Monday, February 25, 2013

A Postdoc’s Guide to Pregnancy and Maternity leave

I only discovered today that the National Postdoctoral Association published “A Postdoc’s Guide to Pregnancy and Maternity leave”. It’s a short guide that tells you all the things that you should keep in mind before, during and after your pregnancy as a postdoc. That’s incredibly helpful, because as a postdoc you’re not a student but regularly not a real employee either, so it’s often vague what your rights are concerning things like maternity leave. 

Click here for a larger view.

The only slight flaw that I could discover is that they list ‘looking for childcare’ as something to do after the baby is born. In our case that would have been way too late. Our university only has one childcare center with about 12 spots for babies (!), so we were smart enough to put our names on the list when I was only 8 weeks pregnant. The daycare center knew I was expecting before my close friends did, just because otherwise we would probably not have got a spot.

Anyway, go and check it out if you’re a postdoc and pregnant or considering to get pregnant.

So long and thanks for the fish, National Postdoctoral Association!

Friday, February 22, 2013

On enjoying your new baby

When BlueEyes was just born, I was overwhelmed to say the least. I read a lot about birth, but almost forgot that the process is supposed to end with the appearance of a baby. I remember when he was just born I heard a baby cry in the room that I was in too, and all I could think was: “please make that annoying sound go away!” It took a fairly long time before I realized that that sound came from my baby. My baby. This little person that I was now responsible for. I was not only supposed to feed and dress this little person, but I was also going to be his mom for the rest of my life. Wow. I hadn’t fully realized that until then. And all of this happened at a time when you’re body is flushed with this ridiculous amount of hormones that changes you from a normally functioning person to someone who will break down in an ocean of tears over nothing.

Add to this the fact that when both your parents and your in-laws live on a different continent they don’t just come to visit for an afternoon, but rather for a week of two, and you might imagine that it took me a while to regain myself. And so when people told me to enjoy the time with my new baby, it sounded a bit like people saying you should enjoy the waves when there’s actually a tsunami. Just making sure BlueEyes was fed and slept and not hijacked by his grandparents was all I could accomplish for a day. Enjoying that really didn’t seem feasible at the time.

Was this postpartum depression? No, I think it’s just normal; I just hadn’t anticipated it. I promised myself never to tell people they should enjoy these first weeks with their new baby, because I had felt how much of a burden it was to not only do all those things, but to also have to enjoy them.

But apparently you forget these things, because today I did just that; I told someone to enjoy her first weeks with the new baby. Apparently I had forgotten about how it really was, and I just thought about a cute little baby and how wonderful it is to hold it and feed it without all of the reality around it. I guess you forget these things and that’s probably a good thing.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What sequestration looks like to an ignorant foreigner.

Obama: We have to reduce the debt ceiling by saving some money here and there.

Republican: No

Obama: Like by increasing taxes here and there.

Republican: No way

Obama: Fine, then we’re going to cut money to research when we don’t reach an agreement before March 1st (or another date, cause we cause this kind of panic all the time) 

Republican: Fine, see if I care

Obama: Fine
What I think this conversation looks like. source
 But really, we should do something about it! And I still don't understand the whole sequestration thing, to be completely honest.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The thought of having my own lab

When I think about moving back to the home country (which we are planning to do in 1-2 years from now) I think about finding a house, finding a daycare for BlueEyes, shipping our stuff from here, unpacking boxes that we have stored in my parent’s house, helping BlueEyes adjust to living in a different place, etc etc. So it seems comforting to know that I will probably be working as a post-doc in a lab with people that I know (from conferences and from writing a grant together) with equipment that is already there. Dr. BrownEyes and I will be working in the same city, so we can live close to the university. It all seemed to work out perfect (that is, if we find money to support our own salary). But, as I said previously, now there is this TT job in the homecountry that I am applying for. The deadline is Friday and today I am struggling with writing my research statement, after one of the faculty members in my department (not my PI) who I asked for advice gave me lots of good advice, but that meant that I basically am rewriting most of it.

Because there are so few advertised TT jobs in the homecountry, I feel like I HAVE to apply. However, the thought of actually getting the job scares me shitless. Because it would mean that on top of moving an entire family and stuff to the home country, it would also mean finding myself in an empty lab assembling an electrophysiology rig (I have never actually done that!!) and teaching, which I have also never really done by myself. On top of that, this job is in a different city from the other job, so either Dr. BrownEyes or I would have to commute. The idea of having my own lab is fun, but if I actually think about what it would mean I freeze in sheer panic. How on earth do other people do this?

Monday, February 11, 2013

About being someone's mom

Today I came across this beautifully written blog post about how becoming a mother changes you and makes you miss or even say goodbye to the person you used to be. The person who could do whatever at any time she wanted. Go and read it, because renegademama writes it WAY better than I ever could. It seriously made me cry when I read it.

I recently came to the weird realization that have a baby doesn’t mean having a little piece or version of yourself. It is actually another person who just came to live in your house too. Even though he may have grown in your belly (or not, it doesn’t even matter). In the beginning he’s just laying there, sleeping and feeding, but now he’s growing into an actual person, who does all the things that other people do. He says “No” if he doesn’t want things, and can all of a sudden say “Sushi” and eat 5 pieces of California roll for dinner. It’s awesome. And a little weird if I think about it too long.