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Nov 22 2011

New Moms Don’t (Usually) Need Breast Pumps

By at 4:17 pm

By Alice Chaos/flickr

I had a significant set of difficulties breastfeeding both of my sons. If not for the patient and devoted La Leche League leaders and lactation consultants who gave me advice, support, and a shoulder to cry on, I could not have nursed both of my boys into toddlerhood (and still going…) the way I believe nature intended me to. I wanted to be able to provide that advice, support and shoulder to women who struggled to breastfeed. So, last year I became certified as a Lactation Educator Counselor as the start of my pursuit to eventually become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Since becoming certified, I have been privileged to counsel a handful of women, mostly over the phone, and a few in person, with what I deem success: confidence in breastfeeding and mothering was bolstered, problems troubleshooted, babies breastfeeding happily, and mothers and fathers more rested.

In recent months, I have counseled two women with week old babies who both had the same question: they wanted to know how to start using a breastpump. Neither woman worked outside of the home or had any difficulty breastfeeding, establishing the milk supply, or adjusting to life with a baby. They were simply ready to start pumping to “sock away milk” and “get some time away.”

Before I go on, I want to say that I understand why breast pumps are helpful and useful. A breast pump helped me establish my milk supply and give my newborn the precious colostrum he needed when he was in the NICU for the first four days of his life. Breast pumps can help women continue to provide breastmilk for their children when they return to work or are away from their babies. I have used breast pumps and I understand why people use them.

So what’s my lactivist beef? (Could that sound any more un-kosher?!) Why do I not recommend (nor would any lactation consultant) using a breast pump with a newborn if there is no pressing need to?

The Science. Establishing and maintaining a milk supply is best achieved by breastfeeding. Period. A breast pump cannot take the place of a baby and can, in fact, interfere with your body learning the rhythms and breast milk desires of your baby. No pump can match the stimulation and sucking power of a human baby, and frequent on-demand baby-to-breast ’round the clock for the better part of the first 3 months is the “best” way to do that. This is good for the milk supply, good for the baby (no artificial breast milk has ever come close to matching human breast milk and that’s not propaganda, it’s just the truth), and it’s good for the mama’s mental and physical health as well. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 15 2011

Mayim on the Black Carpet for the Breaking Dawn Premiere

By at 2:06 pm

Mayim Bialik at Twilight Breaking Dawn PremiereI attended the “black carpet” premiere of Breaking Dawn, the latest in the Twilight saga. Having never read any of the books and having never seen any of the previous four movies, this was an interesting evening indeed.

Here are 10 more reasons why the evening was interesting.

1) Exhaustion: I was awake since 3:30 a.m. yesterday morning, taping 30 live satellite interviews with morning shows across America. With only a 15 minute nap under my belt, I was pretty exhausted by the time the premiere rolled around. The red carpet started at 4:30. The movie started at 8. I got home at 11 in time to breastfeed Fred and fall asleep. Big day for mama.

2) Preparation: About a year ago I found the make-up/hair person I can not live without and she is really what makes me happy to go out to these events. You may not understand how important a make-up/hair person is, but I found someone who is a) not pretentious, b) quick as lightning, and c) does not hand me any BS. Many actors like to be told they always look fantastic even if they don’t. I am not that actor.

3) The car key: In the middle of all of my preparation, my husband attempted to take the boys to the park and library but could not find our only key to the car with the carseats, which was locked… This kind of thing, in case you don’t know my husband, does NOT happen to him. My husband puts the car key in the same place every day every time no exceptions thank you very much. He tore the house apart and simultaneously tried to keep the boys from flipping out since all they wanted to do was go to the park and library and not watch Mama get made up, as my older son put it, “like a girl clown.” Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 11 2011

Why Mayim Loves Kveller

By at 9:05 am
mayim bialik kveller

Mayim in the Kveller office (and yes, that's a "What Would Blossom Do" postcard).

I spent last weekend in scenic San Jose, California, where my husband is from. His mother still lives in the house my husband grew up in, and we visit several times a year with our boys, who delight at the fact that their Safta has saved every single one of their father’s toys.

The house is a veritable treasure of 1970s and 1980s Star Wars, GI Joe, Fisher-Price, and the like. It’s sort of Miles’ and Fred’s Shangri-La. Once we set foot in the door, they only come to us for food and to complain that we’re ruining their playtime when we request that they bathe and change their clothes once a day.

