet is, quite frankly, kind of a pain in the ass. The initial shock I felt upon realizing that I could no longer just hail a cab and stuff baby and self in there continues to reverberate almost two years later. Now, plenty of people do just hoist kids of all ages into the back seat and pray...maybe this works better if you're a Hope For The Best type, but Imagine The Worst types (like me) may not find this solution feasible. In fact, if you happen to be both anxious and lazy, you may find that there are few options available to you in the world of public city baby transport that don't serve to discourage your escape from the house altogether.
Here's my breakdown of the major options and what sucks about them, just because that's the kind of mood I'm in.
TAXI: Cabs are exempt from the NY State law requiring all kids up to seven to ride in a carseat. But it is often pointed out that cabs, although yellow, are still cars, and cab drivers are not famous for their careful driving techniques. There is a periodic raging debate on Urban Baby about whether or it's ok to take a baby in a taxi. Some people schelp carseats on cab rides. This is no big deal in the infant seat phase, but far less convenient when you're talking about that behemoth of a toddler seat. We went so far as to have someone import a European baby carseat and kept stuffing our son in there when he was way too big in hopes that it would provide some protection...but we eventually had to let it go. There are also a couple of travel carset options, both of which I own, and both of which seem to be fairly flawed products: the Sit N Stroll (a carseat/stroller combo) and the Tote N Go (a portable carseat). With these options, it's easy to see why people might not even bother.
CAR SERVICE: I hear that there are car services which will come to your house with a pre-installed carseat. But I have had little luck with them: carseats have been the wrong size (like a toddler seat for an infant, and vice versa) or installed totally wrong. And since many people travel without carseats in car services (because they can) drivers tend to be cranky about complaints. Or maybe car service drivers tend to be cranky about complaints altogether. Hard to say.
SUBWAY: The umbrella stroller should make traveling by subway easy enough, except for one major aggravation. The MTA's elimination of token booth personnel has also eliminated the ability to exit most subway stations through the service gate. Leaving the station requires taking the baby out of the stroller, folding it up, carrying both, and squishing adult, baby, stroller, and any accompanying children into an obscenely small wedge of space on the way through the egress turnstile. I'm always afraid we'll get stuck somehow. And although I know that's my four year old self talking, I still worry about it.
BUS: That leaves the bus, transportation method of choice for New Yorkers too poor for cabs, and too old, scared, or otherwise unable to venture underground into the subway system. Contrary to my pre-birth fantasies, stroller-pushers cannot, like people in wheelchairs, simply wheel themselves onto the hydraulicly lowered bus. Strollers must be folded up and babies must be held. Why people think the bus is safe when a cab is not is a bit murky to me—something about less statistical chance of an accident. The bus works. But the bus, of course, is slow as snails.
So the situation leaves a lot to be desired...including, say, your own car. I see a business opportunity here. There's a doggie taxi, why not a baby transport service? Hmm. Let me know if you want to invest.
"All women of childbearing age, including teenagers, must be counseled by health workers, educators, and family that drinking any amount of alcohol before or during the chance they may become pregnant is dangerous not only for themselves but for their developing baby..."
New research shows that the pulp inside baby teeth contains valuable stem cells. If baby teeth are plucked at the right time (when they first wiggle free) and stored at an official baby teeth bank (coming soon?) the stem cells might just come in handy for your child later in life. Baby teeth stem cells may help with bone growth and repair nerve cells damaged by diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Research still needs to be done, but the idea is that by the time your baby needs them (which, of course, will hopefully be never) scientists will have figured out how to use them. It's a gamble, but it's a lot less pricey than last year's How Could You Not Do Whatever You Can For Your Precious Baby moment, umbilical cord blood banking. You'll have to take up the tooth fairy issue on your own, however.
I can't really tell you how I got onto this ridiculous web-traipsing tangent but imagine my delight when I discovered you can actually play with the mommy from the cover of What To Expect. Maybe pregnant dolls help older kids feel good about a sibling on the way, or a changing mommy, but the sight of Midge was just too much for Wal-Mart shoppers. Apparently, Midge was planting naughty ideas in little girls' heads, (not to mention the fact that she's grotesquely anatomically incorrect). So, I found a more PC version. But I have to say that even with the stringy yarn hair this one may be a little too close to the real thing. You can also educate your children with an idealized pregnant American housewife who "comes with baby and special key to unlock Mama's girth." Or try this modern day Madonna and child .
This takes the cake for me -- you can actually genetically engineer and then "adopt" your own "reborn" baby doll.
Thought we were going to put breastfeeding to rest for a while but this article caught our attention, and well, we just can't.
