Monthly Archives: May 2011

What I Read in May 2011

The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip
The Murder Stone by Charles Todd
The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley
One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
A Lonely Death by Charles Todd
Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Lots of comfort reading this month, in the form of all the rest of the Chrestomanci books.

Busy (Or Apparently Bed Rest Only Covers Physical Activity)

1. I have a new copyediting assignment due 9 June. It’s the companion book to the one I edited two weeks ago, which drove me moderately mad because there was no bibliography or sources listed and I had to track copyright info down. Why do people think it’s okay to not cite sources, even if what they’re using is public domain? It still came from somewhere.

2. The edits for the bird book I wrote came back, due 10 June. And they’re extensive. I expected this — told them, in fact, to expect it themselves what with all the major changes in direction on their end throughout the project — but apparently the timeline is tight (when is it ever not tight?) and I have to turn it around in two weeks. I have the official cover as well, and I’ll get around to sharing it at one point, when I’m not handling six trillion other work things.

3. I spent last Friday in the hospital because of unidentified bleeding on Thursday night. To make a long story short, I was admitted to the hospital for five hours of observation and examination to be told that my baby is wow super healthy with a strong heartbeat whoa who is very energetic (I could have told them that), I have zero contractions (I did tell them that), and my body was nowhere physically near demonstrating that premature labour was imminent (that’s what I couldn’t know and was worried about, because this is how it started last time: blood, then two days later wham, sudden labour). The doctor I saw theorizes that a blood vessel in or near the cervix was weakened and finally burst after the physical strain of violent vomiting during the gastro I had last Tuesday/Wednesday. She stressed that I did the absolutely right thing in going in, considering what happened last time. I would say that I at least got a free lunch out of it, but it was awful and I didn’t eat most of it. (Note to self: Pack a box of Twinings’ Lady Grey in the hospital bag, because ugh, their orange pekoe tastes like coffee grounds. Not that I am a fan of orange pekoe to begin with.) The Owlet had great fun kicking the fetal monitor for the hour and a half they had it on. They finally took it off. They told me that if anything untoward happened again to call them, but that otherwise, they’d see me in six to ten weeks.

4. I have been swatching for a lace cap for the Owlet to wear. (No, I have no idea what has happened to me.) The lace pattern was totally defying me until Ceri and I figured out that my understanding of the PSSO abbreviation and its explanations was not the same as what experienced knitters understand it to mean. Also, the pattern had different abbreviations in the intro material than were actually used in the body of the pattern, a copyediting thing that drove me mad. Anyway, I finally mastered the lace pattern with Ceri’s e-mail support, and I am now spinning some dreamy BFL/silk blend in off-white for the light fingering weight two-ply yarn I want to use for it. And because I love the yarn so much, I am further considering a longish coat in a simple lace pattern done on biggish needles out of the same weight of yarn, for a larger lace effect. Obviously, pregnancy has done something very odd to my brain.

5. I finished shoe #2 of the adorable origami garter stitch shoe set, and when I put them side by side I saw that because my tension was so very different between shoe #1 and shoe #2, the first would fit a 3-6 month old and the second would fit a newborn. Obviously the answer is to knit another set of squares to fold, because it will most likely match one or the other.

6. Instead, though, I found a new pattern, and knit this:

It’s another knit-a-shape-and-fold-it shoelet. My cast on, and therefore the upper edge of the shoe, seems a bit loose (I used the two-strand thumb cast on for its tidy edge), so I’ll probably need to tack the upper vamp together about 3/4 of an inch up from the toe. Blocking may help, though. Now I need to knit another one, which shouldn’t take me more than an hour like this one did, but apparently you can suffer from Second Shoe Syndrome the way people suffer from Second Sock Syndrome.

7. I have come to the very sad conclusion that I am not going to be able to weave the Manos Clasica blanket. It’s too much physical activity and standing up and bending over for someone on bed rest. I swatched a double moss stitch/seed stitch on size 15 needles though, to see if I could knit it instead, and while I could, I’m not sold on it. I think I’ll return to the idea of weaving it, but do it after the baby is born. She isn’t going to need a Manos Clasica wool blanket in July and August, after all. And she has handknit blankets coming her way from her Auntie Cate and her Nana anyhow.

8. Speaking of the baby being born, I looked at HRH the other night and said, “We have to start thinking of this baby arriving in about a month instead of two. That way we’ll be mentally prepared whenever it happens.” “Sure,” he said, “but not till it’s a month away from 36 weeks.” “That would be on this coming Thursday,” I said.

9. The boy turns six years old in two weeks. Be very afraid. I somehow have to plan a family birthday for him as well as a friend birthday two weekends after that, as well as prepping two cellists for a recital on his actual birthday weekend. I am kind of tearing my hair out, as bed rest is supposed to be low-stress, and having to juggle all this stuff like two work things in the space of one plus all the planning and prepping isn’t physically taxing, but is still energy-consuming.

10. More stress: If Canada Post goes on strike, then my freelance cheques that are due to arrive in mid to late June will probably be held up. That is bad, so very, very bad, because that money is desperately needed, or the renovations don’t go forward. I am crossing my fingers that the impasse between the (very reasonable plea for better work conditions/against slashing benefits and wages, read up on it) demands of the postal workers union and the corp itself is solved ASAP.

For The Record…

… having gastro while 29 weeks pregnant really, really sucks. You know that whole pulling-of-the-abdominal-muscles-front-and-back thing you get? Ten times worse when your abdominals are already under stress.

Because yes, of course I caught it, too. HRH and I were tag-teaming on taking care of the boy: whoever wasn’t being sick or unable to struggle up from a horizontal position handled whatever needed handling. The boy was very understanding, however, bless him.

The Owlet was fine on day one, but very, very quiet on day two, which worried me. Dehydration is a Really Bad Thing in general, but Super-Extra-Bad when pregnant. On top of that, I wasn’t feeding myself because nothing was staying down, which meant she was dealing with whatever stores were available. Today, however, she seems perky and bumptious and more like herself, rattling around and exercising as usual, for which I am very, very thankful.

I am also very thankful that I handed in my last copyediting assignment on Monday and didn’t get a new one till last night, because I was pretty out of it in general and finishing up a project would have been impossible. I felt mostly myself again around bedtime last night, and really good this morning, until I did the fifteen-minute round trip to get the boy to his bus stop and wiped myself out. In fact, I wiped myself out so badly that even though I tried to stay quiet and first work at my desk, then lie on the chesterfield, I ended up having to go back to bed for an hour.

So now I’m struggling with the eating thing, which is one of my usual problems at the best of times, but it’s always worse after I’ve been sick. I’m just not hungry. This is kind of a problem when we’re trying to fatten up the Owlet. I’ve choked down a milkshake and some grapes, but even that has me kind of queasy. I guess it’s back to crackers for a bit, and maybe a carrot stick or two. My life; it is so thrilling.

In related news, today marks thirty weeks of pregnancy.

Light Bed Rest: First Impressions

1. Everyone panics. It is amusing, then not so amusing to explain the “no, neither I nor the baby are currently in medical danger, this is a preventative thing” over and over.

2. Everyone offers to come by to entertain me or somehow make things easier, because I must be bored or unable to handle household stuff. I am someone who suffers from social stress, so again, this is amusing on one level, not so amusing on another because I have to keep turning people down. This social stress is partly an introvert thing, partly a fibro thing: dealing with people takes energy, something I have in short supply on a normal basis. (Jan calls this kind of social energy “teaspoons,” a variant on the spoon theory allegory of spoons representing the finite amount of available energy to someone with FM/CFS. I love the term; it combines the idea of social interaction with the basic allegory.) Also, I’ve got lots to keep me busy, namely work, which for various reasons like finances and deadlines can’t be dropped. And household stuff is already minimised.

3. Lying in bed/on the chesterfield is dull. Luckily, as Paze pointed out, most of my hobbies are rest-compatible: reading, spinning, knitting, and eventually weaving (although that last one is actually the most intensive of them all, and I will have to break it down to very basic, brief units). And there’s always work, which has never been an issue, because I don’t commute and make my own hours.

4. I am actually capable of getting myself drinks, snacks, making meals, doing light laundry, walking to the corner to meet the boy’s bus, brief cello sessions, and so forth. It’s not like when they chained me to an IV stand at the hospital last time and told me I couldn’t get out of bed for two months after stopping labour halfway through the process. By prescribing light bed rest, my doctor is looking to further reduce the amount of energy I’m expending in order to shunt as much as possible to the Owlet. What I am not allowed to do is go out and do, well, most stuff. Orchestra will be on a week-to-week basis, and I will be taking Wednesdays extra easy to save up energy for it. HRH will be driving the boy and I to cello lessons, which is ideal, because driving is one of the things that totally drains my energy and stresses me when I have two cello lessons back to back at which to pay attention.

5. After bbqing and watching kids run about yesterday with friends, which was very pleasant, I put myself on 24 hours of full bed rest to recover, because things were getting twingy at the end of the day. In bed at six o’clock! Awake at three o’clock, because my body said, “Well, we’ve been in bed for nine hours, that’s normal, so it must be time to get up!” Just for the record, body, that is not on. The 24 hours of full bed rest today was, alas, down(up?)graded to light rest again, though, because poor HRH got violently ill in the wee smas, with what I suspect is an HRH-sized version of the 24-hour tummy bug the poor boy had on Saturday. So I was up with the boy this morning after all and handling all of the morning stuff instead of the half I usually do.

All in all I’m doing very well so far. The clinic called me to go in to pick up two prescriptions and a requisition form for follow-up tests in two weeks the day after my last hospital appointment, which was ironic seeing as how it’s a 45-minute trip both ways and they obviously hadn’t yet gotten the news that I was on light bed rest. It can take a few days for info to trickle between the hospital and the clinic, I have discovered. This should no longer be a problem as I’m being followed at the hospital from hereon, though. Which means, alas, no more free clinic wi-fi while I wait hours past my appointment time. Sigh.

General Update

Last Saturday my husband made his stage debut as the bassist of the band known as Invisible, now in their seventh year, and the show was wonderful. I am terribly, terribly proud of him, and of all the guys. It was also really nice to get out and actually see people for the first time since early February.

Today I had my second let’s-keep-an-eye-on-your-body-for-signs-of-premature-labour ultrasound. It demonstrated that yay, my body is carrying on with the Stupendous Work it is doing in not showing signs of premature labour this time around: everything is perfectly normal. Go body! I have awesome BP, great results from my last blood test and the glucose challenge, and everything of that sort.

What is concerning my doctor is that the Owlet is very small. She’s about three weeks behind where they’d like her to be measurement-wise, and weighs about a kilo at 29 weeks, which means that out of 100 kids at this gestational age she’d only be 13th from the bottom. (If you’re wondering, the boy weighed 3lbs14oz at 31 weeks, which is also on the lower end for that point of gestational age, apparently, so I am not overly concerned about this.) My doctor is taking the facts that (a) it is a girl and (b) I am very petite into account, but even so, she’s not entirely sanguine. So my care has been transferred from the regular OB clinic to the high-risk clinic in the hospital, where they can evaluate me with machines and ultrasounds every two weeks to track the baby’s weight.

As a result of this weight issue, I have finally been officially put on what my doctor describes as Light Bed Rest. This is not the “eek things are scary” kind of bed rest, as nothing has changed from yesterday, or last week, or my last appointment two weeks ago. I am not in imminent danger of preterm labour. It’s just that if it should happen for some reason, a low birthweight baby has a worse chance of survival, and my doctor’s not taking any chances. She’d have put me on bed rest three months ago if I worked outside the home, but I don’t so she didn’t, and my work situation hasn’t altered. She has formally told me to avoid any activity that is stressful, or entails me travelling a lot in a day, or being on my feet for extended periods. I can continue to do quiet sedentary stuff like my freelance work; it’s just that instead of working at my desk in my home office I get to do it on a laptop from the couch, which is simply a step down from how we’ve been handling it all along because I already reduced physical activity three months ago at her recommendation. Now I have to avoid things like grocery shopping, and unfortunately it also means that presenting my keynote address at the Gaia conference this weekend is off the menu. You should have seen my doctor’s face when I ran that past her this morning. “Do you really think that’s a good idea?” she said dryly, which was essentially very polite shorthand for, “Am I going to have to call your husband and tell him to lock you up on Saturday?”

If there was such a term as Further Reduced Activity, that’s what I’ll be doing; it’s the next step down from the Reduced Activity in which I have already been engaged. Because hey, yay me, I’ve been keeping my body from slipping into preterm labour signs, did I mention that? Huge victory there, and my doctor is very, very pleased about how I’ve been handling that. And the Light Bed Rest thing is going to be reevaluated every two weeks, although in all likelihood this is the way it’s going to be till the Owlet is born.

So there you have it. Everything is going very well, and staying even more quiet than I have been will help keep it that way. We just need to fatten the Owlet up a bit. HRH is writing me a prescription for More Ice Cream, which I think is an excellent idea.

An Aside

The boy put his ear to my belly yesterday and said, “She says she wants to come out now.”

NO SHE DOESN’T. This is not a one-upmanship thing, where my children compete to see who can be born the earliest. I forbid it. 28 weeks is NOT ON. She’s in there till at least 36 weeks or she’s grounded forever.

