In Which Pregnancy and Car Wrecks Don’t Mix

A little less than two days ago, I had what was probably the scariest experience of my life: At 36 weeks pregnant, I was involved in a car accident.

My car. Click to biggify and behold.

I won’t say much about the details, because I’m not certain of what legalities I need to be aware of in discussing this in public (before all insurance claims are settled, that is). But the bare bones of it is that I was driving on a city street and another driver pulled out of a parking lot in front of me. My car collided with the other driver’s.

As far as I know, the other driver was not injured. Both vehicles sustained damage. The other driver received a citation.

Me, I went on my first ride as a patient* in an ambulance. By the time the EMTs were loading me up, the husband had arrived. I asked if he could ride in the ambulance with me, but the EMT said, “No, the police need him to stay right here and take possession of your car. He can come to the hospital afterward.”

Having witnessed the understandably reckless manner in which the husband had arrived at the scene in his pickup, I asked, “Is he okay to drive?”

The EMT shrugged and grinned. “Well, he drove here.”

And that was that. In the ambulance, the EMT checked my vitals and stuck an IV and some saline in the back of my hand. Over the next 15 hours, I would come to hate that IV. But in the meantime, I lay there on the gurney, watching the highway recede between my outstretched feet, wondering what would happen if one of the cars following close behind us plowed into the back of the ambulance.

The EMT talked to me in a soothing voice, especially as he explained (after I asked) that hearing a fetal heartbeat through a stethoscope in a moving ambulance was practically impossible. I took the opportunity to practice my yogic breathing.

When we reached the emergency room, the EMTs took me straight up to labor & delivery triage. On the way there, we passed through multiple winding corridors and rode two different elevators. The EMT who had driven the ambulance looked at me said said, “After this elevator, there’s a set of stairs.”

I looked at him, looked down at myself strapped to the gurney, and looked back up. “You guys have fun with that.”

He grinned. “Oh, no. We’re riding. You’re carrying.”

I motioned at my belly. “I’m already carrying!” And I was even able to chuckle through my tears as I said it.

Once I was in a room, a nurse came in and started doing things. A fetal monitor was involved, strapped to my belly. When I said something about Braxton-Hicks contractions, the nurse said, “Oh no, these aren’t Braxton-Hicks. These are the real thing.”

I managed an askance look and a shaky, “Oh.”

The most beautiful sound in the world was our baby’s steady, strong heartbeat, loud and clear over the fetal monitor. The most beautiful sight was her snub nose and plump cheeks on the ultrasound. (This was when I finally truly stopped crying.) The best feeling was her regular, healthy movement inside of me.

From triage, they moved me up one floor to labor & delivery, where the husband and I spent the (restless but as restful as could be expected) night. Tuesday morning, my doctor came in, pronounced the baby’s condition “excellent” and my lessening contractions “normal for anyone who’s 36 weeks pregnant,” and sent me home to relax for the remainder of the week.

I see the providential hand of God in every moment of this entire, terrifying experience. I see his protection of the baby and of me. I see his kindness and gentleness in the ministrations and the humor of the EMTs. I see his knowledgeability, his efficiency, and his loving care in my nurses and in my doctor.

In the story of my life, God is always present — but in this particular chapter, he’s obvious.

Have a good day, dearies. And tell someone you love them. : )

___________

*When I was 7, my grandparents came to visit us in Germany. Parents, grandparents, and I took a trip to Berlin. On the way there, we were involved in a 10-car pile-up on the Autobahn (which word, by the way, is nothing more than the German version of “interstate”). My dad had to stay with the car and talk with the Polizei. As the only other German-speaker among us, I had to ride in the ambulance with my grandma. At age 7. But that’s another story and shall be told another time.

Defining Rape

If you know me, you know that I mostly roll my eyes at politicians and at politics in general.

But if you know me, you also know that on occasion, I get very angry with politicians and politics in general.

This is one of those occasions.

If you don’t want to read any more about Rep. Todd Akin or his definition of rape, you should probably stop reading this post and read something happier.

Todd Akin on Rape

A few days ago, in an interview on KTVI-TV, Akin stated:

“From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy caused by rape is] really rare…If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something….”

From there, Akin went on to discuss his views on abortion, which I am not going to get into here.

What I am going to get into is his definition of rape and how it affects women.

And yes, I realize that he later apologized and attempted to clarify by stating that what he really meant was “forcible rape,” not “legitimate rape.”

Excuse me, sir — but what kind of rape is not forcible?

Defining Rape

Yesterday, I posted the following status update on Facebook:

I know I’m inviting a firestorm, but I don’t care. I’m going to say it anyway.

Rep. Todd Akin is an idiot and an enemy of women.

That is all.

As of 11:50am today, the firestorm I expected has not come. But a few responses did prompt me to post further comments on the status, and I thought these worth sharing here:

I do agree that Akin’s comment is being used to distract from other issues. But that’s not what concerns me.

What concerns me is that every day, the burden of defense in rape cases is placed on the shoulders of the woman who was raped instead of being placed on the shoulders of her rapist. In private circles, in public, and in courts of law, a woman who has been raped must prove that she really meant it when she said “no.”

Was she wearing clothing that “invited” the attack? Did she fight back? Did she try to hurt her attacker? Did she scream? If she doesn’t answer these questions to her questioners’ satisfaction, then the assumption is that she didn’t really mean “no”; that she must be lying in some way; that she maybe even enjoyed it; that she wasn’t really raped.

The reality is this: If a woman says “no” and the man continues and succeeds in penetrating her, then it is rape — even if saying “no” is all she does. If she chooses to lie there and take it instead of “fighting back,” it is still rape. If she chooses to lie there and take it and not subject her body to further stress beyond what she is already enduring, it is still rape.

What Akin has done is take away a woman’s right to defend herself in whatever way she sees fit — even if the single way she chooses is to say “no.”

A political figure has uttered a stupid, ignorant statement in an admittedly uncomfortable situation — and it’s a statement that, once again, places the burden of proof on the woman who was raped. Yes, we all make mistakes, and we all say stupid things sometimes when we’re under stress. But if Akin doesn’t know the basics of human biology and can’t keep his tongue under control when in public and under stress, he needs a different job. Most of us don’t utter our stupidities in an arena that affects the lives of billions worldwide.

As for the question of stress and ovulation, I can speak only from personal experience. No, I haven’t suffered the kind of stress brought on by rape. But still, my body has been subjected to fairly heavy amounts of stress since I had my first period. Not once in the 21 years since I had my first period have I missed a cycle due to stress. Not once has stress had any effect on my ovulation.

The times I have attempted to get pregnant, I got pregnant on the first try — no doubts that it was the first try, and no paying attention to where I was in my cycle, either.

But according to Akin, if I get “raped” and get pregnant as a result, then my knowledge of my own fertility means nothing. According to Akin, if I get “raped” and get pregnant as a result, it means (1) that I wasn’t “fighting back” hard enough to cause my body enough stress OR (2) I’m lying.

Again, the burden of defense rests on the shoulders of the woman. Again, she must prove that she was “legitimately” raped — and her single, possibly quiet “no” is not enough defense. Not against her attacker, not against Akin, and not against accusations.

Minutes after I hit “enter,” an acquaintance replied with a link to this excellent letter to Todd Akin from Eve Ensler, a rape survivor in the Congo.

Since I have never been raped, her words present the realities of all of this far better than my words ever could.

Humans, Yeah…But Love Them Anyway

A fellow blogger recently reminded me of the following: a “poem” that circulates around the intarwebz under the title “Anyway” and is generally attributed to Mother Teresa. After doing some research, I discovered that the original was penned by one Kent M. Keith and entitled “The Paradoxical Commandments.”

It seems worth reblogging.

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

~ Kent M. Keith

(A version of these was made famous by Mother Teresa.)

The last two “commandments” stir up a lot of thoughts and mixed emotions in me. On one hand, every one of these resonates with me, and I want to shout, “YES! The world would be a glorious place if every one of us believed these things and acted on them!”

On the other hand, I struggle with setting healthy boundaries. The fight is not as tough as it once was, but there are still areas of my life in which I know my boundaries are ridiculously shoddy. (And I have a hard time not beating myself up about this.) So, to someone who has difficulty with drawing a firm line in a healthy place, Mr. Keith’s final two “commandments” can feel intimidating.

At what point do I withdraw (not my love but my self)? Where do I need to draw the line so that I’m not enabling instead of helping? For I know that there are, indeed, situations in which loving someone means not giving them my all. How do I know when I’m approaching the need to set that boundary? How do I know when I’m right on the line?

How do I know when I’ve crossed it?

These aren’t questions anyone can answer for me. The answers depend on the situation, on the people involved, and on my level of comfort (which, again, also corresponds to situation and persons). Relativity strikes again, I suppose. I just have to keep reminding myself to be patient — with me. It’s frustrating to have come so far in learning these boundary-setting skills…and then discover that I still have so much to learn.

