An Update and an Academic Quandary

More good news!  Yesterday we went for our first visit with Maternal-Fetal Medicine.  We saw that heartbeat flickering away, and our baby is still measuring perfectly on track.  We really liked the MFM doctor we saw — she was clear and straightforward when she talked to us, answered our questions and addressed our concerns thoroughly, and was friendly and reassuring.  I hope we’ll see her again during this pregnancy.  One thing that was cool about going to MFM was that they have these really great ultrasound machines that produce amazing images — I was totally confused when she said she was going to do an ultrasound, because nobody had asked me to undress and from my experience with my first pregnancy I know that it’s normal to get transvaginal ultrasounds up through week 10 or more.  But at 7w4d she just slapped some gel on my belly and zoomed right in on the flickering heartbeat.  It was so cool!

It was also good to have a chance to ask some questions about my Lovenox — apparently (this is for Empty Arms, Full Hearts in particular) I should in fact be depressing the plunger enough to activate the needle guard while it is still in my belly!  But the nurse did mention that it’s different for every manufacturer, so it’s important to follow whatever instructions you get from your manufacturer.  If you’re using needles from a different manufacturer, it’s in fact likely that you’re not supposed to activate the needle guard while it’s in your belly!  So confusing!

And here’s the academic quandary: a couple of months ago, I was asked by the big national facility I use for my science to give a talk on their behalf at next February’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  These sessions are pretty high-profile advertisements for the science that I do, and they tend to attract lots of press.  It’s a real honor to be asked.  Well, today I got the email that our session proposal had been accepted, and that I need to email them within the next two weeks to re-confirm my availability and make arrangements for the meeting.  Cue hyperventilation!!!  The meeting takes place mere days before my due date.  Odds are I won’t be able to go, and I don’t want to lie to them — I want to make sure they have plenty of time to find a replacement if necessary.  But especially with a high-risk pregnancy in the first trimester, I really, really don’t want to disclose my pregnancy right now.  I’d been planning to wait to tell work colleagues until after we passed the 18-week point at which our first pregnancy ended — but that’s not until September.

So, I’m not sure what I should do.  I could tell them, but that didn’t work out so well last time around.  It happens that my PhD thesis advisor was also asked to speak on the panel, and I believe has done this before, so I could ask him for his advice.  He doesn’t have biological kids (he adopted his daughter as a teenager when he married her mother) and is clueless about pregnancy, but I generally trust his advice and wouldn’t be too uncomfortable disclosing early to him.  Any advice?


16 thoughts on “An Update and an Academic Quandary

  1. My Perfect Breakdown

    First, congrats on the awesome scan!! And a healthy non-internal scan is amazing!!
    Second, I say just accept. If you have to cancel for medical reasons at 16/20 weeks that still gives them LOTS of time to fill the spot and they will understand since it’s a high risk pregnancy. I’ve planned multiple conferences for my professional designation and this stuff always happens. They’ll be prepared and will easily be able to fill the spot. I wouldn’t sweat about it. Also, if I’ve learned one thing in the last 3 years it’s not to stop living, so I say make the commitment and cancel if you have to.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thank you! I think that’s good advice, and you’re right — when I put on my “conference organizer” brain and think it through, I realize that I wouldn’t be upset if this happened with someone in a session that I was organizing. Especially since anyone could do the math and realize that I agreed to do it before I was pregnant! And I love your advice to not stop living — that’s been something that’s been hard for me to figure out, because I’m such a planner. But you’re right — one important way of dealing with this unpredictability is just to keep living life, and waiting to adjust until it becomes really necessary. Now if only I could figure out exactly when that is!

  2. theskyandback

    Congrats on the great scan! Woo-hoo! I agree with MPB above — I say just accept. I also don’t think it can hurt to run it by your thesis advisor, too. It will all work out!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thank you! The scan was super-exciting! 🙂 My husband had missed seeing the heartbeat last week (long story — they brought me in to the exam room early), so it was particularly great for him to see the heartbeat for the first time!

      I did run it by my thesis advisor, and he gave me different advice from everyone else I’ve asked (which so far is all y’all, and my husband). 🙂 He said I should tell the organizer that I might not be able to attend due to a “personal” or “medical” issue and that I would let him know by September. That seems a bit like opening up a can of worms to me, so I’m not sure what I’ll do. He mentioned that it would give the guy time to think of replacements… although my husband pointed out last night that the obvious solution would be for my postdoc to go and speak in my place — still good publicity for my group, and what’s good for my postdoc’s career is good for my career (and my postdoc is a good speaker, so I’m sure he’d do a great job). Still mulling over what the right thing to do is…

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Yay! I’m so glad that things are still going well for both of us. 🙂

      I’m starting to think that you guys have the right idea. My thesis advisor thought I should say something vague about how there’s a possibility I might not be able to attend for medical reasons, but it’s hard for me to think of what that would accomplish other than freaking out the organizer and making him more likely to remove me from the panel early…

  3. Wifey

    Thanks for the info! The manufacturer called me back the day of transfer while I was still loopy on Valium and explained the same thing to me (depress plunger all the way to activate needle guard). I was a little frustrated that a nurse, a pharmacist and someone else from the maker had all told me differently, but glad they called me back to correct that. So, I may have short-changed myself my first three doses

      1. lyra211 Post author

        Oh, that’s really good to know! It makes me feel a lot better that you were (eventually!) told the same thing! Glad things are on track for you, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for your first beta… next week, right?

  4. thegreatpuddingclubhunt

    For sure accept now, you are not lying to them. You can cancel when you are feel you are out of the ‘high risk’ period much closer to the time of the meeting. I cancelled something like this where I was specially invited to talk as a subject matter expert, but it was for my IUI and knew when I accepted it was highly likely there would be a clash. I felt MEGA guilty about cancelling, but told them I had an important medical appointment. But guess what? afterwards, nothing bad happened and in fact they re-invited me to a later event in the year…which I thought they would never do after I had let them down. I guess sometimes if you are the expert in something and people want to listen to you that’s why you have been invited – chances are that will never go away! The opportunity will come again. Bumps as a reason are perfectly valid and understandable to probably 99.99% of the population – even men get that 😉

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thanks — you’re absolutely right that when I put on my conference organizer hat, I know that these things happen and I wouldn’t be mad at myself. Especially since anyone will be able to do the math and realize that when they first asked me I wasn’t even pregnant yet! My thesis advisor thinks I should tell the organizer that there’s a possibility I might have to pull out for “medical” reasons and that I will let him know by September… but I also think that he really just doesn’t “get” pregnancy, especially the uncertainty of the first trimester. Anyone I’ve talked to who’s been through a pregnancy before (which is basically just you guys and my husband) has agreed that it’s kind of nuts to change plans and disclose a pregnancy in the first trimester, and especially since this pregnancy is high-risk, I’m even more reluctant to do so. My husband also pointed out that one obvious solution would be to just have my postdoc go in my place — it seems pretty win-win, since the panel organizer won’t have to worry about finding a replacement (and my postdoc is a good speaker!), and it would still give our research group visibility, and what’s good for my postdoc’s career is good for my career in a lot of ways. Haven’t decided what to do yet, but am leaning towards just not saying anything at this point.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thanks for your happy thoughts! 🙂 Still thinking about what to do (the thesis advisor suggested that I tell him that I might have to withdraw for “medical” reasons and that I’d let him know by September), but it’s helpful that all y’all are in agreement about this!


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