Friday, May 4, 2018

Give to the Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize Endowment Fund on 5.06

Cross-posted from my Library's blog. Editor's note: As Information Literacy Coordinator, facilitating our library research prize program is one of my main projects that operates out of our Information Literacy Program. It is judging season now, and this year our judges are reviewing a record number of submissions for this competition. Very grateful to them and to you for your support of this program!

Professor Emerita Bonnie Oldham stands in front of the Weinberg Memorial Library
The Weinberg Memorial Library has teamed up with University Advancement to raise funds for the Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize Endowment Fund this 5.06 weekend for the University’s Day of Giving.

Make your donation directly to the fund here.

The Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize is designed to attract outstanding research projects from courses taught in departments across The University of Scranton campus. It recognizes excellence in research projects that show evidence of significant knowledge in the methods of research and the information gathering process, and use of library resources, tools, and services.

Named for Professor Emerita Bonnie Oldham, who founded the prize at the University in 2011, this Endowment Fund was started by Bonnie at her untimely passing four months after her retirement in 2017. Our goal is to raise funds for this Endowment Fund to ensure that the Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize will be awarded in perpetuity. Your donation will help us do this.

Annually, three prizes of $500.00 each are awarded to the winning individual student and/or group projects in the following categories: Undergraduate Foundational (100-level courses), Undergraduate Upper-level (200- to 400-level courses), and Graduate.

Help us ensure the future of the Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize by directly supporting student learning at the University with your gift to this Endowment Fund!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Birth of Little Jem, Part 2

It has been nine and a half months since I last posted. Yesterday was Little Jem's first birthday. What follows is Part 2 of his birth story, picking up where Part 1 left off, after my doctor performed a membrane sweep two days past my estimated due date. 

This post will be structured the same way as Part 1, where I will share the log of birth events I kept on my phone's notes app, annotated in italics with reflection on those events. Keep in mind that these reflective parts of this post are being composed today, a year after they occurred. Also, the dates included in the birth log of this post are all from 2017.

The same content warning I included on Part 1 applies here: Content warning: I write about all sorts of bodily fluids in these posts, including blood, urine, diarrhea, and breast milk, because this is all part of the reality of pregnancy and birth, and the whole premise here is: that reality is empowering.



Birth log (continued):

Tues March 21 midday: a lot of gas from prostaglandins [these are some of the hormones that cause labor to begin] being released after sweep and crampiness

Tues March 21 at 2:45 pm: had a "real" contraction (included menstrual-like cramping), and 12 minutes later had another, both were maybe a minute long, not officially timed in app yet; then lost rest of mucus plug

Tues March 21 at 5:30 pm: timed first real contraction using phone app; see app for history on contractions until we left for hospital at 11:30 pm

Between contractions, in early labor with my
Bookie home from school* ~ photo is a selfie of
Bookie on my lap with her hand on my bare, pregnant belly

What follows is a brief photo essay of sorts, documenting my early labor with Little Jem. #quantifiedbirth

First five timed contractions during active
labor, 5:31 to 6:11 pm ~ photo is a phone
screen shot of data from contraction
timing app 

Last five timed contractions during active
labor, 11:11 to 11:28 pm ~ photo is a phone 
screen shot of data from contraction 
timing app 
Some details about how this app displays the data I entered about each contraction: The green-yellow-red levels on the left side of each entry were my manually entered measurements of how intense each contraction felt. By 11:30 pm, the intensity of contractions had increased significantly. The duration column indicates how long each contraction lasted, while the frequency column I believe indicates the length of time that has elapsed since the previous contraction. And of course the start time column is the timestamp for that contraction.

Line graph of contraction duration data from 5:30 to
11:30 pm on March 21, 2017 ~ photo is a phone screen
shot of data from contraction timing app

Line graph of contraction frequency data from 5:30 to
11:30 pm on March 21, 2017 ~ photo is a phone screen
shot of data from contraction timing app

Chart of contraction intensity data from 5:30 to 11:30 pm
on March 21, 2017 ~ photo is a phone screen shot 
of data from contraction timing app

I have here in my draft of this post "[Describe progression of early labor]", but that draft was composed nine months ago. I'm sad that I won't be able to remember these details so clearly now because it has been a year since I labored with Little Jem. Here's what I can remember though.

