Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, a very happy birthday to our resident mom of 7 tjb! (Her birthday is tomorrow.) You are an inspiration to all of us here at MotherTalkers. Thank you for shedding your light and wisdom!

There were elections last night. And as of 10 p.m. PT, Rick Santorum had crushed and swept Mitt Romney in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, according to results at our brother site Daily Kos. Ouch for Romney.

Speaking of sanctimonious Rick, there are a few reproductive justice articles I want to highlight. The first one is this hilarious story at Jezebel about a pro-choice Democrat in Oklahoma amending a personhood bill to include protections for semen ejaculated anywhere outside a woman’s vagina. Needless to say, it failed as this would mean no masturbating, no wet dreaming or oral sex for men without being charged with harming an unborn child.

The office of Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) was called out for posting a satirical Onion story on Planned Parenthood as real news. The story, which was clearly fake, was about Planned Parenthood building an $8 billion “abortionplex” complete with coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater— “features intended not only to help clients relax, but to foster a sense of community and make abortion more of a social event.” The article was taken down — after a screen shot of it was featured on Literally Unbelievable. ROFLMAO!

And in a glaring example of the giant disconnect between Catholic church leadership and parishioners on the ground, a poll found that U.S. Catholics are more supportive (58%) than the general public (55%) of having employers provide health insurance plans that offer birth control at no cost. This story was all over the place yesterday, including Daily Kos.

Marriage equality wins (again) in California! Here is a story on it at the Los Angeles Times.  

Speaking of family values, the Washington Post ran a powerful story on how African American women are more likely than other demographics to care for extended family in spite of great economic hardship. This reminded me of a story some years back about how African Americans were more likely to care for their parents in old age, and not likely to get any inheritance. Unfortunately, their generosity is punished in our backwards-ass economic system.

This article is in Spanish, but too fun not to share. Jeannette Kaplun over at TodoBebé wrote her top 10 favorite things to do at Disney World in Florida. She considered dining with the various characters, taking a ride on the Monorail, and riding on the Pirates of the Caribbean to be highlights. Disney World is so huge and crowded that it can be overwhelming. What are your and your children’s favorite things to do there?

I hate to end on a sad note, but I must mention that Susan Niebur, the 39-year-old mother who publicly and gracefully battled breast cancer, which she documented on her blog Toddler Planet, passed away on Monday. Here is a wonderful Washington Post story on her.

I remember seeing Susan at the Blogalicious conference back in October. She was wheeled in where, despite her physical state, she gave a rousing testimonial about battling cancer with six-year-old and four-year-old sons. She was a public advocate for more research to cure cancer.

Seriously. When are we gong to find a cure for this awful disease? May Susan’s family find solace after such a terrible loss.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Who Is Most Affected by Cuts to Planned Parenthood

Finally, someone in the traditional media mentioned the people who will most be affected by cuts to Planned Parenthood’s budget: low-income women. From The Monitor of Texas:

McALLEN — Jamie Henry, 24, is enrolled at South Texas College, has two children and gets by on government assistance and a $540 disability check her husband, a veteran of the Marines and National Guard, receives every month.

Henry, who gave birth to a baby girl four months ago and does not want any more children in the near future, is the type of woman Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County is fighting to protect from an onslaught of legislative attempts to cut basic family planning services at the state and federal level.

“I have a 7-year-old boy and a 4-month-old girl, and I probably would have had 10 kids in between that if I didn’t come here and get my (contraceptive) shot,“ Henry said Tuesday morning as she waited for her appointment at Planned Parenthood’s McAllen clinic.

The association sees about 23,000 patients a year throughout its 10 centers in Hidalgo County, with the exception of one center in Rio Grande City, said CEO Patricio C. Gonzales. If the proposed cuts are approved, eight of every 10 women who visit the centers would be cut off from services, which most can’t afford for lack of private insurance, he added.

Sometimes I feel like we have to go back to our roots and teach ourselves what we teach our own children: put yourself in other people’s shoes. Just because you have health insurance, doesn’t mean that other people do. Just because you have food to eat, doesn’t mean that other people do. Just because you can feed, clothe and educate your own children, doesn’t mean that other people can. Argh!


CDC birth control guidelines could reduce breastfeeding

cross-posted at Bleeding Heartland

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine warns that recently updated “birth control guidelines released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could undermine mothers who want to breastfeed,” I learned from the ByMomsForMoms blog, sponsored by Lansinoh.

