Too Much Screen Time During A Pandemic? STFU, Dude

On Saturday, New York Times journal Matt Ritchel published an essay titled “Children’s Screen Time Has Soared In The Pandemic, Alarming Parents And Researchers.” Shocking exactly zero actual caregivers, Ritchel cites hysterical stories and statistics about children whose screen time has become their “whole life.” An expert who once told parents not to worry about kids and screens backs off her earlier assertions; scary numbers tell us kids are playing double the amount of Roblox they played last May. “Remaining limits have vaporized,” he says. A professor warns gravely that there will be a “a period of epic withdrawal.” “Legions of kids under 10” are on TikTok! Fortnite! Snapchat! Parents are hopeless. Kids play first-person shooters. Video games have become social tools and emotional outlets.

Hey, Matt? Go to hell.

My Kids Do Stuff, Dude

Here’s the deal, Matty. My husband and I have pre-existing conditions. My three sons, ages 7, 9, and 11, have been socially isolated since March 13th, 2020. We had enough foresight and privilege to buy an above-ground pool and a trampoline, but it’s January. There are no amphibians to capture; yesterday we had wind gusts of 30 miles per hour; and anyway, my two youngest will likely emerge from this needing therapy because they’re too nervous to walk beyond our mailbox.

We are super interactive parents. We play board games. We do arts and crafts. We chase them in the backyard. Moreover, they have each other to play with, and they’re close in age, so they invent games of their own; my two youngest have created a bizarro LEGO world of creatures called “blubbies” who live on “Blubbie Island.” My middle son makes movies. My youngest has an obsession with a game called Castle Panic, which he plays alone. My oldest listens to podcasts.

My Kids Can Only Do Stuff For So Long Before They Need Screens

But that stuff only lasts so long.

Eventually, their tablets come out. I work. My husband works. We need alone time, because there is a pandemic going on and newsflash: we are trapped in the same square footage as our children 24/7, (almost) 365. Sometimes we want to have an adult conversation without being interrupted about:

  1. who is cheating at a board game
  2. who has moved Blubbie Island
  3. who irrevocably destroyed whose art project

So we let them take out their Kindle Fires, like we always have, because we’ve always allowed reasonable amounts of screen time. They might play Bad Piggies. They might play Rise of Berk. They might play Jurassic World: The Game. Or they might watch “Gravity Falls,” “Amphibia”, or some version of “How to Train Your Dragon.” This keeps our kids quiet, still and gives us needed adult time. And honestly? With a pandemic going on, we need more adult time than usual. I looked at my husband the other night and said, “Just put on a damn movie for them so we can hang out.”

“Yes,” he said.

On went “Isle of Dogs.” I refuse to be shamed.

It’s not like we shut our bedroom door and banged each other, though there would have been nothing wrong with that. We read books without interruptions, talked about work, and quoted “Sealab: 2021” at each other. We needed to decompress. I still refuse to be shamed.

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty

And All Screen Time Isn’t Equal

Yeah, my kids get more screen time than they did before the pandemic — far more. But Matt, all screen time is not created equal. My oldest chats with his friends. He needs social interaction. He can’t get social interaction in other ways right now. If I handed him a phone and told him to call people, you’d bitch about that, too. So he might as well read facial cues and learn to type. They also play Dungeons and Dragons via Facebook Messenger Kids. No screen time shame.

What do my other sons do? Yeah, some of their screen time is “Star Wars: Clone Wars.” But they also watch “Planet Earth: 2.” They play a game called Skeleton Anatomy made for anatomy students that makes them memorize all their body’s bones. My youngest beat a puzzle game called Monument Valley. My oldest reads Darth Vader comics and other books.

They play with MIT’s Scratch coding program. They use drawing programs. They make movies. One game actually helps them memorize elements.

All this counts as screen time, according to any metric, but I don’t think it’s causing their brains to rot.

So STFU About Screen Time

We are parents living through a global pandemic. This is unprecedented. We never thought we’d wake to this nightmare whose proportions are quickly becoming Biblical. I worry about whether my kids are learning resilience, civic responsibility, and kindness towards one another. I’m not super concerned about if I’ll have to detox them from playing computer games when this is all over.

Yeah, my 11-year-old is currently playing a “Star Wars” shooting game. Shame me all you want. I have to work.  My other two are playing some game involving a periodic table involving my computer and a Kindle Fire. So much screen time, and I don’t care. Guess what? We’re surviving the hardest time we’ve ever had as a family as best we can. Screen time is the least of my concerns.

