Should You Visit a Loved One in the Hospital?

Question from a friend: My cousin has a surgery coming up, and he’ll be in the hospital for four days. Should I go to the hospital to visit him?

Answer: Well, that depends on several factors. I’m thus answering your question with more questions.

First of all, how close are you to this cousin? Does he have other loved ones who will be providing support for him while he’s in the hospital? Is he expecting you to visit him, or does he need rides to and from the hospital?

Secondly, what type of surgery is he having? Will visitors be restricted to immediate family members because of the severity of the operation? For certain surgeries, he won’t be allowed more than a few visitors and/or visits will need to be brief.

If you are close with him and he isn’t barred from having you visit him at the hospital, I would ask him if he would like you to come by during those four days. When people are ill or recouping, they typically fall into one of two camps.

  1. Some people love to be around others, and the social element helps them to heal.
  2. Others are the complete opposite and prefer to be alone or have as few people around as possible until they feel more like themselves again. 

There’s no right or wrong approach, but if your cousin is the latter type, then wait until he’s recouped.

It’s also possible if your cousin hasn’t spent much time in hospitals, he might not know how he’ll feel and whether or not he will want visitors. In that case, I recommend texting him or whomever will be in the waiting room during his surgery to see if he’s up for a visit. If he is, then ask which day would be best. (He’s likely to be very groggy after anesthesia on the first day and then in more pain on the second day once anesthesia wears off.)

If he isn’t up for visitors, don’t take it personally. Let the primary caregiver know that you’re happy to help however is needed, if you feel comfortable doing so. If not, then tell the primary caregiver that you’re thinking of him and hoping he has a quick recovery. Once he returns home, you can send a card or food to his house, or reach out to him then.

If you do go to the hospital, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Prior to arriving, ask him if you can bring anything. If he’s allowed to eat real food, I guarantee you that there’s something he would rather eat or drink than what the hospital serves. (If the dish is high in sugar or particularly salty or fatty, check with the nurse before giving it to him.)
  • Most hospitals have hand sanitizers on every floor. Before you enter the room, sanitize or wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Don’t stay long, unless your cousin asks you to. Plan on staying between 20 minutes and an hour. If a health care professional comes in while you’re there to examine him, give him a gentle hug, wish him well and leave. If he starts to get drowsy while you’re there, excuse yourself so he can sleep.
  • Be yourself. If he doesn’t look good, you don’t need to say that he does. If you’re not a comedian, you don’t need to tell him jokes to try to make him laugh. Ask open-ended questions to allow him to tell you how he's doing or if he needs anything, and then talk about whatever you normally would with him.
  • Remember that visiting is about his comfort, not yours. You might need to wait to use a public bathroom, you might not have a nice chair to sit in while you’re there, and your cousin isn’t likely to feel or act like himself. Making sure that he is comfortable is your first priority!

Did I miss anything readers?

What's your mode when you're ill or recouping when it comes to visitors?

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 ;)!

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

The ‘S’ Word

Over the years, I’ve thrown quite a few baby showers for friends. Some have been simple, while others have been elaborate with budgets that would cause you to raise your eyebrows. Since I love party planning and babies, I've liked serving as a shower hostess.

When it came to celebrating Baby Girl’s arrival, though, I cringed every time someone mentioned the ‘S’ word.

“You HAVE to have a shower!” several friends implored. “That’s what people do!”

“When have you ever known me to do something because of others?” I replied.

“You’ll need so many things for the baby!” a few exclaimed.

“It seems presumptuous for me to have an event where there’s an expectation that people buy me gifts. I also don’t like the thought of having the friends who will help when she’s here spending all this money on throwing me a shower and getting me gifts,” I responded.

“Don’t you want to be celebrated?” two friends inquired.

“I know I’m open about a lot of things, but I don’t want to be the center of attention because I’m pregnant,” I commented.

As more and more friends approached me about a possible shower, I realized that some of this was about them…and that wasn’t a bad thing. Many of these friends had been through a lot with me over the past three years. Now, we had something – and someone – to celebrate!

