Twins And Postpartum Depression: Amber’s Story

postpartum depression twins-min

“Recent research pinpoints hormonal imbalance as the cause of PPD, making mothers of multiples particularly at risk for this condition due to the increased hormonal fluctuations that accompany their pregnancies. The intensified demands of caring for two, three or more infants make it even more likely that a mom of multiples will feel overwhelmed, drained or depressed after her babies are born.” ~ Multiples.about.com

There are times I look back on the early years with our twins and wonder if I had some form of postpartum depression. I didn’t think I had anything at the time, other than exhaustion, anxiety, irritation at my husband and the occasional bouts of depression I had battled all of my life.

Whether it was full blown PPD, I can’t say for sure. However, given that some research shows that 43% of mothers of multiples experience Postpartum Depression, it’s certainly a possibility.

Recently a mother in my multiples club shared her story of PPD and kindly agreed to let me interview her here. Amber Weitz is a stay at home mom to 28-month old twin boys, Connor and Jake. She is also a photographer and former Photo Editor at People Magazine and Berliner Photography.

Please read Amber’s story and, if you are moved to do so, share your own in the comments. If you have resources to share, please add them as well. The more we recognize the symptoms of PPD, the more likely we are to reach out to friends and family to help.

The more we see our own behaviors and experiences in others, the more we know we are not alone.

The Twin Coach: What were the early days with your babies like?

Amber Weitz: For me, it was very difficult to recognize the difference between sleep deprivation, the complete life changing event of having a baby (much less, twins) and depression. I truly thought I was going to go crazy when my boys were around 3 months old and still not sleeping more than 2 hours at a time. Their sleep was getting worse, not better. I was doing the nights by myself because my husband needed to sleep in order to work 12-15 hour days. We were all barely surviving. I was keeping it together on the outside because I loved my boys and needed to be strong for them, but I was falling apart on the inside.

It turned out that my husband had the male version of postpartum depression during the first two months. He had a very difficult time adjusting to our new life. I was 38 and he was 52. We both had lived long lives of being able to do exactly what we wanted to do at any given time up until that point. Having twin boys with colic knocked us into oblivion.

I just didn’t expect it to be that hard.

TTC: Had anyone told you and your husband what to expect with having twins?

AW: I remember attending an Expectant Parents Meeting and listening to everyone talk about hiring nannies and night nurses, and I was thinking that they were all crazy. How hard could it be? But, once the boys were born, I was constantly irritated at my husband for not helping enough or being able to predict what was needed.

I had to have a heart to heart with him to explain that I didn’t get pregnant alone and that at some point he had wanted these babies, too. I was pissed off that he expected me to thank him for every little thing he did. I told him he wasn’t just helping me, he was the dad and needed to jump in and just “do.”

It didn’t help that he dropped one of our boys on his head at 8 weeks old. He was paying more attention to our dogs than our infant so the baby slipped and landed on his head on cement. I spent the rest of the day in the ER with doctors running tests to check for brain damage. Talk about adding to the stress!

My husband hadn’t bonded with our babies and didn’t know what to do with them. All they did was cry, eat and poop. They were blobs to him. He didn’t have a drop of paternal instinct in him and I had to teach him everything (not that I really knew what I was doing, either). During those first 8 weeks, I could see it in his eyes; he just wanted to jump out the window and escape. I could read his mind, “When will I ever play volleyball again? When will I surf again? When will I get my life back” It was so bad that we had to stage a family intervention. Around this time I realized that I blamed my husband for contributing to my PPD. In order to move on, I needed to forgive my husband for his lack of baby knowledge, for having PPD himself, and for dropping our son.

That was my first step toward healing.

TTC: What did you do to try to make things better in the beginning?

sleeping-minAW: I sleep trained my boys at 5 months and they were sleeping through the night by 6 months. By 7 months, they were sleeping 11-12 hours each night. 6-8 hours was not good enough to me, I went for the full 12 hours. I needed the break and the sleep. I was overwhelmed by all the tasks that went along with taking care of twins on a daily basis – the feedings, the dishes, pumping, supplementing, changing diapers, dressing, bathing, simply being “on” all the time.

I had a lot of anxiety which went along with these tasks. Even leaving the house brought on anxiety. I didn’t believe in myself as a mother, I didn’t think I could do it all, especially alone. We ended up hiring a nanny at 4 weeks to work 1.5 days per week, though I wish we had hired a night nanny those first two months. I was mad at my husband because he got to escape and have adult conversations. I almost went back to a job I hated because it was a lot easier than staying home with my babies!

TTC: Was there anything that you feel may have made you more vulnerable to experiencing PPD?

AW: My 17-year old sister died in 2007 of unknown causes. I was absolutely devastated for years afterward. She died a week before my bridal shower and 3 weeks before my wedding. She was supposed to be my maid of honor and was leaving for college the next week.

Looking back, I know I was in and out of depression due to her death and also not being able to get pregnant. We started trying right after her death because I wanted to create a life, not to replace my sister, but to bring something positive out of a tragic event. It took us 3.5 years to get pregnant.

After every test, I was diagnosed with “unknown infertility.” Five failed IUIs later, we decided to try IVF. I had a sonogram prior to my first round of IVF which detected three uterine polyps. Once those were removed, we proceeded with IVF and two months later, I was pregnant with twins! We were elated!

I had a fairly easy pregnancy and loved being pregnant. Feeling my boys kick and constantly move around was the best feeling in the world! So, to go from that feeling to having crying, colicky twins and relatively no sleep was a shocker. I wish I had known that my earlier bouts of depression, plus all of the drugs I was given during fertility treatments, could contribute to my having PPD!

TTC: What made you realize your level of stress wasn’t typical?

AW: What is a normal amount of stress when raising two infants at the same time? It felt normal at the time, given the circumstances. In the past, I had seen news items where a mother killed her children due to Postpartum Depression. The stories I heard always seemed to involve parents forgetting their children in the car, moms who couldn’t be in the same room as their child, and more extreme cases. That was what I thought PPD was, not what I was going through!

Recently I watched the trailer for a documentary called “When the Bough Breaks,” which is what inspired me to finally write down my thoughts. Awareness is key, even if it is after the fact. If you can look back and think, “Wow, I was not in my right mind,” you have made progress.

Once my boys turned 1, I still wasn’t back to normal and I knew it. I did everything I could to get back to “normal” on my own, including stress relieving acupuncture, Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), and massages, but I was still depressed. I also saw a therapist, sought hypnotherapy, and received a handful of readings from psychics. I finally sought help through my doctor and he prescribed anti-depressants. After several different prescriptions, the feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious were finally gone.

TTC: How did things change for your husband?

AW: Once my boys developed personalities, started walking and playing sports, my husband finally bonded with them. I never would have thought it would take that much time. Unless men, or sometimes women, have grown up around younger siblings, taken care of babies, changed their friends’ babies diapers, they don’t always have that instinct most women have.
My brother and sister were born when I was a teenager. I felt like I had already been a mom because they were so much younger than I was. I changed their diapers, babysat, took care of them until I left for college.

My husband’s postpartum depression may have shifted naturally, but I think our family intervention helped. My mom, brother, and brother- and sister-in-law gathered in our living room and said the words I couldn’t. They told him how he was making me feel, how he needed to become a dad and help more with the babies. They were so good at not making him feel backed into a corner. His moods and attitude started to shift from that moment.

TTC: Why are you sharing your story now?

AW: I realize it’s a very sensitive subject, which a lot of people don’t want to talk about. I have never seen a post on our multiples club forum about postpartum depression, nor do friends, other moms, or family tend to talk opening about PPD. I remember a friend of mine mentioning she had postpartum depression, but it was after the fact. She was able to tell me stories after she had already gone through it with both of her children – and it was extreme. I wish someone, anyone, had clued me in on the many different forms PPD could take. Even a hint would have helped.

Just remember, you can only reach out for help when you are ready and self-aware. You are not alone! Be sure to get help if you feel like you are drowning.

TTC: Are there any tips or resources you can offer friends, family and parents of multiples themselves to be aware of so they don’t suffer for as long as you and your husband did?

AW: Therapy is a good first option. I know it is difficult to get out of the house, but make time for yourself. Talk to fellow multiples moms and dads. I think a good percentage of parents have some of the symptoms of PPD. If you don’t have a close friend or relative you can talk to, get help through a therapist.

Be sure to join a multiples Mommy and Me class and a multiples club/playgroup. It is so important to have the support of other parents in your same situation. I bonded with many moms over how difficult it was to take care of two babies in those first few months. Leaving the house used to be very difficult, now I don’t think twice about it. My playgroup has been instrumental in helping me overcome my fears. I can’t stress enough how supportive a playgroup and fellow parents in a multiples club can be. It has been a truly amazing experience and now I want to help other parents!

If you do not feel like you are experiencing any symptoms of PPD in the first 6 months, hooray! But be aware of late onset PPD, which can present symptoms up to one year later or sometimes more (like me). Once my boys were sleeping through the night, I didn’t understand why I still felt overwhelmed, anxious, and angry. It became worse between 12-18 months. Maybe I had a form of PTSD from the first 6 months. My hormones may have gone crazy once I stopped breastfeeding at 12 months. Or I might have had premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or been in early peri-menopause. Either way, the symptoms were the same. If you are experiencing sadness, depression, anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed, extreme moodiness, irritability or anger, please talk to a doctor.

