Meeting Bradley Grace

Quite honestly, I didn’t think I’d be one of those moms that wrote a birth story, let alone published it for the world to see.

But Bradley’s birth story is worth sharing because it taught me something so important: EVERYONE IS SO DIFFERENT.

 

There isn’t a single woman who goes through labor in the same way and so therefore no birth story is the same. I guess that what makes all of us so profound – we all enter the world in entirely different ways.

 

I absolutely love that.

 

BACK STORY: I really felt like the words God gave me for 2017 were “Unexpect” and “Unassume” and therefore I felt like it was important to be pseudo “unprepared” for Bradley Grace’s labor and delivery.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We packed the hospital bags and got a pediatrician and installed the car seat and all of those necessary little things for her arrival. But I really felt like the most peaceful process for me was going to be 1) not having a rigid birth plan or doing a ton of research to come up with a rigid birth plan and 2) being perfectly content ahead of time with however she came into the world – be it C-Section or otherwise.

So from the beginning of 2017, I began to relax and realize that the more research I did, the more I also realized that everyone had a completely unique birth story. And Bug’s would be no different. It wouldn’t matter how much I planned or researched the exactly perfect birthing scenarios or techniques, her birth was going to be her own and ultimately, I wasn’t the author of it. Sure, I could place my firm preferences here and there. But it felt so much more peaceful and freeing to surrender my preferences (and also more peaceful to stay neutral about some topics) than to be the author of my daughter’s birth story.

 

And personally, I have a hard time reading about women who are disappointed by their child’s birth story because it hadn’t gone the exact route that they had wanted. There seems to be something amiss about that that I can’t place my finger on. I still firmly believe that however the birth story happens is remarkable because of how unique it is. Also – you’re bringing a human into the world. That deserves enough credit on its own. 

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BRADLEY’S BIRTH STORY (AKA How she got here)

(Don’t worry – I won’t give you graphic details.)

 

*Side note: The only potentially weird words I’m going to use in this story are the words “cervix” and “dilate”.  Basically all you need to know if you have no clue how birth works is that a woman’s cervix must reach 10 cm in order to push a baby out. Great? great. If that’s too vague for you, go ask another woman how this works. If that’s too specific for you, you should stop reading here.*

 

Since around 24 weeks of pregnancy, I’ve had something called “gestational hypertension” meaning that my blood pressure has been high on account of carrying a baby.

This is incredibly common with women who had borderline high(er) blood pressure before pregnancy because pregnancy causes your BP to go up. (Hellooooo you’re growing a human and your blood volume is doubling so yes… blood pressure definitely goes up in pregnancy)

Since week 24, however, I have been on BP medication which has kept my BP extremely normal. I passed my gestational diabetes test with flying colors. They never found protein in my urine (a sign of pre-eclampsia) and everything was looking A-okay.

The only thing that was slightly different than your “normal” pregnancy was that my midwives advised me that it would be safer and healthier if I was induced between 39 and 40 weeks of pregnancy (if I hadn’t gone into labor naturally by myself before then) because the later in pregnancy, the more risky it is for a woman who has gestational hypertension to develop pre-eclampsia (Hellooooo fully grown baby + this causing stress on literally every part of your body = even higher BP).

 

And this sounded great with me. I mean, obviously, I thought it would’ve been fun to have the whole “OMG MY WATER BROKE” story – but Bug’s health and safety was my number one (and only) goal and HECK, I TRUST MIDWIVES AND DOCTORS. They’ve been dealing with different pregnancies way longer than me and probably know a thing or two. Might as well trust them right? Right.

 

Therefore, I was scheduled to go in on the night of the 4th of July to start dilating my cervix and then the morning of the 5th I would start a drug called “pitocin” which would help contractions begin (helping get my body ready for labor and also dilating my cervix further).

 

On July 3rd, I had my final appointment at my team of midwives’ offices and found out I was already 3 cm dilated! This seemed like a very big deal and step in the right direction. I had been experiencing inconsistent and non-progressing contractions for around 2 weeks before this so I was hopeful that maybe I could go into labor naturally before they would have to induce me. So because I was already dilated, my July 4th appointment was cancelled and my only job was to try to start inducing labor on my own but to go in on Wednesday morning, July 5th, as well if I still hadn’t gone into labor.

 

So with my family in tow, we spent the whole 4th of July on Baby Watch 2017, trying to get me to go into labor. And I was GRUMPY. It was super hot out… nothing we were doing was working… and I wanted this baby OUT. We walked a TON and I avoided eye contact with literally everyone I passed who apparently seemed very concerned with my well-being (probably judging by my waddles and flock of family members who were looking at me as if I were a ticking time bomb they were madly in love with.)

 

But alas, the morning of July 5th rolled around and I had not gone into labor.

 

So we woke up super early on Wednesday, worshipped for the last time as a family of 2, and checked ourselves into Cary WakeMed to begin the induction process.

 

Both sides of our families were eager to meet their first grandchild after getting their hopes up for the past 2 days that I might go in to labor, so they arrived at the hospital a few hours after we did. (Little did we know the waiting had just started…)

 

Once I started on Pitocin, my nurse noted that my BP was high and we realized I had not taken my BP meds that morning. However, even after I took them, my blood pressure stayed on the high end. It wasn’t dramatically horrible and it definitely wasn’t enough to need immediate intervention, but it did require an extra watchful eye on me as well as a limitation to my movements out of bed, in hopes of keeping it down. Therefore – I couldn’t use many methods that had been told about to help manage the pain of contractions naturally. (Which was fine! Again – goal #1 was Bug’s health and safety).

 

After around 3 hours of feeling fairly painful contractions, (about noon), my midwife came in to check my cervix (5 hours of pitocin and I was up to 5 cm) and then break my water. I told her that I wasn’t feeling the contractions how I thought I should be feeling them. I knew contractions were going to suck but I was in a significant amount of pain and already begging for an epidural. (Even though I knew it was too early, I still was asking…and also starting to wonder how much of a wuss I really was that I couldn’t handle these beginning contractions). I could see the contractions rising and falling on the monitor, but what I felt was like someone was continuously kicking me in the stomach with no break in between the contractions. I felt like my rib bones were being compressed and squeezing the breath out of me without stopping. My nurse looked at my midwife and said “Yea… that’s not contractions….”

Immediately they decided to check my urine for protein and discovered that there was some in it. And because of the elevated BP that wasn’t appearing to go down, along with the intense stomach pains, they diagnosed me with pre-eclampsia.

 

This meant that I needed to begin an IV of Magnesium that would keep me from having seizures as well as keep my BP down for the remainder of labor.

 

Now… this Magnesium drip does its job perfectly but it also makes you like you have the flu…weak, nauseous and pretty lethargic.

So with my BP in check and the magnesium flowing, NOW the fun part began! The REAL CONTRACTIONS.

And HOLY TOLEDO contractions suck.

At first, I was able to feel them regularly and somewhat joke through them. Then they started coming every other minute and lasting around 30 seconds and I was very rapidly losing most of my energy and mental stamina. And yes, at one point I genuinely asked Noah if he could take the next contraction for me because I wasn’t sure I could handle another. Lol. It was roughhhh.

Because I couldn’t leave the bed for risk of elevating my BP, I shook my way through some of the most pain I have ever experienced in my life, hoping that by the end of it there might be some sort of progression in my dilation. I start asking for the epidural around 2 hours in but in order to give me one, my contractions needed to be extremely regular and my cervix needed to be progressing. (AKA I needed to be considered in active labor) Neither of the things were happening, so the earliest I could get the epidural was around 7:00 pm after 4 hours of hard contractions.

Side note: Noah was AMAZING during this. He held my hand through every contraction and brought me a million cups of ice water and cold towels for my head. I 100% wouldn’t have made it through that day without him or my mother.

 

So around 7:00, I was finally and OFFICIALLY in active labor. I also ENTHUSIASTICALLY welcomed the anesthesiologist into the room to give me my epidural.  AND WOW.

THE BEST THING EVER. People always say that the worst part of the epidural is the stick going into your spine but that felt like NOTHING compared to the pain of contractions. (10/10 would recommend epidurals. I would take 1000 sticks in my spine over one contraction any day)

After that, I could still feel the pressure of the contractions but it was nothing horrible.

