May 21 2013
Last week, Angelina Jolie disclosed that she had a preventive double mastectomy after learning that she carries a gene that sharply increases her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. I absolutely applaud her decision to share her experience, as I am a strong believer in the power of telling our stories, both for others and for ourselves.
And then I tried to stop thinking about it, or anything else related to the C word or the inevitable D word. But I couldn’t. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I am at an increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer as I am both of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, and my paternal aunt died of breast cancer when she was just 45 years old. I finally decided I needed to learn more. I called my aunt, Dr. Elizabeth Naumburg. She’s a Professor of Family Medicine and an Associate Dean for Advising at the University of Rochester Medical School, and she sees patients just like me on a regular basis–women who might have questions about their own risk for breast cancer, and what they should do about it. Read the rest of this entry →
May 13 2013
Last Monday morning, my family gathered for the bris of my new nephew. He’s the first in his generation, and after several rough years with many funerals, my family was really ready to celebrate. I had offered to bake for the bris, and my sister (the proud mama) accepted, so I spent Saturday night baking up a storm, making some classic family recipes that are delicious, and that would bring the memory of my mother and aunt into the celebration.
Standing around before we got started, the women of the family looked at the trays of goodies that I had baked, and immediately began the traditional recitation of guilt. “Uch, this is SO BAD. I should NOT eat any of this.” “Don’t let me have ANY of this.” “This isn’t going to help me stay good.” And on and on. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 29 2013
I gave birth to my daughter six months ago, and, a few sleep-deprived weeks later, I realized it was right around the 10th “anniversary” of when I was admitted to a hospital for an eating disorders inpatient program.
When I try to reconcile the memory of my scared, enervated teen self with myself today, as a (somewhat) confident mother of two with visibly muscled biceps from lugging around a giant purse, a diaper bag, a breast pump, a baby, and sometimes a 38-pound 3-year-old, it’s difficult. But I still vividly remember the feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and physical weakness. As it turns out, you can be too thin after all. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 23 2013
My son has been sick a lot during his life. Fortunately, it hasn’t been anything too severe, but especially during the first two years of his life, it seemed pretty constant. And while some of it was totally normal, typical childhood stuff, we also saw our fair share of specialists.
You know that it’s bad when the doctor says that your son has conjunctivitis and you’re relieved. Yeah, he has to be out of school for a day, but it doesn’t have a huge impact on quality of life and there’s a relatively easy treatment for it. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 4 2013
Rachel Zaslow is a midwife and Executive Director of Mother Health International, an NGO that supports high volume midwifery model of care centers in areas of extreme need. We talked with her about MHI, how a rabbi’s daughter ended up delivering babies in Uganda, and how midwifery has impacted her own child-rearing. Below the interview, learn how you can help MHI fund a new ambulance for their Uganda clinic.
1. How did a girl from Brooklyn end up delivering babies in Uganda?
It’s a long and twisty narrative, but the short version is that I was invited to come to Northern Uganda almost seven years ago to volunteer in a government-funded hospital, just as the war was ending. What I witnessed there was devastating. The hospital was functioning at what the WHO estimated to be over 10 times its capacity. Formerly abducted women were turned away in labor or sent to walk home minutes after giving birth, with a great likelihood of bleeding to death on the road home. Because the hospital was so busy, women who were admitted to the labor ward were often treated violently by the staff midwives for not pushing fast enough or failing to bring their own piece of plastic to give birth on. These conditions made for a traumatic and dangerous place to give birth in an area that has been ravaged by war. I founded the birth center in Uganda with a group of 30 traditional midwives and my partner midwife, Olivia Kimball, the next year. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 7 2013
Two weeks after my second son was born, I woke up one morning with swollen wrists that were too stiff and painful to hold my baby. Using my forearms, I handed our son to my husband and whispered, “It’s back.”
It, in this case, was arthritis that had plagued me since before I hit puberty. Brought on by a virus? Possibly tied to that horrific case of the chicken pox I had in sixth grade? Or maybe passed down from an elderly aunt? All the doctors had different opinions. I just wanted to get through my ballet classes in one piece, and maybe work on my tennis game. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 14 2013
All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.
- Some parents whose kids have yoga programs at school are pulling their kids out of those classes because they don’t want their children to become Hindus. (NPR)
- You’ve probably been told not to bribe your kid, but you probably do it anyway. Is creative bribery the answer? (NY Times)
- Jessica Grose offers a new plan for maternity leave. Give more of it (duh) and allow parents to take it anytime during the first year of the child’s life. (Slate)
- A surprising number of families are trying complementary and alternative medicine on their kids’ medical conditions before taking the children to a doctor, and many aren’t telling the doctors about the other treatments they’re trying. Not shockingly, this is not a good way of doing things. (TIME)
Jan 10 2013
We all know studies have shown that married couples who share religious beliefs, practices, and values have an easier time maintaining a successful relationship. What about food values? This also matters.
First it’s just about the two of you. Then you have kids. That united front every child development expert will tell you to present, should probably include food. That has proven easier said than done in my house. I think we’ve become experts at the art of compromise. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 18 2012
When my son was 10 months old, we started giving him some of the foods that you normally test with a baby.
Many of them went well; egg did not. He threw up and broke out into hives. In subsequent weeks, as we were trying other foods, he developed rashes and had other strange reactions. As we were a few short weeks from a big international trip, we insisted that the doctors run a blood test so we could see what his other allergies were before we left. We had no idea that we would find out that he was off-the-charts allergic to peanuts. We were given Epi-pens before we left on our trip. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 20 2012
My husband at his heaviest.
I read Yael Armstrong’s piece, “I’m Not Going To Make My Kids Weight Crazy,” with great interest, as weight is a frequent topic of conversation in our house.
Not my weight. I’ve never had much interest in my weight. Due to a variety of chronic problems and food intolerances, I grew up a skinny kid whom every Jewish grandmother was constantly trying to fatten up. As I got older, I never even owned a scale. The only relationship I had with eating was, does this make me feel sick, or does this not make me feel sick? I stick to a pretty strict diet for health reasons, but it’s not a hardship as early conditioning has made it so I recoil from most foods. (Yes, stand-up comedians, I am that very special brand of stupid that I sometimes forget to eat. The only time I ever felt hungry was the three times I was pregnant, and the new sensation took me by surprise every single time.) Read the rest of this entry →