Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Party isn’t Over: There are Plenty of Things You Can Do When You’re Pregnant.


WE HAVE MOVED TO MSMOM.ME!  Please click onto our new site or follow us on our Facebook page.

When I first learned I was pregnant, I began reading all the things that were potentially unsafe during pregnancy. With every book and website, I began to feel like there was nothing I could do but drink bottled water and lay in bed for nine months. I had a list of things I couldn’t do – eat sushi, drink alcohol or even have a hotdog at a baseball game. As an active person, my future cast seemed pretty dismal for the next nine months; I felt like I couldn’t participate in my own lifestyle.

I was terrified of contracting listeria, a bacteria that is found in some contaminated foods that can be harmful to the baby, including raw cheeses and cold cuts. The danger of contracting listeria during pregnancy was circulated on just about every website I read for expectant moms. I was sincerely convinced that listeria was going to strike my baby down at any moment. And, let me be clear – I am not a hypochondriac. You’re reading this from author who used to believe that Excedrin Migraine and Robitussin were the easiest cures for just about everything in the world.

Further, I began to think of all the allegedly harmful things that I had done before I knew I was pregnant, such as highlighting my hair, carrying heavy items, drinking caffeine-filled lattes and even having a glass of wine on a few occasions at dinner. I was convinced I had harmed my baby without even knowing it. It was a devastating feeling.

When I went for my first ultrasound, I expected a dragon to appear on the screen. Yet, despite all of the potentially “harmful” things I had done in the first eight weeks, I saw a perfect vision of a healthy, bouncing baby. The idea of a healthy baby had not even occurred to me after I had inadvertently mismanaged my whole first trimester, according to the so-called experts.

After realizing that the “pregnancy experts” weren’t biblical figures, I decided to do something long overdue – I became the “expert” of my own pregnancy. I threw out all of my pregnancy books, called my doctor if I had a question about what is safe for the baby and made a list of all the things I could do while pregnant. Feel free to use my list. And, if you were an “expert” of your own pregnancy, add all of the fabulous things that you found to be safe during your pregnancy to my list.

TRAVEL. Recently, I was reading Leslie Carter’s blog , a mother who chronicles her adventures and travels throughout the world. Let me just say – this woman is awesome and we all could learn a lesson or two about living life to the fullest from her endeavors. And, I did. I scheduled my first trip as a pregnant woman thanks to Leslie Carter’s inspirational site.

After checking airline regulations, I learned there simply was nothing preventing me from traveling in the second trimester in an uncomplicated pregnancy. Some of you may be dreaming of a beach vacation right now. I dreamed of seeing my favorite race horse try to win his next race in Louisiana. Unconventional, yes. But, is it empowering to be able to fly to Louisiana for a less-than-two-minute race and cheer your buddy on at the finish line? You bet.

For my fellow pregnant travelers, the airlines generally follow a basic rule: Traveling is allowed up to 36 weeks and you should bring a note from your doctor verifying that it is safe for you to travel. However, every airline has different rules. Before you check your bags, check with your airline and your doctor. And, don’t be shy – opt for a private search at security. Although some TSA research suggests body scans are safe, there is also research that suggests the radiation has a risk of harmful effects during pregnancy.

INDULGE IN A DECENT CUP OF COFFEE. Many pregnant women have heard that caffeine can have a negative impact on their pregnancy. After checking with my doctor, I kicked the decaf and took a different approach: Moderation. Research studies have indicated that moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy do not tend to pose health consequences to the mother or baby. Some sources safely recommend up to two cups or 200 ml a day, while other research has suggested that up to three cups of coffee is perfectly fine. So, if your doctor gives you the green light on moderate levels of caffeine, go ahead and grab a small latte! It may even help alleviate headaches during your pregnancy.

SEX AND INTIMACY. Unless if your doctor advises otherwise, research indicates that sexual intercourse is perfectly safe for the baby. Many couples are afraid that sex may harm the baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Your developing baby is protected by the amniotic fluid in your uterus, as well as the strong muscles of the uterus itself. Sexual activity won’t affect your baby.” So, if the mood strikes you, go for it. There is no use in denying yourself sexual pleasure just because you’re pregnant – intimacy with your partner is part of the experience.

