Friday, April 17, 2015

Hufftacular

As per my Entertainment to-do post I just finished Tanya Huff's Enchantment Emporium books.  They are delightful.

I picked them up because they were described as urban fantasy, but more importantly the first one was dirt cheap on the kindle.  I thought they'd be throwaway trash, poorly written but a good enough distraction.  I was wrong.  Spoilers ahead.

One of my problems with fantasy books is the very staid, traditional way in which authors write about 'magick'.  You know, they treat it as some serious force where you must understand the power and the responsibilities you wield, lest some horrific thing happen that will doom us all.  Urban fantasy books tend to reference old mystical power, held in the land and start waffling in a self indulgent manner about any old bollocks, where so long as it's traditional it's somehow more important.  The emphasis goes on the magic system rather than the story.

These books, also known as the Gale girls books, I think, aren't like that.  They are very domestic, the magic is used in an everyday manner and the plots and the characters are more important.  The Gales are a massive family of mostly women whose ancestor once shagged a horned God which gave all the descendents power of a sort.  This power is usually expressed in the form of charms - charms to open locks, to wish good health on someone, to eavesdrop on other's conversations, to make good pie, to have a plentiful supply of nappies.  That sort of stuff.  It's also said that the world accommodates the Gales, so if they need a last minute flight there is always room on the plane for a discounted ticket.  If they need to drive somewhere in a rush the lights are never on red.  At set intervals throughout the year the family takes part in ritual, of which there are 4 parts.

The first circle is comprised of Aunties - women who have gone through menopause and becomes more powerful, and one of the males in the family who is the anchor to the land and takes the form of a horned stag.  The second circle is one Gale girl and her partner.  The third circle is the rest of the Gale adults.  The fourth circle is whoevers left and they keep the general public away.

The ritual involves shagging.  It's not explained why it involves shagging, but the Gales do like sex, a lot, and everyone of any age (once they hit adulthood at 15) has a lot of (always consenual) sex. Even the 60 or 70 year old aunties.  They age well.  The books aren't graphic about the sex, the sex details are barely described at all.  Those keeping up will notice that the Gale adults taking part in ritual will be related.  Steps are taken to ensure that no one is shagging someone too genetically close to them, so it's basically a lot of cousins shagging.

Anyway, the books are more about the personalities than the magic, although the magic stuff is fun.  The Aunties are a force of nature and it's unclear whether they are powerful because of the magic or because of their sheer bloody belligerence.  No one gets treated as unique, or special, or the one holder of the powerful magic. They bitch and swipe at each other (and love and care for each other) and it's all remarkably straightforward and family-like, in a good way.

The first book is about Alysha Gale taking over an Aunt's junk shop and working out where the Aunt has gone.  The shop comes with a Leprechaun who promptly gets together with an Auntie.  There's dragons in town and a sorceror who's a bit too jumped up for his own good.  Book 2 sees one of Alysha's cousins, Charlie, helping a group of Selkies stop a gas drill being built.  Book 3 sees the Gales try to stop a massive asteroid hitting Earth.  The solutions in books 2 and 3 and remarkably straightforward and kind of glossed over, but not in a blink and you miss it way.  It's done in a way that makes sense given the style of the books (that don't lend themselves to histrionics, much, unless it's about pie).  It's all rather no-nonsense.

These are great fun and one of the better urban fantasy books I've read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 24 weeks 2 days

If I was doing sub sub titles for these posts I'd call this one something like 'When do the excuses wear thin' or 'When do you have to just start sucking it up'.

I'm not great to my family (parents and sister).  I can be a right snotty toerag.  Always have been.  My family have a complex history and I'm unable to let things go, as much as I try.  This last year hasn't improved my mood.  Consequently I hold them to a higher account than I do anyone else, and am more likely to be stroppy with them than anyone else.

Part of this is because I think that I should be able to be honest with my family as I spend so much time modifying what I say and do to others, and so much time explaining stuff to others.  I think my family should just get it whereas I wouldn't expect anyone else (who hasn't lost a child) to get it.  Part of it is probably also because I know I won't drive my family off by being a snotty toerag.  Which is pretty shit for them, but does, I suppose, demonstrate that I have a high level of trust in them.  Of course they won't know this, which is where my reasoning and excuses fail, spectacularly.

Because I hold them to this (unknowable in their minds) high standard over the past year they have hurt me deeply on a few times, but on the other hand, they have also been absolutely great.  I don't doubt that some of the pain comes from where I was on that particular day, so isn't necessarily about them, but is about me.

