Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Update your RSS!

So I"ve officially moved over to wordpress,  The new blog title is ScientistMother: Raising Replicates. If I knew how to change the url to without having to start a whole new blog I would but eh, that is life. Anyhoo I will not longer be posting here so come check out the new home and grab the RSS feed from the handy link.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Need a new blog name

so i'm moving over to wordpress because quite frankly its better. I enjoyed the format when I was guest blogging at Scientopia and after losing comments and shite, I figure why not. I have time today thanks to a broken hot water tank. Problem is, already exists. So time for a new blog name. Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Finally, happy Birthday monkey

***Cross-posted at Scientopia

My Dearest Little Monkey -Boy,

You turned four, oh like 5 months ago and I have not yet written you a birthday letter. If you're getting shafted by 4, your poor little sibling is going to be SOL for attention! I'd like to say its not my fault but really it is. I have chosen to be your mom while going to school fulltime, TAing 2 courses, and managing a house. Plus you had to go and be born right AFTER the Christmas / new years crush. I was just too damned tired my love.

And then, well I had to think about what to write and I just couldn't write it. I couldn't think about what an amazing little boy you are. I don't want to realize how fast you're growing up. How it feels like I have such a small window of time with you.

But then I need to let you know that you are a caring and resilient and strong and loving and funny little boy. A boy that I love and am so proud of. You had rough year last year. What with mommy and daddy both crazy busy at work, then your big baba passing, mommy always tired from incubating the baby. Through it all, you've been rock solid. You've had your meltdowns, which really I can't blame you for. But mostly you've been loving, gigglying at me when I fall asleep reading to you - isn't it supposed to be the other way around? Stroking my arms, as I fall asleep next to you, just as I used to do to you. Making me laugh, asking me if I'm happy.  Its been hard having your mama lose her shit more frequently. Its hard when your mama used to have the patience of a saint with you.  Now that all the crazy has subsided, I hope I can get back to where I was with you before.

Watching you with your Dad cracks me up. He spoil you rotten and you know it. You know exactly how to get what you want from. And OMG are you ever your fathers son. From the stinky poo's and toots, to the contagious laughter. You really must be the happiest silliest boy. And the most active. Even your Dad can't keep up with your need to fight, wrestle, run, jump, ride all right now. Or you have to be dancing and singing. I swear there must be a music gene, because just like your father you know all the songs and artists that you like. and all the trucks makes and models.

Your excitement for the new baby makes me so proud. Watching as you share and take turns with other kids. So caring and generous. How did you become like that? How does a 4.5 year old have as much compassion as you? I am so proud of how you look out for your little niece and nephews and know you're going to be such an amazing big brother.

I am scared of what is coming next though. Your curiosity is insatiable and I have no idea how to answer your million and one questions. How do I explain to you how the baby comes out? or where big baba has gone?  Can't you stick to simple questions like why is the grass green? I guess if you did that you wouldn't be my son would you? The only thing you have from me. My curiosity and my stubborness. I hope that means you're going to go far.

I love you, little man. You promised me yesterday you'll be a good teenager. Please keep that promise.
your mama.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Open Letter to my Mom

