University — Chapter 2

IMG_1090University was my first experience with “salad days”, which denote happy, fun filled days with lots of salads. I always think of BBQ’s where you are asked to bring a salad and there is cole slaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad—all of the ones that are implicated in food outbreaks. I worked hard in university. The classes and labs themselves were a full time job without the study and homework that was required in addition, but I felt like I had purpose and that my time was in my own control.

As I try to write this there is a black bird cawing away in the distance. This is my totem animal. As soon as I wrote that it stopped calling to me, so it must have wanted to be mentioned. I often get “messages” or rather stories that apply to my life from these birds. I don’t know if they are crows or ravens, but I have never known, so there is no advantage to knowing now. Don’t worry, they have never told me to kill anyone, the messages are usually more like, you are supported, or things will work out.

I am sitting on my back deck and it is hot and humid, very hot and humid for 10 a.m. on a Saturday in September, but we’ve experienced hotter than average weather all summer. I have to remember to appreciate this weather this time of year because it will be gone all too soon and it will be too cold to sit out here at all.

My focus in university was on getting into veterinary medicine. I stopped telling people this very early in frosh week, because everyone that I met was trying to get into that program and it became too embarrassing. I just told them that I was in biology, which was true.

I also swam on the varsity team and made a lot of friends. The women in my suite in residence were all very academic and so we seldom went out as a group. I did, however, go out with them a couple of times. As a group of girls will do when they are all living together, we would all cycle together and there would be times when the energy was so strong in our residence we could not help but all go out.

I have read stories about all of the girls in a boarding school getting pregnant on the same night, and although this is likely an exaggeration, it is supported by biology. We would all have the desire to go out at the same time because we influenced each other’s hormonal cycles. Interesting actually.

In second year, I shared a house with three other women. One of them had been in the same suite as me in first year and she had made all of the arrangements with the woman that had rented the place. We all lived together that year but did not get to know each other very well. I had chosen the room in the basement. Initially, the one woman said that she would take it and pay less than everyone else. I jumped at that. I would pay the full one quarter of the rent and stay in the basement. It was perfect for me. I had the basement, my bedroom and a small bathroom with a shower all to myself. I was essentially alone again and it was a great year.

By third year I had a two bedroom apartment that was the main floor of a house on the “good” side of the tracks near downtown. I rented it with a woman that I met at off campus housing. We were both looking for a place and we hit it off. She turned out to be a pretty good roommate. She was taking humanities and did not attend classes on Monday or Friday. She would travel home on Thursday night to work as a waitress in her hometown and would not come back until Tuesday after class. This apartment was about a half hour walk from the school, which turns out to be a perfect amount of exercise for me.

Finances had forced me to get rid of my car after first year. When I calculated how much I would reasonably spend returning home, which was occurring less frequently, buying groceries and going places, it did not make sense to keep insurance on the car. I know that I left the car at my cousin’s place but I do not remember if I sold it to her or if I just gave it to her. It was not worth very much at the time.

So, I walked everywhere, which suited me just fine. The university town was a moderate size and you could walk to the three essential areas: downtown, the mall and the university, in under an hour so there was never any reason to take a bus. I did rent a taxi a few times after doing a large grocery. I could walk there with a roommate and split the cost of a taxi for us and all of our groceries on the way home. That just left buying perishable food occasionally, which was not a big deal to carry home.

I stayed in the two bedroom apartment for over three years and it represented one of the longest times that I had stayed anywhere since I was 15 years of age, but I am getting ahead of myself.

My focus was on getting into veterinary medicine and so my goal in the summer was to get the experience I needed to get accepted. They needed large animal vets. “Large animal vets” are vets that work with farm animals intended for food. So yes, a chicken is considered a large animal and surprisingly, a horse is not. So, they were selecting students bases on their “large animal” experience. After first year, I took a job on a dairy farm.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Second Class Citizen

www.wendypowell.ca

Early Labour — Chapter 4

IMG_1035A totally new experience for first time moms is Braxton Hicks contractions. Named after John Braxton Hicks who first described them in 1872, these non-painful contractions are the body’s way of training to prepare for the big day. My entire abdomen would tense up and get really hard to the touch and then relax. Sometimes it would do this, at regular intervals, for hours.

