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Archive for June, 2010

Feminist rant.

No, seriously.

I don’t consider myself a feminist, because there is entirely too much crazy associated with that movement and because I don’t like the term. It doesn’t make sense to use a word that invokes one gender to describe a movement that works toward equality of gender. But I do very much agree with the goal. So this is, technically, a “feminist” rant.

This rant brought to you by a French book that “argues that the idealism of “green” politics and a romanticized notion of naturalism are steering women away from careers and back into the home,” according to this New York Times article. A French women who has read the book posted a comment on one online forum saying that the NYT review was more accurate than a lot of other English reviews, so I’ll trust that they got it pretty much right.

I am getting REALLY tired of the constant message that women make decisions primarily, or even just in large part, in response to social pressure. I can’t remember the last time I saw the same suggestion for men. But every damn time there’s a change in some trend or another for women, everybody’s got an opinion on what societal pressure is causing it. And behind all of these arguments is the assumption that, given a REAL, FREE choice, women would obviously choose to go out and work full-time jobs.

Furthermore, I have never seen a corresponding suggestion that, given a REAL, FREE choice, men would choose to stay home with their kids more and do more housework. No, men can be different from women — that’s their nature — but women have to be the same as men and if we’re not, it’s due to societal pressure rather than our own choices.

The standard is still the male. (At least, in adulthood — more on that in a moment.)

The whole point of feminism was not to pressure women to go out and work full-time. The point was for us to be able to work outside the house if we wanted to. To be able to make our own choices. So why is there such a huge freak-out about women choosing to stay home?

The funny thing is that, even while there’s a huge freak-out about women not making the “right” choice, women have much more freedom than men do to make their own choices. A woman who stays home might get crap for it, but she also might be applauded for taking on a very difficult job — I’ve seen about half and half in the experiences I’ve heard about from other women. A man who stays home gets a lot more crap and a lot less applause, and he’s an outsider in many parenting groups. But then he’s cooed over for actually spending time with his kids, which I would find terribly condescending, on par with the assumption that the woman in the boardroom is just the secretary (or “sure sweetie, you can pretend you have a place here — and we’ll pretend to listen to what you have to say”).

It goes from things as trivial as fashion (women can wear pants but men can’t wear skirts or makeup) to things as major as choice of career (women can be doctors but male nurses get ridiculed or asked why they’re not doctors). Little girls who play with trucks are encouraged; little boys who play with dolls worry their parents. Girls are encouraged in school and boys are falling behind, feminized (sit still and shut up, or be labeled ADHD and medicated; considerably less education is hands-on) or just ignored.

So when they’re young, boys are supposed to behave like girls (but not have “girly” interests), and when they get older, both men and women are supposed to behave like men.

Am I the only one who thinks this is seriously messed up?

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There was a thread on Babycenter about the good things about being pregnant in the summer. Here is my contribution:

You don’t have to buy a maternity winter coat! or winter clothes. Summer clothes are cheaper. And cuter, I think.

The humidity is good for your stretching belly skin; it keeps it from drying out and itching more.

Cute, short-sleeved maternity shirts look good with shorts or capris and sandals.

Speaking of sandals, they fit your swelling feet longer. All my sandals have both straps adjustable so I won’t grow out of them.

Thinner shirts make it easier to see the baby kick when you’re at work and can’t lift up your shirt to stare at your belly.

You can go for walks outside in shorts and a tank top, instead of having the choice between a treadmill at the noisy stinky gym or freezing your butt off outside.

Two words: summer thunderstorms. Feeling the baby kick when the thunder hits! And it’s so nice and cool afterward.

You can lift up your shirt and watch the baby kicking without your belly getting cold.

All that fluid in your belly makes it a great heat sink! Lift up your shirt, lay a wet washcloth or hand towel on your belly, and feel yourself cool right off. Or stand in front of a fan with your shirt up.

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Thoughts on childbirth 1

So I’m guessing that there are going to be a few of these posts as I learn more and change my views on labor.

Also, this is a majorly emotional post, wherein I hash out how I am feeling the best way I know how: in text, which can get messy. You have been warned.

We had our first birthing class with our doula and another couple who are expecting a week after our due date. We watched a video which included a full view of an actual birth, which I think was without drugs; the mother definitely felt what was going on, anyway. My ideas on what happens have changed a little, but not too much — I already knew the stages, the times, and what’s going on in each stage. What it did, though, was bring me back to a feeling I’ve had a couple of times in the past week or two as the fact that there really is a baby in me — and it’s going to come out! — was hammered home as much as it could be by baby feet, hands, and head making my belly bulge in interesting new ways. And it brought out some other feelings I really wasn’t expecting.