Can You Accept Your Children For Who They Are?

My summer turned out to be more intense than I expected and what was supposed to be a short break from writing turned into a 3 month hiatus. My apologies to those of you who have been wondering where I have been. And for those who didn’t miss me, well, here I am anyway!

One bit of writing I managed to do was to interview the multi award-winning author, Andrew Solomon, who wrote an amazing book called “Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and The Search for Identity” for an article on The Mother Company’s website about accepting your children for who they are. His answers were extremely insightful and compassionate. I’m very excited to share the beginning of the article here (click over to The Mother Company to read the full piece and if you like it, please share it)!

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An interview with Andrew Solomon

Accepting your children for who they are can be difficult. In some cases, parents live vicariously through their children’s successes. Others have a vision for the life their child will lead and struggle when s/he can’t or won’t fulfill that fantasy. My own parents weren’t thrilled with my initial desire to become a fashion designer. Instead, their dream was for me to use my talents to be a “real” artist. This difficulty in understanding and accepting me was a painful one and ultimately caused a rift, taking some time to repair. Understanding and accepting who your children are, as opposed to who you want them to be is fundamental to being a connected parent. I asked Andrew Solomon, award-winning author of Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and The Search for Identity to share his thoughts on this subject.

How can parents come to terms with the fact that the vision they have for their children does not match how the children are turning out?

All parenting involves striking a balance between changing your child and accepting your child. Those are two disparate objectives. We change our children in a thousand ways: we educate them; we teach them manners and character; we vaccinate them; we toilet train them and show them how to brush their teeth. We also need to recognize the qualities in them that are immutable: their basic personality and character, their sexuality, their intelligence. Parents are constantly in what I’ve called the Serenity Prayer bind, trying to figure out what aspects of their child to change and what aspects to accept, because it is often impossible to tell the difference. Parents should understand, however, that they need to achieve love and recognition, and that while love comes, ideally, at birth, recognition takes time. Parents whose children are different from them must consider the child’s interests ahead of their own, and do what they can to ensure that their child has a worthy, joyful, impassioned life, even if that life veers away from the parents’ ideals.

Some parents seem to experience their child’s difference as a narcissistic injury—they see it as changing who they, the parents, are. They don’t see it as the child’s experience separate from them. Of course, our identity is dramatically shifted by our children, so there is a level at which it’s true that children are altering our selves, but we need to avoid seeing the change as primarily a change in us, and to see it, instead, as an essential matter for our children.

What are the best ways for parents to connect with their children when their temperament is markedly different from their own?

The first step for such parents is self-education. Parents should learn about the issue involved. If the child has a dramatic difference or a disability, there is much to be learned from both online resources and print ones. It’s often useful to find parent groups dealing with the same challenge; the company of others helps to clarify the situation, and the stories people tell about bridging the gap can be transformative. The most important thing, however, is to assure this different child that he or she is deeply beloved, to describe and acknowledge the variation in temperament, and to make the child a partner in finding a language in which to understand such difference.

What questions should parents ask themselves to know whether they are truly accepting of their child just as he or she is?

I think of the father of a transgender daughter who was in a counseling session. The therapist asked, “Does it make your child happy for you to persist in calling her he?” The father said it did not. The therapist asked, “Would it make your child happy if you called her she?” The father said it would. The therapist said, “What is it that’s more important to you than your child’s happiness?” I think parents have to ask themselves all the time what their child’s interests are and how they as parents can serve those interests. They have to think constantly of how their ego needs differ from their child’s, and to look at whether their behavior will result in their child’s optimal outcome.

The Twin Source – An Interview With The Twin Coach

There are very few twin-specific websites I actually like (which is part of the reason I initially started this blog). But one exception to that sentiment is the website The Twin Source:

“We are five mothers who are all very different, with one thing (well, technically two things) in common: We are mothers of twins.

We have come together to share our personal and unique stories about twin parenthood. Each of our stories is very different. Some of us could have breast-fed forever (Lauren), while others struggled desperately for a few short weeks (Carrie). Some of us went back to our careers straight away (Ashley), while others stayed at home for a little while (Maritza). Some of us hired a nanny (Carrie), while others hosted an au pair (Mari).

We acknowledge and embrace our differences, but we also find commonality and support in the fact that we are each one-of-a-kind twin moms doing the best we can every day.”

I have always found my local multiples club to be one of the best sources of advice and support – especially when my kids were really young. The parents there, for the most part, only have the fact that we’re all parenting multiples in common. Yet there is an instant bond and sense of shared experience that makes them somehow feel like trusted friends. The Twin Source is a lot like that.

So, when one of the founders, Carrie Carroll, asked to interview me, how could I say no?

Hello, Gina! Thank you so very much for taking some time out to talk with The Twin Source. It is a pleasure to have you. On your blog, The Twin Coach, you consistently provide a perspective on parenting that is both honest and informative.

Thank you so much, Carrie. I’m a big fan of The Twin Source and am very glad to have a chance to connect with your readership. And thank you for the compliment on my parenting perspective. My goal in being honest about my own parenting struggles is to help my readers know that they aren’t alone and that they don’t have to be perfect in order to be a good parent!

We can’t wait to hear your thoughts on some of the biggest conundrums that twin parents face. But first, tell us about your role as The Twin Coach and your own parenting philosophy.

When my children were born six years ago, I really didn’t have a parenting philosophy at all except that I knew I would love and take care of them. But I have always been an information junkie and a researcher. So I tackled parenting like anything else I am interested in: I researched! Doing this introduced me to the most amazing parenting advocates and helped me begin to be more mindful about my parenting. Editor’s Note: Check out this list of parenting resources compiled by Gina for The Twin Source!

Over time, my philosophy about parenting has been greatly shaped by what I learned about attachment theory, Magda Gerber’s RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers), and ultimately the concept of connecting with children through respect and empathy. Additionally, I’ve spent years working on my own triggers so that I can really be present for my children as a better version of myself. It’s definitely not the easiest thing to look critically at yourself, but it’s invaluable when it comes to parenting.

Before my twins were born, and before I became a parenting coach, I had a small wellness center in Los Angeles. My experience as a holistic healer, using energy work and talk therapy with my clients, gave me a great foundation for working with parents. Although I started out focusing on parents of multiples, I quickly realized that having support in learning how to parent respectfully is something that every parent needs. So, although I especially love working with parents of twins, my blog and my parent education sessions are for anyone who wants to be a happier, more mindful, and more connected parent.

As you know, parenting twins comes with a unique set of challenges. Let’s first talk about achieving a healthy parenting dynamic. When two babies arrive at once, there is obviously extra strain placed on new parents. How can they prepare for this, and what should they remember as they tackle the twin experience?

Before the children are born, it’s important to sit down together and discuss things like how you are planning to share responsibilities. It doesn’t need to be 50/50, but resentment is going to build quickly if you don’t have a plan. Additionally, discussing any preconceived notions you might have about twins ahead of time can be really helpful. Sometimes a parent has negative associations with twins they once knew or has fantasy ideas about how twins will be telepathic and should always be together. It’s better to talk about these so you can try to be on the same page and clear the air prior to the birth.

Once the babies are here, be sure to make time for each other. Two babies can be so overwhelming, and it is very easy to forget that the reason those babies are even here is your love for each other. Make time to keep that love strong! Remember that putting an emphasis on your marriage or partnership doesn’t make you bad parents. Your relationship is your children’s first model of what a loving partnership looks like. It creates the foundation from which they will go out into the world to seek their own partners. You want to model a healthy, respectful, loving relationship. If you occasionally need help from a therapist or counselor of some sort, get it! Invest in your partnership as much as you invest in your parenting.

Carrie very nicely also asked me to write a short list of some of my personal favorite parenting resources which you can find. I was doing my best to keep things brief and to the point, so it’s only a partial list!

I hope you enjoy reading the interview!

Parenting Children With Explosive Temperaments: An Interview With Dr. Ross Greene

As you all know I have reached a new level of understanding about our daughter’s challenging behavior, in part due to discovering Dr. Ross Greene’s book, The Explosive Child. I was thrilled to have the chance to interview him for my latest contribution to The Mother Company.

An Interview with Ross W. Greene, Ph. D.

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of raising twins so far has been learning how to parent children of the same age with two drastically different temperaments. Our daughter is one of those kids who has been described as willful, bossy, rigid, oppositional, and more. For parents with children like this, the sense of overwhelm can be incapacitating and the comments from outsiders that you must not be disciplining your child enough can be disheartening. I was honored to recently have a chance to interview Ross Greene, Ph. D., Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of The Explosive Child. I asked him to shed some light on how to understand and parent a child with such challenging behavior.

What are the differences between explosive anger and a more common kind of anger in young children?

On a technical level, the differences involve frequency, severity, intensity and duration. These are typically the hallmarks that make something diagnosable as opposed to something more typical. However, this is not the most important question for people who are concerned about their children’s behavior. The truth is, what is concerning to one parent may not be as concerning to another. Some people have a higher tolerance to certain behaviors and may respond less reactively, thus adding less fuel to the fire. What needs to be asked is, “is my child’s behavior negatively impacting him or her and our family?”

Why are some children so easily frustrated and “chronically inflexible”? Is this sort of temperament genetic? Do children tend to outgrow the behavior? Are there typical triggers?

