Grumpy Bear Day – DMB IV

Most of the time, I’m a fairly positive person. I laugh easily and love to make others smile. I may be particularly snarkastic, but it’s rarely malicious. Just…you know, snarky.

But just like everything can’t be sunshine all the time, I can’t always be cheerful. It makes total sense. Dark and light, two sides of a coin and what-not. Still, being in a bad mood drives me absolutely crazy.

Grumpy Bear

[Grumpy Bear by capsicum via DA]

I hate being grumpy. I hate the spiral I end up absorbed in, being grumpy because I’m grumpy, becoming even grumpier as I go. And forbid anyone actually comment on my mood. Call me grumpy and I will turn on you like a pissed off wolverine…and I will become even more grumpy.

I’m going to tell you all my little excuses for my mood, but the truth is I think I just needed a day of grump. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will turn me around and all will be well tomorrow. In the mean time here’s my latest roundup of things that Drove Me Bonkers into my Grumpy Bear Day…

The Rob Ford Nonsense
Oh, you don’t know who Rob Ford is? Awesome. Seriously, don’t bother even looking the guy up. Just skip to the next bold title and be on your merry way, because it’s really not worth your time. For everyone else, you know that Rob Ford is the Mayor of Toronto who recently admitted to using crack, “probably while smashed” after months of denying/ignoring that very issue. He’s also refused to step down as Mayor.

Politically, Ford and I have our disagreements. I don’t think he’s a complete wash, like some Torontonians, but I also don’t think he’s been a Godsend to the city like many of his supporters.

Politics aside, though, now we have to deal with the fact that our Mayor is not only probably an active alcoholic, but a self admitted hard drug user. I have a lot of…feelings…about all of this, but there’s one thing that keeps occupying my grey matter: What are Toronto parents telling their children?

I honestly cannot stop thinking about what the hell I would tell Spawn if this had happened a few years down the road. How do I explain to a child that crack is really, really terrible and has serious consequences (i.e. people go to jail and die because of it), but not our Mayor because he’s 1. extremely wealthy 2. politically powerful and 3. for some reason doesn’t think it’s at all a big deal? How do I admit that a lot of times you’re forgiven for breaking the law if you’re white and/or wealthy and powerful, while also explaining my personal feelings on such issues? Is there any right answer in this situation?

The Midwife Naysayers 
No idea how/why this happened but yesterday my decision to use a midwife was reacted to with everything from disbelief to outright aggression. Was there some anti-midwife study released yesterday that I’m unaware of?

I think if the people I had the discussions with had any knowledge at all of midwives, that would be something different. They didn’t. One of my agents asked me repeatedly why/when I would be seeing an actual doctor. Didn’t I want ultrasounds? Blood tests? And Medication? A Hospital? When I informed him that I had access to everything an ob/gyn patient did, minus the surgical option, and that I would be deferred if any actual problems happened, he concluded that it “sounded like a bad idea.”

Thanks for that. As a man and someone who didn’t even realize that Midwives were covered by OHIP, I really see zero value in your opinion.

I’m used to people questioning my choices. I’m used to people trying to talk me out of whatever I’ve decided I want. It rarely changes my mind, and it never gets any easier to manage. It shouldn’t have pissed me off so much but it did.

Irrational Dog Haters
Last night, while taking Pipe out for her last bathroom break, MFH and I had an old woman mutter at us. I couldn’t understand her. She was smoking on her balcony, had a fairly decent accent, and it was raining. I also never assume people are crazy, so I don’t think I would have made sense of her even if none of those things were true.

When I asked her to repeat herself, MFH cut me off and said, “No problem,” to her. He then informed me that she asked us not to let our dog pee on the grass in front of the building in the range of her balcony.

She is so lucky I did not hear her. By that point in the night, the seeds of discontent had been sown. I would have replied that I would happily keep my dog away from the lawn that she’d actively have to jump over her balcony to reach, as long as she ceased smoking in front of me. I’ve had people request that dogs not be brought onto their property. And that’s their right. I have very little problem with that. I do, however, take issue with someone attempting to claim a public space as their own. We pick up anything solid, and keep our dog off anything that isn’t just plain grass/dirt. What’s the issue?

This probably isn’t helped by the fact that we had a (legitimately) crazy old woman in our old building. She barely spoke English, but somehow always managed to tell me that 1. dogs were not allowed in our building (They were.) and 2. that Piper barked all day and made too much noise (A neat trick, as Piper doesn’t bark.). Her irrational hatred of dogs was only matched by her irrational love of pigeons. Considering the very same pigeons she so lovingly fed came to our balcony to live/poop, I was thisclose to poisoning her loaves of bird bread. [Sidebar: I am a passionate animal lover. People who know me well were shocked when I admitted my poisoning fantasy to them. I do not condone what I just wrote. I did, however, have a 3-foot by 6-inch pile of pigeon leavings on a balcony I could not use. That level of grossness makes a person mean.] I never did, of course, although I often went around picking up and tossing the baked items into the garbage. 

I’m not asking you to like my dog. In fact, she’d be a lot happier if you just stayed where you were and ignored her, actually. What I am asking for is a little bit of understanding. Dogs pee where other dogs have peed before. She’s not harming anyone or anything. Most of all, it’s not your grass. And while we’re having this discussion, my dog is allowed inside businesses, buildings, and public transit. Not all places and at all times, but a lot of them. You’re smoking is allowed in exactly none of them, ever. I’m highly allergic to smoke. I’ve never asked someone to not smoke near me. I move. Maybe you should too?

Heartburn
Weeks ago I felt the circumference of my esophageal sphincter relax and heat. In the past, I’ve used almonds to cure heartburn with much success. Of course, chewing on almonds for medicinal purposes is tedious and not always appetizing. I took a chance and tried almond milk. Ereka! It was a simple solution for an often nasty pregnancy side effect.

So why did I not buy more almond milk when we ran out at our new apartment? Excellent question. I do not have an answer for you.

I can tell you that after last night’s ordeal of indigestion/heartburn I will never make that mistake again. It was so obviously bad that at nearly 11 o’clock last night, MFH turned to me in bed and asked if I needed him to go get some rescue almond milk from the 24 hour grocery store before he fell asleep. I’m ashamed to say I considered it for a moment before I admitted that going in the middle of the night, in the rain, was completely ridiculous.

There’s more, of course. Like a cabbie that ignored both myself and his GPS directions in what I can only assume was a bid to make more money. (He did not.) Also the completely unusual 18 minute wait at my midwifery clinic. (I know people seeing ob/gyns who would be ecstatic to only wait 18 minutes.) Waiting in the rain for a bus to the dentist while watching 7 pass going the opposite direction (One of them has to come back my way eventually, right?). And, as much as I really have nothing against the dentist, does anyone like the process of a cleaning?

So that’s all the basis of my Grumpy Bear status today. Only a few more hours of grouchiness left in the day, then hopefully I’ll be back to my usually tempered self. In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to avoid raining my hateraid all over those around me. Because, pregnancy excuse or not, I’d really rather not be the cause of someone elses’ Grumpy Bear Day.

Correlation and Causation – DMB III

For most of my academic career, I was all set up to excel in Psychiatry. I took the hard math and science classes, right along with my more artsy-fartsy classes. It likely surprises none of you that I’ve been a published writer (don’t get too excited, just poetry and short stories), and English and I always got along well. If I could have taken only English classes, I probably would have just done that.

It took a very perceptive and gentle professor to make me realize that my mental block in regards to pedophiles would make my intended career nearly impossible. (By “mental block” I mean a seething, completely irrational hatred. I’d been trained, logically, to understand their actions and motivations. Logic and pedophilia just couldn’t go together for me.) Working in forensics wasn’t to be in my future.

So from forensic psychiatry to research psychiatry I shifted. (Don’t ask how I ended up in Marketing/Graphic Design. It’s a long winding road my friends.)

Despite my love of all things art, science and math hold an interest for me too. (Although math stops being fun for me when numbers are no longer “real.”)

With science I was always fascinated by biology. By the questions regarding whether a person is born with every aspect of themselves encoded in their very cells…or whether their upbringing decides who they will become. (Personally, I always felt like it was a little bit of everything.) MFH still finds the occasional Punnett square sketching when I’m trying to work out proper chances of inheritance. (Yes, he thinks it’s very weird.)

With Math, my absolute favorite subject is statistics. I loved how simple it was to change the way people answered a survey just by adding or changing a few words in the questions.  It made me realize how skewed some surveys are and how unreliable they can be. It also made me keenly aware of the difference between Causation and Correlation.

You know when you hear all these studies about researchers finding “links” between this and that? Autism is an especially hot button topic at the moment, so I’m going to talk about that. There’s a lot of money being thrown at researchers to find a cause for Autism. There’s also a disgustingly high increase of online readership for any “news article” that posts about something linking to Autism. Let me be clear here that I completely understand the desire of the average person to read about a disorder that we really still know so little about. That’s not what I find disgusting. What I find disgusting is that certain “news sources” chose to release bad, poorly researched studies as facts, knowing it will drive readership to their pages.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here…

One study I’ve been following – and will continue to follow as it progresses through primate testing – shows that excessive exposure to ultrasound waves alters brain development (in mice). There is nothing being claimed here about Autism, but it was mentioned as a disorder that is centered in the brain. They are trying to see if excessive ultrasound use actually cause neurological disorders, or if the current “link” is simply a correlation involving other factors.

Lemme explain.

On one of my Statistics midterms we had this question regarding a study. The study showed a link between ice cream consumption and colds/flu. The less ice cream consumed, the more colds/flu. The question was, why isn’t there a causation between not eating ice cream and getting a cold/flu?

At first I had the same reaction I had when learning about weighted statistics. (Just because something only has two outcomes doesn’t mean there is a 50-50% chance. Airplanes don’t crash 50% of the time and land safely 50% of the time, for instance.) I didn’t really get it. I had a fleeting moment of wondering if a lower calcium intake had anything to do with a person’s likelihood of getting sick.

Then I noticed something. The graph showing this “link” between the two had an additional line of data showing the months of the year. It showed that the colder the month, the less ice cream consumption…and the more colds/flu. People weren’t getting sick because they weren’t eating ice cream…they were getting sick because the lower temperatures were effecting their immunity.

It’s a really simple, silly example, but you can clearly see that correlation between two things does not equal causation.

causation-and-correlation

That’s part of the reason why I ignore a lot of hot topic research studies. Or, if not ignore outright, at least file into the column of “let’s see if anyone can repeat these outcomes,” before we get all crazy.

Such as in the case of Andrew Wakefield (and, man, do I feel like I’m opening a can of worms here), whose 1998 paper claiming that MMR vaccinations caused bowel issues and Autism was never able to be repeated in a lab setting. (I’m being very good here, not talking about all the other reasons Wakefield and this entire situation drives me bonkers.)

If a single scientist cannot recreate your work, one of two things happened. It is possible, and has happened in very rare cases, that the results were “fluke.” There was no malintent, just an odd outcome, never to be repeated. The more likely, though, is falsified data. This last makes me so angry, because falsified data not only turns the media into salivating monsters of misinformation, it also gives some people false hope. If someone is really sick, and some jerk releases a falsified study showing something random will cure their sickness…well, you get the picture.

I’ve talked ad nauseam about informed decision making, so I’m not going to bring it up again. I am, however, going to say that our world has become a massive influx of often instantaneous information. The thing to remember is that not all information can be treated equal.

Is it my job to force my opinion on…lets say vaccinations…onto others? No, it is not. If someone asks my opinion, I’ll give it. I may have to bite a hole in my lip to keep quiet, but I will not berate a mother for having a differing opinion. But when someone does not show me the same respect and attacks my decision making skills, you better believe that I will pull out my arsenal of facts and figures and use them to full effect.

[I will disclaimer here that if I see a mother actually harming her child, all bets are off. I am not quiet in defense of others.]

When did mothering become a death match competition where only you are doing it the right way and all other options are just WRONG, WRONG, WRONG?

It’s exhausting to try and navigate the waters of parenting. To figure out how to be supportive without smothering. To encourage without creating unrealistic expectations. Most of this seems to be worked out on the fly, with not enough sleep to safely brew a cup of coffee – let alone raise a human being.

So to anyone out there who has rolled their eyes at my choices, or more directly had it out with me over something I am or aren’t doing, relax. You’re still the best mommy in your own mind. I’m going to do everything in my power; read every study, scour conspiracy theories, and – shocker here – talk to actual mothers who I think have pretty great kids; to be the best mom I think I can be.

But you know what the funniest part of this whole thing is? Despite all my faith in stone cold research, sometimes I really do think you just have to go with your gut. After all, that’s where the babies come from. :p

Like a Circus (DMB Part II)

There are so many things that happened in the past couple days that I have an opinion on, but I feel like like people both smarter and more eloquent than me have expressed my exact feelings far better. It’s also not at all pregnancy related, so while it does in fact drive me bonkers, I’m going to leave that at that.

I woke up this morning to Britney Spear‘s Circus in my head.

I think it’s because I’m feeling for the Duchess Kate. I’m doing this under the scrutiny of my fantastic friends and family. I can’t imagine having to deal with the scrutiny of more or less the entire western world.

I especially get annoyed when people get all judgey about what a pregnant woman does or doesn’t do (or worse, how she does or doesn’t look).

Remember back when the Duchess was hospitalized for Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Another pregnant woman commented that she had morning sickness too, but all she could do was go and have a bit of a lay-down in the ladies room at work until it passed. She went on to say how she would LOVE to be at a hospital with staff caring for her 24/7.

Seriously?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum isn’t just morning sickness. It is when your morning sickness will possibly kill you without intervention. I don’t know Kate, obv, but I can imagine that going to the hospital was a terrifying ordeal, not a cushy vaycay. Having a person claim their manageable nausea was the same thing is so ignorant, it makes me want to spit. (And I do not spit. My mother would KILL me.) That’s like someone saying they should be in the hospital on an IV of morphine because they had indigestion, just because I was while I was vomiting non-stop due to an extremely infected gall bladder.

I was equally shocked at how many people felt/feel the need to comment on the amount of weight one does or doesn’t gain while pregnant. I’m no Kim Kardashian fan, but I had serious sympathy for the chick when she started gaining weight faster than random people on the street felt was appropriate. Kim is suuuper short (much like myself), and five pounds on her is about equal to twenty on someone with a frame like Kate’s.

Not only does the chick have arguably better ob/gyn care than most of the people commenting about her (I can only assume here. With her money she’s certainly not concerned about insurance coverage.), she also has spent enough time in the limelight to know what needs to be done to stay in shape. If she looks less than perfect, it’s either because she’s been told to rein in the crazy diets/exercise or she just decided to stop beating up on herself to maintain a size 2 while growing a whole other human.

Kate, for the longest time, was getting the reverse. “She’s so skinny, she needs to eat more!” was like a mantra uttered by women the world over. When she finally “popped” suddenly she was the perfect size. For someone as fit and naturally thin as Kate is, it sure would have looked bizarre putting a full belly on her before her fetus was actually large enough to make an impact.

Mine’s currently the size of a blueberry apparently. So, unless we’re playing a weird game of the princess and the pea — er, blueberry – where people lay on my stomach and see if they can sleep comfortably, no one can tell anything.

Le sigh.

All of this keeps going back to that same thing that’s been so forefront in my mind lately. Why are we women so quick to tear each other down? To say that this one deserves something while that one doesn’t? Can we all just sign a pact together and make an effort to be kind, courteous, and careful with each other? Even if it is only for the nine months of pregnancy.

Can we sit back and enjoy the show, without secretly hoping that he tightrope walker falls or the lion goes apeshit on his trainer? I for one am full of wonder, dazzled by the colours and the lights. And I’m probably as excited to see the Royal Spawn as the next person.

I’m just more of the mind that when I see the new little royal, with (hopefully) healthy and happy momma Kate, it will remind me that I am not alone in this journey. That so many woman have had the strength to manage this before me, and so many will manage it after me.

I cannot judge how they got there. I can only be in awe of the way they were able to create another being, and hope I gain some wisdom from their journey.

Because all this hating is really, truly driving me bonkers.

Driving Me Bonkers – Part I

I’m not even pregnant yet, but I’m already finding myself really tired of hearing/seeing certain things. Right. So assuming things will continue on in this vein, I’m preemptively making this DMB Part I. No idea how many to follow.

I could be completely off-base here. I may have the most amazing, Zen pregnancy that leaves me as completely free from being antagonized and happy as a fat Buddha.

Fat Buddha

Me at 8 months?  [photo via Milei.vencel]

Somehow I doubt it, though. I’m just not the kind of person that can swallow the bitter pill without making a face or simply toe the company line. It seems like pregnancy makes that sort of thing worse, not better. Like getting old. Grandparents can say and do stuff we whippersnappers couldn’t dream of getting away with.

Keep Calm or Not

This message has been approved by Ms.I

What is rising my ire, you might ask? (Alternatively, maybe you’re just wondering when the heck – or if – I’m actually going to get to the bloody point. Patience, grasshopper.)

In a nutshell: preggo shaming and “how would you feel” ers.

Preggo Shaming
Preggo shaming seems to occur mostly on pregnancy and conception boards or comment sections of articles about the same. I get that breastfeeding (or not) and how a baby is diapered are two super hot button issues. What I don’t get is why any woman (or man) feels the need to tell another woman that her/his preferred method is the only way. As if there is no alternative. No single reason why you cannot exactly replicate their experience.

Have a medical reason why you cannot produce enough milk, so you’re feeding or supplementing with formula? TOO BAD! You’re POISONING your child!! You just aren’t TRYING hard enough! According the most extreme, you can’t even bottle feed with breast milk. You’re confusing your child and they won’t be able to properly breastfeed.

The debate between whether to use cloth or disposable diapers rival actual wars. And you know what? If it all came down to a hearty discussion, I’d be completely for it. It’s a great way to see different sides of an issue and really get an idea of what you might like to do.

But that’s not generally what happens. Preggo shaming is what happens. You know the dog shaming trend of late? It’s like that.

Preggo Shaming

No! Bad commenters! STOPIT!

How Would You Feel ers
These people crop up in the same places as the Shamers. They seem to be everywhere else as well. They, in my mind, are worse than the Shamers. While the Shamers seem to have an utter lack of empathy, the HWYFers mask their asshattery by confusing fear-mongering with sympathy. It comes in a million variations, but the just of the HWYFers is this question: “How would you feel if you did [insert random action here] and something happened to the baby?”

Are you kidding me? I would feel like a worthless mother. I would feel like God was pointing down at me shouting, “Epic Fail!” How the hell do you think I’d feel?

If you golden spiral that to try and get to the final conclusion, you cannot do anything. Move? “How would you feel if something happened to the baby?” Stand perfectly still? “How would you feel if something happened to the baby?” Oh dear god, I can’t make a decision and something is going to happen to my baby!

Just STOPIT! I understand that the majority of people who say this literally think they’re helping, but it just adds to the overall fear. Especially for woman trying to become or newly pregnant. Some of the HWYFers even say it to contradict actual medical professionals. “Oh, your doctor said that was okay? But how would you feel if you did and something happened to the baby?” Thank you layperson who’s never even held a child, I’m sure the decades my doctor has studied and practiced taking care of pregnancies amounts to mere drivel at your feet.

In the end, the thing that bothers me the most about all of this boils down to one issue. Why can’t women love and support one another? Is it so hard to look at a woman who is growing another human – creating in almost a biblical sense – and just try to help her keep herself together? Must she be torn down and shamed if her best efforts do not aline with yours?

At the end of the day, I have to trust my own body and the person or persons I choose to put in charge of my care. My plan is to pull the people who help me closer and push the ones that don’t a bit further away. I have the wherewithal to traverse the online world and collect the gems while leaving the rest of the crap behind. That doesn’t mean it all leaves me untroubled on my journey…