Saturday, June 30, 2012

Defending Twilight

You're staring at the title in disbelief. How can anyone defend Twilight, you wonder? Well, I'm not going to defend the writing (not that I had a problem with it, but I don't always read to search out the bigger thesaurus, sometimes I just want to shut down and enjoy the story--and this is a young adult romance series... who the hell expects to have deep thoughts while reading a romance novel?). I'm not going to defend the main character (although seriously? Everyone has to be amazing and fantastical in their own heads? Romance novel heroines aren't there to be role models for anyone).

What I'm here to defend is largely misconceptions, unfair comparisons and outright geek affronts that I see on a very regular basis. Frankly, I'm not a Twihard, but the vitriol people have against this series and the energy they put into outright hating it really, really gets on my nerves. (As does my feeling the need to defend it)

I'm going to start with this: the vast majority of people who hate Twilight never should have picked it up (and if you're judging it based on the movie, just leave now, because you've already lost your case--and I'm sorry if you were dragged to those pieces of crap against your will) or have never even bothered to read it. However, just because you don't like something, doesn't automatically make it garbage.

I hate Stephen King's writer's voice viciously. He's also one of my greatest inspirations as a writer, because we write in the same linear, time-dependent fashion. Every minute I spent reading Dune was like torture. I choked the whole thing down and while I enjoyed the story, I couldn't force myself to read the second (though I tried). I decided I'd been punished enough. Anne Rice... well, I cannot get through Queen of the Damned no matter how I try. I have to skim her verbose, irrelevant, superfluous Nathaniel Hawthorne-esque voice to stay in the stories that I like (loved Interview, Lestat, Tale of the Body Thief and Vittorio, other than her writing).

These are three respected, good authors. They write very well. Their stories are not garbage, even if I absolutely despise reading them. I can't abide Harlequin Romance novels for the most part, but I like a nice, fat historical romance now and then. Most of those are about the heroine learning her place (I even read one where she was whipped with a crop until she stopped misbehaving for her later-to-be husband--yet Edward is a monster?) and doing as she's told (although the ones I enjoy tend to have stronger female leads, like Anne Bonnie: Pirate Queen).

It transfers into music, too. I'd rather be stabbed than listen to jazz (music of hell!), R&B, country (with a few exceptions), Kenny G (special kind of hell), most modern pop, hip hop (except Will Smith), reggae or anything with a floppy bass, bongos or brass or very staccato instruments. I can, however, still acknowledge the incredible talent in these musicians and their value in entertaining others--the people who do enjoy that sort of music. To say that someone should die because they entertain people, but you don't like their (non-hate-spreading) entertainment is disgusting and it shames me that so many people find it funny.

Now, onto my original theme. Let's start with this:

"Real vampires burn in the sun."

No, they don't. "Real vampires" don't exist, to start (unless you count the deluded masses who think they live on the life forces of others and drink clamato juice while disgusting goths with their bastardization of the original 'death walkers'). Second, the original vampires were shambling corpses who typically only woke during the night to feed on family members (causing illness, pregnancy, whatever needed a scapegoat). The sun didn't hurt them and, shockingly, they could be killed with a plain old bullet.
Dracula was the first really romanticized vampire and guess what? He walked around in the sun with nary an ill effect (unless you count him not being able to become mist, a wolf, a bat, et cetera). The first vampire to be killed by the sun was Nosferatu (who was originally supposed to be Dracula, but became his own vampire in the end... and it was the crowing of the cock that seemed to do him in). I'm not sure at what point they started burning, but if it wasn't a movie, then it was certainly a part of the Vampire Chronicles in the 70s.

"Sparkling is stupid."

Maybe, but that negates a lot of Hollywood through the years. I can't tell you how many bad guys sparkled on Star Trek (the original series). And most movies in the 80s employed some heavy glitter at some point. Quite frankly, us kids of the 80s grew up with a lot of sparkling going on and it's not a surprise to me at all that one of us had a dream about someone sparkling in the sunlight. A large chunk of MySpace was a glittering mess long before these books came out. I'm sure that gave plenty of people weird dreams.

The whole sparkling vampire is just one of many, many odd vampire mythos. Just because something wasn't written 200 years ago doesn't mean it can't be written now. I don't know why people are so obsessed with this--personally, it made me think of old Greek legends and gods. But it leads me into...

"The vampires in Twilight are gay."

Gay people love/have sex with people of their own gender. This is probably the first vampire series I've read where there wasn't any gay vampires. As someone who is not heterosexual, I find this incredibly offensive. You detest something, so you brand it gay? Yeah, Edward's a freaking prep. That doesn't make him gay. Having sex with Jacob would have made him gay, but that didn't happen (in the canon universe--calm down, slash fans). In fact, all the vampires were paired off in nice little heterosexual relationships. Being sparkly doesn't make them gay any more than a lisp makes a human guy gay. No H8.

This is gay:
...and one of my favorite screen captures
Jean-Claude & Asher
Asher and Jean-Claude, gay vampire couple supreme. Thanks to Spiffiness

This is not:
The less of Robert Pattinson's face, the better to me
Twilight, the Graphic Novel

And no, having a moral compass that matches the one he had when he was alive does not make Edward gay. His not wanting to have sex with her was partly because of, like Superman, what could happen if he lost control. Frankly, I'm still wondering why his sperm wasn't venomous when every other bodily fluid he had left was. Sheesh, condemn the guy for not wanting to look like a wife-beater.

"Buffy never would have put up with that."

This bothers me even more if they reference Spike. Both Angelus and Spike stalked Buffy, watched her sleep at night and slept with her. Further, Spike beat her, repeatedly and their sex was this side of non-con right up until he went too far because they never bothered with a safety word and he almost fully raped her.
Buffy, being bitten by Angel to save his life,
knowing that he might not be able to stop and it could kill her

In her loving relationship with Angel, they made love and he became a monster that tortured her friends and family and murdered people she was protecting. She did eventually kill him, right after his soul was restored and she watched him get sucked into hell to be tortured for who knows how long.

Don't challenge me on Buffy, it remains my single favorite television show of all time. Comparing anything to it is useless, as it stands in a class of its own. And you certainly can't compare a book with a younger target audience to it. Nor that book to any adult horror novel, urban fantasy, etc. I love the show, but Buffy totally ended up screwing her abusive stalker. They were in the middle of beating the shit out of each other when they stopped to have sex as the building they'd beaten each other into collapsed around them.

(although Spike and Angel both died for Buffy--
it's okay for guys to die for girls, but not vice versa)
Again, both Spike and Angel watched Buffy sleep at night
and tried to eat her.
Edward never tried to eat Bella--the exact opposite, he fought not to want to
and the only time he did feed from her was to save
her life

No, Buffy didn't throw herself to her death over a guy. She killed herself for her imaginary sister:

Cliff jumping: not okay. Actual suicide, where it breaks everyone around you: just dandy.
This was designed by someone who never
read the books: you can't stake marble.

Let's face it, with Buffy's track record, she'd have been on Edward in a hot second. He wouldn't have lasted, though, because as dangerous as he is, he had no intention of harming anyone at any point. And you also can't bring age into it if you bring Buffy into it. Angel and Spike were both older than Edward (although at least Spike wasn't chasing a 15 year old Buffy).

First: As I understand it, Blade doesn't hunt anyone who's not hurting anyone (maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like an Avenger wouldn't go for that shit). Second, my husband assures me that his sword is made of adamantium or similar, but I couldn't find anything supporting that claim. I don't know if an "acid-etched" sword is going to cut through a Twilight vampire. Pretty sure they can snap titanium without much difficulty. They may annoy the shit out of him, but he's not going to actually kill someone in cold blood.

Okay, that's all for now. I will say one last thing, though: Liking Twilight vampires is not the same as liking vampires. Because I'm sure you aren't liking James, Victoria or the Vulturi (unless you like your vampires good and evil. aka: normal). You like the neutered ones. That's valid. But if you were confronted by what a vampire really is, you'd probably pitch a fit and drop them in a hot second.

Hate Twilight all you like, but stop judging people for enjoying it and stop being so mean about it. I don't care if there's a Mormon agenda (people can find an agenda for anything that they want to in anything if they look hard enough) or that Bella's personality isn't as bright as her husband's skin. And maybe I sympathize because I have been that 'in love' as a teenager and still remember it (and heck, maybe you hate it for the same reason I like it!). And, if you've never read it? Shut up. Everyone can just move on now and enjoy this video of cute animals.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Musing on It's Sew Chelle

It's Sew Chelle! 

A friend posted a while back on Facebook about this crafty lady who made a cover for her eReader. I checked her out and one of the first things I noticed was that she had a coffee set of fabrics to work with. Immediately, I thought of my husband's tablet and I told him about It's Sew Chelle.
The fabrics he eventually chose

Right away, I messaged her to talk about my interest and ask questions about making it to his specifications. She worked with me, taking pictures of her available fabrics and messaging me until he had finally found a match that he liked. She waited patiently for us to be able to actually afford it (and at $30, it was very affordable!) and put up a special listing enabling us to buy it easily.

She shipped it right away and it came quickly and it's absolutely beautiful. The fabric is soft and the case is firm enough to hold it upright, as a stand and protect a little bit from jostling and bumping around (he had to buy a special tool to be able to regularly repair his tablet from our 5 year old banging into it randomly).

This is the size as compared to my husband's phone, folded nicely

And opened, compared to my hand (it's a 10" tablet)
It stands so he can watch videos or read more comfortably
Front view of it standing
Overall, my husband is very happy with his cover and I will be ordering one for my Nook Simple Touch (my birthday present). I will update this post later with pictures and my feelings about having my very own. She has already started taking pictures of fabrics together for me so I can decide what just screams "me" (I already have my cover fabric picked out!)

In the meantime, please feel free to go visit her on Facebook or her website, have a look at available fabrics and order your own custom cover for your eReader or tablet (or, if you'd rather, she also makes cute little purses, cell phone cases, wallets/clutches, coin purses and zippered carrying pouches)!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Misconceptions about Nocturnal People

courtesy stockxchng
Night owls are what we're called. People tend to associate night people with the seedier things in life: crime, drugs, people up to no good. I've even heard people say that they don't want to follow their child's natural biological rhythm if it's nocturnally based, because they would have no ability to get a job at night. When it was pointed out that the world doesn't stop at 10pm, this was quantified with: a respectable, decent job.
Dear nurses, doctors, bank bookkeepers, police officers, fire fighters, night school teachers, EMTs, paramedics, grocery store clerks, waitresses, waiters, writers (and basically everyone other than bank tellers and school teachers),

Get a job. A real, respectable job. You know, one that happens when 'normal' people are awake, between the hours of 6am and 8pm. Anything else and you're just a freak, weirdo or criminal.

Diurnal Human

Does that list surprise you? Do you truly think less of the doctor that saves your life when you have your appendix fail at 2am? Do you disdain the firefighter who saves you from the fire caused by a faulty electrical circuit? Do you look down on the police officer that stops the burglar that would have stolen your family heirlooms?

courtesy stockxchng

Of course you don't. But most people also don't bring those individuals to mind when they think of 'night owls.' There are countless articles on teaching people how to return to a 'natural' diurnal circadian rhythm. But what happens if that's not your natural rhythm? Just as people with ADHD may just be a holdover from hunter/gatherer days (the restless hunter), so, too are nocturnal people likely a holdover from days when men and women were needed to watch the tribe while it slept; to protect it from tigers and wolves. Maybe it's simply an evolved trait from the ability to break free of the sun's control.

I'm writing this at 5:30 am, on the late side of the sunrise. Meaning, I really need to be in bed. Unfortunately, the time when my mind seems most open to my muse is between 1-6am. I don't know why, really. Maybe it's the peace and quiet. Sometimes it's that part of sleep right before you slip into dreams that wakes me up. Tonight, it was discovering a colony of carpenter ants trying to invade our front porch right before bed that left my mind noisy and too alert.

courtesy stockxchng
I cannot stress enough the frustration I feel when someone responds with incredulity upon learning I've only awakened at eleven or noon and exclaims, "Wow! Lu-cky! I wish I could sleep so late!" Or, even more insultingly, "You really should set an alarm and wake up earlier. It's not good to sleep so long."

Late. Long. It's 5:40 now. I'll probably fall asleep at about 6am and most likely not wake until noon. That's six hours of sleep. If you go to bed at, say, 10pm, that would mean you would wake up at 4am. If someone called you lazy or implied that you were privileged for sleeping until 4am, how would you feel? You'd probably be pissed off and rightly so!

Now, if someone wants to growl at me that I'm lucky to get six hours of uninterrupted sleep (like that's going to happen) who also has a young baby, as I do, then I'm not going to be insulted. I'm going to agree wholeheartedly. I remember my every-two-hour waking firstborn quite clearly. But going to bed at 2am and waking up at 10am (my preferred schedule) is not lazy nor 'lucky,' any more than it is for someone to sleep until 4am after going to bed at 8pm.

This is not a sleeping disorder (though people with sleeping disorders may actually be nocturnal people trying to force themselves to be 'normal'). I'm not talking about delayed sleep phase disorder (which, in my humble opinion, may just be a way to label nocturnal people unfavorably--as a 'illness' rather than a natural state, as homosexuality was once categorized)... although that at least admits that some people do not have a diurnal circadian rhythm.

courtesy stockxchng
I do not feel energized by light. Quite the opposite. The longer I spend in the sun, the more tired and worn out I feel (of course, I'm also allergic to the sun--blisters, hives, nausea and worse). I feel energized by twilight and invigorated by the stars and moon. I prefer to see this side of a sunrise. That is how I feel happiest and healthiest. When I force myself into a more diurnal schedule to keep up with homeschooling activities (for the love of granola, isn't part of the benefits of homeschooling not having to stick to an early schedule?), I wear down more quickly and am more likely to get sick.

This is probably my favorite article on being nocturnal. It describes the struggles many nocturnal people face, trying to conform to a diurnal world. This one, from Psychology Today, explores the trend in nocturnal behavior in relation to IQ. And just for fun, here's the wiki on the topic.

My husband is also nocturnal, though not to the same hour that I am. His lends more toward falling asleep at 1-3 while mine is closer to 2-4 and he only typically needs about six hours to my eight. Our kids are also nocturnal, which means that my baby not going to sleep until 2-3am is not a bother to me most of the time. Since they are/will be homeschooled, they do not have to worry about catching a bus at 7am, so they can follow their natural circadian rhythms and sleep on their own schedules. And it does vary a bit through the year.

So, the next time a friend tells you that they slept until noon, don't assume that they slept for 10-14 hours (not that hypersomnia isn't quite possible, but if someone needs to sleep that long, then sleeping for 6-8 hours, as most people do, is miserable). Don't assume that they are undisciplined or lazy. Remember that diversity does not end with skin or sex. It continues into the mind. From the non-neurotypical to the nocturnal, just because we are different does not mean we aren't still quite alike in the end.
courtesy stockxchng

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Sweet dreams and... good morning.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Featured Book: The Elvenbane

This week, I'm going to talk about one of my all time favorite books. The Elvenbane is a book by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey that captured my attention back in high school. It was my first big exposure to Elves, talking dragons, etc. (no, I still haven't got through The Lord Of The Rings... in fact, after this series, singing elves just flat out did me in).
The Elvenbane (Halfblood Chronicles, Bk. 1)
This series starts with a pregnant dragon (a shaman of her people) coming across a concubine in active labor, dying of exposure in the dessert. A free thinker amongst her people, she is also deeply compassionate and can't just leave the baby to die after helping her into the world, so she brings her back to her people and passes her off as a pet for her older child, her son.

This fantasy story bounces between characters in the third person, revealing, bit by bit, a world that began as an Earth parallel (with the exception that ESP is real there--telepathy, telekenesis, etc. are all quite possible), but was invaded by extradimensional travelers. Not a lot is revealed of the past in the first book (this is actually a trilogy--I warned you that I'm not big on stories that end in one book), but the present is populated by superior and typically cruel Elven Lords and their human slaves. Laws are strict, but none stricter than one: Humans and Elves may not breed together. The resulting 'wizards' have magic much stronger than their parents (which is contrary to Elven succession, leaving the child no stronger than the most powerful parent).

The dragons, too, are alien to the world they share and have kept their presence hidden, doing nothing to stop the subjugation of the native inhabitants (although they have no problem meddling in the two-legged affairs where it amuses them). The baby that the dragon shaman rescued just happens to be a halfblood (possibly why she was spared).

The Halfblood Chronicles features a strong female lead (and reluctant revolutionary leader), interesting, diverse characters and a fascinating take on all three races. There are politics, historical fun, magic, romance and adventure galore. It was my first adult fantasy series, but wasn't so thick of the genre as to be hard to read at all. I highly recommend these books.

Have you read them? What was your feelings on the books?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Musing on Honest Company Diapers

Last month, a mama in one of my facebook parenting groups posted a picture of her daughter in a particularly cute disposable diaper, along with a note that it was from a free sample. Free? I'm interested! I'll admit it--I love samples. Even those that aren't totally free, like the little ones in the bins at the store.

I looked up The Honest Company, which was the maker of the cute diaper. I quickly signed up, quite interested in the 'free' sample (quotes because you have to pay a shipping charge of $4.95). I had to wait until I thought we could afford the bundle ($80, approximately, before shipping) 7 days from receipt of the sample. Doing the math on how many disposable diapers we use versus what comes in the bundle, I estimated that one month's supply would last us the rest of Kat's first year, give or take.

Kat is allergic to Huggies and pretty much all generics (I won't buy Pampers due to their refusal to take their Dry Max products off the market, compensate the injured babies' families or put a warning on the package that it can cause burns--but we did get a package of Luvs when she was tiny and it left terrible burn-like rashes everywhere the diaper touched her skin). We have to buy Huggies Naturals or Seventh Generation (or did, until I discovered Earth's Best at Babies R Us in my desperate search for either of the brands that don't hurt her--they are hard to find around here--and added a third brand).

She would rather wear nothing at all
I'll be honest: I hate Seventh Generation only because they're brown. It looks like I'm sticking a paper bag on her butt and knowing that it's dye just makes it all the worse. I love the little Pooh Bears on the Huggies Naturals, but I can only occasionally get them at our recovery outlet store because I can't find any stores in the area that carry them. The Earth's Best are barely better than the Seventh Generation in that they're white, not dyed to look more natural.

Despite my complaints about the external of the diapers, functionally, they are all three the same, in my experience. They are good diapers that hold basically everything except a big poop. Contrary to other cloth diapering moms out there, I don't have a different experience with cloth--I get blowouts in those, too (the least with my Sunbaby diapers). The Earth's Best have a soft little bit in the back that is somewhat like a fuzzy Styrofoam or something. They're also great for drawing on when bored.

Fun for drawing!

So, the first thing you do on the website is design your "Nursery." This bugged me a tiny bit in that I don't have a nursery as part of being a natural parent, but hey, I've always thought that was a little sad in that they are freaking adorable and I have always wanted to design one. Well, this mostly involves giving some info about your baby and picking your favorite patterns for the diapers (there are six, divided into 'boy' and 'girl' colors--which I, of course, totally ignored). My favorites were the Pink Stars, Skulls, Bloom and Gingham, in that order.

I came back later when we'd be able to do the bundle and ordered the free trial. The deal was that I got seven days to decide to cancel if they didn't work for us. This was perfect for me to be able to test Kat's sensitive skin and how well the diapers worked. I eagerly awaited my free sample pack and stalked the UPS tracking until it stalled on a Friday, mere miles from my house, not to be delivered until Monday. Darn you, UPS!

