Saturday, January 31, 2009

One Thing That Sucks About Becoming a Mom

I was talking with a new mom friend the other day a memory hit me like a ton of bricks -- one of the wierdest adjustments I had to make with my first baby was that I was penniless!

Not literally, of course. I was married, we had money for food and our mortgage and I was nursing (nonstop, it seemed) and I was a pretty steadily working actress. But the feeling of panic I felt when I realised that I was not working at that precise moment was very real. I think Cameron was about 9 weeks old at the time, and, funnily enough, I had worked a week on a sitcom (The Smart Guy!) at 6 weeks postpartum.

But the overwhelming feeling I had was that I would never be free to earn as much money as I previously had, again. In a way, I was right. But by becoming a mother, you (hopefully) have first decided to do so with a mate, a mate who will be there for you and support the new family. This didn't, however, assuage my feelings of dread about having to ask for money to get a magazine or a new top. And my friend felt the same, though she has a husband working at a quite lucrative job.

Of course, now that the economy's gotten a tad shaky, and all the news is about the Great Despression, it feels like the world's agreeing that you shouldn't buy yourself a new shirt. But if you aren't being foreclosed on, remember that nursing for a year will save the average family over $1,600. And your baby, once he has his car seat and some onesies and diapers, doesn't really need anything else. So if you (collectively) can swing the price of something useful and pretty, it's okay to get it for yourself.

I'm only partly saying this to make it okay for you to buy a new Japanese Weekend nursing and maternity vest top at One Hot Mama -- :) -- I also want you to feel okay about tossing a magazine into the cart at the grocery store. A mom contributes more than dollars to her family. Thanks for all you do -- and will do in the future.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Would You Do?

I received the following letter from a customer, and I want to know what you think One Hot Mama should do -- continue to accept our little cache of free American Baby magazines or not? FYI, I will try to get something from Mothering for our hot mamas!

I recently ordered a nursing tank from your store. The tank is great, but the magazine (American Baby) you included was quite offensive. While the magazine contains a pretty good article on breastfeeding, the magazine is littered with formula and bottle advertisements. I was greeted with a huge two-page formula commercial spread (pages 2 and 3). I'm very saddened that you may have sent this magazine to other pregnant women or moms, especially when women are bombared with formula and bottle advertisement constantly and receive little, if any encouragement to breastfeed. Even the magazine's birth information is demeaning to a woman and her birth experience. As an example, the magazine's definition of an episiotomy: "Howto say this without scaring you? Sometimes even 10 centimeters is not enough, and the doctor, um, makes a little cut to help the baby through. You'll be too out of it to care." I assumed from your large selection of nursing clothing that you support breastfeeding. If so, please stop giving out free magazines that completely undermine breastfeeding. The formula companies have enough money to do that on their own.
Thanks, A Concerned Customer

Dear CC:

Your letter made me feel slightly ill!!

Let me explain – I so get your well-made points and I am distressed that American Baby is parrotting all that old misinformation. I years ago stopped reading Parenting and Parents, and, if you check our front page ( you’ll see that we provide a very prominent link to Mothering, which I think should be required reading for every pregnant woman. I hadn’t read AB or Baby Talk in ages, as my youngest are 3 ½ years old and it’s really time I stopped having babies, and all those adorable pix melt my weak resolve.

I have four kids, and nursed the first two for around 2 years each, and my subsequent twins for three (it’s really tricky to wean two toddlers!). I would like nothing more than to gift my customers with copies of Mothering, and while your letter has reminded me to dash a hopeful note off to Peggy O’Mara [their editor], the fact is that a parenting magazine that does not get the bulk of its ad money from formula companies (whose only expenses other than marketing are for curds and whey, apparently) doesn’t have the budget to dole out extra copies. They did used to have postcards good for a free issue, however, so I’ll see what’s happened to that program.

We receive around 30 copies of the magazine every month and put them in less than 5% of our outgoing orders. It’s my understanding that the publishers send extras to doctors offices and stores all around the country. Even my pediatrician, the amazingly dedicated-to-breastfeeding-support Paul Fleiss, has free copies of Baby Talk in his waiting room. I get your point that we should be completely divorced from such mags, but the fact is that they not only have HUGE circulations, but that, sadly, they are reflecting what the majority of American women hear from doctors and friends and television. My hope is that all the writing that’s on our site, on my blog, and our appearances on television (the only naturally-birthed, breastfed, cloth-diapered twins on TLC!) will counteract that mainstream crap (excuse my language, but it is!).

