Monday, February 22, 2010

Ideas and work

I finished off a copyediting project last night and diligently sent it off to the publishers so they had it first thing Monday morning.  Finishing writing projects always gets me really fired up, so I had a terrible night's sleep and was up an HOUR before the alarm clock went off.  Thing is, I haven't even felt the effects yet because while I was working on the manuscript over the weekend, I had a fantastic idea for a book.  I put something together last night and asked my publishers if they would accept a book proposal from me today, which they said they would.  So this morning I put together my first ever book proposal... which is weird considering I've already had two of the blighters published... but now I'm extremely nervous waiting to hear back from them.  It's like waiting for your essay marks back at university, or even better: a pregnancy test.

I personally think my proposal is a total winner, but then I would say that, wouldn't I?  I'm not going to tempt fate and start spreading my ideas all over the internet like Nutella (nom nom nom), but I really do think it's a corker.  I'm also rather chuffed with the way I wrote the proposal, managing to incorporate all the things I love about Crimson without sucking up, and really getting detailed on the chapter synopses.  I really, really hope they pick it up, and that all this waiting and no news is actually good news.  Maybe my editor has taken it to someone higher up the chain of command and they're mulling it over during a morning meeting tomorrow.  Either way, I'm still checking my e-mails every other minute - even though I know the UK is six hours ahead and they'll have all gone home by now.

If this one does go into publication it'll be my third book, but the only one I'll own the rights to.  I think I can choose to sell the copyright to the publishers for a fee, or receive royalties instead.  It's kind of a niche market I'm aiming at so I'll probably go with the fee, but even so... THIRD BOOK!  Mike said I'll sound like a proper author now.

Oh, and Baby Names 2011 is going ahead, which will technically be a second edition (the first being Baby Names 2010), but I'm counting it as a whole 'nother book.  So there.  Creepy Rich (*shudder*) bought a copy of Baby Names 2010 for his wife as she's expecting their first child, and messaged me on Facebook to sign it.  So far I've avoided that particular minefield but it's only a matter of time before my ego is stroked to excess and I give in.  After all, there is something wickedly cool about signing your own books.


Friday, February 19, 2010

The Winter Olympics

I have noticed something extraordinary about the Winter Olympics this year: I have changed my opinion dramatically about what events are worth watching.  For instance, women's figure skating used to get me tuned in every time, but this year I've noticed the men's single figure skating is FAR more exciting than the women's.  I think it's because the men are allowed to just go for it and let loose on the ice, whereas women are still supposed to be graceful and elegant, even while throwing themselves about in the most extraordinary positions.  To be fair, the single women's competition hasn't aired yet, but looking at the women in the double's competition, it seems that they're just... well... duller. 

I think this change in me has happened because when I was younger I always wanted to BE a figure skater (or a gymnast, or a dancer, or a paramedic, or a midwife, or a lorry driver, or a "stone lady"...), so I'd watch these tiny little skaters with the sure knowledge that I could also do what they were doing, if I only chose to do so.  Now I'm older and the skaters are pretty much ALL younger than me (humph), I've noticed that the male competitors are able to perform much more advanced jumps and twists, which makes for more interesting viewing.  I've gone from cringing at a man in spandex flaunting his wrists about and tilting his effect in a romantic fashion, to holding my breath when they attempt the ever-elusive Quad.  It's extraordinary.

Also, speaking in more general terms, I think this Olympics has shown me some really, really exciting events I hadn't paid any attention to before.  The fact I now live in the USA means that events have really become something, because there's usually a fair chance a medal is up for grabs.  The team from Great Britain have barely been visible, although I will always cheer for them first.  Also, the fact I live in the Midwest means that a lot of the US team's competitors are either local to this state or train nearby, which is rather exciting.  For those reasons I've really taken to the short track speed skating (especially the relay... Oh. My. God.), the snowboard cross, the snowboard half-pipe and I'm sure some other events yet to be shown.  There was a rather thrilling event the other day in the women's downhill skiing, because the competitors were flying down the mountain at such a rapid pace that there were wipe-outs and crashes galore.  Fabulous!

Because I'm at home all day I've managed to watch nearly every minute of broad-casted Winter Olympics and I have to say, I don't think I've enjoyed one before quite so much.

Come on Great Britain!  Win at least one medal... please...!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Part 2

Right, where was I?

