30 November 2010

A Post on Privacy

Every now and then I like to just throw out a few of my own privacy guidelines for my blog:
  • Please don't ever use my last name in your comments.
  • Please don't ever use my maiden name in your comments.
  • If you are referring to shared grandparents, please refer to them as I have in any given post - Grandpa and Grandma L., Grandpa K., Grandpa Van, Captain Jack, etc.
  • If you know what Eric and I are planning to name our child, please do not use this name (now or ever) in the comments. I plan on giving him a blog nickname, and right now I don't know what that is.
  • If you link to me, please just link to my first name or the name of my blog.
I hate to delete comments, and I like it when comments can go up in real time (as opposed to me having to moderate them). But I also like my privacy, and I don't want any creepy Internet stalkers to have an easy job locating me. I know that if a creepy Internet stalker really wanted to learn more about me, it wouldn't be that hard, but you know, I am going to make him/her work for it at least a little bit.

29 November 2010

40 Weeks

Last week I said that I just wanted to make it through Thanksgiving week, and I didn't really care when my baby got here because I was "feeling really good on a day to day basis." Everything changed this week. My back is killing me. I think it may be sciatica. I'm not really sure, and it doesn't particularly matter. Just know that there is pain. It started on Thursday and has really peaked yesterday and today, so I'm officially done with this whole pregnancy thing. Good thing my midwife said if I haven't had the baby by Wednesday we could schedule for an induction on Friday. I'll have a baby by this weekend. Huzzah!

(Don't let those fake-smiley-faced photos fool you. Standing makes me want to punch people, specifically the people who are making me stand.)

Also, a big shout-out to Megan for lending me her very nice maternity clothes. Seriously, most of the pictures of myself these last several weeks have featured her clothes, and I'm so appreciative of that!

24 November 2010

Soliciting Advice

This is the type of heater that we have. We haven't had to use these heaters yet, but I just turned one of them on tonight. Can anybody tell me anything about this kind of heater? I've never lived in a place with this kind of heater, and I want to know if they are likely to melt things placed to close to them or make fire hazards of things placed too close to them. When my mancub begins to crawl, what will be the best way for me to keep him from touching these things (if we are still using them by the time he starts crawling)?

And on a completely unrelated note - My hospital bag is pretty much packed. I based it on a list I received in my class, which seems to be pretty specific to the hospital where I will deliver. In reading various birth stories, I've discovered that there are a few items that are not on any sorts of list but that are good to bring. For instance, one friend mentioned taking her Boppy pillow with her. When I mentioned this to Eric's cousin, she said that was a very good idea because her arms really hurt after holding her baby so much in the hospital. So, what would you suggest (that isn't on the typical lists) that I take to the hospital?

23 November 2010

Rating Systems

When it comes to rating systems on things like GoodReads and Netflix, I am strictly by the book. Sometimes I wonder if other people are as well.

That is, when I decide to rate something, I hover over the stars before I select them to see what the website's definition of that number of stars is. (Above are the rating definitions used by GoodReads.) I rarely give any book five stars. Maybe that has to do with the same reasons I don't give out standing ovations. If you just throw out those sorts of compliments willy-nilly, they lose their meaning. When I finish a book and go on GoodReads to rate it, I really do stop to think about whether my like for it was just regular like or really like before I go clicking any stars. I know of one GoodReads friend who told me she was surprised by a rating I gave a book because she did not like that book, but then when she rated that book, she gave it four stars. I found it puzzling.

Netflix uses a five-star system, but their star ratings have different meanings. The options are "Hated it," "Didn't Like it," "Liked it," "Really Liked it," and "Loved it." I tend to really like Netflix ratings because they have a great algorithm for figuring out what other movies I might like. The only problem is coming at agreement with Eric about how we should jointly rate any film since obviously we share a Netflix account. Usually we are right on par with each other, but sometimes we are one star off, and there isn't an option for a half star.

Do you think much about the meanings of rating systems before you use them, or do you just select the star value that is most aesthetically pleasing?

22 November 2010

39 Weeks

There you have it, folks. One week from today is my official due date, and with Thanksgiving this Thursday, I figure we may as well wait until then. I've been 90-95% effaced and dilated to 1 centimeter for three weeks now. I'm excited to meet my kid, but I've sort of given up caring when he gets here. That may sound sort of mean, but I can't control when he gets here, and for the most part I'm feeling really good on a day to day basis, so whenever my uterus decides to kick him out is fine with me. And if it's November 29th or later, then that's all the better.