From our POV, the Nurse-In was NOT about reiterating the superiority of breast milk. It was about raising awareness so people won’t feel so uncomfortable when moms breastfeed in public.
We've said this before, and we'll say it again: Yes, "breast is best" from a biological perspective. But though lactation may be a beeline to our mammalian roots, we are cultural animals. We work, we have lives, we have relationships and "issues". Most moms have work environments that don’t cater to the pumping necessary to manage a full breastfeeding load. Breastfeeding is often hijacked by lousy hospital policy (too many bottles, or even just one at the beginning). Lactation consultants are not covered by insurance, so many moms are unable to afford the support they'd need to get their problems sorted out in the early days. In fact, the only support most women encounter for breastfeeding is from people they describe as "fanatics"...we've certainly heard women complain of being harrassed for bottle-feeding in public. And we're all for paternal involvement, but we don't think a bottle is the only way to make it happen. Feeding formula is not a bad thing. We agree with the writer of the L.A. Times piece that sometimes it's just too hard to breastfeed. But we don't think the solution is to just accept the crappy status quo and shrug it off as no big deal. Clearly breastfeeding is a big deal or it wouldn't be inspiring such hardcore passion from both sides. Activism (with or without an L preceding it) exists to effect social change. We're calling for more support for breastfeeding mothers, not less support for bottle-feeding ones. It's not mutually exclusive.
Dieting during pregnancy may help keep you out of the dreaded x-large maternity wear, but it's more likely to make your baby fat, according to a Japanese news story. So, you now have medical permission to abandon the "Best Odds Diet" and eat avocados and gelato all day. And be sure to try every flavor to give those developing fetal taste buds a proper workout. Maybe it's not supersizing that's behind our obese kids, after all.
Today was part 2 of my stint as a pro-public breastfeeding pundit, this time on Ron Reagan's Crossroads on MSNBC. Ron and I were Team Pro. Team Con was the blonde host-woman whose name I can't remember, and Charlotte Allen, of the Independent Women's Forum. Ron rocked it with a general attitude of disbelief and confusion about why anyone would possibly be bothered by seeing breastfeeding.
Team Con was concerned mostly with two seemingly contradictory issues:
1. Breastfeeding is a sacred act and must be treated with sanctity (in the privacy of ones home, or under the sanctity of, for example, a diaper, if home is not an option)
2. Breastfeeding is yucky and no one should have to see it. Why not go sit in a bathroom stall or your parked car (always comfortable, especiallly in the warmer months...and a nice safe option in parking lots and poor neighborhoods too!).
If it's so sacred, why should it happen in the toilet? These and many other arguments against breastfeeding in public continue to puzzle me.
And while I'm on the subject of hypocrisy... When I suggested that discouraging women from leaving home with their infants was not realistic or beneficial for anybody trying to exclusively nurse for 6 months (as per the AAP), Team Con suggested that working mothers seem to do "just fine" by pumping. I disagreed. And imagine my surprise when I found this little nugget in something Charlotte Allen wrote last week:
OK. This breastfeeding stuff is starting to bore even us "fanatics" now, so unless something significant happens, we're going to make a real effort to move on to other pastures tomorrow. In the meantime, if you want to check out the current breastfeeding stats here's a good place to start.
We feel a little bad for Barbara Walters. It's not her fault that breastfeeding makes her uncomfortable.
If you did a cross-section of women in their 70s, you probably wouldn't find too many of them feeling warm and fuzzy about the nurturing power of the boob. And it's no wonder, considering the crap they heard about it. We had a woman stop us on the street yesterday and tell us how she wanted to breastfeed her child in 1958, but was told that her husband's feelings were more important. Even when discouragement was not explicit, women who tried to buck the formula trend were often sabotaged by misinformation. In the 40's, one woman in our family was told she had no milk. Another was told her milk was "no good", that it was "the kind that turns to water."
30 years later, the same thing was still happening to our own moms:
"The main thing is that I wanted to, I had no support, I didn't know what the hell I was doing... and then I got 105 fever and the moronic doctor, obviously knowing nothing (since I recall a red tender spot on my breast) said I had pneumonia and I had to stop breastfeeding." Some women, through sheer resolve, support, disposition, or any combination thereof, were able to tune out the noise and make it happen; Ceridwen's mom breastfed 4 kids (one with a cleft palate) through the 70's, but encountered her own share of crap."When the hospital matron (head nurse) at the hospital in London (1972) objected to my nursing Tom (aged about 3 weeks) in a children's ward, my mother taped a notice to the window of our room which said: 'Caution! This animal suckles its young!'"
So now that we know better, it's time to move on from these anachronistic (and essentially bigoted) views. It's time for our culture to evolve...and to provide a little support for all of those women trying to follow the medical recommendations about the benefits of breastfeeding. So we'd like to thank Barbara for giving voice to the discomfort many people feel about this issue, and for giving us a wider forum for discussion ... which gives us a chance to change people's minds.
