Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Video link lets Marine dad in Iraq meet his new daughter

BY JOSH SINGER Pioneer Press
Gunnery Sgt. Raymundo Galarza could not be with his wife for the birth of their daughter Thursday night. But the U.S. Marine was able to see his newborn almost immediately through a Baghdad-to-Hoffman Estates video conference set up on Friday.

"Say, 'Hi, Daddy!' " his wife, Monica Galarza, told their daughter, newly named Luciana Rae.
Gunnery Sergeant Raymundo Galarza, who is serving in Iraq, had a chance to meet his newly-born daughter, Luciana Galarza, after his wife, Monica, gave birth at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates using satellite technology and a laptop computer. Freedom Calls Foundation, a public charity keeping families united during war time, made the arrangement possible.

Monica Galarza, 33, of Schaumburg, said her first child screamed loud enough for an "American Idol" audition when she was born at 8:42 p.m. Thursday at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates. Luciana Rae weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces.

"Everybody's calling her 'Rae,' " Monica Galarza, a school social worker at Field Elementary School in Wheeling, told her husband. "When she opens her eyes, she looks just like you."
Raymundo Galarza, 32, has been serving his second tour in Iraq since September and is expected to return in August. The new father beamed during the video conference.

"I wish I could hold her right now . . . especially when she's this small," he said. "She looks beautiful."

His wife admitted not having her husband in the hospital was difficult, but appreciated the video link.

"It's hard because he's not here, but it was great to hear him and see him," Monica said.
Orchestrating the conference call required a combination of Internet and satellite technology from St. Alexius and the Freedom Calls Foundation.

Coordinating around the Marine's schedule was another hurdle, hospital spokesman Matt Wakely said.

"I mean, he's on the front lines," Wakely said.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Which prenatal tests should my wife get?

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by Jeffrey Ecker, M.D., Harvard Medical School

Over the course of your pregnancy, many tests will be offered or recommended. Sometimes the number of tests and tubes of blood make my patients feel like we are vampires sucking them dry. Amidst this number of tests, it's still important that you understand what tests are being done and, together with your providers, choose just those that are right for you.

Many tests are designed to optimize a mother's health not only because we want all women to be as healthy as possible, but also because a healthy mother is best for a healthy pregnancy and child. Because there is little controversy about these desired outcomes, many of these tests are done routinely and patients may not know all that is being sent or checked.

Some tests check for infection (e.g. urinary tract infections). While treating infections can be important, the nature of some infections, such as HIV, are such that patients should be informed about the test and given the option to decline having it (so called "opt out" testing, which is endorsed by many professional groups, including the Centers for Disease Control).

Other tests look for anemia (low red blood cell counts) that can be treated with iron or other vitamins. A mother's blood type is also checked to see if she is RH negative or has developed antibodies that could, rarely, indicate an incompatibility with her baby's blood type. Such incompatibilities can lead to anemia in the developing fetus and may require special testing or, very uncommonly, a blood transfusion given while the baby is still unborn (intrauterine transfusion). Women who are Rh negative and having babies fathered by Rh positive men require treatment to prevent developing antibodies that can cause the problems of isoimmunization.

During pregnancy women are also offered---but may choose not to pursue---testing to evaluate their chances of having a pregnancy affected with certain genetic conditions. The tests offered may depend on a patient's background (ethnic group, country of origin), family history (diseases or other conditions in parents or siblings) or past pregnancy history (a prior child with a disease or condition). Ashkenazi women and men (individuals with an Eastern European Jewish background) are offered screening for Tay Sachs disease, for example. African Americans may be screened for sickle cell anemia. A woman whose sister had a child with hemophilia (poor clotting of blood) may be offered screening to see if, like her sister, she is a carrier and therefore at risk for having an effected son (this disease only affects males, though females can carry the gene.

All patients should also be offered a combination of blood and ultrasound tests to help evaluate their risk of carrying a fetus with genetic conditions caused by carrying an extra chromosome. Most of us have 46 chromosomes--23 inherited from our mother, 23 from our father. Rarely, individuals will have 47 chromosomes: the most common such condition is trisomy 21--an extra number 21 chromosome, also known as Down syndrome. The chances of having a child with Down syndrome usually isn't an inherited risk (meaning that whether or not you or your family have had pregnancies with this conditions doesn't change the chance that a certain pregnancy will be effected). Down syndrome risk increases with the age of the mother (well actually, the age of the egg involved in conception, which can be quite different from a mother's age if a donor egg was used in the process of in vitro fertilization).

