Sunday, November 29, 2015

Other telly series I have watchef

As well as Arrow and Constantine I have also watched a lot of other telly recently. Thank you Amazon Prime and a constantly feeding baby.

Parks and Recreation was ace. I think I got 4 seasons in. In the first episode I thought Leslie Knopes was going to turn into a David Brent type character, but I was wrong. She is warm hearted and kind and a ditz, but dedicated to her job. I loved Parks and Rec and i'm very pleased I watched it.

Switched at Birth - it was an absolute pleasure to watch a domestic (as in home and family based) that was also a Deaf drama and political but naturally so. Deafness is treated like it's normal. It's intrinsic to the characters but it's not all the programme is about.  It's also about class, family, art and identity. And birth. I'm so glad I'd had my boy before I watched this, or it would have been very difficult for me. I think I got 3 seasons in.

The flash - I really quite enjoyed this. There were elements and scenes that were taken out of the superhero show cliche handbook, and Iris needed more to do, to be, but on the whole it was pretty good. Seeing Grodd and the Rogues was an absolute pleasure. I'm excited about season 2.

Prison break - I got two eps in and gave up. The most redeeming thing about it is that the Flash's Captain Cold is the main guy. But he was better as Captain Cold. His diction in that role is hilarious.

I also watched the Twilight films 2-5. Loved them. They are daft, but just as enjoyable as the books.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Arrow season two

This was far better than season one, but still don't didn't engage me enough. I missed details of lots of eps because I was pissing about on my phone. This means that either the show isn't that great, or that I have a very low attention span.

My partner said something to me about how thes shows are put together - he thinks someone comes up with an idea, like vigilante fights the city, and then they search for a character/property/brand to put on it.

I can see his point. This show isn't really comic Green Arrow, but it does take a lot from the DCU. Deathstroke, league of Assasins, speedy/red Arrow, Amanda Waller, the suicide squad etc etc.

Black Canary isn't recognisable as comic Dinah Lance, but the actress who plays her (Caity Lotz) is really good, and she has the muscles for the part.
The guy who plays Roy Harper is a good fit, if you accept Roy as a moody teenager.
Oliver's family has bugger all to do with the comics, altho by the end of Season two Ollie seems more hero-like than in season one

Deathstroke and Amanda Waller are very good in their roles, and are quite comicy. Everything revolves around the island, which had varying levels of interest for me.

It was an absolute thrill to see Arrow, Canary and Roy all fighting together.  I  do love me some Arrow family. However I think I'm projecting onto the show what I want to see.

I'm not going to watch season 3 because I have to pay for it.  I had season two as part of an amazing prime package - a free months trial.  So instead I watched Constantine, which was great fun and shouldn't have been cancelled.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Comic reviews from a good month or so ago

I'm slack. Here we go. I'm picking these comments from my twitter feed and if. Can I'll add in more detail. If I remember.

Starfire 4 - delightful and fun and it put Peej and Twrra's previous adventures back in canon. Winner.

Batgirl 44 and Bombshells 2 feel like their creators are having fun with their work. The themes and tones of the stories are different to other New52 stories, and it makes reading enjoyable. With Bombshells, I  obviously smitten with the idea of only lady superheroes. There's some lovely Soviet style art in there too.

Princeless Be Yourself 3 and 4 - I'm still stuck about the art. I can see that are elements of good in there - panel composition, physical jokes, but I do not like the style of pencilling and I find the colouring too dark. It feels amateurish, but I don't know whether I  correct in my feelings or whether I am being snoory because it's not to my taste.  I found the style of the Gothic Vampire a bit too overbearing. A bit much.

Princeless Raven 3 was much better. Good in all areas.

JLU 13 was good. Solid but not overly memorable, although I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy re-reading them.. The cover art reminds me of the art in James Robinson's Starman series.

Bitch Planet 5 is wonderful and makes me believe in myself.

Sensation Comics 14 is, again, my kind of Wondy. Righteous, compassionate and wise.

Sex Criminals 9 - porn and academia and aan intriguing set of letters.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Capture your grief 2015


Day 1: Sunrise

Day 2: Intention

Day 3: In honour

Day 4: Dark and Light
Day 6: Books

Day 7: Memory
Day 9: Family

Day 10: Words

Day 11: Glow in the woods

Day 12: Normalising grief

Day 13: Regrets and Triggers

Day 15: Wave of Light

Day 16: Creative Grief

Day 18: Seasons and Symbols

Day 19: Music

Day 26:Gratitude
Day 31: Sunset

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Comic reviews from June/July/August

It took me nearly 6 weeks to read these. I managed to post short reviews (thoughts) on twitter so I'm going to rewrite those comments for here.

Bombshells 1 - Pretty good. Nice designs. I'm glad I got this.
Hawkeye - this made me cross. Then my friend pointed out that the thing that made me cross didn't actually happen, and then I felt relieved. If you've read it you'll know what bit I mean.

Raven the Pirate Princess 1 and 2 are VERY GOOD. There is a not all men joke. Fnaar.
It also promises gayness and is building a wicked cool cast of lady pirates. Love it.

JLU 11 and 12 were pretty good. Nice art and a new direction for the series,in terms of team members. It's big heroic efforts to save.the whole world, and that's the sort of story I like

Batgirl 42 was good fun. Nice cartoony physical artwork. The annual had similar fun art and took us to the other Batladies! Including this era's Spoiler. It was a good intro (for me) of the character to the post-Flashpoint universe. Or is post-convergence now?

Starfire 3. Look at this Terra as drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino, inked by Ray McCarthy and coloured by Hi-Fi.

Justice League Gods and Monsters: Wonder Woman 1 - I did enjoy this and JL Gods and Monsters 1 and 2.  It's a decent alternate Trinity story.

Sex Criminals 9 and 11 were both good comics. I don't seem to have 10 so I bought that next time I was at the comic shop. I was pretty tired when I read 9 and 11 so didn't have any actual commentary. I've kind of forgotten the details of the two issues too.

