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    C-Section as Spectator Sport?

    You may have read about the "First baby born on Twitter" (which is, of course, debatable). The first C-section --- perhaps. But not the first homebirth. Or unassisted birth.

    But let's talk about this Twittered cesarean, shall we?


    Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX has been advertising their live broadcast of a C-section birth on Twitter & their website, and encouraging people to sign up for an "event reminder" and to "tune in" with varied sensationalized exclamations:

    "C-Section Live on Twitter!"

    " A look inside 2nd most common surgery in the US!"

    " Watch a surgical birth live on Twitter."


    They even have their own hashtag.

    Now, mothers (and parents) should be able to make fully informed choices about their own births and should be able to birth in whatever way - and wherever (even on live Twittervision) - they feel most safe.  My issue is more with the hospitals' choice to make a "reality show" out of a surgery, broadcast it on social media, and call it "educational" in the midst of a cesarean section epidemic in this country. The World Health Organization suggests that the C-section rate should not rise about 15% in developed nations, yet, in 2009, 32.9% of all births in the US were cesarean deliveries (compared with 20.7% in 1996 and 5% in 1970).  The rate of C-section in this country is increasing to alarming numbers - in New Jersey, my homestate for example - the rate was 39.4% in 2009 (and NJ is not alone in this), choice in birthing options is becoming less, and this hospital's Twitter account is flaunting the stat of "1 in 3 moms" having C-sections almost as celebratory.


    Now, in fairness, Memorial Hermann has indicated on their twitter feed that,

    "We'll explain that C-section is associated with risks & should only be done if necessary."

    I am pleased to hear this, but doubtful; given that they also say:  

    "This is a medically indicated C-section. 39-year-old mom previously had an urgent C-section and chose not to attempt VBAC."


    Unless there are other factors we're not privy to, simply having a previous C-section does not make a repeat C-section necessary. Coupled with the following bizarre quote makes me even less than confident that the risks of cesarean sections will fully be explained:


    "Join us as we pull back the curtain w/live play-by-play."


    Excuse, me? Is this a baseball game?


    Cesarean sections are major abdominal surgeries. They are an unnatural state of birth for both mother and baby. They can interfere with bonding, healing, breastfeeding, introduction of healthy bacteria (from not passing through the vaginal canal), and breathing (from baby's lungs not being appropriately squeezed through the vaginal canal). They increase the risk of infection and scarring to mother, and injury to baby. Recovery can be hard. It's not a spectator sport.


    I'm in full support of increasing the information to mothers about the choices and options available in birth - from unassisted birth to homebirth to birth with a midwife, doula, doctors, with and without medications, to vaginal birth, to surgical birth. Birth is one of the most amazing and powerful events in a woman's life; and she should always be able to make the choice to birth in the way she wants. But without KNOWING all of the risks and benefits and truths of different birth options, mothers can't make fully informed choices. So when @HoustonHospital says,


    "Our goal is to educate."


    I'm glad. Education is important and powerful. But can a repeat C-section taking place because a VBAC wasn't chosen, aired and advertised like a sporting event truly be an appropriate or likely venue for educating about cesarean birth?


    I am hopeful that the real risks of cesarean-as-normalized-birth will be discussed, that the potential emotional trauma to mother, and challenges to breastfeeding and recovery will be illuminated so that women really CAN make fully informed, educated choices. But, when a birth is advertised as a "HEY! COME CHECK IT OUT!" reality show; it leaves me dubious. It really remains to be seen whether the intent to educate will actually play out.  There's a lot of responsibility wrapped up in this "show".


    So, what do you think? Is airing a C-section live going to help educate women about birth? Will it help reduce the rate of C-sections in our country, or will it instead help make C-sections more "normal"? Will you be tuning in?

    Posted: Feb 19 2013, 17:25 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    A Giant Elephant and the Jersey Shore

    Yesterday was a beautiful, warm, early fall day in NJ.  We knew we definitely wanted to get outside.  Looking for inspiration, I tweeted: 


    After some contemplation, checking out the online festivals, we decided to take a trip down the shore!

    I hadn’t been to see Lucy the Elephant since I was a kid myself… so off we went!