Women who are identified as carriers of a fetus with mutations in individual genes or as being at increased risk based on screening tests for Down syndrome or other similar conditions may elect diagnostic testing to directly examine fetal genetic material. Amniocentesis is one such diagnostic test. Some may want such testing in order to prepare for the birth of a child with medical or other needs. Others may use the information from these tests to make decisions about continuing their pregnancy.

For many, however such testing is not of interest: They don't want to know about possible conditions in their child in advance of birth. The miscarriage risk from diagnostic testing, even if it is less than 1%, seems too high. They'd never consider an abortion.

Saying that all women should be offered certain tests is not the same as saying that all women should have them. I want to emphasize that point because, almost certainly, someone will read what I've written and write an angry response that I'm recommending that all patients be screened for Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, or some other condition that they feel does not merit anyone's considering pregnancy termination. That is not what I'm saying, and not what I do. I offer appropriate screening to all my patients, help them understand what information the test might provide and how the results might be used, and happily except their decision, whatever it might be.

Yes, there are a lot of tests in pregnancy but that doesn't mean you should be in the dark. Ask what you're being testing for and why a test is offered or recommended. Understand what the results might mean. Decide if any or all tests are right for you.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Baby Branding (aka baby names)

Somewhere between cooing over ultrasound images and registering for a bottle warmer or Diaper Genie, the baby name debate begins.

Emily or Ethan? Christopher or Chloe?

Relatives lobby for old family names. Expectant parents flip through books, checking into the old Irish meaning of the name Liam.

It used to be easier than this. But many of today's parents are planners. They track their baby's expected weekly progress in the womb through books and Web sites, and are enrolled in parenting classes by the second trimester. Coupled with the weight placed on first names in modern America -- your neighbor isn't Mrs. Johnston, but Shirley; a cashier looks at your credit card and calls you Doug rather than Mr. Smith -- choosing a name can be one of the most stressful prenatal tasks.

"I felt pressure. You just think about, 'Will it fit their personality?' and stuff like that. I didn't feel like I'd ruin my kid or something, (but) I did want good names," say Amy Daley, the mother of 14-month-old triplets Emma, Madison and Michael, who along with her husband, Michael, had the daunting task of selecting six names (middle names included).

Worrying about it

Standing out as an individual means so much in today's world that parents worry more about what to name their children than ever before, says Linda Rosenkrantz, who co-authored more than a half-dozen baby name books, including "Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana: What to Name Your Baby Now" and "The Baby Name Bible."

"People want unique names. They want to establish a certain image for their child," she says. "They're almost branding their babies. Some are literally naming them Lexus and Armani, but we won't talk about those."

Celebrity culture also strongly influences naming trends, Rosenkrantz says. We've become obsessed with celebrity pregnancies. Tabloids out the latest starlet to sport a baby bump, and celebrity pregnancies are covered almost as thoroughly as the presidential race.

Ava, an old-fashioned name, catapulted into the top 10 most popular girl names after Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon chose the name for her daughter. Apple, Gwyneth Paltrow's selected name for her child, was often talked about, but never quite caught on. (There was, however, at least one Apple born in the Capital Region in 2007).

Like a river

Amy and Michael Daley started discussing baby names a month into Amy's pregnancy. Michael was insistent about Madison right from the start, not because it's made the top 10 most popular list in the past, but because the Madison River is his favorite fishing spot.

"At first, I was like, 'You're not naming our daughter after a river,' Amy Daley says. "And after a while, I was like, 'Fine, let me choose the other two.'

After all, what is wrong with naming a child after something you loved so much, she figured. Emma's name was inspired by beloved family members with E names and by some of middle school teacher Amy's all-time favorite students.

"It also goes the other way with teachers," says Amy Daley, whose husband is also an educator. "There are some names that you would never, ever dream of naming your own children."

Emma, Madison and Michael. Daley says choosing the names early helped her better connect with her babies while they were still in the womb. And even the ultrasound technicians, who are used to labeling multiples with just letters -- Baby A, Baby B, Baby C -- soon began calling the triplets by their names.

The couple thought the names also had a good flow together, which was important given they'd so often be said in tandem.

"They're toddlers now, so we're using first and middle names," Amy Daley says.

Name game

Like the Daleys, most expectant parents have settled the name debate by the time Susan Alberts, a registered nurse in the newborn and special care nurseries at Bellevue Woman's Care Center, greets them in the delivery room.

Occasionally, she gets brought into the selection process.

"Some people will say, 'Well, what do you think? These are my choices,' Alberts says. "A lot of times what you find is they're looking for a neutral party, because the father wants one name and the mother wants another. The bulk of the time, the husbands defer to the mother. ... They will say, 'Well, you did all the work.'

