Saturday, June 30, 2007

anthropogenic climatological conditions

This week the theNorth of England nearly washed away in a series of floods. A number of people died and the economic damage was huge and is still being counted up.

And, of course, there were endless speculations about whether these June floods were the result of man made global warming. Well, I don't know about that, but I do yhink that humans have worsened the impact of the heavy rains. And unlike climate change, there are things that we could do to lessen the impact:

  • stop building on flood plains - the flood plains are already overbuilt and we're not helping the situation by building on them more. If you build your house upon the sand, don't be surprised if it gets washed away.
  • stop concreting over everything - every bit of impermeableness placed on the land results in higher levels of run-off during periods of excess precipitation. Basically, the water doesn't have a chance to seep into the ground naturally - it all builds up and ends up in your living room. It takes a little bit more thought, but we can have more permeable paving or breaks in the paving. We could start by ensuring proper drainage in our own patio gardens. Water used to pool up in our garden until we removed the concrete between the pavers. It seems a small thing, but in terms of run-off every little bit really does help.
  • maintain the drainage system. In much of urban England the natural drainage system of creeks and gullies has been replaced by concrete canals. Sure - this contains the water in times of normal precipitation - but chanelised flow means water moves faster - and faster water is more powerful water. The drainage system was built long ago and wasn't designed to cope with the high levels of run-off from our concrete jungle and sewage and waste water from our developments. The canals are often poorly maintained now, too. Clogged with willows and weeds and shopping carts, the flow isn't uniformly smooth. And that causes all kinds of problems on its own.

The government is still not taking these factors into account despite numerous warnings. People are more concerned about climate change where the UK government's actions will have minimal effect at best (even if you believe in the anthropogenic climate change model). But sensible action in flood prevention can save lives and property now.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Good news, bad news

On the upside, a big ol' car bomb failed to detonate in London.

On the downside - I realize that I was at absolutely no risk of being at a popular London nightclub at 2am on a weekday.

This is your Jerry Springer moment

A couple of years ago the Vol-in-Law and I went to see Jerry Springer, the Opera in the West End. The content was about as blasphemous and offensive as it comes, but all good fun - really. Much more fun than the Jerry Springer episodes currently aired on British cable which all seem to run like this:

Guest 1 tells Jerry and the assembled baying crowd a secret which will upset Guest 2 if Guest 2 has any shred of decency.

Guest 2 comes out on stage bewildered and bemused and bracing for the worst (as one Guest 2 said in a show I recently watched - You didn't bring me on the Jerry show to tell me good news?)

Guest 1 -suddenly hesitant - reveals all with the encouragement of Jerry.

Guest 2 lets fly with a flury of ineffective punches and security steps in just that little bit too late.

The secret varies - but only slightly - from show to show. Guest 1 is:

  • a lesbian sleeping with her cousin
  • a boyfriend sleeping with the cross-dressing best friend of his girlfriend
  • a bog boned gal is sleeping with anyone who has a six pack and twenty-five dollars cash much to the shock of her husband.

Back to the opera - one of the numbers - which becomes a bit of a leitmotif - was This is Your Jerry Springer Moment - essentially describing that point in time when your life becomes so trashy that your role as Guest 1 or Guest 2 is instantly defined.

I thought about this, because well, I'm watching a lot of daytime tv these days and because of the comments about Australian sex workers on this post - which reminded me of a moment in time when I told a friend "Man, you coulda a been on Jerry Springer with that tale." Which, in retrospect, may not have been the most supportive thing I could have said.

Turns out this friend of ours - an Australian - had a girlfriend who turned out to be a sex worker. Well, he being the understanding sort who always saw the better side of people he said that while this needn't be the end of their relationship - she did need to find a new line of employment. Which she did not. And then there was another whole sad sorry tale of a pimping boyfriend and an abortion and a legal consultation - and even though this had happened some time before he related the tale and in a land far away - it was obviously still very painful. And I said "Man, you coulda been on Jerry Springer with that tale."


I've racked my brain, but I don't think I've ever had a truly Jerry Springer moment. I did have a boyfriend who cheated on me - but she was just a normal girl ( far as I know). Oh, but looking back on it - she did live in a trailer - so maybe it was just a brush with a Jerry Springer moment.

I did meet my husband through the Internet - but that was like sooo mid-90s that it barely attracts comment these days.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lemon drops

lemon drops

The lilies are in bloom in my garden.

Safer sex work?

Over at Nashville is Talking, the question has been posed: Why isn't prostitution legal? prompted by this post which speculates that sex workers might be safer if it was. Would that solve all kinds of problems? e.g. lower levels of disease and crimes against the women who engage in prostitution?

Despite the fact that I'm generally in favor of the free market - including the selling of personal services, I'm very dubious indeed about the legalisation of prostitution. Is it for moral reasons? Yes, it is. But it's not about sex. It's about the way that we treat workers on the bottom rung of the economic ladder.

Those who favor the legalistation of prostitution and the heavy regulation of the sex workers and their places of work probably have the right idea in principle, but not in practice. Prostitutes are the lowest of the low - they always have been. Legalising the trade has never made that different. I mean how many women who've managed to get out of the sex biz now have their time as prostitutes proudly displayed on their resume*? Even in countries where prostitution is legal. (Despite the fact that engaging in this kind of work successfully demands a whole array of marketable skills - flexibility, customer service and a sharp judge of human nature). Sure, a few whores manage to attain some sort of social standing and they're called courtesans or heterae or geisha and offer companionship as well as sexual services. But these are a rare breed indeed - how many of us could charge just for the pleasure of our company and maybe a little singing or tea pouring?

In countries where prostitution is legal and regulated (e.g. the Netherlands) the sex work force isn't overwhelmingly happy hookers. No, it's the foreign sex workers who may or may not be there willingly, the drug addicted and the grossly misfortunate. Regular blood tests don't change this and the people who manage these workers (pimps, if you will) don't care about the personal development of their employees. This is a dead end job which usually results in that dead end quite early. And these are workers in a highly regulated, partly socialised economy where there are well-established mechanisms for investigating work place safety. The sex trades in London and Amsterdam and other big cities in Europe are well stocked with sex slaves from Eastern Europe and South East Asia and Africa. Do you really think that people who would enslave young women and boys are into complying with red tape and regulation? These folks are criminal scum and they'll find ways to get around regulation just as they find ways to get around the existing legislation against prostitution, pimping and slavery.

What about the US? Do you think America is geared up to regulate the sex trade? Under the Bush administration work place safety and regulation has been gutted. And that's for respectable trades like mining or utility ditch digging or meat packing - not for the morally dubious business of sex for sale. Can you really see the religious right prioritising the physical and mental welfare of prostitutes when the Republican party has resisted supporting workers and maintaining an objective, adult attitude to sex?

No. My reasons for objecting to legalisation of prositution is that I don't think it will make much, if any, difference to the safety of sex workers and may make it more difficult to pursue the criminals behind the worst practices in the trade.

*update: - well, here's one example - but I reckon that's pretty unusual.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I am not a crook

Cletus is less than four weeks old and already he'll be on his second Prime Minister. Yes, Tony Blair leaves office today and Gordon Brown takes over.

I guess I can add to the apologias and eulogias by saying, I'll be sorta sad to see Tony go. But mostly because I hate Gordon Brown - I think he's sneaky and secretive and less interested in following the rules than even Mr Blair. He never owns up to the damage that he's done (pensions funding, Private Finance Initiatives, NHS funding). And I have to say, I'll never forget how comforting Tony Blair was on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. He said just what I wanted to hear in just the right way when George Bush was still taking secret flights or hiding in a bunker or something.

Anyway, the timing of the prime ministerial change made me there an effect on the personality of those born during the reign of this or that political chief. You know, like a horoscope or the Chinese Year of the Pig? Will little Cletus born in the wane of Blair, with Gordon rising have a gift for the glib soundbite (Blair), disregard the importance of process and constitutional tradition (Blair and Brown - and Bush for that matter) and be open about his actions and ambitions to a only a small, personally loyal cabal (Brown and Bush)?

And what about myself? I was born in the midst of the Nixon era. And I have to say, I've always had a fondness for the fellow. But what about the effect on my personality? Well, I'm not a crook. Seriously. Though I do have a firm sense that rules are not quite meant for me in the same way that they're meant for other people.

And what about the Vol-in-Law? He was born during the office of Edward Heath. My knowledge of British politics pre-my-arrival is poor, but Heath strikes me as curmudgeonly and someone will take you into treaties and agreements (European Union) under less than auspicious conditions. Well, the ViL is a bit of a grumpus sometimes...but as far as I know he's not secretly gay and he did a great job negotiating the installation of our wood floors a number of years ago. So maybe this is just as reliable as the old horoscope.

On the other hand, VolBro was born during the Carter years - and sure enough, he's a left-wing cracker. A member of that very small bass-fishing, Big Orange loving, poker playing, shit-shooting, Lynyrd Skynyrd listening, Ralph Nader voting faction of the electorate.


animal or prisoner?
Cletus is not a crook either, he just looks like one.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fastest milk cart in the [South] West

A reader asks:

Is it fun having a milkman?

Well, it's not exactly like this. But it's still pretty cool. I'd resisted getting milk delivered to our door, as it costs nearly twice as much as buying milk at the store. On the other hand, popping in for milk at the local Sainsbury's always results in additional impulse purchases - so maybe overall it saves us money. And the milk, delivered in glass bottles, is not only environmentally friendly (as the glass bottles are reused) but tastes better, too.

This morning it seemed extra fun - because we got a free sample pint bottle of chocolate milk. A near sinful and unneccessary frivolity - but tasty and delicious all the same. The Vol-in-Law informed me that we could have it delivered every fortnight - meaning it wouldn't be quite so decadent as frequent delivery. I'm thinking about it.
I've always had a slight fear of glass milk bottles. A little boy who lived on First Street in Lawrenceburg when and where VolMom was growing up, ran out of his house one morning and fell on the glass milk bottles and freakishly cut a major blood vessel and bled to death. This is the dark side of milk delivery. I heard this story several times in my early impressionable years, but no doubt it left a deepr impression still on VolMom - who had known the little boy. VolMom greatly enjoyed our delivered milk - but when the taxi came to take her off to Heathrow for the flight back to America - she pointed to the assembled empies by our front door.
"Did I ever tell you about...?" she started.
"Yes, you did," I replied.

Monday, June 25, 2007

the lights are going out all over Europe

When I quit smoking last autumn, I promised myself a last smoke in June. See at the end of this month, it's the end of indoor smoking in England. I thought I'd have about a six week old baby and that I would be pretty much fighting fit again after my lovely tranquil home birth. Not so much. I thought I could sneak off to the pub - swish down a cheeky half and smoke one lovely, last Marlboro Red in salute to the end of public smoking, as we knew it, in England.

I want that last smoke.

But I'm still feeling under the weather. I'm nearly as bad as I was in the days after my release from the hospital. Though better than I was at the weekend. I managed to walk to the drugstore today - accompanied by the Vol-in-Law. And you know, the drugstore is just about the same distance as to my local pub.

Morning baby

Cletus has got an impressive set of lungs. That boy can holler.


But one good thing about him is that he seems to be a morning baby.

After sleeping through much of the night, he wakes up chipper.

He didn't get that from either of us. In the morning, I just want to be alone. And the Vol-in-Law is even worse.

"Maybe he really is the milkman's son..." I say "After all the milkman must be a morning person." Our milk is delivered in the wee small hours, at least it's always there when I get up.

"Yeah, right." says the ViL "I can't see you getting up at 4.45 to have sex with the milkman."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

recovery update

Recovery update:

Turns out - as I suspected - that I've been taking antibiotics which don't actually work in the infection I have. Only through aggressive checking up have I got on the right drugs...hopefully.

And I might be walking too much - but that's the only way to keep my feet swelling down. They are still uncomfortably large.

Friday, June 22, 2007

early bathing experiences

Wonder who liked their bath the most?

From Lindsey at Theo Geo under the ol' Creative Commons attribution license.


Baby Cletus gets a washing from my mom

slow recovery

This c-section nonsense sucks. What makes it even (slightly) worse is that I knew it would be bad and tried my darndenest to avoid one.

I've now had two incidents of incision blow out. The first being in a doctor's office, the second in my bed in the early hours of Wednesday morning. These are some freaky experiences - leaking a LOT of fluid from your belly - a place where you hadn't had a hole before. Like enough fluid to soak through gauze, nightgown, bedclothes, into the mattress... The first time I soaked through a whole bath towel and took a ride in an ambulance to the ER. On the upside, that saved me bus fair home - since the ER is less than a block from my house.

This time the fluid was darker in color. This time they seemed to take the incident a little more seriously.

I went back to my doctor for yet another round of antibiotics. I am feeling really frustrated because I'm not really sure what's going on, I feel weak and tired, and the drugs aren't kicking it.

I am trying to rest. I've been watching a lot of daytime tv. I find the shows I liked to watch in the 70s and early 80s the most restful: Quincy, Hart to Hart, I Dream of Jeanie, plus some Columbo and Perry Mason tv movies - still hoping to find a cache of re-runs of Love Boat and Fantasy Island on the cable.

How wrong is that?

Via Nashville's Tiny Cat Pants - I learn that all but four counties in my home state charges rape victims for the evidence collecting rape kit:

Also, just now, the governor is going to sign a bill that would have the state cover the cost of the rape exam. Yes, America, you heard that right. Until Thursday, June 21st, 2007, unless you were “lucky” enough to be raped in one of four counties that provide free rape kits here in Tennessee, you had to foot the bill–anywhere from $600-1,000–for the collection of evidence of a crime committed against you.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

i said i wouldn't do it

I keep saying I'm not going to blog about the presidential elections - until - you know, it's an actual election year. And I'm not - it's just that Fred was in town yesterday - and that's really more like blogging about a colorful former neighbor than it is about the election - since Fred hasn't even declared.

Anyway Sean Braisted picks up The Tennessean coverage of the Fred visit:

"The United States, Great Britain and our coalition should be proud of what we have averted. Imagine Saddam Hussein and his murderous sons in power today, successfully defying the international community and free to pursue weapons programs."

Hrmm...imagine a region more stable with Saddam in power. Imagine Iraq not being a proving ground for future 9/11 type terrorists. Imagine a more diplomatic resolution to our worries over WMD in Iraq. Imagine a country not in the throws of a 21st Century civil war...Imagine, its easy if you try.

My faux Estonian* carpenter once said to me - well, right after Saddam Hussein was captured "I don't know why everybody is so happy about Saddam, he was the right man for the right place."

(He also said that things were much better when Estonia was part of the USSR because at least you got an apartment.)

I didn't much subscribe to either Igor's or Mr Braisted's view, but I'm beginning to wonder if the bloody calculus is starting to tip to Saddam's favor? And when you do really start to reckon that maybe things would have been better off under that butcher, then you know we can't go on keeping on with what we're doing.


Meanwhile, Fred Thompson's lecture to the Policy Exchange garnered some attention on this side of the water, too. Mostly for Fred being homophobic. Is he? I mean if he hadda been on his way out of Lawrenceburg, that wouldn't have surprised me. But now? After all those years filming in La-la Land and NYC and living in DC. I doubt it. But you never know.

Iain Dale has the views and the links to Fred's actual speech.


I was gonna post this yesterday - but I had a bad day with the baby....

*faux Estonian - turns out that he was really ethnic Russian - and you know what they say about Russian carpentry

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


My neighbourhood in the news....

Tooting, once a byword for a run-down, inner-city ward on the Northern Line - famously dubbed the commuters' Misery Line for its haphazard service and over-crowded trains - is rapidly coming up in the world.

It's about the Conservative party pinning its hopes on the Tooting [type] voter.


green tomato

Why I hate the movies

In the anticipatory phase of Baby Cletus's arrival, folks told me I should take advantage of my freedom and go to the cinema.

I said I appreciated the thought, and I was enjoying restaurant meals and such like, but that I had given up on the cinema years ago - and would only go about once a year.


  1. Too bloody expensive
  2. Movies are no good any more, out of my one film a year for the past several years - I enjoyed but one of them - Walk the Line.
  3. The experience isn't as good as it used to be.

And why's that?

Melusina nails it on the head:

To add insult to injury, there is now apparently assigned seating in this particular multiplex, which my husband finds dignified and civilized, but I just find it annoying. There is nothing like paying for a seat which forces you to climb over twenty people already sitting down instead of being able to sit in another row. I’d like a side order of fascism with my overpriced Pepsi, please.

For some reason this just drives me bonkers. In the theatre, I don't mind. But in the cinema, I like the advantage of arriving early and picking my seat - preferably near an exit row - so I can make a quick getaway should the movie be too rubbish to endure.

Monday, June 18, 2007

You might be a...

...libertarian if.

This is why I just say I have some libertarian tendencies.

Forming tastes

Sorry for the throw-away post today. Tough job, mothering.

However, I just wanted to share with you this photo of the young Master Cletus


listening to Johnny Cash

When we turned on the stereo this morning, he turned his little head toward the speakers.

Good boy, he likes the Man in Black.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

California emissions standard

I used to love to watch The Price is Right with VolBro - especially sitting in the easy chairs in my grandparents bedroom - but anywhere really. VolBro was a natural - he was usually right - even when he was a little tiny kid with no money or shopping experience of his own.

He was very good on guessing the price of cars - often guessing what I thought was quite high. When I'd voice my doubts, he'd pipe up in his little 6 year old voice "you can't forget the California emissions - that always makes it higher." And he was right.

I can't say that I built my life around TPIR (as my grandmother sometimes did), but I really enjoyed it.


When I moved to the UK, I had to leave behind TPIR. Well, sorta. There is a British version of the show, but it's only a half an hour. There's no showcase showdown - the showcase contestant competes against a randomly selected margin of error (though of course, one can never go over on the price). There's no reminder to spay or neuter your pets. California emissions do not come as standard - and there's no Bob Barker.

Sure, there's Plinko and the other little games I knew and loved. But there's no Bob Barker. And I can't but watch the show without thinking "Hey, this guy isn't Bob Barker." The show has since been cancelled and I can't help but think - without the refined dignity of Bob Barker (the British version always seemed kinda sleazy) - it's no wonder that it didn't work out.

Now America will have to watch TPIR with the interior monologue running "Hey, this guy isn't Bob Barker." Although, there's some speculation that folks may be saying "Hey, this gal isn't Bob."

Bob retired this month - his last show airing on Friday. It makes me a little sad.


My cousin Blake won a car on TPIR. He gave it to his mother. It had California emissions standard.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Materialistic jubilation and bitter ironies

If you wait long enough, home comforts will come to you. A product line I missed desperately in my early days in the UK has finally arrived from across the Atlantic. Unlike pumpkin pie filling, I found no reasonable substitute (making it from scratch, which turns out to be soooo much better anyway - living in the wilds of Britain has liberated me from the tyranny of branded and pre-processed ingredients). Unlike Karo syrup, I found no exclusive and expensive supply (at Selfridges) or a reasonable, but imperfect facsimile (Golden Syrup).

No, it just wasn't available and nothing came close.

And no, sadly, it's not SunDrop - but something almost as good.

The Sharpie. Yes, the Sharpie is finally available in the UK. I haven't seen it in stores, but I have seen it advertised on tv.

(Image ripped from the official Sharpie site)

Yes, I am a stationery fetishist - but the Sharpie is the supreme permanent marker - it will write on almost anything - as I learned during my undergraduate days as a geology student - marking many, many rock samples with barely a dimunition in flow.

And sure my needs for a permanent marker are less than they used to be, but when you need a Sharpie you need a Sharpie.

And now I can get one here in the UK.


And then there 's the ironic twist worthy of O'Henry

Now that I can get a Sharpie, is just the time when my household may not be best suited for permanent markers.

Image ripped from here

Friday, June 15, 2007

Head injuries

A long time ago, I was holding a baby that was just under a year old. I was holding him very carefully. He was a wiggly baby and I was afraid he would pitch out of my arms, forward, and onto the floor.

Unfortunately, I didn't think he might pitch sideways. He did. And he banged his little head on the wooden arm of the sofa. The baby cried. I was horrified. The Vol-in-Law was horrified.

And ever since then, the ViL has focused on my baby bashing abilities. He has not let me forget, although I told him it could happen to anyone.


Yesterday, the ViL bumped the head of the baby Cletus on the wooden arm of a commemorative bench in the cemetery.

I could have been angry or concerned. But I was thrilled. Ha, ha. He'll not be able to hold that baby bashing incident over me any longer, I thought.

(Cletus is fine, BTW, but more importantly, I am vindicated)

Post natal limbo

I feel a bit weird now. A bit disconnected from the world. I'm not ready to join the rest of the world just yet, it's true. I'm still in a lot of discomfort from the c-section and the leg swelling and the last time I went out in public I ended up in the emergency room. And I don't feel I have enough tricks in my parenting/ breast feeding bag to avoid stares.

Yesterday, we took Baby Cletus for a walk in the cemetery. This is pretty low key. But I still ended up with flourescent baby poo (we don't know if he bleeds orange, but boy does he poo orange). But there were some life lessons:

We learned:

1. Always bring a change of clothes
2. Always bring a sufficient materials for a diaper change - including portable mat. Cletus had his ass in the grass and he didn't like it.
3. Not all diapers are the same. Some do not prevent explosive leakage.
4. People stare at screaming babies - even if they are very far away.
5. Best to tuck that breast in as soon as baby Cletus is removed from the teat.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What shall we do

My mom made baby Cletus a little Vols sunsuit. He can just about wear the hat.

vol swabby

My husband said it makes him look like a drunken sailor.

vol baby

I said there's really only the one kind of swabby in the Vol Navy.

What shall we do with the drunken sailor
What shall we do with the drunken sailor
What shall we do with the drunken sailor
Earl-aye in the morning

Strip him down and change his diaper
Strip him down and change his diaper
Strip him down and change his diaper
Earl-aye in the morning

Swab his bottom with warm cotton
Swab his bottom with warm cotton
Swab his bottom with warm cotton
Earl-aye in the morning

Make him Cap'n in the Vol Navy
Make him Cap'n in the Vol Navy
Make him Cap'n in the Vol Navy
Earl-aye in the morning

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The birth story

Here it is...the birth at your own discretion.

Baby Cletus was born on Sunday June 3 at 6:30 am, 16 days overdue.

My birth story has to start with symptoms I was feeling the previous Monday. I suspected I had a bladder infection, but then thought maybe it's just the pressure of the baby on my bladder. It's apparently quite normal to need to pee a lot more frequently as the baby descends. It did sting a bit to pee...but not loads and loads. I wondered if perhaps I'd developed an infection after having a membrane sweep the previous Friday when I was 41 weeks.

The stinging and bladder discomfort gradually worse over time.

On Tuesday, I had my post dates clinic. They wanted to induce that day because the baby was "small". (6lbs, 15 oz - which isn't really that small) I refused. But agreed an induction date for Monday 4 June. Normal protocol would have been to induce on the Friday at 42 weeks exactly, but I felt I was close to going and still wanted to have my home birth.

I started having irregular, but frequent-ish contractions on Wednesday. I had a second sweep on Wednesday and the midwife said my baby had turned from his excellent position to back to back or posterior position. This usually makes labor more painful and can make it longer.

And I started to really think, yes, I have a bladder infection.

On Thursday - I began contracting much more regularly. But my bladder really hurt and by this time it really stung to pee. I called the midwives who told me to see my GP - he gave me antibiotics. Over the course of Thursday night, I thought I was in labour. I thought I might have my home birth after all - just inside the deadline. I called out my doula and the midwives.

Although my contractions were coming regularly, strongly and frequently, I was only 2cm dialated and as soon as the midwife showed up my contractions slowed down - so I was left to labour all day Friday in increasingly excruciating pain. The contractions weren't that bad, but by Friday evening my bladder pain was so bad I literally couldn't stand up straight. (A combo of the infection, the baby pressure, and agitation from the contractions). Going to the toilet was excruciating with burning and stinging, but I tried to keep going to make sure that a full bladder didn't impede delivery.

I was also asked to come in for an induction Friday evening and I finally agreed. I couldn't take it anymore and at least wanted to have access to gas and air (nitrous oxide commonly used in labor and delivery in the UK). I also believed that the pain from the bladder infection was impeding my labour - and so I might well go on forever.

The delivery suite was full at that time and I agreed with the consultant (senior) obstetrician that I would wait at home til they were ready for me rather than in the delivery suite waiting area (not fun!) I live across the street and could get to hospital practically immediately. I called at 8pm - they were full. I called at 11pm (full). I begged for any kind of pain relief (again for the bladder - the contractions were painful but bearable). No help on offer. I got into the tub at home for some relief (difficult because at this point my feet were so swollen I found it difficult to actually bend enough to get my legs in the proper position in the tub). That helped a LOT - and my waters broke in the tub.

I called the delivery suite again and they said to come in for assessment. I got in and was put in this really nice assessment suite. I begged for pain relief and they said I couldn't have anything until I was in established labour and they had done 30 minutes of CTG fetal monitoring. By this point, the baby heart rate monitoring belt which goes down low was actually too painful for me to wear - the additional constant pressure on my bladder was terriffic. Unfortunately NO ONE seemed to believe that my main pain was coming from the bladder.

But one midwife finally did. She let me have gas and air (which was all I wanted) and let me refuse the CTG monitoring. She let me stay in the suite and I laboured all night on the birthing ball (I still couldn't stand - bladder pain, or lie down - contraction pain was worse).

They moved me over to the main labour and deliveyr area for an induction but before that happened I had my external exam and I was at 5cm. I didn't need an induction after all!

I had already decided that with the bladder pain and the stronger contractions under a hormone drip that I would have an epidural if I were induced. Despite going into labor on my own I still considered an epidural because of the bladder pain. I had been dead set against an epidural all along, for a variety of reasons - including the fact that once you start an epidural you're more likely to have further interventions. An anesthetist had already been called because I didn't think I could stand an induction and its much stronger contractions without an epidural . He was really good in listening to me about the bladder pain. I told him I was coping with the contractions, but not the bladder. He found this an unusual situation and thought the epidural was the most likely way to ease the bladder pain, but said he couldn't guarantee that it would be relieved by the epidural as epidurals are focused on contraction pain and the nerves are higher up. We talked about the pros and cons. I decided against the epidural after my doula found out that the giant tub was available.

The water was great. I laboured for at least four hours. By this time my contractions were strong and long and painful (but still bearable). I was managing both the bladder and labour with the water and occasional gas and air. I would breathe and visualise through the contractions and for the pain in the bladder I'd hit the gas and air. (I had to use it to pee at this point).

I had another internal exam. I was only 6 cm! All that work for practically no progress. The midwife wanted to use the syntocin to push things along. I knew I wouldn't be able to cope outside the tub, so I went for an epidural. It took the 6 or 7 attempts to get it in (apparently my back is a line of bruises). But the anesthetist geared my position so that it was more likely to knock out the bladder pain and it did! Oh my god with that and the catheter, what relief. By this point I hadn't slept well in several days or at all for two nights. I was able to sleep a little. This was Saturday afternoon.

My dilation progress was incredibly slow. But at least I was able to sleep a little. They kept ramping up the syntocin over night. I finally got to 9cm and they agreed to let me go a little longer. But when I was finally just short of 10, it turned out the the lip of my cervix had started to swell from unequal pressure of the baby's head. And the baby had passed meconium. So the only really option was an emergency c-section.

So I went from home birth to caesarian with three days of labour in between!

The c-section was apparently uncomplicated. It's a bizarre experience. You chat away with the anesthetist about inane things (they want to know you're still ok) - like I said that baby needed to start bringing in money soon - for all the trouble he'd caused me - and I suggested baby model if he were cute or chimney sweep if he wasn't. The anesthetist suggested Wimbledon tennis star instead - but given me and the Vol-in-Law's genetic heritage, chimney sweep seemed much more likely. I could feel the medical team tugging around and pressure, but it didn't hurt.

Baby Cletus was born at 6:31 and they whisked him away to clean him up. He didn't cry for what seemed like a long time. The had to suction the meconium and pink him up with a little oxygen. For those who know what this means, his initial apgar score was 6, but he was scoring 10 after 5 minutes.

They passed him to the ViL as a little wrapped bundle, but my husband was so freaked out by the whole thing that he had to pass Cletus to the anethetist. Ol' Cletus was pretty beat up looking, so I was initially a little disappointed, I have to admit.

The post-partum ward was its own special hell. On Sunday evening I had the sister screaming at me because I was refusing morphine (baby wanted a lot of skin-to-skin and I wouldn't have trusted him in the bed with me after morphine). It was unbelievably hot (I was sweating buckets) and I couldn't sleep from the noise and heat and discomfort. I couldn't sleep either night there or get any rest because of lack of privacy, constant interruptions. So except for some epidural sleep, I had almost no sleep for a week!

We've been doing fairly well at home, but on Sunday night I kind of felt something "go" along the incision line as I set the baby down in his bed. It was very painful, but only for a short while. On Monday, we took the baby to a cranial osteopath to see about his lumpy head and when I stood up to hand the baby over I noticed liquid gushing down my legs. My incision had come open and was now "weeping" (it was a lot more like wailing - as I managed to fill a small bath towel with fluid).

We called out an ambulance, but the ER docs didn't do much more than take a swab, dress my wound with dry gauze and send me home with two prescriptions of antibiotics. And that's where I am now - awaiting the results of the culture.

Monday, June 11, 2007

While I was birthing

What with a new baby and all I haven't been following world events as closely as I might have liked. But fortunately, it seems like it was kinda a slow news week, despite the G8 summit and the weird Azerbaijani compromise. And was there a Republican presidential candidate debate? Wouldn't matter, 'cause I'm not blogging about it until it's an actual election year. And then in the UK, there's a little kerfuffle over the matter of a few hundred million pounds in kick backs to a Saudi prince Bandar (and Bush buddy) in the mega, mega Al Yo-Mama arms deal. You couldn't make it up (OK - I did a little, it was the Al-Yamamah arms deal)

But now that I've kinda lifted my head from the epidural haze - I can see that the big stories brewing have been:

1. The London 2012 Logo.

I hate to admit, London Mayor Red Ken is right. The people who came up with this logo should be loaded into a burlap sack, along with their logo and a live rooster and throwed into the Thames. Well, Ken Livingstone just suggested that the designers not be paid, but I really don't think that's good enough.

Do you?

2. Paris Hilton's return to the slammer.

Regular readers will know I don't usually spare much time for celebrity goss. But clearly, this is the story of the week.

It's not the drunk driving or the probation violation that bothers me. Hey, we all make mistakes. It's the being dragged screaming from the courtroom, I can't stand.

No class.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

He also accepts PayPal

My Irish mother-in-law says that it's custom to drop a little money on the baby.

In the old days, and in the impoverished community that she grew up in they left a few coins on the baby. (My understanding is that her childhood was kinda Angela's Ashes but Protestant, my mother-in-law used to play with potatos because she had no toys, but at least they had potatos) This was probably an important tradition - one that might have made the difference between enough protein in the early days and malnutrition.

But times have moved on and what with inflation and widespread prosperity and all we've gone on to paper money.

he also accepts pay pal

And baby Cletus is cutting edge. He also accepts PayPal.

PS Just kidding, y'all - look you won't see a PayPal button on this site.
PPS He's wearing one of the blankets made by this blogger's mom. He really likes them.

Friday, June 08, 2007


In the UK, at my local hospital anyway, the conditions in the post partum ward might well resemble battery egg farms, but there is follow up care. I've had two visits from community midwives this week. And there are more to come, just to make sure mum and baby are doing OK.

This morning one removed my c-section sutures, which was not as bad as I'd been fearing. And she told me to keep the nasty open wound I've developed (where the dressing was attached, nothing to to do with the c-section incision itself, apparently I'm allergic to the plaster they use) exposed to the air.

Great idea. Except my inlaws were on their way and I didn't fancy having my skirt hoiked up around my waist for all and sundry to see. It was bad enough I had to go breast feed in the other room.


Now, I personally have very little shame, but I have some. I'm not ready to breast feed in public yet because, well, I'm not yet skilled enough to be discreet. But I've already had the tits out for the lad in front of hospital staff, inmates and visitors, health visitors, friends and a friend of the ViL's family (who happens to be a pediatric nurse). She had some great breastfeeding tips and really boosted my confidence. But she had another tip, too. She suggested that while my in-laws were visiting that I go to another room to feed the baby - as it was not everyone's cup of tea. This is a woman who had just had her hand on my breast and who has probably seen hundreds if not thousands of nursing nipples over the years.

And I also believe that a woman ought to be able to breastfeed in public without fear or criticism.

But while my in-laws were here, I took the baby away to feed him in the other room.

And you know, it was great. I've never had an excuse to just walk away from my in-laws mid-flow for 30 minutes at a time. I need to be a little more strategic about it though. For example, every time they go on about the wind farm they've been protesting against for years.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

For my sister-in-law

Sorry you haven't come across this blog before. It's probably just as well. If you'd asked, I'd have shared the URL. Clearly you weren't that interested.

Sorry you're pissed off because my husband didn't send you a link to photos. We've had a lot on our plate. See if you'd expressed any interest in me before you'd have known about this - I publish my photos here and here because it's easier for people who are interested in me to find them.

Thanks for calling and bitching my husband out at such a tiring and stressful time for us. A time when I'm recovering from weeks of poor sleep because I was so uncomfortable, 3 days of labor and major abdominal surgery. You've really helped us out.

UPDATE at Friday 8 June : The ViL received an apology by text. Hurray!!

Brittney's only mistake

OK, I'm gonna try to be quick before baby Cletus wakes up and does this...


The boys at Six Meat Buffet posted this about a recently deceased liberal blogger. In poor taste? Yes. Funny? Not their best*, but there you go.

Brittney - the professional, paid blogger working for a Nashville ABC affiliate, whose work is central to strong Nashville blogging community and whose internet presence makes Tennessee a strong statewide blogging force, linked to that post.

Major league liberal blogger Jesus General then picks it up - here's his side of events. Apparently, he thought Brittney approved of the 6MB post.

Oh dear.

A member of the Tennessee online blogging community would know. Would know for certain that she did not approve. In an instant.

Therein lies Brittney's only mistake. It was an easy one to make. I do it all the time. On this blog, when chatting with friends, in my professional life. She assumed knowledge in her readers that they didn't all have.

Leagues of Jesus General's loyal readers descended upon our humble Tennessee blogging community, slinging shit.

Brittney resigned.

//////// cletus did wake up and did this...


so no more caps, gentle readers... anyway

i am deeply saddened by this. i think she's done a great job. i would be pleased as punch if she'd reconsider, but its her choice and i hope she gets (or keeps) a great position soon - she deserves it

on a personal note - as someone who hasnt lived in tennessee fir years - she has really helped me feel a part of the online community - and im sure im not the only one she:s welcomed and encouraged - id say more, but typing is hard

good luck Brittney.


* although this 6MB follow up

Now maybe the General is just getting bad information from his advisers or maybe he’s got a tactical ear of Rumsfeldian proportions, but he fragged some of his most loyal troops today. He rolled a grenade right into the Nashville Is Talking tent. Because sometimes you have to destroy the village in order to save it.

is genius

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Be careful

Be careful what you nickname your in-utero progeny. Cause sometimes it sticks.

baby's real name is.....


But we're still calling him Cletus.

Like we swore we wouldn't do.

Little O in color

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Quick update

We're at home now. I had to leave the hospital as it was too exhausting! There are definitely some ups and downs to single payer health care. The actual delivery part of the care was state of the art (though a bit spartan). The post partum ward system was appalling. We got plenty of attention, but I slept almost not at all in the two nights I stayed in after - and it wasn't because of Baby Cletus. I was on a four bed bay with three others, some of them with much less settled babies. And there were quite a number of other, very, very full bays. Plus all the other activities, plus building works in the hospital during the day. So I've now been without any more than a couple hours sleep since Thursday. Hopefully, things will go better tonight - and even if Cletus keeps us up - at least that's all it will be.

Anyway, the full story later.

Here's a quick pic in the meantime.

monkey toes

And more here

Monday, June 04, 2007

Baby Cletus is Here!

As dictated to the Vol-in-Law by Vol Abroad, Monday 4th June:

"After a long labour (ViL: from Thursday through Sunday morning!), and delivery by emergency c-section, baby Cletus was born at 6.30am Sunday morning. The VA should be home and blogging again tomorrow Tuesday (probably in the evening). Baby Cletus weighed 7lb 5 oz but we don't know any of his other statistics because we lost the piece of paper they gave us with his length..."

(ViL: Now Cletus is born, does that make him Baby Vol?)