Monday, August 15, 2011

I hate when the kids are sick

I don't think anyone LIKES being sick, but there's a whole lot of helpless feelings that occur when one of the kids is sick.

Daniel had yet another ear infection a week and change ago. Luckily, we caught it early enough (he had stuff oozing from his ear) such that he didn't appear to suffer too badly. Days of missed work...only 1/2 day.

Then this past Saturday he woke up around 9am with a fever. He was BURNING up when I went in to get him, and he looked like he was feeling horrible. He just kept saying over and over "I'm sorry Mommy...I'm sorry Daddy". I had to put the baby down and cuddle with my little fevery fellow. His temp went up to around 102 (according to the temporal artery thermometer)...but luckily we got him to feeling better with some ibuprofen/tylenol and popsicles.

Jared on the other hand has fared slightly better. His biggest thing has been a persistent cough that he's had for a good month or more. I think it's part of the reason that he's waking up at night sometimes. I've given him some tylenol before bed and it seems like it takes the edge off for him, but it doesn't really get at the underlying cause.

Which brings me to the last point. The point of second-guessing yourself as a parent when it comes to how sick your kids may be. A fever seems to be the gold-standard for whether your kid is sick or not (or needs to go to the doctor). However, there's been several times where Daniel has had a fever and he seemed relatively OK. Conversely, there have been times where he's clearly been sick, but he didn't run a fever.

So when is it time to call the doctor? Clearly when there's stuff oozing out of Daniel's ear...check. When one of the kids is peeing blood...check. But coughing is a different issue. It's hard to tell whether coughing is the result of post-nasal drip or if there's a cold involved. Is it just dry out? Dusty? Is he allergic to something? Not being a physician, it's difficult to tell whether a cough is just in the throat, or whether he's got something going on in his lungs. It seems goofy to run to the doctor for a cough, especially when there's a strong likelihood that they'll just tell us to run a humidifier, get some saline drops and suction out his nose. In other words, there is nothing they can "do", but they can check to make sure that nothing more serious is going on (which you wouldn't want to have happen).

Not wanting the kids to be sick is the most ideal. Wishing that they'd give me a bigger sign (or have some sort of indicator light, like a car does) when they are really sick. But, again, not that I want them to be seriously ill anyway.

Here's hoping that everyone gets well and STAYS well!

What sleep deprivation does to you...take 2

Oh sweet sweet little Jared.

While in the midst of yet another night where my youngest was up every 2 hours or so, I found myself unable to fall asleep even though I was clearly exhausted. I decided around 7am that I just was physically unable to get out of bed. Both Daniel and Jared were snoozing peacefully, and it seemed so wrong for them to be sleeping and have me be up. So I took the day off.

So now here's for what sleep deprivation did this time. It made me sleep for nearly SIX (yes, six!) hours straight today. I hopped in bed around 12:30 (after working on some stuff this morning after the kids went off to daycare) and got up around 6. I felt stoned...drugged...but kind of good. I don't think falling asleep will be a problem tonight.

Sleep deprivation has also made me forget the name of the restaurant that we're going to lunch at tomorrow (I know it's pizza though!).

Lastly, it's made me lose all motivation to do just about anything.

I hope for everyone's sake that we ALL stay sleeping tonight!

Why "the pregnant post-doc"?

I figured an entry explaining the title of my newest blogging endeavor was in order. One of these nights, I'll get around to changing the logo to cross off the "pregnant" part, because I'm not actually pregnant at the moment :).

So if I'm not pregnant at the moment...why bother with the title? And I'm clearly not going to be pregnant forever, right?

It's a convoluted reason...but here goes. It's a title that I identified with. The two seemed to go hand-in-hand. I haven't held any other position while being pregnant, and I've been pregnant a fair amount of time that I have been a post-doc. only 18 months (ish!). I just figure that the two together make for a bit of a unique situation, and there are challenges for undertaking both of those at the same time.

What are some of the things? Working hours being one. Grad students and post-docs notoriously work weird hours. Science doesn't stop just because it's the weekend or evening. The next being the environment. It's a lab! There are tons of hazardous chemicals, biological agents and so on. It isn't a strict "desk" job, so while the physical demands are by no means super strenuous, they are still there. Job stability. Oh boy. Post-doc positions don't last forever. Nuff said about that.