My mother in law and my good friend Teresa were both at the house. I put Bookie to bed at her normal time of around 7:30 pm, while in early labor. She had seen me bear early labor contractions over the course of the evening, and grew to understand these were okay and although I looked uncomfortable every few minutes, nothing was actually wrong. I read her a story and sat up in her bed next to her until she fell asleep, then I left her room and moved to the master bedroom where Teresa and Paul were waiting for me. My mother in law was on hand to help as well if needed, but I encouraged her to try to sleep, since we didn't know how long labor would go, and if Bookie woke up in the middle of the night and Daddy and I were gone to the hospital, she may have trouble falling back asleep and need her Baba to comfort her. Teresa stayed overnight as well, and wound up helping Bookie settle to go back to sleep after we did in fact leave for the hospital later that night. 

Teresa had seen me in labor with Bookie five years earlier, and her main role this time around was to be another person on hand to be with Bookie when Paul and I left for the hospital. It turns out with Little Jem, she also helped me labor this time. The period from about 8:00 to 11:30 pm was me laboring in my bedroom, mostly standing, and during contractions bending at the waist and bracing myself against the bedpost while Paul or Teresa pressed down on my lower back. I don't remember vocalizing as much this time around as I did when laboring with Bookie, I think because I knew she was sleeping down the hall and it was a lot easier to labor with her asleep. 

I do remember at one point saying aloud that I wanted to try to bear a contraction without bending at the waist and doing counter pressure, to see if the effect was different. I think I wanted to see if that would change my intensity measurement at all. And from what I remember, yes, it did--the pain was toe curling when I rode the contraction standing upright. After it passed I remember saying something like: "Oh no I am not doing that again, uh uh, absolutely not." 

The contractions were gradually doing their job of dilating me, and when 11:30 pm arrived (11:28 according to the app), this happened (I will break up this log entry + reflections with line breaks for readability):

Tues March 21 at 11:30 pm: after laboring in bedroom with Paul and Teresa, had a contraction that felt like it actually dilated me more [this was totally rad and also very intense--I could feel myself opening up more, like, woa.] and decided it was time to go to the hospital; 

I believe we had put a call in with the doctor call service about 20 minutes earlier, but hadn't heard back yet, and I trusted my instinct after the 11:28 pm contraction and said, "Doesn't matter that we haven't spoken to the on call doctor, we are going now." I knew it would be around 40 minutes until I was admitted to Labor & Delivery, since it would be about 10-15 minutes to get dressed for the late night March cold, another 10 minutes to get to the hospital and park, probably 10-15 minutes to be admitted through the emergency room as I was instructed to do after hours, and then 5-10 minutes to get to the 5th floor Labor & Delivery unit, then the nurse would need to check me in triage...and then, I would be admitted, assuming I was as far along as I felt, because remember, I would be having contractions every 2-5 minutes throughout the whole trek to the hospital. I was absolutely right to decide to head to the hospital when I did, and my timing estimation was also spot on, as I was admitted at midnight and settled in my labor room by a little after 12 am. 

two contractions in car, ER triage then L&D triage with nurse Priscilla, who shared I was at 6 cm and admitted me immediately just before midnight; 

The ER triage was something else. I was in active labor, and the intake staff person apparently described my condition in my intake as not that big a deal. I forget what she actually wrote or coded me as, but when Priscilla received me a little bit later, and saw me bear a contraction then checked me, she was like: "Oh, you are way farther along than they in ER led us to believe, let's get you into a room." We also had to produce my license and other documentation in the ER triage room, again while I kept having to pause, brace myself against the wall, have Paul push on my lower back, and bear a contraction, all while the intake staff person looked on with a blasé attitude. Surreal is the best word I can use to describe it. 

I requested intravenus pain meds, and as she inputted my info (weight, etc.) and got my IV ready I threw up my dinner and my waters broke all over the floor of my birthing room (waters were clear though).