Other parents delay their decision because they want to wait until that tiny, wailing raisin is laid in their arms, hoping to match a name with a face.

Only 3 percent of parents recently surveyed by BabyCenter.com, an online resource for parents, say they regret the name they selected, primarily because it became too popular, is often mispronounced or doesn't fit their child's personality.


Most babies head from the delivery room to the hospital nursery with a first and middle name in place, Alberts says, although it is possible to leave the hospital with a blank space on the birth certificate. Those parents -- just a few, considering Bellevue's 2,000 deliveries each year -- call the hospital within a couple days with their final decision.

"People understand the significance of a name," she says. "It's something that stays with you forever, and they want to chose a name that will reflect who they are and what their baby will be."

Right now, names that start with vowels -- namely E, A and O -- are hot, Rosenkrantz says. Certain letters tend to fall in and out of fashion -- J's rating high during the Jennifer and Jason era -- and one name can spur offshoots. When Emily became all too common, she says, it inspired Emmas and Ellas. Now, E-names are on their way out, and O-names, such as Oliver, Owen, Olivia and Oscar, are rising to the top of the charts.

"That sound gets into the atmosphere," she says. "O has a lot of energy, compared to E."

Latest trends

Other trends include Irish and Italian names, particularly Irish surnames like Riley, Brady and Sullivan being used as first names; one-syllable names such as Gage and Cade; spiritual names like Nevaeh (heaven spelled backward); and nickname-style names that haven't been popular since the 1960s, such as Gracie, Charlie, Josie and Ellie.

Alternative spellings -- Abigail versus Abagail versus Abbygale -- became trendy in the last 20 years, making teachers' class rosters a lot more complicated than the days when they were filled with Marys and Annes, Johnathans and Matthews.

And because of the added pressure of naming a child today, once parents decide on a name they often keep it to themselves until their new family member emerges from the womb.

"That's because of the pressure they feel to come out with perfect names," Rosenkrantz says. "They're so likely to get some disapproving remark from grandparents, parents-in-law, that they just don't want to risk it. They're bound to get negative comments with any name."

Jennifer Gish can be reached at 454-5089 or by e-mail at jgish@timesunion.com. Born in the 1970s, she was so used to being in a classroom with a half-dozen other Jennifers that she will not turn her head when she hears her name called in a crowd. She and her husband, Jason, are avoiding trends when choosing names for the twins they're expecting in the fall.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How to stop your kids sharing your bed

It's three in the morning and my husband and I are under attack - in our own bed. While we've been asleep, three child-shaped lumps have worked themselves under the duvet with all the cunning of the SAS on a night-time manoeuvre. Now they are comfortably ensconced, spread-eagled and snoring gently, forcing us to the far edges of the bed where we can either cling, praying for sleep, or opt for a small-hours game of pass the parcel as we post them back into their own beds.

For years, bedtime has become a battleground as we counter the territorial aspirations of our offspring, now aged 7, 11 and 13, horribly aware that, unlike dust mites, we can't subdue them with a quick blast in the freezer. And, naturally, it's all my fault. Like so many working mothers battling fatigue, I succumbed to the temptation to bring my first, wakeful baby into the bed, alert to the perils of suffocation, and unaware that, a decade later, I would have a bigger struggle as I tried to winkle her out again.

Talking to other parents hasn't helped. Believe what they say and you'd assume that in their well-regulated homes, newborn babies are routinely frogmarched straight from the maternity ward to their own room, equipped with a giant teddy, a map of the house and a set of instructions for the microwave steriliser and left to get on with it until they've reached 18 and moved out again. Ply the parents with alcohol, though, and a different picture emerges. One family I know has bought a bed so big that it could qualify for its own council tax band, on the basis that when the children appear the parents can pretend not to see them.

Few areas of parenting arouse such strong feelings as sleeping arrangements - though breast-feeding past the age of 1 runs a close second, allowing mothers such as me who did both, often simultaneously, to experience the heady sensation of breaking two taboos at once.

Mixed messages for parents

Let your children sleep in your bed, thunder some experts, and you send the message that they can't cope on their own. On the contrary, insist others: forcing children into a separate room makes them feel pushed out and insecure. Many cultures skip the soul-searching altogether and carry on child-rearing the way they always have. Saranjit Srisarkun, who works for the Thai Embassy, says: “It's not common for us to leave the baby in a room by itself. Traditionally, children sleep in the same room as the parents, either on a mattress on the floor, or in a crib until they are 2 or 3 and old enough to be by themselves.”

