Please Don’t Touch My Kids’ Hair

I’m just going to go ahead and put it out there. As the mom of brown kids, I want to say on the record: please don’t touch my kids’ hair.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand your curiosity about it. I am, after all, the white mom of brown kids, and I can confirm that black hair is structurally different, and even my mixed-race kids have really fascinating hair. I admit, I feel lucky that I’ve had this opportunity to learn about cornrows and rope twists, box braids and Bantu knots. But please, no matter how interesting the hairstyle may be, please don’t touch it.

“But what about those women who did a performance art piece with signs saying people could touch their hair?” (Read about it here if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

First of all, those were grown women who made a choice and specifically advertised that they were willing to accept contact and questions. Second, that piece has sparked quite a bit of debate. My favorite summary (link http://disruptingdinnerparties.com/2013/06/12/4-reasons-why-actually-you-cannot-touch-my-hair/) points out a few, simple reasons, like the fact that black hair isn’t some kind of zoo exhibit, and, frankly, it takes a ton of work to maintain and style (when I’m on top of my game, I average about 5 hours a week, minimum, caring for my 3-year-old’s hair). Because my daughters are small children, you can add to that list the fact that even if you ask (and most people don’t bother), because you are a grown-up, they might not feel like they are even allowed to say no.

“Really, though, how much of a problem is this? You’re making a big deal out of nothing!”

This happens about once a month. Usually, it’s a white adult. They almost never ask first. When I tell them to stop and ask them to apologize, they usually either get offended or give me a hard time. It’s been done by doctors, teachers, members of my church, complete strangers. People who know not to touch a dog without asking will touch my kid’s head without compunction. And they don’t, for example, touch my husband’s head, just the kids’, as if they think that one would be weird, but the other is no big deal. Interestingly, kids don’t do this – they just say, “I like your hair!” or, “your hair is weird!” But they don’t touch.

And here’s the thing, above and beyond the hygienic and consent issues, there’s this: my daughter doesn’t like to be touched. She just doesn’t. And I think that we should respect her choices.

Moreover, frankly, there’s an undercurrent of racism there that I find troubling. Yes, my kids look different from most of the kids around here. No, that does not make it okay for you to treat them as some kind of petting zoo. I’m actually happy to entertain questions about their hair care and styling regimen, their ethnic background, even the color of their skin. But please, don’t touch my kids’ hair.

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Mom Reviews: P. Checks Out The Dolly Adventures

My daughter loves dolls. I mean REALLY loves dolls. Since we’re crunchy granola progressive Massachusetts liberal types, we never specifically encouraged P. to play with dollies, but one by one, a whole flock of them has made their way into our house. I’m not anti-doll – let me make that clear. I just think it’s funny how once P. got hold of a doll, she was hooked! Bald baby dolls in a variety of ethnicities, little girl dolls with curly ponytails, dollies that giggle and say mama, dolls with strollers, and dolls that eat and drink… she loves them all.

So when copies of all three books in The Dolly Adventures series showed up in our mailbox, P. all but lost her mind with excitement. If it had been books alone, she would have been over the moon – but books that come with doll clothes and accessories that are JUST LIKE the dollies in the books have? That’s the kind of present that’s in a league of its own.

Authors Alison Grossman Lynne Grossman – a daughter and mom team, how cool is that? – had more than just dress-up play in mind when they wrote Dolly Goes on Vacation, Dolly Goes to the Beach, and Dolly Goes to the Supermarket. The books address positive concepts like sun safety, healthy eating, patience, and being a good listener – and the clothes and accessories give girls a chance to explore some of those concepts with their dolls, just like the little girl in the story.

dolly adventures - mom meet momI’m all for positive messages in books, but with a four year old you never know how a concept is going to go over. With The Dolly Adventures, I’ve watched P. express interest in new ideas – ideas we try to teach by example but probably don’t talk about enough – on her own and experiment with them through play, just like the little girl in the books. It’s pretty cool to see it in action!

dolly adventures - meet momsOne thing my husband noticed about the books themselves is that the little protagonist is unnamed, which, he suggested, could make it easier for girls to really get into the story and imagine themselves facing the same challenges and situations. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’d say it makes things easier on parents like me who like to switch out main character names for their own kids’ names.

dolly adventures - moms meetThere are a lot of pros that I’ve seen when it comes to The Dolly Adventures, but I would caution moms and dads to be prepared to include dollies, their clothes, and their gear in future outings. I’m pretty sure the doll in the picture below STILL has seawater rattling around in her head!

dolly adventures - dolly at the beachP.’s verdict, in her own words:

“I like that they came with clothes and that the clothes were in the books. It was fun to dress my dolls in the clothes. They’re all my favorites.”

