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Monday, October 20th, 2014
Going back to work after having a baby is tough enough, but can you imagine having to return during your maternity leave? With your newborn in tow?
That was the reality smack dealt to immigration attorney and new mom Stacy Ehrisman-Mickle earlier this month, when an immigration judge in Atlanta denied her request to delay a hearing that fell during her paltry six-week leave. Though two other judges granted her similar delays, Judge J. Dan Pelletier Sr. claimed there was “no good cause” to push this one back, ABC News reports. And rather than let Ehrisman-Mickle know this before she went on leave, he sat on the request for nearly a month before rejecting it a mere five days before the hearing was to take place.
To say the new mom was surprised would be an understatement. In fact, she was in bed when her secretary called her with the unfortunate news. “I was in a state of panic. I didn’t know what to do with my baby,” she told The Associated Press. With her husband out of town, no family in the area and a baby too young for day care, Ehrisman-Mickle had no choice but to bring her daughter to court with her. (She first cleared it with her pediatrician, who advised her to wear the infant in a carrier facing inward to avoid germs.)
As if walking into a courtroom with a baby strapped to your chest wasn’t rough enough for the attorney, the four-week-old started crying in the middle of the proceedings. Judge Pelletier’s response? Why, fuss at the new mom for being inappropriate, of course, and then wonder aloud whether her pediatrician would be upset about all the germs the baby was being exposed to. ”I was embarrassed. I felt humiliated,” she said of the public dressing down.
Demoralizing complete, Pelletier granted a delay until Ehrisman-Mickle’s doctor gives her the OK to go back to work. Meanwhile, the new mom has filed a formal complaint against the judge, and an investigating judge has already interviewed her to get her side of the story. Pelletier is staying tight-lipped for now (smart move, I think). According to ABC News, he said immigration judges can’t comment publicly, and the branch of the Department of Justice that oversees immigration courts also won’t comment.
I don’t know what’s more frustrating about this story — the wildly unreasonable judge or the fact that it’s oftentimes up to us parents to fight for (and protect) whatever maternity leave we can eke out. The sorry state of our country’s leave policy has been the source of some discussion lately. (We’re the only developed country without laws that provide paid maternity leave.) It made the agenda during the White House Summit on Working Families, and the Department of Labor even came out with a video encouraging paid leave laws. But despite the support, lawmakers have yet to enact laws that will give new moms and dads the precious time they need to care for their newborns. Maybe the sight of Ehrisman-Mickle — tired but smiling on the way into court, with her baby nestled in a carrier against her business suit — is enough to spur them on to (finally) effect real change.
Tell us: How was your maternity leave? Were you able to enjoy it, or was it interrupted by work demands?
Getting ready to go back to work after baby? Check out our tips for making a smooth transition back from maternity leave. And if you’re considering becoming a SAHM, you can use our Stay at Home Calculator to see if you can afford to make the move. To keep up with the latest baby news, don’t forget to like All About Babies on Facebook!
Image of gavel in courtroom courtesy of Shutterstock
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Friday, October 17th, 2014
I fretted about a million things during my son’s first year of life, but making sure he was socializing with other children actually kept me up at night. He had playdates, of course — his very first friend lived three floors above us — but was he around other kids enough, I wondered? In fact, I was so wrapped up in his social development that it never occurred to me I could use a little help making new mom friends. After all, the playground crowd isn’t always the easiest to break into. Mamas are often either too busy, too tired, or too shy to strike up a conversation.
In lieu of uncomfortable chitchat at the bottom of the slides, some mothers are trying a new way to meet friends: speed dating. As Today.com reports, these just-for-us services are starting to crop up around the country and work the same as regular speed dating. You and a perfect stranger are given a few minutes to meet each other before you both move on to the next person. At the end of the event, you write down a list of the women you hit it off with, and the next day, you’ll receive an email with your mom matches. And from there, hopefully, an honest-to-goodness friendship will follow. “It’s really just meant to be a fun thing that helps moms find someone that they connect with, helping them build their village and introducing them to someone they may want to go through this journey alongside,” says Robin Hieatt, a Texas mom of two and founder of Moms Matched.
Personally, I think the idea of mom speed dating is a stroke of genius. We’re notoriously strapped for free time — and let’s face it, the gig can get kind of lonely — so why not streamline the friend-making process? Sure, I imagine having to be chatty (over and over again) with a stranger is a little awkward, but so is trying to make a connection at the playground. At least here, you’re around other women who are going through the same life-changing experience and, like you, just want a buddy to share it with. And — best part — you can have an entire conversation without stopping to wipe away tears, pick up toys, or clean off a bottle.
Tell us: How did you meet your mom friends? Would you ever try something like speed dating?
They grow up fast — make sure you don’t miss a single moment with our Baby Milestone Tracker. And keep up with the latest baby news by liking All About Babies on Facebook!
Image of two moms courtesy of Shutterstock
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Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Like sugary snacks and cloth diapers, it seems like everyone has an opinion about whether it’s okay for babies and toddlers to veg out with the iPad (or iPhone or TV) every now and then. Even former Secretary of State (and new grandmother) Hillary Clinton chimed in, telling attendees at last week’s American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) convention that a glowing, touch-sensitive screen is no substitute for face-to-face interactions with mom and dad.
And while I have yet to meet a parent who thinks a three-hour “Caillou” marathon is an awesome way for baby to spend an afternoon, I have met many who think nothing of pulling out the iPad during story time. After all, reading to your child is one of the best things you can do — it can help build his language and social skills and even stimulate early brain development. What difference does it make if “Goodnight Moon” comes from a tablet or a board book?
