In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Monday, May 25, 2009

Let the Age Debate Begin

Elizabeth Adeney has put a whole other spin on the phrase, "Advanced Maternal Age." With the assistance of in vitro fertilization (IVF), the 66 year-old woman will soon be Britain's oldest mother.

Most clinics in Britain--and the United States--don't offer IVF to women older than 50. Adeney became a "fertility tourist," flying to the Ukraine, where there is no age limit on IVF.

People around the world--including Adeney's ex-husband--are weighing in on her decision to get pregnant at 66. Some believe getting pregnant is a personal choice, determined by how old you feel. Others think she is selfish or crazy or both, doing the mental math to calculate how old Adeney will be when her baby hits the teen years. (85)

As mentioned in my book, Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Pregnancy Over 35, pregnancies for older women have increased risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, preterm labor and low birth-weight babies.

Who's to say whether Adeney was right or wrong to pursue motherhood in her late 60s? Reality is--just about everyone will have an opinion (including me)but the deed is done. While I can't imagine becoming a first-time mom at 66, Adeney obviously can.

Do I think 66 is the best age to have a baby? Honestly, no. Pregnancy at any age is risky--at Adeney's age I would say it was ridiculously so. And motherhood is a demanding business. I don't care how young you feel, a newborn quickly makes you realize just how old you are. Yes, my caboose kiddo brought me great joy--but I never forgot that I was 41 when she arrived. People often said, "She'll keep you young." My reply? "She keeps me tired."

Your thoughts?


Friday, May 22, 2009

Countdown: 3, 2, 1 ... It's Summer Vacation!!!

It's here.

My caboose kiddo's summer vacation starts in three hours.

Am I ready?

I don't think so.

I still haven't accomplished everything I planned on accomplishing when school started last fall.

And in 180 minutes, Christa will walk in, dump her back pack on the bench in the front hall, and ask, "What are we are going to do now?"

Summer vacation will officially begin.

Christa will say those eight words over and over and over and over again until she starts third grade in August.

And I know I can't just sit her down in front of the TV for the next 10 weeks.

Thank God for the neighborhood kiddos. There will be hours spent riding bikes and chasing butterflies and slurping popscicles with her buddies. They'll have impromptu picnics and run back and forth to each others' houses and ask me to take them to the park.

Christa's signed up for an art camp and a week of Vacation Bible School and swim lessons and the library's summer reading program.

All good fun.

But keeping her happy and busy while getting my goals accomplished--ah, there's the challenge.

I'm open to suggestions ... and play dates.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Talking about "The Talk"

My eight-year-old's words struck fear into my heart.

"I know how babies are made."

Oh, she did, did she?

I knew I hadn't had "The Talk" with her yet, so I asked who told her how babies were made.

"Mrs. G., my teacher. We talked about it in class one day."

Ah, that explained it.

But since I hadn't received a note about sex ed being taught in her second grade class, I wondered if Mrs. G. had given an impromptu lesson.

"So, tell me. How are babies made?"

She proceeded to tell me a garbled explanation of an egg and ... um ... an egg ... and ... it's in you, Mom ... and it goes with something ... that's inside you too ...

Either Mrs. G. wasn't that good a teacher or Christa wasn't that good a listener. I'm thinking it's the latter.

"Honey, you don't know how babies are made."

This conversation happened as we finished dinner, while her older sister, Amy, watched--a smirk on her face. How fun to watch her parents have "The Talk" with someone other than her.

"Do you want to know how babies are made?"

"Not really."

"Okay, we can talk about it later," I assured her. "But, listen. Some of your friends are going to tell you that they know how babies are made. And guess what? They don't know. So, if a friend tells you something or if you have any questions, tell me or dad, okay? We do know how babies are made."

Time to pull out my "How To Have The Talk" books and review my game plan. I've learned it's not a one-time conversation--the first conversation is the first of many. I'm thinking I'll be having that initial conversation soon with my caboose kiddo.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Way of Introduction: Hearts at Home

Have you ever felt alone as a mom? Lost in your chosen field of mothering?

There is an organization that was created to encourage, educate and equip women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home helps thousands of moms love their lives through their many resources including conferences, website, and books.

Recently I partnered up with this organization as a blogger. Over time I hope to share with you the many resources this ministry has to offer (old ones and new). To learn more about the Hearts at Home Blogging team go here.

In the meantime I would like to encourage you to explore their website and blog for an immediate dose of mothering encouragement.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

News of Interest for Moms May 13, 2009

News of Interest for Moms:

Pregnant women more at risk for swine flu

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend pregnant women take prescription flu medicines if they are diagnosed with swine flu.

The swine flu has not proven to be much more dangerous than seasonal influenza, and it’s not clear whether or not pregnant women catch swine flu more often than other people, according to the CDC.

However, flu poses added risks for pregnant women because pregnancy weakens a woman’s immune system, making her more likely to suffer pneumonia when she catches the flu.

Folic acid protects babies' hearts

Rates of severe congenital heart defects among newborns in Quebec fell significantly after the move to fortify flour and pasta with folic acid began in 1998, according to an online study in The British Medical Journal.