 

At around 10:00 pm, the midwife came in to check my cervix and this time I was at 7 cm. By 1:00 am, my body completely drained from contracting and majorly feeling horrible from the lack of food and side effects of magnesium, but I had FINALLY reached 10 cm!

This felt like a huge accomplishment!

The only problem was that Bradley Grace had never “dropped” into the birth canal area. She was still extremely high. We tried different techniques to get her to move her way down. We even began the pushing process, hoping that this would encourage her to move down. After 4 hours of pushing off and on, little Bug would just not move and the stress it was causing on my body and hers was becoming obvious.

Her heart rate had gone up and down, my BP was fluctuating, and my body was completely spent.

At 4:45 am on July 6th, after another round of pushing, the doctor decided that the healthiest and safest things for me and baby was to have a C-setion. And y’all, I kid you not – I immediately felt so peaceful about that.

It was like I just always knew that’s what would happen.

At 5:00 am, I was wheeled into the OR with my husband in scrubs sitting at my head. And on the other side of the drape, at 5:22 am, they pronounced a “time of birth” for our daughter, Bradley Grace Bowman, which was met by the most high-pitched, feminine  baby cry I’ve ever heard.

While I didn’t get to see much of her while we were in the OR, Noah got SO many amazing pictures of her first moments of life.

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The second half of the C-section was bizarre because I could feel the pressure of them pushing everything around and started to get extremely nauseous. Eventually, however, I was sewn up, my epidural was removed, and I was wheeled back to the hospital room to find my doe-eyed husband holding our 7 lb, 15 oz baby girl with her head FULL of hair.

 

Bug’s birth story was an adventure. I’ve had a few people ask me if there was any point in which I was afraid during labor. And I can honestly say I really never was. I can’t explain it other than the peace of God over the entire day as well as just trusting that the entire process would be okay. There was no need to freak out because things came up or because it wasn’t exactly an “easy” process.

 

Regardless if it was easy or not, it was peaceful. And I think that’s the point – It is possible to be filled with peace in the midst of difficult things. 

And honestly, I’m so proud of her birth story! I think there’s often a lot of mommy-shame associated with C-sections or even epidurals but I’m really proud of her story and honestly wouldn’t change a thing about it… even if everything didn’t go “perfectly”.

I would probably only change the puking. I wish I hadn’t puked. Lol.

 

 

I’m sure there will be many more posts to come about parenthood and the like. For now, we are exhausted but in love with our daughter. (How can we not be, though? She’s super cute).

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10 Things I Learned in Year 1 of Marriage

(And jeez, there’s probably a lot more than 10)

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I became motivated to write this post because of Savannah Locke  who is JUST the most precious human and amazing writer. I follow her on Instagram and she gave a little “here’s what I learned in year 1 of marriage” snip-bit.

 

Thus I became inspired.

 

Marriage is funny. Year one has been dramatically different and better than I thought it’d be.

 

#1. If you think you have inside jokes with your significant other now… just wait till you get married. 

OH MY HEAVENS.

The amount of inside jokes Noah and I have now is one of my favorite things. The amount of times we have gotten in extremely goofy moods and laughed until tears have streamed down our faces is way more than I can count.

I love that we have learned how to communicate with just one word or one weird look. There are moments where I can figure out exactly what he’s thinking by his facial expressions in a situation.

One time, we were watching a movie with friends, and Bill Murray showed up on screen. Simultaneously, we both looked at each other and said in unison “BILL FREAKING MURRAY” and then died laughing.

The best.

 

#2. You will never stop learning about each other. 

On the flip side of communicating with one word or one look, there are also things that still completely catch me off guard about Noah.

We still have to overly communicate things at times. I can’t always figure out what’s going on in his head.

I’ve had to learn how to ask really good questions and which questions he NEEDS to be asked.

For the most part, I understand broad overviews of how he thinks. But there are also times where I have to have him explain it to me so I can understand his interactions and reactions in certain situations.

Lately, he’s been really into the idea of going bow-fishing. I have no clue where this came from. But I’m still learning about him!

 

#3. Saving sex for marriage was SO worth it. 

I will never be able to talk about that enough.

Having boundaries and guarding purity and honoring it for marriage has made everything so much more worth it.

Honestly, we could both preach on this for hours.