    Lucy was built in 1881(!) She still stands, through numerous hurricanes, and demolition threats, 6 stories and 65 ft high in Margate, New Jersey.  She’s pretty amazing – and, charmingly kitschy, too – and reminds me of my childhood summers spent on the Jersey Shore.  The nice one, the beautiful one, the family one – NOT the one represented by television shows (ugh, sometimes the continual negative representation of New Jersey in the media really gets to me).  She’s impressive to behold, and more than just a bit unusual sandwiched between condominiums and the Atlantic Ocean. The kids LOVED her; so did I. For $3 per child & $6 per adult, we received a tour of the giant elephant.  Our tour guide walked us up through her legs into her belly (which, since my childhood has been entirely renovated & looked nearly completely different than I remembered.) where we watched a short video about her history.  Around her belly were “windows into the past” where you could look through & see her original white painted wood structure (which is how I remember her as a child), a classic bathroom from when she was a residence for a short while (how COOL is that that someone lived in an ELEPHANT?), and various other memorabilia related to her history.  From the top, which is still open to the air, you can clearly see Atlantic City to the North and Ocean City to the south. There is also a cute little gift shop with elephant-themed items. In all, it was a fantastic, inexpensive destination for kids.  Plus, she’s right off the ocean - perfect for a day at the beach.


    Driving up Atlantic Ave

    Lucy through the scrub pines

    Climbing Lucy’s Toes

    Walking up Lucy’s leg

    Peering into Lucy’s bathroom

    Lucy memorabilia

    Lucy’s birthday postcard (is this not cool??)

    View from the top  

    Lucy’s peanuts

    Lucy’s profile

    After exploring Lucy, we decided to head south a few miles to Ocean City, for a walk on the boardwalk, and delicious pizza!  Ocean City really clears out after Labor Day, yet, the ocean remains warm – September is the perfect month to visit!  We walked up on 14th street, and the kids immediately took off for the beach. The surf, while a bit rough, was an amazing temp – had to have been in the 80s!  Even with the sea breeze, the kids were soaked to the bone (they went swimming in their clothes!), but not cold.  

    Running to the water – not wet... yet!

    Half wet...

    All wet!



    No trip to Ocean City is complete without a trip to Mack & Manco’s Pizza because, really, it is the best pizza.  Anywhere. Just make sure you bring cash – and nothing else.  They don’t allow any outside food or drink, serve only pizza, and don’t take credit cards.  And there’s always a line to get in, no matter what. But you won’t care once you taste their pizza. :)


    The best pizza 

    My daughter agrees.

    Walking back to the car


    To close out our trip, we had the best ice cream in Ocean City – Hobby Horse Ice Cream parlor on 8th & Ocean.  

    Stained glass window on the ice cream parlor

    Riding the carousel horse out front

    We had a fabulous day trip to the Jersey Shore (plus, the kids fell sound asleep on the drive home - yes!) - and all on the spur of the moment... that's what I love about living here.  We're so close to everything! This tweet I received in response to my inquiry, sums it up:



    Posted: Sep 26 2010, 16:11 by kelly | Comments (5) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Children | Seasons | Travel | Family Time

    14 Good Movies and List Love.

    Lists.  My days are filled with them:  emails yet to read, things that need to be done, folks whose calls I’ve missed, songs that’ve played in itunes, groceries to buy, movies to watch…

    Truthfully, I love lists. Writing them, crossing them off, iPhoning them, emailing them, saving them, reading them.

     I use lists to stay motivated!  I find it exciting to be able to cross things off a list – and the yearning to see a list full of strike-thrus is just what I need sometimes to get going, or keep going. I make a white board “to-do” list with the kids almost daily.  At the beginning of this year, I blogged my New Year’s Resolution list (of course, creating a list to stay motivated doesn’t actually guarantee those things will be done).

    I create lists to remember things. How many times have I been to the grocery store, standing in the middle of an aisle, with two children buzzing around me, and myself knowing what I needed to get is… right there… on the tip of my tongue… (if only I’d made a list!)

