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July 30, 2007

mom's honor

These things have been floating around the baby product blogosphere for the past few days and I have to say, I find them pretty cute. I love the nod to the actual efforts of mothering. Plus I'm a sucker for an embroidered nipple.

Good presents after various insane accomplishments (that 11 hour plane trip with a screaming baby?) Or buy them yourself to trick out your sling/stroller/bra.

Posted by rebecca at 6:16 PM | Comments (2)

antenatal sandwich blues

I have been struggling with the no-deli-meats pregnancy rule. My solution is often just to break it. But I have enthusiastically re-discoved a sandwich I used to eat all the time when I lived in Australia but had completely forgotten about: the SALAD ROLL. This sandwich--usually served on a multigrain roll- is packed with greens, cheese, beets, avocado and tomato (see below). Though it may sound like some sad, lo-cal item from the calorie-counter section of the menu, it's not. It's substantial enough to make you wonder, who needs that wad of boiled ham anyway? In Aus, the Salad Roll is as common as the meat pie or a chocolate frog; you can literally buy one at a highway snack shop or a 7/11. Of course the foodies are always tinkering and modifying, replacing the standard cheddar with some fig-wrapped artisinal wedge, but the basic pile-up is fine with me:

grated carrot
sliced beets
sliced avocado (often)
sliced egg (sometimes)
aussie margarine (often made with olive oil), salt and pepper

I've been making these at home but I've also found that the odd well-stocked and cooperative NYC deli will cobble together a decent version. At places where salad bar fixings such as sliced beets are not available (and based on looks I've gotten from some dumbfounded sandwich-makers, this is often the case) I go for the Italian Hero adaptation: provolone or mozzarella, tomatoes, red peppers (or antepasti like artichoke hearts), onions, lettuce, oil and vinegar, salt, pepper and maybe hot peppers.

Hope this helps other pregnant sandwich lovers. More suggestions are welcome, I have 5 months to go!

Posted by ceridwen at 8:06 AM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2007

from the hips in the LA Times

We got a nice mention today in an LA TIMES magazine article about the What To Expect empire. Mostly it's a critique of the WTE franchise but we make an appearance at the end as a modern and less-alarmist alternative. Some highlights:

"There is just an overwhelming quantity of information you need to filter through," says Ceridwen Morris, a coauthor of the new pregnancy book "From the Hips." The 39-year-old New Yorker has a 3-year-old son and is pregnant with a second child. "Polarized voices come at you from every angle." ... In "From the Hips," Morris and Odes present information in a fresh, accessible way and try to soothe anxiety rather than create it. The book focuses on the basics and refers readers interested in a particular topic or birthing technique to other sources, sort of like hypertext on a website...Odes says that when she got pregnant she was startled to find the library of pregnancy books so backward. "It's 2007 here," says Odes. "It's time for an update."

Posted by ceridwen at 6:29 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2007

things to avoid: episiotomies

CNN includes episiotomies in their list of five operations you don't want to get.

Last year the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released new guidelines that said that episiotomy should no longer be performed routinely -- and the numbers have dropped... But the rates (about 25 percent in the United States) are still much too high, experts say, and some worry that it's because women aren't aware that they can decline the surgery. [italics mine] Read more...

Posted by ceridwen at 3:43 PM | Comments (2)

July 26, 2007

one minute birth

Here's a totally awesome, crazy time-lapse animation of a baby gliding out of the womb like a slippery plastic water balloon. I guess the accompanying Bach soundtrack is supposed to make us feel all calm and joyful about the INSANE expansion of the vaginal canal; I think a little noise rock would have conveyed something closer to what I experienced.

Posted by ceridwen at 3:53 PM | Comments (0)

skinny moms make fat kids?

In the same week the March Of Dimes comes out with a warning about how we should stop already with this notion of "eating for two" and aspire to a lean pregnancy, we get this news: a rat study suggests that if you don't eat enough in pregnancy your baby may grow up to be obese.

The idea seems to relate to the yo-yo diet: your metabolism goes into starvation mode and becomes more efficient at storing fat. In the case of the malnourished expectant mother, the baby is the one who becomes programmed to hang on to whatever fat comes his or her way. For life.