Stop shaming parents. We need our devices. Our kids need their devices. Taking their phones and cutting them off from their friends, like one set of parents in the essay? That seems unnecessarily cruel to me, and far more damaging than staring at a screen for a bit longer than normal.

You people do you, of course. Isn’t that what we always say now? But, I’ll hand my kids a screen, like most parents in America, and they will be just fine.

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Girls Aren’t The Only Ones Who Worry About Their Body Image

Diet culture, disordered eating, excessive exercise, beauty, ideal body types, and socially accepted physical features are viewed through lenses that often have women as the focus. Not only does society pressure girls and women to look a certain way, but many women are working hard to undo the harmful messages they have internalized for years. Feeling good about your body doesn’t come by just saying all body shapes are beautiful; there are layers that need to be pulled away before real peace can come. And parents like myself are working to block the messages before our daughters see them. We reinforce body positivity and by example show them the physical and mental health benefits of food and exercise. But we can’t forget to focus on and worry about our sons and masculine-presenting children too.

My son, my sweet sensitive boy, isn’t afraid to cry or talk about his emotions. He’s observant and a helper. He’s also painfully insecure about his looks. The things he has said about himself break my heart, and the last thing he wants is for anyone to notice anything about his physical features. He is currently in a phase where he doesn’t want to get his hair cut because he doesn’t want anyone to say anything to him about it. He doesn’t want or like any attention that has to do with his body.

Even though I talk to him about his body in the same ways I do with his sisters, I need to do it more often and with more intention. We talk about how the food we eat helps us stay strong and have energy for things we need and love to do. We talk about moving our bodies because it’s fun and makes our brains feel good. We talk about clothes as tools that keep us warm and help express ourselves; we work to find ones that work for us and don’t change our bodies so that they work in any specific size or style. And when it comes to muscles, or lack thereof, we talk about how it’s more important to be kind, grateful, and educated — not in terms of school, but in their wide view of the world and other people. Biceps are fun, but critical thinkers are super fun.

I worry about my son’s positive body image as much as my daughters’. One in three people who struggle with an eating disorder are male, and they are just as likely to binge, purge, or fast as women. Men and boys aren’t nearly as confident with their bodies as we would like to believe either. One study reported that 90% of the male participants expressed dissatisfaction with their bodies and another showed that 25% of “normal” weight males thought they were underweight and 90% of teens exercised to bulk up. Men, boys, and masculine presenting people are just as vulnerable to media images and sexual objectification as women. Yet men and boys are less likely to talk about body image and their insecurities because it is seen as a “female” problem, and our society has done a good job at convincing men and boys that the last thing they want to be is a girl, or worse: gay.

If your son is gay or bisexual, he has a higher risk of developing an eating disorder than a heterosexual male. Or perhaps your son may be nonbinary or a trans girl, who will be under even more scrutiny to look a certain way based on the constructs of gender and gender expression. Maybe you have a kid like I was, one who was assigned female at birth but who wants to look male, or whatever the going version of maleness is. I didn’t care about being thin or having specific measurements. I wanted muscles. I wanted my breasts to disappear. I wanted to appear more masculine according to what I was shown on TV. Yet I knew wanting those things were also “wrong” according to my female gender. I was supposed to desire boobs and an hourglass figure like the other girls were conditioned to believe. And I was supposed to look good for the benefit of a boy.

I’m a nonbinary transgender person and have struggled with my body and feeling comfortable in my skin for a long time. I have socially and physically transitioned parts of myself to make my body a home I want to live in, but I may always be in some stage of mental or physical transition. I am very aware of balancing what I want for myself versus being in a constant state of comparison. To not be seen as female means I need to be seen as male and that comes with a narrow standard of acceptance. Yet, there is toxicity in that too, and I’m trying to find balance.

I love to exercise and challenge my body. I also love the science of being able to tinker with movement and food to get results I want in my body and in my workouts. I recognize the slippery slope in taking a passion to an obsession and am always evaluating my motivation. Looking up workout videos and researching ways to get the most out of my body in healthy ways means looking at men who have muscles on top of muscles, narrow hips, and fans who follow them just to drool over them. It means revisiting images I crave for myself at times, but knowing what I crave more is a sense of inner peace. I know I don’t need to look a certain way to feel good about my body, but that doesn’t mean I’m not receiving mixed messages.

A male friend recently mentioned that his wife got upset when he said Gal Gadot was hot, but that he wasn’t allowed to get upset when she said Chris Hemsworth is hot. He recognizes that hotness comes in many packages, but he was frustrated by the double standard and hated that he couldn’t point out that her comments hit on the same insecurities for him as his did for her. If it’s never okay to comment on a woman’s looks, should the same be true for a man’s? Or for a nonbinary person? We all have bodies, and for us to feel at home in our own skin, we need to remove gender from the equation when it comes to talking about self-love and body confidence. Women don’t hold the exclusive rights to body insecurity.