PRENATAL PAMPERING. Yes, you’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t indulge in hot tubs or saunas while pregnant. However, this doesn’t mean the spa is off-limits completely. Many sources suggest that a prenatal massage or facial are perfectly fine while pregnant. However, before you book the appointment, make sure the professional knows you are pregnant and only uses pregnancy-safe products. And then, relax mama. Everyone needs a little pampering every now and then.

HIGHLIGHTING YOUR HAIR. It has been said that “a woman’s hair is her glory.” Yet, many women are advised to refrain from highlighting and color treatments during one of the most “glorious” times in their life – pregnancy. Although research suggests that color should not be applied to the scalp, there are plenty of sources that say it is safe to color or highlight if the stylist applies color only to the hair itself. So, before you book a salon appointment, check with your doctor to ensure they believe it is a safe option. If they give their stamp of approval, feel free to start dreaming in color again.

“MIXING IT UP” ON A GIRL’S NIGHT OUT. Since I have been pregnant, I have learned a new talent – “mixology.” My girlfriends without children don’t always pick restaurants or outings that accommodate abstinence from alcohol. However, just because you are abstaining from alcohol, it doesn’t mean you have to give up a good time with your friends. Invent a few virgin cocktails of your own that don’t leave you feeling “left out” at social events. I recommend cranberry juice and Sprite, Pellegrino with a lime or asking the server for their “fun-filled virgin cocktail” options. I haven’t found a single restaurant that couldn’t dream up a creative, non-alcoholic drink yet.
For unique non-alcoholic drinks, feel free to become your own bartender as well. The internet is full of great options, such as recipes for an Amaretto Smoothie, “Angel Punch” and plenty of other creative concoctions.

FINDING A NEW TWIST ON OLD HOBBIES. Recently, my husband and I wanted to go bowling on a date night. We were genuinely confused if it was safe for me to bowl, given the restrictions on pregnant women carrying items heavier than 25 pounds. Although there appeared to be no real restriction (since I don’t use a 26 lb. bowling ball), it just didn’t seem like good common sense. So instead of the ball, we opted for a remote and played Wii bowling.
Is there some high demand for pregnant women to go bowling? I suppose not. But, the point is that being creative can lead to a compromise that doesn’t force you to completely toss the pursuits that you enjoyed prior to your pregnancy. In the end game, you are still you. There is no point in giving up your hobbies that you enjoy if you can find a simple compromise that doesn’t harm the baby.

Let’s talk!!! Send us some comments about ideas for fun or creative pursuits that are safe for pregnant women. Make a comment here or visit us on Facebook at Ms. Mom.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Quit Your Job:" A Response to Guilt Trips for Working Moms.

OUR BLOG HAS MOVED!  Please visit us at Ms. Mom to comment on this post:  http://msmom.me/2012/07/29/quit-your-job-a-response-to-guilt-tripping-working-moms/

Recently, I searched the internet for advice on a seemingly straightforward question, “How Much Maternity Leave Should I Take after the Baby?” 

In general, the responses ranged from two weeks to twelve weeks, depending on a many factors, including corporate maternity leave and the recovery time for the mother after the baby was born.

However, buried in the comment thread was a backhanded smack at working women: “You should consider a long-term option, i.e. quitting your job.

Quitting my job?  At best, that wasn’t even a real answer to the question.  I wasn’t asking if I should “leave my job.”  If I were pondering closing the longstanding small business that I had built, I certainly wouldn’t be asking an online chat board if I were making the right choice. 

At its core, this response was making a judgment about the quality of parenting between working and non-working women.  And, according to Ms. “Quit-Your-Job,” working women simply were beat in the motherhood arena by the “home team” when it came down to being a good mother. 


I know plenty of working moms that are raising insightful, smart and happy children.  Their children do not think the nanny is their “mom” or that their daycare center is their “home.”  This fear-tactic laid on working moms is not only delusional, but makes women with a career feel downright guilty for returning to work after their child is born.

As far as I am concerned, “guilt” is for criminal trials, and, unless you are a criminal attorney, “guilt” should be the last thing on your mind as a working mom.  The quality of your time with your child matters just as much, if not more, as the quantity of the time you spend with them.  I am hard-pressed to find a child that hates their mom because she has a job.

Yet, what was easy to find were statistics on women in the labor force.  According to the Department of Labor, 47 percent of women were in the work force in 2010.  I imagine that plenty of those women were mothers, raising perfectly happy children.  I also have to conclude that among the same population in the work force were women serving as daycare providers, nannies and other forms of child care givers - an industry supported in large part by working mothers.

