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Ceridwen + Rebecca
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...
Judith Warner, we love you, but you’re bringing us down.
Oh, Judith. You and Hanna Rosin both bring up a lot of great points. Pumping may not be the perfect answer to a working mother and hungry baby's needs. Breastfeeding advocacy can go way too far. Women should be given some flexibility on the question of what to feed their babies. Pressure and guilt are bad.
But your piece was laced with such disgust! Words like "grotesque" and "undignified"? How do those sound to the man on the street? To a pregnant mother, who’s thinking about whether to nurse or not? Who cares if your argument was ostensibly about pumping, not breastfeeding? The image of a lactating woman as a cow will linger a lot longer than those tiny disclaimers about how much you loved nursing. You say you wouldn’t have traded breastfeeding for the world. But you may well have made that trade for the women who read this piece and think, hmm, dignity vs. breastfeeding… maybe not.
We know there’s a strident voice out there saying “breast is best,” and we know it can royally suck to hear it when you’re struggling. But there’s a reason for that liquid gold fetish you’re talking about. It’s a defense against the much bigger fetish: breasts. As sex objects, not food sources. It’s easier for people to think in terms of science and statistics than think about where that fluid comes from. And let’s put this into perspective: Formula has been the primary food for the majority of babies in this country for more than half a century. There’s still a very squeamish attitude about nursing from the sexist camp (Bill Maher) and the old schoolers (Barbara Walters). If our New York Times feminist hero is telling everyone breastfeeding is disgusting, what will happen next?
We are more than sympathetic to the plight of the pumping mother. We have enjoyed many a bovine joke. But the pump is more than just a tool of oppression to help women strive toward some impossible standard of exclusive bf perfection.
Pumping is part of the reality of breastfeeding for lots of reasons: a premature baby; a job that resumes while supply is still being established (within the first 6 weeks postpartum); a life that includes random time away from the baby during which the mother doesn’t want to ejaculate milk on flight attendants, develop mastitis or otherwise suffer through engorgement. For these people, and for other women who may just like the idea of sustaining their babies on the milk their bodies produce, your piece was offensive. Is it necessary to take down breastfeeding to make it okay to not do it some of the time?
Pregnancy and breastfeeding challenge how we define our bodies and their purpose, and force us to see ourselves dually as we move forward as both mothers and women; animals and citizens. Pumping can make us painfully aware of these dualities. It can be annoying, emotional, enraging. Oxytocin—the bonding hormone—floods a woman’s body when milk is released. To feel all that bonding with no baby present can be hard. So is the solution to throw away the pump? Or throw away the job? Or throw away the baby? Or write letters to your congressperson demanding more maternity leave? How about women are given the choice to pump and/or feed formula as they see fit while we wait/fight for all the maternity leave and flexibility we deserve. What we don’t need is a guilt trip from the “breastfeeding Nazis” in one ear and a sneer from the New York Times in the other.
Yes, the breastfeeding zealots are a nightmare, but so are the backlashers.
What about the real women caught in the middle of all this?
ricki lake vs ten million doctors
I had to pull myself up off the floor (where I have been lolling with our new baby, Sylvia, for approximately six months) to get back to this blog and write about the latest birthing scandal. In case you haven't heard, the medical establishment is really pissed off about all the feel good home birth stuff that's been going on (thanks to Ricki Lake) and they want it to end. So they've come up with some kind of official statement about how hospitals and birth centers are the safest places for births. The long-term intent is to encourage states to make home births illegal.
Here's my opinion for what it's worth. I think home births are not the solution to what has shaped up to be a genuine crisis in maternal care in America. But the fact remains that home births are entirely appropriate for some people and there is no question that the thousands of excellent, experienced midwives who work tirelessly in support of women and babies would not be doing home births if they had women and babies dying on them! Here's the deal: home birth is really only advisable given certain factors, including a low risk pregnancy and ready access to a back-up hospital. Please believe me when I tell you that home birth midwives and women who want to live and have their babies live, know this! So it's not at all a question of what all women should be doing. And sadly, though Ricki Lake says she's all about "choice," her documentary--most of which I really loved--did go over the edge in terms of making home birth seem the only way a thinking person would go. It's a great movie, so there's no reason to alienate people who might support the idea but for so many possible reasons cannot have a home birth of their own.
Home birth isn't safest for everyone. There's no doubt. But does that mean the hospital "the safest" place for everyone to give birth?
Unfortunately, the statistics are not leaning in that direction either. One in three women are getting a c-section, increasing a variety of risks most very small, some large. One of the best points in Jennifer Block's PUSHED is that elective C-sections and unassisted home births are both "solutions" to the same crisis. Confronted with a hospital birth, some women think, "God, it all sounds so awful, just cut the baby out of me at a prescheduled time." Others say, "I'm just not going in there! I'll do it myself!" It may seem that the elective c-section mama and the unassisted homebirther have nothing in common but Block's point is that they are both just responding to a similarly lousy situation.
