When you're not pregnant, if there's anything wrong with you it can be a struggle to convince doctors of it. When you are pregnant, suddenly this reverses and the doctors become paranoid hypochondriacs freaking out at the slightest thing. One-off increased glucose in urine, despite normal blood glucose? OMG GESTATIONAL DIABETES. Slightly high blood pressure? OMG PRE-ECLAMPSIA.
They are currently freaking out about my blood pressure even though it's not even high enough to register as "mild hypertension" on this NHS scale, and want me to go to the Rosie for another consultant appointment, preferably today, which means I wouldn't even have time to talk to my nice midwife, who seems to be sane and competent, but doesn't have a direct line, only an answering service where she or one of her colleagues calls you back after 24 hours.
I feel like I'm having an explosion of medical appointments which I don't want, with all different people who don't talk to each other, and I have sole responsibility for coordinating between them and trying to keep them all on the same page. That shouldn't be the patient's job.
No news of my supposed appointment with the Supervisor of Midwives yet. But it might be irrelevant: if they're worrying about my blood pressure and glucose as well as all the other stuff, I stand even less chance of being classed as low-risk.
I have a friend who went in for a routine ante-natal appointment sometime in the third trimester and they decided then and there to keep her in hospital for some kind of monitoring until her baby was born. She didn't even get to go home to pack or arrange childcare for her toddler. She felt fine health-wise, just very bored and frustrated for all those weeks. The outcome I'm anxious to avoid has now moved on from unnecessary inductions and C-sections to this.
It's due at the end of October or early November. (Maybe we should aim for the 5th and then both our children can have fireworks on their birthdays (Bethany's is 4th July)). We had the scan last week and all is well.
I definitely wasn't ready any sooner. Bethany is lovely and will play by herself a bit now and let me rest, but if I'd been pregnant a year ago while she was still in a very demanding phase I don't know what I'd have done.
My kitchen is where basil plants go to die. When I go to buy a basil plant, all the ones in the shop shrink back and hope I'll choose a different one, like when Sid in Toy Story chooses a toy, except in my case it's not deliberate. I try to keep them alive, but have accidentally killed more of them than I can remember.
But I currently have one which has been flourishing for several weeks. It might just be luck, but I think I've learned in the process, so I'd like to share what I've learned, in case others have the same problem.
1) Only water it when it's wilting. This is the most obvious piece of advice, in that it's usually on the packet. But it needs to be combined with 2) and interpreted with 3).
2) Only water it in the morning. This sounded like superstitious nonsense when I first heard it, like only watering it during a full moon; but then I remembered how plants photosynthesise in the day and respire at night, so it makes sense. If you water it in the evening it'll sit there in a puddle all night not photosynthesising, and I think having soggy roots is the main danger. But I and one ex-basil plant have demonstrated that 2) is not enough unless combined with 1) and 3).
3) Wilting and dry leaves are not the same thing. The current verdant incumbent, the Catherine Parr of basil plants, starts to wilt occasionally, gets watered, and revives. When it wilts, the leaves collapse and start to shrivel but remain a rich dark green, soft in texture, maybe even a bit squishy (think of wilted spinach). Whereas what has often happened in the past is the leaves keep their shape but go dry and papery and yellowish-white, and I in my botanical cluelessness go "Oh, the leaves are drying out, it must need watering." So I now think the papery leaves are a sign of soggy root death.
I've got a shiny new HTC One X, and I'm really pleased with it!
I can check email and LJ on it really easily, and look things up on Wikipedia etc.
My old phone was an early Windows Mobile smartphone, so could theoretically use the internet, but in practice it was so much faff I never bothered. To check email, I'd have to navigate to the browser and launch it, wait for it to start up, go to the URL bar and bring up the keyboard, enter the URL for GMail, wait a very long time for the page to load, go to the username and password boxes and peck out my username and password, submit, and wait for the inbox page to load. On the new phone I just tap the email widget on the home screen and it shows me my email, because it's all integrated.
Of course this means the new phone has my login details for various things stored, so I feel the need to password-lock the phone, which I didn't bother with on the old phone. But it does face recognition, so I can unlock it just by looking at it, and it only falls back on a PIN if it fails to recognise me, which is about 1 time in 20 and improving; so almost no extra faff.
Its text entry interface is much more sensible than the old phone. It's better at automatically bringing up the keyboard when you're in a text box. The word-completion options it offers are often better, and they include possible corrections of typos as well as just straight completions. And there's a clear and quick way to indicate whether an unrecognised word should be added to the dictionary or not - as opposed to the old phone, which would add every single typo and hapax legomenon to the dictionary, as well as tokenisation failures like "(and", so that they swamped the real words.
I had a little difficulty at first getting my contacts across to it. They were in my old phone, and synced using MS ActiveSync to my PC, which stored them in an ancient Outlook 2000 which I didn't use for anything else. I downloaded HTC Sync Manager, which offered an option to import contacts from Outlook Express, but not Outlook. It looked like I was going to have to export them from Outlook to a CSV (which was a feature not included in the default Outlook installation, so I'd have to dig out the Office 2000 installation CD from somewhere), and then import the CSV via Google Contacts, which would mean either merging them with the 700-odd acquaintances of acquaintances I have in my GMail contacts and don't really want in my phone book, or creating a new one-off GMail account for importing them via, which feels very untidy. But in the end the copy of Outlook Express which came with Windows was able to read them from Outlook, and then HTC Sync Manager read them straight from there.
I have some good games, and an app for checking live bus departures (we do use buses sometimes; the inconvenience and travel sickness are outweighed by the joy of "Mummy an Bennany go on BUS!"). It's very easy to play music on the device, including in the background of other apps. The camera is very user-friendly, and if you take a photo and want to send it to someone there's a button for that, rather than exiting the camera and trawling through the MMS interface and trying to locate where in the filesystem your photo got saved. And when I get a phonecall it rings for a sensible length of time (the old one used to go to voicemail after two rings, and there was nothing I or the internet or Orange tech support could do about it). It does lots of sensible little things, like if you receive a call from a number not in your contacts, after you finish the call it asks you if you want to save the number to your contacts. And it has contact groups! I have a group of mum-friends whose social life is organised entirely by text message, and I used to have to enter all their names every time, but not any more! It also makes it really easy to search for things (with suggestions updating instantly with each keypress) and get to things you've done recently before, whether that's apps, contacts, or whatever.
The only negative things I've found are that there seems to be a slight bug in the calendar - it won't let me edit or delete single instances of recurring appointments (although the internet seems to think it should) - and the keyboard doesn't let you swipe upwards for capital letters like the WinMo one did. There are third-party calendar apps, though, so I'm considering installing one of those, and possibly a keyboard as well.
We went on a little train on the beach with Alex's parents. Bethany was fussing that she wanted to drive the train, and Alex's mum told her you have to be a grown-up to drive it.
Then she confided to us that she'd been going to say "you have to be a man", but corrected herself so as not to be sexist. Alex and I were mildly shocked that she'd been going to say "a man" at all. But then I realised that our being shocked was testament to how good a job she (and my mum) must have done at self-censoring those sexist assumptions during our childhoods, so that we've grown up without them.
But of course people of our generation still aren't completely free of sexism (and other isms). And the train-driving example made me realise that it is worth me making the effort to be more PC when talking to Bethany, even if it sounds artificial or contrived to me, because then she will hopefully grow up with more egalitarian attitudes than mine, which will actually be natural and not contrived to her.
She is currently fascinated by vehicles which go nee-naw, and I've been referring to their occupants as policemen and firemen, because really, police officer and firefighter feel much too cumbersome and artificial to say to a toddler; but I think maybe I should try to use them anyway.
(Metablogging comment: This post is not on the Bethany filter because I felt it was of more general interest. This seems like a good place to mention the Bethany filter in case anyone not on it would like to be added to it. Its focus is largely on linguistic development now she's talking.)
White Teeth - Zadie Smith (paperback, good condition) £2.50 The Ruby in the Smoke - Philip Pullman (paperback, excellent condition) £2.50 Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett (paperback, excellent condition) £2.50 Doomsday Book - Connie Willis (paperback, good condition) £2.50 Villette - Charlotte Bronte (paperback, acceptable condition) £2
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith (paperback, good condition) £2.50 Tears of the Giraffe - Alexander McCall Smith (paperback, excellent condition) £2.50 Morality for Beautiful Girls - Alexander McCall Smith (paperback, excellent condition) £2.50 The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Alexander McCall Smith (paperback, excellent condition) £2.50 Blue Shoes and Happiness - Alexander McCall Smith (paperback, excellent condition) £2.50 In the Company of Cheerful Ladies - Alexander McCall Smith (paperback, excellent condition) £2.50 The Full Cupboard of Life - Alexander McCall Smith (paperback, excellent condition) £2.50 (or all 7 of these for £12)
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever - Stephen Donaldson (paperback, scruffy condition but still readable) - £1 (This is the first trilogy in one volume - Lord Foul's Bane, The Illearth War and The Power that Preserves)
You are Not so Smart - David McRaney (non-fiction, hardback, good condition) - £2.50
If you'd like to buy any, best way is to arrange to meet up in Cambridge, or maybe try to courier via a mutual friend; or I can post them if you want to pay postage.
By excellent I mean I could mistake it for new in a bookshop. Good is slightly below that - very slightly bashed or creased but I wouldn't look askance if I got it as a gift. Acceptable is noticeably second-hand but not too bad. Scruffy is significantly creased cover and bent spine, a fussy second-hand shop might throw it away, but perfectly readable.
Had this today and it was so good I wanted to share it.
The night before: Put 3tbsp oats in a bowl, along with some chopped nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews, brazils, etc), dried fruit (e.g. raisins, sultanas, craisins, apricots), half a grated apple, 150ml milk, and a bit of cinnamon. Stir, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight.
In the morning: Stir, and top with fresh fruit (e.g. blueberries, raspberries, banana, tropical fruit) and optionally a dollop of natural yogurt or creme fraiche (I didn't have any).
It was so nice it was almost a dessert, but also tasted fresh and healthy. I found the portion slightly too small though (maybe I'm just a breakfast piggy), so I'll make a bit more next time.
(Based on a recipe in the GI High-Energy Cookbook.)
Books are like oranges: the ones marketed to kids are not only easier to get into, but more enjoyable once you do. Why shouldn't adults have easy-peel, sweet-tasting oranges, and fun, exciting stories? I blatantly buy the ones aimed at kids anyway, but why are they marketed that way?
Most of the book series I've really enjoyed in recent years have been young-adult books. Harry Potter. Scott Westerfeld's Uglies trilogy, and most of his other work. Artemis Fowl. The Hunger Games. (Still reading that, so no spoilers please!) Conversely, while I've enjoyed some adult fiction (Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series being a notable example), a depressing amount of the adult fiction I read feels dull and lacking, and fails to grip me.
Am I immature? (I don't mind if so. I'm exploring literature in society, not fishing for reassurance.) If I am immature, in what way? Or, to look at it from the other side: what makes a book YA? Superficially, it usually has teenage protagonists and no sex; but those are clearly not the only or primary criteria for marketing something as YA (nor the criteria that appeal to me about it).
Is it that adult books have depth and subtlety which goes over my head? Or is it that only teenagers are supposed to like books about Ultimate Reality and Truth and Big Moral Questions? And if so, is that because teenagers are still figuring those things out and adults should have already done so; or is it because teenagers still care about those things, whereas adults are supposed to be boring and jaded and enjoy depressing books which reflect the mundanities of everyday life?
Is it that I'm just reading the cream of YA fiction, and mediocre adult fiction, so it's an unfair comparison? That's a possibility; YA fiction seems to exist in a much taller and narrower pyramid, so you mostly only hear of the bestsellers, whereas the adult market is a lot bigger and less neatly distinguished among. And, of course, you can't just generalise about "adult fiction" as a category. Because it's a bigger market, it's much more diverse than YA.
Where does escapism come into it? Most of the fiction I enjoy is speculative in some way, but there's plenty of adult speculative fiction and a lot of it has bored me recently (and conversely I really enjoy some non-speculative fiction aimed at teenagers - mainly classics like the Anne of Green Gables series). Does escapism mean spaceships and wizards, or does it mean fictional settings (whether speculative or not) which have morality and meaning, unlike the real world? I mostly (apart from when having a faith crisis) do think the real world has morality and meaning; but even if it didn't - especially if it didn't - then I can't see why I'd want to read stories that didn't either. To me, story involves finding or creating meaning; otherwise it's just recording, which takes much less skill and is much less interesting to read. But it's not as though the YA stories I like are morally glib and neat, with obvious goodies and baddies, and happy endings. That may be a stereotype some people have about children's fiction. But then, maybe it is, compared to adult fiction, and I'm failing to see the deeper moral complexity in (a lot of) adult fiction, and mistaking it for a moral void?