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One Month Old

What a difference a month makes! You've grown over three pounds. You love walks in the stroller, storytime, and listening to music. You make so many noises when you're awake and asleep that we've nicknamed you, "Pebbles." You've cuddled with the many loved ones who have come to visit you. You've been such a good baby when we've brought you to restaurants and on our day trip to the water. And, you've continued to melt our hearts, leave us in awe and make us laugh and smile. 


Blowing a kiss at 3.5 weeks!


With visions of bottles dancing in your head (2 weeks)


Snuggling with the Sleep Sheep at 1 month

You're loved more than words could ever express, Dearest Roya! But, if you could start sleeping for longer than three hour stretches a night and could temper the shrieks when you have to wait more than a few seconds for a bottle, I'd really, really appreciate it ;)!

Swingin’ in the City

It’s time for a reader’s question!

My long-time boyfriend suggested that we go to a swingers’ event. He said that we could just go to “check it out” and that I don’t need to do anything if I don’t feel comfortable. I’ve never done anything like this before. Should I go?

Answer: Thanks for your question! As with all private sexual matters, there’s no right or wrong answer here. But, I do recommend that you obtain more information before you make your decision.

With respect to your relationship, have you and your boyfriend talked about going to a sex club, engaging in sexual voyeurism, or bringing in a third party before? Did his request catch you by surprise, or was it something you expected? Has he attended a swingers' party before? Do you know his motivation or the impetus for his suggestion?

Watching other people engage in sex, having others watch you, or having sex with another person outside of your primary relationship can all be healthy under the right circumstances. It's important, though, that you and your boyfriend are clear and open about why you would be attending the event and what you expect from doing so. (It would be incredibly uncomfortable and potentially hurtful if he expects to engage in sexual activity with another person at one of these events or to have sex with you in front of others if those acts aren’t of any interest to you.)

I would also do some reconnaissance on the event itself. Will there be rooms at the club for just drinking, talking and/or dancing? What are the rules for attendees? Is there any information that provides a newcomer with an idea of what to expect?

If you decide to go, discuss some ground rules with your boyfriend beforehand. Make sure that you won’t be stuck there longer than you want to be and that he will be okay not participating in any activity or going inside any room that is not of interest to you. If you are open to trying something new, what is the safe word or phrase that you can use if you'd like your boyfriend to stop? There also should be an understanding that if either of you wants to leave at any time, you both leave immediately no questions asked. With all those disclaimers, if you choose to attend, I hope that you both enjoy the evening!

If you decide not to go, remember that your boyfriend should respect your decision and not pressure you into doing anything that you don't want to. It's also worth figuring out what your boyfriend’s motivation was for suggesting a swingers' club in the first place. If he’s interested in spicing up your relationship and you’re open to that on some level, are they other ways that could be achieved? You might wish to check out my post with ideas for mixing up your bedroom routine with new positions, toys, techniques, and sexy games.

Whatever you decide, trust that it’s the right decision for you. Good luck!

Have you gone or would you go to a swingers' event? Do you have any other advice for this reader?

Have a question for me? Email me at citygirlblogs (at) gmail or ask me anonymously via Formspring

I Can’t Breastfeed…Nor Would I Want To

“I wish I had gotten a double mastectomy so I would have had an excuse for not breastfeeding. I was in tears when Emily couldn’t latch, and the nurse kept forcing me to try.”

“Well,” I told my friend with an odd look in my eyes, “I’m very thankful that you didn’t have breast cancer or a double mastectomy. I just wish that there wasn’t such societal pressure to breastfeed and you hadn’t felt as though you were an inferior mother when it didn’t work.”

Since I announced that I was pregnant, I’ve received a lot of questions about whether I could breastfeed. I typically answer with a version of the following:

No nipples. No milk ducts. No desire.

If someone probes further, I let them know that even if I could have breastfed, it's far from ideal to pass more of my immunities onto my daughter. (I fully appreciate that there are proven health benefits to breastfeeding, but I don’t think women with my health issues were the subjects of any of these studies!)

