Monday, December 16, 2013

Two Lines

A year ago I found out I was pregnant.

I had suspected that I was pregnant for about 9 days, but hadn't tested because then it would become real.  What was just a late period on December 15, became a baby on December 16, thanks to the miracles of peeing on a stick.

I started suspecting I might be pregnant on December 7.  It was a Friday night, and we were out with my friend Jerin.  I was super-tired and wanted a nap on the drive down to see him, which was always an early symptom for me.  And when he asked me to taste his homemade holiday mead, I just took a tiny sip in case I actually was preggo.  When we were at dinner, I kept running to the bathroom to see if my period had come yet.  Nope.  On the 8th we went new car shopping, and picked out the Cmax, which we picked up on the 10th.  Still nothing.

I started googling what Letrozole could do to your cycles - that was the drug I had been taking that cycle.  Everything I saw said that Letrozole could actually make cycles shorter, not longer.  I also started needing naps, which always seems to be the telltale sign for me.  So my hopes got a little higher.  But I resolved that I would wait until the following Sunday, the 16th, to test.

Saturday night we watched It's a Wonderful Life, and I bawled my eyes out.  Another sign that my hormones were out of whack, in some way or another.

Sunday I went to Von's and bought organic apples, a big bottle of water, and a pregnancy test (which had been in a locked case - nothing like asking a teenage guy to get you a pregnancy test).  I couldn't wait till I got home, and went right into the bathroom in the store.  I knew that I should actually test first thing in the morning when the hormones are higher, but I figured that it was far enough along that a positive line would show up if it was going to appear.  I've peed on lots of pregnancy tests in grocery stores.  Generally because when we were doing artificial insemination, J would make fun of me for testing too soon, so I would never want to bring a test home and risk him telling me that I was just wasting money, and should wait until I missed a period the way they did before pee-sticks came along.  So I'm used to the drill of peeing on sticks in grocery store bathrooms.  I'm even more used to getting a negative in grocery store bathrooms.  I'd strain to see whether a line would appear for several minutes, willing it, thinking that maybe that tiny little pink dot right there was a line?  Can't you see it?  Doesn't that count?  No.  It doesn't.  I'd cry for a minute or two in the stall, then gather up my stuff, check the test one last time, then go out and wash my face, and go back into the world.

This time I sat in the stall tapping my feet, biting my lip, and pulling the sticker off my apple while the screen was flooded with pink - this was nothing new - the dye always runs across the whole panel before you see whether it "sticks" on the line.  I tried not to look.  I sat the test on top of the toilet paper holder and turned my head, and counted to sixty.  When I turned back, there was the darkest line I'd ever seen.  Suddenly I was shaky and nauseous.  I looked down at my belly.  There was a baby in there.  This wasn't just a late period.  There was an actual baby growing in my tummy.

I stepped out of the stall where a queue of women had been forming, and held up the test.  They all clapped, and asked if it was my first.  I explained that I had been pregnant twice before, so was keeping my fingers crossed for this one to work.  They all said that the third time was the charm, and it was a special Christmas gift, so it would surely work out.

I put the test in my pocket, walked out to my car, eating my apple, and started talking to the baby.  "Ok, baby," I said.  "You're in there now; it's just you and me in this together, and we're gonna do it, ok?  If you're not in it for the long haul, then you should just go now.  But if you stick around, I'm going to do my best to make your environment comfy and cozy, and take really good care of you.  And we'll have an awesome life together.  But you have to stick.  You can't pull this crap of sticking for a little while and then leaving.  If you're going to do that, then just leave now.  I'll let you think about it a little bit, ok?  I'll check in with you again tomorrow when you've had time to think it through."

The next night I went to the Messiah Sing a Long at Disney Hall with my friend Sarah.  It went late thanks to carol singing in the lobby, and J texted me:  "Come home.  It's 11.  You're pregnant.  You need sleep."  That was the coolest text ever.

Hannah did threaten to leave, a month later in mid-January, when I thought I was miscarrying for three days.  And again, I sat her down and had a talk with her.  "We made a deal, little baby," I said.  "I'm holding up my end of the bargain.  You need to hold up your end, too.  If you're going to go, we will still love you, obviously, but we really hope you stick around.  Because we're planning an awesome life for you."  Then I camped out on the couch watching Girls and playing Skyrim to keep my mind off of it.

And now here we are a year later, with me wondering whether I'll ever sleep a full night and feel rested again in this lifetime, thanks to this little goober who melts my heart when she wakes up and smiles at me.  She gives me the biggest grins, and just looks like she's so in love with me.  And it all started a year ago.  It's always going to be a special day for me.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Week in Books

I used to do semi-regular entries about the books I was reading, and want to resurrect that.  I'm not reading as much as I used to, for obvious reasons, but I've been pleasantly surprised at the amount of time I still get to read (she sleeps a lot - just not in long stretches yet) so I've been able to get a lot read.  I don't know that I will continue to read a book a week, so this might turn into The Month in Books rather than the week, but for now I'll keep my fingers crossed.

This week I finished One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson.  I first discovered Bill Bryson with his Notes from a Big Country column he wrote when he returned home to the US after living in the UK for 20 years.  I had only lived in the UK for two years, but I also found myself identifying with his observations.  Wal-Mart is a scary place if the biggest store you're used to is the Tesco Metro which stocks only five brands of cereal.  I actually wrote him a physical letter, and was surprised when he wrote a physical response back to me, which I still have, tucked away in one of his books.  I pretty much devour anything he writes, whether it seems interesting to me or not, and this was no exception.  

America in 1927 was a place that we would find at once comfortingly familiar (baseball hasn't changed much) and frighteningly foreign.  The 1920's aren't really a period of history that I'm particularly interested in, and so when I first saw that Bryson's new book was focused on one summer in America, I kind of wondered what the big deal was.  But man, what a summer 1927 was.  

He opens with the story of Charles Lindberg's flight from New York to Paris.  That leads into aviation history, the other pilots who attempted the flight and didn't make it, and a history of planes in WWI.  

From there we go on to Babe Ruth's record year; which dovetails nicely into a history of baseball, the 1919 World Series fixing, the history of the hot dog and concession sales, and the various rivalries going on at the time.

Babe Comes Home was a silent movie that had been released earlier in 1927, but the real highlight of the motion pictures in 1927 was the release of Wings, which had amazing action shots and aerial shots that no one had ever captured before.  Within two years, talking pictures would take over Hollywood because in 1927 The Jazz Singer also came out, so while Wings was the summit of silent movies, the talkies were already moving in.  That leads to a history of Hollywood, movies in general, technology that supported motion pictures, famous actors and actresses at the time, and other fascinating tidbits.

1927 was also a big summer for:

-Murder Trials - Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray were on trial for conspiring to kill Ruth's husband so she could marry Judd.  They botched it up terribly, though, attempting to take advantage of the rampant prejudices against Italians by leaving an Italian language newspaper on the kitchen table, and staging a robbery.  Even in a time when most murders went unsolved and there was no forensic evidence, everyone was able to solve this one.

- Herbert Hoover - who capitalized on some of the worst flooding in history in Mississippi and surrounding states by heading up relief attempts and publicizing the heck out of it.  He would win a landslide election in 1928 thanks in part to his PR efforts.

- Blaming the wrong people - two Italian men in Boston wound up being executed for a robbery and murder that they probably didn't commit, thanks to the aforementioned prejudices and fear of fascism.

- Gene Tunney - who beat Jack Dempsey in one of the most watched boxing matches ever thanks to a much-debated long count.

- Television - in 1927 Philo Farnsworth applied for an image dissector tube patent, which made modern television possible.  Unfortunately he never got any credit for it because of RCA and a ruthless executive who quite possibly stole his information and violated the patents.

One thing I really love learning about this period in history is that so much of it is available to watch on youtube.  There aren't videos of Henry VIII jousting, which is the period in history that I usually read about.  It's really cool to see the Dempsey Tunney match, freely available to watch.

I love Bill Bryson's curiosity about the world, and I can't wait to see what he pulls out of his hat next.  A book that was as enjoyable as it was educational, which doesn't happen that often.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Heather's Guide to Exclusively Pumping

Four months ago today two important things happened in my life.

First, I gave birth after a 25 hour labor (and without an epidural!) to Hannah.

Second, because she went into the nicu right away, I started pumping.

Hannah is now a happy, flirty, smiling baby who seems to be past the worst of her colic, and in four of the past eight nights she's had sleep stretches of longer than five hours.

And I'm still hooking myself up to a machine and pumping.

Baby Hannah hasn't had a drop of formula, except for the first three days when she was in the nicu and my milk hadn't come in yet.  And I'm really proud of that.  That's the upshot of pumping.  I get to feed babygirl my good milk - the best food on the planet for her - even though she won't nurse from me.