IDEALLY, there would be really fantastic birth centers all over the place so women really and truly have this so-called choice that everyone keeps talking about. And hospitals would have better policies (i.e. more rooming in and more labor support and fewer unnecessary interventions) and home births with experienced midwives would be legal in every state.
When I was ready to have my second baby in NYC - what's the population here 18 million??? -- everyone kept saying, "What about a birth center?" Well, I toured the birth center at St. Luke's and it was fine but there were about three rooms and the likelihood of getting into one the day I went into labor was very slim!
I think it's terrible that home birth and hospital birth are pitted against one another. I just don't want to see some poor woman die because she had a dangerous unassisted home birth and I can't stand watching the c-section rate soar. The more polarized this debate becomes the more likely we'll see that kind of thing.
I'm back! Missed you all. Hope to be here more often. Here's a baby face - Sylvia's -- to add a little sweetness to my diatribe.
charlie sheen's aggressive breastfeeding campaign
Seems there are some porn addicts out there who support breastfeeding. (Scroll to paragraph eight).
Care Bears on Fire (this is not a recall)
Fresh off the family Mac and onto YOUTUBE, Brooklyn pre-teen band, The Care Bears on Fire have released their new video !
Ahh... the skateboarding, the hipster kids, the basement in the 3 million dollar brownstone are all so easy to mock and, well, envy. But come on! I listened to "Kids in America" as a pre-teen and wore new wave boatnecks. And I performed. It was Annie Get Your Gun rather than the Gun Club, but still the 8th graders I partied with were all about putting on a show. Aw shucks, it's such an innocent time- right before the other (adolescent and crushingly self-conscious) shoe drops! Makes perfect sense and frankly the Care Bears are WAY sweeter to these ears than The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow. AND music is marketed to kids! Why not let them in on the action? OK,that's my defense. Somehow I felt I needed to mount it even though the kid rock trend is doing just fine without me.
taking drugs to make art for other people to not take drugs to
The other day, I took my four year old and nine month old to the big summer show at the Whitney: Summer of Love: The Art of Psychedelia. My son went nuts in the room with the strobe lights and the dayglo tiled floor. The baby was Oh!ing with excitement at every turn. And you should have seen her rocking to the fuzz-wah riff in "Defecting Grey", silhouetted against an oil and water film backdrop. There were a few other kids at the show, and they were all really into it. Now and again a passerby would complain to their cohorts about it being inappropriate; drugs and sex and all. While I did stop short of the explicit Yayoi Kusama film (annoyingly enough, for me) there was nothing else in the show that felt wrong for my son to see. In fact, it seemed to be right up a kid's alley. Bright colors, great music, fun shapes… what's not to like? I've often thought that the Baby Einstein videos were oddly similar to psychedelia. I curled into a half-womb segment of Panton's Phantasy Landscape Visiona II , switched the audio tour to the Velvets and watched my kid climb crazy over the art.
It was strange to return home from this groovy wonderworld to the (very minor and possibly contrived) controversy of Babble's pot mom story . The Three Martini Playdate is a well-marketed parenting ethos, complete with a sequel. But one toke, and the pot mom gets, gotta say it, stoned by the villagers. I'm not suggesting that piece would have been any better received had she said she was taking swigs of vodka out of a flask…or maybe I am. Cocktails are the acceptable freedom of autonomous adults. Pot is for the young and irresponsible. A glass of wine or two? Of course, mommy's gotta unwind. But no one's going to say that being high around your kids is ok. We just don't live in that kind of world. But we don't live in the kind of world that people who chastise mothers who smoke talk about either, where everyone sits in lifeguard chairs waiting at the ready for a threat.
In this world, parents wouldn't be impaired or distracted in any way. No phone calls, no checking email, no cooking dinner. True, these things don't affect your nervous system. but they certainly affect your attention. And don't they affect your response time? Many of the angry mobsters railed at the idea that as a parent, you need to be ready to act at any instant. What if that instant happens while you're finally on the phone with the insurance company after twenty minutes on hold? Or while the UPS guy's buzzing, or your office suddenly needs a file that you swear was right here on your desktop yesterday? Pot may impair your reflexes, but from what I can remember from my own wild oats, whenever something scary happened while I was impaired, the buzz vanished instantly.
Although my parents were less hippies than "hippie style", there was some passing of joints around the Passover seder. Oral history has me arbitrating the order of smokers at a Tanglewood concert circa 1973.* I have not repurposed my son's preschool bossiness in such a manner and have no intention of making pot smoking part of his family experience...especially not after my just-say-no-fueled confrontation of my mom, at the aforementioned seder table.) Using drugs of any kind to "get through" something (parenting or otherwise) is a semi-questionable situation. While neither of us here at thenewmom has personally smoked pot in quite awhile, we do have a deep respect for its benefits (from a purely hypothetical/historical standpoint). There must be a reason that stoned people and children have a shared appreciation of things. Could shared appreciation lead to more attention, rather than less? They recently discovered that driving while talking on the phone is actually more dangerous than driving drunk.