Other factors that contribute to my views that the breast isn't always best:

  • Several of my friends who breastfed were exceptionally sleep deprived. That, in turn, played a contributory role in them suffering from Post-Partum Depression;
  • Since breastfeeding is the mother’s responsibility, I've noticed that the father often feels excluded or disconnected from parenting in the early stages. For numerous couples, that has led to resentments and relationship problems in the first months after having a baby;
  • Breastfeeding is linked to significantly lower libido in women; and
  • Quite a few friends found breastfeeding problematic because their children needed more milk than their breasts produced and/or their babies had trouble latching. They thus needed to introduce formula to supplement their breastfeeding while they were in the hospital. A desire to breast feed doesn't necessarily translate into the ability to do so.

(The above list is a collection of my observations from a dozen friends who have struggled with breastfeeding.)

Pediatricians recommend breastfeeding as the preferred option, but it concerns me that it's viewed societally as the only option. I don’t regard such absolutes as healthy, as they exacerbate the pressures of caring for a newborn in the midst of dramatic hormonal changes. A woman is not less of a mother if she doesn't breastfeed, and no one has the right to make her feel that way.

Throughout my pregnancy and since giving birth to Roya, I was never asked the simple question, “Are you breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or both?” Everyone assumed that I was breastfeeding. Telling people, even health care professionals, that I’ve had a double mastectomy tended not to resonate either. A double mastectomy isn’t a boob job! During a double mastectomy, everything under the skin is removed. Everything. I also didn’t have the luxury of having nipple-sparing surgery since I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Despite the biological impediments to me breastfeeding, I still find it fascinating that people automatically presume that I would want to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding like so many other parenting decisions is a choice. Choosing to bottle feed should not be met with judgment regardless of the reason for doing so.  I’ll respect your choices as to what’s best for your family. All I ask in return is that you respect mine.

What’s in a Name?

Deciding on a baby name is one of the sweetest parts of the pregnancy process. Since we chose to keep the name a secret until Roya arrived, I had yet to share with you how we came up with the name. Until now…

Late in 2012, we had picked out several girls’ names. One of my friends recommended that I conduct a Google search on all the names we were considering. And, boy, am I glad she did! A search revealed that a woman with one of our favorite girls’ names, Devin, and the same last name had a very gifted career as an adult film star. (Although I respect Devin's professional choices, I feared the possibility that my minor daughter could someday be mistaken for an adult film actress.)

We thus went back to the drawing board to find a new name. While watching Homeland one Sunday evening, The Man suggested the name, Roya, after one of the characters in the show’s second season. On the show, Roya Hammad is a London-educated, beautiful, brilliant journalist. She aligned herself with Homeland's antagonist, Abu Nazir, but gave a sense of honor to her character’s actions.

Zuleikha Robinson (Roya Hammad)

After hearing his idea, I responded, “Oooh! I really like that name! I wonder what it means…”

While the episode continued to play, I searched on my phone for more information about the name. Roya is most common as a Persian girls' name, but it’s also Arabic and Turkish. Once I saw the name’s meaning, I went from liking the name to loving the name.

Roya means “a dream come true, a vision or premonition, or a fantasy.” 

The following day, we both found ourselves thinking about the name and how much we liked it. We had found the name for our little miracle! We didn't need any alternatives. She would be named Roya. Now that she's here, the name suits her even more than I thought it would!

As a post script for those who haven't heard the name before, the English pronunciation for the name is "Roy-a," as though you're adding an "ah" to the name, "Roy."

Prostate Pleasure Giveaway

How familiar are you with prostate massage?

For those of you who are men or involved with male partners, stimulation of the male prostate gland internally through the rectum or externally on the perineum can provide much pleasure. (If you need a refresher course in male anatomy, this image should clarify where those parts are located.)

If you're intrigued, check out the definitive guide to P-spot pleasure! Or, read on to find out how you can enter to win a copy!

The “discovery” of the G-spot opened up an era of sexual expansion for millions of women, and now it’s time for the P-spot to claim center stage in the realm of male sexuality. The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners empowers men who may not feel confident exploring anal play to claim the prostate as an erogenous zone ripe for exploration. Men who already enjoy prostate play will find much to learn from sex educators Charlie Glickman, Ph.D., and Aislinn Emirzian, whose wisdom and warmth will be both reassuring and inspirational to readers. This manual supports all men who want to explore this powerful source of sexual fulfillment.