I’m not saying that sexism, misogyny, and arrogance aren’t gross contributing factors when it comes to how women see themselves and how they feel about their bodies. Cisgender men and our patriarchal society have a lot of wrongs to make right. However, we can’t demand our boys grow to be better men if we don’t address issues like body positivity — for themselves and others — in the same way we do for girls and those assigned female at birth.

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The New Parent’s Guide To Caring For Your Baby’s Belly Button (& Stump!)

We’re just going to come right out and say it: Newborn baby belly buttons are weird. Well, not once their umbilical cord stump falls off and they look like normal human belly buttons. Before that. Like, when they still have the stump and you can’t take your eyes off of it because, yes, you want to make sure they get the proper care but are also kinda fascinated by their alien body part — plus, simultaneously a little grossed out by this particular piece of your precious baby. It’s a lot for a new mama to process! And that’s to say nothing of baby belly button care, which makes the entire newborn naval situation all the more perplexing.

Still not sure what exactly is going on down there? Consider this your guide to newborn belly button care, including how to clean it, and what to do if it’s bleeding or you suspect that it’s infected.

What’s the deal with a baby belly button?

If you’ve given birth, been present at one, or even just watched a scene including one on TV, then you’re familiar with the part when the new baby’s umbilical cord is clamped and snipped. This results in a stump, which starts drying out and eventually falls off in one to three weeks. As a new parent, you may be tempted to pull the stump off yourself (read: you will definitely be tempted to do so). As tempting as it may be, though, resist the urge to pull or pick at that stump, Mama. It may look gross, but it’ll fall off on its own schedule. What you can — and should — do during those first few weeks is keep the stump dry, including by sticking to sponge baths.

Is baby belly button bleeding normal?

A little bit of bleeding around the stump isn’t anything to worry about. And, much like a scab, it’s possible for the stump to bleed a small amount when it falls off. But if the area around their belly button oozes pus, develops a pink moist bump, or if the surrounding skin becomes red and swollen, it could be an infection. In that case, you’ll need to take your baby to the doctor.

What does a newborn belly button infection look like?

Although rare, there is a life-threatening infection called omphalitis that can happen right before a newborn baby’s stump falls off. In that scenario, a trip to the emergency room is warranted. The symptoms include signs of an infection, such as:

  • pus
  • redness or discoloration
  • persistent bleeding
  • bad smell
  • tenderness on the stump or belly button

How do you clean a baby belly button?

It’s important to keep a newborn baby’s umbilical stump dry, as well as clean. But instead of washing it regularly, do what you can to keep it from getting dirty. And because the stump falls off once it’s dry, keep the stump from getting and staying wet. If the stump does end up getting wet, gently pat it dry using a clean baby washcloth. A cotton swab is also an option, but make sure that you don’t rub or poke the stump too aggressively, so it doesn’t fall off before its time. As we mentioned above, sponge baths are the way to go while the stump is still around.

Once the stump detaches from your newborn baby’s little body, keeping their belly button clean is relatively straightforward. You can start giving them regular (non-sponge) baths, during which you just need to use the edge of a washcloth to gently clean inside the belly button. Just don’t scrub too hard or use soap. And there’s no need to clean a baby’s belly button any more frequently than they bathe.  That’s basically it! Well, you know, besides breathing a big sigh of relief once the stump finally falls off.

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Everything To Know About Safe Baby Bath Temperature

Bath time is a fun time for you to bond with your baby. They get to splash around and be unencumbered by a diaper or clothes, and it’s the perfect time for you to connect with your little one by engaging with them, talking with them, and making eye contact. It’s also a great way to establish a routine and teach your baby the difference between “busy time” and “sleep time,” while at the same time providing them with a yummy way of relaxing and winding down before bed. But bathing a newborn, especially for the first time, can be nerve-racking. Your baby might not love being bathed at first, and you might need some practice with it too. Newborn babies can be a bit slippery! Then there’s the logistics of the bath. How long should it be? What is the perfect baby bath temperature? You want your baby to be comfortable, of course. Not too cold, not too hot, but just right.

In other words, it’s only natural to have some motherhood anxiety before your little cutie gets clean. So, if you need some help figuring out your baby’s bath temperature and how to test it, we’ve got you. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

What is the best baby bath temperature?