Monday, September 28, 2015


I watched seasons 1-8 of Charmed for the first time recently.  I've wanted to watch it for years but only ever caught the odd episode on telly.  Breastfeeding does have it's perks as it gives you the time to rocket through telly shows.

I very much enjoyed Charmed.  Seasons 1-4 were best, then it seemed to glamourise itself.  The sister's wardrobes suddenly went high fashion.  I quote enjoyed the high street, everyday clothes they had before.  Phoebe used to dress like a hippy, then at about season 5 she suddenly looked all office smart and high end sexy.  The new wardrobes took away part of the sister's personality.  Seasons 1-3 showed you the difference in Prue's, Piper's and Phoebe's characters through their clothes.  By Season 5 Piper, Phoebe and Paige looked like every other high fashion female character on a popular telly show.  It was disappointing.  It was also odd because the wardrobe was the only thing that got more expensive.  The special effects stayed the same throughout, and oh boy they were cheap.  Cheaper than the worst of Buffy's special effects.

Some other things irritated me.  When Paige was first introduced (season 4) Rose McGowan was a pretty wooden actor.  She got better, but then started really hamming it up, she was sort of caricaturing herself.  I never really cared for Prue, so was happy to have her replaced by Paige.  I didn't really see the bonding process between Paige, Piper and Phoebe.  They seemed to be thrown together just because the plot demanded it.  Mind you, this could have been because I was losing interest and was only half watching some episodes.

There was a two or three season theme where Phoebe and her love interest Cole, a demon, then a reformed demon, then an ex demon, then a demon again, then the ultimate evil, then possibly reformed and then evil again (maybe) were together and then not, mostly because of his demon status.  The season that introduced Cole and their relationship did it well, but all their future arcs were utterly boring.

Similarly Piper and Leo's on again/off again, married/split up story arcs irked me.  This idea was repeated far too often and simply became dull.  When they were first flirting and got together it was great.  Season 8's plots of freezing him to drive the sisters to action also worked well.  In between I lost all interest.

There were a lot of themed episodes - evil versions of themselves, body swaps, de-aging episodes, noir episodes, a battle of the sexes, a superhero episode.  It got a bit gimmicky and I couldn't help thinking that Buffy did themed episodes better.  And Smallville now I come to think of it.

Phoebe started off the series really fun and optimistic and the heart of the sisters.  Piper was always grumpy, Prue seemed above it all and Paige was a bit of comic relief.  Around about season 5 Phoebe got really serious and combined with her terrible romantic plotlines, she got really boring.  Towards the end of Season 6 and in season 7 she got fun again.

The season 7 finale felt like it was creating a new status quo, the sisters has faked their own deaths and anything was possible.  By mid season 8 they'd reappeared to the world, but it was interesting getting there.  Since seasons 5 and 6 felt stagnant, this was a welcome improvement.

I never really bought the power of the sisters or the threat of the demons.  No one seemed particularly scary and the threats didn't seem that impressive.  Especially when I compare them to other supernatural/fantasy shows, like Buffy and Smallville.

What was really good about it was the themes of sisterhood and female solidarity, especially at the start.  The three most powerful people in the supernatural world were the Charmed ones, the sisters.  The threats against them and innocents came from warlocks, who for a while seemed to only ever be men.  This idea seemed really powerful.  As the series progressed it became less clear cut but it was still there.  Unfortunately it got undermined by introducing evil women who were always dressed in sultry makeup and very skimpy costumes.  Enough with equating sexiness with evil.  One other thing undermined the female power themes and that was a sudden change to dress Phoebe in the 'slutty' clothes certain episodes required.  It was always Phoebe and it was always done to show some flesh for ogling reasons.  I imagine the show's main audience demographic was straight women so this decision makes no sense.

But on the whole I enjoyed the series and will keep the discs to dip in and out of in future,

Now I am watching Arrow season two (far better than season one), to be followed by season three and Constantine.  All over the next month before my Amazon Prime membership runs out,  Then I shall watch the Flash.  Then I reckon it will be time for a netflix subscription and more superhero telly shows.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Breastfeeding thoughts part 3

A long essay on breastfeeding and where I am with it.
If you come here for the comics discussion, sorry. I keep meaning to write some comics posts, but a newborn changes your priorities!

I don't like breastfeeding.  I like being able to.hold my baby close, but the act of breastfeeding is not something I enjoy, tho tbf i dont actively hate it either. Most of the time I am ambivalent, with no positive or negative feelings, but sometimes I veer between dislike and hatred. I have no idea what makes it all worthwhile, emotionally speaking.  Breastfeeding is exhausting.So we've started combi feeding (formula) to help me get through it.

I aim to give J no more than 4ozs a day,because I still want him to have majority breast milk, but it varies as to when in the day we give it to him.  We could be out in the afternoon, or it could be the evening feed, or the first morning one. I don't usually express to make up for it. I have had thoughts of going back to exclusively Breastfeeding, but I like the freedom that bottles give you.

We have had problem after problem.  When J was born he was little ,not small enough to be IUGR, not by a long stretch, but a small baby. So his mouth was small which meant he couldn't get a big enough gobful of breast, so his latch was poor, and it hurt, every time he fed. My nipples were misshapen after feeds and both nipples were cracked, although thankfully not bleeding (much).

At around three weeks he started getting better and we had some pain free feeds. Then I got mastitis which made me feverish. The mastitis cleared up with antibiotics, then a week later I got very sore again. I thought it was thrush, had a swab done which was negative for thrush and positive for stapphococlous, which causes mastitis. J was not gaining enough weight, in hindsight I know this was partly because I was scared to feed him because of the pain. Other reasons his weight gain wasn't as large as expected was us confusing hunger and tired cries. It's all very well to say put the baby on the breast whenever they cry, but when you are that pained you do what you can to avoid it.

At this 5 week point I had a meltdown, refused to breastfeed J and expressed for two days until I could cope again. In that time he got a mix of formula and expressed breast milk.

A second dose of antibiotics cleared the mastitis, and another swab showed we were born clear of he stapphococlous bug. Great. But by week seven I was crying during the night feeds and crying as soon as I woke up in the morning. Breastfeeding is really really hard and people had said it got easier by week eight but I didn't feel like we were making enough progress.  I was also getting vasospasms by this point - pain in your nipples and breast after a feed,caused by poor latch.

