Friday, April 27, 2012

What I learned delivering our second son

Our new baby is two weeks old as of yesterday. Here are the things I forgot or relearned the second time around. I hope these notes help someone else headed into delivery.

Labor & delivery isn't the same the second time around: 
- I was induced with our first son and only had pitocin-induced contractions. It REALLY is true that in 'natural' labor, you do get a pain-free break in-between contractions. I didn't believe the women who told me this. Happy to say they were right, I was wrong.
-I actually had a harder delivery with this baby. We were both fine, and I'm recovering, but I went in with the expectation that it would be easier than delivering my first. It's good to go in with an open mind.

Things I wish I had brought with me to the hospital: 
-one of those eye masks airlines give you; might make it a little easier to sleep. Hospital rooms are bright during the day AND night
-nasal spray to help reduce dry nose from the air in those rooms (I was able to get some from the hospital pharmacy)
-pillow for my husband--they didn't provide him one.
-T-shirt to wear over my nursing tank (so all the photos wouldn't be quite so busty)

Things I was really happy to have in the hospital: 
-My husband. This sounds obvious, but the only thing I really needed was him. Everything else was just nice to have.
- Granola bars for middle of the night; charger for phones; make-up (make the effort to put some on... the difference in the pictures is remarkable)
-Nursing tank and maternity (or just loose) PJ bottoms--I got out of the hospital gown the morning after our baby was born and I felt so much more human!; my own clothes for the baby--he was 9 pounds 11 oz and too big for the infant shirts they provide at the hospital. The ones I brought were bigger and more comfy for him.
-A nite nurse who persuaded me to put the baby in the nursery so I could sleep a little on that second night. I hadn't sleep the first night when he was born, and she knew what I was headed for (see below about first night at home). If I could do it again, I would have sent the baby to the nursery the first night so I might have slept a little then. But who knows if that would have made a difference. There's such an adrenaline high after you deliver, it's hard to relax and go to sleep. I'm not sure there's a way to make the first few days of new, or re-newed, motherhood easier. Make sure your husband knows what's coming so he can support you.
-ice packs: USE THEM. And change them out more often than you go to the bathroom. You need that cold compress on your bottom to help with the swelling/healing. I didn't use the ice packs as much as I could have/should have.
-birth ball to sit on/lay over in labor
-my own pillow
-Gatorade (nice break from water)
-Chapstick (it's really dry in the hospital)

Things I brought but didn't need:
-slippers (I just wore the sock-slippers provided by the hospital)
-'fancy' going home outfit for me.
-my own underwear (I just wore the hospital-provided ones)
-ipod; I didn't end up listening to it.

Once we got home:

- The first night with the newborn at home is awful. He nursed ALL NIGHT. I almost lost my mind. But, by the next my milk came in, the baby was sated, and we got a little sleep. The all-night nursing is what brings in the milk... so it's important. But, if I could do it again, I might give a 2-oz bottle of formula to give me a little sleep.
-If you had a vaginal delivery, use the sits bath. It really helps with healing. Also, make sure you have extra maxi-pads at home, extra tucks pads, and cortisone cream. Set up a little station for yourself on each level of the house so you don't have to go upstairs to have all your stuff together.
-Set up changing stations for the baby on each floor of the house; stairs are not your friend in the first weeks after delivery, regardless of how the baby comes out.
-Get help in the house. I didn't expect we would need it. My husband was home for 2 weeks. We were so wrong. With a four-year-old to care for as well, we are absolutely knocked over with the burden of both new baby and big baby. We had another adult (aunt, friend, babysitter) with us for every night, and sometimes most of the day, for the first 10 or 12 days.
-Don't expect you'll be ready for visitors: we weren't until well into week two.

New evidence on reducing infant pain for immunizations

If you missed it this week, a study in Pediatrics demonstrates the effectiveness of the 5 S's (from the Happiest Baby on the Block guy) in reducing infant pain with shots even more than a simple sugar solution.

Here's the NPR story on the findings.

I plan to do this instead of the sugar water for our new baby's first shots.

Monday, March 26, 2012

For the expectant parent

Some very helpful tips on photographing your new baby in the hospital. Not rocket science. But those of you who are pregnant, or pregnant by proxy (husbands) can likely relate to the periodic moments of panic: "will I look horrible in those hospital pictures". My take-home message from this article? Black-and-white pictures are the best-friend of blotchy-faced newly delivered mom/baby.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another article about moms in science

Thanks to Michael Cook for sharing this article about moms who do math (or don't) from American Scientist. The readers of this blog have all made the choice to balance, with all its challenges. I know of many other women who have left their chosen field in order to find an easier path.

I just have to say that I am very grateful for the women scientists in DCEG. In addition to being leaders in your field, you serve as outstanding models to junior women in science, and to non-scientists women in the workforce. I know it's often a slog, but you do it beautifully.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good to read for moms of boys

My husband sent me this nice article today about how to think about raising boys. Much of it was stuff I knew already from my nearly four years of experience of mothering a boy. Still, it was a nice reminder.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Is Motherhood the Biggest Reason for Academia's Gender Imbalance?

[Pasting full text of the article below as Science isn't typically available outside the NIH Firewall]

Is Motherhood the Biggest Reason for Academia's Gender Imbalance?

Jeffrey Mervis

A new paper by two developmental psychologists on the dearth of women in academic science argues that the cause of the gender imbalance is much easier to identify than most researchers have posited. The solution is also more obvious, they say, although that doesn't mean it will be easy to implement (see sidebar). Not surprisingly, their provocative assertions, in a paper titled “When Scientists Choose Motherhood,” have stirred the pot in an already contentious field.

