Book Review: Maisie Dobbs

Book Review #27: Maisie Dobbs (Jacqueline Winspear. )

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I heard great things about this book — it focused on an independent woman during an era where many were not, was full of mystery and intrigue, and had nice historical ties and references. Honestly, I thought it was awful. The characters felt very flat and uncompelling — each like a stereotype of the type of character the author wanted to include in the book. The ‘mystery’ and related plot felt very forced. I just got nothing out of it…well I won’t say nothing. I do think the name Jacqueline Winspear would be an excellent pseudonym.

p.s. I have been reading more than my book reviews would suggest, but mostly about pregnancy and postpartum. I’m planning a big review of pregnancy books I actually found helpful soon!

Plans for a Weekend Alone

This weekend, R is going out-of-town. From Friday at 5pm – Sunday at 2pm, I’ll get to do whatever I want. Here are things I’ve been thinking about:

  • Keeping my phone off from Friday evening-Sunday morning. Totally off, which would require looking up plans, directions, etc. in advance.
  • Buying some lux bath products and having a really nice bath.
  • Choosing a recipe and cooking a nice meal (thinking about something like mushroom risotto or mashed potatoes, mmmm).
  • Choosing some reflection prompts to write about in my journal.
  • Making a list of nourishing activities and choosing each activity from that list.
  • Taking a long walk.
  • Carving a pumpkin while watching a favorite Halloween movie!

Any favorite weekend alone activities that you have?

 

Pregnancy: Week 22

Technically a week early. Pregnancy felt like it dominated my life this week, mostly because I had to leave work early three out of four days for a doctor’s appointment. Once with the midwives, once for a follow-up ultrasound, once for my OB. We decided to go with the midwives. They generally seemed much more hands-on and supportive of the parents’ preferences, and had a much lower c-section rate (like almost 20% lower). So that feels good!

Otherwise, physically I have felt pretty good. I am on track with the one pound a week estimate of weight gain and realized today that I have had basically no back or knee pain, despite being a lot heavier than my usual weight. I attributed that 100% to lifting weights because my body has the strength to carry the extra poundage.

And I bought a bucket to soak my swollen feet in. Ahhhhh. It’s so nice. Last night, I soaked my feet in Epsom salt while reading a book. It was the bomb dot com.

We also had our last ultrasound this week so it’s sort of insane to think the next visual we’ll get of the baby will be the real baby that exists as its own entity in the world. But not for at least 16 more weeks! Four months of wait.

Otherwise in life, things are good. I have a long weekend this week so am looking forward to getting out of town a bit and re-charging and maybe checking out a Korean spa or something.

Pregnancy: Week 21

So…on almost a whim, I just called a Nurse-Midwife group to schedule a meet-and-greet because I’m thinking about switching practices. My current doctor, an OB at a group practice, is great. Very laid-back, very much not seeing pregnancy as an illness but as a normal life condition, which I like. But I feel like she’s almost too hands-off. Like, in my week 12 visit, I told her I felt like I had a groin pull. I thought that because 1) my groin hurt and 2) it literally started hurting in the squat rack, after I lost my balance while warming up with the barbell, and 3) the symptoms were the exact same symptoms that R had when he pulled his groin squatting. She saw it as just a pregnancy symptom of some common pelvic shifts and pains. At week 16, the pain was still there, and worse, and she was still unconcerned. I made an appointment with a physical therapist who confirmed that I did, in fact, have a groin pull. The stretches he gave me to address the issue almost immediately cleared it up.

My ultimate fear is that because she is so nonchalant and maybe also not the most in-tune with what I am thinking or feeling, she’ll push me into having a c-section. Or, honestly that communication will break down when I’m exhausted and overwhelmed from laboring and I won’t be able to trust her to have my back. I also have some anxiety about the hospital having limited private rooms for partners to stay the night and being fairly intervention-focused on the whole (e.g. more into constant monitoring of the baby which prevents the mom in labor from moving around at all).

At the same time, I’m very pro-epidural and sort of anti-birth plan, because I think you just have to do your best with the circumstances you have.

All of this just to say, that I’ll meet with the CNMs on Monday, have a follow-up ultrasound to our anatomy ultrasound Tuesday, and then have a meeting with my OB on Thursday that I’ll decide what to do with.

We did also have the anatomy ultrasound this week which was great. Our baby has such insanely cute little feet! The feet! And ze was very active, kicking its legs and moving it’s tiny arms all around. And yesterday, I think I felt my first baby movement which felt much more like Delhi belly than I would have thought, haha. I was expecting a gentle poke, but it’s more like a full belly rolling.

The Hungry Ghost

I have been a little more anxious than usual in these last few weeks. I don’t know if it’s pregnancy, pregnancy hormones, seasonal change, or random. It’s made me feel sort of dissatisfied with life…which, for me, almost always correlates with a desire to withdraw from societal activities and focus on what is rejuvenating.

I almost never buy new clothes. It’s something I started in college when I was more radical than I am now, but has continued for most of my adult life in one form or another. A life goal of mine would be to sew all of my own clothes. I actually think this is practical because I prefer to wear the same things over and over (thus only needing a few patterns), and do have a dress I sewed myself.

A year or so ago, my meditation group was talking about the ‘hungry ghost’. It’s a concept from Buddhism that refers to a spirit with an enormous, unfillable belly but a tiny mouth. So no matter how much it eats, it never feels satisfied. Hearing that talk really ignited by most recent no-buying streak, where I just stopped buying things in general and got really serious about pairing down.

But now, my body is rapidly changing. Almost week to week. I have invested in a new work uniform (black leggings and a black and white striped tunic — not the most professional, but definitely comfortable and wearable all through winter), which has helped me avoid having to buy a ton of work clothes. I bought a few tank tops I’ve been wearing with the leggings when not at work and that’s…pretty much it (plus new bras and underwear. Maternity undies = total lifesaver, btw).

I feel really good about that choice. Just forcing a limitation into my wardrobe. Of course, if I urgently need something, I feel fine spending money to buy it, and honestly I feel more fine than I used to at buying it at a fast/casual retailer because I need it for a fast/casual reason.

But I have been also really resisting buying anything whatsoever for the baby. I don’t like the idea of having a dedicated nursery with all baby furniture. I don’t like the idea of buying a ton of accessories that I’m not sure the baby will like or not. I don’t like the idea of buying stuff new for a newborn baby, when it will grow an insane amount for most of the next decades. I’m still trying to figure out an approach to this that feels good and ethical to me.

Monthly Review: September

Here is my monthly review for September. If you want to read August’s, check it out here.

 

1. What went well this month?

  • A commitment to no commitments. After feeling overwhelmed and over-scheduled, I decided to just stop making commitments. That has meant turning down most weekend plans, especially those not in walking distance, and refusing to plan anything in the future. This has been so nice for my state of mind and stress level. Instead of busy, busy weekends, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home, enjoying time by myself and with R. I feel like I’ve been able to soak up the pre-baby moments.

2. What didn’t go so well this month?

  • Food choices. I was very, very hungry for a lot of this month. Often, that left me eating all of the healthy food I brought for lunch and then filling up on junk or free snacks. I give myself some leeway here, but also it’s nice to emphasize food as a way to nourish my body.

3. What did I work on last month and how did it go?

  • At-home productivity. This has been great. R and I made a master list of pre-baby errands and have been slowly working our way through it. We’ve probably already done 60% or so of the list. Having a master plan has been great for focusing our efforts and for feeling like the list itself is tangible and can be completed. Plus, crossing off an item gives me so much satisfaction.
  • Maintaining/increasing mindfulness. This went great. I’ve just been interested in doing less, so have had a lot of time to practice this.

4. What am I working toward?

  • Enjoyment and nourishment. If I could, I would just choose to spend the rest of my pregnancy napping, eating, seeing friends, or hanging out in a hot tub. I want to continue focusing on activities that replenish me, rather than feeling like I have a lot of things I have to commit to doing.
  • The Sabbath. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of practicing the Sabbath. I’m not particularly religious but I do like something about the rigidity of it and the disconnect from the rest of the grind. I’ve been making a list of Sabbath-like activities that we could do, and one of them has been not checking any internet at all on my phone. This is something I want to keep up and see if I can develop into something more focused.