I'd paid for a lactation consultant to come out twice to help with latch and positioning and that was really really great. I knew I was doing all I could technique wise, but it still wasn't enough.

So when I decided to combi feed I felt far more relaxed and able to cope with things. Knowing I have the option of formula makes me a lot calmer about breastfeeding. I knew it wouldn't be easy but no one said how hard it would be, no one explained why.

The only thing that is instinctive is the baby's suckling. Everything else had to be learnt. It will hurt when you first feed, because you aren't used to having anything quite like that on your nipples, and they are sensitive. If they get damaged the pain increases, a lot. Breastfeeding drains you of milk, obvs, but also you will find yourself suddenly exhausted in the middle of a feed. Or suddenly hungry. Or teary.  It's draining in all senses of the word.

I remember asking, when pregnant, how long babies fed for, and the answer I got was it depends on the baby.  When J was jaundiced he'd feed for just a few minutes at a time, but he'd feed 10 times in the hour.  Then nap, then wake in an hour or two to do the same thing.  As his jaundice reduced to less concerning levels (and it took till he was 4 weeks untill it totally went), he would feed for between 40 minutes to an hour on one breast. Then fall asleep and wake again 1 or 2 hours later for another feed.  Mind you, I didn't let him go for much longer than half an hour, because it hurt.

Gradually he started going 3 or 4 hours between feeds, then the feed length would decrease, so now he can drain a breast in 10 or 15 minutes, but he always feeds on both breasts now.

Those are normal feeds.  Then you have cluster feeds.  Cluster feeds can be 20-30 minute feeds, with half hour breaks inbetween feeds, for 5 or 6 hours.  Or they can be 7 or 9 hour marathons, in which J would prefer not to have any breaks inbetween feeds but I insist on some breaks because I need to go to the toilet or eat my dinner.  I pretty much loathe cluster feeds, they destroy me.  But, they happen because that's just what newborns do.  They might be linked to growth spurts, but not always.  This crazy feeding stimulates your milk production so the day or two after a cluster feed your body will be producing more milk.  The plus side to cluster feeding is after a marathon session J can sleep for between 6 and 9 hours.   Which means I get between 5 and 8 hours sleep. But sometimes he wakes up after 3 hours wantu

The other thing about night feeds is that it's not as simple as waking just for a 30 minute feed. You're up for at least an hour because you have to do the nappy change, the feed, the burping and then get the baby back to sleep again.  Night feeds often take 2 hours.

This is bloody exhausting!  It's best for the baby yes, but it's really hard on me.  One of the reasons I chose to go with formula for some feeds is that at night I find myself dozing off, and that's just not sfae.  Feeding lying down and co-sleeping is not an option for me.  No judgement on those who do it, but I will not.

J is now 9 weeks old and I still have cracked nipples, although they aren't sore and they are nearly healed (until we get a few bad sucks, then they get opened again).  I wish I'd done my research before starting to breastfeed I'd have felt more in control.  Obvs I couldn't have done any research while pregnant with J, but I could have done while pregnant with C.

I would suggest that if you want to breastfeed you should:
Read the La Leche League book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
Get yourself onto some breastfeeding forums - read about everyone's problems and solutions.  Be prepared.  I'm on the Babycentre ones, they are really useful (although often infuriating as several members response to new posts is to not answer the original question and to tell you should fully breastfeed, without knowing your background),
Get lots of different pillows and experiment with setup and support.  Change the pillow arrangement as the baby grows.
Get a Thrupenny Bits portable pillow for breastfeeding in public.  I have the classic one because I am fuve foot three andJ is small. It's the perfect size for us.
Know about the mechanics of breastfeeding and common problems.  Inform yourself, then you can make the right decisions for you and the baby and you will know what questions to ask of midwives and health care assistants to help make it work.
Find a lactation consultant near you and book them in for a 1:1 early on so you can have expert advice to get latch and positioning sorted.  LCGB is the British governing body and you can find a consultant near you.
Get the number and opening times of the National Breastfeeding Helpline stored in your phone.
Know that for some families breastfeeding gets easy in week 2, in others it gets easy in week 6, in others maybe week 12, and in others maybe at 6 months.
Know that you will feel like you've gone one step forward and two steps back.  It's normal, but knowing it's normal doesn't help when you've had a painful stressful week of feeds.
Know that combi feeding or moving to fully formula isn't failing at anything, but is simply a change to the way you feed.
If someone tries to tell you that formula is 'just' food know they are probably smug and full of themselves.  Food is important to babies, there is no 'just' about it.
You can comfort babies through ways other that the boob.  Bottle feeding is for me, a far bigger bonding experience than breastfeeding, and quicker.
There is no shame in not enjoying breastfeeding, or in not wanting to put in 2/3/4/5.6+ months of slog to get the emotional benefits and enjoyment at 7+ months down the line.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Breastfeeding thoughts part two

When people say that breastfeeding correctly doesn't hurt, they usually neglect to say that that the first time you feed you are highly unlikely to do it correctly, so it will hurt. It will continue to hurt until you it right (and getting it right is a wonderful feeling!) and then when it is right it will still hurt a bit through your sore nipples being tender and/or cracked.  Though this pain is nothing like when you get it wrong - it's far less severe but still a touch above discomfort.

There are two or three types of pain - the baby's tongue against your test. Your test against the baby's hard palate and the baby's lower ja against your areola. Once you work out what is hurting you can work out how to fix it.
When you get it right you'll probably get it wrong the next time. It can hurt for the first minute if latching on, then not hurt. The baby can shift position to get a better hold.

You can have a pain free feed, then 3 or 4 hours later as your breasts fill up àgain your boobs are nipples can get really sore. I don't know why this is.