You want to find the perfect medium for your baby’s safety and comfort when it comes to their bath water temperature. You want the water more warm than cold since a baby can get cold easily. Aim for the bath water’s temperature to be around 100 F, maybe a few degrees above, but definitely below 120 degrees. It’s also important that the room is at a nice and toasty temp, too. To prevent scalding, it’s recommended to set the thermostat on your home’s water heater to below 120 F — just in case!

You might need to hire a plumber to install a valve or thermostatic mixing valve at your water heater or on the hot water supply. You might also want to consider installing anti-scalding devices to place on taps and shower outlets to reduce the risk of scalding.

How to check for the bath temperature

There are a couple of methods to best check your baby’s bath temperature. One of the simplest ways is to use a thermometer. There are many cute digital waterproof thermometers on the market. There are even baby tubs with built-in thermometers! However, that’s not totally necessary — you can even test the water with your wrist or elbow. Swirl the water around first to break up any hot spots (just as you would before drawing your own bubble bath). It’s also a good idea to run the cold water first and then turn on the hot water to warm up the bath.

How much water should you fill the tub with?

Whether you’re using your bathtub, a baby bathtub, or a sink, it’s important to keep the water level at a minimum to ensure your little one’s safety. A common recommendation is about two inches of water. There has been some research that indicates having enough water to cover your baby’s shoulders helps keep them warm and calm. You might also consider periodically (and gently) pouring water over your baby’s body to keep them warm during bathtime.

No matter how much water you use, it’s important to keep a secure yet comfortable hold on your baby throughout their splish splash. And never leave your baby alone in the tub — not even for a split second. Babies can quickly drown in as little as one inch of water.

How long should a bath be for your baby?

Unlike yourself, who might enjoy a nice hour-long bath, your baby only requires a quick five- to ten- minute bath at first. Warm water can easily irritate a baby’s skin, so you want to make bath time a short and sweet activity for them.

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I Need (And Want) To Be A Mom First — Not A Nurse

The enjoyment of my son’s first steps, his first words, and every other special moment after that were partially stolen because of the constant worry that comes with being the mother of a child who suffers from a seizure disorder. Every interaction left me wondering, “What if this activity will cause a seizure—or worse?”

Massiah is medically fragile and suffers from life-threatening seizures and other complications as a result of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). TSC is a rare, incurable genetic disorder that causes tumors and tubers to form on the brain and major organs—he currently has dozens of these on his brain, five behind his eyes, and three left in his heart, plus numerous cysts on his kidneys that have resulted in a stage 1 kidney disease diagnosis. Since 2015, Massiah has undergone routine monthly bronchoscopy and laryngoscopy to remove airway growths. Those growths have slowed down due to beginning chemotherapy in July of 2020, but they have not yet gone away.

Courtesy of LaToya Martin

While the PTSD and anxiety of being a mom of a child with disabilities have drastically overpowered the enjoyment of being a first-time mom, it has not stopped me from making sure that Massiah has the best life—and the best healthcare—possible. Shortly after Massiah was born, I moved away from Virginia where all my friends and family live to Delaware to access AI Dupont Children’s Hospital. One of the major fights I continue to battle is Massiah’s ability to have professional medical care at home. He has been able to grow up at home and thrive due to the in-home nursing that he has received through Delaware’s Medicaid program. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and me being a stay at home mom, I have not been able to access full-time home nursing care for Massiah. If full-time nursing were available, he would have the necessary medical care he needs, and I would be able to have the relief I need to provide myself with the self-care I need to continue to be the best mom for him.

Courtesy of LaToya Martin

Since I’m a single, stay at home mom, the state only authorizes eight hours of in-home nursing respite care per week for Massiah. Don’t get me wrong—I am so grateful for Massiah’s nurse, and for the two days a week I am able to run errands, deep clean, and practice some self-care while she is there keeping my son medically safe and healthy. But, I am beyond exhausted. It’s simply not enough. Massiah is going through chemotherapy and multiple other appointments and therapies. As his mother, it’s my job to keep him alive. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Massiah lost his 55 hour per week authorization for nursing care because he was no longer in school. The state’s justification is that he can only qualify for care when school is in session. This makes no sense. His condition has not changed. I am a mother, not a doctor or a nurse.

