31 October 2008

oh the random cruelty

of getting older...
In spin class today there was a special Halloween music mix (and 7, 10 & 12 minute hills, but I digress)

Why is is that I can't put two words together sometimes, but I know every single word to "The Devil Went Down To Georgia"? Why?

I heart Jon Stewart

So the show was fab! It started off a bit rocky when I realized I'd left my wallet at home (and driven with no license)...you are supposed to have ID to get in! I grabbed my AAA card & insurance card out of my car. We considered various stories...I'm a New Yorker & don't drive (but have a AAA card & car insurance?), wallet stolen (fake tears), use someone's old license she happened to have...ugh. Lots of good conversations about adventures with fake IDs in our youth.
I had gone once before, but this time we had VIP tickets, thanks to my pal Carrie, who won them at a charity event. We stood in a long line at first, but then realized that the VIP section was behind just a couple of other folks. Well, VIPs apparently don't have to show ID! Whew.
We waited for a long while, so eventually nature called (that and the repeated warning that you will not be let out of your seat). Wouldn't you know that Jon Stewart & company understands the way to the hearts & minds of women...multiple ladies rooms, one co-ed & one just for men! Word to ya motha, Jon!
We had front row seats. The warm up guy was really, really funny. But I was distracted by my mission...Lisa Duggan, who publishes The MotherHood had asked me to try to get a copy (since it's the politics issue) to Jon (I think I can call him just Jon now). I asked a producer to pass it along, but he said to just give it to Jon when he came out before the show started. Really?! But sure enough, he came out & asked for questions - there were two (one asking if Sarah Palin would be a guest - he said she had not actually returned calls inviting her - go figure!). He called on me...and our encounter went like this:

Jon: yes - do you have a question?
me: not a question - I have something for you
Jon: Wow - that's sort of awkward, 'cause I didn't actually get you anything (laughs)
me: that's OK
Jon: So what is it?
me: it's a magazine called The MotherHood and it has a funny political cartoon on the cover we thought you would appreciate!
Jon: Did you draw it?
me: Um, no but I wrote an article inside...
Jon: well, then I guess I'll look forward to reading it? (shaking head no & miming an "I'm never going to read this" look)
me: Jon - it's from NJ like you
Jon: actually I was born in NYC (audience boos) What's wrong with NYC? (meaning, "What - am I being mean?") OK - give it to (bla bla) [producer comes & takes] Thanks!

The show was very funny & we laughed & smiled so much that my cheeks hurt. Good times!

pictures: Carrie, me, & Jennifer (giver of the old ID) - note that I'm clutching white envelope containing magazine!

30 October 2008

play on words

Yikes. From HuffPo:
...Ice sculpture entitled "Main Street Meltdown," in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. The sculpture, which is the work of artists Nora Ligano and Marshall Reese, made it's debut on the 79th anniversary of Black Tuesday, the stock market crash that caused the Great Depression.


I'm off to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart today...VIP tickets, baby! Hoping to deliver a copy of the new issue of The MotherHood, hot off the presses today...the God & Politics issue! In it is my column, DoulaMomma, Speaking Truth To Power (scroll down, but not without reading the incredible Because I Said So column by Helena Holgersson-Shorter entitled, Barack: The Great "What Are You?" Hope...it's fantastic, truly.)
The publisher, Lisa, will label the envelope containing the magazine, "Born in NJ, just like you, Jon!"...
Hard copies can be found here.

