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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.

    Gwen Stefani Gavin RossdaleAlright Moms and Dads, tough question: would you call your kids naughty? To anyone other than your partner? Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale do!

    In fact, in a rather refreshing interview, the Bush frontman did something a lot of parents are unwilling to do -- he was honest about his kids!

    Said Rossdale of Kingston, 8, and Zuma, 5;

    They're terrible! So naughty! But spirited is what I like to think of it as.

    As for 3-month-old Apollo, Gwen Stefani's other half says:

    We're very proud of him. He's a great kid [but] he'll be naughty soon enough.

    Finally! Someone who is willing to admit their kids aren't perfect! Get this Dad a medal!

    Before folks get up and arms and start attacking Gavin, it sounds like he was joking. Although, it sounds like one of those jokes you make that have a hint of truth to them.

    More From The Stir: Brandi Glanville Goes on Curse-Filled Tirade About Her 7-Year-Old

    And why not? He has an 8-year-old and 5-year-old. They're bound to be a little naughty if only because that's part of childhood. Kids test boundaries as they figure out what it is they can and can't do. Good parents recognize that naughtiness -- or spiritedness, or mischief, or whatever name you give it -- is normal. They discipline their kids to bring them back in line, but they don't go overboard.

    Of course, being able to strike the right balance between your soft side and your discipline side takes being able to be honest about your kids and their behavior. It means being able to recognize that your child is -- at the end of the day -- no better (or worse!) than other kids. They all have a naughty devil inside of them.

    It's OK to admit it!

    Your turn: what is YOUR kid REALLY like?

     

    Image via Ako/Splash News

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    mom reading to babyWhen you take your baby to the pediatrician, what do you expect them to prescribe? Antibiotics? Maybe some over-the-counter infant medicines? Surprise! The American Academy of Pediatrics is advising its doctors to make a new prescription to every parent of a newborn: books.

    And here you thought they just ate, pooped and slept all day! Nope!

    The AAP now says the very early days of a baby's life are crucial for their education later on. Babies who are read to from the get-go have a jump on language skills. In other words, you're making your baby smarter, even if it seems like it's not helping.

    Why the big push now? Turns out children in lower income families tend to be read to less than children in higher income families. By age 4, the pediatricians' group estimates, kids in lower income homes have heard 30 million fewer words than their peers. Thirty MILLION!

    That's a huge gap!

    And it makes you want to grab a book right now and get reading, doesn't it? You have a lot of words to catch up on!

    It may seem counter-intuitive to read to someone who just lies there and drools, but we know our babies can hear us, so why not?

    The truth is, the baby stage, for all the hardship of adjusting to parenthood and figuring out what it is that baby is crying about, is the easiest time to start setting up routines -- among them the habit of reading to your child. Infants may not know what's going on when you sit down with Goodnight Moon, but as they grow, they will be so used to it, that it will almost be a comfort to them.

    And hey, if you're lucky, maybe a kid who is being read to from day one will be less likely to rip the pages. Maybe ...

    When did you start reading to your baby? What was the first book?

     

    Image via © Hero Images/Corbis


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    pregnant woman cleaningAs you near the end of your pregnancy, you're probably going to hear some version of the following: "Are you nesting yet?" If you haven't yet, get ready -- you may be in for a bumpy ride.

    According to Dr. Akua Afriyie-Gray, an OB/GYN at Loyola University Health System and an assistant professor of OB/GYN at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, nesting is "an overwhelming compulsion to clean and organize in the weeks approaching childbirth." It doesn't happen for everyone, Dr. Afriyie-Gray says, but when that urge hits, it can make women do some pretty wild stuff.

    The Stir asked moms to share their craziest nesting stories, and boy did we hear some doozies!

    1. I scrubbed the entire kitchen floor with a TOOTHBRUSH at 38 weeks.

    2. At 11 p.m., I found myself on my knees scrubbing the outside of the back door because it had red dirt on it from our dogs. That was the moment that it dawned on me I was nesting. The next morning at 6:30/7 a.m., I was in labor. By noon, we were holding our son.

    3. I hand-washed my car. Then I walked almost a mile to my parents' house, and I drove their truck to my house and I hand-washed it.

    4. I covered the baby's crib in tin foil to keep animal hair and dust off of it. I am aware that that is insane.

    5. I went crazy with Mr. Clean magic erasers. I cleaned every inch of every wall in my house. I even climbed up on the couch and table!

    6. I shampooed the hallway of our apartment building and washed the walls, all 14 doors, and the elevator!

    7. I pulled out all of the carpet on the main floor of my house. Went to Home Depot and rented a floor sander and started sanding all while husband was at work.

    8. I re-organized my food cabinets, alphabetically and by color and size.

    9. I went on a labeling spree. I labeled the entire kitchen and bathroom.

    10. I may or may not have rented a pressure washer and cleaned the entire outside of my house, my driveway, and our walkways.

    11. I got it in my head that three days after my due date, I should push-mow the entire yard, including the hills. Did I mention it was 80-some degrees out?

