Thursday, April 30, 2015

39 Weeks, Loss of a Publisher, aaaaaand ...

... whatever else may pop into my mind as I write this.

This is the last day of April. Tomorrow we enter the month that seemed so far away when I first found out I was pregnant. Tomorrow I will be 39 weeks along, one week away from Wyatt's estimated due date. I will be nine days from my 39th birthday, which is also Mother's Day this year.

This is the most significant May of my entire life. When I think about it, I'm sure my face must take on an expression akin to being stoned out of my gourd.

This has been a surprisingly smooth pregnancy. I maintained my medical status of "boring" throughout, nothing strange, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing to cause excessive worry. (I say excessive because mothers will always worry about everything all the time no matter what.)

There was the two weeks of nausea, food aversions, acute smells, and fatigue around week 8. Then the constant pressure on my bladder and the pubic symphysis issues started, the only things to occur consistently. (I did not get the second trimester respite from the bladder issues that many get.) A few weeks ago, I got the pregnant itchies, occasional rashes that would sprout, last an hour, then go away.

I had a two-day bout of edema in my feet and ankles, which went away, but has returned with a vengeance the last couple of days, thanks to Wyatt's low head-down position in my pelvis. I have been referring to them as "Hobbit feet," and it is definitely the oddest thing I have witnessed in my body. However, I have not needed to resort to getting larger shoes or schlepping around in flip-flops, which I hate. My feet have always been long and skinny (think Disney's Ichabod Crane cartoon), so I've always had room in my shoes for width. I just keep my sneakers double tied with enough room to slip my feet into them.

I have exercised all nine months. Not anywhere near what I was doing as a fitness instructor beforehand, of course. Maybe three or four days a week at the most, sometimes going several days without because of physical issues or time issues. My routines have modified and shrunk. When I go walking with hubby and the dogs, our jaunts are shorter and I walk much slower now. I feel like I'm swinging my legs around Wyatt's head with every step.

I have forgotten what it is like not to feel like I need a bathroom all the time.

I expected to get wider as I gained weight. However, my belly has been growing steadily forward and not out to the sides. Even one of the midwives exclaimed how I was all belly and nothing else when I laid down for positioning.

Wyatt has been in ROA position for at least a couple of months. The midwives tell me that having his spine on the left would be better, so I have spent part of every day on my hands and knees, sometimes more like Child's Pose, to encourage him to spin. No luck yet, but he might chose to swing at the very last second.

He is still pretty active, but I thinking it's harder for him to move now, so he gets tired easier. I love watching my husband's face as he feels Wyatt's movement.

I have not gotten any of the insane pregnancy cravings that everyone talks about. Any cravings I have had are normal cravings that I've had ever since going Paleo, for the stuff that I once loved to eat but hated the way they made me feel afterward: fast food, doughnuts, candy bars, etc. I have occasionally had a box of cereal, Annie's White Cheddar Bunnies (which will accompany me to the birthing), potato chips, ice cream.

I did allow myself whatever I wanted at my baby shower. No way was I missing out on that cake.

But everything that I indulged in was the best that I could find, with the healthiest ingredients available. Everything was organic when possible, natural with simple known ingredients when not. For example, I made my own hot chocolate from organic whole milk, organic maple syrup, organic vanilla, and 100% cacao powder. I have never had a moment of crazy, uncontrollable desire or the need for strange foods that I would never have otherwise eaten.

I mention this because food is such a huge issue for many people. I get the impression that some people felt bad about themselves when they would see how healthy I was eating all the time. But I really do think that by feeding myself and my baby the way I did, my body did not want for anything. I have gained thirty pounds almost exactly. It looks like it's all in my belly (and my ankles these days.) I feel good most of the time and usually have a good amount of energy every day.

I hope maybe telling about my experiences will help other moms in their choices.

I have not had the intense nesting or cleaning urge yet, but I do think I have procrastinated enough in getting the house set up. This week will be spent putting together the Pack n' Play, washing all the new cloth diapers and soakers and baby clothes, maybe canning up some stews for dinners, and cleaning the house for when the grandparents come to visit.

Okay, I think I have exhausted the whole baby topic.

And now for something completely different ...

