Okay, I know that this is probably my 3rd journal entry today, but I just went to pee and I'm spotting!!! WTF??? 9 DPO is WAY to early for me to be starting AF, unless I got my O date wrong by at least 2 days. It's really minor spotting- nothing on my underwear, just a bunch of creamy CM and some brownish spotting when I wiped- I can only PRAY that this is implantation spotting and not AF letting me know she's coming early! I have been feeling a little crampy and bloated lately, though. But not as much as when AF is about to visit. UGGGHHHH!!!! Sometimes I just hate my body!!! When I was pg in December I had one day of brownish spotting at 11 DPO- I thought it was AF coming- but then it stopped for a few days and that's when I tested and found out I was pg. I hope the spotting this time stops!!!
An interesting article regarding women in scientific postdoctoral research positions (like me!) and the impact of having children on career- it seems as though the climate is getting more family-friendly, there is still MUCH progress to be made:
Naturejobs 433, 780 - 781 (17 February 2005); doi:10.1038/nj7027-780a
Virginia Gewin is a freelance science writer in Portland, Oregon.
For comments, or story ideas, please contact Naturejobs at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are women being held back by an 'innate difference': their ability to give birth? With better academic policies, motherhood and scientific excellence would not seem mutually exclusive, says Virginia Gewin.
As a tenure-track oceanographer, Margaret Mulholland feels like a pioneer.
Numbers don't lie. Worldwide, PhDs are most often obtained between the ages of 26 and 33. Tack on the series of postdoc positions needed before a professorship is plausible and, for women, the time to have children begins to slip away. For many, conscious that fertility wanes fast after the age of 35, the heavy demands of achieving tenure and motherhood create a tough choice: sacrifice the years spent nurturing a burgeoning career or compromise on plans to raise a family.
The statistics suggest that in the United States most women sacrifice the career. Although women receive 50% of all scientific PhDs in the United States, only 30%, at best, of tenure-track professorships are filled by women. In the United Kingdom, as few as one in 20 professors in science, engineering, technology and maths are women.
A department's culture dictates whether a pregnant graduate student will be supported or scorned. For every adviser who demands data delivery from a returning new mother, there is an understanding mentor paving the way.
David Kimelman, a developmental biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, points out two concerns that come to mind when a student reveals a pregnancy. How will the baby affect the timing and progress of a graduate degree? Will it affect the student's overall interest in the lab?
"The individuals who can become extremely efficient and balance their time are going to be most successful," says Kimelman, noting a trend in recent years towards men playing a more active role in child-rearing. Indeed, one of Kimelman's recent students attributes her effectiveness in the lab to a helpful husband and access to day care nearby.
Frank Moore, associate dean of science at Oregon State University, has also noticed the 'daddy day care' trend. His two most recent male doctoral students shared child care responsibilities with their partners.
"This is the good news," says Bob Drago, professor of women's studies at Pennsylvania State University. "For the highly educated in two-parent dual-career relationships, men are doing almost half of the child care," he says. "That's a big improvement that has helped a lot of academic women."
Otherwise, affordable child care is a major stumbling block for most — particularly when good day care options can use up a postdoc stipend. Some campus organizations address the issue. In Britain, the University of York's graduate student association subsidizes nursery care. More often, graduate students use their only other currency — a flexible schedule.
Martha Merrow did just that when she had her children as a graduate student at Tufts Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. While a postdoc, Merrow, now at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, sometimes worked "crazy hours" to maximize family time. Up at 5 in the morning to set up experiments, home for breakfast with the family, back to work until dinner and bedtime, then back to work until late in the night.
Thankful for supportive mentors and a stay-at-home husband, the biologist in Merrow points out that she would have had to "protect her genetic investment" if she had been put in a position of making difficult choices early on.