So who knows?
*my mother would like you to know that she "hardly ever smoked pot". Also, she says, it was the time.
rich people can afford more things!
I just listened to this NPR report about how wealthier families are having tons of kids: "In the world of the wealthy, 4 has become the new 2." Women interviewed in Darien, Connecticut claim that jealousy and baby lust are part of what drive them to get knocked up again and again. One mom says she feels the otherwise thankless job of raising kids is "validated" when there are four to handle. And Jill Kargman, author of Momzillas, suggests this is rerouted "career ambition"; that these moms are engaging in "competitive birthing." On some level it's happening just because it can: money does make a difference. And it's not just childcare (poor people use childcare all the time; they have to work). It's being able to hire someone to come over and put training wheels on all the bikes. It's being able to afford 100K for school tuition each year. Little things like that.
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!
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.
grown women don't hate their mothers. weird.
Stephanie Rosenbloom of the NY Times reports that some women in their 20s and 30s are actually close with their mothers. Maybe too close. Maybe weirdly close. I guess this trend could be seen as remarkable or even shocking, but unhealthy? Only at the very end of the piece does Rosenbloom come around to the idea that these relationships might be a good thing. The bulk of the article struck me as very odd:
One would think that after giving birth to, nursing, teaching and disciplining a daughter for 18 years, a mother might want some distance.
Are mothers really just begrudgingly logging time until the gig is up and they can book a cruise? I mean we all need distance, but is it good for us or normal to cut ties at 18? Isn't that an invented idea? (That maybe came about at the same time as the concept of the "teen.")
I think we live in a culture where there is too much isolation between generations. If this is indeed a trend-- and it seems a fairly understudied area--I think it sounds like a cause for celebration.
keeping up appearances
We had a great time at Politcs and Prose in Washington. There were a bunch of people with a lot of really great questions that led to a really great discussion. (And we got some sweet DC Press). We hope to do more events like that-- maybe one in New York. I made a mistake on the last post-- we were actually on WCBS (NY local news) this last weekend. That also went well; we'll link to the interview at fromthehips.com shortly.
from the hips in DC & on TV
Just a reminder that we'll be at POLITICS AND PROSE in Washington, DC at 1 PM this Saturday. We'll be chatting about the book and answering questions. We'll also be appearing on CBS Sunday Morning the following day at around 8:15 AM. If you're up doling out the Cheerios, tune in. We'll be live and semi-rehearsed!
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.
knocked up (but not entirely bowled over)
The two of us had a mom date night on Friday (afternoon) and managed to get out between feedings and familial obligations to go see KNOCKED UP. As card-carrying Judd Apatow fans from way back (Freaks and Geeks was a religious experience) and new parents with an interest in the way pregnancy stories are told, we had very high hopes. And the movie was hilarious. Most of the time. The other times-- like a good chunk of the middle and toward the end-- it dragged. In fact it has us both a little bummed out. We've been mulling the source of the bummer and we've decided it's this. The movie is about guys. It's great on guys. The guys are funny. The guys have chemistry. The guys-- even the guys with NO LIVES-- seem to have very important lives, lives they love and enjoy. The women, on the other hand...
(detailed dialog-style analysis of Knocked Up after the jump, if you've seen the film or don't care about spoilers)
R: Judd Apatow always seems to be telling a sort of more complex version of the coming of age story, about everyone's lingering desire to remain a child, or inability/refusal to give up "childish" behaviors. These behaviors are what make people interesting (or honest), the ridiculous dreams, the goofy jokes, maybe even the occasional (or hourly) drug use. And of course we agree, at least with the idea if not the articulation...that the world without this stuff would be a pretty horrible place. But for some reason, his version of these longings for the girls in “Knocked Up” are not nearly as much fun—the girls don't seem to really have any dreams that don't revolve around being attractive or spending quality time with their husbands.
C: Watching the guy deal with the pregnancy, I recognized all the things we went through—sadness at loss of spontaneity, friendships, time, the ability to be irresponsible- but the women seemed to snap seamlessly into a kind of maternal robot. Even the 5 year old daughter was riding the guy. She was already the “nagging mother.” And, in fact, all the kids were girls. Family = women. Guys need to get "out" of that.
R: There is some screen time given to women’s losses, too; as the heroine says, “I have given up my body, my job, my vagina!” But she’s on TV, even the threat to her job was actually about her body. And the vagina anxiety is real but what is it really about? Being sexy. And the low point of the movie for the female leads was when they get told they’re no longer sexy enough to cut the line at the club? I mean, yeah, it’s a bummer. But everyone’s said how the women are so multifaceted in this movie. Is pining for hotness (rather than just exuding hotness) what's defining depth in our female characters? Not that women don't do that, but they also need the same things the guys in the movie need...to be able to say fuck it once in a while and do something irresponsible.