But. In the meantime, “The Paradoxical Commandments” are good ones to live by, and I stand by the truth of that statement. Even the final two will, I think, lead one into a more meaningful and intentional life.

And that, really, is the kind of life I want: one that’s deliberate, intentional, infused with meaning. I don’t want to look back at my life and see a woman who has let fear or complacency or apathy rule her. I don’t want a life in which individuals or society have determined my choice, my direction, my goal.

Every one of Keith’s commandments resonates with my desire and my passion to brighten the corner where I am.

Every one of Keith’s commandments resonates with my desire and my passion…

“…to live deliberately…to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
To put to rout all that [is] not life and not when I…come to die
Discover that I [have] not lived.”

~ Henry David Thoreau
(adapted)

Loving people “anyway” — not giving up on them, not casting them aside — seems like a good way to do that.

On Sarcasm: How Much Flesh Will You Eat?

Earlier today, I read and commented on Twitter Angst and the 2012 Olympics by blogger Ben Howard**.

Notably, my comment did not concern my aversion to the American usage of the word “Angst,” which in German has no aura of mental-emotional weirdness about it but, instead, simply means “fear.”

*ahem* But I digress. ; )

No, my comment was in reference to what Ben writes about the apparent increase of snarkiness, negativity, and cynicism on the Internet. What I said was this:

As time goes on, I watch the attitude of the masses with growing concern. When did pithiest and snarkiest and most cynical become the ideal to which we should all aspire? It seems like if you don’t infuse your every word with the utmost of sarcasm, then you’re not worth listening to.

What’s frightening about that is that the Greek root of “sarcasm” is the same as “sarcophagus” — which, directly translated, means “eater of flesh.” So basically, if we’re not tearing at each other’s vitals, then we have no right to a voice?

Is it just Ben and me? Or has anyone else noticed this?

eater of flesh


To get attention on the internet (and maybe we should be asking why you would want to), you’ve got to have the snappy, snippy comeback. You’ve got to infuse your every line with passive-aggressive insult aimed at one group or another. In order to make your side look good, you gotta make the other side look bad.

When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, my best friend and I got teased all the time by a couple of boys who were two or three years older than we were. They laughed at us. They made fun of us. (Scarily, they picked us up and swung us around because we were too light-weight to fight back.) They mocked and insulted us at every opportunity.

I told my parents about it and tearfully asked why those boys were treating us this way.

My dad replied, “Honey, it’s because they’re bullies. They feel really bad about themselves. They feel like really small people, and it makes them feel better and bigger when they make others look smaller.”

What he really meant by “smaller” was inferior, but it would be a couple of years before I fully grasped that concept.

So. You get what I’m saying here, right? It seems that in the cyberverse, the best way to get attention is to be a bully: to make yourself look bigger and better by making someone else look smaller. You don’t get to feel superior, you don’t get to have others think you’re superior until you make someone else look inferior.

Is the internet really nothing more than an elementary school playground? Are we all really nothing but a bunch of petty, childish bullies?

I say “we” on purpose, because I know I’ve been guilty of this. When I mentioned “the masses” in my comment on Ben’s post, I mentally included myself. No, I haven’t outright bullied anyone. But I’ve done more than my fair share of sarcastic snarking. In his response to my comment, Ben calls the use of sarcasm “seductive” — and he’s right, it is.

When you’re a writer, you tend to be good with words. When you’re good with words, you tend to know pretty quickly, in any given situation, which words and phrases will cut the deepest. And if you’re in the mood — or if you’re mad about the situation/topic — or if you’re just a bully, you shoot the stealth zingers without hesitation because you know you’re going to hit your mark and feel triumphant…better than you felt before you aimed and fired.

“You.”

…I?

Sarcophagus: eater of flesh.

Sarcasm: ripping the heart and soul out of an adversary.

Or out of a friend?

Out of a beloved?

Are we creating this online culture of negativity, hate, and cruelty? Do we think because it’s not “IRL*” that it doesn’t really matter? We can toss our verbal grenades, let them explode and cause the requisite amount of damage, and then turn off our computers and pretend that we didn’t just maim someone?

No. People, NO. What happens online is real. What we say online is REAL. Words matter, and they do hurt. We don’t get to pretend that our sarcasm doesn’t affect the world IRL. We don’t get to pretend that we’re not gleefully tearing at the flesh of another soul. When we let ourselves speak those words — and yes, you do know the ones I mean — when we indulge in the pithiness, the snark, we make ourselves over into tombs for rotting meat and dead men’s bones.