Once they came, I tossed them with the other disposables so I wouldn't be tempted to use them immediately (I do cloth when at home during the day). I got what was clearly the 'girl' packet, which included two Sweets, Pink Stars, Bloom and one White. I wasn't crazy about the Sweets pattern on the website, but it was pretty cute in person.

That night, I eagerly slapped one on her bum. It was as adorable as could be and I posted pictures on FB each night of each diaper before we went to bed.

Well, during the trial, I found out that we couldn't afford to do the bundle this month. I was quite unhappy, because I had fallen in love with these diapers and couldn't get over how cute they are. I looked at individual packages, but after shipping, they would end up costing more than the Earth's Best and I couldn't justify the cost when they felt very much the same, worked the same and the only real difference was just how darn cute these are. With the bundle, the price difference was definitely worth it.

The Honest Company diapers are $14*/package before shipping (you cannot buy them retail). Earth's Best are $12* a package at Babies R Us. So, individually, Earth's Best are cheaper, but you get one less diaper. Seventh Generation costs $17* at my store for the same number of diapers as Earth's Best.

Earth's Best, Honest Compant, Seventh Generation
visual comparison, size 3 diaper

To compare the diapers, Seventh Generation are my least favorite. They aren't as soft in back and the elastic bunches more, so it's not as padded as the other two.

Seventh Generation back--soft bit is there, but it bunches up a bit

Honest Company back: loose padding is super soft to the touch

Earth's Best: the back bunches, but the padding doesn't, leaving it very soft to the touch

The tabs are all the psuedo velcro that recloses, just like any other premium disposable diaper. The Earth's best is the only one where I've had a tab rip off so far and only one. They all have gusseted leg elastics that fit snug, but not too tight. I don't recall if I had a blowout in the Honest Company diapers, but I don't see them holding up any differently than the other two. They are all wonderfully absorbent and stand up to nighttime wetness with ease, ending up squishy in the morning.

Kat has had no rashes in these diapers and they hold wetness away at just the right level. When it came time to make the sad call to cancel my subscription (you cannot do it online, you have to call and only M-F 7-5 PST, so 9-7 my time--this meant it took me longer to cancel and I worried about ending up getting an automatic shipment) I dreaded customer service (don't we all?). It turns out my fears were unfounded.

They were incredibly nice! There was no pressure to continue and when I explained how the diapers would last me a while, they said they would be happy to vary the sizes in the bundle when I'm ready to pick up the subscription, if I feel that will be needed. I'll be getting 10% off my order, too and that just makes me want to order them even more (it will negate the shipping cost entirely)!

Of all the luck, I found a package of Honest Company diapers at that recovery outlet store I mentioned earlier! Not only were they size 3, but they were the gingham print that I had liked. I snatched them up immediately. They were likely a UPS break open stock (when packages break open and can't be returned or shipped, they go to this store).

Hooray! I barely hesitated in grabbing these

While I was super duper excited to get the package (and at a steal!), I'm sad that I can't regularly use these diapers yet. I do highly recommend them from my trial and the package I found by total accident (I was there for vitamins, can't resist seeing what random baby items they have and if they have any good, affordable carriers or cloth diapers). I would totally be buying them exclusively if they were available at a local retailer, but there are no current plans from the company (which is just starting out) to move from their online only business.

Pink Stars, Bloom, Gingham
They are trim, cute, effective and about as natural as disposable diapers can get. From the website:
  • Naturally biodegradable & pure plant-based PLA in the inner & outer sheet (NO petrochemicals/oil)
  • Bio-based wheat / corn super-absorbent materials blended with reduced SAP gel
  • Choose from a growing selection of modern & fashionable design options for your girl or boy
  • Secure moisture barrier cuffs to prevent leakage or blowouts
  • Comfortable stretchy, re-fastenable grip tabs
  • Contoured fit & non-irritating feel for the most sensitive skin
  • Premium fit & performance, completely safe, and super-cute designs
    Chlorine-free fluff (paper from CERTIFIED sustainably managed forests – no optical brighteners), BIO-core (wheat/corn starch blended with SAP), plant-based PLA (in outer layer, inner layer, & moisture barrier layer), Non-Toxic adhesives (in seams & joints), polymer spandex and polyurethane (in fastening system & leg/waist elastic) & ink (no heavy metals).
     Designed in California.
    Responsibly Made in Mexico.

     No Animal Testing or By-products.
    We guarantee your complete satisfaction.
I am not being paid or in any way compensated for this review, I just really liked these diapers and wanted to share my experiences. I'll be sticking to Earth's Best as my second best (functionality without the cute factor). As for those diapers: Chlorine and dioxin free, made partly from renewable resources, latex-free, perfume-free, dye-free, comfortable and made from corn and wheat (so parents with kids with Celiac disease, beware!).

I hope to get that bundle in the next couple months, although Kat has already stepped up her Elimination Communication to the point where she's diaperless the first half of the day, letting me know when she wants to use the potty.

*All prices are rounded up/approximate.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Musing on Fictional Realism

If time is Schrodinger's cat (my preference lying in the quantum multiverse), then it would be linear only due to our perception of it. When not observed, it exists in a jumble--everything happening at once and not yet having happened. Thursday coming before Wednesday, but after Tuesday (the Doctor Who wibbly wobbly timey wimey... stuff bit. "People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.").

If writers do not create, if they merely see into a separate universe, maybe this is why so many do not write linearly. They hop in, they see a piece here, a piece there and then they must make sense of it. I hold myself in a universe, traveling at the speed of time, sometimes slipping through the path for peeks at what is to come, at what was and is not now, but for the most part, I stay on course. I must. I cannot make sense of time in its indefinite state, so I must travel it in the way I can comprehend.

Then I wonder at the two states of writing. Which came first--the universe or the writer?
State one: We are not the gods of our worlds, but merely the observer. The recorder. We view what is and share it. This absolves us of the responsibility of fate.

State two: We are the gods. Our observation of the universe creates it. We bring it into being as we imagine it. It becomes real, a separate multiverse; a separate dimension. The suffering we write, the death we have wrought--we are the instruments of it all. We are guilty, though still not responsible, because rather than ignorant, we are innocent.

In conclusion to my middle of the night musings: a writer is a powerful thing. Piss one off and your counterpart in another universe might suffer greatly, exponentially branched into its own multiverse of decisions that have been made and have not been made. So, as the writers, we then mete out our vengeance upon innocents... who, of course, are much less innocent in the other reality as they are or we have created them to be, the villain to remove the guilt of our construction of fate.

Now I have to go bed, but I thought I would share with you musings from other parts of my life. The parts that don't call me Mommy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Featured Book: Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter (series)

I have decided to do a featured book once a week. What does that mean? Well, it means that I'm going to tell you about books that I've read, kind of like a book club. You can feel free to strike up a conversation about the book right here!

This week, I'm going to start with my all time favorite book series (yes, a whole series for my first book--honestly, you'll find I tend to read series more than individual books): Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter. Now, I'm going to specify that the following post is about books 1-10, because I feel that starting with book 11 and the new genre, it became a new series after that (some might say even sooner).
The beginning of an entire Genre

17 years ago, for my birthday, my best friend gave me a book for my 15th birthday (well, 17 years as of June 17th, 2012). She had been talking up this series for two years, since it had first come out when we were in junior high school. Book in hand was the best way to get me to read something and read I did...
Sneaky girl had given me the second book in the series!

Discovering that I had been tricked into reading out of order, I immediately sought out the first book to remedy the situation and devoured it. I finished with Circus of the Damned and eagerly awaited The Lunatic Cafe, putting in a call to our newly opened Barnes and Noble Booksellers that I wanted to be alerted the moment they hit the shelves.

When Laurell K. Hamilton initially pitched this series, she hit a brick wall. No one had any idea where to pigeonhole it. It wasn't proper horror and it wasn't fantasy or proper crime/mystery. It was all of the above and this was a stumbling block. Unwilling to let her baby go, Ms. Hamilton busted her ass getting the book out there, reading at conventions, etc. until finally, Ace Fantasy was willing to give the book a shot.

Urban Fantasy was born.

This is an 'unmasked' world, meaning that humans are aware of the supernatural/preternatural creatures inhabiting their world. A fascinating new idea, it explored the legalities of the undead, the monthly furry and many other creatures along the way, from the first person perspective of tough-as-nails Anita. Anita tried to balance her career featuring her own magical powers (the ability to raise the dead), a retainer with the local preternatural crimes division of the St. Louis Police department (RPIT, pronounced rip-it and nicknamed "the spook squad), a side job as a vampire executioner and being a feminist, Christian woman in a world that had accepted vampires as legal citizens.

Anita had this tendency to say exactly what I wanted her to say. The humor was there, the mystery, the sexiness and the drama. What's more, there were vampires and this was something that my 15 year old self was severely "into" (a good 10 years before they were popular). The first big vampire-werewolf-human love triangle popped up and copious usage of one of my favorite words: "fuck" was an intoxicating combination for me.

Click here to read an excerpt (pdf warning!) from Guilty Pleasures, the first book in the series. Click here to buy it.

Over the next several years, my best friend and I would await that call from Barnes and Noble each time a new book came out, drop everything and pester the adults in our lives to drive us there and I'd usually wave to her as she came out and I went in to get my copy. The phone would ring as she reached a part she just had to talk about and I would agree to call back as soon as I reached it. This would go on until we finished the book around 3am, even though it was a school night.

I've followed the series and Anita as she fell in love, had her heart ripped out of her chest (not literally, which is an important note in a series like this). I laughed with her, cried with her, got horny with her... this series was huge for me. I watched her grow and change and meet characters that spoke to me on deep levels to things that were broken inside of me and helped me understand what I was looking for and what was wrong with me.

Then Obsidian Butterfly came out. Everything was wrong. It was the first hardback, celebrating Ms. Hamilton's major success with the series (so it cost me way more than any other and screwed up my whole collection!). The status quo for the books was severely disrupted. It was pulling away from the sex that was starting to suck the series under and focused on the police work again (which was good!) while destroying most of the mystery of a character that relied on that mystery to be... that character.

My interest in the series waned a bit. I no longer ran out to buy every copy. Maybe it was partly that I was entering adulthood, but it was also definitely partly that I just wasn't crazy about this book. It remains one of my least favorite in the series. Now, as a mother, this book is gut-wrenching in several places. It marks the last book of Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, in my mind. What follows is Anita Blake: Vampire Fucker. (spoilers under the black--highlight to read) I still enjoy the series, but it's not what it was. Anita is not who she was. Honestly, Anita from Guilty Pleasures would hunt Anita from books 11+ down and put a bullet in her head.

That's why my husband stopped reading. Me, I don't think it's as unrealistic a change as he did and I still enjoy it... mostly. I do wish that she would get some variety for her language in the sex scenes and frankly: cut them down or out. Some tasteful fade to black scenes for anything other than something new and interesting at this point. I'm tired of reading how men have to comment on how wet she is. And she can't keep up with character development--they have all started to sound the same, spouting the same lines as one another and there are a lot of repetitive moments (this is still a problem in the newest book that just came out). This is incredibly disappointing and a departure from the first half of the series. I get that it's been a lot of books, but I think some more effort could be put out. Maybe LKH is putting all she has into the books and I'd hate for the series to end, but I know it's approaching that time. It can't be easy keeping 21 books in your head as you write! And I love her writing, but I will warn you that she uses sentence fragments like crazy. I happen to like that--it feels more natural to the character's head space.

In all, I do highly recommend at least the first five books. Starting with book 11, I would strongly recommend against anyone under 17 reading them. Normally, I would not censor a book (my kids can read all the romance they like), especially over sex, but the sex gets very, very out there. It makes 50 Shades of Grey look tame, I'm sure..

And, if you're interested in my fanart (which is really crappy), I have two pieces. Asher and Nathaniel.

Have you read the series? Who are your favorite characters? Warning, I am not responsible for the comments and they may contain major spoilers, read at your own risk! I would love to hear from anyone who wants to talk about the books!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Body Shaming

Inspired by a friend's question/rant in a local parenting circle: time you shame someone for dressing in a comfortable way because you don't like the way they look: you are shaming our daughters. You are teaching them that they will never be enough, their bodies are not good enough. Every woman out there is a daughter. She was a child once. I say, if a woman has the confidence in herself to wear a bikini, then she damn well has not only every right, but should have every blessing to do so as well. I don't care how you feel about yourself or what your idea of beauty is--she has the right to be happy with HERSELF, confident and comfortable. For the sake of our daughters: STOP JUDGING WOMEN ON THEIR APPEARANCES. Stop the body shaming. Stop the propaganda.

Just because you don't like it: that means nothing. My husband thinks I'm beautiful. Many men and women do. I don't, because of all the people who told me I shouldn't. Every one who said, "That person is okay to wear that, but not HER, because she's too fat/bony/paunchy/square/round/curvy/small/flat/tan/pale/dark/busty/sexy/old/ugly." Every time you shame someone in this way, you are shaming me, yourself, every elder woman, every mother, maiden and child.
Don't justify your behavior with, "Well, I agree that I shouldn't wear [whatever]." That is YOUR problem, just as my feelings that I should not be seen are MINE. Stop perpetuating it. Let our daughters grow to be beautiful, regardless of how this person or that feels about them. Everyone is beautiful to someone. Even someone you would pull out to express what you consider hideous: there is someone who finds her beautiful.

