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Friday 30 July 2010


My heart did a little flip when I was on http://www.thepunch.com.au/ just now. I randomly came across a blog post written in reply to my blog post for The Punch on choosing the gender of your baby. In the first few paragraphs, this writer mentions my name. A lot. And I thought, that's it - I am getting dissed (I can't think of a better word than that right now, although I do know I sound all silly faux-ghetto).

Turns out, the writer - Tim Cannon from the Australian Family Association - didn't personally attack me (which was a nice change from some nasty peeps on my original blog post), but he did disagree with me. Which is fine.

But he is not that woman in the news who has three boys and wants a girl - and is willing to pay for it. Hang on, he doesn't even have kids yet. He purports to understand the drive for gender selection. Exhibit A:

"Sex-selection is just the next step in parents being picky about what kind of child they’d be willing to love. By specifying which sex they’d like, parents turn their children into items on a bucket list."

What kind of child, you say? How many types are there, Tim? Let me answer: boy or girl. Boy and girl. Two boys, five girls. Six girls, no boys. Are we talking about choosing their personality? Eye colour? Whether they have learning difficulties? No, Tim. That, my friend, is the surprise package you and many people insist is being tampered with. That remains intact, left up to chance, the universe, genes, karma, God - take your pick. No, we are talking about... hang on, I'll let someone who has actually gone through the gender selection process speak:

"Tim, what are you talking about? Sex selection does nothing but alter random chance. It doesn’t change a child, or the fact that a baby is to be born, it only changes the fact that the baby will be a certain sex. Is this a problem? As a couple who have already used this technology legally overseas, (and I don’t class my husband and I as selfish by any means), I cannot understand how you came to this conclusion. FYI, as our sex selection doctor put it “the cost of the procedure will self regulate the balance and no overbalance would take place”. Only people who can afford the expense will do it and people who are more educated about the process will choose to have more children if they know what they are getting. So Tim, before you choose to call this procedure selfish, please write an article actually explaining the processes involved before the final stage of choosing a child's sex, and I would be very surprised if you still called this process selfish. Do not judge others on a final decision, until you understand the journey involved."

That's all I am saying people.

That comment was published on The Punch by a woman called JA, in response to Tim's blog. I replied to her comment.

Here is what I said:

"Thanks for writing this piece, Tim - I am all for expressing one's opinion.
But even more thanks to JA. Hello again, JA. You were one of the few people who gave a real-life account on why she underwent this procedure on my original blog. Yes, I am Josie, the author of the piece Tim refers to.

I was at pains to explain in some of my comments on my blog post that unless I was in that woman's shoes (the woman who sparked the entire debate), I had no right to judge.

We can harp on all we want about it being selfish, and China, and playing God, but do you think she cares? We are not her; we are not the ones who cannot let go of that burning desire. It is HER life, not ours.

As you so wisely point out JA (you are, after all, the only one on this post who has actually gone through the procedure and know what it involves, and actually explain what lead you to do it) not everyone will take up this option to choose the gender of their child.

I will say again - I did not choose the gender of my twins. I didn't even choose to have twins. I did not know the gender of my twins until I delivered them. Were we thrilled? What do you think? But I also get a little embarrassed when people fuss too much about "hitting the jackpot". I was thrilled to even be pregnant - anything else was a bonus.

Would I choose the gender of my next baby? No. Quite simply, I don't desire to choose. And I think we are done, too. Oh, and I couldn't afford it anyway. But I support women like you, JA who want to use what medical science provides us. Remember folks, it is a choice. Why should you dictate what JA does with her life? It is none of your business. Or mine. I like to stand up for people's causes even when they are clearly not my own. But I don’t particularly enjoy being whipped for it on my post (not here, but on my original post… oh yes). But hey, you get that in blog-world. By the way, I am also being supportive to a friend who is having very serious fertility issues. You reckon she might want to choose? Yeah, I am thinking not. See, context. I get it. Perspective. I have it. Each person’s life choices are different. And you do not know the journey they took to get there. How about learning to respect what people choose instead of judging. Trust me, it’s very liberating."

Tim also adds more thoughts in his blog:

"Unfortunately modern reproductive technology is feeding an attitude which is totally at odds with the selflessness good parenting demands. Already we exercise obsessive control over the “how” and the “when” of conception and childbirth through contraception, IVF and abortion. We’ll have a child when it suits us, thank you very much."

Oh, okay. So let's scrap contraception and go back to having loads of kids we can't afford. And definitely yes, let's also ditch IVF... because, you know, giving hope to women who have fertility issues absolutely reeks of, what is it called, Tim? "Obsessive control." And abortion? Not even gonna touch that one.

