Sunday, May 31, 2015

Eminem Lose Yourself in ASL

Watch this video, even if you think you don't care for signed performances, or for Eminem.

Now go read this article about how sign languages have rhyme and assonance.

Update - it has since been pointed out to me by a Deaf friend (who is fluent in BSL and knows a bit of ASL) that this video is pretty hard to follow, partly due to the woman's bouncing around, making it difficult to lip read.  Since the hearing people I showed this to were impressed but the Deaf woman wasn't, I think that's worth pointing out.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Comics review: Convergence week 6

I'm amazed I'm still managing to write these reviews.  I think I'm going to try and keep these short.

Convergence: Catwoman 2
This was pretty good, up until the point where Selina got shot and died.  Obviously Batman is still alive.  I guess if Bats had been the one who'd got shot and died it might have looked like the story was becoming about him.
The Gotham by Midnight preview is not really for me.

Convergence: Suicide Squad 2
Good. Strange Captain Boomerang twist, but good nonetheless.  I don't think Amanda Waller is really dead.  I think she'll show up to scorn the fancy statue.  Nice to see Babs in here.
The Aquaman preview was pretty good.  Nice new costume design, in line with the film design.  There will be some cultural laughs about Arthur yelling 'Your King is pissed'.  I'm not sure that's the sort  of vocabulary Arthur would use, let alone the varying meanings for pissed.  I'm not that impressed by Mera being a the bad guy, again.

Convergence: Shadow of the Bat 2
I really don't care about this or the Deathstroke preview.  I'm sick of reading about him fighting the Titans, in any incarnation.

Convergence: Green Arrow 2
The art on this is horrible.  The story is OK.  I like Livy.
The Green Lantern Corps: Lost Army preview is alright, but not good enough to make me want to buy it.

Convergence: Superboy 2
This is really good. The characterisation is spot on and the story is enjoyable.
I'm not interested in the Action Comics preview.

Convergence: Aquaman 2
This is just really, really great.  It's the sort of Aquaman (character wise) that I like to see.  Really good stuff.
The Doctor Fate preview was also good.  New art, very different from DC's New 52 house style.  The story felt more like an indie slice of life story than a superhero one.  I'd like to pick this series up.

Convergence: Supergirl Matrix 2
One day i'm going to have to find out the history of Ambush Bug because I just don't get him.  For a long time I thought he was meant to be Dan Didio putting himself in the comics, but now I think that's wrong.
This is a fun and silly issue, better than the first one, but is still not Mae Supergirl.  So if you want accuracy you won't like it.  If you want an entertaining ten minutes with an S shield that you've never met before, try it out.
The preview at the back of this is Bat-mite.  No I am still not interested in Bat-mite.

Convergence: Green Lantern Parallax 2
This comic is mostly about Kyle. Hal/Parallax features, but it's not really his story.
The preview is of new and improved SexyLobo.  Really sexy Lobo.  The first panel of him draws him looking like Mikail Starman.  Naked and bedding a woman.  I hope Lobo gets to bed some men.

Convergence: Justice League International 2
Terrible art, decent story, nice Booster moment at the end.
The preview is for Justice League 3001 and it entertained me, but not enough to buy the comic.

Convergence: Superman Man of Steel 2
It was OK, I guess.  The backup is for Bizarro and I still have no interest in him.

Convergence 6
I liked this issue because it had all the decent heroes siding against the bloodthirsty ones (like the Flahspoint one).

I'll keep all of these apart from Shadow of the Bat.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: weeks 28 to 30 plus 2

Ah, I have not felt capable of writing these last couple of weeks.  They haven't been good.  Emotionally, I've not been well and it's taking a lot of effort and a long run up to write this post.  There's not too much detail, but there's a lot to say, a lot to record.

At 28 weeks plus one I had visits from my family, a couple of them one weekend, and then the other one the next weekend.  They are visiting because I can't bear to leave Norfolk and be that far from my  hospital.  Remember how about 6 weeks ago I talked about how I just needed to grow up and stop being such an arse?  Well it turns out that I don't deal with seeing family, not right now, and I had a meltdown, as we affectionately call it, using that word to try and downplay and poke fun at a very bad time.  I flew into a rage and sent some rather nasty emails which I am not proud of.  I apologised, but that doesn't make it OK.  No matter what people have done, and no matter what I think of their behaviour, there is no need to send nasty, spiteful, rage filled missives.

I wasn't very well.  Things were getting on top of me, I was hurting, I was lashing out and I wasn't thinking straight.  I had a midwife appointment on the Monday and cried through most of the appointment.  Then I had a counselling session later, which was OK, I guess.  Then a pilates 1:1, which was a distraction.

I came home from work one evening, Tuesday I think, and spent the evening in bed, not caring about anything.  There were a lot of self harm thoughts (I haven't had those, in such a high frequency and strength, since probably October last year).  I didn't do anything to hurt myself (because I understand that when you're pregnant that sort of thing is frowned upon) but I wasn't well.  I managed to facilitate/run an all day workshop at work the next day, but still wasn't right.  I had my 28 week scan the day after and talked to the doctor (a registrar, not my consultant) and she suggested anti-depressants, which I'll go into in another care plan post.  I declined the anti-depressants, not because I have a thing against 'popping pills' as so many people rather naively put it, but because when I'm this way I don't make quick decisions and I wanted to be able to research the drugs first.  I didn't go into work that afternoon, but I also didn't take to bed.  I functioned.

The next day I did go into work, but left a bit early to go to the hospital for my second emergency CTG trace.  I had no idea whether I needed to go or not, but because I wasn't rational enough to make a decision I thought I'd be best going in.  When I got there the midwife agreed I'd done the right thing.  However, I did have to sit in the waiting room for about 5 minutes waiting to be called through.  The same waiting room where we were kept for about an hour when we went in to check C's movements and were told he'd died.  So that was pretty horrendous.  Or would have been had I allowed myself to feel stuff.

Since then I've been improving.  I'm not right, not like I was before this 28 week mark, but I look fine and I'm doing normal life stuff and to everyone else I'll be fine now. But I feel like I've packed my emotions and fears into a little box and I've pushed it down deep inside me.  I feel brittle.  That Tuesday scares me, if I allow myself to think about it, because it was a reminder of what depression is like, and I haven't felt that way in a long time.  I'm used to managing stress and anxiety, but not used to feeling like that.  So I push it down and pack it away and I'll deal with it at  later point when I have more time and space.

I do have to remember that in the third tr with C my mood crashed, completely.  I just started crying for no reason and feeling low.  I never really brought it up with my midwife because I'm not good at talking about this stuff, but it was a significant difference to my second tri mood where I was comparatively bouncing along, and the change happened overnight.  So I suspect that this week is a combination of grief, pressure, fear and hormones.

A friend at work (when talking about something completely different to the above) said something like 'you don't want to be defined by your loss at work', and my instinctive reaction was yes I do.  But now, I'm not sure if that's the 'right' response, or what I want.  I need to reconcile my status as a mother with other people's understanding of being a parent, and somehow fit all that into the rest of my life.  Which is kind of what these blog posts are about, a bit.  The purpose of them has changed, I think, since I started writing at what, 5 weeks (?) gone.

So, I guess I should also talk about the physical stuff.  At around 27 weeks I got a growth spurt, and jesus my hips and pelvis started hurting.  So I made an appointment to see the physio (at 29 weeks plus 3) and she gave me a support belt, which is bloody amazing.  Of course the departments at the hospital don't talk to each other, or read historical notes in their department, so she asked how old my child at home was and I curtly pointed to my Sands sticker on my maternity notes (the notes I bring with me that she wouldn't have seen beforehand).  She went ahh and it was fine, but for fucks sake. She saw me for about 50 minutes and gave me exercises to do to help with other pain, and on the whole was pretty good.

Speaking of pelvic girdle pain (PGP), the ways I manage it are:
  • When standing or walking for long periods, wear the support belt.  I did get given one with C but it hurt more so I never used it.  This time round my bump is flatter and lower (my torso muscles have little to no tone due to the short pregnancy gap) and the belt works a treat.
  • When lying down, put a pillow between your knees, a pillow against your back and a pillow underneath your bump.  You can buy maternity pillows which do all these things or you can use separate ones.  I use a mixture of 4 maternity and non maternity pillows.
  • Pelvic tilts can be done sat on an exercise ball, leaning back against an exercise ball, on your side at night or standing up.  They really, really help loosen up painful lower back muscles, which while not strictly speaking are part of pgp, nonetheless don't help.
  • Doing pregnancy pilates every week.
  • Seeing an osteopath (experienced in treating pregnant women) every 3 weeks to realign my pelvis.
  • Sitting on an exercise ball at home, not on the sofa.
  • Not pushing myself.  If something hurts, stop doing it.
FYI, my pgp hurts when I walk for more than 10-15 minutes, when I roll over in bed at night, when I sit on the sofa for too long and when I stand up from the sofa I get shooting pains down my leg.  That last bit probably isn't pgp, its just general pregnancy tightness.  It all needs treating though.

Right, what other physical stuff?  I had the whooping cough vaccination at 29+3.  It made my arm hurt.  2 days later I started getting a cold and now nearly one week later the cold is still lingering. It's not that severe, but bloody hell it's knocked me out.  I feel like I've been asleep for most of the week.  Considering that and my near breakdown the week before I've done fuck all at home and the boyfriend has had to take up all my chores, as well as the redecorating job he's doing.  It's not very fair on him so now I'm better I'm determined to start pulling my weight again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: notes on CTGs and UTIs

Recently I've been thinking about CTGs and I also mentioned UTIs.   I wanted to put a few words about them on these here posts.

A UTI is a Urinary Tract Infection, like cystitis.  They are uncomfortable/painful at the best of times, causing pain (burning) when you urinate, making you want to pee more often than normal (and crucially, not having anything to piss out when you do go), and can make you feel grotty and under the weather.  In older people (pensioners) they can make you seriously unwell.  When you're pregnant an untreated UTI can cause premature labour and the infection can travel up your vagina, to the womb and infect the baby.  This can cause illness in the baby and can be fatal (to the child).

Hence why my midwife was concerned about the leukocytes and ketones as they can indicate an infection.  However, I did as she told me and the following Monday when my urine got tested again it was all clear.  So that's fine.

CTGs, or Cardiotocography traces, are used to monitor the baby's heartrate and uterine contractions.  It's done through putting two monitors on your bump, one at the top of your uterus (your fundus) and one roughly where the baby's heart is.  The machine my hospital uses gives the uterine contraction rate in a green number, and the baby's heartrate in a red number.  If you ring up your hospital concerned about movements and they ask you to come in they'll put a ctg trace on you.  At my hospital you go into delivery suite to have this emergency check done.  I've been in twice now, it's not pleasant.

Anyway, the point of this post is for me to explain about the baby's heartrate and what the ctg trace is picking up.  I asked a couple of fellow Sands ladies about this and they, along with my midwives, gave me the following information.