We all want what we want. Kids who are not behaviorally challenging can get what they want in an adaptive fashion. But not all children have those skills, thus they try to get what they want in maladaptive ways. As a parent, assuming your child is not using their skills on purpose is a losing place to operate from. But if you assume a child doesn’t have the skills to get what they need in an appropriate way, you are never going to go wrong. You will not be a pushover. You are not a wishful thinker. You are not having the wool pulled over your eyes. Instead, you are being compassionate and are able to treat each situation as a moment to connect and teach. Children do not choose to explode any more than a child would choose to have a reading disability.

I wouldn’t count on children outgrowing their temperament. As time goes by, skills may be acquired and sometimes, just because of maturation, they are better able to handle what previously set them off. As for the genetic question, a child’s temperament is 100% nature and 100% nurture. That is, some kids are wired so that they are more vulnerable, but these genetics are also influenced by the child’s environment. Such things as maternal stress or the foods a mother ate while pregnant might have an effect. It’s impossible to answer this question accurately, but more importantly, it doesn’t change what you, as a parent, need to do to help your child.

Triggers are different for every child, but typical ones often include homework, chores, bedtime, waking up in the morning, hygiene, screen time and food. It’s important for parents to get a clear picture of all the instances in a child’s day that cause him or her to be triggered. Additionally, every doctor needs to be open to the full range of factors that influence a child’s behavior. Although these are not the most common factors, I have seen them often enough that I would be doing a disservice not to mention that looking at possible sleep disturbances, blood sugar levels, thyroid issues and food intolerances (particularly to gluten) can sometimes make a difference in improving a child’s behavior.

What are a few specific tips for parents, to help a child who has an explosive temperament (both during the explosions and during the calm between the storms)?

During the storm what you need to focus on is diffusing and de-escalating the storm. You can’t reliably and predictably solve challenging episodes when you’re in the midst of them. The calm between the storms is the time to work on what will maintain the calm so the storm doesn’t occur. Parents must figure out what lagging skills a child has that lead to unsolved problems. These lagging skills can include things such as:

  • Difficulty expressing concerns, needs, or thoughts in words.
  • Difficulty managing emotional response to frustration in order to think rationally.
  • Difficulty considering a range of solutions to a problem.
  • Difficulty handling transitions, shifting from one mind-set or task to another.
  • Difficulty handling unpredictability, ambiguity, uncertainty, or novelty.

Lagging skills are why kids explode more easily, more often and in more extreme ways than your average child. Unsolved problems are the specific things a child explodes about. Once you have identified the lagging skills and unsolved problems, you can work toward solving them proactively and collaboratively with your child. And yes, even very young children can do this!

Let’s say your child has 10 unsolved problems that cause him to lose control. Choose 2 or 3 that are causing the most episodes. You may find that just solving these 2 or 3 problems reduces 70 – 80% of the challenging episodes. Once this happens, parents notice that their child isn’t always challenging and they then have an easier time seeing that their child is actually lacking skills. They are able to see their child in a more empathetic light, which has the effect of changing the dynamic of their relationship.

Can the standard way of thinking about behavior and discipline work with a child with an explosive temperament?

Studies show that typical interventions such as time outs or reward charts are ineffective. Once the intervention is removed, the challenging behavior returns. In addition, many of the children with challenging behavior are simply lacking the skills to do the tasks demanded of them. Punishing a child for not having a skill is counterproductive and using stickers to try to coerce a child into a desired behavior if they don’t have the developmental skill to do it, makes no sense. You wouldn’t expect a toddler to be able to tie his shoes simply because you promised a reward. However, if you collaboratively solve a problem it improves both the relationship and the communication and that problem no longer triggers the challenging behavior.

Solving problems collaboratively involves the following:

  • Figure out unsolved problems.
  • Prioritize problems.
  • Figure out your child’s concern.
  • Find out why he/she is not doing well on activity or demand.
  • Put adult’s concern on the table.
  • Put heads together to collaboratively solve the problem and address all parties’ concerns.

Do these children do well in typical educational and social environments? Are there special precautions parents can take to make these environments more conducive?

Some challenging kids do well in environments when they have the specific skills to meet the demands being put upon them. But when they lack the skills needed, the challenging behavior surfaces. Knowing your child, knowing both their skills and their lagging skills allows you to try to put them in situations where they can succeed. If your child is in a situation where she doesn’t have the skills to be successful, then you have to make sure she has the support to navigate those situations so she can eventually do it independently. For example, you wouldn’t simply ask a kindergartener to do long division and tell him “you’ll have to do it some day, so you might as well get used to it now!” No, you would provide the scaffolding of learning all the steps that come first so that he would eventually be able to do the complex math problems on his own. It’s the same with social skills. You need to remember that not every child develops his social skills at the same time, just as every child develops their skill at math at different times.

What do parents need to know about parenting a child with these sorts of challenges?

The most important thing to remember is to be responsive to the hand you’ve been dealt. Focus on the hand you’re holding, not the preconceived notion of what you think your child “should” be. That is, parents should be asking, who is my child? What skills does my child lack? How can I be more responsive to my child? If you had a child who couldn’t walk you wouldn’t spend all your time trying to find ways to get him to walk, you would, instead, focus on making life as simple and easy for that child as you could. It’s the same with a child who has lagging skills and challenging behavior. Find ways to improve the child’s chance of living a happy and successful life without trying to change who that child is.

Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the originator of an innovative, proven approach to solving problems collaboratively, as described in his highly acclaimed books The Explosive Child and Lost at School.

Discussing Spirituality and Religion with Young Children

I was recently asked to join a select group of bloggers who are working as contributors to The Mother Company’s wonderful blog. I am very happy to be a part of their team, as their mission is very much in line with my own: “Helping Parents Raise Good People”.

This month I had the good fortune to interview Dharmachari Nagaraja, the author of one of our favorite children’s books (“Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire”). Nagaraja is also a psychotherapist, long-time Buddhist practitioner and popular presenter on England’s BBC Radio 2. I was honored to have the chance to speak with him about his thoughts on ways parents can discuss spirituality and religion with their young children.

An Interview with Dharmachari Nagaraja

Although neither of us would be considered “religious,” my husband and I both have spiritual beliefs and figured that our son and daughter would have them too, eventually. We thought we’d simply handle any spiritual questions from our children with basic honesty. I hadn’t factored in how difficult honesty can be when talking about something that you either haven’t given much thought to or have conflicting feelings about. With these questions reaching a peak during the Holiday Season, I asked Dharmachari Nagaraja, author, psychotherapist and long-time Buddhist practitioner, to weigh in on children, spirituality and religion. ~ Gina Osher, The Twin Coach, TMC Contributer

What is the best way to introduce the concept of spirituality to children?

Most people get caught up in the idea of whether God exists or doesn’t exist, or where you go when you die. But spirituality is a way of thinking about things, learning to live with differences, investigating differences. When we allow children to see that their actions have consequences and to think through their experiences, they are allowed to reflect more deeply. Asking children “what do you think” instead of answering questions directly or pointing them to an external God figure for answers invites children to participate and develop an interest in investigating their thoughts and feelings about things. Once they become used to doing this, they begin to see spirituality as more than a discussion about God but about understanding one’s place in the universe.

If one parent is religious but the other isn’t, how do you approach the subject?

How parents negotiate their differences is what is important when it comes to children. Kids are watching to see if their parents respect each other’s differences. When it comes to how we live our lives, children are looking to us to see how we become more self-aware, how we manage suffering, how we handle anger and disappointment. How our religion or spiritual self manifests in our lives is what children are looking at. What we say matters less than what we do. Thus, if one parent believes strongly in the value of attending religious services, but respects the other parent’s belief that God is all around us and that he or she doesn’t feel a calling to organized religion, the children will grow up with a respect for both ways of looking at spirituality and religion. Parents in this situation also need to be tolerant of the child wanting to try on both ways of looking at the subject.

When it comes to religious holidays and rituals (such as going to church etc.), what is the best way to discuss why we do or do not participate?

As with everything, being honest with your child is the place to begin. If you’re not participating out of a sense of cynicism or distaste for the particular religion you grew up with, you can discuss this in age-appropriate ways. If, despite this, you feel it is important for your child to have a connection to those rituals or that religion, it’s important to take a look at why you feel this way. Having done that, if you find it is still important to you, go together with your child to services or make the decision to celebrate a holiday and connect with the parts of the religion that speak to you. Finding what you lost touch with and seeing it not only through the eyes of your children, but also as an adult who now has the freedom and experience to question things, allows you to share those parts that have deeper meaning for you.

What if extended family is very religious (or not religious at all), how do you handle that?

In general, humans don’t like change. It can be very threatening to find that someone in our circle (or even outside of it) is choosing something that is different from our own beliefs. People tend to want everything fixed and constant. It is safer than how things really are, which is in a constant state of flux. If your family doesn’t feel comfortable with you thinking for yourself, it can feel like a spiritual and psychological crisis and you may start to become aware of who is actually listening to you and who is not. When you really think about it, both Buddha and Christ went against the accepted social norms of their time in order to be true individuals and to follow their own paths. So we can ask ourselves as parents if we are going to sacrifice our child’s individuality in order to satisfy someone else.

If you differ from your family in religious or spiritual beliefs, there are a few basic things you can try:

Don’t rub their faces in it. Be as respectful of their beliefs as you hope they would be of yours.
Do try to include them in what you are doing. Sharing books, articles and events is a nice way to try and expand their thinking, but don’t push it on them. And be willing to accept their disinterest.
Have straightforward conversations about your beliefs and why they are important to you.
Remember that you can’t make everybody happy.

