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February 27, 2006

way too real

In case you were considering taking up (or continuing) serious binge drinking and/or heavy recreational use of crack cocaine throughout pregnancy, you may want to consider spending a little time with this little girl. She may be plastic but she has the "high-pitched, warbled cry of an actual drug-affected infant and has withdrawal tremors." She is one of many other dolls designed by a parent education company mostly used for teens--is this what became of Home Economics? The program promises that "powerful emotional impact ensures the lessons will be remembered."

Non-drug-affected babies are also available as a part of the "BABY THINK IT OVER®" curriculum which introduces young girls to the reality of infant care by sending them home with lifelike plastic babies who will fuss and cry and need diaper changing and feedings, burping and rocking around the clock. Teens walk away horrified as noted in the testimonials: "Baby Think It Over® showed me that I don't have the time, money, or patience to care for a baby." It's great, and maybe even a contributing factor to a drop in teen pregnancy rates. But it does make me wonder if these kinds of programs should be available to all potential mothers, no matter their age.

Posted by thenewmoms at 3:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2006

bump mania

Why do they want so badly for Britney Spears to be pregnant again? The woman just had a child, for chrissakes. Give her a minute. Who knows, anything's possible...but could it also be possible that a pop starlet could have a convex midsection without being suspected of being in her 5th month? On the other hand, that "mumsy" getup may be the best outfit we've ever seen her in.

Posted by rebecca at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2006

another fish story

This time, it may actually be GOOD news. After all the confusion (it's good for you! it's bad for you!) on fish and toxins, it was slightly reassuring to read this report from a recent medical conference. We'd heard rumblings of these findings months back but hadn't seen it laid out quite so clearly. A study in the Seychelles, where fish is a primary part of the local diet, discovered that mercury levels in women's hair did not correlate to any neurological damage in their offspring to date. So for the moment, pregnant women can enjoy the occasional (well done) tuna steak in peace. Until the next study....

More on the fish confusion from Marian Burros last week in the New York Times (registration required)

Posted by rebecca at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2006

jungle juvies

Abandonment is never good for the psyche, but it's perhaps especially bad when the abandoned child weighs 10,000 pounds. A generation of elephants seem to be experiencing long-term damage from the poaching of their moms in the 1970s and 1980s. They've got "the equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder, perhaps caused by being orphaned or witnessing the death of family members. Many herds lost their matriarch and had to make do with inexperienced "teenage mothers". Combined with a lack of older bulls, this appears to have created a generation of "teenage delinquent" elephants."

Now the angry teen elephants are stewing like Vincent Spano and Matt Dillon in a scene from "Over The Edge". Though instead of trolling suburban cul-de-sacs on skate boards, these vengeful JDs are thinking more along the lines of stampede. Seems like the cycle of violence crosses over to the animal kingdom, too. Is it that surprising that an animal who never forgets holds a bit of a grudge?

Posted by ceridwen at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2006

penile p.s.

Just after we posted the foreskin epic, I took a break to change my son's diaper. It was a poop, a big messy one of the sort that gets all over and sticks to everything. Some was stuck to the penis. He, as usual, protested at my attempts to remove the stuff from the penis area. I try to minimize the efforts, but there's poop all over, and I am worried about it irritating him so I forge on through his NO!

As I'm puttting on his pants, he says: "Next time, please cooperate with my penis."

Posted by rebecca at 1:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2006

dishing on the knife

A new article on circumcision brought up some old anxieties for us. We both have boys, but took opposite routes below the belt: Rebecca's son is circumcised, Ceridwen's son is uncircumcised. Though we generally feel good about our choices (at this admittedly early stage in the game) it's not hard to wonder sometimes if the grass is greener on the other side of the knife. The article (and further discussion on daddytypes) inspired us to dig up this old transcribed conversation in which we explained to each other what we were thinking, before (during) and after the snip:

Well, when I was coming up on Ezra’s bris—which I had not really thought about at all until basically two days before it was happening and everyone was invited and the whole thing was set—I felt that as a progressive person, I was misrepresenting myself by participating in the brutality of circumcision.It was a total “What kind of mother am I?” moment… like, how can I be so cruel to my new baby? That’s what it felt like to me when we got there and the old guy started taping his asshole shut (which was his way of keeping the baby from shitting during the trauma.) It was horrible.

My doctor said she was really glad I wasn’t doing it, because she hates doing them… but she circumcised her own kid!

What was kind of cool for me about the bris was that it was the first moment for me of really realizing that I had love for this baby. I was so shell-shocked and out of it and not consciously understanding my relationship to him. Then at the moment that they took him away to do this thing that I knew was going to cause him pain, I felt, Ohmigod, I’m this kid’s mother, and I need to protect him, and I felt a rush of relationship to the whole history of women before me with sons who had been hurt…and it was just a real feeling of tribal connection to the human race.

The decision was hard for my husband. He's Jewish but he's never been observant, nor has his family. But he started thinking a lot about his Jewish identity. He'd married a non-Jewish woman, now he’s going to have a half-Australian, non-circumcised son, is he a total sellout? But then, the kid’s not Jewish anyway if we’re playing by those rules. And he reasoned that Jews are also "people of Science," and every pediatric association said it was not medically necessary.

Right, there are things about it that are better, and things about it that are worse. It’s an unnecessary surgery. That said, there are risks it lessens, like the risk of cervical cancer in women. That was my mom’s big defense when I was freaking out about circumcising… “Think of it as a feminist choice.” For us because we are Jewish in an active way, and we come from families who are strongly identified that way, it would have been a major, major thing to not do it. And I just didn’t feel strongly enough about it to make that choice, even though I felt bad about the act and about causing him pain. And I felt bad about the supposed sensation loss, too, although I did have that dream about guys who are circumcised getting more blow jobs which I found strangely reassuring.

