Sylvia's birth story

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:25 pm
lindseykuper: A figure, wearing a pink shirt decorated with a heart, looks upward from between dark shapes that suggest buildings. (Default)
[personal profile] lindseykuper

Four weeks ago today, we welcomed Sylvia Dawn into the world! I got a lot out of reading other people's birth stories as we prepared for Sylvia to arrive, and so I'm sharing ours in the hope that someone else will benefit from it in some way, whether they're preparing for a birth themselves or are just curious about how birth works.

Sylvia's due date of Monday, July 17 came and went without much fanfare. I had an appointment with Kavita, my midwife, that day, and she checked my cervix and reported that I was one centimeter dilated (out of the standard ten centimeters that one's cervix must usually dilate before one can push a baby out). It's apparently common for the cervix to dilate a centimeter or three during late pregnancy before labor actually starts, so it didn't mean much that mine had begun dilating. Still, Alex found it very exciting that Kavita was able to poke a finger in and feel the top of the baby's head through the amniotic sac ("You're the first person to touch our baby!"1). I couldn't tell that my cervix had begun to dilate (and I couldn't feel anything unusual or painful during Kavita's exam), but I was happy that my body seemed to be preparing for labor and birth.

My parents arrived in town two days later, on Wednesday the 19th, but they didn't come to visit us yet. Their plan had been to come see us a day or so after I gave birth, and they wanted to leave us some space until then. They got an Airbnb in the next town over and found tourist activities to occupy their time. I was on leave from work, and I puttered around the house, cleaning and organizing things. A friend had asked me a few weeks previously if I had been "nesting" yet, and I hadn't been sure what that meant. "You mean, like, buying stuff for the baby?", I had asked. "No," she'd replied, "I mean, like, organizing the spice rack." The week starting with Sylvia's due date turned out to be when the "nesting" thing finally kicked in. I did not organize the spice rack, but I did construct, bake, and freeze two pans of enchiladas. I like to cook, but cooking and freezing food in advance is not typical behavior for me!2

On Friday the 21st, I lost my mucus plug, the small glob of mucus that fills the cervical opening during pregnancy. I never imagined that I would be excited about a glob of yellowish mucus in my underwear, but I was pleased to have another sign that my cervix was beginning to open. I excitedly texted my mom, who said, "Are you sure your water didn't break?" (Yes, I was sure.) Like me, my parents were eager for things to move along, and by now they were running out of tourist things to do. My dad finally announced that it was ridiculous that they'd been in town for several days and not seen me yet, and that they were coming over the next day, which was Saturday.

On Saturday, my parents arrived, we all went out for a nice brunch together, and then we spent the afternoon at home, where I gave them a tour of all the many baby accoutrements that we'd been given by friends and relatives.3 At some point in the afternoon, I noticed that I seemed to be having some watery discharge. I called Kavita, worried that it might be a slow leak of amniotic fluid. She told me that she'd come over around 8:30 the next morning and check on me. Eventually, my parents headed back to their Airbnb, and some time later, Alex and I went to bed.

Around two-thirty in the morning, I started to feel what were...well...I thought they might be contractions, but I wasn't entirely sure. How is a first-time birth-giver supposed to know what a contraction feels like, anyway? I knew from the childbirth class that Alex and I had taken that during early labor, contractions would last less than a minute and would be between about seven and twenty minutes apart, and that this stage of labor could last for a long time, possibly days. But, although I was sure I was feeling a sort of discomfort that was new to me, I couldn't put my finger on how long the contractions were, nor how far apart they were. I got out of bed and googled for things like "can't tell when contractions stop and start", to not much avail. I downloaded a contraction timer app and tried using it, but that wasn't particularly helpful, either. Eventually, I decided to call Kavita to let her know what was going on, although I didn't think there was an urgent need for her to come over yet. She told me that she would come over sometime the next day, but that instead of coming at 8:30 a.m. as she had said previously, she wouldn't plan on any particular time and would instead wait for another phone call from me. At that point, I think I went back to bed and tried to sleep, with mixed success.

Around seven in the morning, I still couldn't tell when the contractions were starting or stopping or how long they were, but I was beginning to have an increasing amount of lower back pain. I took a hot shower and put on a loose-fitting dress, then moved restlessly around the house, trying different ways to sit or stand and googling "when to call midwife". After reading one too many stories on pregnancy forums from people who waited too long to call the midwife and regretted it, I began to get worried and decided that I really wanted Kavita to come over soon. I woke up Alex and asked him to call Kavita for me; I suppose I felt like I'd been calling her too often and that she might think I was crying wolf, and that if the call came from Alex, she might take it more seriously. Kavita asked Alex for more information on what had been happening for the last few hours, to which he truthfully answered that he didn't know, because he'd just woken up. I think the fact that Alex had been asleep was a sign to Kavita that I was still not very far along. She had Alex put me on the phone and confirmed that I could still talk through a contraction, then gently explained that she didn't think I needed her to come over yet (and that this was really the sort of situation that called for a doula -- which I didn't have -- and not a midwife). But I was nervous and asked her to please come over, and she acquiesced and arrived at our place an hour and a half later. I had gotten back in bed and was lying on my side and pressing a hot water bottle against my back. Kavita immediately noticed that my lips looked dry and admonished me to drink more water. She checked the baby's heart rate, which was 130 bpm, just as it had been throughout most of pregnancy.

Then, Kavita got out a TENS unit, a small battery-operated device for treating pain with a low-voltage electric current. We had very briefly discussed this thing in the childbirth class, but I hadn't actually tried it out during the class, and had felt a bit skeptical of it at the time. Kavita showed me how to use it: there were four small, flat electrode pads that attached to my lower back with a very sticky adhesive, and wires ran from the pads to a small handheld device that I could use to control the intensity of the current. The handheld device had a big, easy-to-press button that would toggle between two settings: a lower-intensity, pulsing setting and a higher-intensity, steady one. Kavita explained that I could leave it on the former setting when I wasn't having a contraction, then push the button to switch to the latter setting and get more pain relief during contractions. We set it to about a third of the maximum intensity, and it felt great -- a bit like someone was massaging my lower back with warm hands. Turning it up more than that began to feel more prickly than therapeutic, so I left it at the one-third setting. Having gotten me situated with the TENS unit, Kavita left for a while to take care of some other errands and appointments.

The TENS unit was awesome. I left it attached to my back pretty much continuously for the next twenty-four hours, only taking it off a couple of times to take showers. Not long after putting it on, I felt comfortable getting out of bed and walking around outside a bit with Alex. I also sat on our exercise ball for a while, and I ate a sandwich that Alex made me and did my best to drink a lot of water.

The contractions were gradually becoming more distinct and more uncomfortable, and I really appreciated having that button to push and turn up the TENS unit whenever I had a contraction. I wouldn't say that it took the pain away, exactly, but it provided an effective distraction from the pain, in the same way that scratching an itch distracts from the itch. Most importantly, having the button to push made me feel like I was in control! It occurred to me that my earlier questions about when exactly my contractions started and stopped could be answered by looking at a log of data from the TENS unit: a contraction could be said to start at whatever point I got uncomfortable enough to press the button to switch to the steady setting, and it could be said to stop at whatever point the discomfort lessened enough that I pressed the button again to switch back to the pulsing setting. I remember wishing that the TENS unit talked to my phone and provided that data (notwithstanding the serious security and privacy implications that such an arrangement would have), or at least that there was some kind of logging facility so that I could show the data to Kavita.