What can we do with our children on a daily basis to bring a sense of spirituality or religion into their lives?

The Zen master and spiritual teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, encourages the practice of bringing mindfulness into every moment. Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment, and appreciating the freshness and beauty of what meets our senses. It’s easy with young children, as they very naturally do this on their own without knowing it. In experiencing mindfulness with them, you begin to see that even the most mundane details of life are precious. When you do this together, your children truly become your teachers. Their sense of wonder is intact and reveals the world to you in a way that you may have forgotten.

Parents who believe in God will naturally regard the revelations of mindfulness as evidence of the greatness of God and can talk about that to their children. But this is not the only way to have a spiritual connection to the world we live in. Buddhism, for instance, is non-theistic but encourages sensitivity and devotion to the well-being of all creatures. Learning to appreciate the specialness of seemingly insignificant moments, we recognize that everyone is involved in something special. Thus, even the ordinary is significant. And what is significant is worthy of being noticed and celebrated. Simple acts such as fogging up a cold window with your warm breath or even a household chore like washing dishes can become a spiritual moment for you and your children.

Take your time, notice the details, focus on the feelings each act elicits and share your experience. Ask your children what they enjoy most about what they’re being mindful of. You will notice in doing this that we all have the ability to live each day in appreciation. This practice of mindfulness does not clash with or contradict any religious belief. It actually gives you the root of direct experience that gives nourishment to your faith.

Dharmachari Nagaraja is the author of “Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire”. He was a regular guest presenter on BBC Radio 2, where he used traditional Buddhist tales to communicate the Buddha’s teachings to a UK audience of 7.7 million people. He has been a practicing Buddhist since 1988, taught at and managed the Covent Garden Meditation Centre, London and has now returned to his native Scotland where he works as a psychotherapist, teacher and occasional broadcaster.

It’s Actually Easy Being Green: An Interview With Rachel Myers

I grew up in a fairly bohemian home. Dr. Bach’s flower remedies were often a first suggestion rather than antibiotics, my parents were both vegetarians (although, for some reason, my love of lamb chops was indulged) and if you ask my Mother about potty training she will tell you that since we had lived in Europe (and my parents were hippies) when I was little, I was simply outdoors and naked most of the time so there wasn’t any need for “training”. No surprise that my parents were not much help when it came time for our kids to say goodbye to diapers!

When I was pregnant with our twins I had all sorts of plans about how “green” our house was going to be and how I was going to use cloth diapers. But I quickly got overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of having twin infants and my grand plan soon faded. If you are like me: somewhat overwhelmed by family life/work life/social life but would like a green home, to be able to cook healthy meals your family will eat, or have an interest in teaching your children about helping the environment, but don’t know where to begin with any (or all) of it, then keep reading; I am about to introduce you to Rachel Myers, owner of Green Hugs!

The Twin Coach: Let’s begin with an introduction of what Green Hugs is all about. Can you tell us about your background and what prompted you to start the company?

Rachel Myers: I have always been an environmentalist. I was a Community Organizer for the Sierra Club before I decided to stay at home and raise my own little activists. When I became a Mom, everything that I once thought was important about being a care taker of the environment, turned inward to my own nesting environment. I was able to channel my passions for health, sustainability and awareness to include the raising of my kids. I learned more and more about the hidden dangers in our products, food and nests. As information began to surface about chemicals in our plastics and carcinogens in our body care, it became harder and harder not to do something about it. One night I was on my favorite informative website, Environmental Working Group, researching toxins and babies. I came across an article about tests on umbilical cord blood. The results were life changing for me. The article stated that 232 chemicals were found in the cord blood of newborns. 9 out of 10 babies tested had BPA, a plastic component and synthetic estrogen. I knew then that I had to help families to avoid the toxins that have become so prevalent yet unnecessary in our daily lives.

I think sometimes people are afraid to seek out this information because it can be scary and depressing. I take the fear of knowledge away and replace it with a clear understanding of dangers and fantastic ways to navigate around those dangers. My motto is that if I tell you that one thing is unhealthy, I have to give you three good options to replace it with! There is nothing more beautiful and fragile than our nests. Teaching my class and knowing that I am directly impacting the health and well being of families is a wonderful gift. When I was trying to think of a name for my business, I asked my four-year old son, Parks, what he thought. He came up with, Green Hugs and the movement was born!

TTC: I notice that your Parenting Classes are really a mix of instruction on green living as well as teaching new parents about bonding, connecting and becoming advocates for this green lifestyle in their communities. Can you speak a little about what your classes are like?

RM: My classes are a mix of information, support and sharing. I feel like there is this collective unconscious out there of environmental buzzwords that we fear such as; Phalates, VOC’s and BPA. It is important to me that at the end of my class you understand these terms. It is equally important that we connect with one another and understand what we fear about this knowledge. My topics are roughly broken down into three categories: what you put in, on and around
your body. My goal is that by the end of my classes you understand that these are all the same things. What we breathe in, put on our skin, and use on our bodies all affects our general health.

Bonding, connecting and community advocacy are strong components of my classes. To me, green living is like an extension of attachment parenting. We are constantly teaching our kids while raising them to be stewards of one-another and the environment. Making healthy choices whether it is chemical vs. mineral sunscreen or organic vs. non-organic eating is one more attached and tuned in way that we can care for them. I also go over being the change you wish to see. It is difficult to send you out in the world as a new green nester and be met with resistance or fear. Parenting is a sensitive thing and nobody wants to feel different or isolated. I like working with couples because it is always important to make lifestyle changes together; if one person feels that things are being taken away from them instead of being empowered, I haven’t done my job.

TTC: Feeding our children is a major source of conversation from the minute the kids are old enough to eat solids; I see that you also offer vegetarian cooking classes. Many parents can’t imagine getting their picky eaters to eat one vegetable, let alone become a vegetarian…what can you tell us about these classes?

RM: Vegetarianism is a very personal thing for me. It is part of who I am. At a very young age I became aware of animal suffering and knew that I was going to try and live my life apart from that. I am raising my kids vegetarian, but my husband is a meat-eater. He is a veg by necessity at home though! Some people may think that this would lead to a very confusing up-bringing. It actually works well for us because it is a good and fair representation of life. People are different and make different choices. That is ok and we need to respect that.

Vegetarianism is so much more than eating vegetables. I believe that you should give kids the nutritional information about what is healthy for their bodies and that will help them grow. My kids know that their plate has to consist of whole grains, protein, fruits and veggies.

In my cooking classes I will come to your home and discuss nutrition, brain boosting fats and food combinations that actually work together to create better nutrient absorption. I don’t believe in hiding food to get kids to eat it. It may have a quick nutritional gain, but gives you nothing in the long run. The last component is discussion of your eater. Personality traits, tastes so far and what they naturally gravitate towards, if given choices, play a role in successful and nurturing feeding! Believe it or not, this starts as soon as kids are ready to eat solids. The biggest part of my cooking classes, Beyond Green Beans, is to have fun!

TTC: So many parents (including me) are motivated to “go green” when they have children, but get overwhelmed by the enormity of it. Where would you suggest parents start with a project like this?

RM: At the BINI Birth loft in North Hollywood for my Green Hugs class! Seriously though, I do think that this life-style change needs to be done in an informative and nurturing place with lots of discussion and support. Taking care of our families is the most important job that we have. When you first find out that choices you have been making may not be the best or the healthiest, it can be scary. In my classes, I don’t dwell on the negative. We learn, move on and make healthy, simple and cost-effective changes. I think you should start with what you are inherently drawn to. It can be food, toys, body products, cleaning products. That is the great part about all of this. Any small change can lead up to big health benefits. I am here to shift the question of, “What do we need?” to include what is it made out of and how will it affect the health of our home.

There are such simple changes we can make like omitting certain chemicals from our products, eating specific foods organically and making sure that we stay away from certain types of plastics. Once you gain the knowledge, making healthy decisions become second nature.

TTC: I notice that you advocate cloth diapers. When I was pregnant that was my preference too, but once I had infant twins it just seemed too much to deal with! What can you tell my readers (many of whom have multiples) about how to make this choice happen?

RM: Talking about tushies is one of my favorite topics! My class, Tushies: so Cute Yet so Complicated, is a wonderful and informative way to learn about everything from cloth to disposables and all options in between. I also talk about Elimination Communication as an early potty-training tool. Cloth diapering is one part of new parenthood where ignorance is really bliss. If you start out with cloth, it just becomes what you do. These days the options when using cloth are simple and affordable. You don’t have to soak diapers and deal with tons of parts; you put dirty diapers in a wet bag and you wash and dry them every night. I am not saying that it is easy. Nothing about being a new parent is easy. Yes, it is more difficult than throwing a dirty diaper in the trash. But when you consider, especially with multiples, the money you save in diapers and the possibility that your child will potty-train faster, it just seems worth the extra effort to me. Cloth diapers are an investment and actually have a wonderful re-sale market. Stores like Green and Greener in Valley Village, CA will buy and sell used cloth diapers. There are also diaper delivery services where you don’t have to be responsible for even cleaning them like Dy Dee Diapering Service.