    12. I scoured the inside of the washing machine.

    13. I baked muffins. Nobody in my house even liked muffins.

    14. I tried to do a foundation repair and replace a bathtub by myself.

    15. I've been vacuuming the attic regularly. I even put a vacuum up there to only be used in the attic because it was too much to carry one up and down the pull-down stairs. Complete insanity, but it makes me feel better.

    16. I got down on my hands and knees and washed the floor, went over it with a Swiffer twice, then steamed cleaned it. Still not satisfied, I went out and bought 20 magic erasers.

    17. I was obsessed with Soft Scrub with bleach. The minute I walked into a room and couldn't smell it, I had to clean it again.

    18. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with twins, and I climbed on tables and chairs cleaning all the ceiling fans. I was in fear dirt would fly off and get on the babies.

    19. I stayed up until 3 a.m. painting robot pictures for my son's room because it absolutely had to be done before he came home. I was being induced at 5 a.m. the same morning!

    20. I woke my husband out of a dead sleep at 3 a.m. in a panic and made him clean our playroom from top to bottom while I watched.

    All right, your turn! Can you top any of these moms' wild nesting stories?

     

    Image via © iStock.com/Zametalov


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    familyChances are, if you're practicing one particular "style" of parenting, it's because you truly believe it's the right way to raise a kid. And if you believe it's right, it stands to reason you wouldn't call your parenting style "extreme," right? Tell that to the parents who have signed up for Bravo's newest reality show: Extreme Guide to Parenting.

    The network that has made stars out of women who marry rich and fight like cats and dogs is now turning the camera on moms and dads who practice everything from "conscious attachment" to elimination communication with a show set to air this summer.

    Why Bravo is doing it is clear: judging other parents is practically a national pastime. There isn't a sanctimommy in America who won't want to tune in on August 7 for the premiere featuring a family that touts an “eco-kosher, shamanistic” method of parenting. Or the show to air later in the series about Christian and Nate Axness, “conscious-attachment” parents who refuse to vaccinate and believe in breastfeeding on demand.

    Whether these parents are right or wrong, someone will judge. Someone will always judge.

    More From The Stir: Mom Who Gave Birth in the Wild Shares Her 'Earth Birthing' Experience

    No, the real question is who would sign up for a show that blatantly describes itself as showing the "extreme" side of parenting? According to the dictionary, the word refers to "exceeding the bounds of moderation," which doesn't exactly sound like a "good" thing to be doing with kids.

    But we make our parenting choices -- most of us anyway -- based on what we think is good for our kids, right? It may not be something other moms or dads would choose, but we don't see ourselves as "exceeding" bounds. We just see ourselves as doing the best we can with our children.

    If we think something is extreme, it begs the question ... why would we do it to our kids?

    And on the flip side, if we think it's right and good to do with our kids ... would we consider it "extreme"?

    Check out the trailer for the new show ... would you sign up for something like this? What do you think constitutes "extreme" parenting?

    [code][/code]


    Image via © Pierre Jacques/Hemis/Corbis


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Santa Barbara shootingWe all want to think the best of our kids. But what happens when you can't? Bits of a heartwrenching Barbara Walters interview with Peter Rodger, father of Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger, are coming out this week, and they show the struggle of a dad who is forced to come to terms with the fact that his own child was a mass murderer.

    Rodger's son, of course, is the young man blamed for killing 6 people and wounding 13 more in a spree in mid-May. But while it would be understandable for his parents to hide in the shadows in their grief, Peter Rodger has bravely come out in the light and talked about the burden he carries on his shoulders.

    He didn't kill anyone.

    But when your child does something terrible, you can't help but carry a piece of that with you.

    As Peter Rodger said to Walters:

    When you go to sleep normally, you have a nightmare and you wake up and, ‘Oh, everything's OK.’ Now I go to sleep, I might have a nice dream. And then I wake up and it's, slowly, the truth of what happened dawns on me. And you know, that is that my son was a mass murderer.

    The father of the man who turned Santa Barbara into the site of a national tragedy is not throwing himself a pity party here. He grieves not just for his son but for all the victims:

    Every night I go to sleep, I wake up and I think of those young men and young women that have died and are injured and were terrorized when my son did that. My son caused so much pain and suffering for so many families.

    Most of us don't have to deal with that kind of guilt, but listening to this poor man, it's hard not to see that piece of ourselves in him. We work so hard at parenting, at trying to raise good, honest, kind people.

    When they make mistakes -- small or large -- it feels like a failure on our part. This is our BIGGEST JOB, and we didn't do it right.

    Just look at the media reports anytime a kid screws up, and the outcry centers around one theme: "Where were the parents?!" It's all our fault -- or it feels that way.

    Reaching a bit? Sure. At some point we all need to recognize that we can only do so much, that our kids are not, in fact, a part of us but their own person. Their mistakes are -- by and large -- their own.

    But that's easier said than done. As most of us tell our children, "you will always be my baby." Even when they've grown up and flown the nest, we still feel responsible for them and for what they do and don't do both.

    May we never be in Peter Rodger's shoes ... and may all our hearts go out to moms and dads in a position like this. There but for the grace of God go we ...

    Do you feel responsible when your kids make mistakes? How do you separate yourself from it?