We described our feelings after watching the video; as I was talking about the realization that, no, I really can’t stop this, I realized that my voice sounded like panic. I didn’t feel that I felt that way, but I know that how I think I feel is not necessarily the best indicator of how I actually feel; when I show a strong emotion, that’s probably what’s really going on. So the question is, why did I get panicky?

I think a large part of it, if not most of it, is that I can’t stop this. It feels a lot like the first time I got stoned, when I was afraid because I didn’t know how long the high was going to last and I couldn’t just stop the ride and get off to look at it from a distance….

Well that’s interesting. I realized while I was talking, at the class, that it was a control thing, and I was remembering the same feeling from being unable to stop being high, but the “distance” part I didn’t figure out till now. I could not, when stoned, pause the ride and get a more distant — that’s the only word that works here — view. I couldn’t step away to analyze it, get okay with it, and then come back to enjoy it. And I can’t do that with pregnancy.

Because the way that I process things is this: my brain doesn’t figure shit out so well when I’m in the thick of things. I mean, I work okay, I’m intelligent, my reflexes are a little slow but for the most part I react appropriately to things people say or do around me…but if I haven’t been in a situation before, a lot of the time I realize a day or two later what was really going on in my head at the time. This might seem to apply more to my current analysis of my reaction to the video than to childbirth itself, but it’s also pregnancy. I can’t stop being pregnant, and I can’t stop labor, and labor is not something I’ve ever been even close to experiencing. I can watch all the videos I can find, and I can imagine it all day long, but when the time comes, it’s not going to be what I imagine it as. So there’s only so much preparation I can do, there’s only so much I can understand about it beforehand, and this seriously bothers me because I can’t remember the last time I had something huge and looming like this where I couldn’t even get a vague idea of what it would be like for me beforehand. Or how I’d act.

All the stuff I’ve read talks about the things I’m feeling now. There are tons of sites talking about how you may feel, all the fear and excitement and everything, good and bad. I’ve always glossed over those sorts of things — they never really seem to apply to me — probably mostly because I’m not really in touch with my emotions. And that works for me, most of the time. I don’t want to be awash in emotion; positive or negative, emotions stress me. I like loving C the way I do, having my love for him like a blanket around me instead of a feeling I can point to in my heart. It’s there when I need or want it, but it doesn’t get in the way. These things I’m feeling now, they get in the way. I have to stop to analyze them, to understand what’s going on, and usually that’s fine, but they’re impatient this time. They take up too much space in my brain, and they stick there where I have to deal with them, now, whether I want to or not. They’re clogging up the works.

Another thing that I just realized is bothering me is that all the attention is going to be on me. Doing the work and being the one responsible, whatever, I do that already with my life in general. I like being the one responsible for my life. But during labor, everybody’s going to be focused on me. I hate being the center of attention!

Something else: I guess I’ve pretty much always thought of the baby as a part of myself. I don’t know why — I know it’s not, I do think of it as a little human being, rationally — but it hasn’t felt like another person. I think the videos finally made me realize on an emotional level that it is a person. It’s separate from me, even though it’s in me now, and it’s going to depend on me, and I’m going to have to be the one to feed it and meet all of its needs. I mean, yes, C can take care of it just as well if I were unable to…but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like it’s all my responsibility and I don’t know if I can do it. Maybe I feel that I can’t, that it will just be too much, that I am just not the one.

After all, I shy away from responsibility. I hate stress. I hate not getting enough sleep. I hate being tugged at when I’m busy doing something. How the fuck am I going to take care of a tiny bundle of need? What the fuck was I thinking? I can’t handle that. I am not qualified. This is like the worst job search ever, where not only do you get the usual feeling of “What could my useless ass possibly have to offer this company?” but you also have no choice. You’re going to do this job, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The fact that I have wanted this job for years, and I still do around all the anxiety, does not appear to have any effect on the worry itself. I’ve only ever been responsible for myself.

But there’s no avoiding it; I will be responsible. For her. For my little girl, my daughter.

My baby daughter.

Oh god. I am so not ready for this.

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Update!

Meant to post this last Wednesday but didn’t get to it. There are benefits to being overweight and pregnant. Well, there’s one, anyway: a medical reason to have a third-trimester ultrasound. Occasionally a mother’s weight will mask the baby’s lack of weight gain, and an ultrasound will catch that. The midwife said they catch one or two babies a year where this has happened.