I tried to get more out of her but, well, she’s four. Reviews are definitely not her forte.

I’m now a big fan of these book sets, and P. has said more than once that the authors need to write more. Like I alluded to above, ever since The Dolly Adventures came into our lives, every new outing seems involves dressing yet another doll. I’m okay with that, though, because doll dressing invariably leads to reading and you just can’t beat a toy that inspires little girls to hit the bookshelf!

Featured Mom: Shelley, a (Reluctant) Homeschooler

This week’s Featured Mom is a friend of Mom Meet Mom co-founder Christa – they actually connected through Christa’s husband who has known Shelley for years and years. She is also a homeschooler, albeit reluctantly. It was never her plan, but circumstances being what they were, homeschooling became the right choice for her family. Here’s her story or transitioning into the role of home educator:

I pulled Eden out of kindergarten in March. It had been a miserable six months. By January, she learned how to feign illness (not convincingly) to avoid school, and I felt sick every morning when I dropped her off.

That meant just shy of my fortieth birthday, I was going to do a thing I swore I’d never do: I’d teach her myself. At home.

Eden called it “Mommy Village School,” a play on the name of the school she’d left, which was just as well. I couldn’t bring myself to say “homeschooling.”

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Shelley and Eden, doing some chemistry

Teaching Eden wasn’t without precedent. When she was three, I gave up litigation to stay home—another thing I swore I’d never do—and we filled our days with rambles through downtown Portland, the zoo, the science museum, and Powell’s Books. (She still thinks Powell’s is a library.) We’d take the train to the airport to watch jets, or the streetcar to the tram up to the teaching hospital on the hill where she was born. On the tram, she would gravely inform the doctors, nurses, and other professionals they shouldn’t worry because “it feels like a boat.”

And so in March, I bought her an IKEA desk and myself a textbook on teaching math. We started going to the science museum for chemistry labs and planetarium shows. I joined the art museum after Eden informed me she wasn’t drawing scribbles, she was making abstract art. We went to the zoo. We went on hikes. We visited the Audubon sanctuary often enough I swear the turkey vulture and raven know us on sight.

I bought number charts and word family charts and solar system charts. We did worksheets. Math worksheets. Reading worksheets. She zipped through them and asked for more.

Surely it couldn’t be this easy. There had to be a catch, right?

Yes. The random strangers we encountered daily, who asked my tall six-year-old what grade she was in and which school she attended.

For every person who said, “Good for you!” when they learned I’d taken on kindergarten, twenty said I was an idiot. Granted, it’s Portland, so they were nominally polite. And because it’s Portland, I had to answer their questions.

I quickly learned the code words: “Not a good fit.”

“Not a good fit” is polite, artful, and succinct. It covers unequal treatment by an unqualified teacher who tolerated bullying. “Not a good fit” covers a teacher who didn’t see a funny, quirky kid, but a troublemaker who asked too many questions and had too many “academic” interests. (Yes, the teacher hissed “academic” like a bad word.) One day at pickup, the teacher chastised me because Eden “was telling the other children the names of the birds in the garden.”

Surprised, I managed, “Well, was she right?

The problem is “not a good fit” explains why we left, not why I was teaching her myself. Discerning interrogators hopped right on it.

You see, according to every(busy)body, I’d ruined Eden by pulling her from kindergarten. She was going to be a quitter. She wouldn’t know how to stick it out. She wouldn’t know how to interact with children her age. And why didn’t I just put her in another school?

The owner of a local boutique—who does not worry about making a tank of gas stretch two weeks—told me Eden would suffer socially. (Eden was chatting up a saleswoman at the time.) Then she asked why I didn’t put her in the private Montessori school her son attends.

