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I have strung words together for The New York Times, Vice, and more. I write and shoot people (with a camera, you guys) from my home in upst...

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Mila KunisMila Kunis has always been one of those actresses we could imagine being best friends with, but somehow pregnancy has just made her seem that much cooler. First there was her message to dads about what it really means to say "we're pregnant." Now the mama-to-be is getting real about what is going down in the delivery room ... and the rules she's laying down for fiance Ashton Kutcher.

    The actress told Marie Claire that only the father-to-be and her doctor will be allowed in the delivery room (although we imagine she'll make room for a few maternity nurses). As for where Kutcher will stand, she has that all worked out already too.

    Said Kunis:

    He is staying above the action. He'll be head to head. Not head to vag. Unless he wants to risk his life and see.But I wouldn't if I were him. I highly doubt he wants to see that being ripped apart and shredded. Because it will be shredded. It's just a matter of how badly.

    Good plan, Mama! Good plan!

    We are all about celebrating the wonders of a mother's body, especially for what it can do when it comes time to bring a child into this world. But if Mila knows she doesn't want her betrothed looking down there, then by all means, good for her for stepping up and telling him so.

    More From The Stir: Mila Kunis' Rant About Dads-to-Be Will Make Moms Swoon (VIDEO)

    The thing moms sometimes forget is that -- his baby or not -- it's still your body. Hopefully you're not with one of those jerky guys who will get turned off to sex forever after seeing your lady parts be, ahem, shredded, anyway, but it doesn't matter. If you're afraid of him seeing your vagina in a different way, then it's up to you to take charge before it's too late and say, "Sorry, Honey, I love you, but I'm not ready for you to see me in that light."

    See how easy that is?

    Are you going to let your significant other "down there" during delivery? Why or why not?


    Image via Xavier Collin/Celebrity Monitor/Splash News


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Jimmy Fallon

    Every parent on Earth wants their child's first word to be about them. Mama. Papa. Mommy. Daddy. It's like a veritable war of words going on when baby nears the talking stage. And Jimmy Fallon may have just won the whole thing. The Tonight Show host and 10-month-old daughter Winnie are gracing the cover of People this week that everyone is talking about.

    With Winnie wearing a suit just like Daddy, it's worth talking about. It's an ovary flipper. But what we should also be talking about is Jimmy Fallon's genius trick to get his daughter to say Dada before she calls his wife, Nancy Juvonen, Mama

    But first, the epic cuteness ...

    Jimmy Fallon

    Ovaries flipped yet?

    OK!

    Fallon told the magazine that everything he gives to his daughter is Dada. Formula. Avocados. Whatever it is, he points, says Dada, and then hands it over. By the time she's ready to talk, she'll be saying Dada, Dada, Dada, and boom, he wins!

    Love it!

    OK, so she doesn't know Dada is actually him yet, but hey, let's be honest with ourselves: the first word we get all worked up about doesn't actually mean anything half the time anyway!

    The baby hears someone say "flower," and they're all "fower, fower" while they're pointing at the dog, and we pat ourselves on the back because we are raising a mini genius who will surely be a world famous botanist one day.

    Uh.

    Huh.

    But hey, it's worth a shot! We like Jimmy's style!

    Have you been trying to get your baby to say your name first? How's that working out for you?

     

    Image via People


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    punchingWell, in case you haven't already, it's time to strike Pat Robertson off the list of people your kid should look up to. The televangelist has really stepped in it this time with his tips for kids on what to do if they witness domestic violence in the home.

    Conventional wisdom tells us we're supposed to teach our kids that when they see something wrong, they need to find an adult they trust to confide in to get help, right? Not according to ol' Pat.

    When a viewer asked him what to do when his dad threatens his mom with a gun, The 700 Club host answered:

    You don’t want to get your father busted.

    Robertson instead suggested the child go to his mother and ask her to get Dad some help. Although he later acknowledged Dad's rage will likely end in a death, he told the child he shouldn't really do anything because:

    But you’re a kid, what do you do? You know? Your mother ought to take care of that.

    Er. What?

    Did this man just tell children that they can't be snitching on their Dads ... even if Dad is a psycho maniac who is threatening to kill Mom? Whatever happened to telling a teacher or a policeman? To teaching kids that adults in their lives CAN be wrong and should not be protected simply because they're relatives?

    While we certainly do need to raise our kids to understand that some things are private and should only be spoken about inside the home or with close family members, they also need to know that it's OK to speak up when there's something wrong or dangerous going on. That applies to a domestic violence situation, but also to other scary things that adults do to kids at home -- be in sexual assault or drug use.

    Sometimes adults, even adults we thought we could trust with our kids and who we have taught our kids to love and respect, do stupid and/or dangerous things. The last thing we want to do is make our kids feel trapped in a dangerous situation because they're "just kids" and they shouldn't "bust" or snitch on someone they love. Kids should be taught to seek help, and who to seek it from.

    What's more, they need to know that they won't be loved less for speaking out and that they won't be in "trouble."

    What do you tell your kids about "telling" on adults they love?

     

    Image via Walt Stoneburner/Flickr

     

    If you -- or your child -- is aware of anyone being threatened in the home, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    fatherYou know what Dad really needs this Father's Day? Hint: it's not another tie that will likely end up living on the bottom of the closet. And no, not another "I'm the grill master" apron. What Dad needs is the same thing every parent needs when the going gets tough ... a little nod to the fact that we're all in this together, and a big ol' belly laugh.

    So before you go out and buy one of those mushy gushy "we love you dad" cards, how about some funny quotes about fatherhood to tell him, "Yup, we get it, your life will never be the same?"