Ah yes, opinions. Everyone's got one.


The Chrissy L jewellery label was born as an ode to the mother of Chrissy Leighton, who beat cancer.
Says Chrissy: “I was in a dark place when mum fell ill. I had lost the purpose in my life and so I decided that the only way I could get it back was to create my own. I started making jewellery as an escape; it is about feeling the pieces and then living the fantasy.”

Chrissy’s ideal life revolved first and foremost around her mum getting better. She did. “Each piece I designed was a piece I would love to see my mum in when she got better and could wear out to lunch. Each piece was designed with hope...”

Soon Chrissy was producing jewellery for a rapidly growing list of clients and by 2004 she decided to give up the world of advertising and transform her passion into a lifestyle.

It was then the Chrissy L jewellery line really took off, and today the brand can boast celebrity devotees including Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Tina Fey, Demi Moore, Jennifer Lopez, and Rihanna.

Now a mum to daughter Mia, Chrissy’s credo for her label is “made with love, wear with joy!”

Today, the brand is doing well in garnering attention in the US, where her fabulous PR Matt Dillon is based. Matt and I have known each other for yonks and he sent me these exclusive photos to share with you. When I look at them it makes me want to take off these tracky daks, don a maxi dress, load up on the jewels, and dream of an Australian summer, pronto.

The brand’s US presence continues to gain momentum with the announcement this week that it will be the exclusive accessories brand on parade the Miami Swim and Salon Allure - held at the famed W Hotel and including labels Jessica Simpson Swim, Diesel, Red Carter, and Crystal Jin - putting Australian accessories firmly on the fashion map in the United States.

This year has been one of coups for the brand; Chrissy’s brand has featured in giant retailers including Macy’s, Niemen Marcus CUSP, and Nordstrom.

The inspiration for Chrissy L’s soon to be released Australian spring/summer 2010 collection took her this year to Miami, Florida to shoot on location with famed South Beach snapper Dirk Franke (who has just wrapped a Lacoste campaign). It was here South Beach stylist David Fittin fell in love with the brand and it was he who green lighted its exclusive use at the Miami Swim and Salon Allure week.

“To have this opportunity to be involved in such a prestigious fashion event is beyond belief, and it is very humbling that we can bring our Miami collection full circle and officially debut it on a world scale”, said Chrissy.

The cherry on top is that Chrissy will be showing her designs at NYC Fashion Week in September. There is simply no stopping this stylish (and Australian!) woman.

See the website for more inspiration: www.chrissyl.com.au

Thursday 29 July 2010


Kylie. Madison. Monday.

That's all you need to know.

You saw it here first...

You're welcome.


The Chaser boys are back, this time with their own pre-election analysis.

I still enjoy watching the repeats of The Chaser's War on Everything on Foxtel, so I'm very happy with a fresh new helpful of maniacal madness from this mob.
Mumbrella reports:

"The ABC had a stunning Wednesday night, with the top three most watched shows including a blockbuster 1.6m for Gruen Nation, the highest rating show from the network in nearly three years."

How impressive is that?

Damn shame I was too busy watching the TV premiere of the Sex & The City movie... geez, what was I thinking?

Very grateful for ABC2 - all three shows are repeating on this channel tonight. The IQ is set in case I get distracted again.

See the link below for more on this win for the ABC:


GUEST BLOGGER: Montarna McDonald - Sweaty Betty Public Relations

I am always hunting for fabulous people to feature as guest bloggers and when I contacted my ol' mate Roxy Jacenko - she is founder of Sweaty Betty PR, one of the most impressive public relations agencies around with an illustrious client list - she told me about Montarna McDonald, head blogger for SBPR and fashion-forward blogger for The Intersection, Paddington.

See: www.blog.theintersectionpaddington.com.au/ and www.sweatybettypr.com/blog/

Montarna is that enviable mix of super savvy style, smarts, sweetness, and social media nous. She started at Sweaty Betty after proving herself as an intern and was asked to join the team as the showroom co-coordinator, progressing her way to become a publicist, and now blogger extraordinaire.

One of SBPR's accounts is The Intersection at Paddington - a precinct choc-full of some of Australia’s top designers including think Sass & Bide, Ksubi, Willow, Alannah Hill – and Montarna constantly updates the shopping mecca's blog with trend-driven accounts of who was snapped wearing what, latest stock drops in-store, style tips and tricks, as well as designer and stylist advice. And this is her job… sheesh, lucky girl.

Montarna also works on MyCatwalk – check it out at www.mycatwalk.com.au - every fashionistas dream online boutique.

I mean, seriously… jealous much?

