Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Lately our Dana over at Mombian has published some great stories on the state of adoption by gay parents. I was especially blown away by the fact that gay parents are more common in the south than anywhere else in the United States.

Our Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids reviewed a book about raising children in the age of environmental guilt. She also doled out 7 practical tips on how to enhance your child’s school performance. Katy is a teacher and has written a book about teachers, by the way.

Blogging mommas are on fire this week. Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog had a couple good columns about the importance of not neglecting your marriage. She mentioned the importance of not-so-little things like thanking your mate for taking out the trash.

In related news, Carolyn Hax had the same to thing to say in a similar conversation. This is how she summed it up: “marriage + kids + work + housework = love-killing drudgery. I think you are dooming your marriage if you’re trying to have the kids and careers and the nice/clean house without setting aside any energy for or making a priority of your marriage and family life.”

In the same chat, Hax doled out advice to a single woman wondering whether she should adopt even though she has no partner.

Here is one trial I will be following: that of former Minutemen and anti-immigrant crusader Shawna Forde. According to the The Village Voice blog, Forde is accused of shooting 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father in a faux raid for drugs and money. Of course, there were no drugs and money, and sadly, this case has been underreported in the news.

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

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Every night this week at 8 ET, Discovery Health is airing a program related to parenthood. Tonight’s episode is about postpartum depression.

Excuse me for being kind of star-struck. But Dave Cullen of Columbine-writing fame contacted me to thank me for the mention of his book in a recent open thread. (I know, I am a nerd.) Anyways, the expanded paperback version of Columbine is being launched this week. I will definitely read!

Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog had a tongue in cheek column on the “10 surprises when recovering from labor and delivery.”

The Federal Trade Commission is circulating a video to show consumers how to file a complaint if they suspect they have been scammed.

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

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Traveling Without Kids

I cracked up when I read Expecting Words blogger Laurie Puhn’s description of her first trip away from her toddler boy, Blake. This is me to a T:

Apparently, I need to take a vacation from my brain.  For the first day of my trip, I just wouldn’t stop the movie reel: what if our plane crashes?  What if Blake desperately cries for me for hours?  What if they put him in the warmer pajamas but the heat is turned too high and Blake overheats in the middle of the night?  What if they forget to read him “Goodnight Moon“ at bedtime?

What if I shouldn’t have left my baby?

Of course, Puhn had a fabulous time in Cancun. I, too, have never had any problems arise from leaving my children with family members or friends to go on a trip with my husband — despite all my incessant worrying. I think back to my childhood when my parents would put me and my sister Nidia — we were respectively 7 and 6-years-old — on a plane by ourselves to spend three months of the summer up north with our grandparents. To this day, my childhood summer vacations are some of my best memories. Also, I had an incredibly close relationship with my grandparents who I affectionately called Mamá and Papá.

Have you traveled without your kids? How old were they? How did you stop the “movie reel” of worst-case scenarios from playing in your head?

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Sunday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I am recovering from a book club meeting I hosted last night. After years of attending one with former co-workers in San Francisco, another mom at Ari’s school and I started a trashy one at home. We read books like the Twilight series and Alisa Valdes’s Make Him Look Good — it’s such guilty pleasure that I should not even announce it in public — and play games wee into the night.

Last night we weren’t up too late, 9:30 p.m., playing Liverpool Rummy, but the kids were begging to go home. But hey, moms have to have fun, too! What do you do for fun?

In other news: I spotted this article by Laurie Puhn over the Expecting Words blog about overprotective husbands during pregnancy. These guys monitor everything their wives eat and drink. Thankfully, my husband is my polar opposite in this regard. I am the worrier and he is the mellow one, which has helped throughout pregnancy and the trenches of parenthood. While I want to rush my kids to the emergency room for every fall and illness, he is the one that makes me pause and admit things aren’t that bad. Are you or your spouse worriers?

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

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Fathers and Postpartum Depression

New York Times columnist Richard Friedman wrote about postpartum depression — in men.

Up to 80 percent of women experience minor sadness — the so-called baby blues — after giving birth, and about 10 percent plummet into severe postpartum depression. But it turns out that men can also have postpartum depression, and its effects can be every bit as disruptive — not just on the father but on mother and child.

We don’t know the exact prevalence of male postpartum depression; studies have used different methods and diagnostic criteria. Dr. Paul G. Ramchandani, a psychiatrist at the University of Oxford in England who did a study based on 26,000 parents, reported in The Lancet in 2005 that 4 percent of fathers had clinically significant depressive symptoms within eight weeks of the birth of their children. But one thing is clear: It isn’t something most people, including physicians, have ever heard of.

Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog chimed in on why she isn’t surprised by Friedman’s findings. Men’s worlds are every bit as turned upside down as women’s when baby comes. Yet, they are not allowed to grieve over this drastic change.

Did the father of your children experience the baby blues?

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Late-Night Liberty: Best Parenting Advice Edition

Most recently, Laurie Puhn at the Expecting Words blog doled out wise and kind advice on how (not) to dole out advice to a couple facing infertility. Here is a piece of that column:

In response to my blog post Behind Closed Doors: Trying to Conceive, one woman who had decided not to have any children, commented that as a stepmom, she watches her stepdaughters struggle with infertility. She wrote, “I know most of you are going to hate to hear me say this but I honestly believe stressing out about it and ‘trying too hard’ really does make it harder… I know [people] who had been trying for years and then gave up and as soon as they ’stopped trying’ because they were going to start the adoption process or even adopted a child then suddenly became pregnant.“

This stepmom asked, “Is there anything I can say to comfort [my stepdaughters]? Is there anything anyone has said to [anyone trying] that wasn’t insensitive?“

Here’s my answer (and I hope my readers will share suggestions too). First and foremost, if you are not in your stepdaughter’s inner circle as a trusted confident, then there is really no reason to involve yourself in this particular dilemma above all others. However, if she expresses sadness or frustration to you about her struggle trying to conceive, or if you are in her inner circle, then and only then can you say anything about her situation.