This past weekend, though, we were in San Jose so that I could speak at my mother-in-law’s synagogue. Once she began her conversion process (my husband, Mike, was raised Mormon), she joined the Reform synagogue where, coincidentally, my aunt and uncle have been members for over 20 years. I was asked to speak about the “Universal Values of Jewish Parenting: For Families of All Backgrounds.”

The talk and my 40 minutes of Q & A were very well received. I especially loved talking to people on the break and after the talk ended, including a man named Sheldon who had no clue who I was but liked my talk anyway (the irony of the fact that he shares a name with my on-screen boyfriend was lost on him). I also met a bunch of awesome mamas; many of whom are fans of Kveller. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 10 2011

What’s Up With All the H-A-T-E

By at 8:52 am
baby eating broccoli

I'm sorry, Mom, but I strongly dislike broccoli.

We don’t say the H-word in our house.

I am going to start with the disclaimer that I absolutely love Mayim. Like, I fantasize about sitting next to her at La Leche League and nonchalantly asking her to be my new best friend. I was a fan of Big Bang Theory long before I was a writer for Kveller, and the professional and theological perspectives that Mayim has shared through this blog have made me view the show (and many aspects of my family and faith journey) in a more critical way.

For example, when the BBT girls were trying on bridesmaids dresses, I immediately noticed that they all included long-sleeved dust jackets, something far from “runway current,” and I wondered if it was done in part to satisfy Mayim’s standards of tznius. That got me wondering if a Rabbi would agree to marry Howard and Bernedette because she is a shiksa. Or perhaps she will go through the conversion process and Amy will accompany her to the mikveh and live out her life-long dream of watching women bathe naked. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 7 2011

Mayim Bialik on The Isolation Permutation

By at 3:38 pm

mayim bialik big bang theoryLast week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory was called “The Isolation Permutation,” and it was about my character, Amy Farrah Fowler feeling left out by her girlfriends. She spirals into a depression that includes playing “Everybody Hurts” on the harp (yes, it was really me playing), getting drunk in a liquor store parking lot (no, I wasn’t really drunk) and attempting to seduce Sheldon, her “not-boyfriend” (settling instead for possibly the most awkward cuddle in sitcom history).

The episode pulled in our third highest ratings ever, with 16 million people in America tuning in, and despite one reviewer noting that I am “not as attractive as Kaley Cuoco or Melissa Rauch” but am still amazing, the reviews were glowing and it’s super exciting.

You might be interested to know, however, that I was not watching along with the millions of Americans who tuned in. You see, I hate watching myself on TV. I hate hate hate hate hate it. I hate how I look, I hate how my voice sounds (kind of like Bea Arthur on a hoarse day), and I hate how my body looks bumpy, lumpy, and androgynous under several layers of over-sized clothes designed to hide my lady-like curves.

I am a very technical actor, and I am overall very tuned in to timing, editing, and camera shots of the scenes I participate in. So if lines are edited out, or if lulls in dialogue which we use as transitional gaps for acting purposes get clipped by editors, it doesn’t match what I experienced when I filmed, and I don’t like that. When things look, sound, or feel different on TV than they were when I performed them, it feels wrong. Wrong how? Wrong in the way that people with OCD get a “wrong” feeling when they can’t flip switches the “right” number of times. It’s just really really wrong.

The most significant reason I don’t watch myself, though, became very clear to articulate this past week when I did in fact see “The Isolation Permutation” as it was aired on our set for our studio audience a few days before TV viewers saw it. I watched along with our studio audience and I cringed throughout. Specifically, during the scene where my character seduces Sheldon. Performing that scene was by far the most interesting, gratifying, intense, and exciting scene I think I have ever performed as an actor. I don’t mean to wax poetic about my “thespian process,” but what I do is not done lightly. I take my work very seriously, and I work hard to create emotions and responses from audiences, as well as from the actors I work with. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 4 2011

Mayim Bialik is Not Happy with W Magazine

By at 1:39 pm

w magazine ai wei wei photo shootMost articles I can find on the outrageously disgusting “photo shoot” in W Magazine this month are about the “artist” who directed the shoot from under house arrest in China… how powerful. How meaningful. How profound. What. Ever.

The shoot depicts a set up of a model being arrested in a “protest/riot” scene (ok, fine). Then she is hooded, handcuffed and seen in the back of a cop car (a little weird but I am still on board in theory). Then she is undergoing electric torture, silken hair standing on end, handcuffed to a chair (I am flipping out now both because of the sexual play on torture and also the fact that I am wondering what someone who has God forbid undergone this torture might think of this sexualized model undergoing mock electric torture for a photo shoot in W Magazine). And finally, she is showering naked under the gaze of 2 officers, her exposed back to us, rear end thrust into the air as water trickles down her arched back. (I am now officially done finding this photo shoot interesting.)