Indeed, early career decisions prove most pivotal, leading to a loss of female researchers before they reach tenure-track stage. "All of our evidence suggests that entering into tenure-track positions is the biggest leak in the academic pipeline," says Mark Goulden, a family-studies researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. He and Mary Ann Mason, dean of Berkeley's graduate division, have shown that women having babies during PhD or postdoc years are less likely to enter tenure-track positions (M. A. Mason and M. Goulden Academe 88, 21–27; 2002). Alternatively, if you look at those in tenure-track positions, men are much more likely than women to be parents.
A 2004 survey of postdocs by Germany's Center of Excellence Women and Science (CEWS) found that almost half of women professors in Germany remain childless, and most felt children would be a burden to their career. Yet there were no differences in scientific productivity between women scientists with and without children.
Not all European countries have such striking differences. For example, Sweden and France tend towards greater equality. CEWS representative Andrea Löther attributes the difference to better child care options.
Like many, Heather Leslie and her husband Jeremy Rich, postdoctoral fellows at Princeton University in New Jersey, have put off having children until they are more professionally and financially secure. Disheartened by seeing fewer female faces at this stage of her career, Leslie wonders if the increased responsibility and decreased flexibility of a professorship will be stumbling blocks. "I'm beginning to accept the possibility that having children may irrevocably alter my career options," she says.
More senior women also face tough decisions about starting a family while pursuing their career, says Alice Hogan, director of the Advance programme, designed by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve the climate for women in academia. "Later in their lives, some find they did all the things they should have for a successful career and were still marginalized," says Hogan.
On the Fringes
Unfortunately, continued marginalization is a reality. Economist Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard University, caused outrage recently with comments suggesting that "innate differences" play a role in women's under-representation in maths and science.
Margaret Mulholland, an oceanographer at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, marvels that, although half of the oceanography graduate students have been women for years, she is only the second women hired as tenure-track member of the 20-odd faculty. "In this day and age it's hard to believe we're still essentially pioneering," she says.
Others, such as UK trade secretary Patricia Hewitt, see the loss of scientifically trained women as a "serious waste of valuable skills, experience and talent". In response to a 2002 study, the Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology opened last autumn to create ways to maximize returns on this human investment. Existing schemes, such as the Daphne Jackson Fellowships, established in 1992, also help women scientists in Britain return to academia.
Many institutions are putting family-friendly policies in place. The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in Heidelberg, Germany, until recently ran a Restart programme, designed specifically to get women back to the bench. This has now been incorporated into EMBO's general long-term fellowship scheme, allowing women to prolong a 24-month fellowship to 27 months for maternity leave or convert it to part-time for up to three years.
Some 86% of US research institutions allow faculty members to stop the tenure clock for family-related reasons, typically being allowed an extra year to meet department expectations. But, as Kimelman points out, no allowances are made in terms of writing grants or publishing papers. As a result, many don't take advantage of the policy for fear that it would have a negative effect on their career.
"You can do it all, just not all at once," says Moore. That is the premise guiding the creation of the new Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm research campus in Ashburn, Virginia. Director Gerald Rubin says that Janelia seized the opportunity to create an alternative research environment that eliminates the teaching and grant-writing burdens. "There are only so many hours in a day," says Rubin, adding that the only long-term solution is to adjust the workload from the currently required 80 hours a week. "We're saying spend that extra 30 hours with your family and spend 50 hours on research. Don't put children on hold. Put teaching, administrative functions and grant writing on hold."
Word of this family-friendly policy does not seem to have got out, as a recent call for applications drew only the usual 15–20% of women applicants.
Hogan says that the NSF's Advance programme was designed to challenge institutions to think about how their practices affect women. Since 2001, the agency has awarded more than $3 million to 19 institutions.
Part-time tenure-track options are also gaining momentum. These arrangements allow a new parent to work half time for half pay and slow the tenure clock accordingly, says Drago. More than 20 US schools, including the major campuses of the University of California system, have adopted such an option so far.
Fortunately for future generations, such proactive schemes take the onus from the individual and put it on the institutions — where it belongs, says Hogan.
