Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Time is going so fast!

I went into work, sort of, on Monday. Actually, I wanted to hear a group of speakers--we have a "women in MSTP" group that meets monthly, and this time they had several women in different stages of medical training coming in to speak on medicine and having a family. I asked in advance if I could bring Sophie, and I got the OK, so we trekked through mud and rain to head up to school Monday afternoon.

As fate would have it, there was a last minute endocrine speaker across the hall at the same time. Now, this was in a building across campus from where I work, and I go into this building maybe twice a year. So I was shocked when I saw members of my lab funneling in for the endocrine speaker. I saw Ossama first, then Valerie, and then Dr. B. Dr. B came in just before the speaker was ready to start. I didn't get much time to talk to him (and Sophie had a doctor's appointment right after the talk, so I couldn't hang around), but it sounds like he wants me back in a week and a half. I have my 6 week postpartum appointment next Wednesday, so I'll stop in after that and work out the details. But seeing him made this whole going-back-to-work thing seem more real.

It also inspired me to just enjoy the little bit of time I have left at home. And so that's what I'm working on. She's already grown so much in a month--I don't want to miss a thing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's been a while

Yeah, I haven't posted in a while. It's not for lack of pictures--I have hundreds of those--but for lack of ideas. Life with a baby is time-consuming, but it's not terribly exciting. I could regale you with tales of poopy diapers, late-night feedings, and naptime. But it's pretty much the same story every day. Now, I like my time with Sophia, but it doesn't make for riveting conversation.
Having said that, Sophie will be a month old tomorrow. She's doing well. We're still getting up every 3 horus or so at night, but it's pretty doable. And Tim took all of Thanksgiving week off. That was a huge help--having another set of hands around is fantastic.
Sophie being a month old also means I'm more than halfway done with my maternity leave. Dr. B has been out of the country, but when he gets back, I anticipate he'll start asking me when I'm coming back. I'll probably be back part time in mid-December and back full time in January.
I'm having a lot of anxiety about going back to lab. Things aren't moving well on my current project, which is nothing new. But the paper I wrote with my old lab has been in progress for over a year now. We first submitted it in the spring, and then again in late summer. My old lab is taking charge of where to submit it/formatting it/being in contact with reviewers, so I'm at the mercy of the old lab's timetable. I'd like to move it a bit faster, but they are doing me a favor by handling the details. We submitted to two pretty decent journals to start with--and I didn't have a lot of hope for either accepting the paper--but now I'm starting to worry that no one will take it.

I need two papers. There's no way I can get two out of my crappy current project. So if the old lab paper falls through, I don't know what I'd do. And with my current lab having money/PI issues anyway, things could get worse before they get better.

I'm trying not to focus on it too much, but the thought of going back into the lab is freaking me out. Part of it is leaving Sophie, but my mom is going to watch her in the beginning, so I can transition a little there. Most of it is just the general anxiety of the lab. It's been so nice to leave that behind for a month. I knew the lab affected me--it took being away for me to realize how much it really messes me up.

Still, I've come this far, and I want to finish my PhD, barring disaster. I need a break from research then. Who knows, maybe after residency/fellowship I'll decide I miss it. But, I think the likelihood is that I'll never do research full time, and doing clinical research is much more likely than doing basic science at this point. I do like the teaching aspect, so I'd like to stay at least partially involved in academics. But my original plan of research full time? Gone.
There have been four main sources of anxiety for me lately. First: the baby. That's a good anxiety though, and as time goes on, I'm feeling more comfortable.

Second: the lab. I already went into it, and it's getting worse.

Third: selling the old house. We've lowered the price again, but nothing is selling in Cleveland. At all. And while two mortgage payments aren't sending us into debt, we just break even every month. And once we add daycare into the mix, things could get ugly.

And fourth: post-baby body issues. I definitely don't want to get into it. I've only got ten baby pounds left, and it's great to be in real clothes again, but the stretch marks and flabby skin don't help my already crappy body image. My doc said no diet or exercise till after my six week checkup. But once I'm cleared, I'm going to work on losing the last ten baby pounds and the thirty I had hanging around before I got pregnant. I can't go crazy, since I'm breastfeeding, but I'm actually hoping that will help the weight loss.

Anyway, I've got a hungry baby calling for me. I love being a mom, and I'm excited that at least I have a little more time home with her. The rest of my anxieties can wait, because Sophie comes first.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Two weeks already?

