The story of two boys both named Wes Moore who grew up in poverty in Baltimore. One goes on to become a contributing member of society and the other e...moreThe story of two boys both named Wes Moore who grew up in poverty in Baltimore. One goes on to become a contributing member of society and the other ends up serving life in prison for murder. The successful Wes Moore wrote this book, and while his premise is that he could have just as easily been the other Wes Moore, it is fairly obvious from the life stories he presents that he had resources -- the most critical of which was a stable family unit willing to sacrifice for his future -- that gave him the opportunity to succeed while the other Wes Moore was basically doomed from birth due to circumstances beyond his control that only a very extraordinary individual could have overcome.(less)
Juliana van Olphen-Fehr begins her memoir in 1976 with the birth of her first child and ends it in 1989 with the birth of her third and final child al...moreJuliana van Olphen-Fehr begins her memoir in 1976 with the birth of her first child and ends it in 1989 with the birth of her third and final child although she does give an update in the preface in the late 1990's when she had left private practice and taken a position as the coordinator of a nurse-midwifery program. She chronicles her home birth practice and details her experience as a nursing student, nurse, and nurse-midwife. A similar story is A Midwife's Story by Penny Armstrong.
A couple of caveats. Caveat #1: Much of the author's experience takes place prior to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act going into effect. EMTALA requires all hospitals that accept federal funds to have a doctor deliver any woman's baby who walks into the hospital in active labor no matter what. It can be the doctor on duty in the emergency and not an ob-gyn, but the hospitals are not legally allowed to refuse care to a woman in active labor. So, the problem Van Ophlen-Fehr faces of having doctors refuse to come to the hospital and deliver her patients' babies if they are transfered to the hospital has been completely eliminated. Caveat #2: The author is a certified nurse-midwife (CNM), meaning she earned a bachelor of science in nursing and then a master of science in midwifery, as opposed to certified practical/professional midwife (CPM,) also known as a direct-entry midwife, who has a bachelor of science in midwifery or a lay midwife who has no formal medical training and learned through apprenticeship. This distinction is important because, as a general rule, the more medical a midwife's educational background, the quicker and more aggressive she will be to insist on the necessity of medical intervention. Nurse-midwives are often negatively nicknamed "med-wives" because their protocols can align very closely with those of hospital and obstetricians. For example, in the book van Olphen-Fehr will hospital transfer just to be on the side despite the fact that nearly every time she is horrified about how savagely her patients are then treated. She refuses to attend breech births outside a hospital, and in one instance she nearly refuses to attend a mother at home whose labor begin at 37 weeks because she was earlier than her due date. Caveat #3: How van Olphen-Fehr witnesses women treated in the hospital will make you very angry and perhaps literally sick.
Don't let the sarcasm in the title put you off. This book is an excellent guide for any woman dissatisfied with the standard ob-gyn advice to getting...moreDon't let the sarcasm in the title put you off. This book is an excellent guide for any woman dissatisfied with the standard ob-gyn advice to getting pregnant: stop taking birth control, start taking a prenatal vitamin, and don't worry until after an entire year of trying. Most don't even recommend charting to try to determine a woman's fertility window.
This book is also a fabulous resource for up-to-date research, and the citations for all the scientific studies discussed are listed on pages 205 – 216. The greatest thing the author does is myth bust. All of the women who delayed childbearing until their 30’s – not arbitrarily as the media seems to imply but due to education, career, not having found a suitable partner, student loan debt, financial instability, etc. . . – will be reassured to learn that the frightening statistics about their low chances of conceiving naturally (20% per cycle for 30 year-olds and 5% per cycle for 40 year-olds) are from church birth records in rural France from between 1670 to 1830. Current scientific research puts a woman’s chance of conceiving much higher especially if she is able to time things for the two days before and the day of ovulation. (See pages 31 – 32 and 102 – 105 for more details.)
The most helpful sections of the book teach the basics of charting one’s cycles and how to determine the one’s prime fertility window. The author describes the most common methods and their advantages and disadvantages.
This is the most helpful preconception books I have read, and the euphemisms in it are priceless.
For the really impatient woman, the entire book is summarized in two pages in Appendix A (pages 183 – 184). (less)
The author Christa Parravani gave a fabulous interview about this book on NPR. Unfortunately, the actual book didn't live up to her description of it....moreThe author Christa Parravani gave a fabulous interview about this book on NPR. Unfortunately, the actual book didn't live up to her description of it. Her sister Cara's sexual assault and ensuing drug addiction ending in an overdose and the author's own grief at the death of her identical twin are heart wrenching for the reader, but that's it. The author paints her twin and herself as self-aborbed, self-entitled, self-indulgent, needy, incredibly dysfunctional, inconsiderate, volatile, and immature. Repeatedly, the author voices the attitudes I have feelings; therefore, everything I say is valid and You refuse to believe everything I think is right, so I hate. There is an art in memoir of making oneself likeable while discussing the gritty, not pretty details of one's life and how one treated the people in one's lives badly and unfairly. Neither twin is the slightest bit likeable.
Time and distance hasn't given the author any objectivity, or at least she never expresses any. This book lacks the self-awareness and clarity found in memoirs like Lit: A Memoir and It's So Easy: And Other lies. Some examples: the author is astounded that her first marriage failed primarily due to her infidelity. She actually thinks that because her sleeping with other people was just a form of self-abuse that she was using to mask her grief over her sister's death, her husband shouldn't have taken it personally and left her. Shouldn't she be able to see in hindsight that he had a legitimate grievance instead of sticking to the defense 'you leaving me for my numerous affairs is no different than you leaving me because I got cancer'? And she also blames her first husband for failing to and not caring enough to "save" her sister. Why couldn't she admit that although she felt this way at the time, her sister wasn't in a place to get clean/sober and someone whom she bullied and disliked certainly wouldn't have been capable of saving her if her twin couldn't?
