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Archive for August, 2012

Bob and I lost the Bride and the Groom in the hospital parking garage. Well we didn’t really lose them, since we have smart cells and can always find them again, wherever they are. Except for maybe a Caribbean island, our collective happy visualization spot! We were headed for Labor and Delivery; we picked up the happy couple on another subterranean floor and as we’re going up in the elevator, I repeat “BJ,” maybe a touch too loud. That is where we will presumably find my car again, once we are grandparents. Basment level, row “J.” Except for a small giggle from the back of the elevator, the Bride turns to me and says, “Don’t you have that App?” “What App,” I say.

It seems there is an App that will locate your car for you when you are stuck in an airport or mall parking lot, or even a covered, cavernous hospital garage. Now not only will I never get lost, I’ll never lose my car again! “Interesting,” I said, “Have they created an App that will tell me – “‘Why am I here?'” The whole elevator had a smile about that one. But really, besides the existensial question in general, why do we need grandparents? Let me count the ways.

To Cook! Your children will be busy, very busy with a newborn. Cooking anything will be appreciated. I lucked out cause the Groom does dishes.

To Shop! Of course you need to shop for the groceries to cook, which should include all your daughter’s favorite things…avocados, peaches, grapefruit juice. Don’t forget the new Dad, he needs beer and beef. You won’t go wrong. And be prepared to go on special hunting expeditions for things like Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads – amazing things! Spell it out on your Notes App, L-A-N-S-I-N-O-H. ps Target carries them.

To Burp, Rock and Change the Occasional Diaper! Be prepared. Dads are way more involved than they were in our day. So the actual baby nurse duties will be minimal with a nursing Mom and today’s Dad.

To Give Nursing Advice! Who needs a doula when you have a Grandmother? Well, maybe we did. It’s been over 30 years since I nursed the Bride and for some strange reason this hospital doesn’t employ Lactation Counsultants on weekends. I had a 1-800 La Leche number, and now I have a post-menopausal brain that tends to forget the tough times of sleep deprivation and an inverted nipple. Lucky for me, the Bride has a very cooperative baby girl!

To Know When NOT to Give Advice! This can be tricky. I learned a long time ago never to give anyone advice unless they asked for it. But when it’s your daughter, and your brand new grand daughter you may start to feel just like one of those crazy, old women who would constantly tell you what to do when you were a new mom. “What do you mean the nurse recommends not putting lotion on her bottom?” “You’re going to swaddle her that tight?” Anyway, try very hard to keep most of your opinions to yourself – unless asked. My daughter said she only sees babies in the ER who are either dehydrated or febrile and septic, so I trust her to know what to do in most every circumstance. Still, that leaves a wide range of normal neonate behavior, right? “Wait, you want the dog to lick her face?”

To Take Pictures. My phone has like 4 or 5 picture Apps! Here’s the thing, you get to take pictures as much as you want! And you get to catch those unlikely times with the whole new family. For instance, I think this looks like a soap opera. First time nursing in the recovery room: nurse at the computer, BFF and colleague Kristyn comes in, off camera are many of their friends who are residents…all crying. And bam, the Groom turns. What is he thinking?

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The funny thing about scheduling a C-section, you know when the baby is coming, and everything seems organized and in control. You check into the hospital 2 hours before the OR time, then you find out there have been a few emergency unscheduled C-sections that morning, so you wait…and you wait…and you wait. And waiting is the hardest part.

Then all of sudden, they come in the room and roll out with your daughter. The Groom gets to wait until the spinal takes effect and the surgeon is ready, then he heads for the OR. And now you start to crumble inside because now there is no one to stay strong for, no one to visit with and chat up about this or that. Well, there is Bob still, her Father and the Saviour of Lost Things. He knows how you feel instinctively. Together you hold each other up…

Until they roll her back in the room, followed by the Groom and a new little person. A beautiful baby girl who somehow manages to steal your heart all over again. Just the way the Bride first did so long ago. This morning we played the Circle of Life on Bob’s iPad, because that’s how it feels. Seven whole pounds of wonder and enchanting eyes.