I have just bought and read the LA Leche League's book 'The womanly art of breastfeeding'. Terrible 1950s title, good informative book. It's given me more confidence. Even though most of our feeds are now pain free.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


I'd always assumed that all the info thrown at you about breastfeeding was done out of arrogance and superiority from the breastfeeding lobby. Then I started breastfeeding and realised how hard it is, and why it is hard, and realised that without all the info given out it is highly unlikely women would continue to breastfeed. Formula feeding doesn't require the same level of learning.

You need support. You need training. To any new mothers use your midwives, health visitors and especially use lactation consultants. Go out on day 2 for help I'd you need it. Bf hurts when you start but it will get better. I'm on week 3 and now have pain free feeds, about 50-70% of the time. It can be done, but you need the 1:1 support

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: completed

The baby lives! It's a boy, he's healthy and fine and feeding like a demon.
Labour was straightforward - I was put on a drip and it took 4.5 hours. For pain relief I had an epidural and gas and air. Got a first degree tear/graze and recovered really quickly - only had a slight bit of swelling and no muscle pain to speak of.

We are now at home and comfortable and relaxed and content.  Don't expect much blogging from me for the foreseeable future :) 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pregnancy after still birth: 36 weeks 6 days

I weigh 12stone 3lbs and a quarter. I've put on 2 stone and a quarter pounds. With C, I put on 2 and a half stone.
My bump measures between 36 and 37 cm. With C I don't think I got above 34 or 35, and this baby is likely to be a similar weight, if not a bit smaller.
From 36weeks 0 days i've been expressing colustrum. It takes an hour to get 0.8ml and I've done that 5 times now. I am informed this is good.
I noticed the baby practicing breathing a couple of days ago. It's a rhytmic movement, not as jerky and quick and hiccups,and would look a little like gadpung if the baby was out. At the last scan we saw the baby's abdomen moving, doing the same thing. This is a good sign.
All ctgs are normal and healthy.
At 36 weeks 5 days I had a sweep and this morning my mucus plug came away.  (Edit - the next morning more cane away, on two different occasions, and was bloody).
 With this and the colustrum harvesting I'm hoping induction will be quick, although it could still take 5 days.
My hospital bag is packed and in the car.  I just need to add pilloows, towels and some more snacks.
I've felt a lot heavier this last week and groin is painful, although it's from pressure from the baby's head, not pelvic girdle pain, which I can be grateful for. My indigestion is horrible. My hips hurt more at night. My nose is more sensitive (or there's more smelly people on the bus).  I've been getting Braxton Hicks contractions since 36 plus one. I put all this down to the expressing and the sweep, producing hormones that are getting things going.
My freezer is full of food for us, and a tray of colustrum filled syringes for the baby.  Tonight we clear up the house.
Now to survive the next few days until the baby arrives.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 36 weeks 3 days

Over the last day or so my moods are very changeable and filled with anxiety. I only feel safe at the hospital. I'm terrified of labour and the few days between now and induction. I have a sweep booked for 2 days before induction and that terrifies me too. I think I've put off grieving for C over the last 9 months and I think his loss is going to hit me like a ton of bricks once I've had this baby and I am now longer pregnant.

I have finally got a prescription for antedepressants for use as soon as I have had the baby and instructions to go see the GP in my second week home, as well as utilise the community midwife and health visitor as much as possible. Apparently paroxetine takes a couple of weeks to kick in for depression and 12 weeks to kick in for anxiety. I don't understand why, but I guess it's because different parts of the brain are affected by depression and anxiety. I just need a crutch to help me cope and keep me caring.

I feel like a burden, like I should be more capable, more calm, more excited. Instead I feel like a liability and I don't trust my own judgement.

When people talk to me about how to look after a newborn I feel a massive sense of rage and bitterness. I can do pregnancy and labour talk, because it makes me feel included, but I can't cope with people telling me how much care newborns need or how much you worry about babies when they're out. Like I'm not worrying now, like they aren't real inside you or like they are safe inside you.

People saying 'you'll learn' as if i'm thinking caring for a newborn will be a doddle, make me really angry.  No one has recently said anything about how hard it is with a newborn. If anyone was to say anything I think i'd flip, because it can't possibly be harder than not having your baby. To imagine that I won't be as worried as every other imagine I won't be more worried... I had baby resuscitation training last Friday.  Other parents prefer to stick their head in the sand and assume it won't be needed..I know better.  I'm trying as best I can and I don't think it will ever be enough to save this one.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 35 weeks 6 days and 35 week care plan

This meeting took place at 35+6, so practically 36 weeks, and a week before my planned induction at 37 weeks.

The scan showed that growth is fine, this will be a small baby, but the growth curve is looking reasonable.  Fluid levels and blood flow through the umbilical cord (measured by the doppler) are in the normal range.

We met with the registrar afterwards, not our named consultant, and I asked for reassurance about growth, whether it was worth bringing the induction date forward (to me, a few days won;t make any difference, surely?), getting a prescription for paroxetine (antidepressant) and about having a sweep a few days before induction.  The response:

Growth and induction date:  They are more concerned with the growth curve, the fluid levels and blood flow through umbilical cord than the size.  If growth had slowed, or remained static, or the other indicators weren't good, they'd bring delivery forward.  But they feel that everything is looking healthy so they would prefer induction to stay at 37+0, as it is planned.  If I notice any change in movements I need to come in immediately.  Like I need telling...

Obviously I'm super anxious about getting to the induction date so the registrar went and got the consultant and they did another scan, where they looked at the blood flow through the baby's brain, and that appeared to be at normal levels.  The consultant said that there is some evidence to show that in the last few weeks this is a more reliable indicator than the doppler blood flow checks, hence why he did it.

He said the evidence shows that we are at higher risk of another stillbirth, but if we deliver pre-term, i.e. before 37 weeks the baby is more likely to get into distress during labour which would lead to an emergency c-section.  Now I don't care about having a cesarean, but I do care about whether they can get to the baby in time.  He also said that if I were to come in 2 days early for induction I'd have to be on delivery suite, rather than the antenatal ward, and the thought of that makes me *extremely* panicky.  I am not willing to stay on delivery suite for 2 days or more to have this baby.  Fuck that with a capital F.  Also, if I was induced pre-term I could only come in if there was room in the nursery for the baby, in case they had difficulties post birth.

