Seven weeks, all is well

One little blob, with a heartbeat flickering away, tucked safely inside my uterus.

Pea and I are happy and modestly excited.

We celebrated by getting home early and whisking Spud off to go get a Christmas tree while it was still light out. They had a tractor and forklift, a toy transport truck, cookies, and cider. Oh yes, and trees, but that seemed entirely secondary to Spud.

A reprieve from anxiety until this wears off and I start worrying again.

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holding my breath

This afternoon is our first ultrasound. I have felt as though I am in stasis for the past two weeks, with nothing but a strong beta and my rolling waves of nausea to provide a touchstone of truth – this may be happening.

I need to make plans. I need to hire a postdoc, and the timing will matter. I need to sort out roadmaps for two grad students, who will want to finish up while I would be away. I need to hire someone to be part-me while I’m gone this time, to make life run smoother for everyone. I need to get going on a great many things if this is real. But mostly, I need to KNOW.

Is there a baby? Is it alive? Where is it? Is there only one?

How marvelous and terrible that we can peek inside and find out.

45%

My stomach is only happy if it is 45% full at all times after ~10 am. If I am slightly more hungry or slightly more full, then I am mildly nauseated. If I am quite a bit more hungry or full, it intensifies.

I am currently lying on the floor of my darkened office because I was at an event luncheon and had to eat my lunch in one sitting. Plus I was hungry and somewhat forgot the full side of this nausea spectrum. Not ideal.

Yesterday I ate my sandwich in single bites across three hours. It worked well from a nausea standpoint but was not very satisfying overall. 45% is not actually unhungry.

I know this is a good sign all told, but it is not the most fun I have ever had.

Star Wars emotions

Last week

Me: Spud, I love you. Can you say “I love you”?

Spud: Ah no!

Me: I love you.

Spud: Ah no.

This morning

Spud: climbs up into my lap, huge hug, toddler-face-mash kiss: Ah no! Ah no!

Me: I love you too! I love you!

Spud: Ah no!

Me: I do love you, Spud-a-loo*

Spud: Spud-a-LOOOOO!

It amuses me greatly that he is Han Solo-ing my professions of love. It really is how he says it right now.

* a riff on a Koala Lou book we love

from the other side

I had my first prenatal appointment yesterday, with my GP. I went in wanting one thing: a prescription for my blood thinner. I got, instead, a sheaf of requisitions – blood work for now, a dating ultrasound, more blood work + the 12 week NT scan, and the 20 week anatomy scan. They weighed me, took my blood pressure (abnormally high for me, but I had just speed-walked from the bus stop…), and asked me lots of questions about family medical histories.

My GP refused to give me the blood thinner script, citing discomfort in prescribing such a thing in pregnancy. He instead made a “priority appointment” request for my OB. I do not enjoy my GP, and this is frustrating. Hopefully my OB will get in touch before I run out of stock-piled blood thinners*.

My beta came back at 2,116 at 18 dpo, compared to Spud with 1,625 at 19 “dpo”. A solid, high beta. I’m pleased and relieved. I’m hoping there’s only one lil duck in there, as I am not mentally prepared for multiples. The beta is well within the range for a singleton, or twins, or triplets – they aren’t really distinguishable at this stage by blood levels alone.

And I think that’s it til a dating scan, which I need to book. Being a normal, fertile person in the system is quite odd, much less testing and fewer appointments.

Not much less angst though. 🙂

 

* am I self medicating? Yes. I am.

 

28 days later

Pssst, let me tell you a secret. So far only Pea and my sisters know. And my one good friend who is an MD. And my one other friend. I am terrible at secrets.

It seems only fair to involve you now, since you will most definitely be involved if this goes south.

10 dpo (top) and 11 dpo (bottom)

Darkening nicely. Darker at 12 dpo than any of my chemicals by far. Pea is reserving all excitement, semi-successfully. I am quietly optimistic and also beset by a thousand tiny worries. Is my daily vitamin enough as a prenatal? (yes, it’s got all the right things at the right levels) What am I supposed to be avoiding food-wise again? I really need to be in better shape if this is happening! Late July: what will that mean for my teaching and my lab? Maybe I really will have to extend my tenure clock… I cannot help but forecast forward, but I stop short of making or canceling any plans for now.

