Friday, December 31, 2010

Back to Business

Here's a summary of where I'm at and what I'm doing professionally (perhaps over several posts):

I teach three courses this semester.
1. Bread and Butter II (also called cool subject)- I was hired to teach this course, and its prerequisite Bread and Butter I. My favorite course. A very large, lower-level course (for us) at 60 students. I do all the work from planning the course to grading the exams, quizzes and labs to making solutions and putting out lab materials for each students. Know the subject well, rely on textbook powerpoints, so lecture prep is moderate / mild. The most work for this course is the grading. A mountain of grading.

During the Fall semester (my maternity leave) this course was farmed out to a faculty member of another department for the lecture and a roaming adjunct for the lab. Can I tell you a secret? When this colleague taught this course during a previous maternity leave, I got the highest course evaluations in my history because of a comparison effect.

2. Science for Teachers and Gen Ed (a 101 course)- Never taught this before in my life. Feel the need to make it very exciting and do a lot of jumping around, acrobatics and other entertainment in this course. Have a friend/equivalent at another institution who loves her course and has given me some great suggestions.

3. Research course- This course rotates among faculty and this year its my turn. A chance for students to work in the lab but more formalized; a syllabus, lectures for intros, teaching reading literature explicitly instead of implicitly, etc. Was under enrolled (1 student!!) but will surprisingly run anyway. I will get load time for mentoring a student in my lab (a rare treat- yahoo). She is, unfortunately, a sophomore but absolutely needs it this semester. Therefore she has not had a lot of the courses and experiences that will help her hit the ground running, so hoping she can complete my ONE LAST experiment for my paper is a reach. We'll do our best.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Birth Story Part 8- The birth

Actually, you missed it. It was here.

But don't worry you are in good company. We did not have time to call the doula, or the 2 nursing students I invited to attend BEFORE the birth. The nursing students were horribly disappointed when they arrived an hour later (they knew they missed it but came to visit). We started to get visitors- the baby sitters of my son, other friends. It was wonderful to feel alive and energetic and excitedly tell the story.

Boy was so excited to be in the hospital room (new things to play with! buttons to push! plugs to pull!) that he barely noticed this pink cylindrical thing that people kept shoving into his face.

The cycle of begging for popsicles and anything else to eat or drink from the nursing staff started and didn't end until 24 hours later when we checked out. I was ravenous. And ecstatic.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Birth Story Part 7c- Hospital Contractions #2-5

I was sitting at the admit desk, waiting for a bracelet. The contraction I was having ended abruptly, just as my husband arrived with all our pre-prepared bags from the car. I laughed and joked with him, telling him he looked like a Sherpa. With this labor, even the most intense contractions would disappear and leave me feeling NO pain. My first birth, that was not the case. The baseline of pain crept up and up, so toward the end there wasn't much relief from the pain in between contractions. But for my second, it was like night and day.

Everything seemed manageable, I got my bracelet (quickly I must note), and the guy wheeled me toward the elevators down the hall. Another contraction (#2) came quickly as we were approaching the elevators. I dropped my head and started trying to breathe to manage it, and it was difficult. My transporter had turned me around to back into the elevator which had not arrived yet. I heard the bell ding and the door slide open while I was breathing very heavily and loudly and gripping the armrests of the wheelchair tightly. Then I heard the sound of a stampede. Apparently the elevator was full of people who all saw my distress, and RAN out of the elevator to let me in!

Somewhere between the elevator and the corner of the L and D wing, the contraction ended and once again, I was relieved of any vestige of pain. The midwife I had called and my favorite L and D nurse were there to greet me. I remember specifically waving at them, smiling and saying "I'm so glad its you guys!". I also confirmed (firmly) that the room I was being taken to had a jacuzzi in it (not all do). I was delivered to a room and asked to stand up from the chair, and BLAM! Another contraction (#3). I stood next to the bed and bent over it, and asked (perhaps begged) Can I have the birthing ball PLEASE?!?! I was breathing the best I could but at a point my control "broke" and I let out a deep guttural cry.