In the meantime, our husband-and-wife business does support those four kids in Southern California, so we have branched out to maternity wear for women who are like me before I became a mother, who have no clue there’s an alternative. Perhaps they’ll like our clothes, be intrigued by our message, and slowly realize that formula is like a prosthetic leg – great if we need one, but no-one’s first choice. If you need further proof of our bona fides, check out the Baby Bargains book, where they said something about us having a great site, “if you could ignore their lecturing about breastfeeding.” There’s a badge of honour I’ll proudly wear! They are drawn in by mainstream magazines, and then hear our message.

Thanks for speaking your mind. I welcome dialogue with our mamas, and in fact will post this exchange on my blog (omitting your name, of course) because it’s important to remember that all we read is not right or helpful. If you have any questions, please email or call.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Love The One You're With, Baby

I just had to write this quick thought after a visit from R., my new neighbor at the One Hot Mama store. She's adorable, short (like me) and a tad busty (unlike me, post-kids). She came in to talk about clothes and try stuff on and was bemoaning her lovely tatas.

Here's my revelation -- love the body you have RIGHT NOW, instead of thinking how great you'd look as Gwyeth Paltrow or Delta Burke. Guess what they do? They DRESS the bodies they have, instead of the ones they wish they had. And when they stray, like that unfortunate baby pink Ralph Lauren Oscar dress that Miss G. sported and looked for all the world like a boobless wonder? We attack.

So if you never had boobies and now you do, or vice versa, stop bitching and find out what looks good on them or show off your shoulders asap. To do this right, go right now to the library or to your local bookstore or to Amazon and get What Not To Wear -- by the English goddesses, Trinny and Susannah (and don't watch or read anything their American counterparts say).

Take stock of what you have and work with it -- you'll be amazed and happy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How Do I Get My Body Back After Baby?

Ah, good question, if a little flawed. See, your first mistake is thinking of it as "your" body. Nothing is, technicallly, yours any longer. (Watch toddlers at work and know that this is true.)

But here's the good news -- you can have a great body after having a baby! It just might not be the body you had before. Babycenter's survey about how women feel about their postpartum bodies is definitely interesting, but it misses a few key points.
  • Two days postpartum is way different than two months than two years. Of course you feel icky about the gelatinous belly hanging down, all empty after birth. But, expecting your old body back right away is insane. If not understandable. So breastfeed and notice those contractions that are reducing the size of your uterus each time you feed -- yay!
  • My favourite advice is from Vicki Iovine -- 9 months up, 9 months down. So relax. But relax vigilantly. :) Do not, however, own or buy or have a scale. No point.
  • My personal observation (but I live in Southern California, so people here may be genetically different) is that most moms are around the size they were pre-children, but any unwanted weight gets blamed on the kids. That's no fair, to baby or to you. Seriously, age and other factors (hello, menopause!) are all to blame for metabolism and shape shifting, but saddling our kids with it is a little too easy.
  • Most people eventually get back to around their basic pre-baby size (and hey, this is coming from someone who wore her fave maternity jeans for five months after the birth of her second child) for the simple reason that that's where the bulk of their wardrobe is. Which is reason #954 to buy maternity clothes, and not just bigger and bigger regular clothes. Knowing that the pants you're wearing are meant for people whose uterus is the size of a duffle bag will give you pause in a way that size 12s vs. 8s won't.
  • Don't eat kid food. A lot of moms I know put on weight when their babies become toddlers -- Mac n Cheese, Chicken Nuggest, Pizza are great in moderation, but it isn't moderate when you eat your share and then clean their plates. I am blessed with an allergy to wheat. Pretend you have one.
  • If you need to be seen in public with your week-old-baby and you feel flabby, grab a pair of Spanx and/or a Belly Bandit. I happily wore a corset after I had the twins (the Belly Bandit had not yet been invented to pull in postpartum tummies, so I went with what was available.) Note the belly-reducing properties of good posture.

