Tuesday, February 21, 2012

30 days of Book Discussion: Day 27

The most surprising plot twist or ending

I think this question is just asking for spoiler anger.  So if you're one of the three people that hasn't read The Hunger Games yet, then read no further.

The Hunger Games was full of twists and turns, but I think my favorite was Peeta announcing he was in love with Katniss on national television.  It's the kind of moment where I rub my hands together and think, "Now we're getting somewhere."

What about you?  Do you know of a good book with a great twist or surprise ending?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

30 Days of Book Discussion: Day 26

A book that changed your opinion about something

So I have this sister that's into natural birthing and midwives and such, and I always thought that stuff sounded a bit crazy.  There's an episode of Frasier where Niles and Daphne hire a freaky doula who bangs on bongo drums and chants things and is basically insane.  After being pushed over the edge, Daphne ejects her from the apartment saying, "I'm going to have my baby the way God intended: in a hospital, numb from the waist down."

Anyway, I didn't have a great outlook on "alternative" birthing methods - that is, alternative from what I was expecting to do myself.  So when I was pregnant with Jane I started reading this fascinating book called Birth Day by Mark Sloan, a pediatrician.  It was a great book to help me understand more about the birthing process, which it describes in detail, and it also discusses the history of childbirth (did you know that women used to have their babies crouching down, but when Louis XIV made his wife have a baby up on a bed so everyone could watch, doctors started making their patients do the same because it made it easier for the doctor to have access to the whole... situation.  Stupid Louis XIV).

There really were a number a fascinating stories in the history of how we got to hospitalized, medicated childbirth, which he doesn't endorse one way or another.  But he does discuss some interesting studies being done in the birthing world at the moment  (one of my favorites talked about how men's hormones are altered permanently when they care for a pregnant partner during the entirety of her pregnancy).  But the thing that really struck me the most while I was reading this book were the studies done on female companionship during birth.  I ended up scanning the pages and now I email them to my friends whenever they become pregnant.  Basically they had two groups of women: one group who labored alone, and a second group who had an unfamiliar, untrained woman in the room with her who basically held her hand and chatted with her.  The women who were accompanied had drastically shorter labors: 8.7 hours compared with the 19.3 hours in the control group.  Fewer of them also ended up needing cesarian sections: 7% compared with 17% of those who labored alone.

He goes on to talk about how further studies were done with professionally trained doulas doing continuous labor support through the entire process, and how those numbers were even better.  So I finally asked, "So who are these doulas anyway?"  I also asked my sister more about her natural birthing methods and started reading some materials that she gave me.  My initial reactions to it all were resistant: this is crazy, I'm not into this mumbo jumbo.  I even got angry at how silly it seemed at first.  But as I kept investigating, I became more impressed by the methods and psychology of it all.  The results from the studies I read about in Birth Day were so motivating, in fact, that I decided that I wanted a doula.  10 hours less of labor?  Yes, please.

So basically, that's how the book changed my mind about something.  It opened me up to a new way of thinking, and I found a wonderful doula.  The concept of doula changed from a chanting, drum-banging hippie to basically a very nice registered nurse that I paid to stay with me during my entire labor and delivery, who rubbed my feet and answered medical questions in the very moment that I had them.  She also coached me through Jane's birth, and stayed with me afterward when Michael and Jane went to the nursery for her bath and I would have otherwise been alone.  The whole experience I've described, sincerely, as being like "unicorns jumping over rainbows," and I attribute 90% of that to my doula, Katherine.

How about you?  Have you read any books that ended up changing your mind about something?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Can I complain for a minute?

Sorry to break up the book discussion, but I just wanted to talk a little bit about years.

Years seem to have themes for me.  I started noticing this in 2008, but I've realized that the trend goes back much farther than that.

2008 is what I refer to as "The year of depression."  Because that's pretty much what I experienced for the entire year.  After a huge disappointment earlier in the year that lingered for about 6 months, I then experienced a miscarriage in October that took me out for the rest of the year.

2009 is "The year of illness."  I'm counting a bit of December, 2008 in this, when I was in the ER 4 times for kidney stones.  Then I had several illnesses throughout the winter and early spring as a consequence of all the ER visits and medication.  Then I got pregnant and became unbelievably sick for the rest of the year.

2010 was "The year of joy."  I had Jane and the high didn't go away for 11 months.  Jane is so wonderful and sweet and amazing and every month I was incredibly happy to have her in my life.  Nothing brought me down.

Until 2011.  The best way I can think to describe that year is, "The Crucible."  2011 was incredibly awful.  I can't even really explain because I don't want to live through it again, but I'm still feeling a bit shell-shocked and numb.  The best comparison I can think of is being ground into a fine powder, slowly and excruciatingly, over a period of 1 year, until you're nothing even close to resembling what you were before.

I was telling Michael about this in January, and he said, "You know what?  2012 is going to be the year of fun!  I declare it to be the year of fun!"  I am trying to not tell him that they years don't really show their true colors until it's too late, but his positivity is encouraging and when I told him that I wanted to go to Comic Con in July, he said, "Yes! You are going because this is the year of fun!"  You have got to love someone like that in your life.

Pessimism notwithstanding, I am sort of getting hopeful.  I think this might be a good year?  Do I need to run and find some wood to knock on?  I found myself today contemplating making a dinner.  This is big.  It has been so long since I've even felt motivated to do that, as opposed to just lethargically making food out of a sense of obligation (I do feed Jane.  Most days).

Is this a sign of things to come?  I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope.

Just as a note: here is my best guess at summarizing recent years:

2001: Year of Serendipity
2002: Not good
2003: One of the best years of my life
2004: "Just keep chugging"
2005: Chugging and getting better
2006: Year of Success
2007: Year of enjoying life
2008: Year of depression
2009: Year of illness
2010: Year of joy
2011: The Crucible
2012: ???