With that said, there is nothing more important than your mental health. In order for you to be the best parent that you can be, you need to be sane and make sure you are not stretching yourself to the point of exhaustion. There are healthier and more sustainable disposable diapers on the market. I recommend Bambo diapers. Here is a link to a code that will get you 10% off! Bambo diapers are biodegradable, compostable and carry the, Nordic Swan Certification for their minimal environmental impact.

TTC: Your own children have grown up with this green concept, do you notice a difference between them and any of their friends about the way the approach things like food or the environment?

RM: Yes, my kids have been thoroughly green washed! My son actually walks through the market and holds things up asking me if they are healthy for his body. Sometimes I wonder if people around me think I am bribing him with candy to make me look good! The truth is that my kids are loving and sensitive. We have taught them to extend that attitude beyond just themselves into the world that they are part of. We make decisions every day to treat them mentally, physically and environmentally in a kind and sustainable way. They have thrived with that knowledge. Fortunately we live in a place where shopping at the farmer’s market, composting and healthy eating are the norm and that helps. I overheard a friend of my mom’s talking about me raising my kids vegetarian. She was very discouraging and whispering that it could be difficult for them later on to be different than everyone else. At first I got angry, but then I smiled to myself. We are living in a world and time where green living is not different. We also live in a time where different doesn’t have to be bad.

TTC: What would be your top 5 tips for beginners to start greening our homes?

RM: My tips are surprisingly easy and mostly free!

  • Ma halo Style: Go shoeless in your home. This helps your indoor air-quality by not tracking particulates into your home.
  • Flower Power: Invest in some houseplants that are safe for kids and pets. They are fantastic air-filters.
  • Ventilate While you Create: Always run the fan over your (gas) stove while you are cooking. You will greatly reduce toxic gases in your home.
  • Plastic Panic: Don’t microwave anything in plastic!! This reduces your chance of chemicals leaching into your foods.
  • Watch Your Can: Try to buy fewer foods that are in cans and more fresh foods.
  • TTC: Any suggestions for those of us with older children about how to get our kids involved in the process?

RM: I like to call composting the newest old thing. I think a wonderful way to get older children involved is to create a worm-composting aquarium. You can look up all of the components online and create your own little environment where kids can actually see the worms breaking down your family’s food scraps and turning it into soil you can then use to plant things in! Note: You must get worms that are specific to composting. There is a company at the Studio City Farmers Market that sells this aquarium and the worms.

TTC: Where are your classes held and what is your upcoming class schedule?

RM: I have found my teaching nest at a wonderful loft in North Hollywood called, BINI Birth. BINI is a space for support and education for both new families and birth professionals. BINI offers everything from Mommy and Me classes, Hypnobirthing, Yoga, monthly free parenting workshops and an intensive childbirth workshop weekend. It is a very nurturing space that Green Hugs is excited to be a part of. I teach my series one weekend a month at BINI and am also available for in-home private sessions. A lot of pregnant women and new moms like to get a group of friends together and learn out of their own homes. I’m teaching my Green Hugs classes at BINI Birth on the following weekends:

  • November 27th Tushies: So Cute, Yet So Complicated — There are many levels of responsible diapering. We will explore them all and learn money saving, green options that are better for the environment and our favorite squeezable tushies!
  • November 28th Organic Panic — What better way do we have to make our children stewards of the earth than to teach them how to eat well and enjoy life. I will also answer any questions about baby food storage or helping to green your picky toddlers plate!
  • December 5th Safe Mamas Guide To Green Homecare — We will discuss the lethal 10 ingredients to make sure aren’t in your products. I will teach you how to make your own natural home cleaners and we will discuss some of the safest ones that you can buy.
  • December 19th Will That Be Glass Or Plastic — We will discuss the pros and cons of glass bottles, discuss greener plastic alternatives and navigate through how to store food and liquids safely. I will show you some of my most favorite and innovative food storage systems made and used by proud moms everywhere!
  • January 29th Spa Baby — Learn how to make some of your own child and parent friendly bath and body products! I will help you to navigate through the world of chemicals that should not be in your home. We will also discuss natural bedding and the importance of a clean, green sleeping space for your little one.
  • January 30th Are You Attached — From breastfeeding to baby wearing and co-sleeping, let’s explore the benefits of this instinctual bond and how to deepen it safely and still look cute while you literally have another human attached to your hip!

Interview With Dr. Jenn Berman, Author of “SuperBaby”

dr. jenn mannI don’t know how Dr. Jenn Berman does it. She is a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist. She has appeared as a psychological expert on hundreds of television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show and is a regular on The Today Show, The Early Show, and CNN. She hosts a call-in advice show on Sirius/XM’s Cosmo Radio. Dr. Jenn writes an award winning “Dr. Jenn” parenting column for Los Angeles Family Magazine and five other magazines and is on the Board of Advisors for Parents Magazine. She also has an eco-friendly clothing line for adults and children called Retail Therapy. On top of all of this, she is also the married mom of twin girls! In 2007, in addition to everything else Dr. Jenn has on her plate, her book “The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids” was released. Now, just a few years later, she has a new book “SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years“. Dr. Jenn was nice enough to send me an advance copy of the book and take some time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few questions.

I had only read through the first few chapters when I knew I really liked it! Visually, it looks great, with crisp graphics and highlighted sidebars from experts (tons of experts! More on that later). Chapters are broken down into the 12 concepts Dr. Jenn focuses on, which makes it possible to simply read a chapter about a particular topic you might be currently interested in; however, every one of the 12 chapters is so full of interesting information and ideas that you probably won’t want to skip anything!

The Twin Coach: Your first book, “The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids”, was very successful and covered a great many areas one struggles with when raising children; I am very interested to know what inspired you to write this next book and what makes it different from the first.

Dr. Jenn: I love preschool through elementary age kids so writing “The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids” was very natural for me. By the time I wrote that book I had been writing my “Dr. Jenn” parenting column for Los Angeles Family Magazine for five years and had been a therapist, helping my clients raise their children for more years than I would like to admit. I love that age group. As a therapist and a person, I love being able to talk to kids and get into their heads. For me the first three years was much more mysterious. I had a lot of questions of my own.

I wrote “SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years” because I wasn’t able to find all the information I needed in one book. There are a lot of great books out there about infant development but there wasn’t one that covered all the aspects: the psychology of parenting, reducing toxins, nutrition, language development, sign language, baby massage, kangaroo care, scheduling, sleep, responding to cues, foreign language, television, child care, and picking a preschool; so I felt I had to write it myself. I looked at all the questions that my clients, readers, listeners and viewers have been asking me over the years. I also looked to address the questions I encountered as a mom and tried to answer all of them in this book.

You don’t have to be “Type A” to want your child to have a head start in life. Let’s face it, we all want that. I love doing research. For me, reading about the latest study on language development or talking to an expert in toxic chemicals, is fascinating. I learned so much while researching and writing “SuperBaby” that it really made me a better parent. I think any parent who reads the book will have the same experience.

TTC: In the not too distant past, parents felt that flash cards, “Baby Einstein” videos and educational toys would give children every advantage they didn’t have growing up; I get the sense from your book that this is not what you had in mind when you chose the title: “SuperBaby”.

DJ: You are right. I start the book by saying, “SuperBaby” is not a book about how to create an überbaby. It has not been written to burden you with new and expensive things that you have to do to raise the perfect genius-child.” To me raising a superbaby is not just about intelligence or admission into the right preschool or college; it is about raising a child who is empathic, resilient, and has what experts call emotional intelligence, the ability to regulate one’s emotions and read the cues of others. We know that early relationships and attachment experiences are central in shaping children’s social development. Following the suggestions in this book, especially those about parent-child communication, will help create the foundation for these important psychological strengths.

That said, we now know that children are born with an IQ range that can vary as much as thirty points, depending upon outside factors. While it is believed that “nature” is responsible for 50 percent of intellectual development, the other 50 percent is a result of “nurture.” Whether or not a child reaches her potential depends on her environment, experiences, and relationships. There are a lot of misconceptions about what helps children fulfill that thirty point potential. I think most parents will be surprised when they read the research in my book.

TTC: There is so much information from so-called experts on how to raise well-adjusted kids; how did you narrow down what was important to just 12 key ideas?

DJ: I started out with twenty but had to narrow it down. Maybe the next book will be about the other eight I didn’t get to write about. After all the research I did and looking at my own experience raising my own children, it became really clear to me what was most important.

My original background is in journalism and I had to rely on that training a lot to write this book. At first I was a little apprehensive about writing the last two chapters which are on reducing toxins in the home and nutrition but after what I learned I felt I would have been remiss if I did not include these chapters. Because of children’s developing brains, fast metabolisms, and immature immune systems, they are particularly vulnerable to harmful reactions to chemicals, hormones, and additives. While I am not a toxicologist or a dietician, I have relied on my journalistic skills, research, and interviews with top experts in the field, as well as my own judgment, to write this book. I hope this experience opens people’s eyes the way it has opened mine.

TTC: During your research to put together these 12 key factors in giving children the best start in life, I assume you were trying these methods out with your own children; did you find any of them challenging to adopt or were you surprised by the immediate effects of any of them?

DJ: I did everything I suggest in my book with my own children. Some I did better than others, which I talk about in more detail in the book. As a therapist, I often tell my clients that I would not ask them to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to do myself. As an author, I am no different. Some of my suggestions gave me instant gratification, like the scripts I recommend for tantrum reduction. Others, like learning baby sign language, took more time. I must admit I was doubtful myself that all the time I spent signing with my daughters would ever make a difference. But my doubts quickly disappeared the first time one of my daughters, who wasn’t even a year old, signed to me. Her new ability to ask for the “milk” that she wanted opened the door to communication for us and reduced her frustration tremendously. It also helped us get closer and have a better understanding of each other.