Some things you will find in The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure:

  • ·       Inclusion of all sexual experiences and lifestyles
  • ·       How to maintain prostate health
  • ·       Tips and techniques about communication, massage, toys, positions, etc.

"A great addition to a largely underground history that is finally coming into the light. Everyone deserves the sex information that will make their desires consensually possible, safe, and full of pleasure."

 —from the Foreword by Dr. Carol Queen, Staff Sexologist and Historian at Good Vibrations

About the Authors:

Charlie Glickman Ph.D. is a sexuality educator, writer, blogger, workshop teacher, and university professor. He is certified as a sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists and was a pioneering Program Educator for Good Vibrations for sixteen years. He lives in Oakland, CA.


Aislinn Emirzian became a sex educator as a student at Smith College, and later worked with sex positive adult toy stores like Oh My Sensuality Shop in Massachusetts and Good Vibrations in California. Over the years, she has taught workshops on a wide range of topics, but prostate pleasure is her favorite! Check out her website here.

How can you enter to win a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure?

Include the phrase, "P-spot," in your comment below for a chance to win a hard or electronic copy of the book. A hard copy can only be shipped within the continental United States. Please only comment once per person. This giveaway will run through Monday, June 17, 2013, at 11:59pm. The winner will be chosen randomly via Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, no financial or in kind compensation has been received in exchange for running this post and conducting this giveaway.

Good luck!

The T-Shirt That Made Me Cry

The Man describes me as a sentimental unsentimentalist. Or, maybe I’m an unsentimental sentimentalist? However you phrase it, he's right. When it comes to my personal relationships, I’m incredibly sappy. (Why, yes, I’m the girl who is tearing up in the card aisle at CVS after finding the perfect card for a loved one!) On the other hand, I view many things, including pregnancy, pragmatically. That is, until I put on a t-shirt.

“What t-shirt caused me to have tears streaming down my face?”

The Survivor T-Shirt for the Komen Global Race for the Cure.

Several of my friends and I have participated in the walk for the past several years. However, I haven’t raised money for Susan G. Komen since the Planned Parenthood debacle. My tolerance for linking the cause to all things pink has also waned. Nonetheless, I’ve felt it important to register and walk with my breast cancer sisters and other supporters of the cause.

This year’s walk was held on May 11th, which was a rainy day in Washington, DC. I deferred to one of my best friends who has lost far too much to this disease as to whether we would actually brave the walk or just meet for brunch after. She chose to bypass the rain and focus on brunch.

When I awoke on the morning of the 11th, I decided that I would walk my own 5K down to the National Mall for the closing ceremonies, then to brunch and then back home. I put on the survivor shirt that Komen sent me and went into the bathroom to finish getting ready. The walk happened to coincide with the week that my belly had finally grown past my boobs. As I looked in the mirror, I noticed that the first three letters in survivor hugged against my baby bump.

I proceeded to cry…hard. I cried for all that had transpired in the less than three years since my diagnosis. I cried for what I had lost, but far more importantly, I cried for what I had gained. I cried for the fact that not only had I survived, but I was giving birth in less than three weeks! Despite all the odds, my body was doing something normal and healthy!

I dried my tears, finished applying my makeup and headed down to the Mall. I found myself beaming and actually embracing my growing belly with pride. I lost count of the number of smiles, looks of surprise and comments that I received. My smile got progressively bigger with each "Oh My God!" and "Wow!" that I heard!

At a recent conference for Young Survivors, attendees to a session on fertility were told to expect that they would never get pregnant. Maybe they won’t. But, it’s worth spreading the word about organizations such as Fertile Action devoted to helping women preserve their fertility before they start treatment. And, it’s worth believing in miracles since they do happen despite all odds! The fact that my daughter is asleep in my arms while I type is proof of that!

A Dream Come True

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to my baby girl, Roya.

Our first photo

Roya means "a dream come true" in Persian. She is just that!

Born: May 31, 2013

Weight: 6 pounds and 13 ounces

Length: 19.5 inches

Can you tell that I'm in awe of her?

 We're both thankfully doing well!