***Crossposted at Scientopia Guest Blog

Dear Mother,
Two weeks ago I invited you over for dinner, along with Dad bc you had not seen your grandson for about a month. The same amount of time it has been since Mr.SM's grandmother and parents have not seen their great/ grandson.  In march, after spending the whole weekend installing floors , still have a shit load of stuff to do and wanting to do nothing but sit on my couch with take out, I packed up my family and drove out 30 minutes to see you guys.  That night, just like the night 2 week ago, you did not ask me how I was doing. Was I feeling OK, did I need any help. How was the pregnancy. All you cared about was playing with monkey and figuring if you were going to have another grandson or finally get a granddaughter.
Except the night two weeks ago, you decided to guilt trip me about how little time you get with your grandson. You said you understood that Mr.SM and I work fulltime and only get the weekends to be a family but you still demanded, not asked but demanded that monkey sleep over at least 1x every 3 weeks. You know we have a lot going. You know that Mr.SM has a huge family, whom we are quiet close to. Yet you have the balls to say that monkey doesn't need to go to every extended family members function.  Guess what woman, you're extended family too. And yes he does need to go to the functions that we go to. We pick and choose what is important to for us to attend and if we feel it is important for Mr.SM and I to attend, it is important for our child(ren) to attend. This is how they learn the importance of family.
Instead of ensuring that in the final weeks of my pregnancy, I was relaxed and healthy. You decided to demand that since it works better for your holidays, my husband can go back to work right after his child is born.  When I refused and informed you that after my child was born, I would like the father of my child around, you chose to act is if I was some how insulting you. 
On Sunday, I left a scientific retreat, immediately after my talk to attend my nephews birthday. Do you know how pointless it is to give a talk and then not stick around to chat with colleagues about it? But I did that. Why? Because if I didn't you and my dear sister would use it as another example of how selfish I am, despite the fact that Mr.SM took monkey to the party on time. He did this, despite my sister never showing up for our grandfathers funeral or acknowledging in anyway, shape or form, the emotional trauma we may be dealing with after the fact. Despite completing disrespecting him at her FIL's funeral.
When her father-in-law recently passed away, we did our family responsibility. We did not do tit for tat.  We went to her MILs house the day of the death, we went to the funeral, to the prayer and back to her MILs house after. Even though my sister blatantly ignored both Mr.SM and myself.  She walked up to the man standing next to my husband and thanked him for coming. Then she looked at my husband and walked away. You know what I did? Nothing. I took, as I keep doing, taking the higher road.
It was Mothers Day on Sunday. Do you know that it was the 4th year that I have been a mother and you have not acknowledged that.  Despite this I still called you last week to ask if you wanted to come for dinner. I asked both my bitch sister and my brother to come. Understandably, my sister did not want to come since she was throwing a party that morning. Your son and other daughter (me) were going to be there. Notice that I was not having any time to spend with my child on mothers day? Because mothers day is not about me. its about you. 
At the party you noticed I was tired. Shit I wonder why I would be tired mother?  Did you ask me how I was feeling? Did I need any help? Nope. Nor would  you give me a straight answer on dinner. Later on you called that you were not coming and I was happy. I did not want to spend another evening with you. You choose not come. Remember that.
Do not send me an email at work 3 days later trying to guilt me about how mothers day is about family and how dare all of your children not be around you.. You know nothing about family. You only know how to try and use guilt to make me do what you want. I am slowly getting to a point where you can't push my buttons. You will be losing out because of that.

You ruined my day with your email and are adding stress that I don't need. I am done with you. I told you two weeks ago that I am done trying to make you happy. Now I am telling the world. Sunday was the last mothers day that was about you.  You will see your grandchild(ren). I will not poison them against you. Your access will be limited. The less they have to deal with your selfish and manipulating ways the better.  You will get to spend time with them 1/month for a few hours. Sorry you did this. not me.
Your daughter

Monday, May 9, 2011

Guestblogging at Scientopia

So as some of you may or may not know, I"m over at Scientopia's Guest Blog. I could cross post here, but why do that when you can just click the link and go over there for the next two weeks :))

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Burnt out

I've burned out.  The last month of family functions, marking, home renovations and trying to get data has taken its.  I could not function on sunday. As in Mr.SM was talking to me and I could not understand or comprehend what he was saying. Thank fully the kitchen is finished I think. The painters came in today so I should be able to put the stove and fridge back in and cook upstairs! WOOHOO!! 

You would be very proud of me dear internets, as I put myself first this weekend and the weekend before. Instead of trying to kill myself going to family functions, getting the reno's done and seeing my parents, I said no. I need to do my work first. I have been trying to learn to put myself first without feeling guilt. And now, I am again sitting her at monkeys' class spending time putting together a blog post instead of figures.  Thats OK. I miss blogging. I miss the communication, the advice and the community.  But its been hard these past few months to find the time.  However I realize I need to for my sanity. 

My last post was ramble about working, being a mom and being happy in our choices. In barfing that post out onto the internets, I realized that any guilt I feel over my choices are not because of the monkey or Mr.SM, but because of comments, expectations and judgement from my family.  They don't appreciate, value or approve of my life choices. I work too hard, I don't spend enough time with them, I deprive them of their grand chid, I am not a good daughter like my sister.

I haven't quite figured out how to deal with it. I have realized that unless I do exactly what they want, they will not be happy. I can't do that. Especially not with my sister, who has decided that I am not worth her time or respect.

I do however have to figure out how to deal with my parents. How to rebuild a relationship whose trust is broken. My sister and I have not gotten along for awhile and they've always chosen her side. I firmly believe that they should not have gotten involved.  We are both they children, who were probably both wrong, but in my dad's eyes my sister is perfect and I"m a bad mom. What can you do?

