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Positively 4th Street
hallelujah anyway
Babylon 5

Deceptions - Delenn, Lennier, Neroon, PG.
Z Minus - Anna Sheridan, PG
Missing - Delenn, Sheridan, Lennier, PG
Nostalgia Couldn't Take Care of its Own, Zack/Byron (oh yes), R-ish
(untitled) - Delenn, PG
(untitled) - Lennier, PG
(untitled) - Sheridan/Lochley, PG
(untitled) - Santa!, G
Sunlight - Delenn/Lennier, R
Archaeology - Lennier, G
Valen's Children, Part 1 and Part 2 - Branmer, Delenn (or Branmer/Delenn), PG/R.
Five Things that Never Happened to Jeffrey Sinclair - Sinclair (well obviously), PG
Parallel, Delenn, Neroon/Branmer, PG
Aside, Delenn/Lennier, R
Guide, gen, G
Elements of Consolation, Delenn/Lennier, PG/R
Through All Things, Lennier, G
Purity of Purpose, Part 1 and Part 2, Lennier/Delenn/Sheridan, PG
Among the Stars, Delenn/Branmer, PG
Lost Voices, Delenn, Mayan, G


(untitled), Sydney, PG

Battlestar Galactica

The Kindly Ones, Laura Roslin and... others, PG/R-ish
The End of the World Was Long Ago, Kobol, PG
(untitled), Boomer, G


Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Simon, River, PG

Star Wars

In Memoriam, Leia, Padme, PG
(untitled), Anakin, PG


(untitled), Gimli, G
(untitled), Grima, PG
(untitled), long after the Silmarillion, PG
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I don't work for the university any more. I won't be going back. Partly because they are bastards, but not only that.

(Okay they are not all bastards. Just the institution itself, on a kind of meta-level. Long story. But. Awful.)

So it came down to a point where the funding for my current post was running out, and the best option offered to me for staying was: can you please write a new bid, with all that entails, and then talk Dr X into putting his name on it? In return for which the best-case scenario is that Dr X would get promoted, and I'd do 90% of the work and get another three years of repeatedly banging my head off walls before facing the exact same employment situation again. Or maybe I'd get pregnant again and they'd try to get rid of me sooner!

Sorry. Still bitter.

Anyway, that really did not sound too tempting to me. And working elsewhere... well, there weren't many jobs, and there were even fewer jobs I'd be a good fit for, and I got as far as interviewing on campus for one of them (which I'd have loved oh so much but, alas, was not to be). And there was this advert everyone was telling me to apply for which would have been a great fit in lots of ways, but then turned out to be: the deal is you come and work for us for 5 years, and at the end of that we might keep you on, but you'll have to be bringing in a lot of research income and covering your salary entirely while doing all the teaching we load on junior staff, and we aren't sure whether your field will still be in fashion then so we aren't going to commit to anything. So, another five years before, potentially, facing the exact same employment situation again.

There are many many things I will miss about academia. I worked so hard for so long, because I truly loved it: the research, the teaching, the colleagues, the students, the hours, even the culture (sometimes). I didn't want to be one of those female academics who had a baby and then left. And now I am, I suppose, and in large part it's because working 70-hour weeks is not something I want to do any more. I want a job where I can be ambitious and make a difference in normal office hours.

Plus there are so many ways I got so ground down by that job, enough that it's still difficult to go into because... just... ugh it was awful. (Did I ever mention the time someone else got a raise for work I was doing? THAT WAS FUN.)

ANYWAY. The happy news is that I now work (as of September, they're not paying me yet) for the Civil Service, in the Scottish government, working on policy stuff. And oh, it feels so, so good. Like a huge crushing weight has been lifted off me. Like I can breathe again.