Given such a laid-back approach, should I really be that worried? In a word, yes. For a start, it's unlikely to be doing our marriage any favours. “Having children in the bed can create a distance between the parents,” says Denise Knowles from Relate. “Being in bed together is a chance for the adults to unpack their day. If you lose that private time, it's easy to grow apart.” And as anyone rolling over to stroke a partner's back as the prelude to lovemaking only to encounter a snoring toddler can confirm, your offspring can, literally, come between you. Not only can this ruin your sex life but it also has the potential to cause a schism in your relationship.

The problems don't stop there. “To be able to go to bed in the sure knowledge that you're going to wake refreshed in the morning is a nice gift to be able to pass on,” says Dr Trevor Stevens, a behavioural psychologist, whose CD And So to Sleep (www.fishymusic.co.uk) is designed to help children settle at bedtime.

By the age of 4, children will wake briefly several times a night. If they can get back to sleep only by moving into their parents' bed, their poor sleeping habits could build into long-term problems in adulthood. If my husband and I want to change our children's behaviour, says Stevens, we'll have to change ours, waking up long enough to put migrating children back into their own beds and, if necessary, staying with them until they fall asleep.

It's also vital, advises the psychologist and writer Dr Dorothy Rowe, to ask the children why being in bed with us is so important. In our case, I have a sneaking suspicion that my children have an advanced case of bed envy. And it's hard to blame them for preferring our clean sheets and kingsize comfort to the chocolate-smeared pillowcases and undelicious smell of eau de Cairn terrier of their own beds.

Sometimes, however, children's worries can make uncomfortable listening. “It can be that they are frightened that one or both of the parents is going to die, or that the parents are fighting and not talking to the child about what's going on,” says Dr Rowe.

“Why are you here?” I ask the youngest, when she materialises the next night, just beating the dawn chorus to it and clutching several books, her favourite dressing-up shoes and the cat. “Because you are,” she says. And that, say the experts, can be the nub of the problem. So many parents are constantly busy that the car and the bed are often the only places where a parent's physical presence can be guaranteed.

I can't say I enjoy it, but after several weeks of ironing out any hidden night-time worries including motion sickness caused by wobbly bunk beds, I start to feel more confident about bedtime than I have for years. It's also essential, says Knowles, to teach them that from now on they must never come into our bedroom without knocking first. Her tip to get the message home? “Vaseline on the door handle,” she says, succinctly.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sexy Dads

Expectant dad Matthew McConaughey thinks becoming a father will make him even sexier to women.Matthew McConaughey thinks becoming a father will make him sexier.The 'Fool's Gold' actor - who is expecting his first child with his Brazilian model girlfriend Camila Alves - says once women see him with his baby he will regain the World's Sexiest Man title, which he was awarded by People magazine in 2005.He said: "I was voted World's Sexiest Man in 2005 and I fancy that could happen again. Now that I'm about to become a father, my sexy rating is set to go through the roof."Matthew, 38, has previously admitted he can't wait to meet his new arrival and begin his baby duties, including changing diapers.He said: "Parenthood isn't an exact science, but I've got the instincts for it. I'm looking forward to the big baby adventure. Hopefully I'll make a good daddy. My child is going to have culture and travel, that's one of the great benefits of my business."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

SIDS and Infant Safety

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At least 15 Southern Tier babies, most of them from Broome County, have suffocated over the last two years, some at the hands of their parents sleeping with them.

The rash of preventable infant deaths, including one in late March, has shown an urgent need for more education about putting babies to bed, officials said.

"We thought what was occurring here was higher than what we would typically expect," said Sharon Chesna, executive director of Mother & Babies Perinatal Network, a nonprofit advocacy agency.

Comparing numbers is difficult because the deaths are generally ruled as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) -- a broad category with no single explanation. There were an average of 115 SIDS deaths per year in the state between 2001 and 2004, according to figures from the New York State Center for Sudden Infant Death.

The scope of the problem locally came to light with a review of 21 infant deaths since 2005 by Dr. James Terzian, a pathologist at Lourdes Hospital. While five of the deaths were caused by congenital disease and one was from abuse, 15 showed telltale signs of something technically called "an asphyxial mechanism."

More simply, it's something that obstructs breathing.

Working with detailed police reports showing circumstances -- including how and where infants were found -- Terzian determined 15 deaths were due to "improper bedding" scenarios.

That could be as simple as an infant falling asleep face down on a soft pillow, or wriggling against a large stuffed animal that becomes lodged against its face. Crib bumpers or heavy loose blankets can also be lethal.

In some cases, the death comes with an exhausted parent asleep in a couch or chair, perhaps with an arm resting heavily across a snuggling newborn, or a baby slipping off a bed and getting wedged between a wall and a mattress.