Sorry I"m venting about stuff without going into details but I"m not sure how much detail I want to go into. And really what good would it do? It would just be a list of the ways she has wronged me, ways that maybe I have wronged her. But it doesn't change that she's never apologize for anything. Do I start with how she's purposely scared the living crap out of my child on halloween, or how she barely was able to say congratulations when I told her I was prego? How about not showing up for my grandfathers funeral or not coming by the house to pay her respects until 5 days after he passed?

Do you know what would happen if I did that? OMG it would be a continued indictment of how I am such a crappy sister and family member.

Usually the inlaws are the outlaws, but they have been nothing but awesome to me. I need to remember that.  I need to accept that stupidity and immaturity that is my sister and not let it get in my head.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I'm a #SciMom and hear me roar

I got that from Dr.O

So this is mash up of two themes going on in the bloggy world.   One about being a mom and a scientist (thanks Janet for the shout out) and another about being a mom who doesn't really do it all.

Be pre-warned that its a ramble. As I posted before, I've been under alot of pressure to get shit done before the release date and I'm going to just let it the thoughts role out while monkey is in a class.

Motherhood is a hard role to fill. Personally, I feel like its still the one role where women feel perfectly fine in judging and critiquing another choices. Its also still the role, where many of us feel like we still have to fill the traditional idea of what a good mom despite working or going to school full time.  Its why my parents feel like they can constantly tell me it would be better if I worked part time, or at least they told me that until I asked them why they never said that to Mr.SM.  Like the other #SciMoms, I love what I do. I get excited about the data. As frustrating as it is not to know WTF is going on, I love getting it, looking at and pushing the boundaries of our knowledge.  I've been known to dream of myself sitting at my desk looking at my data. I have woken up with the the thought "OMG xx is the answer!!!". All because of a dream about my data.

These statements do not diminish the love I have for my child either. Note, no one would even think that if Mr. SM made the above statements. But neither of us are suited to be stay at home parents. We don't have the patience or the energy. And quite frankly the monkey wouldn't enjoy it either. He is thriving have "other people raise him".  He loves his friends at daycare and does not stop talking about the plans they make and the fun they have. So I feel no guilt about it.

Its taken me a long time, but I've actually stopped feeling guilty about my choices. Especially since I realize that most of my guilt was coming from the my parents making comments that questioned my decision. Being constantly told that its important to be home for a child, to a child x,y,z, that I"m not making enough time for them was taking its toll. The thing is when I"m 80 years old and looking back at my life, I need to be happy with my choices. I also need to live the life that I want to role model for my child.

Currently, I probably do most childcare. I'm OK with this. Mr.SM was raised in a very traditional family and is very very liberated from that viewpoint. I do not clean washrooms, do laundry or wash dishes and floors. Monkey has no idea there is such a thing as gender roles.  He sees his dad help his mom cook and clean. His mom helps his dad lay down floors and install baseboards (while she is 30+ weeks prego, WTFFFFFF!!!!!!).  These things are important to me.

Monkey get home cooked meals. I hate processed food and its important to me to eat well. Yes we eat out (its been 6 days straight due to kitchen renos) but it is not a frequent occurance. Rarely do I eat premade frozen food. What we do eat is alot of leftovers. I will make a big meal on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. This requires grocery shopping and planning, but its important to me so I do it.  But it means that we aren't doing something fun every weekend. We make time for things that are important to us - swimming lessons, hikes, skiing, walks with the dog etc.  We minimize are TV time. But we're not going on exotic vacations or spendings our days at the beach.

I'm OK with this. When my parents find out that we reno'd the house, they're going to wonder why we didn't send monkey away while we worked. Well we drop him off 5 days a week and would like our 2 days with him, even if we're doing construction. But also, its important for him to learn to contribute and that he is important in making our house work. At 4 he is able to help carry things into the house, run stuff between his dad and I.  He even helped hold baseboards in place while I nailed them in.

Well monkeys class is over so, theres my ramble.:) 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Before I get into the midwife thing.

Okay, so once again its been awhile since I've posted. In my defense, I'm busy people. Between kitchen reno's, lab work, family and well being anemic, blogging as been low on the priority wheel. Don't worry though, soon enough I'll be on mat leave and blogging up a storm! Hahahahaha!

