Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Meetings

The 78th annual physical anthropology meetings have now come and gone. Back in September, when I had to submit the abstract for my poster presentation, Fig wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye. Little did I know all the hell that was about to break loose. Even in my darkest days of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting, I never dreamed that I would still be dealing with this by the meetings. Afterall, I would be 20 weeks pregnant by the time the meetings rolled around. Continued “morning sickness” by this stage is unheard of, right?

I really wanted to get off Zofran and free myself of its unpleasant side effects by the meetings, but every time I've tried to go off of it, I start puking again. So I had to suck it up and resign myself to keep taking it, side effects or no. I soothed myself with the reminder that there was no way things would get as bad as they did for me at the meetings in ’04—when I got food poisoning from some bad alfalfa sprouts and puked (among other things) for about 2 days straight. The Zofran doesn’t take away the nausea—it just makes it barely manageable—but I don’t throw up as long as I take one every morning.

I was actually feeling pretty good in the days leading up to the meetings. On Tuesday night I even went running with the club—something I haven’t been able to do since mid-December. Granted, I only kept up with them for about ¼ of a mile, when I realized that 8-minute pace is beyond my capability right now.

Then on Wednesday it was time to leave for the meetings. Thank heavens that this year they were in Chicago, so this did not necessitate air travel. I rode up with a car-load of other grad students, checked into the hotel, and headed over to the opening night reception. A plus side of being pregnant was that I saved a bundle on alcohol this year. A bottle of beer at the reception cost $9 and I heard that mixed drinks (like a simple gin and tonic) were going for $11. Yikes. At those prices, I probably wouldn’t have drank anything anyway, but I would have been bitter about it. Back in the day, it always seemed like the reception had an open bar—or at least very reasonably priced drinks—and I had quickly learned how much easier I could talk to high-profile anthropologists with a little gin in me. This year I made due with cranberry juice.

It was great seeing a bunch of colleagues that I only see once a year or in some cases, that I haven’t seen in several years. A former grad student in my department (who is now a professor at top-ranking university) is also pregnant right now, so I was really happy to catch up with her and commiserate about gestation.

On Thursday morning we all got up bright and early to head back to the conference. I was pleased to still be feeling remarkably well because my poster session was that day. I even heard myself telling people that after 20 weeks, I thought I might finally be over this morning sickness thing.

The poster session went pretty well. In truth, I wasn’t really nervous about it because 1) nobody really pays attention to the posters anyway –and- 2) I had already presented these results as a talk at MPIG, and it had gone over okay. Most of the people who came to look at the poster and talk to me were other grad students, but at some point A Big Name Anthropologist, who I had never met but always wanted to, came over. In my own mind, I have designated a paper of hers as one of the most brilliant articles ever written, and I cite the hell out of it in my dissertation. It was great to talk to her because she was really supportive and seemed interested in my poster, so based on this alone I’d consider the day a success.

Fig and me at the poster. Maternity clothes complements of Aimee and her friend Emily!

On Friday and Saturday, I went to more talks, more poster sessions, and spent more time catching up with friends and colleagues. Things were going really well. I was feeling pretty good, and I was able to find something that I could eat at all the restaurants we ended going out to. I got a little bit worried at one point, because I realized that I hadn’t felt Fig tapping or kicking for quite some time (a day or two maybe?), but then when I was sitting in GB’s brilliant life history talk, Fig began moving around. I was relieved that 1) Fig was okay –and – 2) Fig recognizes good science.

Below: some sights around Chicago

I started feeling not so great on Friday, and by that night was actually feeling kind of wretched. Saturday was another early morning; we all had to get ready, get our stuff into the car, get checked out of the hotel, and then be at the conference before 8. Somehow in the shuffle, I forgot to take a Zofran, and didn’t realize until about noon that the pills were locked in my friend Scott’s car—which would be inaccessible to me until that evening when we left the conference. I wasn’t too worried—thinking that maybe I’d end up no worse for wear and even if I did get sick, it probably wouldn’t hit me until the next day.

We left the conference about 5pm. I was feeling rather ishy but decided not to take a Zofran then because in past experience, they do nothing for me if I take one late in the day when I already feel bad. Just a few minutes into the ride, I realized it was going to be a long way home. I did all sorts of yoga breathing exercises and tried to keep my mind off the nausea. But eventually it got the best of me. Luckily, the others noticed the green shade of my face because I was beyond talking at that point. We passed a road sign that read “Kankakee, 1 mile.” Eight marathons have taught me that I can do anything for a mile. Apparently, this now includes holding puke in my mouth for a mile. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been—it had been about 6 hours since I’d eaten anything, so there wasn’t anything solid in my stomach anyway. But I was determined not to puke in Scott’s car.

We zoomed off the interstate and peeled into a gas station. I’m not sure if the car had even come to a complete stop when I bolted out the door and spat out the contents of my stomach. I’ve got to hand it to my Anthropology friends—they handled the whole thing so well, even though they must have been completely grossed out by all this. As I panted in the cold air of Kankakee, I briefly considered trying to contact Rob’s aunt and uncle—who live nearby—and seeing if I could stay with them for a few hours or overnight and have Rob drive up and get me later. But the cold air revived me, and in a few minutes I felt like I could go on. So we piled back into the car, and this time Scott insisted that I sit in the front seat—which really does help with the nausea, though I am not sure why.

Eventually we made it home, and I am so relieved to have this all behind me. It was kind of a rough night last night, and as soon as I woke up this morning, I puked again. I waited about ½ an hour and then took a Zofran—which I immediately puked up. So today hasn’t been too pretty either. Just hoping that the sun will come out tomorrow.

This raises my pregnancy-puking total to 84. Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

GREAT PICTURES to show FIG someday , where all you took HIM/HER?!!!!!! Also happy to hear you survived ( almost) without puking!!! a bit of advice, never leave home without an empty coolwhip bowl!!!! Glad you were able to connect with colleagues, new and old!!!! even a pregnant one........ May you start feeling better soon!!!!!! keep deep breathing//////// ( for lack of anything else to do!!!!! hang in there, luv you, foxymama

Anonymous said...

your poster looks awesome ... and you and Fig look fantastic!! but my advice is come to P-town instead of going to San Francisco ... you've already got your red shoes!! ha keep writing.
hugs, auntie