At about 12.00pm I asked to get back into the bath. (Midwife: "That's a good idea, it can really help to speed things along". So why aren't there rows of baths instead of beds on maternity wards then?) I had actually wanted  a water birth but, as I say, I don't think anyone bothered to look at my birth plan, and I was too frightened to speak up. Anyway, I got into the bath, dragging my Entonox cylinder with me, and promptly relaxed and calmed down. I continued to doze off between contractions, with the Entonox mouthpiece falling out of my mouth! Before long, though, I thought, "this baby's coming." I gesiculated wildly at the midwife's pull-cord to get my husband to summon her, but he didn't know what I was pointing at and thought I wanted something from my pile of clothes on the windowsill! I finally gasped "midwife!" and he got her.

I was taken back to my bed to be examined, whereupon my waters broke. I was 7cm dilated and preparations were made to take me down to the labour ward. At this point the 'show' appeared (the mucus plug in the cervix which keeps everything sealed up for 9 months). I spotted it on the bed and asked what it was (I wanted to be sure). "Oh, that's the show," said the midwife, and threw a sheet over it. "You weren't supposed to see that." Why the hell not? "It's ok, I made it," I managed to say. The staff commented that I still had a sense of humour - which was true but that wasn't the point. It had been inside me for all that time and I wanted to see it, to be aware of everything that had and was still happening to me. Why did they feel the need to keep it hidden? Is there honestly still a belief that these natural female bodily functions and secretions are shameful and dirty? I was put in a wheelchair and taken to the labour ward - but not before a little wait because there was a hospital tour for expectant mothers taking place and, the state I was in, I don't think they wanted me to frighten them! I'm not sure what I think about this. I mean, I was about to give birth, surely my needs should have been top of the list, but it is good that they wanted to give the expectant mothers a positive impression of what they're about to endure (however misleading that may be).

So then. Onto the second stage, or 'active labour'. I had originally decided not to have an epidural as I didn't fancy the side-effects (loss of bladder control, lasting numbness that would have to wear off, etc) but at this stage I changed my mind and decided I wanted one. However, the staff said that I was doing so well and things were moving on at such a pace that I would probably get on without one. I began pushing with the contractions, and stopped taking the Entonox (no pain relief at all! I am a hardass.). This carried on for nearly two hours, during which time I repeatedly requested an epidural and was repeatedly told (very nicely, though) that it would probably not be worth it. However, before long I was shouting "I don't care if you have to keep your quotas down or whatever, I wanted an epidural and YOU wouldn't give me one!" In retrospect, I'm pleased that I made it through without one, but it's myself I'm pleased with, not the staff. They should have given me what I wanted. I was given fluids in an IV in my left hand, and I remember informng them that I give blood from my right, and that they might have more luck finding a vein there!

What nobody knew at this stage was that the baby's cord was wrapped three times around the neck, which was why the baby wasn't making progress down the birth canal. A (male) obsetrician appeared at this point (to be honest, plenty of people were in and out of that room over those few hours, and I could not tell you how many or who the majority of them were. My mind was elsewhere) and he said that they were going to 'give the baby a hand' getting out, since progress had stalled and the baby's heartbeat had slowed. Whatever my feelings on interventions during birth were prior to this, this was brilliant news. As I was moaning and complaining about the pain, a midwife said, "it's 3.00pm. Your baby will be born by 10 past". The best thing I had heard all day.

The end of the bed came away, my head went back, the stirrups appeared and up went my legs. I was given four injections of local anaesthetic and an episiotomy (cut thorught the perenium) was perfomed. Yes, it's an absolute cariacature of childbirth, and it was quite a bloodbath (and have I mentioned the shit yet? Yes, I shat myself while I was pushing. And couldn't care less). A suction cup (ventouse) was attached to the baby's head, and with a few more pushes and contractions, the head was out. I asked why I couldn't hear the baby. I still don't understand why babies don't cry as soon as their head's born! A couple more contractions and pushes and my husband cried "It's a boy! Oh, it's S------!" and my brand new son was born.

He was a huge baby - 9lb 4oz, I shortly learned - and he had shat himself too, and was grey from the birth goo and the effect of the birth on his circulation. They plonked him on my tummy and the first thing I saw was this enormous, round, grey baby bum with a brown anus! Nice! I didn't even see his face until minutes later, when the cord had been cut and he'd been wrapped in a blanket. Next time, I'm going to insist that all that can wait until I've seen my baby's face and kissed it. Nor did I see the placenta, which I really wanted a look at (see 'the show', above). In all honesty, my prevailing feeling at that point was relief and gladness at the pregnancy, labour and birth being over, rather than joy or excitement at meeting S. That sounds awful, but in my defence, I had had virtually no sleep, there was no food in my system, I had never experienced pain like it, and I was rather out of it from the Entonox. And I doubt I'm the first new mother to have felt like that! giving birth was simultaneously the best and worst experience of my life, although I would not come to see it as the best for little while. Predictably, the first thing I said was, "I'm never doing that again!" The midwives all laughed and said, "they all say that," so I pointed to my husband and said, "well, you're having the next one then!" And I meant it.

