The Blog of Innocence: 49 Vintage Photography Masterpieces

The Blog of Innocence: 49 Vintage Photography Masterpieces.

I saw this blog post today and wanted to share it. It’s fascinating to see some of the themes that we think of as contemporary showing up in vintage photographs. Just goes to show you that very little actually comes from original thought. What’s old is new, what’s new is old. Creativity is eternal.

 

Nude woman posing for painter

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny men building headless statue of woman

 

 

Man with Camera

 

Categories: Blog, Inspiration | Tags: , | 1 Comment

‘The Help’ Helped Me Read Fiction Again

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t read a lot of fiction, and I’m a slow reader, so it was nice to read something that pulled me in. It helped that I started reading it on vacation; I literally couldn’t put it down. I wanted to read it before the film came out so the movie would’t spoil the book for me. I’m glad I did. I’ve now read the book and I’ve seen the movie. While the film was excellent on it’s own, great acting by all of the leads, it didn’t have the intensity and raw fear expressed in the book. All of that was glossed over for the Hollywood version, but that’s exactly what I expected. Reading this book took me away, put me in the shoes of “the help” and got me thinking about class structure in a more conscious way. Along the way I realized that there’s really nothing like a good novel. The experience inspired me to begin reading fiction again. I’ve passed the book on to my neighbor who would also like to start reading more. I’m impressed that a paperback summer read could have such an impact.

I just started reading a book by a local Boston author, Roland Merullo: The Talk Funny Girl. It has a few things I enjoy: a coming of age theme, a strong female lead, and it’s set in New England – New Hampshire to be exact. Check it out!

View all my reviews

Categories: Film, Life | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The CSS of Design Storytelling: Context, Spine, and Structure :: UXmatters

Since I’ve been behind on blogging due to life commitments, I figure I might as well share that I’m enjoying reading this:

The CSS of Design Storytelling: Context, Spine, and Structure :: UXmatters.

I’m in the midst of preparing for a presentation to an audience that’s much larger than what I’m accustomed to and the subject is not my usual “spiel”. So, trying to get it down for tomorrow night and also trying to wrap up details about home while we prepare for a glorious week on the water in Martha’s Vineyard. My body wants to relax but my brain says otherwise. I’ll be very happy Wednesday evening when I hit the hay. Relief!! And anticipation for our first full week away since my daughter was born, close to 4 years!

 

Martha's Vineyard Sunset

 

Hope everyone is having a happy summer!

 

 

Categories: Blog, Career, Work | 2 Comments

Disney Promotes Blond Favoritism

We were out buying a birthday present for one of my toddler’s friends and on the way to our car we got caught in a torrential downpour. In under 30 seconds we were completely soaked. After buckling us both in I headed for home. While stopped at a traffic light I caught Sienna’s face in the rear view mirror and she said, “Mommyyyyyyy! Now I look like you. My hair is BLACK!!” Not at all trying to hide her disdain.

I reassured her, “Yup. But that’s okay Boo, it’ll dry and be lighter again.”

“No! I want it to be YELLOW!!! I want you to blow dry it when we get home.” She said, heartbroken.

Her hair is far from yellow, it’s light brown. And I rarely use a blow dryer on it, mainly because she doesn’t like it. “What?! …you really want me to dry it for you?”

“Yes. Please!!!” She pleaded. Desperate to change it back.

What popped into my head was the film “Tangled”. In the last scene Rapunzel’s magic golden hair is snipped and all of the magic is drained away…leaving her hair DARK BROWN (my daughter calls this “black”). The message is clear: blond hair contains magic, brown hair is dull and, of course, lacking any special powers at all whatsoever.

Okay, so maybe you think this is a stretch. But is it? Three year olds can be quite literal.

