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Pregnancy

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We have friends who live close to us who are pregnant. Okay, that sounds weird, right? She’s pregnant, and he looks sheepish, like he’s not sure what’s coming.

That’s not entirely fair. He was socially awkward before he brought his small package of genetic material to the pregnancy party. Why would anyone imagine he would be any different in the months before he makes a head first dive down the rabbit hole into the wonders and challenges of parenthood?

Now, if their families are anything like others I’ve known, they are bound to have a wide range of pre and post delivery discussions.

“Are you going to name the baby after my side of the family?”

“Make sure you put sugar, spice and everything nice in the crib or the baby will become colicky like your Aunt Michelle. She was one of the most miserable babies we’ve ever seen and that’s because her mother forgot about the sugar and spice under the crib.”

One of the most fascinating and sometimes confounding parts of the baby discussion, which can extend well into the years that follow, is the family credit for various traits.

To wit, “He’s incredibly serious and focused just like his Uncle Oswald. That Oswald was a man with a purpose from the time he was born, just like your little baby Joey.”

Or maybe, “Morgan has the same broad smile, laugh or sense of humor as her Aunt Carol.”

Each family can dig in, sharing ways that the developing child has characteristics they are convinced come from one side of the family, often from the speaker who has a proprietary interest in propagating the enduring myth of a family heritage.

Such talk suggests somehow that heredity is much more important than environment. The credit can go beyond physical characteristics such as long eyelashes, rounded shoulders, or sparkling eyes: they can include artistic talent, an ability to relate to other people, or a proficiency for languages.

That somehow seems un-American. After all, we the people generally believe that hard work can help people become proficient in any area, developing the kind of talent that differentiates them in their field and allowing them to control their destiny.

Such strong genetic links, while providing an appealing way to connect to ancestors and to those who aren’t around to smile and play with their descendants, is akin, if you’ll pardon the pun, to linking someone’s last name to their profession.

“Oh, the Jones family? Sure, they all became teachers. The Berringtons went into the clothing business, while the Shimmers all became dentists. They all have such gifted dental hands.”

Such blanket statements about where someone’s exceptionalism originated also throws the other sides of the family into the shadows, as if their only role were to ensure the ongoing survival of the dominant and more important family tree.

Family trees, however, like the trees that people decorate around this time of year, have bilateral symmetry, with people decorating each side in popcorn, cranberries and/or holiday lights.

Rarely does anyone do a deep dive into the other side of a family, learning whether the Jones family had faster legs, a quicker wit, better grades or a stronger work ethic.

Then again, the point of these claims isn’t to be scientific, thorough or even fair. It’s a way to connect the children of today with those who came before. Even if people don’t believe in reincarnation, focus on genes, or contemplate the enduring qualities of any family culture, they might feel tremendous joy and comfort hoping that this person’s unwritten life includes future chapters that reflect a familial past that need not be exclusive to one branch, one side or one person.

Story weaving may help give a developing life context and meaning. Ideally, those attributes and connections may remind the family and this new person about the kind of strong and accomplished roots that can help him or her develop into the kind of person he or she chooses to be, which would be a win for everyone.

friend recently told me she’s pregnant with her first child. She sounded thrilled and anxious. She is, as I’ve known for years, incredibly organized and efficient. She has been a standout in her job for several years.

“What’s the concern?” I asked.

“Everything,” she giggled.

As my children take one standardized test after another, I thought perhaps I would share a test-format version of what to expect when you’re expecting. No. 2 pencils ready? OK, let’s begin:

Question 1: Before the baby is born, you should:

a. Panic buy everything, including a crib and six months worth of food and clothing. You never know if you’ll be trapped in your house without access to the outside world.

b. Sleep as much as you can because the days of sleeping at your leisure are over.

c. Read everything you can about parenting and the delivery, and then realize that every process, including childbirth, can go off script.

d. Don’t tell anyone because people will write about you.

Question 2: When people give you advice, you should:

a. Write everything down because friends, family and strangers always know better and will enlighten you with wisdom that far exceeds that which you’d get on a fortune cookie.

b. Nod politely, say, “That’s a great idea,” and wonder what to eat for dinner.

c. Pretend your phone is ringing.

d. Ask them how many Nobel prizes their children have won.

Question 3: Taking Lamaze classes can be helpful because:

a. It allows you to meet parents who are older than you.

b. It allows you to practice breathing together because sometimes parents forget to breathe.

c. It’s so relaxing that you can doze off without punishment.

d. It gives you a sense of control that you’re unlikely to have in the actual moment.