    More From The Stir: 10 Fabulous Father's Day Gifts Kids Can Make Themselves

    10 Funny Quotes About Being a Dad

    We love the song in #8 -- would you sing that one?

     

    Images via © Justin Paget/Corbis; © iStock.com/Linda Yolanda


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    creepy baby

    It's being hailed as adorable and gone mega viral, but a commercial featuring a newborn baby who cuts his own umbilical cord and takes a selfie is more than a little terrifying. The ad comes out of India, and it's meant to promote a service called MTS Internet with a CGI baby who was "born for the Internet." Clever? 

    Perhaps ... but it may also be the creepiest version of birth we've seen on the web in a long, long while! Here, we won't ruin it for you ...

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    OK, if your baby came out saying, "Hello" and grabbed Dad's tablet, would you look dumbfounded or just start screaming bloody murder?

    More from The Stir: Creepy Trend Alert: Turning Ultrasound Photos Into Fetus Figurines

    It's an ad, and it's clear people are supposed to suspend their disbelief, but sheesh. As if moms really need to be reminded that we can't protect our kids from the world wide web ... now we've got babies surfing the web for umbilical cord cutting tips?

    What do you think of the video? Ultra cute or ultra creepy?

     

    Image via Laure/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    stretchmarksAh, stretchmarks. The bane of every pregnant woman's existence. The angry red stripes tend to show up on women's bodies in the third trimester, meandering across the belly, breasts, and thighs in some 80 percent of pregnancies.

    If it's happened to you, you probably have one big question in mind: how do I get rid of my pregnancy stretchmarks? Is it even possible to get your belly (and breasts and thighs ... ) back to the way they looked before you had a baby?

    More From The Stir: Preventing Stretchmarks in Pregnancy: 4 Tips From the Experts

    It turns out there are several things moms can do -- some while still pregnant, others after. 

    Where did you get stretchmarks during your pregnancy? Have you decided to get rid of them or embrace them?

     Expert Tips to Get Rid of Stretchmarks

    Images via © iStock.com/Mehmet Hilmi Barcin; iStock.com/shank_ali


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Chase CulpepperAs far as milestones for teenagers go, the trip to the DMV is one of the biggies. It's supposed to be a happy occasion -- for the kids anyway (Mom and Dad, just go ahead and cry) -- but it was anything but for a South Carolina teen recently. Chase Culpepper went to get his license photo snapped only to be told by motor vehicles officials that he'd have to clean the makeup off his face if he wanted a driver's license.

    The incident back in March is now making national news as it opens up a discussion about children's rights to freely express themselves.

    Chase, who prefers male pronouns, wears dresses and makeup regularly, so it made sense to him to wear it for his driver's license photo. After all, the photo is supposed to represent what you look like should a police officer stop you, isn't it? But DMV officials reportedly told him he had to remove the makeup and would not take his photo if he did not look "the way a boy should."

    At the time the teen acquiesced. He washed his face because he wanted his license. What kid wouldn't do the same? It's hard for teenagers to know when they should and shouldn't fight "the man," when they really have the law on their side. 

    Now he's got the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund -- and his parents -- on his side in a fight to have the photo retaken, makeup included. Good for them.

    The whole case is frustrating for parents who are trying to raise open-minded kids in a society that is not always so welcoming. But it's also one that highlights our need as parents to talk to our kids about their rights. Just because they're kids doesn't mean they have any less of a right to free speech than adults, and the Supreme Court has upheld that right. 

    Our kids need to know when they can -- and should -- stand up for themselves. Because if they can't do it as teens, how are they going to be able to do it as adults?

    What would you have done if you were Chase's parents?

     

    Image via Transgender Legal Defense Fund


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Liam boy with autism

    Inspired by Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield's efforts to give some kids' charities some big press -- and save themselves from the paparazzi? You're not alone! The signs the celebrity couple plastered on their faces, promoting organizations such as Autism Speaks and the Youth Mentoring Connection, have inspired a little boy with autism to stand up for kids like him. 

    If you shared the photo of the celebrities because of their message, you're probably going to want to share the photo dreamt up by Liam K., a 7 1/2-year-old who has autism, from Chandler, Arizona. Check out his message to Emma:

    Autistic boy thanks Emma Stone

    Liam, who is headed into third grade at Pieceful Solutions, a school for kids on the spectrum in Chandler, heard about Stone at school this week. She's an Arizona native, and as a school spokesperson said, she's "tugged some heartstrings" back home this week. He asked his mom what he could do to say thanks on behalf of all the kids on the spectrum, and she suggested holding up his own sign.

    He chose what to say ... and where to have the photo taken. His mom then gave permission for the photo to be shared with The Stir.

    As wonderful as Stone and Garfield's gesture was, if people are truly taken with their cause and truly understand the message behind it, it would seem more fitting for a kid like Liam to get to go viral. After all, without kids like him, there's no need for the charities like those the celebrity duo is supporting.

    So what do you think?

    Will you share Liam's story?

     

    Image via Pieceful Solutions


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Honey Boo Boo

    Since Here Comes Honey Boo Boo first showed up on TLC, the crowd has been pretty much split right in half. One half found the eponymous star to be a delightfully sassy little creature who speaks her mind and therefore embodies the sort of child we all want to raise. The rest of us? We took one look at Alana Thompson, and the word "brat" came to mind.

    So, who was right? According to Christy O'Shoney, a writer who happened to be at Honey Boo Boo's recent taping of The Tonight Show, the folks who want nothing more than to give the famous tot a dose of discipline are right on the money.

    O'Shoney noted "eerie tension" on the set and refers to several retakes of that well-watched friendship bracelet bit that make the child sound just plain unpleasant. Among her complaints? Watching the 8-year-old hit her own mother, June Shannon.

    Said O'Shoney:

    From where I was sitting, Honey Boo Boo — let’s not mince words — was a tiny, dimpled monster.

    Behavior one might expect from a rowdy toddler, perhaps. But from an 8-year-old? One who will be 9 this summer? Even excuses about how kids will be kids don't explain away an almost-9-year-old hitting someone else, especially an adult.

    Does that make Mama June a horrible mother? Of course not. Kids, even normal well-behaved ones, act up and act younger than their age on occasion. And by all accounts, the kid is fed, sheltered, and has parents who love her. That's saying something.

    But there is a definite downside to the parenting methods we have seen play out on the show.

    The "real" side of Honey Boo Boo that's leaked out beyond the moments edited and orchestrated by television producers exemplify the struggle most of us face as we juggle raising a child who has gumption and a child who has manners.

    You don't want to break their spirit while teaching them to behave. And yet kids do need to be taught to behave. They need structure, CRAVE structure, some experts will say.

    With Honey Boo Boo, we've seen the mistake parents make most often, which is indulging children and acting like their most disrespectful moments are "cute" or "sassy" instead of putting them in their place (albeit with gentle guidance). Easy on a mom? Sure! And good for reality show laughs.

    The problem comes when they grow, and that behavior really isn't cute at all. It's rude, disrespectful, and sometimes downright dangerous.

    Worse, it's a cycle that's darn near impossible to break. If Honey Boo Boo is this naughty in public at 8, who knows what is to come for her parents.

    Don't let their fate be yours too.

    Do you think Honey Boo Boo's behavior is cute? Would you let your kids act that way?

     

    Image via Discovery/TLC


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Kate GosselinWell, Kate Gosselin has managed to get her kids back on television, despite the displeasure of ex-husband Jon Gosselin. And if part one of the two-part Kate Plus 8 reunion special showed us anything, it's that the controversial reality star still has the ability to raise other parents' eyebrows. Take Kate's unusual thoughts on winning.

    The mother of two teenagers and six 10-year-olds gets out and plays with her kids. We'll give her that. But what's a 39-year-old to do when she's facing the chance of a 10-year-old winning or losing a game?

    Mama's gotta win.

    Period.

    Said Kate during the episode:

    Hate away, but I've got a problem with parents who let their kids win because nobody is going to let me win. And while I'm saying doing your best, work your hardest, try your hardest, why am I then, in a fun game, letting her win?

    You know, her argument isn't completely without merit, but it's the "nobody is going to let me win" part that is confusing. 

    Because the kids won't let mom win, she, in turn, makes a point to beat their butts?

    How ... childish?

    The fact is, kids do need lessons about achieving and not always getting their way. Kate is right on that.

    But there's something to be said for having fun too, for just getting to be kids. The disappointments of the "real" world come crashing down on them soon enough. At 10 or even 13 (the age of Gosselin's twins), kids have the right to still be kids.

    That means having fun. It also means being a little selfish and expecting your parents to sacrifice for you -- be it by "letting" you win a game or giving you the last cookie.

    You don't have to let your kids win EVERY game. That's not fun for anyone. But then again neither is losing every single time.

    And isn't that what we want our kids to remember? Having fun with us?

    We can teach them the big important lessons elsewhere, but sometimes it's OK to just let kids be kids.

    Do you ever let your kids win? How old were they when you stopped?

     

    Image via Doug Meszler / Splash News


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Brandi GlanvilleOK, Moms, a little confession time. Sometimes it's hard to be a parent. Sometimes you think unkind thoughts about your kids. Right? You've been there? But hopefully you haven't pulled a Brandi Glanville on your children.

    The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was particularly vituperative during a recent Brandi Glanville Unfiltered podcast, dropping the f-bomb and a string of other expletives. So who had her all riled up? Not her ex-husband's current squeeze, LeAnn Rimes (for once) ... but Glanville's 7-year-old son, Jake.

    Yes, you read that right. A mother called her 7-year-old a "f---er," "a complete @--hole" and "a d--k." Perhaps even worse, Glanville went on to praise her 11-year-old son, Mason, for being her "baby."

    Way to set the kiddos up for sibling rivalry, Ma!

    What Glanville said may be what many parents think: put two human beings together all the time, and there is sure to be at least one moment when one thinks the other is being a "complete @--hole," even mother and child. Not to mention most parents will confess to having a preference for once child over another at some point.

    But one of the most important things any parent can do is to learn to keep their trap shut about this sort of thing. You can think it, but you don't say it! At least you don't say it (or write it) in a forum your kids could possibly be privy to -- such as an online podcast.

    We can get angry with our kids. We can (make that should) discipline our kids. But we also need to be their number one supporters and providers of unconditional love if we want them to grow up to be well-balanced, emotionally healthy adults.

    The best thing a mom who has done what Brandi can do now? Apologize. Apologize. Apologize. And maybe buy a muzzle.

    What is the worst thing you've ever said about your child? Did they hear it?

     

    Image via Bravo


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Simone SurgeonerThey say the third time is the charm, but for Simone Surgeoner, it was the fourth time she gave birth that changed everything. The Australian mother uploaded a video of her daughter, Perouze, being born outdoors in the Daintree Rainforest a year ago. To date, more than 23 million people have watched her little girl come into the world under the watchful eyes of the birds, the bees, and the trees.

    For the first time since Lifetime announced a reality show about women giving birth outdoors that many say is inspired by Surgeoner's wildly popular birth video, the mother of four is speaking out about what it's like to have millions of people worldwide watch you give birth, trusting your own mom body, and why she's so passionate about what she calls the Earth Birth Method and "breaking the shell on conscious birth."

    The Stir: What made you decide to film your birth?

    Except for my eldest daughter, all my daughters’ births were filmed (by a family member). Knowing Perouze’s birth would be unique and special only added to my desire to film her birth.

    Who filmed it?

    Nick, my partner, filmed the birth, except for right at the end when I asked for his assistance - then he passed the video camera to Ron, our friend who was assisting the birth.

    What made you decide to share it online? 

    Prior to giving birth, I did consider that I might share it publicly. By way of preparing my 2-year-old for the birth, we watched a lot of birth videos on YouTube together. I deeply appreciated so many women sharing their special births online.

    Once I gave birth and we were all back home, I occasionally thought of putting it online. But I was so busy being a mum to four daughters, including a toddler and baby, that I didn’t give the thought much attention. Then, as Perouze’s first birthday approached, I felt a strong urge to edit her birth video and make it into something special for Nick. It was during that process that I decided to share it online.

    How did your partner feel about sharing it? Did you two have a conversation before you uploaded it?

    Nick was fine about me sharing it – I was the one who was incredibly nervous about putting myself out there in full exposure!

    Nick also knows how passionate I am about birth, including why I wanted to give birth in nature in the first place, so he was very open and supportive of me sharing my experience and knowledge with the world.

    How did it start getting traction on the web -- any idea how it went so mega viral?! It's everywhere!

    I remember posting it on my Facebook page the day I uploaded it and feeling really vulnerable when I saw, on the first day, it was watched 500 times. Suddenly realizing so many of my friends had seen me naked in the most explicit way was a shock! I honestly thought just some of my female friends or those in my birthing network would watch it -- because who else watches birth videos? To say I was naïve is an understatement.

    When the video reached 5,000 views I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of people!” The video reached 1 million rather quickly (and overtook all the other birthing videos on YouTube). Something was happening beyond me. I kept thinking it would slow down and reach a cap; instead it kept growing steadily.

    One of the things I believe “helped,” which was completely unintentional, was the still picture used by YouTube. I only had a choice of three stills, taken from the video, when I uploaded it -- the other two didn’t look like they had anything to do with birth. It was very scary having a still picture of me naked and squatting, but I had no real choice. I think it generated a lot of male attention and people, who wouldn’t normally seek out or watch birth videos, were watching. I’m not very good at understanding how YouTube works, but I figured out that the more views it got, the more YouTube put it as a “suggested” video in the side bar.

    The video reached 19 million views in 18 months. Then an article came out about a reality TV show of women giving birth in the wild. Apparently my video inspired the concept, so of course then it went really viral, gaining 3 million views in less than a week.

    How does it feel knowing 23 million people have watched your little girl come into the world?

    Awe inspiring. Honestly, I don’t think my mind can fully comprehend that number. It’s been a journey of growth and learning for me, especially having to deal with all the daily comments I receive on the video. I feel honored I am part of something which, I believe, is much bigger than me.

    What do you think has drawn people to your birth story?

    Novelty. Humans love something new and different. Although, as many people point out, births like mine are not unusual in the non-western world.

    There are as many factors as there are people in regards to why people are drawn to my birth story. For most people, my video being unique and unexpectedly out of “normal” context, simply raised their curiosity.

    So many people comment that they had never witnessed a birth before they saw mine. There is definitely something that makes them want to watch it, no matter how they react. I think we all relate to birth in a very primal way, as we have all experienced being born. Then there are those who are pregnant, have given birth or witnessed the birth of their own child. For them it is an opportunity to compare their experience, however they choose to interpret it.

    Perouze

    Did you have any concerns when you decided to give birth outdoors? What were they and what made you decide to do it?

    Absolutely -- I had all the concerns any pregnant woman has. The first and foremost being worried the birth would not result in a healthy, live child. Fear of death or suffering is present no matter where we give birth.

    There were many concerns about trusting in myself. I have always made decisions with a balance of research, education, common sense and listening to a deeper knowing inside me. Examining all my thoughts, motives, intentions, experience and knowledge, with more than my usual ruthless honesty, was part of the process. Knowing that if anything went wrong, I had to face judgment from other people, was not as hard as knowing I had to live with myself. In the end I came to a place where I was willing to take FULL responsibility for my decisions.

    Deciding to give birth in nature was a culmination of years of experience, education and the knowing I have embodied. There’s no simple straightforward answer. To do justice as to why I made the decision to give birth in nature, I plan to write a book, which will hopefully give deeper insights.

    Basically it was for my daughter, it was for me, it was for my other daughters, it was for nature and for ALL the reasons I believe we need to help humanity evolve to preserve our species and this earth. Not that I am saying birth has to be in nature, just that we need to re-think current birth practices.

    Moms have been giving birth without medical intervention for centuries, but can you explain what the term Earth Birth Method actually means?

    Earth Birth Method is an evolving method of pregnancy and birthing practices which consider the whole birth, especially the impact on the child, mother, family, humanity and the earth. The method embraces tried and true wisdom (such as that learned from indigenous cultures), modern knowledge, science and a deep understanding of the emergence of humanity at this point in our history.

    As humanity converges we are beginning to truly appreciate sharing and learning from all points of knowledge. All knowledge, whether it is common sense, spiritual, folk methods, philosophical, technical, scientific or even abstruse, contributes to a greater whole.

    We have it within our power now, as humans, to choose to direct the way we make collective decisions. Earth Birth Method is about everyone consciously choosing to come together to create a better birth system for every human born. What that ends up looking like -- I still don’t know (although I do have my own thoughts and insights to share also).

    What do you mean by "breaking the shell on conscious birth?"

    I think my 16-year-old daughter expressed it best when she described it as the “re-birth of birth.” A shell, whether it’s a shell of an egg or seed, signifies opening of new life. For me, it’s no longer just about birth, it’s about conscious birth. Being conscious means different things to different people and I don’t wish to define it. What I do want people to do is start thinking universally. It is important that we ask the deeper, more challenging questions on an individual level and not just hand all our responsibility over to “experts.”

    Like many things in this world, I perceive there is much fear, control, beliefs, superstitions and a basic lack of education around birth. I also think all of these limitations extend to many areas of life, especially sex and money, not to mention how women are still treated. I want to go back to the source, because I believe how we birth has a deep impact on how we live and reflects our values as a society.

    Clearly not everyone is going to give birth the way you have chosen -- what do you say to the critics? What about to moms who are just skeptical, if not judgmental?

    Great! I welcome mums being skeptical and at the same time I hope they are open to wanting to know more. Being interested in others and their experiences helps me grow and also be more compassionate and loving. As a doula it is what I do -- supporting someone else have their birth and trusting their own innate knowing.

    Of course, I’m human and judgments will bother me at times, particularly if I’m in a vulnerable space. Generally though, I believe someone’s comments are a reflection of who they are inside and not ultimately about me. People can disagree with my choice and still be open and supportive, or they can be critical, judgmental and harsh. I encourage we all learn from each other and support one another.

    What do you hope moms can learn from watching your birth?

    Trust their bodies, trust themselves, educate, educate, educate and to take responsibility for their births.

    I also wanted people to see a “normal” birth in a different context. The birth itself was painful, long and hard and I needed a little assistance at the end. In many ways it was my most challenging birth. So I don’t think, from that perspective, it was that unusual. I would like to witness birth normalized beyond the current medical system.

    Are there any misconceptions you'd really like to clear up about your birth story and the Earth Birth Method?

    Many comments on my video constantly need clearing up and I am intending to do a FAQ’s page on my website. Most of them just reflect people’s ignorance around birth, which is understandable if they have never seen birth before, eg. “Why is the baby purple?” is a very common one (she was a perfectly normal colour for a fresh newborn).

    I think the only misconception that I really want to clear up is that I’m an “attention seeking whore” (or some other version of that). I’m actually averse to it being about me!

    Sharing the video publicly was never about me, however I do believe passionately in what I do. Passion and inspiration is taking precedence over my fears of exposure and vulnerability. People think it’s peculiar when I tell them that giving birth in nature was easier for me than being in the public eye. We all have our comfort levels and I have learned to gently expand mine, rather than trying to push through them.

    We've heard the new reality show on Lifetime was inspired by your birth story; are you working with them?

    Until the proposed Lifetime reality appeared in an online news article, I hadn’t heard about it, I learned about it the same time as everyone else. I was totally unprepared. The show has not contacted me, and I actually find it a strange reflection of the media system. I honestly don’t understand how any of this social media works, so I’m not trying to figure that one out.

    Really, I’m just hoping the show is respectful of women, babies and birthing choices.

    ***

    To see Simone's video (it's not safe for work) and to find out more about the Earth Birth Method, visit her website.

    What was your reaction to seeing Simone's birth?

     

     

    Images via Simone Surgeoner


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    heartNeed further proof that our mom bodies are amazing? Try this on for size: a mother is making headlines today for delivering her baby. Not that incredible? It is when you consider this: Edita Tracey gave birth to her little girl during open heart surgery.

    Yeah. That's pretty darn rare ... and pretty darn awesome.

    Thirty-five-year-old Tracey reportedly was feeling pain in her upper back, and at 36-weeks pregnant, she felt worried. Her husband was out of town for work, so she called an ambulance. When a CT scan revealed a dangerous aortic dissection, she was rushed into dual surgery. Her daughter was delivered in 30 seconds, then doctors began fixing her heart.

    Six weeks on, both Mom and baby are doing well, and Tracey is crediting her daughter with saving her life.

    After all, some upper back pain when you aren't pregnant isn't necessarily going to make you call an ambulance. When you ARE pregnant? Well, you take extra precautions ... precautions that may just save your life as well as your baby's.

    More from The Stir: 7 Crazy Labor Stories That May Make You Rethink Getting Pregnant

    Tracey's heart condition is extremely rare, and although pre-eclampsia, a fairly common condition for pregnant women, is thought to have played a role, it's not something most moms should be worried about. Still, there is a take home message for the rest of us: don't be afraid to listen to your body and don't be afraid of over-reacting to what you're feeling, especially when you're pregnant. 

    Your baby's life -- and your own -- could depend on it.

    What is the biggest thing you went through while pregnant?

     

     

    Image via le vent le cri/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    potty trainingThere's a miracle moment that comes for most parents in the toddler years: your child is finally potty trained. No more expensive diapers. No more stinky garbage. But then it happens. Your potty trained child starts having accidents, you're wondering: is there something seriously wrong with my child?

    Welcome to the stage known as potty training regression. First, some good news. According to family therapist Lindsey Hoskins, PhD, "potty regression can be frustrating and messy, [but] it is a relatively normal part of child development."

    So what can you do about it? Here's what the experts advise:

    Potty Training Regression: 12 Tips for Handling Accidents

    Do evaluate how many accidents they've had: An accident or two may seem like a big deal, but you may be over-thinking things! "Regression involves significant change from one's previously trained toilet pattern," explains Dr. Ashanti Woods, attending pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center. "Regression, in general, refers to the loss of a skill previously attained."

    Don't assume your child is regressing: Many times what parents consider "regression" is just a sign that a child wasn't actually trained. This applies to the first few days, weeks, and even months after "training," Hoskins says.

    "The late stages of potty training, when occasional accidents are likely to happen, may look like regression to some," she explains. If your child was "potty trained" a month ago and now having accidents, it may just be a sign that you need to work on the basics a little more.

    Do consider changes in your child's life. "There is good research to support that stressors can influence a child experiencing regression in his or her toilet training," says Dr. Woods. That can include birth of a new sibling, new environment or home, illness, or social challenges within the family, he explains.

    Don't get upset about accidents. "Doing so adds additional stress for the child, which is counter-productive," Hoskins warns.

    Do visit your pediatrician: No stressors? "A trip to the pediatrician's office is in order to rule out UTIs, rashes, and constipation," says Hoskins.

    Don't be afraid to ask for help: Even if there isn't a physical cause that a pediatrician can address, the emotional one can be tough for parents to handle alone. " For example, if there is a problem in the couple relationship that is causing parents to argue, avoid each other, etc., seeking couples therapy can help create a more harmonious home environment, which will help the child feel less stressed," says Hoskins. "If the child is responding to an illness or death of a family member or other loved one, some work with a grief therapist may be effective in helping the child redirect his or her stress response."

    Do show your kids a little sympathy. "Be empathetic, and let your child know that they can come to you for support related to that issue -- and any issue," Hoskins says. If you can't handle them peeing in their undies without freaking out, it sends a message to your kids that they can't come to you with other matters either.

    Don't blame the child: Regression happens, Dr. Woods explains. It's not something a child does to "punish" their parents. Kids need Mom and Dad to help them at this time, not blame.

    Do make re-training fun: "After explaining the importance of using the toilet at the appropriate time, parents should establish a reward system to get their child back on track," suggests Dr. Woods. His best suggestion? A calendar with a star or sticker system in which the child gets star for each successful bathroom experience.

    "After a certain number of stars are obtained, the child may receive a trip to the library, a trip to the park, a dollar store toy, or more time with mommy and daddy -- which is probably the best gift of all," says Dr. Woods.

    Don't use aphorisms such as "you're a big boy/girl now, and big boys/girls use the potty.": "Parents who do this often forget to look for stressors that may be making it more difficult for the child to avoid accidents," Hoskins warns. It's not about age; it's about your child's particular struggle.

    More from The Stir: 15 Stages of the Hell That Is Potty Training (PHOTOS)

    Do fall back on typical potty training methods: Remember how your not-potty trained child was prone to accidents when they got involved in a long project or if you went on a trip? Looking for triggers, advising kids to "go before we leave," etc., will help a child who has regressed get back on track in the same way that it helped a child learn to use the potty in the first place.

    Don't forget to include your child. Asking them for ideas on how to avoid accidents can be key in re-training a child. After all, Hoskins says, it will "help them feel more engaged, excited, and in control of the process."

    Has your child been having a lot of accidents? What have you been doing to help get them back on track?

     

    Images via © iStock.com/JordiDelgado; iStock.com/eldemir


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Teddy bearAre you ready for your ovaries to explode? A couple from Minnesota found out they were expecting a new baby, and they decided to craft a present for their son that is really raising the bar on expectant parent video projects. The premise? Their little boy's teddy bear finds out he's going to get a new friend ... and he just can't wait.

    Chris and Aimee Knutson'sstop motion video follows the toy from the time he spots the pregnancy test right up through the most magical moment of all. Take a look:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Did you let out an "awwww" right at the last moment?

    We've seen some viral videos that just leave us shaking our heads wondering, who shares this stuff? But this teddy bear video -- which clearly took hours and hours and HOURS of work by the Knutsons -- manages to capture so many of the emotions of pregnancy and so much of the magic too.

    More from The Stir: Newborn's Show of Affection to Mom After Delivery Is Breathtaking (VIDEO)

    There's the elation. The wonder. The love.

    And then there's the hope of your little one going on adventures with a special friend ...

    Does your baby have a special stuffie yet? What is it?

     

    Image via Matthew/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Hello FloYou've got to hand it to the folks over at Hello Flo. The tampon delivery service has a way of getting people talking about getting your period. A LOT of people. And their latest ad, dubbed the First Moon Party, has gone viral, people are talking about it in a whole new way.

    Think menstruation is the pits? Funny thing about that ... kids don't! As this ad shows, some young girls are so excited about getting their period, they'll even lie to make people think "that time" is here:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Hysterical?

    Yup!

    But here's the other thing worth taking from the Hello Flo commercial: girls have plenty of time to learn that your monthly bleed isn't all sisterhood of the traveling maxi pads. This girl actually wanted to get her period! She WANTED to join in on all the "fun!" At least, up until her mom got her back for lying by airing her dirty panties to the whole 'hood.

    Sends you back to your tween years, doesn't it? When you weren't an old cynic and actually looked forward to growing up?

    So, ladies, take away here: if your daughter is excited about the idea of her body changing and joining the "big girls," by all means, help her celebrate! Let her feel special! Don't burst her bubble!

    But don't get too carried away ... Grandpa can stay in the dark on her menstrual cycle.

    Was your daughter excited to get her period? How did you talk to her about it?

     

    Image via Hello Flo


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Christina AguileraAh summer and pregnancy. Two things that do not mix well ... usually. But Christina Aguilera has a message for all you fellow preggos right now! You can still look hot when it's hot, hot, hot outside!

    The singer, who is expecting her second child, first with fiance Matthew Rutler, shared a photo of her growing baby bump on Twitter this week that has the Internet abuzz for exactly that reason. Despite being heavily pregnant, Aguilera made reference to the first day of summer ... like it's a good thing! Check this mama out:

    [code]

    Happy 1st Day of Summer! Keep those lips hydrated! @eos#mint#summersolsticepic.twitter.com/gskHoomWtV

    — Christina Aguilera (@xtina) June 21, 2014
    [/code] 

    Gorgeous!

    And OK, yes, she's a celebrity. But folks, celebrity women can't control pregnancy any more than the rest of us.

    XTina doesn't look good pregnant because she's a celebrity. She looks good pregnant because she is owning that body! Look at that tight top that accentuates her bump, and check out that positive attitude. She's ready for summer!

    How about you? What are your best tips for handling the summer heat while pregnant?

     

    Image via Twitter


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Victoria WilcherA 3-year-old from Mississippi has certainly been on a roller coaster ride in the past few weeks. Earlier this month Victoria Wilcher's photo went viral, along with a claim that the toddler had been asked to leave a KFC because scars on her face from a pitbull mauling were "scaring" other customers. Then came the shocking claims this week that the whole thing was a "Kentucky Friedhoax."

    Sources have provided some pretty damning evidence to the press that they say indicates Victoria's grandmother, Kelly Mullins, and aunt Teri Rials Bates, may have made the whole thing up. Their possible motive? To generate donations for a stalled campaign to help cover Victoria's medical bills.

    Naturally, the people who coughed up thousands in donations are angry. They feel duped. But before the world turns its anger on this little girl's family, there's a little something that some might want to consider.

    These hoax claims -- if it even is one -- apply only to the Kentucky Fried Chicken incident.

    The allegations do not change what happened to little Victoria. The 3-year-old was mauled by three of her grandfather's pit bulls in April. That photo of her is real, as are the child endangerment charges pending against Donald Mullins and his girlfriend, Rita Tompkins for the incident.

    What's more, when their daughter was attacked, Tina and Justin Wilcher were expecting another baby who arrived in May. These parents were stretched pretty darn thin. Is it any wonder they allowed other folks in the family to set up a GoFundMe donation site? To promote her story on Facebook?

    The hoax claims thus far aren't against Tina and Justin but against Mullins and Bates, and no one is disputing that this kid was very badly hurt.

    It brings up a very serious discussion for parents: who to trust when your kids are hurt and you need help.

    It's a tough situation for any parent. They need to focus on their child. Often that means taking time away from a job, spending a lot of time in hotels near a hospital, basically spending money they don't have. And that isn't even including the medical bills.

    But while their expense mount, they don't have time to go out and fundraise. Their child needs them.

    This isn't just what happened to the Wilchers. It's life for hundreds of thousands of parents every year -- from the parents of kids with cancer to the parents of kids who suffer an accident.

    If they're lucky, other folks step in to do it for them. They make an offer to bring in money to cover costly medical bills. Unfortunately, as we're seeing right now as this KFC story blows up, sometimes the offer to help is a blessing ... and sometimes it is a nightmare.

    Should people be angry? If this was a hoax, then yes, absolutely. 

    But it behooves people to remember that there is still a little girl in need here and a family in crisis. It behooves us all to remember that there but for the grace of God go we ...

    What was your initial reaction to little Victoria's story? How do you feel about how things are shaking out?

     

     

    Image via GoFundMe

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    President Barack Obama and childWell, Moms, there's good news and bad news. The White House convened a Summit on Working Families this week, aimed at tackling some of the tough issues facing moms and dads every day in America. Considering some 70 percent of American moms work in some capacity, the summit was a long time in coming.

    But what did it really do for mothers (and fathers)? A look at the good ... and the bad of this week's summit:

    Good: President Barack Obama make an official call for new moms to get paid maternity leave, acknowledging that we lag far behind other industrialized nations in that respect. Said the President:

    There is only one developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave, and that is us. And that is not the list you want to be on -- on your lonesome. It’s time to change that.

    Bad: Although the president praised states that have a state benefit for new moms, he hasn't endorsed legislation that would create a similar national system funded by a payroll tax.

    Good: The president called for Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a law that would require employers to be flexible and make reasonable accommodations for mothers-to-be, noting:

    Right now, if you’re pregnant you could potentially get fired for taking too many bathroom breaks -- clearly from a boss who has never been pregnant -- or forced unpaid leave.  That makes no sense.  Congress should pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act without delay.

    Bad: Introduced more than a year ago, the bill endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennyslvania hasn't gotten very far. Right now it sits in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

    Good: Childcare costs are finally becoming a real topic of conversation with the Department of Labor creating a fund to pay for childcare for workers in job training programs and the Department of Health and Human Services announcing grants to help expand Head Start programs. As Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, pointed out, there's a real problem of women working solely to finance childcare.

    Bizarre: The big celebrity "draw" meant to represent moms at the event was Christina Hendricks, who plays a single mom on AMC's Mad Men ... but who doesn't actually have any children!!

    What did you think of the Working Families Summit? What about Christina Hendricks showing up?

     

     

    Image via The White House/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Elizabeth BurgerIt only took a second for Aileen Burger to decide to move her whole family across the country. It was a Wednesday, and doctors had just told her they couldn't operate on 4-year-old Elizabeth's brain to cure her intractable epilepsy. By Saturday, the Burgers, who hail from New York, were in Colorado, signing their daughter up for Charlotte's Web, a strain of medical marijuana that's changing the lives of kids with epilepsy.

    Choosing to put your toddler on pot may not be the obvious decision for any parent, the Burgers included. But as Aileen told The Stir, it's the only one that was right for their little girl.