And we carry that stench into every corner of our lives. Online and offline.

How many pounds of flesh are we going to eat tomorrow?

_____

*In Real Life

**Beneath his post, Ben says of himself:

“When he isn’t channeling Andy Rooney for a post about the Olympics, Ben spends his time in a field with Snoopy waiting for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin,”

which I think is positively cramazing.

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 2

This just appeared randomly a few days ago. 15 week, 5 days.

A little late (but late due to a good cause), here is the second half of my “Baby Factory 10 Things” list. If you missed the first half, check out numbers 1-5 here.

And so! Now that you’re all caught up, let’s proceed to…

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 2

6. There is this thing. It is called “food.” You will not like it.
It will taste funny. It will smell like feet. Your favorites will suddenly turn into cardboard or charcoal and make you gag. (As an aside, brushing your teeth will make you gag, too.) Even the much-praised saltine, upon which you munch to keep something in your stomach at all times, will eventually crumble to ashes in your mouth. This is not happy.

The reason this happens is, once again, Our Favorite Friend Progesterone. It changes the chemical composition of your saliva, which alters the taste of food. This is MADE OF WEIRD.

This is also frustrating and demoralizing, and you will get in trouble with your doctor for losing 9 lbs. between Weeks 5 and 8.

7. There is this thing. It is called “food.” You will crave it like a hyena craves a wildebeest.
The good news is that around Week 12, the flood of progesterone becomes less flood-ish. Bit by bit, things start to taste normal again. Sadly, some of your favorites will still taste and smell like feet. (I still mourn peanut butter.) But in general, you’ll start liking food again. Food will no longer bring on nausea at every longed-for bite. Suddenly, the vegetables you loathed in Week 11 taste like ambrosia in Week 14. This, my dears, is glorious, and you shall rejoice!

You shall also begin gaining weight like your doctor told you to do back in Week 8.

8. If this is your first, THEY are all experts.
THEY are women in your family. THEY are your female friends. THEY are your female acquaintances. THEY are women who’ve had babies. Sometimes, THEY are even women who haven’t had babies.

One and all, they will tell you what it is you’re experiencing. They will tell you how much they hearted being pregnant. They will tell you how grateful you should feel that you’re sick. They will tell you horror stories of bleeding and cramping — their own and other women’s. They will tell you all of these things even though you don’t ask to hear. And you will sigh muchly. And try not to freak out.

(The good news is that when you actually *do* request stories from some of them, there is much loving commiseration as soon as it becomes clear that this is what you need. When this happens, you will be quite glad to have so many experts in your life.)

9. At night, you will have an IMAX theater in your head.
Once upon a time, the husband said that because I’ve always has such vivid dreams, I must have an IMAX in my head at night. (He, on the other hand, is blessed with a calm, sleep-preserving, empty warehouse.) Well, Mr. Sandman seems to be taking hits of that famed, illicit drug Proges Terone — because now my dreams are more vivid and convoluted than ever. At times, I wake up to a flood of emotions that don’t even feel like my own. This, too, is a WEIRDNESS.

So far, the most memorable dream was the one where civilization had mostly recovered after the zombie apocalypse hit. I was waiting for my grandparents outside a convention hall because I was their driver. The convention was for The Church of the Protection of Zombies or somesuch; apparently, my grandparents had joined a cult that preached against the killing of zombies. Being a killer of zombies whenever opportunity struck, I disagreed with this religion and so chose not to enter the convention hall.

Yeah. So there’s that.

10. Your brains will fall out.
This, fortunately, has nothing to do with zombies — although it might seem like you’ve turned into a zombie, what with the bleary eyes, the slow shuffle, and the random bouts of feeding frenzy.

But no, what we’re really talking about here is the Infamous Pregnancy Brain. I guess it’s the hormones. Or maybe it’s the lack of sleep. Or maybe it’s that your entire being is subconsciously focused on assembling a brand-new other being inside of you. Whatever the cause, the effect is that you can’t think straight, you can’t process information in a logical manner, and you can’t remember squat.

Except where the ice cream is located. You can remember this perfectly well.

The bad news, THEY tell me, is that Infamous Pregnancy Brain doesn’t ever really go away. It turns into Infamous Newborn Brain and from there morphs into Infamous Toddler Brain. By this time, I don’t think we can blame it on the hormones anymore, so it’s gotta be the lack of sleep. And THEY tell me this doesn’t stop until the kid moves out.