When I chose to expose my children to a foreign language, I had the same reservations I had about signing with them, but since I had done the research and believed what I read, I continued to read books and play and listen to music in other languages. I now have soon-to-be four year old daughters who speak and understand both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese—and there are no native speakers in the house.

TTC: You have been a therapist and parenting expert for many years; how has the birth of your own children (twins, Quincy and Mendez, age 4) changed your perspective on what you do?

DJ: I now find the first three years to be really fascinating. I don’t think being a parent has changed my perspective so much as it has made me more curious about the early years.

TTC: Like you and me, many of my readers are parents of multiples who sometimes feel that we can barely get ourselves out of the house in the morning! What do you say to the new, overwhelmed parents of twins who feel that they just can’t find the time to incorporate any more expert suggestions into their lives?

DJ: This book is filled with suggestions to make your life easier. I share information about how to get your child on a schedule (with sample schedules), how to create a bedtime ritual, easy scripts to help parents avoid tantrums, simple tips to occupy your child so you don’t have to turn on the television, and so much more. I also have illustrations of baby massage and sign language so you can try samples of both without buying ten other books. Sure there are some suggestions that are more time consuming. But sometimes as parents we have to pay up front in time and energy to get the results we want for the future. The book is filled with hundreds of suggestions for parents to pick and choose from. Not every suggestion will be right for every family but I do believe there is something there for every parent.

TTC: Tell me about your “From the Experts” sidebars. What made you decide to do them?

DJ: I was at an event at [L.A. eco-friendly children’s boutique] The Little Seed with Christopher Gavigan, the CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, telling him about my book when he offered to write me a sidebar. I thought it was such a great idea. Because of my experience as a writer, I have access to some really amazing experts. I wanted to give my readers that same access within the book. As soon as I started reaching out to these professionals and organizations I got such great responses. The book has “From the Experts” side bars from: Dr. Harvey Karp, Dr. Bob Sears, Ruth Yaron of Super Baby Foods, Jane Nelson of Positive Discipline, Jim and Charles Fay of Love & Logic, Sir Richard Bowlby, Jill Spivack & Jennifer Waldberger of The Sleepeasy Solution, Rachael Coleman of Signing Time!, Donna Holloran of BabyGroup, Corky Harvey & Wendy Haldeman of The Pump Station, Betsy Brown Braun of Parenting Pathways, Sue Darrision of Baby’s First Class, Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann of Mommy Calls, Dr. Scott Cohen of Eat, Sleep, Poop, Dr. Michelle Nitka of Coping with Preschool Panic, Dr. Bryan Vartabedian of Colic Solved, The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, The Alliance for Childhood, The Environmental Working Group, and many others. I was blown away by the willingness of these high level experts to make a contribution to my readers. It is such an honor.

TTC: This book seems to have been a real labor of love for you; what comes next?

DJ: Yes, it is a labor of love turned obsession! Once I started researching it was hard to stop. I have a children’s book coming out next spring called “Rockin’ Babies”. It is an edgy children’s board book that I wrote with my mom while we were feeding Mendez and Quincy, which took hours because they had very severe reflux as infants. I just finished writing a second children’s book with a friend. My next adult book will probably be relationship oriented but I do have another parenting book that I am hoping to write, as well. My clothing company Retail Therapy will be launching a new website this month which will allow customers to buy our products on line now. All our products are eco-friendly and have really positive “feel good” messages on them. I am particularly excited about our new line of onesies we are launching this fall which includes a SuperBaby onesie. You can find the site at ShopRetailTherapy.net

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Los Angeles speaking engagements:

Dr. Jenn Berman will be speaking at The West LA Parents of Multiples meeting on Tuesday, September 14th at 7:30 pm at a private home in Beverly Hills. If you are a member of WLAPOM the meeting simply requires an RSVP; check the WLAPOM calendar for details. All attendees will receive a gift, and each person who buys a SuperBaby book will be get one raffle ticket per book bought. Raffle tickets will be eligible for prizes such as: The SuperBaby Swag bag, Retail Therapy onesies and tee shirts, as well as “The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids”.

Los Angeles Book Signings:

Monday, September 13th at 7pm at The Pump Station, Westlake 2879 Agoura Rd. Westlake Village, CA 91361
Wednesday, September 15th at 7 PM at The Little Seed 219 N. Larchmont Blvd. LA 90004
Thursday, September 16th at 7 PM at The Pump Station Santa Monica 2415 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90403

The first 50 people to buy two or more books at The Pump Station and The Little Seed will get eco-friendly swag bags filled with Dr. Jenn’s favorite products. For more info click here.

Thank you, Dr. Jenn, for the interview and the terrific book!
And thank you for reading!

Private Elementary Schools: An Interview with Christina Simon

As I began my preparation for the next stage in school searches (Kindergarten and beyond), I came across an excellent book called “Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools in LA”. The book is authored by three very interesting women with a deep connection to the private school system here in Los Angeles: Christina Simon is a highly educated former PR exec and parent with two children at The Willows Community School in Culver City; Anne Simon is a veteran private school educator, former head of Wildwood Elementary School, former dean of the Middle School at Crossroads School in Santa Monica and current head of the Hunter McGuire Lower School at Stuart Hall in Verona, VA.; Porcha Dodson spent five years as a teaching partner and director of diversity at the Curtis School in Bel Air and is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Education with a multiple subject teaching credential at California State University Northridge. You can read more about these women and the book at FatEnvelopePublishing.com.

After the great success of this book, they began a blog of the same name which I have written about previously. The blog continues the conversation the book begins and is a wonderful resource in navigating the often confusing world of private school admissions. Christina Simon graciously took some time out of her schedule to answer a few questions for us:

The Twin Coach: To begin with, I’d love to know why you felt compelled to write “Beyond The Brochure” and why the three of you wrote it together.

Christina Simon: The idea for “Beyond The Brochure” came about after I applied to kindergarten for my daughter (now entering 4th grade at The Willows Community School). The process was very competitive and stressful. I underestimated how much time and energy it would take. Luckily, she was accepted to all the schools where we applied. Still, I found the process to be very intimidating. Virtually all of my mom friends also found the admissions process to be stressful, uncertain and lengthy. Personally, I felt caught off guard several times during the process, such as when things happened that were either out of my control or I learned about tactics that other parents were using, but I wasn’t informed about.

Once my kids were old enough, I asked Anne and Porcha to co-author the book with me. Together we are parents and educators with insider experience at top Los Angeles private elementary schools. Our goal is to share our experience and information with any parent who wants a private elementary school education for their child. We go beyond the brochure in our book to help parents understand the process from the inside out.

TTC: I know that after writing the book, you began a blog of the same title; what was the reasoning behind that and what kind of feedback have you gotten?

CS: We love writing the blog! It’s an opportunity for us to talk about aspects of the private elementary school application process that we couldn’t cover in the book. I also write about my life as a private elementary school mom. We try to use humor, when possible, to diffuse our readers’ stress. We’ve been there…we know what this process is like…it can be a nightmare. It’s very personal. Schools want to know a lot about your child and your family. The blog is also a great resource for to find out about upcoming private school events and other timely information. And, one of the best parts is when we answer reader comments! The feedback has been very positive. We’ve even heard from a few heads of schools who like our book!

TTC: Many people feel that there is so much information on schools out there, such as “The Whitney Guide” or GreatSchools.org, what makes “Beyond The Brochure” different?

CS: There is definitely information about private elementary schools out there. However, unlike The Whitney Guide, we do not review individual schools. Beyond The Brochure is a road map for parents who want to learn more about how to navigate the admissions process, from start to finish. We include sample applications from real families, sample letters of recommendation and strategies for helping your child get accepted to your top choice school(s). There is simply no other book on LA private elementary schools co-authored by the former head of Wildwood Lower School, a former teacher at Curtis School and a current Willows School parent. It’s our experience and our willingness to offer an honest insider perspective that makes our book unique.

TTC: What areas of the search for a private school does “Beyond The Brochure” cover?

CS: “Beyond The Brochure” is all the information I wish I’d had when we were applying to schools. In the book, we provide our readers with information to learn about the various types of private elementary schools in LA, to the tours, applications, test questions, parent interview, waiting period, what to do if your child is wait-listed, applying for financial aid and more. We also include a list of 45 schools and discuss what to expect your first year at private elementary school. We even include tips for staying calm during the time you’re waiting for your letters to arrive in March.

TTC: The search for a school for our children is so competitive and so overwhelming at times, how can this book help?

CS: The main premise of our book is that the private school application process is an insider’s game, but any parent can play the game if they know its unwritten rules. The private school application process is extremely competitive. There are simply too many applications for too few spots at the top schools. We’re talking about hundreds of applications for 40 or 50 spots (sometimes even fewer) at each school. Wonderful families get rejection letters all the time. Many parents think that if they apply to one or two schools, their child will get in. This is seriously underestimating the competition. Our book helps parents avoid common mistakes like these that can be easily avoided and therefore potentially change the outcome in a positive direction for a family. But, more than avoiding mistakes, our book also advises parents on what to do right. We strongly believe schools look at the parents and the child, not just the child, as many people assume, during the process.

