Archives for June 2008

Pregnancy Ideology and the Gloucester Pregnancy Pact

The so-called “Pregnancy Pact” at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, where 17 teenagers delighted in their positive pregnancy tests (high fives all around!), has inspired much commotion in the media lately. There is much scrutiny, debate, analysis, and blame. What you don’t hear much of, though, are two sides to the story.

Sharon Leach of the Jamaica Observer presents one interesting perspective, which is in line with the general reaction of the public to this event. She reminisces on her own teenage summers of “inchoate adolescent angst” and affirms that it was only fear that kept her and her friends (back in 1982) from becoming pregnant. Fear of her parent’s reaction, fear because she didn’t have the resources to care for a baby, fear of the repercussions that having a baby would make on her future.

“Fear, however, is what is conspicuously absent from these teen girls at Gloucester High,” states Ms. Leach. “Forget about appealing to teenagers’ paranoia in order to reduce the figures, though. I don’t know that teenagers today have that kind of moral inner compass that keeps them terrified of taking off their clothes in front of each other.”

She basically lays the blame on today’s society, where teenagers are not taught self-control and are unable to reign themselves in during their quest for sexual discovery. We live in a culture of “over-the-top consumerist excesses, lack of boundaries and general bad examples [that] we set for our children… The best a parent can hope for is for their teenagers to make responsible decisions despite the raging hormones.”

Ms. Leach reiterates the common public response, which seems to be shock and a tendency to blame not only the girls themselves, but anyone else who could have—or should have—but didn’t—rein them in.

I read with interest an article with a completely different viewpoint. Christopher Caldwell of the Financial Veiwpoint claims that the Gloucester pregnancies are “some kind of a rebellion.” He quotes the Gloucester Daily Times, who calls the idea of 15- and 16-year-old girls wanting to become pregnant “profoundly shocking,” and says that “others being ‘disappointed’, not relieved, when learning their pregnancy tests proved negative – is a notion that seems absolutely contrary to most of our psyches.”

It may be contrary to our modern ideology, Mr. Caldwell argue, but it is the most natural of things to our human psyches. “Having babies at 16 is perfectly in line with our psyches, as a look at other cultures and our own history shows.”

The Gloucester pregnancies are not about information that these girls lacked, he goes on to say. Their level of sex-education was probably adequate. Their parents may have been sufficiently open and honest with them. They knew what they were doing and it was a conscious choice. “It is a fool’s errand to try to convince a girl that bearing a child is “sad” (a word used with appalling frequency in press accounts) or to argue that last year’s hit movie Juno leads girls astray by glamorising pregnancy… Having a baby is not sad.“ In Mr. Caldwell’s opinion, these girls are rebelling against the notion that teen pregnancies are bad—an argument that they just “don’t buy.”

According to this notion, the idea that teenage motherhood is something to be avoided comes from “Baby-boom feminists” who replaced one set of priorities with another. “Their careerism prevented teen motherhood as reliably as did their mothers’ moralism… They chose careers over – or on top of – child-rearing and reaped substantial rewards. Whether those rewards are worth the risks of never having a child might be judged differently by the next generation.” He argues that in a lower-class society, where the likelihood that a woman will raise her children alone is high, a woman might as well bear children young.

“As it gets harder to climb out of the class one was born in, the opportunity cost of being a young mother falls… might not the teen years be a prudent time to become a single mother, while the financial and day-care resources of one’s own parents are still available?”

In a radical change from the norm, Mr. Caldwell doesn’t just defend the young women against blame. He almost praises them for their insight: “If the old ‘pregnancy pact’ that went by the name of marriage is no longer so readily available, they are not fools to look for a substitute.”

I don’t think I quite agree with him. I’m not sure I quite agree with Ms. Leach’s observations either. I kind of liked this post on the subject, although again there are elements that I agree with some that I don’t.

She writes: “…my reaction to the news story in Time was one of sympathy. If adults who have years of imagining themselves as parents have difficulty with the transition, I am not sure how these girls will fare when they face their own squalling infant. In turn, my sympathy also goes out to the children born to these girls…. I love my children and I am so grateful for the chance to parent. I would sign up to do this job again and again. But I’m also glad that I entered parenthood for the right reasons and my heart goes out to anyone who enters parenthood before they are truly ready.”

That point I agree with one hundred percent!

What do you think?