The fatal mistakes often begin with nurturing intentions.

"These are loving parents trying to do the right thing," Chesna said.

Not all sudden infant deaths are preventable. Some are related to congenital birth defects that go undetected and some remain unexplained circumstances of nature. But Terzian's study, and others like it, show inadvertent suffocation is routinely claiming small lives.

"They are too small to struggle enough to get noticed," Terzian said. "They don't make much noise."

Putting babies to sleep in couches and chairs is generally accepted as a very bad idea, although not everybody knows this, experts say. Agency officials, doctors and nurses say people also should understand that simply putting babies to sleep face down, even in otherwise safe environments, raises the risk of SIDS. Other things, such as blankets, pillows and stuffed animals, add to that risk.

The fatalities have led to a national "back to sleep" campaign, which emphasizes placing the baby on his or her back on a firm mattress in an approved crib. Extras, such as crib-bumpers, blankets and stuffed animals, are discouraged.

"We haven't gotten the message to people," Terzian said.

Local officials are making stronger efforts to educate expectant and new parents during prenatal and delivery classes and postpartum home visits, said Kathy Cerny director of Home Health Services for the Broome County Department of Health. But it doesn't stop there.

"The message has to get out to everybody," she said, noting that day care providers, grandparents, relatives and babysitters are being targeted through outreach programs.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Childbirth is Hard on Dads, Too

Mum might be doing the pushing but giving birth can be tough for dad too. Grant Woodward reports.

A NEW dad's duties used to involve little more than handing out cigars in the hospital waiting room and planning a booze-up to wet the baby's head.

But these days things are very different and a bloke is expected to be there in the delivery room for every push and holler.

To guide men through this strange and frightening world, a Yorkshire midwife is running residential courses to get them ready for the big day.

"I think there is a lot of pressure on expectant father these days," says Jacky Robson, who runs the courses.

"There is an expectation that they will want to be part of the experience.

"Of course, a lot of men do want to be there but others may be a bit more reluctant... even though they would never be foolish enough to admit it."

Jacky, who has been delivering babies for 25 years, admits her own husband was not much help when she gave birth to their two children.

"He was actually total rubbish. His view was that it would all be ok because I was a midwife and knew what I was doing. Luckily for him I did.

"But it can be a difficult time for men and it's important that they take time to think about what they expect out of the experience.

"A lot of them get very nervous before a birth and that's perfectly understandable.

"They're scared of seeing their wife in so much pain, they're afraid they'll be useless and really have no idea what to expect.

"Doing some preparation will help them feel more confident that they will be able to deal with what to them will be a whole new world and one that is very female-dominated."

Jacky's B4Baby pre-birth courses for both partners include sessions where men get together to discuss their feelings with each other.

Whether they realise it or not, Jacky says men play a crucial role in the birth.

"If dad is confident and calm then mum will be too and that will make things a lot easier.

"As well as being organised in the run-up to the birth, men also need to be able to learn not to panic if things don't go entirely smoothly on the day itself.

"You are the mum-to-be's advocate in the delivery room when she has been given drugs or can't think properly.

"That means doing some preparation in advance so you know what to expect...

"And most of all, being prepared to just be amazed by the whole experience."

Jacky's top ten tips for dads-to-be

1. Think about your feelings well in advance. How do you feel about being present, do you want to 'experience it' or is it expected of you?

2. Don't panic. Make sure your partner will be calmed and reassured by your presence. On a practical level. Learn how to massage to ease pain.

3. Go with the flow. You may be keen to practice all the techniques you learnt at ante-natal classes but once your partner is in the throes of labour she may not like to be touched, she may become downright hostile!

That's ok, just talk her through a contraction, she still loves you.

4. Talk to your partner about what you BOTH want included in the birth plan. It may be a nice idea for dad to cut the umbilical cord but do you feel squeamish about it?

5. Your words of encouragement will help her through the birth, but don't be shocked if she shouts at you, this can be quite common in the later stages of labour.

The simplest of things, such as a cool drink or cool cloth on her brow can be real morale boosters.

6. Be prepared to kill time. Your partner will have several hours of increasingly painful contractions until it's time to push, help her to mobilise she may need your help walkin
g the halls.

Don't forget to wear comfy casual clothes, including comfy shoes, take distractions like playing cards or her favourite music.

7. Take a list of telephone numbers and change for the phone (mobiles are not allowed on the ward) so you can tell the world what a marvellous experience it has been.

8. Don't freak out. If you are asked to leave the room, this may be because your partner is getting an epidural, it doesn't mean anything is wrong it's just standard procedure in many hospitals.

