Academia, Education, Higher Education, Job, Teaching

Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies #academicmamas

Had my yearly Pap Smear today and it served as a reminder of post that has been in draft folder for too long [it is also Spring Break so I get to catch up on a few things that I normally tend to put of for later]. Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies.

We often think that pregnancy is this magical time in a women’s life in which they can eat whatever they want, glow, and crochet something for their bundle of joy. Well, at least, that is what I thought pregnancy was until I experienced it.

The reality is that for me pregnancy was the worry of knowing how my baby was developing, heartburn, and sleepless nights. But I was fine with that because “it is all just part of the process.” It was until I was 22 weeks pregnant that things got “complicated.”

During a routine visit to the doctor (the first week of classes of that term) the ultrasound technician noticed that I was experiencing an “incompetent cervix.” Everything went from calm to faces of worry and the doctor rushing into the ultrasound room. I was asked to go the emergency room in the hospital and told that they were extremely worry that I would deliver early.

I was so confused by everything that was happening but without thinking about it, my husband and I drove to the hospital and expressed what the gynecologist had just explained. I was immediately checked into the emergency room at the hospital. The doctor in the emergency room explained what an “incompetent cervix” meant. Basically means that I have a “weak” cervix tissue.” What followed was just a mess:

  1. Taught class for one week that semester [Fall 2015]
  2. Then rushed back to the emergency room (and FMLA for the remainder of the term)
  3. Was told by the doctor to consider having an abortion (early delivery would mean having a baby that would not survive or would have severe brain damage)
  4.  Was told by another doctor to consider having a cerclage procedure done to prologue the pregnancy as long as possible (although he clarified the success rate for a 50/50 chance)
  5. Decided to do the cerclage and wait to see what happened.
  6. Orders of bed rest until delivery date
  7. Three long months of at home bed rest

Why did I continued my complicated pregnancy? Because I honestly could not terminate my pregnancy after watching my healthy baby boy in an ultrasound.

What is was like to do three months of bed rest? For me, it was torture. I honestly channel my energy into doing things that I enjoyed (writing, reading, researching, or anything I could do from bed/couch).

This is is really a summarized version of everything that happened. All the emotions that I experienced during those months, would be really difficult to capture in a post. I was very private about all of this, when it happened, because if things did not work out in a positive way, I did not want to mourn my loss publicly. It would have been too difficult. However, I did have many reach out to me privately and I would share what I was going through (I guess my lack of FB and Twitter post was noticed). I had many friends and family check in with me regularly (almost daily). Thank You. I also a had a dear friend that lives in the area have lunch with weekly through the three months of bed rest (thank you JoAnne Scott).

I am not writing this post because I want a pity party. I am writing and sharing it with you because pregnancies don’t always go as planned, which is even more reason to have have adequate institutional policies for pregnant women and partners. I would have never predicted my health issue (not even in my wildest dreams). Since this happened to me I’ve known at least two other women who had similar experiences, including another faculty member at my institution.

I also want to add that my story had a complicated but happy ending but not all stories end the same way. I want to share with the emotional story written by Ilde Torres Walter in her blog (it is a journey of love): http://www.journeytoliam.com/2017/01/09/hello-world/  [you should make time to read her five blog posts].

Academia, AECT, Conference, Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, Job, Professional Development, Research, scholarship, Seminar, Teaching, Travel, Writing

Instructional Design Research Women’s Caucus #AECT17

Please consider joining us during this Research and Theory Division panel session at the AECT 2017 International Convention:

Women Caucus
Lead Discussant:
Enilda Romero-Hall
University of Tampa

Discussants:
Zeni Colorado-Reza
Emporia State University

Ginger Watson
University of Virginia

Camille Dickson-Deane
University of Melbourne

Ayesha Sadaf
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Tugce Aldemir
Pennsylvania State University

See you in Jacksonville. Hope you can join us!

Academia, Higher Education

Motherhood

Baby D is now one year old, which means that I have been a mom for the last twelve months (well now really it is more like thirteen months. I am a bit late writing this post). What can I say about motherhood? What can I say about been a working mom? I am going to try my best to share some of my thoughts and experiences. Beware: This will get personal. 

 Motherhood is beautiful. I love looking into the eyes of my son every day. I love hugging him. There is something amazing about watching him experience new things. Little things that we (adults) take for granted are huge victories in his everyday life (learning how to chew, trying new food, crawling, playing with water, interacting with the dog). Of course, there is work that comes with it and it can be very challenging at times; specially if you do not live close to family. The first few months were about figuring out a good routine that would work for him (a routine for eating, sleeping, and play during the day and at night). It has taken us about a year to figure that routine out (through trial and error). However, now that we have figured it out life is good. 

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As a woman, I feel like it has also taken a year to feel like myself again mentally and physically. Getting back into a workout routine and yoga helped me. Of course, it also helps to understand my limits and knowing when I need to take a “chill pill” and go for a walk. It is tempting as a new mom to “want to do it everything.” The reality is that you cannot do everything and you should ask for help.   

One of the most challenging parts of motherhood during the first year, for me, was pumping. I wanted to breastfeed Baby D at least for the first six months because he was born premature (at 32 weeks). Since I had to go back to work 6 weeks after giving birth, I pumped when I was at work (in between meetings, before class, and after class). Although pumping sounds “easy,” it was very emotionally draining for me. It is hard to explain how it made me feel but what I can say is that I am glad the pumping days are over. 

Many have described me as a natural mother or very “Zen” when I am with baby D. I laugh and think it is funny because until I became a mom I had very little experience with babies. Something else that I find interesting (and I had heard other mothers mentioned this before) is that I no longer have time “to sweat the little things.” Literally, I just do not have time for it because I try to make the best use of the time I have available (when I am at work and in my personal life).   

To any female in academia who is a new mom and is preparing to start a new semester soon, I wish you luck. Just like all babies are different, all motherhood experiences are different. If you need help, ask for it. For new moms in academia, there are support groups via social media that are public (twitter hashtag: #AcademicMamas) and others that are private/super private (Facebook groups for junior academic mamas and academic mamas). I have found this private and secret groups tremendously helpful and super supportive. It is a large network of academic mamas that share their struggles and frustrations, as well as their triumphs and successes. We ask each other questions and try to answer using our own experiences.

Well there it is, my posts on motherhood. I am sure I will remember many things as soon as I hit “publish.” However, for now this is what I can share with you. Happy New Year!