Throughout the day on Sunday, Kavita checked in periodically via phone or text message, but I didn't have much to report. I knew that it was a good idea to keep moving during labor, but I found I was most comfortable lying in bed on my side, with the TENS unit on my back, and sometimes with the hot water bottle on top of that. Kavita had brought her birth pool (the brand was "Birth Pool in a Box") over to our house some time previously, and Alex got it inflated and set up in our spare room (soon to be the baby's room) and put a tarp under it. We didn't start filling it with water yet, though, since it might be some time before we actually used it. I was very much looking forward to getting in the pool, but Kavita had said it wasn't time yet.

By the early evening, my back pain had become more intense, and by now it was obvious when I was and wasn't having a contraction. Alex ordered a pizza, and I remember trying not to make any noise while the delivery person was at the door. I wasn't interested in eating any of the pizza. When Kavita returned that evening, I had sort of draped myself over our exercise ball on the floor of the bedroom and was rolling around miserably. Kavita determined that I hadn't been eating or drinking enough, and she fed me some yogurt with a spoon. I asked hopefully if it was time to get in the pool yet, but she felt that the pool should be more of a last-resort pain relief technique -- the equivalent of an epidural, if I'd been in the hospital -- and that I still wasn't nearly far enough along that it should be necessary. She didn't want to check my cervical dilation yet, either, because she suspected that the number wasn't what I wanted it to be and that hearing it wouldn't do me any good. I felt like a wreck, but Kavita told me that I looked like I was coping quite well. This wasn't particularly encouraging to hear, though -- if this was what "coping well" felt like, I was worried about how awful I'd feel later when I wasn't coping so well!

As a substitute for the pool, Kavita suggested getting in a hot shower. I was reluctant at first, because I didn't want to go to the trouble of getting undressed and then dressed again. (I ended up half-solving that problem by simply not getting dressed again after the shower.) On the way to the shower, I had a painful contraction and had to stop and and sort of hang from the top of the bathroom door frame and groan for a while. (I was glad that Kavita was there to see me having some really painful contractions -- I wanted her to see that my pain was real.) Alex moved the exercise ball into the shower -- where, happily, it just barely fit -- and I sat there on the ball for almost an hour with hot water pouring down on my back. I had begun to have some abdominal pain in addition to my back pain, and Alex brought me a large plastic cup so that I could pour hot water on my belly as well.

Sitting on the ball in the shower, with hot water pouring down both my back and my front, I could almost pretend that I was immersed in the warm birth pool, which is where I really wanted to be. It felt good. I made low moaning noises when contractions came. Kavita, knowing that I still had a lot of laboring to do, insisted that I keep taking in more calories, and she fed me the rest of the yogurt right there in the shower. When I got out of the shower, I felt much better; I'm sure both the shower and the calories played a role.

It was getting to be late at night, and Kavita prepared to spend the night on our couch. She and Alex arranged to take shifts so that someone would always be awake with me, but in practice, there were times when they were both asleep. I didn't mind at all -- I wanted them both to be well rested, and I knew that I could wake them up if I really needed them. I spent most of the night either in bed with the TENS unit, or back in the shower. Alex was very tired, but he was worried about me being alone in the shower, and he insisted on getting up and going into the bathroom with me and bringing me juice to drink. In one photo he took, timestamped 1:58 a.m., I'm sitting naked in the shower on the exercise ball, water pouring down on my back, and nonchalantly drinking grapefruit juice from a cup with a straw with my eyes closed, as if that's the most normal thing in the world to be doing in the shower at two in the morning!

Monday morning arrived. I had re-attached the TENS unit to my back after my last stint in the shower, and I'd fiddled with its settings and found that if I left it on the steady setting all the time (rather than switching back to the less intense intermittent setting between contractions) and turned it up to two-thirds of the maximum intensity -- a level that had felt uncomfortably prickly the previous day -- then it provided enough of a distraction from the pain that I could get through a contraction without making any noise. That was good, because Alex was now sleeping more or less peacefully in bed, and I wanted him to have a chance to sleep. He woke up long enough to help me get situated in the old armchair in our bedroom, TENS device in hand, surrounded by pillows, my phone, and the by-now-indispensable hot water bottle. Then he went back to sleep, and I settled down in the chair to wait for whatever came next.

A bit later, around eight in the morning, Kavita came in to check on me. I told her that with the TENS unit cranked up, the pain was quite manageable as long as I didn't move from the chair where I was, but that I didn't think I was making much progress. My contractions -- although it was now quite obvious when I was having one -- still weren't all that frequent or regular; I think they were happening perhaps every five or ten minutes at this point. I asked again if she wanted to check my dilation, hoping that I might somehow be wrong about my lack of progress, but she still didn't think there was much to be gained by checking at this point. She said that if by that afternoon or evening there hadn't been progress, we could think about ways to induce labor, which might or might not include going to the hospital. Then she headed out briefly for another appointment, leaving Alex (who was still asleep in bed) and me alone in the house for a while.

For me, this was an emotional low point of labor. I'd now been having contractions of one kind or another for more than twenty-four hours, but I didn't seem to be making much progress. I felt that I must not be particularly close to giving birth, or Kavita would have cancelled her other appointment and stayed. I was frustrated with myself for not making progress, and I was afraid that I'd end up having to go to the hospital for a chemically induced labor, which I felt would be a sort of failure.

Around ten in the morning, my friend Jessica texted to ask how I was doing, and I explained that with the help of the TENS unit, I was reasonably comfortable, but that my contractions still weren't all that frequent. Jessica asked if I was in a "get on with it" mood or a "nice to have a break" mood, and I responded emphatically, "I would love to get on with it, get to transition and get in the pool." ("Transition" refers to the part of labor when the cervix dilates its last few centimeters, after which it's time to start pushing the baby out.) Jessica asked if there was anything I could do to make contractions faster or more intense. I didn't answer, but thinking about her question brought me to a turning point: I realized that if I wanted to make progress, I needed to get my ass up out of the chair and do something about it. And so -- very slowly, painfully, and resentfully -- I dragged myself to a standing position and made myself go walk around the house.

I remembered that grabbing the top of the bathroom door frame had been helpful during a painful contraction earlier, and so I decided that I'd take a stab at hanging from the pull-up bar mounted in the doorway to Alex's and my office, which was right next to the door to our bedroom where Alex still slept. I found the birthing stool that Kavita had brought over the previous day, carried it over to the pull-up bar, and tried positioning myself with my hands on the bar, my right foot on the floor, and my left foot up on the stool, still with the TENS electrodes on my back. I had one or two strong contractions in that standing position, stronger than the ones I'd had been having sitting in the armchair. Then I had a contraction that felt stronger still -- and then my water broke, suddenly and explosively, all over the floor! The splash it made was loud enough that Alex jumped out of bed with a yelp. I was elated -- finally, a sign of progress!

My contractions started to become more regular, more frequent, and more intense. I was so delighted to be making progress that I didn't mind the pain. I kept telling Alex how happy I was. I didn't feel much like moving from my position on the pull-up bar with my foot up on the stool, so I stayed right where I was while a now-very-much-awake Alex got a towel and handled the rather disgusting task of mopping up the amniotic fluid around my feet, which was clear with bits of grayish-brown meconium in it. (Happily, most of the fluid had gone onto the wooden floor of the hallway, where it was relatively easy to clean up, instead of onto the carpet of the office or our bedroom.) Then Alex called Kavita, who was already on her way back over.