Infants as Punishment

The Week Daily reports on 17 students at Gloucester High School in Gloucester, Mass., who are pregnant, and none of the girls is older than 16:

“These girls screwed up and their stupidity shouldn’t be excused,” said Steve Booher in the St. Joseph, Mo., News-Press. But that doesn’t mean they should be punished by society. They’ll get punishment enough “in a few months when they have to get up at 2 a.m. to change a dirty diaper and feed a howling infant.”

I’d like to object to anyone calling a newborn infant a “punishment!” I mean, sure these girls are probably clueless about what motherhood entails. And I’m sure they won’t enjoy waking up in the middle of the night more than any other new mother. But a little baby is a precious gift and a blessing. I only  hope that these innocent children don’t grow up feeling like thier birth was a punnishment to their mothers!

Fantastic 4-Peice Maternity Wear Starter Kit

The Bumble Collection has drawn my attention to a very cool idea for the pregnant woman who doesn’t know where to begin shopping for maternity clothes. The Maggie Box is the perfect 4-piece capsule collection to get you started! This gets you a T-shirt, trousers, tank, and skirt- “all elegant, comfortable, and all in black.” Once you have these basics, building and accessorizing is easy! Add a colorful cardigan, a belt, or some jewelry, and you’re ready to go!

The Maggie Box also makes a great gift idea for your favorite pregnant woman! Who wouldn’t love having these four wardrobe staples in the most versatile color there is?

Maggie Maternity’s other collections are equally practical yet pretty, providing maternity wear options that are both simple and elegant. Happy shopping!

How much sleep does my baby need?

As a new parent, that’s probably one of your biggest questions. The chart below is copied from Baby Center, and offers some general guidelines as to how many hours of sleep the average child requires at various ages. Of course, every child is different — some need up to two hours more or less sleep than others.

Take a good look, and remember that as your baby grows, he’ll need less and less sleep! Just as you think you’ve established a reliable sleep pattern, you’ll find that your baby has grown a little older and is moving on to the next stage, which includes a little less sleep! If you find your baby is not settling down as easily as he used to at the prescribed times, you might have to space naptime a little farther apart!

Age Nighttime Sleep Daytime Sleep * Total Sleep
1 month 8 1/2 7 (3) 15 1/2
3 months 10 5 (3) 15
6 months 11 3 1/4 (2) 14 1/4
9 months 11 3 (2) 14
12 months 11 1/4 2 1/2 (2) 13 3/4
18 months 11 1/4 2 1/4 (1) 13 1/2
2 years 11 2 (1) 13
3 years 10 1/2 1 1/2 (1) 12
* number of naps in parentheses

Happy Father’s Day! Capture your feelings with a Quote!

Writing a Father’s Day card or speech? Putting together a personalized project in honor of Dad? Don’t shy away from expressing those warm feelings to your father! If you want to make him feel special, searching for just the right quote can awaken and rebuild long lost relationships. And if you are a dad yourself, take pride in all that it means to be a father!

Humorous, profound, and loving, here are some favorite quotes to get you started:

Helen Rowland:
A man’s desire for a son is usually nothing but the wish to duplicate himself in order that such a remarkable pattern may not be lost to the world.

Austin O’Malley:
The worst misfortune that can happen to an ordinary man is to have an extraordinary father.

Charles Wadworth:
By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.

Sigmund Freud:
I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.

Imelda Marcos:
I have never been a material girl. My father always told me never to love anything that cannot love you back.

Knights of Pythagoras:
A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child.

Mark Twain, Old Times on the Mississippi:
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.

Anne Sexton:
It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.

Ruth E. Renkel:
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.

Clarence B. Kelland:
My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

Looking for more? Try this!

Using pregnancy to bond with your partner

Laila Ali, 7-months pregnant with a baby boy, tells us that pregnancy is not all about the woman; it really should be a bonding time for the mother and father-to-be. Couples should take advantage of this special time, before the arrival of the little one, to enjoy each other’s company.

Although she claims to be no expert on this topic, Laila shares tips from her own pregnancy experience:

Exercize together: Working out together or just taking long walks is a good time to talk and bond with each other. Not only does it make you feel better by releasing endorphins, but exercise can also relieve many pregnancy-related complaints such as back-aches, constipation, blood flow, relieve stress and anxiety, and help you sleep better at night. It will also help you control your weight gain, thus helping you regain your pre-pregnancy body quicker after you give birth.