Courtesy of LaToya Martin

This pandemic ought to serve as an illustration for the state of how important home care is in keeping vulnerable and medically-complex children like Massiah at home. Delaware can ensure Massiah and others like him continue to be healthy and safe by recognizing that state programs like private duty nursing (PDN) need to be prioritized and adequately funded! This is especially true in times like this, when even taking him to the grocery store and laundromat could result in a serious infection or worse. State home care programs must be better funded so that there are enough nurses to fill the hours Delaware kids truly need. I have fought for years and will continue to fight for Massiah’s care for the rest of my life. But, that care is not eight hours a week. Massiah and I are beyond blessed to be able to have him grow up and thrive here at home, and I can only imagine how much more he would learn and grow if he were able to receive consistent medical care safely at home while I provide for him as I am meant to—as a mom. I need to be a mom first, and Massiah needs me to be a mom first too.

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Op-Ed: Want Schools To Open Safely? In-School COVID Testing Is Necessary

When Mayor Bill deBlasio announced New York City schools would reopen with new COVID testing protocols in place, reactions were mixed. Some parents were thrilled that their children would be going back. Others were thankful for the additional safety measures, but — if my school’s private Facebook page is any indication of the general consensus — most were furious. This was an infringement on their children’s rights. Their “freedoms.” In-school testing, they said, overstepped bounds. But the discussion didn’t end there. The conversation shifted from one of anger to entitlement. Many parents announced their intentions to get their (healthy) children exempt by completing medical exemption forms. 

Yes, dozens of parents openly announced their plans to falsify claims.

Now I know what you’re thinking: How do I know their child is healthy? Many medical conditions are hidden. They remain unseen. And you’re right. Most diseases don’t have “a look.” But I know they were filing false forms because they were discussing the matter, publicly and openly. Parents posted links to said forms so they could figure out how to have their child excused, citing anxiety and stress. Some even said the tests could puncture their child’s nasal cavity. As if. Hell, a fellow mom told me she was worried about the testing because she didn’t know what the school would do with her child’s DNA.

Yes, really.

To say I was livid would be an understatement. Why? Because 1) their selfishness would put others at risk. 300,000 Americans have died — and millions more worldwide —  from COVID-19 but what’s one more? After all, we’ve got to protect precious Timmy’s freedoms, and his nose. Because 2) in seeking a false medical exemption they would overwhelm Department of Education staffers. They would inundate workers and cause there to be a serious processing delay. And because 3) their false claims would take attention away from real ones. From the kids who truly do need exceptions and/or accommodations. And that’s bullshit.

Scratch that: It is privileged bullshit at its finest.

Of course, this isn’t the first time people have (falsely) claimed the need for a medical exemption during the COVID crisis. In June, individuals across the country began carrying face mask exemption cards, which reportedly absolved them from wearing facial coverings, masks, or shields due to mental and/or physical risk. The good news is the validity of these cards was disproven, quickly and swiftly. On June 30, the Department of Justice issued a statement regarding these cards and other like documents.

Paul Biris/Getty

“Cards and other documents bearing the Department of Justice seal and claiming that individuals are exempt from face mask requirements are fraudulent,” the release read. But the damage was done.

The path was paved for lies, leeway, and loopholes.

That said, there are genuine reasons why an individual should not wear a facial covering. Masks, for example, are not recommended for children under two. Individuals with severe skin conditions may find facial coverings irritating. Some deformities can make mask wearing difficult, and according to the CDC, “cloth face coverings should not be placed on… anyone who is [actively having] trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.” Those with sensory, cognitive, and/or behavioral issues may also have difficulties. And, I’m sure there are genuine reasons why an individual should be exempt from New York’s mandated COVID-19 tests.

However, the exemptions are few and far between. Implying otherwise is absurd. It’s dangerous. Skirting safety rules and regulations endangers lives. It also hurts members of the medically frail community.

It hurts your asthmatic uncle, your immunocompromised neighbor, your cancer-ridden grandmother, and your grandfather with COPD.

Are nasal swabs uncomfortable? Sure. They can be annoying, aggravating, and agitating. In some cases, COVID-19 tests have caused headaches and nosebleeds. Are masks annoying? Abso-fucking-lutely. I hate the fact that I cannot wipe my nose when I am out — or that there is a perpetual feeling of moisture on my face. My discomfort is palpable. Sometimes, I become anxious and struggle to breathe. I also hate seeing my children in masks. I mourn the loss of their childhood. Of innocence.

But we wear masks because they keep us — and others — safe. We consented to testing at school because it reduces the risk of community spread. Having accurate information is the only way to truly stay on top of the COVID crisis. And yes, we will take the vaccine when it becomes available because we care about humanity. Because we, like millions of others, want a sense of normalcy back. We want to return to “life.”

So stop with the bullshit. Stop with the lies. And stop teaching your children the rules don’t apply to them. Instead, teach them empathy, and what it means to be a good human being.

