Thursday, June 23, 2011

Housing Discrimination and Moms

For a country that seems to constantly tout "family values" including valuing life and children, our society sure does a crappy job at ensuring caregivers and children are actually protected and given the basic opportunities to thrive.

Even simple things like making sure that changing tables are in public restrooms, for women and men, isn't widely enforced. Also, in some states (Texas is one of them last I checked) it is ILLEGAL for a woman to breastfeed in a public place.

Don't even get me started on the Republican stance on Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program, SCHIP.   Programs like these provide a safety net for those who are most vulnerable in our society, but they've become political issues to be used as bargaining chips in Congress.

Earlier I was browsing the MomsRising website and saw a post on Housing Discrimination against moms. This just blew me away, especially since we are house shopping right now: “My husband and I were denied a home loan last year due to my being on maternity leave. It was a tremendously frustrating experience, as I was employed and on a federally protected leave; though was told that in the eyes of the lender, I was unemployed.”  

Although such discrimination is illegal under the Fair Housing Act, landlords and lenders still get away with denying housing to moms and pregnant women.  

To help guide moms, moms-to-be, and caregivers through the laws in place, MomsRising worked with HUD to develop an overview on our rights:

It’s illegal for a bank or mortgage company to deny a mother a home loan, to delay her loan, or to require a co-signer for the following reasons:
  • You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • You are a single mom
  • You are on maternity leave or are on short-term disability leave
  • You or a family member is a person of color

It’s illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to a mother for the following reasons: 
  • You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • You are a single mom
  • You have a baby, child or teenagers (Or you have “too many children.”)
  • You have a disabled or special needs child
  • You or a family member is a person of color
  • The apartment has lead-based paint (Landlords are responsible for lead abatement before an apartment is put up for rent.)

If you feel you have been discriminated against in anything related to housing, you can contact HUD for assistance: call 800-669-9777 or go to their web site.   

I'm so glad that there are organizations like MomsRising that work to make sure women and children are protected--and they raise awareness about important issues that are so often pushed aside.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Baby-Industrial Complex....or something like that

Walking into a Babies R' Us or Buy Buy Baby can be extremely overwhelming. There are companies out there that have people sitting in a room constantly coming up with crazy shit they think they can get parents and parents-to-be to buy.  Usually they use safety and health as their number one marketing tool, but as we all know, many of the products out there get recalled for one reason or another. It also seems to me that they try to make things have an educational purpose, but is my kid really going to get smarter by using a bouncy seat? I doubt it. Will getting my kid a walker help them walk faster? Not likely.

It's easy to spend thousands of dollars on all of the things baby registries throw at you as "necessary", but let's face it, babies grow fast and in just a few months those Baby Einstein videos will be laying on top of your dvd player gathering dust.  What's a parent to do? 

Hubby and I have already gone into a few of those big baby depot stores a few times.  We walked around, checked out basics like strollers, car seats and cribs and also took note of all the crazy stuff that is completely unnecessary. We've never stayed more than 45 minutes due to the danger of sensory overload and heart attack (when you look at the price tags, it's gut wrenching.)

Today on Off Beat Mama, I read a post about BabyList which sounds like a great alternative to the traditional baby registry.  So now I am considering using them--that way I can register for things from Target, Etsy, Land of Nod, etc. and have it all in one spot. 

Some products that while entertaining, aren't necessary (from my point of view):
1. The baby bouncer. It may make your baby giggle or keep him/her occupied for a while, but at an average of $200 a piece, this just isn't necessary.

2. Cradle swings.  These contraptions are automatic swingers meant to soothe baby and get him/her to sleep.  These average about $150 a piece and aren't necessary. They may make  life easier, but to me its something that I can live without. (also, on things like this we've decided to forgo swings and bouncers and if a few weeks or months down the line we realize we do "need" it, to get it then,)

3. Walkers.  I personally don't think a walker will help a baby walk quicker.  I also have to note that I am rather biased on walkers. When my brother was a baby he would run in his little walker all over the damn house and run into my shins, into furniture, etc.  It was a nightmare.  Also--if the kid can move around quickly in a walker with toys in front of him (they can be attached) and a little tray for snacks, why the hell would they want to walk on their own without these cool things?  At $70 a piece, the walker won't be in my house--and my shins are already thanking me.

4. The digital video baby monitor.  This one is just bananas.  They start at $250 a piece and creep me out a little. I suppose for anyone that has a special needs child this would be good, but to me, just hearing the cry through the monitor would be enough.  I don't need to hear the cry and SEE the baby crying on some screen next to my bed--we all know I am going to go in there anyways and feed/rock/change to make it stop

So that's my view on those four things--obviously we need a crib (though when my mom was born they kept her in a box), car seat, stroller, bottles, and other necessities.  In the meantime I am sure I will find more crap that is utterly frivolous (which I may give in and buy for the cuteness factor.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

First Trimester Reflections: My favorite Moments

If you ask me how the first twelve weeks of pregnancy was, I’d tell you that it was the worst three months of my life.  The puking, loss of appetite, constant nausea and exhaustion wore me out.  BUT—I don’t want to look back on this time in my life (I am creating a person after all) and have bad memories, SO in an effort to get my positive energy flowing for little Poppy I wanted to share my favorite first trimester moments.

1.       Finding out I was pregnant.  Those pink lines on the stick couldn’t have made me happier.
2.       Bailey the protector.  Realizing how intuitive animals are when my dog wouldn’t leave my side at the dog park.  He’s such a good pup.
3.       Mimosa-less brunch. Telling my awesome DC gals the news and hearing them squeal with excitement.  It warmed my heart.
4.       Blood hound.  Realizing my sense of smell is comparable to that of a hunting dog.  At first, it bugged me but now it’s fun.
5.       Freight train.  Hearing Poppy’s heartbeat for the first time.  It was fast and strong and made me cry with delight.
6.       OMG. Seeing the look of shock on hubby’s face when we heard the heartbeat.
7.       Puke n’ run.  While this could easily be a bad moment, it’s not.  It was definitely one of the funnier things that has happened these past three months. 
8.       Lift and fold.  Watching stroller demo videos online with my hubby.  We still can’t decide which one we want!
9.       12 lbs.  Losing weight due to nausea, etc., and being able to fit into my old jeans (for probably the last time for the next 8 months.)
10.   Smoochies.  Hubby picking me up at the airport after ten days of being apart.  He got out of the car, kissed me and then leaned down and kissed my belly.  I’ll never forget that.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Conversations on Parenting

Me: "I'm really torn on this ear piercing thing. (if we have a girl) On one hand, why not pierce her ears when she is a baby and is already getting shots and then it's done and over with. On the other, I'm not sure if I feel comfortable imposing my ideals of femininity on her by putting holes in her ears. But wouldn't it be cute if she wore the diamond earrings I wore as an infant!?!"

Hubby:"You think the earring problem is tough? I have to deal with the penis problem!" (referring to whether or not to circumcise if we have a boy)

Good times....