Should be a fun show...man how I love Jon Stewart!

meet the new Bill - more like the old Bill

a rousing speech in which Bill mentions infant mortality rates sucking in comparison to how much we spend on health care (about minute 7:01 on the counter)

29 October 2008

beware - candy hazard

Certain candies that may be given out at Halloween have been found to have been made with the chemical, melamine, that is responsible for deaths of Chinese children recently...read on.

and so on and so on

heard on NPR

Rosa sat so Martin could walk.
Martin walked so Barack could run.
Barack is running so our children can fly.

up with people

It's easy to feel discouraged. The news is full of some pretty bad stuff. But there are also bright spots, like the story of the woman who stood crying at the foreclosure sale of her own home and met a kind stranger who saw that she could help and did, just like that. She bought the crying woman's house and is renting it back to her at what she can afford. How wonderful for the foreclosed home owner to being given a chance to stay in her home and equally wonderful for the woman who found a way to make a huge, tangible difference in someone's life. I know there will be cynics about this story, but it seems like kindness, pure & simple, to me.

28 October 2008


Words can't express how worried I am about voter suppression and tampering. It's one thing for a candidate to lose fair & square, but quite another for a country to feel that an election was stolen from them. There are many people, myself among them (big surprise!), who feel that that happened in 2000. It took a long while for some of us to get back to a place of feeling that they could make a difference.
This election has been so incredible in terms of grass roots efforts and voter involvement. I have spent a great deal of time at calling parties and Obama campaign HQ just calling volunteers to mobilize other volunteers...and all the while more people were walking in and asking to be put to work. People are desperate for lawn signs or stickers.
People want a piece of history, yes...but I also think they want to truly believe that they have a stake in the future of our country.
Stories of rigged machines, people being told by the GOP that the election is actually Novemeber 5th and all sorts of potential butterfly ballots for 2008 are surfacing.
I pray that my candidate wins, but more than anything, I pray that whomever wins, the results are beyond reproach. I fear for our country if fraud is discovered.

Obama love

'Cause who doesn't love a man who is natural with children...he just seems comfortable...

27 October 2008

my sisters' keeper

When a coyote is giving birth, all the other females circle around her and howl so that predators can't pick out the vulnerable birthing mother. It's for the good of the pack.

I learned from someone today that since she is close to 40, has only sons and will likely not have daughters (who might someday want or need an abortion), she no longer really cares about reproductive rights. This after being very pro-choice when she was younger & was protective of the option for herself.

Wow. Just wow.

I appreciate the candor. And I just can't understand that mindset at all. The chances of *me* needing public assistance are quite slim (here's hoping!), but that doesn't mean I don't think it's of vital importance. My children do not need ESL education, but it's still crucial. I also have no daughters, but that doesn't mean that I won't fight for safe & legal abortion (as much as it would be a very hard decision for me, personally, and one I thankfully have never had to make, which is SO not the point).

And what about our sons - they may be the partner in an unwanted pregnancy some day. Or a friend's daughter...

Think of it from a public policy perspective, if nothing else - the good of the whole - just like those coyotes.

Further: "Sixty one percent of women who have abortions are already mothers. Eighty-four percent of these women will be mothers by the time they are in forties"

If I were to let my anger get the best of me, I might just inquire about whether this person (someone I know enough to say hello - she seems nice) might be interested in removing her head from her nether regions long enough to take a look around and see that she is not the only person on the planet...but I'm keeping my anger in check and just saying wow.

26 October 2008

Change My World

The Agape Children's Chior
"Change My World" is a non-partisan effort to remind voters that while children may not be able to vote in this election, they still have a voice. They depend on us to do what is right for them, not just for today, but for tomorrow as well...

mini-me not required

Recently there has been some discussion on a local message board in my town that Republican children (can children already be Republicans?) have been feeling uncomfortable with the overwhelmingly Democratic vibe at schools. OK - not cool. But I know also that I have had to do damage control when my kids have come home with some crazy misunderstandings - like when a local (Republican) family discussed with my children how Saddam planned to blow up America so we had to go to war. That was certainly a teachable moment.

