I work as a support person in academia. This means that the school years are harried and the summers are a time for catch up and preparation for the next year. Endless days stretch before me with few professors and fewer students. I clean, reorganize, shred, balance ledgers, create web content and databases, manage spreadsheets, update myself on campus policies, make templates that'll be used the next year, create calendars, and organize guest lectures for the fall. It is a time to close one door and open the next. In the summer I also only work half time.
|Hooded, early May 2012|
This year, 2012, I really needed the summer. The spring semester had been busier than usual and my office showed it. On top of that, in the evenings I was completing my graduate school degree or squeezing in some time with my girls, sometimes doing both. On top of that was the little being growing in my belly.
If you read between the lines, you see that my husband is the hero of that semester. He was the one who encouraged me to finally finish my degree, and did everything he could to help me have the time to do it. This semester was no exception.
He watched the girls for five days so that I could attend and present at my first academic conference. He regularly put the girls to bed because I was so exhausted or needed to finish a paper, and he even more regularly made dinner -- merging my strange pregnancy cravings with his palate for fine dining. Oh, and he did all that while working a full time job more demanding than my own.
It had been a rough semester. And we both needed a break. The Europe trip left us both refreshed for the year to come, we thought. We finally had a chance to reconnect. I was looking forward to a summer of fun with my children. And, since I love my job, I was also looking forward to getting back to work.
June 28, 2012 I probably should have taken a day off between returning home and starting work again. But jet lag doesn't really hit until the second day, and the Thursday I returned was also the Thursday of our division's annual support person workshop. This is the time when I get together with people who have similar jobs across campus, and we support people support each other.
It is an event that I find helpful every year, but this year the agenda seemed made for me. It was a sweet combination of things I should have known how to do better but didn't, things I had dealt with extensively the previous semester, and something that was my passion - learning how to work better and be more hospitable to international students and linguistic minorities.
I really went for the last reason. I could have gotten notes on the other things. But working with international students and English language learners? This is what, just a month before, I'd been hooded to do. And I wanted to support Professor Anne, the closest thing I had to a professional colleague in TESOL at my school, as she gave her presentation to my peers.
Turns out Anne was also pregnant. She was due in December, I was due in November. She was still experiencing morning sickness. Her low appetite and my ravenous appetite were part of what turned our lunch conversation -- which I'd assumed would be about international students and teaching -- to pregnancy and babies. In hind sight, the three other women at our table probably preferred talking about babies to talk of how to teach non-count nouns and idioms. Half the table were seasoned mothers and grandmothers, so advice was showered on us both.
What we didn't discuss was what happened right after the lunch, when I took one last break before going back into the meeting.
I'd never seen a mucus plug before. I guess I'd never noticed it when I was pregnant with my daughters. I was sure I couldn't be seeing one now.
It fit the description though. Perfectly.
I was only 20 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Due November 10 according to my last cycle. Or, by measurements on every ultrasound I'd gotten over the past three months, I was due November 12. So 20 weeks and 3 days pregnant. In the long run, two days doesn't matter, but I was going by the November 12 date. It was a mental game to make me feel better (and less likely to induce) in the third trimester.
20 weeks and 3 days pregnant. A strange time to see what I was seeing.
But these things grow back, right?
I called my OBGYN before going in to the afternoon session. I got the office answering machine. "I think I just lost my mucus plug with a tiny bit of blood. I'm 20 weeks pregnant. I'm not having contractions. This is fine, right? Another one will grow? Anyway, if this is a problem, or you need me to be checked out or anything, could you give me a call back?"
I didn't get a call back. That's good, because I was sure it was nothing.
It was good to be home.