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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Flashback part 6

Developing the next generation of a therapeutic HIV vaccine with morning sickness was not fun! One thing that you must know is I demand a lot from my experiments - precision, reproducibility, and had to make sense. So it was very hard for me to allow people to help. One person that I trusted to help was my best buddy, we shalt call him C Mac. He has become a part of our family and he kept my mood swings in check. Since he was so devoted to his hours, he would start experiments, analyze data, or anything I needed while I took my time getting in, again because of morning sickness. He was a true integral part in the development. Plus, I could usually persuade him to go out to eat when I had a particular craving!

A couple other people at the lab that kept me sane were Sugar Slim and KK. I'm keeping names confidential for privacy purposes these are by no means their real names, or are they? Hummmmm... Sugar Slim is the lady at the front desk. She is not the receptionist, that just so happened to be where they had put her desk. She did beyond what a receptionist did. I could also persuade her into going to the best Mexican restaurant, Las Ranitas! They had the best caliente salsa in the city!! I just wanted to land a straw in the salsa cup and just drink it up!! Now, did I ever do it?? I don't think so but the ladies knew who I was and eventually brought out the big BIG 1 cup size when I came thru the door.

KK is a strong Christian and always kept my spirits up when they were down. Usually, when I saw him in the hall I would spurt out comments like, "Whicky whicky WAH man!", "What it is my friend?", or do a gig and sing a little diddle just so he would look at me sideways and say, "Really? Wow. Don't you have work to do?". Now I knew that this friendship would be fun because when I first met him and he said he was from the Congo, I asked, "So did you ever see Ebola?"... He did the response I described above! These two people are very dear to mine and my husband's hearts and are definitely a part of our family too!

As much as I love staying at home, I must share that I miss my buddies I've described above but many more that I haven't mentioned! Luckily, we have text messaging!! So I believe I've pretty much caught up to current with a few exceptions so this will conclude the Flashback series. The birth of my son and the house will be for another time!

Until tomorrow, kindest blogging wishes!



Friday, June 29, 2012

Flashback part 5

So a couple of days ago I left you by sharing that this day last year we found out I was pregnant. Now, I was preparing to give my defense which was the finale of my studies but with this news, how could I focus??? Our family was about to grow 25% (yes, I am including the dog. What can I say? He was our practice child.). I was so happy and excited that I could hardly keep it in but everyone knows the importance of not telling people you're pregnant before the 12 week mark because the chances of a miscarriage are greater during that window. Even though I was only 5 weeks pregnant (so we thought) and given that I have a hard time keeping things in, I told my closest family and friends but wanted to wait to tell other people at work until 12 weeks.

The next day was the defense! I woke up really early, practiced my power point slides in my head while taking my car to the wash, and constantly smiling when I thought of the little one inside growing by the minute! I had nothing but joy which canceled out my nervousness. I gave the defense, passed, and became a Baylor University Ph.D. graduate!! The discussion afterwards with my committee members went great! So the rest of the day was spent tooling around with my friend who came into town before we went to the dinner. Since both my husband and I would be at the dinner, our daughter would be spending the night with our very best friends and their girls! First time ever away fom both of us!

The dinner was at a wonderful Mexican restaurant called Monica's Aca Y Alla. Originally, I planned on having a few celebratory drinks but with the little pumpkin seed growing inside I could not do it. Instead, I was going to drink non-alcoholic daiquiris so no one would expect anything. Later, in the night I switched to water. I heard my friend across the room ask "Why isn't she drinking?". The next thing I knew a guy I jokingly call Chamaco brought us both shots. Now I'm not a party animal (shocking, I'm sure) so this was new to me. I looked at my husband and I said, "Oh no thank you though." but him and everyone there insisted and said "go go!" then I said "I can't...". Everyone knew why I couldn't and started to cheer!!! It was so funny how it happened and I wouldn't have changed it!

At this time since a lot of people knew, I needed to tell my boss before she found out from someone other than me. I did tell her and she was totally happy for me. Now, since I was done with school it was time for me to get focused on the next vaccine before my maternity leave. I would love to share more but I have a lot of Asian high schoolers coming over for youth night so I've got to get cooking.