So, in response to the idea that working women should just “quit their job,” I would like to offer a counterview.  It was not my “lifelong dream” to get an MRS. Degree- some women actually want to work and still manage to raise healthy, happy children.  I grew a business before I grew a belly.  I am proud of both achievements.

Further, for many women, working is not a choice, it is a necessity.  When the “home team” snubs their nose at working women, they are engaging in classist behavior.  Many families, especially single moms, cannot afford to stay at home.  Period.  If you can afford it in your family and choose to stay at home, go for it.  But, please don’t get on a soapbox and guilt women who do not share your economic means.  It only makes you look like an out-of-touch snob. 

And finally, working women help support this economy.  We pay taxes.  Those taxes help fund public schools.  They help pay the salaries of countless daycare workers and nannies.  And, our incomes also fund other businesses as we purchase items for our children from retailers and service providers.  There is nothing “criminal” about contributing to larger society as a mother.  At best, our contribution should be applauded rather than riddled with guilt.

Yes, some women can “quit their job” instead of take “maternity leave.”  But, “maternity leave” isn’t a swear word.   And, a little hard work never killed anyone.  As the saying goes, diamonds form under pressure.        

Saturday, July 28, 2012

We've Moved!!! Join Us on our New Site.

We've moved and changed our name to "Ms. Mom."  Please join us on our new site at http://www.msmom.me or follow us on Facebook at by joining us here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Being a mother is not a job.

by:  Pamela P.

Being a mother is not a job. Period.

You don’t have to fill out an application for employment and pass a criminal background check. You don’t list your references or go through interview processes. You most certainly don’t submit a resume for the position. You don’t have to report to a boss and punch in a time card. You don’t get performance reviews or bonuses. Hell, you don’t even get a pay check. No one monitors your emails or your internet usage and no one minds if your shirt has an orange juice stain smack dab on the front—all day long. 

I can appreciate how some people would like to put a price tag on the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking and chauffeuring the kids from practice to practice but to say it’s somehow similar to fighting in court to save someone’s life or fixing someone’s car or even selling cookies at a bakery is flatly stupid. And, what’s worse, some of these stay at home moms like to guilt trip moms like me who work outside of the home. That’s a low, unfair blow. 

If you have children, being a mother is a requirement. You do it 24/7. Whether you’re in front of the kid shoveling spoonfuls of oatmeal into her insatiable face at 10:00am or in front of a judge arguing a motion, you’re still her mother. The requirement to feed her is the same. The only difference is that you might be paying someone to do it because you can’t. But it’s all coming out of your bottom line. 

You can’t quit your ‘mothering’ job. Unless you give your kids up for adoption, you’re stuck.  There are no sick days or paid time off. You don’t have to complete required quarterly reports and you don’t have to answer for missing a deadline. What’s more, you can never just unplug or not answer a work-related email. Being a mother means always worrying about your kid. No matter what the distance between you--an earshot or a 40 minute commute--you’re a mother. It’s who you are. You don’t get a degree for it. You don’t go to school for it. You can’t be fired. It’s who you are. 

Being a mother just isn’t a job. 

I know plenty of “stay at home” moms. They run the gamut from staying at home because it’s cheaper than childcare to staying at home because hubby makes enough money to support the entire family and then some. Regardless of the reasons, if you ask some of these moms, they will say their jobs are to be “moms.” Every year the government puts out statistics on how much a stay at home mom’s salary would be if she got a paycheck. Last I checked, it was somewhere in excess of $110k. Bullshit. This $110k figure counts for nothing other than a nice tidbit to throw in your spouses’ face when he’s failed to take the trash out.

Recently, I was at a get-together where a friend was bouncing my tootsie roll on her lap. Said tootsie didn’t look pleased so I quickly tried to snap her back into my arms. The stay at home mom friend gave her back happily and said something to the effect of: ‘of course you can have her—you hardly see her anyway.’ She was being serious and legitimately concerned about this.

No shit, Sherlock. I don’t see her as much as you see your kids. That’s because I’m WORKING. I’m teaching my daughter that mommy has a career and a family and a beautiful daughter that is perfectly happy in the arrangement she’s in. And, I’m with my daughter as soon as I get home until I leave the next morning. She barely cries about anything and she’s bubbly and growing and just thriving. She could take her guilt trip crap and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. 