Rapunzel's "mother" lovingly strokes her magical blond hair

We’ve talked about the movie and how it’s just a story and not real. But what is real is the fact that nearly all the Disney characters she loves are blond or platinum blond. I love Tinkerbell’s can do attitude, she’s very modern and certainly a leader who’s not looking for her prince. So her blond hair seems  more  incidental than the others that my daughter is drawn to. Though if Tink happened to have been created as a brunette she may have been perceived by little girls as less feminine somehow and more of what she really is: an incredibly capable tomboy – God forbid. When asked who her favorite princess was the other day my daughter responded, “Tinkerbell.” (An answer that made me quite happy due to the aforementioned capabilities.) She later admitted that Tinkerbell is not really a princess. So I’m guessing that Tink’s blond hair encouraged my daughter  recall her as  princess-like when she was put on the spot.

Disney's Tinkerbell: the independent blond

In some of her hand-me-down Disney books given to us by her cousins, I’ve noticed that Cinderella starts out with mousy brown hair but when she’s transformed into a princess her hair becomes significantly lighter and less natural looking. She reminds me of Marilyn Monroe from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Though historically, it’s more likely that Marilyn borrowed Cinderella’s look. “Cinderella” was produced in 1950 and “Gentlemen Prefer Blonde’s” came out in 1953.

Disney's Cinderella: before transforming into a blond princess

 

Disney's Cinderella: had mousy brown hair prior to becoming a princess

 

Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

 

Disney's Sleeping Beauty: waiting for her prince to kiss her

 

I realize that some of this could just be my daughter’s natural affinity for blondes. But I do find it coincidental that this brunettist behavior started after we saw “Tangled”. What do you think?

Categories: Family, Film, Kids, Pop Culture | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Surviving Miscarriage and Unexpected After Effects

I haven’t posted in nearly a month. When I look for reasons the most obvious is the fact that I’ve been dealing with the side effects of a miscarriage while simultaneously juggling numerous “life events”. As my mother always said, “When it rains, it pours.” And life is proving that little nugget to be true. I haven’t mentioned the miscarriage here since I wrote “Angel Babies in the U.S.”. I thought I was doing okay with all of it. I didn’t take any time off right away, just the half of the day after the miscarriage was confirmed. After that I threw myself back into work, thinking that keeping busy would help reduce the sorrow and any “navel gazing” tendencies I may have.

It worked for the first couple of weeks. I was even able to go way beyond the call of duty in a way that I might never have before. When K.’s Aunt died I offered to pick up his sister at the airport while the rest of the family was already at the wake. This is a woman who from the first day we met created stories about me to tear me down in the eyes of her family, particularly K.’s parents. After 6 years all of this has come to light, even within the family, so no one expected me to do this. But I did. And I had a genuine smile on my face. I really was fine. We even opened our house to her and had her stay the night. I’m not sure if I was numb and floating by or if I was wishfully gliding through life thinking I get through this patch and soon be pregnant again, figuring why wallow or be somber and dramatic. Meanwhile, my big secret was that I had saved what I had miscarried hoping I’d come up with a meaningful way to honor the possible life that wasn’t. (Yes, for those cringing, I do mean the tissue expelled from my body.)

Documenting my positive pregnancy aka the joy stick

Surviving the Doctor’s office

It’s Father’s day weekend and today I got word that my step daughter’s aunt gave birth to her first child last night. All of this fell on a day that could not have been full of more family strife. The truth is that I have been on edge, on the brink really. All hormones and emotions, and that hasn’t made me easy to be around. I’ve found it hard to share what I’m feeling so I’ve kept most of it inside though I know my family and coworkers see the angst from what’s brewing beneath the surface. I allowed myself to cry when I miscarried. And to get angry when I called my OB’s nurses line to let them know it happened; I was put on hold and forced to listen to the exact line from the song “Can’t live, if Livin’ is without you.” (It really happened. Like a bad joke.) And then when I went in to have my HCG levels checked the clueless (heartless) nurse with the sunshiney smile asked, “Is this your first? We can rush the results to you tomorrow.” I knew what she was asking but her obliviousness to my plight made me want to make her squirm a bit.

“First? First what? I’m not sure what you mean. I’m getting my levels checked for my miscarriage.” I replied matter of factly.

That changed her demeanor to something more appropriately subdued.

I got through that visit. But there was another after it and when my levels got to 14 (the goal is to reach zero), I decided I wouldn’t go back again. I couldn’t go back again. The site of the newborn babies, the bellies bursting with life, and the smugness of the nurses shooshing me while quietly trying to get me into the office without uttering the word “miscarriage” was just too much. It was a baby factory and I had no place being there casting my dark shadow on this hopeful new mothers and mamas to be. Each time the drive, parking, being trapped in a long elevator ride with a newborn and mother threw me into a bad place. What the hell! Why couldn’t they send me to another lab in the hospital, I shouldn’t have to be around those women and put in that scenario. It’s heartless and totally discounts the emotional loss of the patient. My last OB’s office would not have put me through that. They had a separate blood lab and would have sent me there directly – I know it.

Consolation Prize

The day they did the scan to confirm my loss K. asked the ultrasound technician about pap smears and how often she sees losses when women have had them during pregnancy. She gave us a pat answer, left, and came back to tell us that we would be meeting with “The Doctor”, Henry Whathisname. Not our doctor, ours was conveniently off on vacation, this was any available doctor. As we were guided into another room I glanced at a book they had on display. It was about miscarriage and was written by none other than “The Doctor”, Henry Whathisname. I had a few seconds to inform K. that the man we were going to meet with was an expert on miscarriage. But I didn’t have to do that. The Doctor arrived in our room with his book in hand. Introducing himself, he offered his condolences for our loss (extra points for that), and then handed me his book — to keep(!). Thankfully he didn’t offer to sign it. The whole thing seemed like a clear lawsuit avoidance tactic; a free book from a published and well known doctor — we were supposed to be blessed to meet him and walk away feeling “special” that we had somehow been heard.

Begging for a rhogam shot

I had a miscarriage years ago and knew that as a negative blood type it was important to get a rhogam shot. This time my current doctor’s office never mentioned this to me on the phone either time they spoke to me – I mentioned it both times – and yet still, in their office I had to ask them for it. It’s something you must have within 72 hours of miscarrying to avoid RH sensitization which can impact the viability of future pregnancies. Women with RH sensitivity tend to miscarry more easily – they develop antibodies that attack the babies blood.

A sensitized mother’s body will make antibodies. These antibodies will then attack an Rh positive baby’s blood, causing it to breaking down the red blood cells of the baby and anemia will develop. In severe cases this hemolytic disease can cause illness, brain damage and even death.

* Taken from: http://pregnancy.about.com/od/rhfactor/a/Rh-Factor-in-Pregnancy.htm

With all of this in mind I was floored that none of the nurses so much as mentioned it. During my first miscarriage years ago they strongly emphasized the importance of the shot and brought it up multiple times. All I could think was: what if I hadn’t had one before and didn’t know that this was vital to keeping healthy and having a shot at another viable pregnancy? Would they have caught my blood type and called me back in the next day? And this is a popular OB/GYN office in a nearby affluent town. All of these interactions rubbed me the wrong way and made feel like a number, a cog in the wheel. Where was the humanity, the sensitivity, and the sense of responsibility?

Stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll delve into more about the unexpected toll hormones have had on my body and struggling to rebalance.

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Penelope Trunk’s Advice About Blogging

I didn’t know who Penelope Trunk was until SXSW 2010. I was riding the SXSW shuttle en route back to my hotel after a long day and I met a nice Gen Y girl from Madison, Wisconsin. We had a fascinating discussion about the difference between her generation and mine (I’m Gen X). I had been reading a lot about it and noticed that so many negative traits had been attached to Gen Y. I admit, the title of the book by Jean Twenge was gloomy to begin with so I wasn’t surprised, but as I began reading it it seemed more than a little unfair and biased to me. The book is Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before. (I began reading it in an effort to better understand my teenage stepdaughter and the twentysomething kids who work for my husband.) Being able to meet and chat with Gen Y’s directly was a big benefit of SXSW, I didn’t occur to me that I was going to be surrounded by them but it was a pleasant surprise.

The young woman from Madison was impressive and inspiring. Articulate and confident, she was able to show me that my hunch was correct: not all the assumptions about Gen Y were accurate. She was driven and incredibly methodical in the way she was approaching her career, and she was just 24 years old. As we broke our conversation and parted ways she handed me her personal business card. Days later I looked at her blog and began reading about her and this other person called Penelope Trunk, someone who professed to have an understanding of Gen Y and how to work with them. Fascinating.

Book cover for Generation Me

The Brazen Blogger

So I sought out information about Penelope Trunk and decided to subscribe to her blog: The Brazen Careerist. Great title, but I felt a little out of place as a not so brazen careerist working in higher ed. I assumed her blog was going to be about career paths and navigating the corporate workplace. Never assume. In the ensuing weeks my inbox was filled with what can best be described as personal drama on the farm. Apparently she had had a legitimate business oriented blog but then she moved to Madison from NYC with her husband and two young sons in tow, got divorced, and then met and decided to have a commitment ceremony with a friendly local farmer. Her blog has been more about the transition to rural life on the farm than has been about career advice. Though her titles always seem to tie in with career…usually it’s a stretch. For example, this week’s is “How to Date Your Coworker” but it’s not about work. It’s about her friend who’s staying with her at the farm and how she invites her web developer friend to come and visit and redo Penelope’s website and how they flirt and then get it on without so much as writing a line of code. Old habits die hard I suppose. Why bother creating a new blog for this stuff, the current audience is transfixed reading about the minutiae of her relationship and how she’s keeping her life together. It reads more like a Bravo reality show than a career blog. And I’m sure she realizes this and doesn’t care. That’s what I like about her. She’s brazenly off the beaten path and marching to her own drum. That’s also why I wouldn’t mind heeding some of her advice.

She has a section on her site: How to Blog: Penelope’s Guide to Blogging. One of the subsections suggests that you should “write about your life“. I’ve been doing that, along with millions of other bloggers. It’s not exactly a revelation but it’s great to get her spin on this because she is not your typical blogger. Here’s a sampling of her latest posts:

Not subjects for the faint of heart. If you haven’t read her yet, go ahead. You’ll either love her or hate her, there doesn’t seem to be a middle line. The fact that she has Asperger’s syndrome apparently works to her benefit, she suggests that it removes that filter of shame or possible remorse that the rest of us have. Makes sense to me. But I definitely have the filter and most times it’s in high gear. So we’ll see how well I can follow her guidance.

Note: in reviewing this post I just discovered that her blog is her blog, not the Brazen Careerist. They are are two separate entities. But I’m sticking to what I’ve written here because it’s real. I thought I subscribed to Brazen…but I got Penelope. For someone who care, it’s worth exploring how that happened.

Understanding Gen Y…even if it’s from Penelope

By the way, I later found this series of video clips by Bruce Tulgan, author of “Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y“, that expose the real thoughts behind Gen Y (scroll down the page). If you want to understand them and don’t have time to read, these clips are fantastic. I’m sure the book is too.

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Caught in the Rapture

In 5th grade I sat in my classroom, along with the other Christian kids, waiting for Christ to return. Dr. Stan Ashby, a professor who was a well respected theologian and historian within our Christian commune, had predicted that this was the big day for Christian followers: The Rapture. We were finally going to see Christ and ascend!

It was 1979 and the weather was just starting to heat up in the Berkshires. I remember feeling a little freaked out by what was to come. I had visions of people being sucked up into a beam of light and taken into the heavens as the clouds parted. Staring out the window at the onset of beautiful warm weather I felt stuck inside. I wanted to run outside and twirl or climb a tree…why be so serious if he’s coming? Why not jump for joy and welcome him back? We were a bunch of sober faced sad sacks. Waiting with our hands on our desks, eyes forward. But what was plan B? What if he didn’t come?

The heavens open

The heavens open for ascension

We waited a long time, not sure how long it was exactly. But I recall my teacher leaving the classroom to talk to another teacher and both of them deciding to resume teaching. Which was a bummer for all of us. I remember thinking, it’s the day of the Rapture and you can’t release us early? Maybe he’s coming later than expected.

I guess I was a little disappointed when it didn’t happen. I had grown up seeing films about being “Left Behind” (the original, not the Kirk Cameron version) and that was my worst fear. I thought maybe that was what had happened, but at least we were all left behind together. So there was some relief in that. I don’t recall how our religious leaders handled the non-rapture event. I’m sure they used some passage from the bible that explained it all away. You know, something to the effect that basically no one should be able to predict the exact moment. He was the almighty, and he was going to come when we least expected it – that much I was sure of.

So yesterday, when the new predicted “Rapture” came I was busy at a 5 year old’s backyard birthday party in my neighborhood. There were about 20 kids and their parents, lots of cigars for the guys and plenty of alcoholic beverages, pizza, ice cream, cake and sweets. The Bruins game was on and the only thing anyone was waiting for was for them to score.

A little after 6pm one of the twenty something uncles of the birthday girl joked that we missed the rapture and that maybe we were in the wrong time zone because the world hadn’t ended. I bit my tongue and resisted correcting him lest I be thought of as a Holy Roller. But so many people had it wrong, it’s not meant to be the end of the world. It’s meant to be the day when the “saved” ascend and are reunited with Christ. Those left behind are doomed to face life on earth and suffer through Armageddon. I know, it’s not exactly a cheery topic for a kiddie birthday party that’s why I didn’t say anything. Thank God for blogs.

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Angel Babies in the U.S.

What to Say

When I dropped off my daughter at preschool this morning I ran into one of her little friends with his mom. I knew she was due in April and had been asking around about the baby to see if anyone knew if she had delivered yet. She’s a sweet lady and I was anxious and happy to hear her news. So when I saw her I said, “Hey. How are you? Where’s the baby? Were’t you due in April?” I glanced down and her belly seemed still pregnant but smaller. She replied with a funny look on her face, “Oh, no one told you. I thought someone was going to tell you….”

I knew right away that something wasn’t right, but unsure of what had happened I felt my smile fade and my face drop. “Oh. I’m so sorry…I had no idea anything happened.”

She then reached for her 3.5 year old son and told him I was asking about his angel baby baby sister Sofie.

Angel baby sleeping in clouds

Angel baby’s peaceful slumber

I looked at the sweet faced boy and said, “You have your own angel baby sister. That’s pretty special.” I didn’t know what else to say. Poor little guy. I then reached for his mom and gave her a huge hug, amazed at how strong she was able to be about the situation. I had had a  miscarriage and angel baby years before and I knew the emotional toll it could take. But losing a full term child? I could not imagine the heartache, sorrow, and anger she must be feeling. I had no idea how she was keeping it together.

She walked him to his class and my daughter skipped along happily. I then learned that she went into the hospital thinking she was in labor and was sent home after a hospital stay. Days later when she returned they found no heart beat. She didn’t tell me this, it was the Director of the preschool who filled me in while she walked away. My heart sank when I heard this. Early on in her pregnancy she attended my daughter’s birthday party along with her son. She was perfectly healthy and told me she was due in April. One reason I even  remembered is that it’s my birth month.

Sometimes it Just Happens

She returned to the lobby and I apologized profusely. I said I couldn’t imagine what she and her husband must be going through. And she admitted it sucks and said but what can you do, they’re still investigating the cause. The doctor’s told her, “Sometimes it just happens.” Hardly reassuring. And this is on the heels of lots of media coverage about the poor record and standing of the US maternal. We have the second worst newborn death rate in the modern world. But meeting and knowing someone whom this has happened to makes you question how privileged a country we really are.

I talked to her a bit more, she told me that many people were coming forward and writing her letters to let her know they support her or went through something similar. I believe I heard her say that 3 or 4 people went through the same thing. THREE or FOUR mom’s carried their babies to term and delivered them stillborn. THREE or FOUR mom’s within her small circle. Doesn’t that seem high? Why don’t we hear about this? Are people in so much pain that it’s actually easier to sweep it under the carpet then to talk about it.

Mother’s Day

This mother was trying to get through her day, minute by minute. She had survived Mother’s Day, it fell on the weekend after she lost her  baby girl, but I could see on her face that she was in survival mode. Amazingly she was able to be candid and see some positive things that had happened, like having her son around as an outlet for her love. They’ve been able to talk about his angel baby sister and how much they love and miss her, grieving in tandem has been a huge help to both of them.

We talked about getting our kids together. Her son has a new swingset and so far the only person he wants to come over is my daughter, not even his best buddy at preschool. My sense was that’s because he knows her like a sister, they were babies in daycare together and she’s very spunky and brash but also affectionate and loving, probably a safe and non-threatening choice for him. I just started working more hours but said I could be flexible and find a way to make it happen. I noticed her husband waiting in the car and went over to offer my condolences. He was as candid as her and also moved by the outpouring of love that they have received. He said he was doing better and told me they talked about me the other day because they knew someone should tell me.

 

Friday the 13th and My Situation

I’m all over the map about trying to write about this because I found out the day I was scheduled to see my OB/GYN for my first pregnancy visit. I’m 8 weeks pregnant and I saw my Doctor yesterday, Friday the 13th. She elected to give me a pap smear which this morning resulted in bleeding. I sat through a long confirmation service at church and midway had to leave to call the Dr’s office and explain what was going on. As I write this I am in bed. My husband has my daughter out doing errands so I can rest. It’s a Saturday afternoon, and  I may be miscarrying. When I asked the nurse why they would give me a pap smear this early on, she said its standard practice and mentioned something about detecting HPV. She told me to keep an eye on the bleeding and go to the ER if it got bad. If not, they would schedule an ultrasound on Monday.

 

Ultrasound

It’s Monday, I’m going in for the ultrasound in less than an hour. Last night I was hopeful when the bleeding slowed but I changed a pad and then felt something slip through. It was a giant clot. I dissolved into tears and called for my husband. He was at my side immediately comforting me and also quite sad. We wanted another child and had been trying off and on for 2 years. We considered fertility treatments but I came to the realization that I wasn’t up for it. We had his daughter from a previous marriage and our daughter together, so we are already blessed. I gave up and then found myself feeling “fat” and tired. He suggested I might be pregnant and I joked it off. We tried hard all those years, switching diets, reading books, doing abdominal massage, getting acupuncture, drinking Nyquil…and no results so how could we be pregnant now? Low and behold 3 positive results on 3 pee sticks. I didn’t know what to do. I got a blood test and that was positive too. It was really happening for us. So though we both had to adjust we quickly moved into a positive place of anticipation and haven’t breathed a word to our family while waiting to know more and get into the “safety zone”…as if there is one.

We called the nurses line and they were concerned that I would have heavy bleeding through the night and urged me to go to the ER if that happened. But I have barely bled at all. I now realize that the clot measured larger than an 8 week embryo should. It was 1.5 inches but an 8 week embryo is about .5 inches. So I have no idea what it was and what’s going on. Hoping to get some answers soon. My husband is meeting me there.

Gone

It’s Friday. We found out on Monday that we lost the baby. There’s too much to write and though I’m doing well I don’t have the energy to rehash it. So I will revisit the experience in a separate post.

 

 

Categories: Family, Kids, Pregnancy | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sleep Hygiene the Secret to Happiness


Night Owl vs Early Bird the battle rages on

When I was single I’d stay up until midnight or 1am. This felt natural to me. The times I attempted to go to bed earlier were filled with tossing, turning, and circular thoughts – like a dog chasing its tail endlessly without satisfaction. I had the good fortune to be able to sleep in late and arrive at work by 9:30am and had no trouble staying later to make up the difference. This helped to quiet the early birds at my office. I always slept well, had deep dreams, etc. But I do have awful memories of staying at my grandparents place and waking up to the clanging of pots and pans, and occasional vacuum cleaning. My oma would bang on my door if I slept past 8:30 or 9am. She was German and full of unwritten routines.

My mom, also a night owl, often argued with my grandmother about sleeping in or staying up late. In these heated arguments she transformed into what I imagine she must have been like as a teenager: lippy and obnoxious in defense of her routine and need for sleep. Her zeal made her come across as a spoiled princess. I was embarrassed for her and I knew this didn’t bode well for earning any understanding or respect from my grandmother, nor would it curtail my gram’s sleep interrupting habits. But I was glad that being awakened this way made her as angry as it made me. We became sleep allies.

woman sleeping

Slumber sweet slumber

My grandmother’s disdain for our sleep/wake habits made me quickly decide that early birds were a haughty bunch with their, “I’m up with sun and getting stuff done while you sleep in like a lazy bum” attitude. That irritated me. We were highly productive between the hours of 9pm and midnight or 1am while the lazy early birds were deep in slumber. I did some quick arithmetic. Given that we only slept an hour later than them during the week and they went to bed 3-4 hours earlier than us, we were in fact 2-3 hours more productive than them. But they were too busy sleeping to be aware of our accomplishments. And God forbid we stay up late and paint, wallpaper, or clean.  Instead of waking up and appreciating our work she’d scoff with her midwestern twang, “Whaaaaat? You did ALL THIS until 2am? WHY?? I would have helped you in the morning! That’s silly.” The fact that sleeping got her OUT of doing the work and was a gift from us to her never crossed her mind. We were the cuckoo night owls and she quickly wrote off our work as though we had “cheated”. This triggered the beginning of my early bird averse behavior.

Careful selection of life partner with similar sleep habits helps

Turns out women are twice as likely to have insomnia. I pulled this from the National Sleep Foundation:

Myth: Men and women are affected the same way by insomnia.

Fact: Insomnia is nearly twice as common in women than in men, and women are more likely than men to report insomnia to their healthcare professional. A woman’s sleep is uniquely influenced by menstrual cycle, biological life stage, stress level, health, mood, parental status, work hours and other life responsibilities.

Throw a loud, snoring, partner with an opposite schedule into the mix and a woman is totally screwed sleep-wise. I know, that’s my scenario. My partner puts early birds to shame. He belongs on a farm, rising at 4 or 4:30am on a regular basis. He’s ready for bed by 9:30 or 10pm. It’s all fine if you have certain things in place to combat these differences. But a house with over-the-top acoustics and a few flying squirrels crashing in the attic above the bed can drive a person insane. And studies have shown that sleep deprivation increases anxiety and anxiety increases insomnia. The vicious cycle can quickly spiral into something that impacts the sleep habits of the entire family; think early a.m. crying jags that devolve into pillow fights and screaming.

These are my techniques for coping:

  • squirrel exclusion (That’s what they called it. No more squirrels in the attic.)
  • getting in bed by 10:30 or 11pm
  • reading to get drowsy
  • saffron capsules: 1 in am 1 prior to bed (they’re anti-anxiety)
  • custom cut cotton ear plugs, cut to fit every third day (thanks for the suggestion Patti!)
  • a Marcal sleep sound machine in the hallway
  • a down pillow to put over my head (to combat snoring)
  • willingness to leave the room and sleep in another one
  • a silk sleep mask filled with loose filling to relax my eyes when I get angry because I can’t sleep
  • rising roughly at the the same time daily (within 30 minutes)

Okay, so I’m not exactly “low maintenance” when it comes to sleep. But you have to take steps to ensure decent sleep, and I learned the hard way. I’ve also found that the more I feel love and true appreciation for my partner, the better I sleep. So a bit of cuddling, back rubs, or head scratches before bedtime can go a long way toward making you relax. Give or receive, both help. Try it and let me know if any of this gets you closer to your dream slumber.

If you’re interested this is  the report by the sleep foundation.

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Surviving Miscarriage: the Hormones

I haven’t posted in nearly a month. When I look for reasons the most obvious is the fact that I’ve been dealing with both the side effects of a miscarriage while simultaneously juggling numerous “life events”. As my mother always said, “When it rains, it pours.” And life is proving that little nugget to be true. I haven’t even mentioned the miscarriage here since I wrote “Angel Babies in the U.S.”. I thought I was doing okay with all of it. I didn’t take any time off right away, just the half of the day after the miscarriage was confirmed. After that I threw myself back into work, thinking that keeping busy would help reduce the sorrow and any “navel gazing” tendencies I may have.

It worked for the first couple of weeks. I was even able to go way beyond the call of duty in a way that I might never have before. When K.’s Aunt died I offered to pick up his sister at the airport while the rest of the family was already at the wake. This is a woman who from the first day we met created stories about me to tear me down in the eyes of her family, particularly K.’s parents. After 6 years all of this has come to light, even within the family, so no one expected me to do this. But I did. And I had a genuine smile on my face. I really was fine. We even opened our house to her and had her stay the night. I’m not sure if I was numb and floating by or if I was wishfully gliding through life thinking I get through this patch and soon be pregnant again, figuring why wallow or be somber and dramatic. Meanwhile, my big secret was that I had saved what I had miscarried hoping I’d come up with a meaningful way to honor the possible life that wasn’t. (Yes, for those cringing, I do mean the tissue expelled from my body.)

New baby in the family

Tomorrow is Father’s day. Today I got word that my step daughter’s aunt gave birth to her first child last night. All of this fell on a day that could not have been full of more family strife. The truth is that I have been on edge, on the brink really. I allowed myself to cry when I miscarried. And to get  angry when I called my OB’s nurses line to let them know; I was put on hold and forced to listen to the exact line from the song “Can’t live, if Livin’ is without you.” (No joke. It really happened.) And then when I went in to have my HCG levels checked the clueless (heartless) nurse with the sunshiney smile asked, “Is this your first? We can rush the results to you tomorrow.” I knew what she was asking but her obliviousness to my plight made me want to make her squirm a bit.

“First? First what? I’m not sure what you mean. I’m getting my levels checked for my miscarriage.” I replied matter of factly.

That shut her up and changed her demeanor to something more appropriately subdued.

I got through that visit. But there was another after it and when my levels got to 14 (the goal is to reach zero), I decided I wouldn’t go back again. I couldn’t go back again. The site of the newborn babies the bellies bursting with life and the smugness of the nurses shooshing me and quietly trying to get me into the office without uttering the word “miscarriage” was just too much. It was a baby factory and I had no place being there casting my dark shadow on these hopeful new mothers and mamas to be. Each time the drive, parking, being trapped in a long elevator ride with a newborn and mother threw me into a bad place. What the hell! Why couldn’t they send me to another lab in the hospital, I shouldn’t have to be around those women and put in that scenario. It’s heartless and totally discounts the emotional loss of the patient. My last OB’s office would not have put me through that. They had a separate blood lab and would have sent me there directly – I know it.

Consolation Prize

The day they did the scan to confirm my loss K. asked the Ultrasound technician about pap smears and how often she sees losses when women have had them. She gave us a pat answer, left, and came back to tell us that we would be meeting with “The Doctor”, Henry whathisname. Not our doctor, she was conveniently off on vacation, just any doctor. As we were guided into another room I glanced at a book they had on display. It was about miscarriage and was written by none other than “The Doctor”, Henry Whathisname. I had a few seconds to inform K. that the man we were going to meet with was an expert on miscarriage. But I didn’t have to do that. He arrived in our room with his book in hand. Introducing himself, he offered his condolences for our loss (extra points for that), and then handed me his book – for FREE(!). Thankfully he didn’t offer to sign it. The whole thing seemed like a clear lawsuit avoidance tactic; a book — and we were supposed to be honored to meet “The Doctor”.

Coming Soon:

  • Negotiating for a Rhogam shot
  • Unexplained instant weight gain
  • The hormonal imbalance rollercoaster of emotion

 

 

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