C: I was also thinking that Apatow kind of got himself into a bind with the set up because the women had to be the straight ones to make it all work and he just got stuck, I think, with our main girl—he didn’t know what to do with her. she's not the shrill "wife" but she also lacked any real personality—she was just sort of there. She seemed to just represent pregnancy rather than a real person. Usually his women characters are great though: the warm-hearted Ebay saleswoman in "40-year-old Virgin."
R: The girl in "Freaks and Geeks" too.
C: Yeah, this girl was warm and accepting but just sort of had nothing of her own (no friends, no interests). The conspicuous absence of any other inner life left her sort of blank and that blankness was filled by “needy pregnant woman” junk.
R: She seemed sort of catatonic, in a way, which is not unheard of in the pregnant. the weirdest thing for me was how her transitions happened, out of nowhere.
C: And why did she want him involved? She was clearly REPULSED the morning after. All he said that seemed to win her over was "I'll support you" and BAM she's in. There’s this sense that all women want to hear is a man saying "I'll stop FILL THE BLANK (fantasy baseball, bong hits, whatever)" which is sort of horrifying, that our wants are reduced to that.
R: That and being young and hot.
C: Its just that sad stereotype that men get together and drink and play sports and women get beauty treatments (for men).
R: Even women's selfishness has to be fundamentally unselfish. Treat yourself to a bikini wax!
C: Yeah, what about the lack of pubes in the crowning shot?
R: I’m not sure I even know what to say about that. It’s just a little tragic that we have come to the point where showing a shaved crotch is considered less shocking than showing pubic hair. I did think it was especially weird considering the beard/vagina joke earlier. Maybe they should have said that guy’s face looked like a 1970’s vagina.
C: All weekend I was trying to think of ways it could be justified—maybe when you’re stretched that far the pubes are hard to see?? Maybe the MPAA has a ban on pubes? But it was a waxed porn star birth! An inflatable doll style vagina. We gasped for a reason, and I don't think it was the reason the movie intended.
mother stoned by youtube viewers
Not sure if you've had the pleasure of watching this hugely popular youtube clip of a toddler getting accidentally kicked into the air by a Times Square breakdancer. I have to issue a parental advisory that, despite hundreds of gleeful viewer comments, this is NOT an OMG LOL situation for the new mom. It's more of a WTF-is-wrong-with-these-viewers situation. The overwhelming response has been nothing shy of a public stoning of the mother.
She gets the following support from her community:
stupid ass woman who couldnt control her child.
fucked up for the baby, well yea, if you got parents like those all you can do is LOL, so fuck off
stupid mom. what were you doing?
what a b-tch of a mother to ignore her kid like that
Fuck the kid, fuck the parent.
damn i hate irresponsible parents like that woman... someone else should got that kick
accident my fucking ass! keep an eye on your child god dammit! beter still go to parenting class! see that what you get!!!!hahahahahahahaha
When I saw this video my first reaction was: wow what an amazing example of how quickly this kind of thing can happen. It was about three seconds in real time...you turn around to find a toy for your other crying kid, the stroller gets knocked over by a passer-by and your wallet hits the floor... I'll leave it to your imagination to think of more reasons why this could have happened. It happens to me all the time. We can't cage our toddlers 24/7. Things happen. But what explains this intense vitriol for the mother???
toddler appreciates fleeting nature of life
A Kansas City toddler danced all over an intricate work of art made by Buddhist monks, completely destroying it. The monks: Not "despondent." Wow. I have been known to get a tad despondent when my toddler mashes a Lego tower I've labored over for ten minutes--let alone a stunning sand mosaic, two days in the making. Two-year-olds and monks seem to share an healthy ability to stay detached from the material world! I am taking note.
taken by Storm
We did our first, and hopefully not last, TV segment: a piece for the CBS Early Show that will air Monday, May 28 at 8:08 AM (for those not sleeping in on Memorial Day morning).
The two of us have been blabbing about our book pretty much every day for years, but after all the coaching ("be thorough" "stay casual" "plan who speaks when" "speak conversationally") we were nearly stunned to silence. Luckily we had time to gain composure in the fancy town car on the way to the set. When we got there, they clipped mics under our clothes (note to future TV guests: pull cord around your back if you're wearing a dress so you don't have what looks like a long black tampon string dangling between your legs) and we were ushered onto the frigid, beige set where the indomitable anchor woman Hannah Storm took over: "We'll worry about the TV stuff. You just do your thing." And so we did for four and half surreal and glorious minutes! If you tune in you will learn that we believe that "babies are people, not problems" and that Ceridwen has finally had her roots done!
c-section, natural birth, whatever
I love Australia. Here's an Opinion piece-- tag line "So shut up about the method you used for giving birth"-- I hope it makes your day, it made mine.
