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Whats up with the term ‘morning sickness’. Nothing about it is happening in the morning for me. Its more like all day sickness. In fact, the only time that i’m not feeling like throwing up or actually worshiping the porcelain goddess is in the morning when I first wake up.

Oh, and nobody tells you about the killer heartburn. Now heartburn sounds like a polite problem that should be easy to deal with. Not this stuff. Its constant! It feels like someone has lit a bonfire in my throat. Peanut (the euphemism that Mzee and I use for him/her) better be taking all this time to grow. Damnit! I’m going to be so pissed if all this is for nothing!

On to happier topics; In the meanwhile i’m having a good time visiting with old friends, spending alone time in my old haunts, and writing in my journal. Its been a fantastic vacation though I must admit some of the lunch meetings with (soon to be former) professors have left my stomach in knots rather than relaxed me. I still have a lot of anger about how unnecessarily hard this process has been and the major damage that the last seven years of stress has done to my body.

O.k. Back to being positive: Tomorrow is the big day. I will be a Dr. Mwananchi Mkenya at 4pm tomorrow and thats a good thing. Woohooo!!!!!

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So I’m back in my old stomping grounds waiting to defend my dissertation on Friday. Its actually really nice to be back and to have the extra time to visit my old haunts. I’m realizing now that I did have a really good time here and that I loved it here. At the time I was too wrapped up in the pain of grad school to appreciate it all, but now I can.

I rank this city second to my current digs in terms of places I would live in the U.S. That of course is a difficult decision for me because New York City now drops down to a close third.

In other news, my hormone tests came back encouragingly. My HCG doubled in two days just like it was supposed to. My cramping has all but disappeared and the spotting has decreased. I have an ultrasound next week to see if there is a heartbeat as there should be in the seventh week. Thats the big thing i’m holding my breath for.  My head is in the sand until then.

In the meanwhile, I’m taking time off and enjoying my solitude and re-living experiences from one of the most intense periods of my life.

I just got back from the doctors and I’m struggling to see the good news. With the ultrasound and HGC testing it looks like my pregnancy is 5 weeks along. Which would be all good news except for that doesn’t match up to the date of my last period and hence projected ovulation date which would place the pregnancy at 7 weeks. And the continuing cramping and increasing bleeding are further indicators that something is very wrong.

With all that info the doc placed my chances of having another miscarriage at 50%.

I’m devastated, overwhelmed, sad, confused, and tired. I can’t even cry or pray.

I know that 50% means there is a chance that we’ll pull through. But I know what a miscarriage is like and I don’t want to go down that path again. I’m remembering Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane: “My Father, please take this cup of suffering from me. Yet not my will but your will be done”.

I leave to go defend my dissertation next Friday but its so hard to concentrate!

Mzee and I just landed from San Diego this morning and drove straight to church to get baptized. Not that we sinned sana while on the trip :), we’ve been planning this for months now.

It actually feels like a big deal to me. I was originally baptized Catholic as a child so going through today’s decision as an adult is a much deeper stronger experience. God has really brought me far and I am deeply enjoying my growing relationship with him.

I feel like a strange Christian though. I refuse to swallow wholesome the politics of a majority of Christians. I think that as a group we are some of the most dysfunctional family (Christians that is). From Ted Haggard, Jerry Falwell, and some of the nuts preaching in Kenya, I think that the name of God and Christ is so misused today. I used to be an active participant in the church a long time ago but I stopped because of Christians. I couldn’t deal with the hypocrisy.

Now I’m back and trying to focus exclusively on my relationship with God and to build my faith not based on the behaviour of Christians, but on God’s Word, and his speaking to my heart. And part of that is not being afraid to challenge and question and wrestle with God. Its taken me a long time to figure out that he can stand up for himself in my life. He can stand up to my toughest questions. And he lovingly answers even my most ridiculous challenges. So with that, Mzee and I took the plunge this morning. Committing ourselves publicly to walk the walk we have been walking for the last two years anyway.

