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This is going to be…scattered. I’ve been putting off posting because I didn’t feel any of these entries were worthy of a post to themselves, but I think altogether they’ll be overwhelming. Oh well. I do want to record this, and the longer I procrastinate because I don’t have a perfectly-sized entry, the worse the problem will get.
I counted down how many weeks I have left at work today, and the absolute, medical-world-won’t-let-me-wait-any-longer-even-if-the-baby-will, upper limit is seven. Things have been accelerating. We took our hospital class.* My shower is this weekend.** My next midwife appointment in two weeks we go over the birth plan. The week after that the kid is officially considered full term.
While I’ve finally fully internalized the reality of being pregnant, I’m having trouble groking the concept that in under two months I will be done with this, and will have, in fact, produced a Real Person from (as my brother in law says) Inside of ME. Instead, I feel that that I will continue being pregnant rather indefinitely longer, and while a baby will definitely come about at some point, that point is still somewhere in the distant and foggy future – certainly not in seven weeks.
Some of this might be that all this prep is scheduled on the possibility that the kid comes at 37 weeks, maybe earlier. OTOH, M & I were both decidedly late. Him, ridiculously late. While I understand the reality that sometimes babies are early, if I deliver earlier than 41.5 weeks with my induction already scheduled, I will hardly believe the child is mine.
It helps, too, that I’m still relatively asymptomatic. Apart from not being able to reach my work badge with my opposite hand, and general non-bendy-ness, I feel fine. Sleeping has actually gotten easier recently. My midwife talked at my most recent appointment*** about how she would try to talk me out of an induction if I was 39 weeks and miserable. And (pride of the naive) I have a hard time picturing that from here. Everything has gone SO smoothly, it’s hard for me to imagine being miserable enough to want to risk**** that.
Similarly, my doula asked whether there was anything I wanted to be reminded of if I asked for drugs. I guess there’s a truism that every woman eventually asks for drugs, but (again, from my high horse of inexperience) I question whether I would. I don’t mean that I think I’m particularly iron-willed. I can EASILY see myself saying things like ‘I can’t do this’ ‘this isn’t working’ ‘just make it stop’ (or, like nessa, ‘NOTHING makes it feel better, you FUCK HEAD’) but, I’m not sure that ‘I would like narcotics’ would come to mind. There’s such a build up of not having people offer you drugs as well. Honestly, I feel that my reasons for not wanting interventions are solid and immediate and concrete enough that I would still be able to make a reasoned decision about them while in pain. I don’t think any of my caregivers are pill-pushers, and if one of them, in all their experiences, does think that some sort of drug would be helpful to me, I’d like to have that information.
This, I take it, is unusual.
*Not entirely worth it for people like me who did a lot of reading beforehand. Often the instructor would make a point, and I would think ‘yup, know that, also, you left out this or that nuance’. The instructor herself was really awesome though, and probably the easiest to talk to of anyone I’ve worked with in this pregnancy. That is saying a lot, too, as I’ve been super pleased with both my midwives and my doula. There was one other girl from my midwife practice in the class (strangely, they are also remodeling their house) and the two of us were the most involved participants with questions and the like. It’s scary to think that people are going into childbirth not even knowing the very basic information covered by that class. The tour and discussion of hospital policy were useful though, and it was good to have a day with M pulled away from other obligations to talk about babies. We had some useful conversations sparked by just thinking about that stuff in close proximity to each other for an extended period.
**though M’s grandmother made a comment to me recently that ‘we have to have a party for you after the baby – once we know how big it is and what you need’ Ummm…how about no? How about that’s what showers are for: so you own some things before you bring the kid home and don’t have to attend a party with an infant? I like M’s family, and they mean well, but they don’t seem to be in-sync with the sorts of etiquette that seem specifically designed to avoid awkwardness like this, i.e. RSVPs, or giving gifts before the baby comes instead of after. I imagine M’s & my parents and siblings will be quite enough socialization for me in the post-partum range without inviting the rest of the thanksgiving guest list.
***where I brought the cup into the bathroom and forgot to pee in it. Brilliant. That’s me.
****risk, in the sense of a higher chance of unpleasant interventions, like ivs and monitoring and caesarians with their associated unpleasant recovery.
I realized I’d posted about the possibility of finding things in the eaves, but never actually listed what we found there after we opened them up.
Well, here goes (the highlights)
- A victrola horn.
- A pair of black leather mens shoes
- A magenta/rose colored plastic umbrella
- Wire springs from a twin size mattress
- A mission style twin sized bed, the slats have come loose and the siderails are cracked, but it looks reparable. We plan on using it
- the back and a few spindles from a broken pressback chair
- A heavily rusted kerosine stove (a full size kitchen stove, not a portable camping stove. To precise, a New Perfection #33 stove), missing the burners
- Some miscellaneous empty bottles and cans, mostly broken.
