We Say Yes to Meghan Markle's Non-Postpartum Pic

Someone had to put a stop to the insane post-baby glam shot, and it obviously wasn’t going to be Kate Middleton. We’re not taking sides in the supposed Meghan vs Kate divide (we frankly don’t care that much about the Royals, recent evidence to the contrary), but we’re fully down with Meghan’s decision not to get herself all done up for a photo shoot, minutes after sending a screaming human shooting out of her body.

Kate’s always-flawless I-was-born-that-way-I-woke-up-that-way look is terrific for her and for her prince (see baby Prince George pic above), but it sucks for nearly every other woman on Earth.

Was Meghan influenced by Chelsea Hirschorn, CEO of Fridababy, who wrote a public plea via an ad in the New York Times to convince her not to pose immediately post-baby?

“Sure, it’s possible to have a hair and makeup SWAT team come in and work their magic to conceal the realities of what just happened, but is that really what we want women focused on in those first few hours postpartum?” Hirschorn asked. “Why doesn’t she get rolled out in a wheelchair sitting on a throne of ice as the rest of us?”

Did Meghan feel swayed by Keira Knightley’s criticism of Princess Kate’s ready-for-primetime postpartum photo shoots? “Hide our pain, our bodies splitting…Look beautiful. Look stylish, don’t show your battleground, Kate,” she wrote sarcastically to the Duchess of Windsor, as quoted in InStyle.

Who knows why Meghan did what she did (or didn’t do it) after baby Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor popped out? Whatever the reason, count us in and score one for Meg.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via Gov.UK.

The Baby Quote That Got Carrie Underwood in Trouble Makes Perfect Sense

The Baby Quote That Got Carrie Underwood in Trouble Makes Perfect Sense

Carrie Underwood is all over the tabloids this week now that she's unveiled her baby bump, but the singer has had a rough few days. She got massively trolled for saying this to Redbook:

"I'm 35, so we may have missed our chance to have a big family. We always talk about adoption and about doing it when our child or children are a little older. In the meantime, we're lucky to be a part of organizations that help kids, because our focus right now in our lives is helping as many kids as possible," Underwood said in her recent Redbook interview.

Twitter didn't miss a nanosecond to start railing at her, and comments got nasty. Here's one: 

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Why Do Articles About Brigitte Nielsen's Pregnancy at 54 Sound Oddly Familiar?

Why Do Articles About Brigitte Nielsen's Pregnancy at 54 Sound Oddly Familiar?

By Salma A.

The 54-year-old Danish-Italian actress Brigitte Nielsen—known in the States mainly for her roles in Beverly Hills Cop II, Cobra, and Rocky IV, and partly for her former marriage to Sylvester Stallone—just announced she's pregnant. This is Nielsen's first pregnancy, and the father is her 39-year-old husband Mattia Dessi.

That's just about all the media knows now, or needs to know. But why just publish a one-page article about a celebrity's pregnancy news, when you can pad it out instead with a Mad-Libs-worthy piece on the likelihood and unlikelihood, the ins and the outs, the cliches and the eye-rollers, about pregnancy at "advanced maternal age"? 

To wit: Newsweek's article about Nielsen's pregnancy news, headlined "Risks of Pregnancy for Women Over 50? Brigitte Nielsen Announces Pregnancy at 54," starts off with a couple of brief paragraphs about the announcement, then launches into this:

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Cheers to Rachel Weisz and Tammy Duckworth's Big Baby News

Cheers to Rachel Weisz and Tammy Duckworth's Big Baby News

This was a Crunch Time double-header of a week: Rachel Weisz, 48, announced she's pregnant with Daniel Craig's baby, in a New York Times profile by Maureen Dowd. And Senator Tammy Duckworth, 50, brought her newborn daughter, Maile, with her to the Senate floor, a day after legislators voted unanimously to allow babies less than a year old to accompany their Congress-member parents to work.

“I’ll be showing soon,” Weisz tells Dowd. “Daniel and I are so happy. We’re going to have a little human. We can’t wait to meet him or her. It’s all such a mystery.”

And that's about all Weisz says, and all she needs to say.

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Serena Williams for President: After a Harrowing Childbirth, a Heroic Comeback

Serena Williams for President: After a Harrowing Childbirth, a Heroic Comeback

The beautiful Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. popped out into the world this world having no idea who her mother is—tennis world-champ Serena Willams—nor what her mom was about to go through in the next few hours: a life-threatening pulmonary embolism that would most likely have gone undetected if Williams hadn't lobbied hard to get a CT-scan.

Williams had to plead for a scan and a heparin IV drip because the nurses and doctors ignored her initial requests, despite the fact that she's Serena Williams. They eventually listened, likely because she is in fact Serena Williams, and the treatment saved her life.

Too many black women in the U.S. aren't as lucky when they face complications in childbirth, and evidence keeps mounting about how racial bias in hospitals is leading to a rising rate of maternal mortality among African American women—three to four times as high, according to the Centers for Disease Control, as the already exorbitant and rising overall rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. (See this NPR story about Shalon Irving for a shocking and heartbreaking recent example of a woman who wasn't as lucky as Serena Williams.) If anything good could come of the 36-year-old Serena Williams's terrifying near-miss, it would be

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Senator Tammy Duckworth's Quote of the Week:" A 50-Year-Old Mom Is the New 40"

Senator Tammy Duckworth's Quote of the Week:" A 50-Year-Old Mom Is the New 40"

The announcement by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) that she's pregnant at 49, and due to give birth in April right after she turns 50, is impressive enough. But the fact that Duckworth is a double amputee who wears prosthetics on both legs after losing them in the Iraq War in 2004—and the fact that she already has a daughter—should certainly catapult the senator into top running for the Total Badass Award 2018. (The award doesn't officially exist yet as far as we know, but there's no time like the present to kick it off.)

Duckworth will be the first-ever Senator to give birth in office, adding to her already long list of firsts:  The first woman with a disability ever elected to Congress; the first Asian-American woman ever elected to Congress from Illinois; the first Thailand-born member of Congress.This Sunday, Duckworth told ABC's Face the Nation , "I feel great. I'm thrilled and happy." She talked about the challenges of getting pregnant both times, and opened up about what it's like to serve in Congress as a new mother. Here are some highlights from her interview:

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Here's How Pop Culture Can Handle the "Older Mom" Issue With Humor and Grace

Here's How Pop Culture Can Handle the "Older Mom" Issue With Humor and Grace

If you've been reading this site or checking out my posts elsewhere, then you know I've been preoccupied with the issue of how the pop culture media handles "advanced maternal age" pregnancies. I still believe every woman, celebrity or not, has a right to privacy about her pregnancy, childbirth, or anything else to do with her body. But I agree that the growing number of celebrities having kids at 40-plus might be creating the illusion that it's always an easy proposition. What to do about this?

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Word Meds: Is Living in the Moment Totally Overrated?


"Some people in my life don't want me to zone out so much. They want me to be in the moment... Don't bother. The moment is mediocre at best." —John Mulaney

If you've been following Crunch Time Word Meds over the past few weeks, you know I've been obsessed with "the moment." Being in it, or not being in it, and trying to stay present, and struggling to fight off all the constant distractions that keep us from noticing what's going on right this second. And so on. So let's switch it up this week, shall we?

My husband and I were watching "Night of Too Many Stars," the John Stewart-hosted comedy special and autism benefit on HBO. The special, most of it anyway, is hilarious, and it helps fund an outstanding cause too. The show also introduced me to the very funny John Mulaney, a stand-up comedian whose credits include SNL and The Comeback Kid. During his comedy bit on the HBO special, Mulaney went on about this whole "living in the moment" business. And he blew a huge hole in the idea that we should all be trying desperately to live in the moment at all times. His was a badly needed, albeit tongue-in-cheek, contrarian view on this subject, since I've been beating myself up for constantly failing to grab the moment before it flies away, again and again. Have you?

Anyway I'm still trying to LIVE IN THE MOMENT, damn it. But meanwhile, here's a little more of Mulaney's you're-off-the-hook bit: 

"All day long I wander into traffic walking like Charlie Chaplin, listening to a podcast while thinking about a different podcast... Let's all try right now. Let's all be in the moment in silence right now. Sucked, right? That was boring. You've got to zone out. You have an imagination. You have a movie theater in your brain that plays fake arguments that you win."

For more from Mulaney and a huge A-list roster of comedians including John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Sarah Silverman, Samantha Bee, Billy Crystal, and dozens of others, check out the HBO special, and find out how to donate to excellent autism programs that need everyone's support.

Photo by Eric Nopanen via Unsplash.

Meghan Markle Is 36 and Engaged to Prince Harry: Cue the Handwringing


Predictably, it was only a matter of minutes (seconds?) between the announcement that Prince Harry is engaged to 36-year-old American actress Meghan Markle, and the tsunami of comments about Markle's ticking biological clock.

It's too bad the following points need to be made at all, but here we go: 

  • Markle's decision about when or if or how to have kids with Prince Harry is her business, and both of theirs, and that's all. What we said about Gwen Stefani, and every other over-scrutinized celebrity of advanced  maternal age, still stands: Leave her ALONE already. 
  • Should Markle decide to have one or more kids in her late 30s or 40s, she can make that decision in her own time, and she has plenty of options. 
  • Going on about Markle's "advanced maternal age," without mentioning that Prince Harry is fast approaching 35 himself, is insulting. Even though women are the child-bearers, both women and men over 35 should be aware of the potential factors and risks they might face in bringing a human into the world—and this is not intended to alarm anyone, since "advanced age" parenthood is a more popular and viable option than ever before. And parental age brings its own benefits too. In any case, we're guessing the new royal couple are smart and informed and don't need nasty, judgmental, "concerned" gawkers, thanks very much.  

Moving on: The only upside to this public handwringing about Markle's age, and the suddenly rampant speculation about her pregnancy plans, would be if it raised awareness about maternal health issues that women of all ages can face—especially in the U.S., which has a shockingly high rate of maternal mortality, actually the worst maternal death rate in the developed world.

In fact, the U.K., Markle's soon-to-be home, is improving its maternal health outcomes at a much faster rate than the U.S.: In Britain, according to the medical journal The Lancet, "a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is." Meanwhile in the U.S., the maternal death rate went up by a staggering 26 percent between 2000 and 2014 (see link above for more). So let's focus on the important health-related issues that we can actually work together to solve, taking the U.K. as an inspiration and a concrete example of how this is possible. And let's leave the waste-of-time B.S. for another day, can we?

BTW: Romper just posted a great piece about the Markle debacle, and why everyone needs to back off. Definitely worth the five-minute read.

Photo by Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons.

When Celebs Have Babies After 40, How Much Dirt Do They Owe Their Fans?


The answer is none. That's my opinion anyway, and it remains that way after more than a week of running this question through my mind over and over again. Lots of celebrities lately are having kids well over 35, into their mid-to-late 40s and even beyond. And that raises the question: How are they all doing it? Are they conceiving naturally, and if so, how are this many of them beating the odds? Are they using reproductive technologies? If celebs can have kids later in life, does this mean everyone can? Inquiring minds want to know, and these questions are all valid—especially as women wrestle with the question of when to have kids ourselves, and how long we can afford to wait.

It would be ideal if celebs revealed everything about their journeys and struggles, but they have every right to keep that information private. After I posted a reaction here to a recent NYU study I read that faults celebs and magazines for not revealing more about stars' fertility and pregnancy struggles—a study I found to be misguided in its conclusions—I couldn't get the issue out of my head. Since celebrities' decisions about childbirth and everything else tend to have disproportionate influence, don't those stars owe us explanations about what they're up to? Especially if that info could keep many of us from trying to follow in their footsteps, with often devastating results?

It would be terrific if more celebs felt comfortable opening up about their childbirth stories, and if they could help bust the stigmas surrounding fertility and childbirth problems. But I still think the responsibility to inform and educate lies elsewhere, far from the pages of Cosmo and People. So I wrote another piece about this for Medium. I'm not sure if anyone agrees with me, and I may be a masochist for not letting it go. But I do believe the issue deserves a wider debate, in any case. 

The Medium article is here. Please click the hand-clap icon at the bottom if you like or agree with it, or if you at least think the issue is worth a wider conversation. Thanks for reading!  

Gwen Stefani photo by Jelizen via Wikimedia Commons.

Word Meds: Flannery O'Connor on Motivation

Word Meds: Flannery O'Connor on Motivation

"I must force my loose mind into its overalls and get going." —Flannery O'Connor, writing in her journal on February 2, 1944. In a previous journal entry, she'd written: “I must do do do and yet there is the brick wall that I must kick over stone by stone. It is I who have built the wall and I who must tear it down.” 

Seems appropriate for a November Monday, a rainy one here in New York City. The day is already slipping by, it's hard to get a kick-start, and much remains to be done before the kids get home from school. 

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