Mama(e) in Translation posted this Jane Austen's Heroines Quiz, which I had to take! Persuasion is actually my favorite Austen book, so I'm quite happy with this assessment, although I do think I'm somewhat more outspoken than Anne. Which Austen heroine are you?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
The point of this chapter is that Lily Bart suffers because she has no space (both actual physical space and metaphoric space) to her self; more significantly, she has no sense of home. This isn't a very original argument, admittedly, as Wharton scholars have become increasingly interested in architectural theory recently. It makes sense as Wharton is seen as the founder of modern interior design, but I digress. The argument about Lily and space is convoluted by various interpretations of Lily's level of (self) awareness, her desire to marry, her need for money, and her desire for independence. My argument is on the verge of becoming different because I am not going to argue, as so many people have done, that she doesn't marry because she isn't in love. I don't actually think Lily is very concerned with love, at least not romantic love. I mean, why would she be? She has no positive relationships to draw on as role models.
Arguably every married couple in the novel is unhappy. Her mother was disgusted by her father's inability to provide enough money to maintain the lifestyle she desired. Judy Trenor uses other women to keep her husband occupied, perhaps justifiably so, as Gus Dorset is the biggest boor in all of Wharton's fiction (and she has a lot of them). The Dorsets hate one another; George is too consumed by his dyspepsia, and Bertha is too consumed by young bachelors. Lily's aunt has mourned her husband for decades, but only because she believes that is the proper thing to do, not out of any real sense of loss. The Brys and the Gormers do seem to have genuine affection for one another, but then, they are united in their desire to improve their societal status. The relationships all hinge on money, and none of the women are any more independent for having married well.
The common interpretation is that Lily doesn't marry because she is in love with Lawrence Selden--every time I teach this novel, my students all agree that this is the case, and they are not alone. Lots of critics argue that Lily is at least infatuated with Selden, and that Selden is the only man in the novel with the power to save her. I see lots of problems with this interpretation. First, Selden is no catch. Like Lily, he is poor. As a man, he can deal with poverty in different ways. He can work (he is a lawyer) and still be considered respectable; further, men are expected work, even men of Lily's social set. Selden also has a past; he had a lengthy affair with Bertha Dorset, which everyone in their set knows about. Second, Selden is a hypocrite. He judges Lily for going to the opera with Rosedale and Trenor, as he believes she is basically prostituting herself, but he conveniently forgets that he had a sexual relationship with a married woman, who gave him expensive gifts. Further, when he sees Lily outside of Trenor's house late at night, he assumes they are having a sexual relationship and feels slighted by Lily. He holds Lily to a different standard than the one he holds himself to. Third, Selden takes advantage of/has access to spaces that Lily can only dream of. He has his own flat, he can travel alone, and he can actually find his own "republic of the spirit." Selden can have all sorts of dalliances, and when he chooses to marry, society will overlook those dalliances. Lily, however, must live her life like it is an open book in order to ensure she remains marriageable. I think Lily successfully does this for a number of years, but by the time the book opens, she has been "on the market" for a decade. She is chafing under the restrictions of her social set, and she is feeling rebellious. I have yet to decide if Lily can actually name these feelings because I'm not certain how self-aware she really is. I think she is aware enough to realize that she wants something more out of life, but I don't think she can name her what it is that she wants or that she knows how to lead a different sort of life. I want to argue that Lily's desire for independence trumps everything else. She does not want to marry; in fact, I think that she unconsciously does things to render herself unmarriageable. Unfortunately, Lily has no other options in life as she has not been trained for anything else. She must marry if she is to survive in her society. But she realizes that marriage will not ensure the personal freedom she desires; granted marriage will ensure a certain amount of money, which will buy Lily a certain amount of freedom. It will not, however, ensure that she can make her own decisions about her life as she will always be beholden to her husband. Thus, Lily cannot bring herself to marry because doing so will force her to give up what little independence she has. Somehow I have to figure out how the notion of public and private affect all of this, and then I have to build the argument around space. If Lily were of a different class, space wouldn't be such an issue. My entire argument, then, hinges on money, class, and gender. So no problem, I should be able to figure this out in a week or so. . .
Thursday, October 25, 2007
For the most part, "no, no" is pretty cute. It certainly was on Sunday when we visited AcadeMama and Baby E to exchange birthday gifts. After Wild Man and Baby E ate some of E's bumblebee cake, they ran around the living room in their diapers saying "no, no" to each other. It is also cute when he sees our cats doing something they aren't supposed to and he tells them "no, no!" It isn't as cute when he tells me "no, no" at bath time or bedtime, when I'm trying to put on his shoes, change his diaper, or get him dressed, or when I'm trying to discipline him (as much as you can discipline a 12 month old!). Yesterday he decided it would be fun to try to climb into our turtle's aquarium (yep, we have a turtle; in fact I've had her since I was 16). As I repeatedly pulled him away from the aquarium, he shouted "NO, NO!", which I could only interpret to mean "No, Mother, I actually would really like to sit underneath T's aquarium despite the fact that you clearly don't think it is safe." Some days I really wish he could say things like that.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
By the end of the calendar year, I will send a tangible, physical gift to each of the first five people to comment here. The catch? Each person must make the same offer on her/his blog.
Friday, October 12, 2007
- Is the doctor really responsible for what most people who know anything about infertitily and pregnancy realize is a possible outcome?
- How are these girls going to feel when they learn about this case when they're older?
- Can't we take responsibility for our decisions rather than trying to blame and to seek compensation for said decisions from others?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I'm hoping to feel better tomorrow as I need to get some work done in the next few days. Lots of family are descending upon us next week, so I know I won't get anything done while they're here.
I wrote this a few days after Wild Man was born, and I've decided to post it in honor of his upcoming birthday. I've added a few sections (marked with asterisks) recently. I remember this day so vividly. I still don't think I really know how close we came to a c-section. C and I have talked about it a few times, and he always tells me we were close. I asked him again last night, and he looked at me a moment before answering. Without giving me any details, he quietly said that he had never been so scared in his life. He said, "I was watching the monitors while helping you get through the contractions. I didn't like what I saw, and I know the doctor didn't. I think we had about 5 minutes before I got pulled out of the room to sign the paperwork for a c-section. I know one of nurses had brought a bunch of forms into the room. I was really scared." He never told me that before. Thankfully we avoided a c-section, and Wild Man and I were both fine. I would happily go through all of the stress and uncertainty again for my beautiful son. I am also very, very proud that, despite the numerous interventions we experienced, that we still had a positive birth experience. I am also proud that despite the fact that I was indeed given medication (to slow down my contractions and give the baby a chance to recover from the contractions) I did fulfill my wish to go without pain medication (although I did receive a local just as Wild Man crowned as I had already torn and needed an episiotomy).
On Friday, Oct. 20th, C & I went to my regular check-up at 9:20 expecting to learn that I hadn't made any progress at all; after three weeks of contractions, I had yet to go into labor. We discovered I was dilated to 2 centimeters and 80% thinned out. When the doctor checked the baby's heart rate, it was in the 180s, which concerned her as it had been in the 130s for 4 weeks. So she put me on the fetal monitor in the office. After 20 minutes she checked me again and the baby's heart rate had not gotten more regular. It was fluctuating from 170s to 130s. She wanted to monitor me for 20 more minutes to see if the baby's heart rate would drop to the 150s for at least 5 minutes in a row. Unfortunately, his heart rate continued to fluctuate, dropping as low as 80 for over a minute. So my doctor decided I needed to be induced right away, and we headed to the hospital. We were both very concerned and nervous, as we weren't sure what to expect and the doctor made it clear that if necessary we would have a c-section, which neither of us wanted. We called our good friend, who was acting as our doula, and asked her to get out things from our house and meet us at the hospital. We told her to take her time because we expected the induction to take a while.
We got to the hospital at 11:00, and by 11:10 I was in an exam room being monitored. The baby's heart rate had steadied and was around 130s for about 20 minutes. The nurse reviewed our birth plan and told us what we would still be able to do and what we wouldn't, since we were having an emergency induction. She assured us that we would still be able to have an unmedicated birth, but that I would just need to be monitored more closely. During this time the nurse had started an IV, and I had to go to the bathroom really badly. Since the baby's heart rate seemed to have evened out, she let me get up to go to the bathroom. When I got back, she hooked me back up to the monitors, and the baby's heart rate had dropped again. By this time (about 11:45), my doctor was in the room, and things started happening very quickly. Before I really knew what was happening, my doctor was breaking my water and inserting a catheter to put saline around the baby, in an attempt to regulate the heart rate. Luckily both of these things worked, and I was moved to a delivery suite.
* Everything happened so fast in this 30 minute period. I went from calmly answering the nurse's questions to being told that they had to break my water immediately in an attempt to regulate the baby's heart rate. I still remember the warm rush of water and the look of extreme concern on my doctor's face when she told us that their was meconium in the amniotic fluid. I didn't have time to think about much else as my contractions started almost immediately. I experienced my first strong contraction as the nurse and C wheeled me from the exam room to a delivery room. During all of this C spoke to my sister who volunteered to fly in immediately to be there when we got home from the hospital. I realized how concerned C was when he asked her to come as soon as she could.
The contractions started immediately and became regular very fast. In fact, the contractions became regular so quickly that I was never given pitocin. My doctor came in about 45 minutes later to check me, and I had progressed from 2 centimeter to 5 centimeters in a little over 2 hours. By this time the contractions were very intense and very close together; my doula and C were doing all they could to keep me focused on my relaxation exercises, but I was having a hard time. I wanted to get up and move, but every time I changed positions the baby's heart rate changed. The nurse kept checking on me, and each time I would ask if I could move. She let me switch from my left side to my right side, but I couldn't get out of bed. As the contractions got more and more intense, I told C I couldn't do it and that I needed the medication. Luckily both he and my dola recognized that I was in transition and encouraged me, telling me that I could do it. He was so wonderful; he never wavered, despite his own concerns about the baby. All of a sudden I felt like I needed to push, so my dola got the nurse. She checked me and I was 8 centimeters, in a little over an hour. The nurse told me to get on all fours in the bed and encouraged me to gently push to bring the baby down further. The contractions got so intense and were right on top of each other. All of a sudden C wasn't beside me; my doula was still there, but C had moved away to talk to the nurse. I was vaguely aware of the conversation, I didn't really understand what was going on. I later learned that the baby's heart rate was not tolerating the contractions at all. My doctor was in the room by now, and she let the nurse and C run the show while she watched the monitors. I learned later that she told C that if the baby's heart rate didn't even out in the next few minutes we would need to do a c-section. The nurse suggested giving me a medication to slow down the contractions, and although my doctor didn't think it would work, she agreed. I reminded them all that I didn't want any kind of medication, but the nurse reassured me that this medication may enable us to have a vaginal birth. While the nurse gave me the medication, the doctor checked me again; I was 9 centimeters (only 3.5 hours from when the doctor had broken my water), but the baby had also turned posterior, which explained why the contractions in my back were so horrible and why the baby'sheart rate wouldn't stabilize. The medication made me shiver severely, but it slowed the contractions down enough to let the doctor turn the baby. Once she turned the baby, the heart rate stabilized. By this point, I was completely unaware of what was going on, as I was desperate to push. Everyone kept telling me not to push, which is the most difficult thing to do. I heard the doctor tell me "I'm going to try to turn the baby now," and all I really understood was how painful that was. She finally said I could push, and the baby tolerated the contractions from then on, with his heart rate staying in the 130s. I started pushing at 3:40, and Wild Man was born at 4:13, just about 5 hours after we had arrived at the hospital.