When all else fails, rejoice that the body you have today made a baby, birthed a baby, and fed a baby. In my book, that's one hot body! (And, if you ask your hubby, he would agree.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Breastfeeding Twins Q & A

Dear OHM:

I just recently saw your episode on Bringing home baby and I noticed your wife [that's me!] had a very large nursing pillow, it was gray [actually chambray blue]. I was wondering if your company sold that pillow or if you have something like it. I am pregnant with twins and will be induced on Monday because I will be 39 weeks and I plan to breastfeed so that pillow looks to be a great help!

Please let me know,


Dear S:

Good luck to you!! My doctor wanted to induce on the Monday I was turning 39 weeks as well. I went home and meditated and told the babies that they needed to be ready to be born now, and that they should be both head down, back to belly and easy out! I did all the fun things that stimulate contractions, and on Monday at my doctor’s appointment, he said I was at 4 and could head to the hospital!

The pillow I used can be found here -- We don’t carry it, but I loved it (although not in the goofy print.) Be sure to ask the lactation consultant at your hospital to hang around to help you with two babies. One of mine had a poor latch, but one of the good things about twins is that the other one stimulated let down for her. I also fed on cue, but would pick up a sleeping baby to nurse if the other one was eating. No sense in feeling like you have one baby that’s awake 24 hours a day! That pillow was a godsend.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Get This Book Now

A quick shameless not-quite-self promotion for Kym Douglas' new book, The Black Book of Hollywood Pregnancy Secrets. Not only do Halle Berry, Milla Jovovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields and more share their tales from the 9-month journey, I interviewed with Kym as well. She's a smart, funny mom, the type who shares information about beauty finds and secrets (see her other books and her appearances on Ellen). I can't wait to see the book in print (it comes out in March), but you can pre-order it here.

Of course, you can find One Hot Mama's style tips and thoughts all over our site, but it's extra fun to see it in print! :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Best Pants in the World -- Pregnant or Not

How do I explain to my husband that I've fallen in love? With not one, but two pairs of pants. Worse yet, they're technically maternity pants, and, after four kiddies, he doesn't want to see me knocked up ever again.
But these pants are The Best. First, my old love -- The Perfect Pre and Post Partum Pant. They're so fab, my mother bought two pairs! I wear them still, after a twin pregnancy over 3 1/2 years ago, and they look awesome. The picture on the left is missing something -- a fabric swatch so you can feel the yummy microfleece. It's cozy and good-looking, which, if you think about it, is what you want your mama to be. They definitely are not unitaskers -- you know, what Alton Brown calls kitchen tools that are made for a singular purpose. These babies can go to yoga and a fancy dinner with only a change of top. Really.

Now, I have a rival for those affections. The Everywear Pant is what I call the Skant -- a skirt/pant combination. Trust me, they were the next big thing in the 90s at some point, but never really took off. But I loved them, and kept looking in store windows and showrooms, hoping that someday, we'd be reunited. That day is here. Sure, they were made by a maternity designer, and the chickie on the right is all cute and preggers, but just wait until you see how great these fit your non-pregnant body! I am, right now, using this precious moment of "free" time at home to do the laundry so I can wear them again this week!
That is love.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What Does Feeding Every 2-3 Hours Mean?

This one's for my beloved cousin, who, somehow, just had a baby of her own. I say somehow, because in my mind, she is forever eons younger than me, and if she's old enough to be a married woman with a baby, that means I'm about to be put out to pasture and start wearing the female equivalent of SansABelt slacks, the floral muumuu. (Shudder!)

Anyway, I remember reading, or hearing, or being told be a nurse after giving birth that my baby needed to eat every two or three hours. Guess what? If you're nursing, this information is misleading at best, and can lead to decreased milk production at worst. Here's the scoop: if you want the down-low on anything breastfeeding related, head to the LaLeche League or to, and read between the lines when people tell you things like this. Why? Because the every 2 or 3 hours thing is based on formula-fed babies, whose intake can be measured, because the feeder gets to put in what they feel like giving. Nursing babies regulate their own intake, so at one session, they may be thirsty and take in lower-calorie foremilk, and then another, possibly shorter, session results in them gulping down buckets of high-calorie hindmilk that fills them up.

That's why nursing on cue and not the clock is best. A newborn who's rooting or making sucking faces should be put to the breast. Crying is not only a late indicator of hunger, it's harder to get a sobbing baby to latch on and calm down and eat. By the time he's crying, you've missed a lot of his little hints. And you've broken out in a cold sweat and feel like a failure.

