What a New Mom Should Know (But No One Tells Her)

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger and photographer, Jess Levey.  Jess covers all thing baby almost every Monday on Beccarama.

week4ink'tan carrier_1Maternity Mondays is back with exciting news of our baby girl’s birth! Baby S was born on January 23, 2013 in Brooklyn, NY.  23 has been my favorite number my entire life, not just because my birthday falls on a 23 as well, but also because of its many auspicious meanings.  For example, there are 23 chromosomes in a human sperm or egg, the angle between the earth’s magnetic and rotational axis is 23, the number of flavors Dr. Pepper claims to be a blend of is 23, the number of distinct orientations of Tetris pieces is 23, and I could go on and on or you can just Google it instead.

I had secretly hoped that S would be born on 1-23, being that I am a bit into numerology, but that would mean she would be 11 days late so how could I ever hope for such a thing?! Well, I guess she heard me, if only her birth had been as easy as 1-2-3.  I don’t want to go into great lengths about my traumatic birth experience but in brief (if there is anyway to be brief about a 36 hour labor) everything that I had initially feared happened.  Well, that’s not fair to say since we have a beautiful healthy baby girl at the end of the horror story.  I just re-read a Maternity Monday post that I had written when I was 38 weeks pregnant about the unknown and letting go of control. In this post, I wrote,

“ I can practice my hypno-birthing meditations every night, do my squats, begrudgingly do perineal massages, walk and walk and walk, insert and ingest primrose oil, eat my greens and omega 3s, talk to baby, stay positive, drink my pregnancy tea, and visualize the ‘perfect’ birthing experience, but in the end, something major or minor can occur and I can end up with an emergency C-section, or maybe I won’t be able to breast feed, or maybe our baby will be jaundice for a few days. As much as we can try to prepare and control what is to come, I know deep down that placing too much attachment on this ideal labor is dangerous.”

Funny enough (but not HA HA funny) all three of these major and minor occurrences that I had mentioned happened to us, and now that we have gone through them (still dealing with the breast-feeding issue though) I am that much wiser about the ability to truly let go of expectations and move on without regrets.

Nobody tells you how difficult the first few weeks are, just like they don’t tell you that once you bring your baby home (and even in the hospital) you will cry at least twice an hour; that you may look back at the day your child was born as the worst day of your life due to the fact that you back labored for 36 hours followed by an emergency C-section; that the recovery from a C-section is almost as bad as labor itself and lasts for weeks; that you may not instantly bond with your baby mostly due to PTSD or Post-Partum anxiety/depression, or that breast-feeding can be frustrating beyond belief and that most babies, regardless of whether you had a C-section or not, need help latching on, that all nipples will get blisters, and maybe even blood blisters too, yuck. All anyone ever tells you is that you will be tired, but that’s the least of it!

Maybe we keep this all a secret to protect soon to be moms, but I am happy to tell everyone every minor and major detail if it means that they may be prepared just a little bit more for one of the most trying times in a woman’s life, or that they will ask for the help that they will need, even if it is just for someone to come over and bring them some food, or maybe even feed it to them while they feed their baby. The good news is that this difficult period passes rather quickly!  I am now entering week 5 and love each and every day with my new baby. She is already cooing and is more alert and attentive and I am pretty sure that her smiles are not just from gas anymore. Also, thanks to Tracy Hogg’s famous book, The Baby Whisperer we have her on a predictable feeding and sleeping schedule that helps us know her cues/cries so that we can give her what she wants immediately. This was not the case for the first couple of weeks when every time she was over-tired and screaming we figured it was gas and would give her gripe water or massage her tummy when really she just needed to be put down in her crib and shushed. The gripe water did seem to work though, I think mostly because fructose is a main ingredient, oh well; I will just add that to my list of “things I never thought I would give my child.” Speaking of, here is a helpful list for new moms that I wish I had been given when we first brought S home.