9. Hold up your end. During the pushing stage, the reality is you will probably be standing to one side of your partner, she may make noises you have never heard before, your job, no matter how unsettled you may feel is to say 'you're doing great!'

10. Get ready to be amazed. The first sight of your very own baby makes all the other stuff worth it; you might even do it again!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Hi, dad, I'm pregnant"

HINGS you don't want to tell you father #489: "Hi, dad, I'm pregnant". But imagine if you're a boy.

This is the phone call American man Thomas Beatie would allegedly have had to make, should his dad still be wandering the planet.

Beatie told the world last week that he's carrying a child in his multi-gender belly, news that excited some, and brought a little bit of sick into the mouths of many.

For those non-scientists out there, men don't usually carry or give birth to infants.

Most often, small humans fall out of women.

Yes, men are occasionally part of the process, but only in the most cursory way.

We bump into our partners to begin the process, become terrified and call for the gas during the birth, cause as much anxiety as possible during the child-rearing years through poor discipline and decision-making, then spend our latter days dreading phone calls such as listed above.

Not that any decent father would spurn a child that came up with #489.

I'd be straight down the pub with my mates, shouting the bar and slapping my boy on the back.

"Meet my son, Tom, he's well up the duff.''

My beer-swilling mates would come waddling over, their ale-distended bellies forcing their shirt buttons to work extraordinarily hard.

"This is Steve, he's having twins,'' I'd joke, pointing to his beer baby.

"Does your back hurt, young Tom,'' they'd all sympathise, resting a glass on the handy ledges of their beer-by bumps and rubbing vigorously at their varicose veins.

"Lucky your footy team wears vertical stripes, big fella - you'd look huge in horizontals.''

The conversation would turn to the common complaints of pregnancy/excessive beer drinking: fluid retention about the ankles, the far-too regular need to release fluid, cravings for pizza and the difficulty in finding a decent place to shop for men's maternity gear.

Many alert readers are less than convinced that Beatie is genuinely "with child'', preferring to believe he's simply poking his gut out in a pregnancy hoax. If so, he's not bad - looking far more convincing than, say, Nicole Kidman.

In his defence, Beatie claims to have been born a woman named Tracy Lagondino and had "reassignment surgery'' to appear as a man outwardly.

Inwardly, however, it seems he's all chick.

He's a little bit like the groper fish keen snorklers chase around Clovelly Beach - the big blue one is a fella and the green groper are females.

But, Beatie-like, when Bluey keels over, the biggest female changes colour and turns into abloke.
To be frank, Tom's claimed visit to the labour ward is a little unsettling.

Apart from the equipment issues, women just seem better suited to the baby-manufacturing business.

They also seem better equipped for the swimming pool, if the results at the Olympics qualifying meet in Sydney last week are anything to go by.

The amazing efforts and world records were tainted only by those ridiculous claims that the swimsuits our Beijing-bound athletes are wearing give them an unfair advantage.

The world record line - total swimsuit-free - has copped a hammering, with the result that some are saying the hi-tech gear should be banned.

In fact, some Americans have asserted that the new suits are so dodgy you can simply throw them in the pool without a body inside them and they will glide up and down at pace.

As with Tom Beatie, it's difficult to work out where the truth lies.

At every swim meet there are discussions about whether the water is `"soft'' or if it's a "fast pool''.

The Sydney Olympic pool was described as so fast it was like swimming downstream.

Meanwhile, the genius that is the Underbelly series continues, despite legal orders that it not be shown in Melbourne, where much of the shootin'/shaggin' festival took place.

Damian Walshe-Howling has become my new favourite, playing alleged hitman Andrew ``Benji'' Veniamin with an enigmatic brilliance.

As a favour to those who can't watch this coming Wednesday's episode, I have done a brief highlight count for you.

There are 62 bullets fired, 11 sightings of either Walshe-Howling's or Marcus Graham's naked backsides, and 82 unclothed breasts.

I can't be sure whether they belong to 41 women or if some have a couple of goes - one scene was very difficult to do the maths, no matter how effectively I hit the pause button.

All you need to know is that, unlike Tom Beatie, they were real women.

Tony Squires is heard on Vega 95.3FM on weekday mornings.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dad delivers baby in front seat of car

By Patrick Tepoorten

Six pound, thirteen ounce Taylor Marie Freundschuh was born sometime just before 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, in the front seat of a Toyota Highlander on County Road 22 somewhere near Wyoming.