Massage: When your body aches all over and your feet are particularly sore, make your husband a real partner in the experience. Ok, so maybe this one is really all about you. But really, I’m sure he’s happy to do anything he can to make you more comfortable! In addition to relieving tension, especially back pain, massage has a variety of other benefits. It can improve circulation throughout the body, reduce swelling in the legs and feet, and aids relaxation. As a side benefit, you can also use this time to bond with your husband… unless you’ve already fallen asleep!

Register and Decorate: Although you might think his interest in decorating the nursery or registering for baby gifts minimal, he might enjoy being included in discussing the color scheme and picking out baby clothes (at least sometimes). After all, let’s hope he’ll be spending lots of time in baby’s room too! And if he doesn’t have an opinion about crib sheets, maybe he’d like to test-drive a few rocking chairs.

Baby-moon: Honeymoons are nice, but the newest vacation is a baby-moon. You’ll have to avoid the hot tubs and river rafting adventures, but a chance to get away together (even if you don’t go far from home) will be a memorable experience. Let’s face it, once baby arrives, your lives will be changed forever and it that couple bonding time will be much harder to orchestrate.

Name that Baby: Choosing a name for your child can be an emotional time, especially if you want to name after a loved one. If you don’t know where to start, get some baby-naming books (or search the internet) and sit down together to discuss which names you like. Use this time to relax and have fun!

Here you can watch as Laila Ali shares her favorite maternity tips for mom and dad with Maggie Rodriguez.

Laila Ali on Pregnancy

Can Stretch Marks be Prevented? Doctors say NO

We live in an age where we expect an easy cure for every beauty ailment. Frizzy hair? Acne? Bags under your eyes? Cellulite? Just get your hands on the right formula and all your problems will be a thing of the past! So when a pregnant woman walks into a drug store, what’s the first thing she searches for? Anti-stretch mark cream. And despite the shocking price tag on some of the more promising products, doctors have bad news. According to this article in the NY Times, you can blame the stretch marks on genetics and race (Caucasian women tend to get stretch marks more often than women of color). Rapid weight gain causes skin to lose its elasticity, and there’s not much you can do to prevent that.

The good news is that it’s possible to lighten stretch marks as well as reduce their size. Keeping your skin moisturized with creams and body oils will also make you feel more comfortable.

So if you’ve been wondering what the magic potion is that keeps certain celebrities (or your neighbor or girlfriend) stretch mark-free, it’s probably just that they’ve got good genes. Or they just got lucky.

Pregnancy check-ups: Stop whining and count your blessings

The Wall Street Journal has a forum called The Juggle: On choices and tradeoffs people make as they juggle work and family. In a recent post, one woman who just entered her third trimester complains about the hardships of juggling work and frequent doctor appointments (once every two weeks… is that really so frequent?). Apparently her doctor told her that these visits are probably not necessary, “but rules were rules.”

In addition to having to take off time from work in middle of the day, she has to commute for an hour to get to the doctor’s office, “hauling my pregnant self through public transit,” and coordinate schedules with her “incredibly supportive husband” who accompanies her to all her appointments. She realizes that soon she’ll be leaving work for an extended period of time and just wants to be able to “focus on my job” while she still can.

What I found interesting, though, were all the comments (47 so far). I tend to agree with those who’s sympathy levels are low for this unfortunate mom to be. I mean really, if the “excitement and anticipation of welcoming a new person into the world is building,” as she claims, then what is she kvetching about? Doctors visits are part of the program and she should try to be grateful for the care she’s receiving. She should also be glad that her husband can and does keep her company at her doctor visits. She should be happy that she’s experiencing a healthy normal pregnancy.

Here’s a sampling of what other women have to say:

…life does not revolve around work. When you got pregnant, your life already changed and you already lost the right to focus on your job first. This is what life is all about so relish these moments of anticipation that you have!

…This is when it really helps to have the doctor’s office near work… Annoying though the appointments are, it is a good thing for the health team to be able to catch any issues early.

…I go to a mixed midwife-OBGyn practice and am seen by the midwife group… the midwives don’t take call (don’t deliver babies, don’t assist on procedures, don’t do anything outside the practice) on the days they have scheduled appointments. So far, that has meant no waiting, an office that runs efficiently and professionally.

