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Breastfeeding Mom in Maryland Could Face Jail Time for Postponing Jury Duty

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When I was about 36 weeks pregnant with our first baby, I had to go to court for jury duty. I waddled my way into the courthouse and settled uneasily into the wooden bench. Fortunately, the lawyers took one look at me and let me go. Wise decision, I believe. Had they picked me, I would have had to raise my hand every hour to go to the bathroom.
Before that day, I had considered postponing my jury duty until after the baby was born. But I soon realized that didn’t make sense since I was planning to work from home and breastfeed. Without a full-time sitter, jury duty would have been near impossible. I had served on a week-long trial once before, so I knew what I was in for.
Given the challenges of breastfeeding and serving jury duty, there are twelve states that actually exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty (California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia). Click here to learn about the laws in your state.
So it’s a bit of a surprise to see what’s happened to a Maryland mom. A judge sentenced her to a night in jail or a $150 fine, after she asked to postpone her jury duty. Here’s the story from one of the local TV stations:
Elizabeth Jett’s baby boy Henry was less than 12 weeks old when she was called for jury duty. “I think it’s a case of priorities. Taking care of your children should be your first priority. Jury duty can always come later,” Jett said.
Jett asked to postpone and serve during the Summer, when Henry would be older and her mother, a full-time teacher, could take care of him and his five-year-old brother.
The Carroll County judge said Jett was in contempt of court, which Jett thought was unbelievable. “I was just shocked. I couldn’t even put it into words,” she said.
Legislation that would allow nursing mothers with children under the age of two to be excused from jury duty was introduced for the second time. When the plan was proposed in 2004, many lawmakers shot it down.
Brian Frosh, Chair for the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said the law would cause more people to try to postpone their duties, “If you start saying, we’re gonna excuse people for breastfeeding, you’ve gotta say ok to kidney dialysis, chemotherapy and all the other maladies that afflict the human condition.”
Frosh said the law already gives judges broad discretion to excuse residents from jury duty, “So what we want is for judges to use their discretion liberally.”
As for Elizabeth Jett, she has since asked for a waiver, because she can’t afford the fine. The judge in the case, Barry Hughes, did not want to comment. The jury commissioner hung up on Andrea McCarren, as soon as she identified herself as a reporter.

Click on this link to watch the video from the TV station. You can read more about this story from the Baltimore Examiner.

Leave A Comment and Enter to Win Weleda Baby Lotion and Soap

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When our kids were newborns, I hated bath time. I was scared. In my eyes, water plus baby equaled danger. I wouldn’t bathe them unless another adult was around. As a result, the kids sometimes went more than a week without a bath. But it didn’t really matter. They weren’t all that dirty. And besides, “baths dry out the skin,” I rationalized.
Once we hit the sandbox years all that changed. Apple sauce and yogurt made baths a necessity. So I figured out various tricks to make things feel less precarious. My all time best move– using a towel under their armpits to lift them out of the bath. It worked wonders.
And these days, there are definitely high points in the bath routine. The boys now ask to take a “brothers’ bath.” Together, they bathe their ducks and “wash” the tub walls. There are even comedic moments. The Bear (2 years old) once announced, “Mommy, a nugget.” (That’s his word for a little poop). And sure enough, I found a marble-sized green ball in the water.
Even so, I sometimes avoid bath time for a different reason– pure exhaustion. With a 2 year old and a 3 year old, baths involve an incredible amount of wrangling– into the bathroom, clothes off, into the tub, spash splash plash, out of the tub, moisturize, diaper on before there’s a pee on the floor, pajamas on. It’s like herding recalcitrant cattle.
But maybe I don’t need to dread all of this so much. Weleda, the makers of organic personal care and medicinal products recently contacted me to tell me about their items for babies. So far, I’ve tried the Calendula Lotion and Calendula Cream Bath. Both have a lovely scent that reminds me of a spa. I can’t tell you what the kids think of these products– we’re away and I’m not about to try anything new on them while we’re not home. I did, however, test the products on my own skin, which is extremely sensitive and prone to exczema. And so far so good. (But before you try any new products on a child with rash prone skin or allergies, check with your pediatrician).
Weleda has offered to give away five sets of the lotion and cream bath. So I’m holding a little contest. Leave a comment with your favorite bath time story. I’ll then pick five winners at random. The contest deadline is March 30th.