Every night, at the end of my first pregnancy, I would lie down in bed and they would start to occur. Since I had been told a full two weeks before my due date that I could, “go any time”, and I was now after my due date, I paid a lot of attention to them. Bob got tired of hearing about it. Early on, I found myself timing them and they were as regular as “real” labour. How was I supposed to know the difference?

The midwives had told us that when we thought that labour had begun, I was to have a small glass of wine. It is an amount that will not hurt the baby and will be completely metabolized before the baby is born. This is important because a baby’s liver cannot metabolize alcohol and that is why when babies are exposed to alcohol during pregnancy it can have such a devastating effect on their development.

The wine served two purposes. First, Braxton Hicks labour will stop when you have a glass of wine, so it made it possible to distinguish warm up contractions from the real thing. Second, wine will relax the mother. After having no alcohol for an entire nine months a small glass hits you like a wall, but it does have a calming effect.

There is a difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and the real ones and it is not what you think. When real labour starts your body knows the difference and begins preparing. Unlike having Braxton Hicks that made me feel like I was grasping and needy, almost as though I was trying to will labour into happening, real contractions have more of a peaceful feel. The body begins to produce endorphins, the natural painkillers, at the same time as real labour begins.

This means that the pain of labour is somewhat mediated by the endorphins but it also means that you get the ‘high’ that morphine users must experience. When my actual labour started the world was rosy and there were endless possibilities for goodness. I did not feel like I was trying to urge labour to begin. I felt like the world was in technicolor. This was a marked difference and it occurred at the beginning of true labour, each time.

So, I was well past my due date for my second pregnancy. This upset my doctor considerably and he had begun the induction threats as he had with my first pregnancy. I was not worried. Midwives take a different stance on this. They have been trained to help you to “check-in” on the baby. Essentially, you can feel the baby moving and the baby should be moving regularly. I forget how often and that sort of details but it is not just random. The baby needs to be behaving normally.

There is a large black bird just hanging out in my front yard as I edit this. It has been walking around in the rain, going back and forth across the yard and up and down the driveway. I thought that I should add this into my story. These birds are my consistent totem animals and my guess is that it just wanted to be mentioned.

As a veterinarian, I had learned how long the pregnancy should be for cows. It was recognized that different types of cows had different pregnancy lengths. In general, smaller breeds of cows had shorter pregnancies. Why was it that human doctors thought that all women should have the same length of pregnancy regardless of ethnicity and size? It did not ring true for me.

As a scientist, I had known exactly what day I had ovulated on. This is not actually the start of pregnancy, per se, but it does determine the timing. The egg moves into the uterus and may or may not become an embryo along the way. It is more exact to know when the egg was released than any other measurement. So, dating my pregnancy was not a question. I knew how many days my first pregnancy had been from ovulation to birth and so I had a pretty good idea how long my second pregnancy should be.

I was unable to get the same primary midwife for this second pregnancy because of the political climate. Midwifery had become a contentious issue. The medical doctors could see a large amount of their practice going to what they considered to be an “unregulated” profession and they had started to fight back legally. In some parts of the United States, parents were being arrested for child abuse or neglect by choosing to have their babies at home. I was not aware of anything so outrageous in Canada, but the medical profession is quite powerful and well funded.

It looked like midwives were going to have to be licensed, so my first midwife had decided to go back to university to become a nurse so that she could continue practicing in Ontario. The Mennonite women did not care about the law regarding births outside of their community so it did not have the same impact on them. I was able to get two midwives. The primary midwife was different but the secondary one was the same as for my first birth.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Baby Number Two

www.wendypowell.ca

University — Chapter 2

IMG_1090University was my first experience with “salad days”, which denote happy, fun filled days with lots of salads. I always think of BBQ’s where you are asked to bring a salad and there is cole slaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad—all of the ones that are implicated in food outbreaks. I worked hard in university. The classes and labs themselves were a full time job without the study and homework that was required in addition, but I felt like I had purpose and that my time was in my own control.

As I try to write this there is a black bird cawing away in the distance. This is my totem animal. As soon as I wrote that it stopped calling to me, so it must have wanted to be mentioned. I often get “messages” or rather stories that apply to my life from these birds. I don’t know if they are crows or ravens, but I have never known, so there is no advantage to knowing now. Don’t worry, they have never told me to kill anyone, the messages are usually more like, you are supported, or things will work out.

I am sitting on my back deck and it is hot and humid, very hot and humid for 10 a.m. on a Saturday in September, but we’ve experienced hotter than average weather all summer. I have to remember to appreciate this weather this time of year because it will be gone all too soon and it will be too cold to sit out here at all.

My focus in university was on getting into veterinary medicine. I stopped telling people this very early in frosh week, because everyone that I met was trying to get into that program and it became too embarrassing. I just told them that I was in biology, which was true.

I also swam on the varsity team and made a lot of friends. The women in my suite in residence were all very academic and so we seldom went out as a group. I did, however, go out with them a couple of times. As a group of girls will do when they are all living together, we would all cycle together and there would be times when the energy was so strong in our residence we could not help but all go out.

I have read stories about all of the girls in a boarding school getting pregnant on the same night, and although this is likely an exaggeration, it is supported by biology. We would all have the desire to go out at the same time because we influenced each other’s hormonal cycles. Interesting actually.

In second year, I shared a house with three other women. One of them had been in the same suite as me in first year and she had made all of the arrangements with the woman that had rented the place. We all lived together that year but did not get to know each other very well. I had chosen the room in the basement. Initially, the one woman said that she would take it and pay less than everyone else. I jumped at that. I would pay the full one quarter of the rent and stay in the basement. It was perfect for me. I had the basement, my bedroom and a small bathroom with a shower all to myself. I was essentially alone again and it was a great year.

By third year I had a two bedroom apartment that was the main floor of a house on the “good” side of the tracks near downtown. I rented it with a woman that I met at off campus housing. We were both looking for a place and we hit it off. She turned out to be a pretty good roommate. She was taking humanities and did not attend classes on Monday or Friday. She would travel home on Thursday night to work as a waitress in her hometown and would not come back until Tuesday after class. This apartment was about a half hour walk from the school, which turns out to be a perfect amount of exercise for me.

Finances had forced me to get rid of my car after first year. When I calculated how much I would reasonably spend returning home, which was occurring less frequently, buying groceries and going places, it did not make sense to keep insurance on the car. I know that I left the car at my cousin’s place but I do not remember if I sold it to her or if I just gave it to her. It was not worth very much at the time.

So, I walked everywhere, which suited me just fine. The university town was a moderate size and you could walk to the three essential areas: downtown, the mall and the university, in under an hour so there was never any reason to take a bus. I did rent a taxi a few times after doing a large grocery. I could walk there with a roommate and split the cost of a taxi for us and all of our groceries on the way home. That just left buying perishable food occasionally, which was not a big deal to carry home.

I stayed in the two bedroom apartment for over three years and it represented one of the longest times that I had stayed anywhere since I was 15 years of age, but I am getting ahead of myself.

My focus was on getting into veterinary medicine and so my goal in the summer was to get the experience I needed to get accepted. They needed large animal vets. “Large animal vets” are vets that work with farm animals intended for food. So yes, a chicken is considered a large animal and surprisingly, a horse is not. So, they were selecting students bases on their “large animal” experience. After first year, I took a job on a dairy farm.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Second Class Citizen

www.wendypowell.ca

Early Labour — Chapter 4

IMG_1035A totally new experience for first time moms is Braxton Hicks contractions. Named after John Braxton Hicks who first described them in 1872, these non-painful contractions are the body’s way of training to prepare for the big day. My entire abdomen would tense up and get really hard to the touch and then relax. Sometimes it would do this, at regular intervals, for hours.

Every night, at the end of my first pregnancy, I would lie down in bed and they would start to occur. Since I had been told a full two weeks before my due date that I could, “go any time”, and I was now after my due date, I paid a lot of attention to them. Bob got tired of hearing about it. Early on, I found myself timing them and they were as regular as “real” labour. How was I supposed to know the difference?

The midwives had told us that when we thought that labour had begun, I was to have a small glass of wine. It is an amount that will not hurt the baby and will be completely metabolized before the baby is born. This is important because a baby’s liver cannot metabolize alcohol and that is why when babies are exposed to alcohol during pregnancy it can have such a devastating effect on their development.

The wine served two purposes. First, Braxton Hicks labour will stop when you have a glass of wine, so it made it possible to distinguish warm up contractions from the real thing. Second, wine will relax the mother. After having no alcohol for an entire nine months a small glass hits you like a wall, but it does have a calming effect.

There is a difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and the real ones and it is not what you think. When real labour starts your body knows the difference and begins preparing. Unlike having Braxton Hicks that made me feel like I was grasping and needy, almost as though I was trying to will labour into happening, real contractions have more of a peaceful feel. The body begins to produce endorphins, the natural painkillers, at the same time as real labour begins.

This means that the pain of labour is somewhat mediated by the endorphins but it also means that you get the ‘high’ that morphine users must experience. When my actual labour started the world was rosy and there were endless possibilities for goodness. I did not feel like I was trying to urge labour to begin. I felt like the world was in technicolor. This was a marked difference and it occurred at the beginning of true labour, each time.

So, I was well past my due date for my second pregnancy. This upset my doctor considerably and he had begun the induction threats as he had with my first pregnancy. I was not worried. Midwives take a different stance on this. They have been trained to help you to “check-in” on the baby. Essentially, you can feel the baby moving and the baby should be moving regularly. I forget how often and that sort of details but it is not just random. The baby needs to be behaving normally.

There is a large black bird just hanging out in my front yard as I edit this. It has been walking around in the rain, going back and forth across the yard and up and down the driveway. I thought that I should add this into my story. These birds are my consistent totem animals and my guess is that it just wanted to be mentioned.

As a veterinarian, I had learned how long the pregnancy should be for cows. It was recognized that different types of cows had different pregnancy lengths. In general, smaller breeds of cows had shorter pregnancies. Why was it that human doctors thought that all women should have the same length of pregnancy regardless of ethnicity and size? It did not ring true for me.

As a scientist, I had known exactly what day I had ovulated on. This is not actually the start of pregnancy, per se, but it does determine the timing. The egg moves into the uterus and may or may not become an embryo along the way. It is more exact to know when the egg was released than any other measurement. So, dating my pregnancy was not a question. I knew how many days my first pregnancy had been from ovulation to birth and so I had a pretty good idea how long my second pregnancy should be.

I was unable to get the same primary midwife for this second pregnancy because of the political climate. Midwifery had become a contentious issue. The medical doctors could see a large amount of their practice going to what they considered to be an “unregulated” profession and they had started to fight back legally. In some parts of the United States, parents were being arrested for child abuse or neglect by choosing to have their babies at home. I was not aware of anything so outrageous in Canada, but the medical profession is quite powerful and well funded.

It looked like midwives were going to have to be licensed, so my first midwife had decided to go back to university to become a nurse so that she could continue practicing in Ontario. The Mennonite women did not care about the law regarding births outside of their community so it did not have the same impact on them. I was able to get two midwives. The primary midwife was different but the secondary one was the same as for my first birth.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Baby Number Two

www.wendypowell.ca

University — Chapter 2

IMG_1090University was my first experience with “salad days”, which denote happy, fun filled days with lots of salads. I always think of BBQ’s where you are asked to bring a salad and there is cole slaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad—all of the ones that are implicated in food outbreaks. I worked hard in university. The classes and labs themselves were a full time job without the study and homework that was required in addition, but I felt like I had purpose and that my time was in my own control.

As I try to write this there is a black bird cawing away in the distance. This is my totem animal. As soon as I wrote that it stopped calling to me, so it must have wanted to be mentioned. I often get “messages” or rather stories that apply to my life from these birds. I don’t know if they are crows or ravens, but I have never known, so there is no advantage to knowing now. Don’t worry, they have never told me to kill anyone, the messages are usually more like, you are supported, or things will work out.

I am sitting on my back deck and it is hot and humid, very hot and humid for 10 a.m. on a Saturday in September, but we’ve experienced hotter than average weather all summer. I have to remember to appreciate this weather this time of year because it will be gone all too soon and it will be too cold to sit out here at all.

My focus in university was on getting into veterinary medicine. I stopped telling people this very early in frosh week, because everyone that I met was trying to get into that program and it became too embarrassing. I just told them that I was in biology, which was true.

I also swam on the varsity team and made a lot of friends. The women in my suite in residence were all very academic and so we seldom went out as a group. I did, however, go out with them a couple of times. As a group of girls will do when they are all living together, we would all cycle together and there would be times when the energy was so strong in our residence we could not help but all go out.

I have read stories about all of the girls in a boarding school getting pregnant on the same night, and although this is likely an exaggeration, it is supported by biology. We would all have the desire to go out at the same time because we influenced each other’s hormonal cycles. Interesting actually.

In second year, I shared a house with three other women. One of them had been in the same suite as me in first year and she had made all of the arrangements with the woman that had rented the place. We all lived together that year but did not get to know each other very well. I had chosen the room in the basement. Initially, the one woman said that she would take it and pay less than everyone else. I jumped at that. I would pay the full one quarter of the rent and stay in the basement. It was perfect for me. I had the basement, my bedroom and a small bathroom with a shower all to myself. I was essentially alone again and it was a great year.

By third year I had a two bedroom apartment that was the main floor of a house on the “good” side of the tracks near downtown. I rented it with a woman that I met at off campus housing. We were both looking for a place and we hit it off. She turned out to be a pretty good roommate. She was taking humanities and did not attend classes on Monday or Friday. She would travel home on Thursday night to work as a waitress in her hometown and would not come back until Tuesday after class. This apartment was about a half hour walk from the school, which turns out to be a perfect amount of exercise for me.

Finances had forced me to get rid of my car after first year. When I calculated how much I would reasonably spend returning home, which was occurring less frequently, buying groceries and going places, it did not make sense to keep insurance on the car. I know that I left the car at my cousin’s place but I do not remember if I sold it to her or if I just gave it to her. It was not worth very much at the time.

So, I walked everywhere, which suited me just fine. The university town was a moderate size and you could walk to the three essential areas: downtown, the mall and the university, in under an hour so there was never any reason to take a bus. I did rent a taxi a few times after doing a large grocery. I could walk there with a roommate and split the cost of a taxi for us and all of our groceries on the way home. That just left buying perishable food occasionally, which was not a big deal to carry home.

I stayed in the two bedroom apartment for over three years and it represented one of the longest times that I had stayed anywhere since I was 15 years of age, but I am getting ahead of myself.

My focus was on getting into veterinary medicine and so my goal in the summer was to get the experience I needed to get accepted. They needed large animal vets. “Large animal vets” are vets that work with farm animals intended for food. So yes, a chicken is considered a large animal and surprisingly, a horse is not. So, they were selecting students bases on their “large animal” experience. After first year, I took a job on a dairy farm.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Second Class Citizen

www.wendypowell.ca