So, while at Peacock Café for lunch, a few dear friends and I talked about an event to fete the upcoming arrival of Baby Girl.

“What about an evening cocktail reception?” one friend asked, as I nodded my head in agreement.

“Co-ed!” another friend exclaimed, as she knew that I’d want The Man and several close guy friends there.

I smiled and exhaled, thinking to myself that this sounded like fun! The hostesses also respected my wishes not to: 1) have games; 2) have decorations; or 3) open gifts in front of everyone. (I always feel like the latter is an awkward waste of time that could be better spent enjoying each other’s company!)

The reception was held last weekend, and I’m still smiling because of it! Picture forty good friends in a large private room with a bar, hor d’oeuvres, whoopie pies, and lounge music. When the crowd dwindled down, the lounge music was turned off, and the dance party began! Although the reception was supposed to end at 8pm, some of us didn’t leave until 10:45pm!

With the fabulous hostesses and dessert maker

They snuck a belly shot in!

Photo Credits: Kipp Burgoyne Photography

Thanks to the wonderful hostesses and all who attended for their love, support and generosity! The fact that I made it through a shower-esque event without playing baby games or having to wear a hat made of bows was icing on the cake ;).

What are your thoughts on baby showers?

Have you gone to one that you particularly enjoyed?

50 Shades Class in AmWord Magazine

Earlier in the semester, Alex Korba, a writer for the American University literary magazine, asked if she could interview me regarding my 50 Shades trilogy class. Alex's article is available in the latest issue of AmWord Magazine and reprinted with permission below. (Fellow bloggers might find the last paragraph to be especially relevant!) Hope you enjoy the piece as much as I did!

Fifty Shades Risque? American University's Newest Class

By Alex Korba

Professor and sex educator Stef Woods came up with the idea for the course based on her interest in the double standards regarding female sexuality.

When asked why she picked Fifty Shades as the subject for the course, Woods responded passionately.

“My background is as an attorney, so I started thinking about copyright issues with books on the computer and fan fiction,” she said. “I am also a sex educator; I do a lot of health advocacy and health education. I read it and I immediately thought, this is an abusive relationship.”

It is not uncommon for college courses to use polarizing books as a lens to study cultural facets.  For example, Twilight and The Wire have both been utilized in classes as case studies to examine issues that transcend the books themselves. In the case of Fifty Shades, the very real topics of abuse and mental instability are at play. Just behind the glossy love story these issues beg for attention and they deserve to receive more of it.

Though she believes fervently in the goals of the class, Woods has no delusions as to the literary merit of the book.

“You’re not reading them as you would read a Shakespearean sonnet,” Woods said with a laugh. “You don’t have to analyze every word, or even every chapter.” As an exercise in literary criticism, the class has to edit the first chapter of the book. Woods believes this to be good practice for future careers where employers will need documents proofread promptly.

When asked her opinion on whether the Fifty Shades books give American girls an unrealistically rosy image of BD/SM relationships, Woods replied that she believes this current generation knows better.

“My entire class agrees that there are glaring control issues. The author wrote it as her fantasy and it was targeted at women of that same demographic,” she said. “Their idea of a perfect man on paper is one who takes control of everything when at the end of the day they’re just looking for a man to take out the garbage.”

Because of the controversial subject of the class, opposition is inevitable. Since its publication, the series has been dubbed “mommy-porn” and received scathing reviews by many reporters. This didn’t stop hordes of women from flocking to the bookstores and firing up their Kindles. If anything, the taboo reputation served to increase the book’s popularity.  Like these women, Woods is not fazed by the book’s repute.

 “It’s not a book club,” Woods asserted, “There are 60 other resources. My syllabus is 11 pages single-spaced. I stand by my work product; I stand by this course idea. If you think it’s an easy A, that’s not my class.”

When asked whether she would consider teaching the class again next semester, Woods shrugged and responded, “It’s a short shelf-life class.” She continued on to say that she is very interested in teaching a course with the topic of blogging as a social force. In a world where technology is ever changing, Woods is a professor unafraid to adapt to the changes, even if it means embracing a subject that she could potentially catch flack for.