The downside is that it sucks.  You get none of the feel-good hormones of nursing, it often hurts, and it's hella inconvenient, especially if you're working.

But I've found that there are a ton of women like me who for whatever reasons (usually medical - not many people choose this) exclusively pump.

There are plenty of guides out there with information on the practicalities of exclusively pumping including how often (every 2-3 hours - yes, even at night - until your supply is established, around 12 weeks), and things that can help supply (oatmeal, fenugreek, blessed thistle, etc).

But what those guides don't tell you is how to actually get through pumping for 15-20 minutes at a time, 7-8 times a day, when you have a newborn and/or a job.

I realized when Hannah was about 4 days old that breastfeeding was going to be a challenge, and started doing research on pumping exclusively, and there wasn't a lot out there that told me how to do it with the least amount of suckage.

So here is my Guide to How To Exclusively Pump In the Most NonSucky Way:

First, you MUST get a hands free pumping bra.  No joke, it's a necessity.  It will allow you to read magazines, watch netflix on your ipad, massage your boobs to get more milk, or any number of things that make pumping less sucky.  I have the one from Simple Wishes and it's ok.  I also made one out of a sports bra to keep at work - just cut some holes where the shields go through.  It's not as pretty, but it works just as well.

If you have a baby like mine, who needed to be held All The Time early on, it's hard to find time to pump on schedule.  I clearly recall a time when she was about 3 weeks old when I was desperate to pump at about 2am, and she was crying any time I put her down.  Finally she fell asleep in her bouncer, and I started pumping.  Three minutes into it she started screaming again.  There I was trying to hold her close to me and avoid banging her head with the bottles hanging from my boobs.  Not a good time.  Now I can put her in her swing and she can amuse herself, but those early days were rough.  It's important to talk to your partner and stress the importance of breastmilk, and get their help in caring for the baby while you pump.  The upshot is that you get a "break" every three hours to read.

You really need extra parts.  Washing parts sucks.  Washing parts at night sucks worse.  A lot of people keep their parts in the fridge in between feedings to avoid having to wash.  Overnight, though, I didn't even like to go out to the kitchen to grab parts if I don't have to.  Before I went to sleep I would lay out three sets of parts, which would see me through till morning.  When I was done and went out to the kitchen to put my milk in the fridge, I'd dump them in a bowl of soapy water, and then wash them all in the morning.  I've since dropped my overnight pumps, and keep my parts in the fridge, but not having to make two trips out to the kitchen each pumping session (one to get parts, one to put milk away) was a big deal.  It's the little stuff that helps you keep your sanity.

Speaking of stuff you need, you need a really good pump.  I had the Medela Symphony while she was in the NICU, and then there was a wait until the one from my insurance company arrived, so I kept renting the Symphony.  When you rent it by the month for three or more months at a time, the Symphony is only $40/month, so I kept it, and keep my insurance pump at the office.  It's a nice luxury not having to lug my pump around, but it's luxuries like that which will keep you going.

Build up a freezer stash early on.  When Hannah was only eating 2 ounces at a time, I froze almost half of what I made.  That means that now, four months later, I can drop my overnight pumps and be ok with losing that supply, because I have a kickass freezer stash that I'm digging into.  A lot of people don't think about the freezer stash until it's too late and you're struggling to keep up with the baby.  Get a box of storage bags and fill those suckers up early on!

Figure out a rewards system.  I read that formula costs, on average, about $300/month.  So every week I put $75 into an account which is my Fun Account.  I use it for massages, a new laptop, and will hopefully use it to fund a trip to New Zealand if I make it 6 months, which is my goal.  Whenever I think about quitting, I look at pictures of Auckland, and it keeps me pumping.

Make a Comfortable Pumping Nook.  I have a comfy chair with a wonderfully soft and warm blanket, a new robe and new warm slippers.  Pumping at night is extra sucky - there's no way around that - but having a place that's warm and inviting to sit, with a night light, a book or magazines on your ipad really helps.

If you have an Awesome Partner, you can work out a system like J and I did for overnight pumps: we would both get up for each feeding.  He would feed her, and I would pump, thus cutting down the time I needed to be awake by 15 minutes.  Before he would feed her, he would set the kettle to boil water, and when I was getting ready to pump I'd have hot water for tea.  This really helped around mid-October when I got a bad cold, and needed tea and honey around the clock.  Pumping with Tea is actually a pleasant experience.

I focused this guide on pumping at night, because that's really the worst.  During the day it's not so bad.  If you have a hands free pump you can pump while you're doing your hair or putting on makeup, doing laundry, or even cooking and driving.  But it's the 1 and 4am pumps that will cause you to want to quit the most; and sadly, they are the most important ones that you can't skip (your hormones are highest between 1 and 5 overnight).

Pumping is a miserable experience, pumping at night is just awful, but the key I've found is to do lots of extra things to nurture yourself, which you might not have otherwise done, seeing as how you have a newborn and all.  I've actually read a lot of books over the past four months, which I wouldn't have read otherwise.  I've read a lot of magazines, and watched the final season of Gossip Girl.  None of which would have been done without pumping.

My goal is to make it for 6 months, but I'm not hung up on that date.  I've made it this far, and I'm really proud of that.  Baby Hannah is thriving and happy, and when I get cozy in my pumping nook, I'm pretty happy too.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

To be filed under Random Acts of Weirdness:

There's a headless Statue of Liberty in my neighborhood.

California is weird.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A random snapshot of life, and grad school, and wishing I could sleep more than 3 hours at a time

Below is an email I wrote to a friend this morning - it's a sampling of what life for me has become based on a 14 hour snapshot from 7:30 last night to 10 this morning.  Read it and, if you don't have kids yet, make sure you're taking the pill religiously until you're really ready to live life like this; and if you do have older kids, read it and think back to when you had a newborn, and laugh and laugh and laugh because you don't have to do this anymore.

On an up note, I am starting to get myself ramped back up to go to grad school.  When I was 23 I sat down on a Saturday night and planned out my life and all of the things I wanted to do by a certain time.  Some of them I have completed (live in another country).  There are two big ones that are still sticking out at me that I haven't even touched.

The first is to publish one of the myriad of books that are floating around in my head (so I'm going to kick NaNoWriMo's ass this year as a jumpstart).  The second is to get three advanced degrees; a something (masters? phd?) in medieval/early modern European history, a MBA, and go to Seminary for a M.Div.    I want to get started on one of these in 2014.

I was ready to start Seminary last year, but then the whole pregnancy thing happened.  I'm pretty convinced that Seminary is something I want to do in person, not online, so I'm checking out online courses for the other two right now, because I don't think I'm going to get to go to school in person for quite some time.  I was looking at online courses in different universities and found that Cambridge has an online continuing education department that offers really cool online courses (not the masters I want, but it's a start).  So starting in January I'll be taking an online course from the university in my favorite British city on the early Tudors.  How cool will that be?

Speaking of the early Tudors, I checked out the download statistics on my English Renaissance podcast today, and I'm seriously pissed off at myself.  Over 2000 people download that sucker each day and I can't get my ass together to do a new episode.  Seriously, what is my problem.  That's a rhetorical question.  Note to self: publish new English Renaissance podcast within the next two weeks. (I know some of you got here through the link on that blog - welcome, and I apologize for my habitual suckiness, and I promise to get my shit together here soon).

Ok, so without further ado, here's the snapshot of my life last night into this morning.  Given that I spend so much time pumping, I was thinking I should have some kind of TV show: The Pumping Diaries, and it would be all about the things I do while I'm pumping.  Like pluck my eyebrows.  And chop carrots.  And take a bath.  Fold laundry.  Seriously, the list is endless.


7:30: start to put H down.  Bottle,  story,  cuddles.  Hoping for a bath at 8.

