There is no later.

Stop using Instapaper for more than device-shifting.

On March 17th, 2011, after (conservatively) 36 hours of labor, I gave birth at home to a gorgeous mini-giant: Liam Apollo Tesla. He was 11lbs 3oz, 23" in length, and 15" in head circumference at birth.

Labor and the birth were quite difficult but all the same, successful. After the birth came a couple of complications: the birth of the placenta was followed swiftly by a significant hemorrhage on my part, which my midwives stabilized before hospital transfer. By the time we arrived at the hospital, it became clear that Liam was having some respiratory difficulties; it was very likely pneumonia due to meconium aspiration, putting him in very select company as that outcome with that cause occurs in less than half a percent of all births. He was in the hospital for ten days; during that time I ate, slept, and dreamt caring for him, and really little else. The frantic, underslept nature of newborn care compounded by the noise and tethering of medical equipment and the constant presence of medical personnel becomes an entirely new beast. I spent all of the first week boarding at the hospital, after I was discharged myself. I hope that is the most of the hospital I will ever see.

Go ahead, you can laugh all you want - I've got my philosophy.

Liam has been home with us since Sunday, and we've been learning the entirely different rhythm of newborn-at-home. It's better, there is no doubt about that; it's also more nerve-wracking, as the constant presence of a flock of experienced intensive care nurses leaves you to wonder if you have the requisite training or skill to care for such an awesomely delicate creature.

But Liam has been a simple creature, since he's been home: he eats, sleeps, and makes diapers. (He's presently dozing on the boob, intermittently making the I-might-have-a-present-for-you grunting noises; my son, the multi-tasker.) He also smiles as he drifts off, and looks very skeptical as he wakes, leaving me to wonder about the alternate universe he inhabits as he snoozes.

He loves grandma. And boobs. Smart little dude. Happy Place

Instrumental in every moment of the last month - the tail end of pregnancy, the labor, the birth, care in the hospital, and care for both Liam and me at home - has been Sam. He is the consummate husband, birth partner, and doting father. Being home has been emotional and hard for me in a number of ways, but if I'm tearing up looking at the two of them together, it's not just hormones.

Baby Daddy

I intend to write a good deal about the birth, including the events preceding through the first days with Liam home, but I realized earlier today that my thoughts aren't the topic of one post, but several. (Also, the focus to write one single long post eludes me. Something about having aforementioned newborn, aka 'The 3-Hour Alarm'.)

Thanks to everyone for the love and well-wishes. It has meant and continues to mean the world to us.

See? Healing.  on Twitpic

Sufficiency

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)

I've been terribly lax about posting, though ideas a-plenty have been cycling through my head. I've got a number of posts cooking in outline mode, and I work on them casually during the waiting. It's about time, after all - time for kiddo to be born - and that's where most of my focus is.

But I thought I'd check in and give a brief update on my goals.

  1. Write and publish more. Obviously, I've not been religious with the posting. But I have been participating more - engaging with interesting folks on Twitter, participating extensively via blog comments, and most of all, ignoring the doubt-filled voice in my head that leads me to abandon half-written thoughts as trivial or unworthy.
  2. Eat more home-cooked meals. Near the beginning of the year, I thought carefully about what I wanted the days after the baby is born to look like. One of the things I really strongly desire is to eat well, at home, and eat food we've made. I couldn't imagine, however, that I'd find myself more capable and willing to cook immediately after the birth than in the weeks before, so I decided that banking meals in the freezer was the best solution. Freezer cooking became a subject of study for a few weeks, then Sam and I put together a menu, then a grocery list. I plan to write something more extensive on this experience shortly - I'd like to reserve full judgement until we've used some of the banked meals - but I'm pleased to report that we've got about 20 dinners-for-two in the freezer now. Based on the servings we set aside for eating (rather than freezing), we're absolutely smitten with the recipes we chose, as well as the methods for producing them at scale. Time will tell if they hold up.
  3. Finances. Aside from a thorough review to ensure that the baby's arrival will not throw our immediate financial situation out of whack, this is unfinished. There are a number of changes coming for us, and there are simply too many variables to do the precise kind of review that I wanted at this moment. For now, I'm handling our taxes, and I plan to look more comprehensively at our budget in late spring.
  4. Get what we need; keep what works; purge what doesn't. We've been really good about this. The amount of stuff we've Freecycled or otherwise handed off to better homes has definitely facilitated having room for the baby and all the requisite baby stuff. On the other side of the give-and-take, we've gotten a solid 80% of everything we absolutely need for the baby from second-hand sources, either for very little money or for free. We have essentially everything we need for the birth on hand, though we're planning on picking up ingredients for a meal to share with our midwives and drinks throughout labor. (Should be fun times; virgin margaritas during the birth started as a joke, but turned into a 'why the hell not?'.)