17 November 2010

Review: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Here's the premise: Can the author make enough money to survive doing unskilled jobs? It's an excellent premise, and for the most part I felt like Ehrenreich carried it out well and fairly. Even though she set rules for herself, like taking the highest paying job she was offered, and performing each job's tasks to the best of her ability, I felt like she was looking to fail. (Just to note, she worked as a waitress in Florida, as a maid and in a nursing home in Maine, and at a Wal-Mart in Minnesota.)

Don't get me wrong, Ehrenreich makes some very good points - like how difficult it is to get started from scratch. Many of the people she encounters live in crowded housing where they pay week-to-week rent rather than living in a small apartment. This is because they can't save enough money to make up the deposit and first month's rent required to live in an apartment. Because many of these people do not live in traditional apartments or houses, they don't have the cooking facilities necessary to eat good foods, so they survive on more costly convenience and fast foods. I think these are real, legitimate problems that people encounter, and working for minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage makes it nearly impossible for these people to rise above their lousy situations.

Ehrenreich makes excellent points about the ridiculous hiring processes for many of these sorts of jobs, and I think even makes some valid points about the uselessness of drug testing. (Don't tell my father-in-law I said that.) It's just that most drug tests are urine-based, which means they do not catch hard-core drugs, and they are easily cheated. While I disagree with her that subjecting an employee or prospective employee to a drug test is somehow degrading, I do agree that it doesn't matter a whole lot if your waitress, floor-mopper or clothes-folder is on drugs, as long as those drugs don't impair his/her ability to do his/her job. I mean, if we're talking about my doctor, I would like him/her to be drug and alcohol free while I'm being treated. But we're talking about people whose job failure is not really going to have a huge impact on anybody besides themselves.

Another good point is how expensive it is for these people to miss work when they are sick. First of all, they are hourly employees who do not have any sort of sick leave or compensation when they miss work. Second, if they have to go to a doctor, most of them have no health insurance and therefore completely lack the financial means to see a doctor - as if a missed day of work isn't enough of a financial burden. Not to mention the fact that many of these jobs are physically challenging and wear out the bodies of the people who perform them.

Where I feel that Ehrenreich really fails is in avoiding to point out the financial failures of her co-workers. For examples, she talks often of how difficult it is to get a smoking break, but never once mentions all the money these people could save by quitting smoking. She likewise mentions drinking on the weekends but fails to mention that water is pretty much free whereas alcoholic beverages are significantly more costly. She talks about the poor nutritional habits and fails to point out what cheap foods these people could buy that would be significantly more nutritious.

Listening to this book (I downloaded it as an audiobook) made me feel like I was watching a Michael Moore film - there are lots of good points, but because the opposing side is never addressed, and the author blatantly ignores her own argument's weaknesses, the overall work is only a small step above propaganda.

If you are looking for an opposing viewpoint, by all means, please go read Janssen's review, written in 2007. I remembered that she had read this book, and I was pretty sure that she had given it a favorable review, but I hadn't re-read her review until tonight. (I felt like I needed to make that clarification lest you think that I'm just trying to be disagreeable with my friend, which, yes, I am wont to do.)

16 November 2010

Adventures in Pregnancy

I know that when I don't put up a blog post for days at a time people probably start to wonder if I've had my baby. I have not.

I did, however, get to spend last night in the labor and delivery unit of the hospital where I plan to deliver. Only in my case, it is better called the "stave-off labor and delivery unit."

In short, I came down with some sort of bug that caused me to lose all my fluids. I couldn't even keep water down. It was really lovely. Earlier in the evening I had been walking in circles around my flat, hoping to walk the baby out. I wasn't feeling great, but I felt okay enough to walk around in circles. As the evening progressed I became worse and worse. Eventually my whole body started to ache, and I was having a whole bunch of non-painful contractions. When the nausea had first set in, I thought it might be a sign of labor because it isn't uncommon for women to become ill before they go into labor. But when my whole body ached and throbbed and I was having so many contractions that I could neither count nor time them, I called my midwife's office and the midwife on call told me to go to the hospital. (It's important to note that these contractions were not painful - just abundant. I was having them so frequently that I wouldn't even notice I was having one until I put my hand on my belly. If my nausea had allowed me to fall asleep, I would have slept right through the contractions.)

And so, at 1 a.m. I was admitted to the hospital, given three bags of fluids and some anti-nausea medicine. The contractions began slowing down within just a couple of minutes of being hooked up to the I.V., and by 5 a.m. I was sent home.