“Opposition? Ok, that’s fine,” she said dismissively. “For every compliment there’ll be a hundred criticisms, especially in an anonymous online world.” Curvy Toyfriend Giveaway

Raise your hand if you love toy giveaways.

(Okay, you can put your hand down now.), the sexual happiness people, will provide one reader with a tickler from Toyfriend.

What and OKCupid are to dating, the tickler Toyfriends are to vibrators! There's a perfect partner out there just waiting for you!

They offer a variety of fun sizes, colors and curious shapes in their line of battery operated special friends.

Eric Kalen, the founder of LELO and Tickler, is more than just the designer behind this cute and fun line of playful vibrators. He's also a matchmaker of sorts, helping us find our vibrator soul-mates, hook-ups or casual romances.

Who doesn't want to fall in love?

With fun, whimsical and functional designs that offer quality and affordability in one convenient and colorful package.

All Toyfriend products are:

  • Made from 100% body-safe silicone;
  • 100% waterproof; and
  • Quiet enough so that no one will know what you’re doing unless you want them to.

For this giveaway, one lucky winner will receive a very special Toyfriend: The Curvy Rocket 5-Function Silicone G-Spot Vibrator! Designed for maximum stimulation, this silicone vibrator is detailed with ridges and bulbs along its full length. Tickler's waterproof vibrator has a gradually-increasing girth for fulfilling G-spot stimulation with every thrust.

An ideal vibrator for experienced sex toy users and beginners alike, this smooth silicone sex toy is tailored for internal stimulation. Offering a smooth insertion that gives way to 6 ever-increasing curves to tease and please your internal pleasure zones.

The design also allows for sensational external play as the ridged contours tease and please your clitoris and labia with a wealth of intensely stimulating textures.

Explore the 5 intense vibration settings, including 3 patterns and 2 speeds with the easy-to-use soft push button base. Scroll through each titillating setting by pushing the button, holding it down for a few seconds to switch the toy off completely.

For maximum enjoyment, use this vibrator with plenty of water-based lubricant. If you remember, silicone lubricant on a silicone toy can make the product tacky to the touch.

Batteries, instructions, a presentation stand and Tickler's one-year warranty also come included.

How can you enter to win a Curvy toy?

Comment below to enter with the following phrase:

I’d love a Curvy Rocket Toyfriend from!

This giveaway will run through Saturday, March 23, 2013. The winner must reside in the United States. Only one comment per person. The winner will be chosen randomly via Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, no compensation or goods have been received in exchange for this post.

If you’re interested in more chances to win a Toyfriend product, comment on this blog post between now and March 31st.

Good luck!

Laura Meets Jeffrey Book Giveaway

Interested in winning a copy of Laura Meets Jeffrey? Read on to find out more about the book, author and how you can enter this giveaway!

Laura Meets Jeffrey while she’s working in an upscale New York City brothel in 1980 and they share an apocalyptic moment. It’s love at first orgasm. And so begins their double lives in a real life version of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Laura Meets Jeffrey is a love story, a name-dropping, hilarious, shameless erotic cyclone, a documentary of the excesses, dangers and extreme edges of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and a close-up personal history of sexual liberation’s primetime. 

At dinner parties she’s known as a witty lingerie model and jewelry artisan, and a famous film director’s ex-lover. He’s her media wizard boyfriend, a designer discovered by John Lennon who worked for John & Yoko, Apple Records and the Rolling Stones, and then created Puritan, the world’s largest-selling explicit sex magazine. On weekends he boxes with Ryan O’Neal and Jose Torres. 

And at night, in the erotic demimondes of New York, Miami and LA, Laura and Jeffrey romp through waves of drugs and lascivious exploration and dive into S&M, porn star threesomes, orgies, glory holes and sex clubs as our unquenchable libidomaniacs fulfill their wildest fantasies.