No, no ball yet, the midwife said, we need to get you checked in. And it seems like we need to do it in a hurry. Lets get you on the bed. They helped me on the bed and while the nurse fumbled to hurriedly get a fetal heart strip on me the midwife pulled my dress over my head. She joked with me because I was wearing a depends. I explained that I was afraid of my water breaking in church. The pause between contractions was only long enough for her to check my cervix. She stuck her hand up there, and said, well, hold on let me confirm this, yes, you're at 9 cm. I thought REALLY?? Woah. She said in a very soft tone, there's going to be a flurry of activity, don't let it frighten you. And then the next contraction came (#4). I was lying partly on my side, and the nurse was trying to get to the next stage of "check in" with me. I THINK at this point the midwife said to the nurse, forget the IV. This contraction also made me cry out. I could feel the baby fill my pelvis, and the very end of the contraction I said "I feel pushy!"

Having the baby in your birth canal sets off a reflex that feels like an absolute uncontrollable urge to defecate. I don't remember how I was on the bed, where my husband was, or anything else. I do remember that the midwife said, if you feel the urge to push, go ahead.

The next contraction came (#5), and I felt filled with power. There was not pain, just the very happy chance to push and take control. I contracted my abdomen and with a deep and satisfying HUUUUUAAAAAAH! I felt instant relief from the urge. And I heard a splash.

And that was it. She was born.

When I heard a cry and my husband saying, "Its a girl!" I was lifted to a place I've never been. I was extremely high and filled with joy.

The midwife said that she was born a caul bearer, a rare occurrence in which the baby is born with at least the head in an intact bag of waters. Her umbilical cord was short so I felt a tugging at my insides as we tried to put her to my breast to feed. She fed well and right away.

This was such a contrast to my first labor. My son came after 43 hours of regular painful contractions and a lot of interventions (but no epidural). After my son, I wanted Scotch.

After my daughter, I wanted to sing the Hallelujah Chorus.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Birth Story Part 7b- Arriving at the Hospital

I left off looking down the road and seeing red lights, hoping that my fear of having the baby in the car wasn't going to be realized. I had about two contractions in the car, and then they eased off. I didn't really notice not having contractions. I did think, as we passed the shell of the former hospital*, we could be there by now. Then, a few blocks later we passed a fire station, and in my mind this was an anchoring point, like a new point to which we could return in case things started to get worse. But we kept progressing through town. The student section, of which I was afraid of being clogged, was wide open as it was a Sunday morning. We made it through construction, and then through a very long driveway leading up to the emergency room. I remember seeing a couple on a tandem bike riding through the parking lot as we approached, strange and cool simultaneously. At this point my husband, clearly tense, says "Why do they have to put the emergency room on the back side of the hospital?" and I managed to spurt out, "Don't bitch, just drive!".

Hospital contraction # 1

We arrived at the emergency room entrance and Hub said, "I'll drop you off, and go park the car. I'll be right there" I stood up from the car, after no contractions for about 15 minutes and was SLAMMED by another contraction. The car had slipped away from behind me and I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other through the double door to the ED. I was greeted by a triage nurse (I assume) and he said "What can we do for you today?" which I thought was a pretty dumb question. I managed to grunt "Having."..."Baby". He said, "Would you like a wheelchair?" At which point I'm thinking, well no duh, but managed to nod in the affirmative. The chair was a big relief, but the contraction was still going on. He rolled me up to the admit desk and said "we've got someone for OB and she's in a lot of pain, can I just take her up now?" at which point the admissions person said, "No She can't go upstairs without a bracelet" Yikes, I think. And then the contraction was over.

* The only hospital in town (a community hospital) was recently moved from a central location in the "city" (10 minutes away) to the very outskirts of town (20 minutes away) this is a sore spot for me due to the sprawling development and regressive city planning that goes on here...