Oh, and her boyfriend just came back from Paris and bought her this divine Isabel Marant vest. In case you want to know, the rest of her outfit consists of jacket and sunnies by Ksubi, tee by Bassike, tights by Sass & Bide, and bag by Goyard.

Montarna blogs: “For one night only on Thursday, August 19, one of the very best fashion destinations will be transformed into a shopping wonderland.

"The designers behind some of Australia’s biggest fashion labels will be in-store at The Intersection, Paddington. Get up close with Kit Willow, Ksubi’s Dan Single, Kirrily Johnston and Camilla and Marc…so many designers to meet! PLUS celebrities and models are on the guest list and the entire GRAZIA fashion team will be out in force to talk you through the new-season looks and offer style and shopping advice. And everyone who registers for the event will receive a great goodie bag!

"Best of all? Many of the stores at The Intersection, Paddington, will be offering amazing one-off discounts and specials – only available on the night. There will also be special limited edition pieces in store and I’ll be down there with the crew from Life Without Andy snapping all of the fashionistas, so you can get your five seconds of fame.

"So make sure you mark in your diaries Grazia’s Intersection, Paddington shopping party on August 19th. It will be the most exclusive fashion evening ever!”

To register simply email your name to intersection@acpmagazines.com.au

Wednesday 28 July 2010


What is it they say? A (hair colour) change is as good as a holiday? Well. After a crapola day there was only one thing to do. Rip open a box of the deliciously monikered L’Oréal Paris Casting Crème Gloss, Glossy Brownies Collection (phew) in Iced Chocolate, flick through my latest copy of UK Glamour (I've yet to miss an issue since it launched more than nine years ago) while the colour sets, put on a Neutrogena face mask in the last five minutes, hope the hubby doesn't walk in and freak out (he did; he didn't), then revel in the 'brand new me'. Well - I don't look like Evangeline Lilly, but that tired ol' red mane is gone. Until I have another crapola day... and start all over again.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Girlfriend magazine is relaunching... sans catwalk fashion pics

Pacific Magazines' teen title is relaunching and come Wednesday, you'll be picking up a fresh mag that's had some work done - in a good way.

It is relaunching with a body image policy that includes turfing any catwalk images of models, plus tighter rules on the use of Photoshop.

The mag's re-design (oh, how many times did I hear that word when I worked on the frontline of various titles) will incorporate a new masthead, layouts and fonts, plus a new cover-mount strategy, brand-spanking new sections and a revised body image policy.

The last point is of particular significance; for over four years, Girlfriend has been committed to a strict body image policy, which incorporates everything from which models are selected to feature in the magazine, to retouching guidelines.

A study by Girlfriend found only 18% of readers were happy with the way they looked, with less than half describing themselves as beautiful. Furthermore, a third of readers still felt fat or self-conscious when viewing unhealthy catwalk models.

In line with these issues, Girlfriend has extended the existing body image policy to include:

- The removal of images of models modelling catwalk (runway) from the pages of Girlfriend

- Banning of Photoshopping of body shape, size, hair colour or permanent marks (moles, freckles, scars, lines, tattoos)

- An ongoing commitment to using more real girls as models

- The promotion of positive role models and banning of celebrities who readers’ identify as having poor bad body image .

The August issue offers a l'il sweetner for readers: a silver ‘I am Beautiful’ or ‘I am Strong’ necklace, to coincide with the ‘I am Beautiful’ body image campaign. The mag will keep the gifts coming, with each edition of Girlfriend to include a cover-mounted gift for readers.

In a press release, Girlfriend editor Sarah Cornish, says: “The youth market has always valued innovation, and we’re excited to deliver Girlfriend readers a fresh, creative product which, more than ever, offers greater editorial substance and real understanding of the teen issues of today.”

Curious? I am. And I will likely buy a copy even though I am not in their demographic.

Samantha Wills... what's not to love?

I am addicted to magazines. I am addicted to jewellery. So when one of my fave mags - Madison - was offering a gift-with-subscription (a too-divine-for-words Samantha Wills cuff), I was sold. It came in black or aqua. I really wanted aqua. But it was the luck of the draw - what they sent you is what you got. I even emailed the fab features editor (I have written three stories for them, one just published) to let him know I was resubscribing, but nothing. No-one could pull strings - I'd get what I'd get. Sooo, I was beyond chuffed to see a little package on my doorstep some weeks ago with... voila! My new Samantha Wills 'artisan' cuff, in aqua.

Called in by uber stylist Patricia Field (Sex & The City's ultimate wardrobe mistress) for the Sex & The City 2 movie, this hinged resin bangle features a hand-plated metallic gold crest, finished with champagne coloured Czech crystals. I am positively hanging to wear it when the weather warms up... preferably with a stark white outfit.