7:45: H screaming with really bad gas.  Babies don't understand gas obviously and it really freaks them out and scares them.
Put h in the big bed and lay with her,  burping her,  pumping her legs to help get the gas out,  rubbing her belly.
8:15: h still crying and upset. Put on the white noise machine that soothes her,  bring her back out into the living room to put her in her swing, which also helps.
8:45: h falls asleep in swing.  bath
9:20: 20 minutes of pumping.
9:45: wash all bottles and pumping parts.  Set out fresh pumping parts for overnight pumps. Get her first overnight feed ready so we can just grab it  (breast milk can be left out for up to 4-6 hours.
10:00 put h down in her bassinet.
10:15: I go to bed
1:15: wake up to h making hungry noises.  Feed.  Then go out to living room and pump for 15 minutes.  Wash pump parts and get second feed ready and fresh parts laid out for next pump session.
2:00: back to bed
4:30 h hungry.  Same as earlier... feed,  pump, wash stuff,  get next feed ready.
5:15: back to bed
5:45: h starts making wake-up noises.  Doze through it for a while.
6:45: get up with her when she starts crying for real.  Sit and help her with her gas.  Bicycle her legs.  Massage her belly.  Talk to j about calling the doctor since she hasn't pooped in a day and might be constipated.  Feed her.  Spend 20 minutes burping her.  Change diaper.  Play goofy games to make her smile.
8:15 put her in swing so I can pump. Wash parts. Etc. (Pumping is every 3-4 hours to keep supply up).
She fell asleep in swing so I nap on couch for 40 minutes.
9:25: she starts crying again.  Get j to handle.  I sit in a bath for 15 minutes with a cup of coffee.  Bliss.  Keep hearing her cry so put my head under the water.
10am: I start work.


Yep, this is life.  We tried for years to get this, so I ain't complaining.  But I sure would love to feel rested again in this lifetime.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trying to raise a bilingual kid

One thing I've been doing a lot of recently is re-learning German.  It's been fifteen years since I've studied it properly, and I really want to raise Hannah to be bilingual from birth.  I've read lots of research on how growing up bilingual gives kids a huge head start in brain development, etc., so I've been kind of immersing myself in German for the past few weeks.  The more I do it, the more I remember - words come back to me that I had forgotten I even knew in the first place. And I looked up the phrases I use the most with her (such as "my, what a dirty diaper you have, little lady!") so that I can speak at least 10% auf Deutsch to her now, and that will only continue to grow as I learn more.  I figure that by the time she's really speaking, if I do this right, she'll be pretty much bilingual.

I am using the DuoLingo app each day, and have bought German children's books to read to her, which will also be good for me, but a few other things that are helping in the "immersion" goal are:

The Slow German podcast at - a podcast of German information and news read very slowly so that non-natives can easily follow it.  This is great!

I also found, which streams German comedies, full episodes, for free.  This serves multiple purposes.  First, since I'm feeling old and tired and sore, and eating lactation cookies and drinking fenugreek tea (I'd never heard the word fenugreek three months ago - now I'm obsessed with it), laughing at German comedies I can't understand is awesome.  And of course, it's helping me learn the language.  But the laughing at weird German stuff I can't understand is really the highlight right now.

In addition to the fact that growing up bilingual will help her brain development, and make it easier for her to learn new skills as she gets older, I just plain like the idea of having a second language that I can speak with Hannah, kind of like our secret language.  Not too many people in Southern California speak German, so we can have secret conversations, and I can't think of very much that's more awesome than having mother/daughter secret conversations.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Imagining 6000 people virtually naked

So I moderated a panel today on our ebook project in an online web conference for Library Journal.  I did this from my bedroom with our baby in the living room, and J on standby in case she freaked out and needed to be taken for a walk.  My new home office isn't heated yet, and it's chilly outside, so I was in the bedroom.  The computer was on the dresser, which is a good standing height for me.  I put on real clothes, and even some make up...being dressed in real clothes made me feel a little bit more professional than being in my pj's would have. Over 6000 people had registered, which made me really nervous, so I pretended that they really inflated the numbers and there were only 80 people listening to me, max.  From the twitter feed, I think I may have underestimated it a teeny bit, but it got me through the 40 minute time slot, and that's what was necessary.

My mommy-brain only reared its ugly head once at the very beginning, which probably had more to do with me being nervous than actual mommy-braindom, but it's easy and useful to blame everything on either hormones or being tired.

Yesterday was Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day, and we went to the lake with Hannah and put some of Baby T's ashes near "his" bench (where I used to sit when I was preggo with him).  We lost him on October 12, 2010, so every year we have that anniversary followed immediately by the remembrance day and all the walks and ceremonies that people have around this time of year.  It's like a week or so that is heavily devoted to Baby T, and I like that.  Sometimes I feel like the Mustard Seed Baby misses out because we don't remember her as much (I think it was a her).  But when I say Baby T I kind of lump them both together, and we had TMSB for such a short time, I'm sure she understands.

One thing I've been happily surprised by is how much time I still have to read books.  I had expected all book-reading to go out the window when I had a baby.  But she spends so much time sleeping now, even when she's sleeping in my arms I can read on my kindle easily enough.  I don't get deep reading periods of, say, an hour or two uninterrupted - the same way I don't get deep periods of uninterrupted sleep - but it's enough to keep me happy.  I'm almost done with the JK Rowling mystery, The Cuckoo's Calling.  I will admit to reading it just because it's JK Rowling.  I've never been a big mystery reader.  But I think after this I'm going to have to try some good mystery writers now because I'm totally addicted.  It's all starting to become clear now, and I'm on pins and needles waiting to see who the killer is.  I sure hope Hannah is quiet tonight because I need some good reading time.

7 more working days until I start back full time.  I'm exhausted, but I'm going to enjoy using my brain a little bit more each day.  

I'm on a roll with taking Hannah to the lake, too.  I still get hella scared each time, but I can't live my life in fear of her freakouts.  The more I do it, the easier it will become.  On Friday I'm taking her to a hospital 45 minutes away for a breastfeeding clinic.  I'm petrified at the thought of her wailing in the car for the entire time, but then I remember that the 80's station is a great resource for dealing with screaming babies.  She can scream, I can sing along to Duran Duran, and eventually she'll stop, and so will I, and all will be well again.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mundane and Getting-Old Angst

I wish I had something to write about besides the regularity with which my Hannah has a wailing fit; mostly because that would mean I had other stuff going on in my life, other than being a feeding and diaper-changing machine.  Alas, the highlight of my days right now are Tummy Time, and playing with the Fisher Price Piano Gym (which is really super fun - don't knock it till you've tried it).  

That's going to be changing here in a few weeks when I go back to work full time, starting off with going to Internet Librarian and then the following week, the California Library Association conferences.  I'm speaking at both, which means that I need to start digging through my closet for a Professional Outfit.  I've been wearing yoga pants and maternity jeans almost exclusively for the past 7-8 months.  

I did have fun Me Time on Saturday when I went to the mall by myself and bought new non-elasticated jeans.  

Is this seriously what my life is?  Getting excited by going to the mall by myself?  

The other thing that has me really excited is the new Bridget Jones book that came out today.  It appeared on my kindle when I turned it on this morning; and when I started reading it, I was suddenly 24 again, riding the Northern Line to work, exhausted (and possibly hung over).  For about three weeks I picked up smoking, and being a nonsmoker I didn't know what brand to get, so I bought Silk Cut because that's the kind Bridget smoked.  Like Bridget I obsessively logged units of alcohol logged, and carbohydrates consumed.  

Like Bridget I was a klutz (I regularly came dangerously close to getting caught in escalators) and would make overly-dramatic gestures (I was nursing a broken heart, and one of my favorite things was to walk along Old Compton Street in Soho in the rain, hugging my chest, feeling the rain on my face and then standing outside Patisserie Valerie's where I had once eaten quiche with the boy who caused the aforementioned broken heart, looking in through the wet glass at all the happy people eating cake, and thinking that I really would be perfect in a Dido video).

So it's weird reading an older Bridget, who is still a lovable klutzy narcissist, and wondering where the past 13 years have gone.  I feel old.  I blame hormones (I blame most things on hormones these days).  But I don't like it.  I'm looking forward to getting back out into the world, having a reason to wear makeup and nice clothes, and exercising with regularity again.

But to end on a happy note; Babygirl and I went to the lake yesterday, just the two of us, and for the first time it didn't end in wailing.  She woke up midway through our walk, and quietly rode and made faces at me.  A definite improvement over the last time I tried, a few weeks ago, when halfway through our walk she decided she needed to be held or else she'd scream bloody murder; so I wound up pushing the empty stroller with one hand and carrying her with the other the rest of the way.  Maybe it's more confidence, or maybe it's me not caring as much as I did at first, but I'm becoming ok with her screaming.  I don't like it, and I always try to soothe her, and hold her, but sometimes it seems like she just needs to scream, and really, there are times when I do too, and I didn't just go through the traumatic experience that she did.  Even a week or so ago, I was held hostage at home because I was afraid that I'd set off her wailing when we went out.  But I'm becoming more ok with it now.  And I think that as I become ok with it, and become more confident taking her places, she'll be ok with it too, and maybe not wail so much. 

Here's hoping.  Because as much as I'm a homebody, I'm really not hip with spending this much time at home.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

3am feeds just got a lot cooler

Two pieces of awesome happened to make nighttime feeds a lot cooler (which isn't actually saying as much as I'd like, considering nighttime feeds aren't very cool to begin with).  So here's where I'm at with feeding:

Hannah won't breastfeed.