Taylor’s father Tony, 24, of Lindstrom, didn’t quite believe it at first when mom Renee, 22, said she had to push. But when he looked over he saw the crown of Taylor’s head emerging and knew they weren’t going to make it to Fairview Regional Medical Center, just a few miles away.It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. Renee told Tony Tuesday morning she was feeling some contractions, but they were mild and she sent the expectant dad off to work like usual. Even when she called later that morning to say maybe they should get to the hospital, things still felt pretty casual.Just before leaving home though, Renee was hit with a whopper contraction and she said “call 911.” But it immediately subsided and she changed her mind, and said “No, hang up.”

Not 10 miles later Tony, who, coincidentally, makes deliveries as part of his job too, first saw his daughter’s head. He was still driving. “It didn’t seem like it should be a head,” he said in a Tuesday afternoon interview at Fairview.He immediately pulled over and called 911, and though he did receive some advice from the dispatcher, Taylor was born before any help could arrive on the scene. Tony was concerned at first because Taylor wasn’t crying, but a few light taps on the chest and she made her audio debut.Renee said, “It’s a girl,” as Tony plopped brand new Taylor on mom’s stomach and went to flag down cars. When a passerby stopped to help, Tony remembered thinking “Thank God, it’s a woman.”

The Freundschuh's Toyota Highlander has already been dubbed the "birth mobile."
The good Samaritan, who Tony did not get a chance to identify, made sure Renee held Taylor close and told Tony to shut the door to keep the heat in the car. Soon after an officer arrived and cleared nasal passages, and an ambulance wasn’t far behind.Mom and baby, wrapped in dad’s brand new sweatshirt were transported to the hospital via ambulance while dad followed in the Highlander, which has already been dubbed the “birth mobile.”Aside from the unusual circumstances of Taylor’s arrival, everything else happened as planned. Taylor basked under a warming lamp (she was a little chilly from the experience), mom was treated typically post birth, and dad spent his time going back and forth between Taylor in the nursery and Renee, already in a birthing center bed. New grandfather Mark Freundschuh sat in the lobby fielding calls from anxious family and trying to figure out how to send pictures with his cell phone, and new grandmother Julie Freundschuh watched her new baby granddaughter through the nursery window.

At one point a nurse emerged from the nursery and told Mark of Tony, “He did a good job,” and Mark noted that the extraordinary circumstances of Taylor’s birth was “payback” for the grief Tony put his parents through during his own birth.A little later, and almost as an afterthought, it was recalled that Tony had recurring dreams throughout the pregnancy, in which he was forced to deliver his own baby, which would be a girl (the couple was not aware of the baby’s gender). Except for the part of the dream in which the umbilical cord turns out to be a piece of licorice, the reality almost perfectly mirrored the dream.By 3 p.m. Taylor was happily sleeping off the day’s events in mom’s arms, and dad’s adrenaline levels were back to normal. “I can’t believe she’s here,” said Renee of her first child.Given the circumstances, it begs the question: How could your next birth top this one?, and indeed the question was asked of the young couple by nurses and family alike.“I don’t know,” said Renee. “Maybe we’ll go sky-diving or something.”

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dads-to-be don't abstain during pregnancy

Published: March 21, 2008 at 3:37 PM

SEATTLE, March 21 (UPI) -- While many moms-to-be abstain from tobacco, marijuana and alcohol during pregnancy, dads-to-be don't get the message at all, a U.S. researcher says.

Lead authors Jennifer Bailey and Karl Hill of the University of Washington say that men's levels of binge drinking, daily smoking and marijuana use remains fairly stable before, during and after pregnancy.

The study, published in the journal Birth Issues in Perinatal Care, also found 77 percent of women cigarette smokers and 50 percent of the women who smoked marijuana used those substances at some time during pregnancy, while 38 percent of women cigarette smokers and 24 percent of marijuana users reported using those substances throughout their pregnancies.

"The months after childbirth are critical for intervening with mothers," Bailey said in a statement. "For example, many already have done the hard work of quitting smoking. We should support that effort so that they can continue as nonsmokers, however, we know if dad is smoking or drinking it is more likely that mom will resume smoking or drinking."

Data for the study came from the Seattle Social Development Project, which is tracking 808 Seattle children into adulthood.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Picking the Perfect Baby Name

Picking a baby boy name or a baby girl name can be an almost impossible task. For some prospective parents, it’s an emotional and logistical nightmare. You want to honor your great Uncle Dilbert but still protect your kid from years of playground torment. Your husband wants a name that evokes his Greek heritage (think: Anastasius), while you’re finding inspiration in your passion for French pastry (maybe Aveline).

How do you pick the right name, the one that perfectly resonates with you and your husband? Here are four straightforward tips to making the process a little less agonizing.