Monday 26 July 2010

Lovisa - my dangerous new obsession

I'm a bit nuts about the jewellery at Lovisa. I stumbled across this store - which has several locations around Australia and New Zealand - on a lazy window shopping trip to a local Westfield shopping centre. Needless to say, I found it impossible to leave empty handed. I coulda gone crazy buying up big - the prices are so affordable and everything is so blindingly blingy and so well-made - but I exercised restraint on my first trip.

Next time, the credit card will not get off so lightly.
Check out http://www.lovisa.com.au/ and be inspired.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

As published on The Punch, 21 July, 2010 - choosing the sex of your baby

Call me a bit of an idealistic Charlotte from Sex & The City, but if I have experienced something amazing, I want the world to experience it too.

So now I am a mum, I’d love the whole world to experience the joy of motherhood, particularly the women who are having difficulty falling pregnant. That’s why I am so supportive of IVF. Strangers (even friends who have dared not ask for fear it’s too private) assume I had my twins via IVF. I did not. And I would be willing to shout it from the rooftops if I had.

I have seen people close to me finally get their wish to be a parent thanks to this miraculous medical procedure. A few of the beautiful mums in my twin prenatal class had their multiples thanks to IVF and I know just how eternally grateful they are that the procedure exists.

So when a woman announced recently (curious that she broke such a deeply private story herself; otherwise, how else would we have known about it?) that after having three sons she was ‘desperate’ for a girl and was willing to turn to the medical world for help, I understood. I found myself quietly nodding in agreement. As a mother of twins - a boy and a girl - that secret lifelong desire to have one of each was fulfilled the day we were blessed with a ‘pigeon pair’. Suddenly, nothing was missing any more. It was a total fluke, of course (and I must admit to cringing when people say we were so ‘clever’) but I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried. These are not the words of a smug mum. No, these are words of utter relief. Utter relief we could even have kids after trying for a year.

I had the twins at 35 (three weeks shy of 36) and I knew that if I’d had one baby, we’d have to start to whole conception process again before our baby turned one or two if we were to beat both our biological clocks. We’d always discussed having two kids and we knew time wasn’t on our side. So, having two at once – be it a boy and girl, or two of each – allayed the imaginary deadline in our heads.

So, back to the woman desperate for a daughter. By that evening the story broke, I found myself shouting at the telly. Why? Because this woman – who was flying to a Bangkok clinic and spending $15,000 to undertake a gender selection procedure illegal in Australia – was the latest victim in the courtroom of public opinion. News polls indicated that the majority disagreed with her decision. Some reader’s comments on news pages were particularly awful, with such words as ‘ungrateful’ and ‘greedy’ being used to describe this woman.

Sorry, I disagree.

Some people have said she is “playing God” by choosing the sex. Again, I disagree. Wasn’t that the same argument wheeled out when IVF was introduced decades ago? Would you deny a woman the opportunity to experience the joy of having a baby because she had challenges with fertility, because she couldn’t do it ‘naturally’? So why does using a medical advancement like this one rile people up so much?

It’d be so very easy from the fortunate position I sit in to say, no, you should just be happy you even have children. Some people can’t. Yes, I understand that argument too. Boy, do I get it. On a recent Practical Parenting blog I wrote titled Ten Things I Hate About Motherhood, one mother who’d had multiple rounds of IVF, many miscarriages, and was now rendered infertile told me in no uncertain terms that I was ungrateful to hate anything about motherhood and she’d give anything to have poo smeared on her carpet (you’d have to read the blog for that comment to make any sense).

Make no mistake. This should not be a forum for arguing fertility versus infertility. Everyone gets we are lucky to even conceive, even carry, even give birth to a live, healthy human being. If I had the choice of having four girls or no children? That’s not even a question for me; the answer is an obvious one. Would I have loved my twins any less if I had two girls or two boys? Are you serious?

And does any mum resent her three spirited girls, or her five rambunctious boys? Ask them and see. While you’re at it, ask them if they feel guilty for desperately hoping they got the opposite gender to what they already had when they went for their sonogram or in the delivery room. Perhaps that’s why this topic is often deemed so shameful, so hush-hush. The kind of conversation you only have with your mother, sister or best friend.

My own best friend had this exact conversation with me. She had a boy first, then three girls, then desperately wanted a boy for baby number five.

To balance up the family and so her eldest could have a brother, she said.

Can’t you have sex in particular positions or times of the month for this to happen, I asked? And aren’t there certain foods which make having a particular gender more likely? Check out that oracle called the internet to prove just how popular this topic is. There are plenty of sites giving advice to women wanting a particular gender. One I found even says results are 100% guaranteed and offers all your money back. (My bestie had a boy, by the way).

