Friday, August 25, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
What tips would you give to any of our readers who want to become writers? Writers write, so BIC,HOK. It's the advice I give myself on lazy days when I want to go watch all 100 episodes of CRIMINAL INTENT I have Tivo'd. (Vincent Donofrio is PRETTY!) It's pronounced BICK-HOCK, and it stands for, "Butt in chair, hands on keyboard." I did NOT make that up, but am not sure who did. I heard it on a writer's list, and it's useful to me still.
Don't put ANY emotion into the publishing end. You have no control over that. Just send out your queries and forget them. Focus on the thing you can control...the work. How much craft you learn. Revising and improving and WRITING every day. Publishing is heartbreaking and exhausting and breaking in takes years. Do the time, but don't put your heart in it. Put your heart into the work, love the work so much that you would want to make it perfect whether you were pursuing publication or not. The work will fill you up if you let it.
There is much more HERE, including a dishy paragraph on Joshilyn's next book - The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.
My bio and head shot are up HERE.
Just seeing that bio up there makes totally excited and totally terrified! The thing is... I know what I need to say, I'm confident that I can do the commentary.
My husband is going to be watching both the kids by himself! A five year old kid and a two week old baby!
These are the sorts of things that only us "writing mothers" have to worry about.
Will I be able to pump enough milk?
Will she even take a bottle?
Will the crew get upset with my requests for nursing/pumping breaks? (I checked that this was possible before I accepted the job - but you never know, it could be a problem when it comes time to actually do it...)
Will my five year old son behave?
Will the baby go back to nursing just fine after being given a bottle?
I'm a bit of a worrier. I know - deep down - that worrying will do me no good. What will be, will be. But this doesn't stop me from thinking about it in the middle of the night when I'm up nursing the babe.
Last night I had the BEST sleep ever. I went to bed early... I had to force myself to go to bed early since I'm usually an evening writer... but I laid down with the baby at 8:30 pm and I did not get out of that bed until almost 8:00 am! I just nursed her laying down and she seemed to take to that. It took me a while to get the hang of it with my son, and it's taken a couple of nights to get the new one to latch on, but I did it.
I feel 100x better today than I did yesterday. It's amazing what a little sleep will do.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
And yet there's a different kind of change I'm noticing.
When I had my son, I wasn't really 'a writer'. Oh sure, I wrote, but I had no real deadlines. No one expected anything from me. I just wrote to write. Now I have editors, and agent and deadlines, deadlines, deadlines! And the last thing I want to do is write.
I want to lay on the couch with my son and daughter and discuss the softness of her hair. I want to smell her sweet breath and watch her as she sleeps. My son is the greatest help. He plays peek-a-boo with her and loves to stroke her hair. I allow myself the maxium amount of cuddle time with both of my children, more than my 'career' would like me to.
I just keep waiting for the pull of the keyboard and it's not happening.
Monday, August 21, 2006
I held off telling my husband for most of the day. He was likely tired of me describing the exact feeling of the Braxton Hicks contractions and discussing the differences between them and ‘real’ ones. Plus, I had to go to the mall to get my hair and make-up done for some head shots for the CBC Country Canada contract! (Priorities people!) I also dropped my son off at my mother's, “just in case”.
By 1 am on Wednesday morning, the contractions were 5-6 minutes apart. But they were not nearly strong enough. However they were gaining in strength and I woke my husband and phoned my midwife, Diane, around 4 am, knowing she would have an hours drive to get to me. She could tell that I was not close enough for her to speed, but that I was having contractions. When she arrived she assessed me, the baby and checked me again. I was still 2 cm but this time the cervix was very stretchy and almost 75% effaced. She declared me “in labour”… BUT in the very early stages. This was starting to become very familiar as I’d had contractions for two days like this with my son. The baby was still posterior. This meant one thing: back labour was in my future if I didn’t get her turned.
During the day on Wednesday we went to the mall to walk around and I tried to get a little bit of rest in the evening. My son stayed another night at my mother’s house.
By the time I was in the shower at 2 am on Thursday morning, I knew that it was getting close. When you need a hot shower to cope with the contractions… they are good contractions. I woke my husband again and called Diane. This time she could tell that they were more serious than the last contractions.
She arrived around 3 am and assessed me and the baby again. She checked me and declared me 5-6 cm and pretty much effaced, which was wonderful news! However, the baby was still posterior, as she’d been for the last couple of days. Diane wanted to map the baby’s head, meaning that she would feel for the lines on the baby’s head that say exactly which direction she’s facing… just as she began, I started to say “be careful, that’s how…” and before I could say “the water broke last time”… the water broke. Right on cue. And, just like my last birth, there was some meconium in the water. No biggie.
I laughed, but I knew that this indicated things were going to get tougher… last time I’d been over 9 cm when the water broke. This time I had 3 more cm to go. And now we’d determined definitively that she was posterior, so I was instructed to begin walking the stairs in my house. With each contraction I had to do a lunge over a couple of stairs. Not so much fun. But I managed to do it for half an hour, she seemed to make a quarter turn in there during that time because her back was now on my right side. I noticed a distinct change in the contractions – almost as though there was a baby’s head right on my cervix. Because of course there was – once that water broke, Emily lost her little cushion of water that held her up off of my cervix. I asked Diane if we could please go to the hospital (we’d planned a hospital birth, so this was in the plan) as the last time I entered the transition phase shortly after the water broke.
As my midwives have privileges at all the hospitals in town, we were able to choose the best room we could find. After calling to check availability, we chose a room at a hospital 20 minutes away that had a big bathtub. They were concerned because they only had one labour room left, and no post partum rooms. However I was to be a direct discharge, so I wasn’t going to need a post partum room – the post partum room would be my own room at home.
The drive in was not very comfortable. I think my one and only swear word may have been uttered in transit. I alternated between kneeling on all fours with my head wedged between my husband and his seat… and sitting back in the seat with the seat-heater on high.
We arrived around 5:30 am, I think, and the midwife had arrived before we did and started the tub for me. As soon as I was in it I felt much better. The walk from the truck to the room had felt like one contraction after another. The tub is amazing. I can’t say enough about the tub! It allows me to move from side to side whenever I need to – which would be much more difficult in a bed. And it helped to keep me focused on relaxing during the worst contractions.
It’s about here that I begin to lose track of what happened when. I know I laboured in the tub for a long time, taking time out to labour on the toilet for a bit, which was uncomfortable, but definitely beneficial in a ‘gravity enhancing’ way. My husband was wonderful throughout the labour. He massaged where and when I said, and stopped when I said. For the most part I just wanted him there. I just wanted to open my eyes and see him there.
My mother arrived with my son shortly after our arrival and it took a few minutes before my son would come in. But he came in and stood by the tub, not really wanting to look at me. You could tell that he was a little bit nervous, but he asked to sit on Randy’s lap and the midwife talked to him about how hard I was working to give birth to our baby. I tried to reassure him and he seemed comforted. We’d prepared for this part by watching some birth videos and discussing the noises of birth. Eventually he would follow my husband’s lead and would even rub my arm. But this part of labour soon became quite boring and he went out to sit with my mother and watch cartoons.
I have no recollection of time. It seemed I’d be in the tub until I was out and then on the toilet until I was back in the tub. I would turn on the water and fill it as high as I could. I could handle the contractions best if I had running water over my feet to distract me. Other helpful pain coping techniques were having my husband ‘compress’ my hand while I was having a contraction, or having him run his fingers down my arm towards him. Or I would tap or drum my fingers on the side of the tub. It took all the effort I had to relax during the contractions, I would allow my hands and arms to float. It’s an amazing amount of effort to just simply allow contractions to happen and not fight them, but I knew that’s what I needed to do. Every once in a while I’d remind myself that ‘that contraction was gone and it would never come back’.