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Letter From Santa – Free Printable Template

Send a Letter From Santa with Free Printable Santa Stationery. Kids will be thrilled to receive this letter from the REAL Santa! The best part is this is magical from the North Pole. It’s such a cute editable letter from Santa. Kids will love a Personalized Letter From Santa Imagine my surprise when I got […]

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Dear Anti-Vaxxers: Stop Harassing (And Bombarding) Grieving Mothers

Unless you follow Bachelor Nation pretty closely, you may not know who Ashley Spivey is. She was a contestant on the show nearly 10 years ago now, eliminated by the 5th episode (meaning she was never a big player on her season). In recent years, however, Spivey has made a name for herself as an outspoken commentator on the show, even joining up with Reality Steve to host a weekly podcast.

Just this last week, Spivey’s followers cried alongside her when she announced that her baby CJ, whom she had been carrying for 30 weeks, had been stillborn, his cord wrapped around his neck.

It was the kind of news that deserved only compassion and love. But instead, Spivey later revealed on Twitter that she had been bombarded with messages from anti-vaxxers telling her the flu vaccine she had gotten a week before had been to blame for the death of her baby.

We “tried to warn you,” one said, referencing the attacks Spivey had received when she spoke out about getting the vaccine in the first place.

Forget that the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) advocates for pregnant people to get the flu vaccine in order to protect their unborn babies. Or that there is a wealth of data supporting the safety of receiving the flu vaccine during pregnancy. Let’s pretend we don’t know that contracting the flu poses unnecessary risks to both the pregnant person and their unborn baby (we do, and it does), or that it would even be possible for a vaccine to cause the cord to wrap around a baby’s neck (it absolutely wouldn’t be—the logistics of that don’t even make sense.)

What’s really disgusting here is that anyone would think targeting a grieving mother with “told you so” messages might be an appropriate response to an announcement of loss.

It’s disgusting, but not totally surprising. In fact, I’ve dealt with something similar myself.

Nearly four years ago now, my then 4-year-old daughter began experiencing a host of scary symptoms that landed us in and out of the hospital for months, eventually resulting in a diagnosis of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).

JIA is an autoimmune condition that causes my daughter’s immune system to attack her joints. Left untreated, it can result in paralysis and extreme, ongoing pain. By the time my daughter was diagnosed, she couldn’t use her right hand at all, and she frequently had trouble with simple tasks such as walking up and down stairs.

Thankfully, with treatment (a weekly shot of a chemo medication meant to suppress her immune system), my daughter was back to herself within just a few months of diagnosis; running, jumping, playing and behaving like the 4-year-old child she was.

Of course, I struggled initially. It’s never easy to learn your child is going to face a lifetime of illness and health battles. I don’t know a single JIA parent who wouldn’t happily take on all the pain, trauma and tears that accompany this disease for their child if they could. I had to go through a grieving process of my own, reconciling my former hopes for my daughter’s future with this new reality.

Reminding myself, over and over again, that yes, this disease would make her life harder—but it wouldn’t keep her from living the life she deserves.

So you can imagine my frustration (hell, let’s go ahead and call it what it was: rage) when anti-vaxxers started reaching out to me to blame vaccinations for my daughter’s condition. They did it under the same guise as some of those who reached out to Spivey, pretending to simply care and wanting me to join their cause in warning other families not to vaccinate their children.

They were preying on my grief, hoping it would convince me of the evil nature of vaccines.

Unfortunately, they underestimated my ability to discern facts from fiction. Or my willingness to dig deep into science and research for the answers I was looking for.

What they didn’t know was that it had been almost a year since my daughter had received a vaccination when she first began exhibiting symptoms. What they couldn’t have known, but also never bothered to considered, was that it turned out my daughter (who is adopted) had a long family history of what seemed likely, upon further inspection, to be autoimmune joint issues.

And what they always seem to want to forget is that autoimmune diseases can be triggered by many of the illnesses vaccinations actually protect against. In fact, any bout of illness can trigger an autoimmune condition to someone who already has the genetic makeup for developing one. In my daughter’s case, she had a strange (unidentified) viral infection shortly before her symptoms developed. And every time she has gotten any illness since, she’s experienced a flare in her condition.

There is no doubt in my mind that even if my daughter had never been vaccinated, she would have eventually been diagnosed with JIA.

Of course, facts don’t matter to this crowd. They are so convinced of their own stance that any science, data, or logical explanation of the truth goes ignored by this group of vultures so eager to leap on the stories of tragedy shared by strangers on the internet, claiming those stories as proof of their own beliefs.

There are so many problems with this, it shouldn’t even have to be explained. These people don’t have medical degrees. They’ve exhibited a blatant lack of understanding of the science at hand. And they have no insight into the medical backgrounds of those they are diagnosing themselves as being vaccine injured.

