15 interesting celebs who drank the Sesame Street Kool-Aid

You say you’re in the mood to discuss great literature? Well, that’s just adorable, but as my Great Aunt Ida would say: “Go see where you gotta go.” I’m the mommy of a two-year-old. There will be no book reading, ever, to take place in this house. Ever again. Is that clear?

Now, I’m a firm believer in becoming as much of an expert in whatever experience just happens to be yours at the moment–vapid or otherwise. Since Sesame Street haunts my dreams, I thought I’d dig up a list of 15 of the coolest, most interesting celebs who took time out of their busy day to hang with muppets.

Lauren Bacall

The coolest woman ever in films not only appeared on an early episode of the show–where she read to children–she has been referenced several times since. Apparently, not one but two minor muppets reuse her infamous quote to Bogie: “You know how to whistle, don’t you?”

Carol Burnett

One of the funniest comediennes in history was also the first celebrity guest to appear in a Sesame Street telecast. She shared air time with Kermit in 1969.

Buzz Aldrin

Who else could convince Cookie Monster that the moon is not made of cookies? Sadly, Cookie didn’t get to find this out until 2005. I believe he was 49 at the time.

Chuck Close

How can you not love that the contemporary artist chatted with Big Bird about art in 2001? Though wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to shoot the shit with Bert, a muppet who you can actually envision hanging a replica of Rembrandt?

Robert De Niro

In 2001, the legendary actor entertained Elmo by pretending to be everything from a dog to a head of lettuce (which only De Niro could pull off).

Elvis Costello

You can say he bastardized a great song — “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”–but at the end of the day, it is his song to bastardize.

Jake Gyllenhaal

It’s not at all surprising that the actor appeared on the show; what’s surprising is that millions of moms had to force themselves not to shout, “He’s so cute!”  while wiping oatmeal from their child’s chin.

Hugh Jackman

In 2009, Jackman and Elmo spoke with an Australian audience about bushfires. Which is important, I know. But he and Gyllenhaal are also important because they don’t so much make me mind having to watch Sesame Street. So much.


The rapper-turned-actor chats with Elmo about his love for rhymes on a 2007 episode.

Kim Cattrall

The Sex in the City star appeared on a 2008 episode, where she–no surprise here–demonstrated the meaning of the word “fabulous.”

Kofi Annan

If only all unruly toddlers could follow the former UN Secretary-General’s example on the show as he taught some pissed off muppets how to resolve a dispute.

Cyndi Lauper

The outrageously talented 80s star sang “Do the Twist” with the Twister Sisters on the Sesame Street video “Elmocize.”

Nina Simone

In 1972, the beautiful singer sat on a city stoop alongside some groovy looking kids in bell-bottoms and serenaded them with “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.”

Stockard Channing

Rizzo + Jim Henson’s muppets = everything great in the world. But years before Grease, Channing made her TV debut on Sesame Street playing “The Number Painter” (1972).

Lisa Bonet (aka Denise Huxtable)

Hands down, the best dressed television character of the 1980s appeared on the show in 1986 beside Gonzo and her Cosby co-star, Tempestt Bledsoe.

Who are your favorite Sesame Street celebs? Oh, you’re too busy reading? Liar!


All episiotomies are not created equal

What is an episiotomy, you ask?

For anyone who doesn’t know, take a deep breath as you read the following: an episiotomy is a cut made in the tissue between the vagina and anus during childbirth to help speed up the delivery process and prevent excessive vaginal tearing.

I must have been living under a rock because prior to maybe my 33rd pregnant week, I had never heard of this nightmarish-sounding act of torture. And, of course, who winds up having to have 12 stitches? Yep. 12 freaking stitches.

Fast forward to 10 weeks postpartum. As I explained in a previous post, sex has proven extremely painful, so I made an appointment with my gyno to make sure all is ok down there. As it turns out, scar tissue can cause part of the vaginal wall to become thicker, and is thus to blame for painful intercourse. Aside from taking a culture and prescribing some sort of antibiotic, there is nothing I can do but wait.

Well, wait and research the cause of my misery – then become needlessly angry when I discover that, according to the Mayo Clinic and American Pregnancy Association, I may not have even needed an episiotomy in the first place.

Here are some of the reasons you may need the procedure:

Your baby’s head is too large for your vaginal opening
You need a forcep or vacuum assisted delivery (seriously? Do doctors still use these instruments?)
Your baby is in distress
Your perineum hasn’t had time to stretch on its own
You aren’t able to control your pushing
Did anyone’s gyno outline these facts for them? Or ask their permission prior to wheeling in a tray of scissors (which probably scared me more than the actual pushing part of labor)?

Why is the episiotomy such a secret?


Signs that I’m crazy: I think my gynecologist is my BFF

Gynecologists always seemed like the anti-dentists to me. If you ever find yourself in need of dental work, shoot out a Facebook query and I bet you’ll get 10 recommendations in five minutes. But if you need a good gyno, don’t hold your breath. So when we women actually find a doc who doesn’t make our skin crawl, we loyally latch on.