Things I could not live without during the first month (and after)

  • Kangaroo fleece sling for the cold winter days!
  • with kangarookorner fleece sling
  • Gripe water for gas
  • Ktan carrier
  • Medela hospital grade pump
  • Zip up footies (anyone who tells you to buy those damn gowns are wrong!)
  • week3withbrestfriend
  • Baby Whisperer book
  • Rectal thermometer (much easier to insert than I had thought_
  • Baby comfy nose nasal aspirator (seems kind of gross, but works very well)
  • Soothie pacifier (never too young!)
  • Baby poop, eat and sleep log
  • White Noise App (specifically “pouring rain”) 

Things I never thought I would use:

  • Formula
  • Pacifier
  • Baby poop, eat, and sleep log
  • Pharmacy bought gas reliever AKA gripe water- easy to make your own without fructose, but who has time?!
  • White Noise App

There is No Such Thing as an Un-Natural Birth

I had a C-Section.  From the moment I found out I was having identical twin girls the possibility of a C-Section loomed large in any and all discussions about delivery day.  I also had one of the most un-New Agey pregnancies you can imagine.  I had sonograms every two weeks until 28 weeks to check for twin to twin transfusion syndrome.  I had 2 amnios – one for each fetus – and a third shot full of blue dye to make sure they weren’t pulling fluid from the same sac twice.  That Maternal Fetal practice was my second home for 37 weeks.  And never once did I feel like all that medical care distanced me from the experience of pregnancy, or intervened in the “natural” process of gestation.  As a data geek I actually loved having the inside look at my developing babies, charting their progress and having the documentation.  But, there were plenty of forces out there telling me that everything I was doing, that my doctors were recommending, was somehow unnatural at best, and plain out misogynistic and corrupt at worst.

I started writing this a few days ago, as I sat and waited while my sister was in the midst of a long, painful, drawn out labor delivering her first child.  My sister threw herself into creating the perfect circumstances under which to give birth “naturally.”  She fought her insurance company – and won – for the right to have a midwife instead of an OB/GYN.  She did hypno-birthing, acupuncture, massaged places you’d rather not ever have to massage, bought flameless candles for the delivery room, and basically focused for 9 months on making sure that the delivery day would be exactly the way she envisioned it – with minimal medical intervention.  And, boy did I hope it would go that way for her.  But, anyone who has been through the process knows that anything can happen once labor begins.

The problem is that an entire industry has cropped up telling women that the pain and complications are mostly in our heads; that with enough focus and determination – and not giving in to the evil “business” of birthing – we can attain the beautiful, connected birth experience women are meant to have.   This movement that was meant to empower women to feel more in charge and less scared of the birth process has now become one more source of pressure and judgement on women at their most vulnerable.  When I was in my 36th week of my twin pregnancy my girls were in two very different positions.  Baby A was head down ready to go.  Baby B was transverse, stretching under my ribs, and she was bigger than Baby A.  My really wonderful doctor said to me, “Well, we could try to deliver Baby A vaginally and then try to turn Baby B, but chances are you’ll end up having both  - vaginal and C-Section.”  He tried to say this matter-of-factly, but I immediately blurted out, “BOTH? Are you nuts?”  He looked so relieved and the nurse laughed.  So, scheduled C-Section it was.

And yet, still, even after my multiples childbirth class where C-Section was a major topic, a part of me felt like I was copping out.  That I was somehow not getting the full birthing experience, that my babies wouldn’t be properly prepped for the world, by having a C-Section – scheduled no less.  When my water broke at 37 weeks, 3 days before my scheduled date, I took a taxi to the hospital, met my husband there, went right in to the doctor’s office, was then whisked into the pre-op room,  and then hung out for 6 hours reading and watching TV until they decided enough time had passed since I had last eaten that they could now do the C-Section.  20 minutes later my girls were born.  Healthy, adorable, and raring to go.   I never regretted that decision, I actually often thought to myself that 90 years ago both I and Baby B would most likely have died during the birth, but I also have to admit that I still thought that I didn’t have the “full” experience somehow.