Sometimes I Have Momnesia

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I woke up at 5:30 this morning with a flash of insight. I finally remembered where my cell phone was. It had been missing since 3 pm on Wednesday when I put it in a safe spot– a dining room chair– while I was straightening up. Of course it was such a “safe” spot, that I couldn’t find it. And not only that, I had silenced the ringer because of nap time, so calling myself was useless.
Does this ever happen to you? Do you find yourself forgetting things because you are so preoccupied with work and kids and stuff? The Today Show and USA Today say it happens to a lot of moms and they’re calling it “momnesia.” Today did a whole piece this morning on momnesia and the kids and I were included in the video. Click here if you want to check it out. The story ran again, in a slightly different version, on NBC Nightly News.
If you watch the piece, you’ll learn about some of my other momnesia highlights…like the time I bought groceries at the supermarket, and then drove away, leaving the bags behind. I didn’t realize my blunder until I got home. But hey, at least it wasn’t the kids who were left behind. Small victories.

A Family Vacation

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Traveling was once a fairly straight-forward proposition. Bring plane ticket, sunblock and extra underwear. Now, with a two year old and a three year old, it’s a military maneuver. Last month, my husband and I took a weekend away. We were heading out of state, on a plane, and my mom was coming to stay with the kids. It took me about a week to get ready.
First, came the list. It started as a sheet of emergency contacts and soon morphed into a two page document that included the kids’ birthdates and Tylenol dosages. I tried to think of everything. The number for the pediatrician wasn’t enough. I had to add the number of the pharmacy that delivers prescriptions. I put down our cell phone numbers, and then figured, while I was at it, I might as well include all relevant relatives.
But that degree of detail involved recreating my phone directory. My cell phone had recently suffered a water related memory loss, so I had to start from scratch. I sent out an email saying,”My cell phone crashed. Can you please tell me your numbers?”
Here are some of the various, one line, responses I got:
•”We’re in apartment 610.”
•”We don’t have a land line. Use our cell phones.”
•”Don’t use my cell. It has to be off in the ICU. Just call the hospital; they’ll find me.”
So, as you see, it took me a while to finish that “simple” list.
After the list, came the explanations of how to work things in the apartment. I figured strategically placed post-it notes would help my mom. So I set out writing instructions to the TV and computer. I put a note near the tooth brushes, identifying which brush belonged to which kid. I put a note near the phone, explaining how to call the garage to retrieve the car. Soon enough, our house looked like the movie Memento.
And after the post-its came the doomsday-type preparations. I stocked up on food, bottled water and medicine. I re-packed the diaper bags. I made sure each stroller had a rain shield; that hats and mittens were easily accessible. There were batteries and candles. And…oh, all this reminds me that we’re all out of matches…
Believe it or not, we really did relax once we were away. I called home once (ok, maybe twice) a day. And despite the brevity of the weekend, it did feel like a vacation. Even the plane ride was great. Flight delay because of maintenance trouble? No problem! Just hand me another magazine. It was glorious. Of course, once we were home, it was as if we never left. Re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere was a little bumpy.
We’re now onto the second type of trip you take when you have kids. The trip WITH kids. This is a new one for us. We did do a fair amount of travel with one baby, a couple of years ago. But we haven’t gone on a plane yet with two. We’ve been avoiding it. The thought of wedging two car seats onto the airplane was entirely unappealing. Besides, as one of my friends recently said, “Why should I be miserable away, when I can be miserable at home, where I at least have all of my gear and I know my kid will sleep?”
Nevertheless, we’re taking the plunge. It’s grandpa’s 70th birthday and we’re heading for an island warmer than this East Coast one. So far I’ve managed, despite multiple trips to the post office, to get the kids passports; I’ve found a child friendly hotel; and I’m steps away from securing a crib. I’ve even discovered a device that should render the plane ride tolerable. It’s a seatbelt adapter made by a company called Amsafe. It’s for toddlers and young kids. No more car seats on board! We’re checking those monstrosities at the gate!!
Married with kids– travel with kids. As we’ve decided, it’s not a “vacation,” it’s a “trip.” I’ll let you know how it goes when we get back. In the meantime, does anyone have a portable DVD player we can borrow? Thomas the Tank Engine is coming with us as well.
Bon voyage.
Originally posted on the New York City Moms Blog