Family friendly NIH review

Like I mentioned earlier, I'll be an ad-hoc reviewer for NIH in a few weeks. I knew I'd have an approximately 2-month old baby by that time when I agreed to do the review--and figured I'd wing it and figure things out somehow at the time. Now that I HAVE this baby girl around, it was a lot scarier of a prospect than I anticipated seeing as how we still feel like it's a monumental challenge to take a shower and go to the mall with her. I decided to bring a meeting nanny: my sister is going to hang out with us. Luckily the meeting is in the same hotel where we're staying, and it's all very conveniently located with respect to airports, public transport, etc. It's also very cool that the SRO and assistant are happy to help plan my accommodations so things will work out--they've arranged for me to get a room with two beds so my sister can stay with us, and they are letting my stay be slightly more extended so I have more time to deal with traveling with a little baby. Now we just need to reserve a crib for the hotel room, order these fancy "diaper needs" packages that the hotel will put together for you, and we'll be all set! 🙂

One other cool thing was to participate in the pre-review teleconference with my cellphone on speaker while wearing my pajamas and feeding, soothing and changing a baby. Go technology!

nervous NSF OCD ticks...

Mine is to check my Fastlane every day, since I still haven't heard anything back about my CAREER application... my proposal has changed program directors twice times now: the first was when it got switched to a different division and program than I initially applied to; this most recent change seems to just be that I've been moved to a different PD within this program... Makes me nervous!!! Especially seeing the "Status date" finally change to being from August to being from the other day, but then to click through and find it still "Pending... under consideration... if you don't hear by Feb. contact PD etc. blah blah blah..."


The birth story

To follow the theme Dr. J & Mrs. H started, and for anyone who is interested:

I went into what I THOUGHT was labor on Wednesday morning (the 23rd)
at about 3:00 am: regular contractions, 7 min apart, that felt pretty painful to me. We waited a while and watched to see if they stayed regular and they did, so we thought it might be getting started. I was scared and excited, because I'd been so anxious to have her before Christmas since my whole family was coming into town. So we called Labor and Delivery and I described things to the nurse, who said "Yup, sounds like early labor, just stay at home until your water breaks or you just are too uncomfortable to be at home anymore." My husband decided to stay home from work (since he works about an hour away), and we got everything together for whenever we'd need to go to the hospital. But then as soon as I hung up the call, everything slowed down and got all irregular. I was so ticked off!! All day that continued, irregular contractions everywhere from 6 to 30 min apart, some stronger-feeling but some very weak, and I got more and more depressed and pissed off at my body for fooling me into finally getting my hopes up.

I tried walking around the block in the crappy weather, going to Walmart just to walk around, bouncing and doing my circles on my yoga ball, going up and down the stairs, sitting against the wall, doing more circles on my hands and knees, EVERYTHING I could think of, but to no avail. I'd just had a good cry after we had dinner, thinking it could be weeks still since I was only just arriving at my Dec. 25th due date, and people have early practice labor that fools them all the time. I went to bed, and was talking to my husband while he brushed his teeth, and all of a sudden I felt this HUUUUUUGE pressure on my left hip joint, like an electric shock, and a big painful pushing on my pelvis from the baby, and then a POP and my water broke! I have to say, the amniotic fluid was nothing like what I thought it would be. What weird stuff.

We called and they told us to come in. By the time we got there my contractions were getting more painful and were fairly consistent, but I seemed to have a cycle of a big one, then a couple of littler ones, then a bigger one again etc. It hurt, but it was manageable, I breathed deeply like my pre-natal yoga instructor/doula taught us and tried to relax through them. I was about 3-4 cm when we arrived at 10 pm, and decided to start out in the shower--which seemed like a great idea until I started shaking all over from being too cold and probably also the contractions too: not very relaxing, plus it seemed like the shower made the contractions MORE painful. By this point I unfortunately couldn't manage anymore through them with deep yoga breathing, I had to start doing the "choo choo" sound we learned from the childbirth class. So we moved to the jacuzzi. I felt better there, and was able to relax more, until again everything intensified another step and I was having a lot of trouble moving during contractions--I just had to hold still and try not to be completely tensed all over. We headed back to our room and I tried sitting on and rotating around on the yoga ball for a little bit, but I could barely even do my circles on
it because I just could not control the pain.

It just got too bad for me, and I decided I needed an epidural--I was having some very bad physical reactions to the pain, like wailing, shaking and throwing up, and I just could not get ahold of things. It was like my body was going into shock, and I was not doing well at all. This was a big decision for me, because I'd wanted to be as natural as possible and also I have a deathly fear/creepy feeling about needles and spines...

Once the epidural was kicking in though, I knew it was the best decision I ever could have made. Suddenly I was physically capable of relaxing, and we were able to sleep from 6 to 10 cm without slowing down the rate of my labor too much: I still made it through at about 1 cm per hour in that time, and started pushing early in the morning on the 24th. I pushed for about an hour and a half, and the experience in yoga (plus my hypochondriacal body awareness) really helped to focus my energy on what muscles to use for pushing, even if I didn't have the same physical urges to do so because of the epidural. So I was pretty efficient even without any feeling down there, and the only downside was the incredibly surreal atmosphere where it still feels like a dream.

It's also so strange to already feel like it happened so long ago (even by just three days later), and to have such strong nostalgia for a process that I don't necessarily look forward to ever doing again. Without pain relief, I don't think I could have managed--I felt like I was going to become unconscious from shock before getting the epidural. But with the epidural, it was more like being on a long road trip where you can sleep in the car, and it takes a while, but it's not very exciting until you get to where you are going.

And for the last three weeks, it's been going back and forth between being lovely, sweet and relaxing, and like being under the control of a cruel sleep-deprivation torture program. The jury is still out on what kind of mommy I am, but I know I am NOT the kind who says "I knew from the first moment that I was made to do this." Nope, rather, I am managing to make myself do it because I know I love this little girl and want her to be happy and well developed. But many of these things I have to do all day and all night do not feel natural/beautiful/etc. at the time. Many are hilarious, like the poop explosions that shoot across the room during (constant) diaper changes--but do I feel like they complete me with ultimate fulfillment? NO. Hopefully I will look back on them with more rainbows than I'm getting right now.