Friday, January 31, 2014

Things I didn't expect (when I was expecting) by Monica Dux

I caught a nasty bug yesterday and have been stuck in bed (or lying prone on the floor with 4 children climbing all over me). I started reading Monica Dux's recent book Things I Didn't Expect (When I Was Expecting) to keep my mind off the fever and chills and racking cough.

This book is hilarious. I laughed out loud every other page. I gave up highlighting my favorite passages, because about about half the book would have been marked. Not only is Monica Dux spunky, irreverent, and witty, her observations about all the crazy s*** pregnant women put up with are also spot-on. (Yes, there is an entire chapter about poo. It's fantastic.)

I've been searching long and wide for a book about pregnancy and birth that actually says something new/interesting/useful. This is the book. Here's a synopsis:

Pregnancy is natural, healthy and fun, right? Sure it is, if you're lucky. For others, it's an adventure in physical discomfort, unachievable ideals, kooky classes and meddling experts.

When Monica Dux found herself pregnant with her first child, she was dismayed to find she belonged firmly in the second category. For her, pregnancy could only be described as a medium-level catastrophe. So, three years later and about to birth her second child, Monica went on a quest: to figure out what's really going on when we incubate.

Monica explores the aspects of baby-making that we all want to talk about, but which are too embarrassing, unsettling or downright confronting. She also looks at the powerful forces that shape women's experiences of being pregnant in the west, the exploitative industries, and the medical and physical realities behind it all.

Along the way, she fends off sadistic maternal health nurses, attempts to expand then contract her vagina, and struggles to keep her baby's placenta off her hippy brother's lunch menu.

Available in Australia at MUP and Random House. and Amazon(Australia). Readers outside Australia can purchase ebook versions, including Kindle, Kobo, ibooks, GooglePlay, and more. It is definitely worth purchasing.
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ivy is 10 months old!

Ivy turned 9 months on Christmas, and that seems like just last week! Wow. Ever since we came home at the end of that terrible cold spell affecting much of the US and Canada, I've been preoccupied keeping our house and our rental properties warm and dry. We've had several frozen and burst water pipes, despite taking every precaution to prevent them. I've had to call our HVAC guy close to 10 times for various things. We've been outside multiple times in below zero (-20 C and colder) weather thawing frozen air intake pipes to our boiler. I am so ready for this cold weather to end!!! We have another cold wave hitting tonight through Wednesday.

Ivy got her first hairdo today...the kids were so excited. Dio proudly wore a matching topknot to church until the elastic fell out.

New developments this month:
  • Clapping her hands
  • Making fish lips
  • Mimicking everything we do
  • Learning to laugh when she's being tickled, rather than just squirm and grunt
  • Clicking her tongue
  • Blowing raspberries on my chest or belly...she loves to do this when she's done nursing
  • Sitting on her knees (well, she's been doing this for about 2 months now). She still doesn't ever sit down on her bottom. 
  • 2 bottom teeth! We had a rough time with the second tooth. She had a fever for 5 days. The tooth came through after the first night, but she still slept horribly all 5 nights. I had to keep her in bed with me in order for us to get any sleep...and now she's cosleeping much of the night. I never, ever thought she'd be back in bed with us. But I'm being pretty Zen about it. I love cuddling with her--even though half the time it's more like pinning her down so she'll stop wiggling or crawling in her sleep--and I know this time will pass too quickly.On the up side, this past week she's slept nice long stretches at first, from 7 pm - 2 or 3 am. Then she's up quite frequently and mostly in bed with me. 

Ivy is a little jokester. She loves to be in on the action when her siblings are laughing about something. She'll join in and do something funny to get them to laugh at her.

She loves to be with her papa. More than me, often. If I'm holding her and he leaves the room, she cries and throws herself towards him.

She spends hours pulling books off the bookshelf and then reading them.

And I love this picture of Inga.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Currently reading

Memoirs and biographies

Finding Lina: A mother's journey from autism to hope by Helena Hjalmarsson. The subtitle ends with "hope," but I'm not sure I felt that hopeful at the end of the book. It was exhausting to read of this mother's efforts to help her daughter live with autism. I was struck by how much privilege Hjalmarsson had: her financial situation allowed her to live in New York City, hire nannies to help with her children, and devote herself full-time to intensive play and therapy with her daughter Lina. What happens to all the people without the resources or time for a myriad of therapies? Who can't afford innovative private schools? Who can't spend 8+ hours a day of floortime with their autistic child?

The World's Strongest Librarian: A memoir of Tourette's, faith, strength, and the power of family by Josh Hanagarne. Thoroughly enjoyable read by a librarian with a very, very bad case of Tourette's.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a woman by Robert K. Massie. I had no idea what a fascinating, complex woman Catherine the Great was. Massie quotes extensively from Catherine's own memoirs. His translation makes her seem very much alive and relevant today, even though she lived over two centuries ago.

Orange is the new black by Piper Kerman. I haven't seen the Netflix series, but the book was quite fun to read.


Cut It Out! The C-section epidemic in America by Theresa Morris. Absoutley fantastic. While much of her subject matter is well-known to me, the way she put it all together and made sense of this huge mess that we call maternity care was brilliant. You realize that physicians are just as trapped and constrained as pregnant women are in navigating American obstetric care. You must buy a copy and read it right away!

Born At Home: cultural and political dimensions of maternity care in the United States by Melissa Cheyney


What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise Of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. I loved learning about all the ways we're figuring out how to share our time and resources. (Of personal interest since we're currently sharing a house with a family of 10.) Felt a bit long for a book...would have been better as a long article, I think. I'd love to have a neighborhood tool library, for example, so we don't have to buy and own so many tools. At least we put ours to good use! I love the idea of car sharing, especially with all the smartphone technology that simplifies logistics.

Death, American Style: A cultural history of dying in America by Lawrence R. Samuel. Just started. Seems quite interesting.


When we were on fire: A memoir of consuming faith, tangled love and starting over by Addie Zierman. A memoir of growing up Evangelical, of finding and then losing (and finding again) her faith.

Sarah the Priestess: The First Matriarch of Genesis by Savina Teubal. The Abraham/Isaac/Jacob stories make SO much more sense if you read this book and realize that Sarah was likely a priestess in a competing matriarchal culture and religion. 

If the church were Christian: Rediscovering the values of Jesus by Philip Gulley. Written about Christianity in general, but definitely applicable to Mormonism as well as other Christian denominations.

A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon (multi-volume series) by Daymon Mickel Smith. I have to admit, it's been hard going wading through the first volume. His thought processes and writing style are tortured at times, yet I'm sticking with it because I hear that it gets better in subsequent volumes and because his ideas are just so fascinating (I only wish they were easier to follow!).

The street-legal version of Mormon's book by Michael Hicks. Hilarious. Puts a fresh face on the Book of Mormon narratives by retelling the stories in modern-day language and syntax. I'm cracking up over how uber-self-righteous Nephi is. (Shout out to Michael Hicks: you need a better cover!)

By the Hand Of Mormon: The American scripture that launched a new world religion by Terryl Givens. An eloquent counterpoint to Daymon Smith's brilliant but very meandering history of this religious text. Givens looks at how various groups inside and outside the Mormon church have used, interpreted, understood, and viewed the Book of Mormon.

Fun reading

Thea Gallas Always Gets Her Man by Kristen Panzer. Loud-mouthed, pregnant lactation consultant meets murder mystery. The first of its kind, and highly entertaining.

Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs (7 books out so far, 8th forthcoming next year): Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, Silver Borne, River Marked, and Frost Burned. Fun series with a spunky mechanic-shapeshifter heroine who's likely to be beating her foes with a tire iron, when she isn't having (mis)adventures with her vampire friend or her werewolf neighbor/lover/husband.  She'd probably laugh at the cover illustrations--she's more likely to be in a greasy t-shirt with dirt under her fingernails than lounging around looking alluring.

Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts: Morrigan's Cross, Dance of the Gods, and Valley of Silence. Great fun. It's like Lord of the Rings, but sexy and very woman-centric.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Birth control / controlling birth

Yesterday I was musing on the idea of controlling birth. Along with accusations of being selfish, narcissistic, irresponsible, horribly misinformed, or tragically brainwashed, home birthers also are accused of wanting to control their birth. Women submitting hospital birth plans get accused of this, too. You can't control birth. Birth is [fill in the blank...dangerous, unpredictable, chaotic, messy, etc.] Thinking you can control birth is delusional. Labor & delivery nurses have a common lore that the longer and more detailed the birth plan, the more likely the woman will end up with a cesarean.

Being in control was very important to me. It was probably the primary reason I chose to have all four of my children at home.

But here's what I mean when I speak about being in control:

The control comes in setting up my birth environment and the people who will be with me so that once I am in labor, the only task I have to focus on is working with the contractions. Home birth gave me the freedom to let go entirely during labor and just be in the moment.

I didn't have to fight any battles over monitoring or what I was allowed to eat or drink. I didn't have to wonder if the nurse or doctor would understand, let alone allow, my style of birthing. I didn't have to worry about any strangers coming into my space. I didn't have to be constantly vigilant to be sure my wishes were respected.  I didn't have to argue, negotiate, compromise, refuse, or accept. I just labored in peace. Being in control let me give up control entirely once labor began.

Control => autonomy

Control => freedom of thought, movement, time, and space

Control => the ability to let go entirely and to allow labor to unfold spontaneously

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Friday, January 03, 2014

Moving to France!

Now that Eric has tenure, we are making plans for our Sabbatical year. We'd like to move to France, but our plans are otherwise open-ended. Our favorite city is Nice, ideally in or close to vieux Nice. But we are open to other locations...maybe you can persuade us to stay somewhere else :)

We're open to either renting or buying a place. We'd like at least 3 bedrooms for our family of 6, but if need be we can squeeze into 2 bedrooms.

Zari, Dio, and Inga will be all in French public schools. I'll have mornings with just Ivy--such a strange thought to only have one child at home during the day!

If you have any leads or suggestions, please please let us know. We're flying into Nice on August 1st and hope to stay through August 2015, give or take a few weeks.

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