Archive | May, 2012

“Up All Night” Critique

15 May

I was so excited when this show started. I am a new mom, and watching the first few episodes was an almost cathartic experience. Seeing our exhaustion and challenges reflected in popular culture felt reassuring. In the first episode, the exhausted parents struggle to change their baby’s diaper, saying “we’re on your team; we’re just trying to help you.” Been there! But, as the season continued, I began to notice aspects of the show that glamorize the first year or are simply not realistic for most of us. Moreover, the show portrays unsafe, inappropriate, and misleading examples of parenting.

In general, I feel that the media glamorizes parenting. We see celebrities pregnant, and they look gorgeous and small, with cute little baby bumps. Then, after the baby is born they are back to their pre-baby bodies quickly and are out in public well-dressed, wearing make-up, hair done, and looking bright-eyed (until my child was about 6 months, I looked exhausted, I felt pampered if I was able to put on anything other than moisturizer and powder, and only sometimes remembered to do something to my hair. As for clothes, I lived in the same three jeans and five shirts because it was too much work to find other outfits).

So, “Up All Night” was a welcome change of pace. They discuss baby weight gains, dressing like a “mom” and “dad” vs. dressing in a way that is attractive to your partner, and the conflict between wanting to live your life similarly to the way you did before baby, but having new priorities and needs.

I really want to like the show, and I do enjoy it.  But, I have a hard time getting past the following issues:

1. Car seat: Their child, Amy, recently turned one, but she has been in a front-facing car seat the entire season. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends children ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are age two OR the maximum height and weight for their seat. Car accidents are the number one killer of young children, and a major source of childhood injury. I really feel the show should set an example of safe travel.

2. Feeding: There are many reasons that mothers choose not to breastfeed, and I think that needs to be respected; there are women that struggle with supply issues, latching issues, failure to thrive, and other issues that make formula feeding necessary and the better choice for their family. However, for the vast majority of moms and babies, breastfeeding in the best choice. The AAP and the WHO (World Health Organization) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. According to the CDC, in 2011, 35% of babies in the US were exclusively breastfed by 3 months, and only 15% were exclusively breastfed by 6 months. There are many places where woman do not feel comfortable, and are even not permitted, either explicitly or implicitly, to nurse their babies, so to have a show about the challenges of new parenthood, not address that issue is disappointing. Moreover, I think that something a lot of working moms find difficult about returning to work is the pumping and cleaning that fills their days and adds to their to-do lists – those moms really are up all night!

3. Where is Baby?: There are many scenes in the show, where my partner and I say to each other, “where’s their kid?” The couple goes new car shopping, and magically someone takes care of their child, and they don’t even bother lugging their car seat to make sure it fits in the new car; they decide to go out for the night, and magically someone is able to come on short notice to watch their kid; they invite people over for a last-minute dinner party, and their child is asleep and their house is clean and they are able to prepare a dinner, all with no fuss. What parents are able to do those things so easily? Interestingly, at the beginning of the season, a minor plot point of a show was their search for a last-minute babysitter so they could get out. But, that apparently was not “good tv” so now they just go out last-minute, and rarely deal with what happens to the baby. Wouldn’t life with a newborn be so much easier if when it was inconvenient to have a child, the child was magically able to sleep through the night and/or a sitter was able to be there?

Now I’m curious, are there other shows that glamorize parenthood or show things that bother you in some way?




Whooping Cough

9 May

I live in Washington State, where we are experiencing an epidemic of pertussis (whooping cough). This is particularly scary for me because my child is an infant (the age group most at risk of death), and has not yet completed the DTaP series. What I find particularly difficult about this disease is that most people just present with symptoms that resemble the common cold, a lot of older children and adults may have mild cases that are dismissed as a cold with a persistent cough. You can go online and hear what the “whoop” sounds like, but there are many other symptoms, so the absence of that sound does not mean the absence of pertussis. And in infants, there is usually no whooping.

There is a treatment for pertussis, but prevention is paramount – especially for unvaccinated infants.

1. Children and Adults in contact with infants should be vaccinated. There is a TDaP booster for adults and older children. According to a study discussed on the CDC website, children who had never received a DTaP vaccine are eight times more likely of developing whooping cough than vaccinated children. Vaccination of people infants come in close contact with is called “cocooning”: most infants acquire pertussis through a member of the household, so it is important to protect those people around the infant in order to prevent the infant from acquiring pertussis.

2. Wash hands often. Pertussis is spread through coughing and sneezing, so hand washing (for 20 seconds, enough time to sing “Happy Birthday” twice) before preparing food and eating, as well as after coming in contact with other people, especially children is vital.

3. Limit exposure to high exposure areas. Especially for young infants, it might be necessary during an epidemic (like that in Washington State) to limit a child’s exposure by ensuring play dates are with vaccinated families, and staying away from play areas where there are a lot of children, particularly play areas inside and with toys that children can put in their mouths.

For more information, visit the CDC website.