Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hey, thanks

Thanks for all the good wishes. You guys make me so happy. Let me say again how much I appreciated the insights and advice in response to my earlier angsting about the job interview. That encouragement made me so, so much more confident than I would have been otherwise. So... I'm really in your debt.

Today's my first day on the job. My predecessor is going to show me the proverbial ropes. And then I sit down with my boss to hammer out the details of the maternity leave. (Which should maybe be called the maternity start, in my case.)

Confession of a procrastinator (and bad mommy): On Tuesday, I never went to bed. Which is to say that I stayed up all night finishing the writing sample, which had to go out yesterday. I haven't been physically capable of a true all-nighter since the middle of graduate school, and that's been just fine, as I'm not proud of having to pull them. But insomnia comes easily these days, so I just sat and wrote and wrote until the paper was finished at 6 a.m. (It was an adapted version of a recent conference paper, so it's not like I was starting from scratch.) Luckily, I had Adam to proofread my work in the morning. After dozing from 6-8 a.m., I got up, fiddled with the writing until noon, and sent it off.

The minute I hit "send," total fatigue set in, and I was mentally impaired for the rest of the day. But also unable to sleep. (And, no, I hadn't drunk any coffee or caffeine.) Adam and I made the loooong drive to Babies R Us, which is a bizarre place to be when you're coming down from an adrenaline rush, let me tell you. Picked up a car seat, crib mattress, breast pump, and diaper-changing pad, so now we're pretty much all set. And then—baby-centric day that it was—we had to go to our final childbirth class, which was allegedly dedicated to "infant care," but which instead focused on all the ways that we could count on our lives (and careers, and bodies, and general quality of life) to SUCK once the kid is here. Seems to me that this is the class they should have offered to us before we ever had sex. Exhaustion can make everything seem either funny or especially dire. By the time the instructor told us that nursing mothers should expect our brains to go to mush for at least eight weeks, I was tipping toward the latter, and it was all I could do not to burst into tears. (Somebody please confirm for me that the whole "milk brain"/oxytocin thing is a vicious, vile lie.) Fortunately, we spent the last 30 minutes of class learning to hold and swaddle little rubber dolls. And the sight of Adam awkwardly cuddling his squidgy little infant made the whole evening okay again.

As did the prospect of sleep.


At 8:24 AM, Blogger Hypatia said...

So there's a whole article in the most recent issue of scientific american about how being a mom makes you smarter (better direction finding skills since they studied rats), have better memory and be more likely to take risks. Check it out.

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Jeannette said...

Well, since being pregnant and nursing, I really haven't felt myself in the brain department. BUT it's not that I can't function intellectually. I don't think nursing is a whole lot different than being preg brain-wise, and you seem to be doing okay with the whole thinking thing. :-) And then, I don't know if it's nursing or plain sleep-deprivation plus major life changes on every front. It'll be nice for you to think about something else (like a job) sometimes. Sometimes when I've been obsessing about sleep patterns and feeding and pooping it's almost a relief to think about school. Those first couple of months, though--it takes longer to recover than you think. Just don't try to do much those first six weeks at least. (I don't know if your mat. leave will be 6 or 12 weeks, but if you can, take the latter.) I hope you have a great birth! You guys will do fine. Just go by your instincts; you'll be great parents! I quit reading books when he was born--no more what should he be doing at 6 weeks, 2 months, etc. Babies give you the cues for what they need, and it's incredibly freeing to just do what seems right.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger What Now? said...

Isn't this the miracle of non-professorial jobs: you found out about the job last Thursday, you got the job offer on Tuesday, and you're starting today! I find that a very exciting and invigorating schedule; change can always be just around the corner.

I have no words of advice about breast-feeding brain, but it does sound as though you and Adam have worked out good solutions for taking care of the baby in partnership/tandem this spring, and the job is part-time, both of which should help.

All very exciting!

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Xtin said...


So first, in honour of International Delurking Week, hello and welcome to how much I love your blog.

Second, congratulations on the job. My god, how im-freaking-pressed am I. As a person who is very likely to pull an all-nighter tomorrow on the writing sample that is going to my latest postdoc application, I salute you.


At 12:08 PM, Blogger trillwing said...

I've never felt any of that oxytocin/relaxation response that supposedly results from breastfeeding. But then again, breastfeeding hurt like HELL for the first three months, so it was hard to relax. I was too focused on not screaming.

For the love of all that is holy, SLEEP NOW. Sleep in. Take long naps. Because the only time you'll be sleeping in the future is when (if!) the baby sleeps, which is no guarantee of restful slumber. My little guy is 4.5 months old and still wakes up 3-4 times each night.

Still, I think it's all worth it. But it's a good thing he's so damn cute.

BTW, doesn't it feel great to have childbirth class over with? I don't recall too much of mine at this point, other than some general boredom and my one big question during the medical interventions session: "How many things can they stick up your vagina at once?" The midwife actually counted on her fingers. And made it to her second hand.

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Jeannette said...

trillwing, I have one word for nursing pain: lanolin. It's a miracle. I promise!

E is almost 7 months...still wakes up every 3 hours. That's get used to being psycho. I believe it's the new normal.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger YelloCello said...

Yes, the consensus does seem to be "sleep now"! Although I haven't read it, I'm reminded of Katherine Ellison's new book on The Mommy Brain, which reminds us not to confuse brain shrinkage with fatigue and mighty multitasking. She also apparently makes the same "mom's-brain-gets-sharper" the claim of Scientific American article. I certainly like that... but also remain wary of arguments that posit that women's hormones and uteri have any real or enduring impact on their intellects.


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