... The problem with criticising other women's birth choices is that it might start there, but pretty soon you're casting aspersions on other mothers for their choice of pram, whether to bottle or breastfeed, their use of dummies and crying control methods or the fact that they named their child Brangelina. Before you know it you've wasted enormous chunks of your life judging women you don't know for choices they've made based on reasons you couldn't possibly know, when you could have been doing something useful like teaching your child to speak Sanskrit or achieving world peace...
wanted: admin asst
Duties include: typing, excellent communication skills, pulling placenta from bathtub drain.
I'm all for Ricki Lake's home birth in her bathtub--I'm even interested in having my own home birth one day--but this threw me: her assistant cleaned the tub afterwards. I'm not sure if that's a doula job, a midwife job, a house-cleaner? But an assistant? Ah shucks, they're probably really close, and it's a funny story to bond over. But I was once a Hollywood assistant--I even wrote a book about it--so I do empathize with anyone who's trying to get ahead in business and ends up covered with boss's bodily expulsions. If I do have a home birth can I hire home orderlies?
new birth documentary
I heard about this documentary through Abby Howe-Heyman, one of the midwives who advised on our book. It's called The Business of Being Born, and it's produced by Ricki Lake who enjoyed her own Manhattan home birth. It's premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival-- any New Yorkers interested, there appear to be tickets available for next week's screenings. The filmmaker (Abby Epstein) will be doing a Q & A at the April 29th screening. We're going to check out it and I'm sure we'll be blogging all the way home. Stay tuned.
striving for imperfection day after day after ....
We're all about striving for imperfection over here at thenewmom. (In fact, "strive for imperfection" is one of the "anti-rules" we lay out in From the Hips.) And we're so happy to know that Judith Warner is there every week to help remind us exactly why it's so important! Today in her Domestic Disturbances column, she considers the positive influence a little early rejection may have for the kinds of super high-acheiveing, "amazing" girls profiled last weekend in the Times.
Many, I think, never figure out how to handle the emptiness that comes when the rush of achievement fades away, or the loneliness — the sense of invisibility — when no one is there to hand out yet another “A.” The fact is: when you are narrowly programmed to achieve, you are like a windup toy with only one movement in its repertoire. You’re fine when you’re wound up; but wind you down, and you grind to a halt. I think this is partly why so many grown-up amazing girls with high-earning husbands find themselves having to quit work when they have kids. They simply can’t perform at work and at home at the high level that they demand of themselves.
When I was pregnant I overheard a new mother answer that question about 'how she does it all' and she said, quickly, and with a smile, "Oh, it's easy: I suck at my job and I'm a terrible mom." It gave me great hope.
new moms babble
Check out our new advice column, "PARENTAL ADVISORY" at babble.com, a parenting webiste (for "intellectually curious people') from the people who started nerve.com back in the 90s.
Babble promises to "apply Nerve’s tradition of irreverent honesty to the experience of parenting without the infantilizing, hyper-judgmental tone or acquisitive baby-as-accessory bent of so much of today's parenting fare." We're psyched to be a part of the team. The site launched a couple days ago and looks great. Send us some questions! We'll be answering them every week.
mother mary cheney
Everyone's been trying to figure out: What are we going to do with this foul-mouthed (fowl-hunting) self-loathing pregnant lesbian? The other night I caught a glimpse of sex columnist and gay adoptive father Dan Savage FUMING over this subject on a talk show. I tuned in just as he was being cut off by one of those impenetrable (smiling) conservatives who may or may not have been the lovely Janice Crouse of "Concerned Women for America." Sad to have missed what he was saying, I went online and found an amazing and tangential tirade against Ms.Crouse right in the middle of a Savage Love advice column about a cross-dresser. He makes all the great political points with characteristic spice: "...they're condemning Cheney for creating a 'fatherless' child, a child that will have no masculine role models. Have you gotten a good look at Heather Poe, Mary Cheney's partner of 15 years? My son has two fathers, but Heather's left labial lip is butcher than both of us put together." Over at the Huff Post my other favorite gay rights advocate and blogger extraordinaire, Bill Robinson chimes in,"So that's the big objection? No father? Perhaps Concerned Janice and those like her are worried something awful might happen to the fatherless child.... like becoming a lesbian."
rachel weisz is takin' the chill road
According to this reliable source,Rachel Weisz says that European women drink while pregnant and that it's "fine." (In England, "one to two units" a week have been declared acceptable for expectant moms). Nice to see a laid back celeb mom. If only Weisz' knowledge of fetal development was as rock solid as her performance in The Constant Gardener we could all imbibe with a little more confidence.
