27 February 2013

pregnancy is a weird country

And yes, that's really true. My latest list of odd pregnancy things involves pre-natal vitamins, awkward conversations, and me eating probably too much sugar because it doesn't upset my stomach, among others.

Prenatal Vitamins: So, when I first got pregnant, I ran out and got folic acid tablets, which are something like $6 for a bottle of 120 pills. This I knew I was supposed to take, since it helps make the brain grow. When I couldn't keep the folic acid down for a few weeks, I wondered out loud if my kid wanted to be born without a brain, but since the ultrasound shows it does have an actual brain and spinal cord, it's probably fine. I knew I was also supposed to be taking pre-natal vitamins but there were so many kinds that I was really confused. I figured I'd ask the doctor.

Doctor=not helpful. "Take pre-natal vitamins." "Which kind?" I ask. "Oh, whatever." No, don't tell me whatever, tell me what I need in the pre-natal vitamins because the number of choices is overwhelming. Finally, I wandered into the local health food store, where the person in the shop that day pressured me really hard to buy the $30 dollar bottle of 60 tablets which you have to take 5 times a day. I told her I was going to do a little more research, left, and went to the pharmacy a little further down the street. They had one kind of pre-natal vitamins, a generic type that looked like it had everything the fancy ones did. And the bottle had 120 pills, to take once a day, and only cost about $15. Sold. They're overly large pink pills so I tend to take my daily dose at night right before I go to bed to minimize the possibility of vomiting the pill back up. At least now they can't guilt-trip me at my next appointment.

My brain: Pregnancy is melting my brain. I look at words and see something else. A friend's phone rang the other day, caller unknown, and I saw the screen when she picked it up, and I swear I saw "unicorn" instead of "unknown." I need to pick up shea butter for something, and I swear, I couldn't remember what it was called. The only word I could think of was "xiaolin" and I knew that wasn't right. It did come back to me, of course. 24 hours later.

On Monday, I needed the kitchen step stool (I am short) to get something and I couldn't find it. I walked around and around the apartment, feeling like I was losing my mind, only to realize that my husband had set the lid from a rubbermaid container on top of the stool, effectively hiding it from me. Last night I confused vertical with horizontal. To be fair, I usually have to stop and think with those terms, but the stopping and thinking didn't happen and the word vertical came out when I meant horizontal. This makes me worry about my upcoming thesis defense.

Meeting new people: The other week, J. and I had a super-awkward conversation with a couple who are also having a baby around the same time as us. It was one of those things where someone at church said, "Oh, you should go talk to them, they're pregnant too!" But other than the pregnancy thing, we have zero in common with this couple. They're younger than us (not necessarily a problem), have been married for less time (again, not an issue), work in drastically different fields (not an problem either), and we couldn't really discover interests in common (that is a problem). It's just going to get worse once we do birthing classes and the post-natal community group. The assumption that we should hang out with people simply because we all have kids might be nice for the kids, but it doesn't seem so great for the adults.

The thing is, we do know people with kids whom we already enjoy hanging out with. One of my friends, whose youngest is six months old, has been really helpful (e.g., recommending stretches to deal with the weird aches in my hips), and another who has two-month old twins has also been really great (she lets me hold her kids and ask questions about random stuff). And I like spending time with them,, and presumably (since they haven't indicated otherwise), they like spending time with me. So the groups we'll end up going to might introduce us to people we'll actually get along with. We don't know.

There are other things...the way sentimental stuff on television makes me cry like it never has before, my new aversion to the smell of garlic, how I'm not showing yet but I've had to start wearing maternity jeans because the zipper on my normal ones won't stay up any more, and how I'm tired all the time. It feels very strange much of the time, because this is all so new. I told the doctor at my last appointment I was a bit stressed, and she demanded to know what I was stressed about, like I had no right to be concerned or confused because I'm pregnant with my first child and I've had the morning sickness that refuses to stop. They grill me about my mental health every time I'm at the doctor's because I have a history of depression and I'm currently not medicated for that. I don't need to be medicated for depression right now, since I'm doing quite well, but at that appointment, because I admitted to feeling stressed, it felt almost like the doctor was trying to push me into getting back onto meds. The public health nurse who called to chat was much nicer. She went through a list of questions with me designed to evaluate my mental state, and said it sounded like I was fine. We'll see what my next appointment looks like. Maybe I just need to learn how to summon my assertive self for things like doctor's appointments like I do for activities like rambling about stress assignment in language in front of an intro phonology class.

21 February 2013

Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure is yet another play that I had not read, but unlike Two Gentlemen, I'm quite happy to have read it. It offers such characters as 'Mistress Overdone', described in the Dramatis Personae as "a bawd," and 'Froth', a "foolish gentleman." There is Elbow, prone to malapropisms (not unlike Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing). And there is Angelo, an extremely strict and moral man who is acting in the Duke's stead while the Duke is absent. Angelo's actions force events which cause the watcher (or reader, in my case) to think a bit harder about the difference between justice which is thoughtless, and justice which is tempered with wisdom.

The story goes thus: The Duke of Vienna has departed the city for a diplomatic meeting (except he's not actually leaving, he has sneaky plans, instead), leaving Angelo and Escalus in charge. Young Claudio has been hauled off to prison for getting his fiancee, Juliet, pregnant, and condemned to death by Angelo. He is somewhat resigned to his fate, while his friends are not. Juliet is being consigned to a convent. Others in the story, including Juliet's cousin Isabella, a novice nun, think that Claudio should simply be instructed to marry Juliet forthwith, and are bewildered by Angelo's harsh decision.

Isabella decides to plead on her brother's behalf and begs Angelo for mercy. She appeals to Angelo's humanity--that he, too, is likely a sinner and as such, should have pity on Claudio. She then attempts to bribe him by promising that the women at her convent will pray for him, to provide "such gifts that heaven shall share with you." Angelo tells her to come again the next day, and dimisses everyone, to rant about how now he has fallen in love with Isabella. He later offers to trade her brother's life for her virtue. She is appalled, and threatens to make known what sort of man he is. He points out that no one will believe her, and she'll be put to shame, instead.

When she tells her brother in prison, the Duke, lurking in the guise of a friar, overhears, and explains that he will aid Isabella and Claudio. Sometime earlier, Angelo had reneged on a betrothal contract with a young woman because her brother's ship which carried her dowry had sank, leaving her with little money. The Duke intends to enlist the woman, Mariana, to help set more than one wrong right. He sends her to Angelo in the guise of Isabella. Angelo sleeps with Mariana and then sends the order for Claudio to be executed anyway. The Duke intervenes and hides Claudio in the prison, and returns as himself in the last act to set things aright. Angelo is forced to wed Mariana, in light of the broken betrothal now ostensibly fulfilled by their union, and when the Duke plans to have him subsequently executed for his crimes, Mariana intervenes on his behalf. The Duke relents, then produces Claudio and Juliet, instructs them to marry, and then proposes to Isabella himself. She does not clearly accept, but it looks as if she will quit the convent to wed the Duke.

The plot of this play is a little more intricate than the last one discussed, and it really only falls into the comedies because it ends, not with executions, as Angelo would have it, but with weddings. There are comic characters, but the overall tone of the show is severe. Measure for Measure may not directly allude to this particular story from the Bible, but it reminded me very much of the story of the woman caught in adultery. The Pharisees haul her before Jesus and demand that he condemn her. He takes a moment, and when they again demand a response, he simply states, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Slowly, the crowd disperses. He doesn't point out that they're breaking Mosaic law by condemning only the woman, and not the man as well. He simply faces them with their own culpability. In Measure for Measure, Angelo, unwilling to face his own wrongs, simply punishes them in others, until he is forced by a higher authority to admit his failings. His repentance is briefly stated, but one would hope that in the future, his wife and the Duke together will keep him truly honest.

I'm waiting for a film version of this to come in at the library, so I can see what it looks like staged. In the meantime, we will proceed from the serious comedy here to The Comedy of Errors.

"Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:
Some run from brakes of ice, and answer none,
And some condemned for a fault alone." Escalus, Measure for Measure, II.1.38-40

"Go to your bosom;
Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know
That's like my brother's fault: if it confess
A natural guiltiness such as is his,
Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother's life." Isabella, Measure for Measure, II.2.136-141

"Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with dearer love." Vincentio, Duke of Vienna, Measure for Measure, III.2.163-164

18 February 2013

update (and a buy my knitting patterns moment!)

I am currrently working my way through the next few plays for the Shakespeare Attempt. I haven't abandoned it; I'm just probably going to be doing several plays this week rather than one, since between the thesis revision and feeling generally icky, I haven't read much new stuff in the last couple weeks. It's mostly been re-reading things instead. Most of the books we own were bought because we knew we would re-read them, and therefore, they're worth owning. I'm happier with the library option for books that I may not ever read again. If I check the book out multiple times, though, then it goes onto the buying list.

And yes, that's a writer who would like to be a published author speaking. I know I'm going the e-book option first, which sort of demands that you buy the book if you want to read it at least once, and possibly requires you to buy it again if you really like it and something goes wrong with your computer or everything gets reformatted (although the BC libraries and the local library system have a steadily increasing collection of e-books for check-out). However, my sneaky plan is to make that work well enough that I can actually talk a real publisher into working with me at some point. We'll see how it goes. I think begging people to buy my book online will be easier than begging people in person. I'm still trying to adjust to having a Twitter account and trying to remember to post on it. Or tweet. I feel like a twit, though.

Speaking of begging, check out my knitting patterns on Ravelry and please buy some! I finally tried running an ad this month, and so far, I haven't gotten a single purchase. I need to finish designing the latest pattern and take a really awesome picture of it and get it up there and purchase an ad for that one. I think it's one of my more fun ideas. It's a bit steampunk.

Speaking of steampunk, I love the concept and the aesthetic, but I have a hard time being truly interested in most of the literature. The last book I tried to read, whose name I can't remember, was popular, but there was so much action and so many gadgets within the first few chapters that I actually got bored. I may have to try writing the steampunk book that I want to read.

In the meantime, I should get working on that pattern. It's not going to knit itself. Anyone else have a similar reaction to the steampunk genre?

11 February 2013

childbirth insanity book number one

Someone, somewhere, is going to slam me for this, but I don't really care. We've been reading a book on the Bradley Method of childbirth, and after going through most of the book I have decided two things.

1. Some of the stuff is really good. The exercises, the breathing tips, having the partner as the birth coach--those things sound very useful and we plan to study them further.

2. Dr. Bradley is a nutter.

The second item is probably the problematic one for devotees of the method. But this is the guy who states that women should run around in skirts without underpants because tight clothing might, in his opinion, cause a vaginal infection. Also, because he thinks women should look feminine. Well, technically he thought that, seeing as he's dead now and the book we're reading is an updated edition of his book. He's obsessed with forcing you to consume orange juice after giving birth (and I don't particularly care for orange juice most of the time and since fruit currently makes me sick, it sounds even less appealing), he thinks ultrasounds are bad (one study apparently suggested a correlation between ultrasounds and non-righthandedness, but he doesn't provide enough detail on the study for me to form a valid opinion, and J. and I are both left-handed already, and could care less if our kid is left-handed), and believes that ear infections are caused by blowing your nose too much. Actually, a lot of what he says I'm rather critical of. Just citing a study isn't enough proof--the study's conclusions may have been taken out of context, but he doesn't provide enough detail to determine that. I'm certainly all for avoiding drugs during labour (the thought of an epidural is enough to send me running for the hills and I tend to develop side-effects when I'm taking medication, like the anti-nausea drug that made me nauseous), but I'm not going to feel guilty because I'm still drinking tea and therefore consuming caffeine while pregnant.

To be fair, the Bradley method emerged during the time when natural childbirth was practically anathema to the medical community, so much of what he says is worded strongly because he was trying to combat popular opinion, but you think they could re-word the 2008 edition so it comes across as less pompous. It may work, and mostly work well, but I'm not impressed with you when all you do is brag about how much better your ideas are than everyone else's.

Anyone else have extremely mixed feelings about this method of natural childbirth?