When I was growing up, my recollection is that my dad didn't believe in revealing political affiliation. I assumed it was because he was conservative (being a proud former-Marine and all) - he would play devil's advocate a lot with me. We discussed the news, I was expected to read the paper, and much to my dismay, NPR played throughout our house on an intercom (along with Paul "Good Day" Harvey). In looking back, I think my dad was pretty moderate, though he has evolved into a raging liberal, as has my mom, and he actually carries his ACLU card just so that he can call himself a "card carrying liberal". But as a kid I was encouraged to pick my own candidate. I still remember feeling disbelief that my best school friend in forth grade, Corky Dodge, could be for Ford instead of Carter. Somehow I identified as a Democrat early on even without a firm pronouncement from my parents.

I don't provide a non-biased household - my kids know who I'm voting for and ride around in a car bearing a sticker and magnets that tell the world. They live in a house sporting a few signs. They get taken to voting booths with us. And yes, NPR is on a lot. But if anything, I wish my kids cared a bit more - they are not super interested in politics at this point. Perhaps if the candidates were skate boarders...

Hopefully many of us, as parents, do go out of our way to encourage our children NOT to simply adopt our political views and certainly not be disrespectful. I recall 4 years ago, we then lived on a main street that was heavily traveled by high school kids and general traffic & our Kerry/Edwards sign was knocked down a few times...we picked it back up. When we found our next door neighbor's Bush sign on the ground, in the busy street, we picked it up for them. My oldest son, only 6 or 7 then, asked why we should since it's for the guys "we" don't like & I got to have a nice teachable moment. I got to tell him that having signs for different candidates next door to each other and supporting our neighbor's ability to express his view is one of the very good things about America, and it's also just better karma. I got to tell him that the sign was mine - it could be his too, but it didn't have to be. He also wanted to be George Bush for Halloween at some point & we had a talk about how, given his intentions/reasoning, this was disrespectful & inappropriate (at least for us).

I think it's important for kids to think for themselves, as annoying as it feels sometimes! I have one son, 7, who is extremely interested in the military right now. This scares the hell out of me, being the mother of three sons. But I buy him the books he asks for while I also write letters of complaint to the local theaters for playing military propaganda music videos during preview time at movies rated appropriate for kids and as I build their conscientious objector files just in case they want or need them.

When my oldest had to do a report on why he was supporting a candidate, he looked at the candidate's websites. But yes, he wrote about Obama. And yes, if my youngest wants to make me smile and laugh, he sings the Obama chant* he made up. I believe we can let our kids know what we believe in without making them feel they MUST have the same beliefs. But I also understand that kids want to please us, at least when they are little. And I know that it takes effort and restraint to make sure to use those teachable moments when they present themselves.

For more on kids & politics, check out a recent Nick News/Linda Ellerbee story, Kids Pick The President, on kids working for the candidate of their choice...these kids (though especially the kids for Obama, IMO) were thoughtful, fair-minded and respectful. The Obama piece was filmed in my town. These kids for Obama are as amazing in person as they appear in the program.

* O
(repeat) (often!)

25 October 2008

is it just me?

Or does it seem completely inappropriate to show an almost 3 minute National Guard/Kid Rock/Dale Earnhardt, Jr. music video/ad (aggrandising being a soldier) to a captive audience at a PG movie that kids could go to (even though the movie should have been R in my opinion)? Especially when said movie is about a drug experiment gone awry, causing soldiers to become crazy-aggressive but invincible or go nuts?

The song, by the way, is called Warrior...here's the video. You can watch it over and over online while you "contact a recruiter" or give your personal information so that you can "talk to a warrior".

I complained to the kid manager & got the head manager's contact info. I'll also be complaining to Clearview Cinema. So what do you think - am I overreacting?

evidence based maternity care

Recently I posted on the new study, the Milbank Report: Evidence Based Maternity Care, sponsored by the Milbank Memorial Fund, and authored by Carol Sakala, of the amazing Childbirth Connection. It's wonderful work and well worth reading. A free hard copy can be obtained from Milbank & a PDF download from Childbirth Connection.

Yesterday there was a program on WBAI radio discussing the report. The show, Health Styles with Diana Mason (a nurse), featured Carol Sakala & is a terrific interview conversation about the report findings. You can go here to take a listen (be prepared to move past lots of jazz music - it's the first half of the show)

24 October 2008

No on 8

Today I'm letting someone else do the posting - it's on why anyone, same sex or otherwise, who wants to marry should legally be able to do so.