I'd had sex with uncircumcised men when I went to college in Melbourne and recall being far more concerned with what to do with a penis in general than what to do with a foreskin in particular. They certainly never skeezed me out, or smelled bad or anything. I do think in this country it’s a really, really difficult choice to make, though, because 80% of people do circumcise.

A lot of people are like, how are you going to explain it? Like it’s so impossible to explain. And my answer to that is: there are so many complicated things we’re going to have to explain to this kid about the world, it’s unbelievable the kinds of contradictions that are out there and the hypocrisy, and all these things that don’t really add up or make sense. And just to say, look, when your Daddy was a little baby this is what they did, when you were born we made the decision to do it this way. The question of whether a boy should "look like" his daddy runs pretty deep—the real issue seems to be less about "matching outfits" and more about acknowledging the father's penis as the "model"—the ideal. So then I thought, will we be saving the baby from a primal wound but opening one in the father?

Since I'm English/Australian all the men in my family have foreskins so I was sort of used to the idea. And we both shared an impulse to just NOT DO things. It felt like more of an effort for us to justify doing it than not doing it.

There are people who are 100% on one side or the other, but neither of us seemed to be in that place. For us the religion thing definitely tipped the scales, but it still left us with some angst.

We debated it for the entire time I was pregnant. And we still think about it. When I read in Slate about a new study showing that risk of AIDS can be significantly reduced if a man is circumcised I got that familiar sinking feeling. You make a choice based on science thinking that's the rational way to go, but science just ain't that certain. Study refutes study... and we're left in the dust. As a parent you put in all this effort, and you think about the research, your values, your beliefs but it just seems there are just some decisions you can never be that certain about.

Meanwhile, we just really need to find a pediatrician who knows more about toddler foreskin care than we do.

Posted by thenewmoms at 10:59 AM | Comments (2)

February 13, 2006

SIDS Secrets Revealed

UK researchers have a promising new theory about SIDS (over there, they call it "cot death".) Studies have isolated a set of "pacemaker" brain cells that control the impulse to gasp for air when normal breathing has stopped. A defect in these cells, researchers theorize, can cause the backup system to fail, potentially causing death. The idea that SIDS results from an inability to kickstart breathing when it stops isn't new. The discovery here is about the way in which this breathing is regulated, and how it is unique.

"What we have clearly identified is the mechanism that is essential for auto-resuscitation." Fellow researcher, Professor Walter St-John of Dartmouth Medical School in the U.S., said: "Our findings are exciting. They demonstrate that emergency breathing, or gasping, is regulated by different mechanisms than those for normal breathing.

The next step is seeing whether these theories correlate to differences in babies' brains. There are lots of theories about what causes SIDS. Some suspect a variety of different causes. How great would it be if they figured out this mystery? And found a way to prevent it from happening....?

Posted by thenewmoms at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

chunky monkeys

Here's some ape science to support what many have seen in their own homes: Dads-to-be pack on pounds alongside pregnant partners. One evolutionary explanation is that everyone--mom and dad--needs to stack on the weight during pregnancy for the long winter of babycare. Who's got time for hunting and foraging with a newborn in the monkey house? Thank goodness for Fresh Direct.

Posted by thenewmoms at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2006

wipes... they're not just for baby butts

I know it's been said before: "baby products are great for mom, too!" But maybe not specifically regarding the flu. This last week I've been able to surf the waves of influenza with the help of my two year-old's medicine cabinet.

Here's what I've discovered:

Wiping your sore nose with Seventh Generation Wipes: WAY better than tissues.

Using Lansinoh Breast Cream for a red and scaly dry nose: Immediate relief!

Taking children's Advil cold medicine: gives a nice buzz without the full-on vibrating coma feeling. (The grape is not THAT bad, but...)

The cool mist humidifier we bought for our stuffed-up infant last year has been on steady blast next to my bed.

And if the cough keeps up I'm going to hit the Vicks Baby Rub.

Posted by ceridwen at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

February 7, 2006

baby as lap dog (life-threatening version)

Oh, Britney. We're not sure how much longer we can keep defending you if you keep doing things like this. We know you were running from the paparazzi because you thought they posed a threat to your baby (or maybe you were just trying to avoid them taking another picture of you before you lost all the baby weight.) But honestly, unless you're running from the friggin' Nazis, driving down the highway with an infant in your lap is really unacceptable.

Perhaps that nice gentleman talking on his cellphone would have been willing to take the wheel while you strapped your child in for safety? He is a bodyguard, after all.

Posted by thenewmoms at 10:34 AM | Comments (2)

February 5, 2006

the sippy cup: a useful but highly flawed invention

Why must they leak? Perhaps I should just expect them to, instead of treating them as if they were some kind of hermetically sealed package of liquid my child could throw around like a football. In truth, we do have some cups that don't leak. If you put them together correctly. But who can master that kind of science while providing a drink before the breeze of the child’s whim blows by? Do they really have to be so complicated? I have a few that are not so complicated. They just leak whether you put them together right or not.

Secondly, how long is a child supposed to use a sippy cup? I see people give them to kids who look too old sometimes. I can see how it happens. if you've got a safety catch, why not use it? It seems like it could be a slippery slope to middle school. Is a five year old too old for a sippy cup? Seven? Eleven? I have no idea. Hell, I spill a lot, should I be drinking my wine out of a sippy cup? Oh, that's depressing.

In the meantime, my 2.5 is staining all of the Fonda del Sol pillows with his evening Ovaltine. (He brushes his teeth afterwards, if anyone’s wondering) I’m also taking suggestions regarding successful sippy cups. I’m guessing we’re going to be in this game a while.

Posted by rebecca at 10:08 PM | Comments (5)