With my first child, I was technically pregnant during an "in-between" stage of my career. I'd been a post-doc for over a year prior, and had suddenly come into a loss of funding from my P.I. I still did some work in the lab, still attended lab meetings and all of that. I continued through the pregnancy doing all of that and working in teaching positions at the university and community college.

With my second (most recent), I was a full fledged post-doc and I became pregnant only about 7 months into starting the position.

Having said all of this, will I be a post-doc still when it comes time for another pregnancy? Probably! And at that point, I can cross off the the cross-off on the pregnant part :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011


This might end up being a peculiar post...but one that just came to me the other night.

Breastfeeding. I have a very interesting relationship with it, and there are aspects of it that I struggle to explain, even to myself. I'll start by saying that one of the things that I've noticed is that I actually enjoy it more with Jared than I think I did with Daniel. There is something calming and relaxing about it that, again, is really difficult to describe.

Having said that, I'll get into my particular experience with breastfeeding. When Daniel was born, I had NO idea what to do. Everyone (people in childbirth classes and those providing advice online) had mentioned that right after the baby is born, they are typically very interested in nursing. They are alert for about the first hour after birth, and probably a little hungry, so it's prime time to try it. Unfortunately, in the delivery room, there was quite a delay with trying it. Daniel came out, was cleaned up and handed to me. It was nearing time for a shift change, and tacked on to the fact that it was super early in the morning (no lactation consultants on staff), he didn't get to really "try". We were in the delivery room for what seemed like an exhorbant amount of time after he was actually out (a few hours) before he was taken to the nursery and I was transferred to another room. It was probably a good hour or hour and a half before he got to "try" nursing. Since I had no idea, and he had no idea, it didn't go over well.

So Daniel's first "attempt" went poorly because it was like the blind leading the blind. During our time in the hospital after that, I have never had my boobs manhandled so much before in my life. Daniel clawed at me like a baby wolverine and screamed like crazy. There didn't seem to be much coming out either at that time. Lastly, if there wasn't a nurse around to help me, I became very hesitant to try it on my own.

OK so why did I want to breastfeed? I wasn't OPPOSED to formula feeding...that wasn't the point. First reason was the health benefits...and it was my hope that at least he got some breastmilk. Second was the cost. It was free! When Daniel was born, Mike had a steady job, but I was piecing together employment still. Armed with those two reasons, it was good enough to give it the old college try, at least for a while. Other reasons came up later.

I persisted. My milk "came in" when we were re-admitted too the hospital to treat jaundice. The hospital gave me a pump to use while I was there, and I had the first break-through moment where I was able to collect milk! It wasn't a lot, but it was some! I also continued trying to breastfeed. I continued to keep at it, attended breastfeeding groups and built up confidence a bit. The biggest improvement came when one night Daniel was crying for food, and while Mike prepared a bottle, I stuck Daniel up to my chest (which was dripping!) and shoved a boob in his mouth. It worked! He ate!

I still wasn't making a lot, and after my 6-week post-partum visit, I was newly equipped with Reglan, which ramped up my production. It was awesome! The next two reasons I liked breastfeeding came up. Number three was the ability to just feed on demand. No messing around with bottles in the middle of the night. The first time that I fed Daniel and he fell asleep, seemingly satisfied, was a major feeling of accomplishment for me. Reason number four was also showing...weight loss for mommy!

So that really long story aside, I feel as though I really worked at breastfeeding. Daniel still got a lot of formula, and I never was able to breastfeed solely...but I still felt accomplished.

Along came Jared. I felt way more prepared with him, and it didn't hurt that he not only got the opportunity to nurse right in the delivery room, but he seem to take to it quite easily! As time went on, he nursed pretty well (from both sides even...something that had been a challenge before).

Another thing that was interesting with Jared (and one of the motivating reasons to dedicate an entire blog post to this) was how much more relaxing things have been for both of us. I've found the process of nursing to be much more relaxing, if I have the time to really sit and enjoy it. It's so relaxing to get comfortable in a chair or on the bed with a nice pillow and let him have a good meal. Rubbing his little head and the fuzzy hair on it. Watching his eyes close drowsily. Listening to him swallow and watching him rhythmically suck. Not to get too technical, but I'm sure there's hormones being released there.

