Friday, April 27, 2012

Pregnant Post-Docs...Planning for the Next...(part 1)

I thought I'd stop away from the cut-and-dry mommy and post-doc duty posts here and take a quick look at what information is out there for post-docs regarding pregnancy.

OK, Amy, this is not a PSA...this is what I say to myself...

However, I was curious about some of the statistics regarding post-docs as well as some of the advice given to pregnant (or those thinking about becoming pregnant) post-docs in the science world.

So a quick google search yielded the following (aside from my blog).  I think a lot of this information is handy, but it's information that someone might inquire about for any job.

Pregnant post-docs do have special concerns.  In the interest of time, and by time, realize that it's taken me a while to actually FINISH this post (and since I have to go pick up the kids from daycare!), I'll just get into one.  First concern:  keeping research going.

My own advice is pretty simple.  Communication.  Keep lines of communication open with your supervisor(s), your lab mates, your interns, and so on.  I'm not saying you need to work the entire time you're on maternity leave, or somehow change things drastically the moment you conceive.  But just make sure that everyone is on the same page.

By all means, set aside reasonable expectations.  Some people "think" that they can have a baby one week, be back to work the next.  Or some people think that they can write manuscripts at home while the baby sleeps (the baby sleeps like 18-20 hours a day at first, right?).  But do you REALLY want to do that?  I'm not saying that what is good for one person is good for everyone.  Just don't think that you are any less of a super-mom if you don't.  Everyone is a super-mom :)

Now for what I actually did.  I had my 2nd son on a Friday (in the wee hours of the morning...right before 2am).  I had JUST finished an online course that I had been teaching, so I was literally in the hospital posting final grades.  After being discharged the following Sunday afternoon, we had a few days at home alone (me, my husband, and the baby).  My older son was staying with my parents for a few days.  My husband was not working at the time either, so the baby was the sole thing we had to focus on.

Then, when my new little man was less than 2 weeks old, I began another set of courses.  At the time that I'd agreed to do them, I had NO idea when exactly he'd come (he came two weeks before his due date), so I guess it couldn't have happened at a better time, other than just not happening at all.  Of course, this is an online class, so I didn't have to go anywhere.  But, still, the work was there to do when I really should have been recouping, resting, and just enjoying my time.

So that I didn't feel so much out of the loop, I was still in communication with my lab mates (my intern and another RA had taken over some of the experiments to keep them going) every couple of days or so.  And it kept my mind going.

And, honestly, because I was able to let myself relax during this time, and not worry about what was happening or not happening in the lab, I enjoyed this maternity leave quite a bit more than I had with my first son (subject of another post, someday).  I had the feeling that I was ready to go back, but I could easily have stayed home for another couple of weeks.

What will I do in the future?  I am going to try my hardest to not take on extra work (as easy as the urge to give in to the extra money might be!) during maternity leave.  Sleep a lot.  Get out and enjoy the sunshine.  Enjoy lazy afternoons of having a sleeping baby on my chest.  But...don't work.  Even if the urge is there, my advice is don't plan to work, but if you end up wanting to do a few things here and there just to keep sharp, make sure it isn't because you HAVE to.

In the interest of being a bit more focused on one issue per blot post, this post is subject to change, as I get my thoughts a bit more organized!  Wish me luck!

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