Soon enough I felt like pushing. It’s odd to think back to my first birth and realize that someone had to check me to tell me when I was 10 cm dilated and when I’d be allowed to push. The midwives simply told me to go with my body. About every other contraction I’d get an urge to push and so I would. Around this time, Diane said she would call her back-up midwife, Kimberly, to assist. She could use a nurse but they tend to get a little more anxious when confronted with mec in the water.
Eventually I moved out onto the bed. Diane checked me and found that there was an anterior lip on the cervix so I got on my hands and knees and tried not to push. If I were to push against that lip, then it could swell. By allowing my body to just labour for a bit longer without pushing, I could thin that lip out. It was tough. Very tough. When your body wants to push… you just push. There isn’t much you can do about it.
Eventually I had to keep pushing. I pushed on my side with my leg on my midwife’s shoulder for a while and pushed on all fours. Two of the most effective ways for me were the birth/squat bar. With the assistance of Kimberly on my right and my husband on my left, they’d lift me up to the bar with each contraction, then I’d push and allow gravity to do its job. After the contraction I’d lay back down. Then repeat… it was absolutely exhausting! I began to drink apple juice rather than water because I was getting so tired. Earlier on someone had made a comment that this would go faster than the first time, but it didn’t seem to be working out that way. Thankfully my husband was quick on the draw with the juice. Between each contraction I had to just turn my head and the straw was right there for me to drink from. Just one sip every break.
The final position was with my legs up on the squat bar. I was not a fan of getting into this position because it felt like my hips were going to pop out. But despite my objections, Kimberly instructed my husband to lift my legs into the position. Strangely enough, once my legs were in that position, it felt better. But I was very conscious of the fact that I was saying “no, no, no, no” and my poor husband was being given a direct order from the midwife to move my leg. Thankfully she knew much better than I did that it was a temporary discomfort.
By this time, my son was right in on the action. He sat right next to Diane at the end of the table, watching his baby sister come into this world. During pushing I would open my eyes briefly and see him smiling in amazement at the sight. He would dance around and laugh because he could see her head. By this time I could reach down and feel her head and it helped bolster my wavering strength. Every once in a while he’d declare “it’s taking too loooong”. I had to agree.
I could also hear the midwives discussing the heart rate. She had been a strong 140 baby throughout the labour, never going below 130. Now we were getting some 70s during contractions and although this didn’t necessarily stress the midwives out, they did speak in hushed tones. I knew it wasn’t a great sign, but I also knew that we were so close to the end that we would have her out before things got serious. About this time they also noticed that the mild meconium had turned into moderate meconium. This prompted the decision to call the pediatric unit to come in and take care of the baby as soon as she was out. They arrived in their bright greeny-yellow scrubs and stood at the baby warmer awaiting her arrival.
Crowning was tough for one major reason. She came into this world sideways. I don’t know how good your anatomy lesson was, but having a sideways head means that the broadest part of the head is coming out perpendicular to the way it should have been. I had to hold off from pushing for several contractions to let the perineum stretch. Meanwhile, Diane was asking me when the last time was that I rode a horse. “A couple of years ago” I managed to squeak out. Having trained horses for years has given me something that perhaps not many people know about (until now) a tough perineum. She had been doing perineal massage for the last half hour coupled with very warm compresses (that feels better than you can imagine!) and now that we were crowning it was paying off. I had no tears despite the odd head presentation. The rest of her came out sunny-side up, meaning she’d flipped back to posterior some time ago. One hour and twenty-nine minutes of pushing. I had cut a whole half hour off of the birth of my son as I’d pushed for one hour and fifty-nine minutes with him.
She flopped out on my chest quickly and my mother swiftly declared her to be of the fairer sex. Which was fortuitous since mom had copped to buying lots of girl clothes already. We had planned for some bonding time before the cord was cut, but because the peds were there my midwife cut and clipped and she was lifted off of me. She wasn’t breathing very well, so they suctioned and worked on her for a good minute. Then she began the mewling … and kept that up for a good hour! Just softly complaining about her misshapen head and lengthy stay in the birth canal.