    I start them to stay organized!  If I know my day is going to be full, I have a lot to get done, and perhaps not quite enough time (is there ever enough time?), I create a list with approximate times assigned to each task. Okay, maybe I’m a little weird, but it keeps me focused, and helps the kids know what to expect next.

    Sometimes? I make lists purely for fun.

    Like the time I challenged myself to pick 10 music albums I couldn’t live without, if I were stranded on a desert island Or, when I reached out to my Twitter followers & asked for their favorite emotional songs  Or, when I listed the tunes I most liked to sing to my babies

    These last couple of weeks, following a fun list-making challenge offered up by one of our co-workers, I spent creating a list of my Top 100 Favorite Movies.  I was excited, and challenged by this list idea! Ranking one hundred movies?  Impossible!  Yet, once I got into the process, I realized there were actually FAR more than 100 movies that I’d consider for the list, and when I got down to the nitty gritty, there were quite a few that ended up not making the cut.  I won’t bore you with the whole list (assuming that you and I may not enjoy lists to the same extent). But, I will give you the first 14.  Why 14?  Because #14 happens to be a movie about a fella who likes… making lists. So, here:

    1) Life is Beautiful (La Vita è Bella)

    2) The Princess Bride

    3) The Abyss

    4) Running on Empty

    5) Say Anything

    6) The Sound of Music

    7) Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind

    8) E.T.

    9) The Shawshank Redemption

    10) Stand by Me

    11) The Graduate

    12) Gorillas in the Mist

    13) Willow

    14) High Fidelity

    **Editing to add: I recently saw Inception.  Which means, that pretty much everyone on this list would get bumped down one (though I haven't decided whether Inception is #1 or #3). But because I mention a list of 14 so many times, I won't change everything up - for posterity.**


    Interestingly, as I looked over my list, I realized how many (seven) of those top 14 have a lot to do with music. Maybe all movies have a lot to do with music.  Or maybe that’s why I’m drawn to certain films. I’m not sure I see any deeper meaning ther, but... it’s just interesting.  Yet another reason I like lists – sometimes you discover things you wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Also interestingly, Adam took on this challenge around the same time as I.  We didn’t collude with one another, yet, when all was said & done, we ended up with 66 of the same movies on our lists! Wow. I guess that’s what happens when you share 16 years of your life with someone.  Add that to my list of things I love about my husband. Great taste in movies.


    So, do you like making lists?  Tell me about your favorite lists. Or, I’d take a list of your top 14 too.

    Posted: Jul 29 2010, 08:30 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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    Going Vegan

    I'm thinking about going vegan. This idea has been on my mind, on and off, for nearly as long as I’ve been a vegetarian. I’d say the first I ever thought about it, was back in the very early 90’s. But all I knew about veganism back then was that it was “cool” (the krishnas did it, you know?), and, that it was “super restrictive” (did you know they don’t even eat honey?).

    The first time I seriously considered eating vegan was when I was on a limited diet while nursing my daughter, in an attempt to help her colic & allergies. At that point, I really became vegan by default. I learned about alternatives to milk (then, soy), and then after learning of the soy concerns (like allergens, aluminum, hormone disrupters), the alternatives to soy (rice, almond, etc.). It seemed, at the time, once I got into the groove of the elimination diet, to be fairly simple. And I admit that I felt pretty healthy (though deprived of my cheese, darn it), in spite of (or because of?) losing a lot of weight.

    At that point in time, Adam wasn’t yet vegetarian, and we hadn’t decided to raise our daughter vegetarian, so it was more difficult for me to be vegan. I found that once I COULD reintroduce cheese, I did… and there went that.

    The next time I ventured into the thought of becoming vegan was when my vegetarian husband was diagnosed with borderline high cholesterol, and he severely restricted his dairy & egg intake in a (successful!) natural attempt at weight loss & cholesterol reduction, without drugs. I saw him eating a wider variety of foods, and enjoying things like rice milk “ice cream”, without feeling deprived. I’d changed all of our eating habits dramatically at that time – learned to substitute things like coconut oil for butter and applesauce for eggs in recipes.

    But old habits die hard, and Rice Dream just didn’t quite taste as good as Ben & Jerry’s.