I recently found out that one of my publishers has decided to go out on a high note and close up shop. They have a couple of my stories, one stand alone and one in an anthology. I had just finished writing and editing a story for one of their anthologies for this year, but I didn't get to send it in.

It makes me sad when publishers go out of business. I feel like I'm being pushed toward self-publishing more and more nowadays. It makes me wonder what will happen in the publishing industry in the next five years.

This year I've decided to push a little harder and submit my stories to pro and semi-pro paying markets. I'm also sending queries to magazines, like travel and special interest magazines rather than fiction mags. It will be interesting to juggle these new ventures while I figure out being a first time mom at the same time.

Well, I thought there might be other things to blog about, but I think this particular entry has gotten long enough. And I'm getting hungry, thanks to all that blather about food.

And I need to make my tenth trip to the bathroom today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A New TSA Rant (plus Alaska Airlines praise)

One of my dear friends ran into some very unfortunate circumstances a couple of weeks ago, right in time for her birthday. So I decided to give her the best present I could manage: my presence. (Written with a completely straight face and in all seriousness.)

So I scheduled a last minute trip to Northern California last week to cram in as much time as I could with her, our friends, and my family. I got to bump baby bumps with my best friend who is about two and a half weeks behind me in her pregnancy and looks absolutely radiant. I got to reconnect with someone I hadn't seen in many years, got to play guitar with my dad, and had a Chinese food party with so many people I love. It was quite the whirlwind for a lady about thirty-one weeks along.

The interesting part was the experience flying there and back.

I have a lot of praise for Alaska Airlines. When I told the flight attendants I was seven and a half months pregnant, they were all very nice and offered me drinks and extra snack packets even before the cart went through. I was able to walk up and down the aisle whenever I needed. I'd also made sure I got the seat closest to the bathrooms in the back. As no one else was sitting with me, the attendants even encouraged me to put my feet up on the empty seats.

When my first return flight to Seattle was delayed about four hours, I received a hotel voucher for the night, which was nice since I was prepared for a twelve-hour layover in SeaTac anyway. I had even bought a cheap air mattress and pump and knew exactly where I was going to sack out for the night. Didn't even need it.

I got about five hours of sleep before having to brave the TSA security of SeaTac. I had no idea what to expect.

My other experiences were the same as before: opted out of the scanner (they still tried to convince me to go through in Anchorage, insisting there were no X-rays to harm my baby in the scanner. There hasn't been enough research to prove the scanners truly harmless yet, X-rays or otherwise. Research that has been done has been paid for by the companies selling the machines.) Had the typical pat-down in Anchorage as well as Sacramento.

Now here's where my disdain for TSA has grown even greater than before.

In Anchorage on my way to California, I got the pat-down and saw one of the TSA agents going through my bag. I thought I had removed all the non-security-friendly items at home beforehand, but I had missed my Leatherman tool in a small side pocket. I sighed, thinking that I was going to lose it or have to mail it home.

When my pat-down was finished, the agents discovered the machines for the test pads with which they wipe your bags for bomb chemicals had all gone down at once. I had to wait an extra ten or fifteen minutes while they called someone to get one running. During this time, the agent that gave me the pat-down noticed my Leatherman tool sitting on the counter next to my bag and asked if there was was something wrong with it. The agent searching my bag replied no, there were no blades in it.

Now, there are several possible explanations here. One, perhaps she didn't want to give me any more hassle since I was pregnant and already waiting quite a while to be released thanks to the faulty machines. Two, perhaps she'd never seen a Leatherman before and only saw the pliers when she opened it, not the other tools inside the handles. Three, perhaps she never even opened the darn thing to check.

She said it was fine. The tests came out fine and I was told I could go on my way, so I did.

I did not do this on purpose to prove a point. This bag of mine was somewhat new and I had overlooked one of the smaller pockets when getting ready for my trip.

But the fact remains that the TSA agents let a banned item through their security.

What happened in SeaTac was even more interesting.

I'm sure most have heard about the TSA Pre-check lines by now. You pay a fee and get a government background check that, when passed, allows you to go through the Pre-check line instead of the regular security line. It's just like the old days: no taking off shoes, no taking out laptops, and just going through the good old metal detector.