TTC: Getting one child into private school is tough, when you have twins it seems at least twice as hard. What tips would you give parents of twins who are beginning the application process?

CS: Applying for twins is more complicated because you’re doing one school search for two children of the same age, at the same time. You may also be applying for financial aid too. If you’re applying for twins, we suggest you tour at least some schools that have two classes per grade, in case your twins will need to be in separate classes. Some schools want twins in separate classes. And, make sure you don’t give the impression that you are trying to get two spots for the price of one. In other words, it is very important that the school know you’re aware you will be filling two spots at their school and contributing to the school for two children, not just one. Sometimes, twins need to be at two different schools. But, many times even if the twins are very different, private elementary schools can accommodate both.

TTC: The cost of private school these days is extremely high, when you have twins it can seem overwhelming; what can you tell us about the financial aid process and how it may or may not affect admissions?

CS: Until the economy collapsed, a family’s financial status didn’t generally impact their ability to get in. After the economic collapse, this changed. Last year, a family’s ability to pay tuition did factor into whether they got in, in a lot of cases. The bleak reality is that schools were reluctant to admit families who could not pay tuition and who would not be receiving financial aid. Schools strive to ensure families are admitted whether or not they need financial aid. However, during this lingering recession, the application process and financial aid process are still separate, but some schools have been forced to consider a family’s financial status as part of admissions, due to the overwhelming demand for financial aid from existing and new families. For 2010-11, we hear from good sources that the financial aid picture may be improving, making more money available for applicant families.

TTC: What advice do you have for finding the right school for your family, especially if you are applying for two children who may have very different learning styles and temperaments?

CS: When you tour a school, look to see if they have twins in the school. Are they in the same class? Different classes? At my kids’ school, there are twins in the same class and twins who are put in separate classes. There are also twins who are very different in terms of their personality. We have at least one set of twins where one of the twins has special needs and a shadow/aide and the other twin does not. Private elementary schools understand the importance of having kids at the same school, whenever possible. Sometimes, that just won’t work. If it is very clear that one child thrives on structure and competitive challenge and the other is a free spirit, then the parents might need to make the difficult choice of looking at different sets of schools.

TTC: What’s next for the three of you? Will there be another book?

CS: We are planning several speaking events for Fall and Spring 2010-11 for parents to learn more about the application and financial aid process. We plan to continue our blog. As for another book…definitely not this year!

Interview with Carol Braun, Doula

carol1I have mentioned before that my husband and I decided to hire a doula when I was pregnant with our twins. We decided on hiring a doula team so that we could have 24 hour help. At first, we thought we would just have them postpartum, but ultimately chose to include them in the birth as well. Hiring our doulas was a decision I hesitated about at first, but ultimately have never regretted. 
Carol and I are still good friends; she has been an enormous support as I start this venture and has graciously agreed to let me interview her as I think there are so many expectant parents of multiples that have never heard of hiring a doula and may not know how much it can help!

The Twin Coach: The first question many people have is “what is a doula?” Can you give me a little background information?

Carol Braun: I think the best description of what a doula is comes from the DONA (Doulas of North America) website:

“The word ‘doula’ comes from the ancient Greek meaning ‘a woman who serves’ and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.”
carol 2There are birth doulas and postpartum doulas. A birth doula primarily works with a woman and her partner before the birth of the child, offering research-based information, reviewing comfort measures and developing a birth plan. The birth doula also provides physical and emotional support to the woman and her partner during the labor at home and/or at the birth center or hospital.
Postpartum doulas essentially “Mother the Mother”. They help ease families as they transition while caring for their newborn. Doulas offer support with breastfeeding, newborn care and infant soothing techniques. In an effort to help keep the family household in balance, the doula may also “tidy up” or do some light cooking or laundry if appropriate. I like to explain our services as “preventative education” as well. Hiring a doula can help prevent postpartum depression or problems with breastfeeding. Ultimately, the objective of the doula is to give the parents enough knowledge and confidence and in their parenting skills that the doula is no longer needed!

TTC: I hear many people talking about hiring a “baby nurse” or a “night nurse”; what is the difference between that type of postpartum care and what a doula offers?

CB: The difference is quite large! It is my experience that a baby nurse, or newborn care specialist (as many states do not allow such a title unless the person is actually a certified nurse) only encompasses the need of the baby. A postpartum doula works hard at understanding the dynamic of the family within their household and weaves her services according to the needs of the mother, baby and other family members.

A newborn specialist is similar to a doula in that she provides newborn care and instruction, but generally will not “tidy up” or do “light cooking”. She may also be capable to help with breastfeeding, but her knowledge tends to come from her own experience nursing her children- which can be helpful, but every baby is different when it comes to nursing and there is so much to know about breast feeding! Newborn specialists also tend to have more experience with “sleep training” or putting a baby on a feeding or sleeping schedule.

Typically a newborn care specialist will work with a family until the baby is sleeping through the night, but will also work with families  for the first four weeks or so, to help the parents adjust to the “sleepless” nights. Doulas also are known to work at night, but again, focus on supporting the mother as she tends to her baby in the middle of the night…breastfeeding doesn’t only happen during the daytime hours!

TTC: Yes! I totally agree. Because we had 24 hour help when you worked with us, you partnered with another doula, Julie Skehan, who helped us at night. My lower extremities were terribly swollen after the birth, and since Julie was formerly a licensed massage therapist, she would massage my legs and feet as I nursed, in order to get the blood flowing again. Talk about support!

TTC: So, now that we know what a doula is, can you tell me about your own background and why you became a doula?

CB: Well, I’m married to Steven and mom to Beckett. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, which gives me a strong foundation for doula work. I’ve always been fascinated with pregnancy and birth since I was a little girl. I grew up in a large, Italian family,so it seemed like a baby cousin was born left and right.  I have fond memories of wanting to touch my Aunt’s pregnant, round belly all the time (they lived next door and she had 5 children). The idea of feeling a baby move inside her was thrilling to me!

That same aunt was the person responsible for introducing me to what a doula was.  I had just moved to California (2002) and I wasn’t “feeling it” when working for the State Health Department.  After alot of self reflection, I found myself eager to unearth my passion for birth. I thought about going back to school to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse, or a Midwife, but I didn’t fancy the idea of going back to school. Once I found out that you could have a career in doula work, I couldn’t sign up for the certification course fast enough! I got certified (by DONA International) as a birth doula in 2004 and haven’t looked back. I’ve served over 60 birth families and probably about 30 or more postpartum families.

TTC: Do you have any have special training?

CB: As doulas, either birth or postpartum, it is essential to stay up with all of the research based information out there. Much of my income goes toward paying for workshops or lectures just to keep me informed. There are specific methods of birthing which I have studied,(ie: Hypnobirthing, Lamaze, Birthing From Within) and I’ve found it quite helpful to remain versed on breastfeeding and the challenges women are faced with while learning to nurse within the first few weeks after delivery.

I’ve also attended workshops and lectures on more sensitive issues which can present themselves during a woman’s most vulnerable time, in labor or just postpartum (ie: past sexual abuse/trauma, postpartum depression/anxiety, fetal demise). In addition, I’ve served on the Board of Directors for the Doulas Association of Southern California (DASC). DASC is responsible for many of the educational opportunities that have been offered to me as a doula. We learn from each other, do quite a bit of outreach, and bring in many fascinating and highly educated researchers to update us in an effort to keep our clients informed and empowered.

In general, although one is neither required to be certified, nor attend any specific training, it is highly recommended that one attend a certification training workshop to become familiar with childbirth education and the role of a doula. There are several well known organizations who offer such training. These organizations also practice a strict code of ethics and scope of practice as well.

Again, it is strongly encouraged that if one were to provide doula services, whether for birth or postpartum care, that one remain updated and active within the doula community. I’m a firm believer in attending at least 1-2 major trainings per year, just to keep me fresh. I would encourage clients who are interviewing doulas to inquire as to how many or what types of trainings they have attended.  This will tell them a lot about the quality of services they will be paying for.

TTC: You have a lot of experience both as a labor doula and postpartum doula for parents of multiples; for expectant twin parents reading this, what would be the most important reasons why they should consider hiring a doula?

carol 3CB: Particularly for a family welcoming multiples, it would be to help the transition into parenthood go more smoothly and be less shocking. In addition, to help nurture the mother, who’s in an extremely vulnerable state for the first few months after birthing twins.
Since twin moms are more susceptible to postpartum depression (PPD) it’s critical to help maintain her wellbeing through this time. A postpartum doula can help ward off circumstances which can lead to PPD. She should have the experience to recognize the signs of PPD and guide the family to get help when appropriate. 
Another important reason to hire a doula for postpartum care of twins is to help identify a routine which will work for their family dynamic/household so things are not so overwhelming. Lastly, to help with breastfeeding if that’s how the parents decide to nourish their children. On average, by breastfeeding twins for the first year of life, a family can save close to $3500.00. However, it’s also a huge commitment and a mother will need to allow herself the time and patience to learn how to nurse her twins as efficiently as possible. This is where an experienced doula can be invaluable.
TTC: Having worked with so many multiples what are the most common areas that new parents are surprised they need help with?carol 4

CB: The 3 B’s, and they all tie into one another:

  • Budgeting: There are so many things people can do to limit their spending on things they won’t really need before the babies are born. In my opinion,and from what I’ve experienced with all of my multiples clients, budgeting for postpartum help for the first 3-6wks after leaving the hospital is by FAR the most important thing for the family to do. Getting a strong foundation from the beginning is key.
  • Breastfeeding: There is so much to learn from an experienced lactation support person. The goal will be to as efficient while nursing as possible, so mom can get back to catching up on rest. Tandem nursing (feeding both babies at a breast at the same time) will be one of the most important things to learn.
  • Banking on as much time to catch up with sleep and nutrition.