After she was presented back to me, we attempted some nursing with skin-to-skin contact. She wasn’t very interested, but tried a couple times. I expressed some yummy colostrum into her mouth and figured we’d work on it later. Meanwhile both Kimberly and Diane were cleaning things up and getting me some food and juice. My husband stood at my side and fed me toast and milk and juice while I held our baby.
After I had a shower and a bath and my husband dressed our daughter, we discussed names. We decided on Emily Grace and filled out the paperwork. My mom took my son back to our house after he’d greeted his sister.
She was born at 10:59 am on August 17th. We walked out of the hospital three hours later and headed home to be with my son and start our life as a new family.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Saturday, August 12, 2006
My son is five. He's FIVE. Years. It's one of those milestones that seems so far away. Until it's not. And now I'm left trying to remember all those things we've said he could do over the last year "when he's five". (I believe the other milestones are 10, 13, 16 and 18... those are just unimaginable right now...)
For the first time, M got cash for his birthday from two different family members. Totally $30. He was sitting on my lap (what little lap I have left) when he opened the cards and I said "Oh! Look! What are you going to buy?"
I could hear my husband's eyes roll from ten feet away.
Apparently the correct response was "Oh! Look! Now we can open up a SAVINGS account."
I'm still learning.
I have to agree, a savings account is a much better option. We've decided that we will match every dollar that he saves... but the condition is that he must have approval for every dollar he takes out of the savings account. This will be reassessed when he's old enough to get a job and have a paycheck. (Hint: I'll be completely lost at that point because I have no idea how to parent a working kid who makes his own money...)
We are soon going to start him with an allowance. But we haven't figured out HOW to do it. We do know one thing... with an allowance comes regular chores. But we just need to figure out what chores are appropriate for a five year old. (Ideas?)
My son impresses me. He has become this considerate little child.. sorry... considerate big boy. There was only one other child at the birthday party (we usually have family get togethers and he's the only other kid) and they played so well together it was amazing! Not only did M let the younger child help open presents, he shared his toys with him afterwards. It was a little touch and go with the new Lightning McQueen car... that's the 'special' present... but he did share just about everything.
How did I go from being the parent of a child to the parent of a big boy is such a short time?
Friday, August 11, 2006
I don't know if it was my pregnancy brain or what, but it took me forEVER to figure out what doo-hickeys I needed for what and in what order I had to plug the aforementioned doo-hickeys in... it seemed far too complicated!
But I did it and here's my 'secret'...
Plenty of trips to “The Source” complete with two or three returns of products, new phones bought and returned… little doo-hickeys bought and returned and THEN a trip to the pawn shop to buy a proper digital recorder.
So here’s the deal.
I have a thingy that turns one phone jack into three. It’s not a two-line jack, this is important, it must make that one jack have three inputs on the same line… you could do it with a two-jack, but my fax is also plugged in there, so I went with three…
Then my phone is plugged into it. Just a regular phone… I chose one that has speaker phone or a headset option… I always talk on a headset because it’s better for my neck (old horse training injury, lol).
Then I bought this ‘micro telerecorder’ thingy. I liked it because it came with two sizes of ‘male parts’ (oh the jokes are endless….) so it might fit different recording devices if needed…
I plug the ‘micro telerecorder’ into one of the three jack spots, right next to the one my phone is plugged in to.
Then came the hard part… finding the recorder. I had a microcassette recorder AND an iRiver MP3 player… both record audio BUT here was the part that I didn’t get until a couple of trips to the Source… neither had a microphone jack. Both of them had an external mic, so there was no way to plug the ‘micro telerecorder’ in to record the audio coming from the phone line.
So I hunted around until I found this handy-dandy ‘digital voice recorder’ at a pawn shop. I was fortunate and some dummy left an hour of some interview on there… I now know more than I’d like to know about the management practices of the Saskatchewan Roughriders… someone in that office is a raving jerk… and swears like a sailor… but ANYWAYS….
So I plug one of the male ends of the ‘micro telerecorder’ into the digital voice recorder. And then that’s it.
When I want to record, I take the recorder out of it’s little cradle (because there’s lots of feedback on the recording if I leave it to record while on the cradle) and press record.