When I got to SeaTac the morning after my hotel stay, a bunch of people including myself were being herded through the Pre-check line like cattle. I didn't realize it until I got my ticket and ID checked, and for a moment I thought I had gotten into the wrong line. But it was very busy that morning and there were two agents guiding masses of people into the Pre-check line. I went through without having to take off my shoes (very nice for a pregnant lady) or going through the pat-down for opting out of the scanner.

I pondered this as I waited for my flight to board.

If I had been one of those that paid for Pre-check, I would have been very pissed off seeing all these people going through for free. So why were they doing it?

I believe it was because the scanners are too slow for the busy periods. And when you include those evil people like me who opt out, it gets even slower.

What's to stop a terrorist from planning to go through during those known busy times when people are pushed through Pre-check just to keep things moving smoothly? Is this something that happens at all major airports? If the body scanners and the pat downs are so effective, why are they so easily tossed aside when things get busy? How long would it have taken to get through security if they hadn't done that? If my Leatherman tool could be missed when things are slow, what could be missed when things are hectic?

I choose not to do Pre-check because I only fly at the most once a year. And I plan on not doing that as often as I can get away with. I believe that it is unconstitutional to force me through pat downs, through body scanners that are unknown health dangers and often give false positives and negatives, and to force background checks on a law-abiding citizen without a warrant. This all tromps on my right to freely travel about my country.

If they will send people through the old fashioned security measures en masse at busy periods, then why is all the rest of it even considered remotely necessary?

The more I see, the more I wonder why so many people just accept what they are told and go along like sheep with such ridiculous charades. I weep for our nation and pray that those who chose to be blind will one day open their eyes.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Third Trimester!

I am twenty-nine weeks today, a week into the third trimester. I'm getting more tired and my exercise routines are gradually shrinking as the list of exercises available to me dwindles. I can see why it is so difficult to work out when you are carrying extra weight. I've only gained fifteen pounds as expected with pregnancy and boy howdy, can I feel it!

But I continue marching on, trying to get at least some sort of exercise each day, even if it is only parking at the back of the store lot and walking (slowly, to make sure I don't lose my balance and slip on the ice.) I continue to eat as healthy as I can, though I still dream of doughnuts after all this time.

I did the gestational diabetes test and had no adverse affects from it. I expected my heart to race, but perhaps the exercise I did that afternoon and the protein that I ate for lunch helped my body process it quickly. My baby did not seem to be affected by it either, but he is such an active little boy to begin with. :)

My lab report came back within normal limits, and I can't express how relieved I was to hear I didn't have to do the three-hour test, nor did I have to worry about declining and having to test my blood sugar all the time. So it ended up being a good choice for me, especially since they had a version without the red food dye in it. No migraines, very helpful.

The weather here has been fairly abnormal, though if you were to ask fifty Alaskans what normal weather is here, you'd get fifty different answers. But even with that knowledge, the fact that it has snowed once a month since the winter season started is very odd. And then that snow gets melted away or blown away. People are taking photos of their bare lawns and temperature gauges showing forty degrees or more. And then we watch the national news and see southern states getting buried up to their ears in snow and ice, frozen stiff with negative temperatures. Oh, so that's where our winter went.

Yesterday was one of the warmer days, and very sunny to boot. It was the day I felt the shift from winter towards spring. I feel that shift every year, but it seemed pretty early this year. I think it usually happens in March. I actually went out without a scarf and hat, without warming up my car, without feeling like I immediately wanted to go back inside the warm house. I have my homemade organic hot chocolate and have to turn off the house heater before it's halfway consumed.

I have some interesting prospects developing in my writing career, including the possibility of a regular gig writing for a local magazine. I sent in some examples of my writing today in hopes that they like it. I have also received a couple of rejections, but I have set my sights higher this year, concentrating on professional-paying markets first, so that is to be expected.

I am working on a submission to a fairytale anthology as well as possible articles for the local magazine. I plan on returning to the complete rewrite of my novel after the fairytale is finished and sent off. I continue to exchange handwritten letters with my closest friends in other states, as it seems to oil the gears of my writing machinery.