TTC: Often people who already have children think they won’t need help with their newborn twins since they have been through it all before. What has been your experience in those cases? Has having twins been as easy as they expect, or did it turn out to be much different and how were you able to help in either case?

CB: The one thing I’ve noticed is that when parents expecting twins already have other children, both parents tend to have a very strong sense of their parenting roles and routines. I think their consistancy is what gets them through the young years. Perhaps this time around they have learned to accept that their lives will revolve around the care of their young children, at least until things fall into a new routine that works for them.

I often help clients to remember that acceptance of this new way of life is really half the battle. It won’t ALWAYS be about the babies…eventually they will access the elements which shaped their identity. But, as with everything, change takes time to feel “normal”, so I ask many of my clients to just allow themselves the time and to always remain fluid.

Conflicting Information About Vaccines

One of the first things a new parent is asked to decide is how he or she is going vaccinate their child.  As with many things about raising children, there is no clear cut answer to this issue and there are compelling arguments to be made on both sides of it.  My husband and I believe in vaccines and in the fact that they have saved countless lives.  We (well, more me than “we”) also believe that the current vaccine schedule pushed by pediatricians and the media advocates too much, too soon, too often.  Obviously, this is my own opinion and I would never judge anyone for what they decide is right for their family.  We chose to give our children all of the vaccines suggested for them up till now, but spread them out as much as we could.  Yes, it meant the kids were at the doctor’s office more often than “necessary”, but I felt more comfortable knowing I wasn’t bombarding their little bodies with so many things all at the same time.  I knew that in Europe there is an entirely different vaccination schedule and it didn’t make sense to me to push so much on their tiny bodies at so young an age.

There are many out there who believe that there is the possibility that vaccines, although they usually cure most people, have caused great damage to others.  There is the theory that some people are predisposed to be more sensitive to what is in these vaccines thus making them susceptible to things like Autism and so forth.  I’m not a doctor.  I don’t know the answer.  But for me, that makes some degree of sense.  And to me, I think: “why not follow that hunch and see if that is so”.

Dr. Jay Gordon is a remarkable doctor here in LA.  He’s not our pediatrician but he is a very present voice on the side of less medicine for our children.  To me that’s remarkable – a Western medicine doctor, extremely learned and respected, who is very verbal about his views on the way medicine is practiced here in an America.  And his views are not mainstream to most.  It was Dr. Gordon that put my mind at ease about Swine Flu.  When everyone was freaking out about getting vaccinated, I read his newsletters advocating common sense and seeking to establish calm.  I chose to follow my gut, not to get the flu shots and our kids, and we, were absolutely healthy throughout the flu season.

Recently Dr. Gordon was interviewed for a PBS documentary entitled “The Vaccine War”.  Inexplicably his entire interview (and other interviews which support his point of view) were eliminated from this show.  If any of you watched it, I thought it might be interesting to you to read Dr. Gordon’s response to this:

“Last night, PBS aired a show called “The Vaccine War.” I was interviewed at great length and in great depth about vaccines and my point of view and expressed my ambivalence about the polarization of this issue and the need for more calm reasoned discussion about the number one question that new parents have. 
I told Kate McMahon, the co-producer of the show, that there was a large group of doctors and others who cannot be dismissed with the facile label “anti-vaccine” because we still give vaccines and see a place for them in the practice of medicine, but we do not agree with the current vaccine schedule nor the number of vaccines children receive all at one time.

A few days ago, Ms.McMahon emailed me to tell me that the decision had been made to omit my interview from the show. There would not be one word from me. She didn’t tell me that she had also omitted 100% of Dr. Robert Sears’ interview. And that any other comments from physicians supporting the parents on the show in their ambivalence about vaccines or their decision to refuse all vaccines would also be omitted.

She left this as a show with many doctors commenting very negatively, very frighteningly and often disdainfully and dismissively about vaccine “hesitation” as they called it.

Below is my email response to Kate McMahon.

Dear Kate,

The “Frontline” show was disgraceful. You didn’t even have the courtesy to put my interview or any part of the two hours we spent taping on your web site.

You created a pseudo-documentary with a preconceived set of conclusions: “Irresponsible moms against science” was an easy takeaway from the show.

Did you happen to notice that Vanessa, the child critically ill with pertussis, was not intubated nor on a respirator in the ER? She had nasal “prongs” delivering oxygen. I’m sorry for her parents’ anxiety and very happy that she was cured of pertussis. But to use anecdotal reports like this as science is irresponsible and merely served the needs of the doctor you wanted to feature.

No one pursued Dr. Offit’s response about becoming rich from the vaccine he invented. He was allowed to slide right by that question without any follow up. Dr. Paul Offit did not go into vaccine research to get rich. He is a scientist motivated by his desire to help children. But his profiting tens of millions of dollars from the creation of this vaccine and the pursuit of sales of this and other vaccines is definitely not what he says it is. His many millions “don’t matter” he says. And you let it go.

Jenny McCarthy resumed being a “former Playboy” person and was not acknowledged as a successful author, actress and mother exploring every possible avenue to treating her own son and the children of tens of thousands of other families.

I trusted you by giving you two or three hours of my time for an interview and multiple background discussions. I expressed my heartfelt reservations about both vaccines and the polarizing of this issue into “pro-vaccine” and “anti-vaccine” camps. I told you that there was at least a third “camp.” There are many doctors and even more parents who would like a more judicious approach to immunization. Give vaccines later, slower and with an individualized approach as we do in every other area of medicine.

What did you create instead?

“The Vaccine War.”

A war. Not a discussion or a disagreement over facts and opinions, but a war. This show was unintelligent, dangerous and completely lacking in the balance that you promised me–and your viewers–when you produced and advertised this piece of biased unscientific journalism. “Tabloid journalism” I believe is the epithet often used. Even a good tabloid journalist could see through the screed you’ve presented.

You interviewed me, you spent hours with Dr. Robert Sears of the deservedly-illustrious Sears family and you spoke to other doctors who support parents in their desire to find out what went wrong and why it’s going wrong and what we might do to prevent this true epidemic.

Not a measles epidemic, not whooping cough. Autism. An epidemic caused by environmental triggers acting on genetic predisposition. The science is there and the evidence of harm is there. Proof will come over the next decade. The National Children’s Study will, perhaps by accident, become a prospective look at many children with and without vaccines. But we don’t have time to wait for the results of this twenty-one year research study: We know that certain pesticides cause cancer and we know that flame retardants in children’s pajamas are dangerous. We are cleaning up our air and water slowly and parents know which paint to buy and which to leave on the shelves when they paint their babies’ bedrooms.

The information parents and doctors don’t have is contained in the huge question mark about the number of vaccines, the way we vaccinate and the dramatic increase in autism, ADD/ADHD, childhood depression and more. We pretend to have proof of harm or proof of no harm when what we really have is a large series of very important unanswered questions.

In case you were wondering, as I practice pediatrics every day of my career, I base nothing I do on Dr. Wakefield’s research or on Jenny McCarthy’s opinions. I respect what they both have done and respectfully disagree with them at times. I don’t think that Dr. Wakefield’s study proved anything except that we need to look harder at his hypothesis. I don’t think that Jenny McCarthy has all the answers to treating or preventing autism, but there are tens of thousands of parents who have long needed her strong high-profile voice to draw attention to their families’ needs: Most families with autism get inadequate reimbursement for their huge annual expenses and very little respect from the insurance industry, the government or the medical community. Jenny has demanded that a brighter light be shone on their circumstances, their frustration and their needs.

I base everything I do on my reading of CDC and World Health Organization statistics about disease incidence in the United States and elsewhere. I base everything I do on having spent the past thirty years in pediatric practice watching tens of thousands of children get vaccines, not get vaccines and the differences I see.

Vaccines change children.

Most experts would argue that the changes are unequivocally good. My experience and three decades of observation and study tell me otherwise. Vaccines are neither all good–as this biased, miserable PBS treacle would have you believe–nor all bad as the strident anti-vaccine camp argues.

You say the decisions to edit 100% of my interview from your show (and omit my comments from your website) “were purely based on what’s best for the show, not personal or political, and the others who didn’t make it came from both sides of the vaccine debate.” You are not telling the truth. You had a point to prove and removed material from your show which made the narrative balanced. “Distraught, confused moms against important, well-spoken calm doctors” was your narrative with a deep sure voice to, literally, narrate the entire artifice.

You should be ashamed of yourself, Kate. You knew what you put on the air was slanted and you cheated the viewers out of an opportunity for education and information. You cheated me out of hours of time, betrayed my trust and then you wasted an hour of PBS airtime. Shame on you.

The way vaccines are manufactured and administered right now in 2010 makes vaccines and their ingredients part of the group of toxins which have led to a huge increase in childhood diseases including autism. Your show made parents’ decisions harder and did nothing except regurgitate old news.

Parents and children deserve far better from PBS.”

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP