About me

I’m an American-born, Israeli-raised, part-time family physician, wife to my wonderful DH the IT specialist, and mommy to 3 children (2 boys, 1 girl).

You can email me at esther_ar – at – hotmail.com.


33 Responses

  1. I live in Arkansas and it seems our entire state is under a VBAC ban. The reason given to me by the Dr. was that the hospital didnt have 24/7 anesth. coverage. When I offered to pay to have anesth. present for my VBAC that idea was denied. Then I found out that the liability insurance company for the anesth. group told them that if they practice in a hospital that supports VBAC the insurance company will not insure them anymore. So my question to you is, how does liability insurance work, does this sound like it could be true, and why are liability insurance companies deciding who can have what procedure. It seems like a case of the tail wagging the dog to me, as well as a slippery slope. What procedure will the liability insurance company decide to ban next?

  2. I’m not an expert on insurance, liability or otherwise. But usually, these companies employ medical actuaries who calculate what’s cheaper for the insurance companies – paying for lots of CS’s vs. VBACS, including the high costs of VBACs gone wrong…and the former approach apparently won. Maybe the best way to go about it is to ask the medical insurers why they came to those conclusions.

    Is the ban really state-wide, even in the larger cities (e.g Little Rock) with university hospitals? And is it feasible for you to give birth out of state, if you are a good VBAC candidate (according to your HCP) and wish to have one?

  3. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Finding your blog has been a lifesaver for me . I just had twin boys 8 weeks ago. Since I’ve had major problems with ridiculously low milk supply (PCOS-related – we’re talking getting 10ml from the pump, after pumping 30 minutes at a time and using metformin and fenugreek), I went looking for information online – and so began my introduction to the sanctimommies. I had no idea that, according to sanctimommy doctrine, I’ve committed several cardinal sins and am doomed to the 5th circle of hell – I’m a fertility drug using (PCOS), c-section having (transverse lie), formula feeding (PCOS) mommy who is about to go back to work full-time.

    I think the thing that infuriates me the most is how frequently these people distort research to further their agenda (or simply don’t understand research design, confounding variables, etc.). I’m also a clinical psychologist – and when I see the clear-cut abuse that a few of these people heap on those who don’t follow the AP dogma – I find myself armchair-diagnosing some serious personality disorders (“dressed up” as lactivism). (I stumbled on Veronika Sophia Robinson’s blog yesterday – all I can say is…wow). Despite knowing this, I’ve still been working through feeling ashamed that I haven’t been successful at breastfeeding. When I found your site and began reading all your posts, I think it was the first time I’ve really been able to let that go, breathe, and fully enjoy being with my babies. Thank you for being a voice of reason amidst all the psychosis out there. You’re my personal hero!

  5. Jen,

    Comments like yours make this blog worth writing.

    Though I think that your personal “excuses” would probably pass muster with all but the Sanctum Sanctorum of sanctimommies (well, except the going-back-to work bit, which is only justified of you’re a single mom or living in abject poverty, and maybe even then a good mommy should consider going on welfare to SAHM 😉 )…you shouldn’t need to justify your choices to anyone else, least of all to women with, as you correctly identified, issues. And just wait until you get to the sleep-training stage!

    Congratulations on the birth of your boys. Relax, enjoy them in all their developmental stages, and be secure in the idea that there is no One True Way to parent (yes, I know, much easier said than done). And if anyone tells you differently…just point ’em here 🙂 …

  6. I just discovered your site via homedebate. Thank you for presenting a normal side! I’m so tired of explaining to people that most poisons are more “natural” than your organic chicken…. I’m tired of telling people that, no i will not do acupunture, homeopathy, chinese i-don’t-know-what or whatever is the new fad here. I love to know that there are still people who are proud to vaccinate their kids. Thank you.

  7. Shalom Rachel! Brucha HaBa’a! 🙂

  8. You wrote:
    “Either way, if thimerosal in vaccines was indeed causing oodles of autism in children, once they were removed, one would expect a sharp drop in new autism diagnoses in young children who’d never received thimerosal in their vaccines. Even the anti-vaccine activists agreed this is what would happen.
    What happened to the autism rates once thimerosal was removed from vaccines? Absolutely nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
    They kept on climbing exactly as before. In large-scale, epidemiological studies from Denmark (twice!), the UK, and the USA (this last by the Vaccine Safety Datalink). ”

    That was statement is wrong either your sources are wrong or you meant not to tell the truth. According to researchers, there has been a drop since taking out Thimerosal out of vaccination in the USA. (Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Vol:2 Num: 1 spring 2006 authored be David A. Geier and Mark R Geier.)

    I am a Life Science major working on a research paper about Thimerosal and its connection to autism. I have tons of sources from peer review journals stating there is a connection between autism and Thimerosal. Also Thimerosal is still being used in flu shots which is being given to babies.

    Here is something for you to chew on:

    “This argument – that the known risks of infectious diseases outweigh a potential risk of neurological damage from exposure to thimerosal in vaccines –
    is one that has continuously been presented to the Committe (Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness) by government officials, FDA officials have stressed that any possible risk from thimerosal was theoretical: that no proof of harm existed. Upon a thorough review of the scientific literature and internal documents from government and industry, the Committee did in fact find evidence that thinerosal posed a risk. The possible risk for harm from either low dose chronic or one time high levels (bolus dose) exposure to thimerosal is not ‘theoretical’, but very real and documented in the medical literature” .

    Congressional Record – Extensions of Remarks May 21, 2003. House of Representatives. Hon. Dan Burton of Indiana.

    So what do you have to say for yourself…

  9. Well, Guru, it seems your college has yet to teach you what a reliable research source is. If you’d read all of my series on thimerosal, you’d see in Part II that I mention the Geiers, their shoddy science and their myriad conflicts of interest behind their ‘research’. The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is anything but respectable and peer-reviewed; See Kathleen Seidel’s ecxellent post on the matter. And Rep. Dan Burton has never let a rational argument get in the way of his feelings…he’s been pushing bogus cures in Congress since the ’70s.

    And there are numerous thimerosal-free flu shots for kids, which you’d have known if you’d consulted a reliable source like the CDC.

    A good resource which would really help your research paper and explains both the history of the controversy and the science behind it (and why autism is not likely to be caused by vaccines) is Autism’s False Prophets by Paul Offit, MD.

  10. So in other words you have no commit?

  11. Did what I wrote above look like a “no comment” to you?

  12. Oh but Esther, if he uses reliable sources, how will he every prove his thesis?

  13. I have seen these type of tactics before dismissing any thing or any body. Instead of facing issues with facts you just stick your nose up to them.

    I am sure you know about the 2000 Simpsonwood CDC conference:

    In 2000 the CDC had a conference to discuss the biologic plausibility and consistency of a possible link between thimerosal and autism (Wikipedia, 2008). The knowledge of this meeting and what was said was only obtain after Freedom of Information Act request. “According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency’s massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines — thimerosal — appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children. ‘I was actually stunned by what I saw,’ Verstraeten told those assembled at Simpsonwood, citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism” (Kennedy, 2005).

    In the same meeting these statements were made.

    Dr. Bill Weil, a consultant for the American Academy of Pediatrics said: “you can play with this all you want, the results are statistically significant” thimerosal causes autism.

    Dr. Richard Johnson, an immunologist and pediatrician from the University of Colorado said, “My gut feeling? Forgive this personal commit – I do not want my grandson to get a thimerosal-containing vaccine until we know better what is going on”.

    Dr Haley said, “You couldn’t even construct a study that shows thimerosal is safe. It’s too darn toxic. If you inject thimerosal into animal, its brain will sicken. If you apply it to living tissue, the cells die. If you put it in a petri dish, the culture dies. Knowing these things, it would be shocking if one could inject it into an infant without causing harm”.

    In the early 20th century vaccinations were praised as the new medical wonder, but it had a small problem; it was easily contaminated with bacteria and fungi. “In Columbia, South Carolina, in 1916 a tainted batch of typhoid vaccine stored at room temperature caused 68 severe reactions, 26 abscesses and 4 deaths” (Baker, 2008). In 1928 in Queensland, Australia 12 of 21 children were inoculated with contaminated diphtheria vaccine dead of multiple staphylococcal abscesses and toxemia (Baker, 2008). A preservative was needed and in the late 1920’s Eli Lilly and Company tested thimerosal on 300 rabbits with doses containing up to 20 mg per kg body weight without apparent injury. With the encouraging results from the animal testing, the next experiment would involve 22 random individuals. All the subjects were patients at Indiana General Hospital during an epidemic of meningococcal meningitis, which the subjects had advance symptoms of. The patients were given 180 mL of 1% solution of thimerosal intravenously divided over five doses (Baker, 2008). After a few days of observation Eli Lilly and Company ended the testing claiming thimerosal was safe, and the 22 subjects died within days/weeks after getting thimerosal from meningitis. I have over five sources confirming this ‘test’.

  14. Guru, I’m not sure why you’ve chosen to respond on this thread and not the ones dealing with thimerosal. I’ve discussed the Simpsonwood conference (and what was actually said there, in context) in one of the links I gave you above. And the contamination of vaccines was exactly the reason why thimerosal was necessary in the first place. The people Eli Lilly tested died of meningitis, not thimerosal poisoning (it was hoped that thimerosal, after being such a successful antiseptic in vaccine vials, would also be able to act as an antibiotic – remember, this was the pre-penicillin era. Turns out thimerosal was safe in those doses, but useless against bacterial meningitis, which is often fatal even with proper treatment).

    I’m done spoonfeeding you, Guru. If you really want to know more (and incidentally, get a passing grade on your paper), you might want to click on the links above and maybe check the book I mentioned out of the library.

  15. I’m not really sure where to put this comment but have you seen this article in The Altantic?


    Its pretty interesting. Apparently there are some videos of the author and her friend(s) discussing breastfeeding and the vulnerability of new moms that are linked from the homepage. (I haven’t watched them yet). I thought you might enjoy reading the article though.

    • Yes, I have – another reader emailed me yesterday with the link (and I’m always happy to receive emails from readers!). I was thinking of posting about it tomorrow. I didn’t see there were videos, though. Thanks!

  16. Just discovered your blog…read your (excellent) comments on a parenting article over at BettyConfidential.com. Can’t wait to read more!

  17. I can’t remember how I stumbled across your blog, but I am so glad I did! I have been reading through your archives for a few days now and just want to thank you thank you thank you for being a voice of reason and sanity in this crazy business of motherhood. (incidentally, since I started frequenting your blog, i was mysteriously banned from MDC for some bogus reason. Which is fine, really–to hell with them. But i’m a little creeped out–are they watching?!)

    Anyway, I look forward to reading more posts!

    • Thanks and welcome, Jill! 🙂

      I doubt very much that MDC can keep tabs on other sites you’ve been to. And oddly enough, my site has once been linked to – approvingly, no less! – by an MDC member, and the thread wasn’t even pulled. Since nowadays people are banned from MDC at the drop of a hat, who knows? Maybe it was something you said, perhaps under my evil influence 😉 …

  18. I just want to say thank you…for not being an idiot. I am not a mother yet but am shocked at the pervasive idiocy of the current mommy culture. My sister-in-law is a disciple of Dr. Sears and his attachment parenting schtick and frankly the whole thing makes me want to barf. I am married to a brilliant MD, PhD and am myself a psychotherapist…between what I know of human development and personality development and what my husband knows biologically medically (plus our good common sense) I know that this stuff is bunk. Thank you for putting out an intelligent voice to counter-balance these nuts who are doing more harm them good by not vaccinating and prolonging breast feeding and sleeping in beds with their children…besides creating the potential for health epidemics they are raising children who are bound to have problems with attachment and separation and self identity issues not to mention sexuality issues as they are being over-stimulated/over-exposed in boundary-less homes.

    • Balebusta, I agree with the first half of your post, and I also want to thank Ester for her refreshing and well informed (and informing!) blog posts.
      BUT: Please do not make the mistake of dividing parents into just two categories!
      I consider myself to be a rational parent, and my child got more vaccines than commonly recommended (in return he never got some woo like homeopathy or alike). But I did breastfeed for 3 years, and my child still spends the last couple of hours of the night in our family-bed. I don’t think this makes me nuts or idiotic, nor that my home doesn’t have any boundaries.
      There is plenty of space between hard-core AP and living entirely by generalized scientific results.
      I just try to do things based on a) scientific evidence PLUS b) how good it works for our family. It’s not always black or white.

  19. Thanks, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for since I had my baby 9 months ago! I’ve been curious about the “homeopathic teething tablets.” As a skeptic, I consider homeopathy as woo, but moms are constantly raving about them! Are you aware of any research looking at their effectiveness? And safety (particularly in light of the zicam warning)?

    • No, I don’t know of any research about teething tablets and can’;t find any. As they’re widely used and I’m not aware of any complaints about them, they’re probably harmless. Though the Zicam warning should give one pause about using substances that are not well regulated.

  20. I am so glad I discovered your blog. It always amazes me how the AP crowd completely misrepresents science in order to find support for their parenting methods. It wouldn’t be so bad if so many of them didn’t equate “mainstream” parenting with “child abuse” but an awful lot of them do, including the tiresome Dr. Sears. Thanks for being a champion of common sense!

  21. Wow-what a great find this blog was! When I found myself unexpectedly pregnant 10 years ago, 10 years after my previous kid, I entered the Internet Mommy World to find that sensible parenting had been co-opted by hysterical hyper mommying that considered everything I’d done with my first two kids some form of child abuse. “Cribbers” were “jailing” their kids, bottle feeders were dooming their kids to stupidity and illness, and well, if you had a bad back and didn’t “wear” your baby until he started school, you were some kinf of monster.

    Fortunately, I was old enough and experienced enough to not take this kind of crap seriously, but I wanted to shout at the younger, less certain moms to trust their gut and not get all caught up in the madness. I shoulda started a blog, lol.

    Anyway, thanks for your common sense approach. I’m happy to say that my 10 yo is brilliant, happy and healthy and not screwed up even though I didn’t breast feed, vaccinated and never once donned a sling. I’m bookmarking this site.

  22. Thanks for this awesome blog! I have 2 kids, ages 10 years and 15 months, and am expecting again in December. With my first child I was only 22 and the parenting class I attended was an AP class and I just thought that’s what I was supposed to do to be a good mom. 5 1/2 YEARS later I finally had to MAKE my daughter wean; contrary to AP advocates, not all bf’ing babies are ever “ready” to “lead weaning!” I shudder to imagine it, but she would probably STILL be nursing if I hadn’t gained some common sense in that time! Then, with my 15 month old, I had terrible depression only while nursing. I’ve since learned that there is something called dysphoric milk ejection reflex; maybe it was that or maybe pp depression. But even though nursing made me feel horrible, I felt terribly guilty about weaning him at 10 months. Then I started doing my own research on the benefits of breastfeeding and was shocked to find how flawed some of the studies are! As a medical assistant in a family practice, then Internal Medicine office, I was never comfortable not vaccinating so both my children are fully vaccinated. Right now what I’m finding absolutely appalling are the women on some of the pregnancy message boards who intend to refuse the h1n1 vaccine! It can be so serious for pregnant women but it seems the majority of the women on the sites where I go (cafemom, justmommies, babycenter) aren’t going to get the vaccine!

    • I’m so glad you find the blog useful, Jessica, and hope you have a good birth and a wonderful baby (and don’t sweat the small stuff).

      And as pregnant women are at increased risk of getting severe swine flu, I would certainly get the vaccine when it becomes available in your situation. There’s plenty of it (swine flu, not the vax) to go around here right now and I’ve had to give heavily pregnant women Tamiflu.

  23. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing opinions and ideas that are shared by it seems to be, a silent majority these days. It simply isnt hip, or trendy to cast off the baby sling, or decide to quit nursing, or vaccinate or a myriad of other things that we are told now makes us bad parents. I’m all for encouraging the best for baby, but also best for mom too. And I am against insulting and ridiculing those who want to do things differently.

  24. When I had my baby in 1977, the dominant parenting advice out there was still Dr. Spock. His advice was blamed for the excesses of my generation — the baby boomers — yet if you actually read what he said, letting your kids run wild wasn’t part of the program. His mantra was simply: You know more than you think you do. It’s too bad his advice has been superseded by that of more prescriptive writers — in both directions.

    I, and most mothers I knew, practiced what I would call hybrid parenting. We breastfed, but we decided when enough was enough. Thank goodness we had Snuglis and baby backpacks, because with them we could go out to places where strollers and prams couldn’t, and the Snuglis were great for hands-free soothing of a fussy baby. How else could you multi-task?

    We bed-shared when it was the only way to get some sleep, but at some point, bedtime meant the child went to sleep in her own bed and, barring illness, we didn’t hear from her again until “snuggle time” in the morning. And we vaccinated, because we had HAD measles and mumps, and knew they were no fun; and some of us even had friends or siblings who survived (or not) polio.

    So there is — what would it be? “semi-detachment” parenting” ? Parenting that is neither all about the parents nor all about the kids, but that recognizes the developmental and human needs of everyone in the family.

  25. 5 months pregnant is not a moment too soon to have found your website. I got a copy of Dr. Sears work from the library and instantly recognized the crappy sourcing, and the problematic lack of distinction between putting your baby down in a playpen for five minutes for its own safety while you chop a tomato and leaving kids for their entire childhoods in Romanian orphanages, but wasn’t sure what was out there in terms of systematic debunking (or if I was going to have to chase down the sources myself). What a relief to have found you! I will return repeatedly as I move on through my pregnancy and into parenting. And when asked by the sanctomommies what my parenting philosophy is, I’m going to start answering “Mainstream Parenting”.

  26. I thought this event might be of interest. It is happening the UK, but if you or your readers cannot make it over here, there will be a write-up on the Parenting Culture Studies website soon after the conference. We have many fantastic US and UK scholars coming together to discuss the impact of contemporary trends in parenting culture on pregnancy and pregancy planning. We will be asking, is parenthood ‘extending backwards’ in the culture of intensive parenthood?

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