And, because they are so often forgotten in the body image concerns: the same is all true of men and boys. Boys suffer from body image issues and anorexia, too--but it's not considered "okay" or understood. Forced to suffer in silence, expected to just tolerate the slurs about their physical appearances, boys and men are victimized by this unacceptable prejudice as well.
And for all that is good in the world, stop looking at it through the lens of Hollywood standards. And stop hurting yourself by applying those same standards to you. Be healthy. Be happy. And don't let anyone tell you that you don't deserve to be, just because you don't fit into their narrow mold of beauty.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Musing on Birth Plans

The following views are expressed on the American maternity system, which is the only one I have personal experience with.

Birth Plans get better known each year, by both moms-to-be and care providers. Pregnant mamas view them as a way to express their desires for the minutiae of birth (getting all those questions we're bombarded with when we're there out of the way early) and care providers see them in a mixed light.

A midwife typically sees them as either quite welcome (as she wants to make her client's birth as easy and comfortable as possible, so knowing what she wants is essential) or unnecessary in a different way than the OB does. Midwives offer natural care in general, so they figure if you're going to choose one, that is the sort of birth you'll want. They tend to ask about vaccination, birth tests, eye goop, etc. beforehand.

OBs tend to see them as either unnecessary (because they have no intention of following them) or dangerous (as this is a woman who is not going to submit to every procedure s/he suggests unquestioningly) because few mothers desiring a medicalized birth submit one. Also, OBs are not involved in birth the way that midwives are, so most of the information is useless to them. A midwife sits through the birth and needs to know that her client wants to be checked only rarely or wants to use a certain type of natural pain relief. In a hospital, the nurses deal with all of this information. Things like pitocin, etc. are like asking a baker not to use a certain spice that they typically overuse. They've learned to work that way and they don't want to deviate.

I had the standard form Birth Plans (my second was never submitted, but to take the 'you can't plan a birth' argument away, I had renamed it "Birth Preferences") for my first two births. In my first, it was partly respected. They did not reduce the number of vaginal checks at all and I was told I could not refuse, that I had no right of consent. So, against my will, basically anyone who walked in the room was allowed to stick their hand inside me (or that's how it felt). I ended up with a cesarean that had none of the elements I had requested (other than photos being taken and my arms were free because I made it clear there would be a fight even if my body was like a dead fish if they tried to strap me down) in my birth plan.

It was so defeating, I never submitted to my second OB (though he was nothing like my first). My VBAC was nothing like I had hoped, other than the end (the baby care was quite well done) in that she came out vaginally and I got to catch her (I had to negotiate for this while pushing). It would have been thrown out due to unforeseen complications, so it wasn't a big deal.

With my third baby, I was seeing a midwife and one day, the subject of birth plans came up. I asked her if she wanted me to give her one, though I wasn't sure what I would put in it since her standard birth policies were all in line with my wishes. She said that she liked birth plans and then, remembering that I fancy myself a writer, she asked for me to deviate from the standard form. She wanted me to write my birth story in advance. My ideal birth story. I joked that there would be little story to that, since I'd just wake up pushing and pop the baby out in bed. We laughed, talking about precipitous birth and I agreed to write one based on my personal birth history. So what followed was a realistic, but desirable birth for me and I'm going to finally share it here.

Beautiful henna art by my friend Nikol on my 9 month belly

My Realistic Ideal Birth Plan for my Third Baby

On October twenty-second, I wake up around 10am, unable to ignore the contraction urging me to adjust myself in bed. I roll onto all fours to stretch out my stiff back and breathe through the pressure, trying to ignore it. When it passes, I check the time and groan. I'm still tired, but 10 is a good time to get up. I roll over and snuggle Naomi and kiss her cheek, then reach over and rub Lilly's fuzzy head.

Naomi peeks open her eyes and grins at me, whispering, "Time to get up! It's morning." I smile at her and nod. She rolls over and snuggles up onto my shoulder, grinning and sighing happily. I'm about to tell Lilly that it's time to wake up when I feel the beginning of tightening and close my eyes, feeling myself breathe in and out as it comes. Naomi is saying happy little things and snuggling me, but I don't really notice much. I'm too busy cursing prodromal labor.

It passes and I tell Lilly it's time to wake up, squishing Naomi a little as I reach past her. She giggles and clings to my arm. Lilly groans at me and I rub her head again. She grabs my hand and opens her eyes to grin at me. I smile at her and she asks Naomi to move so she can cuddle me. Naomi stands up and dances in place while Lilly scoots over and tucks up against me.

After we cuddle, I turn on the television and sit up as another contraction comes. Grumpily, I look at the clock to see they've been coming every three minutes, as I suspected. When it's over, I get up to pee and go out to the computer to complain about how my body likes its little games and catch up with friends on facebook. A few contractions later and I don't want to be at the computer anymore, so I go over and lie on the couch and turn on the living room television.

I turn on the XBox and go to Netflix to see what looks good. I pick a romantic comedy or something equally mindless and absently write down my contractions as they happen. Lilly interrupts me a few minutes into the movie asking for breakfast and I know I don't feel up to cooking with how I'm contracting, so I tell her to go make some cereal and find out if her sister wants some, too.

Realizing that I should probably eat, too, just in case this isn't a fake-out, I follow her into the kitchen and en up having to lean on the counter through a contraction, glad that we have a bigger kitchen than we had in the old house. Our old one made me claustrophobic (no small feat for someone who likes safe little enclosed spaces). When it's over, I poke through the freezer and realize that I want a burger, but we don't have one, so I settle for a turkey and cheddar bratwurst, hoping I won't regret it.

Naomi informs me loudly that she wants a sausage, too, so I grab one for her and toss it on the plate to heat them up while getting out the bread and ketchup. I sway through yet another contraction and then make us our breakfast. I grab my water cup from the fridge, glad that Lilly put it in there the night before. I had been too grumpy from a few hours of contractions to want to do my night time ritual.

I go back out and eat my breakfast and enjoy my movie. The kids don't pester me after I tell them that I need to relax and watch a movie, so no, they can't take over the XBox today. When the movie is over, I get up and restlessly walk around, wondering when it's going to die down and give me a break. I roll over the yoga ball and bounce on that for a while while getting back on the computer.

I post on [my parenting forum] about what's going on in the pregnant chatting thread and make another whiny status update on facebook. I read the replies to my last one and smile at the people sending me labor vibes and laugh at the ones who wonder why I'm not rushing to the hospital over a few contractions. I growl at my mom's usual well-meaning "Is there anything I can do?" I know she just enjoys being a part of my life, but it still irritates me.

