Friday, June 25, 2010

Unmitigated whining

So it looks like I'll be out of a job come January. My boss didn't get a grant she was hoping for and won't be able to pick up my paycheck when my funding runs out at the end of December. So I'm working on exploring career options right now. It's actually kind of nice to finally get the kick in the @ss I needed to start seriously looking for jobs away from academic research instead of just constantly focusing on the next experiment.

I'm finishing up my first postdoc paper right now, and I'll immediately begin writing the second paper. In the meantime I've been trolling the Science Careers website, looking at job postings for industry, and doing informational interviews here at the University trying to come up with a plan to keep myself employed for at least the next year. Husband has his first interview lined up for a tenure track job (at a very prestigious place... I'm very proud, but also befuddled: He didn't get interviews at some real podunk places, but he got an interview someplace really awesome? WTF mate?) and is generally planning on doing a second search this fall. However, he's also looking at industry job postings... I think the job search left him pretty disillusioned with academia.

Articles like this one have left me pretty disillusioned myself. I think Science-with-a-capital-S was just a pretty different tplace when all of the current faculty were coming up through the ranks. There were some reasonable expectations for employment in science when you were done. For current postdocs, it's such a different atmosphere. Not only are there not enough academic jobs to go around, but leaving academia is usually a pretty ego-shattering experience. We spend 10+ years drinking the kool-aid, listening to people we respect as mentors tell us that the best and brightest stay at the bench as academics and if you leave the bench you are a sell-out or a failure.

I guess I'm finally over it. I'm done caring if people want to brand me a "failed scientist" and I'm going to try my best to find a position with a decent paycheck and some appropriate work-life balance. I'll keep you posted. I imagine that I'm in for a bumpy ride.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Back to real life

This morning I went on my first run in almost a year. It felt good, and also horrible. My lungs were on fire for the first 5 minutes or so, and then after that I was distracted by an entirely different pain. Apparently Mama needs a new sports bra. Surprisingly, the one I got at Target for 10 bucks before I got pregnant isn't cutting it, and my poor sore nursing boobs were not happy with the bouncing. I had to run clutching my chest the entire time. Luckily there aren't too many people out and about at 5:15 a.m. so I wasn't too embarrassed.

I only ran about 2 miles, but I broke the first-run-after-a-hiatus barrier, and I think that's important in and of itself. I'm going to get myself a new sports bra ASAP, and in the meantime I'll just have to suck it up. I gotta build some momentum while I can.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How novel

I'm sitting in a coffee shop by myself right now, and in a few minutes I'm going to a lovely salon to get my haircut for the first time in 8 months. When I left the house, Bug, Bean, and Husband were all napping. The freedom to sit alone, enjoying a cup of coffee, with absolutely nothing to do is absolutely delicious. I really need more moments to myself.

I'm excited to get my hair cut. I'm going to give the chick a few ground rules, but otherwise it's hairdressers choice. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I don’t even know where to begin. An apology for not posting for so long? A thank you to ScientistMother for making me feel less lame for posting after such a long hiatus?

I guess I should begin with the Bug. Bug was born on December 29th, two weeks before his due date. I had been predicting for months that he would be born that week and had made all my lab work plans around my mothers intuition. Luckily Bug obliged.

I woke up at 4:00 a.m. with infrequent but regular contractions every 8-10 minutes. At 6:00 a.m. I woke Husband and told him that he wasn’t going to work. Actually, that’s not true. I woke Husband and we negotiated how long it was going to take him to collect his timepoint. After labwork was out of the way, we spent a relaxing day in early labor. We took Bean to a puppet show, we had a nice lunch. When Bean went down for her nap, I tried to lay down myself but found I was too restless. So I folded laundry and Husband set up the co-sleeper. When Bean woke up, she cried because she hadn’t helped set up Bug’s bed. So I gave her a little stuffed toy and a blanket for her to lay in there for him, and then we bundled her off to a friend’s house.

On the way from our friend’s house to the hospital the contractions started to get intense. About 10 minutes away from the hospital my water broke and the contractions started coming every 2 minutes. It turned into the classic “laboring woman yelling at her husband on the way to the hosital” cliché, with me telling husband he was an idiot for stopping at stop signs. By the time we got to the hospital I was in tears and could no longer walk or talk during contractions. They took us straight into our room.

The midwife checked me. I was only 4 cm. I was devastated. The contractions were extremely painful and coming right on top of each other. I tried several different positions, rocking on all fours, on the birthing ball, squatting. Eventually I asked to get in the tub, and the tub gave me a lot of relief. The midwife turned out the lights and I spent a couple of hours laboring in the tub with husband applying ice cold compresses on my forehead. When I think back on that part of my labor, I remember it as both intensely painful and intensely intimate. I remember my hand clutching the side of the tub during contractions, and husband holding my head. The midwife framed in the doorway with a dim light behind her. I remember the labor in fragments, with tunnel vision. I don’t remember Husband’s face, only his voice and his hand.

After awhile I was starting to lose my ability to cope through contractions. I asked the midwife how much longer. How much longer until Bug was born. No more than 2 hours she said. 2 hours sounded like an eternity. I opted to get a dose of fentanyl to help ease the pain. In reality, the fentanyl didn’t really ease the pain, but it did help me rest between the contractions and helped calm me down. The fentanyl wore off extremely quickly, but it was enough to help me rest, refocus and start coping again.

After about 2 hours in the tub, I asked the midwife to check me. But as soon as I stood up I could tell it was time to push. Husband helped me out of the tub and into the bed. With the midwife and the nurse’s help, I tried pushing. I was surprised to find that pushing seemed to relieve the pain of the contractions. After 45 minutes of pushing, Bug was born, wet and beautiful on my belly.

Bug’s birth was an incredible experience. Along with my wedding day and Bean’s birth, it was one of the best days of my life.

Bean wasn’t able to come visit her baby brother at the hospital (thank you, H1N1), but she has been an enthusiastic and loving big sister. The adjustment has been surprisingly smooth. Bean is a caretaker for sure and likes being Bug’s second little mommy. She likes to smile for and otherwise entertain him, and she always tells me if he is crying (even when I’m holding him). There haven’t been any real signs of jealousy yet (*knock on wood*).

Bug for his part is an extremely mellow and wonderful little baby. He’s sweet and cuddly and not much of a crier. He’s been nursing and growing well. A relatively good sleeper, even. Now 3.5 months old, he’s smiling, rolling over, and starting to grab toys. We’ve been using a co-sleeper for the time being and that is working out wonderfully (though I dread the day when Bug moves into Bean’s room).

I’ve been back at work for the last three weeks. It’s going okay. My mom is here in town taking care of Bug, and he’s slated to start in the infant room part time next week, going full time May 3rd. I’m far more anxious about Bug starting daycare than I was about returning to work. I know ultimately that he will be fine, but I’m really dreading this transition. It’s easier to be away from him knowing that he’s being cuddled and sung to by his grandma. Much harder to leave him with someone else.

So that’s where I’m at. I’ve actually had some great luck at the bench since I’ve been back, so that makes work a bit easier too. I’m also trying to write the papers had been hoping to write before Bug was born. Writing is fun because I spend at least as much time reading papers as I do writing my own, and that’s a nice way to get back into the science.

I promise more posts to come.