Will I recover my brain then? Some say yes, some say no. I’m banking on the kid turning out a nightowl just like me, in which case we should be able to let each other get as much sleep as either of us could possibly want.

Shut up, experts. Lemme have my delusions. They ain’t hurtin’ nobody. ; )

BONUS
11. When you hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, you will sob like you did when Bambi’s mother died. Only happier this time.
: )

Death and Rape Threats

Today, I’d planned to post the second half of my top ten list about being pregnant. Instead, I read something this morning that turned my stomach and wore me out in a completely different way.

The something in question was “Let Me Tell You About the Birds and the Bees: Gender and the Fallout Over Christopher Priest” by Catherynne Valente.

Valente is a bestselling fantasy and sci-fi author. Priest is a sci-fi author who recently took quite strong exception to the nominees for this year’s Clarke Award. There was much virtual hullaballoo and whatnot over the vitriol with which Priest chose to express his opinion.

But his opinion per se is not what inspired the Valente post or the post I’m writing now. What Valente chose to focus on is the fact that this was his opinion. As in, a male opinion. And, she asserts, had the same opinion originated with a female author, the backlash against this female author would’ve been a lot stronger than just some online tongue-wagging and head-shaking.

Go read what Valente wrote. It’s pretty convincing. Especially the parts where she gives examples of female bloggers who’ve received rape threats and death threats simply for stating what they think.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of vocal women being targeted online. I believe my first exposure to it was this post by Shauna James Ahern. She describes how she once posted a recipe for soft pretzels. Moments later, someone commented, “I hope you choke on your own pretzels and die, you bitch.”

Really, people? Over pretzels?

No. Not really. It wasn’t the pretzels, and it wasn’t Ahern (who’s also received comments such as, “I hope the pedophiles are watching and I hope they get your kid.”). It was the fact that this is an outgoing, optimistic, vibrant, popular, outspoken woman. The origin of the thoughts was female, and she wasn’t shutting up when told to do so. She wasn’t going away.

There’s also this article, which describes websites glorifying the “war on women” and encouraging misogyny and brutality — both online and offline.

Back to Valente, whose post made me feel the need to hijack my own blog today. She writes,

Most women who blog or are active in the cultural commentary game know that they have to watch what they say. Always. It’s a horrible balancing act, and one I rarely see men having to do.

…The fact is, to be a woman online is to eventually be threatened with rape and death. On a long enough timeline, the chances of this not occurring drop to zero.

…I keep trying to think of what a male blogger would have to say about science fiction to have someone say they hope he gets raped to death. I’m not coming up with anything.

Misogyny in the West is coming up and it’s a gross, miserable, chthonic thing swirling at our feet. It’s getting worse, not better.

Valente is right. Now, those of you who know me IRL know that I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the news or to politics. The former is depressing, by which I mean that I actually do begin to have a dismal outlook on life when I regularly expose myself to stories of death, destruction, and cruelty; the latter simply disgusts me with its ubiquitous hypocrisy. BUT. There’ve been several news/politics stories that have caught my attention recently. And I can’t ignore them.

Have you been paying attention, my dears? Are you aware of the lawmakers who want to give employers the legal right to ask a woman why she is using birth control — and to fire her or not hire her if she’s using it to prevent pregnancy? Are you aware of the lawmakers who want to force a woman to undergo a vaginal ultrasound before she can have an abortion*? And require the doctor in question to perform the vaginal ultrasound before performing the abortion, even if the doctor doesn’t want to do the ultrasound?

And then there’s the old standby: Are you aware that a woman gets paid less for the same job a man does, even if her qualifications are the same as his?

Another old standby: Feminazi! I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this term applied to a woman who dares express a women’s-rights opinion that steps outside the accepted norm. Over and over again during college, I heard this term applied to one of my most respected professors. Why? Because she had opinions. About women. About women’s rights. About how men treat women. About how women respond to that treatment. About the right and the wrong of it all.

And she wasn’t afraid to speak those opinions.

Feminazi.

Really, people?

A woman has a solid core belief system and dares to open her mouth and let others know about it — so you equate her with a person who committed the atrocities of rape, torture, terror, murder, and genocide?

Really?