For the record, this is one reason to look critically at any and all claims of vaccine injury. Because anyone can make those claims without proof or science to back them up.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened when I refused to join their cause, knowing my daughter’s history for myself and fully understanding vaccines had nothing to do with her condition.

These people then started flooding comments sections and sharing my daughter’s story themselves, using her as the example of vaccine injury she absolutely is not. To this day, that still happens. Just a few weeks ago, someone called my daughter vaccine-injured online, simultaneously shaming me for encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year (as though my goal were somehow to harm as many children as I could, an evil villain wanting others to suffer as we have.)

“Read the inserts!” they scream, not bothering (or lacking the critical thinking skills) to understand the context of those inserts, instead just latching onto the scary words and holding them up to drive fear in anyone who will listen.

This is how these people work—pushing false narratives and unjustified panic to get others to join their cause.

And the thing is, to an extent I understand how they get there. Many anti-vaxxers have faced loss or the illness of a child themselves, and they’ve grasped desperately at straws for something to blame.

I get that. I get wanting to know what caused the tragedy in your life. Wanting something to blame.

But the data simply doesn’t support that desire in this case. And it definitely doesn’t support trying to push those beliefs on grieving parents, counting on them being at such a low that they just might join you and allow you to use their children as proof that you’ve been right all along.

Nothing about that is okay. And if you need the reasons why explained to you, you may be too far gone to be helped.

But for the record: It’s harassment. And it’s gross. And if harassing grieving parents is the only way you know to prove your point, it’s clear to everyone but you that you really don’t have a point at all.

The post Dear Anti-Vaxxers: Stop Harassing (And Bombarding) Grieving Mothers appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Buy Buy Baby’s Epic Black Friday Sale Means It’s Time To Stock Up On All The Essentials

Buy Buy Baby’s Black Friday sale 2020 is one you don’t want to miss. If you’re a parent, you’re aware that babies need things and things happen to be expensive . Maybe you’re in the market for a big purchase like a compact stroller or a safe, stylish crib, or you’re hunting for smaller accessories like baby bottles or toddler toys. Either way, you’ll find everything you need (and more) at a discounted price, so consider this your cue to stock up now. Also, if you have an expecting friend or a virtual baby shower on the calendar, consider getting that special gift now.

We know life’s a little *extra* hectic nowadays, so to save you time, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite mom-approved deals that BBB has to offer. Lucky for us, Black Friday has come early this year, meaning you can get a head start on your holiday shopping, starting NOW!

The Best Buy Buy Baby Black Friday Deals

Travel Gear

Graco Modes 3 Lite Platinum Travel System

Moms know they’ll get the most bang for their buck (plus convenience) with a compatible travel system that comes with a car seat, car seat base, and stroller. Moms also know that shopping Black Friday sales is the best way to save even more dough on baby essentials. That’s why now’s the smartest time to buy the ever-popular, ever affordable Graco Modes 3 Lite Platinum Travel System. You’ll save $80 (!) on an already-affordable price and have everything you need to keep Baby safe as you’re on the go.


20% off

UPPAbaby CRUZ V2 Stroller

If you thought a fancy baby stroller was out of the question, check out the slashed prices on BBB’s premium strollers like the UPPAbaby CRUZ V2. Normally $650-680, you can save $130+ if you buy it during this Black Friday sale. The UPPAbaby features a reversible seat, one-hand recline adjustment, one-step folding, swiveling wheels, and more. It’s also suitable for babies from birth to 50 pounds, so you’ll get your money’s worth. Not to mention, this beauty is sleek and comes in nine neutral colors.


20% off

Nursery Necessities

Sorelle Berkley 4-in-1 Convertible Crib and Changer

Grab this multi-tasking nursery essential for 1/3 off its original price. The Sorelle Berkley 4-in-1 Convertible Crib and Changer does triple duty as a crib, changing table, and side table with storage. Once Baby is ready for a big-kid bed, it also converts to a toddler bed, and then a full-size bed, with accompanying parts (note that these are sold separately). Available in espresso, grey, and white, it’s ideal for small spaces or any parent looking for a piece with optimum versatility. Even better, it’s currently $100 off.


33% off

Sealy Cozy Cool Hybrid 2-Stage Crib and Toddler Mattress

It’s no secret that crib mattresses are expensive, but of course, they’re essential. So, you might as well grab the Sealy Cozy Cool Hybrid 2-Stage Crib and Toddler Mattress while it’s $70 off. This dual-sided mattress has a firmer side for infants and a softer one for tots that features memory foam (how bougie). It’s also waterproof, stain-resistant, made in the USA, and most importantly, Greenguard Gold certified for safety.