This moment doesn't really need any additional details as these details sum up what happened exactly. With Bookie I was able to manage without an epidural, so my plan was to aim for the same with Little Jem. But with Bookie I had a positive experience accepting pain meds, as they helped me relax enough during late labor for the contractions to do their job, so I immediately requested the same with Little Jem. The only detail I can add about retching and throwing up the contents of my stomach is that as I threw up, I could feel water gush down my legs. I was in a hospital gown by that point I think, but had my own slide on slippers, and they got totally covered in all my bodily fluids. We were happy to put them in a plastic bag and throw them away. I also said "Sorry about that" to Priscilla and she said, "Oh, no worries, it happens all the time, it's what this room is for" so that made me feel more comfortable doing what I needed to do bear labor in that space. This was at Moses Taylor Hospital by the way--my birth experiences with both babies were nothing but positive there. The fact that my waters were clear was important because it meant Little Jem wasn't in danger of breathing in anything that could hurt him like meconium, at least so far.

Wed March 22 at 12:00-2:30 am: contractions lying down while on meds, holding Paul's hand, going from 6-9 cm; I don't remember much here, was very loopy (drug: Nubain, probably a dose designed to wear off 2-3 hrs later and *before* pushing [though it turns out it was still in full effect when it came time to push, more on that below]) and even slept through some of the contractions (!). I did keep asking nurse to be gentle when checking me, but then would say "Don't mind what I'm saying out loud, don't let it interfere with your job" (lol). Alternated between talking about FAB/search committee/IL [information literacy] program with Paul and reality such as ice chips, needing to hold Paul's hand, and requesting to be checked. Paul tells me I rode the contractions with deep, quiet breaths while holding his hand.

That is my log entry almost exactly as I composed it maybe a day or so later when recording my experience of happened, with Paul's help of course. But this too was very surreal, and apparently hilarious to those in the room, Paul and Priscilla the nurse (though not at my expense, from what I gather)

For longtime blog readers, you'll recognize the acronym FAB to be the Framework Advisory Board, which in March 2017 was in its last few months of work before the group was being merged with another Association of College and Research Libraries standing committee, SLILC. I was apparently talking stream-of-conscience about FAB and all the loose ends I had been working hard to make sure were tied as I went on maternity leave. 

The search committee refers to the search for two new Research & Instruction Librarians that was taking place that spring at my library, which I participated in as a committee member, both before and after Little Jem's birth. I was able to phone in for important parts of the search process, including the in-person interviews of our final candidates. It was important to me to participate because these two new hires would be working with me in the Information Literacy Program, which was going to be under my leadership as of June 1 of that year, so it must have been on my mind as well. 

I feel like this log entry is evidence of the integrated whole that was my life and person, as I physically labored to birth my baby and was simultaneously mentally processing and working through all these parts of my job out loud. 

For the record, I remember almost none of this--the Nubain dose must have been pretty strong--but it also means I don't remember the contractions from 6-9 cm, which is really incredible, especially since they still did their job of dilating me, and that's no joke friends. 

Before continuing with my birth experience, I'll close the loop on these various projects I was talking about while in labor and on pain meds: FAB successfully merged with SLILC that June, we successfully hired two new librarians as a result of that search, and the Information Literacy Program is alive and well under my leadership. (Oh, and I also now have a beautiful one year old boy I get to be mother to.) So Donna-in-labor didn't have anything to worry about (ha). Now back to the log.

9-10 cm, maybe 2:30 am: Suddenly wanted to push, was told I was at 9.5 cm so Priscilla helped dilate me the last bit during a contraction (her hand was at my cervix during it!). It worked. I was telling her and the on call doctor (Dr. Molnar) I really, really needed to push. They finally said I could. Priscilla helped pull back my legs, Paul held one she held the other, instructed me to pull back on both from behind knees (this was very hard to do). Also somewhere around this time they noticed light meconium so a NICU team came in to help.  

No extra details to add here, as clearly my log entries got a lot more detailed at these points. Priscilla helping to dilate me the last 0.5 cm during a contraction was totally rad and awesome, and I can only assume the Nubain is what enabled me to bear it, and why she offered to do it to begin with. As I indicated earlier, it was clear to all that it hadn't worn off yet.