It's nice to know that a little pregnant flab may keep your future kid from requiring Shaq's Big Family Challenge. But pregnancy weight gain warnings never make me feel all that good. You're either too fat or too skinny!

Posted by ceridwen at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2007

playing with kids, it's just NOT NATURAL

Rebecca and I were just talking about how hard it is to get down and play with cars and trucks and knights and "guys" with our sons. I was somewhat pathetically pitching the idea that building things (with blocks) can alleviate some of the boredom- you can channel energy into an awesome fire house instead of fighting fake fires all morning. But the truth is we both find it weird, boring, awkward... It's not coming to us in some organic, natural way: should we really be pretending to be three-year-olds? When my kid first started saying, "Moooooommmmmy, come and play!" I regretted not having conceived a playmate sooner. Only MINUTES after our conversation, I read this. And learned that maybe playing with preschoolers is, indeed, not the most natural thing in the world. But yet another trapping of my abysmally thoughtful middle-class life. Not sure what my options are though. Really, he gets plenty of TV and is ignored as much as human(e)ly possible. And, on that note, there's a fire in the hallway I need to go put out.

Posted by ceridwen at 4:44 PM | Comments (1)

July 23, 2007

antidepressants and pregnancy: good, bad, or...

Here's something on Huff Post that would have opened a big old can of antenatally depressed worms had it been written (or performed) by Tom Cruise. But it comes instead from a boring, old doctor. His heavily footnoted message is thus: antidepressants are not a good idea for pregnant women.

The headlines and the CDC press release were incredibly misleading. In the CDC study, several severe birth defects were doubled or nearly tripled in frequency when SSRIs were taken in the first trimester. This combined with the other known toxic effects of SSRIs, including brain damage and dysfunction, make these drugs contraindicated in pregnancy.

Here's one of the headlines he refers to: Antidepressants Rated Low-Risk in Pregnancy (New York Times: June 28. 2007). The guy is not a quack. He has a good resume but he obviously has a HUGE beef with SSRIS.

The studies are clearly being interpreted differently depending on who is doing the analysis. This guy thinks it's a big deal when there are 2.8 times as many babies getting fetal (fatal) deformaties. But if the risk is only 4 in 10,000 births to start with that's still a very small number, even when multiplied by 2.8. I'm not sure if his article is hugely significant from a medical standpoint. It's certainly upsetting to anyone who feels miserably depressed in the first trimester of pregnancy and has been given the OK to use SSRIs. I do buy his argument that the perhaps overly enthusiastic headlines may increase prescriptions for even mildly depressed patients for whom the cost/benefit analysis hasn't been thoughtfully applied. Maybe that's the real question to think about: not whether SSRIs in pregnancy are good or bad but whether they are being over-prescribed.

Posted by ceridwen at 9:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2007

coming out about co-sleeping

A nicely argued case for co-sleeping.

Posted by ceridwen at 7:39 PM | Comments (0)

choices in childbirth: NYC

I just got back from the first ever NYC Healthy Birth Fair at Union Square. There were a lot of tables, pamphlets, lactation consultants, preggos (such as myself) in skimpy July frocks. Women were telling birth stories into a microphone: It was surreal to hear "... I WAS VOMITING AND SCREAMING I HAVE TO SQUAT, I HAVE TO SQUAT... " blasted over a packed city park (there were numerous unrelated fairs and markets sharing the space). I had to make a quick round since I was being led by a three-year-old ... but I managed to grab an informative goodie bag from Choices in Childbirth, the event-organizers and a great organization. If you're an NYC expectant mother, you may want to check out A New York Guide to a Healthy Birth. There are listings for all local hospitals and birth centers as well as contact info for midwives, doulas, acupuncturists, etc. The slant is definitely toward natural birth; their website provides statistics about regional hospitals' rates of intervention/c-sections.

Posted by ceridwen at 5:42 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2007

male bonding

"If a group of women spend enough time together their menstrual cycles synchronize." Well, apparently men have a kind of telepathy of their own.

Posted by ceridwen at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

pregnancy and depression: it happens

A pregnant documentary film maker writes about her depression the Boston Globe. She points out that antepartum depression is still considered very taboo so it's great that she's come out with her story. I am always amazed (though not surprised) by how often "lack of support" is associated with depression (of the ante and post varieties).