That was my last time in her shop.

I never said to anyone, “I have a BA in history with a chemistry minor. I was employed by a community college to tutor biology and chemistry students. I have a JD. I’ve practiced in state and federal court. I’ve edited novels. Yes, it would be nice to put her into a private school, but we don’t have that kind of money. Instead, we have me.”

(Maybe I should have. For all the handwringing, she’s doing early first grade work now.)

Last week she attended science camp, and her teachers made a point of telling me how much they were enjoying her, how funny and sweet and polite she is.

I almost cried. That was the experience she’d had in daycare and in preschool. That is normal.

In kindergarten, everything felt wrong because everything was wrong. It was a bad fit in many, many ways. In the four months since March, she’s mentioned her old school three times. Total. Last week she called it “the bully school.”

This fall, she’s attending first grade at a school that emphasizes science, the arts, and civics. No one will mind if she has the Field Guide of North American Birds memorized.

What’s more? She’s looking forward to first grade.

It Takes a Village – Helping One Fellow Mom Find a Donor

With all of the positive parenting stories out there, at times, inevitably, we are crossed with the tough ones. A few days ago, I was hit with that tough story when a friend called on her Facebook network in an effort to spread the news about a dear friend. She included a link from the Boston Globe: Awaiting Transplant Cancer Patient Chances Depend on her Korean Heritage.

The Globe article explained how this one local mom’s fate depends on slim odds and the possibility that someone from a similar genealogy makeup will read about her case and step up to the plate. Time is critical. With acute myeloid leukemia, Mandy Manocchio-Putney, mother of two boys, needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life.

Mandy and her family

This will be far from easy compared to Mandy’s Caucasian neighbors, as a bone marrow donor is required to have a similar genetic makeup of the recipient. Mandy’s Korean descent makes it all the more challenging. The Globe article explained, the more diverse an individual’s evolutionary history is, the harder it becomes to find a match. Since populations in Africa and Asia developed in the face of some of the most diverse conditions, many of its people have unique genetic types.

It Takes a Village - Bone Marrow Drive for Mandy!

With faith and hope at the forefront, Mandy’s friends and family are working hard behind the scenes to organize two donor drives. One will be held on Sept. 4 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA and the second on Sept. 7 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Sharon American Legion headquarters, MA. The drives are open to people of all races, but organizers are particularly interested in Asian-Americans.

Despite her obstacle, Mandy’s spirits are positive and hopeful. She currently is undergoing chemotherapy at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and hopes to return to Boston soon for a transplant. As fellow mothers, let’s please help Mandy’s family and friends spread the word and continue to build a village of support, so that her prayers for a transplant will become a reality.

Early Childhood Development: Managing Through Development Delays

The following guest post is from Dr. Alicen-J. McGowan PhD, a  Child and Adolescent Therapist in Chicago. Her specialties are Substance Use Disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Dr. Alicen J. McGowan

 

Parenting is challenging enough without added pressure from outside sources. Meaningful relatives and friends ask questions such as, “Why isn’t she walking – your cousin’s girl was walking at this age?” or “My grandmother always told us that he should have teeth by four months – I wonder why he doesn’t have teeth.”  We begin to doubt ourselves and think that maybe we should talk with the Pediatrician, but we don’t know where to begin. And besides, we don’t want to bother the Doctor about silly things. But at some point – and it is different for everyone- we feel the need to have outside professional help if our child is behind in certain areas of development.

As a mother, grandmother and Child Therapist myself, I understand your concerns. Conversations about parenting challenges and your child’s development are difficult. We fear the worst.  If you feel like your child is falling short in one or a few areas, the following tips will help you determine how to move forward.

WATCH FOR EARLY SIGNS AND COMMUNICATE

This is tough because sometimes things are not as simple as they seem. Your Pediatrician will provide you with a list, detailing where your child should be at each stage of his or her development. jUST ASK FOR IT. This list is built with the typical child in mind and it’s important to understand that children fall on both sides of the markers and grow at different rates. If you start to see that your child is not excelling in a particular area- be it mentally, physically or emotionally- have a detailed conversation with your pediatrician, giving examples as early as possible. This will help the doctor guide you toward a better understanding of what to watch for. When you leave the appointment, continue to track your child and follow-up with the doctor accordingly. But remember this is just a guideline.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND YOUR SPOUSE

No one wakes up one morning and says to the universe, “Gee, I would like to have a child with all sorts of special needs and challenges.” There is little or nothing you can do to change what is given to you. This is one of those gifts you cannot exchange. But you can change your attitude. The most successful parents are those who work as a team. Talk, laugh, live well, and keep learning about your child’s struggle. But do it together. Support each other and do not take this on as a one-person crusade.