When my tootsie roll is old enough to go to school, I won’t be filling out job applications listing “stay at home” as the last job I had…Harsh reality, yes, but a reality nonetheless.

Sperm donors and Sitting-On-Your-Ass-Syndrome.

By: Pamela P.

I’ve discovered a new illness. It’s been plaguing my husband for at least 6 months. If your other half has it, you’ll recognize it immediately. It’s called: sitting on your ass syndrome. Its effects are deadly.

You will first begin to notice it when the words “You’re not a sperm donor. Get off your ass and help” begin to play on repeat in your head. At least for me, these words swirl around in my mind like a nice thick California cab, coating the sides of my brain and leaving a heavy mark. Except, unlike the soothing properties of a nice vintage red (yes, I know these properties well), these words are enough to make you mad. Certifiably and emotionally mad.

I start my day around 5:30am and by the time I get myself ready, pack his lunch, tidy up the house and get tootsie roll’s morning necessities in line, he begins to move around in bed—at 6:45am. We leave together at 7:15am and by this time I’ve run circles around his sleepy, groggy self. “Here, drink your coffee”—I tell him as I give him his morning fix on the way to the car. This is all for naught, of course. There’s no talking sense to him until he’s on his second meal of the day and somewhat energized by his day’s work. Swirling. It’s happening again.

Work. See, that’s what gets him going. Work. Work. Work. He loves his work. Sometimes I think he loves his work more than he loves us. That’s not true, of course, but yes, he is obsessed with work--so much so that if I don’t remind him to come home, he would stay there—indefinitely. Maybe it’s because he’s a mathematician just lost in the outer space of numbers or maybe, just maybe, he’s trying to avoid helping out around the house. Jerk. Oops, did I say that out loud?

Tootsie roll makes a large mess. So too does hubby. And the three cats. The house gets to be a war zone at times. With toys and cat litter and laundry and dinner and watering the lawn and grocery shopping and random chores, there’s a lot to do. If I stayed at home, this would easily get done. But I don’t. I have a full time job that requires my attention 24/7. This means even at home, I still may have to take a few phone calls or write an email or review a document. It’s my career. I love it. But it does take its toll. And that damn sitting on your ass syndrome doesn’t help.

When I get home, tootsie roll is on my hip and we’re off doing all sorts of gymnastics around the house. We’ve got the routine down pretty good but as with any baby, things can sour really quickly. A tummy owie, hunger, thirst, boredom, just random crankiness—everything can set our routine into a downward spiral. By the time hubby waltzes in around 7:00pm, post work-out, nonetheless, I’m barely breathing and I’ve got a good three hours ‘til tootsie roll is sleeping for good. He, of course, is energized and ready to eat. A shower later, he chirps up, “What’s for dinner?” –while chomping on some snack he’s found in the kitchen. That “what’s for dinner” is usually heard from his throne—the couch. By 7:30pm, his feet are up and the paper’s in front of him, crumbs on the paper and carpet from his snack. Around this time, I’m asking myself, why did I get married?  This is when the syndrome is at its worst and I’m ready to just pull the plug. I’ve heard denying feeding usually helps speed up the process….

I’m not sure if there’s a wiring problem up there or what but something’s gotta give. Somewhere out there, there has to be hope that he’ll get home a bit early and take care of a few things before my blood pressure starts boiling. Maybe I’ll just leave him a note: Listen, (*insert explicative*), you’re not eating until you at least take the trash out and scoop the cat litter. Period.

If anyone has any other ideas on how to eradicate this syndrome, I will pay you.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Your Brilliant Advice for Mom Friends: Put it in the Vault

Any new mom is filled with fear that SOMETHING is going to be wrong with her child.  Anything.  We spend hours wondering what milestones are appropriate at each age, observing what other children are doing and stressing out that our children are deficient in some way.  If you have had a few children, your friends who are new moms will do this, and they will seek your advice for all of these fears.  Now I want to give some advice to you: shut it.  Unless your advice is: (1) my kid was even later in doing X, and is totally fine; or (2) that is TOTALLY normal and every kid does it, your advice blows.  Keep it to yourself.  Even if this kid has two heads, and you are pretty sure most kids don't have two heads at six months, don't do it.  Assume she has a pediatrician, and that it isn't you... unless, of course, it is you, and then you can go for it.

