Getting It Right: What Working Families Need

Janice Lynch Schuster

When my first child was born, in 1990, I’d been working for nearly a year as a writer for a federal contractor. Until then, health policy meant little to me. In fact, if you’d asked, I could not have told you what it was, or what it meant to my life, and the life that I was making.

When I was hired, I read that I would be eligible for 4 or 6 weeks of maternity leave.  I also read that it took most couples a year to get pregnant: It took us a night.  It turned out that, by the time of my due date, I would be a week (more…)

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A Wake-up Call

After I found out I was pregnant last January, I knew I had a lot of work to do in the coming nine months. I was working full-time and going to school; I knew the costs of having a baby were high, but I naively thought that surely, in America, finding help as a low-income pregnant woman and single mother wouldn’t be that hard. If people can donate time and money to the SPCA, I thought, someone must give to organizations dedicated to supporting women like me.

It’s important to note that I do in fact have a job that I worked hard to get. (more…)

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Adventures in Co-Parenting: Inner Resolution, a Revolutionary Thought

Amber Coleman-MortleyJealousy is a real and natural part of life.  To believe that adults should suppress these types of raw emotions or that feelings of jealousy should be reserved for children is unreasonable.  Rather than suppress these emotions, analysis of these feelings helps get to the root of the problem.  I’m not usually an envious person, but I can get jealous when I believe something is not “fair.” Ideally, life should be even and fair and like most people, I never want anyone to have an advantage over me.  As a former college athlete, I often have to consciously step back and realize that in many situations, there is no score. This kind of competitive spirit has no place in most real life situations because the focus is on the situation rather than potential solutions.  But in reality, you struggle.  You want things to be fair when a relationship has gone sour and you find yourself picking up the pieces and moving on. Misery loves company.  (more…)

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Waiting Like I Am

The line on the pregnancy test this morning is only faintly positive and in a way I’m glad it isn’t the same bold line that we celebrated with champagne seven months ago.

That night, grinning ear to ear, sugar plum babies dancing in our heads, Jen and I felt like the luckiest lesbians in the world to have gotten pregnant on our first attempt.   “Guess what?” I sent in a text to Kate the next morning.  My best friend from high school and Jen’s best friend from college, Kate was responsible for us getting together five years earlier and had been following our baby-acquiring progress ever since.  A year ago, she was home from Colorado for a week to visit her Dad, and I had her read the string of facebook messages in which we had asked Michael to be our donor– (more…)

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  • July 7th, 2014 Tackling a Tough Gun Discussion
    By Glenna Crooks
  • Adventures in Co-Parenting Part 2: Mommy & Daddy Should Date

    Amber Coleman-MortleyThe side effects of separation and divorce mostly play out in the words of your children. You hear weird statements about love or going on dates, as though some sort of temporary romantic mediation could resolve all of the hurtful things people did to each other over a decade of time. I’m not much of a grudge holding type; I “forgive and let live” because I firmly believe each of us deserves happiness.

    At the beginning of our separation my children would approach me like high schoolers attempting to share hook up secrets. It was cute for a while and then it became annoying. They’d say, “Look… All you guys need to do is go out to dinner, go to a movie (more…)

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    Measles and Cancer: A Wake-Up Call

    Dr HaleyThe subject of vaccination is both a personal and a professional issue for me. After my daughter was born, there was never any question that we would vaccinate. Of course we worried about a rare adverse event, and seeing that sweet baby flesh poked by needles made us more upset than our daughter. As a physician, however, I understood the importance of vaccinations and the broader implications of public health and herd immunity.

    As an oncologist, I deal every day with cancer patients whose immune systems aren’t functioning properly, due either to the disease itself or from anti-cancer treatments. Even if these patients are properly vaccinated, their immune systems can’t mount an appropriate defense in response to an exposure. (more…)

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    English Only

    UnknownCurrently, I work at a wonderful community center in Little India in Chicago. In our youth program we have a diverse group of kids whose parents are from all over the world. English is every child’s second language. Daily, I come in to work and bask in the beauty of the students conversing in their mother tongues. This is what community means to me.