From the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s news release:

“The new guidelines ignore basic facts about how breastfeeding works,” says Dr. Gerald Calnen, President of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM). “Mothers start making milk due to the natural fall in progesterone after birth. An injection of artificial progesterone could completely derail this process.”

The CDC report, “U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use, 2010,” released in the May 28 issue of Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), contains important changes in what constitutes acceptable contraceptive use by breastfeeding women. The criteria advise that by 1 month postpartum the benefits of progesterone contraception (in the form of progestin-only pills, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DPMA) injection, or implants), as well as the use of combined (progestin-estrogen) oral contraceptives outweigh the risk of reducing breastfeeding rates. Previously, progesterone birth control was not recommended for nursing mothers until at least 6 weeks after giving birth, and combined hormonal methods were not recommended before 6 months.

Based on clinical experience, breastfeeding support providers report a negative impact on breastfeeding when contraceptive methods are introduced too early. One preliminary study demonstrated dramatically lower breastfeeding rates at 6 months among mothers who underwent early insertion of progesterone-containing IUDs, compared with breastfeeding rates of mothers who underwent insertion at 6-8 weeks postpartum.

I have met women whose milk supply collapsed after they received a progesterone shot. One acquaintance had successfully nursed previous babies and was never informed by her health care provider that a birth control shot could impede her ability to produce enough milk for her infant.

It’s illogical for the CDC to give its blessing to early postpartum use of hormonal birth control when the federal government has supposedly been trying to promote breastfeeding for more than a decade. Earlier this year, the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity set a goal of having half of U.S. babies breastfed for at least nine months by 2015, and recommended a number of specific policies to help reach that goal. But breastfeeding without a full milk supply is quite difficult no matter how educated the mother is or how supportive her environment. I hope the CDC will revise its guidelines and recommend non-hormonal forms of birth control for women in the early months of breastfeeding.


Saturday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

This upcoming week is our last week of school. My friend Amy and I got together and planned our boys’ summers together. For the most part, they will be with our nanny and Eli going to the park and hanging out at home. But they will also go a few weeks to Berkeley day camp and a science camp for another week. At the end of the summer, my kids and I will go see my folks in New Hampshire. What do you have planned this summer?

Momologie ran a timely story on what to give teachers as going away presents.

McDonald’s recalled about 12 million Shrek drinking glasses because federal regulators found that they contained the toxic metal cadmium, according to the Chicago Breaking News Center.

The Associated Press had a worrisome story on how more teenagers are using the rhythm method for birth control than in 2002, and about three-quarters of teens think it is okay for unmarried girls to have babies.

The Wall Street Journal wrote about the nightmare that is tackling the “system,” er the insurance companies, when you have cancer.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced a program in which its workers can receive college credit for their in-store training and get a tuition discount toward a college degree at American Public University, an online school, according to the Associated Press.

Hybrid Mom ran good food for thought in “Working Moms Share 25 Hard-Earned Lessons.”

The National Spelling Bee competition is underway, according to USA Today.

As I mentioned last week, we have fish, and I feel like I am reading fish stories everywhere I turn. The most recent one? As it turns out, less attractive male fish have better sperm quality, according to a study covered by BBC News.

The New York Times ran a trend story about people refusing to pay their mortgages, and the banks are unable to kick them out due to lawsuits and a backlog of foreclosures.

Men with average bodies are just as appealing to women as men with six-packs, according to an Australian study covered by The Times of India.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


The Male Pill

For years, women have had the control over their bodies and birth control. If your life wasn’t ready to accommodate a child, you did what you needed to do in order to not end up with an unplanned pregnancy.

We have the pill, which just celebrated it’s 50th birthday. The birth control implant, the birth control patch, the birth control vaginal ring, the birth control shot, the birth control sponge, the cervical cap, the diaphragm, the condom, the female condom, the IUD, spermacide, and morning after pill.

Men have condoms – and some men won’t wear one unless you make him! But it looks like men may soon have a new choice when it comes to different methods of birth control.  

For the first time, a safe, effective and reversible hormonal male contraceptive appears to be within reach. Several formulations are expected to become commercially available within the near future. Men may soon have the options of a daily pill to be taken orally, a patch or gel to be applied to the skin, an injection given every three months or an implant placed under the skin every 12 months, according to Seattle researchers.

Wow! Decisions, decisions…what’s a man to choose?

According to the article, the side effects appear to be similar to those experienced by some women, including a little weight gain, headaches, acne and night sweats.