When my first child was about two, I started to have some suspicions that something about him was just weird.  He was really obsessed with particular things, chanted a lot to himself, sat awake at night making repetitive letter sounds, and walked around with a writing pad all the time, which he would use to write and erase the same stuff over and over.  It was, admittedly, unusual.  So I mentioned it to a couple of other moms.  "Hey, this is really weird, right?  I think he might have OCD or something."  I did not go to his pediatrician, because this did not conveniently pop up right before a well-baby visit and would require taking time off of work, so I did what any good mom does.  I talked to my friends and I consulted the internet.  The friends who did the right thing told me "it's totally normal."  I appreciate it, girls... and I know you were probably like "what the hell..." once I was gone.  Others told me it wasn't.  Yes, I suspected OCD.  Then one mom told me she thought he was autistic.  She has no medical degree, but to her he showed a lot of signs of it.

Well, in a state of panic, I... right, googled.  Sure enough, some of this introverted repetitiveness can be a sign of autism or things on the autism spectrum thingy.  I panicked.  Here I have been sitting ridiculing moms who were not vaccinating their kids because Jenny McCarthy thought it was a bad idea, and this is karma seeking revenge on my pompous ass.  Eventually, I made an appointment with the pediatrician.  He outright laughed at me.  He thought the question was absurd, as my precocious toddler showed no signs of autism, or OCD, for that matter.  You know what?  Two year olds are learning rapidly and trying to retain information.  Particularly bright toddlers like to repeat the stuff they are learning to themselves, especially during quiet times, like alone in their rooms. 

I am sure this mom meant no harm, and none of us do.  But moms do it all the time, myself included.  You have a few kids and you think you are some sort of expert on childrearing and child development.  Leave it to the experts.  I try to catch myself, remembering that experience, and 1) try not to panic when I see anything somewhat different in one of my kids; and 2) avoid doing the same thing to other moms.  If your mom friend expresses concern that her toddler does not walk, and your present olympian was older and did not walk, share.  She will be thrilled to hear it.  If you never saw a kid that age who did not walk and you are sure he has polio, keep it in the vault.  Tell her to talk to the doctor if she is concerned, but young Johnny seems totally normal to you.  If young Johnny turns out to have some issues, support her.  Until then, keep your unconstructive diagnoses to yourself.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Extreme Parenting: Enough Already

When I was pregnant with my son five years ago, I first heard about "attachment parenting." Apparently, AP moms (as they call themselves) have decided it is a lifestyle to keep your baby in a wrap or sling and spend as much time together as close as is humanly possible. I am sure I am oversimplifying this, but the idea is that physical closeness brings emotional bonding. Okay, not a foreign concept.

Recently, a friend of mine told me about "free range parenting." This is where your kid plays freely while you watch, fostering independence. Again, I am very loosely summarizing the mission of this group, but that is the general idea I get. So now I sit here, and excuse my teenage text speak, but I can't help but say "W...T...F..."

Why? Do we adult women carry that teenage need to belong and the young adult desire to stand for something into parenting? Why do we need to define ourselves like this? How about this approach- moderation? How about just being a mom? When my toddler is teething and crying and wants to be consoled, I hold her close. It is natural. I did not read it on a website for attachment parenting. When my children want to explore and play, I foster it. I watch and encourage and ask and answer questions ad nauseum. Not a novel idea. Why do I have to choose one of these approaches? And why do we grown women have such a need to belong?

Yep. I can be reasonably green. I am not going to cloth diaper. Good for you if you want to. I conserve water and recycle. There is a middle ground between pureeing organic kale and feeding your kids McDonalds. My preschooler loves Easy Mac and is underweight and picky. Shoot me. He eats organic bananas and carrots. He also eats a chocolate chip cookie every day. Pick your battles.

And, really... is "everything in moderation" dead? It never will be to me. My four year old does not drink pop, but he also does not exclusively drink organic milk or breastmilk. He has regular old 2% from the store, juice now and then, and juice boxes at parties or when we have guests. I am a firm believer in the fact that extremes turn people off. Your attachment parenting makes me want to set your kid free. Your free range parenting makes me want to cuddle your kid for you. How about getting off the internet (which would seem rather difficult anyway with your organic moby wrap) and just doing whatever it seems your kid wants you to do? It is pretty easy when you focus on your individual kid.