In the seven years after fortification was introduced there was a 6% drop per year in babies born with severe heart defects.

The recommendation of fortifying flour and pasta is controversial. Some fear that adding folic acid to products like bread could harm some elderly people if they are deficient in other B vitamins. There is also concern that it may also increase the risk of certain cancers in some people.

Pregnant women and those trying to conceive are advised to take folic acid supplements to reduce the risk that their baby will have a neural tube birth defect like spina bifida.

Falling flat screen TVs a growing threat for kids

Nearly 17,000 children were rushed to emergency rooms in 2007,after heavy or unstable furniture fell over on them, according to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics.

The study reported that the such injuries had risen 41 percent since 1990.The increase correlated with the popularity of increasingly bigger flat-panel televisions Americans have brought into their homes, as well as the entertainment centers and less-stable stands to hold them. Injuries from televisions alone accounted for 47 percent of all injuries related to falling furniture during the study period.

Three-quarters of the victims of falling furniture are younger than 6 years old. Most of the injuries related to falling furniture were minor. But 3 percent of the 264,200 children whose cases were reviewed from 1990 to 2007 were injured seriously enough to require hospital admission — most of them for head and neck injuries — and about 300 of them died.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

News of Interest to Moms May 11, 2009

Study links outbreaks to parents forgoing vaccinations

An increase in vaccine refusal in the United States and of geographic clustering of refusals results in outbreaks, according to a new study by the New England Journal of Medicine.

All states require children receive vaccinations, but 21 states allow parents to exempt their children for personal reasons. Some parents fear side effects from vaccinations and believe that mercury, previously used as a preservative in vaccines, is responsible for an increase in autism.

According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 2.8 percent of children in these states were not vaccinated in 2008 because of parents' beliefs, up from 1 percent in 1999. Outbreaks of diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, are growing in these states.

"People need to recognize that in the case of infectious diseases, what other people do impacts my child. If they live in a community that has a cluster of refusers, their risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease goes up, just by virtue of who they play with," according to Saad Omer of Emory University, lead author of study.

Study suggests kids can 'recover' from autism

According to research presented at an autism conference, at least 10 percent of children with autism can “recover” from it — most of them after undergoing years of intensive behavioral therapy.

Previous studies suggested between 3 percent and 25 percent of autistic kids recover.
University of Connecticut psychology professor Deborah Fein's research included 20 autistic children who were no longer considered autistic years later. Fein says her studies have shown the range is 10 percent to 20 percent.

But even after lots of therapy — often carefully designed educational and social activities with rewards — most autistic children remain autistic.

Recovery is “not a realistic expectation for the majority of kids,” but parents should know it can happen, Fein said.

FDA: Kids at risk from testosterone gel

Adults using prescription testosterone gel must be extra careful not to get any of it on children, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Both boys and girls are at risk for serious side effects including:
~ enlargement of the genital organs
~aggressive behavior
~early aging of the bone
~premature growth of pubic hair
~increased sexual drive

Health officials are recommending that adults who use testosterone gel wash their hands with warm soap and water after each use and cover their skin after the gel has dried. Pregnant women, and those who may become pregnant, should avoid any exposure, since it could lead to birth defects. Also, since testosterone gel is usually applied to the upper arms or shoulders, adults must cover up to keep kids from accidentally touching a spot that has the medicine on it. Video: Children Start Troubling Internet Trend posted an interesting video about teenagers using social networking sites, like MySpace, for illegal acitivities.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

In Honor of Mother's Day: A Dose of Erma Bombeck

Nobody understood motherhood like writer Erma Bombeck. She authored books with such notable titles as Family-The Tie that Binds-and Gags! and Just Wait Until You Have Children of Your Own.

With Mother's Day coming up, I decided to share some of my favorite Erma Bombeck quotes:

All of us have moments in out lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.

In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn't danced in television.

One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child's name and how old he or she is.

I'm going to stop punishing my children by saying, "Never mind! I'll do it myself."

Have you any idea how many kids it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen? Three. It takes one to say, "What light?" and two more to say, "I didn't turn it on."

A child develops individuality long before he discovers taste.

It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.

Children make your life important.

To read Erma's poem, "If I Had My Life to Live Over", go here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Different Kind of "Me" Time

My husband gave me a running start on my birthday this year. How so? He listened when I said, "No party, please!"

"If you want to celebrate my birthday, take me away for the weekend--and include some time at a spa."

So, last Friday--four days before my birthday--we packed our bags, loaded up the car, and headed into the mountains. Our eldest daughter, Katie Beth, did yeoman's duty and took care of 8-year-old Christa while we ran away from home. We had a wonderful four days in Keystone, a ski town in the Rocky mountains. The lodge we stayed in had a spa--and Rob booked a package for me that included two massages. What a guy!

I opted for a regular massage the first go-round. But the brochure had an intriguing list of "specialty massage therapies." I figured, "Why not?" and signed up for the Marta Kodo (translation: big melody), a unique technique, inspired by traditional Australian Aboriginal methods ... using a combination of pressure, rhythmical spiraling movements and your choice of native Aboriginal aromatic oils ...