LOVE YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILD EQUALLY

Now this may be difficult at first. We are socialized into believing that our children must come first at all costs. But just as in the airplane instruction manual, when the oxygen mask falls from above, put yours on first. You need to stay in good shape by taking time each day for yourself. Reach out to a friend for an hour of their time, so you can take a walk. Sit down on a chair and read while your child is napping. Or give yourself a facial. The housework will be there later. And that one hour will be rejuvenating.

UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR PEDIATRICIAN IS NOT A WIZARD

He or she is trying to be compassionate. They take your observations and put them into a category. That is all the name or diagnosis is – nothing more, nothing less. It is a starting point for developing a game plan to help your child become even more wonderful. You already know there is a challenge ahead. So deal with the news as a newspaper reporter does.  It is just information. Don’t give the label power. The words are a guide – neutralize them. And begin your plan for a new adventure with your amazing child!

TRUST YOURSELF

You can tell if your child has delays. You can see if he or she is behind what are socially expected norms. Your child will develop on his own time schedule – not yours or mine! If you are certain that your child needs more time, so be it. You and only you are the authority on your child. Now, that does not mean that you keep your head in the sand. Make sure you continue to monitor your child’s development and educate yourself along the way. If he or she continues to excel at their own pace, that’s wonderful. If not, it might be time to get some outside support.

Lastly, keep this in mind. Your Pediatrician or Nurse Practitioner are there to help facilitate your child’s wellness. They understand that we, parents, do not have all the answers and neither do they. But if we work together, we can be certain that our child will have a great head start on a wonderful life.

6 Tips for Traveling Internationally with a Toddler

When it comes to traveling internationally with a toddler, a lot of parents take a ‘just say no’ approach. And I get it – flying to Germany with a 2 year old or down to Costa Rica with a 3 year old is a lot more work than taking a grownups-only trip to, say, Greece or Egypt. But if you have kids and you love to travel and you want to share that love of travel with them, you’ll need to suck it up and deal with the hassles of long-distance air travel with children. Here are six tips I’ve used to make it easier:

1. If you don’t already have one, get a tablet. Or load up your phone with apps and movies. Animated picture books. Coloring programs. Yes, lots of flights will have in-seat TVs with tons of movie choices, but if your little one is using the headphones, her ears are going to get blasted every time the captain makes an announcement. Plus, if she knows how to use the tablet, you won’t have to stop what you’re doing every ten minutes to help her navigate the in-flight entertainment choices.

Tips for Traveling Internationally with a Toddler

2. Before you leave, explain what will happen during the flight. Will she be sleeping on the plane? Will she watch movies? Will she have to sit in her car seat most of the way? If you’re going to be switching planes, talk about that, too. Other things to talk about might be what it feels like when your ears “pop” and what it’ll be like on the plane if she has never flown at all. Don’t forget to ask your little one what special things she’d like to bring!

3. Don’t overpack toys, diapers, blankets, or clothes in your carry on. Especially diapers or pull-ups if your little one isn’t potty trained – just plan to buy them when you get to your destination. The tablet is going to stand in for most books and if your children are anything like mine, they’ll end up playing with about three toys during a trans-Atlantic flight. Just focus on packing important stuff like lovies, a special blanket, and her favorite snacks.

4. Have familiar things and necessary things at the ready upon your arrival. Lost luggage happens so if you and your partner are each traveling with a bag, make sure both contain the bare minimum when it comes to your kids’ toiletries, clothes, and toys. That way if one of you ends up bagless, your little one won’t suffer for it.