My midwives have all said that a normal baby's heartrate is between 110 and 160 beats per minute. When the baby moves, it is expected that the heartrate will go up to to 180 beats per minute (just as yours and mine heartrate would go up if we exerted ourselves by going up stairs, for example).  On a ctg trace, which records the heartrate on paper, a la the top line on this image:
You will expect to see at least two spikes occurring at the same time as movement.  The mother is given a beeper thing to press when she feels movement and this is also recorded on the trace.  These increases are called accelerations.

I believe that the lower line on the above image measures baseline uterine activity, i.e. contractions, and is normal.

The ctg tracking the heartrate will pick up when decelerations, i.e. when the heartrate dips below 110.  If more than two of these happen in a 20/30 minute period for more than 15 seconds at a time your midwife/consultant should be concerned and further monitoring is needed.

You have to meet set criteria for the midwife and doctor to be happy with the traces.  A normal CTG needs 4 features - baseline rate to be between 110 and 160bpm, variability has to be 5bpm or more, at least 2 accelerations in a 20 minute period and no decelerations.

For a non-reassuring trace, you need to meet just one of  the following criteria: baseline heartrate below 109bpm or above 160 bpm, variability less than 5bpm per 40 minutes or more than 5bpm for 90 minutes, unprovoked decelerations, decelerations related to uterine tightenings when not in labour.

A baby's heartrate is expected to vary from second to second, like humans out of the womb but there will be a baseline, which is not the same as a deceleration.  I have been told that decelerations are very obvious on ctgs, and that experienced midwives can hear a deceleration without having to have it checked by technology.  This applies when you have your heartbeat checks at regular antenatal midwife appointments and even the parents attending the appointment can hear it.  Having now heard this baby's heartrate weekly since 16 weeks, I would agree that it is obvious what a normal heartrate of around 140 to 150 beats per minute sounds like.

Note: fellow Sands women who are also midwives have told me that a normal heartrate is between 110-160 beats per minute and they expect accelerations with movements to go up to 180 beats per minute.  They have said a deceleration is classified as being at least 15 beats below the baseline for at least 15 seconds.  Which to me says it comes back to being what it normal for your baby.  One off decelerations can be fine, but the baby should always be monitored with a ctg and/or scan if one is suspected.

Another Sands mother says that when she had hours of CTG in the last 5 weeks of her pregnancy, her son only had decelerations in the day before being delivered, and that they were really really obvious on the CTG feed.  She says that movements led to a raise in heartrate, which then came back down, sometimes with a little valley below the average heart rate.  The deceleration was "massively and very distinctly different, with a marked downwards tench with no movement before it".  I'll add that although the mother might not feel every movement, on a ctg trace and a regular heartbeat check, you can hear movement as the baby pushes or shifts against the uterus.

I also asked Sands women about what they can pick up at scans regarding heartrate.  Most scans don't take 20 minutes.  They might take just ten or less.  I have been told that during a scan the sonologist looks for normal movement patterns and they can see if the heartrate is slow - they check it by eye.  if you have a doppler scan they can record the blood flow through the umbilical cord - the print out looks a bit like the ctg trace.

That's a rather long post, but I feel better for getting it out there.  I'm a huge believer in the more information available to parents the better.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Finished Smallville season 10

Another thing to cross off my entertainment to do list.  I do like Smallville.  I don't think Tom Welling makes a very good Superman, but tbh he doesn't become Supes until the final moments of the last episode, so I'm not sure it matters.  Erica Durance makes a fabulous Lois Lane.

Highlights of season 10 are the hen/stag do night and the Booster episodes.  Recommended watching!

I'm not sure if I'm going to re-read Season 11.  We'll see how much spare time I have.

Looking at my entertainment to do list, I think I'm going to be able to do the new readers... reviews but they will have to be shorter reviews than I would normally do.  But, yeah, I can do them!  Bring this on!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Comics review: Convergence week 5

Spoilers ahead (probably).

Convergence 5
I really cannot bring myself to care about this main title.  Skataris and dinosaurs are fun, but it's not necessary to read this to understand the tie-ins.  I suspect that I will be selling this mini.

Convergence: Justice League 2
There's some ridiculous bum and boob images in this.  Ignoring that, this isn't too bad,  It's pretty much a big fight between the League and Flashpoint Aquaman, with a bit of Vulko, ending with Mera killing Flashpoint Aquaman.  I can't imagine anyone not invested in pre 52 continuity enjoying this.  Fortunately, I like the pre 52 world a lot.  These 2 issues are keepers, really just for Supergirls' involvement in them.

Convergence: Superman 2
Just lovely.  Lois has been kidnapped by Flashpoint Kal, but he doesn't mean her harm, and he takes her to Flashpoint's Batman's cave.  Lois goes into labour and Flashpoint Batman (Thomas Wayne, a  doctor) says he can't handle delivering the baby so Clark does it.  Surprisingly, they show the labour as being quite drawn out, and not over in half an hour.  And at the end Lois and Clark and a baby boy.  It's delightful.  This is definitely a keeper.

Convergence: Batman and Robin 2
This appears to be one of the few tie-ins that lets it's heroes be heroes - i.e. not willing to go fight the opposing champion.  Of course it is, it's Batman.  Jason Todd and Damian are in this, and it turns into a father-sons piece.  The art is nice.  I couldn't care about the story.  I'll try and sell this.