Posted by ceridwen at 9:37 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2007

the family that orders together stays together

Last week in the New York Times, Leslie Kaufman wrote all about how she manages to actually cook for her family. It was somewhat of a throw-back article from a career woman, but I was truly inspired to follow her lead and get back to the cooking I once loved. I actually planned the week's meals on Sunday- I really did! We made it through two nutritious nights of home-cooked food (granted both involved cous-cous, but the idea is this is supposed to be doable). Day Three we were slotted for veggie burgers but after a long, late afternoon romp in the park involving me and another mother shouting, "Who's the dirtiest?" as our kids competed for how disgusting they could get (mine figured out he could mat his hair with dirt and may have won the prize), I gave into to two jumbo slices of pizza on the way home. Sorry. It's New York. I am pregnant and have a three-year-old and when he called out, "PIZZA!!" I was right there with him. So, I couldn't make it to Day Three without take-out. But hey, I read an extra book to my son with the 5 minutes I'd saved by not having to steam the cous-cous! And the veggie burgers haven't spoiled.

Posted by ceridwen at 9:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2007

the politics of eggs

Thank God Peggy Orenstein is the person telling us about the current state of infertility options. Her piece in the Times yesterday about donor eggs covers a lot of controversy in a totally even-handed and thoughtful way. Having tried it herself, she's well-qualified to talk about the complex emotional responses women have to the process without calling its legitimacy into question.

One observation that that really struck me was the difference between how sperm and egg donation is perceived and packaged. Here's Peggy scanning the potential egg donors at Ova The Rainbow with one of the women she interviewed:

I stood behind her, watching the young women go by. Each was accompanied by an assortment of photos: girls in caps and gowns graduating from high school, sunburned and smiling on family vacations, as preschoolers in princess frocks, sporting supermodel pouts in shopping-mall glamour portraits. Sperm banks rarely provide such visuals, which is just one disparity in the packaging and treatment of male and female donors, according to a study published last month in The American Sociological Review. Egg donors are often thanked with presents and notes by recipients for their generous “gift.” Sperm donors are reminded that they’re doing a “job,” providing a “sample,” and performing an act they’d presumably do anyway — which may be why many men in the study were rattled when told a pregnancy had actually occurred. And although the men could admit they were in it for the cash, ovum donors were expected to express at least a smidge of altruism.

She also talks extensively about different answers to the "when and how to tell" question and errs on the full-disclosure side. This article is really worth reading, and seems especially crucial-- if emotional-- for those trying to decide between an egg donor and adoption. The final sentence is spot on:

“I’m just happy,” she said. Finally, Becky would be a mother, her husband a father, the two of them building a family with all the conflict, joy and unpredictability that entails — regardless of whose genes are involved.

Posted by ceridwen at 9:23 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2007

appalling. horrific. totally wrong.

A story has surfaced that a mother and toddler were kicked off an airplane because the kid kept saying, "Bye Bye Plane" over and over. The mother refused to drug her boy in order to, as the flight attendant kindly put it, "shut him up." So they turned the plane around on the runway--THEY TURNED THE PLANE AROUND- and dumped them back at the gate. Truly, madly, deeply screwed up.

Posted by ceridwen at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

will this pinot noir really hurt the fetus?

A pregnant Swede looks at what she considers alarmist alcohol prohibitions. Of note:

The strict alcohol consumption guidelines set up by Swedish, UK or US health care authorities, agencies and associations all share the aura of scientific and medical credibility. However, a study in 2006 by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology concluded that there was no convincing evidence of adverse effects of prenatal alcohol exposure at low to moderate levels, where moderate was defined as 10.5 units per week (not at one sitting).

Messages to eliminate all alcohol are purely motivated by the true danger of a fetus’ exposure to high levels of alcohol which results in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

The presumption: ”If large amounts are dangerous, small amounts are probably dangerous too” argument is unfair. Instead of fact, fear is used to support a “better safe than sorry” defense for zero tolerance while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Here's how I feel about it: I have the occasional long slug of really delicious cold beer when it's hot and miserable out. I pour myself half a glass of wine if I'm enjoying a decent meal. Do I think some alcohol is 100% safe? I'm not sure. A huge part of the problem with "policy" on all this is that women metabolize alcohol differently. One drink does different things to different bodies. Also, do you guzzle a beer before eating and push that blood alcohol way up? Or slowly sip on some while eating a three course meal?