Pushing, 2:30-2:41 am: When I said I needed to, I pushed once on a contraction. Priscilla said baby's head was high up and I'd need to focus on pushing him down through the canal. Just before second push, Priscilla told me I could probably push baby out on one more push. I believed her (yay Nubain lol). Then I did

Emphasis added. If I can say so (and I believe I earned the right to): I am a mama-warrior-badass, and I'm so proud of myself for this moment in Little Jem's delivery, when Priscilla told me she thought I could push him out in one more push, I believed her, then I did it. Bam.

Now back to the log: 

Pushed on next contraction, key was she told me "no sound" (I had been vocalizing; I listened to her and didn't vocalize on this one) then she instructed me to breath twice more during push--these felt like separate pushes but everyone around me seemed to count it as one continuous push. Ended with pushing baby out completely. 

This point in my log needs a line break, and a moment. ....................

Now back to the log:

Kept my eyes closed at first to internally "recover"--told Paul to stay with baby and bring phone to take pictures.

Little Jem just born ~ photo is of a new born
baby on a hospital baby bed in a diaper,
eyes closed, with nurse's gloved hands
holding baby's foot for feet printing

Now I am going to share the facts of Little Jem's birth, as I did at the beginning of Bookie's birth story post. This time I wanted to share them at the end, since I composed this around the structure of the birth log I kept. 

Just the (birth) facts for Little Jem:
  • 1st degree tear, doctor stitched up after afterbirth (I tried to negotiate local anesthesia and doctor suggested I didn't really need it--Nubain--he was right)
  • Paul cut cord (I saw this part) then baby taken to in-room baby bed because of meconium to be tended to; he was fine from this
  • afterbirth was faster with more tugging from doctor (though not pain--Nubain) than last time
  • baby was returned to me and we snuggled and tried to nurse; nursing wouldn't really take until 11:30 am next day
  • I was still feeling effects of Nubain at this point (!)
  • baby's injuries: cephalohematoma, bruising all over face, eyes especially, plus broken blood vessels in eyes
  • I am told his injuries are from how fast I pushed him out, presumably from him hitting his head hard and fast into my pelvic bone on the way out
I have two more birth log entries to include here, that unpack some of the facts regarding Little Jem's birth injuries.

Day 1 Little Jem had trouble regulating body temp [due to high bilirubin levels caused by the bruising], tried skin to skin, finally used heater over baby bed which got his temp up high enough to finally nurse well [11:30 am the next day], which in turn helped further regulate temp moving forward

Day 2 was told about his cephalohematoma and bilirubin levels, monitoring commenced etc.

Going into the details of our experience as parents with Little Jem's elevated bilirubin levels and his cephalohematoma will make this post too long. Perhaps I'll reflect on these things another time for the blog, but more likely I won't, largely because both issues did resolve themselves in time and with monitoring and following doctors' instructions.

I did have a little guilt at first caused by the fact that how fast I pushed him out caused a head injury, and maybe that happened because I elected to be on the pain med, but then when I reflect honestly on the experience, I realize I did what I was suppose to do--push him out safely--and that it was okay that it was not perfect, and just part of the complex, messy experience that is giving birth. All births are complex, no matter their method or manner. It is part and parcel with the experience of giving birth. 

And Little Jem is here, and healthy--his bruising and head bump healed and cleared up in due time. And we are so very grateful for him. 

Happy Mama, Happy Baby, Day 1 ~ photo
is of me sitting up in my hospital bed
holding baby skin-to-skin under a blanket
with baby's eyes closed and mouth smiling
Baby Day 1, resting after the ordeal of being
born ~ photo is of a swaddled newborn with
a white knit hat, sleeping with three
Christian icons in the bassinet behind his
head; face shows bruising from his delivery
Little Jem, 11 months old, healthy and happy ~
photo is of an 11 month old baby on his knees
holding two Christian icons; baby's bruising
and cephalohematoma are long gone and healed

*Note this is a rare photo on the blog of  one of my kiddo's countenance (Bookie's), as it were; I try to avoid posting photos of them head-on, but this is one of my favorite pictures from the birth of her brother, Little Jem. <3

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Birth of Little Jem, Part 1

Hello dear reader: My valiant attempts to tell this entire story as a single blog post before the end of my maternity leave were met with the humility that is woven so completely into my life now as a mother of two--it's everywhere I turn, both in the world and in my self. I return to work tomorrow, and only half of this post is done. And so, I am posting Part 1 of 2 now, with plans to post Part 2 sometime in the near future. 