Alright, so many of you are wondering about the whole midwife vs GP vs OB/GyN thingy and I'm going to get to that the next post. I just want to make a few things clear. I live north of the 49th parallel. Why is this important? Because up here, we get universal health care.  Its not perfect and things slip through the cracks, but in general you won't be seeing commericials like this up here:

Yes we fundraise for our hospitals, but for equipment NOT TO PROVIDE CARE.  Why am I saying this up front? Because I have the luxury to not only choose whether I want a midwife or a GP, which hospital I want to deliver at, with out having to shell out cash from my take home income. That is a luxury I  not  everyone in the USA gets.  In the spirit of full disclosure I wanted to (1) let you know that having government funded universal health care makes my decisions about what health option I want easier as I don't have worry about whether I can afford it or not.  (2) This is your opportunity to troll and call me a communist for celebrating and promoting universal healthcare.  I will delete any and all comments regarding the communism of universal healthcare in the next post. full stop. There are somethings I will debate and admit there are shades of grey on. On this issue I can not. I can not see how it is OK for a wealthy nation, that can afford to pay billions and billions of dollars on military machines, to ask its citizens to choose between getting needed health care or shelter/food/clothing. This is not an issue that has shades of grey for me.

I am watching and reading what is happening down there in awe. And I am terrified of it spreading up here. Go ahead call me a communist. This is your chance.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pulled apart

I know I owe you all a post on why I chose a midwife, and I will. Possibly today since I'm playing hooky from the lab.

I spent all weekend installing new floors in our kitchen and an adjoining room. Every muscle in my body hurts and I"m exhausted. My house looks like a tornado has gone through it. Our upstairs stove and fridge is sitting on our front stoop, I'm going up and down the stairs 100x time in a 30 minute period trying to cook downstairs, but with everything but stove and fridge upstairs, this is after being on my hands and knees for 2 days laying down floors.  did I mention I'm 26.5 weeks prego???!!! WTF!

I also have a shit load of marking to do, data analyis, and data collection. I have personal finances, taxes to do. I have family functions I need to attend and help with. Oh and I have a 4 year old who I actually enjoy spending time with.  I have not seen friends in months and I can't even fathom when I will have time to.  I can't even find time for myself.All these different obligations are making me feel like I"m  being pulled apart. Each arm and leg is going in a different direction.

Between personal and "professional" obligations, I'm feeling like I am barely keeping my head above water...again. Which is why I bailed today on the lab. The scope is down, monkey woke up really late and I"m exhausted. I figure we'll run a bunch of errands today ie buy groceries, get the dogs license, moisturizer, nail gun, baby shower gift.  then I'll mark tonight and catch up on rest.  Okey dokey off to the races...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Don't say no one ever told you.

For the time first ever, I am going to write out my birthing experience of monkey. I'm doing this for a variety of reasons. (1) I want my story out there for subsequent posts I would like to do on the use of midwifery in women's health. Before I can do that, I need to have my experience out there to refer to. In follow up posts I will discuss why I choose a midwife over "traditional" medicine etc. (2) So none of you can claim to be going into the decision to push a child out your nether regions uninformed.

It taken me 4+ years to discuss what happened when monkey decided to pop out of my nether regions.  I don't really know why since I don't remember being traumatized by it.  Was it hell? OH HELL YES!!! It it was long painful and excruciating. To the point that when I think of giving birth, I reflexively cross my legs. Know I haven't thought about what its going to be like for the inmate.  However, I also remember knowing I would do it again, without question, minutes after that little boy was in my arms.  Apparently, according to my midwife, the notes from my last birth said it was traumatic. 

How did the labor start? Without me knowing. I was over a week late and at the midwife getting checked out and making sure everything was OK. They also massage the cervix to try and prep you.  When I arrived, she measure my belly and was immediately concerned that there was a change from the 3 days prior (when you're late you have to go in frequently).  Each midwifery practice has about 3-4 midwifes that all see you as the individual who delivers your baby depends on who is on call at the time, so the midwife I was seeing, called the one I had seen 3 days earlier to make sure she wasn't mis-reading the chart etc. She double, triple checked to make sure I was safe.  Since there was a change in my tummy size, possibly indicating a loss of amionitic fluid (not good) she sent me off to the hospital. She would've driven me there herself, but I did not want to leave my vehicle there and I really really needed to stop off for some Wendy's.

MW met me at the hospital and I was taken in to get an ultrasound done to ensure baby was OK and then I was set up on a fetal monitor for over an hour.  Everything seemed OK and from the monitoring it looked like I was in labor - not that I could feel it.

I was at the hospital pretty late, so hubby and awesome BIL picked up some greek food and we chilled out. I started to get pretty uncomfortable and thought maybe I had over eaten ( I LOVE souvalki).   At some point during the night I felt this incredible urge to take a shit, but nothing came out. This happened a couple time before I remembered that the feeling of having to do a number 2 is a sign of labor.