Last night I went to the gym. ALthough I still felt like this big fat blob compared to all of the tiny little undergrads, it felt good to get my body moving and sweat a little. It did me alot of good, and I'm proud of myself for going. Now, I've just got to make this a regular thing!!!
The boss is out today, and I am one of only 2 people in the lab! It's crazy that almost nobody has shown up to work yet, and it's getting to be 11 am! I guess when the cat's away...
The spotting has subsided, for now. That gives me hope! I'm still feeling a bit crampy, though. I'm also still tired, and my BBs are a little tender and very full. But I had to get up twice last night to pee, which is very unusual for me. Feeling hopeful (and NOT having any willpower, once again!!!), I used a dollar tree test this morning at 10 DPO and got a BFN. I'm almost positive that AF is on the way, which is kind of a bummer because I really had a good feeling about everything this month- I can't explain it. I'm usually not this pathological about POAS so much- in fact- I usually don't even keep any HPT's in the house! I hate it that this month I'm so nuts about everything- it will only make getting AF that much harder. Maybe I'm so obsessed right now because if we didn't end up getting pg this cycle, we only have one more shot for a 2005 baby. It's sad. But I guess I won't give up all hope until AF rears her ugly head- 10 DPO is a little early to be testing, especially with a cheapie HPT, and especially because I got up to pee twice that night so my pee was pretty dilute. I can rationalize all I want , but I know I am probably not pg, and it is depressing.
**edited to add- 15 minutes after I posted this almost everyone else came into work. I'm actually impressed that so many students are here when they knew the boss would be out! We have a good group of people in our lab, I think.
Well, I really think AF is making an early visit this month. I juat came back from the bathroom- this morning I decided to use a tampon just in case AF came on full force. I took out my tampon and saw some brown spotting tinged with pink- still very very light- in fact, it might be left over from yesterday afternoon. But I just don't have a good feeling about this anymore. ALthough it's bizarre for me to be starting AF so soon, I just don't get the feeling it's implantation spotting. I read someplace online that if you think you have implantation spotting, you should wait at least 2 days after that until you test, since implantation can take up to 5 days, and hCG doesn't get made until the baby is fully implanted. I wish I had read that a couple of days ago! I would have two more tests still in my closet! LOL! Oh well. At least I know now that if the spotting tapers off, I can test in a couple of days. If it progresses into AF, then this cycle is a wash, and I think I am okay with that. Disappointed, but okay. It's the not knowing that's the killer!!!
Copied from the TTC 1-2 years board- I was way too tired to type this out again!!!
Ladies, I am so annoyed with my body! I just don't know what is going on! The crazy thing is that I have ALL of the SAME SYMPTOMS the last 3 or 4 days that I had when I was pg in december, and they are getting stronger- let me list them for you:
- crampy but not bad- more of an achey feeling in my uterus, like I"m constantly "aware" that it is there, LOL
- hungry, but then when I eat I feel bloated and icky, and I don't like to even think about food until BAM- I am starving again
- creamy CM tinged with brown spotting, but only when I wipe- not much
- TIRED, but not sleeping well at night- just can't fall asleep.
- getting up 2 or 3 times during the night to pee
- No migraines like I always get before AF (I'm thrilled about that one)
- Bloated and gassy
- tender and very full BBs
- sensitive to smells- more so than usual
- okay, I know this is a weird one, but my female dog, Cali, last time was REALLY cuddly with me (unusual for her) right from the start. A couple of nights ago she started getting really cuddly with me again!
So this is REALLY annoying!!! I can understand having one or two of these symptoms and not being pg, but I wil be really surprised if AF comes after all of this, because I really "feel" pg. But my body could just be totally messing with me! Once again (shame on me!!!) I took a cheapie dollar tree HPT and it was a faulty test. I got a huge blob of dye show up in the window, so I couldnt' tell if there was a second line there or not. What do I really expect for a dollar, right? I figured it was a sign that I shouldn't be testing anyway. I need to wait until at least 12 DPO realistically, to see anything. Also, some of you will think I am crazy for doing this, but after what I went through last time, I started mysefl on some progesterone cream, even though I haven't gotten a BFP yet. I figured if I don't get a BFP by 15 DPO I will stop using the progesterone cream because I'm not pg, and AF will come. If I am pg, then the progesterone cream won't hurt, especially since I had unexplained bleeding the last time. *IF* I do get a BFP I am running as fast as I can to go get a blood test for hCG and a progesterone level so I can get an appointment with my new doctor- I don't like being in the situation I'm at right now, and being "between" ob/gyn's- it's a relaly uncomfortable feeling, and I am kicking myself for not seeing my new doc earlier.
So, sorry for the novel- only time will tell if a BFP is in my future or not, or if I have GONE OFF THE DEEP END! I'm not usually this neurotic every cycle, I promise! I usually don't even test! I just have a "feeling" I really can't explain, and these symptoms are making my imagination run wild. Uggghhh!
Called my PCP's office and got my official referral to see my new RE this month. Woo Hoo!!! I'm so excited. SO even if this isn't my cycle, I can look forward to this appointment with my new doctor. I at least feel like things are moving in a positive direction. Of course, I would feel even better with a BFP, but I wil take what I can get at this point.
Okay, so I am really driving myself nuts! Just had a bit more brown spotting, this time tinged with red. Not good! I mean, if AF is coming, come already! Why do I have to endure 3 days of spotting? That's crap!!! If the spotting stops, as it did yesterday afternoon, I wil test again in the morning. If not, I guess it's onto next cycle, and I go see my RE.
I have really got to find something to occupy myself with. I just can't concentrate on work now. Uggghhh. I HATE being so unproductive!!!!
Okay, getting back to work and being productive didn't help my mood any. In fact, I'm totally bummed. I just feel like crying. I was so sure last night and this morning that I was pg from the symptoms I was having that were JUST like last time. Now since my spotting episode today had some red blod mixed in, I just have the feeling AF is coming. And I feel so STUPID and embarassed for getting my hopes up. I know I shouldnt' and I usually don't , but this cycle things just felt so different. I feel like an idiot.
In an effort to cheer myself up, I looked up my new RE online. You know, look ahead to the future, don't dwell in the impending arrival of AF, try to be positive, etc. ANyway, my doctor is part of the Michigan IVF centers. I read all of their info online about IVF and it just made me so upset. GIFT, ZIFT, FET, IVF, ICSI, genetic testing and counseling, ugggghhhh!!!! Instead of cheering me up and getting me looking towards the future, I just got really emotional and kept thinking, "Why can't it just happen the natural way?" I feel like God is punishing me for past sins. I hate that this is the most important thing to me and I have no control over it at all. I try focusing on other things- work, hobies, DH, but my maternal drive is SO STRONG right now that I just can't put the idea out of my head. I've given serious thought to staying off the boards entirely (gasp!). I know, a big step for me, but maybe I just can't handle it. I've felt seriously unwound the last couple of days- crazed, even. I don't like ANYTHING having that kind of effect on me.
We are having a lab dinner tonight to celebrate my advisor's tenure. It's a big night for him, and I really hate not being in a good mood for it. I know I'm just goin gto go home tonight and let myslef have a good cry. And DH will get upset with me- he hates it when I cry and he can't do anything to help- he just gets frustrated and yells at me which makes everything worse. Ahhhh, the joys of TTC!
Okay, So I am the walking exaple of Murphy's Law today.
I just took half an hour to write a journal entry that got dumped when I hit the submit button. And I'm running a gel in the lab, but the notched plate broke and despite using epoxy to affix the "notch", the top reservoir is leaking and I am going to have to fill it up every 20 minutes until my gel is done running. Not a fun way to spend the day. I'm breaking for lunch, I will re-write my journal entry when I get the time. AARRRRRGHHH!
I am going to attempt to re-write my lost journal entry. But my patience is thin, so I will be giving the abbreviated version of events.
Last night AF got here after we went to dinner with the lab. It was bad. Because of my symptoms, I really think I had a failed implantation. Guess i will never know! I am amazed that my body can still surprise me after 2-and-a-half years of TTC! I only wish it was a GOOD surprise!
DH has been in a pissy mood about work for a week or two. I was depressed abotu AF and he was NOT supportive. Even said "haven't you ever thought about us just not having kids?", like it was a suggestion or something. I was like, "ummm, NO!!!". We then got into a huge heated discussion because I feel like my life will not be complete without kids, and he took that to mean that I'm not happy with our relationship the way that it is. The two points are completley different, in my opinion. Just because I don't think that I could be fulfilled without kids doesn't mean I'm not happy with our relationship. I think that kids just aren't as big a priority for him as they are for me rigth now. I mean, I only have a few good childbearing years left in me- it HAS to be a priority.
Then I wanted to fool around last night. You know, "make-up sex"? Well, he didn't want to fool around and that's okay, but I really felt rejected. The only time we ever have sex anymore is when I'm getting ready to ovulate, and it's not very romantic. I tell him we have to have sex and so we do. Other than that, he doesn't approach me at all about having sex anymore. There is NO romance left, let me tell you. It used to really bother me, but now that I'm on anti-depressants my libido is diminished, so it doesnt' affect me as much. But last night it hurt my feelings.
This morning DH was in a pissy mood since I woke up. We got into an argument- when he is in a pissy mood, it doesn't matter what I say, it is the wrong thing. Well, I ended up calling him an asshole and slamming the bathroom door. I know it wasn't the most mature way to handle myself, but I am so sick of his attitude. ANd last night and this morning I really needed him to be there for me because I was upset, but he is emotionally unavailable to me because he is so preoccupied with his problems at work. It's like, I let everything he says just roll off my back usually because I know he is not mad at me, he is frustrated about work and he brings it home. But I'm not ALLOWED to be in a bad mood- no allowances are EVER made for me. If I'm not in a mood to take his crap, a huge argument unsues, and that's exactly waht happended this morning. Well, eventually I felt bad about slamming the door and I came out of the bathroom and tried to have a rational conversation with him. Apparently, he thought rushing off to target shoot with his friend was more important than having a conversation with his wife, even though I was going to be late for work so we could talk about things. He got all pissed off that I wanted to talk about things when he had previous plans and sopmeplace to be- he just stormed off and left without saying good bye. He'll be working all night at the dive shop- well, not realy working, more like ****ing around with dive gear with his friends- he doesn't get paid for it- but anyway, I won't see him later. I know that somehow all this is going to be made out to be my fault, too. Let me explain why he is stressed at work- he doesn't get along with his boss. Most of the planet doesn't get along with their bosses, but they manage somehow. Not Steve. He's been let go of two full-time positions in the last 2 years because of conflicts with his bosses- this is a recurring problem, and he refuses to admit that he might be part of the problem. If in conversation when he asks for help about this issue, and I make a suggestion about how to deal with his boss, or suggest that he handle something differently, he gets irate and accuses me of being unsupportive. Ummm, sorry hon, the world is NOT conspiring against you! He wants me to say what he wants to hear and although that helps in the moment, it doesn't solve any problems for him. I just don't know what to do with him anymore. He has been impossible to live with lately, and he has been so preoccupied with obsessing about his boss that I really feel like I am in this TTC thing alone. I mean, where's MY ****ing support? I really thought we were in this thing together. Ahhhh, this should be a GREAT weekend. I had to cancel plan with my friend Kris & her hubby for dinner tomorrow because I know we won't be very good company. I'm pissed, too, because I really wanted to see her! SHe's 13 weeks pg and I am dyin gto see her u/s pics. Anyway, I just hope something gets resolved. ALl I know is I am having ice cream for dinner.