Convergence: The Atom 2
I think I'd remember this more fondly if I hadn't watched Smallville's Booster episode last night (with the three Blue Beetles in it).  Which means that I'm getting my blue heroes muddled.  The comic was OK.  I find the Deathstroke vs the Atoms storyline strange, probably because I wasn't reading the pre 52 issues where Deathstroke killed Ryan Choi.  I do like that Ryan has been resurrected, that's a good thing about this event.  I am undecided as to whether I should keep this.

Convergence: The Question 2
This might be called the Question but really it's a Two-face/Renee story, with lots of support by Batwoman and Huntress.  Some of the storytelling through just art (no words) is pretty damn fine.  I highly highly recommend this.  Definitely a keeper.

Convergence: The Titans 2
Roy finds a way to save Lian and his friends, and Lian is the real Lian, and she remains alive at the end.  This resonated.  It's a keeper.

Convergence: Speed Force 2

This has a very flat, cartoony, style of art. It's not what I'm used to, but I can't tell if I think if it's bad, or if it's just different.  Reading it, I have trouble accepting this Flashpoint Wonder Woman.  She's too far away from the Diana I am used to.  Irey seems to have some sort of torso muscles, which is strange, given her age.  I think I thought this issue was nice enough, but it's not really got anything memorable in it.  I liked the first issue though, so I'll probably keep this.

Convergence: Harley Quinn 2
This was fun.  Harley tells Cap'n Carrot she has super fists, scorch vision, canary scream, awesome-portation and a magic hammer stolen from the Gods.  He believes her, because who lies about having super powers?  This plan backfires but it all turns out well in the end, and Harley is reunited with ivy and Selina.  But doesn't go back to her fella.

Convergence: Batgirl 2
Steph and Tim seemed out of character in this.  Tim says that he ignored her for the last year because she was no longer Batgirl. Now she is suited up again, he's interested again.  She gets annoyed at this, but then takes him back.  I prefer to think that Steph has more self respect than that, and that Tim isn't such a dick.  Possibly keeping for nostalgia reasons.

Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle: 2
This was good.  I really like the design of the Hawks, and Black Canary shows up.  The Hawks get defeated and are offered the chance to live in this Gotham, curating their culture.  That's how heroism works.  Then Babs and Dick get hitched and we see the second ever good comic book wedding dress.  The first was Canary's when she married Green Arrow, FYI.  These 2 issues are keepers.

One thing that I realised during this week's comics, is that the fights between champions aren't to the death.  I had assumed they were, but I don't think Telos ever stated that.  He just said one champion must be defeated.

I didn't read many of the divergent previews.  I doubt I'll be getting many of them.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Making a Captain Marvel maternity top

Ever since I saw Carol Danvers new Captain Marvel uniform I've wanted an everyday version of it.  I think the design is sleek, attractive and very wearable.  However, I can't make clothes from scratch.  So as maternity clothes are so bloody dull I decided to customise a basic navy blue t-shirt and put the major elements of Carol's uniform on it.

This is her uniform:
I used images from this Amber Unmasked tutorial and from this cosplay as reference shots.

My t-shirt is a navy blue version of this one from Mothercare's Blooming Marvellous range:

I used yellow material leftover from my Supergirl t-shirt, and bought new red fabric that matched the feel and stretch of the t-shirt.  I also used paper thin enough to trace images from my laptop onto, fabric scissors, pins, a sheet of bonda web, yellow and red thread and a disappearing ink pen. Then I started making it, using this process:

The Star

  • Find a decent image of the star design online.  I used this one from this site.
  • Save the image as a jpeg onto your desktop, zoom in to the size you want and then trace the shape onto paper. Don't piss about trying to work out how to scale up from the original picture size.  This sort of geometric pattern doesn't get fuzzy enough (when enlarged) to be a problem.
  • Straighten up the hand drawn lines with a ruler and make a copy of this star template.
  • Mark the front of your paper template with 'front'.
  • Put your t-shirt on. pin the paper star in place on your t-shirt.
The Gold Bars
  • Still with the t-shirt on, put a pin on the edge of the tee roughly where you want the gold bars to end.
  • Take off the t-shirt (carefully, without impaling yourself), use some more pins to place where you think one double gold stripe should go - check against your reference material to see how the stripes come out of the star.  The pins should look something like this:
  • Put your paper on the tee and trace the rough shape you want.  Just trace the shape of the double stripes, don't split them into two yet.
  • Tidy up the lines with a ruler.   Cut out the bar (write front right on it).  If you flip it over you should have a bar that fits the other side of the star.  Write front left on this.
  • Measure the height of your stripes and cut them in half, horizontally.  My stripes are 4.5cm in height, so I am cut them at the 2.25cm mark.
  • Make a couple of copies of these.
Your templates should resemble this:

The Red Bits

  • Place your paper on the tee, over the blank material above the stripes.  Roughly trace the shape of the top of the tee,  Tidy up your lines on the paper, cut out the template and mark front left or front right on it.  Make copies of this template.
Pin all pieces of the pattern on the t-shirt, so you have something that looks like this:

I'm actually quite proud of figuring out the pattern for this.  However I would invite you to notice that the front left to-be-red piece doesn't quite match the shape of the t-shirt at the top.  This caused a crappy patch job later on.