I realize I'm getting irritable with the contractions and they're starting to hurt more, so I call a friend to come over and hang out and let our kids play. I text Brandon to let him know how long I've been contracting and how often. He texts back asking if he needs to come home and I text back with "Not yet. I'll call when it's time." I add that my friend is coming over and then she knocks on the door. I toss on some clothes as I let her in. We chat and the kids play and I feel better.

When the contractions continue to build, she smiles at me knowingly and doesn't say anything about it. After a while, she casually asks me how long it's been going on and I realize it's been five hours. She gives me that look that people get when you tell them you've been contracting for five hours and I roll my eyes. "Oh, I've had prodromal labor longer than this," I assure her. "I had it for seven hours the day before Naomi was born. Five hours wasn't too unusual with Lilly. For. Four. Freaking. Weeks."

She tells me that she hopes that I don't have to do this for the next four weeks and I readily agree. Things are starting to get really intense and I tell her that I think I want to take a bath to help and we say good-bye while I go in to draw a bath, hoping it will stop things if it's not real and give me that blessed water relief if it is.

Before I get in, I take a few belly pictures and the kids join in, so I have some cute ones. Then I tell them they can have the XBox while Mommy takes a bath, grab my phone and set it in reach, but far enough away to stay dry, on a little folding stool and refill my water cup before getting into the warm water.

The next contraction is much more manageable and I relax and just enjoy the waves rippling out from my belly as they happen. I can breathe and think again and know that I can do this, be it real or practice, and it will be fine. I just let my mind drift and roll around in the water like a great whale trying to stay comfortable in the too-shallow-for-a-person-my-size tub.

I fold my arms against the side and lie my head in my hands while the contractions continue without slowing down. I have to pee and carefully crawl out of the tub over to the toilet. While I'm peeing, I feel a pop and gush. I freeze. I know what I just felt. Nervously, I wipe and check the paper--it's clear. No meconium!

I stand up and water gushes down my leg, so I climb back into the water and wash my leg off, then stick a towel between them while I go to grab a pair of poise underwear to catch the gushes. I debate what to do while checking the clock. It's 5:30pm and I know I won't be done before Brandon gets off work, but I am still tempted to call him.

I call Brandon and tell him that my water broke and that I'm sure he can finish his shift if he wants, but it's up to him. He decides he'll come home and we say "I love you" and hang up. I call Tara and let her know that it's baby day, then I call Rachel to let her know, too. I assure her that it's still too early to go in, but that my water is broken, so it's going to be soon regardless.

I go out to the living room and pace about for a while, grabbing things to sway through contractions. I'm hungry and still want that burger, so I call Brandon quickly and ask him to grab me one on the way home. No, I don't want fries, just the burger. McDonald's, of course. It's got to be that terrible-for-you-greasy-goodness. Yes, a double, I agree as I pull on a tank top and a skirt.

I turn on Deftones and start dancing around to 'Digital Bath.' Since it's just me and the kids, I am utterly unrestricted and I sing loudly and emotionally with what I've always considered a song about birth, from making the water warm to the cord breaking away. I want things I can dance to, sing to, be loud to, so I cue my sansa playlist and tell Lilly to unlock the door for Tara. I belt out with Seether and Three Day's Grace and grumble about never getting around to making my birth mix, but I don't really care as long as I can sing.

I'm not sure when Tara got there, I'm so lost in the music, but when I look over at the chair, she's sitting there, smiling and Brandon's on the couch. They wave at me and I say hi, feeling a little self-conscious, since I always hide when I sing and dance anymore. They tell me not to let them bother me, but I want to eat the food that's smelling up the room and had permeated my music fugue state.

I ask Tara if she wants anything, but she's already had dinner and Brandon goes to feed the kids, who are delighted to see him home early. Lilly tells him that I'm having a baby, which is what I told her for why I was wearing a "diaper" when Naomi demanded that I explain. Naomi asks me where the baby is and I remind her that the baby hasn't come out yet.

I'm not comfortable sitting on the couch, so I stretch out on it instead and put on Food Network as something easy to watch and either talk through or zone out to. I end up adjusting with every contraction until I end up with my labor ball on the floor. Tara sits near me and is just a comforting presence, since there's not a lot to do except keep me company at this stage. When some of the contractions get more intense, she applies counter pressure and I feel better.

I get to the point where I need to start visualizing to get away from the soreness building from all this work and when the next contraction comes, I'm in mind, floating above an ocean that is the pain and discomfort. I leave the water and float above it. Some pain breaks through and it's a wave lashing against my ankle, but I just breathe and it falls away, not hard to leave behind in the surging ocean.

This has always been my meditation technique for escaping negative feelings and pain in particular. It's effective and has very nerdy roots, which are comforting to me. I'm so worn out and want to take a nap, so I move to the bedroom to try to do just that. Tara brings a chair in and the door to the hall is left open to provide her some light to read or knit or however she usually passes the time in a birth while mama naps.

I lie there in the quiet dark, unable to sleep, as usual, but slowly drift between contractions for a while. When I open my eyes, the kids are sleeping next to me and so is Brandon. Everything is dark and the contraction that woke me up is so intense that I was vocalizing before I even woke up. I need to pee and I roll out of bed, grabbing another pair of poise panties to change into on the way to the toilet.

Sitting on the toilet is very uncomfortable and I find myself whining through it until I'm done, wipe and crawl onto the floor to get away from it. I rock on my hands and knees and moan loudly. The contraction passes and I go to the kids' room, where Tara is sleeping on the spare bed and let her know that I need her.

She stays a calm, comforting presence and helps me get back from the intensity of what labor is becoming. She rubs my back and encourages me while I moan and breathe and occasionally curse my contractions. She asks if I think I need to go in, because it's clear that things are picking up strongly. I ask her what time it is and she tells me that it's 2am. I tell her that I want to let everyone sleep a while longer. She asks me if I want to listen to music again. That sounds good and I tell her so, so we go back out and I cue up my playlist again.

I get up and dance the baby down a bit, feeling intense pressure against my cervix and some rolling around that I interpret as the baby getting into position. My singing woke up Brandon and he comes out to make sure everything's okay. Tara assures him that it is and he sits down and reads on his Nook while I dance and sing.

By 4, I know it's time to go in. I'm having visions of the lovely, big, blue birthing pool at the birth center and I call Rachel, hating to wake her up, but knowing that she was probably expecting it anyway. Brandon gets the kids and puts them in the van while I eat some soup and post on facebook and twitter before we go. Tara grabs the infant bucket for me and my bag and we go out to our vans. She tosses my stuff in ours and follows after us to the birth center.

