Come read us on Babble
We are currently blogging every day on babble.com on a blog called "Being Pregnant" so come read us over there...
charlie sheen's aggressive breastfeeding campaign
Seems there are some porn addicts out there who support breastfeeding. (Scroll to paragraph eight).
the fed factor: parenting lessons from the court
I am obsessed with Roger Federer. I sit in front of the TV talking about the many, many ways in which the man just gets it right. Look at those other players, grunting, cursing, futzing with their shirts, grabbing towels every five seconds, adjusting what seem to be costume pirate bandanas on their heads. And over on the other side is Federer, calmly and sweatlessly crushing in his elegantly tailored black togs. He doesn't have a coach. He doesn't need to discuss an opponent's game “for an hour,” he says he can size it up in "15 seconds." Then at the end of the match he’s charming, gracious and humble. What does this have to do with motherhood? More than you might think.
We’re a generation of over-coached parents. How can we trust our instincts when we are bombarded with so many opinions and conflicting data? Getting just the right amount of information in the age of information might just be the key to success. Federer is not without coaching. He has had the best training. But then at a certain point he walked away. And let himself be the authority. When you trust yourself you’re less likely to screw up. Or second guess. And you’re more likely to feel great about what you’ve accomplished. So if we are to apply to the Fed Factor to parenting it would go like this:
• Information and opinions should be in service of your instincts. Read the basic spread of info and walk away. Your ability to adapt and think on your feet will be undermined if there are too many voices in your head.
• Never be smug about success. Accept that as a mother you are never “done.”
You won the Grand Slam today (the baby slept through the night), but there are other Grand Slams (nights) to come.
• Acknowledge your work. Fed is not afraid to say “I played really well.” There’s no false modesty. There’s no, gee wiz. You are working hard. Own it!
• Wear clothes that fit. You are busy (playing the US Open/raising kids), you should not have to deal with a wedgie.
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.
"If a group of women spend enough time together their menstrual cycles synchronize." Well, apparently men have a kind of telepathy of their own.
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.
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.
circumcision back in the news
CNN reports that the circumcision numbers for 2004 are in and they're down. In some places less than 50% of boys were circumcised. Gawker chimes in with the help of some foreskin-championing "hos." We have discussed this before. I do not think CNN (or those dears at Gawker) really addressed how the more recent HIV/Africa study could change this trend. I have a hunch the circumcision rates will sneak back up a little. Stay tuned for 2007 numbers (in 2010) so we can see where we are now. Then.
father's day for moms
Here's a sassy little piece by the right wing commentator Heather MacDonald about Father's Day cards for kids who have no dads to celebrate. The cards are for "my mom on Father's Day." It's actually an interesting piece about how Hallmark is marketing to fatherless kids-- the cards are in the African American section only. She wonders if the gay and lesbian community will get their cards one day, too. Well, we certainly hope so. And don't share her reaction to the scandal of parenting out of wedlock or really any of her opinions. Nevertheless amazing that Hallmark can figure out how to sell a card when there is no recipient.
no formula for obesity?
I have friends who are gay and adopting a baby who is due in three days. They're trying to gear up to be confident new parents, but with each Google forward they get another screenful about the health risks of formula. They've been offered frozen breastmilk from a friend. But it's for a much older baby, not a newborn. It's kind of hard to ship it and it wouldn't last that long. And is it really worth it?
They were starting to feel OK about the slightly less miraculous formula and then last week they called me in a panic after reading the ingredients: palm oil, corn syrup...
But today there's some news that may take the edge off as they shake that first bottle. According to a study conducted by Harvard University and published in the International Journal of Obesity, breastfeeding does not reduce the chances for obesity later in life.
"I'm the first to say breastfeeding is good. But I don't think it's the solution to reducing childhood or adult obesity," said the study's lead author, Karin Michels of Harvard Medical School.
The study included 14,500 women who were breastfed as babies and more than 21,000 who were not.
Days before this study was announced, there was another story about British scientists who are trying to develop a formula that includes leptin-- an ingredient in breastmilk that suppresses hunger and may minimize obesity later in life. We'll see what happens with the leptin...
In the meantime, I hope the obesity study gives my friends some reassurance. That and the fact that they are quite possibly saving a life. Isn't that miraculous enough?
want a girl? light up
A new British study shows that smoking can as much as double the chances for a girl. They don't know exactly why but theorize that there's something in the smoke that messes with life for the male sperm and possibly the implantation of a male embryo. Girls are so tough, even as blastocysts. According to the findings:
"Mothers who smoked during pregnancy were one-third less likely to have male children than mothers who did not smoke. If the father also smoked, and if factors such as the health and age of the mother were accounted for, the chances of having a male child reduces by almost half."
Not to call this research into question--they studied 9,000 pregnancies--but Bacall and Bogart did have a son.
tap that bump
Inside her belly is more beer!
sex is just sex
Not that women bursting at the end of nine full months of pregnancy
don't want to have lots of intercourse just for the pleasure of it
the passion of the cruise
Heather B. Armstrong (who had a massively harsh dose of postpartum depression and was saved by anti-depressants, all of which is documented on her awesome blog Dooce) offers some amazingly enlightened, touching insights into the humanity of Tom Cruise at Alphamom.
....But I haven't ever been interested in the man behind the actor either, because to me he hasn't ever been human. I haven't ever wanted him to be human because as the central figure of my pre-adolescent sexual awakening I've always wanted him to be an untouchable wax figure, something that can't be hurt or show weakness or wake up in the morning with bad breath...
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.
man boobs and boob jobs
Some celebrity, perhaps but not necessarily Tom Cruise, is extolling the virtues of male breastfeeding, saying he hopes to nurse his baby himself. It seems uncharactersitically progressive of Tom to give this option a whirl— maybe it's a little known part of the Scientologist doctrine? He would not be the only man to experiment with lacation. This hotty (with a conveniently hair-free chest) produced milk through the power of positive thinking. More on nursing fathers over at "the center for unhindered living."
Will the celebrity milk man have to worry about droopy man boobs? Fellow famous über-parent Gwyneth Paltrow has a solution: "reconstructive" breast surgery. Does this mean a tummy tuck and labia shaping qualify as repairing the damage from childbearing? What about botox to erase the stress of child-rearing? Isn't all plastic surgery reconstruction from the wear and tear of... life?
Some Father’s Day Observations from a Relatively New Father
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.