If you want a more in-depth discussion or if you’re in a relationship where you’re having trouble being envisioned for that, I would love to spill my guts about how worth it is on this side of marriage.

 

#4. Yes, you are going to have fights. 

And yes, many times they’re going to be either about 1) really stupid things or 2) really intimate, vulnerable things that you’ve never had a conversation with anyone else about.

These fights are SOOO good. I’ve never left one of these fights NOT feeling closer to Noah.

Here’s the key to fighting well:

  1. Get it all out. Don’t do the whole “I’m just going to pout and not tell you what’s really going on with me” thing. That’s dumb. Stop it.
  2. Admit when you’re being a butt head. If about halfway through the argument, you realize you were completely in the wrong and that guilty feeling starts to creep in? Yea.. don’t ignore it. Get to apologizing. And admit you’re being a butt head. Then your spouse can agree with you and say “Yes, you are being a butt head” and you can laugh about it.
  3. NEVER reject a hug when they want to hug it out. Always at least end things with a big ginormous hug. You won’t regret it.

 

#5. Married life is amazing. But single life had its perks too. 

For so long in my single years, I had moments where I was really convinced that married life had to be better and that single life was the worst.

If only I was married… I would think.

I’m confident that Paul knew exactly what he was writing at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 7.

Neither one is better than the other. I think there is a season for EVERYTHING. I think God writes stories in a million different ways.

Getting married to Noah and being his wife was and IS the best thing for me. Of that, I am convinced.

But between singleness and marriage… they can’t even be compared.

As a married woman, I get to sleep in a bed with a really hot guy (heyooo) every night. I get to always come home to someone. I have someone to process things with and someone who loves me REALLY well and shows me/tells me often.

As a single woman though, I had a lot of freedom in making decisions that I don’t necessarily have now. My choices and my actions didn’t affect a ton of people. In fact… it mainly just affected me. Move wherever and whenever I want? Sure! Go on a really long trip just for fun? Go for it! Completely change career paths? WHY NOT!?

They both have their benefits.

If you’re single and have the desire to get married, I would encourage and exhort you to savor your single years. They will be much shorter than your married years. Don’t get so caught up in the longing for a different season that you miss the current one. 

 

#6. If you were one of those people who joked to your friends who were getting married that they were going to get pregnant in their first year of marriage, God will laugh and make you that person instead. 

Lololololol

We got pregnant almost exactly 6 months into marriage. And I regret every time I joked with anyone about how I hoped they would get pregnant quickly.

3 more months till Bradley Grace Bowman makes her appearance.

 

#7. It’s okay to learn to be dependent.

Hear me out on this one.

I prided myself on my independence in singleness, dating and even engagement.

I was always told that being dependent is a bad thing.

And yes, in a way, it is.

But in marriage, learning how to become one with your spouse and learning to let them affect you is a HUGE process.

It’s also safe. SO incredibly safe.

For the first 3 months of marriage, I was so confused and angry about how easily Noah could affect me on the other side of marriage. Becoming his wife allowed him to have access to deep places in my heart that no one else on Earth had. And it felt so uncomfortable and vulnerable.

And I felt like I had to guard and protect and hold myself together… to keep myself unaffected by him.

But that’s not what a healthy marriage is.

I’m SUPPOSED to be one with him. I’m supposed to be affected by him.

Just let go. Learn how to depend on each other and let the other person affect you.

 

 

#8. Spending time with God is just as important as it’s always been. 

It never stops being important. It’s just as necessary to hear from God and have intimacy with Him on the other side of marriage.

I need Him now just like I’ve always needed Him.

 

#9. You have to be more intentional to get quality time with friends. 

I’m still learning this one.

But really, if you stop being intentional with your community and your friends who are both single and married, then friendships will dwindle and fade.

It is SO easy to get caught up in your little “marriage bubble”.

Don’t fall into the trap!

Make it a priority for both you and your spouse to schedule consistent time with groups of people and intentional times with members of the same sex.

Friendships are still important! Don’t let them fall through cracks.

 

#10. Marriage does not always have to be hard. 

It really doesn’t.

It can be the most fun, life-giving, wonderful thing. And if it’s not, get prayer! Talk to people! Get quality time with other couples and have them help you with your conflicts.

