Women’s Health: Portrait of a Not-So-Perfect Pregnancy: Part One

Women’s Health: Portrait of a Not-So-Perfect Pregnancy: Part One

Please Don’t Forget: Boston Marathon bombing victims: Promising lives lost

Please Don’t Forget: Boston Marathon bombing victims: Promising lives lost

Women’s News: Childless By Choice: How I Almost Convinced Myself To Become A Mother

Women’s News: Childless By Choice: How I Almost Convinced Myself To Become A Mother

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator


Women’s News: Childless By Choice: How I Almost Convinced Myself To Become A Mother


Jen Kirkman

Stand-up Comedian, writer

I remember there was one moment when I tried to muster up the desire to have children. Matt and I had just moved in together. I got work on TV about once a year and I was performing on the road at comedy clubs occasionally, but nothing was sticking. I had to admit that against my wishes, I basically had a professional hobby. I did not have a career. I was working as a temp to make ends meet. I was filing contracts for a law office in a windowless room. The only person in the office with a worse job than mine was the pimply intern who had to make ID badges for new hires. He came by my desk with a Polaroid camera to snap my photo (by the way, I think those kinds of photos actually do steal your soul). He said, “I know you. Do you do stand-up? I’ve seen you around.” I shushed him violently, spitting all over his camera, knowing what was about to happen if anyone overheard him. And right on cue the two women I worked for turned around and said, “You’re a comedian? You don’t seem funny. Tell us a joke!” I wanted to tell them the one about the girl who thought her life was going to be vastly different by the time she turned thirty-two.

I couldn’t see the future that I wanted. It seemed so impossible. It was easier to picture the future that I didn’t want — me moving back to Needham, Massachusetts, and working in my former high school as the substitute teacher for the tenth-grade drama class and saying things like, “You kids think you understand “Death of a Salesman”? It’s not just about not making a sale — it’s about disappointing everyone who counts on you but eventually realizing that nobody ever counted on you because you’re a ghost of a person.” But I had romantic love. And maybe love was all I was going to have. Some people don’t even have that, right? I thought maybe it would be nice to get to stay home every day, taking care of a baby instead of temping, and who needed to be out every night doing stand-up at Joan’s Pizza Place’s Thursday Night Open Mic? If I had a baby, surely my hormones would kick in, I’d become really Zen like the Red Sox, and my life would be devoted to our kid. I could even be a funny mom! Maybe that was the master plan for me all along.

But somewhere deep down I knew that being a mother wasn’t right for me. And by “deep down” I mean that when I pictured having a baby instead of pursuing my dreams, I would immediately feel sick; it felt like my intestines were trying to unwind and slither out of my butt.

My ex-boyfriend Thomas would always say, “When are you going to get this comedy thing out of your system? I’m ready to move to Northern California and start a family.” And then by beer number four the dream became “I’m just going to go back to New Hampshire and open up a small revival movie theater. You can come with me. We’ll have a family.”

Thomas had had a mean father who was also a photographer. Unlike his father, Thomas was actually great at photography. Unfortunately, he kept his pictures half-developed and hidden in his closet. I wanted to invite people over to look at the work in his closet and tell them it was an art installation called Hit-You-over-the-Head Symbolism. He didn’t know how to go for his dreams but he was convinced that once a baby was born, that would replace his dream. His life would be solved. He wouldn’t have to try and maybe fail and disappoint himself or his father in the process, then somehow he’d make enough money showing screenings of Casablanca in a rural town to buy the family some diapers and Campbell’s soup and Daddy some Merit Ultra Lights and a six-pack of Budweiser. And then by beer number six, Thomas’s plan was to move to Mexico and work with animals just like his favorite guy, Jeff Corwin from Animal Planet. Even if I wanted to go to Mexico with him, kids had to be part of the deal. He always said to me, “Who’s going to take care of us when we’re old if we don’t have kids?” Oh, I don’t know, maybe the robust and thriving second-run-movie-theater community will take us in if some of those Mexican armadillos won’t.