Otherwise, I'm generally healthy, generally happy, and generally ready. Kiddo can arrive any time; we're into week 38 as of yesterday, and ready (or almost ready) with a few knitted items complete or on needles. Newborns! They are so tiny, and so quick to knit for. There will, of course, be photos post-birth.

And that's me, for now!

Well-tread paths

| | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)

The baby industry, if you didn't know, is kind of a racket. Take any average item, slap the word "baby" or "maternity" on the label, and you can mark the thing up by 200% - few will blink. It's a not just an [item] anymore - it's a special [item]. I have some theories about why people will just pay two or three times as much for something (which may have a cutesy pattern on it, but is otherwise indistinguishable from its non-baby alternative). It might be an ignorance thing at first - you walk into a store having no idea what things are supposed to cost, no idea that the pillow you're holding is really just a pillow (and not imbued with some magical baby-pleasing aura), and so you pay the fee. (No judgement there; I can't shop for spots paraphernalia, as an example, because I am ignorant of that market.) It might also be parental anxiety, particularly for first-time parents (like Sam and I are soon to be). Will we be good parents? we wonder. The pictures of smiley babies on the packaging do seem to suggest parental success is an accessory, free with purchase. Eventually, it might just be that people get used to paying lots of extra money for baby things. Or maybe it's just that there doesn't seem to be much of an alternative. Baby things just are expensive. Doesn't mean you don't need the stuff, so... what do you do?

I'm sure there are examples of companies that don't engage in this sort of hyper-markup, or engage in it to a lesser extent (I can think of a couple, actually) and that's great, but it's not the point. That there are alternative shopping venues for this stuff is nice and helps for some stuff. You know, the stuff you can't avoid buying.

Because that's our approach. Avoidance. I mentioned back in my 2011 post that we're trying to limit the number of gadgets and random baby things that come into our home, and trying to source hand-me-downs and second-hand things as much as possible. Because really, babies. BABIES! They are babies for like thirty seconds and then all of that stuff is irrelevant and winds up in the garage because they're too big to fit or are past the developmental stage where that toy is interesting. It's a lot of money sunk into that thirty seconds. A friend of ours (parent of two) said after the first kid, she and her husband almost felt like they had to have another kid, because they had all this stuff - it made all the stuff make more financial sense..

And so if every family who's had babies has this garage full of stuff, and it's for the thirty seconds babies are babies, why on earth buy all of it new? Especially the stuff with essentially no safety connotations - clothes, basic toys, monitors, pumps, etc. Baby stuff cocktail: equal parts friends and family, a splash of Freecycle and Craigslist, and a new-stuff olive (comprised of the things that really need to be new for safety purposes).

So today we met up with the main part of that cocktail - a couple friends with kids. To make a long story short, we brought home a lot of stuff:

All the baby things EVER.

We were selective - we didn't bring home a lot of stuff that wasn't on our list - but we wound up with a lot of stuff, and we didn't have to buy it. And our friends know that this stuff is being used for more than their babies' thirty seconds each, and they get the space in their garage back.

Win-win situation? Win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win, if you ask me.

Say Uncle

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)

Last year in March - only about three months into my knitting habit - I decided to try my hand at a really fiendish pair of gloves, Eisblume. This was sort of a symptom of my knitting disease: choosing patterns that are waaaaaaay too advanced for my skill level, which eventually just frustrate me and sit unfinished. Twisted stitches? Cables? Beaded stitches? All of these were skills I'd be learning along the way. But, I told myself, knitting techniques aren't hard - which is true. I've never met a knitting technique that actually seemed difficult after the first few times I did it.

It's a beautiful pattern, and gloves are the reason I decided I needed to learn to knit. My hands are too large for most commercially made gloves designed for women - too long - and men's gloves (which are sometimes long enough) are almost invariably too loose. Plus, gloves you can find in the men's section of most stores are boring. I don't need a pile of frills - I didn't need the cabled, beaded busyness of Eisblume - but a little embellishment or at least a little warmth is nice.

So I bought yarn and beads, and I cast on, and I started knitting. Before I even arrived at any cables or beads, though, the pattern held some new frustrations. I was working with a lighter weight of yarn than I'd ever worked with before - fingering weight, which is about half as thick as worsted weight, the stuff you usually see beginners using for scarves. The needles were thinner, too, only slightly thicker than toothpicks - 2.0mm, the US size 0. (Beginner scarves are usually on much thicker needles, more like chunky chopsticks.) Thin yarn on thin needles means a tight fabric, extra tight because of my own tendency to knit tightly. At such a tight gauge, the yarn fuzzed up in my fingers, and became difficult to slide along the needles.

When I did get to the beads (which started before the cables), that was a new adventure. There are a couple of methods for placing beads in knitted fabric. One involves simply stringing the beads on the yarn ahead of time, but this means that the beads sit sort of diagonally on only half of the knitted stitch (knit stitches are basically loops, and within fabric have two "legs" showing). The other involves placing the beads on the stitches as you come to them - usually using a crochet hook. But the beads I was using were too small for a crochet hook to go through, so instead I had to place them with a needle and thread.

Ordinary knit and purl stitches take me no time at all to work - maybe a second each. In a pattern that isn't easily memorized, reading the pattern slows that down some, but it's still a couple seconds per stitch at most. Account for the tight and slow-moving stitches, and I was moving pretty slowly. But each time I placed a bead on a stitch, that stitch took probably half a minute. Any given round, between beading and the tight stitches and juggling a cable needle (once those started) and just reading the pattern, was taking me about half an hour, and I felt like I was wrestling with the yarn and needles the whole time. I'd have to stop after an hour or so because I was frustrated and my hands would start to ache.

On gauge: you can swatch all you want in plain knits and purls, but there's no way of knowing that your gauge will translate to the gauge you'll get in a pattern with twisted stitches and cables and beads and things. There's no way to tell what your gauge will be like in pattern other than to try the pattern, and you need a good couple inches of work to really tell anything at all. I got about three or four inches into the cuff pattern - which is a good length to check gauge - before I realized that my tight stitches meant that the glove was going to be too small for me to wear, or at least wear comfortably.

And that's about a month of work.

I could keep on with them and offer them as a gift to someone with smaller hands, and that's what I planned to do - eventually. I needed something pleasurable and simple to work on, so I turned to other projects and set the gloves aside.

And they sat for the last seven or eight months. Every time I finished a knitting project or thought about starting something new, I'd look at them and consider working on them, but the thought was always fleeting. It's just too frustrating to wrestle that hard with a project that goes that slowly, knowing I won't be able to enjoy the end result myself.

I admitted my frustrations to Sam recently, and his response was immediate. "Bind it off," he said. "Let it be a cup cozy." He's done exactly that - bound off the first of a pair of Cookie A socks that he just wasn't connecting with (and was incidentally also turning out too small). His steel water bottle wears the cuff part, now.

So tonight, I did just that. I carefully bound off all the stitches, wove in the ends, and now the Eisblume cuff is a water bottle cozy. I'm glad I did it; I don't feel a pang of guilt every time I get an urge to knit something and I don't choose to work on them. Unravelling it after all that work and investment and frustration would have made me sad - this way I can still enjoy it. It is, after all, still gorgeous:

Giving up. (Eisblume cuff, now a cozy.)

And that's all she wrote. Sam continues to teach me stuff about knitting that really isn't about knitting at all.

Like, you know, stop knitting stuff that makes you miserable.

Smart guy.

Crack your bones

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Since early in this pregnancy, I've had trouble with my pelvic bones. There's a pregnancy hormone, relaxin, that makes your ligaments loosen up so that your bones can move more freely (which is why people suddenly start freaking out when you try to lift anything heavier than your average novel); it's a good thing, because your pelvic bones are supposed to have some give to allow for passage of the baby at birth time.

In my case (not that I'm alone here), relaxin hit early and with a vengeance. Around 14 weeks, I started having pretty intense tailbone pain whenever I sat down. It was very much like I'd fallen and hit my tailbone really hard - I've done that. But I hadn't when this pain started. As it turns out, the loose ligaments destabilized my pelvis enough that my tailbone had rotated inward, and the other pelvic bones (the sacra and the ilia in particular, since that's what I sit on) were all out of position, not supporting good positioning of... well, anything else.

Like Eddie Izzard, I am somewhat skeptical of the chiropractic-care-for-everything claims that get thrown around. ("You've got diphtheria! I'm gonna crack your bones.") I can understand how it's relevant for some things that aren't directly "bony" problems - after I fractured a vertebra in my neck in 8th grade, I had really awful headaches from muscles that tightened up to compensate for the weak and wobbly bones.

But unstable, misaligned bones to begin with? That's classic chiropractor material. So off to the chiropractor I went, and I described what was going on. And he dug my tailbone back out to where it was supposed to be, and I felt better. (Mostly; my chiropractor is pretty brutal, but in exchange for some pain I wind up actually seeing results in the short term.)

Because my bones are (due to the aforementioned hormone relaxin) unstable in general, I've continued seeing the chiropractor for adjustments for the last four months. He's pretty great, for a number of reasons. Chief among them is his inclination to educate. He's taught me how to sit better, stand better, lie down better; how to exercise and strengthen muscles that are used for balance rather than heavy lifting; and how to self-heal problems as they arise using simple movements, moderate pressure, and rest.

But his methods of practice also make it very obvious where the value of chiropractic lies. Last year, due to pain in my foot, I saw a podiatrist. I told him that when I walked, I'd get intense pain through the midfoot, along the back of my heel, and various places in my ankle. He examined my foot, took some x-rays, and determined... that there was nothing wrong with my foot. No broken bones, anyway.

I started having similar problems again here in San Francisco; problems with this foot have been fairly consistent, if a bit periodic, ever since I dropped a heavy piece of furniture on it in 2000. It's gotten particularly bad in the last month, noticeable when I walked sometimes but really screaming bad when I try to take off the opposite shoe using the toe of the bad foot. I described to my chiropractor what hurt, where, how, and when. And he examined my foot and determined that three of the twenty-odd bones in it were jammed or misaligned. Cue the cracking of bones, followed by a vigorous (and really painful) beating on a muscle in my calf that wasn't helping the situation any. And now when I walk, I'm surprised when it doesn't hurt.

It's a circuitous way of making the point, but here it is: chiropractic seems to see my body as a dynamic system, made to be in motion, while other medical disciplines I've encountered seem more focused on my body as a static system. As a consequence of seeing a chiropractor, then, I've become much more interested in the way my body moves, and the ways I can introduce or prevent introducing dysfunction into it.

I still don't know that chiropractic care would do anything for diphtheria, but if you find that body motions (rather than body parts) are painful, a recommendation to see a chiropractor would likely be the first thing out of my mouth. If you're in San Francisco and can get to Bernal Heights easily, I wholeheartedly recommend Dr. Colin Phipps.

What to wear

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Sam and I went to our favorite sandwich shop today - a place in the Marina, called The Sandwich Spot. While we ate our sandwiches, I watched people out the window - I do a lot of people watching, and San Francisco is a great place to do it.

And I love the way people dress in San Francisco.

There are people who dress like punks and goths and hippies and skaters and all kinds of other things, and some of them seem to dress that way to communicate an identity, a group membership, and some of them seem to dress that way just because it's how they prefer to present themselves.

There are people who dress in sweatshirts and jeans and tennis shoes, and don't seem to much care about what their clothes say, and that's good, too.

There are people who match unexpected textures and subtle colors and you know that nothing touching their bodies could be an accident, but only if you bother to think about it at all.

There are people in tank tops who walk by people in parkas and they both seem a little crazy until you realize that the air here is warm to some and cool to others.

There are people in sensible shoes and people who climb hills in stiletto heels, and you realize their feet are basically flat between the heel and the hill.

There are people who wear t-shirts with jokes that laugh with you instead of at you, and they're nerdy and ridiculous and that too is a way to communicate an identity and group membership.

There are people who wear leather every day of the year even if it's uncomfortable.

There are people who dress as elaborate dolls, with layers of lace and porcelain makeup and parasols and knee socks with ribbons.

There are kids in hats with ears, like pandas and cats and puppies, and there are adults too, who look like they're enjoying being adults, adults with ears.

And my blinders may be on, but the best thing about all of them is I've almost never seen anyone here look down on someone else for how they dress.

Cleaning up

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Yeesh. Between being pregnant, being sick a fair bit in the last month and a half, traveling, and all the stuff that comes along with all of that, it feels like we haven't got the apartment all the way clean in awhile. I spent some time digging us out from a mess it feels like has been around since Thanksgiving. (This isn't exactly true, but it feels like it.)

Since we still had some unpacking to do from our trip to Omaha for Christmas and needed to do something (for now) with the baby things we got as gifts, I took the opportunity to pull down the bag of things that were given to us before we moved. It's now all packed up in a Ziploc storage cube and up on a shelf, at least until we make our trip to Ikea for more appropriate baby clothes storage. In the meantime, I discovered that one of the gifts we received this summer was declared by the CPSC and the FDA to be unsafe. It's a sleep positioner - an assembly of foam and cloth and mesh designed to keep babies in a certain sleeping position. I've read enough about baby bedding to be aware that even plush stuff not immediately adjacent a baby - like bumpers, comforters, and stuffed toys - are not recommended. The theory is that plush stuff near a sleeping baby poses suffocation and SIDS risks. The manufacturer has a statement on their website acknowledging the statement, and they're no longer distributing the sleepers; for consumers, they say if you wish to return the positioner, you should take it back where you bought it. No help for me, since I got it as a gift months ago. I'll be calling them tomorrow to see if I can send it in for a refund, or find a local retailer where I can return it.

Now just to finish unpacking and putting away the laundry so we can go to bed.

One goal missing

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

When we moved to San Francisco, we pared down our belongings by a huge amount. We only brought one piece of furniture with us - our kitchen island, for extra counter space, since our kitchen is without exaggeration the size of a closet. Our dinner and cookware got chopped by about half, our wardrobes by at least a third, and our bookshelves by 70-80%. And now, for the most part, we use what we own. The knives in our drawer get dirty and have to be washed every time Sam does dishes, because we just don't own any that are extraneous.

But getting rid of the extraneous is an ongoing thing, not something we can stop because we're done with the move. We're pretty careful about not making new purchases when we can re-purpose something we own to fit a new need, but we do still occasionally have to bring new items into the apartment. Since we moved from a house (where we had something like 2500 square feet of space for living and storage) to an apartment (roughly 500 square feet), we can't afford to bring in stuff indiscriminately - or without taking stuff out. Even if we could, I don't think we'd want to. Having less stuff around lets us appreciate the stuff we keep - it doesn't get lost behind all the cruft.

So this is not a paring down, but rather a process of continual review, and it is one of our areas of focus - for 2011 and probably beyond.

I'm off to a good start: after hearing that a friend bought Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian on our recommendation, I realized that our copies were stuck behind a number of cookbooks that we never use, plus a few others that we use less frequently. We pulled the ones we don't use from the shelf - I'll trade them in on Amazon or list them on Freecycle - and rearranged the remainder so that the Bittman books and our bread books (which also get used all the time) are much more easily accessible.

Next up: my wardrobe. I have to be careful, because I have some clothes I'm only not using because they won't fit until after the baby comes - I don't want to get rid of those. But I also have clothes that I probably wouldn't wear even if they fit, or would only wear grudgingly. (I have underwear in my drawer that always gets pushed to the back of the drawer. Why do I own underwear I don't want to wear?)

Is anyone out there paring down like this? I'm particularly interested if you're doing a continuous review process, rather than a one-time purge.

2010

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

A post! Just in the nick of time. First, a year-in-review, then some forward-looking-statements, even though my shareholders balk.

What happened in 2010?

2010 has been a huge year for us. We started off the year living apart - Sam in San Francisco, me in Omaha, each working our separate jobs. When I received my tax stuff from my first six months or so at my job, the reality was quite sobering. Our initial estimation (that the two jobs would allow us to save some money and pay down some debts, even with duplicate living expenses) proved to be untrue - my paycheck, after taxes and deductions, managed to cover the mortgage, car and transportation costs, and utilities, with only maybe a couple hundred bucks left over. It turned out that every hour I was at work, once we paid the bills that resulted from living apart so that I _could_ go to work, I brought home a couple bucks an hour. To live apart from Sam, that hardly seemed worthwhile. We started talking about how we might remedy the situation, which we thought would likely require selling the house before anything else. Mortgages are not trivial things.