Women, these things are not something we can ignore. They’re not going to go away. They are getting progressively worse. The world we grew up in is not going to be the same world our daughters and grand-daughters grow up in. I truly fear that our daughters and grand-daughters aren’t going to enjoy half the freedoms that we’ve enjoyed — and our freedoms haven’t been anywhere as numerous as they should’ve been. Are you going to let this happen?

Men, these things are not something you can ignore. They’re not going to go away. They are getting progressively worse. The world your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and wives grew up in is not going to be the same world your your daughters and grand-daughters grow up in. Your daughters and grand-daughters are going to live in tiny boxes made all the more confining by the knowledge that things could and should and used to be better. Are you going to let this happen?

I’ve been belittled, teased, and mocked because I’m female. I’ve expressed opinions and offered suggestions and been ignored — only to see those same opinions and suggestions be accepted when they came from a male.

I’ve never heard anyone say they hope I get raped to death because I said something they disagree with and in a way they disapprove of.

I am afraid to hit “publish.”

Will the threats start now?

And yet, I cannot remain silent. I will not.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

~Frank Herbert,
Dune

__

*No matter what my opinion about abortion itself (and I’m not going to discuss it here), a government should not be allowed to require a woman to have an object shoved up her vagina before she can have an abortion.

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 1

Hile, inklings!

As I’ve hinted in my last few posts, I have a few reflections to share about the joys of pregnancy thus far. In case you think this isn’t something you care to read, consider that the prepositional phrase ending the preceding sentence is a sample of deep sarcasm, which sarcasm might just be enough to make this post enjoyable even for you non-pregnancy-buffs.

Happily, the sarcasm is also an indication that I am feeling LOADS better. BANGERANG.

No baby bump yet. So here's a cute picture of my cat, instead.

So, to celebrate my return from The Nefarious Kingdom of Nausea and Exhaustion, I’ve put together a list of ten things that, if they didn’t surprise me entirely over the last few months, at least caused my expectations (expectations, get it? ha ha) to morph into something unrecognizable pretty much overnight.

As part of my celebration, I’m being rather more verbose than I’d anticipated, so I’m breaking up the list into two parts. Here, for your reading pleasure, is the first half:

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 1

1. It can be horribly scary.
Okay, so this one isn’t going to be funny, and it doesn’t apply to every pregnancy. But yes, this adventure can be scary. I already knew this, because I’d suffered a miscarriage back in 2006. So this time around, when I started spotting during Week 5 again, I was terrified. A visit to the doctor and a blood test showed low progesterone levels. Granted, my doctor hasn’t said the low levels caused the spotting, and she hasn’t said that I would’ve miscarried without progesterone supplements. But I took progesterone supplements through Week 10, and the spotting stopped, and I’m still pregnant at Week 15, so there you go.

Part of this scary experience is that, because I’m human, the fear trumped the joy at being pregnant. Ed and I let family and friends know what was going on because we desperately needed the spiritual and emotional support. Family and friends were spiritually and emotionally supportive. This was awesome.

Family and friends were also happy and excited. This was not so awesome for me, because although I was happy, I was not excited. I was scared, and it took all my focus to keep the fear to a minimum. Honestly, I couldn’t let myself start to be excited until around Week 10. In the meantime, everyone else’s joy sometimes felt overwhelming.

Hitting Week 14 some ten days ago was a blessing of ginormous proportions, because that was the start of the second trimester, in which the risk of miscarriage drops significantly.
Even so, I still get a little scared sometimes. Prayer helps. : )

2. It can be messy.
So. Progesterone supplements. You take one supplement per day. You do not take it orally. You also do not take it anally. And that’s all I have to say about that.

3. You run a triathlon. Every. Stinking. Day.
Since the advent of Week 12, this part has improved somewhat.

But between Weeks 5 and 12, the level of exhaustion was un-freakin’-believable. I spent anywhere from 10-14 hours per day asleep; or, if I wasn’t asleep the whole time, I was sprawled languidly on the couch or in bed, continually debating whether or not the pressure in my bladder was worth the effort of dragging myself vertical and down the 100 miles of hallway to the bathroom. Twenty minutes of conversation left me feeling like I’d just spent two hours doing high-impact aerobics. The ten-minute car ride to the doctor’s office was the equivalent of a BodyPump class. Said doctor tells me, “You need to be walking every day.” I meekly nod as though in agreement and think to myself, Doc, you are a funny lady.