5.Wherever you’re going, know where you can find easy, familiar child-friendly stuff to do ahead of time. Where can you grab a snack and hit the playground close to where you’re staying? Playing the tourist is great and all, but a quick trip to the playground can make traveling feel less overwhelming for toddlers. Your little one may not understand the other kids, but she’ll understand swings and slides and sand underfoot!

6. Finally, don’t neglect yourself! Unless you’re traveling with a toddler specifically to do child-centric activities, there is probably grownup fun waiting for you at your destination. Don’t spend your whole trip managing your toddler and never doing anything cool yourself. This is your vacation, too!

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Why I Think Being a Mom Is Easy

After my last post, I wanted to point out that I really do love being a mom (and, looking back at my other entries, I tend to write about negative stuff, boo). These are the things I try to remind myself on hard days:

1. My kids love me more than anyone else ever has – I’m their mom, and in spite of my self-doubts, I do okay, on average. And these little girls who I carried in my body often want nothing more than to nestle into my arms and smell me, like my mere existence solves problems. It’s pretty much perfect.

2. My kids make me laugh – Bubba tells these great nonsensical three-year-old jokes. (“Why did the chicken cross the road? I DON’T KNOW!”) She says wildly inappropriate things that really make me think, like asking what sort of anatomy a robot would have between its legs. She randomly tells me she thinks my big butt is amazing. Even baby Izzy makes me giggle with her spit bubbles and  intense efforts to eat my hair.

3. Being a mom slows me down – I used to work 60-80 hours a week, mostly in front of a computer or in meetings. Now I work less, spend more time outside, and just notice what is going on in the world around me more.

4. My kids help tie me to my community – the structure and regularity of the girls’ schedule means I see the same people, go to the same places, and feel more of a sense of civic duty and pride than I did before.

5. I feel like my priorities are better – before I became a parent, I was so tied up in my job that I sort of lost focus. My job is still important to me, but my motivation to work comes from a desire to make things better for other moms. I make it a priority to read every day, to go outside every day. I spend more time trying to figure out how I can help.

6. I just love my kids a whole bunch – they are sweet, charming, sassy little girls.

7. Kid games are really fun – we spend a lot of time pretending to be robots, doing crafts without any pressure to make them look like anything on Pinterest, having tea parties, and riding bikes. We sing. We have crazy dance parties and take lots of trips to the park. It’s the best lifestyle ever.

There are about a million other things that make parenting great, but the light from my screen is waking up the baby, so I should stop here. What is your favorite thing about being a mom?

julia high - mom meet mom

Featured Mom: Jaqualine Fort, Professional Wakesurfer and Expectant Mama

All of you moms out there may remember the doctor’s advice to continue exercising as you normally would throughout pregnancy- as long as the activity is not high risk/high impact. And most of us walked away and carried on with our yoga, running, swimming, and other low risk routine activities. Jaqualine Fort is an exception. At 31 weeks pregnant, this momma took living an active lifestyle to a whole new playing field – shredding it up in the wake of a high speed motorboat…

“Homemade sunblock, check! Groceries to eat healthy this weekend, check! Car filled up with gas check! XL life vest to fit over belly, check! Some Vita Coco for the road trip, check! So all I need is my hubby to get home from work and we will be off to the Florida Wake Surf Championship.”

Just another day in the life of Featured Mom Jaqualine Fort – globally ranked professional wakesurfer, naturalist, happy wife and first-time expectant momma of a baby boy. Here’s our interview with this awesome mom-to-be!

So you’re originally from Connecticut. How did you land in Florida?

From the age I knew what Florida was, I knew I would move here! The first time I even got to visit Florida was when I was 18 years old, and I ended up moving here after one semester at the University of Connecticut. I only attended Uconn because one of the sports I did in high school was Track and Field, and I was ranked top 10 in New England for a 3 events. I was mainly a jumper (high, long, and triple jump) but also did short sprints. Uconn was division 1 and recruited me, but after one semester the team was “under/poorly coached” and I was fed up with the snow and the cold! I decided that I NEEDED to be in FL and couldn’t wait any longer. I knew I would surf… I just didn’t know I would become a pro athlete in wakesurfing!

What led you to this high-paced sport?

My high school boyfriend wakeboarded and introduced me to the world of watersports behind a boat! Though I wakeboarded some, I preferred to spend my turns carving up and down the wake. Eventually his family invested in a wakesurf board and I WAS HOOKED!!! When I moved from CT, my skills included just dropping the rope. Two years after I moved here, I met our friend Scott who owns a boat that is when I became fully invested and obsessed with the sport.

Aright, so every momma reading this is thinking, how does she do it?  What motivated you to continue wakesurfing throughout your pregnancy?

Wakesurfing, being in the sun and water, and on a boat is how I de-stress. It is what I look forward to all week! Through all of College (B.S. and M.A.) I worked a full time job and busted my butt in school. But no matter what was going on…boat days were untouchable!! In addition to wakesurfing being amazing for me emotionally and physically I also was motivated to continue riding and competing while pregnant to make a statement I guess.

A statement to my competitors that although I am pregnant, do not count me out! I have been a top rider in the pro level for 6 years, I was not going to risk being forgotten or replaced.

I think I also wanted to make a statement to my family and women in general who have shared such a negative opinion/outlook on pregnancy. Life does not have to stop when you are pregnant or when you have babies. You can still be and need to be you! Every week I had to adjust my riding to my growing belly and energy level, but I still did what I loved and I know my baby is happy when I am happy. I am always safe and have gotten the approval of my midwives so I continue to do as much as my body can handle!

Wakesurfing would be considered a pretty high risk sport for most expecting moms. Have you received any push-back from outsiders on your decision to keep at it while carrying? If so, how do you respond?

I have had a few people express concern, mostly due to the lack of knowledge of the sport. All I have had to really explain is that when wakesurfing, the boat is only going 10-12 mph so a fall feels equivalent to jumping in a pool. And because I have been doing it for 6 years, I know how to fall and protect belly. Plus I always adjust how I ride to how my body feels. I also let them know that all my midwives have approved and told me to just listen to my body. I haven’t had anyone continue to question me after that. Now at contests, I make many of the men nervous! They are not sure how to handle it because they just want to go into protection mode. At the last contest, during my run (turn) they had 2 jet skis follow behind me, just in case. And the judges kept begging me to stop trying things. The judges are also friends and people I have known for 6 years in the sport so I know they are just worried. I choose to feel cared for and loved by their concern. Most women have been so supportive and encouraging to keep on going and just listen to when my body says its had enough.

You must have some great wakesurfing stories. Give us the good stuff.

Like I mentioned, wakesurfing is stress relief for me and something I have been passionate about for many years! I have also surfed with the same friend, who is like a father figure to me, and so I therefore feel very safe on the boat. I used to bring potential boyfriends on the boat to weed them out!  I figured if they were boring or weren’t any fun on a boat, I would know quickly that there was no need for a second date, and because I was on the boat, I would have a great time regardless. One day, I had a friend who wanted to set me up with this guy who was a semi-pro volleyball player who loves the beach and the water. Though I had never been set up before I agreed as long as she brought him on the boat.

This guy is now my husband – Ellis Fort! We totally hit it off that day and set up a lunch date for later in the week – which we never made it to because met up the next evening and talked ALL NIGHT!! Within 7 days he told me that he loved me, and my reply was “if you asked me to marry you today, I would say yes”. We got married one year later and have now been married for 3.5 years and are expecting our son next month! Ellis began wakesurfing when we met and just began competing professionally this year. Sharing this passion with him has been wonderful, and he is the most amazing husband!

How has pregnancy impacted your marriage?

The combination of having such a good pregnancy and the fact that it’s hard for men to comprehend what’s really going on, it has taken a while to feel “real”. He has been so protective of me and the baby as well as supportive and involved in many discussions about how we want to raise our son. He has been an amazing partner in big decisions such as vaccinations, breast feeding, and finances. I think that this pregnancy has had the biggest impact on our sex life.  A fluctuating sex drive has been challenging but my husband has been exceptional and understanding. While he is counting down the days until I am back to myself, he is so loving and supportive.

You have some pretty strong beliefs about living a natural lifestyle. Can you share how these beliefs have impacted your pregnancy and plans for the birth of your son?

My husband and I both have very strong beliefs about maintaining as natural a lifestyle as possible. This has kept us seeking out information constantly and choosing to surround ourselves with people that have the same mindset.  We have chosen to deliver at a birthing center that does not even offer pain medication for delivery, with midwives that are confident and knowledgeable about how strong a women’s body is and that it can  handle bringing a baby into this world.  We have just finished our research about vaccinations and are now seeking a pediatrician that will support our decision to not vaccinate, not use medications as an initial treatment, and to not circumcise our son. Because of our beliefs, we have also decided that it is best for me to stay home with our son so I can breastfeed as well as keep him out of daycare.  This is a sacrifice that we planned for and that we find necessary and so worth it.

Is it true that you are currently on bed rest?

I was on bed rest for a few days and now am trying to match activity with an equal amount  of rest. The week before our baby shower, my husband had the week off so we used the whole time to clean, cook, do yard work, decorate, and shop for house items. I overdid it a bit.  I felt okay but was just having too many braxton hicks contractions. After rest and  adjusting how much I do in one day I feel much better. I still plan on surfing for a few minutes this weekend… it will just be my allotted activity for the whole day.

What other hobbies and interests do you have outside of wakesurfing?

My other hobbies and interests include ocean surfing, exercising (running and weightlifting though its been minimal during this pregnancy), and playing beach volleyball with my hubby. I also LOVE crafts! I love to sew, paint, scrapbook, and being creative in any way possible! My latest ventures have been making lots of baby things including cloth diapers, cloth wipes, a diaper bag, a ring sling, and wall art for baby’s room.)

Do you have any mom or expecting mom friends?

I have 2 friends who are expecting! They are due after me but it’s nice that they don’t tire of the endless baby talk! I also have a few friends and a family member that have young kids so we will be able to have play dates. One couple specifically has two young kids and are raising them like we want to raise ours. They have been super supportive and offered lots of support after baby arrives.

What are your plans for after the baby is born?

I will be a stay at home mom until we have a family member or close friend that we trust to babysit, then I will go back to work part time.  I am a speech and language pathologist so there are positions that have flexible schedules. We want kids close together… I am a twin and my husband and his brother are 18 months apart. We love and cherish the relationship between siblings who are close in age.  Though we are in for a world of chaos that we cannot possibly understand until our baby arrives, we are striving for close pregnancies. Taking care of our son and next baby, and keeping them out of daycare is definitely our priority, and is worth the sacrifice of my income.

As you face the home stretch of your pregnancy, do you have any advice for other expecting moms out there who are just now embracing the beginning stages of pregnancy?

My advice would be to eat as healthy as possible and try not to use pregnancy as a reason to indulge. Stay as active as your body will allow and listen to it when you need rest. Pregnancy can be amazing when you take care of yourself and your baby:) Oh, and research everything you can!

Updated Photo/Video – Below, Jaqualine still shredding it up at 38 weeks pregnant (that’s full-term)! 

To meet other cool local moms and expecting moms like Jaqualine, signup for Mom Meet Mom! If you’d like to be our next Featured Mom, email christa@mommeetmom.com!

 

Gain Support and a Positive Attitude by Finding Moms of Children with Autism Nearby

Discovering that your child has been diagnosed with autism can be extremely difficult. Without the right  support system, you could find yourself living and parenting in isolation. The truth is you are far from alone on this journey. There are very likely several moms and caregivers nearby who are going through the same emotions and facing the same challenges in your town. Just like you, they’re trying to provide the best atmosphere and education so that your child can thrive and move forward.  And though doctors and local organizations that cater to the autism community are very helpful in providing you with tools to help your child, there is something to be said about connecting with someone who is living what you are living day in and day out.

Here are three ways you can defeat the isolation that can come with an autism diagnosis at any age:

Plan some playdates that will cater to your child’s needs. Children with autism often thrive in different settings than children who do not fall on on the spectrum. Though it is very important to engage your child in activities with children outside of the spectrum, it is also critical to stimulate your child in an environment that he/she thrives in. Rather than go at it alone, try to find another mom in the area with a child who is also on the spectrum and focus playtime on activities that your children can enjoy together.