Here are the images. How’d I do with my descriptions? Sigh.

Is this fetish and I am just not getting it? Am I an out-of-touch mom who need not concern herself with high fashion? Is this some sort of political statement mixed with fetish and I just can’t discern the lines?

Or is it just another example of society becoming increasingly comfortable mixing women’s systematic abuse and torture under the guise of “art”? I understand fetish culture (I think). I am not condemning fetish fashion, fetish sexuality, or fetishism in general. Or maybe I am? Is this the end of me understanding fetish? Or is it more than that?

Don’t tell me I am taking this too seriously; I have been accused of being “too serious” since I was about 10 years old, so that doesn’t deter me anymore. This is serious. The statistics of physical and sexual abuse, rape, imprisonment, and sexual trafficking of women and girls in this country (in your very own cities, friends) and all over the world should offend us and disturb us greatly. If nothing else, it should not be acceptable for women and girls to be sold as prostitutes anywhere. Nowhere. Never.

I wish Ai Weiwei could have made his political statement in a way that didn’t place women at the center of a prism of the combination of torture, imprisonment, abuse and titillation. If any good comes out of this photo shoot, maybe it will be in making someone somewhere speak out against this kind of obscene excuse for art.

I’m not prudish, out-of-touch, or an old fuddy duddy. I am just deeply disturbed.

In case you couldn’t tell.

Nov 3 2011

Ke$ha Made Me Feel Old

By at 12:49 pm

ke$haI like to think I am a hip young mom. I am 35. I love Neko Case and the Avett Brothers. I am not scared of people with tattoos. I enjoy drinking and despise “the system.” I may not know much about technology or pop culture, but again: I like to think I am a hip young mom.

Then last month’s Rolling Stone came.

My husband likes Rolling Stone, but somewhere in the 1990s, it seemed the emphasis shifted to a lot more half-naked women being featured, while the monthly editorials tend to be on either a beautiful girl being murdered or the latest rich white kids who were peddling drugs and hiring prostitutes for their friends. The day my older son asked, at not even 4 years old, “Mama, why is that woman in her underwear on this magazine cover?” was the day I told my husband that I was no longer a fan of Rolling Stone lying around the house. I thumb through it once in a while, usually annoyed by the misogyny that seems to dominate its ads and articles, and occasionally amused by candid photos and lengthy interviews with Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, and other such musicians that 35-year-old people sometimes like.

Back to last month’s issue.

Last month’s issue featured famous musicians listing their favorite music for different scenarios. Ke$ha (I feel so silly using a dollar sign for the “s” in her name, but whatever) was to list her favorite “Party Starters.” Sounds innocent enough, right?

Not so much.

Ke$ha, in one fell swoop, made me feel like an old lame mama. Here’s my top 5 reasons why. And for the record (by which I am not referring to an LP), I have nothing against her personally. I know nothing about her except that “Tik Tok” is sort of addictive.

1) Old people like cursing to be for cursing. Ke$ha uses curse words in more than half of her list. I don’t have a “no cursing” thing (I am, after all, hip and young, or so I thought), but I also disdain cursing when it’s blatantly unnecessary and non-specific. So Ke$ha says, for example, that a certain song makes her “want to go fucking crazy,” but it’s unclear to me why “fucking” has become synonymous with the word “totally” or “completely” or “really.” Any of those words would not have made me feel old and lame, because some songs make me “want to go really crazy.” Why so much cursing, this old hag wonders.

waynes world2) Old people are elitist. Wayne’s World is her “favorite movie.” Okay, that’s just a knife in my heart.  I am not trying to be a snob, but I clearly am being an old lady when I want to say, “That’s your favorite movie!? Of all the movies in the world that one could love, Wayne’s World is your favorite!? It’s the best movie ever? It is so entertaining, so thrilling, so moving, that it gets the word “favorite” to modify it?!” Oy.

3) Old people like lofty heroes. Iggy Pop is one of her heroes. I don’t even know how to touch this one. I mean, he is innovative for sure. He is outrageous. He has a distinctive sense of style and music. But one of her HEROES!? Again, could I feel any older to be wondering why Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, or–for the love of God–Moses is not her hero?! Old people like heroes to be people like that. Or at least Bono.

