Tag Archives: me

“What’s sex like when you’re pregnant?”
“I wouldn’t know. I feel like at this point I’d have an aneurism if I had sex.”
“That might be a good thing.”
“What, like clearing a blockage or something? You might be right. There’s certainly a lot of pressure in a lot of my body right now.”
“Some of it should stay though, right?”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want a sneeze to induce labor.”

Generation Catalano: The generation stuck between Gen X and the Millennials. – Slate Magazine

Generation Catalano: The generation stuck between Gen X and the Millennials. – Slate Magazine

That’s me and my son and a new friend.

See also here and here.


Heyyy! We checked out the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum last Sunday, what an amazing place.  They’ve got some rad displays and lots of interesting historical documents, plus everyone was incredibly friendly & welcoming. There was even a toy-drawer and cookies, both of which Des loved.  I learned a lot I hadn’t known about wampum (their current exhibit). Here’s the website if you are interested, I hope to get back there! 


Vanessa Query is here

Vanessa Query is here

I don’t usually post really personal stuff on here. I have other places to do that. But I thought I’d show you—long-time followers and new—a pretty standard image of your comrade behind this blog: the ocean, the toddler, the gesticulating, the feet, The Monkees.

Primally Rhode Island

Primally Rhode Island

Desmond (aka Dez, Dezzy, Desmo) is 11 months old today.

Current favorites include climbing the staircase, eating fruit, and being up-side-down (or, being right-side-up when you’re up-side-down).

National Hug Day is rapidly coming upon us. In commemoration of the 2-year anniversary of the study it inspired–“Awkward Hugs: An Investigative Report”–we have something special in store. In the meantime, watch the report here. If you haven’t already seen it, you will be blown away by its truth; if you have, an additional viewing will reinforce its lessons.

Made it to Occupy Providence at Burnside Park tonight. I hadn’t been downtown since it started 11 days ago, and coming up to it in person was much different than just seeing photos and the occasional video online. I felt a surge of inspiration, seeing the small city park full of the tents and gear of earnest, no-bullshit Occupiers. This was significant, as I am generally pretty cynical about conventional forms of activism, for various reasons I won’t get into right now.

It was a quiet, mellow, gray-autumn afternoon, small groups of folks hanging out, talking, skateboarding, playing with dogs, a few showboaters but nothing too obnoxious or intimidating. My baby was his usual charming self, and a few people said he made their day. So that was our contribution, boosting a bit of morale. 🙂

One issue. Within a half an hour of my getting there, a fight broke out, right by the fountain. It started verbally among a group of a dozen or more, then quickly escalated into a physical fight between two women in the middle of the group (I think just two, it was hard to see through the people). The fight was broken up pretty quickly, but yelling and threats–and melodramatic shit-talking–continued for some time.

It is possible that the fight was not among Occupiers, but just people who happened to be hanging out at the (public) park. However, it seemed to be among a group that gathered during one of the Occupy announcements… This is currently being addressed on Facebook, I will edit this post if I get a satisfactory answer. [Update: No satisfactory answer.]

If it was among Occupiers, which it looked like to me–it was pretty damn disheartening to see, considering the important focus on nonviolence of the movement. I realize that nobody’s perfect, and that “these things happen,” but it brings up one of the aforementioned reasons for my cynical attitude toward activism: If we can’t get our own shit together, how can we possibly expect to make the world a better place?

PS. My friend Jake wrote a good piece, accolades and criticisms, on the Occupy movement, on the Black Mesa Indigenous Support Facebook group. I travelled to Black Mesa and volunteered on Thanksgiving week, 2008 on the Navajo reservation with Jake, who has been going there for years, and for much longer stretches, so I can tell you he knows his shit.

A letter to Spirit Of The West

Dear Spirit Of The West:

I meant to write this letter last year, when I was pregnant. Since I am writing it now, it will be a slightly different letter, what with the birth of my first child in February and all. My original letter was going to say, “Hi. I’m an American fan, and I’m pregnant, and I was wondering if you were planning on doing a live show somewhere near the eastern border of our countries, preferably near New England, like in southern Quebec or southeastern Ontario, so that I can see you perform live before I give birth to my first child, which would make such a possibility invariably more challenging.” I never got a chance to write that letter.

So: Hi. I’m an American fan, and I haven’t gotten to see you perform live, which is very sad indeed, but maybe one day when my son is old enough or I can con someone into watching him for long enough, we/I will come and see you, preferably when you do a show relatively close to New England, because it’s probably too much to ask you to do a show in New England.

In the meantime, I am raising my son to be a fan as well, because I think it’s important to expose people to exceptional music, particularly in areas where said exceptional music is mostly unknown, e.g. around me, which is a damn shame.

Honestly I don’t think it will be much of a feat, making him a fan. He’s already showing a preference for folk music and you are among his favorites. He hears it in the house, he hears me loudly singing along with it in the car, which is the only place I will do that. I play it to keep him company when I have to leave him alone to do things like brush my teeth.

And when he’s old enough to ask me, “What’s this music?” I will answer in much the way I do when grown-ups ask me this question. I will say, “Oh, they’re this amazing folk-rock band from Canada, they’ve been together for a long time and have all sorts of different styles going on, here let me play you a few of my favorites,” and I will play “Drinking Man” and “D For Democracy” and “Bone Of Contention” and encourage them to buy your CDs though they’re hard to find and usually kind of expensive when you can find them because they’re imports, because sadly we live in a pretty culturally insular place.

And then my son (whose name is Desmond, by the way) will say, “This music is familiar and comforting, probably because I heard it a whole lot in the womb and as a baby, but even if it wasn’t I’d love it, but because it is I love it even more, because it’s great, and that guy’s voice is awesome, and that flute!, and all the rest, too. And Mama, you shouldn’t feel ashamed to sing along loudly, even if you can’t carry a tune, because it’s so lovely when you sing, not the quality of the singing of course, but because it’s clear that you too love this music, and are really in touch with the emotional quality of it, and really identify with the emotional quality of it. And when you listen to it, when you sway to it, when you sing along, it’s clear that it brings you to your happy place, though that may seem a bit of a misnomer to people who don’t know that when I say that, I mean a place more akin to your connective place, your human place, the place where your faith in life and the world and humanity is renewed, where you love unconditionally. Sometimes that place makes you happy and sometimes it makes you melancholic and sometimes it makes you righteously angry and sometimes it just calms you down, but whatever it is, it’s always a really worthwhile emotional state. So sing! Belt it out! Show your love for this music not just in spoken words but through the honest rhythmic qualities of your tuneless singing voice.”

And one day, I may listen to him. I probably wouldn’t be able to help it, if I were to ever see you perform live.

My birth story

For a while after the birth of my first son, I had what I imagine were shell-shock-like flashbacks. I thought I’d never want to remember the experience, that I would always want to chase away the memories. The intensity of the memories has subsided somewhat, though, and I figured I should write it out before I forget it any further.

A warning: I don’t get all that graphic in this, but it is nevertheless a topic that does not get discussed frequently in our culture and therefore may make you uncomfortable. My posting this does not make me responsible for any negative response you may have to it; read at your own risk.

When I left my house midday on Thursday, February 17 to go to the clinic, the bay was at such low tide I could smell it.

At the clinic, it was confirmed that I had in fact been leaking amniotic fluid for a few days, and had already lost a dangerous amount. Mary, my midwife said, “Ok, we need to get this kid out of you, now,” to which I replied, “But I’m not ready, he’s not due for another ten days and I was expecting him later anyway, and anyway the shower’s on Sunday.” She said, “Tough shit” (well not really), and called the hospital and told them to expect me in a couple of hours.

I was in the hospital for several hours before it was finally decided that yes, Pitocin was necessary. Turns out I’d been contracting on my own, possibly for days without really knowing it (“Did you feel that, about five minutes ago?” “No.” “Do you feel that now?” “Oh, what, that tingling in my back? Yeah.”). But it wasn’t happening quickly enough, what with the water-bag rupture and all. I’d told them I wasn’t crazy about the Pitocin idea and was told again “Tough shit” (well not really), that it was the only safe option at this point. They’d start me out with a low dose. I said fine; whatever.

Bianca was there and we hung out and chatted and laughed and ate until the contractions gradually made me bad company. Then we still hung out but laughed considerably less, and our conversation kept getting annoyingly interrupted by increasingly intense and frequent contractions. By the time the hardcore back labor set in, she and a nurse from the clinic, Dawn, were both serving as my doulas and let me tell you, I absolutely would not have made it through without them.

Ah yes, the back labor. My active labor stage was entirely punctuated by debilitating lower back pain, as with every contraction the baby knocked against my sacrum in a slightly botched attempt at going in the right direction. Eventually I began to think that my sacrum was literally going to break. (It didn’t; but my tailbone was bruised.) More eventually, I thought that the back pain was prohibiting the baby’s descent–everyone kept saying, “Breathe into the contractions, don’t fight them,” but the back pain wanted to be fought, to be held together; it all seemed very contradictory.

When Heidi–the OB who works with Mary–checked my cervix, I’d dilated eight centimeters, which was quite a relief; the back labor hadn’t interfered with progress after all.

The worse it got, the more vocal I got. Afterward, I remember thinking things and was informed I had said them aloud, often multiple times. I was in such a state I was just thinking out loud. Some examples: “God is a man, I know that now” and “Don’t forget: never do this again; don’t forget,” my mantra against the forgetting about labor pain we all hear happens.

Eventually I broke down. “I can’t do this,” I cried repeatedly, curled up into a ball. “But you’re doing it!” Bianca said, encouragingly. “But I don’t *want* to.” I was adamant. “Make it stop.” I was incredibly exhausted–laboring through the night after a particularly painful and fatiguing week.

The nurse, Sheree, suggested some sort of saline drip injection, directly into my back, which would help alleviate the back labor (which was, by this point, pretty much the only thing I could feel). She said, it burns going in. Oh, and once in a while, it doesn’t work. “What kind of decision is that?!” I asked jokingly. I said I’d think about it.

I didn’t think long. Another contraction came and I said, “Inject me!”

It was a bad idea. To say it burned going in is an understatement. I screamed more than I ever had in my life up to that point (soon afterwards, I would scream even more). I don’t even think it worked in the end. It may have taken the edge off, but there comes a time when these things are grossly relative. I think it was too late to do much for my pain at that point anyway. (After the delivery and things had settled down, Sheree asked me, “Do you hate me?” I laughed and said no.)

Because of the Pitocin, the transition was quite fast and quite painful. More screams and begging it to stop, just stop, just let me sleep, just for a minute. No dice. “The only way this is going to end is to have the baby,” I was told. Oh, fine.

Suddenly there were a shitload of people in the room and the surgical lights were turned on full blast. I was only slightly aware of this, and if I’d had the wherewithal, I’d’ve kicked them all out–as many as possible, anyway. They all hovered over me.

Then came the pushing. I thought it was very unfair that I was now forced to participate in causing my pain. I won’t horrify/disgust you with metaphors of what that–or any of this–felt like. I screamed again to make it stop and was given a low-dose Stadol injection, but again–at that point who knew if it did anything? So close to the end, I think it just made me groggier after delivery.

By then I was more or less continuously screaming. Someone tried to be encouraging and say to me something like, just imagine when this is all over, you’ll have a baby, to which I replied, “I don’t care about the baby.”

A nurse leaned over to my mom. “Did she just say she didn’t care about the baby?” “Yeah.” “She didn’t mean that, right?” “Uh, yeah she did.”

It’s not that I felt any ill will towards the baby. I just couldn’t think outside of what I was currently experiencing.

Also to speed up things, they broke my water bag. That was helpful in that it made things move along even quicker. It was also a very bizarre and fascinating sensation.

After several pushes Heidi said, “Your baby’s heart-rate is falling. You have two more pushes and then I’ll have to get the vacuum and suck him out of you.” She didn’t say it quite like that but but now things were getting a little hazy; that was the gist of it.

This was upsetting. I tried my hardest but no luck. On that second of two pushes I could have sworn he came out; turns out that was just the tearing happening.

Ah shit, the vacuum. As Heidi turned to get it, though, another contraction came on stronger than ever and I pushed as hard as I could because I didn’t want the vacuum and alas, out he came: at 5:42 a.m. on Friday, February 18. The day of the full moon.

Then all the people hovering over me swooped in, wiped him off, and he was put on my chest. He was heavy on me and I was almost too weak to hold him. He didn’t cry right away–but then he did. I covered his eyes because I thought the horrible bright lights were probably upsetting to him; they were to me, anyway. Then he seemed to struggle breathing and they took him away to check that out. (He ended up being fine; in fact stopping breathing while crying is something he continues to do sometimes which is kind of scary.)

After I got out the placenta they spent a really long time stitching me up. During that time I watched my mom and Dawn and Bianca hang out with my baby after they’d weighed him and everything. We’d made bets on what he’d weigh: the previous week, Mary said, “If he was born today he’d be six and a half pounds; I think he’ll be in the seven-pound range.” That was about three weeks before his due date. So I said, I bet he’s somewhere high-six. Dawn and/or Bianca and/or my mom (again, it’s blurry) said over seven. Heidi agreed with me and said high-six. We were all quite wrong: he was eight pounds, six ounces. Way high percentile for weight, as well as for length and head circumference, particularly considering his early arrival–which was a blessing after all in the size department. Yikes.

Eventually I was able to hold him again, and nurse him, but I was still so weak, and it’s all even more a blur. I was brought to a postpartum room, and he was brought to the nursery for more tests and whatever else they do there, and I tried more or less unsuccessfully to sleep until he was returned to me.

We still had the baby shower on Sunday. The only real difference was, the baby attended.

(I haven’t covered every aspect of my birth story in here. If you’d like to know about something that isn’t here, feel free to ask, either as a comment or in a message. Be as personal as you’d like. I think it’s important to share this information; I certainly wish I’d been told more birth stories as well as pregnancy stories, postpartum stories, nursing stories, etc. etc. etc. And please continue to share your own stories!)