Sometimes, Matt and I would sit around the living room on a Saturday night and do our version of telling ghost stories around the campfire. We’d try to imagine what life would be like if we got “the urge.”

Well, since we have no family here in California — we could move back to Massachusetts and give up our show business pursuits. Or your mom could move here. Or you could work two jobs while I’m home breastfeeding. Or we could move to a one-room apartment so you wouldn’t have to have two jobs and you could stay home and watch me breastfeed.

I admit, when I would see Matt’s baby pictures; I’d get some kind of an urge. Those cute dimples. His black curls loose on his head — his head that’s a little too big for his baby body. I’d say, “Aw, I long for a Baby Matt.” But then I’d head in for snuggles with Adult Matt and realize that dimple is still there; I can run my hand through those curls. I don’t want to raise a little Baby Matt. I want to snuggle inappropriately with Adult Matt.

And sure, at times I got offended that Matt didn’t seem to have the urge for a Baby Jen running around. How could he not want to make a replica of that girl in the picture who was trying to look so serious and Swan Lake-y in her ballet tutu on the front lawn circa 1979? (I was rocking this look long before Natalie Portman made every heterosexual guy in America lust after boobless, boney and potentially bisexual ballerinas.) Matt reminded me that he’d be a little overwhelmed with his wife and daughter in the house, both vying for his attention — after they’d had a glass of wine — because they wanted him to watch them dance and sing along with the movie Cabaret.

When I started to think about writing a proposal for this book, I emailed Matt to get a quote — in his own words — about his non-paternal instinct. He wrote back, “Jen, please don’t email me while you’re driving.”

I think that’s a damn good caretaker instinct, and what girl wouldn’t be lucky to have that instinct all to her?

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jen-kirkman/childless-by-choice-i-almost-convinced-myself_b_3099630.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

Please Don’t Forget: Boston Marathon bombing victims: Promising lives lost


By Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN) — They were standing near the finish line, cheering the runners in the Boston Marathon. It was a beautiful, cool day when two bombs unleashed chaos and killed three people.

Friends of those killed say they are devastated by the senseless deaths.

Here is some of what we know about each of the victims:

Krystle Campbell, 29, Arlington, Massachusetts

“She was the best,” Campbell’s distraught mother, Patty, told reporters on Tuesday. “You couldn’t ask for a better daughter.”

The family is heartbroken and still in shock, Patty Campbell said as she tried to read a statement on the family’s porch.

Everyone loved Krystle, she said.

“She had a heart of gold. She was always smiling,” Patty Campbell said as her son, Billy, clutched her with his right arm.

Krystle’s grandmother said the 29-year-old was a special kind of person who nurtured deep friendships.

“Oh, she was a beautiful girl,” Lillian Campbell told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “She was very happy, outgoing, a hard worker.”

Lillian Campbell said her granddaughter even lived with her for a year and a half and was “great with me.”

Her granddaughter was always willing to help someone in need, she said.

“And she was, she was just beautiful. She was a fun-loving girl,” Campbell said.

Krystle Campbell once worked at Summer Shack, a seafood restaurant in the Boston area that posted a statement on its Facebook page saying she was beloved.

“She was an incredible woman, always full of energy and hard at work, but never too tired to share her love and a smile with everyone,” the post said. “She was an inspiration to all of us. Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.”

According to the Boston Globe, Campbell had taken a job with Jimmy’s Steer House in Arlington.

The Globe reported that Campbell often went to the see the marathon runners.

“She’s been doing it since she was a little girl,” Lillian Campbell told the newspaper. “She didn’t miss a marathon, watching it at the finish line.”

Campbell was a 2001 graduate of Medford High School, the town’s mayor, Michael McGlynn, said.

CNN affiliate WHDH reported that the Campbells are longtime residents of Medford.

Martin Richard, 8, Dorchester, Massachusetts

Like many young boys in New England, Martin Richard loved his Boston Red Sox and the Bruins.