Meanwhile, while apart, we explored shared interests; I had started knitting, and Sam picked up the habit shortly after. He very quickly surpassed my skill level, whipping out seven hats in a couple weeks. His work was enviably gorgeous, and (probably owing to his much superior focusing skills) he seemed to finish projects easily while I got stuck mid-project. To be totally fair to myself, this is partly because I have an obnoxious habit of choosing complicated patterns worked with thin yarn on teeny-tiny needles, often with cables, lace work, twisted stitches, shaping, beads - in some cases, combinations of the above. It's an illness. Happily, many of the patterns I'm interested in working on now are simple, leveraging a little textural interest and the beauty of the fiber to become something really lovely.

From February through April, there was of course the lawsuit to occupy my attention. In late February, Sam moved back to Omaha with his employer's blessing to support me, to help get our affairs in order for potentially moving together, and to handle some family issues.

A few weeks later, he was laid off. He job-hunted for months, interviewing in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, and Colorado; he was eventually hired by a San Francisco company and started in early July.

Needless to say, the first half of the year was significantly stressful.

We moved Sam out to San Francisco, but this time I got set to move, too. I gave notice at my job, went to San Francisco with Sam to find an apartment and get him settled, then came back for a few weeks of work and the long process of preparing the house for sale.

The best laid plans, of course - shortly after getting back to Omaha, I discovered that I'm pregnant. First trimester fatigue hit me like a load of bricks; that's not a complaint, it's just the truth. I didn't have a bad time of it, I just didn't have much in the way of energy. My mom and sister jumped up with the helping, and they get credit for 90% of the cleanup and improvement. They're living there, now, with our blessing; that makes money a little tight, but it brings me a little joy to see my mom supported, enjoying a house we love.

In late August, I moved to San Francisco, too, with a week-long stop in Houston to visit my bestie. During the trip, I started having odd pain, as if I'd fallen and whacked my tailbone; turns out this was a side effect of pregnancy hormones. My pelvic ligaments all decided to get loose, and my tailbone rotated in a funky way that caused me pain whenever I tried to sit. I've been seeing a chiropractor since I arrived; pleasantly, he's been able to adjust things so that my bones behave, more or less. I still wind up hurting if I exert myself too much, but I've learned - slowly! - to plan my activities better, limit them to match my capabilities, and take time to recuperate when I overdo it.

The one difficulty with limiting activity is that San Francisco is so damn beautiful. And vibrant. And busy. We left the car with a family member to sell in Omaha; car ownership in San Francisco is more of a burden than a benefit. I wind up walking a lot, and taking transit. It might sound crazy, but I love taking trains and busses. It might be different in cities that are less interesting - not sure. But here, sitting on a bus, I can appreciate the city around me rather than focus on the lights changing colors, or what the dude in the next lane over is trying to get away with. I don't always have to go out to appreciate the city, though; we live up on a nice big hill, with a view out over the bay from our windows and over the Embarcadero and the Bay Bridge from the end of the street. There's a lot to enjoy from home.

In late October, Sam and I decided we'd do NaNoWriMo this year. This may have been the best idea ever, as we made a ton of friends and both successfully cranked out more than 50,000 words in one month. We met Chris Baty and the rest of the NaNoWriMo crew at the Thank God It's Over party, which happened to be on our wedding anniversary; the party felt extra special, like it was for us. Seeing as this year was our ten year anniversary, we celebrated (in true Tesla family style) with fantastic food, hitting Waterbar for lunch the day of, and a special "Chef's Night Off" tasting menu at Coi the day after.

We spent Thanksgiving in San Francisco, but Christmas was about seeing family - we flew back to Omaha to see my nuclear and extended family. I got sick on the way out - crappy sinus crud - which was only exacerbated by the cold, dry air in Omaha. Apparently, my body quite likes the moist San Francisco air. Even so, seeing family was wonderful, and though the actual travel parts of the trip were a giant clusterfuck, seeing my bestie in Houston (twice!) when we got stuck there overnight (twice!) was nice, too.

And that brings me to today. I'm getting better; Sam's a little under the weather, apparently having caught my crud. We're taking the New Year's weekend to get feeling better, then having a midwife appointment on Monday morning. That's one thing I left out above; we found a wonderful midwife that we absolutely adore. Our baby is due in early to mid-March, and we're trying for a home birth; all signs currently point to a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, and we're hopeful that will continue so we can birth as planned.

What's had my attention in 2010?

For reasons that are probably obvious, pregnancy and birth stuff have held a lot of my attention. Pop culture has a ridiculously narrow (and traumatic!) view of what pregnancy and birth are all about, and exploring the alternatives in a sane, methodical way has been enriching and eye-opening.

Also for reasons that are probably obvious, fat acceptance has held my attention consistently throughout the year. Actually, this might seem a little odd, as I've lost a signficant amount of weight this year, even while pregnant. But I don't think you have to be fat to respect people who are, and to believe people ought to be treated well regardless of their size or shape. I've always been an in-betweenie; some people tell me I'm not fat enough to be called fat, and I haven't suffered some of the stigma that bigger friends unfortunately have. On the other hand, I still can't shop at a "normal" store for clothes, and I'm bombarded with the same pop culture messages every day: my body is anywhere from unacceptable to simply less than ideal. I'm sure I'll have more to say on this in the new year.

As the sort of unifying umbrella over birth stuff and fat acceptance has been a deep plunge into feminism. I've been particularly interested in body autonomy, and how it is expressed and supported in the feminist community. There's a huge dose of "none of your business" that serves as a foundation for these other interests: the way I wish to give birth is none of your business, the way (and amount, and with whom) I have sex is none of your business, the shape of my body is none of your business, what I eat is none of your business. My body is mine, what I do with it is mine, and I have a right to make choices and boundaries for it. Which, of course, meant that when the TSA rolled around and decided they'd start putting hands in places I have quite firmly decided they are not welcome, I paid attention. I got righteously pissed.

Also of interest, but nothing I can summarize quickly here: the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell; Wikileaks. I'll almost certainly have more to say on those topics.

Anything you really loved?

Sara Bareilles. April Smith and the Great Picture Show.

My Kindle (oh my gosh, I've actually read some whole books). Anathem (affiliate link), by Neal Stephenson. Knitpicks.

Oh, and San Francisco, duh.

Any resolutions?

I don't remember if I made others, but a couple days after January 1st, I decided I'd stop eating fast food. This was fairly absolute in that I didn't give myself any kind of cooling off period; I just said no more. On the other hand, on a few occasions throughout the year when I was craving something specific - an Arby's sandwich here, a Taco Bell taco there, In-N-Out Burger twice - I indulged without feeling any particular guilt about it. The first three months or so, that didn't happen at all. What's interesting is that after a few months away from fast food, I found that my cravings weren't cravings for the actual fast food, but my memory of it. A few bites of that sandwich I thought I wanted informed me otherwise. Even more interesting was the direct and immediate correlation between eating fast food and really obnoxious gastrointestinal distress. It became completely unappealing to even do once in awhile. I'd estimate I ate fast food about half a dozen times in 2010, and I have no desire to do so at all anymore.

A happy side-effect: once I moved to San Francisco, my food choices extended to Sam, and he's been pretty much fast food free, too. We're both happier for it.

Plus, living in San Francisco has meant all kinds of access to abundant, cheap, fresh, high-quality produce. We've gone semi-vegetarian at home, with all sorts of benefits.

For 2011 - Plans?

I plan to give birth sometime in early to mid-March, give or take a couple weeks. That's my really big plan for 2011: be a mom. It's very likely that we will move at some point during the year, if for no other reason than the likelihood that we'll need more space; our apartment here up on the hill is great for the two of us, but it'll be a little tight as the kiddo grows.

These next few months are going to be a lot about getting ready for the baby - a trip to Ikea and eagle eyes on Craigslist. We're more than a little alarmed at the commercial racket having a kid has become, and we've made a commitment both to not overbuy gadgets and things we don't need, and to source hand-me-downs where possible and appropriate.

I'm also at the stage where I'm sort of obsessing over knitting tiny baby things. I need to get cracking on that.

2011 Resolutions?

I'm going to call these areas of focus, instead of resolutions. We have enough change coming in our lives that I don't think it's a good idea to force anything through the pipe at the moment.

  1. Write and publish more. This means blogging - I feel like I have things to say that have gone neglected this past year, for a variety of reasons. It also means, if possible, finishing and editing some of my stories for publication.
  2. Eat more home-cooked meals. I totally have an excuse at the moment to order in often, but I'd like to use that excuse less often. I enjoy cooking, and the more I do it, the more I remember that. Eating out adds up - both in money spent and food wasted.
  3. Finances. I want to re-develop our budget, as many of the assumptions we made developing the way we do things now no longer apply.

That's it! Pursuant #1 there, I hope to be back and blogging tomorrow, too.

Happy New Year!