I am fine. I am still a little achey in general, but that is just because of the little bug I have. I've been keeping food and drinks down today, and I intend to spend all day in bed fretting about all the work I'm not getting done. Also napping. And reading. And lamenting the fact that I will not have the energy to spend my evening walking this baby out. (I really, really, really, really, really want him to come this week so he doesn't have a Thanksgiving birthday. Overall, I feel very good and could keep doing this pregnancy thing for a few more weeks, so my wanting to have him this week is all for HIM, not for me, just to clarify.)

10 November 2010

Convenience Foods

I was chatting with one of Eric's aunts a few weeks ago about groceries, cooking, grocery budgets and the like. She doesn't have any kids at home these days, and she and her husband both work full time. Back when her household consisted of four sons, three of which were teenagers at the same time, she kept her grocery budget impressively low. Now that she is older she readily admits that she and her husband eat a lot of convenience foods.

I told her that we eat a lot of convenience foods too, only ours our peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Or peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Also baked potatoes, bagels with cream cheese, scrambled eggs, various fruits, and occasionally even pasta.

So what are your convenience foods? And I'm not talking 20-30 minute meals; I mean 5-10 minutes meals. Do you buy frozen, pre-made meals? Canned soups and stews? Chinese take-out or fast-foods?

08 November 2010

37 Weeks

I feel very fortunate that I am just now beginning to have the "Get this baby out of me!" feelings. Really, to have made it to 37 weeks without that sentiment, I feel, is pretty lucky. And to be fair, most of the time I feel really good. I've had a bit of swelling in my ankles the last few days which has been more depressing than anything else. I've spent a lot of time staring at my once-cute little ankles and wondering whose ankles they'd been replaced with. I know, my life is very hard.

05 November 2010

Grandpa K.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Eric's Grandpa K. was a well-known OB-GYN in the area for many years. His picture is even up (twice!) in the hospital where I am going to deliver, so when Eric and I took our birthing classes and got a tour of the hospital, we stopped to take pictures of Grandpa's pictures.

The pictures aren't stellar because they were taken with Eric's phone. Plus the one photo has that really terrible glare. Not to mention that I was looking ESPECIALLY awesome that Saturday. We'll have to be sure we get some pictures before we leave the hospital with the mancub some time in the next month or so.

03 November 2010

Fatty Dairy Products

Eric and I fancy ourselves fairly healthy when it comes to our eating habits. One thing we try to do is figure out which foods are worth buying low-fat or no-fat and which foods need to be the real thing. We've found that we can tolerate and even like quite a few low-fat and no-fat dairy products.

We drink 1% milk. I just can't handle skim; it totally grosses me out. I prefer fattier milk, but I quite like 1%, and it is cheaper than the milk with the higher fat content.

We buy fat-free or low-fat sour cream, depending on the expiration dates. (Usually the fat-free sour cream expires a couple of days after our shopping trip, so we only buy it if we know we will finish it in time.) To be honest, full-fat sour cream is better than the low-fat and fat-free varieties. It is thicker and has a better texture. But, we're not eating plain sour cream by the spoonful. We mix our sour cream in with other things and use it as a topping where all that really matters is the flavor. For us, the low-fat and fat-free options are entirely doable.

We bought fat free cream cheese a few weeks ago, and it was terrible. I had some on my bagel and texted Eric telling him how bad it was. That night he tried some on his bagel and said he would prefer to have a plain bagel over that stuff. It basically had no flavor at all. We were unimpressed. However, we had been (and went back to) buying Neufchatel cheese. It is basically the same as cream cheese, but it has one third less fat. I highly recommend it. It tastes great and spreads easily, and it's less fat. Winwinwin.

What food products do you buy that are the low-fat or no-fat varieties? Which products would you never dare with the healthier options?

01 November 2010

36 Weeks

I'm probably going to have a baby this month. I know that you may be thinking, "Sherry, your due date is November 29, you could very well go over and not have your baby this month." And until Friday I would have agreed with you. In fact, until Friday when people asked me when I was due, I would either say, "around Thanksgiving" or "roughly the beginning of December." Because I like to be realistic. And realistically, this baby could come in December instead of November.

On Friday I had an appointment with my midwife, and she told me the baby had dropped and that he was very low indeed. And that my cervix has started thinning. (Oh, hi, you just read about my cervix. Sorry if you found that disturbing. You may have to get used to such topics around these parts.) So the ball is rolling. And to be fair, this ball could be rolling down a very gentle incline - meaning the he'll arrive close to the due date after all. On the other hand, my midwife also told me that it was VERY unlikely I'd go past my due date. So there you go. The baby is not going to stay in there forever.