Saturday, August 14, 2010

Becoming an expert in Jack

One of the most surprising parts of this maternal adventure is that the transition from work to motherhood was not as difficult as I anticipated. I say this in all seriousness: I think getting a PhD helped prepare me for my current task. Obtaining a doctorate is a marathon of self control that culminates in one becoming an expert in their particular field. The field doesn't need to be useful or relevant, necessarily... the person just needs to know more about it than anybody else.

Achieving the irrational level of knowledge necessary for me to be called "doctor" required that I care about my research to the exclusion of everything else (sleep, personal time, and, occasionally, laundry went wayside). There were many moments of "what did I get myself into?" followed by the realization that I definitely asked for it. There was a loss of contact with those not intimately involved in my degree seeking and a subtle alienation from what I perceived to be the normal 9-5 working world. And although there were immediate goals (analyze this data, do those injections), the touted benefit was -- and still is -- located somewhere in my obscure future.

My obsession with scientific research bears a similarity to my obsession with Jack. In fact, in some ways, Jack is easier... at least on the social front. Rather than trying to explain "But I have to rush back to lab to change the antibody on my ELISA plate!", I can state "Jack needs to nurse". Everybody understands that excuse.

Truth is, from the moment I felt Jack's first kick, I was hooked. I've spent more time looking for baby info on google and pubmed than I'd care to admit. My love for this tiny creature, who has so far caused me much pain and deprived me of my many happy habits, could be considered slightly irrational. Yet, love it is, and obsessed I am. Nearly every moment of my day is spent in contemplation of Jack's needs and daily activities. I know him better than anybody else does.

So, I must admit something that I should have known in advance but that I didn't realize until I got here: I rather like the feeling of knowing Jack best. When he was born, I studied his face as though I were memorizing a map (I could still tell you the location of each of his 5 little baby acne pimples... is that weird?). Two weeks ago, I was trying to figure out breastfeeding patterns. This week, the issue is sleep. There is a weird energy that fuels me to solve each puzzle (and even if I can't solve it, I enjoy the process of trying). I am tired and emotionally taxed, but each day is another chance to try something new. A baby seems to be just predictable -- and unpredictable -- enough to keep my analytical needs satisfied.

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that my personality works well with the newborn period of motherhood. I enjoy the minute to minute detail of studying his patterns. Collect all of the data, make some minor adjustments, and iterate -- this is what I've spent my last few years training myself to enjoy.

Of course, if I were to truly get a PhD in Jack-ness, I would need to write about 140 pages on the topic and bind it into a dissertation that nobody ever reads again. We'll see how far I get with this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe if there were cute pictures on every page, theses might actually get a second reading... Glad to see you're enjoying the newest member of your family!