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🏄♀️ State of the Eleanor 03
I had a baby. The Obsidian ecosystem has evolved. Find out what that means for the Obsidian Iceberg 👀
Wow, it’s been awhile since I had a chance to sit down at my computer and really think. I definitely haven’t gotten caught up on everything since giving birth, but if I don’t write this stuff down soon I’m probably going to forget. Plus, I figure I owe y’all an update about how I’m doing, how things went with the baby & birth, and what my plans are. Feel free to skip to the end if you’re mostly just curious about the future of the Obsidian Roundup.
The last month of my pregnancy was really tough. I slept a lot — way more than I did with during my first pregnancy. I kept getting woozy and needing to lay down, holding onto walls, and having trouble thinking straight. Most of the last three weeks are a blur, although I vividly remember having to go to the hospital twice in 24 hours. The first time, my contractions were like 4 minutes apart so we went to check if I was in labor: the answer was ehhh maybe, but it’s not progressing fast enough, go home and come back when they really hurt. At that point my dilation and such was reasonably far along: I frankly expected to be back in the hospital giving birth the next day.
Instead, I woke up, went to the kitchen to reheat some pizza in the toaster oven, sat down, and noticed that my heart was beating really really fast. I’ve had things like this happen before. Once I nearly passed out swing dancing; the people I was with called an ambulance, and the paramedic chalked it up to an anxiety attack — I don’t have anxiety but it’s common enough that it’s their default assumption. Before that, I was in the hospital for something unrelated, got up to go to the bathroom, and had nurses rush in freaking out because my heart rate monitor had pinged something super high. But an ultrasound of my heart and a few days in a cardiac ward didn’t turn anything up, so it got dismissed.
Not this time!
This time, I was 9 months pregnant, labor imminent, so I called my OBGYN’s office to see how concerned I should be. After 3 minutes nobody picked up, so I called 911. I happen to live close to the fire station, so 7 minutes later when the paramedics arrived, they were able to scoop me up, get me on monitors, and clock my heart rate at something like 234 beats per minute.
How can I be so sure of the timing? The pizza dinged right as they walked in the door. It was kind of funny how often I got asked some variation of “omg do we need to go turn the oven off at your house” before I got used to clarifying that I’d put it in the toaster oven which, like the instant pot & air fryer I’ve learned to appreciate, have auto shut off features. Priceless in a house with kids! Or, apparently, a pregnant lady prone to occasional bouts of supraventricular tachycardia.
The annoying thing is, when you get taken to the ER for SVT, they give you magnesium to help stop your heart muscle from contracting so much. This has the added bonus of stopping your uterus from contracting.
What’s funny is every single medical professional who saw my EKG was like “wow, that’s so fast! Can I take a picture?” except for the cardiologist I saw in the ER, who I’d apparently seen with my first pregnancy when I tried to catch the tachycardia on a monitor for like 6 weeks and never managed it. His reaction was essentially “eh, the biggest risk is that you might fall and hit your head. Honestly you’re really healthy. I wouldn’t have given you the magnesium. You’ll be fine. Just make sure to warn the nurses in labor & delivery because if you go tachy during labor, they will absolutely freak out.”
So they sent me home to wait. Another week.
And warning the L&D nurses turned out to be moot, because when it finally hit, my labor came so fast and hard I barely made it to the hospital in time. My water broke in the middle of the night, I called my parents, about ten minutes later my contractions started. My parents got to my house about half an hour later and at that point I was in excruciating pain more often than not, the contractions were so fast. Thankfully it was the middle of the night, because by the time we made it to the hospital I was pretty much ready to start pushing.
Couldn’t even get out of the car on my own: the nurses had to come out and get me.
They gave me a cursory exam in the triage room, took me straight in. I did not change into a hospital gown, I did not get the epidural I had planned on, I couldn’t even stop convulsing long enough for them to get an IV in me. My pelvic dysfunctions did me no favors, there. We got me into position, I pushed for about three separate contractions, and the baby came out au naturel at 9lbs and change. All told I’d been in the hospital for about 30 minutes at that point.
She was such a big baby they had to monitor her glucose levels because apparently babies that big are usually tied to diabetes and it’s protocol, but she was fine aside from sneezing and spitting up a lot due to the sheer volume of amniotic fluid that hadn’t gotten pushed out in the birth canal because she basically squirted out.