Rob joked the massage therapist would use boomerangs and koala bears on me--and to watch out for the kangaroo in the room. Very funny guy, my husband.

The massage started off tamely enough with a footbath in the "Relaxation Room." Then my therapist took me to the private room. She offered to light a pile of twigs and leaves in a bowl to "cleanse the room." I declined, not wanting to disrupt my massage with an asthma attack.

Then, she switched on soothing background music.

That lasted all of 30 seconds.

As I relaxed, I heard a low, gutteral noise--the sound of an Aborigine man chanting. I don't know what he was chanting--but he went on and on and on and on, drowning out the soothing melody.

It sounded like he had a massive hairball lodged in his throat.

There I am, trying to savor some "me" time, and all I can think is,"Somebody get this guy a glass of water!"

Not that it would have helped. There was no Aborigine in the room. It was a CD that played the entire 50 minutes of my appointment. Occasionally, women would join in the chanting--as if they could disguise the guy's distress.

After the massage, my therapist led me back to the "Relaxation Room." She brought me a blue pottery plate laden with a bunch of green grapes, a warm washcloth and a mug of tea.

"This is special Australian tea," she explained. "It has berries and leaves in it that you can eat."

I sipped the tea, but declined munching on the foliage.

I think I know why the Aborigine guy was clearing his throat so much on that CD. He probably drank too much of that "special" tea.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Intertwined: Sunshine and Snow

I've got a birthday coming up--and it's one of those birthdays. Let's just say I'll be the same age as Barbie and leave it at that.

Milestone birthdays are usually times of reflection--and that's even more true this year. I continue to walk alongside my friends whose son, Ian, just died after battling cancer for 15 months. One thing I'm relearning is that life is full of moments filled with both sunshine and snow.

I told my husband Rob that I can't say Ian lost his battle with cancer. Ian never gave up fighting cancer. Every day Ian faced cancer with courage and wisdom beyond his 13 years. At Ian's funeral, his older brother, Wes, said that Ian lived believing that you don't sweat the small stuff--and Ian believed cancer was small stuff.

What an amazing truth to learn from a teenager.

At Ian's funeral, there were moments where tears flowed and laughter was shared--sunshine and snow. Sometimes tears and laughter mingled together. As we watched a slideshow that captured oh-so-precious glimpses of Ian's too-brief life, I found myself smiling and crying at the same time.

Perfect moments caught by the camera and treasured by those of us during a painfully imperfect moment.

A short while later, we stood with the family by Ian's graveside. I know that mingled in our tears were questions of why and how and when--Why did this happen and How do we go on without Ian and When will the pain lessen? I was comforted by the minister's reminder that the God I believe in asked "Why?" when he hung on the cross for the sins of all men.

As my family walked back to our car, I held my daughter's hand. I could hear Christa saying something.

"What did you say, Christa?"


"Honey, what did you say?" I leaned down closer to hear her.

"Nothing," she repeated.

"Were you singing?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"Were you singing Ian's song?"


Tears came again as I witnessed my daughter trying to grasp hope in the midst of a painfully imperfect moment.

As we continued to walk to the car, I joined her in singing Ian's song. My husband and our other daughter joined us to softly sing, "How great is our God ... "

Ian never stopped believing.

Why should we?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Protecting Your Family From the Swine Flu

Dr.Walt Larimore is an award-winning medical journalist, a best-selling author, and a nationally-recognized family physician. He is also a family friend, someone my husband and I trust and respect. In recent days, he's posted several blogs on the swine flu. Here are some tips he offered for protecting your family from the flu:

1. Wash hands frequently-- Avoid rubbing eyes or touching your nose with dirty hands. Wash hands after coughing or sneezing. Use soap and water or alcohol-based hand cleaners.

2. Try to avoid people who are coughing and sneezing-- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after using it. Teach your kids to do the same.

3. If experiencing flu-like symptoms, don’t go out — stay at home. Call a healthcare professional, particularly if a person has been to Mexico, southern California and southern Texas. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people who get sick stay home from work or school and limit contact with others.

4. Stay informed and plan ahead-- Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on in your community, and whether the authorities — such as the state or county health departments – have issued any recommendations.

5. Avoid surfaces and objects that may be handled by many people. For kids, this may include doctor’s office toys, surfaces that a lot of other kids are touching. Keep all surfaces and objects around the house clean. This becomes especially relevant if there is someone in that house who is sick or has the flu already. Try to teach kids not to touch their faces. This is like mass transit for germs: straight from the hands to the eyes, nose and mouth.

The CDC advises those who feel symptoms to contact their doctor right away.What are the symptoms of the swine flu? According to the CDC:

"The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu."

If you see your healthcare professional within 24 hours of the start of symptoms, there are prescription medications that can reduce the length and severity of the flu.

And finally, one myth that can be dispelled: There are no signs people can get the swine flu from eating pork.

To read Dr. Larimore's post "Swine Flu: Top 5 Reasons You Should Not Panic," go here.

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