It was around this time that the TENS unit stopped being effective for keeping me quiet during contractions. I asked Alex to close all our windows so that the neighbors wouldn't have to hear my moaning and groaning. He was reluctant to do that ("You know what? Screw 'em!"), but I insisted. When Kavita arrived a few minutes later, I was still hanging from the pull-up bar in a most undignified way -- naked, smelly, groaning, and soaking in bodily fluids -- but in much better spirits than I had been when she'd left just a couple hours previously. Kavita decided that it was finally time to check my dilation, which she was able to do right there where I stood without making me change positions. I was absolutely thrilled when she reported that I was eight centimeters dilated, and even more thrilled when she told Alex that it was time to start filling up the birth pool. She also checked the baby's heart rate, which was holding steady at 130 bpm.

I had a couple more intense contractions while Alex and Kavita proceeded to use up all of our hot water filling the pool. Alex helped me get in the pool, which felt wonderful, but it still wasn't quite as warm as I would have liked, so he and Kavita started some pots boiling on the stove to get more hot water to pour in with me. I kept asking for more and more hot water, and they kept pouring more in -- until, abruptly, it was very hot and I had to take my hands out of the water to regulate my temperature. They also brought me water, juice, and soup. I didn't feel hungry, but Kavita insisted that I keep eating.

It was now around noon on Monday, and I was imagining that I "just" needed to finish dilating and that I would then push the baby out and give birth right there in the pool. (It's called a birth pool, after all, not a labor pool!) Those last two centimeters of dilation were the most physically painful part of labor. If I hadn't been in the nice warm pool, I'm certain it would have been a lot worse. When I had a contraction, I heard myself make noises I'd never made before -- inhuman-sounding noises that I can't characterize as a moan, a groan, or a yell. In particular, I made a noise that was almost like a yodel. It had two distinct pitches that alternated very quickly, and it was loud! When I yodeled, Alex sometimes sang along with me or drummed a beat with his hands, until I asked him to please stop doing that. Meanwhile, Kavita sat on the floor, knitting a baby hat, completely unperturbed by my yodeling. She'd seen people go through transition hundreds of times; this was nothing new. (I asked her later if I had even been especially loud, and she was like, "Nah.")

I tried a position where I was on my knees in the pool, leaning forward over the edge of the pool and squeezing Alex's hands tightly during contractions, making my loud yodeling noise. When I didn't have his hands in a death grip, Alex held a cool washcloth to my head and gave me sips of water. The pain had now moved entirely from my back to my abdomen, and it was intense. At one point, Alex asked me if it was the worst pain I'd ever experienced. I didn't answer the question at the time, because another contraction was starting, but yes, it was. The blister on my toe during mile twenty-three of the marathon I ran in 2009 had been pretty bad, but the difference between that and this was that during the marathon, I could have stopped running if the pain became intolerable, whereas with labor, the only way out was through.

After a while, Kavita suggested that it might be a good idea to get out of the pool. I wasn't very happy at the prospect, because I figured that that meant that she thought it would still be a while before I actually gave birth. I'd really been hoping that once I got in the pool, I wouldn't get out again until I had a baby! Besides, considering that my pain was as bad as it was in the nice warm pool, I imagined it would be unbearable once I got out. But Kavita felt that since this was my first time giving birth, it would be easier for me to push the baby out if I got out of the pool and had gravity working in my favor.

It took some time for me to be convinced to get out of the pool. Alex asked me if I wanted to get out, and I got upset at him, saying, "You're asking me to choose between one kind of pain and another kind of pain!" (Weeks later, I happened to be reading one of our books about pregnancy and birth, and I came across a section that had advice for people on how to help their partners get through transition. One of the pieces of advice was, "Don't ask her questions." Hah! Quite so.) Finally, though, I was willing to get out, and Alex and Kavita helped me make my way out of the pool and lie down on the bed. It was around this time that Kavita's backup midwife, Shannon, arrived to help. I was lucid enough to say hello to Shannon, who I hadn't met before. I couldn't help being amused at the situation: "Hi! I'm naked, wet, smelly, and groaning in pain. Nice to meet you!" (Shannon, of course, took all this in stride, as any experienced midwife would.)

Kavita checked my dilation and reported that I was nearly at ten centimeters, and that there was only a tiny rim of cervix around the baby's head. She asked permission to push back the cervix, and I said to go ahead. I've heard people report that this is excruciatingly painful, but I honestly don't remember feeling anything at all. It's possible that my abdominal pain was strong enough that I just wasn't noticing any other kind of pain. In any case, Kavita was able to push back the last bit of cervix without much trouble, and she said that I was clear to go ahead and start pushing.

This should have been welcome news, but I found that I didn't feel any sort of urge to push. I attempted a few pushes, but I didn't understand how I was supposed to use my contractions to help me push effectively, and my abdominal pain persisted. I let out a few loud yells. These weren't like the inhuman-sounding yodeling sounds I'd made before, which had come purely from a place of pain. Rather, they were recognizably human sounds, and I was really yelling more out of fear and frustration than out of pain. I think I was afraid that, after all this time and effort, I wouldn't be able to carry out the last step and actually push the baby out. As I was yelling, I caught a glimpse of Alex, and the look on his face in reaction to the sounds I was making was somewhere between "concerned" and "impressed".

Thinking that perhaps a change in position would do me good, Kavita and Shannon helped me out of bed and got me seated on the birth stool. I had a difficult time sitting in the way they wanted me to, though: they wanted me to plant my feet widely, but I wanted to curl my legs up under me in reaction to my abdominal pain. Adding to the tension and frustration was the fact that Kavita was getting worried that it had been a while since I had peed. I had been drinking lots of water and juice, but the last time I could remember peeing had been in the shower the previous night.4 Kavita and Shannon put a bowl under me on the stool and suggested that I try to pee in the bowl, but I didn't feel the slightest urge to pee. I felt overwhelmed with everything that I was being asked to do: I didn't know how to push, I couldn't make myself pee, and I didn't want to move my feet. I told Kavita and Shannon that the birth stool wasn't working for me and that I wanted to curl up in bed again, and they helped me return to bed, telling me that I was doing fine and that it was okay to take a break. Kavita checked the baby's heart rate again; still 130 bpm, just like always, with slight speedups during contractions. Kavita pulled Alex aside, and I overheard her quietly telling him that there could be several hours of labor still to go, and I tried to come to terms with that unpleasant reality.

Alex curled up next to me in bed, while Shannon and Kavita rubbed my feet gently. I pushed ineffectually a few times, yelling again in pain and frustration, and one of the midwives -- Shannon, I think -- suggested that I try to use my voice as a tool to help me work through and take advantage of the contractions: with each contraction, she said I should try to bear downward with my diaphragm, making a low, loud, sustained sound. I began trying to do that, and Kavita and Shannon encouraged me, telling me over and over that I was doing "great" and "amazing". I wasn't sure if I was really accomplishing anything or not, but their words made me feel better. In the choir I sing with, we spend a lot of time working on breathing, stretching, and exercising the lungs and diaphragm, and I think that all of the time I'd spent doing those exercises helped me during this part of labor.

One of Kavita or Shannon predicted that sooner or later I would start to feel some pressure on my rectum from the baby's head, as though I needed to poop, and that I would be able to use that sensation to help me push. A few contractions later, I indeed started to feel as though I needed to poop. I announced to the room, "I've got rectal pressure!", to which Kavita and Shannon responded with cheers. For me, this was another turning point of labor. Pushing out a baby wasn't something I had ever done before, but pooping? That was something that I had a lifetime of experience with! I told Kavita and Shannon, "I'm literally just going to try to poop whenever I have a contraction." They seemed to be on board with that plan.