I think a male birth control pill is great, but would I trust a man to take their pill everyday? Probably not. I need to have control over my body and if that means being the one to take the pill everyday, so be it.

What do you think about the male birth control pill? Would it be something you would be interested in? Would you trust your man to remember to take his pill everyday?


Thursday Open Thread

I’m home! I returned from my business trip to New York on Monday. I must say that the week I was gone was the LONGEST and TOUGHEST week for me. Was it the extremely long hours? I don’t know. Was it the stressful environment? I’m not sure. But more often than not I found myself crying as I walked to my hotel room. I missed my kids. I missed my house. I missed LA!

I tried to figure out why my trip to New York was so hard for me, and it wasn’t until I pulled out my calendar that I came up with the possible reason. Let me see, 26, 27…28. Yup. I was pre-menstrual. Now, I don’t typically get emotional before my period, but that was the only thing that could explain how tough it was. Do you suffer from PMS? Are your symptoms physical, or are they more emotional? What do you do to alleviate your symptoms?

Now, on the positive side, AIDS Walk New York was a huge success! We managed to raise $5.7 million dollars! And, although I don’t know much about the politics of New York, I sure was tickled to meet, converse and take a picture with Governor Paterson.

I tell you, it was so hard to to keep a straight face after seeing Fred Armisen imitate him so well on Saturday Night Live!

All in all, New York was a success and I did manage to unwind the last night I was there…with one too many shots of tequila.  ðŸ˜‰  But I am sure happy to be home.

What’s going on with you?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The recession is having an impact even on Wal-Mart. According to MSN Money, foot traffic at U.S. stores fell slightly as customers grappled with unemployment and less money to make purchases.

Attention Bay Area moms: a Chilean friend of mine — our Poppygirl’s husband — just created a website to help Chileans in the aftermath of the earthquake. It is a place for people in the Bay Area to host events to help the people of Chile.  

Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog doled out tips on how to save money on maternity clothes. Where did you buy or acquire your maternity wardrobe?

US News & World Report ran a profile of a mother and sociologist who doled out these two tips to increase parents’ happiness: eat dinner together as a family and change your morning routine to avoid conflict.

As our Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids pointed out, the Senate and House will be holding hearings to possibly reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which regulates the introduction of new or already existing chemicals. The law has not been updated since 1976.

In case you missed it, D.C. now allows same-sex marriage, according to CNN.

In disappointing news: the Catholic Archdiocese in Denver just barred the child of lesbian parents from attending a Catholic school, according to Pam’s House Blend blog. I was heartened to read of the many Catholic protesters on the ground in Denver and Boulder condemning this decision, which was clearly motivated by prejudice. After all, the church is not expelling the students whose parents have fornicated, been divorced, practiced birth control, committed adultery — all which go against church teachings, too. I pray the progressive Catholics on the ground keep the heat on Father Bill and the archdiocese.

In somewhat related news: the moms over at Mamapedia recently doled out tips on how to get your 6-year-old to sit still in church, or at least “enrich” the experience for her. Of course, many of the moms said there is no way to get a 6-year-old to sit through a sermon. What do you think?

Also, did any of you catch movie critic Roger Ebert on the Oprah Winfrey Show last week? My husband and I were in awe at how technology has evolved to help him sound like himself. Ebert had his thyroid, salivary glands and jaw removed due to cancer four years ago. He hasn’t been able to speak without the aid of a computer. A company in Scotland developed a program that helps him speak — and sound — like his old self. Amazing.

Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, earned a $116.3 million in its opening weekend — a record for a movie in 3-D, according to the Associated Press. Will you watch it?

Hybrid Mom magazine had a video trailer of the upcoming movie Motherhood, starring Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver, that made me smile.  

What else is in the news? What’s up with you


Friday Open Thread

Do you know everything you need to know about your preferred method of birth control? I came across this article that outlines seven things you have got to know about birth control. My preferred method of birth control are condoms – and prayer. How did you decide on what birth control to use? Did you try many different kinds before settling on your current method?

Speaking of birth control, I came across another article in Jezebel that talks about “baby condoms.” Yes, you heard that right, baby condoms. The Swiss government introduced an extra-small condom after learning, via a recent study, that boys between the ages of 12-14 have sex without protection. The baby condom is called “the Hotshot.”