The upshot is that I have a provisional induction date for 36 + 5 but in all likelihood I'll keep my date as 37+0.  Unless I have an emotional breakdown between now and then.

Getting a prescription for paroxetine: Like the last registrar I saw she seemed surprised I was asking about this (despite it being in my notes) and said they would normally prescribe one of three other antidepressants.  I explained my reasoning and kept arguing with her until she agreed.  She then said they couldn't prescribe that at the hospital (contradicting what the registrar I saw at the 28 and 30 week scan said) and I would have to see my GP.  Which could be difficult as I can't make appointments in advance with my GP and I'm at the hospital every day until I get induced. Le sigh.  I'll work something out.

Sweep: She said I could have a sweep 2 days before induction which will hopefully make the induction process shorter.  As I'm not expressing colustrum fingers crossed induction won't take days and days.

I wasn't massively impressed with the registrar.  Our consultant took us through the reasoning behind his advice - the most up to date research, the implications, the risks, but she didn't.  She seemed put out when we listened to the consultant more than her and she told us that there were no guarantees this child would be OK, no matter what we did (i'm paraphrasing, I think her words were 'we can't guarantee anything).  You know what lady, we know that better than you!  I can feel it in my bones and we're living with the daily fear of this one dying.  You don't need to tell us nothing is guaranteed.  I don't want false reassurance, though I want facts.  It pisses me off that we have to push to get extra checks and better care and better explanations.

She also wrote nothing about paroxetine in my notes and nothing about the sweep.  I have been told, by my community midwife, that they cannot do a sweep unless it is written in my notes by a doctor.  So I have to go chase that up tomorrow at my scheduled CTG trace. *rage*

I had my last community midwife appointment 4 days ago.  It's my last one as I'm having daily CTGs now so I don't need both appointments.  It was with the one I saw at 12 weeks who I loathed.  She wasn't quite so offensive today, but she was still too excited for my taste,and beause she was running late she rushed me through everything, though she did answer all my questions.  I came out of the appointment pissed off.

I had my last osteopath appointment today, she was lovely.  She and my pilates teacher are getting a card once I've had the baby, they've been a bloody wonder over the last 9 or 10 months.

I've still got a range of stuff to buy and prep.  I need to get on that this weekend.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Parenthood after loss

I wrote this with the intention of submitting it to The F Word blog, but since writing it I haven't gathered up the guts to submit it, and since I'm due so soon I also can't handle the editing and feedback process as I'm getting rather stressed about what will happen over the next couple of weeks.  So I'm going to publish it here and ask The F Word to link back to it as part of their weekly round up.

Talking about stress, I think I might have another post in me about the physiological and mental effects of extended stress.


What makes a mother?  Or a father?

I used to think that you became a parent once you'd given birth.  Once the baby was outside of the mother, and breathing.  But recent events have changed my opinion on this.

My first child died at full term, for no known reason.  According to conventional wisdom, I am not a parent as I have no child at home to care for.  According to conventional wisdom, the 8-9 months I grew him and carried him aren't enough to make me a mother.  From my pre-pregnancy understanding, once my son had died, I wasn't sure if we were still parents.  We had no physical, moving, breathing, child to show and talk about and cosset.  I have the evidence in my body that I carried him to full term - the stretch marks, the linea nigra, the post labour pains, the recovery period, the dodgy knees, the sore back.  Everything about my body screamed that I was a mother yet I was missing the vital proof.

Losing a baby is likely to be the most horrific experience a parent will ever go through, and denying their experience as parents is damaging.  I am still a mother even though my son isn't here.  I ate the right things, went to the ante-natal appointments, saved the scan photos, planned and decorated the nursery, bought all the right stuff, read all the right books and took as best care of him as I could.  If that's not being a mother what is?

Louise who runs the Duck in a Dress blog wrote about infertility and mothering sunday, and came to the conclusion that you become a parent when you feel like one.  I agree with this.  It might be when you discover you are pregnant, when you accept you are pregnant, when you have the first scan, feel the first movements, or when you have their baby in their arms.  Or it might be when you decide you desperately want kids.

Leigh Kendall over at Headspace Perspective recently wrote about whether she is a mummy blogger, given that her son lived for just 35 days.  Just because Hugo isn't with her now does that make her less of a parent, does that give her less of a right to be part of the parenting blogging circles?

Still Standing magazine has an article on just this subject, the writer argues that "a mother isn’t born when a child is born. A mother and father are born when the dream of a child is conceived".

I believe that it doesn't matter whether your child died due to a cord accident, placental failure, intrauterine growth restriction, pre-eclampsia or Hellp, or if their heart just stopped.  You are still a parent, if you want to be.  Even if you choose to have a termination for medical reasons you are a parent, making a decision in the best interests of your baby, the same way as parents of living children would decide whether to turn off life support should there be problems after the child is born (at age 1 or 26).

For those of us whose babies have died, if we are no longer parents, what does that say about our experiences of pregnancy and delivery?  If your baby dies in utero, after about 14 weeks, you still have to give birth, whether that is by labour or cesarean section.  The labour process is the same as that with a living child.  I know what the difference between early and active labour and I know what ring of fire refers to, and what it feels like to pass the placenta (gross, since you asked).

I think for second trimester losses, there is even more of an inclination to dismiss the baby as not real, and the parents as not parents, and that's damaging.  Baby loss parents have pregnancy symptoms and delivery stories, the same as every other mother out there, because it's the same process, but not if others don't recognise us as parents.  Not if they treat us, on later pregnancies, as first time parents.  Dismissing our children is a crushing experience.

We are still parents and it's about time the rest of the world recognised that.