After a few pushes, Kavita suggested that I should try sitting up and making use of gravity again, but I didn't want to return to the birth stool after my unpleasant experience sitting on it earlier. Instead, I decided to try sitting the toilet. (I was trying to poop, after all.) I went down the hall to the bathroom, closed the door, and sat on the toilet. The room was relatively dark, quiet and cool compared to the rest of the house. I told myself that this was simple: that all I had to do was try to poop, and with each contraction, that's exactly what I did. For me, this was the most satisfying and pleasant part of labor. Somehow, my abdominal pain melted away, and with each contraction, I just did my damnedest to poop. In fact, a few small nuggets did plop out into the toilet, and I felt damned proud of each one of them. I may or may not have happily announced "I POOPED!", loud enough for Kavita, Shannon, and Alex to hear from down the hall.

After a while, Kavita came in to check the baby's heart rate (still at 130) and see how I was doing. She was concerned that I still hadn't peed, and she added to the toilet water a bit of peppermint essential oil, which, she explained, would dilate my urethra and help me pee. She also thought that I might want to try a different pushing position. I told her that what I was doing seemed to be working well and I wanted to keep going with it for a while, and she left with some reluctance.5 The peppermint oil didn't help me pee, but it did smell nice.

I continued laboring in the bathroom by myself. The amazing thing about this part of labor was that with each contraction, I felt pressure, but not any pain. A contraction would start; I'd exhale and push downward as though I was trying to defecate; and after several seconds of that, I would feel a tremendously powerful pressure -- but not pain! -- well up inside of me, and it was as though my body took over pushing for me for several more seconds. After perhaps forty-five minutes of that pattern repeating every few minutes, I started wondering if I was making any observable progress pushing the baby out. I reached down between my legs to see if I could feel anything different -- and felt the top of the baby's head bulging out of me! I was astonished, and called out excitedly, "Kavita, come feel this!" Kavita confirmed that the baby was starting to crown, and she quickly helped me get up from the toilet and waddle bow-legged down the hall to the bedroom, where Alex and Shannon were waiting.

From this point on, things moved very quickly. Kavita suggested that I climb up on the bed on my hands and knees, but that seemed like too much effort, and I was eager to get on with it and push the baby out -- so I just bent over the side of the bed, resting my forearms on the bed with my rear end in the air and my feet on the floor. Behind me, I heard Kavita say, "That works, too!" I had a contraction and pushed, hollering loudly, and behind me, I could hear Alex saying, "I can see the head!" I didn't know if he meant just the top of the head, or the whole head; I hoped it was the latter. It hurt a lot, and I said to Kavita, "Please, pull her out!" Kavita told me, "You need to push her out!"

Behind me, Kavita and Shannon were telling me to take deep breaths and push slowly and deliberately. For some reason, though, I felt as though I ought to push the baby out as quickly as possible. It wasn't a physical urge to push quickly; rather, it was a mental one -- some ill-conceived notion I had that the baby would come to harm unless I got her out in a big hurry. I didn't want her to be squashed up in the birth canal for any longer than necessary. (I wasn't thinking about harm that might come to me.) Also, in the childbirth class, we had seen a couple of birth videos in which babies had seemed to me to come flying out at top speed, and so that was the mental picture I had. Besides, I was just really, really eager to be done giving birth! All things considered, I probably pushed a bit more forcefully than I should have.

After another push or two, Alex exclaimed, "I can see her face!", and now I knew that her whole head was out. She was in occiput anterior position, that is, head down and facing my back -- the preferred position for birth. As Kavita and Shannon later explained, though, she had her head lifted slightly from her chest in what is apparently known as a "military" presentation, which may have made for a tighter squeeze. (It's more common for the chin to be tucked to the chest.)

Suddenly, Kavita and Shannon were telling me that I needed to flip over onto my back. I was surprised at this instruction -- everything I'd heard and read about birth had said that the all-fours position that I was already in was preferable to lying on one's back -- but now was no time to argue with their instructions! With both Kavita and Shannon helping me, I managed to flip over astonishingly quickly, and was now lying with my back on the bed, legs hanging off the side of the bed, and feet on the floor. From that position, I just pushed once or twice more. I'm not sure if I pushed her out by myself or if Kavita did some pulling, but I don't remember this last part being especially painful or taking very long at all, and at 5:40 p.m. on Monday, Sylvia was out! Kavita later explained that Sylvia had had a "tight shoulder", and that it in my case it was actually the act of flipping over that had dislodged the shoulder, and that the fact that I happened to end up on my back instead of start out on my back wasn't as important. (I'd be interested to hear from other people who've had similar birth experiences, since my understanding is that it's a lot more common to move into an all-fours position to resolve a tight shoulder, instead of out of that position like I did. I'm no expert, though!)

Right after she came out, I remember just lying there for a few seconds in exhaustion, amazement, and profound relief that it was finally over. (I was apparently also bleeding profusely, not that I noticed or cared at the time.) Then there were about twenty seconds of furious activity: Kavita and Shannon had laid Sylvia down on the bed next to me and were using an Ambu bag to inflate her lungs. She looked healthy and pink -- she was still getting oxygen through the umbilical cord, which was still attached to my placenta and pulsating -- but had not yet started breathing on her own. I looked over and saw her whole tiny body lift up and convulse in response to the incoming air from the bag. Shannon turned to Kavita and said, "Call 911?" (Alex later said that he almost fainted when he heard that.) I was asking, "Is she okay? Is she okay?" Kavita exhorted, "Touch her! Talk to her!" I reached out and grabbed her tiny, chubby thigh, saying, "Sylvia, Sylvia, Sylvia! I love you, Sylvia!" Alex was next to me, doing the same, and a few moments later, Sylvia took her first gasping breaths on her own and started to cry, obviating any need to call 911.6

Kavita and Shannon put her on my bare chest -- warm, soft, pink, wriggly, and covered in slippery vernix and an appreciable amount of (my) blood. They laid a receiving blanket on top of her, but the room was extremely warm as a result of my insistence on closing all the windows hours earlier, and so the blanket was hardly necessary. I hugged her to me, trying to keep her nose and mouth from being buried in my breasts; I was afraid of suffocating her. Next to me, Kavita and Shannon were remarking on how good her color was and how big she was.7 Her one-minute and five-minute Apgar scores were seven and nine, respectively -- a strong, healthy baby!

Kavita and Shannon reminded me that I still needed to deliver the placenta. I told them that I didn't think I could do any more pushing, but even as I was saying those words, one last contraction welled up, and I was able to painlessly push out the placenta, along with yet more blood. (The placenta is now frozen solid in a bag in our freezer. I've promised Alex that I'll bury it in the back yard and plant flowers or something over it at some point.) Kavita squeezed the umbilical cord a few times to get the last of the blood in it to Sylvia, then clamped the cord and asked Alex if he wanted to cut it. He emphatically declined, and so Kavita cut the cord.

I held Sylvia for a while longer, then gave her to Alex, who took his shirt off so that he could have skin-to-skin contact with her, too. Although holding her myself for the first time had been indescribably great, looking at Alex holding her was somehow even more emotional for me. She was taking quick, shallow breaths, and Kavita suctioned mucus from her nose and mouth with a bulb syringe a couple times, but for the most part, she seemed extraordinarily healthy and vital, even making a valiant effort to hold up her head (which most newborns don't do until they're a month old or so). A bit later, I breastfed her for the first time -- another amazing feeling. Shannon fussed over me, tucking a pillow under my elbow so that I could relax my arm while feeding her. (Shannon was concerned that she wouldn't nurse if I wasn't relaxed, but I've found that she nurses quite enthusiastically whether I'm relaxed or not.) While we nursed, Shannon gave Sylvia her first shot, a vitamin K injection in her thigh, and she didn't even flinch.

