I have always liked to sleep, it's one of my favorite activities in the whole world. However, since I became a mom for the first time 11 years ago, I have never had sufficient time to engage in this wonderful passtime. At 32 weeks of pregnancy (so 8 weeks to go), I can no longer resist the unbelievable urge to sleep non-stop. Since I stopped vomiting, I have been drinking decaf coffee, but that's apparently not enough to wake me up or get my blood pressure above 100ish/60ish. Today, after 8 hours of sleep at night, I got up and barely got dressed, and then spent the entire day till 3 pm just napping in my home office (my office chair is the most heavenly butt-and-back support object known to mankind), with my feet propped on my husband's chair. At 3 pm I finally felt I was ready to wake up. So, yeah, in case it's not obvious, I am one Sleeping Fatty.
Yesterday, I had an ultrasound to check the baby's growth, because 3 weeks ago, at 29 weeks, my fundal height was 33 cm (fundal height -- the distance from the pelvic bone to the tip of the uterus -- should measure, after week 20ish of pregnancy, the same in centimeters as the gestational age in weeks, +/- 2 cm. So, at 29 weeks of pregnancy, I should have measured 29+/-2 cm, so 33 cm was too much). The scientist in me had two concerns: my regular nurse wasn't there and the other nurse who measured me looked like she had a problem locating the tip of my uterus; there was a single measurement (reproducibility anyone?) But I didn't say anything and didn't want to downplay the potential for something wrong, so I didn't object when my OB recommended I get a growth ultrasound. Lo and behold, the ultrasound showed I have a big but not gargantuan baby (over 5 lbs, 85th percentile), who will likely be 9+ lbs at birth, but I already knew that (my first two were 9 lb 1oz and 9 lb 2 oz); the amniotic fluid amount is perfectly normal. So nothing weird there. Btw, my regular nurse also measured my fundal height after the ultrasound, I was at 34 cm at 32 weeks -- so only 2 cm ahead as I had been the entire time except at that apparently off measurement at 29 weeks, and perfectly consistent with just a bigger baby. This all means much ado and an expensive ultrasound about nothing. I bet this all could have been avoided with a repeated measurement of the fundal height at 29 weeks, but it's cool I got to see the baby again. He's already head down, and I now know that all the kicks into my diaphragm were the feet on the left and apparently him shaking his little butt on the right.
My low levels of energy and perpetual sleepiness are of course interfering with my work big time. I wanted to draft 2 proposals to be submitted in September/October. There are 4 papers from my group alone that I planned on sending out before delivering (3 of them comprehensive regular articles for a reputable society-level journal and the fourth a 4-pager rapid communication). All of the papers are at the 3rd or 4th draft stage, which would normally mean I would go through 2 or 3 more educational back-and-forths with students, before taking over and cleaning the manuscripts up into submission-ready versions. Now, since I have only 8 weeks left, I have to take over sooner so they'd get submitted while I still have my faculties intact. I do tend to get kind of stupid in the first few months postpartum (sleep deprivation plus hormones) and I really wanted a little break from work. But my motivation has been zero. And I don't even feel guilty enough about it. Clearly, a killer combination...
Since I got pregnant, I have been avoiding taking on responsibilities that I knew I would not be able to fulfill efficiently. I was pregnant before, so I knew that I would be miserable vomiting for a long time, and then near the end of the pregnancy I would be sleepy and big and won't be able to travel. As a result, at the beginning of my pregnancy, I removed myself as the PI from several collaborative proposals and became a co-PI since I knew I could not herd the cats as needed. I also took part in a center grant (many PI's) but refused the role of a co-leader because I knew I could not do it efficiently at this time (and, as it turns out, I would have to fly to DC in month 9 of pregnancy, which is totally not happening).
I am still doing my share in collaborations -- doing stuff when asked and promptly -- I am just not presently able to go above and beyond my share (such as partake in leadership activities). I do feel guilty that someone else might have to do the heavy lifting on some collaborative papers or grants for the time being. One could ask: why should anyone else have to accommodate my personal choice to be pregnant? Prodigal Academic nicely put it in her comment to a recent post that you help out one another because everyone has some sort of family and needs accommodation at one time or another. Unfortunately, I have several colleagues who do not agree with this assessment -- they have stay at home spouses who take care of the children or are childless, and have unequivocally expressed that they resent the fact that some of us may need a bit of slowing down at times, because it's unfair to those who don't need to slow down.
You know, if people never need or want to slow down for personal reasons, I don't see anyone stopping them. I am quite happy to applaud and send them flowers when they get their NAS/NAE memberships, MacArthur Fellowships, or Nobel Prizes. If they are resentful of me for having to slow down temporarily, they can go ahead and find a replacement (only I suppose that's not exactly easy, because I am awesome and irreplaceable... On top of being modest. :-)
My most hard-to-get-a-hold-of colleagues are men with grown children. I am way more responsive to the demands of a collaboration than them even in the most pukey, sleepy, heartburny, or postpartum stupid state, so WTF? But no one ever has anything to say against a perpetually unavailable Prof. BigWig while he's globetrotting, whereas any hint of anything but complete and utter devotion to work (such as utilization of one's uterus or mammary glands) is often greeted with near disgust. Sadly, some of the most terrible comments about having children while in academia that I have ever heard in real life came from a recently married, childless-by-choice female colleague from another department, who started at the same time I did; she took over the co-leadership position on the multi-PI grant after I had turned it down. You'd think she'd know better than to bash childbearing in front of me. We women are truly amazing: we judge each other so harshly and so bitchily that we certainly need no man to make us look like crap or feel like crap about our life choices.