But back to the potential sub sub heading of this post.
 'When do the excuses wear thin' or 'When do you have to just start sucking it up'.

Some people may be horrified to read these, thinking 'your baby isn't an excuse!' or You never have to suck it up and accept his death!' and they'd be right.  But at some point you stop puddling into emotion at every little thing (prolly not the big things though) and you need to start seeing other people, and other babies and just dealing with them and difficult situations.

I remember reading a post on Knocked up, knocked down last year which resonated, even in those horrific early months.  The writer lost her son at nearly full term and she had a couple of best friends who were pregnant at the same time and gestation as her.  She'd avoided the kids' birthdays for 2 or 3 years, and then her friend sat her down and said something along the lines of "Come on, I know you're hurting, I know you miss your son, I know everything feels like shit, but you can't avoid these kids forever, I want you to be a part of their life (and mine) and you need to suck it up and come to the birthday party".  And the writer did, and although she was sad she did enjoy the day.

Now I'm not saying this approach works at all times and for all people.  If the wrong person said it to me I'd give them such a cutting stare and a verbal lashing.  But I think the point about not hiding yourself away and doing normal life things is valid.  How long can I avoid seeing family just because it hurts to be reminded of who I've lost.  How long can I get away with being a ratty snotbag.  Is there a time when it's not just grief and it's actually just me being vile.

I'm not saying I'm there yet, that I can just suck it up and put on a good face, and put up with other people's good intentions.  But I think there's a danger of being consumed by the fear and the pain and not seeing a way out off this pit of horribleness.  I don't want that to happen.  I think that I can love C and miss him (more than I can bear if I stopped to focus) and I can still get some enjoyment out of things and still love this new baby.

Being pregnant again complicates all this a thousandfold.  It could be that I'm feeling positive today because I've hit 24 weeks and feel pretty invincible right now (push away all the thoughts of things that can go wrong).  I kind of want to write about the complication of feeling around C and this new baby, but I can't, or won't, because it won't be right and it's too personal and a whole mess of other things you won't get unless you are in my situation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 24 weeks 0 days

So much junk in my head to write.

Firstly – I‘m 24 weeks!  Viable!  If the doctors detect a problem (and that’s a pretty big if) this baby has a chance.  It’s been moving all day which is great (more info on movements below)

I swapped out my top navel bar for a ptfe bar yesterday.  The ptfe bars are plastic and more flexible and so more likely to stay in.  Here, have a picture.

No, it’s not attractive, but neither is pregnancy.  Thinking of which, I haven’t checked my linea nigra for a while.  I assume it’s still there.  It never went between pregnancies.

I’ve been thinking about how much more difficult it is to talk to people close to me about stuff.  I barely talk to my family and I find being around the boyfriend’s family a bit difficult.  It’s just that they are so close to everything I think it will hurt more.  I need to have some distance between me and the person I talk to, even if they are still close friends.

I found this image on facebook today.
I must remember that.

I also emailed Count the Kicks about movement advice today.  Here is what I sent them and their response, which I think could be useful for other people to know:

---------------
-----Original Message-----
From: [redacted]
Sent: 10 April 2015
To: info@countthekicks.org.uk
Subject: [your-subject]

Message Body:
Hi.
I have your kick counter and wanted some advice on what constitutes a session. This is my second pregnancy, I'm 24 weeks now, my first son was stillborn last June after I followed bad movement advice so I'm quite anxious about this one and don't entirely trust my midwives. We got no known cause so it's unlikely he could have been saved (so I'm told) but that just makes me more worried for this one.

I've been counting a session as any new movement, whether it's one kick, constant movement for 15 mins, or constant movement for 1 hour.
I judge new movement as anything starting after a break between one movement and the next. Breaks can be between 1 or 3 minutes and an hour, I'd guess. This gives me about 30+ sessions a day.

Is this right? Or does it not matter the method in which I count, so long as my method is consistent and I recognise the patterns?

I don't really seem to have patterns yet, other than this child is moving lots. When are patterns meant to establish?
I have been told by my midwives that it doesn't matter what sort of movements I feel, or whether they are strong or weak, so long as I feel movement. Is that right?

Thank you for your help.

Their response to me:

Hi [redacted],

I'm so sorry to hear of the heartbreaking loss of your son last year, it's so frustrating that medical professionals are still giving out incorrect advice on movement and it is leading to detestation for families. It's no surprise that you no longer trust your midwives, but always trust yourself and your instincts.

What you've said is absolutely correct - as long as you are consistent with the way that you monitor movement and the length of gap that you use between episodes then that's absolutely fine. Patterns establish between 24 and 28 weeks, it varies lots though just like when people feel first movements. Making short written notes is really handy for giving you points of reference going forward.

They're right in saying that the type of movement doesn't matter, providing the regularity/pattern remains the same. In fact, as baby gets bigger, movement will likely change into stretching and rolling type movements rather than kicks and punches. It's important to remember that hiccups aren't classed as movement though as they are involuntary. 

I hope this helps, all the best x

Lisa Newhouse
General Manager

Count The Kicks
Registered Charity Number 1145073
www.countthekicks.org.uk
www.facebook.com/ukcountthekicks
www.linkedin.com/pub/lisa-newhouse/90/305/483/
---------------------
I would like to add that I don’t necessarily blame my midwives for the advice they gave me last year.  They were telling me what they knew best, what their training was, and I do not believe they acted in anything other than good faith.  Perhaps this is denial, perhaps I’m genuinely being reasonable.

I’m considering posting what we discussed after the 20 week scan.  The 24 week scan is next week and I think it would be good for me to publish all meetings, if only because it will make it sink in for me.  I think there’s a danger of pushing all these painful discussions to the back of my mind and not dealing with them, which isn’t good for this baby.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Entertainment to do list

Not in order of importance:
Finish reading the Spectre comics I bought on comixology
Read the Joshua Filakov books I bought
Buy and read the rest of the spectre books
Read the comics I bought at LSCC
Read this week’s comic batch - Done! 15.04.2015
Review this week’s comic batch
Finish reading Tanya Huff’s second Gale family book - Done by the time this post published!
Read the third Huff Gale book - Done! 17.04.2015
Re-read Danger Club issues 1-8, once I have the second version of issue 8
Review Danger Club for New readers
Review the Fishnets Brigade Canary/Zatanna book for New readers
Review Filakov’s the Bunker for New readers (assuming I still like it)
Finish watching season 10 of Smallville
Read Season 11 of Smallville
Watch Arrow season 1
Work out how to get Arrow season 2, Flash and Gotham episodes
Watch the third and fourth season of Girls
Watch Daredevil
Watch Cap’n A films 1 and 2
Prioritise Comixology wishlist
Buy and watch the rest of the marvel dvds I don’t have.
Finish reading 'Fearsome Journeys - the new Solaris book of fantasy' Done! 18.04.2015

That's not even counting the crafty stuff I want to do.

How can I turn having fun into a chore??

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 23 weeks, 4, 5, 6 days

23 weeks 4 days.
The physical crap.

I've had enough of pelvic pain and swollen ankles. It's not interesting anymore. I got really bad cramp.in both calves the othet night. That wasn't fun either. That's not meant to happen till third tri.

Ugh.

13 and a half weeks to go, in which the terror and guilt will grow and grow.
3 days until it's viable.
1 week 2 days till the 24 week scan.
And a flurry of happy birth announcents from other people in the meantime.

23 weeks 5 days
My legs have been really swollen and tight so the boyfriend gave me a leg massage. Hurt like hell, as I've got lots of knots but they felt a lot better afterwards and were a lot looser today.
I think I now need to be sleeping on my side, not flat on my back. Last night I realised my big U shaped pillow allows me to kind of prop myself up on it do I'm a bit raised up, my chest a bit higher than my pelvis. This is good.
Today I walked into work for the first time in neatly 2 weeks and it felt good to move. I didn't really do a lot of walking over the last week.

23 weeks 6 days
I'm shattered. I think I've forgotten what it feels like to not have pregnancy/grief induced tiredness.  Or what it's like to not be pregnant.

I realised, about a week ago, that I felt comfortable planning this one's funeral. The thought has terrified me since we fell again.  I think because I couldn't quite understand when it became a real baby. But now I know it is and now I know I can arrange another funeral.  And hey, so long as I don't go into labour today and deliver before midnight, this one gets a certificate of stillbirth and will be officially registered as a person, which is really good.
Only people who have had a loss are going to understand that last paragraph.