Nancy Pelosi's To Do List
Thank you Judith Warner for always driving the question of motherhood stress and anxiety away from playground politics and back to real politics:
"... if, as Ms. Pelosi has repeatedly said, she’ll be taking up the speaker’s gavel 'on behalf of America’s children,' there’s a lot of work to do. For children can’t thrive if their families are stressed and, at every point on the socioeconomic spectrum now, it seems that American families are cracking at the seams. read more"
Forget the senate race in Virginia, forget rubbernecking Rummy's downfall and please turn immediately to the Style section of the New York Times for this important story: There are some affluent moms who like to get together on Friday evenings with some other affuent moms and their children and have a couple-- are you ready?--glasses of wine!
These suburban ragers are apparently a kind of rebellion against perfection. Is it really that big of a transgression? This kind of behavior to me is like, bare-bones civilized life (luckily a few moms and some sort of alcohol anthropologist from Brown chime in with words to this effect).
The article questions whether these parties are a throw back to the mothers-little-helper vibe of the 1950s. As I was reading about this parallel, I must say I wanted to reach for the vodka. The tone of the argument conjured a kind of Victorian cautionary tale of the mother who went "Gin Mad," abandoned her children and jumped in the Thames. Such a buzz kill. I guess there's some issue about motherhood not being fulfilling enough which is exactly *the point* of the wine-cooler community throw down.
My only real beef with the cocktail mother scene is, do we really have to have a "momtini" garnished with a pacifier? I'm not sure that represents a departure from parenting. And if there's some issue about the driving, where are the working dads on Friday night? This seems a perfect opportunity for them to "pitch in"!
We're having an argument over here about whether or not Laura Bennett on Project Runway is an inspiration to mothers. I think the fact that she made it through the first trimester while under constant reality TV surveillance and pressure from Tim Gunn to make the plunging neckline work is pretty bad-ass. That and the fact that she's 42, has two degrees, was a single mom and now has five boys at home. Granted it's a HUGE home. And it looks like she has a huge amount of help. But, still: five kids! And she's like, yeah, we like the craziness. I think it's nice to see someone with a healthy water-off-a-duck's-back attitude towards all this stuff.
Rebecca, on the other hand, thinks she's got a mean streak. And that her Supermom complex is not all that helpful to more regular moms in more regular apartments with more regular eggs. Not that her accomplishments (reproductive and otherwise) are not impressive, but what's the point of being accomplished and well put together if you're not well-liked? Granted, this may all be in the edit. The show needs a bitch, after all.
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...
it's not like it wouldn't sell
Panopticist reveals US magazine's true intentions with a few additional letters and some highly honest headlines.
a voice of reason?
Points for Liv Tyler for calling bullsh*t on the epidemic of postpartum celebrity insta-weight-loss. It's a nice counterpoint, for example, to the terrifying baby-as-accessory spread in this month's Vogue. We can't find a link but in case you miss it, there are lots of pictures of a sterile, dominatrix-style super (model) mom spoon-feeding and transporting her baby around town (and suburbs) in platform heels, huge sunglasses and the odd trench-coat. The fantasy of impossible shoes and motherhood is certainly an interesting one--a blatant rejection of safety precautions?? But there is one pair of platform mules that should probably be given a once over by The Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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.
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.
"choice" under fire
Lots of interesting discussion going on about the word "choice." Yesterday, during the big Roe V. Wade anniversary moment, pop politics suggested that we drop the word "choice" as a feminist slogan and replace it with "forced pregnancy." Not sure that works--the implication of rape is too distracting. But she makes a good case: "Are we 'pro-choice'? Sure. But so are Verizon and many school districts. When a word becomes associated with frozen dinners, it may no longer be the powerful political tool it once was."
A week earlier, Patricia Cohen wrote in a NYTimes Op-Ed about how "choice feminism" may not be panning out. She focuses on lawyer/scholar Linda R. Hirshman's controversial opinion that "choice feminism" is a myth. Choice "promised liberation... but actually betrayed women by leaving traditional sex roles intact. In short, women were still stuck with the housework and child-rearing." Are we really flush with great options? Or stuck with an array of compromises, struggling to maintain both job and family? Is the word "choice" just there to give us an illusion of control?
We know lots of otherwise ass-kicking moms who have become quivering jellyfish when it comes to "making the right choice." If it's all a matter of "choice" then whatever happens—kid gets ADD, husband leaves, can't find a matching sock— is all the mom's fault since she's the one who made the choice to do whatever she did. Way too much pressure. Where is the circumstance in all this? Maybe it's not so much about getting rid of the word "choice" as just acknowledging that life gets in the way of making them.
breast pump mystique
New mom and Brokeback Mountain actress Michelle Williams recently told USA Today: "I love being a young parent ... It's me, the baby and the breast pump." So nice to hear reference to the breast pump! The pump seems to be such a weird sort of secret. I get why we use it in private but I just still cannot get over how little (NOTHING) I knew about the breast pump until fairly close to the point where I actually needed one. When I first saw one in use I was shocked and thought it was actually pretty hilarious. Like something out of Woody Allen's Sleeper. I have since told non-mother friends about the pump (the suction cups, the tubes, the squirting of the milk into plastic receptacles, the "hands free" bra contraptions, the signs on my office door, the swirl of teary hormones in the middle of a workday, the freezer packs, storage guidelines... ) and they laughed, too. Surprised not so much that we do all this stuff but that it's so UNKNOWN to the uninitiated. Some reasons I can think of that it's meant to be mother's little secret:
Dairy farm imagery is too big an affront to Madonna & Child breastfeeding fantasy.