“He wore his (Red Sox second baseman) Dustin Pedroia shirt to school last week,” neighbor Bill Forry told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Martin was a terrific athlete, too, Forry said, but he was also a very good student who would help others who were having trouble with homework.

“A quiet kid, but a compassionate kid — and somebody who was a leader,” Forry said.

Martin attended the Neighborhood House Charter School.

He “was a bright, energetic young boy who had big dreams and high hopes for his future,” the school said in a statement. “We are heartbroken by this loss.”

His father, William Richard, released a statement asking people to “continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin.”

A neighbor, Jane Sherman, said that the Richard family is a “typical all-American family” and that Martin and his little brother always loved to play in their yard, no matter the weather.

Richard’s mother and sister are recovering from serious injuries sustained in the bombing, the father said.

Another life ended: A Boston University grad student

While the name of the third victim killed by the blasts was not officially confirmed on Tuesday, Boston University said that the person was a graduate student at the school.

“The student was one of three friends who watched the race near the finish line,” the university said on its website. “Another of the three students, also a BU grad student, was injured and is in stable condition at Boston Medical Center.”

The third person in the group was unharmed, the statement added.

A short time later, China’s consulate in New York announced that the deceased victim was a Chinese national. At the family’s request, the consulate did not name her.

According to a profile on LinkedIn, the woman was a graduate student in mathematics and statistics at Boston University who was due to get her master’s degree in 2014.

She graduated from a Chinese university with a degree in international economics, the professional networking site indicated. She’d also previously studied for a semester at the University of California at Riverside.

Chinese students at Boston University respected her family’s request for anonymity, with many of them forming a tight-knit group.

One of them, former CNN intern Alex Shi, said at the students are deeply saddened. Many of the students feel affected because people were trying hard to locate those reported missing — including the victim — by calling hospitals and posting on social media.

Read More:  http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/16/us/boston-marathon-victims-profiles/index.html


Women’s Health: Portrait of a Not-So-Perfect Pregnancy: Part One

headshot (1)

Natalie Thomas

Writer, Editor, Producer

My sister was the ideal pregnant woman. Twice. She planned her pregnancies, entered into them in the healthiest way possible, relished being with child, had no problem gaining weight, ate whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted (and it stayed down!), and breezed through it all with a patience and positivity that is now reflective of her parenting style.

I’ve had a slightly different experience. (Please note, it’s slightly TMI and I apologize in advance.)

Mine’s gone a little something like this…

While on a relaxing and over-indulgent trip to Lake Como, Italy, let’s just say “things happened” and I woke in the middle of the night after the happening knowing two things. One, I had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and two, I felt certain I was pregnant (more on that later). At the time, you couldn’t have convinced me which was worse.

My husband and I frantically called down to the front desk to be told in very broken English — neither of us speak much Italian — that there was an all-night clinic on the other side of town. So off we went in a taxi to the clinic in sketchy town where we paid our cabbie to wait for us (The last thing we needed was to be stranded at 3 a.m. in the middle of nowhere, not speaking the language with a raging infection inside of me and my unborn baby). We struggled once more to communicate with the poor doctor on call.

She didn’t speak a lick of English, and my spotty Italian wasn’t getting us anywhere. In a last ditch, frantic effort, I asked if there was any chance she spoke Spanish. She did! Did I? Well, I did. Once upon a time. In high school and college, but it had been years, and I was rusty at best. You’d be amazed what the mind is capable of when in dire situations. Suddenly, I was rattling off words I didn’t even know I knew. It wasn’t so much medical or technical terms, more like “pain” and “down there,” but she got the gist. I hadn’t been that proud of myself and my language skills since I was 25, drunk and trying to impress guys. (C’mon, we’ve all been there. There’s something about being intoxicated that makes you want to speak a foreign language.) I managed to convey what was going on and obtain a prescription for antibiotics to clear up the infection.