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I've fed the baby in cafés, pubs, restaurants, museums, in the cinema, on a train, outside in a crowd watching a parade go past. No trouble at all, not even a disapproving look. I expected feeding her in public to be much more of a Thing, for me if not for other people, but honestly I think most people don't notice and most of the rest don't care - and as for my own comfort levels, it's amazing how comfortable you can get when the alternatives are a) screaming baby or b) not leaving the house for longer than twenty minutes for months.

So it is weird that the only place I've ever felt awkward for feeding her is at baby groups.

It isn't that anyone disapproves. It's more that I often feel like the odd one out. Breastfeeding rates in the UK start off fairly high but plummet in the first few weeks, partly due to a shortage of decent support for women who want to breastfeed but struggle, and partly due to cultural expectations shaped around formula-feeding as the norm for several generations.

Which I had not quite realised. I mean, I knew there was a lot of pressure from the NHS to breastfeed (it's hard to miss) and that a lot of women felt or were made to feel guilty for being unable to breastfeed, or for giving up because while it was possible it was also hellish, or for just plain not wanting to.

But I had not realised that there were pressures operating in the other direction, too. Pressures like the expectation to move to formula early, because friends and family tell you it's so much easier; pressures like hearing from so many women in your mother's generation that they couldn't breastfeed because they couldn't make enough milk, leading you to think this is common and likely to happen to you, rather than (in most cases) bad advice they were given; or that milk isn't enough for big babies anyway; or that any time the baby's fussy, it's probably something you've eaten. Or the pressure from expecting the baby to behave a particular way, feeding at regular intervals a few hours apart, because you think that's just what babies do rather than what formula-fed babies are more likely to do, and then yours feeds every hour or goes through cluster-feeding bouts of spending a whole evening feeding, and you think something must be wrong, the baby must not be getting enough. (My family are very supportive of everything we do with the baby, but I still get suggestions about giving her a bottle before bed "because then she'll be getting a full feed." Her chins have their own chins, I think we can be fairly confident she's getting enough.)

And then you go to baby group, and people hang around to feed their babies afterwards, and you're the only one out of twelve who's not formula-feeding. And then everyone has a conversation about how tough breastfeeding was and how they hadn't planned to give up but it worked out for the best anyway because bottles are so much easier and this way you can see how much they're getting, and this way the baby has a really involved dad. And you can't say "it's not that hard for me" because you don't want to sound all smug, and you can't say "yeah it's really tough" because then you'll sound like you're judging them for not sticking with it, and you don't want to say "what the hell do you think my baby's dad does?", and what if you're making them feel bad now somehow, and ugh.

You can't not be the odd one out. You can't not be noticed as being the odd one out without being prepared to outright hide it. You can't not make it a super-fraught topic everyone's already primed to feel sensitive and easily judged about.

I can feed her in a restaurant, at a table with no other babies present, holding her with one arm and holding a glass of wine in the other hand (yes it's fine, yes I'm sure), and feel totally comfortable - but I still feel weird feeding her at baby group.


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So last night, the baby went to sleep at half past midnight. Woke at 3.30 for milk, 4.30 for milk, 5.30 for I don't even know but it seemed to involve going "hwooo! :D :D" at the curtains (she loves those curtains), and 8.30 because HELLO IT'S MORNING NOW ENTERTAIN ME.

For my parents' generation the big focus on baby sleep was the goal of sleeping through the night. So we get a lot of advice on how to get her to do that, most of which has either since been moved to the Don't Ever Do This Or Your Baby Will Explode category or seems like more trouble than it's worth ("but, if I moved her to her own room I'd have to get out of bed to feed her"), but is meant well at least.

Now the big focus seems to be on teaching the baby to sleep, and starting that young so they don't learn it wrong. Don't rock or feed them to sleep, because otherwise they'll only be able to sleep that way and you'll end up with a breastfeeding 15-year-old who needs you to carry them round all evening, etc.

I look forward to this focus being replaced with something else again in the future, because I am mostly doing the exact opposite of all the advice you get with it. Like, it is really common advice to a) have a bedtime routine at a set time, b) put them down in their cots groggy but awake so they learn to fall asleep in there rather than on you, and c) soothe them back to sleep by shushing and stroking/patting them rather than picking them up. And this is not even bad advice! It is probably really good advice. It just doesn't work at all with this particular baby.

Exhibit A: what happens three minutes after putting her down groggy but awake.

Good luck patting that back to sleep.

Also, pretty much no baby-sleep-related tips work with her. She does not fall asleep if taken out in a car (she just stares at stuff for ten minutes and then starts screaming, and can continue screaming for close to an hour). She does not fall asleep if taken out in the pram (ditto). There is no 'sleep when the baby sleeps' - daytime naps must be taken on me, and she will instantly wake if put down. There's a lot of emphasis from the books and the health visitors and so on about recognising the baby's tiredness cues, but I can recognise her tiredness cues fine - the issue is what to do with that information. Give her written notification? Press the hidden Nap Switch on her big toe?

So mostly I am tired, is what I am saying.

But. I am doing better than I was a few weeks ago, because - roll out the banners and celebratory bunting! - I have given up on the baby sleep advice and stopped feeling guilty about it. This is a huge relief, even if it does come with a lot of yawning.


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Initially titled 'Things they don't tell you about newborns', but on reflection it is entirely possible people did tell me and I didn't listen, or skipped that antenatal class because I was sick and they made you do relaxation exercises bah pshaw. So maybe.)

1. That your newborn might not want to sleep in its adorable little cradle or its cosy little Moses basket. It might not care about the mobile hung lovingly over its bed, or the hand-crocheted blanket from its grandmother's best friend, or any of it. They are primitive little clusters of instinct and need and as far as our species' evolution is concerned, if you're not physically in contact with them at all times they'll be eaten by sabre-toothed cats.

2. That what they consider comfortable and pleasant is not what you would consider comfortable and pleasant, because they've spent most of their existence up to this point in a very different kind of environment. Lying down flat on cool white sheets in a spacious cot? Bad. Swaddled like they're in a straightjacket, and lying in your arms with their face snuggled into your armpit so you're terrified they can't breathe? Much better. Peace and quiet? Bad. Being bounced around endlessly while someone sings Bon Jovi songs to you out of key? Great. Apparently.

3. That your answer to "What quantity of vomit is it acceptable to have on one's clothes before changing?" might no longer be "Zero."

4. That if the baby is not sleeping in bed with you, you will still wake sometimes convinced that it is or was or should have been, and will imagine you see its outline in the sheets and panic that you've smothered it. I would say this was just me, but apparently it is not just me - this is A Thing. Which will hopefully pass.

5. That your brain will torture you with fear about terrible things happening to the baby.

6. That when the evening hits, they might fuss and sob and scream for several hours, inconsolably, and nobody knows why. It's wind! It's overstimulation! It's the frustrations of adapting to a totally new kind of existence! Whatever it is, they will seem to be in pain and you won't be able to fix it and they will cry and cry and it is awful. Apparently this passes, too.

7. That they like loud white noise. They do not care about delicate soothing nature sounds, but the sound of a vacuum cleaner really loud is soothing.

8. That the best thing to do with the baby manuals is to find out which one you basically agree with anyway, buy that, and then refer to it occasionally to reassure yourself that you're probably not screwing up the baby for life.

9. That they bond with you by staring at you. They're like a gurgling adorable version of Kaa from The Jungle Book.

10. That for all it's worthwhile knowing you might not feel any rush of love for them as soon as they're born - it is common, it is normal, it is a totally reasonable response to the exhausting often-awfulness of pregnancy and birth - it is also worth knowing that you might love them, instantly and immensely, and not stop.
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(questions provided by friends, family, colleagues, and those neighbours whose response to hearing I was pregnant was "Congratulations, that was fast")

Q. Wow, you're still sick?
A. Yes. :(.

Q. Isn't it supposed to go by now?
A. Yes. Sort of. Usually pregnancy sickness starts improving by the early second trimester, and only 10% of women have any sickness left after 16 weeks. But 10% is still a lot of women.

Q: Isn't it getting any better?
A: No, not really. But the latest drug (metoclopramide) lets me eat and drink, so I'm not getting dehydrated any more.

Q: Is it safe for the baby to take those drugs? What about that one where kids were being born without arms and stuff, wasn't that for morning sickness?
A: Yes, all the drugs are lethal, I'm just taking them because I like to dance with danger. More seriously: the reason drugs aren't ever ruled totally safe in pregnancy is because ethical issues get somewhat in the way of running a proper clinical trial on pregnant women. But these drugs are already prescribed for pregnant women, so the evidence we have is from large-scale studies of women who took them during pregnancy. That evidence all indicates the drugs are safe. The alternative to drugs is being unable to eat, drink or basically function, so yes, they're worth the risk. (Interesting fact on thalidomide, the birth-defects-causing drug of the late 50s (and still used today although not in pregnancy): it was prescribed for sickness because of its sedative properties, because pregnancy sickness was thought to be psychological.)

Q: Is it that thing Kate Middleton had?
A: Depending on how you define hyperemesis, it either is or isn't. Helpful! At any rate it is controllable with drugs and I've managed to avoid hospital admission so far, so I'm doing better than a lot of women, which is depressing to contemplate.

Q: Have you tried...
A: Yes. Doesn't work. Whatever it is. Trust me, if very strong anti-emetic drugs are only just touching it, no amount of ginger/peppermint/acupressure wristbands/crackers/eating little and often (haha)/keeping something in your stomach all the time (HAHA) is going to do a sodding thing. I have been dealing with this for over four months now; for your own health and safety, please, please, do not suggest anything that you heard helped once or that turned up after a cursory Google.

Q: What causes it?
A: Nobody knows. Risk factors include a history of migraines, a tendency to travel sickness, your mother/sister having it in the past, a multiple pregnancy, a female foetus, and the fairies placing a curse on your family unto the hundredth generation. There is a theory that it might serve some evolutionary advantage by protecting the foetus from dietary toxins or otherwise unhealthy food.

Q: Is that true?
A: I can't speak for 'normal' morning sickness, but for what I'm dealing with at least that theory is total bullshit. Had I been sick with this on the Pleistocene I would already have been eaten by a leopard. Also, even on the drugs that let me now think about food without retching, my Approved Foods List mainly consists of:
- fruit (sometimes);
- Coke, full-fat;
- bread roll containing a fried potato scone topped with a fried egg, salt, and ketchup;
- cereal (decreasingly).
A healthy diet this isn't.

Q: Can it last for the whole pregnancy?
A: Yes. :(.
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Emma's Diary is a fictional account of 'Emma's' pregnancy. It was written 'in assocation with the Royal College of General Practitioners', and it is/was sometimes handed out by GPs and midwives to pregnant women. I'm unclear whether it's still given out (I didn't get offered one).

It is also a company that really, really would like to have all your details to sell on to third parties. It isn't the only company that does this, or even the only company that claims a nominal association with the NHS that does this (but the Why Bounty Can Fuck Right Off rant is one for another day). So a big part of their business is getting you to sign up for their free packs of stuff!, in response for which you will get spammed and junk mailed to kingdom come by all sorts of companies, including at one point formula milk companies (oops, NHS), who have in many cases continued to contact women whose babies have died during pregnancy with things like offers for newborn photography services because you're on the list now and they have your due date right there in a database. Their stuff is free to pregnant women, because pregnant women aren't the customers - we are the product being sold.

Anyway! So all of this hangs off Emma's actual diary itself, which claims to describe 'the highs and lows of pregnancy and being a mum', and - again - to have been written in collaboration with the RSGP. So it should be useful, right?


Here is Emma's Diary, so you can see what you think. But I was not impressed.Collapse )
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1. Your body is changing in weird ways. And it's not that nobody warned you, exactly; it's just that you're used to feeling like you have some say over what your body does, and now it's doing a lot very quickly and you're not being consulted at all.

2. You now fit into a whole new role in society, and people will start looking at you in ways you're not entirely happy about.

3. Far too many people will tell you about what a wonderful time of life this is, and how it's all going to go downhill once [the baby's here and you'll never sleep again/you have to get a real job and pay taxes and bills]. You will think "it can get worse?"

4. There is a right and wrong way to do everything, however minor or ultimately inconsequential, and you are probably doing it wrong. You dyed your hair that colour? You total weirdo. You dyed your hair that colour? You selfish bitch.

5. You no longer have legitimate feelings; you now have 'hormones'.

6. Don't you dare let a single drop of alcohol touch your lips, or the future will be in ruins.

7. Other people in the same situation seem to be enjoying it much more than you are. This is partly because you see far more of the people who are out in public having a great time than you do of the people curled up in their rooms sobbing, but knowing that won't make you feel any better.

8. And it looks a lot more fun on TV than it is in reality, too.

9. Other people's ideas about what you're going through very rarely match what you're actually going through. (After 14 weeks of hellish constant nausea, I have started to respond to "Are you craving anything?" with "Yes, death.")

10. It doesn't last forever it doesn't last forever it doesn't last forever...
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I saw Cloverfield the other night - JJ Abrams, shakycam, monster, disturbingly-out-of-place-in-silly-big-budget-monster-film September 11th references - and it struck me, we as a culture have been using the wrong film as a metaphor for pregnancy. Alien has the visuals, but for me, Cloverfield wins.

The Cloverfield monster (alien? primordial being? who knows) is the size of a skyscraper, with claws and teeth and a tail that can smash down a bridge. It marches around Manhattan breaking things, leaving rubble and fire and death in its wake. It swats down buildings. It bites the Statue of Liberty. It wrecks pretty much everything in its path. And it also has creepy little person-sized scuttling parasites that fall off it and cause even more damage, just for extra chaos. But! According to the designers, the monster is a newborn (new-hatched? new-spawned?) baby. It is not wrecking stuff out of malice; it is wrecking stuff because stuff is in its way, and it is confused and lost and has no idea what's going on and can't help it that every time it moves, something else goes ka-BOOM. So on the one hand, it's laying waste to everything you know and hold familiar in a series of gore, disaster and devastating explosions - on the other hand, it's only doing all this as an unintended side-effect of, basically, being a baby.

Why yes I do still have terrible morning sickness, since you ask. And exhaustion. And 36-hour headaches. And, well, the list goes on, but let's just say that the one thing Cloverfield is missing as a pregnancy metaphor is for the army to saunter up to the waves of terrified, injured, fleeing civilians, watching their city burn around them, and say "Have you tried ginger?"

But, I live in hope. The exhaustion is already fading; the sickness hopefully will follow one day (although I have given up on all the advice suggesting when, since it was getting too depressing to watch the points at which it's supposed to start fading whooshing past me as the sickness got worse and worse, and incidentally fuck you every single book and site and article on the second trimester for telling me how much better I'm feeling by this point).

The 12-week scan went fine. I have the requisite selection of blurry ultrasound photos making it look like a cross between a weather radar map and an alien, but they don't capture the best bit about the scan which was the realisation that, oh my God, it moves. Not just waving an arm or something, but a constant burrowing, kicking, somersaulting, bouncing whirl of motion. Did you know they can actually trampoline themselves off the inner walls of the amniotic sac? Because THEY CAN. The scan took forever because it wouldn't position itself obediently for the measurements at all - "okay, that's nearly there, now if it juuuuuuuust moves a liiiiiiiiitle bit to the right...", cue kick, flip, gone - but it was pretty amazing to see so much of it.
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