4. You will want to slice off your boobs.
Hormones! Ah, the joys of them! One of the fabulous things they do is make your boobs hurt. And when I say hurt, I mean HURT. Hugging people is painful. Stretching is painful. The touch of clothing is painful. Putting on your bra is painful. Taking off your bra is painful. The only thing that’s not painful is sitting still whilst wearing said bra. Lying on your stomach is a thing of sheer impossibility. The torture does not stop, and you will want it to stop badly enough that removal of your breasts starts to sound like an attractive proposition.

There will also come a time when you’ll need a bigger, better bra. And that’s all I have to say about that.

5. The baby is an interior decorator. Or maybe a Third Culture Kid.
The kid is growing. Yay! That’s what s/he is supposed to do, and that is a glorious thing. And s/he is not shy about making sure there is enough room in your torso for the accomplishment of all this glorious growth.

In a nutshell: Your interior organs get moved around, and it starts happening pretty early on. I almost don’t have the words for it. The closest I can come to describing it is pressure in odd places. It’s like somebody’s putting their hands flat against the inside of my abdomen and pushing out. This is not the baby’s kicks I’m feeling; it’s too soon for that. No, this is the stretching of uterus, the stretching of ligaments, and the rearrangement of intestine location. It’s WEIRD. And sometimes it keeps me awake at night.

If you don’t know what a Third Culture Kid is, here’s the brief lowdown: A TCK is a person like me who has grown up in two cultures and combined the two into one unique personal culture. This carries with it a host of odd quirks too numerous to go into now. But one of those quirks is the desire to move across the country (or across the world) every few years. When I can’t do that, I rearrange the furniture — just like this kid is rearranging my insides.

Okay, thus ends Part 1! Come back on Friday for the second round!

Sometimes, a Lady’s Just Gotta Get Naked

This is a Naked Lady, aka Amaryllis. She grows, she changes, until she becomes what she is meant to be. She is vulnerable to her environment, but she is strong in joy over being what she is meant to be. She is naked. But she has no fear.

Thought of the Day:

To get what you want, you’re going to have to change.
 

 

 

 

You can’t keep doing just what you’re doing and expect to achieve a final destination that’s not at the end of your current path. You know what your current path is and what it leads to. You know it leads to something other than what you want.

So, to get what you want, you’re going to have to change.

It might be a tiny change, something so small that you are the only one who notices. It might be so small that even you don’t see its ripple effects until years and years later.

Or it might be a change so obvious and so radical, it makes your inner circle sit up and pay attention.

It might even be so ginormous a change that your inner circle turns on you for being different. It might be so great a change that they cast you out of their hearts.

Either way, to get what you want, you are going to have to change.

You just have to decide how badly you want it.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Go do something fantastic. : )

Top 10 Writerly Fears; Also, #NaNoWriMo

Halloween is scary. Writerly fears are scary. Therefore, a non-scary (I hope) pic of me with my Halloween facepaint totally fits the subject of this post. No, really, it does. Click to embiggen!

Hello, my darlings. I’m sorry you’ve heard nothing from me all week! Alas and alack, all of my wordage has gone toward National Novel Writing Month, the insane challenge of writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November.

I undertake it every year because I am a crazy person.
 

 

 

Most happily, the daily word count average is 1,667. As of this blogposting, I am the happy writer-owner of 14,200 words, which puts me about 5 days ahead of where I need to be. My story is the low sci-fi adventure Elevator People (working title), and it is going quite cramazingly. Thank you for asking. : )

I have a couple thousand more words to pound out tonight. So, without further ado or adon’t, here is a top ten list to entertain you!

Top 10 Writerly Fears

 

  1. Every image I use is cliché.
  2. My character doesn’t have a clear voice.
  3. I am a one-trick pony. (I.e. everyone loved my last book — what if the next one sucks?)
  4. My friends are going to disapprove.
  5. My family is going to disown me.
  6. I can’t execute the requested edits.
  7. I can’t make this story long enough.
  8. I can’t make this story short enough.
  9. I’m going to invest ten years in this writing business and then find out I should’ve done something else.
  10. I’m never going to get any better at this.

____________________

I should note, perhaps, that only a few of these are my personal fears, and they only rear their ugly heads upon occasion.

How about you? Do these fears match any of yours?

Which writerly fears can you think of that I didn’t mention?

The comments are yours. Weigh in! : )

* Facepainting design based on designs by Fancy Faces Face Painting. (Used by permission.)

Harlan Ellison, Alan Dean Foster…and Courtney Cantrell

YEAH BABY.