Preparing to write this post ~
photo is of my laptop displaying blank
Blogger post draft titled "The Birth
of Little Jem," with 8-week-old
Little Jem in foreground
Four and a half years ago, I wrote up my experience of giving birth to my first child, my daughter Bookie. I've revisited that post so often in the years that followed that I always knew I wanted to write a similar post for any other babies I had. 

Ten weeks ago I gave birth to Bookie's brother, Little Jem. 

(My last post on the blog was at week 39 of my pregnancy; note that since then I've changed up how I'll spell Little Jem's blog nickname--because these things matter! As per usual practice, please refer to him and his sister by their blog nicknames in any comments you leave.) 

The experience was different yet similar. Today is the last day of my maternity leave, and I want to post this before I return to work tomorrow. 

It has been hard to find time and energy to write it as reflectively as I'd like, since this time around I have my almost five-year-old running around, filling our lives with delightful mayhem like it's her job (because it is). 

As a result, Little Jem's birth story will take a slightly different format than Bookie's. Since I knew in advance that I wanted to write something about his birth, I began a log of birth-related events on my phone's notes app, beginning with the day Little Jem dropped, and leaving in all of the earthy, material details. 

(Content warning: I write about all sorts of bodily fluids in these posts, including blood, urine, diarrhea, and breast milk, because this is all part of the reality of pregnancy and birth, and the whole premise here is: that reality is empowering.) 

It's a good thing I did, because I wouldn't have remembered all these details otherwise. So, what I will do here is this: I've copied most of the log over into this post with only minor edits, but I will punctuate the logged events with some reflection (in italics) wherever I feel moved to include it. 

And so, here is the story of the birth of Little Jem, Part 1:

Birth log:

Mon March 6: in evening baby dropped, a little less than two weeks until estimated due date

Sun March 12: two Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions: whole tummy tight for over a minute but not painful, just uncomfortable 

I didn't have BH contractions with Bookie. These were super interesting--I rather liked them, as they felt nice and productive (at least in terms of prepping and toning my muscles for labor) without the intensity that would come when the contractions were the kind that would actually progress labor. I also suspect an oxytocin rush accompanied mine, which made them even nicer. A good friend of mine and mama to many little ones likened these to "a hug around your uterus" which I totally agree with.  

Mon March 13: dilated to 2 cm (via OB check), bloody show

Tues March 14 around 12 am: Snow storm Stella begins, est. 12-18 inches of snow through Wed night (note: reached 2 feet); everything closed Tues, Bookie home w/ Baba [grandma], Daddy, and Mommy

Winter storm Stella drops over two feet
of snow on us ~ photo is of my back porch
with wooden post, table and chairs, and
deck rail covered in over two feet of snow

Before that week, I really hoped Little Jem would come a bit earlier than his due date. My third trimester was very hard this time around--no complications, just a lot of illness on my part. Plus, it coincided with one of the busiest times of the academic year: the first half of spring semester. As such, I was very tired, very ragged, and very ready to have my baby. Little Jem was not ready to be born early as I had hoped, but because of winter storm Stella I am now very grateful for this. Getting to the hospital while in labor during and immediately after that storm would have been a huge challenge!

Tues March 14 at 2 am: lost part of mucus plug

Tues March 14 at 11:30 am: lost full mucus plug

Wed March 15: Bookie home from school again, everything closed due to snow

Thurs March 16: Bookie returns to school

Bookie being home these few days because of the storm is significant because, unlike when I gave birth to her, this time I was needing to navigate laboring at home with my daughter's presence in the house. Many families have older siblings be a part of the laboring process; I wasn't sure this was the right fit for us, because I knew I needed to concentrate once labor began in earnest and my way of relating to my daughter about big, new things is to give her my undivided attention so as to answer all her questions and be fully present to and with her. You'll get to see in Part 2 how this aspect of Little Jem's labor and delivery played out.

Fri March 17 at 7:15 pm: feeling crampy in a way that has a little more pain (not much) than the Braxton Hicks contractions have had this week

Fri March 17 at 9:40 pm: felt first thing I would classify as a contraction, mild though it was

This was definitely a mild contraction, but it was also a lone one. 