Cutting out the fabric
  • Get your copies of the star and bare templates.  Flip them over (so the side saying front is facing the material) and place them on the relevant bits of fabric.  Draw round the template with a disappearing ink pen.  Do it this way in case the ink doesn't disappear as well as you thought.  I figure that is the ink doesn't disappear the marks will be on the back anyway. 
  • Remember to cut the shape out of the fabric according to where the stretch is, e.g. widthways or heightways.
  • As this is a maternity tee I wanted the stretch to go horizontally, because I figure as my boobs expand horizontally will be a better fit than vertically and as the stripes are quite short in height, an horizontal stretch also seems sensible.
  • With the star, given that the star isn't asymmetrical (is that the right word?) make sure you've got the points of the star set up right when drawing round it on the fabric. 
  • When you cut out your stripes in the fabric, make them longer than the paper templates - just in case your template isn't long enough (a few millimetres short will cause a problem).  You can always cut them down to length once you've stuck the fabric on.
  • Remember to use fabric not paper scissors to cut out your material.
  • Repeat the above steps with bonda web, but using a pencil instead of the ink pen.
Putting it all on the t-shirt
Line up the bits of paper bonda web strips on the t-shirt, just to make sure it all roughly fits together, a la:

  • Get the star lined up right then everything else with follow.  It's handy having a v necked t-shirt as you know the top point of the star needs to sit right in the lowermost point of the v.
  • Place the bonda web under the yellow star then iron it on, according to bonda web instructions.
  • Do each gold bar one at a time, using the star to line everything up.  It  is fiddly!
  • The star and one bar will look like this (the white stuff is a piece of bonda web):
  • Remember how I said to make the fabric and bonda web pieces longer than that paper templates?  Now you have put the fabric on you can cut it (and the bonda web) to size, making sure they end right at the t-shirt seams.
  • Once the yellow is on put your red paper templates on.  if you are me, you now discover they don't fit right, so make a note on how to change them and cut out more fabric and bonda web as required.
  • Iron the red bits as as for the yellow parts.

You'll end up with this:

Remember how I talked about a patch job?  This is the gap on the left side which I ended up patching with a small bit of extra red:

You can also see the pattern of the tea towel I used to iron the bonda web on with.  A week later you can no longer see this pattern (hooray), but it does make me wonder how effectively the fabric is glued on.

Finishing it off

  • I used the sewing machine to sew around each yellow and red edge (as close to the edge as possible) just to make it a look a bit tidier and less like a 5 year old and been let loose with fabric.
  • On the yellow star, I ended up having to sew some of it backwards, because I forgot that you can swivel the fabric around as much as you'd like to make it sew forwards.  This is why you shouldn't sew when angry.
  • When sewing the red fabric around the t-shirt seam, be careful that you don't sew over the inside seam, like this:
Sewing over the seam means that your stitching on the other side will be wonky, like this:
In my case the fabric ended up bunched up like you can see in the picture, and I had to unpick a section.  This may not have happened quite so badly if the fabric was properly glued, but as you can see the bonda web and/or fabric wasn't all the way to the seam.

You can avoid this bunching happening by lining your fabric up right on your sewing machine and pushing this seam to the right of your needle.

The end result:

Close up from earlier, so you can see how it sits naturally:
For anyone wondering, the pointy bit in my bump is one piece of navel jewellery.  It's not my belly button popping out and it's not a limb.  I'm 28+6 in this picture - too early for that stuff to happen!

Here is a close up of the raggedy bits:
The yellow pieces are raggedy because of the type of fabric.  The stitches will help stop them fraying.  It does look amateurish, but I did wear it out in public today and felt OK in it.  The bonda web has made the red parts really stiff, which makes it sit strangely (see the above two photos), but nevermind.

I am definitely not going to extend the yellow and red around the back of the t-shirt.  This was enough for me, and took me hours.  Probably about 7 hours in total, because I'm slow.  I might try and find some yellow beads to put on the neck line, to mimic the ones on her gloves.

I guess this makes me a member of the Carol Corps.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Comic reviews: Convergence week 4 and lots others

So many comics to write about.  I'll try to keep each review brief.

Justice League 40
I bought this one for the boy band cover and obviously now want to watch Magic Mike, the film it is apparently from.  I did rather like the story too.  Metron is about and meets the anti monitor and all the crises are referenced.  At the end the Amazonian birthed anti-God turns up, which feels less stupid than it did in the WW FCBD story.

Multiversity 2
I think this reestablished the pre 52 Multiversity, with new universes, and established a group of protectors for it, including lady Aquaman.  It also has a panel of Vampire Wondy and Vampire Bats craving coffee.  Which is fun.

Superman 40
This is a very strange comic,  The JL are being written like they are all aged about 18 or 19, or younger.  The plot kind of works, but the way in which it's delivered is weird.  John Romita JR writes and pencils, and the pencils are bloody awful.

X-Men 26
The Krakoa storyline ended.  All but Rachel seem a bit bloodthirsty.  It's a reasonable ending, I suppose.

Bitch Planet 4
I adore this comic and the editorials.  Y'all should read it.

Princeless the Pirate Princess 4
Fecking wonderful, as ever, and Raven is confirmed queer. Love this,

FCBD offering from the CBLDF
This is a bit too much issue focused for me to really enjoy it. I'll pass it on.

FCBD offering: DC's Divergence
Ridiculous.  Commissioner Gordon is the new Batman in the Batsuit that looks like a Blue Beetle suit.  Lois has told the word Clark's secret.  An Amazonian fucked Darkseid and the child is the anti-God.  What a load of crap.

FCBD offering from Dark Horse
The Fight Club story was quite good.  I haven't bothered reading the other two.

FCBD offering from Boom studios
I've flicked through this and it looks good, but I haven't had the headspace to read it in totality.

Convergence 4
I can't be bothered to flick through this and re-acquaint myself.