Thank you as always for the love, support, good wishes and prayers! xoxo

The Home Stretch

I never imagined myself being pregnant, let alone being medically able to carry a baby to term. I never saw myself with a newborn. And, yet, here I am, preparing to give birth to Baby Girl on Friday! I’m grateful that a far greater power was at work here, and I know that this was meant to happen.

Quite a few friends and readers have kindly inquired as to how the last month has been for me. To answer the most commonly asked questions:

  • My nesting instinct hasn’t kicked in, but that might have something to do with the fact that I’ve had to focus on a lot of work commitments. (The spring semester ended in early May, and I’m preparing to teach an online class this summer and two classes in the fall.) Over the past week, though, our second bedroom has evolved from a storage room to a nursery. Just in time, right? The walls are now lilac, the baby furniture is white, and the bedding is from Pottery Barn Kids.

  • My migraines thankfully abated, and I haven’t been back to the ER again.  (And, yes, I’m knocking on wood while I type!)
  • I have yet to swell or experience any of the common third trimester side effects. These last weeks have thus been comfortable, and I can easily walk two-three miles a day.
  • I’m still vomiting on an almost daily basis, much like I do when I’m not pregnant. The doctors were slightly concerned about the fact that I hadn’t gained any weight in eight weeks, although the fetus’ weight was in the normal range. I was ordered to eat as much as I could so I’ve been inhaling foods like macaroni and cheese and ice cream that tend not to make me nauseous. I’ve finally started to gain some weight, and the doctors are pleased that I have a bit of a cushion going into my C-section. (I appreciate that this experience isn’t one with which most pregnant women can identify. I feel as though the Weight Gods are balancing everything out since I gained more from three months of steroids during chemotherapy than I have during my entire pregnancy.)
  • My belly has finally gone past my boobs so I clearly look pregnant now.  Several close friends who don’t live in the area have indicated how much they regret not being able to see me pregnant. I’m never sure how to respond to that since I view pregnancy as a means to an end. Please comment if you get the allure of the belly!
  • I’m fortunately sleeping well at night. (I’m sure it helps that I was used to getting up several times throughout the night before I was pregnant.) It’s an added bonus that I can also still sleep on my stomach.
  • Since February, I've felt Braxton Hicks (or false) contractions when I've vomited excessively. Aside from that, I haven’t had any contractions. The procedure is still scheduled for the 31st, but I'll let you know if anything changes!

Until my next post, please know how thankful I am for all the love, concern and support! xoxo

What’s Dildology?

A friend of mine recently relayed the following story to me:

I went to one of those Girls’ Pleasure Parties recently. When the consultant began describing her briefcase full of sex toys, I asked whether any of the products contained phthalates.

“What are phthalates?” the consultant inquired.

I then proceeded to tell the group about the lack of regulation in the adult toy industry and the fact that many products contain potentially toxic ingredients such as phthalates. I told them to check out your blog or search online for more information.

My friend and I talked a bit about how it's more lucrative for manufacturers to make products with cheaper materials that are linked to cancer, infertility, and liver and kidney problems. There's also little incentive for companies to educate their employees and the public.

Phthalates aren't the only problem, as Dangerous Lilly describes in this post. At sexuality conferences, many educators and bloggers have expressed concern about the following:

  • Companies can put “Phthalate Free” on the boxes of their products whether or not that’s actually the case. (Again, this is an unregulated industry!)
  • Some adult toy manufacturers claim their products are made of medical-grade silicone, when that’s not entirely true. More accurately, we as consumers need to figure out which products are 100% silicone and which are not.
  • Toys can be made with body-safe materials, but the pigmentation can be toxic. A Dutch study found that some yellow toys had cadmium levels so high that the EU would require a radioactive sticker!

This concerns me as a sex educator, a toy user, and a woman who has battled cancer. Without proper labeling and warnings, how do we know what we’re actually putting inside our bodies?

The lawyer in me wonders if we could lobby the FDA, but as Dangerous Lilly describes, that’s problematic because:

We can cry out for the industry to be regulated by our government, but really what will that get us? A higher priced dildo. A “luxury sex toy” that costs double what they do now, and their current costs are already prohibitive to many. Sex toys that take twice as long in development resulting in fewer, quality new sex toys being introduced to the market every year. When you bring the FDA to the party, you get mountains of paperwork, costly fees and annual 3-4 week-long audits to retain your FDA classifications. The better solution just might be to let the industry self-regulate, but with a little help from a neutral party.

