Archive for September, 2011

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What?

September 16, 2011

This post is only slightly related to loss of my baby. I wanted to write something about communications. I write a little on my blog but I write many many emails a day to colleagues and students. I am getting the general impression that my emails are often misinterpreted.  I recently have received quite a few emails back from student s who appears to be hurt by my words or when writing a colleague feel like I am not explaining myself well. I accidentally sent an email intended for a colleague to one of my students in which I complained about the audacity of the student (who appear to me to be demanding certain things). That student was hurt and discouraged and I spent a good deal of time trying to explain myself over email. I can’t decide if my writing does not convey its intended meaning or if students are overly touchy when it comes to their emotions and their advisors. I know the students want me to respect and praise them but that can only be earned through hard work.  The student/advisor relationship is difficult to manage. I am pretty blunt when speaking to people. One of the effects of babyloss is that I have cut out all the chit-chat, all the extras because I feel like all the extra emotion and talking is too much. I know that my emails are quite terse also because I don’t have time to be effervescing with words. I already spend a least one to two hours answer questions over email everyday. I can not do much more than that. Recently, I was trying to patiently wait for a yoga class to start. The instructor was chatting with other people in the class. I was annoyed with the chatter and it was past time for the class to start. Part of that is a reflects stress, I don’t want my time wasted. This gets worse when I am stressed. Part of it was that they were blocking the quiet, maybe I was looking forward to the silence. I am not a great communicator. I barely speak to my family but talk to my best friend every other day. I try to communicate with Coach or else we both get hurt. My best friend tells a story about one time when she was livid with me. I kept my head down and continued to work as she talked. She said she was trying to explain to me how whatever I did hurt her.  But I was working and eventually she went away in anger. I don’t remember it happening.  I think I can safely say that I don’t intend to hurt people but it happens. I thought after babyloss that I had become more compassionate for people who were hurting. But maybe not, maybe I have deceived myself to make myself feel like something positive came from her death.

I am quite rambling now as I need to start working again but I can’t figure out how to end without sounding ….terse.

What are ways that you have employed to improve communications?

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Effects of Babyloss

September 9, 2011

Life always seems to be moving, to be coming at me. I rarely have time to think about what I am feeling or how I am coping.  When a babyloss Mom asks me how I am doing, I just tell the truth, I bury my feelings. I evade. I hide from my feelings. Soon, it will be 4 years since Norah died. I like to think that I function well. Sometimes I think about what I could have had, but then I bury it. As a babylost mom, the internet has been so valuable to me to look at what others are feeling and writing about.  We write about our pain, our anguish, our hope and our misery. However, one aspect seems lightly touched upon. How did the death of my baby effect my professional career?

I’m a scientist. I make observations, hypothesize and pose questions. I test hypotheses and formulate ideas. It sounds all very clean and glossy huh. There is a creative aspect to the job — I teach and I write manuscripts. However, my job and respect within the scientific community does not depend on teaching, it depends upon the quality and quantity of manuscripts that I produce. Anyone who has lost a baby knows that it messes with your mind — the lack of sleep, the images, the reminders. I forget to brush my hair or I forget to eat because I am in babylost world. It is hard to think consecutively, rationally….scientifically. One year after I lost Norah, I published two manuscripts but only because they were already accepted and at the publishers since before her death. Since Nov. 2007, I have not been a very good scientist. I teach, I write proposals, I have huge grants but I can’t publish. Since that time, I submitted two manuscripts and they were both rejected in 2010. The reasons given were that they were not well thought out, not well written, and had too many loopholes. Sound familiar. That is my life. I have lost confidence in my ability to be a scientist. I have recruited some other scientists to help me fix those manuscripts but they are still not submitted. I am depending on these people to look at my work critically before I submit again. I am annoyed that I have to depend on other people for a skill that I used to have, and I have to go by their timetable.

Norah’s death shattered me emotionally, beat my down physically and damaged my confidence. Her death stole my mental health. I am a scientist; yet, I have trouble playing the role. I am starting to physically feel the pressure from not being able to do the job. I wake up at nights in a panic. I work hard all day but at the end of the day, nothing seems to be done. My management of grants has not been spectacular, I have few results to show for the work I have done. I appear to no longer have a logic, rational mind. This hurts me. I have wrapped my life around science. My income depends upon me being able to do the job. I am not certain how to overcome this. I know that I can not be the person I was before her death. Over the past couple of years, I thought I would work through it, work my way out of this confusing mental spiral that seems to consume my thoughts. It has been almost 4 years and my thoughts still spiral. I wish I was linear thinking again. I do not know if I am going to pull out of this or if this is my “new normal”.  If this is my “new normal”, how do I incorporate this into my life as a scientist? Do I need to switch paths, look for other opportunities, maybe go into a field where I am told what to do instead of having academic freedom? So many unknowns. I can’t solve the equation with so many unknowns.

What about you? Did the loss of your baby effect your career?