The best choice of words would be, “I wish I knew what to say to help make you feel better.“ Unless you’ve been in her shoes, there’s no need to give specific advice about taking vitamins, exercising, changing her diet, taking a vacation, taking a break from trying, etc. You can be sure that she has studied every possible way to improve her chances of getting pregnant and there is no way you’ve spent even a quarter of that time looking into this issue.

The step mother’s comment got me thinking of all the bad — more like useless — advice I have received as a parent like don’t let your kid watch TV. (Um, who is going to watch them?) Or, nap with the kids! (Again, what if your kids are like mine and don’t like to sleep?) Or, don’t let them eat any junk food. (Whatever!)

But then I started thinking of the good advice people have offered me and thought I would make this a feel-good thread instead. Because of Puhn’s excellent points, I try not to ask couples I do not know well whether they will have children or have “another one.”

I try to help a frazzled mother, rather than criticize. The worst parenting advice I have received is the critical, unsolicited kind. I would have probably been more receptive to the messenger if I had received a helping hand.

More concrete advice that worked for me was seeing a lactation consultant when I got mastitis while nursing Eli. Actually, I wish I had taken a parenting and lactation course before I had my kids as there was so much I did not know, like, how unintuitive nursing was (for me) and remembering to burp the baby after a feeding. I did find the boppy pillow helpful, but would never have my newborn baby in cloth diapers no matter how enviro-friendly they are. (I have no idea how I survived Ari’s first year of life!)

What is the best parenting advice you have received?

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Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

President Obama is quietly lobbying members of the Senate to include a public option in any final healthcare proposal, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Women-owned businesses generate $3 trillion in revenue and employ 16 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to the Washington Post.

Also in the Washington Post: The D.C. school district laid off more than 200 teachers on Friday and dealt with the abrupt loss of its 300 security guards when the company went under. Yikes.

Anne Fitten Glenn — aka “Edgy Mama” — wrote a story on how regular consumption of beer actually helps with bone density. Seriously, there is a study on it. Cheers!

Edgy Mama is on a roll. She also wrote a fascinating article on the evolving term “soccer mom.”

Expecting Words blogger Laurie Puhn wrote about mean, judgmental moms like the ones who send Dooce’s Heather Armstrong hate mail.

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

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Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Ari lost his second tooth yesterday. The first tooth was lost at a restaurant in New Hampshire. This second tooth I am at a loss as to what to do with it. The ratoncito — the rat — already left him a dollar under his pillow. Now I want to throw the tooth away — as I do everything else. But feel like I should keep it as a memento. What do you think? What do you do with your children’s baby teeth?

Mamasource ran a thread on how to deal with mean teenaged girls.

From the Expecting Words blog: A dad wrote about the 5 things he wished someone had told him before becoming a father.

I am off to volunteer at Ari’s school. Every Tuesday, I help his English teacher by reading to groups of three or four kids and helping them finish the activity after the story. Ari and I love this time together.

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

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New Model to Predict Postpartum Depression

Spanish researchers just found and developed a model to predict which mothers are most at risk for postpartum depression.

From Science Daily:

The experts studied data on 1,397 Spanish women who gave birth between December 2003 and October 2004 in seven hospitals in Spain, and devised various models that can predict — with an 80% success rate — which mothers run the risk of developing depression during the first weeks after giving birth….

The researchers used artificial neuronal networks and extracted a series of risk factors highlighted in previous studies — the extent of social support for the mother, prior psychiatric problems in the family, emotional changes during the birth, neuroticism and polymorphisms in the serotonin transport gene (genes with high levels of expression lead to an increased risk of developing the illness).

They also discovered two protection factors that reduce the risk of depression — age (the older the woman the lower her chance of depression), and whether or not a woman has worked during pregnancy (which reduces the risk). The researcher points out that: “it can be seen that these factors are relevant in the neuronal networks, but not by using other statistical methods.” The path is now clear for future studies to corroborate these findings.

I spotted this piece of news in the Expecting Words blog.

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Late-Night Liberty: Best Expectant Moments Edition

This one is for Erika.

Reading this piece by Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog, brought back so many memories of when I was pregnant with Ari.

In “What’s Your First Best Pregnancy Moment?”, Puhn talked about the impending anxiety and then joy upon seeing a live embryo at her first ultrasound. As someone who miscarried twice, I too, was relieved to see that pulsating embryo and eventually somersaulting fetus.

But for me, the “aha!” moment was when the baby first moved. Initially, it felt like a little tickle. Then it happened repeatedly like fish nibbling on bait. That’s when it dawned on me that it was the baby kicking. I could not contain myself, telling everyone about it from my husband to my co-workers. Because I had had a miscarriage, I tried to keep my pregnancy under wraps. But feeling the baby made it more real for me.

Eventually, I would grow anxious when I did not feel the baby move. But those kicks always brought me reassurance — and joy.

What about you? What were your best expectant moments? Of course, this is an open thread so talk about you want!

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