Prenatal Class #4

As I continue the saga of our shitty prenatal experience, I add a caveat this week: On Wednesday our instructor found out her aunt (Mothers side; of eleven) was sick. She was at the hospital 'till 2AM, didn't sleep 'till 4:30AM. Should have cancelled the class but didn't. Also forgot that this was the pillow/mat week and didn't inform anyone is the first place. In all fairness she and her family were pulling the plug on Friday and she's pretty distraught. She also has a wedding on the weekend and is full of conflicted emotions so she made class number four video night, instead.

Except the connecter cables to the DVD player TV weren't working properly and caused her more anguish. My social worker side came out, wanting to plead with her to cancel the night but, due to frustration and annoyance with the whole shebang, I did not. I figured maybe some one else would. But no one did. So we had class.

E&I had decided this would be our make-or-break class. Spoiler: We chose break. Double spoiler: But we're going back next week because pillow/mat week will be epic!

We watched three happy videos (Her words) to help lighten the mood. The first was on post-pardum depression which writes its own joke.

Then a second video so bland that neither of us remember what it was about. Something to do with gel being put in the baby's eyes.

After the break, video number three was a repeat. The teacher had left the class and there was that whole awkward thing going on where everyone knew we were watching the wrong video and getting confirmation of this from their partner but no one was actually articulating it. Until E did, the teacher was fetched and we watched a half hour film on comfortable birthing positions. In summary: Your body knows what position it wants to be in.

Other happy topics discussed were breast feeding and the problems that can arise as well as solutions (Go to the hospital's breastfeeding clinic). The teacher gave an interesting anti-formula talk. Essentially, formula companies are desperate to get into hospitals as parents will naturally assume that whatever brand the hospital uses must be the best and buy it when they go home. This is not necessarily so. When Nestle was the biggest annual financial donor to the TEGH, the arrangement was that they would also supply the hospital with unlimited free formula. When the hospital became baby friendly with a mandate to actively encourage and promote breastfeeding, Nestle pulled both its formula and funding.

Mothers in the class were also strongly encouraged to attend post-natal classes once their babies were born. The TEGH has pre-registered E for these classes which start on September 10. 3-12 days before she's due. Thank you, TEGH.

In conclusion, dear reader, you may be a little confused by what was written previously - September 10? 3-12 days before her due date? The mid-wives have assessed where E is at and figure she will be giving birth between the 13th & 22nd. Further appointments will clarify this all in due time.


Home Birthing Class

Ever thought you were 100% certain about something only to have an experience that makes you even more certain? That happened to me last night in home birthing class.

The first thing the class had going for it was a great spread of fruit, veg, cheese, crackers, hummus and organic lemonade. Unlike the TEGH classes, this was free and had snacks. Midwives Clinic: 1; TEGH: 0

The first part consisted of a free form discussion where a history of home birthing was given, followed by an extensive question and answer session which dealt with myths, concerns, some fairly hostile questions but mainly curious people getting straightforward answers. While the instructor clearly had her agenda, it was never pushed on us and focused a lot on holistic ways to deal with any complications that would arise. Discussions about labour addressed pain but never in a fearful, medicalized way unlike the bloody single-mindedness of of out prenatal teacher. Midwives Clinic 2; TEGH 0

The second part had a couple come in to talk about their experience with a home birth. They were friendly, engaging and honest. Their home birth did not go without any problems when their daughter was born with the cord around its neck. What they made clear was the speed, efficiency and professionalism of the midwives attending her. The couple also had a fantastic piece of advice:

To be flexible with your home birth and prepare for the possibility that you may have to go to the hospital or that you may feel that you can't go on without an epidural and to not feel like a failure should this happen, but understand that you are listening to your body and doing what is right for you. In a sense, this is why home birth only makes sense; in a normal, health pregnancy, there is no need for a hospital when there are professionals able to deliver children safely in your home environment.

As the prenatal instructor at the TEGH said the other week, "You want to give birth in the same environment that you make love in." I can't speak for everyone, but I've never made love in a hospital. Midwives Clinic 3; TEGH 0

Hat trick.


Book Reviews

DOWN IN THE WOODS by Nicola Smee

I hate these kinds of children's books. So do children, perhaps because this was the only image for Down in the Woods that I could find on the Internets. I even went as far as the third 'o' in Gooooooooogle Images.

But why do I hate this book, you ask. Well, I answer. It's because there's not an iota of conflict in it. Just a bunch of stuff that happens and everyone gets along and then it's over. The art is as bland as the synopsis. I was reduced to reading in in my creepiest Mark Heap voice to keep things interesting.

The moral of the story: Don't stress about anything because everything will be great and there will be a picnic.

HOP ON POP by Dr. Seuss

I like Hop on Pop. It starts out as gibberish and slowly builds its own logic so that by the end, you're reading a book. It's like a sped up version of a child discovering language, starting with nonsensical rhyming couplets and building towards simple sentences, it slowly primes a toddlers brain to understand the more complicated bits at the end. I'm sure someone smarter than me figured this out a long time ago and said it better.

The drawings are pretty good too.

The moral of the story: Your parents are smarter than you.

Prenatal Class #3

E&I have been talking a lot about the classes thus far and she pretty much hit the nail on the head the other day when she made the observation that the hospital is making pregnancy sound like a disease and that the medicalized steps surrounding childbirth is their way to cure you of this affliction. As a result, anything positive that can come out of the experience of bringing life into the world is relegated to the back of a long line of pain, fear, drugs and pain.

In more positive news, the teacher & our fellow classmates have really grown on me.

(I skipped the breastfeeding class as I've made the assumption [Never a good idea, I know] that I won't be doing too much breastfeeding. Based on what I got from E, breastfeeding a baby is a lot like eating a hamburger except that you're the hamburger.)

This week's class was on pain management & cesarians.

The pain management portion explored all the ways that medicine will make you feel better without mentioning that there exists any (not even one) other methods to cope. Prenatal class continues to play up the tremendous amount of pain that a woman will experience without any reassurance whatsoever other than 'we're really good at sticking this needle into your spine.' One the other hand, some of the drugs they offer sound really good and, should we end up in a hospital, I will seek out ways to get the nurses to administer them to me.

A fun game E&I will play during the birth: Tell me when you'd have the epidural if you were actually having one. I'm curious to know if there will even be a point at which she regrets it. I suspect there won't in spite of class basically saying that the pain is so intense, so constant and lasts for such a long time that any non-medical pain management is simply not conceivable.

Throughout the classes the length of time a first-time mother will spend in labour has been at odds with what the literature we've been reading, as well as what the midwives have been telling us. At this class we realized that the reason why is that epidurals add to length of time a woman is in labour. In effect, by utilizing medical pain management, you are making it harder on your own body as well as that of the baby.

Part two was cesarian section. I saw a video of one a few years back at school and, once the video started playing, braced myself for a bunch of goo spilling out of a woman's stomach, assuming they would show one too, this being a prenatal class and all. Instead, the cesarian was shown as a sterile, Sesame Street-type cartoon where there was no blood or fluid and the baby was delivered by the giant, gloved Hand of God.

The most insulting part of this was the family they chose the depict in the video was the only one planning a holistic non-medicalized birth; in effect pressing home the point even more strongly that anything you try that is different to the medical model is doomed to failure.

Home birth class on Monday (Assuming it's not cancelled. Again). It'll be interesting to see if I come away from it with less snark.

Sunday = Choreday

  1. All laundry - Whites / Colours;
  2. Put guest stuff away;
  3. Food shopping, cooking, all dishes get done;
  4. Put empties away;
  5. Weed the front; <- There is no way in hell this is going to happen.
  6. Put up curtains;
  7. E-mail J & S, M;
  8. Do some blogging 1, 2, 3;
  9. Call M & T; <- Answer your damn phone, T!
  10. Haircut;
  11. Water all the plants - Upstairs / Downstairs.
Edit: Horror delay: Lack of coffee: Next time remember that you need to add water to the coffee maker.

Edit 2: 1st lie of the day: by 'put up curtains' I mean 'install curtain rod.'


Movie Review: Inception


I'm Inception, otherwise known as Shutter Island 2.

That's All I got. It was actually a really, really. Really good movie.
See it.


Book Review

USE OF WEAPONS by Iain M. Banks

The 3rd novel is The Culture Series continues the Banks' exploration of the question 'What does one do in a post-scarcity anarchist utopia to find meaning in life?' As with the prior two novels, the answer is 'Colonize someone.'

At the centre of the plot is the question of what drives the central protagonist to do what he does - himself the living embodiment of a weapon - and likewise asks why and how do utopian pacifists actively bring social change and awareness to those who don't want it. It's like a Prime Directive episode of Star Trek only with more fighting, sex and genital mutilation where the goal is to do the opposite of the Prime Directive.

The thing that makes this novel great (Or pretentious as all hell) is it's non-linear structure: The prologue & epilogue take place after the events of the novel. The odd numbered chapters move the plot forward in time but also contain numerous flashbacks. The even numbered chapters move backwards in time from the climax of the novel but are occasionally told out of synch and also contain numerous flashbacks. The is a second epilogue which is actually a prologue to a sequel which will never exist which occurs simultaneously with the other epilogue & prologue. If you're confused by this, don't even bother reading the book.

I've now read four of Bank's science fiction novels and find they only really offer diminishing returns from the greatness that was Consider Phlebas (For those who know me, I hold this in almost as high estimation as Hyperion). Thank goodness I'm done with the science fiction novels which he re-wrote from earlier unpublished drafts. I look forward to seeing what a more grown up Banks comes up with but I've only got the tolerance for two more Culture novels if they continue this kind of slide downwards.

The moral of the story: Don't make chairs out of people.


Prenatal Class #2

Excruciating pain.
Intense pain, burning pain.
Pain, pain, pain.

Now let's watch a video:
Pain, pain, pain.
Take your epidural!
Pain, pain, pain.

Took a tour of the birthing centre and made us wonder how far have we come since Mad Men?
I realized I spend too much time in hospitals.

Tonights class was about as meaningless as this entry.


Movie Review: Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire


I'm Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, hereafter known simply as Precious. The reason why I have such an unwieldy name is because the producers (e.g., Oprah Winfrey) felt that that people would easily confuse me, a movie about incest-AIDS-poverty-teenage pregnancy-black-hispanic-ghetto life meets Dangerous Minds, with a movie about white teenagers with telekinetic powers who fight stuff. It's (not so) funny when you consider that there are two movies out there named Crash: One about how white people are racist cunts and the other about how white people want to have sex with car crashes. I guess white people are clever enough to figure out the gaping huge difference between the two films and that my target audience, perhaps, maybe, I don't know, black people, weren't considered smart enough to tell the difference by my producers (e.g., Oprah Winfrey).

And while I'm gritty and real, and so important that wealthy producers such as Oprah Winfrey felt guilty enough to sponsor me, there is a grim realness about and overweight nobody who dreams about achieving greatness and manages to achieve her dreams (really mediocrity) is remarkably true to life with regard to the lead actor, Something-Or-Other, an overweight nobody who achieves greatness yet only achieves mediocrity. Thus achieving nothing at all.

Kudos to Lenny Kravitz whose affair with Nichole Kidman managed to land him 10 minutes of screen time. Additional kudos to Mariah Carey's edgy performance where she appears in front of cameras without makeup and plays the most incompetent social worker ever.

Mo'nique is superlative as the most one dimensional bad guy since Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List: A cartoon baddy with not a single redeeming feature who turns a disturbing and troubled reality into a caricature.

So what am I about? In a nutshell, poor black people acting like violent poor black people with a double-minority Christ figure who saves them (As opposed to a white woman in, say, Dangerous Minds, it's a black lesbian in Precious. How cutting edge!)

I am a movie for wealthy black people to feel guilty about their achievements brought to you by a wealthy black woman who made a career aping Phil Donahue (e.g., Oprah Winfrey). I am condescending and apolitical The kind on film Uncle Phil would take Carlton to in an effort to 'keep it real.'

If you would like to see a film that is everything that I want to be, I recommend Clockers:

It's also based on a novel by an upper-class black writer with no lived experience of the subject matter but, unlike myself, Clockers does not have a rich, guilt-ridden producer behind me (e.g., Oprah Winfrey) and, instead, makes a political point and tries to find a solution to the problems I present. Also, as the director is also extremely political, it is understandable that Clockers did not get the recognition it deserves.

After all, The target audience for Vlockers isn't the kind of idiots who confuses telekinesis with incest.

Yours with love,


Movie Review: The Road


I'm The Road and I'm really, really depressing. So depressing that I'm a bit like a vaccine against depression. I start out so sad and bleak that I've got nowhere to go afterwards. And unlike the book, upon which I'm based, which is tempered with a steady escalation of dread, mid-way through me you'll have cried so much that you've immunized yourself to me.

I'm also a little different from the book in that all the really horrific stuff is removed so that the true scope of the threat faced by the characters is lessened. Unlike the book, I also feature Charlize Theron. This is what separates the art-form of the novel from the art-form of film: Flashbacks involving Monster teaching Aragorn to play piano. Granted, film is a visual and auditory media so it makes sense when one adds these things to help the audience connect with the emotional plight of the characters. However, it raises the question of what does a film adaptation of a novel add to the experience? And let's keep in mind that there's a difference between adapting slam! Bang! Pow! The Bourne Ultimatum into a movie and a novel with little dialogue or action like, for example, The Road.

Overall I have great actors doing an excellent job. I even have a kid in it who manages to avoid being too annoying. I'm beautiful to look at in spite of one scene involving Viggo's ass. Normally Viggo's ass only adds to the beauty of a film but as it's got poo smeared all over it, his bum loses some of its lustre. But only some. Ironically, I gain points in an in that everything and everyone in me is really, really dirty. Convincingly dirty. So there's a kind of beauty in all the dirtiness that many films try for and few achieve.

Overall, if you've read the book and are curious and want to re-live the soul destroying depression all over again, give me a shot. You'll remember what a good book it was. If the idea of reading a 250 page Pulitzer Prize winning novel seems too strenuous, give me a watch and see what an adequately adapted film based on a superior novel looks like. Maybe it will give you a taste for reading. Maybe even reading a good book.

Yours sincerely,
The Road


Book Reviews

MILLION OF CATS by Wanda Ga'g.

Millions of cats is a fun little fable about an elderly man who, at the request of his wife goes out to find a cat to keep them company. When he comes across a magical hill that contains pretty much every cat in the world and is unable to make up his mind about which one is the best, chaos ensues. A nice little book with gorgeous art that manages to make the death of trillions of cats seem like not such a big deal. My only complaint is that the iambic pentameter of the book changes from page to page so it's hard to know what rhythm to use when reading aloud.

The Moral of the Story: Make up your mind or cats will die!

LOVE YOU FOREVER by Robert Munsch

The kiddie equivalent of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

The Moral of the Story: Your parents are going to die!

MISS RUMPHIUS by Barbara Cooney

This is one of those children's books I just don't get. It's about this lady who does stuff and then other stuff happens to her that was unrelated to the original stuff that she did. The book doesn't follow any narrative structure and feels like someone telling you the truncated and poorly explained story of their aunt's life. That said, the art is pretty and engaging and the story is realistic in the sense that life doesn't wrap itself up in a neat little package (I'm looking at you, Love You Forever).

The Moral of the Story: If you're a positive influence; other people will become positive influences. Through the planting of flowers.


Prenatal Class #1

Things I learned at prenatal class:
- If you don't sleep with the baby in your room for at least the first six months, it will die.
- If you install bumpers on the crib too early, your baby will die.
- If you give your baby a thick blanket, it will die.
- It is not uncommon to dream about rabbits when you're pregnant.
- A rolling pin is a sensible item to bring with you to the hospital when giving birth.

It's extremely disappointing that E&I couldn't get in to any of the pre-natal classes offered by our midwives and had to settle on the classes offered by the Toronto East. Going to it tonight feels a lot like showing up to one of her office functions and realizing how little I have in common with everyone in the room. Everyone seemed really nice but our beliefs were just a little too whacked out and our personalities not quite square enough to jive with the room.

It was a bit like being part of a group of adults sent to take grade 5 sex ed and watching them giggle when the teacher said words like 'penis,' 'vagina' and 'ejaculation.' Granted, it's the first of six classes but overall it has re-enforced our beliefs that we're on the right track doing things our way and that having a home birth is the right decision.

While watching a video of a woman giving birth, I saw a placenta for the first time and couldn't help but feel that it looked kinda gross and that maybe turning it into a fry up wasn't such a good idea. Later, when the nurse was describing rolling one out in a tray to make sure it had completely detached it's self, I couldn't help but think about it sizzling in a skillet in garlic, olive oil & lemon juice. A home birth would facilitate the quick cooking and consuming of the placenta so now I really don't know what I'll do.

Home birth classes on Monday should help me decide.

This week's homework: Ask any fathers; if you were to become a father again, what would you do differently this time around? Any takers?


Shrine on you crazy diamond

Toronto was shut down today as the Shriners, in an attempt to out do Pride's parade of epic length (In all fairness, a full one third of it was made up of 'gay' Jews protesting 'gay' not-Jews protesting Israeli apartheid), conducted a five hour long bonanza of fez's, miniature cars and Depends undergarment models marching down University Avenue in 40 degree heat.

I don't know if the Shriners parade was as exciting as Pride was, however, on a sexiness scale, I imaging it was a lot lower. As much as I would have loved to have seen 40,000 octogenarians partying down, beating the heat in leather thongs, jock straps, or nothing but a pair of sneakers... Wait, was I writing about the Shriners or Pride? Either way, childhood memories came flooding back of going to the Shriners Circus in a shopping mall parking lot, crossing lines of Shriners protesting protesters protesting animal cruelty... Maybe the Shriners and the Pride have more in common than I thought.

After a quick search of the Shriners on the internet in an effort to find out something about them and their relevance to modern society (Wikipedia), I gave up because they're too damn boring. Even cross-referencing them with "Shriners + Conspiracy Theories" led to nothing more than implications that their founder was (brace yourself) Muslem or that they're all pedophiles.

(For the record, accusing an organization of institutionalized pedophilia (Except NAMBLA) is as unimaginative as comparing a politician to Hitler. Unless you're comparing Hitler to himself. I wonder if anyone has. I'm sure there's a PhD lurking out there somewhere. E-mail me if you're written it and are reading this. I'd like to interview you.)

I invite someone with more imagination than me to please, please, please come up with a better conspiracy theory about the Shriners. With todays society of scandals and trash, there must be someone with with a website and more spare time than me who wants to take on this challenge.

In other news, Lindsay Lohan is going to jail.
Maybe it's because a Shriner fingered her.
Damn you lazy pedophile jokes!


An Experiment

I've been going back and forth about starting a new blog for a while. The reason why the England one worked was because it had a theme and the reason why the Toronto one didn't was because all I did was go on about Crank 2: High Voltage.

Considering that I'm entering a new phase in life I figure that a theme will develop pretty quickly and naturally so stalkers won't be subjected to endless ejaculatory posts about crap films I want to see (Hausu at Bloor Cinema July 23-29; anyone interested?!).

Who knows.

If anything this will save my Facebook page from becoming my Babybook page and there will be a degree of separation between myself and my child.

Perhaps, maybe.
Not likely.