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We are counting down the days and hours until our new grand daughter’s birthday. Everything is ready. The other grandma-to-be told the Bride she hadn’t hung the curtains in the nursery before the Groom was born. And so I told her about running into town with the Flapper to buy crib bumpers. Babies come when they want to come. But we know this little girl’s birthday, because she is determined to stay in the breech position, her birthday is a date on the OR’s calendar. So the last few days my daughter can spend painting animals to hang on the nursery wall, visiting a friend’s new baby boy, and we can sit together on the front porch, with our morning coffee. Watching the children walk to school. It is the sweetest of times.


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Today we find out that Augusta National Golf Club in the great state of Georgia has admitted 2 women, Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/golf/19323577 This news fell like a thud at my feet. As someone who could not receive a credit card unless it was in my husband’s name, or could not obtain birth control pills until I was married, my reaction to this big golfing news was anti-climactic. What do you know, this private club actually thinks a woman’s money is just as green as a man’s…oh, and maybe they won’t be such a distraction on the links? Hey, If the Tiger can play there, why not Condi? I shrugged.

And, while smiling this sardonic smile, we find out that 2 other iconic women have made headlines today. The great Phyllis Diller died at the grand old age of 95. I remember watching her on TV, and thinking so, a woman can make a living in comedy. I didn’t necessarily like her rampages about “Fang” her husband, and I certainly didn’t like the smoking and the bouffant of teased hair. But I was young, I didn’t know this was part of her schicht! She was the female doppelgänger of “Take my wife, please.” And she was doing this when women were not allowed in many university and private clubs around the country, unless they were on the arm of some male member. The second female comedian making news is Rosie O’Donnell. She revealed that she had a heart attack, and how women need to pay attention to our particular signs and symptoms. I’ve always loved Rosie, but instead of calling 911, she googled her symptoms and took an aspirin – bad Rosie – not funny. http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/20/rosie-odonnell-happy-to-be-alive-after-heart-attack/?iref=allsearch

And for the last distinctly sad bit of doubledealing, we have a Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, Todd Akin, who thinks he misspoke about RAPE, and the Republican VP pick, Paul Ryan, who desperately wants to distance himself from him. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-todd-akins-rape-comments-abortion-is-back-in-the-campaign-spotlight/2012/08/20/c497bae4-eac7-11e1-a80b-9f898562d010_story.html

But can we separate the two? Not at all. Let’s put on our thinking caps – rejecting science and reason in many forms seems to be an extreme right agenda. And today, the GOP platform has called for a “Human Life Amendment” with absolutely no exception for rape, much in the same way Paul Ryan backed all those personhood bills that kept popping up all over the country. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/21/no-rape-exception-in-republican-platforms-constitutional-abortion-ban/

Are we witches? This must be the year of magical thinking, when a woman’s body can just kill off those rapist sperm and prevent pregnancy – oh yeah, party of the big spenders and free markets – tell us how that works! I’m supposed to feel better that Mitt believes in the rape exception? Like I’m supposed to be happy we can play golf at Augusta?

Smart, thinking women are not buying into this circus comedy of GOP clowns. Tell me the GOP is not waging a war on women. Put on your best Dan Draper smile, and make me believe you’ll still call me in the morning. http://nymag.com/news/frank-rich/gop-women-problem-2012-4/

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Good rainy Sunday morning. Have you been bombarded by insulting, demeaning campaign ads yet? Well, I’m ready to throw in the towel, and we still have 3 months to go. I’m tired of hearing about Paul Ryan and his Mother in “The Villages,” which reminds me of an old BBC show that has been locked in the back of my mind for decades. I have an older brother, Dr Jim, who would stay up late with me and we’d watch a cult classic called “The Prisoner.” It was about a British spy, Patrick McGoohan, who finds himself living a lie captured in this beautiful seaside resort called “The Village” where he is monitored at all times by a bubble-like Rover, foreshadowing “The Truman Show.”