My sister’s 30-hour, excruciating marathon labor ended in a C-Section – and a beautiful, healthy baby girl.  My sister was literally in shock.  She said she felt like she was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress afterwards.  And, she was disappointed.  She couldn’t shake that somehow it was her fault she didn’t have the delivery she had planned for – that she came to the hospital too early, that somehow her “mental” state changed and caused her body to slow down the labor, that the pain soared because suddenly she was too anxious.  Of course, none of this is true.  And it made me angry.  My sister was wiped out, cut off, and sad.  The exact opposite of everything the “natural” birth movement is supposed to encourage.

The actual birth?  That’s a blip, and as far as I’m concerned, if they gave out medals for that sort of thing, my sister would have won the Iron Woman prize three times over.  The fact that women are now made to feel guilty and less-than because they couldn’t have this idealized, magic, essence of womanhood moment is infuriating to me.  We should stop condemning the “business” of birthing, and start thinking about supporting women through birthing – no matter what.  C-Sections and epidurals are not a sign of failure, nor an evil plot by doctors.  In the end, you have to do what is necessary for the health of mom and baby, because that is the ultimate goal – a healthy mom and baby.

I have friends who delivered “naturally,” friends who trained for months with the Bradley method, friends whose babies were crowning by the time they reached the hospital, and friends who ended up with emergency C-Sections, more than once (because they were convinced that they should try VBAC and have the experience they had missed out on the first time).  Guess what?  In the end, they all, thankfully had a baby arrive in the world – and then had to start the really hard part – being a mom.

This is what makes me angriest of all about my sister being disappointed in herself and trying to replay what she did “wrong.”  She is now a mom.  A mom who made sure for 9 months that she ate healthy food, took her prenatal vitamins, avoided alcohol, caffeine and pesticides – and then carried that baby 10 days past her due date!  She had already put in the first foundation of caring for her baby and considering its needs over her own.  She should be proud that she brought this healthy, sweet baby into the world, that she already tried her best to give her baby a solid start to life.

And she will be a great mom.  As she gets her mojo back, physically heals, gets some distance from the actual birth day, and settles in at home I know she will feel connected and more present.  In the meantime, she will realize that her birthing experience taught her the first important lessons of motherhood:

It’s a long, long journey full of things she won’t be able to control.

Things won’t go exactly as planned.

There’s plenty of guilt and judgement to go around.

Confidence in your choices is key.

And never feel bad for admitting you need help, need to change course, or need a little something to help get you through.

So, maybe, in the end, she got exactly what she needed out of that harrowing birth experience – candles, tubs and hypnotherapy be damned.

It’s Takes a Village (or a List Serve) to Raise a Kid in this City

free-stuff-4

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger and teaching artist Jess Levey.  This series publishes almost every Monday on Beccarama.

Well, we are getting VERY close now, just a month or so to go. And, although I have had to endure waves of anxiety due to financial stress and fears (and sleepless nights and sciatica!), I remind myself often about how freaking exciting this all is! The baby is moving like mad, especially at night, and I am connecting with him/her more and more. Later this week we will be getting another sonogram just to ensure that baby is head down, and I am so psyched to have the opportunity to see what he/she looks like these days! Surprisingly, another factor contributing to my excitement is my new membership in the neighborhood parent Yahoo! Groups. I have joined 4 of them, my favorite being the one from our own neighborhood, and then three from the surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods. Every list serve is full of parents happy to offer support and hand me downs. It is truly incredible.