Apparently I only swore once and only told my husband to shut up once - less than on a normal day!

I've been writing this as much for me as for anyone else to read it. While women the world over give birth every minute, I have done it but once, and it was the experience of my life. Nothing else comes close. Every woman's birth story is unique and I'm glad I've now got mine on record. Having said that, it's true that nature causes you to forget the pain, so despite this being a pretty accurate account, I know something is missing. We all know that if any mother had an accurate memory of giving birth, she would never put herself through it again! I've got a lot more to tell about the first days and months of S's life, and hope I can continue to write on here a little more often. But now it's teatime.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Part 1 of many

OK, I've finally found 5 minutes to sit down and write something on here for the first time in about 8 months!

The birth of my baby seems like as good a place to start as any.

After two weeks of curries, 'romantic nights', long walks, membrane sweeps (if you have to ask...) and abject boredom, baby was showing no signs of making an appearance. In fact, the head was partly engaged and then went back up again! I had to be induced. I walked to the hospital on the Friday night and had prostoglandins (synthetic hormones) injected up me - nice. Normally, this method of induction takes about 6 hours to work and is not successful first time round for first time mothers, so the plan was that I would have it done at bedtime, sleep, and then they'd have another go in the morning which was much more likely to work.

So. My husband stayed with me while the induction took place, then got me settled and went home to get some sleep himself. Unbeknownst to him, the hormones took effect very quickly and my labour began at about 1.00am. It felt like back pain, but after a while a midwife confirmed that the pains were settling into fairly regular contractions. I was alone on the ward, in the dark, with a skeleton weekend staff whom I barely saw. Not how I'd pictured my labour. No-one asked me about my birth plan, I was too intimidated to ask for help with my TENS machine (so didn't use it in the end) and had no-one to rub my back or coach me through the pains. At 3.00am I decided I wanted to phone my husband and get him to come in so approached the front desk and informed the woman (don't know if she was a midwife, nurse or receptionist) that there would soon be a man arriving and she would need to let him in. "Why?" she asked (!!!???!) "Because I'm in pain and I want my husband to help me through it," I replied (!!!!!!!) "I'm afraid visiting hours are between 8.00am and 8.00pm," she informed me. Fucking hell. So I spent the rest of the night without pain relief (I wanted massage and the TENS machine), labouring alone in the dark, and fairly scared since this was my first time. I do plan to have another baby, and if the same thing happens again, I shall shout and scream and stamp my foot until I am allowed to have my husband with me. I mean, if we'd turned up at midnight with me having gone into labour spontaneously, would they have sent him away and told him to come back at 8.00am? I think not. The more I look back on this, the more outraged I am. I'm thinking of officially complaining. Any thoughts?

Anyway. I did take a bath after this in a huge double tub. I found it highly effective -  in fact, although I'm usually happier on dry land and a bit scared of water, I had really enjoyed baths and swimming throughout my pregnancy - in terms of pain relief and calming me down. At 7.00am I rang my husband. He answered the phone and apparently I sounded really down (not surprising, considering the night I'd had!). He took this to mean that I was annoyed that the induction hadn't worked, when it was quite the opposite! "See you in an hour," I said, but 15 minutes later I the pains were getting worse so I rang him and told him to come straight there, to hell with their visiting hours. At 7.30 he arrived and was again informed of the visiting hours. "Is that going to be a problem?" he demanded, and they grudgingly let him in.

From then until about lunchtime is a bit hazy now. I walked around for pain relief and vomited on another bed ("You must really stay near your bed!" I was curtly told - minutes before another midwife recommended I try walking around!). I used Entonox (gas and air) for pain relief, which I loved. My husband massaged my back for what seemed to him like hours on end. I can't really remember much more than this as I was quite high on Entonox and had had virtually no sleep during the night so kept dozing off between contractions.

Right, baby is now demanding milk so I will return shortly with the next instalment!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bit mad.

Sorry it's been a while since I updated, but things have been a bit mad in my household.  First Mike's grandfather passed away so we went out there for the funeral and to spend time with his family, and then Owen caught his third bout of pneumonia and we had to cancel his surgery this Friday.

Bit cross about cancelling it, but what can you do?  If he's sick, he's sick.  The silver lining though is that ENT is now able to get involved on the new surgery date (March 12th) and put his ear tubes in sooner than May.  So yeah... annoying that we've had to postpone things, but good news about improving his hearing two months ahead of schedule.