Sick baby and lost work (worth?)

I’ll post the final conclusion to my tribute to Edith Schoenrich (Pt. 1 and Pt. 2) soon, but I wanted to talk about my obvious absence lately.

Maybe you’ve noticed I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks.  Maybe you’ve given up on “The Experience”.  Maybe you thought, “Well, that had potential, she just didn’t follow through.”  I worry about how many of you thought that, and I worry whether my boss thinks that.

In addition to having some jam-packed days in the lab (absence from blogging excuse), I’ve also had some sick baby days where I’ve been home taking care of my little ones.  Unfortunately, the baby just doesn’t want to take a bottle at home, and so it makes no sense for my husband to stay home with her, hungry and sick and miserable.  That means that whatever I’m planning in lab has to take a back seat.  Experiments are put off, ongoing assays are ruined, cells and materials get thrown away, materials wasted.  After being out, I come back to lab exhausted, frustrated, apologetic, and feeling like I’m on probation.

When I chose my postdoc, I was very aware of the fact that my boss was a family man, had young-ish kids, and would understand the occasional sick day.  And to his credit, any time I email him that one of the kids are sick and I need to stay home with them, he always replies positively.  I worry though.  Is he really okay with the time off?  He offers to take care of whatever is critical, but I certainly can’t ask him to do the 18 plates of TCID50 assays that would take me 6 hours to complete.  And, then, all of those resources are wasted, plates, cells, media, etc.

TCID50

TCID50 plates to determine virus titer

Our companies and institutions are all very clear in that sick days are part of our benefits package.  They all want to be seen at family friendly, striving to help achieve work/life balance for their employees.  It all looks great on paper.  But when you start to cash in and use those benefits (not abusing them at all), there seems to be some unspoken repuercussions.  Certainly my output and achievements will be affected and this will be reflected negatively upon review.

And so, back in lab now, I’m trying to make up for lost work days while still leaving in time to pick up the girls from daycare.  It makes for some stressful, hectic days.  It makes for long days for the girls too.  I’m looking forward to warmer weather, less sick time, and in general feeling more accomplished in all areas of life.

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2 Responses to Sick baby and lost work (worth?)

  1. Urvi February 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Hi Melissa,

    I found your blog though LinkedIn (AWIS). I am a post doc at Stanford. Here are my two cents,

    1. I had to recently take some time off due to some health issues. As I was getting back to work, I felt the same way you did, that since I had taken time off I was now going to have to work extra hard to be in the good graces of my boss and my lab in general. But this feeling of guilt would have lead me to be under confident and apologetic in the lab. Which would have been easily picked up by other people. My project is a long term project, so its success cannot be gauged on a weekly basis. What other people use as an alternate to figure out how the project is going is my confidence or state of mind as I am working on it. So, dont do this to yourself. You have sick days, you needed to use them that was your right. Now, dont feel guilty, feel confident and bust some serious ass!

    2. My guess is that the background of your blog is some cool image from your work, but it makes the blog difficult to read. A simple background might be better perhaps?

    Best wishes,
    Urvi

    • postdocexperience February 20, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      Thanks for the feedback! I’ve updated the appearance thanks to your and another comment. Take a look again and let me know what you think! Thanks again!

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