    I thought about it once again after seeing Food, Inc. In fact, that movie has brought about a lot of changes in our diet & ways of looking at food – at the larger picture; not just how food effects OUR bodies, but how our food really gets to be food. How its production affects the earth, and the animals. We buy organic for nearly everything now – really, if I can’t find it in organic, I just wait ‘til the next shopping trip. Our milk & eggs come from pasture-raised animals. And those are big changes, yes. But, still, I can’t help but gag a little when I drink my milk, knowing where it comes from. Knowing that we’re the only species that drinks another species’ breastmilk. Is that progress? I’m not so sure.

    At this point I know there are far more reasons in my life for me to become vegan than there are reasons not to. I feel in this last year – basically since seeing that movie – I’m the closest to actually taking the vegan plunge than I’ve ever been.

    I’ve followed vegans on Twitter, for inspiration. I’ve been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma. My husband is now a vegetarian, my daughter is now a vegetarian, and my son has been vegetarian since birth. I’ve been one for 20 years. All that stands between me & veganism is…

    Well, me.

    I’ve got a couple small issues. Both of which, are, honestly, almost laughable, when I really sit down & think about them.

    The first?

    My daily iced latte. I make this thing every day, and I’ve yet to find a substitute. Though, that being said, it didn’t always used to be iced latte, it used to be iced chai. But then, Tazo went & discontinued their vanilla chai, and darn it, that’s just not fair. When that happened, after frantically calling Tazo, and determining that yes, in fact, they did can my favorite thing to drink in the entire world, I switched to Starbucks double shots (one of the only things I don’t buy organic. Sigh.) – which I embellish with a bit of milk & a touch of vanilla syrup. Yes, fat, sugar, caffeine, laced with dairy – and hard to substitute with rice or almond milk, because, it already has cow milk in it.

    Every morning at work I make one, and when I don’t, I seriously feel the effects. Not just the caffeine withdraw, though I’m sure that’s part of it, but a bigger part, I believe, is the lack of having something cold to sip on while I work. It puts me in the mood to work. I don’t know what it is about it, but I’ve found no substitute, yet. I’ve tried phasing it out. Alternating with green tea. Or, just not buying it. But I get itchy for it. Like I start thinking about it in the morning when I don’t have it. And in the afternoon. And planning reasons to go to the store where they sell it, so I can get it while I’m there (thereby justifying the trip, no I didn’t solely go out to get said Double Shot). Ugh, the commercialized addiction part of this is scandalizing. It’s a personal weakness. I don’t want to give up my latte, and the thought of making it with rice milk, or some other substitute… it’s just not the same. I don’t want to change my habits – that’s what reason one really boils down to. Laugh if you must.

    So then there’s the slightly more understandable and less embarrassing reason: my children. They are vegetarian. And, it’s easy to be vegetarian – there are so many options, without too much thought. Their school serves vegetarian food. Vegetarianism in this era is an understood & generally accepted way to eat. I tell the kids about the foods we eat, why they are healthy, what the benefits are of each food (like, tofu has protein, spinach has iron, oranges have vitamin C, oatmeal has fiber), and generally, I allow them free rein in our kitchen. I don’t buy junk food, and always keep a variety of healthy snacks on hand. I don’t keep a hawk’s watch over what they eat because I know, in general, if they’re eating from their own kitchen, they’re eating healthy.

    Out of curiosity, shortly after watching Food, Inc., I bought a book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids”. It’s a good book, really… in spite of the title (honestly, whoever came up with that series of books, I’ll never understand the philosophy behind making your customers feel stupid). The book has great recipes, thoughtful analysis on the pros & cons of veganism in general, difficulties you might face raising a vegan child, and the good things too.

    In reading this book, I find I’m perhaps more convinced that veganism, while the healthiest option for me – an adult who has already fully developed my sense of self, of controlling my eating – it may not be so for small children, who, some days, may decide that all they want to eat is yogurt, followed by cheese, followed by a hard boiled egg. So, I fear that by putting my children on a vegan diet, I’d be putting myself in the position of micro-managing their mealtimes. I’d want to be certain they were eating “enough”, that they were getting enough fats, B12, omegas, protein, iron, and I don’t want to have that kind of control over my children – I don’t want to pass on to them over-concern about food, I don’t want to police what goes in their mouth, because I believe in the long-run, that can backfire.