In the wake of the nurse-in, and the accompanying press, I've overheard a little grumbling: it's not a problem in New York... women don't actually give up breastfeeding because of social pressures, but because of their own personal "hang-ups".
Though NYC may be on the tolerant end of the scale, I'm guessing that millions of viewers of The View are not all living in such receptive environments. And hang-ups don't grow on trees, either. These feelings may be personal, but they're influenced, in varying degrees, by what goes on in the world around us. They seep in from some source or other, and affect us when we're vulnerable. And a particularly toxic attitude can impact generations to come...not unlike those genetically mutated rats in Seattle. Barbara Walters is of a generation that was environmentally posioned against breastfeeding. We're still trying to clean up after that mid-century mess when women were told that nursing babies was a bad idea, whether or not it was what they wanted to do.
Assuming that people's weird feelings about breastfeeding are only a "personal" problem is socially irresponsible in the long term. Until breastfeeding is accepted as a normal, healthy practice—one that's condoned culturally as well as medically—the mistakes of the past continue to dictate the future.
We just got back from the nurse-in, which was inspiring, hot, sweaty, and of course, milky. It was amazing to see so many moms and babies representing...not to mention the sling fashion show. We're curious to hear whether there will be any response from The View...and we'd love to hear anyone else's impressions of the event.
For anyone who is interested... I got some more info about the Nurse-In. This came to me via email.
OFFICIAL Nurse-In Logistic Sheet *
LOCATION & TIME 11:00 a.m. 67th and Columbus Ave, NYC - Outside of
ABC's Offices. Yes, there was some confusion about the location, but
this is where we'll be. We are aware that The View is taped
elsewhere, but we have decided to focus our efforts on this one
OFFICIAL Nurse-In Logistic Sheet *
LOCATION & TIME 11:00 a.m. 67th and Columbus Ave, NYC - Outside of
ABC's Offices. Yes, there was some confusion about the location, but
this is where we'll be. We are aware that The View is taped
elsewhere, but we have decided to focus our efforts on this one
GETTING THERE From Penn Station: Go downstairs in the subway and look
for a sign Number 1 (7th Ave - red subway line) UPTOWN Take the
subway up to Lincoln Center/66th St stop
From Grand Central: Take the Shuttle (S) to Times Square Take the
Number 1 (7th Ave - red subway line) UPTOWN Take it to the Lincoln
Center/66th St stop Walk one block North on Columbus Ave and you will
see us. *
PARKING There is street cleaning in that area on Monday Mornings from
8-9:30 AM. That means, there will be wide open parking if you can
arrive before 9. If you get a street parking space, it's free all
day. Otherwise, there are a few garages and a few metered spaces.
Please be aware and abide by all parking signs because you will get
ticketed if you're in violation. *
POLICE The police are completely aware that we are going to be there.
They have advised us that we do not need a permit for gathering
outside. We have been advised that there will most likely be a couple
of officers in the area to ensure our safety. *
MEDIA Please feel free to share any personal stories of NIP
discrimination that you yourself have faced. For technical questions
or anything that you feel uncomfortable or unprepared to answer,
please direct them speak to either Ashley Clark or Erika Ross (please
direct them to my husband at our van where he will call me on my cell
phone). We want to make sure that in any statements given, our facts
are correct. *
DADS AND CHILDREN Dads/Significant Others and all children
(regardless of nursing status) are more than welcome. We'd love to
have them come and show their support. *
BATHROOMS There are bathrooms available nearby in a Starbucks and a
Barnes and Nobles, as well as several other retail establishments. As
well, there is Lincoln Center, the Bible Society, the Mormon Center
and other quasi-public places. *
CHANGING STATION My husband is planning on being there early so he
can get a parking space right on the corner. We will have the back of
our van set up with a blanket and such so you can make a 'pit stop'
there if need be. He should be pretty easy to spot and once the word
gets around, we'll probably all keep him busy! *
SIGNS AND POSTERS We'd love to have you bring as many signs, posters
and pamphlets as you can. Signs, however, may not be attached to
wooden or metal poles (per NYPD). *
THOROUGHFARES We CANNOT block either street or pedestrian traffic,
nor can we block any kind of building entrances. We must yield right
of passage to everyone. As far as we know, chairs are allowed, but
cannot block traffic. Per NYPD, we may not sit on the sidewalks, but
there is a small park nearby that has some benches. *
MARCHING NO marching. That requires a permit and we do not have one.