(baby's first Halloween--our little pumpkin)

I can't believe Sophia is two weeks old already! I haven't had much of a chance to go online--or do anything, really--so sorry about the lack of posts. She keeps me extremely busy. I have to plan everything--where I can put her while I pee, or shower, or eat, etc. But I wouldn't trade this time for all the world. I'm already dreading having to go back to lab. I didn't really like lab all that much before Sophia was born, and having to go back to something I dislike while leaving something I love behind is tough.

Don't get me wrong--it's not in my personality to be a stay at home mom. I'm already going a little batty being home all day now. I just wish I had a little bit longer, and I wish I could be part time for a while instead of right back into full time. Actually, it's my hope to ease back into lab, but I know once I start back, my boss isn't going to be so keen on me being part time. But we'll see.

Anyway, back to Sophia. We're still doing sleepless nights (and I've learned the hard way she can't tolerate having me eat broccoli, which sucks for me). But it's gotten so much better since we've been home.

I don't know what I would have done without my family. Seriously, they have been a total godsend. We came home Saturday the 27th, and my milk had come in earlier that day. I was so engorged Saturday night that I couldn't get Sophie to get a good breastfeeding latch. She was frustrated, I was frustrated, and I ended up giving her a bottle of formula so she didn't starve (which was a huge no-no according to the breastfeeding class I took).

Sunday was a little better, but not much. Sunday night my fam (minus Amy, plus significant others) came up for my mom's birthday dinner. All 11 of us (including Sophie) had a nice dinner, and then my parents babysat so Tim and I could run out to the store. I've never enjoyed Wal-mart so much, and I've also never been so distracted by thoughts of Sophie at the same time. I bought a hand breast pump (I had ordered an electronic one that morning, but it wouldn't be here for a while), and I was hopeful that would let me nurse a little better Sunday night.

Sunday night was still pretty rough. Monday was tough too. I was wiped, and my adrenaline rush that had sustained me over the days since birth suddenly ran out. I managed to hang in there Monday afternoon while Tim's parents and a friend of mine from high school visited, but I just dropped around dinner time. Tim watched Sophia with his parents while I tried to sleep, but when I got up, I just didn't feel right. I think it was the baby blues--I wasn't sad, but I found myself crying for no reason.

Tim decided to call up my mom, and she came up Monday night and spent the night with us. Actually, she stayed up the whole night. I did the 1 AM feeding, left her a bottle of milk, and crashed until about 6. She stayed up with Sophie the whole night. She also showed me a trick--Sophie was still having some trouble latching on the breast, but she could take a bottle. It took me an hour to hand express a bottle, so that wasn't too realistic for every feeding, but my mom told me to try putting a bottle nipple on me so Sophie could get on. Sure enough, it worked! I had to do that for a few days until the engorgement went down, but it was such a lifesaver. I totally understand now why people might give up breastfeeding. It sounds so intuitive, but it was maybe the toughest part of the whole experience so far. I can do without sleep, but it's horrible to think you are starving your child because she can't breastfeed (I know she wasn't really starving, but that's what I was thinking).

After Monday night, things got easier. My mom's been a huge part of that. She's come up multiple times, cooked dinner almost every night, and stayed the night twice. She showed us how to bathe Sophia until her umbilical cord fell off (which it did Tuesday night). And most of all, it's been wonderful to have her in the house. It's tough being here all by myself. Forget things like housework--there's no way--but just going to the bathroom is tough when it's just me. Plus, we've gotten the chance to chat, watch Rachael Ray every afternoon, and just have a lot of mother-daughter bonding. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I've loved having Sophia around these last two weeks. It's absolutely unlike anything I ever thought possible. There are a few things I would do differently for the next one--mainly, have Tim take more than a half day off once we are home from the hospital--but we're coping. And she's healthy, according to the pediatrician, so whatever we're doing, it's working. She'll sleep more than two hours eventually. And I can function ok until she does. I guess it's those maternal instincts or something.

And if I need to go somewhere with her, I can. I took her to her last pediatrician's visit on my own, and it was doable, and last night Tim and I took her to Target to get diapers (oh my gosh, the number of diapers we go through...) It takes about an hour or two to get her ready (feed her so she's happy, change her, get the diaper bag together, get her in the car seat, etc). But we'll get better at it.

So yeah, that's my life right now. It's tiring, but she is so worth it. It's amazing, and a little scary, how much I love her, and how quickly I did. And it has changed the way Tim and I look at each other--but so much for the better. I got a little teary last night as I listened to Tim reading Sophia her first bedtime story (the Sneeches, by Dr. Seuss.) Seeing him be such a good dad really touches me. It's just one more way we love each other, I guess. The whole experience had been emotional and overwhelming. No amount of reading or research could've prepared me for this. And I couldn't be happier.