Even though he's now 5 months old, there are relaxing aspects to it still. He's at daycare during the day, so no opportunity for him to nurse then. At night, right before he goes to bed, there have been several times where he relaxes so much when he's nursing. I don't know if he's actually getting a lot of milk, or if it's the sucking action and being close to his mommy that really relaxes him and often sends him into a happy sleep.

How long will it last? I have no idea...the way things are going, I'm inclined to just keep going. Part of me thinks that pumping might dwindle, but if he can have those times in the evening where he nurses (or overnight) then it'll be worth it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What sleep deprivation does to you...take 1

OK so it's already been said that we have a 5 month old. We thought we had things down pretty well with this little guy, since he started (mostly) sleeping through the night when I started back to work and he started going to daycare at around 6 weeks old. The "stimulation" from daycare kept him up a little bit more, so he'd do pretty well at night. And before that, things weren't so bad either (going to bed around 8 and he'd wake up once or twice).

Then this weird thing happened. He reverted! I've read about that sleep reversion thing, but I don't remember a whole lot about Daniel going through that. What I did remember with Daniel was that it was food related and starting him on cereal helped to fill his tummy, which translated to him sleeping longer.

The reasons behind Jared waking are not really the point here...but rather what sleep deprivation has done to me.

Just today...I have:

1. Gone to put in my contacts, grabbed an old (empty) case, and put my finger in it and it took a good 10 seconds to realize that there was no contact on my!

2. Spaced out on an entire conversation/argument/confrontation going on in my lab about 5 feet away.

3. Forgotten what I was going to say while I was in the process of saying it.

In the past week:

4. Gone to take some Advil, but instead grabbed the Zoloft and took one of those. After that, I went into the fridge to grab something to wash it down with, and put the Zoloft bottle in the fridge. When I turned back around, I realized that I hadn't taken Advil, and the only reason that I realized that the Zoloft was in the fridge was because I almost put the ADVIL into the fridge instead of the juice.

5. Left my dry ice bucket in the tissue culture room

OK so the last one I could have easily done on any other day that I wasn't lacking for sleep.

I think I need to stop here and have my I shall return!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

About Me

My mind has been set to a mode where I sometimes leave out details about myself. It isn't as though I assume that everyone knows everything about me, but just that I have a strange level of discomfort with talking about myself.

My name is Amy. I've been married to my husband, Mike, for 5 years as of this past June. We've been a couple for the past 7 1/2 years, and known each other for the past 16 years. I'll do a separate post detailing a little more about our relationship in particular.

We have two children...Daniel is our first-born who just turned 3 this past July, and Jared, our baby, who is 5 months old today. Our family is not yet complete, and we anticipate having at least one (hopefully two!) more.

I work as a post-doctoral fellow in a cancer research laboratory at a non-profit research institute. I have a Ph.D. in cancer biology, and a B.S. in molecular and cellular biology. I've worked in labs for the past 15+ years and I absolutely love it. This is the second place that I've held the position of post-doc, and I am uncertain as to what might come next in my career path.

Well, that is the run-down and a little background information about myself, my family and my work. I think I'll quite easily be able to have a separate entry expanding each one of those a little more...stay tuned!

I'm addicted to blogs...

...but this might not be a typical blog style.

I've gathered bits and pieces of my life and thoughts and had them written in different places. I never really had a theme to anything, unless it was just talking about the kids, but I've decided that I would do a story about my specific situation. Hence the title of the blog..."The Pregnant Post-Doc".

What the heck does it all mean?

There are always challenges combining any career with being a parent. Narrowing it even further, there are challenges that women (of which I am one!) who are mothers (also!) that have chosen the field of science to get a Ph.D. in (that's me too!) and pursue employment as a post-doctoral fellow. In simple terms, I am a cancer researcher, working in a research lab, with a husband and two kids (thus far).

Where am I going with this?

There's some "different" concerns that might come up due to the specific nature of the work that I do, and in regards to where my career might be heading. Of course, there are other things that happen along the isn't all about work!

Forgive me for the random nature of this blog in the start. I might be skipping back and forth in time, trying to piece together a cohesive story. Some of the things on my mind? My motivation? My stamina? My mood? Needs and wants? we go...