My girl likes to eat (she's like her mom that way).  And she likes to eat a lot very quickly.  You could say she scarfs down her milk.  In the NICU when she wasn't even 48 hours old, they were already changing her to the slow-flow bottles because she ate so damn fast and kept spitting up.  Plus, speaking of the NICU, she got hooked on bottles and pacifiers there.  So then, when I tried to feed her, she was all, "hey, this is more work, and it's slower, and I'm not a fan of more work and slower when I can get more faster for less work."  She's clever and into efficiency like that.

So I'm pumping.  8 weeks tomorrow of pumping 7 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a shot so I can give my girl my milk and not have to give her formula.  And it's not because I'm preachy about breastmilk.  I'm not a Boob Nazi like some of the lactation ladies at the hospital.  No, I'm just cheap.  Have you seen the price of formula lately?  They keep that shit locked up in stores because it gets stolen so much.  At my breastfeeding class they said that the average formula fed baby costs their parents $3000 the first year.  We've got a wedding in Sweden to go to next year - ain't no way I'm spending $3000 on food when my boobs make it for free.  Plus, it apparently burns 20 calories an ounce.  30 ounces a day = 600 calories = pass the cheesecake.

But I digress.

The point is, nighttime feedings are a bit tricky because when babygirl cries (her sweet little "ah-waeh! ah-waeh!") I gotsta feed her with a bottle first (I always keep an extra one out - I've read all kinds of stats about how long you can keep breastmilk out, ranging from 4-10 hours.  I average somewhere in the 5-6 hour range personally).  So babygirl eats.  Then babygirl burps.  

That's when Mama should be going back to bed.  But no.  Mama hooks her boobs up to a machine looking like it could have come from an episode of the Jestons, and sits in the dark for 15 minutes feeling like a cow getting milked (moooo).  Then Mama goes out to the kitchen to wash her pumping crap (though I recently got smart and now I have three sets of pumping crap so I don't have to wash overnight - I just store it all in a ziplock in the fridge), and then makes a fresh bottle to have on hand in another two hours when babygirl wakes up hungry.

The whole process takes about 45 minutes.

We live in a small house, and our bedroom doesn't have a lot of extra space, so up until now we've been sitting on the bed when we feed her, and when I pump,  This is horribly uncomfortable, forces us to slouch, and is generally an inelegant solution.

First bit of awesome: an amazingly comfortable upholstered rocking chair with stool we bought at an antique place in town over the weekend.  It's in the room that will become the nursery, so when babygirl cries, we just take her in there, sit down in back-and-arm-supported comfort, and rock away.

During my 15-20 minutes of pumping I can do whatever thanks to the hands free pumping bra I bought when I realized that this could very well be my life for the next few months (we still try breastfeeding regularly - my lactation consultant - yeah, I have one of those - thinks that as she gets older and her muscles get stronger, we might have success).  So I've been reading a lot.  15 minutes at a shot, 7 times a day is a lot of reading.

I have two apps on my ipad that are getting a ton of time right now.  The first is NextIssue, which is kind of like Spotify for magazines.  I have about 20 magazines in regular circulation there.  Some are intelligent ones like the New Yorker and Vanity Fair. But there's also Us Weekly with some Oprah, Real Simple, and Rachel Ray thrown in for good measure.

The other one is also like Spotify, but for ebooks.  Oyster just launched, and is only in an iphone app right now (which I use on my ipad) and they don't have a ton of publishers yet, but they seem to be a good effort in how to solve the problem of granting people unlimited reading at a price point they can stomach ($9.99/month).  Yeah, the library is free, but as we all know (me especially from our ebook project at work) the hold times on the popular titles are ginormous, and if this works, they will have a much bigger selection.  Right now the biggest publisher they have is HarperCollins (the only one of the Big 5 I believe they have), and they have a bunch of midsize ones like Houghton Mifflin, Workman, etc.  So they have a bunch of great titles.

The reader is pretty crap - instead of using one that's freely available (ie Bluefire) they went with building a dedicated one.  You scroll up to turn the page.  That's just weird.  They also don't have a ton of flexibility with changing the fonts and colors.  For example, there's a font I really like, but the nighttime setting has its own font, so I can't use the font I like with the nighttime setting, which seems stupid.  Let me pick the font, and the background.  The searching and browsing isn't great, but it's designed to be an app to use on your phone, so I can see why they are trying to keep it simple.  You can search on their website and add titles to your reading list online, so that makes it easier, I guess.

Anyway, on an average night I'm reading on my Oyster app at least twice, and I can definitely see it being worth the money for power readers.  It's available only through invitation right now, but if you sign up requesting one, it doesn't take long for it to arrive.

So between Oyster and the rocking chair, 3am is looking a lot less intimidating these days.  It's funny, the things that have become important to me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Birth of Hannah Zen

So.  I gave birth.  To a living baby.  6 weeks ago.  Without an epidural.  But with forceps.  After 6 hours of hard purple pushing and 25 hours of labor.  Yeah, I'm tough like that.

Anyway, here's Hannah Zen, looking all cute and sweet and stuff.

Her birth wasn't really what was in my birth plan, but it was still completely perfect.  To start with, I was induced when she failed a non-stress-test at my 38 week checkup.  At the NST they look for a baseline heartrate, and then accelerations.  She showed a baseline and decelerations.  They did a biophysical ultrasound, which she also failed - lack of limb extensions.  So they sent me to L&D for prolonged monitoring, and my doctor, who just happened to be the head guy in L&D that week, mentioned the I-Word.  This had me really freaked out because I had always heard that induced labors were worse than natural ones; it's forcing your body to do something that it isn't ready to do.  More epidurals and C-sections supposedly come out of induced labors.  

Also, I was alone during this time.  J always left my NST's to go to Trader Joe's because they were boring for him to just sit there, and this way he could get groceries.  When I first realized that the test was going to go long, I texted him to tell him that he should take the groceries home so the frozen stuff didn't melt, and then come back for me.  At first the ultrasound nurse said that they'd probably send me down to the cafeteria to eat something, and then have me redo the test.  She even offered me peanut butter crackers, which I wanted because I was really hungry, but I stupidly went to the bathroom first.  My OB showed up to look at the test while she was handing me the pack of crackers, and when he mentioned that I might need to be induced, she yanked those crackers back so fast.  It broke my heart a little because I knew I wasn't going to be able to eat for a long time if I was induced, and dang, I was really hungry and those crackers looked really good.

So anyway, J takes the groceries home, I go to L&D, and proceed to get checked in.  At some point the doctor came in and said I probably was going to need to be induced..  I text J and start sending him my requests of things I need - laptop and charger, birth ball (deflated - I'd been bouncing on it the entire previous weekend trying to get labor to start naturally), my essential oils, etc etc etc.  He was at home running around like a mad man, completely freaked out thinking they were going to start it without him there and he was going to miss everything.
Eventually he comes back to the hospital, carrying my labor bag.  The OB confirms that they are going to induce because something had fundamentally changed with Hannah's heartrate, and while it wasn't an emergency yet, he didn't want it to turn into one.  I call work, J calls his parents, and we're all set to go.  Then we wait for the orders to come in to start the pitocin.  And we wait some more.  And a little longer.  

Eventually the pitocin drip starts at 3:15.  I'm having a great time.  Seriously.  I'd been studying self-hypnosis through hypnobabies, and I'm peaceful and chilled out, and I don't even think we need to call our doula.  We're doing fine on our own.  I'm crampy, but hey, it's labor, who isn't, right?  I get a lovely dinner of 3 kinds of juice and broth and jello, and life is pretty darn good.  Even into the night; I'm tired, my back hurts, but hey, it's labor, right?  J really wanted to get the doula in, if for no other reason than to support him, and so she comes around 1:30.  His mom is there, and we're watching funny cat videos on youtube.  I call my best friend in London, Sandor, who is on holiday in Sweden, and we chat for a while.  I'm thinking that this is cake.  

And then they broke my water.

All of a sudden the world started spinning.  My pelvis was being yanked out of my big toe.  There was a wrecking ball trying to come out of my ass.  This was serious. fucking. pain.

I screamed.  I grunted.  I begged for it to stop.  I said I couldn't do it anymore.  I squeezed J's hand so hard I nearly broke his fingers.  When my doula kept forcing me to drink water I thought she was crazy because how the hell was I supposed to have the energy to drink in between these ridiculous contractions?

I begged for an epidural.  Doula and J tried to talk me out of it.  I said I really wanted it.  My eyes were closed and I screamed, "I don't hear anyone doing anything."  So J went and ordered the epidural.  I was 4th in line.  By the time the Traveling Anesthesiologists with their rolling cart of numbing goodness arrived, I was fully dilated and it was too late.