The lactation consultants spent a lot of time winding me up about the baby’s latch not being good enough, and that was super stressful in a variety of ways I don’t want to rehash, but I managed to hold firm on avoiding pumping, and supplemented a few times during the worst of it. I had plenty of milk, and we eventually got her back up to birth weight and into a pediatric dentist to get her tongue tie taken care of, and even though breastfeeding was exceedingly painful for awhile, that’s evened out.
One of the best decisions we made was to hire a postpartum night doula to help out at night, mostly because my husband has a really hard time going back to sleep once he’s woken up and I was feeling pretty wrecked physically from the birth, the tachycardia (which was probably responsible for a lot of my late pregnancy wooziness and exhaustion), and the pubic dysfunction. Given that we had to safely get my 3 year old to daycare, we decided to err on the side of optimizing our sleep.
We went with an agency, to help hedge against scheduling issues, which wound up happening: our first and second choices weren’t available and the doula who ended up coming to our house was in some ways lacking in common sense to a shocking degree. She was fine at holding the baby and giving her baths and changing diapers, but on several occasions had loud phone conversations right next to my room when I was trying to sleep, and once she let the baby sleep almost twice as long as she was supposed to which meant a missed feeding and probably contributed to a concerning weight drop — after that I started setting an alarm. At one point I asked her to heat up a hotdog for me while I was feeding the baby and she microwaved the entire container of hot dogs, then asked me how many I wanted. There were a lot of little things like that (why would you put dirty pants — and not just jeans — in the dryer, instead of in the washing machine with the rest of the clothes?). On the whole, once we got through the worst of the first few days and my milk came in, I was happy to transition away from having the help.
And speaking of transitions, the baby is solidly two months old now, sleeping relatively consistently on flat surfaces instead of in my arms, and not showing any signs of chronic fussiness. Husband’s back at work and I’m ramping back up in my day job, which means coming up for air and deciding what to do about my other obligations.
Last week I sent out my first newsletter edition in months, it’s micro reviews of fiction I read lately. I also wrote the edition that’ll go out next week, which is micro reviews of my recent nonfiction reading. During that process I ran into an issue with my newsletter hosting software not sending the article because I’d hit 10k subscribers (💚) and they wanted to charge more. I didn’t get an email warning me, and by the time I realized the article hadn’t gone out, it was like 3 days later because I’ve been busy with the aforementioned baby. Honestly, I couldn’t even get subscriptions to properly turn off using Ghost once I knew I was going to be taking a hiatus for pregnancy — it kept bugging out. Little frustrations like that add up, and with a day job and two kids, I’m not in a position to deal with these kinds of tech problems anymore.
So (as you may have noticed) this email is coming from Substack instead of Ghost. Since Substack only charges a percentage of income, and my goal with asking for subscriptions to the newsletter was to cover hosting fees, I no longer intend to worry about things like incentivizing subscriptions. The option is turned on for folks who’d like to help defer the costs of my time, but I’m not going to be paywalling anything anymore.
I’m also not going to be writing the Obsidian Roundup in its previous form, for two main reasons: (1) it’s going to be a long time before I can consistently devote my Fridays to such a regimented publication (2) most of its functions are either no longer necessary or done better elsewhere.
That said, I intend to keep writing about knowledge management, obscure history, and weird science. I will continue rounding up interesting and relevant articles and resources. I’m going to aim for a once-a-week cadence with this, and articles won’t necessarily be as timely because I’m going to schedule things more in advance to account for how different things are now as compared to a few years back when the Obsidian Roundup started. For one, LLMs and automations have made a lot of things I used to find joy in feel pretty rote.
After all: the Obsidian changelogs have gotten a lot easier to access. The Obsidian team now has a social media presence, and my own is limited by the fact that Twitter and Reddit both kind of suck now. On the happier side, there’s an amazing database of new plugins and updates. The Obsidian hub exists, and can be downloaded and searched. Most of the “game-changer” plugins have been conceived of and built. The major thought leaders are well established, other newsletters do a good job covering a lot of what I used to, and overall the ecosystem feels pretty mature.
So this is definitely not goodbye, this is hello:
I hope you enjoy the newly reconstituted Obsidian Iceberg, and feel free to share anything neat that you think I might have missed in the last few months!