Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

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It's all gone quiet.

After a week, or maybe a month, of what seemed like nonstop activity. Work, and work, gigs and visits, more than 14 inches of snow has fallen, the boy is on his way to his grandparents' house, and it has all stopped.

It's only a lull, but the absence of the boy is the most silent of the gaps. Since I came home from, rushing unsuccessfully to get one last kiss and hug, I have been sitting on one corner of the couch, reading. My pile of library books had grown, and I was nearing the end of two; so I finished them. I riffled through two picture-type books for anything interesting and, finding nothing, put them into the return pile with the novel I marginally liked and the scientific-social analysis I thoroughly enjoyed.

There's nothing to do.

There's everything to do.

We don't have to cross the city to get him at day care; no one is going to drop him off. We are not waiting for anything and trying to cram chores into the cracks of time we have left before the whirlwind of whine and questions and demands descends.

We are just us, with a gap. A gap of quiet where the boy usually lives, filling our time with noise, love, Dragon Movie, and mess.

He's left behind some dirty diapers, stickers, a puzzle, his little chairs, and other miscellaneous errata we will no doubt stumble upon as the days pass by. And parents who will periodically get misty and also revel in a few days of relative freedom.

Maybe we will watch a movie we have never seen before. Maybe we will sleep through the night.

Maybe it will never stop snowing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Discussion: Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives

"How the nine months before birth shape the rest of our lives" is not the most promising title for the mother of a preemie. But it's probably because of my circumstance that I was curious in the first place. For me and my son, five and a half of those nine were in-utero, and the rest were ex-utero.

It was the New York Times that sold me on this book, so I decided to read it, even though the quote on the cover is from "Dr. Oz," and I have heard some not terribly credible medical advice come out of his gob not to mention some completely un-credible, but his name probably sells books.

It's interesting to think how relatively little research has been put into pregnancy, presumably because its a woman's subject, but even men have to gestate and be born sometime, so you think there would have been some interest along those lines. It's also easy to come into a book like this thinking, oh great, more advice for pregnant women; more things to worry about, like: everything I do could turn my fetus into a freak or a genius.

The book is divided into "Months", 1-9, not necessarily corresponding to fetal developments during that time, but isolated to discussion of one issue, like how what you eat affects the fetus. It also corresponds with the author's pregnancy, which progresses along with the book. This kept reminding me of things like, "Hmmm, I am in 'Month Five,' in this book, and my pregnancy is almost over." She gets to waddle on through month nine and her scheduled Caesarean section AND be a paid, free-lance writer.

I was hoping for some discussion of prematurity in this book, but aside from many, many examples of how low birth weight can correspond with heart disease or other issues later in life, it does not get into any detail about it. Fine, OK. I get it, this is about fetal development. But considering that 12.5% of births are premature and that number is rising, it may have deserved at least a dedicated paragraph, even if that paragraph is only to say: there has not been much research into prematurity, its causes, and its long-term effects.

As a woman who has been pregnant, if only for a brief period of time, the book makes you think about things like "Your fetus is what you eat." Well geez, what did I eat while he was in there? What was I eating when he was in the hospital? Was I eating? What was I eating when he came home? The only thing I remember from pregnancy is the necessity of fresh-squeezed orange juice. It mentions that arugula is rich in Vitamin K and Omega 3's. These are good for normal clotting of the blood and reducing the risk of heart disease, respectivelty. Omega 3's may alos improve learning ability in children. Did I get enough Vitamin K and Omega 3's? Is consumption of this elitist leafy green one of the reasons President Obama is so smart?

All-in-all, I enjoyed this book. The science is accessible, and the research references are extensive. I think she is clear on what issues are speculative and which warrant more study, and it does seem like an area where many scientific discoveries can be made that could have a positive effect on society as a whole if we are able to translate the knowledge into rational public policy.

Still, toward the end, she makes the comment: "Each of us spent nine months inside the womb..."

Except for 12.5 percent of us didn't.
P.S. Third trimester "urge to nest." Is that a real thing?