Oh, a burst of energy!  It's time to push!  I'm dilated!  Yippeeee!  It's going to happen soon!

At some point I don't remember they brought in a cart with all the baby tools on it, and sat it in front of my bed.  It was supposed to give me strength or something.  They turned on the lamp on the table where the baby would be weighed, and started heating up blankets.

Sadly, they had plenty of time.  I pushed hard for like 6 hours.  Purple pushing, counting to 10, take a breath, do it again, in sets of 3 during each contraction.  I was apparently really tough.  Nurses kept saying what an awesome job I was doing, and what a trooper I was, and how amazing it was that I was pushing for so long. I don't remember any of it.  Apparently midway through my IV stopped working and they had to set up a new one, and my veins were so bad it took three nurses multiple tries till they found a good spot.  I had bandaids down my entire arm, and J said it was the most painful thing to watch them doing it during my 30 second rest breaks from each contraction.  I just barely remember someone poking me.  They wanted me to move from my side to my knees, leaning on the back of the bed, and I can't even begin to explain the herculean effort it took to get rolled over and up on my knees because of the pain.  It was really awful.

I've been told that if my OB hadn't been the doctor in charge, they would have called an emergency C-section from all my pushing.  But my doctor knew how much I wanted to be as natural as possible, and how important that was, and he let me push as long as I could.  During the peak of it I was contracting every 2 minutes and each one lasted 90 seconds.  So I had about 30 seconds off.  That went on for hours.  And hours.  And hours.

They kept telling me they could see the head.  If you can see the head, why can't someone just reach up and pull her out, I wondered aloud.  I was really serious.  How hard could that be?

Eventually my OB finished up another delivery and came in to check on me, and saw that I really was reaching the end of my rope.  He asked the Traveling Anesthesiologists with their rolling cart of goodness to come back in and give me something called a saddle block, which basically numbs all your parts that would sit in a saddle for 2 hours.  It's designed to give you a break to rest before you gear back up to push again.  It was only supposed to take 10 minutes to administer it, but because of all the pain I was in I couldn't sit still, and it wound up taking closer to 45 minutes (my doula stayed with me, and apparently J was having a fit sitting outside freaking out thinking that something horrible had happened because it was taking so long).  But when it took, it was awesome.  Life was good again.  The sun was out.  I felt human again.

The nurses told me to rest after my ordeal of the past 8 hours.  But the doctor ixnayed that idea.  He wanted me to push more.  He was confident that we had 2 hours to work with, and he thought for sure that since I was relaxed and out of pain, I'd be able to push her out.  So he repositioned her and back to pushing I went, this time in sets of 4.  We did that for an hour, and still no baby.  She was just well and truly stuck in there.

So after 25 hours, it all ended quickly with forceps.  The room became a flurry of activity; suddenly there were nurses, assisting doctors; I swear some of the cleaning crew stopped by just to watch too.  But after all that, I got my babygirl, a giant 8 pound 11 ounce ball covered in goop,  crying and gasping, placed on my chest.

After being stuck behind my bone for all that time, and being pushed up against it, she was blue and looked like she'd just fought Mike Tyson and lost, and so she was taken to the NICU where they discovered a little infection (which is probably what made me fail the NST).  So she stayed there for a week getting antibiotics, and we brought her home on August 14.  While she went to the NICU I ate dinner.  I was hungrier than I've ever been in my entire life.  I could have eaten an army of horses.  Food was really awesome after that.  J went to the cafeteria and brought me cartons and cartons of lovely hot food, which I relished.

So that's my birth story, which, like I said, for being completely not my birth plan, was still awesome.  I avoided a C-Section that probably would have been ordered if my OB hadn't been the one in L&D that week.  I didn't get an epidural, even with 6 hours of pushing and an induced labor.   I got a healthy girl.  I had interventions, but they were medically necessary, and I am grateful because if I'd been going through that a hundred years ago, it would not have ended so well, that's for sure. I got to test myself and see how tough I really was, and I know now that I am one tough cookie.  If I can do that, I can pretty much do anything, right?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Shakespeare's Richard III - aka The Victors Get to Write The Story

Still working on my Shameful Shakespeare Catch-up (shameful because it's shameful that so much of my life has gone by without me reading any Shakespeare at all - it's been since college, which, sadly, was fifteen years ago) and today I read Richard III.  I've been so offended with Shakespeare recently, I was thinking I might go for A Midsummer Night's Dream, thinking there would be less to be offended with in that, but I'm due for a history play, and I just watched the documentary on how they found Richard III's skeleton in a car park in Leicester, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I expected Tudor propaganda simply because everyone thinks Richard was such a terrible person, and there wasn't any lengthy biography of him written before Shakespeare wrote his play, so that must be where the impression of him came from.  I don't blame them; certainly Richard was a ruthless man, and they would have wanted to cement the basis of Henry VII's rule as something guided by God, rather than a lucky Welshman who happened to be able to collect a lot of people who didn't like the unpopular king, and was able to kill him on Bosworth Field.

To understand why the Tudors wanted Henry VII to be seen as the start of this Godly dynasty, you have to go back and have some understanding of the Wars of the Roses.  If you really want to get picky about it, you go back to Agincourt, the high point of England's successes in France.  Henry V seemed unstoppable in France, and it seemed as if the Norman Conquest of 1066 might finally be avenged 350 years later.  Had Henry not died when he did, maybe the French would all be speaking English and would have bad teeth nowdays.

But Henry V died, and his son Henry VI was a minor.  He wasn't a strong guy, and he got pulled in lots of directions, depending on who was talking to him at the moment.  He wound up losing most of the gains of his father (by the time of the Tudors, 60 years later, all that remained of the great dream of England taking France was Calais, a little fort directly across the English channel).

So Henry VI marries Margaret of Anjou. She's a willful high strung French girl who really doesn't like England, and doesn't care who knows about it.  So here's this really powerful woman (who may or may not have had her son via adultery) married to this simpering dolt of an idiot husband who has spells of insanity, is losing land left and right, and is more interested in praying than being a husband to her.  She's been Queen Consort since she was 15 years old, she's stuck in a country she hates, and she's rash and takes way too many chances.

Given her husband's incompetence, some people start talking about rebelling.  One of those people is Richard, Duke of York.  He talks openly.  In fact, he has Henry VI declared insane, and he gets himself named the Lord Protector.  He even had an agreement drawn up saying that he would become King after Henry VI died.  But then he himself died before he had any chance of pressing his case.  Interestingly enough, he's the father of Richard III.  So, you know, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  

Ok, so all of this winds up leading to the Wars of the Roses, whereby the House of Lancaster (Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI, their family) fight the house of York (Richard, Duke of York, and his family).  There weren't really a lot of battles, most notably Tewkesbury and Barnet, but it did consume people for a generation, and England's economy continued to fail while all the nobles were busy killing each other.

So the Tudors come out of this from left field.  Way back when Henry V dies, his widow, Catherine of Valois, marries a squire in her court, Owen Tudor.  This is Henry VII's grandfather and the great Queen Elizabeth I's great great grandfather - a squire at court.  Catherine and Owen had more children together; half-siblings of the house of Lancaster.  Henry VI had them recognized as legitimate as an act of kindness to them, and tried to bring the blended family together.  So the Tudors get their royal lineage on their mother's side, and it's fairly tenuous as well, but they start to rise through the ranks of the nobility, and by the time of Richard III, Henry Tudor was seen as a real threat to the Yorkist, and was hiding in the Netherlands or Brittany or somewhere across the Channel.

Richard III was the brother of Edward IV, who was Richard Duke of York's son (and Richard III's brother).  He wound up winning the title of King by fighting for it, and had the Lord Mayor of London proclaim him King while Henry VI was far away from the city.  The whole thing was really messy.  

Edward dies suddenly in 1483 and all hell breaks loose.  His children are still minors, and his brother, the future Richard III, is supposed to protect them until they reach the age of majority.  Instead, they disappear and Richard becomes King.  Yeah, he probably murdered them.  It was so much more convenient than simply asking them nicely to step aside.  

Richard III becomes King, no one really bats too many eyelashes at the missing Princes (except for their mother, of course), and life seems to go on as normal.  But then in 1485, Henry Tudor, not content to let Richard pull this charade, decides that he's going to be King, and he sails from wherever it was he was hiding (Brittany, France, Luxembourg, somewhere) with an army he raised, and he lands in Wales, gathering support as he moves through the countryside.  A bunch of Richard's allies, fed up with his hubris, and smart enough to see which way the wind is blowing, switch sides.