I had begun early labor at ~ 11pm on a friday.  All night, every hour or so I would get contractions.  All morning, I would get contractions 10 minutes apart for about 2 hours, then nothing and then they would start up again. These were HELL contractions, doubling over in pain, radiating from the small of back all around.  My MW kept in touch with me all day via phone advising me to conserve my energy, to eat and drink well.

At 6 pm on saturday they contractions started 5-6 min apart and got into the bathtub to try and get some relief. The midwife arrived at my house with 30 minutes. Turned off the bathroom lights, lit some candles for a more soothing atmosphere and had my husband keep a pot of water on the stove hot.  Her and Mr.SM took turns pouring water down my back, keeping the water warm, making sure I didn't slip under the water as I dozed off.  I was probably in the tub for 4+ hours. The only reason I got out, was that it was uncomfortable. If it had been bigger, I would've stayed in.  Oh and I puked about 3 times in that period.

I needed to sleep so I went to my king size bed and slept as much as I could. Mr.SM and MW dozed as much as they could in between the contractions and counter pressure. I was progressing very very slowing. At 3 am the pain was getting to much and I wanted to go to the hospital. The MW tried convincing me to go back into my tub - I should've listened to her.

I didn't want that. I was in pain and I wanted to drugs so she took me to the hospital where I was pre-registered. I immediately went into the shower, which only had a hard cold tile floor to sit on. I wished I was back at home.  I was having major back labor. Monkey's head was on my tail bone and it was excruciating.  I was progressing very slowly.  There was no anesthetist available till 7 am so I could not get an epidural till then.  By this time, there were two MW's there and it was up to me & Mr. SM to decide if we wanted to wait or if I wanted to try fentanyl with NO.  I chose the fentanyl.

At 1 pm Sunday (yes I started on friday) I was exhausted, the contractions were slowing, my water had still not broken and I was only 9 cm dilated.  I was frustrated because my body was giving out. This wasn't supposed to happen to me. I was the one who hiked up crazy mountains 5 month prego. I was running till I was 8 months. I was fit. I was strong. WTF!!! Frustrated and dejected I told MR.SM to just cut the child out of me.  At some point the MW wanted me to try and push even though I had no urge. I think she wanted to try and get some movement happening.

Thankfully he knew better. He talked me off the ledge.  The MW really really wanted to me to try letting her give picotin to try and get my labor going especially since the OB/GyN who she called in for a consult would not try forcep or vacuum unless I progressed more.

Since Mr.SM knew that I really really didn't want a C-section and since monkey was not in trouble - I was just exhausted, he OK'd the administration of picotin and waiting to recall the OB.  It was going to take 30 minutes to get the OR ready anyway so they figured they might as well get me going again.

The picoten worked. I felt the urge to push, something I was feeling before. Unfortunately I had already been signed over to the OB who ended up giving me an epidural. Why I'm not sure as it "didn't take" according the anesthesiologist and would only take "the edge" off.  Because I had progressed significantly (thanks to the picotin) the OB didn't do the surgery and used a vacuum to help monkey out.  For some reason I still ended up with third degree tears  perineal tear - perineal skin, muscles and anal sphincter are torn). I've been told by some dr that OB's should be able to prevent such severe but I don't know. 

The midwife apologized after as she felt she gave poor advice in getting me to push when my body wasn't ready and in not getting me an epidural. I was very happy with the care I was given. My only regret is getting the epidural. It didn't take and resulted in me being kept from by baby for >1 hr in recovery.  After monkey was born, all I got was a bundled up look for less than 2 minutes before he was whisked away with Mr.SM and I was put in recovery. 

The first people Mr.SM saw with monkey were his father and mine. They cried and held each other. My MIL got to cuddle with my child before I did. This pisses me off.

Now that I'm done writing this, I'm glad I did. It will help me remember what I want and why. I've been told this birth should be easier....I guess we'll find that out sometime this summer :)


Do I take the Dog or not! help help help!

OK, so here's the dealio - this evening we're heading out to our ski condo up in the interior. Its a long drive (>6hours) and it can get pretty cold when we're driving up. We take our a 4 passenger pick up truck, which has no room for the dog crate inside. 

Originally we were supposed to purchase a canopy for the truck, so we woudn't have to worry about our little gal (little for a pure bred german shepherd) getting cold on the drive up. However, because the cost of the canopy is a little high and we have to save for the added cost of the inmate, we haven't put the money into it.  However, I can purchase a blanket to wrap around her crate and then put a tarp over it to prevent the wind from going through. Her crate would be locked up against two walls of the truck bed as well to prevent cold from going through. I think she should be fine in terms of temperature.  She's a german shepherd with the a thick coat who is used to staying outside. My biggest concern is the windchill, but I think the precautions I"m taking should keep the wind chill out.