So we’ll have a final ultrasound at our week 34 appointment. The appointment was last week, 12 weeks from the due date, and the ultrasound will be at the halfway point. C realized that “6 weeks from now, we’ll see the baby, and 6 weeks after that, we’ll see the baby” because we’ll have her in our arms. 6 weeks + 6 weeks sounds a lot more immediate than 12 weeks (now 11).

And as it happens, the baby shower is the weekend after the week-34 appointment, so I’ll have the pictures to show off at the shower.

Little one definitely has less room in there now. I feel her move at least every few hours, and she often causes my belly to jump around. I’m getting more pressure on my bladder, and most of her kicks are up top, which indicates she tends to be in more of a head-down position, as expected.

I haven’t been sitting there and staring at my belly as much today, but I’m still enjoying the feeling of her kicking. The Braxton-Hicks contractions, less so. The last and most obvious one hit while I was going from the living room to the kitchen at family dinner last night. It was the first one that I felt while not sitting down, and I found out that it’s a little hard to walk while it feels like your stomach muscles are knotted up and refusing to let go.

I really didn’t know how to react. I felt like I should react as if out of breath, but I wasn’t. I felt like I should sit down, but I wasn’t near a chair. I leaned over the counter a bit to hold myself up, but that only seemed to make my actual stomach muscles tense. How do women take walks while in early labor?

This is going to be an interesting experience.

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Third trimester is here

…and I am TIRED.

So here’s the full story. Friday afternoon I had a Mountain Dew. At 4 pm. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep — I can’t sleep before 1 am if I have caffeine after 12 pm — but it was okay because it was Friday.

Well, I’m also (apparently) back into the phase where I won’t go to bed until I’m falling asleep in front of my computer, in no small part because C just got a new laptop so I just got his old one and that means I have lots of stuff to move onto it. And my dad’s looking for a computer that was made in the last 15 years, so we’re giving him my old HP so he can finally surf the web without having to wait 20 minutes for each page to load. Maybe I can finally get him set up on Facebook muahahaha.

Anyway, you know what this means: Friday night/Saturday morning C and I were up till 4 am. And the only reason I went to bed then is because it was 4 am, because I was still not sleepy, though I did fall asleep pretty much right away.

On Saturday, we slept till noon or so….so Saturday night we again didn’t go to bed until 4:30 am, and we talked for a bit too so it was probably about 5 by the time we actually went to sleep. He got up at like 10 or 11 am, but I din wanna so I slept till 1:30.

And here’s the weird thing: we went to family dinner at about 6:30, and by 7:30 I was ready to lie down. This exhaustion did not go away, either — at 9:30 I had just put the second load in the dryer (there where Issues with the sheets and bed liner that I washed — they got twisted up and didn’t dry — so the laundry was running late) so I asked his mom to take care of it for us because there was no way I was going to make it till 10:30, and there were no guarantees that it would be done by then anyway. I think at one point I actually had my head down on the washer waiting for the dryer to finish, and I would have fallen over if I hadn’t caught myself drifting off.

So we went home and I woke up a bit from the drive and putting the sheets back on the bed, and though I expected not to be able to sleep, I went to bed at 11. Took me a little longer than usual but I was definitely asleep by 12, maybe even 11:30. So I was awake for about 10 hours on Sunday. (Early morning doesn’t count — it’s not tomorrow till you wake up.)

So this morning I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7 am, right? No such luck. I had set my alarm for 8 and finally dragged my unwilling, traitorous, heavy body into the bathroom at 8:54. And now it’s 1 pm and, while I wouldn’t say I’d like a nap, I am definitely still tired. Not again — still.

I wouldn’t type all this out, except it’s so completely unusual and this is just another reminder, like the end of morning sickness, why they divide pregnancy into three trimesters. Saturday marked week 28, the beginning of the third, and boy are they ever not kidding about being tired in the third trimester.

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A new experience

I have this feeling like I’d forgotten I’m pregnant for a few hours and OMG HOW COULD I HAVE DONE THAT, as if the baby requires my full attention at all times in order to exist.

I do not like this feeling, especially since I haven’t forgotten about being pregnant — I can’t; she keeps kicking me — and it’s completely irrational and bizarre. You’d think I’d smoked a pack of cigarettes, drunk a gallon of gin, and thrown myself down a few flights of stairs last night. Maybe I had a dream in which I was not pregnant, but that’s happened before and I didn’t feel like this. Must’ve been a hell of a dream this time.

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