Henry beats Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field, and declares himself King.  He marries a Yorkist woman to unite the two rival houses, and he really wants to reign peacefully for a long time.  Unfortunately his first son Arthur dies as a teenager (he was named Arthur after the great legendary King, and it shows how much Henry hoped to start a new golden age) and his younger brother Henry, who'd been studying with monks up until now, suddenly has to be groomed to be King.

And then of course Henry the Younger has lots of marriage problems that go on for decades, and each of his three children take turns with the throne, young Edward a disaster, Mary I an even bigger disaster, and then Elizabeth, who refused to marry because she probably had some pretty deep psychological trust issues given her history.  So she never had an heir, and never named one.  

All in all, when Richard III was written, just after the trouncing of the Spanish Armada, things were looking pretty good for Elizabeth, and the Tudor story.  But everyone also knew that the Tudors were probably going to end with Elizabeth, since she had no children.  So they wanted to showcase just how awesome the Tudors had been, and make a case for their having taken the throne in the first place, so that after Elizabeth, people wouldn't talk shit about the grandchildren of squires being too big for their britches and becoming King illegitimately.  Mostly, they also wanted to avoid another Wars of the Roses, and make everyone remember just how awful some of the monarchs were back then, especially the monarchs who were on the other side of the Tudors.

So given that history, I'm not surprised that in his opening monologue, Richard goes on about how disfigured he is (he wasn't too much, really - his skeleton shows he had scoliosis and had some curvature in his spine, but he was still well enough to wear armor, no small feat, and fight in battle) and how he scares dogs and children.  He proposes to a woman whose husband he had killed.  He does all sorts of nasty things.  I'm pretty sure no one who gets to be King is that publicly ruthless before he's King.  Maybe after, but not before.   

I'm definitely not joining the Richard III society any time soon, and I'm not really a huge Ricardian, but I do see where they're coming from - Richard wasn't any worse than anyone else from the time, and others did the same sorts of things he did.  

Not according to Shakespeare, though.  But that's why the victors get to write the history books.  And the history plays.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On raising a kick@ss girl

Today I saw an awesome ad for GoldiBlox, a new toy designed to get girls into engineering and building things.  The awesome chick who designed it, Debbie Sterling, is a Stanford engineer herself.  She got discouraged by the low numbers of other women in her engineering programs (something around 11% of engineers are women).  So she spent a year researching why it is that, by middle school, girls aren't into science and math any longer.  Turns out, girls like to read while boys like to build stuff.  Boys are spatial while girls are verbal.  This is why, when J tries to explain something he's building to me, I want him to talk about it, and he wants to draw it.  Also, girls like to know the story behind why something is being built.  Boys just like to build for the heck of it.  This explains why, so often, when J tries to explain mathematical concepts to me, I ask what the point is, and he gets flabbergasted with me, saying there is no point, it's just cool.

So simply making Lincoln Logs pink isn't enough to get girls into wanting to actually build stuff out of them.

Debbie put together a series of books with building tools, with a character called Goldie, an inventor, who loves to build stuff.  As you read along in the books, you get to build the same things that Goldie builds in the stories.  This. Kicks. Ass.

It kicks so much ass that her project was overfunded on Kickstarter in five days last fall.  And GoldiBlox are out and available for parents everywhere to buy now.  They're for children over 3, but I'm still going to order the first set, just to support the movement.

I think about stuff like this because I don't want Hannah to be a Girly Girl.  Well, mostly I want her to be her, but I want her to be really her, and not the her that is influenced by all the pink shit that the stores say she should want.  I want her to be the her who can decide if she loves technology or Lego's, or American Girl Dolls (and maybe love all of the above) without having choices forced on her by marketing people and society.  I want her to feel free to make up her own mind, and if she wants to be an engineer, I want her to feel really free to know that that's an option that's available to her.

I look at 11% of engineers being women, and that worries me.  It worries me because engineers design the products that we all use, and with only 11% o them being women, it means that I'm probably being shoved a bunch of products that marketing people think I want as a woman, rather than things that were actually designed by women.  A big dislike to that.

I want Hannah to have role models in any of her chosen fields.  There are plenty of female role models in teaching or librarianship or any number of caregiving and nurturing roles where women fit in easily.  I want more female role models for her if she wants to be an astronaut, a computer engineer, a theoretical mathematician.

And I'm sick of all the pink crap that fills the aisles these days.  This is a new development.  When I was a kid, I had a kitchen set that was orange and brown (ok, it was the 70's - I think everything was orange and brown).  Yeah, it was a kitchen set, which, you know, has its own gender-role issues.  But it wasn't pink.  Check out the graphic below.  The toys are the same, except for the color.  Freaking pink.  I'm going to do my darndest to make sure Hannah's room is a pink-free zone - I feel like that's my duty to her.  When I was a kid my favorite color was turquoise.  This crap is just wrong.  So go GoldiBlox, and I can't wait to see a future generation of girl engineers kicking ass thanks to these toys!  And if Hannah wants to be one of them, then I will applaud her (while wearing purple).

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Shakespeare Project: Why I'm not inviting Will to dinner

I'm 33 weeks preggo tomorrow, which is rather unbelievable to me.  I never really thought I'd get this far, to be honest.  

Trying to read lots of books on my Amazon wishlist.  After reading Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare a few months ago, I decided it was shameful that I hadn't read any Shakespeare since college.  So I've been catching up, reading a play every week or two.  And here's what's challenging: I really don't like him all that much.  Oh, I can see the beauty in his writing, and the wordplay in the comedies is amazing.  I can appreciate why he's so special.  But Donald Trump is special too; doesn't mean I want to have dinner with him.  

So what I do is rent the BBC productions of the plays (they do the full script - no editing down for time) from Amazon Instant Video - generally a $1.99 rental for a week.  Then I get a kindle edition of the play with good notes.  I watch the film while reading the play on my tablet at the same time.  Then the next day I also pull up a Librivox recording to listen while reading and see what I notice that's different - they do free public domain e-audiobooks, and are tolerable for being free.  It's all done by volunteers, so I shouldn't be judgmental since they're doing something awesome, but some of the parts are really challenging - like a female Benedick or a Lear with a Southern accent.  Anyway, I go through the play again just listening.  

And I've decided something:  I like knowing Shakespeare, but only so that I can make conversation about him and feel like I've joined the world of People who Know Shakespeare.  But I don't actually much like the plays themselves.  Taming of the Shrew made me want to puke.  Merchant of Venice made me want to cry for poor Shylock.  Watching King Lear descend into madness while his daughters plotted was just depressing.  

I wonder how much of this Shakespeare actually believed.  I've read a lot about how he hated the idea of marriage since he was forced into it when he got an older Anne Hathaway preggo when he was still a teenager.  And he went off to London and sort of abandoned her.  So I don't think he really appreciated the idea of marriage much.

And he certainly seems to pander to the antisemitism of the time.  Benedick is debating whether or not he should or shouldn't love Beatrice, talking about her charms, and the most brilliant conclusion he can come to is, "If I do not love her, I am a Jew."  Really?  And then there's Shylock.  The man loses everything, is forced to convert to Christianity, his daughter is applauded for running away and taking so much of his money and jewelry, and at the end it's the Christians who are supposed to look magnanimous and forgiving.  For the time period, I suppose they were.  But for someone as forward thinking as Shakespeare was supposed to be, I'd expect better.  I've heard some people say that he was holding a mirror up and making a commentary, but I don't really buy that.  If so, then Jessica would have had some kind of comeuppance.  Somebody would have felt guilty about something.  But nope, they just drag him off to be baptized.  

This hypocrisy bugs the crap out of me, especially because Shakespeare was supposedly a Catholic who had to cover up his religious leanings.  Surely he could have some more empathy for others of a different religion.  But nope, Shylock gets baptized and loses his livelihood and daughter anyway. 

I'm going to keep reading Shakespeare simply because of the language and the words, but I'm going to quit thinking too much about the plot.  Different era, different kind of man, and I don't have to like him to appreciate him.  It sure would be nice if I could, though.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pregnancy Whinging

Given the fact that we've worked so hard to get pregnant, and been through so much to get to this point, I feel pretty crappy complaining about the woes of pregnancy.  But, what would be the fun of being pregnant if I couldn't whine about it from time to time, right?  Other women may have other pet peeves and complaints, but this is my own personal list of the things that are making me glad that I only have 9 more weeks of this before we get a sweet little Hannahbear.