(added in later)
I'm also concerned that my belly is tenting too much.  By tenting I mean that when I sit up instead of it staying flat it forms a tent shape and comes to a point.  This is bad because it encourages your abdomen to split, and my abdomen didn't fully heal from C's pregnancy.
Pelvic girdle pain is affecting my hips and lower back.  Ugh.
Roll on tomorrow's 24 week mark.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Comics review

It's been a while yeah?  I think review might be too formal a word for what I'm about to write.


Wonder Woman 40 and Aquaman 40 both have glorious movie style covers.  I actually rather enjoyed Wondy.  That's probably not a popular opinion, since it's got Donna Troy slaughtering the men on Themscyria.  But I liked it.  I don't care about how she was written pre 52.  I enjoyed this story.  Aquaman 40 was pretty cute, what with Atlanna accepting that Arthur is her son.

Batman/Superman annual 2 I liked, but I don't recall much of.  I think it was someone trying to kill Clark, and because he'd used his solar flare power (which Kara had first, incidentally), he couldn't defend himself with his Kryptonian powers.  I've read a few thoughts from others about how this is meant to be a celebration of Clark. I didn't get that feeling from it, but I did enjoy it.

Red Lanterns 40 was a good ending to the series.  A bit rushed, but what isn't at these times.  It was full of hope, which I'm down with.  Guy is still a Dad (which I love) and no longer a Red Lantern. Sadly losing his rage means he's also lost his facial hair and his shaggy haircut.  I'll admit that I hated his new look at first, and roundly mocked it, but I've grown quite fond of it.

I've just added Harley Quinn to my pull list and this issue (16) is more of the same.  It's fun, but not substantial.  I'm buying these and passing them on to a friend.

Multiversity: Ultra Comics was pretty good. very clever, in a full of itself way, but also a good story which is the important part.  I am really really liking this series.

Convergence 0 was also good and I loved seeing the red skies!  This Superman is a bit of a knob though - he's just not very likeable is he?

Today I picked up the first 11 Convergence titles and I am so excited for them!  All my pre 52 favourites are there!  Roy Harper and Lian, a lady Justice League, Steph and Cass Batgirl with Timmy, Gotham City Sirens, Nightwing and Oracle, Supes and Lois, and Renee Question.  :D

Malta passes law to ban normalisation surgery on intersex infants

Hey guys, this is really good.

Full story here: http://feminist.org/blog/index.php/2015/04/03/malta-just-became-the-first-country-to-ban-normalization-surgery-on-intersex-infants/

Highlights:

"Malta’s parliament just passed new legislation that allows self-determination of gender (with a simple process to legally change gender), and outlaws unnecessary surgery on intersex babies. This bill makes Malta the first country to ban unnecessary surgery on intersex infants.
In 2013, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture announced it condemns unnecessary surgery on intersex babies. “The Special Rapporteur calls upon all States to repeal any law allowing intrusive and irreversible treatments,” the UN statement reads, “including forced genital-normalizing surgery, involuntary sterilization, unethical experimentation, medical display, ‘reparative therapies’ or ‘conversion therapies,’ when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.”
Maltese officials and medical professionals are now working to come up with guidelines to make sure all surgeries done on infants are medically necessary and not “driven by social factors without the consent of the minor.”
Excellent!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 23 weeks 4 days

Anxiety is returning the day after I felt quite positive.

I'm on the way to my other office location which involves a 2.5 hour train ride.  Every time I wake up I have to assess the baby for health and movements and make a decision as to whether I need to call the midwife.  When I'm doing this journey I have 30 minutes to decide, before I leave the house and get on the train.

Once I'm on the train it's much harder for me to get a hospital, and when I'm at this office it's a 45 ish minute car journey to a hospital. In my local office it's 15 minutes.

I don't know how much longer I'll feel psychologically comfortable doing this journey. I think I have 7 trips to go before I go on maternity leave, if I go down every week.

I don't want to be at work anyway. I want to stay at home and be able to just focus on the baby.

As I've typed this the baby has moved, kicked. So I felt reassured for a few seconds. But not for long. Now I'm anxious again. I'm not sure if movements will change with these journies and the only way to find out is to do them but I don't want to have to find out.

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 23 weeks 3 days

I'm feeling quite positive today.  We had friends over for lunch, one of whom is 38 and a half weeks gone and is doing absolutely fine.  I told another friend who has 9 weeks to go that I'm pregnant, and I'm starting to feel like live babies do happen and that it is possible.  Right at this moment I feel quite calm and optimistic.  Quite a change from Thursday and from an hour and a half ago when I was fretting about having a too hot bath.