I have loved realizing that Noah is my #1 fan and the best teammate I will ever have. Doing things TOGETHER is far better than trying to operate in our individual strengths independently.

 

LET’S GO, YEAR 2!

I Hate Disharmony

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I hate disharmony.

I absolutely hate it.

It makes me squirm; makes my skin crawl like someone just ran their nails along a chalkboard.

If I feel like something is “off” between myself and someone else… I cannot rest. I cannot sit still or feel peaceful or move on until I find out what it is that is wrong.

I have to ask if “we” are okay.

 

And this. This is what I’m left feeling constantly about our country and our nation.

 

I want to shout “ARE WE OKAY!?”

 

We have forgotten how to TRY to understand each other.

We keep insisting that “If that isn’t true for me personally, it’s not true at all.” And so we slander the person who expresses how they feel, insisting that they are an idiot for thinking the way they do.

Racism. Oppression. Political opinions left and right.

I have never been a minority. I have never felt ostracized because of my race or even my religion. Even as a woman, I have never felt blatantly oppressed in my country. I haven’t been abused. I have never felt afraid that I will lose my job or not be able to pay rent. I have never felt at risk of being deported from my country or kicked out on account of my religion.

Those have never been my realities.

But that doesn’t mean those things don’t exist.

And I won’t shun the people who have experienced them or tell them they’re wrong for speaking out about their experiences. I won’t hate the person who supports a different politician than me because of something that is a reality to them that I have never experienced myself. 

We must put aside our privilege and learn to listen. We must learn to have conversations and say, “Why do you feel that way? Tell me about your experience. What is it that I’m missing? What do you think needs to change?”

And this goes both ways. Conservatives toward liberals. Liberals toward conservatives.

“What about our culture makes you feel as if women do not have rights? What has been your personal experience?”

“Why do you believe that banning refugees from entering our country is the right decision? What experiences do you have that make you feel this way?”

This doesn’t mean we have one conversation and immediately agree with each other. This doesn’t mean we switch sides or drop our convictions. This just means we at least UNDERSTAND where the other person is coming from. And why they feel the way they feel. This means we put down our pitch-forks.

We must stop the anger and the hate; the rioting and the name-calling; the alienating and isolating.

 

We have completely abandoned the idea that everyone is free to vocalize how they FEEL and what their experience has been.

 

We MUST realize that we’re all living in the exact same world. Yet we all view it completely differently. I will not view the world in the same way that an African-American man does. Nor will I view the world in the same way that a Syrian refugee does.

 

Our experiences aren’t wrong or right. They are just our experiences. And we must seek to understand one another’s experiences in order to understand where people’s convictions and beliefs come from.

The point is not a unity in conviction. The point is a unity in understanding. 

On the Gilmore Girls Revival

I’ve never written a “review” blog on anything; movie, book, tv series… nothin.

 

But the Gilmore Girl Revival has caused so much pent up angst within me that I have to spill out all of my opinions in one place.

so *SPOILERS AHEAD* – please stop reading if you haven’t finished the show and would like to remain clueless.

 

Let me start by saying:

 

The Gilmore Girls revival was a ginormous disappointment. 

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I didn’t realize how strongly I felt this until I started reflecting and processing what actually happened in the show.

 

I watched the original Gilmore Girls on a regular basis when it aired in the 2000’s. I kept up with the in’s and out’s of the Gilmore lifestyle; I cried when hearts were broken; I celebrated when characters matured and made courageous life decisions.

 

You might be thinking right now that I’m way too emotionally invested in this show. Quite honestly, it had all been put on the back burner until news about this revival aired. I love a good story. I love good character development. And Gilmore Girls has always provided me with characters I can root for.

 

But this revival was a huge disservice to two characters that I love deeply.

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For starters, Lorelai was minimized to an immature 50-year-old who still lives with her boyfriend after 9+ years with no logical explanation. 

No “I still have trust issues and I can’t marry him.”

No “I just like dating instead of being married.”

No “I just don’t want to get married.”

Nothing.

There was no explanation for their relationship.

It was as if Luke and Lorelai simply were put on hold for 9 years, fast forwarded to the future, and pressed play right when the viewers tuned in on November 25. There was no depth, maturity, or even chemistry anymore.