The woman at the centre of this debate was at pains to explain she wouldn’t swap her three boys for the world.

“At this point I would do anything to have a daughter,” she said. “It is an ethical thing we have weighed up. It hasn’t been a decision taken lightly but it is one we feel we have reached and we are happy with. I wouldn’t trade my sons for a million daughters - this is not about my sons. It is about me and my husband wanting a daughter. For me, it is about the desire to have a daughter being such a strong desire in me that I can’t seem to shake it.”

Many have branded her selfish, and I wonder, would it be more selfish for her to continue to try for a girl and end up with more children than she can afford to provide for until she gets her girl?

People often ask me, “If you’d had two boys or two girls, would you go again?” I always say, “I don’t know,” because I really don’t. Would my desire to have that ‘missing’ boy or girl diminish because we’d already reached our magic number? Again, I don’t know.

But I don’t believe it is my business to interfere with a woman’s decision to have the daughter she so desperately wants.

What do you think?

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Guest blogger Jessica Ainscough: "Does eating healthy make you a crazy person?"

Jessica Ainscough - writer, wellness warrior, and holistic health coach - has written a piece just for Josie's Juice, all about a kind of backlash against healthy eating. Read it below:

Does eating healthy make you a crazy person?

So, did you hear that eating healthy is now considered a “mental disorder”? Yep, you heard right. The psychiatric industry has come out saying that if you care about what you’re putting into your body you more than likely suffer a “disease” called orthorexia nervosa – which is basically just Latin for “nervous about correct eating.” Orthorexia nervosa has been the subject of many features in the mainstream media recently. The Guardian newspaper reports, "Fixation with healthy eating can be sign of serious psychological disorder." Are they kidding? I know there are some very real and very serious eating disorders out there that are not to be treated lightly, but how can going out of your way to eat healthy be bad for you?

The Guardian goes on to report, "Orthorexics commonly have rigid rules around eating. Refusing to touch sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods is just the start of their diet restrictions. Any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives are also out."

According to these “experts”, trying to avoid chemicals, dairy, soy and sugar now makes you a mental health patient. If you attempt to avoid pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified ingredients like soy and sugar, there's something wrong with you. It gets worse. Not only does eating healthy make you a nutter, but eating junk food is considered normal. According to The Guardian, "The obsession about which foods are "good" and which are "bad" means orthorexics can end up malnourished."

Confused? Me too. Eating good, healthy, organic food is supposed to cause malnutrition. These sorts of messages lead the public to believe that eating bad foods is the better option. Its no wonder the modern world is so overweight and diseased. We have the mainstream media telling us that eating healthy can lead to malnutrition and a mental disorder! I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty hard to believe. I’m no nutritionist, but I do have a brain and a bit of common sense (except when it comes to driving). I am one of these so-called “crazy” people who has made the decision to cut out meat, dairy, salt, sugar, processed food, pesticides, herbicides, soy, caffeine, alcohol and gluten for the sake of my health. I’m not underweight, I don’t appear to have a mental disorder and I am extremely well nourished.

So, why are we being fed this rubbish? There is no money to be made off healthy people. It’s sad and cynical, but it’s true. If people become aware of the fact that processed, junk food is poisoning them and everyone started eating healthy, organic, live foods so many major companies would be out of business. Doctors wouldn’t have anyone to treat. Drug companies would have no one to medicate. Catch my drift? This is a subject that angers me like no other. I could rant about it for weeks, but I won’t (cue sighs of relief). I will say this though. There is no escaping the false messages and propaganda being spread by the mighty and powerful. It’s up to us to use our heads, question these messages and decide for ourselves whether what we are eating is good for us or not.

What are your thoughts?

For more blogs by Jessica, see: www.thewellnesswarrior.blogspot.com/

Check in for more guest bloggers on Josie's Juice.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Me and Orson Welles - special screening

The folk at Popcorn Taxi are holding another of their unique film events next week. This one is for the movie Me and Orson Welles, with an exclusive chat with actor Christian McKay who plays Orson Welles, live from London.

This is how they describe the event:
“Based in real theatrical history, Me and Orson Welles is a comedic coming-of-age story about a teenage actor who lucks into a role in Julius Caesar as its being re-imagined by a brilliant, impetuous young director named Orson Welles at his newly-founded Mercury Theater in NYC, 1937.

“The rollercoaster week leading up to opening night has the charismatic-but-sometimes-cruel Welles (impressive newcomer Christian McKay) staking his career on this risky production while Richard (Zac Efron) mixes with everyone from starlets to stagehands in behind-the-scenes adventures bound to change him.