There's an incredible story in Dan Savage's amazing book about his experience adopting, in which he learns that his street punk birth mother was consuming fairly large amounts of beer. His web search for "alcohol and pregnancy" was so terrifying, he considered bailing out. But then he contacted top researchers in the field of FASD and they ALL reassured Dan and his partner that moderate, even regular drinking has not been proven dangerous. (They emphasized binge drinking as the proven cause of problems). The baby was fine. It's a radical story in many ways and I mention it here only because it's another example of the "medical recommendation" vs. what-the-doctors-know. (Also because I really love that book!)

The cultural background is also interesting: I have a friend who spent her first trimester in France. People offered her drinks and all but blew smoke in her face. But when it came to cheese she was forbidden from even looking at it. In America, alcohol is considered scarier than cheese-- partly because we have a different attitude towards drinking, partly because most of our cheeses are pasteurized.

It's all a bit scary really. Or not. I accidentally ate some sliced ham the other day and waited for the hard-to-detect symptoms of listeriosis to kick in... for about five minutes. Then I had to get on with my life.

Posted by ceridwen at 9:17 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2007

beautiful people have more daughters and other facts of life

Here's a little fodder for your summertime dinner party conversations. Psychology Today has published a list of ten highly "politically incorrect truths about human nature." Since many of them relate to sex, babies, marriage and divorce I thought they were worth mentioning here. The ten truths are quoted from the article; the crude breakdown below is from me. I'm not sure what to make of all this, but I will be checking my husband's credit card statements when those hot flashes kick in. And next time I get whistled at on the street, I'm going to feel empowered. Oh yeah, and blonde highlights have been factored into the long-term family budget.

1. Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)
Blonde hair is more common in chidlhood; men want younger, fertile women. Therefore men are attracted to blondes. Small waists and big hips mean a woman is more fecund.

2. Humans are naturally polygamous
Men want to spread seed. More wives, more pregnancies. More spawn.

3. Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy
Rich, powerful men get all the ladies; poor losers get none! Women, on the other hand, can benefit more from sharing one fancy, rich guy than having their own slob.

4. Most suicide bombers are Muslim
Since half the Muslim men are not getting laid (b/c other half have all the wives), they are so sexually frustrated they'll do anything to get to those 72 virgins.

5. Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce
Men are more invested in son carrying on family name/wealth. Wealthier couples with no sons are more likely to divorce!

6. Beautiful people have more daughters
Beauty is more important for girls' success. Money is for boys. (The ruling class tends to have more boys-- you'll have to read the article to learn how, I'm not sure I get it!)

7. What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals
Violence and genius (in men) peek at an early age!

8. The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of
A man's midlife crisis is a response to a partner's aging (menopause) not his own age. (Ashton Kutcher may hit a midlife crisis at 30).

9. It's natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they're male)
Power is attained in order to bang lots of women. If Bill Clinton didn't use his power for a BJ, he'd be denying evolution.

10. Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist
They have so much respect for them, they treat 'em like dogs.

Posted by ceridwen at 10:17 AM | Comments (1)

July 10, 2007

prenatal screening can take years off!

The Canadians are saying that 40 is the new 35 when it comes to prenatal testing. A new study suggests that the automatic high-risk label should not be slapped on every woman over 35. This is a big shift in thinking and may change prenatal procedure in Canada.

In an opinion paper published today in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Canada, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends that maternal age should only factor into a decision about amniocentesis when a woman is over 40.

The researchers state that many women between 35-40 need not be fast tracked to an amnio. (They also question a recent US study that put Amnio risk at 1-1,600). They reckon screenings can offer a good enough understanding of risk. Of course figuring out how to deal with all this info-- the stats about miscarriage and risk-- is often so hard and involves many factors about your situation including how you interpret good odds (screenings are between 94% and 97% accurate in assessing risk).

As a crusty, old pregnant woman (39), I must say I was pleased to learn, after my recent nuchal ultrasound, that I was more like a 29 year-old! (Been acting like one ever since.) And reading this, I thought, damn, how nice to hear someone, anyone, even a Canadian! in the medical establishment say that us geezer moms are not just disasters waiting to happen.

Posted by ceridwen at 6:18 PM | Comments (0)