- Random scrap wood
- A book titled ‘the complete guide to universal knowledge’
- Beginner violin music
- A school grammar work book (do you know the proper usage of ‘will’ versus ‘shall’?)
- Some advertisements and scrap papers which look like they were used by a young boy for passing notes in class
- A sunday school pamphlet
- A bayonet from a rifle probably used in the time around the mexican-american war.
- An empty tin of ‘Chi-chesters diamond brand pills’
The bayonet is M’s favorite, and probably the most valuable, though still only worth $200 or so.
The last is my favorite (though the bed and the complete guide to universal knowledge are close seconds) The tin is complete with an extensive instruction booklet which at no point mentions what the pills are supposed to do, only how wonderful they are, and how to use them. Some internet spelunking revealed that they are, in fact, abortion pills, which were not legal to sell, and thus they do not mention their intended use. Actually, they were sugar pills. The name has recently been changed from ‘chi-chesters pennyroyal pills’. Because, while pennyroyal is at least somewhat effective for the intended purpose (at least insofar as they were poisonous, and if someone gets the precisely right amount of almost dead, they will sometimes miscarry without completely dying themselves). However, the recently instituted FDA (or it’s predecessor) had forced the name to be changed since the pills didn’t actually contain any pennyroyal. Fascinating. And a really neat looking little tin to boot.
The most inexplicable item is the stove. It was Up Stairs. It was completely inaccessible behind a wall. I guess they were just using the space as an alternative to paying to take the thing to the dump, but I can’t get the scene out of my head:
woman: “honey, could you haul the old stove upstairs? I think behind the wall in the bedroom is the perfect place for it”
We didn’t keep the stove. I felt a bit bad about it, as it was an interesting item, but it was in very bad condition, and too large too keep around indefinitely while looking for someone with a use for it. We do have most of the rest, depending on how damaged it was. I really want to find a good use for the Victrola horn.
So there we go. Our mini-haul from the upstairs.
Remember when I used to post about working on our old house?
We actually did start on this again sometime around August, when we realized that we had a finite date at which point we would need those additional bedrooms to be operational.* M has been great about it, spending a ton of time working for the past six months. I…have been less involved. Initially, when I was still small and mobile, the work was mostly demolition, and not knowing what, precisely, was in the walls we were tearing out we decided to play things safe and not expose me to them. What wasn’t demolition was heavy lifting of drywall and OSB that I have never been particularly useful for. Now that we are on to less strenuous and toxic part of the process (i.e. mudding an entire story’s worth of drywall) it’s much more difficult for me to do simple things like, ah, pick anything up off the floor. Plus, energy-wise I’ve been pretty much tapped having sole responsibility for cooking, laundry and basic maintenance. Also? I have no work clothes that fit. I did pitch in a bit in the middle pulling electric wire and installing windows, which made me way more proud than it should. The hardest part of the windows was grabbing tools and shims off the floor.
Anyway, what we’ve accomplished:
- Tore out plaster walls deemed unrepairable
- Tore out additional walls to extend rooms under the roof slope and add floorspace to the smallest room
- Patched flooring where it was previously exposed joists in the eaves
- Installed a pull-down attic access door more than a foot and a half square
- Installed doorframes and OSB sub flooring in new closets in the eaves
- Reframed the walls where the existing framing was incompatible with hanging drywall.
- Run electric to appropriate number of boxes in all the rooms
- Hung new drywall on ceiling, in new closets, and on demo’d walls
- Replaced all 7 upstairs windows (more on this later)
- Removed strange hump of cracked boards in one room and patched with OSB in preparation for new flooring
- Laid new shims/joists to level the floor in another bedroom (I need to take a picture of this, both because it clearly illustrates how crazy-uneven that floor was, and because it’s hard to describe)
- Patched and repaired the repairable plaster walls
- two coats of drywall mud on every single wall up there
What we have to do yet:
- Have floors refinished, or replaced where applicable.
- final coat of mud
- install light fixtures and outlets in the electric boxes
- replace balustrade along top of stairs
- trim on everything
- flooring and clothes rods in the closets (probably prefinished wood, or vinyl or something inexpensive)
For the first time, I feel like this is doable. Particularly since everything after ‘paint’ isn’t strictly necessary for habitation and thus can be done post-baby. Even a lot of the painting could be done post-baby.
The floor guy is supposed to be starting as I type, which is a huge relief. Polyurethane fumes are a a big no-no for the gestating set, so I’ll be staying at my parents’ house when he gets to that stage. One of my worst-case scenarios was going into labor while not able to access my own house, and that seems like it will be highly unlikely at this point.
Anyway. Windows. Windows are probably the most interesting part of all this. We ended up replacing everything with vinyl. I feel somewhat bad about this, but the upstairs windows were in terrible, terrible condition, and were never as nice a quality as the downstairs ones to begin with. So they had to be replaced, and it was just not in the budget to buy seven high quality windows at this point. Tearing them out revealed some of the most interesting framing (or lack thereof) we’ve found in the house so far. It’s lucky M has experience installing windows, as he had to completely rebuild the frames for almost all of them. Once that was done, I was amazed at how easy installing the actual window was. I don’t know what I thought would be complicated, but you just set them in the frame, push them until they are flush with the wall, shim the corners if there are gaps or they aren’t quite square, and put in four measly screws. You do need someone on the outside so you don’t push it all the way out the hole, but it’s really easy work. All the bother is in the framing and trimming. As I said, hardest part was picking up the tape measure and shims from the floor.
Another interesting bit to the windows I found today when looking at the trash bin of old trim/framing bits. This is the stuff that was either on the exterior and painted, or entirely inside the wall. It was almost all walnut. WTH? I guess this somewhat explains the door, because apparently they were just using walnut for anything that was wider than 6″ or so. The upstairs is new enough that I don’t think it was that they were literally milling trees from the property anymore. It also seems unlikely that they would have kept the original lumber from building the house that long. Really, I’m stumped. Why would they use it for framing upstairs and not for the rest of the downstairs trim where it clearly matched?
Anyway, we saved it. I don’t know what for, but it is gorgeous and irreplaceable, so we kept it. Honestly, I’m such a wood junky that I’ve had a very hard time throwing away the dimensional oak 2x4s they used for framing, but we have limited storage space for scrap lumber that doesn’t have a purpose. I couldn’t bear to part with the walnut though.
Strangely, M can’t tell the difference. I don’t know if this is a ‘women see color better than men’ issue or what, because he’s clearly been in more contact with the wood upstairs than I have, but he was convinced it was all oak. Well, no, it’s purpley instead of orangey, and the grain is different. How? I don’t know, it looks different. Indescribable, but pretty clear to me even on the fairly degraded pieces. Maybe it’s just that he’s grown numb to looking at wood after all the work he’s been doing.
*The Original plan was to finish said bedrooms before starting to make people for them, but a hard deadling proved much more motivational.
There’s been a lot of coverage recently about the new USDA Hardiness Map. According to the map, I now live in zone 6, while I was previously classed as zone 5.
In some ways, this is really great news for what I can grown here. In other ways, it’s no big honkin deal.
A lot of the sites I’m reading a really overstating the significance of this. The map is based on retrospective data. It might be saying that your land is warmer now than it was 20 years ago when the map was last released. It’s also possible that it’s saying it’s been the same temperature all along, but they did a bad job collecting data 20 years ago, and got the numbers a little wrong for you. What it is absolutely not saying that it is warmer now than it was last year, because last year is when they were collecting the darn data.
So, for instance, if your rosemary died and your peaches didn’t set last year, they won’t do better this year, just because now a chart has a different number on it. (well, they probably will do better THIS year, because we’ve had crazy weather, but not long term)
If, however, you tried to push something that was on the borderline in the past, and have been getting lucky so far, there’s a good chance your luck will hold. a.k.a: maybe you didn’t do as good of a job finding a microclimate as you thought – it’s just warmer than you realized everywhere.
Some people are saying that this data even has repercussions for first and last frost dates. Which is tangentially maybe a little bit true, in that if the climate did change, it is likely both the minimum winter temperature and the dates at which it starts getting cold changed. However, the zone map only measures one of these things, and trying to interpolate the other off of it is just a bad idea. Zone is a terrible way to estimate first and last frost dates.
An awesome way to estimate first and last frost dates is http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/freezefrost/freezefrost.pdf It has data on first and last observed frost dates for specific towns over a 30 year interval, with great stuff like which date has a 95%, 50% and 5% probability or reaching a certain temperature by. Mmmmm, delicious data. There are a lot of towns used for measuring points, so you are very likely to find somewhere quite close to you to get dates from. It is data from the 80s, but I still think it’s a more reliable source than what zone you are, particularly since with something like a frost date you can watch the weather when you get within a few days and judge for yourself whether it’s currently snowing. These dates were never a contract, and will vary more year to year than they have changed on average over a few decades.
Pluuuus, at least in my part of central ohio, I think winter survival has more to do with wetness from the poorly drained clay and damage from freeze thaw cycles without good snow cover than it does with absolute low temperatures.
Not that I’m not excited to officially be classified as zone 6, (for one thing, it gives me extra hope for my Magnolia Sieboldii). I just have to keep reminding myself that this doesn’t mean that the temperature fairy has made any changes to my actual garden (recently, at least). I resolve to be more adventurous in choosing trees and shrubs rated for warmer climates than I was before, but I also resolve to not expect anything already in my garden to start behaving any differently.