So far, we have received 140 Seventh Generation diapers ($20), beautiful crib bumpers, a mattress pad, and a brand new mini crib mattress (all free), A slightly used breast pump with brand new tubing and accessories ($60), and an amazing Maxi Cosi infant car seat ($40), which I had been wishing I could afford to buy after seeing it at the Biggest Baby Shower.  Of course, every day there is more and more offered for free or very cheap, but I need to hold back, at least until after my own shower this weekend, after we have our baby and find out if I need bags of boys clothes or bags of girls clothes (usually around $10).  Aside from all the stuff, the support is incredible. There are mom groups forming each month (hoping dads groups too!) and people constantly offering their advice about anything from how to navigate the daunting NYC school system to how to get your baby to sleep through the night. And, since people also use these list serves to offer their services, I have booked two private photography teaching gigs (moms needs to learn how to use those cameras!), and my husband has booked two family portraits gigs.

It’s amazing to me that after two weeks of heart heavy anxiety over the coming baby and our finances, I just needed to reach out to our immediate community to help ease my mind. Knowing that there are hundreds of people surrounding us with such a generous and open spirit is both comforting and encouraging and I can’t wait to give back to them (but I guess it will have to wait until after baby #2!). I am curious if other cities and/or suburban areas around the country utilize these helpful list serves?? Please let me know. If not, I sure do hope that this post motivates you to start your own!

I just received an email from a mom who said it all so perfectly, this is what she wrote:

I just wanted to make a public statement of thanks to everyone that I’ve interacted with since joining the listserv this summer. Our family was able to acquire/purchase most everything we needed from other caring parents. Nearly everything we purchased or obtained was in excellent condition. Pricing was always fair or even free! Our interactions ranged from polite to instant friendship. I am grateful to the group at large for making so many of the needed items available. If you recognize my name, consider this a special thanks to you. May you be blessed with long life, good health, and easy-to-raise children.

I know we are all in the spirit of giving, but I have a feeling this is how it works all year. With that I wish you all an amazing holiday season full of support and love!

 

It Only Takes One Mom…

You may have heard about the ONE Moms campaign that had a group of mom bloggers traveling to Africa to connect mom to mom with women across the world.  The campaign is all about raising awareness and ultimately driving action to help women and children in poverty get access to healthcare, education and to raise the standard of living.  I was very fortunate to be asked to be part of the campaign back here in NYC.  Many of us gathered on what was probably the hottest day of the summer to film this PSA.  The ONE Moms team was amazing and I’m really proud of the work they are doing.  Check out the PSA and get involved by clicking here.

On October 25th ONE will host an online Day of Advocacy on October 25 to ask for a broader focus on global HIV/AIDS.  I will update this post as soon as I know the page where moms can automatically update their Twitter feed to tweet a message at the White House or update their facebook status.

The Phrase That Makes Me Cringe – And it Includes the Word “Mom”

super mom cartoonA few months back I wrote a post called Mommy Blogger is Not a Dirty Word about the term “mommy blogger” being derisive but needing to claim it in order to take the power back to the moms.  I had a huge response from that post both here, in real life and on Twitter.  Mostly women want to be recognized beyond the label of Mom and Mommy and as the writers, bloggers and savvy business women they are.  For brands and PR companies however they find the label useful because what they are after is the mom consumer demographic and what makes sense more than using mom bloggers to speak to real life moms?  That’s fine.  I get it.  What I can’t stand however is PR or Marketing people, or talk show hosts for that matter, trying to win me over and show me empathy by saying the most patronizing phrase in the world, “Being a mom is the hardest job in the world.”    YUCK.

This is the topic I’m harping on this week on our Blogging Angels podcast.  But it goes even deeper than the condesension we talk about on the show.  What bothers me most of all is that sure some days being a mom is hard, some days it downright sucks, and some days it’s really not that difficult at all but the thing is I don’t need someone nodding their head at me and trying to sell me on something by paying lip service to work of motherhood.  What they’re trying to say of course is “I get you.”  When all I want to ask them is “Really, what about it makes it the hardest job in the world?  Is it because I don’t own your shiny new set of appliances?  Or your fabulous floor cleaner?”

Here’s why being a mom is hard:  You aren’t paid, you aren’t appreciated most of the time, you never know if you’re actually doing a good job, it can be physically and mentally exhausting especially in the beginning, your time is never your own again and it never, ever ends.  OK.  Some new iphone app or laundry detergent isn’t going to change any of that.  And you know what?  Women have been mothers forever.  Some people are good at it and some people suck at it but there it is. In the end it has an intangible reward that cannot be quantified.  I don’t need an outside person hyping it, promoting it or using it as a come-on – or god forbid a tagline.

You want to have a real discussion about motherhood being the hardest job in the world? Put away your swag and coupons and  show me healthcare, childcare, public education, universal Pre-K and after school on the topic agenda.  Then we’ll talk about how much you understand that being a mom is the hardest job in the world.  Until then, retire that tired empty phrase and talk to me like the businesswoman you need me to be to work with you and your brand.

Top Ten Parenting Truths of 2010 (learned the hard way)

  1. If your child is a raging maniac for no reason chances are they will wake up in the middle of the night vomiting with 103 degree fever.
  2. Always put a bowl next to your child’s bed if they say their stomach hurts before bedtime.
  3. The first 6 weeks of school are always terrible.  It will get better.
  4. The last 4 weeks of school are always terrible.  Deal with it.
  5. Sleep-away camp is good for kids and even better for your marriage.
  6. Parenting is all about follow through – make good on promises and consequences or you will lose all credibility.
  7. Don’t rush your kid.  There’s plenty of time to see plays and movies and read books that they aren’t quite ready to emotionally process yet.  Just because something has music in it doesn’t mean it’s kid-friendly.  Glee is not a kid’s show.
  8. Don’t underestimate your kid.  Sometimes a child is ready for something new. Don’t let your own fears keep them back.  Unless it’s horseback riding.  Or swimming in the ocean.  Yeah, I’m still working on this one.
  9. Breathing is your friend.  (especially near said horses and ocean)
  10. Put down the phone.  Turn off the screens.   And listen.

I am gearing up for the lessons of 2011.  How about you?

This is an original Beccarama.com post – it also appears at Yahoo! Shine on the Yahoo! Motherboard section.

Parental Involvement in Schools – How Thomas Friedman Missed the Point

This past week Thomas Friedman wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times, U.S.G and P.T.A, about parental involvement making a difference in student achievement.  When I first read the article I yawned.  Tell me something I don’t know.  Kids do better when parents are involved?  Of course.  Kids do better when parents lay down boundaries, set expectations and create study spaces and structure?  Obviously.  None of this is new or interesting to me.  I’m not sure what his point was other than to say American parents have become lazy while first generation parents are way more effective at encouraging and pushing their children to excel.  Again – snore.  What was actually interesting to me in this article was how off the mark and off point it really was when trying to talk about the role of the P.T.A.

As Co-President of the Parents Association of my daughters’ large NYC public elementary school I have seen the benefits and limits of parental participation.  As budget cuts have slashed every cent of our school budget down to the very core – teachers and staff only – parents have had to pick up the slack to pay for everything from paper and supplies to substitute teachers to professional development for teachers.  Our parents are in our school everyday – helping in classrooms, overseeing a new healthy school lunch program, raising money, coordinating assemblies, dealing with overcrowding and rezoning issues – the extent of the involvement goes way beyond the normal into areas that used be covered by actual Department of Education employees but now have to be done purely by volunteers.  Yet, with all of this involvement the one thing Thomas Friedman harps on is perhaps the hardest to achieve – the extension of the school into the home rather than the other way around – and this cannot fully lie at the feet of parents.

Parents can only be as effective as a school lets them be.  A parent cannot help with homework if they themselves do not understand it.  Parents cannot help a child reach academic goals if those goals have not been clearly defined by administration and teachers.  Parents cannot be the regulators of technology in the home unless they have a thorough understanding of how that technology needs to be used for classwork vs. fun.  All of these aspects of helping a child succeed take some teaching from school to parent.  If schools truly want a partnership with parents then they have to be willing to put in the time and thought to let parents know what is expected of them, and the tools to make it happen.

Yes, there has to be some parental responsibility.  I am constantly working and talking with other bloggers about social media and technology in our children’s lives.  I often find myself repeating the same mantra, “Parenting doesn’t stop at the screen.”  So no your kids shouldn’t have their cellphones near them when they work at home, and there are endless ways to track your child’s online activity.  But, in my mind, while parents need to be pushing their kids to excel academically they also need to do something bigger – VOTE.  Vote for candidates that actually have a plan for education, not just charter school mania and Race To the Top.  Show up – at parent teacher conferences, at PTA meetings, at community board meetings – and make your voice heard.

Hold people accountable.  Your kids are a good place to start but don’t stop there. Hold administration and teachers accountable for providing clear and consistent academic goals and curriculum information (we’re still working on this at our school).  And hold yourself accountable for providing a space where your child can do their work, for making it clear that you expect your child to do their best, and to impart to your kids that school is important and that learning is something that never ends.   But, most of all, hold your elected officials accountable for funding schools properly, for giving teachers professional development funding instead of just putting all the money into evaluation systems and for giving our kids and parents the resources to learn at school and at home.

That’s the true power of PTAs – banding parents together to create a deafening voice that cannot be ignored.  Thomas Friedman may be sounding the bell of laziness and apathy (which is ironic since every other day we are told there is an epidemic of helicopter parents) but everyday I see the tremendous efforts of parents to enrich our school, thank and encourage our teachers and make public officials take schools seriously.  I don’t think we need the Education Secretary to tell parents how to get involved, I think we need the Education Secretary to look at successful PTAs and learn from us instead.

Mombloggers Heeding the Call

I’ve had an overwhelming response from mombloggers in real life, on twitter and here on my blog to my Momblogger is Not a Dirty Word post.  It’s been incredibly gratifying to hear from all of these writers and bloggers who are also funny, dedicated and hard working moms.  But, one of my favorite things to come out of that post was this cool MommyBlogger button created by Truthful Mommy.  You can head on over to her blog, The Truth About Motherhood and grab the button for yourself so you can tell the world that you are proud, damn it!

Undercover Mother – My Secret Life As A Crime Fighting Mom on the Street

Last week when the media world was all aflutter with Steven Slater the Jet Blue flight attendant and his incredibly brash and dramatic exit down the emergency slide, beer in hand and profanities flying, everyone wondered if all civility and decency had finally been lost in air travel.   But, this past Monday, according to news reports,  a Southwest flight attendant scooped up a 13-month old baby after watching its mother slap it repeatedly on the face and body.  Now the debate goes on about whether or not she was allowed to do this (legally the answer is no) but I couldn’t help wonder what were the other passengers doing just sitting there?  And what would I have done?

Twice in my life I have reported nannies I have seen abusing a child.  Admittedly reporting a nanny is lot easier than reporting a parent.  There is after all a parent you can call.  A nanny is an employee who can be fired.  But you’d be surprised how many parents don’t want to hear it or refuse to believe it.  I was always tentative about reporting the abuse or neglect I saw on the playground or around the neighborhood until one of my WOHM friends fired her nanny for things I had known all along (not outright abuse, but total neglect of the child on the playground).  When I told her that I had seen those things but felt awkward telling her because she wasn’t a good friend yet and I wasn’t sure how she would respond she told me to please, please tell her if I ever saw anything.  But there I was afraid of appearing like a” sanctimommy” – as if I was going to be the bitchy Stay-at-Home-Mom telling the Working Mom that her nanny was terrible and somehow that would be construed as me judging her for having a nanny in the first place.  But, after my friend (who went on to become one of my close friends) told me that she wanted to know, was so relieved when she heard feedback from people who saw her children during the day, I decided that I would never again stay silent if I saw abuse going on.