Until tomorrow, kindest blogging wishes!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

DrMommaCobb running AGAIN!!

This time last year I was running and eating two bananas a day to keep my sanity while I wrote my dissertation. I was entirely motivated because my best friend and I signed up to run a half marathon last November. So my plan was to finish my schooling and kick my training into high gear and get serious about running!

I have always loved to run but the first time I really pushed myself ended in finding out I was three months pregnant that would eventually end in a miscarriage. So even though people say that it was not related, I couldn't help but think my pushing could have slowed blood supply that was needed. Running and I had a bitter relationship but as I was doing this for Team-in-Training, I couldn't stop. People had donated for me to run!! Again, I have to finish what I start. It did participate in it but I couldn't give it my all.

After I regained my confidence I decided the following year I would run that same half marathon and run it better than before! I did, of course because I trained! A few months later a found out I was pregnant with my baby girl!! I was so excited but I was then questioning running throughout my pregnancy. Many women have done this. Maybe y'all remember the lady who ran a marathon and then gave birth?? I tried one run but I just couldn't do it... I wanted to but the miscarriage stuck in my mind and even though people said running/miscarriage was unrelated, I couldn't take the chance.

I took to the sidelines until she was born and I was done nursing. Then I really ran and trained my little heart out but I could definitely have pushed myself harder. I ran another half marathon and became pregnant with my little boy and again I stopped running but I stuck with lifting light weights to keep my muscle tone. Now I am very happy to tell you I will be training for yet another half marathon in November!!! Yes I am still nursing and really don't know how to manage that but where there is a will there is a way.

Until tomorrow, kindest blogging wishes!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Flashback part 4

After I took the plunge to work on a Ph.D. in Biomedical Studies with the emphasis in Immunology, I was bound and determined to complete it.  Now this was a special deal because what I was developing was able to be used as a Ph.D. project.  I just needed a paper published and the classes done.  The first semester was nothing…  Just a journal club class where you read an article that someone has chosen to present, sit in on the presentation, and write a summary.  That was an easy semester.

The next semester proved to be a little more challenging with 2 additional classes with the journal club and intense series of experiments for the vaccine development all with morning sickness…  That’s right!  I said it, morning sickness!  I was pregnant!  It was totally not planned by us, but rather by Him.  At the end of this crazy four months, the vaccine was no longer in research but in a clinical trial!  I was so proud of that vaccine but I put all my effort into it just to give it to another department and sit on the sidelines to watch what happened.  Frustrating?  TOTALLY!  However, I had my studies to complete, a paper to write, a birth to give, and stay sane.
The year of 2009 had many ups and downs.  The ups: I gave birth to the most perfect baby girl!  She was incredible, and still is!  Finished writing my paper that was published in Journal of Immunological Methods on the development of a therapeutic HIV dendritic cell vaccine.  The downs: At the end of the year, we lost a most amazing woman to old age, my husband’s grandmother.  This started the cascade of a bad 2010.  Both my husband and I lost an uncle.  My uncle was a link to my grandmother that I was not fortunate enough to know and I loved him very much.  My husband lost his uncle who was very dear to our hearts.  Both were due to cancer.  Our daughter was also going through bad bouts of ear infections that resulted in the development of a drug resistant strain.  Ear tubes were our only hope and they worked beautifully! Then she suffered two daycare injuries that really put us in the mind frame of me staying at home as soon as possible.
Ok, so I know that last paragraph was a big downer but actually living it was even worse.  On to a more uplifting tone…  This time last year I was writing my dissertation!  Yes, I know!  I was excited too!  I was nearing the tail end of my schooling!  It was a great feeling!  I could have stopped when I became pregnant with my two year old but I have to finish what I start.  Now, writing the dissertation is in fact a very stressful time especially when there is no guidance.  It was really tough setting deadlines for myself and keeping with them.  I would wake up at 5 am and write, read, write, read, write, read, eat, read, write and then sleep at 1 am.  This would go on for 3 months!  It was tough.  The last month was really stressful but I got done. 
Now, I should wait for a few more days to share this but on June 29, 2011 while I was practicing my defense (which is a presentation that is given to a public audience about your research and you had to defend your work.  People can be really nasty and ask really challenging questions or they could be nice and not ask anything), I started to feel a little queasy to my stomach.  Since I was planning on celebrating the following day regardless if I passed or not, I thought that I better be certain I wasn’t pregnant.  So I did want anyone would do.  I went to the drug store, got a test, brought it back to work and went to the bathroom.  You know what!?  The test stick had two lines!!!!  I WAS PREGNANT!!!  WOOHOO!!  I ran out of the bathroom and the first person I told was the lady at the front desk!  She is a very good friend and one person I really miss to this day but she told me I needed to call my husband.  RIGHT!  Of course, what was I thinking!?  So I called him and we were really excited… Then I called everyone in our family!
I went back in the building and ran up to tell my best buddy!  I pulled him out of his office and said I was pregnant!  I asked him if he wanted to see the test stick.  At first he said, “NO!” and looked at me with his sideways look but then said, “Well ok”, we laughed and I showed him.  Another friend walked by, I pulled her aside and showed her too!  Sorry to tell you, but it is very HARD for me to keep a secret! I really wanted it to stay a secret until the 3 month mark but I will have to tell you tomorrow what kept that from happening.  
Anyways, I have a good friend coming over to show me how to make cake fondant and to catch up on old times.  I have a real obsession with Cake Boss and have to learn this technique.