4) Old people like to keep private things private. One of the songs she lists because she first heard it “while getting laid in the back of a car.” Now, I have been in the back of cars. I used to be young and sometimes young people do fun things in cars. But I would never in a magazine list a song as my favorite in reference to it first being heard as I was “getting laid in the back of a car.” Old people think those details are best left for private conversations.

the maccabeats

The Maccabeats

5) Old people like knitting. Activities she cites as part of her life, both past and present include: going to strip clubs, destroying hotel rooms while being “hammered,” and her and her friends giving each other “tattoos” on the inside of each other’s lips while drunk, ending in “a disgusting, bloody mess.” Old people don’t much like women going to strip clubs as an activity, destroying hotel rooms, or carving things on the insides of sensitive mucous membranes while drunk (or sober for that matter). We, apparently, like knitting, listening to Jewish a cappella music (preferably the YU Maccabeats), and studying the Talmud. Ahem.

I don’t even know what else to say. I guess I am officially old for those 5 reasons and more. Ke$ha says so. Totally completely really old. Dagnabit.

Nov 2 2011

Mayim and the Real Big Bang

By at 10:32 am

According to a source in the field, the TV show Big Bang Theory is the coolest show in the universe of 12-year-old kids. My kids aren’t quite there yet — oh, and we don’t own a TV — but if that’s what’s ahead for the American tweenerati, I have to say I’m in favor.

One other thing I’m dreading about my kids turning into independent human beings: Answering the Big Questions. You know — the ones about human existence, quantum physics and algebra, and who created the universe. Fortunately, some things I don’t have to answer myself. I can always hit “play” on YouTube — as soon as they’re old enough, that is — and leave the answers to Kveller’s own neuroscientist-in-residence Mayim Bialik.

Oct 27 2011

My Two Boys Finally Like (and Love) Each Other

By at 11:29 am

Mayim Bialik's two sons, Miles and Fred.

When I found out I was having a second boy (my older son, Miles was 2 when I got pregnant), I was thrilled. I love raising boys and I think that, as a non-feminine female who has no clue how to handle adult women who like shopping and manicures much less a 3-foot tall version of that incarnation, raising boys suits me. I envisioned my boys playing together peacefully and lovingly, making each other better people because they had each other. I pictured David and Jonathan from the Torah, but without the gay innuendo most people like to insinuate.

Anyway.

Fred was born in our living room as Miles watched from his highchair, and Miles loved Fred by ignoring him for the better part of two years. He was never mean to him or aggressive with him (he saved that for us), but he did not find anything interesting about Fred. Except that Fred got to nurse and he wanted to start up again.

Anyway.

Cut to Fred at 3 and Miles at 6. There’s been a lot of kvetching, to be honest. A lot of “Fred, NOOO!” or “Fred STOP!” and also “Fre-ed!” (with two syllables devoted to that vowel, first high, then low; like a true teenager-in-training).

Fred is a very late talker, but he learned how to communicate with me. About six months ago, Fred and Miles were playing within my line of vision, but I was tucked away in the kitchen. I saw anger from Miles over Fred wanting a toy. Then he pushed Fred. Not hard, but hard enough so that Fred’s feelings were hurt and he started to cry. Fred came to me and pantomimed exactly what happened. Miles, not knowing I had seen the whole incident, played it off well, like a true thespian (he is, after all, my son), but I informed him that the day had come when Fred’s reporting had surpassed Miles’ fibbing.

Anyway.

They have finally started to play together after a long period of me waiting and wondering if it was ever going to happen.

Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 19 2011

The Kid-Dish: Ivanka Trump’s Sukkot, Rachel Zoe’s Worst Fear

By at 2:56 pm

All the Jewish celebrity parent gossip you (n)ever wanted to know.

- No, those aren’t flowers in Ivanka Trump’s husband’s hand: it’s a lulav. The couple were seen with their 2-month-old daughter Arabella on their way home from Sukkot services at a New York City synagogue. (Celebrity Baby Scoop)

– The costume designer for the classic 90’s sitcom Blossom (you know, the one starring homegirl Mayim Bialik) gave an interview for Refinery 29 about what it was like the style those iconic looks. It’s accompanied by a great slideshow, too. (Refinery 29)

– Rachel Zoe, spotted in matching white linens with baby Skyler at the Veuve Polo Classic, revealed her worse fear: “I think he’s going to rebel and just be like, ‘I’m wearing a soccer uniform.’” (People)

– Natalie Portman joins the “Celebrity mom spotted at farmer’s market with baby” club this week. She looks very happy to be there! (PopSugar)

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