Apparently I can download the audio files to my computer as well, but I haven’t figured that part out yet. It has a female part of a USB port… and I have a USB cable that I can hook up to it… but I haven’t tried to download anything yet… perhaps I should try with Mr. Saskatchewan Roughriders and send it to them… hehe… I haven’t deleted that off the recorder yet.
Here's an excerpt:
It's a pretty awesome interview. Go. Read. Comment.
JB: You have given me plenty of good advice. What’s your number one piece of advice for new authors who might sometimes feel like giving up?
KS: Get over it! We all have days that suck. You can't let them rule your life. True story: my first marriage was a bad one. Abusive husband, mostly emotionally and verbally, for most of our time together I believed I was worthless, that no one could possibly love me, and I would never amount to anything. I couldn't look in a mirror and not a day passed that I didn't consider dying. It sucked. My grandmother bought me my first computer so I could write. My husband tried repeatedly to destroy it and me. One night I decided he was right. I couldn't write, what was I thinking? So I gathered up all my disks, printouts, research notes, everything-- stuffed it all into garbage bags and set it out on the curb. I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. Next morning, I woke up, realized he was an idiot and that I wanted to live and I wanted to write. I got outside in time to see the garbage truck drive out of sight. Holy Crap! What had I done? I'd lost my stinking mind. That's what.
YOU KNOW WHAT YOU CAN DO and you are a big fat dodo head if you let anyone tell you otherwise. (Preschool flashback) NEVER let yourself be led astray by the insecurities of those who run you down and try to make you feel like less than you are. Something inside each of us determines what we can accomplish; it's called confidence… determination. Never rely on anyone except yourself. You are the ruler of your own kingdom and as a writer you have the supreme power to design that kingdom from the ground up. OWN IT!
Thursday, August 10, 2006
At the end of this month I will fly out to Toronto - family in tow - to tape the commentary of the runs. I've been involved in this sport since I was a teenager, so I'm not worried so much about my 'general knowledge'. But the hard part is finding out about the teams and the individual competitors I don't know. This sport is now international and I need to research everyone that I can.
Can you believe that even Israel has a team competing? That's grit for ya'!
Perhaps this factors in (perhaps you say?) to why I want to pop this child out. I am not worried about making deadlines (four articles due this week) or travelling with the family to Toronto. I know I can do it.
I have to do it.
This is the thing about being a writing mother... life doesn't stop when a child is added to the mix. I wasn't even a paid writer before I had my son. All my writing efforts in the last five years have occurred with him at my breast, then my feet, and now with him interrupting me every 6.4 minutes to discuss the minutiae of his day.
It's not easy, but it's the way I like it.
I may have other news to announce later.
My midwife has given me the perscription of '20 drops of black cohosh' and '20 drops of blue cohosh'. Mix together and 'shoot them back'. May mix with juice.
May mix with juice? I should say so. This stuff is the epitiome of nastiness.
Take some grain alcohol.
Pour it on a tree.
But, between this and the accupuncture, maybe this bean won't be so overdue.
I may have explained this before, but I'll go again...
With my son there was a little date discrepancy. I said he was due at the beginning of the month but the ultrasound put him almost three weeks later than that. When he was born smack dab between the dates he popped out all dry and very obviously overdue. In fact the nurse exclaimed "oh! This one was overcooked!"
So I reveled in knowing that I. Was. Right.
Because that's what it's all about, right?
This little bean was planned. I went off the pill. I counted days. I determined ovulation. Things were, um, done. So I am pretty sure that I KNOW when I conceived. And in fact, I tested positive very early and that confirmed for me that I'd ovulated when I thought I did and I'd gotten pregnant when I thought I did.
Then along came technology and the ultrasound put my dates about two weeks later... I say August 2nd or 3rd was the due date, ultrasound says August 13th or 14th.
So I'm either a week late, or my due date isn't for another three or four days.