23 October 2008

Waiting for Nov. 4th

Want a good laugh? (and are an Obama supporter...): check out Larry David's piece on Huffington Post

sheep & wool photos

22 October 2008

don't be that person

Funny video from MoveOn.org


I love this view, by Time Magazine photojournalist Callie Shell, of Obama on the campaign trail. I read that
Four years ago Time photographer Callie Shell met Barack Obama backstage when she was covering presidential candidate John Kerry. She sent her editor more photographs of Obama than Kerry. When asked why, she said, "I do not know. I just have a feeling about him. I think he will be important down the road." Her first photo essay on Obama was two and half years ago. She has stuck with him ever since.

Be sure to keep selecting "Show More Images" at the bottom of each section of photos

prenatal peace & calming

My dear friend & colleague, Jill Wodnick, has released a wonderful tool for pregnancy and birth. I put it on one night when my kids would not go to sleep and my seven year old said, "I don't even know what that lady is talking about but she's making me feel ready for sleep". And sleep he did. OK, so I know that's not the intention, but my point if that Jill's voice is incredibly soothing and she really shines in leading guided visualizations.
We are now learning so much about how stress impacts our babies prenatally - they experience what we experience. How wonderful to have a guide to show us a way of soothing ourselves and the babies in our bellies.
Additionally, Jill is donating a portion of all sales to a very worthy cause: EarthBirth, A Global Women's Health Collective.

This CD can be purchased at Jill's website or downloaded to your MP3 player - check it out!

21 October 2008

Tag - I'm it!

OK, so I've been tagged by The Trial of Labor...to play the game, I have to write six things about myself that have not yet been revealed on this blog. Because the person who tagged me revealed personal or embarrassing things about herself, I will too.

1. I feel excited to have been tagged - like I've somehow arrived in blog-land! Does that make me a loser? Maybe. I think so...
2. I write things on lists even after I have done them just so I can have the pleasure of crossing them off.
3. The world thinks I'm super organized, but I'm not. I'm not a mess, but I do have big piles of stuff that should be filed and I'm not a super great record keeper.
4. Based on #3, it should come as no surprise that I'm a procrastinator. I procrastinated writing this list for 2 days!
5. I'm a bit of a public radio snob but watch a fair amount of trash TV - well, not like daytime trash or wrestling or something, but I have my TV addictions. So much so that I try to have a rule of giving up one show before adding another. I actually like summertime so that I don't feel obliged to keep up with many shows - how lame is that?!
6. I check my email and several political sources & various blogs way too many times a day...my husband sometimes calls me "Bloggie" & resents my computer use at times. (see #4)

Now I have to tag 6 others...hmm.
I choose:
Cooler Than The Cat, We Don't Buy It, Del Pico De Gallo, Creative & Blessed, Crabmommy, and The Human Pacifier

You all should make a post referring to this post, reveal your own 6 things & tag 6 others!

bridge to somewhere

Moms helping moms VOTE!
I received an email about an excellent & inspired idea - I thought I would pass it along...
If you're interested in participating in a
cooperative playdate on Election Day,
please email me off-loop and I'll send
you an evite.
This is not an official event, but rather
my effort to empower moms to vote without
having to drag the kids along.

You can go and vote solo (no sneaking out
for a pedicure,now!) then return to my
house to help watch others'children for
one hour.
It should be fun! (a little crazy, but fun!)
Now I like to take my kids with me if possible so they can feel a part of voting and appreciate the importance. But the lines could be long, so I think it's fantastic that someone is organizing this. It really shows what one person, mom or dad, can do to make a difference...that person could be you.