In pregnancy news: I’ve been experiencing regular cramping for the last couple of days and i’m terrified this might be another miscarriage like last time. There is no bleeding which is reassuring and some of the literature I’ve been reading on the web seems to indicate that cramping sometimes happens in early pregnancy. I have a blood test tomorrow (Monday) to measure my HGC, cholesterol, diabetes etc and then another on Wednesday to check if my HGC (pregnancy hormones) are doubling every two days as they should in a healthy pregnancy. This was the test that revealed my impending miscarriage last time so I’m quite a bit anxious. Wish me/us luck.

This is actually my second pregnancy.

I had a miscarriage two years ago.   Strangely enough the hardest part about that was not losing the baby, but rather the month we went through where we didn’t know if the pregnancy was viable or not. It was excruciating not knowing if we needed to change our lives around to accomodate a little one or to keep going with the plans for our lives we had already made. Not knowing whether to emotionally get attached, or stay numb and view the whole pregnancy as a medical malfunction of my reproductive organs. The pregnancy ended at barely two months.

I comforted myself about losing Ephraim (we decided it was a boy and gave him a name) with the thought that had he made it through the pregnancy he would have been deformed so it was better for nature to take care of a situation that wasn’t right. Its strange because from the very beginning the doctors could tell that something was wrong with the pregnancy so I never let myself get too attached to the pregnancy. I felt numb throughout the process because of that. Naming him brought some softness to the situation. And after the miscarriage we brought Ephraim to Kenya where he is now buried.

Even though this pregnancy feels different and there aren’t the warning signs we had with the previous one, I’m still cautious and not allowing myself to get excited quite yet. In the back of my mind is still the ‘what if’ question. Especially as I wait for bloodwork to be done on Monday and Wednesday.

In the meanwhile, Mzee and I are off on vacation to sunny San Diego!!!! I’m excited because I bought him private golf lessons on the Torrey Pines golf course where this year’s US Open is being played in just a few weeks. yep. its a smug smile of self satisfaction i’ve got on.

If you could tell with full certainty that the child you are carrying would be born with serious deformities would you have an abortion?

My pregnancy is too young so this is not a situation i’m facing but its my greatest fear about this whole process. Its been my fear about pregnancy for years. I find sometimes that airing your fears makes them not so terrible so I’m glad to have this blog.

I would be racked with guilt either way. If I ended the pregnancy I would feel so guilty for ending a life. On the other hand, going through would guarantee that the child would never be independent and I would feel guilty for giving the child such a life sentence.

What would you do?

I’m pregnant.

Just found out a few hours ago. I’ve been feeling different recently but couldn’t pinpoint it. The home test we took at the weekend was super feint so I didn’t make much of it but mzee made me make a doc’s appointment today anyway.

We had decided to wait for a couple more years before trying as we got our careers firmly established but God seems to have other plans for us.

This is so exciting! But at the moment its more shocking. Trying to wrap my brain around it all. Talk about an exciting month!

oh. for the two or three of you know me personally please don’t share the news with ANYONE yet. Oh, and email me so we can chat.

O.K. off to pick my jaw off the floor now. And to put away the bottles of wine I can’t touch until January

So now that my dissertation is turned in and I just have to wait to “defend” it, I’m deciding to turn my focus to taking care of myself. I had put my health on the back burner for so long focusing on just finishing the dissertation. I decided I couldn’t handle the stress of focusing on staying healthy while going through one of the most unhealthy processes known to humanity (dissertating that is).

I’m already a curvy girl and unfortunately I let things go for too long so I’ve lost on the gains (or is it gained on the losses) of a while back and now i’m back to square one. Its really frustrating but I know I can get to where I need to be at since I’ve done it before. Still, I’m scared stiff because I know the hell its going to take for me to get there again.

Today was my first day at the gym. wololoyaye!! Haki my arms are about to fall off me!! I’m so so sore and my knees are like jelly. It was one of those boot camp classes with weights, hundreds of squats (felt like it!), and bending over in compromising positions 🙂 Still, I survived the first sixty minutes.

I find that I do so much better in group excersise classes than working out by myself. I think its because i’m inherently competitive so watching all those skinny toned mamas pumping iron makes me push myself. If its just me at the elliptical I get bored and stop early.

I must admit though I’m shocked by what people chose to wear to the gym. The lady in front of me had on a thong underneath see-thru tights. It made the bending over a little too interesting!

Tomorrow is spinning. With saddle soreness I know that after the session I won’t be able to sit for a good 12 hours 😦

wish me luck!

oh, and I should share spark people, a really cool website that helps you keep track of all your health goals.

I’m scheduled to defend my dissertation 29 days from today and I’m feeling rather retrospective about the last seven years’ journey. So this post is in the spirit of the movie deja vu where If I could go back after all I’ve been through, this is the advice I would give my young self.

But first a disclaimer: My sense is that Ph.Ds are a different ball game in Europe so this only applies to those interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the U.S.

-Only sign up to go if you really really want to. Its not a fun place
to ‘kill time’ as you figure out what you really want to do with your
life. Its the hardest thing i’ve ever done in my life. It has been
incredibly difficult emotionally and the last seven years have also
taken a severe toll on my physical health. The stress is unbelievable
and your self esteem gets completely crushed. It is brutal.

-That said, I know a lot more than I knew seven years ago. I feel
proud of myself for doing something really really hard and coming out on
the other end (just about). Its like running a marathon. Its not about how smart you are, its about your pain threshold and your stick-to-it-iveness. Its not fun when you’re doing it but the finish line looks damn good.

If you decide to go ahead:

1.Make sure you cultivate a support network around you that is broader
than just other grad students.

2. Have a goal for why you are doing this. Write it down because you
might need to refer to it frequently in the first couple of years (heck, throughout)

3. Know that you are more than just a grad student and find other things
to do that will boost your self-esteem. Get good at something else. I
chose to knit, crochet, sew, and cook for friends and also started an organization to give back to other African women. These activities continue to feed my spirit as much as grad school continues to drain it.

4. Always remember that you think about your professors a lot more than they
think about you. On the whole they are pretty self-focused and don’t
say things to spite you. They probably don’t know when they hurt your
feelings. Their job is not to hold your hand through grad school, their
job is to put you through your paces. (try not to end up as self-obsessed as they are. Grad school did it to them!)

5. Its not about how smart you are. Its about your ability to endure the
long haul. If you weren’t academically up to snuff, you wouldn’t have gotten admitted. If you did get admitted, its now not about your brain abilities, its about your endurance, tolerance for emotional pain and humiliation, shaming and ability to pick yourself up from the dirt after every bruising punch.

Yes, for me it has been that bad. I”m keen what others might add to the list of advice though. Keguro?….

Edit:

Keguro did not dissapoint. Here is his list:

I have no sage advice, but I’ll try, in no particular order

1. Research before you start graduate school. Have an idea of what average completion rates are (9-10 yrs in the humanities); about the state of the job market (okay, not great); and realistic view of funding possibilities at your institutions of choice. Loving a subject is great; it might not be enough to get you through.

2. Understand that 70-90% of your work will be self-driven. You will have to read new journals, learn the history of your field, keep up with new scholarship, all while possibly teaching and taking classes. It’s a full time job, if you want to do it well.

3. Surround yourself with people who love knowledge and are enthusiastic about thinking. It will make your academic labor all the sweeter.

4. Cultivate a vice. Watch too much tv, learn how to make the best chocolate cake in the world, dye your hair every few days (I did this one); do something that will take you out of thinking mode for a few hours every day. Some people do useful things (like start life-changing organizations). Me, I suggest cultivating a vice.

5. Done is better than thinking about being done. Just get it done. Seriously. You will live with the dissertation for many more years as you transform it into a book. Just get it done.