I really really really want to take her up with us. Monkey can only ski for half the day and it'll give him something to do in the afternoon - playing with her in the snow.  It will force me to get my ass off the couch and go for a walk in the morning prior trying to get some work done.  My concerns are that she is an outside dog and we have no yard in our unit. Therefore, when I'm not outside she would have to be crated. I know lots of people crate their dogs overnight or while they're at work and I have no issues with it. I just feel bad because she normally has a whole yard to play and run around in.  Is it kinder to leave her home by herself or take her with us and have her crated for longer than she normally is???

I'm so torn. I've been taking her with me to the local mountain when monkey is skiing with his daddy and she loves it. I feel like whatever decision I make, I'm going to do wrong by me!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

So Cath really just wanted to brag

So this monday, I'm minding my own business at the lab, studiously working away to try and find out where on my gene of interest a particular insert has been inserted.  The organization that inserted the exon (Fly trap - which makes freaking awesome tool for us!) has the information in one format, but our database (FlyBase - slow, but rocks and is run by volunteers) does not have it. This makes it difficult to compare where the insertion is relative to others IF you're a newbie to reading DNA like me  - leave me alone, I do more cell biology and was not trained as a molecular biologist or anything close as an undergrad.!!!!!

I was struggling to figure out what I needed when I  tweeted a request for FlyTrap and FlyBase to better communicate, which led to a reply from Cath:

I thought, Cath was just sending me an innocent reminder (though she did neglect to wish me a happy birthday, should've been my first clue!).  However, upon checking out the standings, I realize that she just wanted to be able to gloat about how well she did last week. Top point earner of the week AND edged past me for third place.   Not much has changed other than Ricardipus is now tied with Bob for 3rd. Hopefully I will not forget to change my picks again and will actually have a hope of kicking Cath back behind me again.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lies, lies and more lies

I vaguely remember promising to (1) post more often since I've been saved from hell and (2) to do the hockey pool update this week.  Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

yeah right. I'm a PhD candidate with a bun in the oven and a 4 yr old running around! What was I thinking! Actually, I'm busy analyzing all that confusing clear data. I've come up with a funky theory to explain what could be going on except for the crucial piece of data that I need to support said theory is not of the clear and convincing variety...URGH science...

Anyways, I'm up for lab meeting this week, and am trying to get a story put together so the hockey update will happen after said meeting, but since I had a crappy week, do we really care if its a bit late? Nope :) 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Data oh Data what are you telling me

Last year I spent a considerable amount of time writing up a mock grant. It had to contain all the thing a real grant would contain, objectives, rationales, specific aims, hypotheses etc. It was a challenge, but won that really helped me to learn more about my subject area and more about what could or could not go wrong. Painful as it was, I did learn something from it. The last few months (since my comps), when I wasn't suffering from nausea, pregnancy induced sleepiness, or crazyness I have been tackling those specific aims. Much to my PI's delight, I have very clear and convincing data. My images are beautiful.  Except the data isn't showing me what I predicted. Yeah, yeah I know cry me river! Hear me out thought

Based on in vitro vertebrate data, I hypothesized I would see a particular phenomenon, in vivo, in my invertebrate model.  (We should all know that I work on the most amazing and wonderful mode organism, the venerable Drosophila melanogaster.) Thing is, I'm clearly not seeing the phenomenon seen in vertebrates.  So WTF is going on!!!

I know I shouldn't complain I should be happy on multiple fronts. The main thing I should be happy about is that  the data is clear and convincing AND more importantly my PI happily accepts clear and convincing data, regardless of whether or not its what she wanted to see.   This is huge, because I have worked for the PI that just had me redesign and redesign the experiment to get the result he wanted. Not. Cool.

Secondly, my treatment is having an effect - I do something to protein X and I get a phenotype. My phenotype is very clear and unique to my protein of interest.  The question is, what is the mechanism of the phenotype? What is the function of X, such that its loss is causing A?  We / I though it was due to a mechanism hypothesized to occur in vertebrates, based on similarity of our proteins and the structures they are involved in. But as I just said that is not happening.  Which means I have to come up with a new theory....which is painful and hard for me. Luckily, I don't have to do it right away. I want to confirm that the phenomenon does not occur by doing some additional controls. These will not take alot of time and will confirm that the phenomenon does not occur vs my assay not being sensitive enough to detect the phenomenon.  No, I'm not beating a dead horse. The mechanism I am looking at is a signalling pathway and I've only looked one step down. There might not be enough of a change to detect, so I'm going to look further down the pathway to be sure that there really is no change.