Discover new social learning techniques that come from real-life experiences. With all of the research shared within the autism community, present day moms with children on the spectrum are armed with some remarkable tools and tactics that are truly groundbreaking. There is no question that the medical community and society have come a long way, and we are bound to see some pretty amazing things in the future. Take advantage of the resources available, but also seek out real-world techniques that other moms have discovered while raising their children. You may be surprised to discover the simplest techniques that have help a nearby mom tremendously also work for your child.

Give yourself a break. You deserve it. Every mom needs a break from the day-to-day momma routine. You are an amazing parent and you should celebrate all that you do with some social time. Hire a sitter or ask the hubby to watch the kids for a night or on a Saturday while you get out with another mom who needs the break just as much. Hit a local spa for that message, go see a new movie, indulge in a shopping spree, or go out on the town for a few much deserved cocktails.

At Mom Meet Mom, we understand firsthand that many mothers face unique family challenges. Don’t forget that it takes a village to raise a child and your village could very likely be right down the road. If you are raising a child with autism, we would love to hear from you. Your input/feedback will help us to continue to improve the Mom Meet Mom experience for families whose experiences include autism.

meg gerritson - Mom Meet Mom

7 Reasons I Chose Not to Circumcise

Way back when I was pregnant with my first and we didn’t know the gender yet, I went on a serious information gathering rampage. The question on my mind was whether we’d circumcise if our little mystery fetus turned out to be a boy or leave him intact. I know that for some families, the issue is cut and dried. Religion can make it a no-brainer. Just being American can make it a no-brainer. But for us, we didn’t have a religious reason to circumcise, and since about half my family lives in Europe, I didn’t feel cultural pressure to circumcise.

I had NO idea that circumcision rates vary so widely by state in the US (in 2009, it was 12% in Nevada and 87% West Virginia, with 54% being the countrywide average), and are very, very low in other parts of the world (though quite high in the Middle East as you might expect). Where we live in MA, rates are smack dab in the middle so our kids would be in good company no matter what we decided to do.

Then, thanks to my first’s double X chromosomes we were able to shelve the whole issue. But when my son was in utero, the question came up again and ultimately we decided not to circ. Here’s why:

  • It seemed odd to me to cut off a perfectly good piece of my baby. Men all over the world (including about half of my male extended family members) are enjoying life with foreskins. As with most parts of the body, my opinion is that you leave stuff where it ought to be unless you have a good (medical) reason to modify it or remove it.
  • Aesthetics was not a good enough reason in my opinion for me to subject Bo to a surgical procedure. Or any procedure. It’s the same reason I didn’t pierce P.’s ears when she was a baby. As cute as those tiny baby earrings are, I don’t feel like it’s my place to make permanent decisions about what my children’s bodies will look like (except when medically appropriate).
  • The ‘looking like dad’ line of reasoning falls under the umbrella of aesthetics, but I’ll address it directly. P. has blonde hair and I have brown. I’m not going to dye her hair to match mine. And I can’t bring myself to subject my baby to surgery for the same reason. Lots of kids look different than their parents in lots of different ways. It’s not traumatizing.
  • I don’t feel like it’s my place to make decisions about my son’s future sexuality/sexual satisfaction, which is what I feel like I’d be doing by removing a part of the penis that both has nerve endings and can play a role in sex. If he wants to get circumcised one day for looks, he can do that when he’s a grown man.
  • The APP supports circumcision without full on recommending routine circumcision for every new baby because when it comes to HIV transmission rates and rates of penile cancer, circ’ed guys have a tiny edge. But in the US, condoms are both available and culturally acceptable, and I hope my kids will be smart enough to wrap it before they tap it when they grow up. And penile cancer is really, really rare already.
  • Re: keeping clean… the eventual maintenance of the intact penis is much like the eventual maintenance of lady parts. Or any other part for that matter. A thorough rinse that gets to the crevices is more than adequate. As babies, they’re not that dirty so baths and a quick swipe get the job done. By the time kids are older and ickier, they’re old enough to keep their own parts clean.
  • I read about the procedure. Then I watched a video of the procedure. With sound. ::shudder::

I know it’s a fairly controversial issue, so if you DID circ for any of the above reasons please don’t feel like I’m calling you out or trying to pick a fight. Different strokes for different folks, I say! I totally welcome friendly debates, however, so comment away! Did you circumcise your boys? Why?

christa terry - mom meet mom