Sat March 18: walked around Price Chopper then around Steamtown Mall

Trying to walk the baby out of me at the mall ~
photo is of me pregnant (wearing
LuLaRoe leggings and an Irma tunic
shirt) standing in front of a fountain
and glass elevator at the mall
Trying to walk the baby out of me at the mall ~
photo is a selfie of husband Paul and I at the mall,
me in a rose colored tunic top and Paul in
a black beret and winter coat, green tie
and plaid scarf

Sat March 18 at around 10:15 pm: experienced at least one real contraction; did not time it, and don't plan to until they come in regular intervals

Sun March 19: estimated due date; drank two mugs of raspberry leaf tea

I was late to the raspberry leaf tea club this pregnancy, but I did enjoy the few mugs I had in these days just before going into labor. To experience the full benefits of it I would have needed to begin drinking a mug a day many months prior, beginning toward the end of my second trimester.

Self portrait of a woman 40 weeks pregnant ~
photo is a mirror selfie of me in profile
40 weeks pregnant wearing a rainbow
striped long sleeve shirt and grey sweat pants,
taken in the mirror of an antique vanity
with framed photos and other meaningful items on
the table's surface in the foreground

Mon March 20: drank strong brew of raspberry leaf tea, late evening had many Braxton Hicks contractions

Tues March 21 at 10:45 am: Dr. Green (my OB) reported I am 3 cm dilated with a soft cervix; he then did a membrane sweep (two days past my due date) 

Ok y'all, here's the first major point of departure from my birth experience with Bookie almost five years ago. I did not have my membranes swept/stripped while pregnant with her. First, know that my doctor did this at my request and with my full consent. Membrane sweeping is a way to possibly induce labor. You can read about what it entails at the link above [Note: Let me know if that link doesn't work for you.]. I asked about this a week earlier to see if this would be an option for us if I went past my due date. My doctor said it was, as long as I was dilated to at least 2-3 centimeters and my cervix was soft/ripe when he did the vaginal check at this prenatal appointment two days after my due date. Both of those conditions were met, and so I gave him the go ahead to perform the membrane sweep. This didn't hurt for me; it was just uncomfortable. But let me tell you: this procedure completely worked for me, in that it caused the needed hormones to be released in my body to kick labor into action. Little Jem was born less than 24 hours after my doctor performed this procedure for me. 


This seems like the best (read: most intriguing) point to split the two parts of Little Jem's Birth Story. I look forward to finishing this story soon, though as I return to work tomorrow know that I am not only transitioning from maternity leave to full time work, but I'm also transitioning from being an evening worker to being a daytime worker, and from being a Public Services Librarian to being my library's Information Literacy (IL) Coordinator (full details here). I can't say how long it will be until I post Part 2, but the bulk of it is in draft form so hopefully not long! 

In the meantime, come tomorrow it's time to get my IL Coordinator on...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Waiting for Little Jem

Photo of me at 36 weeks 5 days carrying my Little Gem
I have been carrying my Little Gem, our second child, for 39 weeks today.* This pregnancy has been equal parts beautiful, empowering, challenging, and (at times) debilitating.

My second trimester saw me more productive at work than I have been in quite a while. Little Gem brought out the fiercely intentional librarian in me.

My third trimester, however, involved my getting sick with different ailments just about every week. Between stomach flu, a stye in my eye, a very bad cold, and other physical stresses, it has been a hard past three months.

And now, it is the second week of March, just one week from Little Gem's estimated due date, and we are expecting up to two feet of snow two days from now. The end of pregnancy is a trip as it is, and the quirks of this particular year are making it even more surreal.

Ultrasound photo of Little Gem's face at 35 weeks 3 days:
Tilt your head to the right to see his eyes at the
two crosses, and those chubby cheeks *heart eyes* 
The other aspect of this pregnancy I want to reflect on before he is born is what it has been like to work as a librarian going through a lot of work-related transitions while carrying my boy. This past year I have felt more than ever like I have embodied what it means to be a working mother.

