mercoledì, novembre 14, 2012


I guess I'm on holiday until the baby comes out, now that the China essay's done. It's a bit odd because I can't have the sort of holiday I think of as a holiday, which usually has kayaking and running around and other forms of movement involved. In this heat and at this stage of pregnancy a 5 km waddle is the absolute end my tether and lots and lots of sleeping is going down extremely well. Also it's a really open question when the holiday will come to a crashing, screaming, ass-ripping-open end, which has never been a marked feature of my previous holidays.

It makes me think they should market luxury cruises geared to women in the 38th week of their pregnancy and up. Confinement cruises, staffed with really good midwives and obstetricians. Pre and post natal classes, lactation consultants, fruity virgin cocktails. Last through the first six to eight weeks after the kid's born, feed the mums lots of calcium rich foods, let them lie around or go for little waddles around the decks. Spend most of the boats' time in the national waters of countries with the good kind of passports to get the kiddos the useful citizenships. I think it could be a real winner - I'd certainly be all over that idea at the moment. I guess in this liability-rotten world there's little chance of it ever happening. Maybe out of Asia? Birth is already so medicalized and confinement so institutionalized in the developed countries there it's hard to see what the legal issues could be if you just transferred that super-medicalization onto a nice boat.

Well, off to do some eating and sleeping. Have to carpe diem. The midwife is sweeping my membranes this aft so through the night and this time tomorrow I could be in the insomniac, nauseated grip of the most excruciating pain I've ever known. Happy holidays!

lunedì, novembre 12, 2012

Five days' grace

Praise be . . . all test results have been very positive, so no more pressure from the medical team to induce until next week. Ren has at least five days to come out on his or her own, which I hope will be the case, and if it isn't, I'm pretty sure I'll be ready to be induced by Monday.

Here they jump straight onto prostoglandin gel and membrane rupturing; both intrusive and only going in one direction, basically, and certainly not without risk for the baby; not to mention it means a ward admission that can stretch into three or four days. With my sister-in-law's practice in Toronto they'll go for an at-home mechanical stretch and sweep as a first port of call - less dramatic but also less complication-prone. Apparently in a lot of England they'll give you a week of the TENS machine and Jeebus knows what else. And a dear friend who had a baby in Belgium soon after we left started off with oral medication. So there's no international consensus on the best way to do this.  It's not like "infection? Antibiotic!", "diabetic? Insulin!" sort of thing. There's not even any consensus on when or if to induce during a normal pregnancy; from one place to another it'll be one week or two weeks or not at all if the baby looks to be doing fine in there, or it will be at the mother's request if timing is important, and, indubitably, it's often done in reference to the medical staff's convenience.
And this is just one aspect of pregnancy and delivery. Expand it, and things go even more doolally. Since sister-in-law sent me the diagnostic sheets for essential hypertension during pregnancy, I've found out that I had been pushed to take more medication than would have been countenanced in Canada. In China, a friend in my situation was given no medication at all, but then hospitalized at week 36 and her baby delivered by C-section almost immediately. And the drug of choice, when it's used, varies from place to place as well; here and in Canada they'll use labetalol, elsewhere they'll use methyldopa, elsewhere other things . . .

Or, in general, ward admissions. Here, if it's a normal delivery, you go home four hours afterward. Other places, a day; other places, three days. Not to mention all the places where they let you have your baby without going into hospital at all. Huge differences. 

Things don't need to be the same everywhere. Pregnancy isn't an illness and it wouldn't make sense that dealing with it would be as straightforward as dealing with an illness. And every woman I've spoken to has experienced her pregnancy, symptomatically, in a unique way - unique from other women, and unique in terms of each of her own pregnancies.  But I don't think the range of approaches owes its diversity so much to the range of pregnant-person-experiences as it does to the vagaries of local practice. Which means it's important - really important - for pregnant women to know as much as they can about what's going on and what her options are. I'd never really appreciated that before.

That's a fairly frightening thought because most pregnant women don't have it as easy as I do and don't necessarily have the time to know as much as they can. It's like superannuation retirement savings plans. How the fuck is a person with a full time job in, say, childcare or construction going to have the time and the financial background to fully inform themselves of the best way to invest their own money while saving up for retirement? That's why all that pension money wound up in managed funds that all suddenly went down the toilet in 2008.

Anyways, I need to stop using my maternity leave to rant on the internet and start finishing that last essay for my Chinese politics class. I suspect that's the real reason I was resisting induction, you know . . . have to knock that bastard off first.

Well that's odd

Some odd things happened yesterday. The thing in itself wasn't odd - it was just the sort of standard conversation I as a massively pregnant woman (BTW today is my due date according to the twelve week ultrasound) have quite often with strangers about when the baby's due, advice about delivery - lots of walking, try to keep off your back (which sounds more like contraception advice to me) etc. The odd thing was that I realized after the conversation that it was the first time I had had a conversation with a recognizably aboriginal person, even though I've now been living in Australia for more than two years.  The other odd thing, which took awhile to register, is that at the end of the conversation, she thanked me, even though she was the one offering advice and good wishes.

Australia is really making my skin crawl. I'm no Étienne Brûlé but I've got first nations friends, family, and I'm pretty sure I've never gone anywhere close to two years in Canada without chatting with a first nations person in various contexts, and they've certainly never fucking thanked me for it. This is . . . weird. I've become casually acquainted, living here, with more Maori people for heaven's sake, and it's not like this podunk shithole is some sort of high-powered Kiwi job magnet. And there are a lot of aboriginal people about, though few that are actually from around here - there were hundreds who were relocated from Sydney during the Olympics twelve years back. (Yep. They still do that.)

Well. I don't know what the take-home from feeling weird like this is. Except that Australia's not the place for me. It's stolen country being squandered by its parasitic thieves, who somehow don't get treated as parasites by the people they stole it from. Probably because they killed too many of them. I've heard from a few different people now the same anecdote about conversations with drunk white South Africans (of which Australia is pretty full): at some point, when the conversation turns to apartheid and what shitty people white South Africans are, out will come the blurt: "you can't judge us, you just killed all your blacks." On reflection one of my South African business contacts in Belgium said something similar about Australia when I told him I was moving here, though not while drunk and not so harshly.