#1 Go with tradition.

There are two traditionalist strategies for naming your baby: check your family tree or consult your religious heritage. A family name, even one that is modernized to fit your sense of style, can lend a sense of continuity.

A name inspired by your heritage can offer significance, too. In Buddhist tradition, good fortune comes to a baby whose initials are determined by an astrological horoscope on the day he or she is born. In Jewish tradition, a baby is named for a beloved, departed relative, whose positive qualities will hopefully be incarnated in his or her namesake.

#2 And introducing…

What kind of first (and lasting) impression do you want your child’s name to make? From the bullies on the playground to the pressures of the boardroom, your child’s name must carry him or her through life. Things to consider include:

  • Nicknames. Even if you’re sure you don’t want a shorter moniker, little Joaquin might still become Quinny to his friends and teachers.
  • Initials. Perhaps Urusala Gwenyth is your first choice, but with your last name of Horton, her initials will spell out “UGH”.
  • Popularity. Some folks just want the name they want—and they don’t care that little Emily will be the third in her kindergarten class. If you’d rather avoid that, though, then check the Social Security Administration’s annual list of most popular names. (Hint: Emily, along with Jacob, Madison, Michael, Emma and Andrew have topped the list for last five years.)

#3 Take a step back.

Have you and your husband been debating—some might say fighting—for weeks or months? If so, it’s safe to say that you need to take a break. Stick your dog-eared lists into a drawer and focus on enjoying the rest of pregnancy. Rest assured: When your little miracle arrives, you’ll find the inspiration you need. Suddenly the choice between Simon and Gideon will seem ridiculous, because your son is definitely the former—or neither. And you’ll call him Justin, which as it turns out, is the perfect name for him.

#4 Keep it under wraps.

If you’ve managed to pick the perfect name before your baby’s birth, congratulations! Some couples chose to keep the name a secret because of superstition or the surprise factor. If you feel tempted to blab, however, think long and hard about the ramifications. What if your mom, dad, sister, colleague or great Aunt Bertha gives you that look? Or worse, the full court press to change your mind? Can you withstand the pressure? If the answer is maybe not, then mums the word!

By Babytalkers.com

Friday, March 14, 2008

Finally - A Pregnancy and Parenting Site for Expectant Fathers, New Dads and Single Parents

A new generation of dads wants to learn how to raise their babies, and they're using Web 2.0 to do it. These "Alterna-dads"- guys who still have messy hair and sport concert tees- want to get involved in the baby-raising game. These men are surpassing all previous cohorts of fathers and are actively seeking out pregnancy and parenting resources that can help them become the ultimate player in fatherhood. They're posting on YouTube, reading blogs, and scouring MySpace for tips on their 40-week long pregnancy journey.

For a generation of men that is equally sensitive and Internet addicted, it makes sense that Web 2.0 would replace Dr. Spock for pregnancy and parenting advice. The new tech boom coincides with a legion of soon-to-be father getting more involved in raising their babies. The reality is that it's now a world in which men talk about "their" pregnancy and consider themselves as active participants in the pregnancy process.

It is precisely this shift in fatherhood reality that inspired Nada Arnot to create TheFunkyStork.com in 2005.

"My husband wanted to do research when I was pregnant, but didn't find much that spoke to the GQ generation of men who were going to be dads," Nada Arnot says.

A recent re-design of TheFunkyStork.com has drawn tons of attention from "Alterna-dads" and "Alterna-moms," for that matter. TheFunkyStork.com has been expanded to also speak to the men who are now new fathers. Both expectant fathers and new dads can find a wealth of printable guy-friendly checklists, view YouTube videos and read a blog that is written by an LA-based father. Tech-savvy dads can also keep track of health issues, fashion trends, celebrity baby news and US government recalls by subscribing to an RSS Feed.

"Our dads still love the traditional articles we have for new and expectant fathers," Arnot notes, "but they are also gear-heads and are looking for additional online tools to learn about their impending fatherhood. TheFunkyStork.com offers them everything that they want and need to be active in pregnancy and parenthood."

About TheFunkyStork.com

TheFunkyStork.com is a pregnancy and parenting site for the modern expectant fathers, hip new dads and sexy single parents. Launched in October 2005 by the Urban Lion Corporation, the recently released build of the site features a blog, RSS feeds on important baby news, YouTube clips, articles for expectant dads and a "toolbox" for new fathers with helpful tips and information.

For More Information Contact: Nada Arnot at thefunkystork@yahoo.com.

Thefunkystork.com is a premium online pregnancy and parenting resource for the modern expectant father, hip new dad and sexy single parent.