Question 4: People generally love other people’s children unless:

a. They are sitting on a plane near them.

b. They have to do something for them.

c. The children are crying constantly and they don’t know why.

d. The children have dropped or broken something.

Question 5: Parents can be so tired in the early stage that they forget:

a. To take pictures of everything.

b. To feed themselves.

c. To go to the bathroom when they need to.

d. To revel in a new baby smell that will change into something much more challenging to the nose within a year.

Question 6: When you have a baby, it’s a great idea to:

a. Change jobs.

b. Move to a new city.

c. Start attending a new and rigorous educational course.

d. All of the above, because you’ll never have a chance to juggle more challenges at the same time than when a baby is born.

Question 7: The families of the father and mother are likely to:

a. Always agree on everything you should do for the child.

b. Never agree on anything you should do for a child.

c. See evidence of their family’s genes in the child.

d. Put small differences aside and enjoy the moment when they share a new relative.

Question 8: Once you have a child, you will:

a. Be thrilled when young children come over to play with your child.

b. Be worried that the young children who come over are sniffling.

c. Want everyone to bathe in Purell sanitizer before coming near your child.

d. Not be like me and will relax when people sneeze across the room.

Question 9: You know you’ve had a great day with your child when:

a. You keep replaying something he or she said or did as you’re preparing to sleep.

b. You actually go to sleep instead of passing out with Oreo cookie crumbs in your mouth.

c. You and your spouse are laughing, quietly, for hours before you go to sleep.

d. You can’t wait to start the next day.

Question 10: Parenting is:

a. Awesome.

b. Terrifying.

c. Exhausting.

d. All of the above.

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Almost seven years ago, I wrote my first email to request an interview for a story. In between now and those seven years, the correspondent and I have dropped many of the formalities of our exchanges and have shared personal details.

She’s known about big events in my life, mostly related to my kids, while I was aware of when she was getting married.

Recently, she shared the exciting news that she is pregnant. I am thrilled for her and the husband I’ve never met because parenthood is such a spectacular experience, opportunity, and challenge.

Less than a week after hearing about her pregnancy, I spoke with someone for another story I’m researching. When this person heard my last name, he immediately asked me if I was related to someone. Most of the time, that someone is my mom, who works visibly and tirelessly in the communities these newspapers serve.

When I was younger and people asked me about my mother, I would look down or look away, because I couldn’t answer questions about the way my mom’s paper covered something or because I was far too busy reading the batting averages for the latest Yankees to share insights about someone who was and is such an inspiration.

As I’ve grown, I’ve become more appreciative of the questions and more prepared to look people in the eye — yes, mom, I’m teaching my kids to do that, too — to hear what they have to say and to provide a thoughtful answer.

But, this person wasn’t asking me about my mom. He wondered if I was related to Dr. Dunaief, his former ophthalmologist. Hearing the question surprised me. My father died almost 30 years ago. We talk about him regularly amongst ourselves, wondering what he would have thought of the people he’d never met, including my wife, my brother’s wife and his grandchildren. We tell our children stories about him so they know who he was and they appreciate their heritage.

The person said my father was a great doctor. I told my children about the interview and the mention of their grandfather. I asked them what they thought the conversation meant.

Both of them looked me in the eye for a long time as they considered their answers. “He must have been a good doctor,” my son said.

“Wow, that’s amazing. He made that connection all these years later,” my daughter offered.

Yes, I thought, they’re right. And, they had an idea of what it means to make meaningful and lasting connections. Whatever we do, whoever we see on a daily basis, we have an opportunity to create a legacy that extends long after we’re no longer involved in the same routine.

Some parts of who we are, or who we were, remain, whether that’s through our children or grandchildren, or through the memory of an action or interaction. I remember sitting in my father’s office one day when he took me to work and watching as he pulled glass out of the eye of a patient who had been in an accident at a construction site. The patient, a man much more muscular and stronger than my father, fainted in the chair. My father calmly removed all the equipment and revived him. He demonstrated such incredible grace, control and professionalism.

So, as I think about the connection between the expectant mother and the memory of my father, I hope she creates positive, lasting memories for her unborn child, even as that child grows and develops a meaningful legacy.

Danielle Stenzel and David Delligatti Jr. welcome Jaxon Abel Delligatti at St. Charles Hospital. Photo from the hospital

Danielle Stenzel and David Delligatti Jr. rang in the new year with a bundle of joy when the mama delivered baby boy Jaxon Abel Delligatti at 6:20 a.m. on Jan. 1, the first baby born at St. Charles Hospital in 2016.