35% off

évolur Harlow Deluxe Power Glider Recliner

A rocking chair doesn’t just soothe your little one to sleep; it’s where you’ll share some of your sweetest moments together. And while those memories are priceless, what’s even better is scoring said chair for $70 off. The modern évolur Harlow Deluxe Power Glider Recliner has a built-in USB charger port and comes in three chic hues to go with any nursery decor. Even once Baby is grown (*sniff*), it’ll still look sleek in a living room, den, or the master bedroom.


15% off

Owlet Monitor Duo Smart Sock 3 + Cam

Great for keeping or gifting, the Owlet Monitor Duo Smart Sock 3 + Cam is ideal for a mom’s ultimate peace of mind. Now for nearly the price of just the Owlet 3 Smart Sock (which is also on sale, btw), you can make sure Baby stays safe in two crucial ways. One, the wearable Smart Sock monitors heart rate and oxygen levels, alerting parents if something is amiss; and two, the video monitor will let you keep an eye on your little one via an app on your smart phone. Grab the duo now, and you’ll save $75 off its retail price.


18% off

Feeding Essentials

comotomo 7-Piece Baby Bottle Gift Set

These soft, squishy baby bottles are fan favorites, so grab a set (or two) now. This seven-piece comotomo bundle comes with two 5-ounce bottles, two 8-ounce bottles, and three sets of nipples: slow flow, fast flow, and variable flow. Basically, it’ll last Baby through his or her bottle-drinking days (the only other thing you’ll need is a few more). The bottles come with either green or pink rings and are easy and fun to hold — something both moms and their littles love.


Save $12

Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack

Every bottle-feeding mama knows the Boon Lawn is a countertop must-have, and if it’s going to be a fixture in the kitchen, at least it looks cute. The “grass” on this drying mat is perfect for letting clean bottles air-dry safely without retaining moisture. It’s also ideal for drying bowls, plastic utensils, pacifiers, breast pump parts, and any other baby item that gets regular washing. Yes, it’s a necessity, so you might as well get it while it’s an extra $5 off.


20% off

Elvie Wearable Double Electric Breast Pump

Pumping mamas know that possibly the worst part about pumping (in addition to the time, the mess, and cleaning a million parts …) is being tied to the pump without a free hand. Enter Elvie, a wearable electric breast pump that lets you pump anytime, anywhere. (Just let that sink in for a moment.) You can stash the Elvie cups in your bra and express milk as you go about your day; track data and control the pump via an app on your phone. Yes, it’s pricey, but now you can get it for $75 off — and just think of the time and aggravation you’ll save. (You deserve it, Mama.)


15% off

Fun & Play

Tiny Love Magical Tales Black & White Gymini

Baby’s first days of play and tummy time will be extra fun with this interactive gym. Filled with adorable critters, little learners will love hearing music, feeling textures, seeing contrasting colors, and more — all key in their first steps of development. Plus, it’s so cute, you won’t mind leaving it up in the living room. Save $12 by snagging it during this big sale!


20% off

Baby Shark Dancing Doll Plush Toy

Oh, Baby Shark … so dang repetitive and adorable at the same time. If your LO can’t get enough of their famous finned friend, you may want to have this chubby little shark — which dances to the “Baby Shark” song, obvs — under the tree. It may drive you nuts, but at least you’ll know you got it for 25% off during the BBB Black Friday Sale.


25% off

Edushape 50-Piece Edu Blocks

Make your lil’ builder’s dreams come true with these colorful jumbo blocks! Edushape’s 50-piece set is a fun and educational STEM toy that allows your kiddo to make forts, buildings, and anything else they imagine, to their heart’s content. We’re not sure what’s better: Keeping your kiddo occupied with a screen-free activity or saving $76 on this Black Friday deal. But no matter, you’ll get both!


30% off

See more mom-approved toy and gift guides, just in time for the holidays!

The post Buy Buy Baby’s Epic Black Friday Sale Means It’s Time To Stock Up On All The Essentials appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Magic Seeds Elf on the Shelf Idea

Our Elf on the Shelf delivered magic seeds from Santa and delicious fresh gingerbread cookies grew from the seeds after a few days! We love this funny idea for a Christmas elf along with a Free Printable Letter from Santa. Fun Elf on the Shelf Idea for Magic Seeds That Grow Cookies If you have […]

The post Magic Seeds Elf on the Shelf Idea appeared first on Living Locurto.