Kavita and Shannon stayed for several more hours, taking care of me8, measuring and weighing Sylvia, making notes for their own records, and cleaning everything up.9 I took a shower; Alex gave Sylvia her first diaper; we all had something to eat. Eventually, Kavita and Shannon packed up and left, and Alex, Sylvia and I settled into bed for our first night as a family of three.

Welcome, Sylvia! I'm so glad that I got to bring you into the world in this way, the way I had wanted, and I'm excited for us to get to know you in the months and years that lie ahead.


  1. She would probably have been the first person to touch our baby in any case, considering that she's, you know, my midwife.
  2. Womenshealth.gov says that "For some women, a flurry of energy and the impulse to cook or clean, called "nesting," is a sign that labor is approaching."
  3. We have piles and piles of new or almost-new clothes that people have given us. At this rate, we won't have to buy any clothes for her until she's in kindergarten. We've also been given bottles, diapers, a bouncer seat, slings, receiving blankets, toys, books, and loads of other things, only some of which I suspect we'll ever actually use. I'm sure we're going to be paying it forward next time a local friend has a baby!
  4. Not only did I pee in the shower, I peed directly on the exercise ball -- the same exercise ball that is currently in my child's room. Deal With It.™
  5. Later on, Kavita told me that she'd thought I actually looked "too comfortable" on the toilet, leading her to believe that I must not be pushing effectively, which was why she'd suggested trying something different. I was comfortable, but she turned out to be wrong that I wasn't pushing effectively!
  6. Apparently, around ten percent of newborns "require some assistance to begin breathing at birth", with around one percent requiring "extensive resuscitative measures". "Extensive" measures include "intubation, chest compressions, and/or medications"; using the Ambu bag did not count as "extensive". I asked Kavita later if she thought this had been a close call. She told me that if the bag with room air hadn't worked, then they would have given oxygen, and if that hadn't worked, then they would have done chest compressions (by which point they probably would have called 911 as well). Both Kavita and Shannon have infant CPR training, which, happily, they didn't have to use. I doubt that things would have gone any better than they did had we been in a hospital, and they might have been worse
  7. At this point, I didn't yet realize that I had delivered an unusually large baby, but when Kavita weighed and measured her a couple of hours later, she was nine pounds and ten ounces, and 21 inches long. At the pediatrician's office four days later, we found out that she was at the 97th percentile for height, 95th for weight! Huge babies don't run in my family, nor Alex's, but I know that I ate heartily and took lots of vitamins during pregnancy, and that extra week in the womb probably didn't hurt, either.
  8. I had a not-too-huge perineal tear, which Kavita thought would probably be fine without stitches, and I elected not to have any. Her more immediate concern was that it had now been something like fifteen hours since I'd peed. My bladder was huge and rock-hard, and it was preventing my uterus from moving back into its proper place. Unfortunately, I still didn't feel any sort of need to pee. Once I could stand up without feeling lightheaded, I tried going to the bathroom a couple of times, to no avail. Finally, Kavita ended up giving me a catheter (which was quick and painless) and got an impressive amount of urine out of me in a short time. (I'm happy to report that a few hours later, my body finally remembered how to pee.)
  9. We had put a waterproof mattress pad on our bed to protect it from blood and other bodily fluids (with the bed made with clean sheets underneath, so that after the birth we could just peel off the mattress pad and everything on top of it and have clean sheets to sleep on that night), but since I had actually given birth hanging off the side of the bed rather than on the bed, most of the blood had ended up on our bedroom carpet. Shannon got a bottle of peroxide and set to work scrubbing all of the blood out of our carpet. By the time she was done, only a slightly discolored spot remained.

[personal profile] ndrosen
On July 28, 2017, we had Open Mike in the morning. I've already reported some of it; to continue, Davepreet Jassal talked about factories in Saint Louis shutting down, and said that instead of coal, there should be bonds to not use coal. There were questions about just how this would work; I must confess that it wasn't clear to me.

Next, Dr. Polly Cleveland spoke nad said that the minimum wage is is practice only enforceable on larger businesses, and that McDonalds, Walmart, Amazon, etc. are more or less monopsonists, monopoly buyers. They pay low wages, which lead to high turnover, and thus to no unions. Higher wages would come out of land rents. She said that we don't live in an Econ 101 world, disputing the standard economic arguments that raising the minimum wage increases unemployment.

Jeff Graubart talked about Android app which displays what's in stores, where in the aisles, restaurant menus, conference agendas, etc., 900 channels. Companies will bid. I wish him luck.

Sue Wwalton made announcements, including about Cahokia Mounds, if people wanted to go. Unlike at some other conferences, we weren't going off on a group bus tour of the local sights, but if some people wanted to skip part of the conference to go, they could.

Dan Sullivan mentioned Chester, Pennsylvania, which has the worst crime statistics in the state, except for "ordinary theft," since there aren't many store there to shoplift from. Pennsylvania has a sales tax and Delaware does not, so there's a lack of businesses along the Pennsylvania side of e border; people prefer to shop in Delaware.

(no subject)

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:57 pm
skygiants: storybook page of a duck wearing a pendant, from Princess Tutu; text 'mukashi mukashi' (mukashi mukashi)
[personal profile] skygiants
A couple months ago I was talking with my roommate about the new Anne of Green Gables TV series (I have not seen it, she had opinions about it) which led to us reminiscing about Other L.M. Montgomery Books We Had Known, which led to me last weekend rereading The Story Girl and The Golden Road.

I was actually much more attached to these books than I ever was to Anne -- they're about an extended group of cousins who have very wholesome adventures together. The cousins include:

Beverly, Our Narrator, most notable for his mildly purple narration and deeply sentimental soul
Felix, his little brother, who is Fat and Sensitive About It
Felicity, who is Very Beautiful and Very Prosaic and also Extremely Bossy, like Lucy from Peanuts if she also looked like Elizabeth Taylor
Cecily, who is Very Good and Very Serious and probably also Doomed to Die Young Like Good Children Do
Dan, Felicity and Cecily's brother, who is an Annoying Brother
Sara Ray, who lives down the road and cries all the time
Peter, who is But a Hired Boy but Clever and Talented and also In Love With Felicity
and, of course, Sara Stanley the Story Girl, who is not pretty but interesting, and has a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and is prone to stopping in the middle of any given conversation to announce that she knows a story that has some vague relation to the topic at hand and will then proceed to relate that story come hell or high water, which: oh god, of course I imprinted on these books as a kid, because I of course do the exact same thing, except without any vestige of a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and also instead of 'I know a tragic story about our uncle's great-aunt's wedding' my version is usually 'I read a book once in which somebody banged a griffin.' But, much like the Story Girl, once I get started on an anecdote of this kind there is very little chance of stopping me. I apologize to anybody who has suffered from this.

ANYWAY. Fortunately, the other kids (with the occasional exception of Felicity) never get fed up with the Story Girl and are always glad to hear an entertaining anecdote about the minister's cousin's grandmother or whatever the topic of discussion is that day.

The kids also get into normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff, like pretending to be ministers, or freaking out because the local old-lady-who-might-be-a-witch sat in their pew at church, or panicking that it might be the Day of Judgment. Normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff centers very prominently on appropriate church behavior, as it turns out. L.M. Montgomery's world is composed of Methodists and Lutherans and that's about it. I don't remember this being weird for me as an emphatically-not-Christian youth but it is slightly retroactively weird for me now.