Mother’s Day Roundup And Other Mothery Stuff

This morning the boy picked up his bow and bowed his fingering exercise. He’d been playing it pizzicato till now, saying that no no no, the bow would be too hard. Today he decided to do it all on his own. I am learning so much about the way he learns by working through his practices with him. And we share experiences, too, like today when we were talking about pivots to cross strings, and he said, “I kept my right wrist really, really still Mama.” I agreed, and said, “You know how your teacher said grown-up cellists still have problems with not moving their bow hand wrists and letting their right elbows direct the movement instead? Mama still has lots and lots of trouble with that.” (Mama was also taught to use her wrist and keep it loose in order to economize energy, as was our current teacher, so we’re both working on remembering otherwise; you can see how teaching and playing styles change over the years.) “Really?” he said. “I won’t! When I grow up, I won’t move my wrist at all!”

I love that we share this together. I love that I can hear him humming bits of my recital pieces when I work on them, both during my lesson and when I practice at home, and even at random times when he’s building with Lego or playing with action figures. I love that he’ll play an exercise for me without announcing it and then ask me impishly if I can identify it, and he’s so chuffed when I do. He counts his practice stickers every morning before putting another one on, and it looks like we may hit 100 right around recital time (very exciting!).

He was so excited about Mother’s Day that I got my school artwork on Thursday when he brought it home, a construction paper daffodil and two heart-shaped cards. I was awoken on Saturday morning at 5:45 by a gentle pat and a whispered “Happy Mother’s Day, Mama,” because he couldn’t wait for that, either. On Sunday morning at 7:00 I got another drawing of a heart, and then a silver tray with a cup of tea and a small bouquet of tulips and daffodils from the garden. We’d invited HRH’s parents over for lunch, so I made that lovely cinnamon loaf and a quiche, and my mother-in-law contributed salad and crudités, and fruit to go with the cinnamon loaf for dessert. The food was all lovely, and we sat outside afterwards as the weather was spectacular. I managed to get sun, as the freckles testify. HRH and his dad (who is looking really, really fantastic and recovering well from his bout of very bad health) got to wander around upstairs and bounce ideas for finishing the attic off one another, and ended up on a recon mission to the Home Depot three blocks down that resulted in two perfect windows being brought home, much to everyone’s surprise.

Monday was a ped day. What? You say you thought the boy just had several? So did we. It was marked as conditional on the school calendar, which I didn’t check till this weekend, and I didn’t get an announcement or confirmation from the school beforehand so I went ahead and assumed it was happening. As I’d already put off my second round of blood tests and the glucose challenge test once from last week when I had the dizzy spells, instead of rescheduling it yet again the boy came with me to the hospital yesterday, and his mission was to take care of me. He was very interested in the cold orange drink I was given and asked what it tasted like. I said, “Like melted orange popsicles, with a bit of fizzy to it” and he made a face. We hung out in the snack bar for the hour it took for the glucose test, where he nibbled on the carrots and snow peas we’d brought, and we read a bunch of books. Then we went back to the lab and he held my hand very importantly while they took the blood so that I wouldn’t be afraid. The technicians thought he was adorable for patting my arm and telling me that it wouldn’t hurt and it would be over in just a moment. We came home and had a picnic lunch in the backyard.

I’m starting to feel a little weird. I’m at 27 weeks, and at the hospital they gave me a test to be done at home at 35 weeks. I had my first baby at 31 weeks, six years ago; I don’t know what happens normally after that, what tests are done, when appointments are scheduled. I missed two-thirds of my final trimester, so I have no idea what to expect from it. I’m in the weird position of having experienced labour and delivery, but not in the way I’d expected in the hospital I’d worked with up till that point; I never got to pack a bag or plan out what to do to keep my mind busy in labour, or anything like that. I’ve never even had a hospital tour. I’ve never had my brand new infant in my hospital room with me, or got to take it home with me when I left. It’s all new for me from hereon in till the baby arrives home, at which point I’m back in familiar territory. (I have plenty of experience in dealing with NICU, though, and pumping exclusively for a month to supply my baby with breastmilk, and in dealing with hospital staff and schedules of all kinds.) It’s just a really odd feeling to have this lacuna ahead of me between the two sections of pregnancy/new mum stuff that I know about. I sometimes feel like an imposter when first-time-pregnant women of my acquaintance ask me about the last trimester and new babies. My experience is so different from the norm.

Speaking of this baby, she is really working the kickboxing routine these days. I can’t find a comfortable position for my very adjustable desk chair and the yoga ball I got somehow manages to stress my lower back more rather than less, both of which make for a challenging work sessions. I may ask HRH to get the kneeling chair out of storage; that might work.