    So, I was dismayed the day one of my co-workers asked a couple of our students to speak English only while at program. I asked her what was the problem and she said that we had an English-only policy. I was floored. I was never told about this policy and I regularly converse in Spanish with our Spanish-speaking students. My co-worker said the policy is always in place but had not been enforced by the last program director. Shortly after this incident, the new director had a group meeting and reminded the students and tutors that they had to speak English during program. (more…)

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    Adventures in Co-Parenting Part 1: Broken Homes

    Amber Coleman-MortleyI heard a small voice come from the backseat…”Mommy used to cry sometimes before we went into the house. She doesn’t do that anymore.”  The voice was engaged in a matter of fact conversation with one of my friends as we were all unbuckling our seat belts and getting ready to leave the minivan. My heart stopped.  I had reached a point in my marriage where I could not take it any more.  I was emotionally unavailable and had prepared myself to stick with it until my children graduated.  I recall crying alone in the bathroom but did not realize I had cried in the car in front of my children.

    I never wanted to get married and I never wanted children.  I never thought that it was appealing to meld your life with another and I did not want to have children without a partner only because I thought it would be unfair to the child to have access to only one parent throughout their formidable years.  I witnessed women relinquishing their freedoms and sacrificing part of themselves in order to (more…)

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    Leaving the Anti-Vaccine Movement

    Picture 74I can’t tell you how I became pro-vaccine without first telling you how I became anti-vaccine.

    When my oldest daughter was about four months old, I discovered “crunchy” parenting. I entered a world full of cloth diapers, “intactivism,” and home birth. I made a lot of new friends who shared my beliefs about peaceful attachment parenting, and I started to notice a trend – many of these same friends also didn’t vaccinate. I discussed it one day with a real-life friend, who told me I should look up vaccine ingredients, read the package inserts, and check out the adverse events reported on VAERS.

    So I did a Google search for “vaccine ingredients” and was shocked by what I found. Could there really be all of these nasty-sounding ingredients in vaccines, I wondered? I went to the CDC’s website and found package inserts. I didn’t understand much of what I read, but it did sound pretty scary. I looked up the prevalence of diseases today and realized that nobody had even caught diphtheria for years! I was confused, and (more…)


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    Time in a Bottle: Protecting Kids against Pneumococcal Disease

    Picture 38In many ways, 1974 was the good old days. Jim Croce was saving time in a bottle and Connect Four sat under almost every Christmas tree. The speed limit was reduced to 55 mph, which was a good thing for me, because my primary seat belt was Mom’s arm.

    And parents weren’t subjected to Internet misinformation about immunization or false claims about vaccines and autism. They didn’t worry about how many vaccines their children received, only that they received them—and they were glad to protect their children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. After all, most parents of 1970s children were very familiar with those diseases: either they suffered from them as children or knew others who had. Our parents knew that not all children who got sick from these diseases survived them. Protecting their own children was a no-brainer. (more…)


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    Generic vs. Brand Name Birth Control: But, I Thought it was all Covered?

    Photo by Bedsider

    I  strolled into my local pharmacy on January 11, 2013, with my wallet tucked into the depths of my backpack, confidently out of reach: I was picking up my first pack of free birth control (that is, birth control that’s covered by my insurance without a co-pay).

    With a smile I turned on my heel from the pharmacy counter—birth control in hand and wallet still untouched—and anxiously shuffled outside to find an isolated square foot of NYC sidewalk and tweet my glory to the world. (more…)

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    Ask The Doctor: Bedsider and DW Check in With Dr. Colleen Krajewski

    Despite increased access to resources, the majority of births in America are unplanned. This week DW partnered with Bedsider, an online birth control support network for women 18-29, to cover the complicated and very personal issue of reproductive health.

    To kick off this series, DW along with Bedsider, interviewed Dr. Colleen Krajewski, contributor to Bedsider and  Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Magee-Women’s Hospital, about her work in the area and a few tips for reproductive health.  

      (more…)

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    Improving Reproductive Health

    Women aren’t fertile every day of the menstrual cycle. In reality, women are only fertile for a period of about 8 days per cycle, and it’s simple to pinpoint this fertile phase. I’ve encountered many people who can’t define ovulation and don’t know the role played by cervical fluid (or cervical mucus) in reproduction. But it’s not their fault. This isn’t something we were taught in sex ed. It wasn’t long ago that I was one of these people, and I now find myself on a mission to stop this trend.

    When the female body is seen as mysterious and unpredictable, we end up missing an incredible opportunity to empower women. This lack of education about the female reproductive system leads many women to view our bodies as the enemy–something that we must constantly battle in order to remain in control. This mindset is a huge problem, especially since the female reproductive system, in most cases, is actually quite predictable. If we instead prioritize this type of education, I believe that we would set in motion a surge of powerful social changes. (more…)

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  • April 7th, 2014 The City of Brotherly Love and the Kids We Need to Love Better
    By Glenna Crooks