    "We decided to treat Elizabeth with medical marijuana because we had exhausted nearly all other available treatments," she said simply.

    And by all other available treatments, Aileen Burger really does mean everything out there.

    Burger's 4 1/2-year-old was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 5 months old. Since then, Elizabeth has tried more than 10 anti-epileptic medications at adult dosages, but each one failed.

    "There have periods of time in which Elizabeth has had to endure over 5,000 seizures within a single day, with intravenous rescue medications providing very little, if any relief," her mom explains. "We were lucky. Only on one medicine did she really have any negative side effects, but there was potential for so much more."

    And the medicines weren't helping.

    The epilepsy continued to wreak havoc on Elizabeth's brain, causing global delays, autistic tendencies, and extremely limited language ability. Her younger brother, who is now 3, has been surpassing her in milestones since he was a year old.

    Elizabeth Burger

    Things really came to a head for Elizabeth in September 2012. The toddler had to be put on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma while doctors pumped her with midazolam (a benzodiazepine) and fentanyl (an opiate). According to her mom, it was "an effort to break her state of continuous seizures and give her brain a rest."

    It took two weeks in the coma for Elizabeth's seizures to be controllable. But then doctors had to wean her off the highly addictive IV medications, putting the toddler on methadone, a drug typically used for hardcore heroin addicts, for three months.

    When doctors floated brain surgery as an option, the Burgers were on board.

    "I was praying it was a curative option," Aileen says.

    Throughout 2013, doctors put Elizabeth through test after test to determine if she'd be a candidate.

    "The final test was a brain surgery in which 126 electrodes were placed on the surface of her brain in order to pinpoint areas of electricity for removal," her mom says. "Elizabeth's doctors' hypothesized that they would find two operable seizure foci, and their removal would result in an 80 percent chance of curing her epilepsy."

    On the 10th day of the testing process, Elizabeth came down with a fever, and the electrodes had to be removed from her brain. When tests were done on the electrodes, they found MRSA, a dangerous, antibiotic-resistant staph infection. It would take months to clear the infection from Elizabeth's body, and during her recovery, doctors delivered more bad news.

    "The sub-dural 126 electrode study showed four areas of Elizabeth's brain generating seizures, instead of just two," Aileen recalled. "In addition, only two out of these four areas could be safely removed. The surgical result would only yield a chance at 60 percent seizure reduction."

    Surgery wouldn't cure Elizabeth's epilepsy.

    Elizabeth's brain

    "We decided to move the same day, that same moment," Aileen said.

     

    She'd been reading about Charlotte's Web, an edible form of medical marijuana. The particular strain is low in tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main psychoactive agent in the cannabis plant. But it's high in something called cannabidiol or CBD, an agent with anti-inflammatory, anti-tumoral, neuro-protective, neuro-genic, pain relieving, anti-psychotic, and anti-microbial benefits. Its breeders, the Stanley brothers of Colorado, named the strain for 5-year-old Charlotte Figi, a little girl with intractable epilepsy just like Elizabeth. The brother knew their plant had anti-epileptic properties, but it was Figi's success on the drug that proved it could change lives.

    More from The Stir: Baby Taken Away From Parents for Smoking Medical Marijuana

    The Burgers contacted Realm of Caring, a non-profit in Colorado Springs that connects families in need with the Stanley brothers' product, the week they found out surgery wouldn't help Elizabeth. Essentially, the group is a pipeline between families and the growers, and they manage the long waiting list for Charlotte's Web.

    Elizabeth's name was put on the list in October, and before Christmas 2013, her parents got the call that she was eligible for treatment. Aileen packed up herself, Elizabeth, and her son (her husband, who had to shut down his business in New York, followed in February). She got her first treatment on December 26, the day after Christmas. 

    Charlotte's Web comes to kids in a liquid form of cannabis oil, so Elizabeth is not "smoking pot." But she is reaping the advantages of using the drug illegal in other parts of the country. In the months since, Aileen says Elizabeth has made significant gains.

    "In December 2013 she was functioning like a 12-month-old," she said. "Today she is functioning like a 2-year-old and has begun to say some words again. Just in six months, to make those improvements is incredible."

    "It was not a tough decision to try medical marijuana," Aileen continued. "It was a necessary choice for her to have a chance at a better quality of life and do no more harm."

    The Burgers' family and friends have been largely supportive, and since their move to Colorado, they've found a growing support system of other families in their position. Life is not perfect -- they can't leave the state with Elizabeth because federal laws and those in many other states make it illegal for them to take her medicine out of Colorado. If there's a family wedding or funeral back in New York; Aileen or her husband will have to go alone.

    Still, she is encouraged to see New York mulling approval of medical marijuana and hopes others more follow suit, hopes others will see the benefits of the drug for kids like her daughter, hopes the successes of Charlotte's Web can quiet the critics.

    Aileen's message to other parents? Contact your local representatives. Push for legalization of medical marijuana.

    "To the skeptics who quote 'first do no harm" from the the physician's creed, in the case of my daughter and all treatments that were tried prior to medical marijuana, it is a fact that choosing medical marijuana at this point is doing no more harm," she says. "Her intractable epilepsy has already caused her harm. The seizures have caused her brain damage, suffered terrible medication side effects, a MRSA infection from surgery, benzodiazapiene and opiate addiction ...

    "To the skeptics who say 'we don't know the long term side effects' of medical marijuana," Aileen continues, "in the case of my daughter it is a fact that without controlling her seizures, death would occur."

    To find out more about Charlotte's Web and how medical marijuana helps control seizures, visit Realm of Caring.

    What would it take for your to consider medical marijuana for your child?

     

    Images via Aileen Burger


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