So, what can be done?

Enter intends to provide material verification services and maintain a public database of the results, adding transparency and oversight to the industry while educating the public about the science behind pleasure products. We stand on our own, unaffiliated and uninfluenced, and we are dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of the dildo-loving population at large through education (and maybe a little entertainment).

The organization is operated as nonprofit, and its mission is based on integrity. An example of this is that they will not accept products directly from manufacturers.

Comprehensively testing the materials within toys costs between $200 and $400. That's a pricey endeavor without any financial backing!

When Dangerous Lilly asked if I would help promote's fundraising efforts, I was all too glad to participate. The industry needs this testing, and we as consumers deserve it!

If you're able to make a donation, any amount is appreciated. There are added incentives if you donate at least $15.

  • Donate $15 or more and you'll receive a coupon code for or
  • Donate $25 or more and you'll receive the coupon code and a bumper sticker.
  • For $50 or more, you'll get the coupon code, bumper sticker and a t-shirt.
  • And, for $100 or more, you'll receive a complimentary one-hour private toy consultation with Dangerous Lilly herself!

Check out the site, learn more about the products that you’re using, promote this fundraiser on social media, and donate if you can!

Preferred Parking for Expectant Moms

As we drove up to the baby store, The Man noticed the parking spots for expectant mothers at the front of the lot and went to pull into one.

“No way!” I exclaimed with a chuckle. “I’m pregnant. I’m not an invalid. I’m cancer free. I’m not using one of those spaces.”

I’ve used similar lines to reason with loved ones about the fact that I can walk a few miles a day, lift boxes and drive wherever I need to. Despite my health concerns and the fact that my pregnancy is high risk, I’ve been fortunate (knock on wood) to have had an easy pregnancy.

The issue of parking spaces for expectant mothers has been on my mind of late, though. In a trip to a shopping mall on a busy Saturday night, my friend assumed that I would take one of the preferred parking spaces. I didn’t feel right doing so.

My thoughts inspired the following Facebook status update:

I shake my head and keep driving every time I see preferred parking spaces for expectant moms. Barring extreme complications, pregnancy is not a disability. Let's give preferred parking spots to people with health conditions that aren't a choice!

The online discussion that ensued was an interesting one. To highlight the major points:

  • If pregnant women need or want the spots, then why should anyone question their existence? 
  • I qualified for temporary disability due to a pregnancy-related condition, but didn't feel comfortable asking for a disability placard. I was thankful for those spots so I didn't have to use a handicapped space.
  • I’m pregnant, and I would never take advantage of these spots. 
  • I wish these spots existed when I was pregnant! 
  • Everyone’s situation is different so we shouldn’t judge. 
  • People will always take advantage of these types of things – pregnant or not. 
  • Wouldn’t it make more sense to have parking spaces for new moms? 

Offline comments included that these spaces are merely a marketing tool and how resentful several friends feel about these spots existing.

The discussion also prompted me to think about why these spots bother me. The answer is two-fold:

1. As someone who had cancer, I would have loved preferred parking spots for me back then! (Last month, I was in the ER twice, threw up almost daily and had bronchitis. That month was a walk in the park compared to how I felt post-chemotherapy!)

I wish there were preferred spaces for people who are having a really rough health day for whatever reason. I realize, though, that some people who aren't ill or limited in their mobility would unfortunately take advantage of these spots!

2. As a feminist and attorney, I worry that special treatment for all expectant mothers might have negative repercussions. Discrimination against women in the workplace is often insidious. Working females of a certain age are still placed on the “Mommy Track,” regardless of whether they have or desire to have children. There are laws in place to protect against pregnancy discrimination, and women who are experiencing difficult pregnancies are entitled to temporary disability protection. But, if there’s the perception that all pregnant women – not just women with pregnancy-related medical conditions – require special treatment like preferred parking, could that be a detriment to working women?

I don’t know the answer to that question. In the meantime, though, I’m going to keep driving around the parking garage in search of a spot, feeling thankful that I don't need the preferred parking and questioning whether these spaces are beneficial on a macro level.

What are your thoughts on preferred parking spaces for expectant moms?