Writing in the March/April issue of American Scientist, Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci of Cornell University argue that the traditional view of female underrepresentation as a complex mixture of discrimination, differential abilities, and career preferences misses the mark. Instead, say the husband-and-wife team, the evidence from studies stretching back more than a decade points overwhelmingly to the primacy of “the dynamics of family formation in Western society,” or, in a word, motherhood.

Williams and Ceci are certainly not the first to note that the desire to have a family hives off a significant fraction of women who have made it through graduate school and postdoctoral training in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields and who stand at the brink of an academic career. Despite their clear interest and talent, the authors say, women in their prime childbearing years are often forced to make a stark choice between having a family and pursuing a career for which they have trained all their adult lives. “Why is it that women are given one 7-year interval in which to amass a research portfolio and have two kids?” Williams asks, referring to the typical time frame for an assistant professor to earn tenure at a major research university. “That's crazy. Men don't have to do that. It's this societal-designed unfairness that's rooted in biology.”

Researchers from nearly every scientific discipline have spent decades examining the reasons behind gender differences in math and science, from the nursery to the Nobel Prize. Some studies have found systemic bias and discrimination, whether deliberate or inadvertent, to be a major factor in the imbalance. Others argue that the slight edge for boys in mathematical ability among highly gifted students translates into a significant difference in adult success in math-intensive STEM fields. A third camp sees personal preferences—“working with people versus things,” as some describe it—as the driving force behind the divergent career choices by men and women.

In their new article, which builds on a 2011 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors assert that a “misdirection” of resources toward problems that no longer exist has slowed progress. In particular, they take issue with those who say that correcting the gender imbalance will require a wholesale revamping of societal attitudes toward women and a reworking of the nation's educational system. What is more important, they say, is to change the current rigid system at universities of rewarding academic excellence. “More flexibility in the early years would allow them to have a family and become full-fledged researchers, too,” says Williams, who notes that having three daughters influenced the couple's decision in 2005 to jump into this contentious field. “But the current system doesn't let them back in.”

It's no surprise that an aggressive attack on those analyses would trigger strong rebuttals from researchers who are passionate about the topic. In particular, many researchers think Williams and Ceci have oversimplified what they say is a very complex issue and selectively chosen data to bolster their case.
“There are many reasons why women are not succeeding at the same rate as men in academic math-related fields,” says Diane Halpern, a prominent scholar on sex differences and cognitive abilities and a psychologist at Claremont McKenna College in California. Although she agrees that “tenure and biological clocks run in the same time zone,” she questions how Williams and Ceci can place motherhood above the other factors, especially when those factors don't lend themselves to a quantitative comparison.

Halpern, a former president of the American Psychological Association, was lead author of a widely cited 2007 paper that took a sober look at the science of sex differences. “People were very unhappy with us when we concluded that lots of things are very important,” she notes. “They said, ‘So you mean you don't really know?’ But our response was, ‘That's the answer.’”

Donna Nelson, a chemistry professor at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, has spent 2 decades collecting data on hiring and promotion practices among U.S. research universities. She says she's worried that Williams and Ceci are making the same mistake that they accuse their critics of making: putting all their eggs in one basket.

“I think this article does have merit, for a subset of women, during one part of their lives,” Nelson says. “However, it has not uncovered a problem which, when solved, will create an equal environment for women.” Nelson says it would be unfortunate if departments “were to invest millions of dollars in things like in-house daycare centers” only to find that such investments improved conditions for “a relatively small number of women.”

At the same time, most researchers applaud Williams and Ceci for shining a light on an issue important not just to U.S. academic science but also to the country's economic well-being. And they welcome their call to action. “There has to be a sense that the outcome—more women in math-related fields—is desirable,” Halpern says. “There also has to be people willing to stand up and speak out on their campuses. Academia is really the only profession where people are faced with this early up or out. And it's incredibly expensive to lose talented people.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The perils of co-sleeping

No, this post is not a lecture about why you shouldn't co-sleep with your little bundle of joy. Instead, I'm offering a link to a hilarious article on Huffington Post about the 'perils' of co-sleeping. It made me laugh out loud--high praise, let me tell you. Parents of older babies and children will be peeing in their pants. Seriously, go to the loo before reading this.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tips for a happy marriage: be generous

This article on being generous in your marriage ran in the NY Times Magazine in December, but I just happened to read it today. I found it a very helpful reminder of how to show love and appreciation to my spouse.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Your Toddler's Brain

Have you ever wondered about the inner workings of your toddler's brain? Here is a clever answer!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The truth about parenthood

A fellow Mommy sent me this fantastic post from a Huffington Post blogger about motherhood. I think all of us have  been cautioned by older parents to 'savor every moment'. Here's a real-life take on what that means, and how to take the advice without losing your mind.

I recall one particularly thoughtful older woman telling me when our son was an infant, "the days are long but the years fly by." That was much more palatable than the 'enjoy every moment'-type remark.

Enjoy every word of this article!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Would you ever rent maternity clothes?

Would you ever considering renting a maternity wardrobe? Or maybe just one fancy dress for some major event? It's not a bad idea, right? We use them for such a short period of time. And the financial commitment for the higher-end designers is considerable. Today I saw that you can rent maternity clothes! I'm not sure I would actually do it... with 11 weeks left (so tempting to say 'only' 11 weeks, as if it's nothing), it doesn't seem fully worth it. Though maybe it's just what I need to snap me out of my wardrobe funk.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pregnant Readers: there's a new designer on the web!

Pregnant Fashionista wrote about this new maternity designer today. The idea is ingenious!! Pants that grow with you. Since I have (only) 12 weeks left in my pregnancy, I'm not about to buy $100 pants, but others might!

Check it out here: And, use the Pregnant Fashionista discount code

PF Readers Receive An Exclusive 30% Off With Promo Code *prgnsta 30*


Tuesday, January 3, 2012