Until tomorrow, kindest blogging wishes!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Flashback part 3

When we moved to our new city I found a job working as a microbiologist/chemist at a lab that tested disinfectants and sterilants. It was a small lab and it was hard work at times. You needed to be aware of the little details such as not touching the side of a tube with a microbe-labeled cylinder during testing of a disinfectant or not over-lapping bacterial-labeled silk loops so they could dry appropriately. However, we had a lot of fun too. For Halloween, we would dress up in our customes, take pictures and go to Whataburger so people could see how cool we were! The ladies there were awesome and one in particular became a very dear friend who was able to witness the birth of my three year old in the world (but not for a few more years)!! Though, I enjoyed what I did, it was time for me to move on.

Even though I had decided not to pursue medical school, the idea of working in medical research was quite appealing. A position became available to work on personalized cell-based vaccines for melanoma. Of course this position was more like a cookie maker than actual research. I would be producing the same thing with a different patient cells. I didn't care! I wanted that job so bad and eventually after a grueling interviewing process I landed it! During the training process the primary investigator told me that if she called me in the middle of the night I should be able to tell her what to do at a given step of the vaccine process! You know what I did? I had protocols on my bedside table with tabs of important steps. You're probably wondering, "Did she ever call?". Of course NOT! It was a scare tactic to learn it and commit it to memory.

After about a year in a half, the funds for the spinoff company I was hired at was spent. At the lab that was training us, people were shuffled around and I was placed in a different area of the lab just doing research. Eventually, after some time, the director of our lab asked if I would be interested in helping to develop a therapeutic cell-based vaccine for HIV!! Of course I was!! What I haven't told you is that I've always been intrigued by two viruses; Ebola and HIV!! So off I skipped with grins to work with the director!! Best years of working yet!! I worked very long hours and I didn't care! The director was so passionate about the vaccine and that fueled the people who were working on the project.

Now, I had thought that a good compromise to working as an MD was to go to nursing school so I could work as a nurse a few days a week and still have time for my family. So during my researching and developing of the vaccine, I was also retaking prerequisite classes for nursing school that had expired since my BS degree days. I was totally submersed in research and medical-type classes and I was loving it!!! One day after I gave at power-point presentation to the director of my research when he was out of town, he suggested I work on my Ph.D. degree in Immunology. After much debating the pros and cons with my husband, it was a worth it for us to forgo nursing school and put all my efforts in my research.

So I'm sure you want to hear more but I have a little girl who needs lunch and a baby boy who just woke up from a nap...

Until tomorrow, kindest blogging wishes!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Flashback part 2

Yesterday, I left off by telling you about my best friend that I married. Now, how can I brush over someone I've been with nearly half of my life!! So I must elaborate on this fine man of mine! I met him in high school my sophomore year, his freshman year. It was the start of band camp and he was in the back with the percussionists. He was striking! Red hair, blue eyes, sunburned... Ok the sunburn wasn't very healthy but never the less, he stuck out of the crowd. For two years I tried to get him to notice me using several different tactics, none of which worked. When I almost called it quits my senior year he asked me to tutor him in Chemistry. So I agreed.

