… to me right now is the unpredictability of sleep. In order to function at a decent level I need a certain amount of sleep. And being pregnant I need a little more too I think. Pre-baby I knew that if I had important stuff to write (like the pile of grants and fellowships that I’m writing now), I would go to bed early and make sure I’m rested so that I can be focused the next day. Now, I can go to bed however early I want, but if BlueEyes is having a crappy night, then so am I.
I haven’t written a lot about baby sleep recently, but it’s still not awesome. A great night is when BlueEyes wakes up for the first time around 2 pm and an awesome night is when he doesn’t wake up at all, but these awesome nights can be counted on the fingers of half a hand. Most of the time I’m okay with that. I know that after a crappy night, a better night will follow. But in these pre-deadline days when I’m slightly stressed about funding and what that means for my career (slightly is really a huge understatement) I find myself having a hard time to keep my cool about this. And it has been proven now that me panicking about lack of sleep in the middle of the night does not increase sleep for anyone in this family. So there’s that. Back to grant writing (1 down, 3 to go).
I think it’s safe to say that I’m an impatient person. I’m that kind of annoying person that will email you if I haven’t heard back a week after I sent you a manuscript. I like to do things fast and efficient. I think this makes me a good (albeit annoying) scientist, but it makes a pretty crappy parent.
BlueEyes has gotten to that age when if he doesn’t like something he will throw himself on the floor crying. So this weekend, I spent 10 minutes that felt like an hour sitting on the sidewalk waiting for him to calm down after I told him that we were not going to cross the very busy street during our walk. Before that, I told him I was going to put his shoes on, but he didn’t want to wear those shoes, he wanted to wear his Crocs. This would have been fine, had there not been a good inch of snow outside. So it was kind of a struggle, and I haven’t even mentioned yet that all of this was done on a minimal amount of sleep, because for some unknown reason BlueEyes has been waking up even more frequently than normal for the past week.
So I try to stay calm and patient and kind and understanding and loving, even though I thought I was none of those things. Apparently I am and apparently this is what having a child does to you. It shows you that you have what it takes to raise this little person. On a good day, that is.
Recently, it seemed like every conversation I had was about how hard it is to get grants and how little money there is for science. At SfN this year it was all I talked about. But the awesome conference that I’m at now is completely shifting that. It is great to be here in so many ways:
First, I get to sleep and relax. Last night I decided not to go out and drink, but to go back to my hotel room at 11 and sleep. I slept in a whole stretch to the next morning. That hadn’t happened in 2 years and it was great. Also, there is some time to relax and I just spend an hour and a half at the pool reading a book. Anyone who has a kid realizes that that too is something that only happens every 2 years or less.
Also scientifically this meeting is great. There are many good speakers and sessions, but what this conference also makes me realize is that I am someone who works in a certain field and knows things. For example, I know who the people in my field are and what they do. I realize what the questions are that the field has at the moment and I’m starting to think of ways to answer those. But also, other people are starting to know who I am. Yesterday, the most awesome science-thing ever happened, where I was talking to someone I hadn’t met before and at some point this person realized that ze was familiar with my graduate work. But not only that, my graduate work had “inspired the work that ze was doing now” (hir words). OMG this still makes me so excited and happy!
This meeting is also really interesting because there are so many senior scientists who show genuine interest and share advice. Not only did I get assigned two mentors because I won a travel award but I have also been talking to numerous other senior scientists. Talking to them does sometimes make me wonder if I’ll be able to pull it off to be a rock-star scientist when I grow up. The morning I left for this meeting I kind of broke down under the pressure of writing a paper and a grant in the same month, and worrying about funding situations and about Dr. BrownEyes’ paper and grant and on top of that trying to clean the house and do laundry in the 2 hours I had before leaving for this conference after a pretty crappy night of sleep. I cried and said I couldn’t take it anymore. And then I heard all these stories about women whose kids got sick or who went through the trouble of adopting a child from a far-away country. Would I be able to take anymore load on top of this? I don’t even dare to think about what would happen when BlueEyes would get sick in times like these when it is so busy.
And that brings me to the title of this post. Because at the women’s lunch at this meeting the speaker was talking about how you can only use your emotional capacity once in a day. There is only so much energy you can spend on emotions, that you’d better spend it wisely, she said. So her advice was to use your analytical scientific brain to determine whether something is word worrying about, and if not, stop worrying about it immediately.
So I am going to walk in the sun and spend my emotional capacity on being happy about all this exciting science, instead of on worrying about funding rates of such and such percentage!! And did I mention how glad I am again to spend time with people I met on twitter?!
Dear readers of my blog,
I love it that you read and comment on my blog and that I can ask you questions about science or life in general. I realize that I don’t always keep you informed about how things ended up, so here’s an update:
A while back I asked whether I should go for Lab A or Bwhen I go back to the home country. I had already sort of made up my mind, but still felt that I should write down the pros and cons before making a ‘real’ decision. As expected, I choose Lab B. This morning, I called for an hour with Lab B PI and we talked about aims for the grant that I am submitting in January. I am so excited about these research plans! I am starting to pilot some things soon, so they can hopefully go in as preliminary data! Yay, science!
And for those of you wondering why I haven’t been complaining about being tired on twitter lately: BlueEyes is finally sleeping a bit better. It was pretty bad when he had just started his new class in daycare a couple weeks ago, because he would wake up every 1-2 hours en instead of easily fall back asleep he would be awake for a couple of hours. Right now, he wakes up twice, only to nurse really short and fall back asleep immediately. Two years ago I would have laughed at myself saying that this is great, but it is. I feel relatively rested again!