“Claire Danes co-stars as Sonja Jones, the unapologetically ambitious assistant to Welles whom Richard tries to woo. Ben Chaplin plays Mercury Theater regular George Coulouris. The fast-moving screenplay by Holly Gent Palmo and Vince Palmo is based on Robert Kaplow’s meticulously researched novel of the same name with Oscar®-nominated director Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Before Sunset) at the helm.”

See the film and have the opportunity to ask Christian a question on Monday July 19 at 7pm (sharp), at Event Cinemas Bondi Junction.

Go here for more info and tickets: http://www.popcorntaxi.com.au/2010/07/events/me-and-orson-welles-exclusive-qa-with-christian-mckay-live-from-london/

Mel Gibson's tirades - has the reporting gone too far?

I feel a little weird listening to Mel Gibson’s rants. I really do. Something about it has been making me uncomfortable (apart from the obviously explosive bleeped out bits every two seconds and threats of violence) and I wasn’t entirely sure what.

I did have inkling, though. It had something to do with the whole invasion of privacy thing. You know, the same privacy you and I are afforded when we have a massive blue with our partners (c’mon, we’ve all been there).

First, let’s be clear here. The man is positively unhinged. He sounds like a psychotic, misogynist, racist animal and anyone who hits a woman – and while she is holding a baby! – should have his head read and after that, fed to the bloody wolves. His downward spiral can be traced back to the anti-Semitic rants of some years ago and since then it seems that no amount of anger management classes are working for Mr Gibson. I am thinking he’d be losing Facebook friends at an alarming rate right about now.

But, don’t you think it’s a tad sneaky for his ex-lover Oksana Grigorieva to be taping conversations so they can be broadcast to the world? Why? Yes, I understand it is so we can all know just who this person really is. And clearly she wants to explode the movie star image he presents to the public (although he has been doing a pretty good job of destroying that all by himself in recent years).

Okay, we well and truly know now that he is a grade one a-hole, but do we really have to hear more of his tirades? Hasn’t listening to this shame-and-tell tale now crossed over to sheer voyeurism on our part? The turning point came for me when Nine News reporter Chris Urquhart watched the latest mad outburst on a giant plasma screen during the 6pm Sydney bulletin then turned to viewers to further explain what we’d just seen. Um, no explanation needed. Can we stop this already? Geez, how many tapes does Oksana have?

If this is a cry for help for her safety, why doesn’t she go to the police to resolve this very serious, very urgent matter?

What do you think?

Monday 12 July 2010

As published on The Punch, 14 July, 2010.

The 'right' way to give birth

Okay, so this is a delicate topic. How a woman ‘should’ give birth is such an emotion-charged issue because it’s something a woman has imagined since the moment she found out where babies come from.

If I am brutally honest, there are two camps of women here: one group of very vocal women who are yet to give birth, who are probably pregnant and have a very detailed birth plan (right down to scented candles and essentials oils). The other (far more realistic) group of women are the ones who know that a birth plan gets shot to shit when it’s crunch time.

And by crunch time, I mean that pivotal moment when you scream, “Please get this baby out of my body immediately, or I will kill someone.” (Not that I said this. In fact, I am surprised that for someone who likes profanities, I didn’t call my husband any names or tell him it was ‘his fault’. And whatever else Hollywood makes you believe is ‘normal’ during an intense delivery).

The first I’d heard of a birth plan was when I was pregnant. I’d always (naïvely) assumed the doctor would be the one making that decision. Turns out, I wasn’t so naïve after all. More on that later.

The issue on ‘how to give birth’ hit the news again a few days ago when it was reported that Dannii Minogue’s carefully scripted birth plan, the one she’d written on scented, embossed paper (I don’t know if this is true… but you can’t imagine ‘the plan’ on a yellow Post-It, right?) which included a home birth, was promptly turfed and she was ‘rushed to hospital’, undergoing an emergency caesarean instead.

Now. Let’s be clear, here. The very fact you are pregnant is a miracle in itself (something you only really appreciate when you start wanting a family). Then, the joy of having healthy babies is one surpassed by nothing else in life (again, only relevant if having kids is something important in your world). So how to give birth should be a no-brainer. Everyone wants the same end result: a healthy baby and a healthy mother. Because we have options to go natural (vaginal birth, no drugs), natural but with drugs (epidural, gas, etc), caesarean, or a home birth means that women not only have myriad choices, it also makes choosing one that much harder. The key here is to acknowledge that often the choice is taken out of your hands.

