Archive for: May, 2011

The last hurrah

May 21 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I think this my last post here at Scientopia as I'm pretty sure it's been two weeks. Yes this is the sad state of my life right now, where I'm never really sure of the exact time or date. My sense of time is all relative to the next thing that must get done. Right now the next thing that must get done is the house cleaned, boy fed,  groceries bought & inlaws visited. It was super nice of the Scientopia folk to invite me to guest blog and I feel sorta bad that I've haven't been the best guest blogger. I mean everyone else was posting on a daily basis and I've barely been able to get  5 posts together (mind you its way better than I have been doing!). Unfortunately, this seems to be a going trend in the #SciMom blogging community. Most of the scientist/moms/ 10 other responsibilities bloggers are just not blogging as much.  If I look at the sidebar on my own site, its obvious that many blogs have been dormant of months (even those of are not parents aren't blogging as much). FIA is attempting to start again and I made a new years resolution to blog more frequently, but the fact of the matter is I have 0 time. I wake up, get the lunches together, get dressed, get the monkey dressed and am out the door.  I used to be out the door by 7:45am, but lately I've let the child sleep and have slowed down the morning rush because I'm getting to the point where I physically can not do it, but we're still out the door by 8:30 most mornings. Then its a full day in the lab before getting to daycare, struggling to get the monkey to stop playing with his best buddies and start the commute home (~ 1hour drive). We get home, have dinner, wash up, take the dog out/go to the park/ bake bread or do something with our child. Before you know it, its bath and bedtime. Prior to being a human incubator, after monkey's bedtime I would work or relax, but now I just pass out. I suspect that this is the life of many of the other parent bloggers out there.  Somewhere in this schedule I am supposed to find some quality time with the sperm provider in my life. Hahahahaha!

It would be so much easier if I didn't have anything to blog about, but I have ideas. Everyday, I come up with ideas. Ranting about how fucked up our society is that the term "who's your daddy" is completely OK. or Why I've chosen to have a midwife for delivering my children. My annoyance at Canada Safeways reduction in customer service. Or tips for having a successful grad career (treat it like a professional job and act like an adult) I just have no time.

They say motherhood should not be about sacrifice and it shouldn't. But if you want to be an involved parent and have a stimulating career, something has to give. You can not have it all at the same time. While I'm on mat leave, I may have more time for my hobbies. Once my chidren hit the teen years I will have more time for me. But sadly I think for the next 5 years, my time is going to be the fact that I'm having an awesome time in my lab.  Which is sad to me. As I think my voice is a valuable one. I would loved to have someone like me to read about or chat with. And I want to be able to be a role model for other women wanting to combine grad school with motherhood, especially visible minorities. I hope my archives will be enough for now because I suspect my blogging frequency is not going to change for the next little while. Though I hope that doesn't stop you from adding me to your feed 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the small sample of what I write about and will click over to my blogger soon to be wordpress site for my infrequent writings.


2 responses so far

Happy Belated Birthday Monkey

May 18 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

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 spoils you rotten and you know it. You know exactly how to get what you want from him. 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.

3 responses so far

Getting over the hump

May 15 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I don't know how the non-Canada residing parents scientist do it. I have just under 6 weeks left before the inmate's release date. Whether or not s/he is getting early parole or longer sentence is not known.  Even though I have 6 more weeks to be in the lab, get shit done. I'm mentally done. This pregnancy has been death to my productivity. The first trimester I was exhausted. I couldn't stay awake for more than 2 hours. The second trimester is where I made a ton of progress on my thesis, but then in the last month I have lost all my steam. I. just. don'

Case in point. I have a committee meeting this week. The rules state that I must email my committee a progress report TWO weeks before. Ask me if I have done that yet? Nope. Ask me if I care? Nope! Which is so out of character for me. Normally I freak out about not meeting deadlines and having shit ready to go before the deadline (having a child get sick at the most inopportune times helps cement this habit). I'm just done.

There are experiments I want to do, I think it would be great to have the information, but I am so tired that I just can't. Plus I have like 10 slides that I need to image and analyze before the inmate gets out. But I have no motivation. I just want to sit on the couch and sleep. Which I can't because if I'm home I have the monkey to deal with and if I take him into daycare, well then I have to stay in the lab because daycare is at the uni, which is a long commute away.

The weekends have been insane for the last 2 months as well with all the house reno's that were going on. Word of advice. Do not start redoing your kitchen / dining room and having your WHOLE house painted when you're 28 weeks pregnant. Not smart. At all. Though probably way smarter then doing it after the baby is born!

So why do I think its harder for non-Canada residing parents? Because you guys actually have to go back to work WAY sooner than me. I get a year to recover, mentally and physically. I could not imagine having to go back to work 6 - 12 weeks later. That is insane. Thank God / FSM / Martians that I live up here, even if my fellow citizens were stupid enough to vote in an asshole as our PM.