Some notes:
Baby loss, through second trimester miscarriage, stillbirth (in the UK this is classified as death of a baby after 24 weeks gestation and prior to birth), is vastly unknown and misunderstood.  People think it doesn't happen, or that it's preventable, or that you'll get warning of it.  That's not always the case.  In 2013, over 5700 babies died just before, during or soon after birth.  That’s over 100 babies every week. Sometimes reasons are found, more often they are not.  Dealing with the death of a baby, whether you are the parent, other relative or a friend, is a hugely complicated and emotional thing to do.  If you then go on to become pregnant again, it's even more messy.  However there is support available:
Sands - providing support for those affected by late miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death, as well as promoting research around babies dying.  June is Sands awareness month, find out more here.
Tommys - funding research into stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage, and providing information for parents.
Miscarriage Association - UK site giving information and support for all stages of miscarriage.
Movements advice from RCOG
Still Standing magazine - online magazine dealing with child loss and infertility

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Get to know me questions

I'm bored and found this on tumblr so thought I'd do it here.  Cross channel memes, yeah.

1. If someone wanted to really understand you, what would they read, watch, and listen to?
Read - the Discworld books, particularly the witch and watch ones.  Supergirl: Many Happy Returns.  Elizabeth McCracken's An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination.  Alternatively, they could read this blog and New readers...start here!.
Watch - the Buffy telly show.  Listen to - 90s britpop, metal and punk albums, with a dash of Shampoo, 5ive and Steps.

2. Have you ever found a writer who thinks just like you?  if so, who?
No, but some of Terry Pratchett's creations make total utter sense to me - Granny Weatherwax and Vimes in particular.

3. List your fandoms and one character from each that you identify with.
Discworld - Granny Weatherwax
DC comics - Linda Danvers Supergirl
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Tara

4. Do you like your name?  is there another name you think would fit you better?
I like my online name, I think it suits me just right.

5. Do you think of yourself as a human being or a human doing? do you identify yourself by the things you do?
Wanky question.  Human being.  I identify myself by the things I am.

6. Are you religious/spiritual?
Not any more.

7. Do you care about your ethnicity?
I'm white.  No I don't care about it, I don;t need to care about it, I live in the UK and being white affords me the privilege to not have to care about it.

8.   What musical artists have you felt most connected to over your lifetime? 
Manic Street Preachers and the Wildhearts.

9. Are you artist?
I can do some origami and some crafty stuff.  I can put together costumes, following tutorials, but I don't think that makes me an artist.

10. Do you have a creed?

11. Describe your ideal day.

12. Dog person or cat person?
Kitties all the way.

13. inside or outdoors?
Both.  The home comforts of indoors with the freedom to go outdoors whenever I like.

14. Are you a musician?
Hell no.

15.  Five most influential books over your lifetime.
The Discworld series.  All 30 plus of them.

16. If  you’d grown up in a different environment, do you think you’d have turned out the same?

17. Would you say your tumblr is a fair representation of the “real you”?
Nope, my tumblr is just comic stuff that makes me happy.  My blog isn't all me either, it's what I choose to write about and put on here, but that's not all I am.

18. What's your patronus?
I found this definition of a patronus: The Patronus Charm is difficult, and many witches and wizards are unable to produce a full, corporeal Patronus, a guardian which generally takes the shape of the animal with whom they share the deepest affinity.
I have no idea what my patronus would be.  Something that likes pretty things but doesn't really exist, I guess.

19. Which Harry Potter house would you be in? or are you a muggle?
Hufflepuff - values hard work, patience, loyalty and fair play.

20. Would you rather be in Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, or somewhere else?
Of the list, Narnia.  Elsewhere, the Discworld.  I would like a world with narrativium.

21. Do you love easily?

22. List the top five things you spend the most time doing, in order.
Checking for movements.
Thinking about my babies.
Thinking about my partner.
Thinking about my next set of appointments.
Thinking about my physical state.

23. How often would you want to see your family every year?
Discounting my partner and kids, I can happily see family just every few months, with a bit of contact over phone, email or skype between that.

24.  Have you ever felt like you had a “mind-meld” with someone?
Don't be ridiculous.

25. Could you live as a hermit?
With adequate maternity care, yes.  So perhaps I mean no.

26.  How would you describe your gender/sexuality?
Gender - female, but had my life gone a different way I can see how I would have become more masculine identified, but never male identified.
Sexuality - bisexual.

27. Do you feel like your outside appearance is a fair representation of the “real you”?
Well, I'm very visibly pregnant now so I look like a mother, so yeah, I guess?

28. On a scale from 1 to 10, how hard is it for someone to get under your skin?
Very, very easily.  I'm a moody bastard.

29. Three songs that you connect with right now.
I am not connecting with any songs right now.

30. Pick one of your favourite quotes.
"...And that's what your holy men discuss, is it?" [asked Granny Weatherwax.]"Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin. for example." [answered Mightily Oats.]"And what do they think? Against it, are they?""It's not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.""Nope.""Pardon?""There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.""It's a lot more complicated than that--""No. It ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts.""Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes--""But they starts with thinking about people as things..."--from Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 33 week scan and a bit after

My 33 week scan went OK.  The baby is growing and blood flow etc is fine.  I agreed to being prescribed antidepressants after the birth as I think it's a good precaution.  They'll take a couple of weeks to kick in, so won't save me from the baby blues that I have been told kick in 3 or 4 days after birth, but they should stop me from giving up after that.  I have requested paroxetine as that seems safest for the baby, if I can breastfeed.  I'm planning to try to breastfeed, but if I can't I won't beat myself up about it (hopefully).  I'll get a carton of formula in just in case.  At least I know I can express colustrum so the baby will be alright for the first few days.

The day after the scan (at 34 weeks exactly) I decided I needed more checks, to keep my anxiety down.  So I booked CTG traces for that day, and more for the following week, with the end result that I have medical appointments (community midwife, growth scan, CTGs) booked for pretty much every day between that 34 week point and when I'm booked in for induction.

My mistake was in not making appointments for the weekend directly after the 34+0 point, because I spent that weekend super anxious.  Saturdays and Sundays have bad associations for me.  So now I'm going in on the remaining two weekend between now and induction, and conveniently enough CTGs on the weekend are done on the ward where I'll be induced.

I ended up having an emergency check at Delivery Suite (it's still vile visiting there) because the baby was moving far too much - increased movements are as concerning as decreased movements.  But at least when they are moving you know they are still alive.  Anyway, the check was a ctg trace and in total I was in there for 2.5 hours, which is pretty quick.