“I am not a number, I’m a free man!” Hallucinogenic drugs and mind control mix to keep McGoohan’s character in line, to give evil Number 2 the information he so desperately desires. The Village’s population, hundreds of diverse people are all referred to by numbers, and go along with the pretense. Which is maybe why I thought that somehow Ryan was mesmerizing these FL Village people into believing that he really did have their best interests at heart? Just as Ryan has been backing away from his favorite author, Ayn Rand, he is bringing up themes from the great paradox of governments everywhere – individualism vs collectivism.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I read an article in the Washington Post that inferred that Mitt’s selflessness, his philanthropy, his willingness to give so much to charity makes up for his puny tax returns. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/romneys-equating-of-taxes-and-charitable-giving-sparks-debate/2012/08/18/63bea3e6-e891-11e1-936a-b801f1abab19_story.html?fb_ref=sm_btn_fb “Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney…responded to questions about how much he pays in taxes by suggesting that people should take into account his total contributions to the government and charities.” What do you think?

Well, I don’t know about you, but giving roughly half of your tax-exempt donations to a charity called the Mormon Church doesn’t cut it with me. So if you’re a single parent and all of a sudden, you’ve lost your job and you find yourself applying for food stamps, maybe you could stop for a minute, and just call up the church? Making a choice this November between a Republican and a Democrat could never be clearer. If half the American population thinks that entitlements like Medicare and Social Security and Pell Grants are hand-outs that will keep you from becoming your own best, prosperous self, then maybe we are all heading to The Villages?

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I am more likely to fill Bob’s inbox with news he just can’t refuse or use, but recently he sent me this: http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/04/health/west-nile-virus/index.html?hpt=hp_t2 Here is the hook-catching first sentence – “The United States is experiencing its biggest spike in West Nile virus since 2004, with 241 cases of the disease reported nationwide this year so far, including four deaths, health officials said.”

It was August in 2004 when I woke up thinking my head was going to explode. It was the worst headache of my life, or maybe the second worst after experiencing the Hong Kong flu back in the 60s. I don’t get migraines and rarely complain. Besides, I know that so long as I’m not in fear of imminent death, my personal ER doc was off limits. He always made a point of not treating relatives for ethical reasons. He’s seen it all and heard it all, and I know he doesn’t want to hear from me…unless I’m dying. I didn’t know I actually was.

I had stopped writing for the paper and was busy getting my son ready and packed for college. Our house had been sold, so I was also packing for our move South. Of course, it wasn’t a very good time to get sick, but then again, when is? I would get up, drink coffee, maybe shower, take Tylenol (making my temp go from 103 to 101) and go back to bed. On the second or third day, I went to an Urgent Care. The doctor told me I had a gastroenteritis, even though my stomach was fine. It was my head. I dragged myself through a mall to purchase last minute college stuff. One day I went to an orchid greenhouse with Bob, thinking the flowers would cheer me up. In the hothouse, I truly felt my head would split open.

Then, still a news junkie and finding myself in front of a muted TV, I could not read the news crawl on the bottom of CNN. The headache, the fever, fine, but not reading the news was the last straw. I had great eyesight, but I looked in the mirror and it looked as if 2 giant red stop signs were peering back at me. I decided even though things were blurry, I needed to get to an eye doctor right away. It was just a couple of miles up River Road. First clue, we lived in the priciest swamp around, Rumson, NJ. Between 2 rivers and home to abundant wildlife and waterfowl. In fact, people had been finding dead black birds all around town…that was the second clue.

The ophthalmologist’s Red Bank office was empty. His staff insisted on my paying one hundred dollars up-front, since they didn’t participate with my insurance. I’m not sure how I even drove there, I was too sick to argue, I hadn’t been eating, it actually hurt to eat. Later I thought, this is the best diet plan ever – I lost 15 pounds in one week. This “doctor” didn’t even do a visual acuity check, he told me to go home and “wash your hands.” His diagnosis – conjunctivitis! Finally, almost a week to the day from that first headache, the next day Bob was off and I stood in front of him and gave him the whole story. He took one look at my eyes and brought me to another Ophthalmologist with a capital “O” my saviour, Dr MacDonald of Shrewsbury, NJ.