After several study sessions he got on my nerves because he just wanted to play. He would play around with soccer balls, throw them at me to break my concentration or start doing something weird (example: the song and dance Igor does in the old Frankenstine movie). Anyone who knows my husband knows that he has, not one but many crazy bones in his body!!! He is a really a fun person to hang around with but tutoring, I found entirely challenging mainly because he did not like Chemistry. Eventually, I just gave up and wouldn't push studying but rather we just hung out and made chocolate chip cookies or watched movies.

He finally passed Chemistry and we continue on building our relationship. He knew I was going to college and he had one more year of high school. However, he did not want us to have just a summer relationship but rather a long term one. That summer was full of events that would try the strength we had for each other. A firework injury, travels to Austria and Germany, then the eventual leave for college. It was tough but our love for each other was strong and would get stronger over the years.

After I graduated college, we got married and headed to a city about 600 miles away from what we knew. He studied Theology while I found a job in my field. He completed his undergraduates degree in Systematic Theology and started his masters degree only to temporarily put that on hold so he could totally focus on ultrasound technology as his tent-making job. We both felt the same way in terms of me staying at home when the moment came. He got done with schooling and bought us a house! One that we will call home for many many a years!!

Now, I could go on and on about this incredible man of mine but bottom line, he is my rock, my best friend, best father a mother could ever ask for her children, and a great teacher that a wife and kids could ever want!!

Until tomorrow, kindest blogging wishes!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Flashback part 1

As I was nursing my 15 week old awesome baby boy in the wee hours of the morning, I was thinking of my second post. I've decided to do a flashback to share my past with you.

Thirty-three years ago and a few months, my mom and dad gave birth to one onry little girl. From pestering my older siblings and stealing the pacifier away from my little brother, I was a handful. Who isn't at such a young age... My mom was a stay at home mom and instilled the love of cooking and cleaning in my blood. My dad worked as a water treatment manager (which KCMO has the best tasting water ever!!) and instilled the love of science and experimentation. My favorite test he did at his work was testing the chlorine levels in the water because the water would change colors!

Fast-forwarding... When I was high school, my dad's dad past away from a heart attack. He had been struggling with heart issues for a while and I was bound and determined that my dad wouldn't have heart problems but if he did, I would fix him. So I went off to college and prepared myself to gear up for medical school. My junior year of college, I shadowed cardiologists and open-heart surgeons. Observing cardiac cath's and opening up the thoracic cavity to artificially bypass heart vessels were just a few procedures that I've seen. Not only could I stand the sight of blood but I understood the hearts function and diseases as well!

So why didn't I take that avenue? I asked a cardiologist (one who is an incredible doctor and had the best bedside manner I had ever seen) "When are you planning on having children?". She said she had a son. My next question that changed my life was, "When do you get to see him?". She said Tuesday nights. I choked back my own disappoint when I realized I would not be able to do it. I wanted kids and I wanted to spend my time with them, not just Tuesday nights. Now, let me stop and emphasize that I wanted the world of cardiology and see my children every day and every night but I was unwilling to make that sacrifice that many influential doctors make every day, a personal decision for myself. So I left that hospital and never turned back, as difficult as that decision was.

Fast-forwarding some more... Six days after I graduated with my Bachelor's in Biology/Pre-Med I married my best friend who I met my sophomore year in high school. Two months later we moved to a city far away from other family members so we could grow together, just the two of us. Now I just summed up 22 years which was a feat but tomorrow I will share more about my amazing journey and my amazing family!

Until tomorrow, kindest blogging wishes!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

First of many...

This blog is meant to chronicle the change that I've made at becoming a stay-at-home mom after working 7 years as a therapeutic cell-based vaccine developer. Designing complex experiments to cooking complex recipes or sharing new found home furnishings are just a few that one can expect coming here. I am so excited to begin this new chapter of my life with my whole heart at home and now having the time to share this with you!! Kindest blogging wishes!!