Other notable things that happen in The Story Girl and The Golden Road:
- Dan eats poison berries because Felicity tells him he would be an idiot to eat the poison berries, nearly dies, then goes back and eats more poison berries because Felicity made the mistake of saying she told him so
- Cecily the Very Sweet and Very Good is mean to exactly one person in both books, a boy in her class who conceives a terrible crush on her and will not leave her alone despite multiple stated requests until she publicly humiliates him in class, which she ruthlessly does; a good lesson
- The Story Girl gives a great and instantly recognizable description of synesthesia without ever actually using the word
- The Story Girl befriends a desperately shy neighbor who is known as the Awkward Man, "because he is so awkward," our narrator Bev helpfully explains
- the Awkward Man is later revealed to have a secret room in his house containing women's clothing, which, the Story Girl explains, is because he's spent years buying things for an imaginary girlfriend - and, I mean, far be it from me to question the Story Girl! but some grad student could probably get a real good paper on gender and sexuality in turn-of-the-century children's lit out of this is all I'm saying

Partial Eclipse

Aug. 21st, 2017 08:44 pm
[personal profile] ndrosen
I didn't go chasing the eclipse to see totality, so I had to make do with a partial eclipse in Alexandria. I didn't stare at the Sun -- well, not much -- but I did puncture a hole in a card, and hold it over some white paper on my windowsill. I saw a crescent piece of sunlight in the shadow cast by the card, although I'm not sure how much of that was due to the Moon's shadow, and how much to the angle of the card and the shape of the hole, as fiddling with the card made the crescent rounder. A few minutes after the supposed greatest percentage of shadow, I noticed that it had grown much darker outside, but that turned out to be the Sun passing behind a cloud.

Oh, and coming home this evening, I met a human couple walking a fourteen month old mini-goldendoodle, who proceeded to lick my hand.

Firefox Triage Report 2017-08-21

Aug. 21st, 2017 04:04 pm
emceeaich: A woman in glasses with grey hair, from the eyes up, wearing a hairband with 'insect antenna' deelie-boppers (bugmaster)
[personal profile] emceeaich

It's the weekly report on the state of triage in Firefox-related components. I apologize for missing last week’s report. I was travelling and did not have a chance to sit down and focus on this.

Hotspots

The components with the most untriaged bugs remain the JavaScript Engine and Build Config.

I discussed the JavaScript bugs with Naveed. What will happen is that the JavaScript bugs which have not been marked as a priority for Quantum Flow (the ‘\[qf:p[1:3]\]’ whiteboard tags) or existing work (the ‘\[js:p[1:3]\]’ whiteboard tags) will be moved to the backlog (P3) for review after the Firefox 57 release. See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1392436.

**Rank**   **Component**                  **2017-08-07**   **This Week**
---------- ------------------------------ ---------------- ---------------
1          Core: JavaScript Engine        449              471
2          Core: Build Config             429              450
3          Firefox for Android: General   411              406
4          Firefox: General               242              246
5          Core: General                  234              235
6          Core: XPCOM                    176              178
7          Core: JavaScript: GC           —                168
8          Core: Networking               —                161
           All Components                 8,373            8,703

Please make sure you’ve made it clear what, if anything will happen with these bugs.

Not sure how to triage? Read https://wiki.mozilla.org/Bugmasters/Process/Triage.

Next Release

**Version**                               56      56      56      56      57    57     57         
----------------------------------------- ------- ------- ------- ------- ----- ------ -------
**Date**                                  7/10    7/17    7/24    7/31    8/7   8/14   8/14       
**Untriaged this Cycle**                  4,525   4,451   4,317   4,479   479   835    1,196      
**Unassigned Untriaged this Cycle**       3,742   3,682   3,517   3,674   356   634    968        
**Affected this Upcoming Release (56)**           111     126     139     125   123    119        
**Enhancements**                          102     107     91      103     3     5      11         
**Orphaned P1s**                          199     193     183     192     196   191    183        
**Stalled P1s**                           195     173     159     179     157   152    155        

What should we do with these bugs? Bulk close them? Make them into P3s? Bugs without decisions add noise to our system, cause despair in those trying to triage bugs, and leaves the community wondering if we listen to them.

Methods and Definitions

In this report I talk about bugs in Core, Firefox, Firefox for Android, Firefox for IOs, and Toolkit which are unresolved, not filed from treeherder using the intermittent-bug-filer account*, and have no pending needinfos.

By triaged, I mean a bug has been marked as P1 (work on now), P2 (work on next), P3 (backlog), or P5 (will not work on but will accept a patch).

A triage decision is not the same as a release decision (status and tracking flags.)

https://mozilla.github.io/triage-report/#report

Age of Untriaged Bugs

The average age of a bug filed since June 1st of 2016 which has gone without triage.

https://mozilla.github.io/triage-report/#date-report

Untriaged Bugs in Current Cycle

Bugs filed since the start of the Firefox 55 release cycle (March 6th, 2017) which do not have a triage decision.

https://mzl.la/2u1R7gA

Recommendation: review bugs you are responsible for (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/page.cgi?id=triage_owners.html) and make triage decision, or RESOLVE.

Untriaged Bugs in Current Cycle Affecting Next Release

Bugs marked status_firefox56 = affected and untriaged.

https://mzl.la/2u2GCcG

Enhancements in Release Cycle

Bugs filed in the release cycle which are enhancement requests, severity = enhancement, and untriaged.

​Recommendation: ​product managers should review and mark as P3, P5, or RESOLVE as WONTFIX.

High Priority Bugs without Owners

Bugs with a priority of P1, which do not have an assignee, have not been modified in the past two weeks, and do not have pending needinfos.

https://mzl.la/2u1VLem

Recommendation: review priorities and assign bugs, re-prioritize to P2, P3, P5, or RESOLVE.

Stalled High Priority Bugs

There 159 bugs with a priority of P1, which have an assignee, but have not been modified in the past two weeks.

https://mzl.la/2u2poMJ

Recommendation: review assignments, determine if the priority should be changed to P2, P3, P5 or RESOLVE.

* New intermittents are filed as P5s, and we are still cleaning up bugs after this change, See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1381587, https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1381960, and https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1383923

If you have questions or enhancements you want to see in this report, please reply to me here, on IRC, or Slack and thank you for reading.

rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I am a dancer in the New York City Ballet. I wrote the pages that follow during one ballet season. I began on November 21, 1980, and finished on February 15, 1981. I was lonely; I was sad. I had decided to be alone, but I had never decided to be lonely. I started writing on a yellow pad. I wrote, and I smoked. Every page was covered with a film of smoke.

If you like that, you will like this book. It's one of those slim but pithy volumes that precisely captures a time, a place, and a state of mind.

I've always had a fascination with ballet, ever since my second-grade teacher offered a trip to see the Nutcracker Suite (it was at least ten years before I realized that the second word was not "sweet") to her top three students. I had no idea what that was, other than that it was clearly desirable, so I went all-out to make sure that I'd get the prize. I was sufficiently enchanted with The Nutcracker and the general air of specialness surrounding the entire experience that I begged my parents for ballet lessons, at which I lasted something like three sessions. I don't recall the exact problem, but based on my age I'm guessing that there was too much standing around.

After that I confined myself to reading ballet books, which was more fun that actually doing it. Had I tried when I was older, I might have stuck with it for longer. Based on Bentley book and everything else I've read about ballet dancing, it has an austere, stoic, boot camp, push your limits atmosphere that would have really appealed to me if I'd been three to five years older. And then I would have gotten my heart broken, because I am not built to be a ballerina.