- Pain in places I didn't know existed:
Before I was 23 weeks pregnant, I didn't know what a Symphysis Pubis was, or why there would be a disorder named after it.  But let me tell you, SPD is no joke.  Turning over in bed - agony.  Getting out of bed without moans of pain - not gonna happen.  Forgetting about it for a second and using my foot to try to squeeze a giant bag of cat food into the bottom cupboard - shooting pangs of pain.  The reason I was even thinking to use my foot in the first place is because bending over hurts so damn much.  And, oh yeah, round ligament pain, where the tendons holding your uterus stretch out to accommodate your growing belly.  It wakes you up in the middle of the night as you're changing position - suddenly just these shooting aches where you're convinced that if you actually continue with the changing of the positions that you'll tear something.  And if  you roll back to the original position you were in, you'll tear something there, too.  So either way you're f*cked.  

- Being unable to exercise:
This is one hell of a vicious circle.  It starts with the pain that makes it difficult to exercise, or do anything besides lay on the couch, very still, and try not to move too much.  This sitting still does not do much to keep one in any kind of shape.  Add to that the fact that your belly is getting bigger, so that when you do finally get a chance to do something physical, it's so much harder than it was before.  Not only are you more out of shape, but your belly is bigger, and you weigh more.  So then exercise becomes more difficult and painful, and eventually your pain comes back, which leads to the still-sitting on the couch again.  And so the cycle continues, until you become a complete whale.  Seriously, I can't WAIT to start walking around the lake again without this pain.  Me and Hannah'll be going around together, breathing in the crisp fall air, Mama getting back into some semblance of shape again.  I am seriously excited for this day to come.

- Needles around me ALL the Freaking Time:
I hate needles.  I hate them.  I hate stabbing pain.  I could never have shot up heroine.  I'd faint first.  Hell, I fainted the first time I got my eyebrows waxed (true story).  And it seems like every freaking time I go to the doctor's, I pee in a cup, and then I either get blood drawn, or I get a shot.  Vials and vials of blood.  Shots galore.  I seriously hate this shit.

- Not being able to sleep on my stomach:
Because there's a bowling ball in there.

- Not being able to sleep on my back: 
Because the pressure cuts off your blood supply

- Not being able to sleep in any position but your side:
I can't WAIT to lay on my belly again.  Like, for real. 

- Hormones:
Crying at sentimental TV commercials.  Crying at audiobooks about Shakespeare.  Crying at Jason Mraz songs.  Crying when you drop something on the floor (because it will mean bending over to pick it up).  Crying because taking baths isn't comfortable any longer.  Crying because you can't reach to shave your legs easily anymore.  Crying because you feel like a beached whale.  Crying because you're happy thinking about how great fall will be this year with a baby.  Crying thinking about putting together a nursery.  Crying at how cute the cats are.  Crying opening up the package of cloth diapers that arrived.  Crying Crying Crying. I am so freaking sick of crying.

- Food cravings:
I.  Want.  French.  Toast.  Now.
With a side of sauerkraut.  
And chocolate milk.

- Heartburn:
I am going through Tums like there's no tomorrow.

- Carpal Tunnel:
Yeah, so apparently getting carpal tunnel during pregnancy is really common.  Something about how your blood flow changes.  Fortunately I can type all right.  It's writing with a pen on paper that kills me.  When I do my Artists Way Morning Pages each day I need to stop every few sentences to shake out my hand.  I was writing thank you notes for my shower gifts this weekend, and couldn't do more than three at a time because of the pain.  Really not fun.

Other more Minor Whinges:
- the constant peeing.
- the insomnia.
- the peeing mixed with insomnia.

So there you go.  My whinging about the things that suck about pregnancy.  Just to even things out, and show that I'm not completely immune to the miracle of the circle of life, I shall write my next post on the things I love about being pregnant.  But I had to start negative.  It's the mood I'm in.  

(and a final disclaimer - none of this should be taken as me wishing I wasn't pregnant.  We worked too hard to get so close to getting our Hannahbear.  I wouldn't change it for the world.  But man, I'm ready for August.)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where has the time gone?

Somehow I've got a belly like this now:

I'm almost 31 weeks.  It can't get any bigger.  It just can't.  

In other news, I've been nesting.  The house is filling up with baby crap.  Bouncer.  Exersaucer.  Co-Sleeper.  Swing.  Cloth Diapers.  Clothes.  Tiny bathtub.  Who knew babies need so much crap?  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Sickies

So you know what's not funny?  What's not funny is when you lost a baby at 20+6 because of an infection, and you wake up at 20+3, and you feel sick.  That's really not funny.

That was last Friday.  I'm now firmly past 21 weeks, which is the longest I've ever been pregnant before.  Random fact: I have now been pregnant for almost 51 weeks total in my lifetime.  That's one week shy of a full year.  And I still don't have a baby.  Well, at least one who lives outside of me.

Anyway, it feels good to be past 21 weeks, but I'm also still fighting off this cold, which wasn't made much better by the fact that I had to travel up to San Mateo on Thursday and Friday for a meeting.  THEN yesterday I had this great idea to go to the farmer's market, and do a bunch of shopping, and the whole thing just wore me out.

I'm starting to get to the point in my pregnancy where things are beginning to be difficult.  Things like bending down to refill the cat food.  I get really tired doing things like making breakfast.  I've gained about 17 pounds.  I haven't exercised in almost two weeks, mostly because of this da*n cold.  I really like to stretch out my legs, which is hard to do when sitting down, so I spend a lot of time lately sitting up in bed with my legs stretched out and a lap desk on my lap (duh).  It's where I am now.  I have three cats around me; my kindle, my tablet, a notebook, and my current read, Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra.  (which, actually, I'm really slogging through.  For someone as fascinating as Cleopatra, you'd think the biography would be much more interesting.  This is dull.  Maybe it's just because I don't know much about ancient Egypt.)

Sooo, that's my non-news - I'm snotty, I'm sore, I'm tired, and I'm bored with my book.  But you know what?  I'm almost 22 weeks pregnant, and this will all be worth it when I get to sit here in four months with my bambino.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Things I Like To Do When My Husband Goes Away (aka, Keeping it Real)

J is away for a little bit, and I have Alone Time At Home, which I don't get very often these days.  He's super protective of me, and to be honest, I'd rather not be on my own too much.  But I have this little haven of time alone, and I'm not going to waste it.

Don't judge me...  I'm pregnant...

- I have a Peter Cetera playlist going on Youtube on one computer.
- There is a Netflix Gossip Girl Marathon going on on another netbook.
- I am playing Skyrim.
- I am eating strawberry Jell-O right out of the big bowl with a giant mixing spoon.
- I have a face mask drying on my face (well duh).
- I have a hair mask in my hair.
- I just farted loud enough to freak out Joey, who had been sleeping on the couch next to me.  I'm pregnant, ok?
- I can feel a burp coming on, too.
- I'm wearing flipflops with socks.
- I have pretzels and peanut butter, and no utensils of any kind with which to eat them.  Will that stop me?  What do you think?
- My cell phone has an article on the screen from the New Yorker, but I have no intention of actually reading it.  It just makes me feel smart being up there.

Yep, that's your report from Pregnant Land.  Just keeping it real.  You know, because I'm usually so glamorous and polished and stuff.

Here's a fun tidbit:  I was trying to find an image for this post, and googled "slobby pregnant woman."  The second image that comes up is of Jesse Jackson looking drunk.  I have no idea what that means, if anything, but I think it's pretty funny.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March Madness

Like a lot of people, once a year my husband becomes a college football fan.  There's this awkward period in February when there aren't many sports on - football has ended, NASCAR, F1, the Indian Premiere League cricket hasn't started yet, and so we become, by default, basketball fans.

I played basketball for several years in junior high and high school.  By "played", I mean that I went to practice, had my parents install a basketball hoop on the edge of the garage, spent a lot of time shooting through that hoop, went to basketball camp in the summer, and then, when it came time to actually play in a real game (which I did almost every game because I was tall), I spent a lot of time freaking out and getting totally spastic whenever the ball wound up in my hands (which it didn't often, because of the aforementioned freakouts).  I swear to God one time I got a rebound, and I excitedly dribbled it out of bounds to where my coach was sitting on the sideline, to point out that I had, in fact, caught a rebound, and I wanted to know what she thought I should do with it.  She just put her head in her hands and lamented the day she ever thought it would be a good idea to coach junior high school girls' basketball.

I like watching March Madness, though.  I like watching stories like the one from Florida Gulf Coast University unfolding.  I like watching the commentators on the first day get all punchy and silly after twelve hours of broadcasting.  I like watching Charles Barkley pretend that he's watched more than five minutes of college basketball before the tournament started.

Speaking of Charles Barkley, I had a little brush with him when I was in high school.  The 76ers used to have their training camp at F&M College in Lancaster, and they'd have exhibition games where you could go watch them.  During one of these games Charles Barkley fell right in front of me, and I got his sweat on my legs.  

