27 Jun 2012

Fifty Shades of NSFW

...and now for something completely different...

So, recently, my facebook feed has been SWAMPED by a DELUGE of women expressing how turned on they are by BDSM porn.
I'm not even joking.

Here's a little exercise in literature for you. Compare and contrast these two excerpts of fiction for me...

1) "’You’re very beautiful. I can’t wait to be inside you.’ Holy shit. His words. He’s so seductive. He takes my breath away.”
’I’m going to fuck you now, ’ he murmurs as he positions the head of his erection at the entrance of my sex.”
“’Don’t hesitate,’ he admonishes me softly, an undercurrent in his voice"

2) "Laying her down on the shag carpet, her wrists still bound behind her, he put an ankle on each shoulder and began to pump into her, hard and fast and carnally intent. She gasped and then cried out as he split her open, this position allowing him to delve incredibly deeply into her body... with her hands restrained she was powerless to stop him, unable to touch him, a receptacle for his pleasure... as he was the creator of hers."

One of these excerpts (the second one) is cadged off Literotica, home of free porn lit for over a decade. It's the second top rated BDSM story, if you want to read more.
The other is from the fastest selling paperback novel ever.

Now, the one from Fifty Shades of Grey is the one that's written like Mills+Boon with swearing. ENTRANCE OF MY SEX? *vomit*
E.L James started as a fanfic writer, taking her cue from Mr Grey in Twilight. I once saw Twilight described as 'a 400 page waste of paper, bound in black with an apple on the front'. Having read the dark monstrosity, I cannot help but agree. It's four books about an incredibly emo teenager falling in love with a vaguely malevolent 100 year old vampire. Their obvious and dull love is weakly threatened by some badass Italian vampires, and her (male) friend's a werewolf, BUT GOD,THEY'RE JUST FRIENDS, EDWARD! STOP SNARLING! Nothing really happens. Oh, until she gets pregnant (after marriage, natch, and lovely romantic, VICIOUS sex) and then gives birth to a baby who BITES IT'S WAY OUT. That's teen parenthood for you. Hence, emo becomes vampire, and decides that's what she should have been ALL ALONG. The best bit in all this is probably the werewolf falling in love with the baby...
It's allegorical for every emo teenage love story, but with slightly more traumatic birth scenes.

So it's a badfic of a bad story, in short. I have heard people tell how MAGICAL the love story between Mr Grey and his loveslave is, but I know and they know that they are essentially reading it for the porn.

This outpouring of lusty facebook statuses is essentially people declaring how incredibly horny they are. This is not normal behaviour. I would never write a status along the lines of "Just watched Emmanuelle In Space, time to get flicking! LOL!".* Yet, this book seems to have released a generation of women from their masturbatory guilt. That in itself is no bad thing, but why publicise it?

And the internet is full of porn. There is no need to buy it.

*Emmanuelle In Space is amazing, if only as a genre piece

22 Jun 2012


Motivation! You're back! Thank God!

I cannot lie, my motivation has been flagging like a bitch of late.
I've just been pottytraining my eldest, my baby's turned into a mobile, happy MONSTER and I can't seem to leave the two of them for five minutes to get on. They're either engaged in A WAR (aged 3y and 14m, there's no hope of a peaceful life) or the elder is crapping on the floor, or the younger is halfway up the stairs. What I really need is four LONG arms, six hands and eight pairs of eyes. Mutant mothers are the future.

So, I finished block 3 and wrote a TMA following the guidelines exactly. I did this because I didn't particularly enjoy the content (institutionalised racism, something that disgusts me to my core) and my personal reaction to the question was BURN ALL RACISTS. This was unlikely to get me decent marks. I also had to stay away from the facebook group for my course, where people suggested diversity was a Bad Thing, in case I actually ragegasmed all over the group page. It was, to say the least, an emotive topic.
When I worked at a GP surgery, I came across indirect racism on a daily basis: "Is the doctor...ENGLISH?", patients would hiss across the reception desk. "I don't want to see that black one again". And also, direct racism, usually bellowed at the door of the offending clinician. Racist patients generally assumed that we reception staff (entirely white british) would wholeheartedly agree with them, and were always surprised when we pulled them up on it or reported it for further investigation. I never experienced any racism from staff to patients, but the patient population was 99% white, against a doctor population that was 10% white. The majority ethnicity ruled the day. It sickened me then, it sickens me now.

ANYWAY, back to the point, I wrote the TMA with as little personal inflection as I could, toning down the journalistic urge to use emotive language. I also wrote it firmly against the guidelines and I got...

(or a B, or a 2:1)
70%, basically

Previously, I've had 60% and 61%, neither of which I was remotely pleased with.

This has cheered me up beyond measure, and I have powered on with some of TMA04 today. The rest has to wait for the project (o'doom) which starts tomorrow, on evaluating information on the internet. I also have to finish a bit of block 4. Next month, I've got two TMAs due within a couple of weeks, because of the way the project has fallen, so I shall be a busy bee. Doubtless outside will be all sunshine and roses and I will be in my dining room, sweating and swearing at my laptop and brain. Or it'll piss down with rain.

14 Jun 2012

My Black Dog

I'm going away next week, just for a few days. On my return, I have a project to do. The project I feared when I first recieved my study planner is upon us! I cannot believe I'm halfway through this module already. The project is on analysing the usefulness of self help websites. We pick our own topic, find our own websites and then rate them (and each others) before writing a report on the general quality of information, and a TMA on the report. This is all done over 3 weeks. We work in small groups, and currently, I'm co-ordinating my group, which sounded terrifying to start with, but actually, I LIKE THE POWAH!

Anyway, it makes sense to pick a subject close to one's heart and (if the rest of the group don't pick it) I'm going to do postnatal depression.

Twenty five months elapsed between the births of my two children. I was cripplingly depressed for thirteen of those months.

It started about three days after my eldest was born. I got the baby blues. EVERYONE gets the baby blues. It's caused by an oestrogen crash, and a sudden massive rise in progesterone with the DAWN OF THE LACTATION. Some women get it on day 2, some not til day 14, but everyone has a bit of a wibble at some point in the first 10-ish days where they want to put the baby back where it came from and carry on as before. If you can remember what before was. Which you probably can't, because pregnancy erases the memory of all that has gone before. Either way, you have this baby blues crash where you mourn all that has gone before, and then you feel fine and start to pick up physically and mentally.
Except, I just didn't.

I remained steadfastly in denial, but various events transpired to make me worse. Like the impetigo he got on his mouth at 5 weeks old, and the herniae that even the GP missed at the 6 week check, and the continuous reflexive vomiting from the umbilical hernia that made him continually wet or feeding. My husband was rarely there, because he had a lot of work and was very much of the "BUT THIS IS YOUR JOB NOW" mindset. Due to the vomiting, my boy ate continuously. He fed 3 hourly until he was almost two from habit, but as a newborn, ate every 90 minutes, vomited and then started again. He wouldn't sleep, so at 10 weeks, I started co-sleeping, but then felt even worse because everyone said CO-SLEEPING BABIES DIE (this is a fallacy, as I later found out).
I would sit in bed, alone with him, in the evening, and I would want to jump out of the window and run. And that feeling didn't go away. I didn't wish him harm, but I didn't love him or want him. I felt like I was looking after someone else's child and that they would come back and take him and I could go back to normal (whatever the hell that was). I went back to work on odd days when he was a few months old just to have an excuse to get away from him.
My health visitor spotted all was not well, when I finally divulged that my support was nonexistant most of the time and I was very depressed. I then had one to one sessions with my HV for a few weeks and everything started to get better. My relationship with my husband improved immeasurably, and I fell in love with my little boy.

When he was six months, I was ill and it was thought I might have multiple myeloma because I had strange red cell formation. While we waited for my protein banding test to come back, we were on holiday. It was our second wedding anniversary. For the first time, I had to face the prospect that I might not be able to watch my son grow up. I got the all clear after five ENDLESSLY LONG days. I never looked back.

I had a year of feeling well mentally, and then my husband buggered off with another woman when I was pregnant with our second child. That was a kick in the tits. I went suicidal, then I went rageous, then back to suicidal. I sat at suicidal-without-ideation for months. Then it developed into suicidal WITH ideation, so I got some help and even though I felt much the same about the baby (i.e. nothing), I managed to get on with my life as best I could. I thought I would have him and hate him and want him gone. I thought he would be born looking exactly like his father. I thought he would remind me of everything and tear me in two. Then he stopped growing and I started feeling guilty, because I knew I wasn't looking after myself. I was barely eating, sleeping fairly badly and just not bothering much with my health. I was plagued by UTIs and dental infections, which I couldn't much be arsed to sort out. I went for a scan at 38 weeks and I saw my baby's face and he looked like his brother and then EGAD did I feel guilty. I was still terrified of having him, scared of the reality of having two kids on my own, but I started to want him. He wasn't born until 42 weeks, giving me a whole month from that scan to get used to the idea of having him. When he was born, it became apparent that he was a miracle, his cord should have killed him weeks before. He was meant to be.

So there's a wholly too candid glimpse of the reality of ante and postnatal depression. I didn't suffer postnatal depression after Jack was born, possibly because I had far more support (chiefly from my mum who stayed with me, or I with her until he was 2 weeks old), possibly because I had such a massive jolt when he was born and healthy, possibly because I immediately moved house. I had a few bad days, but I've not suffered depression in the (almost) 14 months since he was born. Huzzah!

But this is a disease which is difficult for family to understand - "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T LOVE THIS BABY? HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS BABY? YOU WANTED THIS BABY? LOOK AT HIS FACE!" - and even worse to live with. You know, as a mother, that you are not supposed to feel this way, you are supposed to love this child unconditionally, yet with all the physical, emotional and mental changes of having a child (postnatal depression being most common with the first healthy baby), how are you supposed to adjust without support? Women should be taught antenatally that there is no shame in having postnatal depression. I know so many mothers who struggled through (myself included, obviously) because the SHAME of admitting it to a professional was too great to bear. You have a fear that your child will be taken away from you, partly because you feel they should be anyway, partly because of the great crossover in people's minds between postnatal depression and puerperal psychosis (when the hormonal shift is so great that the mother becomes a danger to herself and the child). It is isolating. It is scary. It is treatable, it is common and it shouldn't be the taboo that it remains.

10 Jun 2012

Thoughts on hospital design

The worst stay in hospital I've ever had (and I've had eight, two of which were taking care of my poorly eldest) was immediately after the birth of my first child. I was an inpatient for just 16 hours, on the ward for 12 of those hours, and I loathed it.
The hospital was an old one, built in the 70s and never massively updated. The obstetric area was split into antenatal assessment, central delivery suite and antenatal longstay/postnatal. I had care on all three of these areas across my two pregnancies.
The antenatal assessment unit was shared with the abortion clinic and women's gynae/urodynamic department. I went there once for a scan with my eldest and twice for assessment with my youngest. He wasn't growing properly. They failed to identify a cause, and he was born with two true knots in his cord. This should have been seen on scan. He nearly died when he was being born. Thankfully he didn't, and I'm glad I was able to have him at home instead of by caesarean at 38 weeks.

Central Delivery Suite was amazing. I had multiple observations done there, and I delivered my eldest there, 90ish minutes after arriving. They kept me waiting 20 minutes when I got there, and I needed to push. Not the snappiest service, but once I was pushing, all was fine. They also stitched me up after the birth of my youngest. Ambulance transfer after you've managed to have a (miraculous) safe homebirth is a bit gutting, but they got me a comfortable bed to lie on and left me to it, discharging me after 6 hours.

However, the antenatal longstay/postnatal ward was dreadful. In modern hospitals, the two are kept broadly separate. If you're pregnant and in hospital for more than a day, there's probably something amiss and you don't want to be hearing newborns cry all day.
I was put in a four bed bay with two other women and newborns. One had been there a week while her baby was in SCBU and went home fairly early. The other was a spanish lady who was on her third baby and quite indignant about not being immediately discharged. I had asked for 6 hour discharge, but had torn quite badly after having a large baby. They wanted me to stay in overnight (he was born just after 4am) and I was vehemently against this. I went on the ward at 9am, and saw a midwife at 11am and 2pm. Then a paediatrician came and did newborn obs and declared that since my baby had been fast asleep for 5 hours and thus not fed (despite feeding 3 times in the first 5 hours), there was something wrong with him and we'd have to stay in.
We tried to wake him up to feed him, but he was having none of it. He'd had a fast, wet delivery and was snotty, sicky and tired.
No midwives came to see us. A snotty auxillary told us that we wouldn't be allowed home til feeding established. The window was wide open and it was freezing (he was born in March). I kept closing the curtains to try and sleep - they kept opening them. I had a fluorescent light over my head that I couldn't switch off. I couldn't sleep, and hadn't slept for over 36 hours by then (and had delivered a baby!). The food was dreadful - dried out pizza and chips, with no ketchup, and a tiny pot of jelly. Had I known I was allowed to bring my own food in, I would have sent my husband out for a McDonalds, but nobody told me that.
Eventually, they rang the 8pm gong to tell all the fathers to bugger off and I burst into tears. My husband went and found a midwife and bellowed at her. She was head of delivery, and tried to persuade me to stay in overnight, so I said I would self discharge. Finally, a midwife came round and checked me over (for the first time in over 6 hours) and said that it was totally normal for newborns to sleep after birth, and the paediatrician was wrong. We got home at 10pm and lo! The baby woke up and fed every half hour for the whole night.
Newborns are not easy, but if I'd been allowed home, or to stay on CDS, I would've slept and I would have coped and maybe I wouldn't have had postnatal depression.

The postnatal stay was the reason I had a planned homebirth second time round, and when I had to go into hospital afterwards, I asked to remain on CDS.

My best hospital stay wasn't for me, I was in with my eldest, who was having a tonsillectomy. He had them out in a brand new hospital, with a very well designed children's ward. He was in a four bed bay, designed in a cross shape, rather than 2 facing 2. There was loads of room and toys for him to play with and the whole bay was closed off with a nursing bay and locked door. When he went to theatre, he walked down, rather than go on a huge scary bed. He sat on my knee while they cannulated him and sat and watched when they anaesthetised him. It was nothing like the various general anaesthetics I had as a child, where I was gassed twice because I was hysterical and terrified. I was older than him, and more aware, but being stuck on a huge bed while men fiddle about round your hands and arms and everyone's dressed in scrubs is SCARY. However, he took it like a pro.

My current OU unit is on hospital design, and deisgn really makes a difference. Being treated (or ignored) in an overbright, cold, friendless room when you're feeling weak, battered and emotional is horrible. It's not really treatment at all - any medicinal benefit I was supposed to get from the 'rest' was lost.  I don't class uncomplicated childbirth as something to be overmedicalised: the key to a fast recovery is good food, supportive company, and good quality rest (even if it's in small doses). I got none of these the first time.