The late Norman Mailer wrote the Foreword to Laura Meets Jeffrey and considered his famous interview with Jeffrey and Laura on “Ethics and Pornography,” excerpted as a bonus chapter in this book, one of the best of the more than 600 he gave in his lifetime. Besides bequeathing the Foreword, Mailer gave guidance to this account of two lovers, who missed none of the wild era just before the door slammed shut on sexual freedom and aren’t afraid to reveal all of it. 

“There is no such thing as great sex unless you have an apocalyptic moment.” 

• “The difference between writing and literature is agreeable style and irony. This book has both.” 

• “Objective, funny, salacious and perversely-dare I say it- uplifting!” —- Norman Mailer

“Undeniably brilliant.” — Legs McNeil, legendary punk journalist and author of the book's introduction

“Swimming in audacity.” — Dwayne Raymond

"I LOVE Laura Meets Jeffrey!! It makes me laugh out loud; it makes me horny; it leaves me in awe. It's a very funny book. Michelson writes about sex in a way that blows my mind, and his writing, and the point- counterpoint of his voice with Laura’s, brings them to life. What a fascinating character she is! When I finished Laura Meets Jeffrey there was a void. I miss being there." — Elizabeth Mailer
Would you like to meet the co-author, Jeffrey Michelson?  Join us on the Goodreads' "Book of the Month" club on The BDSM Group!
Want to hear more from the co-author, Laura Bradley?  Read her interview in the UK Daily Mail!
Want to enter to win a hard or electronic copy of Laura Meets Jeffrey?
Comment to enter below with the title of the book, "Laura Meets Jeffrey," by Friday, March 15th. One entry per person. The winning comment will be chosen at random by A hard copy of the book can only be shipped to a winner in the continental United States. Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, no compensation has been received for this post.

Good luck!

Seductive Couplets Giveaway

Want to win a Seductive Couplets’ game?

“What’s that?” you might be wondering!

Seductive Couplets emerged organically for a woman in a long-term relationship who observed how easy it is to be in the same physical space as her partner, but not see each other (also known as ‘Roommatitis’). She set the stage with one line and let him discover what delicious surprise she had in store, to the delight of them both.

More and more games popped up, and a funny thing happened! Their good humor leaked out into their practical matters, and their disputes over domestic matters subsided. They developed light-heartedness and playfulness in their interactions, and their bond strengthened, creating an atmosphere of love and appreciation.

She decided to share this delicious boon so that other couples could cure their Roommatitis. Seductive Couplets is a game for everyday couples like you and your partner. Enticing and entertaining scenarios with sample scripts provide a playground where everyday events become as sweet as honey. Seductive role-play transports you through space and time, from a high-stakes showdown in the Wild West to revitalizing your senses under a waterfall in the Amazon. Intimate surprises from your partner keep you both smiling all day long!

Seductive Couplets keep couples bonded using a couple of our most primal gifts: play and carnal pleasure. Slide a card in his pocket or slip one in her intimates’ drawer. Each game has sweet nectar ready to be enjoyed.

Come savor the sweetness inside! Check out the Seductive Couplets’ website for more information about the product.

Want to win a copy of the game? Comment once before Monday, March 4, 2013, for your chance to enter. Your comment must include the phrase, “Seductive Couplets.”

A winner will be chosen randomly by The winner must reside in the continental United States to receive the game. Good luck!

* Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, this giveaway is being conducted without direct compensation to me. One free product will be given to the winner reader in exchange for this post.

Sex: Mind full or Mindful with Dr. Jenn

"We don't talk about the complexity of sexuality. What happens when we don't talk about it is that sexuality ends up in the shadows, and that is where we have shame, embarrassment, exploitation, abuse, and fear."  ~Jennifer Gunsaullus, PhD

Dr. Jenn is a sociologist, sex therapist, and public speaker. I'm also thankful to call her a friend. I thoroughly enjoyed the video of her entertaining and informative talk at a recent TEDxWomen event in San Diego, California. (And, yes, I say that with all bias aside.)

Given that Valentine's Day is tomorrow, we're inundated with media attention and marketing campaigns that emphasize how we need to express our love and passion…on this one day only! Dr. Jenn's TED talk and email tips for Mindful Sex help to remind us to be in touch with our feelings and sexuality everyday!