So tonight I asked Jonathan to make dinner for me because I was feeling tired and pregnant.  He was watching the SDSU game against that magic Florida team, and he didn't want to pause the game.  So I got to pretend I was a radio commentator and called the game for 20 minutes.  Here's a sampling of how it went.

"The guy in blue with the dreadlock ponytail has the ball and he's tossing it to some other guy who has green shoes, but it looks like somebody's trying to wrestle him, so I think that's a foul; I guess so, they're inbounding now, and there's a shot, and it looks like it's going to miss, so now the white team has it and they're going back down and the guy who looks like he's wearing Timberland's is going to take a shot, and the fans are on their feet, and the blue team sure looks like they have a lot of energy, and now they're passing it around the edge of the three point line looking for a shot, but there doesn't seem to be an easy shot, so now they're trying to drive it to the basket, and they get it, so now the blue guys are bringing it back..."

And it went on like this for a while until Jonathan finally said, "you're doing great, and you're really energetic, but the thing that's really important to me is what the score is, and how much time is left."  Duh.  I guess there goes my career as a basketball commentator.  

Oh, and on a completely different note, it was Weird People at the Lake Day today.  There was an old guy with a big belly and lots of gray hair on his chest (but none on his head)in the parking lot sitting next to his car in a folding canvas chair wearing, I kid you not, a green speedo, and that's it.  I don't know if he was sunbathing, or a wannabe nudist, or what, but I was not amused that I needed to look at that just to go for my walk.  People, if you feel the need to show off your beer belly in a speedo in a public parking lot, can you at least put up a warning sign or something so that those of us who don't want to see it can avert our eyes?  #NudistManners 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Old Music Wednesday, and feeling like Santa Claus when I walk

Apparently neither my dad or my stepmom could hack Dr Oz's juice cleanse.  I'm all curious about it now.  It wasn't that they were hungry - it was that the shakes were so vile.  I really want to do it now, just to see what all the gross fuss is about.  I might just have to make the lunch shake myself sometime, just to see how awful it is.

Anyway, hopefully tonight is the last night of calling the baby "it" because tomorrow it will be "he" or "she."  I was 18 weeks yesterday - I lost Baby T at 20.6, so as I get closer to that it's definitely weighing on me.  But thanks to the sales at Old Navy, I have a kickass maternity wardrobe now, complete with skirts, dresses, jeans, pretty shirts, and even a bathing suit.  The bathing suit is because I joined the YMCA at the bottom of our mountain to use their pool.  Now that my belly is getting bigger, I find walking around the lake gets more difficult.  My belly shakes (like a bowl full of jelly) whenever I walk down hill, which happens quite a lot when you're going on a mountain path around a lake.  Then it's always sore for hours afterwards.  So I'm going to convert to swimming almost exclusively here soon.  I miss the lake a lot - those walks really do miracles for my spirit, plus I listen to lots of audiobooks - but I reckon that come the end of August or September, I can be back out there walking the baby around.  And still, just because I'm not using it as my primary exercise anymore doesn't mean I can't still go and meditate on the shore.  So anyway, I've got a cute suit on the way from Old Navy, and am excited to get back to exercising regularly and having my belly not be painful afterwards.

I've gained 12 pounds so far, which is really bumming me out.  I wanted to try to not gain more than 20 during the whole pregnancy, which I can see now probably isn't going to won't happen.  Ah well, I should still be able to stick to less than 30 though, which will take me back to where I was when I started losing all that weight two years ago.  All that work, just to be back to where I started.  At least having lost it once I know I can do it again.  And it's not like I'm gaining 30 pounds on top of that, which would have been really bad.

So, separate subject: Music.

I have discovered a new favorite recorder artist.  Maurice Steger is a (very good looking) Swiss recorder player who does a lot of work with baroque and early music ensembles.  I first discovered him on an album of music from Naples called Una Follia di Napoli which is lovely, but not really as much my thing as his English Collection, which I find just so Springtimey.  He also has an album of Telemann, whom I have adored since I was 18 years old and bought my first Naxos CD, which was the Telemann Recorder Suite in A minor.  I bought Naxos CD's because they were cheap, and I could afford them on my broke-student budget.  I obviously had no idea at less than eight years later I'd be heading up their online music library sales, reporting directly to the President, and getting skype calls from Klaus Heymann, the founder.  And I'd have all the Naxos music I could ever want available to me all the time.  Life sure is trippy like that.

Anyway, back to Telemann.  I'm a huge fan.  I think he's overlooked and underrated.  I once heard someone call his music bubble-gum, like it was Britney Spears or something.  That makes me mad, because his stuff is quite ornamental, and I can see where you might think it's fluffy, but there's a lot going on.  He bridges different styles and periods, and so it's hard to categorize him.  But I find his music makes my heart happy.  And Maurice Steger playing the recorder makes me happy, too.

In other news, Charlotte Church has a new album out, her first in quite a while.  It took me a few listens, but I've come to like it.  It sort of reminds me of a female version of Josh Groban.  She's moved away from that awful period where she tried to be a pop star, and actually uses her voice now in big bombastic huge melodies.  It's a little bit much for regular rotation on my spotify playlist, but I can see myself digging it out from time to time.

And less than a week until Dido's new album comes out.  Sweet!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The week in Books and Juice Cleanses

My dad is doing the three day Dr Oz juice cleanse.  I never thought the day would come when I'd say the words "my dad" and "juice cleanse" in a sentence together.  This is the man who loved cheeseburgers so much that, when he married my stepmom, their wedding cake was in the shape of a cheeseburger.  He used to drink beer and smoke cigars every night when I was a kid.  Now that man is doing a juice cleanse, and tomorrow will be drinking kale smoothies.  Actually, if I wasn't pregnant, I'd probably do it too - if it's good enough for my dad to try, it'd be good enough for me, and it's only for three days.  You can do almost anything for three days.  Maybe after the baby comes we'll try it.

So we find out on Thursday if we're going to have a boy or girl (as long as the baby cooperates and strikes a pose conducive to being able to tell).  But in the meantime, I did the old wives tale pendulum predictor today.  I thought it would be fun to test it out before we find out for sure.  Both J and I did it, before checking what the results meant, so as not to influence them.  And when I did it he was outside, so he couldn't see what my results were.  Both of us got the same results: a boy.  I really don't care.  I just want a living baby.

The past two weeks I've only read two books, which is a bit slower of a rate than I would like.  Unfortunately, the books I'm reading right now also don't read really quickly, so I suspect I will stay at this rate for at least another week.  But it's ok because I'm getting a number of books crossed off my list that have been on for a while, and just because they take more time and effort to read than a Sophie Kinsella book, that doesn't mean they aren't worth the effort.

So the past two weeks I read:

The Last Letter from your Lover:
by JoJo Moyes

This would be a simple fluff novel if it wasn't so compelling, and didn't make you think so much.  The first novel of hers I read, "Me Before You" was about a girl who, when she loses her job at a coffee shop, becomes a caregiver for a man who had been a high-flying stockbroker who dated models, until his motorcycle accident left him paralyzed and back home living in a guest house attached to his parents' home.  They wind up falling in love, though he is still determined to end his life, because it's nothing like what it was before, and he can't go on living like that.  That book was incredibly emotional, and left me a bit numb for days afterwards.  This book was similar.  In 1960 a woman and man begin a whirlwind romance and fall deeply in love.  The problem: she's married.  He wants her to leave her unloving husband and come away with him.  It's a love story and a mystery that go unsolved for over 40 years until, in 2003, a reporter at a newspaper finds a love letter and starts some investigative work to find the lovers.  The back jacket had a review from the Independent that said it was "partner-ignoringly compulsive" reading, and J would agree with that, I'm sure.

Waiting For Sunrise:
By William Boyd

The novel starts in the year before WWI began, in Vienna, where a British actor is seeking therapy.  He gets caught up in the libertine atmosphere of the artists and writers there, and when it all goes wrong, he needs to be smuggled out of the country by diplomats.  But then, since he owes them, he gets wrapped up in the war, and in a mystery to find out who is putting Britain's secrets at risk.  This was a bit of a thriller, with amazing descriptions and writing that was like chocolate that I didn't want to rush through, but wanted to savor each word.  I had never read any William Boyd before, but I will be reading him again, I know.  He was delicious.

This week I'm reading two nonfiction works - one by Ian Mortimer (who wrote the Time Traveler's Guide to the Middle Ages) about medieval intrigue and mystery - I think it specifically revolves around the murder or Richard II, but I've just started it, so I'm not sure.  Second, is a book of essays about the growth of Los Angeles in the 1920's.  It's very academic, and taking me forever to get through, which is why I've interspersed some medieval history in there as well.