I'm now 35 + 1 and I went to the hospital today and it was pretty horrible walking into a new hospital setting, to a bay to be checked over.  I've never stayed in a hospital bay, but my partner did have a couple week stay a few years ago as he was hit by a car, and it wasn't a pleasant time.   The midwife who did the trace did tell me that for people in our situation they try to put us in a private room, which would be preferable.  However the private rooms may be being used by families in more dire need than us.  We'll see.

Physically, the baby is dropping and jeez I can feel it.  Actually I think the drop started a few weeks ago, I remember a day when I felt really heavy,  Since then I've been getting more groin pain, lower back aches and shoulder blade aches, and it's more difficult to get my legs and hips comfortable at night.  I have woken up with pins and needles in the arm I've been lying on, and it can take a couple of hours for them to stop.  My knee is playing up again.  There's a muscle on the side where it gets swollen and is painful to bend.  I think my foot arches have fallen even more as my feet ache in a new way when I walk.  When I leave the house in the morning, to go 10 minutes to the bus stop, my calves are awfully tight and I can't walk at any speed, it's pathetic.  However I'm not getting cramps at night, thankfully.  This hot weather is a shit because my feet heat up ridiculously, but at least they aren't that swollen. I guess that's all the water I drink and the sandals I'm wearing.

I've finished work now, and that's really helped with the physical stuff and my anxiety.

I can see the baby wriggling away under my belly, it's reassuring.  Even the thumps in the groin and the shifts onto my bladder are reassuring.  I got to show a friend the movements in my belly the other day, and she got to feel the baby too.  I'm glad I could show her.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Let's write up some comics

This week I bought and read this lot:

Black Canary 1
Much more interesting than I thought it would be from the preview.  It doesn't really feel like my Dinah though, but I guess I'm looking for a Dinah in her 30s ready to settle down with Ollie (who to be fair would never be a rock star).  So this version not feeling like her isn't a criticism.  It is a good comic.  The only thing that pulled me out of it was that I don't buy her wearing her Canary outfit  on stage.  If they'd given her shorts or a skirt it would work much better.

Harley/Peej 1
This was a lot more fun than I expected.  I've been underwhelmed by Harley's main series but this was far better.  The two of them work well together. Unfortunately the cover is not Amanda Conner's finest hour.  The inks are rather heavy and it just doesn't flow very well.

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman 11
Another bad cover,  Yeeuch.  Badly composed, badly pencilled, badly inked and badly coloured.  Inside is Jamal Igle's pencils which are much better but the inks are a bit too heavy handed.  The colours are OK.  Overall, this lacks the finesse of the Gates/Igle Supergirl work, but that's not Igle's fault.  In the issue Di goes to Africa to try to get two sides of a warring nation to reconcile.  It sounds a bit white saviour-ish doesn't it.  I don't think it comes across that way but I'm willing to listen to other opinions.

Princeless book 4 issue 1
The story is good but I hate the art.  The composition of the panels is good, the actions (and interaction) of the characters are good, but the style of faces, the inks and the colours are horrible.  It won't stop me buying this series, but if you do pick it up please be aware that this art is not indicative of the rest of the series' art!  And on the plus side, we do have killer squirrels:

Battleworld: Thors 1
I think I bought this for horse Thor.  It's OK.  I suspect it's more for Marvel aficionados than me.  It seems like a bit of an industry vanity project, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Battleworld: Runaways 1
The only actual Runaway in this is Molly Hayes.  The rest are mutants, Cloak and Dagger and some other randoms who I expect regular Marvel readers will know.  They are all attending a school to train them as Doom lackeys, or some such.  I tell you what, I do like the premise for Battleworld.  It works far better than Convergence, at least for these two titles.  This was a fun enough comic.  It also queered up Jubilee and Pixie, which was good to see:
Are they gay in the regular 616 universe?

Ms Marvel: Crushed (trade)
This is volume 3 of the current Ms Marvel run.  I really liked it, it's a good young adult comic about teenage crushes and the pitfalls that come with it, with added superpowers.  The only thing I didn't like was the thinly veiled lesson about consent.  It just seemed a bit too obvious to me, but maybe that's because I've been seeing this sort of stuff discussed for years and given where I am at the moment, I really could do with not having these conversations.  Quite frankly, I don't care.  That sounds awful doesn't it.  But I don't.  I'm concentrating on my pregnancy and everything else that requires energy, or passion can piss off.  So, I'm wondering who the teenage audience this is aimed at would take this lesson. If they don't find it too much, then I guess it's a good thing.

Batman: The Ring, The Arrow and The Bat
I've been meaning to get this for about 2 years.  Despite the name, it's a Green Arrow trade, not a Batman book.  The first story is Hal and Ollie meeting for the first time.  Hal is working for the government and doesn't realise he's being used, and Ollie is out for a good vigilante time, until he realises the wrongs being done, and then he gets all angry about it.  It's quite a quick change.  Hal and Ollie argue but end up friends.  Art is by Greg Land, before his porn tracing days.  If you like these two, and you like these trades, then you'll like this story.

The second story is Green Arrow and Batman meeting and working together for the first time.  There is lots of snark and one liners.  The villains in the story are stereotypical/generic Asian bad guys, which makes me wince, and plot development is a bit obvious, but apart from that, it's good fun.

I've also been watching Arrow season 1, and while I'm kinda enjoying it, it's a bit bloody miserable isn't it?  Oliver Queen enjoys life, but Ollie in Arrow doesn't.  Granted, he has just come back from the island and is traumatised, but by all accounts he doesn't get any happier over the seasons.  Le sigh.  I like the flashbacks to the island the best.  He looks and acts more like 'my' Ollie there.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Commissions by Princeless artists

I promised I'd put something up about this weeks ago, so here goes:

Ted Brandt and Rosy Higgins, the artists of the most recent Princeless volume, The Pirate Princess, (and who I interviewed here), are doing commissions.