Have you seen the movie Knocked Up, when Katherine Heigl’s character is giving birth? No, not that scene when the baby’s head is crowning. Before that, when she’s in the throes of excruciating pain and demands an epidural. Trouble is, it’s too far along in the delivery for it to be administered and she has to push ahead (ahem) sans drugs. The funny-but-not-funny part is that she had a well-scripted birth plan, even kicking off the process with a relaxing bath. But as anyone who has given birth will tell you, when you get to the business end of birth, there is nothing Zen-like about it.

I have spoken with lots of women who have given birth, both for my parenting magazine stories and in conversation with my friends (when we are brave enough – and bevvied enough - to go there) and anecdotally what I have found is that women who have undergone an emergency caesarean feel a bit ripped off. As you would. For most women, the pinnacle of childbirth is going the natural route. For the truly heroic, the zenith is pushing out that child without drugs of any sort. But no-one’s plan is: push like a maniac for hours, then go under the knife anyway, and feel that all your efforts were for ‘nothing’. In reality, these women are champions; they should take a bloody bow. The truth is they brought a healthy child into the world; how they did it is no measure of how ‘womanly’ they are.

There are of course women who go the elective caesarean route; unfairly dubbed the ‘too posh to push’ brigade, these are the women who don’t want a caesarean as the last resort; it’s their first choice.

According to the 2005 National Perinatal Statistics Unit Mothers and Babies Report 30.3 per cent of Australian women gave birth by caesarean section compared with 19.5 per cent in 1995.

When I interview Dr Andrew Pesce on the topic – he is an obstetrician and gynaecologist as well as the Australian Medical Association President, plus Chairman for both the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the National Pregnancy Counselling Expert Advisory Committee – he said that the rise in caesarean births could be attributed to the fact that obstetricians are more likely to recommend a c-section because of the procedure’s improved safety. He also attributes it to more women believing a c-section is a more ‘desirable’ procedure over a vaginal birth. And then there is the litigation factor.

“When obstetricians are sued for a poor outcome, it is almost always for not having performed a caesarean section.”

He also cites a move away from more difficult forceps deliveries as well as a rise in older and obese women giving birth, pointing towards a c-section as a safer option for them.

Accompanying the story on the mini-Minogue birth were figures from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists which indicated that up to half of all first-time mothers attempting a home birth had to be transferred to hospital due to complications.

While I completely respect a woman’s choice to have a natural, non-interventionist birth, there are options available which reduce the risks associated with giving birth at home - birthing centres led by midwives attached to hospitals are an excellent solution.

As for me? Well, my birthing choices were extremely limited because I was carrying twins. My obstetrician was actually the aforementioned, wonderfully fantastic Dr Pesce (most women are ‘in love’ with their obstetricians. Ask them). He told me I had to have an epidural (there is likely to be manual manipulation prior to the delivery of twin number two) but he wanted me to give a ‘natural’ birth a red hot go. In the end, the pain relief made it possible for me to concentrate on pushing and deliver two healthy babies, 18 minutes apart. Hands down, the most empowering thing I have ever done in my life.

The key? Be very open to things not going to plan on your baby’s birth day. In fact, expect it.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Dakota Fanning - my, how you've grown

I saw Dakota Fanning in lingerie today. And it made me want to see this movie.

Okay, call me shallow, call me weird, but I could not tear myself away from watching snippets of Ms Fanning in a 1970s bra, panties, and suspenders/stockings get-up. What happened to that cute pig-tailed poppet in I am Sam?

She grew up, that's what!

In an interview for the movie in which she wears said gear (amongst other rockin' outfits) called The Runaways, she said, "Guess what, people? I'm gonna be thirty one day!"

In other words: get used to seeing Dakota challenging herself – and our perception of her – in upcoming roles.

The Runaways is a coming of age story about the groundbreaking, all girl 1970s rock band of the same name. It also stars Twilight’s Kristen Stewart as veteran rocker Joan Jett with Dakota as bandmate Cherie Currie. They play two teenage valley girls whose passion for punk leads them to the seminal all girl band, The Runaways.

And tonight, you can actually speak with Cherie Currie after watching the movie!

A pal of mine runs an innovative movie screening event company called Popcorn Taxi, where they screen the most talked about flicks, then have the directors, actors, and in this case, the real-life inspirations ready to answer audience questions. How cool is that?

I went to a Popcorn Taxi screening of the monumentally fabulous Australian movie Animal Kingdom recently then had the pleasure of listening to the phenomenal actors and amazing director and editor explain why they did what they did.