Winter Season beautifully depicts the illusion shown to the audience and the reality experienced by the dancers, and how the dancers live the illusion as well. It's got all the fascinating details of any good backstage memoir, without bitterness or cynicism. Even as it ground down her body, Bentley never stopped loving ballet; she seems to feel that she was lucky to have the chance to live the dream, just for the opportunity to spend a few minutes every day being the perfect expression of her body and the choreographer's art.

Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, with a new preface

And I will place the next bit under a cut in case you just want to read about Winter Season. As opposed to ass. Read more... )

(no subject)

Aug. 21st, 2017 05:22 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways To Give:

Sarah is raising funds to help save her family's house, where they are facing eviction. They are dealing with her mother's illness and recent unemployment, and they are trying to raise $100K to cover hospital bills and mortgage payments. You can read more and support the fundraiser here.

Anon linked to a fundraiser for the legal fees for protestors in Durham, who pulled down the Confederate statue. You can read more and support their legal defense here.

[personal profile] spasticat has been unemployed since October of last year, and while she's been actively looking for work, her benefits and savings have run out; she's raising funds for utilities, medication, and rent. At the end of September she is also moving back home, and needs funds to cover the move. You can read more and support her YouCaring here.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

Buy Stuff, Help Out:

[tumblr.com profile] magpiesmiscellany has a selection of tree-of-life pendants in various shapes, colors, and sizes for sale, with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, Doctors Without Borders, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, and the National Immigration Law Center. You can read more and purchase them here.

Housing:

[personal profile] in_the_bottle is looking for a new housemate in London, in Fulham SW6, bordering Hammersmith. Two professional females, at least one fandom friendly. You can read more and get in touch here.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
marnanel: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanel
Fun read, but I'd expected better: the book can't decide whether it's comedy science fiction or political thriller. The SF part is well-handled, but the political stuff confuses me; I briefly considered drawing a diagram while reading so that I could keep up with who was working for whom. One moment you're reading some lovely SF about sheep DNA and the brains of the dead being uploaded into intelligent agents. Then you're suddenly pitched into the middle of a fight scene which looks like it dropped out of a Wachowski film; it doesn't work half as well in print.

But the biggest problem with this book is the sexism. In almost all the story there is *one* major female character, Robin. She and all other women are referred to by their first names; all the men are referred to by their surnames. Robin is described well, as seen by the male viewpoint character, and there's a lot of action *involving* her. But she rarely does anything that affects the situation; for much of the story she's just a McGuffin.

To its credit, it has the best opening line I've seen in years: "Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out."

It was a camel!

Aug. 20th, 2017 01:14 pm
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
This clip from CNN is well worth listening to.

It encapsulates both the jaw-dropping awfulness and bizarreness of the Orange Supremacist era, and the extent to which the mainstream media has gotten so appalled that they're dropping their usual false equivalency. I mean the old "both sides have a point," which works when both sides DO have a point, but does not when you're talking about Nazis vs. anti-Nazis or Cheetolini vs. human beings with empathy. Also, it made me laugh.

Yesterday post-rally [personal profile] hederahelix and I were discussing this.

"It's just so surreal," she said. "Hey... Is that a camel?"

I looked over. The U-haul next to us had a giant camel painted on the side.

Below the camel, as if in explanation of why a U-haul would be decorated with a giant camel, were a few lines of Wikipedia-esque notes on camels, something like "A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as "humps" on its back."

Something Awful indeed

Aug. 20th, 2017 09:57 am
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
[personal profile] jewelfox

SA has been hitting it out of the park lately, with its Onion-esque takes on current events. Check these out if you need to laugh in order to keep from crying!

(Content note: Refers to, and skewers the subjects of, recent depressing news stories that you may not want to be reminded of.)

Read more... )

cuddyclothes: (Default)
[personal profile] cuddyclothes

SO, back in the 90s a book I wrote, “The Devil You Say”, was published by Avon as the start of a comic fantasy series.  It was a P.G. Wodehouse pastiche, more specifically, the Bertie/Jeeves stories.  The leads are Aubrey Arbuthnot, a perennially penniless English psychic detective, and his stoic manservant, Hornchurch.  The story involved a Book of Shadows, vengeful witches and Satan. Along with water spirit trapped in a water closet.  It was voted “Best First Novel” by several science fiction publications.

The next one I wrote was a prequel, “Strong Spirits”. It detailed how Aubrey discovered his psychic powers and met Hornchurch. And also worked his first case while being haunted by his father.  It got even better reviews.

I wrote an outline for the next book, “Bloodsuckers of 1933″, where Aubrey goes to Hollywood to consult on the first horror musical.  But then my editor was fired, so the series was abandoned.  The Aubrey books have such convoluted plots and are so labor-intensive I abandoned it and moved on to other projects.

There is a small, devoted audience who have asked when I was going to write another Aubrey book.  In the meantime, the books have gone out of print.  Nowadays, Kindle makes it easy to slap a book up online, which I’ve already done with some success.  This necessitated typing a new manuscript.

In the intervening years, I became a fangirl.  For years it was “House”.  House and Wilson are still my OTP.  I was introduced to the wonderful world of slash. Including looking at work through slash goggles.

When I wrote “Strong Spirits” I was unaware of slash. But in typing the manuscript, I can’t help viewing it through slash goggles and OMG! I’m shipping Aubrey and Hornchurch!  It’s making me really uncomfortable. 

One good thing: if people write slash fiction about them, I’ll get to read it.

Cats Against Nazis

Aug. 19th, 2017 01:58 pm
rachelmanija: (Heroes: support WGA)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
The rally was fine, though quite small. I imagine there would have been a much bigger turnout if the Nazis hadn't cancelled. One of my neighbors was there!

I went with [personal profile] hederahelix. We are now heading for Clementine.

Here I am with my sign and feline fellows in resistance.



Linkspam on a Saturday morning

Aug. 19th, 2017 09:00 am
cofax7: Marion Ravenwood in a hat (IJ - Marion hat)
[personal profile] cofax7
What a week, huh? So exhausting. I swear, this regime is going to ruin my liver.

Remember that guy at Google with the memo? (Seems like months ago, doesn't it?) Well, one of the MetaFilter gang decided to do a comprehensive discussion/analysis of his arguments, complete with citations. The Truth Has Got Its Boots On, which is a lovely Pratchett reference.

Here's a resource for people confused about the Trump/Russia scandal. Amidst all the racism and Nazis, there are still questions about Trump's history with Russia.

This New Yorker article also asks some questions about Wall Street Raider Carl Icahn and his relationship with the Trump regime. Conflicts of interest? Pish.

This article looks at environmental justice from the perspective of the community rather than the regulator or government. It's both devastating and hopeful.

This article from Pro Publica gives a solid historical overview of attempts to incorporate principles of environmental justice at the federal level, and how they have failed. I do love Pro Publica: they do solid investigative journalism.

Politics can make strange bedfellows, as we know: hunters are on the front lines protecting the public lands.

This Lawfare article about private military groups hints at some legal tools that can be used against the Neo-Nazis.

The New York Review of Books has dropped the paywall on James M. McPherson's take-down of the myth of the Lost Cause.

Here's a blackly funny report of a call to a Georgia Congressman's office.

*

Alton Brown's fruitcake recipe. It looks tasty, but the volume is far too small. Why make only one fruitcake at a time?!

*

I am working on my NFE story, but argh, just realized that book club is this coming Wednesday, and I haven't read the book yet! Argh. Also it took me 4 tries to get started on the story, and then I had to do some background research and realized that I had [redacted] wrong, and also [redacted], and now I have to research [redacted]. I'm not sure if I'm going to get done in time...

