Thursday, October 27, 2011

Race Report: 5 km @ 20 weeks

Goals (in order of importance):

1. To be guilt and worry free afterwards regarding the effort I exerted and possible negative effects on baby.
2. Place top 10 in the 20-30 category (which would assure me second place overall in the series and win a great prize).
3. Get in 18 km of running for the day.
4. Run a pregnancy PB (faster than 21:03).

The Numbers
-Number of kilometers: 5
-Fastest km: 3:59 (downhill back to the wind)
-Slowest km: 4:26 (uphill face into the wind)
-Total time: 20:55
-Overall place: 146
-Place among women: 19
-Place in 20-39 category: 12

So, goal #1 achieved, zero guilt and worry afterwards, effort felt very moderate and sustainable throughout.
Goal # 2 FAIL. On the other hand, 20-39 is a HUGE age category... and ten of the women who beat me were in their twenties.... I was the second thirty-something across the line. Darn those quick legged twenty year olds! But I subsequently found out I tied for second place in the series and therefore get my very cool prize (free entries into 6 races next year!).
Goal # 3 - 18.6 km for the day baby! On the other hand I also managed to re-injure my foot. And then... rather than backing off immediately as 25 years of experience as a runner SHOULD have taught me to do, I kept going, now it hurts to stand or to shuffle to the bathroom. Why am I so dumb??
Goal # 4 - done.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do you want a girl or a boy?

It is the inevitable question posed to those who are visibly pregnant by close friends and random strangers alike. The pregnant woman smiles beatifically and, almost invariably answers, (say it with me) "all I care about is having a healthy baby." Awwww. Such is the politically correct veneer we swathe over the true answer to a question that would perhaps be better unasked. The truth, as is the case with almost all human truths, lies in our actions not our words. The real truth, that rings out from all four corners of the globe is: boy please!

I came across this recently while perusing the ultimate source of ALL truths - wikipedia:

My naive little brain was floored on several fronts. First, globally, whenever there is a gender preference it is for males. There is, apparently, NO COUNTRY ON THE PLANET that prefers female offspring. Second, do you SEE the colour of Canada on this map? Apparently we are practicing gender selection here at significant enough levels to result in abnormal childhood sex ratios.

How do people go about choosing the gender of their offspring? There are various ways and inevitably they are unreliable OR of questionable ethics AND/OR illegal AND/OR just plain wrong. There are various theories on timing intercourse. The Shettles method, for example, relies on the fact that Y-bearing sperm swim faster and X-bearing sperm live longer to suggest that a couple can increase the odds of a female baby by having intercourse several days before ovulation and then abstaining while intercourse very near ovulation can increase the odds of a male baby. According to studies I have read, this method barely has a measurable effect. In the category of more effective but ethically questionable - the rise of fertility clinics has lead to more possibilities for pre-conception gender screening. As I understand it, sperm which is being used for inseminations or for IVF procedures can be sorted by molecular weight in order to select X or Y-bearing sperm. As I said, ethically questionable ( to say the very least) and, illegal in Canada. Then we get to the really ugly... selective abortion after early gender determination. This is clearly a problem in Canada, so much so that it is actually illegal to reveal gender in an ultrasound until AFTER the legal cut-off time for an abortion in the province of British Columbia (contrast Quebec where I nervously told my OB at least three times during my 20 week ultrasound today that I did NOT want to know the gender as she was more than willing, and legally able, to tell me). This law has not stopped people however as mail order kits from various companies are easily available which can be used to provide a maternal blood sample from which they can somehow determine fetal gender. The means of gender selection get even uglier than there...

Why do people care? I mean apart from a whimsical desire to have one of each gender in the mistaken belief that boys and girls are really so different... why do people care? I would argue that people who REALLY care about gender, and by really care, I don't mean a slight preference, curiosity, whimsical desire, I mean people who care enough to take ugly actions are probably having children for the wrong reasons. Or is it simply that my socio-economic reality is so far removed from needing to have a child of a certain gender that I have the luxury not to care??  What are the reasons? Ability to inherit? Desire to carry on the family name? Desire for an offspring with good earning potential? Not having to pay a dowry? I suppose in certain societies the gender of one's offspring can have HUGE bearing on one's well-being and quality of life. But I would hope that Canada is not one of those societies. Why are people in Canada practicing gender selection?

And speaking of differences between girls and boys, do they really exist? Ok, obviously they do. But everyone and their cousin seems to have their own pet theory regarding whether boys or girls are easier to raise. These theories are usually based on one or two difficult children of a given gender that the theorist happens to know. Given individual variability, are the between-gender differences in behaviour and personality really large enough to be significant in the face of within-gender variability? I question whether it is really possible to state definitively whether one gender is "easier" to raise than the other. In fact, I feel certain it is not. As I stood on the sidewalk in the cold, October rain earlier this week watching la cocotte rolling on the ground, pulling off her shoes and coat screaming "No manteau! No manteau! No manteau!" (translation: la cocotte did not wish to wear her coat on that cold, rainy day) I was sure of several two things - this had nothing to do with her being a her and everything to do with her being la cocotte at 2 years of age.