     

    Image via David McNew/Getty Images


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Matt LauerMatt Lauer had an opportunity to hit the CEO of a company in the midst of a major scandal with some hard questions this week. So what did the Today show anchor do when he got GM CEO Mary Barra in the hot seat on the morning show? Why, go the tired old sexist pig route, of course!

    Lauer, who has three children and still manages to get up and go to work every day, asked Barra if she can really expect to be a good mom what with all that doing a job thing. Yes. Really.

    Here's the breakdown of the part of the interview that will make you smack your hand to your face in agony:

    LAUER: You’re a mom, I mentioned, two kids. You said in an interview not long ago that your kids told you they’re going to hold you accountable for one job and that is being a mom.

    BARRA: Correct. (smiling)

    LAUER: Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?

    BARRA: You know, I think I can. I have a great team, we’re on the right path ... I have a wonderful family, a supportive husband, and I’m pretty proud of the way my kids are supporting me in this.

    Good for Barra for not taking the bait.

    But Matt, really? In 2014?

    There are some folks who are defending Matt today, and he has come out to claim he'd ask a dad the same thing. We'll believe that when we see it.

    But the fact remains that asking a woman if she can be a good mom and a good worker isn't just outdated and ignorant.

    It's damaging to the psyches of other mothers. Because what is it you hear when that question is asked? It's not just a question for Barra (or any other woman being interviewed); it's one that goes right to your own guts.

    The fact is most working moms struggle with a sort of guilt. Even when we're doing rather well at both, there remains a niggling doubt in the back of our minds, a switch ready to be flipped. Perhaps it's the letter home from the school that will do it -- the one requesting Fun Day volunteers on a day when you are giving a big presentation. The other moms will be there, your kid tells you. You will be in a boardroom.

    More From The Stir: 7 Things Never to Say to a Working Mom

    Maybe it's the summertime request from a friend throwing a pool party for the kids. It's a pool party your kiddo will have to miss because they'll be in daycare. You will be answering phones.

    Maybe it's another mom talking about the sacrifices she makes because SHE loves her kids (whether she really means that you don't or not is all a matter of perception ... but it's what you hear).

    Or maybe it's watching a man who has three children and a successful job ask a woman if she can really expect to be good at parenting when she has a career.

    At the end of the day, when one woman's ability to do both is in question, EVERY woman's ability to do both is in question.

    Skip to the 3:45 mark to hear the question that has everyone talking:

    [code]

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    [/code]

    What do you think of the Lauer interview?

     

    Image via Fortunata/Splash News


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    sucking thumb

    If you have a baby who is comforted by thumb sucking, it can be a relief. Thumbs can't be accidentally forgotten at home, and you don't have to keep buying more -- the way you do with pacifiers. But Moms, let's talk about what happens when it's time for your tot to give up their precious thumb.

    You can take a pacifier away from a baby, but you can't cut off your child's thumb and throw it away! So how do you wean athumb sucker? Help is on the way!

    Here are the experts' dos and don'ts for breaking your child of the thumb sucking habit.

    How to Stop Kids From Sucking Their Thumbs

    1. Do get your child on board. "It's important to get a commitment from your child that they will try to stop the behavior because ultimately they need to 'own' the behavior," explains Dr. Priti Naik, a family dentist in Vienna, Virginia. 

    2. Don't use bandages or bittering agents on the thumb as a punishment. If you're using them as a reminder, it's OK to do something that makes the thumb taste "bad," sparingly, Naik says, but remember this is a tough time for kids. Punishing them isn't going to help anyone. 

    More From The Stir: Thumb Sucking: What It Really Does to Children's Teeth

    3. Do use rewards. Sticker charts, prizes, whatever works in other developmental areas (such as potty training) are a good incentive to break the thumb sucking habit. "Positive reinforcement and encouragement for the child will ultimately change their behavior," says Dr. Naik.

    4. Don't plop your kids down to watch TV while you're weaning. As tempting as this might be to get dinner finished, Dr. Naik warns mindless activities such as TV-watching are typical times when kids will "subconciously" suck on their thumbs. Limiting these activities is crucial during this time.

    5. Do provide distractions. Hands that are busy coloring pictures or building block towers are hands that are not in their mouth!

    More From The Stir: Weaning Kids Off Pacifiers: 7 Dos & Don'ts

    6. Don't let the behavior go on past 4. Thumb sucking when you're a small baby or toddler won't damage your teeth long term, but Naik warns that changes if a child is still sucking their thumb after the adult teeth begin to form. She suggests making the break by age 4 is a good general marker for parents to protect those permanent chompers.

    Have you weaned a thumb sucker? What are your best tips for other moms?

     

    Images via © iStock.com/toos; iStock.com/jallfree


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    kids playingAre you ready for this, Moms and Dads? We just came across the holy grail of public service announcement ads: one that makes us laugh out loud (yes, you read that right, you're going to LOL). Technically it's a commercial about gun safety, but don't worry -- this is not going to turn into some political debate. It is, however, going to make you want to put a lock on your bedroom door.

    Unless you want to see what happens when little boys find and play with, ahem, Mom's sex toys? Oh yeah, the folks at Evolve went there!

    Put down your beverages, because you don't want anything going up your nose when the giggles start:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    And you thought vibrators were just fun for the ladies! They make playdates a blast too!

    Snort.

    The ad certainly gets its point across about guns ... but it also offers a nice little reminder to lock your bedroom door, or at least the bottom drawer, when little ones come over to play. You just never know what they will find otherwise.

    Have your kids ever unearthed your, ahem, toys? What happened?

     

    Image via © iStock.com/tomhoryn


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    womanMaternity leave is supposed to make moms' lives easier -- and their babies' lives better. But if you've ever had a co-worker drop a snide comment about your time off after giving birth or dealt with a boss who hemmed and hawed about giving you your legally protected leave, you know it's hard out there for moms who take maternity leave. And a woman's unusual break from work is about to make it even harder for all the moms out there.

    Tanya Oliva is on maternity leave .... for her puppy.

    No, this is not a story out of a supermarket tabloid. Oliva did not give birth to a canine.

    She has, however, convinced her bosses to let her take time off to spend with her new "four-legged child" (her words, not ours). As Oliva told a Canadian TV station,

    I believe in making sure every man, woman, child, animal has the best chance in life, and by taking maternity leave for my puppy, he is going to be just a great dog.

    As if women don't have it hard enough justifying sometimes as little as a week or two off from a job to recover from the painful and exhausting labor and delivery, establish a good breastfeeding routine, and try to help a new human being get settled into life? Not to mention doing it all on little to no sleep?

    Sorry, folks, but this goes beyond ridiculous and straight into insulting, even for moms who love their doggies. We are talking about creatures that eat their own poop and can legally (and morally!) be left in a crate for hours on end.

    More From The Stir: White House Working Families Summit: The Good, the Bad & the Bizarre

    Oliva is generating a lot of jokes on the Internet for her days off for doggy, but for mothers -- especially moms here in America -- this is no laughing matter. Only 16 percent of employers offer fully paid maternity leave. More than 40 percent of moms end up taking unpaid leave, while nearly 50 percent end up cobbling together a leave by using up their sick, vacation, and personal days in order to stay home with their baby. 

    And why do we do it?

    It's not because babies are cute, folks.

    It's because scientists have proven maternity leaves are crucial for the health of a mother and health of her baby both, from lowering the risk of postpartum depression to increasing the chance that a mom can successfully breastfeed.

    We're talking about successfully changing the lives of human beings. And Tanya Oliva wants to equate that with cuddling a puppy?

    Let's just call this what it really is: vacation. Not maternity leave.

    What do you think of Oliva's stunt? Is this insulting to "real" moms and their fight for fair leave?

     

    Image via © iStock.com/GlobalStock


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    strollersIn the market for a stroller? Before you hit the stores, a new Consumer Reports stroller test is out, along with a warning for parents. The consumer advocate group has rated a number of Graco strollers a "don't buy; safety risk" in its latest assessment.

    So what does that mean for parents?

    According to Consumer Reports, the Graco Ready2Grow Classic Connect LX and similar Classic Connect, Click Connect LX, and Click Connect double strollers -- made to carry two kids at once -- have unreliable brakes that allow the popular baby item "to roll and potentially put both children at risk."

    Consumer Reports put the strollers up on a tilted table with a 20-degree incline to test the brakes, which is more than the 12-degree incline required by federal safety standards. Their findings showed bending and stress marks on the brakes, and the Ready2Grow Classic Connect LX, in particular, started rolling at 18 degrees. The safety group is urging parents not to buy the strollers and, if they already own one, to contact Graco for a refund.

    Graco, for its part, has reportedly said it will work with parents on a case-by-case basis, but parents should be aware that the company has reportedly refuted the risk and is standing behind its strollers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has not released any sort of recall or warning.

    It's certainly something for parents to think about -- this test exceeded federal safety guidelines. Are those enough for parents? Or should the tests be more hardcore?

    Either way, parents who are on the market for a stroller have other options -- including Graco's FastAction Fold Duo Click Connect -- that did get good ratings from Consumer Reports this year, and the more information parents have, the better off they are to make a good choice for baby. 

    Do you feel the federal standards are enough? Do you follow Consumer Reports' guidelines when shopping for your baby?

     

    Image via © iStock.com/Entienou


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    postpartum depressionNursery rhymes may be popular with little kids, but if you take a deeper look, the lyrics tend to be dark and forbidding. It seems only fitting that a documentary meant to peel back the curtains and reveal one of the darkest times for mothers would take its name from one. The producers of When the Bough Breaks are calling their film an "honest look at the lives of women who have or had postpartum depression."

    The filmmakers promise to answer "all the unanswered questions" about a disease that affects as much as 41 percent of new mothers. But what will that look like, and why should moms watch? The Stir spoke with producers Tanya Newbould and Lindsay Gerszt and Director/Producer Jamielyn Lippman to find out why they've turned their lens on moms and what they hope talking about postpartum depression will do:

    What inspired you to make When the Bough Breaks?

    Tanya Newbould: I'm originally from England, grew up in Michigan, and moved to California for acting. Met and married my husband and, after 11 years, had our beautiful daughter Ava. To my shock and dismay, I had severe PPD. It began while Ava was in utero and continued for five and a half months after she was born. It was very devastating, and there was a lot of shame around it. No one seemed to be able to vocalize what was wrong with me until I read Brooke Shields' book, Down Came the Rain. It was the first time I identified what was happening to me.

    I knew how important it was to get information about this crucial subject to as many people as possible. I had the fortune of being interviewed by Jamielyn Lippman for her documentary, Die Trying. We began to converse about being new moms and discussed the possibility of doing this documentary. Jamielyn didn't have PPD, but identified the importance of this subject matter.

    Why is postpartum depression something worth making a documentary about?

    Newbould: Because one in five women are affected by peri/postnatal mood disorders. It can range from baby blues to Postpartum Psychosis. Our goal is to help women and families identify the signs of this and therefore help them, possibly even save a mother's or child's life.

    Jamielyn Lippman: There so many misconceptions about postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders, the same misconceptions that I had. One in five women suffer from some form of postpartum depression and many suffer in silence because of the stigma and shame that surrounds it. There is so much attention in the media right now because of these infanticides that could have been avoided if the signs weren’t missed. This documentary will not only bring awareness but save lives.

    Lindsay Gerszt: Too many women and families are suffering. When I think about what I went through six years ago after the birth of my son, I wish I did things differently and wish I understood more about what was happening to me. With this film, we have the opportunity to educate women and families who are going through this very scary illness. There is so much stigma attached to postpartum depression. The more we speak out, the less scary it is for others to do the same. This is an incredible opportunity we have to make a difference.

    The women behind When the Bough Breaks
    Who are the moms featured? How did you find them?

    Newbould: The moms vary. I am one of the moms, and Jamielyn did a blog post and we had hundreds of responses. Lindsay was one of the women we interviewed, and she and Jamielyn formed a friendship. She is now a producer with the two of us and brings so much value to our documentary. We couldn't accomplish what we have without her. She is still suffering from PPD, and part of our story is her finding the help she needs to move through this.

    More From The Stir: 9 Celebrity Moms Share Their Postpartum Depression Battles

    Lippman: Some of the women came from the ad I put up on an LA website. We had over 100 women write to us who wanted to share their stories to help others who are suffering. Some of the women are friends of ours and others we met along the way during this journey.

    Can you share some of the stories that have really moved you most from some of the moms?

    Newbould: Every story moves me so strongly. It's heartbreaking to see these amazing mothers in so much emotional and sometimes physical pain. I cry for every one of them. We just want to help.

    Lippman: We interviewed a women who committed infanticide, she comes from a wonderful family, is intelligent, had no history of mental illness, and wanted a baby. This was the hardest interview we had, lots of tears were shed, and I think it will really open people's eyes to see how serious this is.

    Gerszt: In all honesty, I am moved by every story we have heard. These women, men, and families have shown such bravery in telling their stories. We were honored to be sitting there with them, and I am truly a better person for meeting them. Each person we interviewed holds a very special place in my heart.

    You guys ended up on the Real Housewives during filming. How did that help get out the message about PPD? What was the response like?

    Newbould: Peggy Tanous and I used to model together, and we've been friends for years. She also suffered from PPD and invited us to film her on RHOC. It brought much needed attention to our documentary and was such a blessing. Any positive media shed on this subject is always welcome.

    Where's the film at in terms of production right now? When can we see it?

    Lippman: We just finished shooting and will now move to the postproduction phase and hope to have it released early 2015.

    What are you hoping to accomplish by putting out a film about PPD?

    Newbould: Plain and simple: help raise awareness to this very crucial subject matter. Personally, I would like to see a screening process put into place for every pregnant woman, with or without insurance! Early detection can make a huge difference.

    Gerszt: We want to raise awareness about postpartum depression. We hope that by raising awareness, there will be less shame in having it. The more people understand about it and speak about it, the more lives can be saved.

    Lippman: I hope this documentary shows women that postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed of and you need to speak up and ask for help. One of the women in our film said something that really sticks with me: “It's amazing when you share how many stories you will hear back."

    ***

    Check out the trailer for When the Bough Breaks:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Visit Facebook more information on When the Bough Breaks or GoFundMe to donate to help the filmmakers cover the costs of the independent project.

    Have you suffered from postpartum depression? Share your story below.

     

    Images via © iStock.com/MachineHeadz; Jamie Lippman


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    childhood vaccineWorried about vaccines? Join the club. An estimated two-thirds of parents do some research online before deciding whether or not to allow a doctor to vaccinate their child. And now they've got a little something to set their minds at ease. A new study is out in Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics -- backed by the federal government -- with some strong statements about vaccine safety.

    Researchers reviewed some 67 studies -- including studies that looked at how multiple vaccines in childhood affect kids, the controversy over whether the MMR vaccination is linked to autism, and the influenza or "flu" vaccine -- to determine whether childhood shots, specifically those for kids 6 and younger, were safe.

    Are you ready for this?

    Vaccines, they say? They're safe.

    Yes. Really.

    In fact, the researchers conclusion states:

    We found evidence that some vaccines are associated with serious [adverse events]; however, these events are extremely rare and must be weighed against the protective benefits that vaccines provide.

    More to the point? Researchers found "adverse events" linked to vaccines typically came in studies where the scientists had failed to identify risk factors of them, and the severity of the adverse events was "inconsistently reported."

    In layman's terms: there have been kids who have had issues with vaccines, but there's little science to support that said issues are directly related to most of the vaccines themselves.

    And while there are some issues -- such as febrile seizures -- that may have occurred in a small percentage of children who got the influenza and MMR shots, the study found there were not long-term effects on the kids. A concern over something called "intussusception" was noted with vaccines for the rotavirus, but rotavirus itself can cause the intestinal issue.

    So, will this landmark study end one mommy war for good? Don't bet on it. We've already heard that vaccines' most vocal detractors cannot be swayed by anything, least of all science.

    But for parents who have been on the fence and are needing a little reassurance, this study could go a long way toward soothing their fears.

    So what does this study do for you? Confirm what you already knew? Convince you to vaccinate? Or absolutely nothing?

     

    Image via © iStock.com/surabky


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    thermometer 90 degreesAnother thing to add to the list of things you didn't think you'd have to tell the sitter: don't leave the kids alone in a hot car while you hit the tanning bed. Sound crazy? That's what cops in Oregon say a nanny did with her two young charges recently.

    The 3-year-old boy and 2-month-old girl are lucky to be alive after being rescued by police from a minivan on a day when police say the temperatures were in the 90s.

    This doesn't seem to be a sad case of kids accidentally forgotten in a hot vehicle. Police claim Kristin Marie Jones knew what she was doing, and they've charged her with two counts each of first-degree criminal mistreatment, recklessly endangering another, first-degree child neglect, and one count of driving while suspended because of it. The mom of these little ones was at work the whole time.

    Of course that's the scariest part of this story for every parent out there and why Jones' story seems to have gone viral. You leave your kids with someone you think you can trust, only for something like this to happen.

    Some parents on Facebook have been using this as a means to one up one another about their decisions to stay at home or only use family members for childcare, but that's not always an option for every mom. Some 49 percent of working mothers with kids 4 and under use relatives, while 37 percent use a daycare center home-based non-relative sitter.

    It's a fact of life for many American parents, and it works out just fine ... most of the time.

    But cases like these always remind us that it's our job as parents to do our due diligence when choosing a provider. This woman didn't even have a license and was somehow driving with these kids? That's a red flag right there!

    And what's more, to have explicit instructions for your sitter on every bit of their day. No feeding them this. No taking them there. No leaving them in a car ... no demand is too out-of-this world to make on your sitter if it means keeping your kids safe.

    Micro-managing might not be your style, but it's OK to be a taskmaster with the sitter or nanny you hire. These are your kids you're talking about!

    Do you know what your sitter is doing with your kids while you're gone?

     

    Image via © iStock.com/Kameleon007


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    rear-facing car seatIf you've got a baby in a rear-facing car seat, listen up. Nearly two million rear-facing car seats are being recalled today, a followup to the huge Graco recall already issued earlier this year. The problem is the buckle in the safety seats -- a buckle that has been known to jam, trapping children in their car seat.

    The buckle is the same one used on other previously recalled Graco seats, but the company initially told federal regulators that a recall was unwarranted because the rear-facing seats are designed differently than others. Now 1.9 million seats for younger children are up for recall based on a company investigation that found "a higher than typical level of difficulty" when unlatching the buckle that could increase "the risk of injury in the event of an emergency situation where prompt exit from the vehicle is required."

    So what do parents need to know?

    1. The recall affects the buckle, not the whole seat, and as such the seats can still be used.

    2. Models affected (and manufacture date) included: 

    SnugRide: March 2011 - May 2013 SnugRide Classic Connect: March 2011 - May 2013 SnugRide 30: July 2010 - January 2013 SnugRide Classic Connect 30: July 2010 - January 2013 SnugRide 35: May 2011 - January 2013 SnugRide Classic Connect 35: May 2011 - January 2013 SnugRide Click Connect 40: June 2012 - December 2012 ApricaA30: July 2011 - April 2012

    3. To determine whether your car seat is affected, look under or behind your car seat, locate the white label, and note the name and date of manufacture. It should look like this:

    Graco model

    4. Graco will provide a free buckle replacement. While waiting for your replacement, the company suggests cleaning the existing buckle.

    More from The Stir: Kim Kardashian Ripped for Photo of North West in Car Seat

    5. To get your repair kit, to check if your seat is under the recall, or for other information, visit Graco's buckle recall site or call 877-766-7470.

    Have you experienced issues with your car seat buckle? What happened?

     

    Images via © iStock.com/RobHainer; Graco


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Cmaeron DiazTired of celebrities acting like they have it so much harder than everyday moms? Don't worry, this isn't another one of those stories. Cameron Diaz doesn't actually have any kids, but the child-free by choice actress had some pretty interesting things to say about motherhood this week when she was interviewed about her upcoming film, Sex Tape.

    As reporters tend to do, a writer working on a piece for Esquire asked the 41-year-old why she'd never settled down and made babies. Yeah, go ahead and shudder at the question ... but not her response.

    Said Diaz:

    It's so much more work to have children. To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for -- I didn't take that on. That did make things easier for me. A baby -- that's all day, every day for 18 years. I like protecting people, but I was never drawn to being a mother.

    Folks, we don't want to start a war between moms and non-moms here. Everyone has their own tough stuff in life, their own crosses to bear. Non-moms are to be respected for what they do in life, and for making their own choices. Period. 

    But often the very reason the two sides seem to be at war is because one or the other feels disrespected, feels that the other doesn't acknowledge how tough it is.

    If we all want to just "get along," that means giving each other a pat on the back once in awhile and looking at our different challenges.

    Yes, there are advantages to motherhood. Every woman who has ever found a note to "Mom" on her pillow or just fallen asleep with someone small snuggled up in the crook of her arm will tell you that.

    But we do give things up to become moms -- our time, our chances to get ahead in the workplace, our independence. And goshdarnit, it's nice to hear someone else, someone on the other side, giving us our due!

    And we won't lie -- it's especially nice to hear it out of Cameron's mouth in light of some rather insensitive comments about moms from celebrities of late (cough, Gwyneth Paltrow, cough, cough)!

    Do you feel like your non-mom friends "get" motherhood? What's the nicest thing they've ever said to you?

     

    Image via Splash News


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    inducing labor

    So, you're pregnant and your doctor has suggested inducing labor? Welcome to the club. An estimated one in five pregnant women end up having their labor started artificially.

    But just because your OB/GYN has suggested being induced doesn't mean it's right for you. Here are six questions to ask your physician before saying yes (or no!) to induced labor:

    6 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Being Induced

    1. Why is inducing labor necessary? If you're uneasy about being induced, Dr. Akua Afriyie-Gray, an OB/GYN at Loyola University Health System and an assistant professor of OB/GYN at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, says it's important to find out what's on your doctor's mind. Although most OB/GYNs will not induce labor until very late in the pregnancy, there are a number of health reasons that may prompt a doctor to suggest baby needs to be delivered early, including gestational or chronic hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia, diabetes, premature rupture of membranes, and severe fetal growth restriction. 

    Then there's being pregnant too long (yes, it's a real thing).

    "As the woman approaches 42 weeks of gestation, your provider will suggest induction because of increased fetal risks of stillbirth, difficulty delivering vaginally because of size (fetal macrosomia), difficulty for the placenta to nourish the fetus, and risk of meconium aspiration," says Dr. Afriyie-Gray.

    "The most important thing for a mother to understand prior to induction is the reason it is recommended," she continues. "This allows the mom-to-be to work in partnership with her provider for the best outcome for her and for her baby."

    2. When will it happen? The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has some pretty clear rules on when OB/GYNs should and should not induce labor. Unless there is a medical reason for inducing labor, ACOG has ruled that the "gestational age of the fetus should be determined to be at least 39 weeks or that fetal lung maturity" has been established.

    3. How will you induce? There are various ways used to induce labor, and it's probably no surprise that not all are right for every woman. For example, ACOG recommends against using misoprostol, a drug often used to soften the cervix, if you've had a previous C-section because it ups the possibility of uterine rupture.

    Hope to keep this induction as natural as possible? That's possible.

    Ask your doctor if they can hold off on using drugs. For some women, merely breaking the water is enough to induce labor, Dr. Afriyie-Gray says.

    Membrane stripping, in which your doctor uses his hands to separate the bag of water from the cervix to soften it, is also an ACOG-approved means of trying to kick start contractions -- although it is not successful for every mom.

    4. Will you do an episiotomy? An episiotomy is an incision made in the perineum (that's tissue between your vaginal opening and your anus) that was once common practice during delivery. But according to Dr. Afriyie-Gray, use of episiotomy should be restricted. "Induction of labor does not directly result in use of episiotomy; however, causes for induction, such as a large infant, may result in its use," she explains.

    5. Is it safe? Hopefully your OB/GYN is aware of your medical history and puts that all into perspective, but it's worth pointing out that ACOG considers induction to be contraindicated in the following cases: transverse fetal position, umbilical cord prolapse, active genital herpes infection, placenta previa, and women who have had a previous myomectomy (fibroid removal) from the inside of the uterus. If any of these exist, and your doctor is pushing for an induction, be your own advocate and speak up. 

    6. Can I say no? It's your body, and it should be your choice. But this goes back to question number one -- is it going to be safe for you and your baby to say no?

    "It is important to know that when used appropriately, induction can be life-saving," says Dr. Afriyie-Gray.

    Has your doctor suggested induction? What have you decided to do?

     

    Images via © iStock.com/Marilyn Nieves; iStock.com/FocusInClose


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby foodSo, you've decided baby is ready for solid food, and you're wondering what the heck to feed them? Scientists may have just made the choice a little easier. A chemical named acrylamide has been linked to cancer. What does that have to do with baby food?

    Turns out that's where it's hiding (along with certain coffees and starchy foods such as French fries). The new warning comes out of the European Food Safety Authority, but American parents should know they're not the first to flag acrylamide. Here in the states, the FDA has been warning folks about its presence since late last fall. 

    Typically it seems to be via skin exposure that acrylamide hurts humans -- those in industrial settings have reportedly experienced muscle weakness or limb numbness. But lab reports done on animals have shown that acrylamide in the diet has been linked to DNA mutations that could increase the risk of tumor growth and spread of cancer cells.

    Thinking you're going to have make all your own baby food from now on, just to be on the safe side? Read on, Moms ...

    The good news is this chemical only seems to be present in commercial baby foods that contain processed cereal grains -- so if you're buying jars of pureed peas that contain peas and only peas (or any other fruit or veggie), you don't have to panic. The FDA also has a handy guide to baby foods they've tested, including those that were acrylamide-free and those that tested positive for the chemical.

    What is your baby eating? Have you checked it against the FDA list?

     

    Image © iStock.com/tcort


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Lindsay LohanNeed further evidence that Lindsay Lohan is a tad bit delusional? Here it is! The fallen from grace child star has apparently carried through on threats to sue Grand Theft Auto V makers Rockstar Games, alleging the company used her likeness in their popular video game without her permission (or, you know, paying her oodles of cash).

    Of course you can't just go around borrowing someone's image and making money off of them. But before you go all Team LiLo, let's take a look at the Mean Girls star's evidence that character Lacey Jonas is really Lindsay Lohan.

    According to Forbes:

    The portraits of the Plaintiff [Lohan] incorporated her image, likeness, clothing, outfits, Plaintiff’s clothing line products, ensemble in the form of hats, hair style, sunglasses, jean shorts worn by the Plaintiff that were for sale to the public at least two years.

    Wait, so wearing hats, sunglasses, and jean shorts makes you Lindsay Lohan? Whatever you do, do not hit a beach in America this summer ... you'll be inundated with LiLos! 

    Granted, "Lacey" also hides from paparazzi in the game and talks up her fame when someone dares not know who she is.

    Which sounds like ... every celebrity who ever existed, including Lindsay.

    So is it her? And can Rockstar Games claim this is simple parody -- protected under the law? That's up to a judge.

    But it doesn't stop the rest of us from rolling our eyes.

    Do you feel like Lindsay deserves some cash here or is this a publicity stunt?

     

    Image via Lenny Abbot/Splash News


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Davion OnlyWhen an orphan showed up at a Florida church last year and begged for someone to "love me forever," hearts opened up. Thousands of offers poured in to adopt Davion Only. So how is the teenager doing these days? Not so good. The 16-year-old has reportedly been sent back to square one after being removed from the home of a potential adoptive family.

    According to news reports, Only was involved in an altercation with another child in the home as well as the father. He'd lived with the family in Ohio for just a few months, but already had been baptized and signed up to play football -- a lifelong dream for the long-time foster kid.

    It's a heartbreaking hurdle.

    And sadly, it's reality.

    While stories like Davion's tend to bring out big-hearted people, simply wanting to adopt kids is not enough for a happy ending. It really takes a certain type of person (or people) to be able to do it, and even there there are bound to be bumps in the road. After all, kids like Davion are exactly that -- KIDS.

    It's not like adopting a puppy or kitty cat. They're human beings with emotions and needs. You don't seamlessly fit them into your family; you have to be willing to do the work they need.

    That said, the fact that thousands of people opened their hearts to Davion in the first place is proof that there are people who want to do what it takes to give this kid a forever home. Hopefully he makes a connection with them.

    If you think you could help Davion -- or any child -- Eckerd, a nonpro­fit youth & family service organizations, is handling his case and has information on how to adopt. Inquiries are also being accepted via the Heart Gallery.

    Have you considered adoption? What do you think it takes to be a good adoptive parent?

     

    Image via Tim Boyles/Heart Gallery of Pinellas and Pasco


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    restaurantThink the hardest part of dining out with toddlers is getting them to sit in their seat and wait for their eats? Try this one on for size! A family in Georgia is claiming they were kicked out of a restaurant because of their 4-year-old's shirt.

    Little Lewis Roberts was dressed like most kids his age in a lime green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tee. But that wasn't the problem for The Tavern at Phipps Plaza, an Atlanta eatery. It was the fact that Lewis' shirt had no sleeves -- and the restaurant has a clear "gentlemen's dress code" that forbids sleeveless shirts.

    The family's complaints have prompted an apology from the restaurant, which issued a statement noting that children are exempt from its policies.

    Anyone else seeing a problem here?

    With the apology?

    The restaurant had a policy. The family violated it, and then they threw a hissy.

    Talk about a horrible message to send your kids!

    The fact is, children need to be taught about appropriate attire for different situations. They need to understand that you can wear your bathing suit to the local ice cream stand, for example, but you put on a shirt and pants for a sit-down establishment. The nicer the eatery, the nicer their clothes should be.

    By 4, kids are certainly old enough to grasp this concept. What's more, they're old enough to note when they're being allowed to bypass rules ... and internalize that.

    If The Tavern wants to change its policy for future kids, that's one thing. But as the policy stood at the time of this child's visit, he should not get a pass.

    What do you think? Would you expect your child to get a pass on a restaurant's dress code?

     

    Image via a.pitch/Flickr


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