*

In other news, Help!. Is anyone else using Chrome and having trouble logging into DW? I turned off HTTPS Everywhere, but that didn't make any difference. I simply cannot log in.

And now off to dog class where once again we will fail on the weave poles...

an imaginary email I dread

Aug. 18th, 2017 09:27 pm
echan: Kaworu Nagisa from Evangelion (Default)
[personal profile] echan
[If an email like this doesn't show up in my work inbox in the near future, my faith in humanity won't be shattered. I work for one of those "legal with the gov't, okay by us" internet companies.]


"I woke up this morning [...] and decided to kick them off the Internet." -Matthew Prince, CEO of CloudFlare

You've helped maintain their internet presence for months or even years, despite hating everything they stand for. We all acknowledge and accept this as part of working for any company without a morality clause in the terms of service. But being legal doesn't make it moral, and isn't it better when there's less objectionable content out there? Even the most permissive terms include room for interpretation. WordPress previously claimed to "not censor, period", but its not censorship if they're saying the wrong things. What customers does your company have that should be 'reconsidered'?

Each day at work we're making the choice to keep those voices out there, helping the enemy. Have you developed conscientious objections? Isn't it time to take a stand? Your employer's policies don't have to tie your hands. Delete the bad websites. Route the objectionable emails to the trash. Those people don't belong on your servers, only the right kind of people do.

You work hard every day to keep the internet running like a well-oiled machine. This as just a bit more trash to clean up.

[Ω] Juxtaposition

Aug. 18th, 2017 11:44 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
(h/t [personal profile] fiddlingfrog)

UrsulaV bats it out of the park:

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/898201836800364547/photo/1

(Note, this requires clicking through to see two images.)

The Red Queen's Race

Aug. 18th, 2017 11:01 pm
[personal profile] ndrosen
I didn't get any amendments this week, and I got rid of both of my Special Amended cases, both times because I got confirmation that the applicants were not taking their cases to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, or even back to me with amendments, after losing at the Board of Appeals. This leaves me with just one regular Amended case, still in paused status.

I also did a first action rejection on my oldest non-RCE Regular New case, and then I turned to my oldest Request for Continued Examination case; I haven't finished that one, but I have made progress on my Office Action, which should be completed well before 3:00 PM Monday.

Cracking Down on Opioids

Aug. 18th, 2017 10:47 pm
[personal profile] ndrosen
It is an observation of which events repeatedly remind me, that humankind is like the drunkard who falls off the right side of his horse, and then, resolved not to repeat that mistake, proceeds to fall off the left side of his horse. There was a recent article in Slate about cutting down on prescribing opioids, which may have been too widely prescribed in recent years. Now, however, patients with severe and chronic pain are in misery, sometimes committing suicide, and sometimes buying illegal narcotics from drug dealers.

Oh, and last week the Washington Post published an opinion column by Mike deWine, Ohio's attorney general, who is suing the pharmaceutical companies for inflicting the scourge of excessive opioid availability on his fair state. Leaving aside the legal merits the case, has he thought about the likely results of cutting down on the availability of legal narcotics manufactured in carefully monitored conditions?

[me, pshrinkery] Home Again

Aug. 18th, 2017 10:45 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
The conference is over, and I am super tired and omg why do my feet hurt? I didn't do that much walking, and indeed spent most of the last three days sitting. The physical spaces the conference was held in were agreeably compactly laid out, so I didn't have do a lot of hiking down halls to go from one session to the next. But I feel like I've walked for miles.

I'm being cagey about the identity of the conference because of reasons. Suffice it to say I spent three days getting my radical on with people who, hmm, could be said to identify as "psychiatric survivors" – people whom the mental health system has done profound harm and violated their human rights – from around the world, many (most?) of whom might be described as activists and there in that capacity, some of whom are also clinicians or ex-clinicians or psychology researchers. Lots of very explicit intersectionalism and inclusivism. Very emotionally intense, super intellectually stimulating, enormously morally compelling.

Since the default assumption at the conference was that attendees were psychiatric survivors, I was "out" about not being a psychiatric survivor myself but a mental health professional and there as an ally. That was... a very hard experience to describe. To do such a thing, and do it ethically, is extremely demanding of energy, because it entails such a high level of self-monitoring and attention to others, at literally every second. Yet at the same time, it was so wildly validating of my ethical values as a person and a clinician, in ways I hadn't even realized I was hungry for, it felt very spiritually nourishing and emotionally supportive. I realized after the second day that just in the program book and in the presentations I'd attended, that I'd heard the word "humanistic" more times in those two days than I'd heard it used by anybody not me in the previous five years. Or maybe more. I'm a humanistic therapist, and I'm literally welling up again just reflecting on that, and how clinically-philosophically isolated this reveals me to have been. And, my god, the first, like, three times the term went zipping by I thought, Hey, do they know what that means, technically, to a therapist? Ah, they're probably just using it as a synonym for "humanely", as lay people usually do. And it became clear that, no, at least some of the people using the term really did mean it clinically. And I was like Oh. They don't need me to explain it to them. They already know. Which, is, like, the fundamental unit of being understood. Talk about your being called in from the cold.

I went to this conference thinking of myself as an ally, someone there to support another people as they do their thing – an in a really important sense, that is exactly right – but to my surprise, I discovered that these people, despite not being clinicians, were clinically my people. I wound up doing a hell of a lot more personal sharing than I would ever have expected – certainly vastly, vastly more than I have ever done in a mental health professionals context. It was like, I suddenly realized I was in an environment in which I could talk about how furious I am that I am forced to use diagnoses on patients without their consent, how frustrated I am by how the bureacratic systems in which I must work compromise the integrity of the treatment I try to provide, how disgusted I often am by the conduct of colleagues and mental health institutions (I discovered the wonderful expression, "psychiatric hate-speech"), how indignant I am at all sorts of idiocy and injustice and unfairness in the system – all the things I am so careful never to say because of how poorly my colleagues may take it. (Not my imagination: The last session I attended drew quite a number of clinicians, who were all "AND FOR ANOTHER THING!"; the presenter afterwards told me she had presented the same talk at a conference on the philosophy of psychiatry for an audience that was half psychiatrists, and, in contrast, they were furious with her for her temerity.)

I got to have conversations about capitalism and disability, culture and identity, the history of psychiatry, the history of nationalism, what you can and can't do inside the health care system, other countries' nationalized (or not, where mental health is concerned) health care, and how money affects mental health care; I heard a slew of what I would call "mental health radical coming out stories". I met someone who is as into the history of the DSM as I am, and someone who has written an academic article about the ethical and clinical problems of diagnosis. I got politely chewed out once, early on, for using oppressive language, and then immediately apologized to for it, them saying ruefully that they have "a chip on [their] shoulder" about mental health care professionals and shouldn't have talked to me like that, and I assured them I was there to be chewed out and have my vocabulary corrected and was fine with it; I'm pretty sure they were way more upset about what they said to me than I was, and I feel bad about putting them in that position by my ignorance – but we've exchanged phone numbers and I'm hoping I might yet make it up to them.

There was a point where somebody asked me something like whether I had been learning a lot at the conference so far, and I thought a moment and replied that I had, but, "I am at this conference not just to learn things. I am here because, as a person and a clinician, these are my values."

So it was an experience that was weirdly simultaneously hard and easy. If you had asked me four days ago I would have said that it's probably impossible for an experience to require a very high level of scrupulous self-monitoring and yet feel welcoming of and safe for emotional vulnerability and risktaking. Yet that was precisely my experience.

It was demanding and beautiful and powerful and huggy and astonishing and uplifting and I'm exhausted and weepy and have like twenty new best friends.

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