…the theme I see is essentially denial that Everything Is Going to Change. It’s understandable to feel a little desperation to preserve your professional identity. But bending over backwards is a disservice to everyone in the workplace. We need to stop apologizing for having lives… By choosing the pregnancy, you have already made the decision to alter your work availability. Own the decision, and be grateful that you’re a) fertile and b) not on bedrest.

And the most compelling reason for a woman with a natural, normal pregnancy to stop whining and get on with life:

For those of you who got pregnant naturally and now whine about how hard your juggle now is, how about juggling the following:
-dozens of appointments, many of which cannot be scheduled in advance because your body determines the timing
-injections of drugs that must be kept refrigerated
-two whole-day absences (egg retrieval and retransfer) scheduled mere hours in advance which are non-negotiable regardless of what’s happening at work or at home
-after that, more blood tests and ultrasounds and continued injections for ten weeks

-Followed, in many cases, by failure

…Imagine going through all this… while suffering the disappointment of not being a mommy, while still having to pick up the slack for your colleagues with children… That is my juggle, repeat fertility treatments, miscarriages, etc. without letting anyone at work find out. I have extreme flexible hours and even so, it’s a challenge. I would DEARLY LOVE to have the problem outlined by the original poster.

New Study Confirms Link between Smoking and SIDS

If you are planning to get pregnant, or already are pregnant, you know that one of the most important things you can do for your child is to quit smoking. For a while now, doctors have been warning that smoking during pregnancy is likely to increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). But now, a new study provides the most direct evidence yet.

The new study, reported on by Science Daily, appears in the first issue for June of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, a publication of the American Thoracic Society.

“Our results provide some of the most direct evidence to date suggesting that prenatal cigarette smoke exposure can contribute to the destabilizing effects of hypoxia [inadequate oxygenation of the blood] and thermal stress on neonatal breathing,” said Dr. Hasan.

That the effects of second-hand cigarette smoke are damaging is well known. But according to this study, the effects were much more pronounced when a fetus was exposed to cigarette smoked prenatally.

“Our results show that prenatal cigarette smoke exposure compounds the risk by increasing the likelihood of gasp-like respiration and prolonging the time that it takes for neonates to return to normal breathing following hypoxia,” said Dr. Hasan. “These observations provide important evidence of how prenatal cigarette smoke exposure, hypoxic episodes and hyperthermia might place infants at higher risk for SIDS and further support efforts to foster prenatal smoking cessation programs.”

To read the details of this study, please refer to Science Daily: Smoking During Pregnancy Increases Risk of SIDS.

Miracle Baby born after 38-week Ectopic Pregnancy

‘Durga’ means Goddess. It’s also the name of one newborn baby girl, called so because ‘she is our little deity’, said her beaming father, Ravi Thangarajah. Doctors are calling her a ‘miracle baby,’ who’s chances of survival were one in a million.

For nine months, Meera Thangarajah and her husband Ravi were completely unaware their baby was anything but normal. It was only during the birth, at just before full term, that midwives realized the baby had been growing in her mother’s ovary instead of the womb.

An ovarian pregnancy is one of the rarest variations of ectopic (or out of the womb) pregnancies, which can have life-threatening consequences for the mother. Dr. Andrew Miller, who delivered the child by caesarian section in Australia’s Northern Territory, said he never came across anything like it. He said he was astonished that the mother’s ovary did not stretch and break as the child grew, which could have caused deadly internal bleeding. ‘It truly is a miracle she got a living baby out of it – she’s extraordinarily lucky.’ Both baby Durga and her mother are completely healthy.

The extraordinary birth was the culmination of an apparently normal pregnancy, with the parents and doctors never suspecting that anything had gone wrong. There had been no complications during the pregnancy and even regular ultrasound tests had shown nothing unusual. Had doctors realized it was ectopic earlier on, they would have advised the couple to abort the baby. The mother’s ovary could have burst at any time, endangering the lives of both mother and baby.

Indeed, as Dr Miller began performing the operation he could not believe his eyes – the baby was squeezed into the right ovary. The skin was stretched so thin that he could see the baby’s hair and facial features through it.

When Mrs. Thangarajah heard what had happened, she was understandably amazed. “I didn’t know anything about it until I woke up after the Caesarean and the doctors told me. I’m feeling like the luckiest woman in the world.”

Her husband feels the same way. “Not only do I feel lucky – the doctors have told me I’m one of the luckiest of men at the moment.”

Read more about this incredible birth at Daily Mail.

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