The pump is like a box of maxi-pads--something women need but details of usage need not be aired.
We're supposed to "cover" our identities as mothers when in workplace (where many women pump).
Boobs are just not supposed to be functional... and nothing says functional like a battery operated suction cup clamped to an engorged teat.
Attention Motion Picture Association of America
I propose a new movie rating for parents: "CD" for child death.
Or "G CD" for gruesome child death.
This thought comes after braving SYRIANA last night. After the CD scene, I found it very difficult to reconnect with the movie and it took huge emotional willpower to keep from sobbing. The image -- a child electrocuted in the pool while his mother is unable to dive into the charged waters -- sent me over the edge.
I know it's important not to shy away from "difficult" moments in art just because I'm a senstive parent. And I will try. I will. Syriana was an excellent film. But I did wonder if writer/director Stephan Gaghan had kids of his own, and whether the answer to that question has anything to do with the way he used such an explicit CD scene as a plot device. Would a parent filmmaker consider the child's death the focus of the movie, and not just a way to propel Matt Damon into a situation? Ah, who knows. But I might have appreciated some choice about whether to go through this particular kind of violence, especially on "date night". Maybe next time I'll opt for spraying bullets and serial killers.
Yin/Yang Reading List
My vacation reading: one mind-blowing memoir, one ass-kicking manifesto/funny shit fest, and two depressing books about the various ways mothers are financially fucked up the ass. There were many scenarios like the one in yesterday's Modern Love column. Hundreds of pages of sad statistics on how huge a hit women take when they become mothers and leave the work force, cut down on hours, or even make themselves available for inevitable kid-shit like sickness and absentee nannies. Dads get it too: those who regularly leave early or miss days of work for kid needs make something like 20% less than those who make work their first (only) priority.
The basic premise of the books was that 1. The workplace needs to accommodate parents with less penalty and 2. people need to start seeing the raising of kids as actual labor rather than a “labor of love.” And that what’s happening instead is that women are getting pissed at each other for making the wrong choice, using whatever ideological ammo they think is important. Hence, ‘The Mommy Wars’, a much more fun talk show topic than ‘We Need More Flex-Time’ or ‘Childcare Should Be Better Compensated.‘
Jill Soloway, writer of the abovementioned hilarious work of feminist genius, discusses the problem on her new blog. I appreciate (and uncannily share) the Soloway furor. But are we really mad at women for making stupid choices, or are we mad at the choices? Most women are not deciding whether to subjugate themselves to their husbands or pursue gratifying—even self-supporting—careers. They are choosing from crappy cruddy compromised options, which get worse the less money you have. A huge chunk of women who stay home would not be making enough to cover childcare if they worked—and that’s taking into account the fact that childcare is one of the lowest paid professions there is.
Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants: Based on a True Story, by Jill Soloway
Drugs Are Nice: A Post-Punk Memoir, by Lisa Crystal Carver
The Truth Behind The Mommy Wars, by Miriam Peskowitz
The Price of Motherhood, by Ann Crittenden
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?
Britney is Risen
Britney is sooooo not a slut! She's so not a slut that she's the Virgin Mary. And Baby Sean Preston is Baby Jesus. Well, that's one way to get Federline out of the picture.
In a related story, a friend was invited to a Christmas party where guests were asked to come as their favorite character from the Natvity Scene--he decided to go as Baby Jesus' meconium.
celebrity baby boom eradicates possibility of famous fatness
Can't a girl just gain a little weight? Seems like all a celebrity has to do is stop holding her stomach in, and she's sporting a "baby bump." Good thing we're not famous. This may not be the best example, as the person in question did in fact announce her pregnancy in public, but didn't we write that off as part of the detox process? This baby-bump-spotting trend must be doing wonders for the pilates industry.
Not a girl, not yet a woman, and now this. One step out of the frying pan of puberty, Britney finds herself in messy emotions of early motherhood and immediately gets pegged as depressed. Seems to us that she's basically just being a human being in the usual mind-numbing shock of the postpartum period, mourning the loss of her former life, and, apparently, her formerly perfect belly, now scarred by her elective C-section. (Too bad she wasn't famous for her pooter, since she chose to leave that unscathed.) Who knows, maybe she can turn that smile-scar into a smile...and start a new trend in the process: Exposed c-section scars may be the new exposed thong.