There is so much that can go wrong, but it is pretty amazing to me that all the steps to here have gone right so far. It was our third cycle trying, our first with excellent, or even passably good, timing. I spent $75 on the really good ovulation tests the cycle prior, and they saved our bacon. I definitely didn’t believe I was ovulating that early. I spent $25 on internet cheapie pregnancy tests because I love peeing on sticks. I cannot believe this pregnancy, regardless of outcome, was so cheap! It so easily could have been thousands and thousands of dollars, for no result at all. I am baffled and bewildered, grateful and agog. I’m also pretty scared, but that’s my default in early pregnancy.

I’m on antibiotics for a mild but persistent case of strep throat. I am dearly hoping they are causing my burgeoning nausea. I’m only 14 dpo, it would be a good/bad sign if morning sickness was already a thing.

I will leave you with the inimitable Pea:

Me (10 dpo): Pea, can you come look at something for me?

Pea: ok! Looks at test I am holding in the sunlight What am I looking for?

Me: a very faint second line.

Pea: yes, there is a very faint second line.

Me: ok. High fives Pea. We shall see how we go.

Thirty five minutes later, mid-sentence about lunch

Pea: was that a pregnancy test?

Me: YES!

Cross your fingers for us.

Equity and inclusion

I am on a University-level equity and diversity committee, tasked with addressing Innovation U’s abysmal record for their highest honours (research chairs, etc.).

The committee is overseen by our VP Equity, who wants reports every quarter, but only the urgent stuff.

The committee is chaired by our new Canada 150 research chair, who is a dynamic, highly talented woman with modest to minor prior experience with diversity.

The committee was built by the chair, who recruited folk she had met in her ~3 months tenure at Innovation U, and who represented a variety of faculties in STEM.

They (including myself) were all women.

Upon seeing the email invite list for our inaugural meeting, I emailed the chair to respectfully recuse myself from the committee so I could be replaced with a male, citing two main points: (1) the reverse gender imbalance would be reviled, and thus this one should be too – perhaps we should endeavour to build a diversity and equity committee that reflected our ideal outcomes for the programs, and (2) some literature showing the burden of service held by women in academia, suggesting an all-female committee was exacerbating that issue.

The committee met last week with its original composition, and I was given the chance to voice my concerns. Once I had, four of the six other committee members chimed in to echo the same issues. I have no doubt no one else was going to say anything if I hadn’t.

I was the youngest and the only non-tenured person in the room. I’m just mouthy. And I’ve done quite a lot of reading around implicit biases, inequity in STEM, and women in STEM, so, while I am not at all experienced in developing policy, I have a reasonable sense of what is a good plan and what is unmitigated BS.

We will be adding some men to the committee, again from a variety of faculties.

Our remit is, in short, to rectify the issue with massive gender and diversity disparities within the award nomination and allocation programs at Innovation U.

Our current plans include leadership workshops and recruitment seminars to get more women in STEM…….

2003 called. They want their diversity initiatives back, please.

I’m mad. I want off this misguided, uninformed, over-remitted committee. I should stay though, because when our VP Research mentioned our one award program had nominated 38 men out of 40 applicants for an award in the past six years, I was the only one who asked if the process was one of self-nomination. “Yes”, he said, “but then there is an adjudication process”. I said I was willing to bet $20 that the gender disparity happened at the nomination stage and not the adjudication stage. “You are bang on!” he said, surprised. There was a frisson of surprise around the table.

We don’t need more women in early STEM stages. We don’t need new adjudication systems (or at least, we have no data yet to suggest we do (specifically at my institution)). We need support systems that remind women to nominate themselves, or better yet, nominate them directly for awards of this kind, to recognize the superb science they are already doing.

We need equity training that highlights the known discrepancies in women’s application packages, especially in reference letters. We need job search committees to know about the study showing that one woman in a field of 4 interviewees will never get the job, but when there are at least two, it becomes as likely as statistics would predict. Same for minorities.

I can stay on this committee, and really invest, and maybe make a small change for the better, a more modern and informed approach.

I can stay on this committee, and maybe end up jaded, disillusioned, and with a reputation for being difficult – pre-tenure.

I can recuse myself, but then I’ll know that nothing strong and satisfactory will come from this, and our problems will continue.

I’m going to stay, but if I mismanage this and it ends up biting me in the tookus, I’m going to be irritated.