20 October 2008

eleven's not too old

Last night, after a special dinner out, my big eleven year old surprised me in a lovely way. I had asked him if he wanted to read his birth story & he said yes, but then instead asked me to read it to him. He laid down with me on the bed and relaxed, with his feet on my lap while I read him the story of how he was born. I noticed that his big toes are now practically the size his feet must have been when he was born - incredible.
It was a nice moment. I know enough to treasure those times with him.

proud to be an American

I sometimes feel that patriotism is hollow, that it's blind. But seeing the crowds that gathered over the weekend at rallies - wow. 100,000 people in St. Louis and more that 75,000 in Kansas City. People are inspired and they want America to be it's best self. THIS makes me a proud American - proud of these people for getting involved.

part of the solution

*Essential information about the induction epidemic!!!*

The 2008 Petition for Preemies launched by the March of Dimes is a four-point petition which calls for hospital leaders to voluntarily review all cesarean-section births and inductions of labor that occur before 39 weeks gestation in an effort to reverse America’s rising preterm birth rate. The review is intended to ensure that all c-sections and inductions meet established American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines regarding medical necessity of elective procedures. The Petition is supported by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Business Group on Health, and more than two dozen other maternal and infant health agencies, concerned business and quality improvement organizations. In addition, the Petition calls for: expanded federal support for prematurity-related research; policymakers to improve access to health coverage for women of childbearing age and support smoking cessation programs as part of maternity care; and businesses to create workplaces that support maternal and infant health. The March of Dimes will follow up the Petition with the release of their Premature Birth Report Card, which will be released on November 12th (Prematurity Awareness Day) and will grade the nation and the state son their preterm birth rate.

To sign the Petition, go here

19 October 2008


That's how old my oldest baby is...eleven years and about three hours old as I write this. Last night I woke up in the night and thought about my labor with him. It was long and hard, hard work but I have nothing but good memories of it.

Here's what I remember:
Much of it was spent with just my husband because I had a really long early labor. We walked and walked all around our Park Slope, Brooklyn neighborhood and I would sit on people's stoops or hang on their wrought iron gates during a contraction. We met a neighbor and told her what was going on and she cried and hugged me. A couple of contractions were spent with the cigar store indian on upper Seventh Avenue while my husband went in to buy cigars (Note: the smells of a cigar store and labor do not mix - I found out the hard way).
We also labored at home for a long time with our doula, Chris. She took charge when my folks managed to get here from Nashville before the baby I was laboring with. She sent them to a late dinner & movies and explained that they could use the upstairs entrance to our apartment so as not to bother me. Having extra people around (who tried to talk to me about normal stuff) was not helpful and made the work harder.
We spend some lovely time up on our roof terrace (once we nicely asked neighbors who didn't even have roof rights to take their partying friends indoors). We walked, we rocked on a glider, I slow danced with my husband and we looked at the biggest moon. That moon had a huge bright moon doggie circle around it and I remember thinking about Spiritual Midwifery where they talk about labor making things look all psychedelic, man...it's true.
I remember getting ready to leave and catching sight of myself in the mirror - no makeup. I laughed at my pregnancy thought of putting some on so I would look good in pictures. Yeah, right - as if anyone having a baby is in the mood for mascara.
I remember my doula calling for a car service to take us to the hospital and being impressed that she asked for a car of a non-smoking driver. Too bad I couldn't get the words out to say "Don't take Bowery! It's under construction!" So it was pot holes galore and the smell of asphalt. When I thought I would be sick (I wasn't), my husband offered me his cupped hands as a receptacle and for that I love him so much. And it's why I always tell people to bring a plastic bag in the car.
It was sort of funny how we got dropped off at the wrong hospital entrance (Beth Israel in NYC, just blocks from the church where we were married) and how I started walking, carrying my pillow, to the right entrance with the car service guy driving slowly beside me, asking me to get in, worried for me. He was so kind to us.
I remember how I instantly did not click with the nurse and how I tried to lock myself in the bathroom to get away from her talking to me. I also know that I didn't have to like her because I brought my own support, so I don't think I tried very hard, but good God was the woman an annoying pain. Some people luck out with great nurses, don't get me wrong.
I remember how I got checked right away and I was 8.5 cm. I got up to walk the halls, noticing my name on the board and seeing all the obligatory Mary Cassatt prints. How some residents came up and asked me if I was the first-timer who came in at 8.5cm and was still walking. Man, I must have walked so many miles that day.
I remember some resident coming in and asking me how "we" were doing and I said, "Well, I'M in labor and YOU'RE not my doctor, so please leave".
I remember crying and saying I couldn't do it and then saying to my doctor (who was super cool), "I think I just exhibited the emotional signpost for transition - please check me". She laughed and said I was right. When I was pushing I recall being so uninhibited, something I had been concerned about. I recall a distinct memory of thinking that a red double decker bus filled with tourists with cameras (I was picturing it in the room) could be there if it would help - that was the sort of deal-making I was willing to do.
I remember my husband saying, "wow- you're so flexible" as I used the squat bar in a different way, putting my feet on it and doing some kind of (unhelpful) back bend. I said to my doctor, "Come on - there has to be SOMETHING you can do" (code, because I wouldn't mention drugs etc.) and she replied, "You don't want that and you don't need that" - bless her.
I remember seeing evil nurse uncover the instruments table and recalling from my birthing class that this means they think it's almost time...but also being dubious when they told me I was close.
I remember not wanting the mirror I had requested. But I did touch my baby's head and I was concerned because it felt like a ripe peach...where were those bones? My husband said, "it's like a paintbrush" because the baby had so much hair.
I thought I might die. Or split in two. And eventually I made peace with this and decided to go ahead, whatever the price. I surrendered and he was born.
I have such love for everyone in the room when he was born too - even that nurse, who gave me the opportunity to exert my independence, even if she didn't mean to.
He was so beautiful and he still is. I love my first boy, so much like me it's scary. I love that he still looks like his baby self even as he gets more and more grown up looking.
That's what I was thinking about last night and this morning, as I reflect back on eleven years of motherhood.