No one will stop you from walking anywhere you personally want to; we
just cannot go as a group anywhere. *
AMPLIFIED SOUND This also requires a permit and none has been applied
for. Please do not bring anything that will cause the police to have
reason to disperse us for lack of proper permitting. *
SIGN-IN If you feel comfortable, we'd love to have you sign-in and
let us know you attended. Those sign-in sheets will be valuable to us
and will allow us to have a more accurate estimate of how many people
came out. Volunteers will be circulating and may ask you to sign. *
NAME TAGS Name tags will be provided. Please feel free to grab one
from a volunteer (or my husband at the van) so you can meet other
moms and know their names. *
T-SHIRTS Feel free to make your own t-shirts. Wear them with pride!
Please make sure they are appropriate to the situation though and
will reflect positively on our efforts. *
FLYERS We are working on flyers. If you have any of your own, please
bring them! * ADDRESSES You might want to bring slips of paper with
your contact info on them or your business cards to give out to other
women you meet. There should be lots of us there! *
WEATHER/RAIN DATE Forecast is for scattered thunderstorms, so please
bring rain gear and umbrellas. There is no rain date scheduled.
Please watch your local weather station for the most up to date
information regarding this. *
STROLLERS/SLINGS It's probably going to be very crowded, so if you do
bring a stroller, make sure that it is clearly marked as yours. I
would personally try to bring as little as possible; I'm planning to
carry a couple of diapers in my sling pocket along with my keys, ID,
cell phone and some money.
Why target ABC? ABC is the focus of this particular action because
they produce The View and are ultimately responsible for it. They
hired these women, they pay them and they continue to keep them on
air. Yes, we are extremely dismayed with the women on The View, the
adversarial position that they took against breastfeeding, especially
nursing in public and their lack of understanding of this subject. We
are, however, more upset with ABC for not correcting that ignorance
and insisting on truthful and accurate reporting. Since the women of
The View refuse to reign themselves in and rise to a level of
journalistic integrity that includes showing all sides to an issue,
not just the ones they happen to personally agree with, we are hoping
that ABC and its top executives will take notice and action so that
true and unbiased information is disseminated in forums such as The
View. We do not want to take a chance that the media will sway public
opinion in such a way that breastfeeding and nursing in public is
considered obscene or that breastfeeding or breastfeeding in public
discrimination would be considered "socially correct". A NOTE: Keep
in mind that we are gathering to demonstrate that breastfeeding is a
normal behavior. We have all experienced the merits of breastfeeding.
People will be watching us and learning from us. We are in a position
to let ABC and The View know that we are frustrated and hurt by their
misrepresentation of breastfeeding. We are coming out to show them,
as well as passers-by, how wrong they are, and how right and normal
nursing our children IS. Take every opportunity to show your
enthusiasm for what you know is right -- focus on what you want
people to learn and know. We want to set the example and educate
people about breastfeeding and what a positive experience it is. And
we want to let people know that we will stand up for this right of
all babies and women - to experience a successful breastfeeding
relationship, and to be supported and respected in that relationship.
Apparently the hosts of "The View" recently expressed distaste over public breastfeeding (calling it "gross and disgusting"). This info quickly spread throughout various mommy internet communities and within days a volunteer-run NURSE-IN was scheduled. We don't watch "The View" and don't know exactly what was said, but we can understand why everyone is talking...
Squeamishness over public breastfeeding, and even breastfeeding in general, is a major reason for low breastfeeding rates in this country. The small percentage of breastfeeders is not entirely due to a lack of education: "breast is best" is no longer secret information! The medical community has totally embraced breastfeeding and yet most women still don't take it on... or take it on for more than a few days or weeks.
One interesting fact for you to consider: Most breastfeeding books (La Leche League publications excepted) do NOT show breastfeeding on their covers. We are being told to stay under wraps in a systematic way. The "blanket" solution (cover your baby and boob with a blanket) simply confirms the idea that our breasts are only meant for the bedroom (property of our “darling husbands,” to boot). Even despite the endless silicone-filled, or otherwise enhanced, breasts seen on half the billboards looming over every highway in the land, we're still expected to cover the "functional" breast (and the forbidden areola! let alone the sacred nipple!) when nursing. If we want breastfeeding to take off we need to see more images of regular old moms breastfeeding ... in life... on billboards... at least on the covers of a few breastfeeding books.
Although the words "Nurse-In" may conjure images of crazy hippies,the fight for acceptance of public breastfeeding isn't in the same league as picketing for nude beaches or burning bras. This is not just some leftie attempt to loosen sexual or moral values. It's not, in other words, a *lifestyle* issue. It's a medical issue. It's really quite simple: Making breastfeeding logistically possible is crucial to its success.
If you live in NYC and want to attend the Nurse-In, here's the info .