The first nanny I reported was in charge of a girl in one of my daughters’ afterschool classes.  The first week in the changing room I heard her call the little girl “stupid” and berating her for moving too slow.  I kind of chalked it up to her having a bad day.  We have all unfortunately been there at wit’s end and I thought I’d give her the benefit of the doubt.  The second week was the same.  The third week I was late and she was escorting the child to class as my daughters and I hustled into the changing room.  We sort of nodded to each other in acknowledgement as we passed.  Another woman saw that exchange and rushed up to me.  She asked me if I knew the sitter and if I knew the parents.  I said I didn’t that we only had this class together.  She shook her head and said, “I have never, ever heard someone talk to a child like that.  I wish I knew her mother.”  Well, that did it.  When a stranger comes up to me confirming everything I had thought too I knew I needed to act.  Long story short, I reported it to the director of the program who forwarded the info to the mother.  After a few emails back and forth where the mother expressed her total and utter disbelief and I just told her simply what I had seen and heard and the other woman as well I thought that was that.  But, two weeks later the nanny was still there with the little girl.  On her best behavior and certainly with a paranoid demeanor, but they had obviously kept her on.  It was really disheartening.

The second time I reported a nanny took a little more sleuthing.  This child’s nanny had grabbed him by the hair, out of nowhere, and thrown him to the ground right outside our playground.  There were a group of nanny friends and their kids with her and as she proceeded to yank the boy up by his ear and curse at him all of her friends pointed out that a group of moms were around watching her.  Well this sent her off the deep end and she started cursing at us too ending with “They don’t know who the f*ck I am what are they going to do about it?”  Well, that was like challenging me to a duel.  After finding out from the child on the sly at the playground what school he went to I emailed the principal of the school.  She immediately got back to me.  I described the child and the nanny as best I could, she sent me a picture to confirm.  Thankfully this nanny was fired and the principal told me the parents were very, very grateful.  Although the saddest part of this was that when I confirmed which child it was the principal said, “I’m not surprised.”  Really.

So, those are my two stories.  There are hundreds of them at I Saw Your Nanny, a website where people can report nanny abuse and even submit a cellphone pic when there is just no way for you to figure out who the parents are.  And please, I am not a nanny basher.  I have friends with incredible nannies – women who are the most kind-hearted, generous people you’ll ever know.  And when I used to work with nannies at a former job I heard all kinds of boss horror stories.  I know. The Nanny Diaries didn’t begin to tell the real or right story.  But, this is not about that.  This post is just to say don’t feel helpless when you see a child in need.  It might take a few extra steps or couple of hours of your time but is there anything more worth it?

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The Sex Talk? There’s No App For That

its so amazing book“Mommy, what happens if you’re pregnant and you don’t want to keep the baby?” This is the question my seven year-old daughter asked me first thing on a Monday morning a few weeks ago.  It took me a minute to rouse my brain and get my head around what she was asking while the sun was barely rising and the morning routine had yet to begin.  I wiped the sleep out of my eyes and I told her that you would give the baby up for adoption.  They have quite a few adopted friends so I figured that would be a satisfactory answer.  My daughter squinted her eyes at me and said very slowly, “What else could you do?”  At this point I realized she had heard or read something and I had to veer in the much more tenuous direction.  “Well,” I said,”There is a medical procedure called an abortion and a doctor has to perform it and it’s not a choice any woman wants to have to make but it’s important that she has the choice to make it.”  I held my breath and waited to see where the next question would go.  “You said you had to be a grown up to have a baby but then why does Sarah Palin’s daughter have a baby and she is only 15?”

At this point I realized the time had come for a real sex talk.  No more platitudes about falling in love, getting married and poof! having a baby.   Up until that Monday morning my daughters’ questions had always centered around how the baby comes out.  And aside from my then 4-year-old daughter loudly broadcasting to a morning busload of passengers that she did not want to be cut open but wanted the baby to come out her vagina we hadn’t really run into any sex specific questioning about the mechanics of the whole thing.  So, I told my daughters (both of them were hanging on my every word at this point) that I would buy a book while they were at school that day that would explain everything and we would read it together after school.

Luckily for me I knew exactly the book I wanted to buy.  Continue reading