The drive in the night is intense for me, but I relish the dark, peaceful streets. I love being on a drive at night, even though I'm moaning and whining as quietly as I can through the strong surges pushing the baby further into this world and getting her ready to meet it.

Brandon pulls up to the door without stairs and lets me out while Tara parks. I hobble over to the door and Rachel lets me in. No way I can climb stairs in labor. I have never been a fan of stairs anyway. I see the tub is filling up and I sigh gratefully. I have to go to the bathroom again, so I do and whine through it again. I put on another clean poise panty and am happy to see my water is still clear, even if it's gushing as usual.

I come out and plug the laptop into the speakers I brought from home to play some music. I don't feel like singing right now, so I put in the classical/instrumental/foreign playlist. Brandon and Tara come in, each carrying a sleeping child and put them on the bed in the other room, where they continue to sleep, uninterrupted.

I end up on the floor, leaning against the bed as the next contraction comes on intensely and I moan, wanting very much to get into the water. Sheena listens to the baby briefly with the doppler while I rest on the floor and checks my blood pressure. Everything's fine, of course.

Before too long, the pool is full and I take off the poise underwear and climb in, feeling instant relief. I float a little bit and then roll over to just relax in the water with my cheek lying on the edge of the pool and my arms draped over it. Brandon takes some pictures and then sits by the pool, holding my hand.

I'm able to just meditate through the contractions now, lost in the instrumental music. They're coming fast and strong, but not painful, between the music, water and how relaxed I am. I drink ice water and just feel my baby and body working to bring her into the world.

After an hour or so, I need to pee, so I get out and walk around a little, then I want to nap again, so I change into something dry and lay down in the bed and rest while the contractions take a break for a while. When I wake up, the sun is filtering through the window and the contractions are back, having only let up to let me get the sleep I needed to be ready for the last part of labor and birth.

I have someone turn the music back on and relax to Origa's 'Kawa yo, Watashi no Kawa yo.' Then 'Fukai Mori' comes on and I sing with the Japanese that I know. I cue up 'Ningyo Hime' by Rie Tanaka and then I want Yoko Kanno, so on goes Origa's 'Inner Universe' and then 'Rise' as I get more into singing.

I want back in the water, so I go back in the pool and have the music go back to stuff in English so I can sing more mindlessly. Back to Deftones and 'Digital Bath' again and so forth. The kids wake up and come in to see why they woke up in the birth center. They want to listen to my heart, etc. and then go get some toys to play with while things really pick up for me.

I'm using the singing in place of moaning, so my voice is strained through contractions, but it feels good to get through them that way. But it's getting harder and harder and I am uncomfortable, moving into moaning instead, moving around and trying to get comfortable. Things are getting intense and I'm getting negative, but Tara and Rachel assure me that I'm doing well, it's okay, I can do it, because I am doing it.

I realize I must be in transition and I try to concentrate on breathing and relaxing, but it's hard and I turn the music to something darker that has me use my diaphragm more. Still, during contractions, which are coming fast and furious now, I have trouble keeping it up. I throw up water and feel better, then the urge to push comes over me.

I tell everyone what I'm feeling and Rachel tells me to go ahead if I feel like it, so I do. I get up on my knees and hold onto the side of the tub, one leg up and press my belly against the wall of the pool from the top and let my body do what it wants. Brandon takes pictures and goes around behind me to see if he can see anything and Tara changes the music back to something brighter, turning it down to just be background sound. Brandon tells the girls that the baby's coming and they can come in, but need to be quiet. They come in and watch.

I push and it feels good to work with my body. My abdomen feels better, but I feel increasing pressure in the birth canal and each contraction, I'm able to press lower on my belly. I switch legs and there's a burning feeling, so I reach down and feel the baby's head crowning. Brandon has switched to video and I gush happily and say silly things that I know I'll mute out of the video later.

I push for a little while longer and baby's head comes out. I rest between contractions as Rachel watches and checks, making certain everything looks good. Another contraction comes and I push with it and feel the baby's shoulders slip out, then she's pouring into my hands and I guide her out a bit and move so that I can sit back and pull her up to my chest.

Someone hands me a towel and I wrap the back of her in it and turn her over to look into her face and see her wrinkly, beautiful little self look up at me, a little cheesy with vernix that I wipe off her face a little. I'm laughing and the girls are cheering and wanting to touch the baby. Brandon hands Tara the camera so he can touch his new baby and she switches it to still images and takes pictures.

The cord stops pulsing and Rachel clamps it and asks Lilly if she wants to cut it as I stroke it in amazement, as I love how umbilical cords feel and it shows how we've been connected these last several months. Lilly does and cuts her sister free and beams in delight. Naomi coos over the baby, saying "She's so cute!" over and over. 

I hand her to Brandon and move out of the tub onto the bed, changing into a dry shirt and getting under the blanket as I don't like being wet on land and he hands her back to me. I offer her the breast and she latches on, watching my face as she nurses for the first time on instinct. She pauses and her eyes widen as the colostrum obliges her efforts and she continues to nurse with that new baby amazement over everything.

I push out the placenta and Rachel shows me the mother side and the baby side and explains what I'm looking at, pointing out anything interesting about it and then off it goes. Since I am in a rental property, I can't plant a tree with it and I'm not interested in placentophagy, so it can be disposed of however. Tara gets pictures for me while it's explained, since Brandon doesn't even want to see it. He's not a fan of blood or organs, while I'm fascinated by them.

Baby and I cuddle, nurse and rest while Rachel checks to make sure I haven't torn (which I haven't, just a few skid marks, as I'm not very stretchy, but the water helped prevent tearing like I'd hoped it would) and I still stick an ice pack down there to feel better. I hand baby off to be weighed and measured as someone tells me what time she was born and I relax and watch everyone while Brandon resumes taking pictures of everything for me.

The girls climb up on the bed and hold their baby sister carefully. When it's time to hand her back, Brandon gives them the 'congratulations, big sister' presents from their sister to them that we had prepared ahead of time. Everyone gets a chance to hold the baby and coo as I make phone calls and take a cell phone picture to post on Facebook. I post the baby's stats and name (assuming we've come to an agreement by now) and that we're doing well.

Someone brings me the sandwich I've been waiting 9 flipping months for--turkey with miracle whip and I eat it while looking down at my beautiful little girl and Brandon goes and feeds the kids the breakfast they're whining for. Whenever she feels it's time, Tara goes back home to her family while we rest and recuperate with my new family of five.

And here is my actual birth story to compare:

This post was written for inclusion in the Preparation for Birth series at A Little Bit of All of It

A Little Bit of All of It Preparing for Birth Series