I’ve known for just over 48 hours, and I’m sure it hasn’t really sunk in yet. But, lack of sink-innage notwithstanding, I’m a-gonna blare it out to the world anyway:

Around Christmas of this year, I shall have a story in the SAME short story collection as HARLAN ELLISON and ALAN DEAN FOSTER.

As my friend Josh (who’s gonna have a story in the same collection) says,

“This is what we in the business call a pretty big deal.”

In case you’re unaware, dear inklings, Ellison and Foster both are so well-known in the sci-fi world, it would be downright silly for me to tell you about them here. Really that’s why God gave us Google and Wikipedia. Thus, if you go get Googwikified over these two gents, you’ll find out everything you need to know.

But. I’ll say this much: Ellison has been in the writing biz since the late 1950s, and Foster made me fall in love with him when I read his “Pip and Flinx” novels as a teen. If that gives you even a slight reference point for my excitement, we are good to go.

So! The short story collection in question is KINDLE ALL-STARS: RESISTANCE FRONT, the brainchile of one Bernard J. Schaffer.

Sometime around three months ago, Bernard put out an intarwebz call for short stories: He wanted to do a ground-breaking anthology to showcase independent authors in today’s e-media. The “resistance” aspect of the project refers to our collective determination no longer to let the traditional publishing model squelch our writerly voices. Bernard writes,

“Whole generations of authors have been lost to us because they could not penetrate the murky swamps of corporate publishing. I imagine all the works of art that we’ll never know of simply because the vicious cycle of query-letter, agent, synopsis, publisher, book-seller, and eventual consumer did not work out for that individual.

“When an industry coins a phrase like ‘Slush Pile’ to reflect their opinion of where your work belongs, you get a pretty clear idea of your place in their world.”

You might imagine, my darlings, that every word of this resonates with me. : ) Not only that, but the proceeds of the project all go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These people find kidnapped kids and fight child porn. No question that I can get on board with that!

So. Longish story shortened, I finished up the short story I’d been working on and sent it in to Bernard. He sent it back with edits, and I had a mild freak-out while my writer self dealt with the knowledge that I’d not only sent my work to a total stranger, but now he was asking me to change it. And I mean change it. The dude wanted me to clip an entire thread from the story. And it was a thread I happened to like. Zoinks.

In the meantime, I found out that Ellison and Foster both had donated stories to the project. So now, if I got in, I’d be getting in with Ellison and Foster.

Have I mentioned that this is kind of a big deal?

Here I am, trying to edit and re-write a story, and the deal just keeps getting bigger and bigger. No pressure, right? I had to get over myself — no, really, I had to get over my fear. Why does it always come back to that?

Fear holds me back again and again. This time, it was fear of rejection…and maybe even a little fear of success. I have no idea where all of this might lead. But some possible future paths aren’t necessarily grand.

But I sucked it up, did my re-write, sent it back to Bernard — and waited. Ten days, y’all. I kept telling people it wouldn’t ruin my day if my story got rejected in the end…but that was only a half-truth. I wanted this bad. And during those 10 days, the fear kicked in again.

I rode it out. Did other stuff. Painted a crimson dragon. Published a whole magazine. You know, the usual. ; )

Then, two nights ago, the final participant announcements rolled in over Twitter, and I was on the list. Even better, Josh was on the list, too. Spider Robinson Wisdom ruled my personal celebration:

“Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased -— thus do we refute entropy.”

I love it when entropy takes one in the kisser.

For the record, applying Bernard’s feedback to my story was fun, once I got over myself. (Strangely enough, I’m wanting to paraphrase Pumbaa from The Lion King: “once I put my behind in my past”; but I don’t think it really applies here.) As I trimmed and re-wrote and copypasted, I saw a startling new shape emerge from the story…and it was a shape I very much appreciated.

It was the shape of a story that was better for the changing. Having an editor’s feedback made me a better writer for the story. Who’d a-thunk? ; )

My horror short “If This Were a Stephen King Story” will appear in Kindle All-Stars: Resistance Front in December 2011.

“Few projects slung my way, these days of electronic idiocy and bad writing, can perk me up and get the fireworks. This is one of the best, sweetest ideas I’ve heard in years. Nothing but the smiles of Success are due the project, the people putting it together, and the good kids who will benefit from every penny garnered. I am 100% and a bag of marmosets behind it!”
— Harlan Ellison.

“Growing up, I had access to all the books I wanted to read, and they made my life. This is a project to benefit kids who have nothing. I can think of no better cause.”
— Alan Dean Foster

This really swings my verge, y’all. : )