I think I got lucky. Dr. G is young enough to still seem enthusiastic about his job and patients, but older than me – which, for whatever psychologically bizarre reason, makes me feel more secure. Throughout my pregnancy he was a calming force who understood my aversion to having metal things placed inside of me and went ahead in the gentlest manner possible. When he discovered my baby had an enlarged abdomen (which turned out to be nothing at all), he took the time to explain to me what it could be and what it certainly was not (like that she swallowed her twin – no joke, I actually said that out loud). Besides my husband and I, he was the first person on earth to hear our little K’s heartbeat – how can you deny such intimacy?

He even convinced me that my fear of pain probably wasn’t a good enough reason to have an elective C-section. If you think that’s not at least a tiny bit commendable, read this New York Times article about the nation’s burgeoning C-section rates: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/health/24birth.html

So yes, I grew fond of Dr. G and looked forward to seeing him every month and then every two weeks. And then, the day before my due date and the day of what I hoped was my last ob gyn appointment, I got a call from Dr. G’s receptionist.

“Dr. G will be out of the country this weekend. Can we reschedule your appointment?”

Um, no? Unless he was meeting with a team of insanely intelligent oncologists in some serious place like Geneva, this was completely unacceptable. I pictured him tanning in Ibiza — before that I didn’t even realize he had legs beneath that white coat — and my hormonal self became more hormonal. I calmly explained to the receptionist that I was giving birth any moment. I asked to meet with one of Dr. G’s colleagues instead.

I felt like a five-year-old whose best friend had chosen to play with a cuter, more interesting girl at the playground that day.

To make a long story short, Dr. G was not there for the birth of K – and many women have told me the same thing happened to them. And although I can’t remember the name of the doctor who was there, he got the job done and that’s all that really counts.


Myth: You are born a mommy

Best slice of wisdom a nurse at the hospital shared with me the morning after I gave birth: “You aren’t a mother when the baby is born – you become a mother.”
I had been crying for the third time that day — the shaking kind of crying that only happens when hormones are involved — because I couldn’t figure out how to replicate the “hospital blanket swaddle” — a telltale sign that I would prove a dismal failure at motherhood.

I asked her how long it takes to “become” a mother. She promised me it would happen in two weeks.

“You wake up in two weeks and, all of a sudden, you know how to be her mommy.”

Two weeks. I could handle waiting two weeks.


Myth: Breastfeeding is a choice

Yes, at the end of the day, what you do with your breasts is up to you. But the word “choice” implies something far more casual than the “decision” to breastfeed – and then bottle feed – turned out to be.

I started off determined to breastfeed because I read it was much healthier for baby, but I’m not going to deny it: my decision was colored by the fact that it’s a very popular thing to do these days. Fact is, you won’t find much literature out there that claims BFing is not the best thing for baby – and you can’t dispute the ridiculous expense of formula.

Everyone will have an opinion on how you should feed your baby. If you’re even a tiny bit insecure in your position as a new mom, like I am, some of those flippant comments can crush you. Couple the comments with a mother who actually put her nose to my breast and provided play-by-play coverage on how my baby was eating (no kidding), and you will want to kill yourself before baby’s two month birthday.

BFing sounds like it should be intuitive. However, for me, it was insanely difficult and both a physically and emotionally painful experience.

As I explained in this post, K didn’t latch on properly at first. She was an eager eater and her intense suckling left me with one hell of a severely bruised left breast. As a result of this, I let her feed far more often on my right breast and my milk supply came in unevenly. There were times I could pump as much as three ounces from one breast and as little as a quarter of an ounce from the other breast.

After a few weeks, the pain did decrease and my breasts instead felt full, tingly, and slightly uncomfortable if K hadn’t fed in a few hours. I found the discomfort manageable.

What really troubled me was the number of times K needed to feed and the fact that she had lost a lot of weight and wasn’t gaining it back quickly enough. She wanted to nurse every 45 minutes. She’d suck hard, then whimper a bit, and then usually fall asleep on my breast after six or seven minutes. My husband and I would disrobe and tickle her, change her diaper, or drag a cold wet cloth along her face. She would wake for a little bit, suck a little more, fall back asleep, and then scream a few minutes later to eat again.

There was no point in even getting dressed. I walked around my apartment wearing tube tops or just plain naked from the waist up. My bras were permanently stained. I couldn’t leave the house for longer than half an hour because K’s feeding needs were so erratic.

I was exhausted and angry – pissed at my husband for not having to be a part of the stressful feeding experience, pissed at the lactation counselor and my own mother for not just telling me to give up if I was so upset and anxious, and beyond frustrated at the sight of poor, innocent K’s beautiful gaping bird mouth. Where others saw a gorgeous newborn, I saw a need machine. I was frightened to death by my own child’s natural needs.

This was not what I had imagined and it couldn’t possibly be healthy to continue trying to BF.

So I stopped. But, honestly, I have days when I still feel guilty about feeding her formula. After witnessing how difficult it had been, my husband helped to assure me that our daughter would grow up healthy, smart, and happy – with or without breast milk, but I’m sorry to say few people offered the same support – and that was an incredible disappointment.

Equally awful is the fact that, while breastfeeding communities and support groups are aplenty, I’ve spent hours browsing the web for formula-feeding tips and STILL don’t feel I can rely on what I’ve read.

Thanks to groups like The Mommy Playbook, women who bottle feed have a place to share knowledge and unburden themselves of their guilty feelings. But, really, why are some women so insecure in their own ability to mother that they have to make others feel bad?