I believe I'm late, so does my midwife. Kind of. She keeps bringing up the second dates as a reminder that hey, nature may be smarter than you, honeybunch. I am willing to admit that she's right.
But I still want to be right.
It's an obsession.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
PW reports: AuthorHouse Ordered to Pay Up
by Claire Kirch, PW Daily -- 8/8/2006
The Kansas district judge presiding over the defamation lawsuit brought by romance writer Rebecca Brandewyne against AuthorHouse ordered Friday that the POD subsidy publisher pay Brandewyne $200,000 in punitive damages. Brandewyne’s co-plaintiffs in the suit, her parents, also were awarded punitive damages of $20,000 each.
This past May, a Wichita jury found AuthorHouse guilty of publishing a book, Paperback Poison, in November 2003 by Brandewyne’s ex-husband that libeled her. The jury awarded Brandewyne $230,000 in actual damages (PW Daily, May 16).
In his 14-page decision, Judge Jeff Goering asserted that AuthorHouse “acted towards the plaintiffs with wanton conduct,” in publishing Paperback Poison, despite the fact that Gary Brock, the book’s author, had informedAuthorHouse during contract negotiations that iUniverse had rejected the manuscript on the grounds of possible libelous content.
You can read more over at Miss Snark ... her esteemable Snarkiness...
Monday, August 07, 2006
What is on your desk?
- Two digital recorders and a microcassette recorder
- A can of mints
- A phone and headset
- Notepad for writing phone messages
- receipt for recorders
- Notes on research I still need to accomplish before the end of the month
- One of those jewelry holding things with my engagement ring, watch and several sets of earrings - my fingers are currently too swollen to manage the engagement ring AND the wedding ring
- Several different sized Post-It Note pads
- Pens in boxes, pens in coffee mugs, pens in pen holders, pens not taken out of their fancy carrying case
- Fancy ceramic coffee cup holder
- Four cds of supposedly calming music that I've never listened to, despite the fact that I bought them over a month ago
- Three lip balms, all different
- A needle and thread for... ?
- My passport and birth certificate in a fancy little holder so I don't lose them
- A pocket knife with a variety of other implements, kind of a cheap Swiss Army thingy...
- Random sticky notes on which my son has drawn me pictures
- Bottle of glue
- Big box of stick pins
- Big box of multicoloured paperclips
- US and Canadian postage
- Sticky note with the words "all that is intended shall be provided unto you"
- Fax machine
- Out of date weigh scale for postage
- Recipe box filled with cards, each one with a contact on it... I like the old school style of contact management
- A thesaurus
- The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
- Photocopies of some recipes that I need to file away... in the kitchen
- Three pregnancy tests, yes, three and yes, ON MY DESK
These are not particularly exciting things... but they give you a weird little glimpse into my office. What's in YOUR office?
Saturday, August 05, 2006
- When your child can go to the bathroom by himself.
- Deciding by the amount of sun coming through the trees if it's time to get up yet.
- Napping at 2pm.
- Eating whatever you want.
- Reading in bed for hours before bedtime with no worries about how tired you'll be in the morning.
And all these will end when I have this baby.
Instead of playing the "when is this thing coming out of me?!?" game, I'm trying to relish my last few moments of freedom with my son. In short order, he will no longer be my only child and in a way, I mourn that.
So many things in my life I've done for him. The reason I'm a writer was because I needed to make money to get us out of debt and back on our feet. I am definitely not the perfect mother. I have many flaws that (if you'll excuse me) I won't catalogue here. I feel like my son has been a little guinea pig of parenting. I've learned what I'm good at and what I'm bad at as a parent with him.
And child #2 will reap the most benefit.
There's a quote taped to my computer monitor:
There are many ways to measure success; not the lest of which is the way your child describes you when talking to a friend.
I don't know who wrote it, but it helps me to remember to be the mother my child deserves.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Due date was yesterday.
Why yes, I am normally this impatient. Why do you ask?
Without giving too many bodily function updates, I have been having stronger than average braxton hicks contractions and a lot of lower back pain. All good signs.
Red Rover, Red Rover, we call BABY over!