*the picture above is a year old already

18 October 2008

what I'm doing today...

I'm heading to the NY Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY! A knitter's paradise, I'm told! Good times!

17 October 2008

drop in infant mortality

Yesterday the New York Times reported a 2% decrease (in 2006 numbers, the most recent available) in infant mortality, but...
Infant deaths in the United States declined 2 percent in 2006, government researchers reported Wednesday, but the rate still remains well above that of most other industrialized countries and is one of many indicators suggesting that Americans pay more but get less from their health care system.

and here's an important part, directly linked to birth practices:
Preterm birth is a significant risk factor for infant death. From 2000 to 2005, the percentage of preterm births in the United States jumped 9 percent, to 12.7 percent of all births. The most rapid increase has been among late preterm births, or babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of gestation. Some 92 percent of these increased premature births are by Caesarean section, according to a recent study.

Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director of the March of Dimes Foundation, said that a growing number of these late preterm births might be induced for reasons of convenience. “Women have always been concerned about the last few weeks of pregnancy as being onerous,” Dr. Fleischman said, “but what we hadn’t realized before is that the risks to the babies of early induction are quite substantial.”

I wish we humans would realize our hubris & understand that just becasue we can does not always mean we should.

I also hope that people consider these factors when evaluating our healthcare system in this country - the numbers are the numbers and they clearly indicate that spending the most (twice as much, in fact) is not getting us to where we need to be.

16 October 2008

Yes We Carve

Since I'm posting from a rustic Fall weekend getaway with the girls (but with wifi!), pumpkins seemed appropriate. How cool is this? Even if you're a McCain supporter (and still reading this blog!), you have to admire the ingenuity and dag gum amazing way this campaign has been run - grass roots efforts the likes of which have never been seen before (at least not by me).
So enjoy the images at Yes We Carve...think about entering your own and showing your support this Halloween.
Thanks to reader/friend Elizabeth for turning me on to the site!