Why I’m not a badass mommy-scientist

I’m so tired. Monkey has started flipping over onto his tummy at night and during naps. I’m not sure if it’s on purpose or accident, in his sleep or while playing, but he’s a very pissed little Monkey once he gets there. He knows how to flip back, but for some reason cries for someone else to rescue him. A few nights ago Hubby went in to flip him back over twice, followed each time by Monkey flipping back onto his tummy. We finally let him cry it out, which sucked royally for all of us.

To further aggravate the effects of fragmented sleep, Monkey has had three ear infections in three months. Hubby and I hear so much of a sniffle from Monkey, and we start counting the days until he turns into a pathetic ball of misery. Hopefully the summer months will help. Hopefully tubes will help. Hopefully something will help. Until it gets better, though, Hubby and I are playing the trade-off game with doctor appointments, work, and caring for a sometimes too-sick-for-daycare Monkey at home.

At the lab I’m exhausted. I get distracted, forget what I’m doing, lose track of time. As a result, my science is moving forward at a snail’s pace. I’m trying to get preliminary data for grants, write up letters of intent, find new funding sources, and interact with/train grad students. But things are falling through the cracks – usually meetings and seminars, but sometimes experiments as well – and I feel like I’m becoming a bit of a dead weight.

I thought the sleep would be better by now, and it was for a while. But right now I’m reminded of a comment JLK left on my blog a few months back:

Oh, Dr. O. How I wish I could tell you it was only the first few months. My son is 7 months old and I just said to my husband the other night as we dragged our sorry asses into bed, “You know? Sometimes I really miss not having a baby.”

The following night my husband said “I love him, but as of right now I changed my mind – I don’t think I want any more kids.”

See, the thing about the older babies is they get into a routine and you breathe a sigh of relief. “Aaaahhh…..predictability. THIS is nice.” And then just as you get comfortable with that routine, BLAM! They fuck with you and start doing things all backwards and opposite and screwed up.

Like going from sleeping 9 hours at night every night to waking up every 2 hours for no. apparent. goddamn. reason.

Or going on a nap strike.

Or one day after you thought the spit-up finally started to slow down, they puke on you every single goddamn time you pick them up.

Yes, they get cuter with their laughs and smiles and coos and you will find your heartstrings firmly attached to their little tushies. That’s because evolution did its job so you wouldn’t give your child away to the pygmies.

It’s been a while since I was in search of a nice pygmy family. Things might be rough right now, but the current sleep deprivation isn’t anywhere as bad as it was those first few weeks. Monkey is also waaaay cuter and more fun than he used to be, and his development, laughs and smiles tend to have an amnesic effect on the tears, frustrations, and exhaustion. Like the former woes of new motherhood, this stage too shall pass, and I’ll eventually get a little more sleep.

Until then, I’m adjusting to a new level of lab productivity, bordering on the edge of remedial mad science. And I’m looking forward to the day when I figure out how to function as a zombie researcher.

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7 thoughts on “Why I’m not a badass mommy-scientist

  1. I know what you are going through right now, and it is just ugly. W was well over a year before he started sleeping well, and then once his molars started to come in-forget about it. The biggest key to surviving is figuring out how not to feel in the weeds before you even get started…does that make sense? I don’t always do this well myself, so it’s an ongoing evolution. The hardest, but most important thing, is just to accept that you will not be on the same level of productivity as you were before Monkey. This is not a cop out. This does not mean that you can’t be productive, do good science or be a badass–just that you will be doing all of these things a little differently. I survive off of lists. If I don’t get to everything on the list in a given day, I just let the rough end drag. Eventually, productive things start happening, because I focused on getting the steps done and not on the big overwhelming picture. You will find your way! Believe that above all else!!

  2. Lists have been a lifesaver for me, but I find myself scrubbing the end of the list most days now so that I can get home in time to put Monkey to sleep. Sometimes it’s due to mistakes, other times to overcommitting, and sometimes just because I lose track of time. It used to be I could stay later and finish things, so leaving items uncrossed off feels like cheating. But I’m slowly getting used to it, and at least the science is moving forward, even if at a dreadfully slow tick.

  3. I totally get the ‘feels like cheating’ scenario. I have started putting my lists in my Microsoft outlook…which means the undone turns RED……

  4. I got very little done the first year of Epsilon’s life, which mostly coincided with the 2009-10 academic year, my first year of post doc. I didn’t realize it until it was over, but the sleep deprivation had driven me into a mild depression, which didn’t help my productivity. I wish I could tell you more than this too will pass, because it will. Also, everyone I talk to reassure me that this temporary period of 0 productivity will not reflect as badly on my future career as I fear it will. I can only pass the same on to you.

    Good luck.

  5. This is hard, there is no doubt about it. I am another big list writer. I write a master list, and when its really bad, a daily list, with the most vital things at the top. I never get through all of the items on my to do list, even when I’m at top efficiency, so it doesn’t really bother me to leave with things still on the list- as long as I got the top priority things done.

    I won’t lie, there are still times when I wonder why I decided to have kids- I think that feeling is fairly normal. After all, who wouldn’t miss being able to sleep through the night and finish your dinner when it is still hot? But it does get better, a little at a time.

    A sick kid will always screw things up, though, in more ways than just scheduling.

  6. Asher (5 mos) is also now rolling over and getting out of his swaddle. It’s so annoying. It will pass, they will stop obsessing over their new skills and get more used to the mobility, but it sure does suck in the meantime, and you and your sleepless self are completely allowed to be totally pissed off!

  7. Pingback: Monkey see, Monkey do | The Tightrope

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