The author makes a lot of generalizations about identical twins throughout the memoir, and even gets a medical fact wrong (identical twins don't always share a placenta or a embryonic sac; it depends upon when the egg splits), but she and her sister don't have a normal identical twin relationship. Christa's twin Cara despite having a husband and separate household of her own showed up on Christa's honeymoon. That is not normal. Identical twins with normal healthy relationships and independent identities don't gatecrash their twin's honeymoon or show up unannounced at their house whenever they want or buy their twin an engagement ring when they get engaged. The Parravani sisters have an extremely codependent and dysfunctional relationship, which they might have had due to their abusive childhood if they'd just been sisters, but being twins it went to the extreme.
The ending is very Hollywood. The author meets the man of her dreams and is healed by their marriage and the birth of their child at which she hallucinates that her twin is present. (less)
The Baby Book is a guide for pregnancy, birth, and childcare for newborns through 3 year-olds. It has a beautiful magazine style layout with hundreds...moreThe Baby Book is a guide for pregnancy, birth, and childcare for newborns through 3 year-olds. It has a beautiful magazine style layout with hundreds of color photos and sidebars containing fun facts. While none of the information is super in-depth, it provides a wonderful basic overview. The authors are very neutral and include information for the most granola to the most technocratic.(less)
This book contains some great arrangements of classical nursery rhymes for easy piano. It also has a lot of songs from old Disney movies and children'...moreThis book contains some great arrangements of classical nursery rhymes for easy piano. It also has a lot of songs from old Disney movies and children's musicals.(less)
The Measure of a Man is extremely articulate and introspective. This entire memoir centers around Poitier's father's teaching that the true measure of...moreThe Measure of a Man is extremely articulate and introspective. This entire memoir centers around Poitier's father's teaching that the true measure of a man is how well he provides for his children. Sidney Poitier reads his own autobiography with his signature eloquent voice. He tells the story of early life on Cat Island in the Bahamas, his journey to the United States, and the arch of his Hollywood career. Most amusing is how Poitier drops in profanity without breaking his sage-like tone.(less)
The quote by Dr. Jack Newman given on page 40 perfectly describes the pivot of this book, "Who does feel guilty about breastfeeding? Not the women who...moreThe quote by Dr. Jack Newman given on page 40 perfectly describes the pivot of this book, "Who does feel guilty about breastfeeding? Not the women who make an informed choice to bottle feed. It is the woman who wanted to breastfeed, who tried, but was unable to breastfeed who feels guilt." Hell hath no fury like a woman uanble to breastfeed.
The subtitle is misleading; the book is not about how breastfeeding became a badge of honor in "The Mommy Wars" and why it shouldn't be a mark of superior motherhood. It is an attack on the push to get all mothers to attempt to breastfeed, and the tone is very very personal. The author, after telling her own story about her failed attempts to breastfeed her own child, takes pains to attempt to discredit the idea that "breast is best."
I agree 100% with the author that breastfeeding is not for everyone. The reasons can be medical or lifestyle-related. Woman needs to be at peace with breastfeeding or with not breastfeeding. (For examples of women with peace with never giving their infants a drop of breastmilk, see Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.) What I disagree with is the author's conclusion that providing information about the benefits of breastfeeding and strongly encouraging most women to attempt to breastfeed is wrong and damaging to women's psyche if they physically cannot or simply choose not to. There is absolutely nothing wrong with forumula feeding, but that doesn't mean that the scientific studies showing an increased benefit to breastfeed babies are invalid. Formula is a multi-billion dollar industry, and corporations aren't producing it for the sake of the consumers. Remember what William Blake said, "The shepherd doesn't keep the sheep for the sheeps' own sake."
Throughout the book, the author cites the most extreme examples of women who either made the lives of themselves, their newborn, and normally their partner a living hell by unsuccessfully attempt to breastfeed and/or endangered the lives of their child. Someone writing a pro-breastfeeding book could easy find equally extreme examples where women were dissuaded from beastfeeding by variations on the dead baby card. She quotes a litany of insensitive and hurtful comments made by pro-breasting people. An equally long list could be quoted of insensitive and hurtful comments made by people who find breastfeeding obscene, offensive, or unsuitable to do in public.
While the author in enraged that any lactation consultant or doctor would not immediately take a woman's fear that she is unable to make enough milk seriously, primary lactation failure is actually a rare condition, so it is not going to be the first thing that they look at. That is a legitimate response. Falsely believing that one is not making enough milk is the most common reason that we stop breastfeeding.
One of the most amazing things in this book is that, given the author's own history of an eating disorder and antidepressant use, none of her healthcare providers told her that she was not a good candidate for breastfeeding success and suggest that she have a plan B, either using donated milk or formula, in the event she was unable to breastfeed. Much of anguish could probably have been avoided if she had received better medical care, which is a real shame.
This is a simple practical guide to twin pregnancy, birth, and childcare to age 1 featuring a wealth of color photos. It is very general, but it is al...moreThis is a simple practical guide to twin pregnancy, birth, and childcare to age 1 featuring a wealth of color photos. It is very general, but it is also extremely reassuring. It also provides many handy lists of must-have baby items and the suggested quantities for each piece of baby clothing or gear.