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, Teaching

The Miscarriage

I have been dreading writing this post because just thinking about the events that transpired makes me emotional and sad. However, I feel encouraged to share my story thanks to the many comments I have received (in person or online) from other women who can relate to my previous post about been an  academic mama. I hope that this post reaches others (men and women) so that we can be more open to share and discuss the emotions, decisions, and life experiences during/after a miscarriage.

1911031_752517668149372_8744410335583385879_o

Here is my story:

It was August 2014 and I was super excited! I had recently found out that we were expecting a baby. I am a woman in my mid-thirties so, before finding out about my pregnancy, I was a bit worried about the possibility of getting pregnant. Finding out that I was expecting, filled me with joy. I was happy. Of course, I experienced all the symptoms that a woman will endure in the first three months of pregnancy (nausea, exhaustion, vomiting). As an assistant professor that Fall 2014 semester was difficult, both emotionally and physically. However, pregnancy wise everything seemed to be going well. During my eight week check-up, I had an ultrasound and was able to hear the baby’s heartbeat.

The day before my 12 week check-up, I looked in the mirror and I remember telling my significant other that I did not feel pregnant. I was no longer feeling nauseous and I noticed my belly was not growing as much as before. He told me not to worry (perhaps it was normal as I was going into the second trimester). The next day, October 30, was probably the most difficult day in my life. I met my husband at the hospital to see the doctor and have an ultrasound. It was going to be his first time getting to see the baby. I remember laying in the hospital bed while the ultrasound technician tried for several minutes to find the heartbeat of the baby. However, after a few minutes she turned to me and said: “I am so sorry. Your baby does not have a heartbeat. Based on the size of your fetus, you probably miscarried a week or so ago.” I felt my heart drop to my stomach. I kept wanting the technician to be wrong. A few minutes later, the doctor walked in and she reassure me that I had not done anything wrong. She mentioned that a high percentage of pregnancies end in miscarriages. She asked me if I preferred to wait for my body to miscarried on his own or if I prefer a D&C (Dilation and Curettage). I decided that I would much rather have a D&C (your body can take weeks before it realizes that you need to miscarry the fetus). The doctor scheduled me for an emergency D&C the next day, which meant full anesthesia and a trip into the operating room (OR). That evening we went home and cried for hours.

I could not sleep at all (this went on for several nights). I spend hours thinking about everything I had done the previous weeks. Wondering if I had too much stress, if I worked too hard, if I ate enough… maybe it was the yoga class I did… I thought I did something wrong…

The next day, October 31, I had an emergency D&C. It was an outpatient procedure so I went home that evening and was given orders to return for a post-operative appointment in 6 weeks. The following week, still feeling sad and heartbroken, I attended the AECT conference. I really was not in the mood to socialize but I did it because… at least I could focus my attention on something else for a few days and it was in state so if I had any medical issues I could return home quickly. After returning home from the conference, I still had a month and a half until the end of the semester and I had to find strength (mentally and physically) to make it until finals week.

I wish I could tell you that my recovery after the D&C was smooth sailing. Nope. It was far from that. I found out after six weeks of “recovery” that the D&C was not performed correctly (I still had tissues of placeta from my pregnancy in my uterus)  and that in order to recover I was going to have a second D&C. Yes, this things happen. For a second time, I had to go into the OR (on December 26: a day after Christmas and just a few days before leaving the country for a professional development trip overseas). I was extremely weak physically (anemia) and upset by the fact that I was still dealing with something I wanted to put behind me. So there I was on December 26 back in the OR. A few weeks later, during my professional development trip, I was sitting in a coffee shop in Istanbul reflecting on everything and just hoping to recover. At the beginning of the Spring 2015 semester (beginning of February) I had my post operative check up for the second D&C and I was relieved to find out that it had all gone well.

The physical and emotional recovery from the miscarriage took months for me… Yet, the world continued to move forward around me. I tried my best to deal with the loss but I would lie if I told you that I “took time” to myself. I had only told a few friends what I had experienced and I could tell it was extremely awkward for them to find ways to approach the topic. I was able to openly discuss what had happened with my mom and husband. It helped me tremendously. I know that there are women who experience many miscarriages (two, three, or more). Just know that you are not alone. When I told my mom what had happened, she told me that she had also experienced a miscarriage. Something she had never shared with me before. Again, it is hard for me share something so personal but I think it is important. I no longer blame myself for my miscarriage. I have taken the time to read more about it and discussed the topic with other women who have experience it.