The easiest way I can think of to explain my experience as an asexual and what I understand about it is to do so in a Q&A format. As I do so, I cannot stress enough that not all asexual people have had my experience or my understanding on the subject, and their answers may vary. This is just how I see things.
Clear? Cool. Here we go.
So… what even is asexuality?
You know, human sexuality is this wonderfully rich, complex thing. I firmly believe that there are as many sexualities as their are people on the planet. That said, asexuality is simply the lack of sexual attraction to anyone.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t feel any romantic attraction or are unable to fall in love. It’s just that sexual attraction isn’t really part of their world.
Any lactation that starts before the birth of the child is made up of colostrum, the nutrient-rich, high antibody early milk.
I noticed that I’ve been producing it for a while now, but I’m not sure when it started, as mine doesn’t really interfere with daily living. My nursing pads aren’t even wet.
I talked with another person who had nursed their first-born for 3 months, and he said that he had also started lactating early while pregnant with his second.
It is nice to know that it’s normal, although I was fairly certain that it was, especially given that I had nursed my toddler until Christmas (end of first trimester).
Anyways, I thought I’d take a look into the actual facts about lactating before giving birth and see what the professionals say.
I am very glad that I did.
Apparently, it is recommended that people who have gestational diabetes (GDM) express some of this early milk and freeze it in anticipation of the baby’s birth, because the baby will have a drop in blood sugar after birth (hypoglycemia) and the extra colostrum will help regulate the blood sugar levels much faster.
Umm…okay… I didn’t know that! Good thing I received some milk storage bags from Baby Box University. And I guess I know what I’m doing sooner rather than later. (I’m 37 weeks and 5 days as of the writing of this post.)
The other option, of course, is formula feeding.
But if I’m already producing a slight amount of colostrum, I’m definitely going to try to collect it!
And hey, if the only danger in doing so is inducing labour, at my stage of pregnancy, I’m REALLY not going to complain.
Please note: there are other risk factors in expressing milk early, including to people who are supposed to receive a caesarean, if there is excess weight gain, if the baby is too small, or if there is too much fluid in the womb. Expressing milk might also reduce blood flow to the womb.
If you are considering expressing milk pre-delivery, please talk to your healthcare professional before doing so.
One of the benefits of being the author of this blog is if I have a question about my own health, researching doesn’t feel like a waste of time because I can then write about it.
One of the negatives of being the author of this blog is that everyone knows what is going on with my health. (Not that every post is about me. I usually say if it is.)
Good thing I don’t mind sharing?
So I’m pregnant.
Is anyone surprised? I guess you haven’t seen me lately.
I’m 35 weeks and 6 days today.
It’s also our ten year anniversary, but that’s irrelevant to my health. I’m just excited about it and want to share.
The thing about being so close to the end of the pregnancy is that, well, you’re close to the end. Very mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it’s so cool to feel movement from another being inside of you and you’re never alone (that doesn’t really go away if you have a clingy baby/toddler). On the other hand, you’re sore, it’s hard to move/roll over in bed, and the number of doctor’s appointments increases dramatically (a pain to get to and a pain to arrange around your schedule).
Today, I want to talk about soreness. Specifically the soreness that comes once hormones like relaxin kick in.
Relaxin is pretty great, to be perfectly honest. It’s the hormone that loosens the ligaments and muscles in the hips and pelvic region and allow for the human body to stretch enough to deliver a baby vaginally. Remember, the pelvic area, on a regular day, is only so big. The bones have to be able to accommodate the head and shoulders in order to push a baby out. Hence, relaxin.
However, relaxin starts its work in the third trimester (usually. Sometimes it’s early). So not only are you gaining extra weight from the baby gaining weight, but your ligaments and muscles are no longer supporting you the way that they did before. This can cause quite a lot of pain.
Enough that there’s a name for it.
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).
I’d like to make a quick note here that although this is most often referred to as a symptom of pregnancy, you can have it and not be pregnant.
So how can I minimize the pain from SPD?
Avoid triggers like standing or sitting for too long, crossing your legs, and lifting or pushing.
Whew. That’s a lot.
But you do a lot with your hips without realizing it.
Physiotherapy is very helpful. Your physiotherapist can give you exercises that will help to minimize the pain and recommend other ways of improving muscle function and joint stability.
Personally, the things I find the most helpful are icing the outside of my hips and doing Kegels. Even if it hurts at the beginning of my Kegel reps, by the time I get to rep 5-6, I feel so much better. Sleeping with a pillow between my knees has helped immensely as well, especially since I don’t normally lie on my side – I much prefer sleeping on my stomach. Not exactly an option right now for some reason.
I hope this helps those of you who are feeling pain, and for those who know me, it helps you understand why I wince every time I move to stand up or try to get into a car. (Widening legs or taking a big step is rather painful for me, especially at the end of the day.)
If you’re not in pain and don’t know me, I hope you at least found this interesting.
It occurred to me the other day that I don’t remember what to do if my water breaks. That didn’t happen with Dragon.
And hey, look at that, I need a topic for my Blush blog this week. If I’m going to research it anyways, might as well write about it, right?
What is the “water”?
In pregnancy, the water is the amniotic fluid that fills the sac that protects the baby in utero. This protection is both macroscopic (bumps and falls) and microscopic (keeps bacteria and other foreign microbes away from the baby).
How does water “break”?
The membranes of the amniotic sac tend to tear or rupture during labour, allowing for the amniotic fluid (water) to leave the body.
Will it be like in the movies, where there’s all of a sudden a huge pool of fluid on the ground?
Apparently this is rather rare (10-15% rupture before labour starts, and only a fraction of THOSE experience a gush of fluid). It will most likely feel like a sudden popping sensation followed by a slow trickle of fluid. Contractions are most likely going to be the first sign of labour, not the water breaking.
What’s the difference between “water” and urine?
The amniotic fluid is usually clear with a slight yellow or pink tinge and odourless (or sometimes sweet-smelling). If it is green or brown, it means the baby had a bowel movement and the health care team in charge should be notified. Urine is yellow (usually) and has a scent.
You can find out more about water breaking too early, what to do if labour doesn’t start, etc in the references. Check it out if you’re concerned or interested.
In week 24, most OB’s/midwives recommend a blood sugar screening. You go in, drink an orange drink (I’ve heard there are other flavours, but the place I went to only had the one) that tastes like flat Orange Crush with 50 sugar packets added to it, wait an hour, and get your blood taken. They are testing your blood sugar level (at a higher accuracy than a diabetes monitor would be able to).
My results from that test came back at 8.4. The upper limit (to not have GDM) is 7.8.
So my OB had me go and do the whole thing again, but the two hour test this time.
The two hour test is slightly different. It must be a fasting test. They take your blood when you arrive before you drink, one hour in, and at the end of the two hours.
This time, one hour in, my blood sugar was at 12.2.
I had GDM.
I was told this on April 5th. My appointment at the hospital with the nurse and nutritionist was on April 18th. I was given no further information.
Not wanting to endanger our unborn child more than necessary, we started doing research into how to control my blood sugar, and found the low GI diet.
Fortunately, not only was this very easy to follow (especially since I love veggies) but it ended up being the recommended diet to follow by the nutritionist that I saw two weeks later.
At the meeting with the nurse and nutritionist, I was given a diabetic monitor, test strips, and needles. (and a prescription for more of the latter two – thank goodness for insurance!) I was to prick my finger when I woke up and one hour after every meal (not snack).
Dragon insists on watching me do it and has started “pricking” her finger with a crayon and saying a random number.
I’m seeing the doctor at the hospital today, two weeks after the meeting with the nurse and nutritionist. She will hopefully say that my numbers are okay and I don’t need to go on insulin. We shall see. I’ve had a couple pretty weird readings.
On top of watching my blood sugars and eating a mildly strict diet, I also get to have more ultrasounds. One a month for the next two months, and then one a week until the baby arrives. These are to monitor his growth, to make sure he doesn’t get too big.
One of the biggest risk factors with GDM is the baby growing too large. Another is the risk of the pregnant parent developing type 2 diabetes in the future (ugh, fun).
I’m sure there will be more appointments that I’m not yet aware of. For someone with a toddler who sleeps until 11am and doesn’t have a car (but has awesome parents who give me access to theirs or drives me to the appointments, yes I know I’m very lucky), these extra appointments are very trying.
Let’s hope I don’t need insulin on top of the rest of this.
A few weeks ago, an article on surrogacy crossed my timeline. It was incredibly interesting to read; to get the perspectives of both the surrogates and the intended parents.
The article states, at the end, that there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding the topic of surrogacy, and that the ethics surrounding surrogacy and gamete donation are still under debate.
Let’s clear up some misinformation:
In Canada, surrogates do not get paid. In fact, it is illegal to be paid to be a surrogate. There is usually allowance for expense reimbursement, and if the intended parents and surrogate agree to do IVF instead of traditional surrogacy (most surrogacies in Canada are done through IVF) then the expenses of that are paid by the intended parents. The bulk of expenses for surrogacy seem to be for legal fees and IVF.
Another myth is that it is hard for the surrogate to give up the baby at the end of the pregnancy. It has been found that, for the most part, the surrogates have no problems with this, as they are fully aware straight from the beginning that the child they are carrying is not theirs. (source)
If you do wish to either be a surrogate or have a surrogate, do your research. Evaluate your options. No matter your decision, I wish you the best!
This anthology, published by Renaissance Press, is currently on Kickstarter! I’ve been following along with this project since they asked for author submissions in fall 2018, and the authors they accepted are incredible (and I’m sure it was incredibly difficult to narrow it down). I am really looking forward to this anthology.
The Kickstarter is off to a great start, already at over 25% after only two days live.
And there was a delay of a few hours in it going live, because the title of one of the stories is “CharityTM“, and Kickstarter bans any charity work on their platform. Once the issue was straightened out, however, they quickly got to 10% of their goal.
You may recognize the name of the publisher. That’s because they publish Blush! They also publish a diverse variety of books, including several by the author of the other half of this blog; Éric Desmarais.
Here is the summary of the new anthology Nothing Without Us, direct from the Kickstarter itself:
For the most part, people who are disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness are faced with stories about us that are crafted by people who really don’t get us.
Nothing Without Us combines both realistic and speculative fiction and stars protagonists who are written by us and for us. These are bold tales, told in our voices, which are important for everyone to experience.
Why we’re doing this
According to Statistics Canada’s 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, more than one in five people is currently living with a disability. If one were to go by how many disabled people we see in fiction or on the screen, however, it would be reasonable to assume disabled people are as rare and misunderstood as unicorns. Even worse, when we are represented, we are lonely, unhappy, searching for a cure, and we often die tragically to inspire the protagonist of the story (who is never disabled themself) or find a magical cure (and inspire the protagonist.) It’s very clear most of these stories are being written by people who do not have those lived experiences; an unsurprising fact, considering that people who are disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness are chronically both underpaid and underemployed.
Spoonies to the rescue
After publishing her first novel, Cait Gordon was invited to speak on several panels, most of which were about disability visibility in fiction. She rapidly found that panel after panel, members of the public would ask her to recommend books where protagonists were disabled, as opposed to them only being side characters, and she found that she could barely name any title. So, with the help of her BFF, activist Talia Johnson, she decided to assemble this anthology to showcase not only what disabled characters, but also what disabled authors, are capable of.
Renaissance Press is a small, independently owned Canadian publisher dedicated to uplifting the voices of marginalized people. When Cait approached us with this anthology project, we recognized it as exactly the kind of project we love to champion: own-voices fiction written by a majority of marginalized people whose stories also show the intersectionality of marginalized communities. We’re very proud and excited to be able to present Nothing Without Us to you.
As you may be aware, we are expecting a baby in July. Our blog doesn’t get a parental leave, but we would love a break from it for a couple months.
This means we need guest posts!
Fandom travel: have you visited a place that was featured in a movie or book? PEI, Petra, New Zealand, etc are all examples.
Blush: these posts can definitely be anonymous! Do you have something that you’d like to contribute? We already have a post about Doulas that has been promised (so excited about that!), but the options are WIDE open!
Travelling TARDIS: I can easily set these up in advance, but if you’re going somewhere exciting, even if it’s just an event in Ottawa, you can ask to borrow the TARDIS to take pictures.
I can’t speak for Éric’s posting days of Tuesday and Thursday, but those are full of variety. If you have an idea for a post, give us a shout.