Good relationships come through having hard conversations and working through insecurities and weaknesses. Yet here, our two characters still lied to each other about their vulnerabilities. And after 9 years, Lorelai didn’t hesitate hiding from her “partner” that she was going to therapy. Why would that be something to hide from someone you’re sharing life with? Why not walk through the difficult and hardships of life together? Why didn’t we see Luke mourning with Lorelai about her father’s death? Helping her process her grief?

Somewhere over these 9 years, Lorelai Gilmore tried to remain the 30-something mother to a teenager that she had always been. But as viewers, we were longing to see maturity. We wondered what Lorelai in this stage of life might look like. How her and Luke’s relationship might have grown and weathered. Yet she tried to remain who she used to be trapped in her 48-year-old body.

 

It was as if Amy Sherman-Palladino had waited all these years to show us the wedding. But viewers weren’t on edge waiting for the wedding. We knew/hoped that it had happened over these 9 years. We hoped to catch glimpses of it during flashbacks. Mostly, we were anticipating to walk into the middle of a long-fought-for marriage. And we were short-handed something that could have been amazing.

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Rory exchanged her years of independence and knowledge, leadership and growth, for dumb decisions that were better suited for a girl in the early 20’s. 

No part of Rory Gilmore’s story belonged to a woman in her 30’s. Let alone, a Rory Gilmore in her 30’s.

I’m all for people not having their lives together yet. That’s perfectly fine to not have it together.

But for the love of everything, make good decisions.

Sleeping with a guy who’s engaged and not showing any remorse about it? Never mind the fact that he seems perfectly fine with sleeping with you and hiding it from his fiancé and has absolutely no intention of breaking up with her. Also he doesn’t even try to hide answering your 2 am phone calls with her in the bed next to him. Blech.

Not to mention, you’re still dating some rando whose name you don’t even remember (and have been for 2 years) and can’t find the “time” or decency in yourself to have a 60 second phone call to break up with him?

Oh and while you’re doing this, have a random one-night-stand with a guy from ComiCon?

Also crash on multiple people’s couches, refuse to have a real job, and oh yea, never buy underwear for an entire year.

These are small, pretty basic, and OBVIOUS decisions that most humans would have a correct response to.

Yet here, our beloved and brilliant Yale-graduated Rory can’t seem to make the right one.

 

This isn’t rocket-science. This is “how to be a mature adult 101”. And the Rory I left back in 2007 was smarter than that. 

Heck she rejected a proposal post-college (a proposal that I know many women would’ve accepted) because she was too goal-oriented. It was the wiser decision for her. She was a freakin genius in 2007.

Apparently in 9 years, you can lose every bit of wisdom you’ve ever had.

 

Bottom line: WHAT THE HECK DID YOU DO TO OUR RORY GILMORE, AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO!?!

 

Emily Gilmore was the one redeeming quality of the revival. Her character development and maturity was everything faithful viewers had always hoped for. And her life post-Richard is what everyone hopes their life would look like if, God-forbid, their spouse passed away. It was inspiring and hopeful.

She grew. She mourned. She matured. She laughed. She found a life she loved. It was beautiful.

 

 

Gilmore Girls in the early 2000’s had no idea why it was wonderful and loved. It did whatever the heck it wanted and marched to the beat of its own drum, horribly getting cancelled in 2007.

Apparently in the 9 years that followed, however, it read up on itself. It made a list of everything that everyone loved and when the time came for the Revival, said “LET’S BE SURE TO INCLUDE EVERYTHING EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD LOVED x 1000!”

It’s why the whole thing felt so sporadic and jumpy and random (Hello, Stars Hollow musical? Like, what the actual heck did this add to the plot? How about some character development, folks?)

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I don’t like the conclusion that everything has come “full circle” with Rory being pregnant. That thought makes me believe that Amy Sherman-Palladino didn’t believe in more for her Gilmore daughter than to repeat her mother’s mistakes. This makes me think that ASP believes that history will always repeat itself, no matter what.

And I trust don’t believe that’s what ASP wanted for her characters.

The only thing that has made me feel the slightest bit resolved is believing that Gilmore Girls the tv show is the tv version of Rory’s book. And therefore, we’re only supposed to know as much as the book knows.

 

 

Rant over.