Little Gem was with me at the ACRL Framework Advisory Board (FAB) retreat I chaired last November in Chicago: my amazing colleagues from that experience even gave him his first gift, and dubbed him an honorary FAB member. That was during my super energized second trimester, and it represented the last work-related travel I'll be doing for a while.

Little Gem has also been with me as I have worked incredibly hard from January until now to transition all of my leadership and other responsibilities to those who have wonderfully agreed to step up in my absence to keep many important projects afloat. This has been an exhausting experience (the transitions, that is), but it's worth it when I see how hard everyone is working around me to see our shared goals are met. I am so honored and fortunate to work with the people I do. To each of you (you know who you are): Thank you, from the bottom of my very pregnant librarian heart.

And now, I am still in the midst of at least one very important work commitment: participating in the search for two new Research & Instruction Librarians, who I will be working with directly as I take on my new role of Information Literacy Coordinator when I return to work after maternity leave.

This is such an important process, and half of it coincides with my maternity leave. My supervisors and colleagues at work are incredibly supportive of me as I become a mother again--I do not have to fully participate in the search process beyond the baby being born if I don't want to. But, I plan to. It means that much. The details of how I will continue to participate are yet to be determined, but the search committee and my Dean are all supportive of my participating to the extent I can and wish to, so I can weigh in on the final recommendations of who our new hires will be.

And so, I am days away from Little Gem being born, and my maternity leave beginning: that special time I get to focus on my little boy, all fresh and new to the world, and aim to--with intention and care--integrate him into our life as a family.

Photo of big sister Bookie
loving on her little brother Gem
But my library work is also always there, in the background (and at times the foreground), beckoning to me even as I know I don't need to heed that call unless I wish to. And at times (though not perpetually and always), I do wish to.

I find this experience, and this moment in my life, very liminal--existing in a space that is between two distinct states. The obvious distinction between the two is before and after Little Gem's birth. But there is a lot more to it than that, having to do with my professional work, my family life, and my bodily experience as a woman and a mother.

Regarding the last, something else I wanted to share here before Little Gem is born is a poem I wrote on January 20, 2017. It's about him, but it's also about me, and it's about the historical moment that date represents both in my own private life and in the wider life of the world.

Here it is in a screenshot image from my phone's notes app, which is where I composed it that day. It is titled: "On being pregnant, today"

Screenshot of poem
"On being pregnant, today"
written on January 20, 2017
At the end of this post is the full text of the poem typed out.

Photo of my pregnant belly: Fullness at 38 weeks 3 days
Tomorrow is Monday, and it's my last day doing work-related things for a while, all of which have to do with the search for our two new librarians--unless I go into labor later tonight (possible, though not probable based on my knowledge of my body).

After tomorrow, I am letting my work move to the background, and focusing on getting ready for Little Gem. After tomorrow we are also expecting a big snow storm, and with each day the chance that I will go into labor increases. And today was the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, only adding to the surreality that will be my 40th week pregnant with Little Gem.

With all of that, the primary desire that fills my body, my cells, and my self right now, is this:

Come soon, sweet baby boy. I can't wait to meet you.

Photo of a star and moon paisley mandala
partially colored in blue and yellow marker:
Coloring as I wait for Little Gem to be born
Photo of me pregnant making a funny face:
Some levity as we wait...

*Little Jem [Update: Note the spelling change, documented here<link>.] will be my nickname for my son on the blog, just as Bookie is my nickname for my daughter. When commenting please refer to them as such. And, technically, length of pregnancy is measured from the first day of one's last menstrual cycle, so I wasn't yet carrying him 39 weeks ago exactly. But half of the genetic "stuff" that would come to be him was preparing itself inside me 39 weeks ago, which is a pretty neat way to think about it. I probably started carrying him a week and a half later or so, roughly 37.5 weeks ago.


On being pregnant, today 
Written on January 20, 2017 
© Donna Witek

You are curled, inside,
on my right side.
Hard and persistent,
lithe and alive,
I see you from the outside:
like a ball I am carrying.
My body is working hard for you,
short of breath,
with blood and sweat at an all time high,
so that your nest (in me)
of water, skin, and cells
gives you life each moment that goes by.
I carry you with me: audacious life in a world of death.
As everything around us breaks into pieces
you are my resistance.