Convergence: Shazam 1
One of the best Convergence books so far.  It has that innocence the Marvel family used to have, when they were unashamed at being written for kids.  It's got Sivana and Tawky Tawny but isn't written as a nostalgia trip - it's a genuinely good story and a good addition to Marvel canon.

Convergence: Blue Beetle 1
This is about Captain Shinypants, the Question and Blue Beetle, with a guest appearance by Booster.  Pretty Good, even with Shinypants in it.

Convergence: Crime Syndicate 1
Somehow I liked this.  I normally find the Crime Syndicate really really dull, but this was enjoyable.   Nice art too.

Convergence: Booster Gold 1
Pre 52 Booster meets New 52 Booster and if you like traditional Booster you'll like this issue.  the Legion of Superheroes turn up.  Fights ensue.  This was one of the highlights of this week's comics.

Convergence: Detective Comics 1
Helena Wayne and Dick Grayson from the earth where they are proper adult legacy heroes.  I liked their squabbling an the clear characterisation of all involved.

Convergence: Infinity Inc 1
I'm not clear on the background or history for this, but I quite enjoyed it.

Convergence: Plastic Man 1
I get the Freedom Fighters existing in a world where the Nazis won the war, I don't understand what Plastic Man is doing there.  Was he ever part of that world?  I did enjoy the comic and the Freedom Fighters as a team, so that's a job well done by the creators.

Convergence: World's Finest 1
This I did really enjoy.  It feels like a decent standalone story in it's own right.

Convergence: Action Comics 1
Another good one.  Like World's Finest, it simply works as a story by itself.

Convergence: Justice Society of America 1
This week turned out a bunch of corkers.  This feels like it was created by people with real respect for the JSA era and the main guys in the team.  Good work.

JLA Paradise Lost 1
I got this from the comic shop in Brugges in March, but forgot I'd bought it.  It was pretty good.  It has Zauriel in it trying to stop a fellow angel take over Heaven.

JLA Incarnations 6
Also from the Brugges comic shop.  This is the JLI at it's finest and it much better than the Convergence JLI issue.  The first story is led by Booster and Beetle, and proves why they shouldn't be allowed to roam around unsupervised.  The second story is led by Captain Shinypants when he's on Extreme Justice and just proves that team is rather incompetent.  Worth reading for the JLI story.

Superman Krypton Chronicles 1 and 2
These are really good fun, and a bit batshit.  Plot holes a aplenty but as they aren't meant to be serious, who cares?  Clark is asked by the Daily Planet boss to put together an article on Krypton's history, so Clark has to travel to Kandor with Supergirl, now on the planet Rokyn, to meet with Supergirls parents and learn about Kryptonian history.  It's all a bit unhinged, but it allows the writers to have fun, and so the reader has fun too.  The reasoning for getting Kryptonian's history seems a bit bandwagon jumping though:

Superman Confidential issues
These are a great set of issues, and it's a great run.  Superman stories where he's being heroic from different stages of his life.  It's only 14 issues long and the ones I picked up were written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, who nearly always turn out reliably solid work, with the later issues pencilled by Phil Hester, who I adore.

Superman issues, pre 52 ones
One is a Christmas issue which I recall liking a lot, one is a one year later one that I already had, but forgot about and because it had Supergirl on the cover I bought it again.  She's barely in it.

The Adventures of Superman Annual 1997
I'm always disappointed by these pulp heroes annuals that don't have a pulp themed story.  Upon reading this it occurred to me that perhaps it's just that I don't know what it meant by 'pulp'.  The letters section was intriguing as everyone was complaining about the blue and red Superman.  It reminded me of all our kvetching about Supes' new solar flare power.  Oops.  Perhaps we should just roll with it...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pregnancy after stilbirth: 27 weeks 6 days

Had a midwife appointment yesterday and she's had my glucose tolerance test (GTT, to test for gestational diabetes) and general blood results back.  I don't have diabetes, I'm not anemic, I don't have antibodies and my blood group hasn't changed.

The urine test showed that I have leukocytes and ketones in my piss, so she thinks I may have a UTI, so I've been ordered to drink tons of water and cranberry juice, and if I get any symptoms (burning when I wee, pain in bladder/pelvic area) to bring in a wee sample for testing.  I have another midwife appointment in a few days (part of my regular weekly ones) so they'll check my pee again then.

She measured my bump and the baby is now at the 95th percentile, when it was at the 10th on the previous 2 scans.  So either it's grown massively over the last week or I have lots of other stuff in there.  Dunno.  The bump measurement is only a guideline, the scans are far more accurate.  Of course I'm now worrying the baby is going be huge and I'm going to get a 4th degree tear.  My midwife said there are lots of reasons why women tear, it's not all about baby size, it's do with their position, speed they come out, my pelvis position, the position I'm in, loads of stuff. She said it's important to listen to the midwife's instructions when in labour - when she says pant, I need to pant, when she says push, I need to push.  No one told me to pant with C but my midwife said that was a different case so I wouldn't have been told to pant.  I have no idea why.  To me his labour was straightforward and easy.  I need to find out why I wasn't told to pant.

I'm getting more scared of labour.  If it's as straightforward and quick as last time, I'll be fine. if it's longer, I'm terrified.  I'm not sure I know how to do this anymore.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 27 weeks 4 days

Today has been difficult.