So, if you’re keen on seeing The Runaways tonight – yes, tonight – and want the opportunity to ask Cherie Currie about her explosive experiences (she’ll be live, via satellite from Los Angeles) then head here (tickets are now at the door, at Event Cinemas Bondi Junction):


“The Making of a Generation: The Children of the '70s in Adulthood”

So, on the day I wanted to 'launch' my blog, a news story surfaced which not only piqued my interest, it could well have been one of the very reasons I wanted to start blogging.

Professor Johanna Wyn co-authored a book with Lesley Andres called “The Making of a Generation: The Children of the '70s in Adulthood”, based on findings from a Life Patterns study, alongside findings from a similar study, 'Paths on Life's Way' in Canada. The Life Patterns research program is run by the University of Melbourne Research Centre.

Intro-ing an interview with Professor Wyn, the Today Show's Lisa Wilkinson asked: "Why are so many thirtysomethings ditching the workforce?"

"[Generation X] wanted it all,” she continues. “Marriage, family and most importantly, a career. They've certainly forged new ground. Just take a look at the new Prime Minister. But not everyone's story ends in career fulfilment. In fact, Gen X is fleeing the workforce."

According to the book, of those who went to university, only 38% of Gen X women work fulltime, compared to 90% of Gen X men.

To clarify, Gen X is defined as people born between 1965 and 1981, and Generation Y are those born between 1982 and 2000. Interestingly, the US, Canada, and Australia all have different cut-off points for the generations. The above is Australia’s definition.

Firstly, let me say this: I do not want it all. I don't want to cart my two and a half year old twins to daycare every day at 7am, so I can battle traffic, arrive at work stressed, then positively shit myself if I need to stay back at work which means I run late picking up the kids before 6pm. Kudos to the [super-duper] women who do this, but it is not for me. Even when I was heavily pregnant, my supremely gorgeous editor let me work a few days a week from home and my gosh, I appreciated him so much for that. That whole rat race is exhausting at the best of times; worse when little people are depending on you. Granted, I’m in a profession which allows me to freelance from home, and to get through my work in peace, I started putting my kids in daycare one day a week, increasing it to two days a week recently. But I just couldn’t cope if I had to work five days a week (just quietly, I work seven; I just do it from the comfort of my couch) out of my home with two kids’ needs to worry about too.

Actually, it’s not surprising that 38% of uni-educated women are leaving the workforce, or working part-time.

Says Professor Wyn: “Our explanation for it is that there is a lag, in that workplaces are not as family-friendly as they could be. And women are feeling that it’s too hard to try and continue the battle of juggling childcare, work and all those other things in life, like just keeping well.”

As Lisa so wisely pointed out, “It’s just really hard to fight the way the gender divide works; men still earn more, and women are the ones who still fall pregnant and undertake the greatest amount of childcare.”

Professor Wyn thinks that this will perhaps change for Gen Y. She cites the move towards getting better, more family-friendly policies into workplaces and recognising the importance of getting good quality childcare to support people with children in those early years.

Yes, all positive steps. But don’t be fooled; it will still be hard to juggle all those balls in the air if you want to work, have babies, and you know, eat, bathe, and get some sleep.

“These are valid choices that people are making,” she says, “and it just points to that gap between the groundbreaking changes that Gen X made and the world around them which hasn’t changed quite as much as we would’ve perhaps expected to see.”

I often have one of those joking-but-serious moments when I say to my husband, “I want to write books - lots of them - and you can retire.” And I actually really mean it. He’s an awesome Mr Mum. And really, I’d love to go back to work; I miss the work environment very much, and the office banter, and getting dressed up every single day. And maybe it’ll happen, or maybe it won’t. One thing is certain though: I do have it all. And so do you. It just looks different from what we expected.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

BLOGGING - my first time

So. I have been toying with the idea of a blog for a while now. A long while. Two years, in fact. That was when my twins were a few months old. "Write a blog! Record everything!"

That's what friends told me to do. So I did. Well, I got to set up a page, perhaps write a hurried blog. Then nothing. I was too busy getting my boobs out, you see.

For breastfeeding! Sheesh... where is your mind already?

Anyways, fast forward another year...and no blog yet.

No. I am too busy writing freelance stories for inspiring magazines, and subbing corporate brochures, and blogging for a parenting mag... and Facebooking like it's going out of fashion. Oh yes. Facebook. My pseudo-pal when the twins are napping or when I can't stand to look at the first draft of a story for another second.

I have so much to say. Apparently!

So, instead of driving my Facebook pals a little nuts (and truthfully, I have been wanting to do this for ages) here is my blog. Just for you. And, well...for me.

Remember: it's just an opinion! Often an informed one, sometimes a little scattered... but (almost) always intended to be light and fun. Enjoy!