I shouldn't say I've been in data hell. Since its good, clear data. But something is going on with my Filezilla **such that its downloading files off the server at extremely slow rates (30Kb/s vs its normal >150Kb/s). Considering I have image files near 1G each, its been a frustrating few days. Slow and frustrating because it takes forever for me to get a file, but only about 10 minutes to analyze it. 

But I guess I get lots of time to think about what is going on.....

and PhysioProf, if you're reading this dont freaking tell this is what science is.  Just. don't.

***if anyone knows what could be going on with the Filezilla please let me know.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Importance of Communicating with your PI

I have probably lost a ton of followers and readers over the last few months.  Which saddens me, but eh, what can you do when life gets in the way in of blogging. I still have to write an ode to my little monkey for his fourth birthday, but since I'm over a month late whats a few more days right?

So this post is to shine a light on the good PI's. Yes I know, its hard to believe they exist, with the blogosphere filled with tales of woe (justifiably so).   Heck, I originally started this blog because of the issues that I was having with my original PhD advisor. However, the stars deemed me lucky enough to land me in my current lab, with my current advisor that you are all sick of hearing how wonderful she is. 

Not to say that we haven't had our issues, for which a lack of communication was the core issue.  You would think that would've taught me a lesson but you know, I"m a slow learner :)

My goal for 2011 was to not sink and more importantly to not be feeling like I'm constantly struggling against sinking. I want to swim this year.  Being pregnant and not wanting to spend years getting this PhD, I need not swim. 

I was not swimming this past January. Mostly because the PI for whom I was TAing for was a completely unreasonable douchnozzle. S/he had extremely high expectations for the amount of work I was supposed to be doing, expected me to not only apply course content but to also help create it. I would speak to my PI about it periodically, who would rea-affirm that no SM you only work 12 hrs/week, no you only apply course content, would you like me to say something? Tell PI, you can not do x and y because I, your supervisor, need you to do z. Always supportive.  It didn't matter what my PI said, this person I was TAing for was a controlling bully that refused to understand that my priority is research and helping the students, not being his/her bitch.  At the end of January, I broke down in our lab office, to our Research Associate. I had been up since 3 am trying to figure out how I was going to get all my TA duties done and get enough data for a paper by the time Parasite decides to come out, while actually being a good mom and wife as opposed to the stressed out exhausted person I was. The DemandingPI was not listening to anything I was saying. The students were complaining to me and asking me to do something. It was just a bad situation.  One that I never openly talked to my PI about.

I didn't come in to the lab, the day after I broke down as we were going on a short family trip but I received an unexpected email from my PI. She told me to enjoy my weekend and relax.  WTF, why was she emailing this?  I may not always succeed, but I try my damnest to a mature, independent student. And I try to solve my problems on my own, which is always the smartest thing. Our amazing RA had recognized that I was being bullied by the other PI, that is was neither fair or healthy to be in the situation that I was. S/he also recognized that I wasn't going to ask my PI for help. So she did.

I don't know all the details, other than my PI was not impressed when she found out the details of what was happening. She got on the phone with our departmental advisor and with the PI I was TAing.  Found out what was happening, through various sources and made it clear that the treatment I was receiving was unacceptable.  She stood up for me. She protected me.  To say I feel like a weight as been lifted is an understatement.

I've since had a meeting with our Graduate Advisor to determine what I should've done, where I went wrong etc. It was great to have that meeting as s/he, very diplomatically, assured me that I wasn't crazy, that I did the right thing, and yes I was in the right.  I've been sorta vague on details but through the whole situation I was being made to feel like I was not in the right that I was supposed to be doing these duties etc.

My point is that had I actually openly talked to my PI earlier, I could've saved myself weeks of grieve. If it wasn't for our RA, I would probably still be struggling not to drown. Power differentials can wreak havoc on someones ability to stand up for themselves. The fear of financial are huge to grad students. I did not / do no want to be the "problem TA". I did not want to cause any waves that would make it hard for me to TA in the future. These fears, prevented me from standing up for what was right. Thankfully I have a PI and RA who saw this and stood up for me.  I am also thankful because I don't think my PI is unique in doing what she did. For all their faults, both my MSc and my original PhD supervisor would've gone to bat for their students.

Now that I"m getting closer to a strong swimming stroke in lab and life, hopefully I'll be back posting more regularlys.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Small Acts of Kindness - Thank you

I'm inspired by  Canadian GirlPostdoc to thank the anonymous skiers who were so wonderfully kind to me yesterday.