They came up with this rather excellent way of showing their rates:

I've not seen a graphic quite like that before, and I think it's ace.  Consider asking them for a commission why don't you?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

An alphabet of favourite words

I've been thinking about my favourite words and decided to come up with an alphabet of them.  These are words that I enjoy the sound of and enjoy forming with my mouth, not words that mean something.  My list will probably change from week to week so this is today's ideas.  Here we go:

Effie, Emberella
Imbibe, Intrepid
Sunflower, Susurration

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ten characters from literature

My old podcast mate, @feemcbee for you twitterers, put up a tumblr post listing ten characters from literature she's in love with.  So I decided to do the same.  I came up with six and then got stumped:

Black Canary
Green Arrow
Susan Sto Helit
Young Granny Weatherwax
Wonder Woman

I don't know who else I'd put on there.  Granny and Green Arrow are there because I like cocky bastards. Canary, Susan and Wondy I'm in awe of.  And Supes is, well he's Supes.  Who isn't a little in love in with him?  My first thought on seeing this list, was yeesh, I'm so gay.  Except I'm obviously not and then a little while later I thought ooh this could be seen as bi erasure by the self and then I started snoring because conversations like that bore me senseless nowadays.

Fee and I decided that comics totally count as literature.

Who would be on your list?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Captain Marvel jumper.

Look at my new thing!
Pay attention to the lovely box it comes in.

This is it on, a size large I believe.

I got it from We Love Fine.  It was £40 (UK) for the jumper and postage, and then I got hit with a  nearly £20 customs fee, that included £8 payment to parcel force for paying the customs fee on behalf of me.  Bah.  Still, £60 isn't *too* bad.  It's a nicely made jumper too.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon

I just finished reading books 2 and 3 of the Deed of Paksenarrion.  I found the first book (Sheepfarmer's Daughter) several years ago and really enjoyed it, as it's a female led military fantasy story.  The magic is few and far between and most of the book is about Paksennarion's military career, which consists of her joining a company of soldiers and getting trained up to private level.

Paks isn't a supremely talented soldier, she's good because she trains hard.  She's not the most popular in the company.  She's ordinary.  I liked this.  She's not the only woman there either.  If I remember correctly there is one scene where she's nearly raped, but the important thing is that it's not gratiutious and it's told from Paks' point of view. It's about her.  She's also in a relationship with another woman, without any fuss being made of it.  I like that too.

In the second book (Divided Allegiance), Pak's leaves the company because she's uncomfortable with the work they are hired to do, there's too much cruelty for her taste.  She agonises over what to do, because her life is with the company and she respects their leader, the Duke.  She gets permission to leave, and sets out on her own, encounters some elves, nearly gets killed, and ends up training to be a Girdsman.  Things go wrong, she gets tortured (but it's not sexual) she loses her courage, and leaves the safety of the Girdsman's Grange in search of work.  She remains her ordinary self and slowly recovers.

I like the ordinariness of her.  I like that these books are so focused on the military life, they feel grounded.  It's a good change from fluffy fantasy stories where the hero is a man and is destined to become the greatest in the land.  That's boring to me now.

The third book (Oath of Gold) falls down a bit for me, because by this time Paks has become a Paladin, an instrument of the Gods with special powers, and she is no longer ordinary, she even speaks differently.  So the appeal (for me) is lost a bit.  Nonetheless I finished it and enjoyed it, mostly.

I've just found out there are more books in Paks' world but gods almighty that is no an easy website to understand.  The wikipedia page is much more useful.  Interestingly, the wiki page includes the following information provided by Moon on the development and basic ideas for the series:

"Source material, as well as inspiration, for the Paksenarrion books might be of interest to some.  The various legal systems are taken from the following:
F. S. Lear's Treason in Roman and Germanic Law (specifically for the dwarf and gnome races), K. F. Drew's The Lombard Laws and The Burgundian Code, and other sources on medieval law, including a difficult-to-find translation of the Visigothic Code by A. Wilhelmsen.
The development of the Code of Gird derives from the development of "barbarian" legal codes adapting Roman Law, shifts in English law during and after the Norman Conquest, and the development of "human rights-based" changes in law in and following the Enlightenment.
Different city-states and nation-states were given different "balances" of the source material. Military history sources for both military science and military psychology included HerodotusXenophonThucydidesCaesar, and other classical sources, Conan Doyle's novel The White CompanyTuchman's A Distant MirrorSherman's Memoirs, and many others.
Village life and crafts, in outline and detail, are taken from multiple sources on medieval/early Renaissance crafts and life, including the Surtees Society's collection of historical sources for that period.
Further influences on the social and political aspects came from cultural anthropology sources. Historical sources suggesting the development of a paladin character ranged from Xenophon and Caesar (on the military side) and PlatoAristotle, and Plutarch (for both military and general character consideration) to the "Chanson de Roland" and the Grail legends, with side journeys into other cultures (ScandinavianAmerindianIslamic).
The history of Christianity and especially the incorporation of local heroes into "saint" roles (Joan of Arc in France, others in many other Catholic countries) provided historical background for development of Paksenarrion, Gird, and other hero-saints in that fictional universe.
The inspiration for "doing a paladin right" was the definition of paladin outlined in the D&D game; the specific character of Paksenarrion derived from historical figures (including Joan of Arc) and a mix of individuals known to the author.
The specific character of Gird-farmer had roots in historical and fictional accounts of peasant/slave/worker uprisings; Gird-legend shared characteristics of several legendary (mythical and fictional) folk and religious heroes.
Questions explored in the books include the nature of the military mind, the character of the good soldier and the good commander, the essential characteristics of a hero and a paladin, the potential conflicts between what it takes to be a good soldier and what it takes to be a great hero, relationship between a paladin and his/her co-religionists (clergylaity) and between a paladin and those not of the same belief, the source of a paladin's "commission" (e.g., who decides that someone is a paladin? how is that marked?), the essential characteristics of a hero-saint, the internal characteristics and outward influences that shape a hero-saint's actions and effects, the ways that subsequent generations redefine the meaning of earlier events and how that interpretation influences their actions."

I like that Moon has been so thorough in her research.  I think I might try and pick up some of the other books in Paks world.

Is it worth reading any of Moon's sci-fi stories?