I look forward to getting out and about with my husband and our baby boy this summer. Hubby has been interacting with the little one in my belly. Yesterday he patted the area where his feet and bottom have been hanging out and got a whole bunch of kicks and wiggles in response. I pretended to glare at him and said, "You woke him up." But inside I was smiling and oh, so happy to see the joy on my hubby's face.

I am loving this year so far. I pray that the stupid amounts of happiness I have been feeling spreads to as many people as I can touch.

Okay, done with the sappiness. On with the adventures!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We've Got a Wild One, Folks!

My growing child has been a very active little bugger. Instead of a few random pokes, I feel like arms and legs are flailing in all directions! Kickboxing classes seem to be taking place in my womb as I'm trying to go to sleep at night!

We're seeing the movements even through my clothes now. It's very distracting when we're sitting and watching movies, and my belly gives this great jerk to the side. We often have to rewind (does anyone say that anymore?) the movie because we lost about ten minutes to watching the baby's activities and trying to guess which way he's facing.

Just had an appointment where heart rate and measurements are still right on track. I get to do the gestational diabetes glucose test next appointment in three weeks. Oh, joy. I was even told not to be surprised if I flunk the first one; I have so little sugar and carbs in my diet now to begin with, my body may freak out and not even know what to do with the drink when the day arrives. "What IS all this crap?!"

It amuses me to think what adjustments would have to be made if the tests DID show gestational diabetes. I guess my apple juice will have to go. Other than that, I have no idea what we could possibly change. No fruit?

I have recently fallen in love (again) with my calligraphy dip pen, even bought some parchment and a few extra colors of ink to play with. (I will never buy pearlized ink colors ever again though. They are way too difficult to remove from my pen while cleaning it.) I've been writing letters on adorable stationery with matching envelopes that I get from the Internet. I'm hoping a few of the recipients will write back in the same old fashioned way.

This sudden interest in letter writing and generally supporting the post office is pretty easy to understand: my frustration with social media continues to grow. A lot of people make great fanfare about whittling down their friends list, and that ever popular post, "If you're seeing this, you made the cut!" has been making an appearance on my newsfeed with alarming regularity. I notice this because I am pretty selective about accepting friend requests to begin with. I've stopped playing Facebook games. If I don't know a person or see/converse with them on a regular basis (or did at some point in time, even if we don't currently), I usually won't accept. I made it pretty hard to find me on Facebook in the first place, so I don't get random requests from strangers anyway.

At the beginning of this year, I did go through my friends list and unfriend those who hadn't been on Facebook in a very long time, or rarely posted at all. (I imagine a couple of them had probably unfriended me when their lives took an entirely new direction.) There weren't very many of those.

But today, for the first time, I unfriended someone for a very different reason. This person often posts inflammatory memes and articles, always negative in content, as well as disturbingly graphic and violent. Rarely were the posts ever about life or activities in general.

It made me sad to click "Unfriend." I'm all about being free to post what you want. I understand that the posts were very important to this person, that they were about life missions this person has, that there is great hope change will come about with the sharing of these memes and whatnot.

I've been told that a friend or two thought about unfriending me because of all the pictures of adoptable cats from the local rescues I share. But they hadn't because I post funny things and life updates as well, not just cats. And I guess that's my issue too.

When I find myself wanting to hide almost every single post a person makes on Facebook, it's probably time to unfriend. The constant negativity was turning me off to the message of the poster. That internal sigh was turning into a hurricane wind.

I also find it rather pointless. Unless you are friending a ton of strangers because of business, fame/celebrity, promotion, what have you (and you have a very loose handling on privacy settings), you are most likely posting to friends who already share your beliefs. Preaching to the choir. And if you have differing opinions, the likelihood of changing those opinions through a Facebook meme is next to zero. Do it excessively, and you are likely to drive people away from the message instead.

Sometimes people know how to debate, bringing up countering points without the intent to change minds. But most people only know how to argue and fight, sling insults, devolve to a verbal brawl without intellect or facts. Even when the initial post wasn't an invitation to debate or a plea for advice and opinions, many are still quick to put their dukes up and goad others into their battles.

One phrase that makes me groan: "I don't really want to get into this here, BUT - "

Then don't. Just don't. Please.