    Of course, part of me wonders if that’s not the right mindset. Can’t I just move from where we are as vegetarians, rather effortlessly and seamlessly into a vegan kitchen, and still not worry about what they’re eating, as long as they’re eating? But then, what about school lunches? Parties? Family gatherings? Restaurants? These all sound like excuses my mother might have used 20 years ago when I decided to go vegetarian. Only then, I was already 15, and already knew a good bit about food, and really could make my own decisions. It's a bit of a dilemma.

    Of course, all of the considerations over my childrens' diet, doesn’t mean I can’t be vegan myself. It’s just that in keeping things like yogurt and cheese and eggs in the house, I find myself attracted to those foods as well, particularly when I’m cooking with them. Again, it’s a matter of ease & habit. And self-control.

    So here I am, on the edge, in between. It would take just a little hop to go all the way in. But I don’t like the idea of “giving things up”, which is why I need to work on my frame of mind before I take the plunge. Going into a diet thinking that I'm being deprived isn't going to be successful. It's about making a change, and coming to terms with that change - truly understanding & believing is the best in the long-term. We’re expecting the movie, “Earthlings” to arrive this week (thanks, Netflix), and I’m secretly hopeful it might provide just the right amount of … oomph to get me moving. I’ll report back afterwards.


    In the meantime... why are you vegan? Or vegetarian? Or not? I'd love to hear.

    Posted: Jul 20 2010, 08:40 by kelly | Comments (6) RSS comment feed |
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    The Question of Time

    A stitch in time saves nine.

    Time flies when you’re having fun.

    Time & tide wait for no man.

    Time after time.

    It’s a question of time.


    How many songs, sayings, stories, idioms are about time? How often do we recognize the existence of, and lament the amount of, time in our lives? I will find myself nostalgic about times past, and hopeful at times to come.  I look at my ever-growing children and almost daily am faced with the reality (and fear) that time is fleeting.  And, there is the always-present weighty feeling of never having enough time to do what I want to do.   Like write. I just finished having a twitter conversation with a writer-mommy (@inkgypsy), about having such a strong desire to write, and this far-off feeling that I really want to be a writer, yet feeling that I didn't have the time to do it.  She suggested setting a goal for what I want, make the time for that goal, and the rest will follow.


    I like this idea. Certainly, taking some action, however small, towards my goals is better than mourning the lack of time, fretting over how overbooked I am, how many directions in which I am being pulled, complaining about how late I go to bed, how often my children wake, or how early I’m awakened, or how my to-do list keeps growing, and my would-like-to-do list as well, and how the latter never sees the light of day because I struggle to find the time to get everything done on the former. Pining over times past, when I felt I had so much more time (yet, did I really manage it any better back then?) and worrying over how will I ever be able to find the time to do the things I want to do, when I have all this stuff I have to do. And on an on.  In my fretting over trying to find time, I’m losing time. It is certainly better to take a step towards productivity, and a step away from self-pity.


    Oh, big self-perpetuating sigh. 


    It's really true, isn't it? Getting the things done that we want to; it’s not about finding the time.  It’s about deciding what it is that’s really important, and then choosing to rearrange your schedule to accommodate those things.  Making time for those things.


    So I have decided that  instead of mourning the passage of time, I will seize the day.  Or, more succinctly, when I feel that spark of something I want to do or get done, I’m going to do it. If I can’t do it that moment, I’m going to make a specific plan to get it done, and then… find a way to put that plan into action. and here I am, at 1:30am on my laptop. Writing because I needed to, and I’m so tired of listening to myself complain about not having enough time to do the things I want to do... so I made the time.





    You know, even if I keep the complaints only to myself. My inner monologue matters! What I think, I become. What I want to do, I will get done.


    So no more yearning for missing time.  What’s the point of yearning for time, when it’s right here? The act of troubling over losing time takes time itself.  I’m tired of it.  I’m going to take each moment as it comes, and make the best out of it.


     There’s no time like the present. Right?

    Posted: Jul 12 2010, 01:36 by kelly | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |
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