The other piece of bad news/good news I have for you pregnant and newly nursing mamas is that, while a new baby should nurse around every two to three hours, that doesn't mean two hours should pass between the end of one feeding and the beginning of the next session. Look closely at the directions on your baby's tush (well, they should print them right there -- you're going to see it enough) -- there should be two hours between the beginning of one session and the start of the next. So if Junior takes an hour to fill his little belly, you're getting back up in an hour. (Why they don't use this info as birth control in high-school SexEd classes, I don't know.)

All is not lost, ladies. Here's the very good news: Once you've established breastfeeding (think, around 6 weeks), life will be easier for you than if you'd gone the bottle route. The trick is getting there without hurting yourself and those around you. Ditch the clocks. All of them. Especially the ones you can see in your bedroom at night. And learn to nurse laying down. No point in losing sleep with someone who's not even talking to you. :)

And here's a big congrats and shout-out to my cousin Shelley, husband Joseph, and new son Asher in NYC!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bringing Home Baby -- Mack Truck Twins

Oh, this is fun. The episode of TLC's Bringing Home Baby that I thought would be fun in a late-pregnancy-induced fit of madness is airing again Tuesday, January 6th. Actually, I am SO glad we did it -- I was right about one thing. The twins' baby books have never gotten filled out, and Lord only knows where all the pictures are. If you're visiting us because you're seeing the show for the first time, welcome! And if you're in LA, come say hello at our fab new store, at 12265 Ventura Boulevard on the second floor.


Monday, January 5, 2009

What Your Christmas Card Says About You As A Mother

First, I know that the cardinal rule of blogging is never to say, "sorry I haven't blogged in a while" but rules are made to be broken. Also, apparently, are brand-spanking-new HP laptops. Yep, got one from my dh on my birthday, November 17th, and the day we returned from our post-Christmas vacation, kaput, dead, hard-drive failure with everything, and I mean, everything, that I have done or worked on in the past 6 weeks wiped out. Not so good.

Thankfully, Bob's a computer genius, and is now working on some sort of restoration, but it makes me sick to my stomach that I have no backup anywhere. Why, you may well ask? I don't know ... I'm an idiot. And an idiot without a computer, which in 2009, feels very weird indeed. So odd that I didn't even want to touch another computer. I mean, it was too fresh, the pain, and I still had hope of restoration. But this is taking too long, so back to work! :) On the limping-along, very old laptop that we were scared would die. But here it is. Interesting.

Back to the point of my post. It's going to make sense in a minute. Bob and I started sending cards out as a couple back in the last century. Before we were married, but after we had made the committment to get two dogs together. I think we dressed them up as Santa and a reindeer and made them pose for 100 photos (this was pre-digital, mind you, so it entailed multiple trips to 1-hour photo to see if we had gotten the shot). We amused ourselves thusly until we had Cameron, and then he and the dogs posed together for a couple years. When we had Lila in 2000, though, we realized that something was missing from the photo.


I mean, our dogs were cute and all, and so was our kidlet, but who really cared about them, other than grandparents and a couple of their many aunts? I looked around at all the cards I was taking down last night (hey, our tree's still up as well!) and noticed that well over 50% of them are photos of kids only. Some of the kids I know, but many are from friends I haven't seen in years, so I don't know the kids from Adam. Even Adam's actual kids -- how can I see who's nose is whose if I haven't seen him since the early 90s? I want to see you, my friends. Sure, include the kids (now that would be really odd, a Christmas card with only the parents on it!) -- but I think family photos sans the people who are responsible for the family says something not great.

It says that we have become invisible. That's something I fight against at One Hot Mama -- we want moms to say, "I'm here, too!" Life is not all baby sick and $900 strollers and how much sleep we got. We matter. And we should look good enough to be in a picture with the people that gave us grey hair. Toss on a little lipstick or fix it with Photoshop. As long as you're smiling and look like yourself, that's all that matters. I want you to remember that you're still a person, albeit one with spit-up on your shoulder. Hey, if bird poop on your shoulder is lucky in some cultures, think of what gallons of baby vomit can do for you!

So, even though Christmas and Hannukah and New Years are long gone, remember to keep yourself in the picture this year. Promise?