The Port Jefferson hospital presented Stenzel and Delligatti with a gift basket to celebrate the birth.

The couple is from Lake Grove and they are first-time parents.

File photo

A mother was delivering a baby on the side of the road when officers on patrol stepped in early Wednesday morning.

The Suffolk County Police Department said a car was stopped on the side of Deer Park Avenue, just south of Jericho Turnpike in Dix Hills, shortly after 2 a.m. and when patrol officer Joseph Ferro offered assistance, the driver said his wife was in active labor.

Officers Gerard Maxim and Jonathan Murray also responded, police said, and Murray helped the 32-year-old woman deliver a healthy baby girl.

Police said the Huntington Community First Aid Squad transported the Dix Hills couple and their new baby to Huntington Hospital.

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By Lisa Steuer

Getting into shape after giving birth can seem like a challenge. You may have gained a little more weight than you ever have before, you are not feeling your best, the baby is up all night and your to-do list has increased dramatically. But with the right support and plan of action, it is possible to not only lose the baby weight, but to get in even better shape than you were before giving birth.

Fit4Mom
One organization that is helping many moms get into shape is Fit4Mom, a franchise with more than 1,300 locations nationwide, said Britney Pagano, mom of two and founder of Fit4Mom Long Island.  In fact, many Long Island moms have lost 70 or 80 pounds with the program, according to Pagano.

Fit4Mom Long Island classes are held at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, Heckscher Park in Huntington and Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon. There are also classes in Nassau. For the full schedule, visit https://nassauandsuffolk.fit4mom.com. Stroller Strides, which is Fit4Mom’s most popular program according to Pagano, is a “Mommy and Me” type class. The children sit in strollers while the moms go through a 60-minute stroller-based workout that combines intervals of cardiovascular and resistance training. The nationally certified class instructors incorporate songs and activities to keep the kids entertained.

But Fit4Mom is more than just fitness classes, said Pagano. It’s about connecting moms, making friends and finding support. In addition to workouts, there are playgroups and monthly moms-night-out events.

gal-getting-ready-w“A lot of moms have told me that our program specifically has really saved them from postpartum depression because it’s given them something to do,” said Pagano. “It was helping them lose weight and meet friends, and they didn’t have the guilt of leaving their child in someone else’s care so that they can do something for themselves.”

Tips for Success
In addition to attending Fit4Mom classes like Stroller Strides, here are some other tips for getting your body back after baby:

Consult your doctor.
Before you start any kind of fitness program, be sure to check with your doctor. He or she knows your individual situation and can advise you when it’s best for you to return to being active. In addition, your doctor may be able to suggest a personalized approach for you.

Find a little time when you can work out during the day.
Once you get the OK from your doctor to work out and do any kind of cardio activity, get in a few minutes here or there doing squats, push-ups, crunches, high knees, other bodyweight or cardio moves or a fitness DVD, even if you can only do a few minutes at a time. You don’t have to do the workout all at once for it to be effective. Just find the time when you can. Visit www.fitnessrxwomen.com/life-health/fit-moms for tons of at-home workouts for moms and more tips.

Get out and go for a walk.
Get outside! Get the stroller and bring baby along for a ride.

Work on building your at-home gym.
Since you may find it hard to get to the gym, there are a few items that are fairly inexpensive that can help you get a good workout right in your own home. Resistance bands, a medicine ball, dumbbells, a jump rope and a stability ball are a good start.

Listen to your body.
If your body is telling you that you need to sleep, and the baby is sleeping, then you should sleep, too. If your energy is lacking, it’s all the more reason to get into a good fitness regimen, because this can help your energy levels, said Pagano.

Fuel up.
You won’t be able to get back in shape if your diet is not in check. Make sure to take care of yourself with a balanced diet: drink plenty of water, eat plenty of fruits and veggies and get your protein. Pagano encourages her clients to find the one day a week where they can get to the grocery store — when there is someone to look after the child — and use that day to plan out all the meals for the week. Chop up all the vegetables and fruit and put into single serve bags. “This way, during the week when hunger strikes, you just have to look in the refrigerator and everything is already done and prepared for you.”

Make time for yourself.
“A lot of times, especially with new moms, we kind of get lost in that and taking care of the baby,” said Pagano.  “But make it a priority to take care of yourself.”

Lisa Steuer is the managing editor of FitnessRx for Women and FitnessRx for Men magazines. For more fitness tips, training videos and print-and-go workouts that you can take with you to the gym, visit www.fitnessrxformen.com and www.fitnessrxwomen.com.