Brooke rocks the Times
Pregnant moms are prodded, measured, monitored, advised and interrogated about their health for nine long months. Then the baby comes out and suddenly mom's body is literally yesterday's news. The follow-up for mom's health is pathetic... BOTH physical and mental health (both of which have quite a bit to do with chemical im/balances, thank you Mr. Cruise!). Brooke Shields is so eloquent in her NY TIMES Op-Ed. She's absolutely right that obstetricians and pediatricians need to get on the ball as far as mom's postpartum health and start screening for postpartum depression ASAP. One in ten new moms recommend it.
"... If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease. Perhaps now is the time to call on doctors, particularly obstetricians and pediatricians, to screen for postpartum depression. After all, during the first three months after childbirth, you see a pediatrician at least three times. While pediatricians are trained to take care of children, it would make sense for them to talk with new mothers, ask questions and inform them of the symptoms and treatment should they show signs of postpartum depression.
In a strange way, it was comforting to me when my obstetrician told me that my feelings of extreme despair and my suicidal thoughts were directly tied to a biochemical shift in my body. Once we admit that postpartum is a serious medical condition, then the treatment becomes more available and socially acceptable. With a doctor's care, I have since tapered off the medication, but without it, I wouldn't have become the loving parent I am today."
I'm so proud of Brooke. I worshipped her in her Calvin's when I was 12, but I never thought my admiration would be revived in this kind of enlightened and politicized context.
the skankification of pregnancy
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.
madonna's a good mama
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.
nurse-in logistics Sheet
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.
tom cruise: postpartum expert!
Tom says Brooke Shields should've relied on vitamins instead of meds to help her with the soul crushing postpartum depression she describes in her new book. His genius insights include "You can use vitamins to help a woman through those things."
I'm surprised he didn't suggest Dianetics.
I know it goes to charity and all, but...
this is just nasty.
british boob freakout
British newspapers are going nuts over reports about Rosie Stamp, a woman who recently cut a trip to America short and flew home (3,500 miles) to breastfeed her baby. The one-year-old was refusing expressed milk (or any other liquids) from a bottle. Apparently, their Dr. said the infant was at risk of dehydrating. Rosie flew home and was back breastfeeding within 36 hours of leaving the home. Now Rosie is asking British Airways to refund the extra ticket she had to buy as she considers this a medical emergency. British Airways has different ideas... and the UK press is having a real field day with this story.
Mostly there are reactionary articles ranting on about how unnecessary (and bad) "extended" breastfeeding is (even though one year, according the AAP, and WHO, is not "extended," but recommended). On the other side, there are breastfeeding advocates talking about how it's "natural" for us to feed wellbeyond a year. As usual, both sides are firmly planted on extremist ground: you're either suffocating your baby with smothering attachment, or you're denying her the nutrition, trust and connection she needs.
As a breastfeeding mother, I read this and immediately thought such boring thoughts as "Had she introduced a bottle prior to leaving?... Did the husband try feeding her with a sippy cup? Had they never been separated before?" Maybe this was an emergency—the doctor seemed concerned, for one thing—but maybe it could have been avoided if Rosie had prepared the kid for the separation. Unfortunately, all these details are not getting any airtime so I can't attempt to break it down, pick apart Rosie's weaning strategy with La Leche League-like precision. I did, however, have the urge to write Kate Sharp, a Lactation Consultant and LLLI member, and ask her if she had any comments (from a technical stand-point). Here's what she had to say:
"It really depends on the mother and baby. If the baby was breastfeeding extensively at one year, and was not a large person, she could become a little dehydrated. Some people recommend " a trip away from baby so you can wean without fuss". Of course, this combines separation anxiety with the denial of the physical sustenance of nursing: common sense would say that there is a cruel element to this advice. This is not a nursing strike, it was an enforced sudden weaning, most likely. If the baby was fed soupy liquids it would seem the danger was minimal, but individual cases could exist."
It took me thirty seconds to find this definition of incompetent cervix on google.
Why, then, were the writers of the Gorgeous/Gruesome TV show Nip/Tuck (which I currently love but entirely expect to hate soon) Unable/Unwilling to make the thirty second effort to determine whether their story line was feasible?
If you haven't seen the first season and are spoiler-sensitive, do not read on.
I know that as titles of medical conditions go, "incompetent cervix" is about as Gorgeous/Gruesome as they come. And I know they needed some kind of "preventable" miscarriage scenario, but COME ON. The woman was eight weeks pregnant, and announced during her examination that she had never even heard of the condition, much less experienced it previously, which would make that diagnosis pretty much impossible.
Could they not have figured this out? Fact-checking? Vetting? Something? I realize that my standards for versimilitude are probably unrealistic, but it purports to be a show about medicine, after all. Mostly boob jobs, but medicine, nonetheless.