I was one of the first in a string of people infected with this virus, via a mosquito, that produces encephalitis in a lucky few, 1 out of 150. I was that mom moving her son into his College of NJ dorm while simultaneously putting steroid drops in my eyes every hour. I was lucky I only lost a part of my peripheral vision. I’m writing this to let you know that even with a doctor in the family, I wasn’t treated well by the health community. It’s your health and you need to own it. I spent a week suffering, and that was my mistake, So here is the CDC fact sheet on this mosquito-born illness, West Nile,
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/wnv_factsheet.htm which ends with:

“If you find a dead bird.” And if you live in Texas, Mississippi or Oklahoma, or near a river anywhere where mosquitoes like to bite at dusk and dawn, take precautions please!

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Who knew that naming the moderators for Fall’s upcoming Presidential debates would be historic? No woman has sat in that seat, asking the hard questions and keeping the candidates on point and on time since 1992. And now more than ever, we need you Candy Crowley. “A trio of high school girls from New Jersey had mounted an online petition campaign to get a woman back on the debate stand. Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis were cheering the Commission on Presidential Debates for its choice…” In addition, ABCs Martha Raddatz will moderate one vice-presidential debate. Go Girl Power! http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-candy-crowley-presidential-debate-20120813,0,5837308.story

Crowley has said that her first instinct was to think, “Great!” As a journalist, CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent, who hosts the Sunday morning TV show State of the Union http://sotu.blogs.cnn.com and specializes in our House and Presidential elections, Crowley was honored to be asked and jumped at the chance; and not surprisingly, being a woman wasn’t her first thought. She is a professional, and her goal, she said this morning on CNN, is to think outside of the beltway. Her goal will be to ask questions that people want to know. So Ms Crowley, if you’re listening, here are my top 3 questions for your October 16th debut, at Hofstra University in New York, from one inquiring mind.

1) Where do you think our “Rights” come from? Mitt, your running mate, Paul Ryan, has said he believes our Rights come from “God and nature, not from government.” Do you agree? Hopefully this question, in a town hall format, will open up all sorts of other questions about religion and human rights (which are also women’s rights…and LGBT rights). I’d like to know if Mitt is really planning to close Planned Parenthood and I’d like to know if Barrack is planning to close Gitmo.

2) How does your economic philosophy differ from your opponent? What is your plan to create jobs and at the same time, close the deficit? A seemingly incompatible duo – increase AND decrease. A sort of Houdini-like concept, but OK, try and give us an answer. I’d like to hear the top 3 priorities of each candidate, in a nutshell. Vouchers for Medicare? Push Social Security benefits to age 68? We want details, facts, not party talking points. Come out from behind the curtain and explain this economy to us.

“Unfortunately the key factual question regarding the effect of the Obama Administration’s stimulus appears – at first glance – to be out of easy reach. It is essentially a question of what would have happened if what did happen didn’t. Did the Administration’s policy matter? What would have been the result without it?” http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.view&backgroundid=00645

3) What have you learned from a recent mistake? In introducing your running mate this August Mitt, you made a bit of a gaffe calling Ryan “The next President of the United States.” You laughed about it, and immediately corrected it. How about health care policy – was your health insurance/universal health care plan good for MA? You agreed with a mandate then. And Barrack, do you regret spending so much political leverage on the Affordable Care Act?

I covered a few Town Hall meetings in my day. One stands out in my mind, one in which my friend arrived with bags of toy guns we had accepted at a Peace Fair’s “exchange your water pistol for a care bear” booth. The House Republican candidate for the 12th District in NJ, Dick Zimmer was a wunderkind. He had passed Meghan’s Law, and been a part of that GOP landscape for years. What bothered me was his position on assault weapons, he liked them. In 1994, President Clinton and Congress passed a 10 year ban on assault weapons, and good ole Dick wanted to just let that ban expire. Spotting the bags of toy guns, his operatives were doing their best NOT to call on us, but eventually we asked him to explain his position.

Good luck Candy! Whatever you do, with your gang of “undecided” Town Hall voters, take that ear bud out of your ear and look for the bags of toy guns.

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