Herstory and thanks

Well it’s been a week since Nipper 3.0 landed in our lives and as a friend of mine said a few years ago after giving birth to a girl after two boys, “It’s the icing on the cake”. Mind you she went on to add a cherry since! I’m saying nothing!

I want  to write briefly about Ada’s arrival last week as I did for the boys. I’ve always done this for a few reasons: so I don’t forget; because I like to hear other women’s stories and I know how strong the need to talk about it is; and for future Ada who might read herself one day.

Don’t worry there won’t be any gory details because there are none but also because that’s not my style.

Like many women will say I can’t really put a finger on when things started. Probably things had been in motion since a week previously but I suppose being woken up in the wee small hours of Monday morning by contractions made me think that something might happen that day. However when I was expecting Nipper 2.0 I rang Himself so many times and asked him to come home only for the contractions to lose steam that I vowed this time I wouldn’t say a word until I was absolutely sure. Anyway as Monday pushed on I didn’t have any more contractions and I relaxed at home with Nipper 1.0 who was recovering from a very nasty tummy bug. I was pretty tired after dealing with that on Saturday night and all day Sunday. On Monday afternoon however I decided he was well enough to go for a walk and that it would do me no harm at all to get out too: cabin fever had set in after hurting my back had kept me housebound the previous week. Mind you neither he nor I needed to walk quite so much and by the time we got to the creche to pick up Nipper 2.0 both of us were tired and cranky. I had quite a few contractions en route but walking often brings them on only for them to dissipate once you stop moving so still I wasn’t sure. I was also feeling really nauseous and genuinely thought, “Oh no I’ve got Nipper 1.0’s tummy bug!”

We walked home complaining all the way and I decided when I got home I would ring Himself and ask him to skip his yoga because I felt so weird. But lo! when we arrived home there he was. I said I was feeling yuck and retired to the bed. I started tracking my contractions then. I used an iPhone app called Labor Mate – I think it’s about 79c. I tested a few but I liked this one the best. I set my autolock to 3 minutes and, pregnant ladies, you will be relieved to read that not one of my contractions ever lasted longer than the autolock. In other words all my contractions were far shorter than three minutes. Happy days!

So Himself fed the Nippers and put them to bed and then came in to see how I was. I told him then that I was pretty definitely in labour and that he should ring my parents. It was about 8.30. My dad came over just after 9pm and amused himself prepping his show for Wednesday I’m told. I actually didn’t see him until we were heading out the door. It was so nice to be in my own bedroom with Himself in familiar surroundings, low lighting, soft carpet, my yoga ball, my own bathroom, my own tunes. Between this time and when we left for the hospital my contractions became more intense but I also had pleasant, calm periods between them where I completely relaxed and even dozed a little.

Mum arrived over at around 11pm and after Himself appraised her of the situation, she thought we should leave. After de-icing the inside and the outside of the car (!) we drove down to the Coombe and arrived just before 11.30pm. My lovely cousin Rosemary found it amusing that I “foursquared” my arrival at the Coombe but there was method in my madness. I knew that many of my friends and family would see this update on either Twitter or Facebook. (Nothing to do with the fact that I wished to retain my title as Mayor of the Coombe… :))

It was right after this that my waters broke and things really took off. While there was 31 hours between my waters breaking and Nipper 1.0 arriving and about the same amount of minutes for Nipper 2.0 who was induced, I figured it would be somewhere in between with Nipper 3.0. Not at all! She was born 38 minutes later just inside the delivery suite.

So it was quick in the end! I only had one panicky period when I wanted to push but the midwives wouldn’t say yes or no to me. I think they were afraid like me that I wasn’t completely ready. Around this time they tried to get me to take some gas and air, something I had never used. As someone who completely relies on my yoga breathing to get me through my labours this was the worst thing they could do because it involves breathing in through the mouth and I was trying to control my breathing by breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. Himself was a rock, trying to get me to calm down while also trying to reason with them and basically tell them no. I think their intention was to try and slow things down so they could make sure I was ready but nature took it’s course and a lilac coloured Ada arrived after about 3 pushes.

I’m completely smitten of course and we think she’s completely gorgeous (but are aware of the fact that everyone else just thinks she looks like a squidgy baby) and all is going well. Naturally I had a couple of ropey days when the milk was coming in and I’m still quite tired but all in all I can’t complain. I have plenty of visitors and as I always say that’s one of my most favourite things about having a baby: it’s such a sociable time!

I want to take this opportunity to thank a few people. A big thanks to Himself of course who is just brilliant. I won’t go on. He knows 🙂 I would also like to thank my parents for being on call and ready to help whenever we needed (and for the imminent arrival of the breadmaking machine 🙂 ). A big thanks to Abigail and Jor for looking after the boys while I was at my yoga classes. Thanks also to Grats & EJ for the company, to Mammy MacCabe and Aged Uncle P for the babysitting, bolognese and lemon cake. Thanks for everyone who has called in before and since she arrived: I love company! Thanks to Irish Betty in Brooklyn for the truly gorgeous flowers and remembering that gerberas are my favourites!

I would also like to thank Anne L’Henoret, my yoga teacher, for her inspiring and relaxing classes in the last few weeks. I would recommend to any mum-to-be to try and get a space in Anne’s class. While they are yoga classes, there’s a lot more to them to inspire confidence in your changing body and to assure you that you can deal with the challenge and adventure ahead. Please contact Anne at 087 9545777 to check availability. My classes were in the lovely Seraph Studios but I know she runs classes elsewhere too. Thanks also to Tots2Teens for pointing me in Anne’s direction! By the way if you are attending in Holles St. the antenatal yoga classes there are also excellent but book up quickly too.

I would also like to thank all of you! My family and friends, online and off, who jollied me along in the weeks coming up to the birth when I sorely needed it. Thank you all very much for calls, texts, emails, IMs, comments, and tweets congratulating us on Ada’s arrival. I’m sorry if I didn’t manage to reply to you all individually but it meant so much to me and Himself too!

I know now you would expect me to thank the team in the Coombe and I do thank them for doing their job. I know that the patients they deal with do not always have as easy pregnancies and births as mine. However, as a general rule I did feel that all those that I met were just doing their job. I felt like I was no more than a patient number and a chart. I couldn’t fault their work but I felt that the care could have been a bit more woman focused and a lot less of “that’s just the way we do it in this hospital.” To be fair this may well have been because that’s all that was humanly possible for them given the resource issues in the healthcare system but I don’t know, I felt it was a cultural thing; that it was part of the culture of the hospital. Maybe I’m being too naive but conversely maybe they are too wary. There were, of course, one or two who went the extra mile for me (I’m thinking of the community midwife who finally bit the bullet and just brought me upstairs to see the delivery suite after months of my asking. The irony of it is of course I was there for all of 30 minutes, most of which was after I had delivered!) I don’t mean to be mean-spirited, I am trying to be constructive, but after the personable, friendly and knowledgeable treatment I received on the Domino Scheme in NMH Holles St. it was a bit of a disappointment. As an example, I was trying to find out would there be a shower available to me during labour and should I bring my own towels. All academic queries as it turned out but the midwife told me she didn’t know because she didn’t work on the labour ward. She works in the hospital but hadn’t informed herself or been informed about the system in the labour ward. The mind boggles. As I have mentioned previously I understand that a Domino scheme will soon be available in the Coombe (although from my conversations with the staff there are varying levels of certainty about that) and I really hope that this initiative will help them realise the benefits to both the hospital and its clients of a woman centred approach to antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care.

Lastly a number of people asked me where we got Ada’s name. She is named after Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s only legitimate child and first computer programmer. We had decided on the name months ago but coincidentally a friend of mine contacted me last week to let me know about Ada Lovelace Day on March 24th. Bloggers are encouraged to write about women in technology and science on March 24th in order to celebrate their contribution in this field. There’s just under 10 days to go so bloggers, tweeters, facebookers – get your thinking caps on and plan your post for March 24th.

And now duty calls!

Rosie is riveted

Live action Rosie the RiveterPhoto owned by H.C. Williams (cc)

My attention was of course arrested by the cover of last week’s Economist with the iconic shot of Rosie the Riveter proclaiming that We Did It! The basic gist of the three articles in The Economist is that the number of women in the workforce now equals the number of men. Good news indeed. However the articles go on to underline that these women are not represented in management roles across all sectors (although there are some exceptions in some sectors) and that they don’t, on average, earn as much as men. Nothing new there sadly. The briefing (which doesn’t seem to be available online) concludes the same as I have been concluding since I began my own childbearing and rearing: equality in the workplace will never occur until there is mandatory paternity leave. If I was a father expecting my third child I wouldn’t be looking at a 50% pay cut because I’m creating more consumers/ workers/ pension scheme payees. Of course I earn on average less than men even if I continue working as a result. This is escalating into a post for another day.

I also think it’s very ironic that The Economist chose to celebrate women in the workforce not six months after they published an article about polymaths in their lifestyle magazine which included a list of 20 living fabulous, clever, wonderful polymaths. All of them are men. How about helping me compile a list of living female polymaths? Suggestions in the comments below. My big problem is that the women I can think of aren’t famous for any of their amazing talents. Hmmm.

Uhoh! Bacardi Breezer firefighting team will be in overdrive

I cannot believe this ad and social media campaign. I think a lot of comments to the post on Jezebel – Bacardi Ad Uses Misogyny To Sell Alcohol To Women – Bacardi get an ugly girlfriend are very interesting, especially those which I will  categorise as the “beauty is not the be-all and end-all” comments.

The mind boggles! Did the advertising team working for Bacardi think that women would admire the honesty of Bacardi, telling it like it is? Not featuring half naked women on beaches as per usual? Do they really think I am going to buy Bacardi because they understand my motivations for having friends? They bloody well do not! When I think of my female friends (and anyone will tell you that most of my friends are female, it’s just the way I am wired) how they look does not feature among the reasons I am friendly with them. Naturally I am happy for them when they get an outfit/ haircut/ shoes that makes them feel and look great. Naturally I listen to their concerns about their body issues and they listen to my occasional moans. We try to think of things to help each other improve but ultimately it doesn’t matter. If a friend lost or put on weight or other dramatic changes occurred in their body I would be concerned about them because it’s rare that such changes are merely physiological. I would expect my friends to have the same concern for me.

Anyone with half a brain knows that advertising is manipulative. It occurs to me that Bacardi may not care that most women will revile them, and possibly revile them publicly online, for this stunt. Maybe it’s part of the brand awareness raising. Personally I would prefer to be manipulated by a witty campaign* or even by a glamorous, escapist campaign (see above, semi-naked, beaches comment) rather than a flipping alcoholic beverage company saying to me, “You are totally shallow. Have some Bacardi!” I mean what the **** sort of brand is that? Your life is so vacuous, you will need alcohol such as Bacardi to give it meaning? I actually bought some white rum at the weekend to make mojitos and I am very glad I did not but this brand.

Maybe there will be comments here and elsewhere along the lines of “Oh girl where is your sense of humour?” and I always feel perplexed by such comments. No-one can tell me something is funny if I don’t find it so. Even if you explain to me and especially if you have to explain to me why it is funny, the moment has passed. Plainly I am not the only person who thinks this campaign has completely missed the mark. Even if I was, there would still be no point in asking me the whereabouts of my sense of humour.

Is it not bad enough that women are constantly bombarded with unreal, airbrushed images of unattainable beauty but now we are being given a catalogue of what amounts to being ugly according to Bacardi? Cross-eyed? Yuck! Cellulite? You minger! Red hair? God help us!

Okay maybe I am an unwitting pawn in their social media campaign and they intended to rustle up some online notice with this campaign but generally it’s better to try for a positive reaction. This campaign is so, so, deeply wrong and misconceived. I hate to say this in the current economic environment but I hope Bacardi are firing their ad execs asses right now.

I thought a quick poll might help those ad execs understand why their asses are getting fired. Of course I might be wrong and you all might think it’s hilarious!

*Did they or did they not run the series of ads about Jamaicans being really laid back? They were great! They did not – it was Malibu. Hurrah I can continue unabated with my rant!

Infinity Reef

I’ve written before about my infinity blanket which has now reached five rows of 20 granny squares I think. So it’s about as slow growing as coral reef. Turns out that my blanket has more in common with coral reef than the slowness of its growth. The hyperbolic growth structure of coral reefs can only be mapped in crochet. Watch this brilliant presentation by Margaret Wertheim from TED.com – it speaks to so many nerdy aspects of my life. I’m going to make myself some of that gorgeous coral reef. I have just the wool at home too.

Check out Wertheim’s Flickr Photostream as well. Some amazing stuff including a Business Card Sponge.

Brilliant Beatbox

I’m not sure how I came upon this video. I think Bellatrix, “the UK’s leading female Beatbox artist”, was featured on the homepage of YouTube recently. I think. Anyway, one link followed another and I found the following 1st part of four of female beatbox artists. I don’t know much or in fact anything about this art form but I know I think it’s amazing.