Archive for: August, 2011

Things that don't make the hospital brochure

Aug 12 2011 Published by under [Et Al], [Life Trajectories]

Hospitals stays are always interesting and generally have some curveballs you weren't expecting. Each nurse you get is different and opinions on things can change substantially with each shift. You never know what is going to happen in the wing you are staying in and sometimes not even in your own room.


Our first night here was a bit of a rough one, with not a lot of sleep to be had. We were beat and a little frustrated with how feedings were going, as was the Weer One. Just as things were getting settled after a loooong stretch of being up, we heard yelling in the hall. The yelling got closer and closer until it was in the room next door and we thought for sure we were in trouble. In this hospital labor and delivery is on the same floor as recovery. In fact, you stay in the same room throughout. We figured we had a yeller as our new neighbor and were going to be listening to full blown screaming for the next few hours.

However, to our relief, and probably hers as well, there was only about 3 minutes of screaming before we heard the rather distinct cry of a newborn instead. Apparently this was one of those cases where they barely made it to the room before the baby was there, going from water breaking to baby in 11 minutes. This is why people have babies in cars just trying to get to the hospital.


Our stay has been relatively uneventful. Other than having the baby and the associated stress of major surgery, we've known what to expect this time around and that has made it much easier. The one exception was last night.

Much like with our first child, there have been some milk supply issues that have forced us to supplement with formula. While a little disappointing, this hasn't been a surprise. We have been going through the ritual of breast feeding, then my wife pumps while I feed the baby formula. At 3:30 am I had just finished feeding, burped the kid, burrito wrapped her and laid her down. I turned away for a second and turned back to my child vomiting blood. Semi-lucid, my brain lept to my child is hemorrhaging for a solid count of three before a couple of neurons rubbed together and I realized that it was the result of my wife bleeding slightly from a cracked nipple, but I was about two heartbeats away from needing to change my scrubs.

And so it goes. We're heading home today and into our new life as a family of four. The big sister is beaming with excitement and will probably need to be forcibly removed from her little sister about a dozen times a day. Should be interesting.

17 responses so far

Rocking the babymoon staycation... and then there were four

Aug 09 2011 Published by under [Et Al], [Life Trajectories]

We had a great weekend. We took a long weekend as a family and basically did a bunch of stuff together. I didn't work at all, we ate at some favorite places (both as a family and just the two of us), we stocked up with supplies and spent a bunch of money. We had fun and the Wee One was in good spirits the whole time after showing some anxiety lately and being generally crabby for the previous 10 days.

Turns out it was just in time. My wife's water broke this morning before dawn and we mobilized the team. We got to the hospital a little after 6:00, determined that the baby was still head up and went to the OR around 8:00. Less than an hour later we were all back in the room, everyone healthy. A long way from the 38 hour birth-a-thon we did on the first go round. Having a c-section wasn't what we had hoped for, but it worked out. I am now out-numbered in the house 3-1 and plan on installing an outside shower in a year or two.

30 responses so far

Weekend tunes

Aug 05 2011 Published by under [Et Al]

I've been on a powerful-voice-women kick lately with my musical tastes and had to diversify a bit from Neko Case (not that I don't love Neko Case!). I've been hearing good things about Florence and the Machine but hadn't listened to much of their stuff until this week. It didn't take me long to buy their two albums.

There's been some decent radio play of "The Dog Days are Over" and "You've got the love", but there's a lot to like about their other songs as well. Despite the song below being part of the soundtrack for "Eclipse", I can forgive the band.

7 responses so far

In case you can't read....

Aug 04 2011 Published by under [Education&Careers]

I've had this conversation with a number of people over my career, but I have never been able to understand the culture of some fields when it comes to conference presentations. Let's say you open your conference program and see that Dr. Big Name is giving a talk in a session and you make a plan to go see her talk. You've read her lab's papers and you're excited to see the latest from the lab. Is there anything more disappointing than getting a summary of what the lab has published in the last 10 years?

Perhaps my field is unusual but talking about recent unpublished data seems to be the norm, not the exception. When I am putting a talk together it would never occur to me not to include a health dose of unpublished data. The only times in my career that I have talked about mostly published data have been when I first started as a postdoc and in the early days of being a PI, when I didn't have enough new data to even make a coherent story, but that accounts for maybe three professional talks out of many.

Is it a fear of being scooped or a penchant for keeping one's ideas close to the chest that promotes the Summary Talk? I don't know and even that I can't understand. I have had some of most productive conversations following a talk about unpublished data, when someone has approached me to discuss and idea or related data from their lab. Collaborations have even occurred via this mechanism. In short, only positive things have ever happened in my experience with presenting, and seeing talks that include, unpublished data.

So a short poll, but I would be really interested to hear from others in fields where unpublished data rarely grace the big screen. And if people do have accounts of scientists behaving badly when it comes to presented unpublished data, let's try and keep it to first hand experience rather than Lab Lore.

26 responses so far

Stubborn from day -38

Aug 02 2011 Published by under LifeTrajectories

This second kid is going to be a challenge. How do I know that, because she is already making things tough. She won't flip and has decided that she enjoys jamming her head into my wife's ribs in the same spot day in and day out. We've done just about everything to get this thing turn upside-down, save for moving to Australia.

Last week we even went in to do the "manual version" of the flip where two doctors try to move the kid from the outside using more external force than should ever be applied to a pregnant lady. Picture trying to turn a football in an inner-tube filled with old Jello. The look of pain my wife gave me on the second try was one I had forgotten existed and hasn't surfaced other than during her first labor. Needless to say, that was the end of that procedure and we've become fairly resigned to having this kid under the knife. Sometimes the plan just doesn't go the way you saw it from the beginning.

And then there is the kid who is already here. The Wee One has been sensing the coming storm and recently decided that her tummy hurt just like Mom's, culminating in the redecoration of our local coffee shop's walkway this morning. We're trying to find that delicate territory between making her feel loved while the focus shifts away from her in the coming weeks and she assaults the very fiber of our sanity with a new combative attitude that she has been honing for a month or so. As has been described more elegantly elsewhere, there is a point where you question whether the new addition to the family is going to snap all the threads of routine we have carefully weaved to function with the schedules we juggle.

We'll know soon enough because we have official been booked for the OR in less than two weeks. The concept that there will soon be another child in our life and we will be starting from scratch is so abstract right now, it may as well be the Higgs Boson.

I think I can make out the head.

We're not ready but you never are. Tomorrow is my last scheduled event until classes start. I've cleared my calendar, off-loaded some travel on the people in my lab and I'm bracing for impact. If we get through tomorrow at noon, we'll have nothing between us and baby.

Good and terrifying all at once.

8 responses so far

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