Friday, January 6, 2017

My Library is Hiring Two Research & Instruction Librarians

I'm excited to announce that my library is hiring two new librarians this spring. These are entry-level, faculty status, unionized positions, who will be working directly with me in my new role (as of June 1, 2017) as Information Literacy Coordinator. Full details below -- come work with me!


The University of Scranton invites applications for two full-time, 12-month, tenure-track Research and Instruction Librarians, commencing by August 21, 2017. The regularly scheduled hours for these positions will be primarily Monday-Friday1:00-9:00 pm, with occasional mornings and weekends. A generous benefits package is offered, including medical, dental, and vision coverage, a retirement plan, and paid vacation, holidays, and research leave.
As members of the Library faculty, the Research and Instruction Librarians contribute to the Library’s campus-wide focus on transformative teaching and learning in the Ignatian tradition. One successful candidate will serve as subject liaison to business and the other to health sciences. Both are entry-level positions, requiring a willingness to develop the knowledge needed to provide information literacy instruction to either business or health sciences courses and programs. Applicants are encouraged to apply for both positions if interested.
  • Teaches as part of the Library’s information literacy program, which includes information literacy instruction in core general education as well as upper-level disciplinary courses
  • Provides research services and scholarly assistance to members of the university community both in-person and online
  • Serves as subject liaison to either business or health sciences, a role that includes providing course-integrated instruction and collection development
  • Oversees and is responsible for Library services and building operations during evening hours
  • Other instructional, research, and library duties as assigned
Required Qualifications
  • Possession of an American Library Association accredited Master’s degree at time of hire
  • Experience working in a library or archives
  • Experience working collaboratively with others as well as the ability to independently pursue, manage, and complete projects
  • Ability to communicate well with others in diverse modes and formats
  • Professional commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Ability to deal well with members of the public
  • Willingness to develop the knowledge required to provide information literacy instruction in business courses or to health sciences courses
  • Conversant in current trends in academic librarianship related to research and instruction, such as knowledge of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education
  • Ability to engage in scholarship and service in order to meet qualifications for reappointment and tenure, as defined in the Faculty Handbook
  • Ability to attain a second Master’s degree in a subject field, or the completion of thirty graduate credits in a discipline that improves professional competence, as a requirement for tenure (if not already accomplished at time of hire)
  • Availability to work Monday-Friday1:00-9:00 pm, with occasional mornings and weekends
Desired Qualifications
  • Familiarity with business (e.g. finance, economics, marketing, etc.) or health sciences (e.g. nursing, counseling, allied health services, etc.)
  • Experience creating engaging learning opportunities for student, faculty, or community audiences
  • Supervisory experience
  • Strong desire to explore pedagogical approaches and learning theories that can enrich teaching practice
  • Familiarity with assessment methods and techniques
About the Library and University
The Weinberg Memorial Library provides superior resources, services, and programs in support of the dynamic scholarly, cultural, and social endeavors of the University and the community at large. The Library plays an integral role in teaching, learning, and research on campus, fostering a culture of collaboration, interdisciplinarity, innovation, creativity, and sustainability. Our work environment is forward-looking and participatory, with an emphasis on transparency and faculty/staff development.
The University of Scranton is a regional institution of more than 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students located in northeast Pennsylvania near the Pocono Mountains. Recognized nationally for the quality of its education, Scranton is one of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. It is committed to providing liberal arts education and strong professional and pre-professional programs in the context of Ignatian educational principles, especially the care and development of the whole person. Drawing on the strengths that have made it a recognized leader in the Northeast (ranked 8th among the master’s level universities in the North by U.S. News and World Report. Scranton is committed to a culture of scholarship and excellence in teaching and is moving into the front ranks of American’s comprehensive universities.
Official University of Scranton Diversity Statement
The University of Scranton is committed to providing a safe and nondiscriminatory employment and educational environment. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or other status protected by law. Sexual harassment, including sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
To apply
Applicants must apply online at and include a cover letter summarizing qualifications and strengths, a curriculum vitae or résumé, and contact information for three references. Applicants are encouraged to apply for both positions if interested. The positions will remain open until filled but applications will be reviewed beginning February 20, 2017. Prof. George Aulisio, Reference Coordinator, serves as the Search Committee Chair.