I must go work on my progress report, just wanted to post since its been a few days.  Oh and thank you to everyone for their kind words.  It was very very much appreciated.

2 responses so far

An Open Letter to My Mother

May 12 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

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

13 responses so far

Is this the sequel to the Autism-Vaccination Link?

May 09 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

So I  know I said I was going to talk about why I started blogging and how its evolved, but really its kinda the same old same old.  I was feeling isolated, found community, gained perspective life has changed, yada yada yada.  If you're really that interested its all over at my little neck of the woods on blogspot.  Just read through the archives and you'll learn all about why I changed labs and how I am in now in a little bit of paradise. Which is probably why I'm not blogging as much about lab life. How many times can you say life is great and I <3 my PI before people want to smack you.

So instead, I'm going to blather on about the whole MS is a vascular disease thing. I want to say that I know nothing about MS, vascular disease or even neuroscience. Half our lab does neuroscience, I've learned the difference between axons, glia, etc but still I really really have to focus to understand their research. I don't know enough of the subject to be able to critically analyze it.

However, I do have an understanding of how science works, what it takes to start or recommend new therapies and the disconnect between what I know and what the lay public knows.

I understand the need to send out press releases about research but when research and its implications are not  communicated in an appropriate manner (I don't know what that appropriate manner is) dangerous links, myths and cures can pop up. Which is what has happened with the vascular blockage theory of MS.  Canadian patients desperate for a cure have flown all over the world for these therapies, spending a ton of cash, and then are left with post-surgical complications that they may or may not get treatment for.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that when Dr. Zambonini's research first came out last year, I remember being annoyed at how much weight was being put on 1 study. How suddenly there was all this pressure to fund a particular type of research and how inadequately the research itself was discussed in our national media. It was really just superficial and sensational. Which is how I would imagine it was with the first study that showed the link between Autism and Vaccinations. Today's article on how studies are coming out which do not support Dr.Zamboni is just as sensational.

The globe and mail has done nothing to educate the lay public on how science progresses. Really this article,  to me, read more like a soap opera than a review of the science involved.  It could be summarized as this: Dr.Zamboni's key ally has turned against him, researchers are attacking him and Dr.Zamboni is too closely involved perhaps gaining financially from his theory.  Oh and be warned the line between "crank and genius is very fine". Seriously? WTF Carly Weeks?

How about putting into lay person terms what the six reports found and explain why the researchers had different results? How about instead of making it sound like this is a political issue, with other scientists "out to get" Dr.Zamboni,  have a real article talking about the dangers of pre-rushing a treatment, the need for reproducibility? How about discussing how disagreement and discussion is fundamental to moving science forward?

For some reason, I highly doubt MS researchers want Dr.Zamboni's theory to be wrong or fail. I believe that the researchers who work on MS want to find a cure, want to figure out what is going on.  I, for one, would be loath to recommend a treatment with out being confident in its ability to work and I'm pretty sure the MS community of scientists are the same.  Yesterday I gave a short talk on one of the hypotheses for my thesis. I was freaking about having to give a talk on the because I did not know for sure that my data was really supporting my hypothesis, I didn't have enough repeats, controls. I needed to test the pathway downstream to make sure it was really being activated.  I didn't have a mechanism etc. I was stressing over a short talk at a small cell biology meeting to get feedback on my research. Now if I had to recommend a treatment that could effect millions of people, I damn well would want multiple people looking at it and having it taken through the ringer. People's lives are at risk.

Unfortunately, if the link between vascular blockages and MS ends of not be real the  lack of science education, critical thinking, poor reporting combined with patients and families desperate for a cure and  those willing to take advantage of them, will be a deadly combination.  Its a combination that will enable the myth of the vascular link to stick around as long as, if not longer then the vaccination-autism link.

I don't know how we "fix" this, but better reporting in major newspapers would be a first step.  Better science education and critical thinking would be a second step.  As scientists, we need the public to understand what research is, why its important and how it works.  Up here, tax dollars and charity contributions make up of money for our  funding and unless the public understands how research works, it will be easier for unfriendly governments to cut that funding.


5 responses so far

Hello and Happy Mothers Day

May 08 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

First of all I want to thank the members of Scientopia for inviting me to be part of this guest blogging series. I'm looking forward to dusting off my blogging skills and putting them to use again.
For those of you don't know me. I'm a member of the most of the under-represented groups in science. I'm like a trifecta of biases against me. I'm an older graduate student (started when I was >30yrs old), a woman of color, and a mom of 1.8.

I started blogging when I came back from my first mat leave and in my next post will get into why I started blogging and how my reasons for blogging have evolved. For now, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say hello as I wasn't sure how much time I would have to blog today as I'm at scientific meeting, giving a talk in 1.5 hours, then leaving to see my nephew for his birthday, before heading home to enjoy mothers day with my little monkey - a day in the life of a expecting, scientist-student, mom 🙂

7 responses so far