That’s the question at the heart of a current conversation within the medical community, according to a recent article in the New York Times. Though the AAP recommends no screen time for children under 2 and fewer than 2 hours for older kids, the jury is out on the value of reading to baby from a tablet. That’s because the technology is relatively new, so experts haven’t been able to perform long-term studies on how, exactly, it affects baby’s learning.
But that’s not to say that research hasn’t been done to support both sides. The article pointed to a few studies, one as recent as 2013, that concluded kids ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from a physical book had better reading comprehension than kids whose parents read to them from eBooks. And when you think about how you read a book to your baby, the findings make a lot of sense. “There’s a lot of interaction when you’re reading a book with your child,” said Dr. Pamela High, who wrote a recent AAP policy that recommended pediatricians remind parents of the importance of story time with baby. “You’re turning pages, pointing at pictures, talking about the story. Those things are lost somewhat when you’re using an eBook.”
On the flip side, there’s some evidence that an eBook or learning app that’s super interactive can help kids learn words faster (though it doesn’t do much in the way of helping them learn language).
All of which leaves us parents scratching our heads. Are eBooks screen time brain candy or a decent alternative to board books? Are we bad moms and dads for letting our kids play with apps that emphasize reading? Hardly. Personally, I’ve downloaded a handful of learning apps and will let my son play with them while I hop in the shower for a few minutes or need some moments of quiet to prep dinner. And as closely as I tried to follow the AAP’s screen time rules, there were instances in the first two years when my baby looked at a screen (weekly FaceTime sessions with faraway grandparents, for one). But I can’t say I feel guilty about that. Sometimes, I need all the help I can get, and if that comes in the way of 10 minutes of him playing Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, so be it.
At the end of the day, I think it’s all about balance. For every brief iPad session he has, there are hours we spend cuddling together and reading about the latest Clifford/Pigeon/Little Blue Truck adventure. As much as I appreciate the spiffiness of these interactive apps and eBooks, I happen to think nothing can replace the experience of reading to my son from a regular book. We touch the paper and nothing jumps or whistles or spins. We linger over pictures and sound out letters together without help from a Siri-like voice. And, unplugged, we have a conversation.
Tell us: What’s your take on screen time for your baby? Do you think an e-book can replace a regular book?
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Image of mom and baby looking at tablet courtesy of Shutterstock
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Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
A new study has confirmed what scientists have suspected: your memory of labor is influenced more by how painful it was than by how long it lasted. This makes perfect sense to me. I know the hard numbers of my labor: 23 hours in the delivery room, two(!) epidurals, one baby. But my recollection of the actual experience is a bit spotty, the most vivid moments being the epidurals, the stretches of excruciating back labor pain and the second my son entered the world.
Apparently, I’m not alone. The study’s team of scientists somehow got 320 pregnant women to allow a researcher into the delivery room with them, reports Science Daily. Every 20 minutes, the researcher asked the woman to rate her pain on a scale of 1 (no pain) to 100 (worst pain possible). (Side note: Can you imagine having a perfect stranger regularly quiz you on how much pain you’re in while you’re in labor?) The same tenacious researcher followed up with the new mom two days and two months after baby was born, asking her to use the same 1-100 scale to evaluate her labor pain from beginning to end.
For the most part, the pain ratings women gave postpartum were fairly similar to the ones they offered during the throes of labor. Yet, how long they labored had no bearing on how much pain they remember feeling. This falls right in line with a phenomenon known as “duration neglect,” where we remember the pain of an event and ignore everything else, including how long it lasted. (The study’s full results were published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.)
The scientists also found that an epidural can influence your memory of labor, since it effectively blocks the pain. Women who received one reported feeling relatively moderate pain when interviewed after the fact, this despite the fact that they were in labor for longer. Researchers point to two possible reasons for this: duration neglect and the fact that the epidural is already in effect by the end of labor, when pain is most intense. Or, as they wrote in the findings, “In practical terms, these results suggest that epidural analgesia is not only beneficial during childbirth itself but also effective in modulating memory of it.”
Tell us: What do you remember about your labor?
Have questions about your baby? We have answers — just check out our comprehensive Baby Q&A. And be sure to like All About Babies on Facebook to keep up with the latest baby news!
Image of woman in hospital courtesy of Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
Ever wonder what your baby did in the delivery room, aside from getting kissed, undergoing Apgar tests, and posing for selfies? The question intrigued a group of Swedish scientists enough that they turned it into a study. The researchers watched videos of 28 newborns to see how they instinctively behaved in their first 70 minutes of life. The results were published in January 2011 in Acta Paediatrica and recently reported on in Science News.
What they discovered was that a newborn’s early moments look an awful lot like how most of us spend Thanksgiving Day (but maybe with fewer tears). The general timeline looks something like this: Baby enters the world and lets out a big cry (Minute 0), relaxes for a minute on your chest (Minute 2) then wakes up and opens his eyes for the first time (Minute 2.5). When it’s time to look for food, he starts searching for your breasts. (Minute 8). Another rest (Minute 18). Revived, the hunt begins again, this time with baby actively scooching up toward you (Minute 36) until — tah dah! — he finds the nipple and starts nursing (Minute 62). Belly full, he takes another snooze (Minute 70).
Sound about par for the course, right? While there are no major surprises here, I’m grateful somebody took the time to document our kiddo’s earliest minutes of life. (Heaven knows my memories of that time are either incredibly vivid or hopelessly hazy.) If nothing else, seeing baby’s natural instincts at work drives home to me the importance of skin-to-skin contact and, of course, helping brand-new moms who want to give breastfeeding a shot.
Tell us: How much do you remember about the first hour after baby was born?
Nursing may be great for your baby, but it’s not always easy on you. We’ve got the solutions to your biggest breastfeeding problems. And be sure to like All About Babies on Facebook to keep up with the latest baby news!
Image of newborn with mom courtesy of Shutterstock
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