Next stop? The only all-night pharmacy to pick up said meds. Thankfully, the cabbie was still there. He drove us up to a little slat in the side of a graffitied brick wall and I rung the buzzer. WIthin moments, a set of eyes were peering back at me. This time, I chose to stay silent and let my piece of paper do the talking. Soon enough, I was paying for my pills and on my way to relief.

But first, I had to go back, pack and take a five-hour train ride to our next destination: The Amalfi Coast, a beautiful, scenic trip if you’re not burning below and having the constant urge to use a public, tiny, mobile, lurching bathroom. Within a day, I was feeling like myself again. Except different.

Inside, I knew I was pregnant. I didn’t feel physically changed, but mentally, it had all shifted. My husband thought I was crazy, but I was convinced. Did that stop me from drinking wine every night and eating questionable cheese? No. I was in Italy! Can you blame me? (If you can, please don’t comment below.) And, really what were the chances I was pregnant? We weren’t trying, (TMI alert again!) and every story I’d ever heard was how difficult it was to conceive. How couples had actively tried for months, years even, while using calendars, charts and medical intervention to help it happen. I’d never had a pregnancy scare in my life. And, once I went off the pill after ten years, I had been diligent, much to his dismay, about using condoms. Except, of course, this time.

I tried to put my irrational thoughts out of my head and enjoy the rest of our trip. But during moments like when I was walking through Capri up a ton of stairs in 95-degree heat, I knew. A fairly fit person, I was finding it much harder to climb than I should have. On a boat to the Blue Grotto, I started feeling queasy. Now, I practically grew up on the water, spending most weekends on my grandparents’ boats and never ever got the slightest bit seasick.

Back home in CA, I raced to the drug store. Those two minutes were agony. And when the negative sign appeared, I was met with a mixture of elation, confusion and sadness. My husband was smirking with his “I told you so” expression as he gave me a consolatory/celebratory hug.

With just a few weeks until I started a new job, I fulfilled all the obligatory rituals: running errands, spending time with friends and seeing every doctor for my annual check-ups. While at the dermatologist, she convinced me to get a chemical peel for the hyper-pigmentation I had accumulated over the years from being a fair-skinned sun lover.

The next morning, I awoke to an inferno on my face. I darted to the bathroom mirror to see Sloth from The Goonies staring back at me. I shrieked. My husband came running in and the look on his face confirmed it. I was a freak.

My face was so swollen and inflamed that I was unrecognizable. The doctor said there would be some redness, but this was molten lava. I immediately called her on the phone and shared my saga, to which she replied it was normal what I was going through, feeling and looking like. I said nothing about how this was normal and demanded she see me. I was in her office thirty minutes later. Her staff could not stop staring at me as I waited for her.

She walked into the room and her mouth dropped open. “Oh, you weren’t kidding!” I wanted to kill her. Yeah, this was my idea of a funny joke, how I got my giggles these days. She proceeded to spend the next thirty minutes consulting books and others as to what to do. Really reassuring. I promise this woman is board-certified, works in a posh area of LA on high-profile clients and came strongly recommended. I wasn’t seeing some quack in Compton, although I might as well have!

Next, she brought out the big guns: steroid creams, antibiotics, pain relievers, gel-infused packs, hydration machines… I even had a few sessions in a hyperbaric chamber à la Michael Jackson.

After a few days of being on such a strenuous cycle of healing, I started to look a bit better, but I felt worse than ever. I had terrible cramping, as if my period would come at any minute, but it never did; my breasts were sore and I was unbelievably tired. I convinced myself it was due to being abroad, having a different routine and schedule, being on a ton of meds… all of it surely wreaked havoc on my health. Then I started having intense pressure in my lower abdomen. In all of my years of being on this planet and a woman, I had never felt this sensation before.

I knew what I had to do. There was one remaining test in the pack of two I’d purchased and it needed to be used.

This time, the sign came within seconds.

This time, it was positive.

To be continued…

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/natalie-thomas/portrait-of-a-pregnancy_b_2805062.html?utm_hp_ref=womens-health

%d bloggers like this: