Thursday, June 29, 2006


We took this on Sunday at Trinity, just after our Thanksgiving service (which Clare slept through quite adorably).

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

quote for the day

I subscribe to A.W.A.D. (A Word a Day) because--to my chagrin and yet simultaneous delight--it often actually has words I didn't already know, complete with definition, quote from a real source, etymology, and pronunciation .wav file. There is also always a different quote included at the very bottom, a more or less random one, and sometimes these are very fine. This was today's:

"Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstancesdrive them to do." -Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and novelist (1811-1896)

I don't want to record here on the blog anything about the actual experience of giving birth to Clare. I am writing it, to the best of my ability, but it isn't something I want to publish on the blog. But since I have blogged about everything from not having ever looked at my vagina before, to various pregnancy annoyances and even the birth plan, I feel like a little closure is warranted. So here is what I want to say. I don't think everyone has to do it how I did it. But I wouldn't do it any other way, and I feel even more strongly about it now than I did before. Before, it was all theoretical: trusting what I read and believing it would be best for me and for Clare to do this as medication- and interference-free as possible. Now that I've done it, I know it's not just a physical health thing (though that's certainly of major importance!) but also, for me, a subjective experiential thing. I took it all in, and went with it, and it was the hardest and most exhilarating thing I've ever done. It really was "exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind." And it changes you to do something like that in a powerful way.

But I also want to say that I didn't do it by myself, and I don't think that anyone really could. I had a chorus of praise around me the whole time: Brent, and my mother, and Maria, and Brynne, my midwife. When I got to that point where I didn't think I could keep going, but knowing that I was going to anyway, I could exchange believing in myself for their belief in me.

I would say thank you, but that just seems lame.

Oh, and today's word was "baxter," which means, "a baker, especially a female baker."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wednesday's Child

Clare Madalyn Thweatt Bates was born on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 at 4:09 p.m. at the University Medical Center in Princeton, NJ. She was 9 pounds 4 ounces and 21 inches long. Click here for more photos.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

another update for Tracy, et al.

Okay, y'all: today is the official 42-week mark. Last Friday we had two tests to see how the kid was doing in there, and she showed great promise as a future academic, passing both tests with perfect scores. Ah, indeed she is the daughter of two over-achieving perfectionists. However, it makes even the midwives nervous to have someone go over the 42-week mark. And so, tomorrow morning (unless Clare finally gets done teasing and makes her move tonight) at 6:00 a.m. we will head to the hospital and check in for an amniotomy--which just means that they will break the bag of waters. This should be enough to nudge us over the edge into active labor.

Haven't checked lately but it seems to me that no one ever chose June maybe Clare has waited us all out just to show she's her own person, thank you very much, and refuses to be objectified as a betting object and exploited for personal gain...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

So, our bags have been packed for about 3 weeks now. In addition to clothes for me and Brent and indispensable books like The Birth Partner and all the paraphernalia for Clare, there are quite a few items packed especially for their symbolic value.

My going home outfit is Mom's blue dress. She wore this when she was pregnant with me 30 years ago.

To go with the dress I'll take along the necklace that Brent's mom Malda gave me a long time ago--back when we were first married, or maybe even before--a truly unique and beautiful piece that never fails to garner compliments when I wear it.

One of the helpful packing lists in one of the very helpful books Maria loaned us says you should definitely have warm socks. So I have the snuggly warm socks with the heat-up-able gel inserts that Emily gave me for Christmas packed.

A bathrobe for walking around in: my Grandmother's silk kimono from Japan, deep blue and embroidered, gorgeous and comfortable.

To be packed last-minute, (on my last-minute, don't forget list) is the iPod. On it is a variety of relaxing music, including all the songs I have that my Dad has recorded so far.

The helpful packing list suggests bringing an item, like a picture or an object, to focus on during labor. When I visited Honduras for Thanksgiving last year, I was just a couple months pregnant, but Ally and Jarrod had found this beautiful statue of a mother cradling a child and gave it to me when I got there. And it will go to the hospital with me.

So, while the only people in the room with me will be Brent and Mom and Maria and the midwife, everyone is there in some I will be surrounded by reminders of all the people who love me.

Friday, June 09, 2006


time for a new round of guesses? But Grandad Bates--regardless of whether he hits the jackpot--deserves special recognition for being the only one left in the running from the original round of betting.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

thoughts on castor oil upon waking

  1. to the tune of "I love to laugh" from Mary Poppins: "I love to poop [farting noises instead "hahahaha"], loud and long and free, and the more I poop [fart fart fart fart], the closer to labor I'll be!"
  2. It really is possible for the human body to produce the comedic gut rumbling of Major Payne.
  3. Castor oil=Drano for human plumbing.
  4. for the cultured (do they read this blog?): "Who would have thought the pregnant woman had so much poop in her?"

Monday, June 05, 2006

human depravity in Battlestar Galactica

So, thanks to the incomparable Flett family, my anxious days of waiting for Baby Clare have been ameliorated by the generous lending of seasons 1 and 2 of Battlestar Galactica. Now that Mom's here, I have someone to watch them with (Brent steadfastly refuses and refers to the series as "Battlebutt Gargantua," which I am sure is on some level an unconscious commentary on my expanded anatomy. I certainly feel like a Battlebutt Gargantua at this point, anyway.) I have now watched these DVDs three times through, starting on round 4, and it's time for a little dissertation-related musing on the theological theme of human depravity in this posthuman tale which struggles directly, on many levels, with the question of what is human/posthuman.

For those of you that don't watch, all you need to know is that the basic premise is as follows. Human beings created the Cylons, mechanical robot-types, to aid in the colonization of new planets. These human-made creatures then (with no explanation yet forthcoming by the way) "rebelled" against humanity and thus began the first human-Cylon war. The humans apparently "won" this war, or at least, the Cylons bugged off and left humanity alone for 40 years, during which time human civilization on the Twelve Colonies started to revert back to its techo-dependent ways. As the first episode (the mini-series) opens, the Battlestar Galactica is a military relic about to be decomissioned, and the Commander of the Battlestar (Commander Adama) is himself a relic with old-fashioned fears of the consequences of networking computers. But, of course, his old-fashioned paranoia is vindicated when the Cylons reappear without warning and nuke all twelve Colonial planets, as well as the entire military fleet, save for the obsolete Galactica. Adama then becomes the de facto leader of the remnants of humanity--those survivors who were in transit off-planet during the nuclear attacks that killed everyone else.

So that's the premise. What is terribly interesting is that as the story develops, there is constant commentary on human nature. During a grand tale of somewhat epic proportion about the gutsiness of humanity, its determination, will to survive, capacity for sacrifice and courage, and inexplicable optimism in the face of overwhelming odds, there is also a consistent message that humanity is inherently flawed: shortsighted and violent, selfish and ruthless. There is even the sense that this doomed fate, as the result of ignorance and a failure of moral responsibility, is deserved even as they try valiantly to escape it.

Quite often this commentary on human nature is directly voiced in the dialogue. At the end of the original miniseries, a group of Cylons convenes to discuss the escape of the Galactica and the fleet of civilian refugee ships it protects. The humans have temporarily placed themselves beyond the Cylons' reach, and the question is, can the Cylons afford to let them go? The answer is a decisive "no," and the reason is very simple. If the Cylons are merciful and allow the humans to escape, they predict that the humans will return to exact revenge, because "it is their nature." The irony, of course, is that this is exactly what the Cylons themselves have done: but this goes unremarked, and apparently unnoticed by the Cylons themselves.
Also intriguing is that one of the major Cylon characters, "Number Six," refers to the Cylons as "the children of humanity" in a conversation with another Cylon. They discuss the concept of a debt owed to their parentage and the conclude that parents must be supplanted by their children, in fact, die, so that the children can "come into their own." But the condemnation often voiced by Cylon characters of the inherent depravity in human nature is never considered by them as a possible heritage from their human "parents."

Intensifying this commentary is the religious contrast quite deliberately drawn between the (ostensibly) polytheistic/atheistic humans and the strictly religious monotheistic Cylons. Not only are the Cylons physically and technologically superior to humanity; they consider themselves religiously superior as well. The sense of self-righteousness that runs blatantly through all Cylon God-talk serves to further obscure the obvious question of the parallel depravity of Cylon-nature as the Cylons consistently condemn human nature.

There's much more to this series--a lot of other questions and issues of a posthuman nature are raised. But this particular theme runs quite strongly throughout the whole series, and is central to the plot. The unanswered question of why the Cylons rebelled in the first place has a shadowy hint of an answer in their constant condemnation of human nature. The desperate decisions forced on Commander Adama and the fleet--who do we save? who do we abandon? when do we give up?--illustrate the kind of ethical quandary that best exhibits the ambivalence of human nature. Whether the Cylons are correct in their assessment of human nature or not remains an open question, and I think, perhaps the determining question concerning the direction of the continuing story.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

another update for Tracy (and everyone)

Well, y'all, we thought maybe last night we'd see some dramatic happenings but instead we went to bed and slept for 12 hours without incident! Which was great and all, baby.

So today we went to a movie, and our alert Lutheran neighbors noticed that our car was gone and got excited, but alas for us all, we were just at the theatre and not the hospital. Still no baby.

However, as of Friday morning I was "a stretchy 3" centimeters dilated, and 90% effaced, and Clare was a -1. All of that means, things had gotten underway pretty much without my noticing much yet. So Ursula the Midwife "stripped the membranes" to give things a little nudge further in the right direction. We all thought yesterday that this meant something big pretty immediately, but here we are. However, most labors do start at night, or so the books all say, so perhaps tonight will be it, and all you June 4th'ers will be hitting the jackpot. The symbolic jackpot, since I don't really intend any sort of payoff. You'll get to see the kid, that'll have to be enough.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tracy's update

Well, no signs of labor yet and Mom arrived last night, so, now all I can say is,

Baby Clare, get a move on!!!

But not today since Maria is with someone else whose baby decided to be early, and not Sunday, 'cause she teaches. But Friday would be good...yeah, tomorrow would be great!

The cool Lutherans next door will be posting on the blog to announce the birth, so, keep checking...