For all the Tiger Woods’ out there, a California start-up company has launched a new iphone application called TigerText. The object of this application is to instantly delete outgoing text messages. Seriously? If you feel a need to check your partner’s cell phone for evidence of his texting another woman, don’t you think you would also check to see if this application was in your partners phone? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Finally, I wanted to talk about exercise. I’m a 40 year old woman who DOES NOT care for exercise. But what I do LOVE to do is STRETCH. I also really enjoy Yoga. But, I never thought about sharing this activity with my children. But according to an article I came across, Yoga is actually good for your kids. Yoga helps with concentration, focus, and it makes your child feel good about themselves. If you don’t have a Yoga studio that promotes a “mommy and me” class, then you can try it at home with a new DVD called Tot Yoga, ($20, What do you think? Is this something you would be interested in? What type of exercise do you enjoy doing?

Of course, this is an open thread and you are free to discuss whatever you wish. What else is going on?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Last night, I attended a discussion with local mommy bloggers and Planned Parenthood. We discussed — what else? — healthcare reform. Not only does PP support a public option in healthcare reform, but it would like to be part of any healthcare exchange. Contrary to what its vitriolic opponents say, only 2 to 3 percent of its services are abortion, said PP spokeswoman Deborah Ortiz. The grand majority of its work is primary care, prenatal care and support services like the program they offer teenaged moms.

Sadly, PP clinics are seeing an uptick of people who are using them as their primary care physician because they have lost their jobs or their hours have been cut and they no longer have health insurance. The typical Planned Parenthood patient — 45 percent — is a Latina who simply wants to see a doctor. PP cares for people regardless of immigrant status.

This conversation was sparked when someone asked what percentage of PP’s services were abortion. Many of us in the room chuckled. “You were my free healthcare when I had no insurance,” I shared. It’s true. When I was a college student in Boston, PP was where I went for free pap smears and $10 birth control pills. Honestly, outside of public protests, I have never associated them with abortion. They are located in many low-income areas and are often the only health clinics for uninsured and underinsured people, including men and children.

That said, they are not thrilled with the anti-abortion rhetoric in the healthcare debate. But it is good to have them on our side and I hope last night’s discussion helps spread the word on what they are really good at: Giving healthcare to people regardless of ability to pay.

What else is on my mind?

In case you missed it, Jon Gosselin has been dropped from TLC’s show Jon & Kate Plus 8, which will be renamed to Kate Plus 8, according to People magazine.

Like I said, I have been catching up on my magazine reading. The August edition of Parents magazine had a blurb about how rare it is for children to have multiple food allergies and that their doctor may be incorrectly reading test results:

Blood tests measure levels of IgE antibodies, which indicate a potential allergy. “Many children who aren’t allergic still have some antibodies to certain foods,” says Parents advisor Hugh Sampson, M.D., director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City. There is some crossover between certain allergenic foods like soy, lentils, green peas, chick peas, and peanuts, so if your child tests positive for one, there may be low levels of antibodies for another even though he’s not actually allergic.

Bottom line: If you are unsure, check in with a specialist.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Late-Night Liberty: Birth Control Edition

A friend and I recently discussed this New York Times story about a study actually showing that pulling out before ejaculation is almost as effective as condoms in preventing pregnancy. From the Times:

So reproductive experts were taken aback by a paper in the June issue of Contraception magazine. Based on an analysis of studies, the paper pronounced withdrawal “almost as effective as the male condom — at least when it comes to pregnancy prevention.“

“If the male partner withdraws before ejaculation every time a couple has vaginal intercourse, about 4 percent of couples will become pregnant over the course of a year,“ the authors write.

For condoms, used optimally, the rate is about 2 percent. But more significant, the authors say, are the rates for “typical use,“ because people can’t be expected to use any contraception method perfectly every time. Typical use of withdrawal leads to pregnancy 18 percent of the time, they write; for typical use of condoms 17 percent of the time.

(There are other, more effective methods. Failure rates for the pill and the patch are about 8 percent; for Depo-Provera injections, about 3 percent; and for diaphragms, about 16 percent. Intrauterine devices fail less than 1 percent of the time.)

The lead author, Rachel K. Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health matters, said she and her co-authors were motivated to write the paper because it seemed to them the pullout method was getting short shrift.

My friend was concerned that women would encounter assholish guys who would not want to put on condoms because of this research.

I was surprised by the findings, although I also wondered how common this form of birth control is. My confession for the day: In college when my husband and I were shacking up, I got an earful from Planned Parenthood and friends for “pulling out.” It was only a few times and I got on the pill fairly quickly, thanks to Planned Parenthood. But, still, surely I was not the only woman who had ever done this.

What do you think of this research? Should the Times have published it?