I've been having a rough time this semester as I'm TAing for the PI from Hell. S/he is very passionate about teaching undergrads, really really wants them to do well and expects me to care and be as excited about the class as s/he is. I've TA'd this course previously, but s/he has changed the content in hopes of it being more relevant. My biggest issue is that she is a control freak who asks for my opinion but then disregards whatever s/he doesn't agree with and gets visibly angry if I express disagreement. And S/he dictates exactly what I must do, to the point of getting angry if I deviate even slightly to help the students. Its frustrating and demeaning.  It is rude and disrespectful to micro manage me and to treat me as if I have no experience or intelligence.

But whatever, I'm away this weekend on yet another ski trip. We're not at are usual 8+ drive away to the amazing family resort we usually go to but to the closer, large touristy mountain. I expected large crowds with people being annoyed at monkey and me for being so slow. I was wrong. I was in the mountaintop food purchasing line up. It was just monkey and my prego self. The poor little guy was tired and hungry from the morning adventures and was basically only capable of holding his gloves and following little instructions like go get the chocolate milk you want to drink.  So I was holding his helmet, jacket, my goggles, toque and wearing all my gear (so I"m HOT!!!), while also holding our tray of food, when I noticed he had dropped one of his gloves in the line up behind us. It was so crowded behind us and I"m no longer able to easily maneuver  that I just said we would have to go look for it after. I tried looking all on the ground to see if I could find it but I couldn't. While this is happening, so random boarder/skier noticed, went back found the glove and gave it to me.  Thank you!

All day, individuals helped me as they saw me struggle to keep monkey engaged, carrying all the gear. Keeping an eye for monkey's gloves, asking if I needed help. I did not expect this at this mountain. It was refreshing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shocking but true - lavaland is still kicking everyones ass

are we really that surprised? Ricardipus must be picking the linemates of her her picks, as he's holding perfectly parallel just below.  Bob & GertyZ are slowing down, as am I. I guess we actually have to do things other than follow all the hockey stats, eh? That is a joke.  I shouldn't be too sad, I'm sitting at 10 points for this 2 game week.  Lets see if the player updates next week play havoc with anyones teams. I know they totes nailed me last time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hey Pot did you know you're black?

Yep thats me trying to be funny or witty or something.  You know the old saying, its like the pot calling the kettle black? When you tell someone do not something or tell someone they're being unrealistic, even though you are exactly the same? My BFF are kinda like that and when one of us got a bit preachy about the other shouldn't be so hard on themselves, they're expectations are to high blah blah we would look at each and laugh. Or point at ourselves, say "kettle" and then at the other and say "pot".  I'm having that moment.

You see this is where Mxx will laugh at me and say, honey do you not remember you're own advice to me on that post you linked to? Hahahahaha!!!!!

This semester is turning out to be a bit of a bitch. Right now is the first time since probably before christmas where I am sitting down and sorting out thoughts. Its been go go go go. Partly because I'm TAing for the most control freak, incredibly demanding of my time PIs.  S/he wants me to attend every lecture despite the fact its a class I have TA'd before, expects me to meet with s/he at least 1x/week, mark >40 assignment / week and assist with developing the mid-term and homework questions. Since all that would take more than my 12hrs/week I am assigned, I have refused to help develop questions. Plus why the fuck should I? S/he's been teaching for over 2 decades, they shouldn't need my help.  The freaking class sucks up 2.5 days of my 5 day work week. 0.5 day is suck up with lab meeting and whick really leaves me with 1.5 days to get data for the the first aim of my thesis collect before the parasite pops out.

Yeah I'm freaking out just a bit. It doens't help that things at home are busy, only because last year was such a cluster fuck of a year that I'm totally behind on home organizational shit. You know that little things like makings sure all the important papers are filed away in a manner that makes putting out taxes together in a month easy. Getting our personal finances back on track. As in actually tracking where are money is being spent so that I can figure out how to squeeze out another $1000/month for daycare in a year.

Oh and apparently we're supposed to be getting our kitchen renovated so that we aren't paying for heat that is going out the windows that don't shut properly and that we actually have space to put all our dishes etc. 

Did I mention that monkey now has after school and weekend activities? I swear I don't sit down till I got to bed, which is usually by 9:30 because I can't fucking stay awake. It also means I'm waking up at 5am freaking out about the shit I didn't read / prep / clean the night before.

Did you also know that monkey turned 4, over 2 weeks ago and I have yet to write my yearly letter to him???!!!! I should've done that now, but I needed to vent. I'm sure my baby will understand.