I had my glucose tolerance test at the hospital which was OK actually.  Lucozade isn't as bad as I thought.  What you do is not eat from midnight the night before, arrive at 9am ish, have a blood sample taken, drink 410 mls of lucozade, an hour later have another blood sample taken, and an hour later have a third blood sample taken.  Then they test your bloods to see how well you are processing sugar and determine whether you have gestational diabetes or not.  Diabetes when pregnant is bad as if it's not controlled and kept an eye on it can at worst kill the baby.  Less horrific scenarios are the baby being much bigger than expected, which could make labour difficult so doctors might recommend a c -section.  If they do, it's helpful to remember that the c-section isn't the problem,  it's a solution that will help preserve the mother's and the baby's health.

While waiting at the hospital I saw a lot of young babies...and pregnant women.... looking happy.. and it pains me.  Saw some other kids on the weekend and that pained me too.  I'm glad there are healthy kids in the world, I wouldn't wish my situation on anyone, but all I wanted today was to cuddle a baby and cry into them, but I can't do that to a stranger's kid, because I'll look like a nutter.  I just want my son.  He'd be about 11 months old now.  I could look up child development month by month by I won't, because that will just hurt.  So that means I don't know what he'd be like about now.

I'm trying to make an appointment with the physio to look at my pelvic girdle pain.

I saw the Avengers Age of Ultron film on the weekend and enjoyed it..then on twitter today people are being pissy about it because of Black Widow's infertility storyline, which you can read about here, including my response.  It seems to me that people complaining about it aren't those who are actually infertile, or those whose bodies have failed their babies, or potential babies.  It strikes me that most people complaining about it want to see Natasha representing all women, whereas it's clear to me that she's not and what we are actually seeing is her perception of herself, where I can completely understand that her sterilisation means that she sees herself as monster.

If you are not infertile, or if you are childless through choice, you don't get to claim that her portrayal hurts women, because it is NOT your fucking story to tell.  Not all stories have to be about you.

I think I'm getting more scared of labour.  Last year, when everything was so fresh, I couldn't give a toss about labour.  It was hard work, it hurt one hell of a lot, but it didn't scare me.  Now I'm getting scared.  It has to be done, and it will hurt, but induction will be different because this one will be live and I don't know how to manage this or what to expect.  I need to talk to my doctors and midwives about it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 24 weeks scan and consultant appointment

We had the 24 week scan last week.  Here are the notes from it.

Our post scan meeting with the consultant went as follows:
Can I have extra scans at 30 and 34 weeks? They will review at the 28 week scan.  The consultant would prefer me to have them 3 weekly from 28 weeks as they have pressure on resources, but if I feel I need them every 2 weeks then he will agree to that.
We agreed an induction date that is bang on 37 weeks, which I am incredibly relieved about. It's a weight off my mind to know that I won't have to argue with them.
I asked again about my muff itching, the change in discharge colour and smell. He examined me and said everything looks normal and is putting changes down to normal pregnancy changes.

I came out of this appointment feeling so much better,

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 20 week scan and consultant appointment

We had our 20 week anomaly scan.  I think writing it up here would be good, so others can see what these appointments are like.  And it will help me get my head clear.  I'm finding these meetings quite traumatic and I tend to not think about them much after we've left,

The scan itself was fine, all is normal and developing as expected.  The meeting was with a registrar, not our appointed consultant.  I shall henceforth refer to her as the underling.

I asked about what vitamins I need to take - folic acid is no longer needed as the baby is fully formed.  I am also taking zinc and vitamin D and I can keep taking those.  Bloods will be taken at 28 weeks to assess my iron levels and confirm if I need any tablets.
I asked about having CTG scanning in the last week of pregnancy, this was agreed to although it wasn't formally booked in. It will be booked in once we have decided on a delivery date.
When can I be induced? - I said I wanted to be induced bang on 37 weeks. If I can't be induced then I want to be admitted.  The underling said they would normally induce between 37-38 weeks and we would decide this at the 32 or 35 week scan. This makes me feel uneasy but I'll accept it and keep pushing for a 37 week + 0 date at future meetings.

What do I do if I decide inbetween appointments that I want more regular scans? The underling said that I could ring the consultant’s secretary but they are unlikely to see me more often than my current plan suggests, as they won’t be able to tell much so it’s not a good use of time/money.  However I can come in for emergency checks whenever I want.

Note - this is at odds with what was discussed at the 12 week appointment as we were told by the other underling there that the maximum amount of regular scans offered could be every 2 weeks, as any more often than that don’t show enough growth to come to any conclusions. So I'll bring this up again at the next appointment.

I've been having a fitting feeling in my belly, at a guess it lasts between 20 seconds to a minute. It just feels like really high intensity movement, more definite than just vibrations. There is no hardening of my uterus and it's not hiccups. The underling suggested this is down to intestinal/bowel gas. It's not gas, I know what gas feels like. My midwife suggested it was the baby moving really really fast. I'm not convinced by that either, but these two separate opinions show me that it's probably not a problem.

I've been getting pain across a small part of my abdomen. It's a tightness, and a pain, and lasts for up to twenty minutes before it eases. The underling said this is nothing to worry about and is just normal pregnancy pains. I'm guessing it could be ligaments. I think I had this with C, but back then I wasn't worried.

I next asked about delivery options if there are problems after 24 weeks. The underling said if the baby is measuring small but there is enough amniotic fluid and the placenta is doing it’s job they would induce me.  If the baby is small but fluid is low and blood flow looks bad, they would do a c-section.  I am still happy to be induced but I was assured that they would be quicker to give me a c-section (when compared to other women) if there were any problems, given my history.
I asked about my discharge as it's changed colour, it;s kinda gone creamy. She said don’t worry about the colour, only worry if it is itching, smelly or causing pain when I pee. I had a swab done pre-12 weeks and that came back clear so there is nothing to worry about. I disagree with this as infections can turn up at any time.

I also asked about taking antihistamines as I have a dust mite allergy and take piriton near daily. The underling went and checked with the pharmacist.  Piriton is prescribed up to 34/35 weeks so is perfectly safe.  After that they advise loratidine.  Both are sedating antihistamines so can cause drowsiness and tremors, but if the baby comes out pre-34 weeks it will have bigger problems for them to deal with.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 27 weeks 2 days

My hips hurt, my lower back hurts, my calf still hurts from cramp a few nights ago and I'm nauseous again.  I can't walk far or fast.  I'm a wreck.  I wasn't this bad with C.

Also, this post from Women Write About Comics, normally a well balanced and enthusiastic fan site, has enraged me.  It contains spoilers about the Avengers Age of Ultron movie and I have left a comment.  It's about having kids, don't read it if you don't want to be spoiled.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Convergence week 3

This week's comic are pre Crisis.  I hadn't realised some of these eras were pre crisis, but fine.  Spoilers (probably) ahead.

Convergence 3
I'm quite bored of the bat centric nature of this main series.  There is a nice Skataris scene though, so maybe next issue will be more interesting.

Convergence: Justice League of America 1
It starts with Ralph and Sue being lovely and then explains how the dome has affected the other JLA members.  Aquaman is now unable to breathe underwater, which is at odds with other domed Aquamans where he can't survive without water.  Well, it's not directly incompatible but the insinuation is there.  The Martian Manhunter was trapped in human form without telepathy.  Steel's cyborg tech shut down and he was on life support.  Now the dome is lifted and everyone is back to normal and ready to fight.

I don't get why the dome affects some guys' technology and not others.  Other than the writers deciding this is so.  Ah well, this was an OK issue.

Convergence: Hawkman 1
Another really good one.  This is less about forced fights and more a showcase of why Katar and Shayera are great.  There are Thanagarian criminals.  I'm writing the review of this comic last and now I'm out of comments, sorry.  It's a darn good comic though.  I suggest you all read it.

Convergence: The Adventures of Superman 1
This isn't really a Superman book, it's all about Kara.  Kara and Clark are in Gotham, trapped under the dome and powerless.  They decide to exit the dome via the phantom zone and try to reemerge outside of the dome.  This is actually a pretty good idea.
As I said, the issue is all about Kara being heroic, getting acknowledged by Superman, and dealing with the sudden knowledge of her death in the crisis, but still deciding to soldier on.  This is why I like Supergirl.  She's strong (emotionally), she's brave, she's kind, she always does the right thing.  She's not supercilious, she's not arrogant, she's humble and puts others before herself without being a doormat.

There are continuity errors in this book, but the core of the characters is right and it's a delight to read.  Highly recommended.

Convergence: Batman and the Outsiders 1
My boyfriend just saw the cover to this and named it Batman and the Disco Avengers.

That is my review.

Convergence: Flash 1
I enjoyed this but can't really bring myself to review it as it's all about Barry, the dullest of the Flashes.

Convergence: Green Lantern Corps 1
Ooh yeah.  This has Guy, Hal and John.  Guy is back teaching kids and is also in therapy, which doesn't seem very Guy like.  On the other hand he's not as obnoxious as he was usually depicted, so perhaps this is just the effect being domed has on him.  I was pleased to see Guy reference Hal moving on his fiancee. I'd forgotten about that, but man, it goes to show that Hal is a jerk!  John Stewart was good.  Hal is acting exactly like Hal, but doesn't look like him.  The art is wrong.  At the end they all get their powers but as Hal has the power battery Guy can't power up, so he rides off on a motorbike, reminding me of Cliff Chiang's Black Canary/Green Arrow art.

This is good stuff for Green Lantern fans.

Convergence:  The New Teen Titans 1
I really enjoyed this,  I didn't think I was fussed about this era but it turns out it's fun!  Dick is wearing his stupid disco outfit.  He's married to Kory and they are having problems, because she is ruled by her emotions and really hates criminal thugs.  There is a crystal wielding girl who I never even noticed on the cover and Jericho, who pretty much just walks around moodily.  Donna is really missing her husband Terry (who I have always thought is a bit of a prick)t and others keep coming to her for relationship advice, which hurts her.  The Tangent universe Doom Patrol comes to fight them but this isn't a vicious-let's-murder-everyone fight.  The DP want tech to get back home.  One of them contacts Dick to talk.  This was a pretty solid issue,

Convergence:  Legion of Superheroes 1
I liked this so much I bought a copy for my friend's 15 year old daughter.  The art is unusual - people's eyes are really big and the colours are rather washed out, but on the whole the comic worked really well.  Not a lot happens.  M,ostly the LoSH are talking about what's going on and Superboy is rallying the city.  However this somehow makes for a very enjoyable comic.  And the cover is really nice.  It's simple but very pleasing to the eye.

Convergence: Swamp Thing 1
This started with a recap of Swamp Thing/Alec Holland's origins, which I really appreciated, as I haven't read any Swamp Thing before.  It left me wanting to read the Alan Moore run.  This particular issue reads like a mild horror comic more than anything.  I really liked it.  Worth buying,

Convergence: Wonder Woman 1
This is wonderful!  Diana is perfectly Diana and the issue is all about heroism.  I love this issue.  Def a keeper and def worth reading,