Of things that are up


It’s been a while. A year, to be exact. Last thing on here is a recipe for pastel de nata. Funny enough, we only learned about the true knowledge for pasteis creation after that post.

So much has happened in between.

In a futile attempt to do the passed time justice, I’ll recap things here for both of my readers (hello!👋).

A year ago, I had transitioned into sci-comm as a professional in a small Potsdam based sci-comm office, conveniently attached to my former workplace during my PhD. I had my own little projects and some bigger things I was involved in, but it was all very tame and straightforward.

Oh, and also Doro was very very pregnant.

All of the last quarter of 2018, and the first of 2019, was a weird transition period. We still had time and sleep (Doro continuously less so) but also had to take things slower, attend doctor appointments and reduce the minimal amount of partying to almost zero.

To enjoy a last pre-birth travel and some sunlight, we went to Portugal and learned about the art of baking pasteis. I make pretty good pasteis now.

Then, we went to Leipzig and enjoyed the Chaos Communication Congress. Doro had to go easy on the mate and we had a good time. Here is a photo. It’s not a good photo. It just shows how we have been at 35c3.

I’m using my photo roll as a reference for what happened when because, honestly, I don’t remember much. My memory has been wiped clean and I heavily rely on technology to fill in the many gaps. If someone would be to hack my photoroll and replace it with one of a complete stranger, chances are I wouldn’t notice.

2019 began like many other years with January first. On one of the many following days, Tegan and I launched something that grew to be something I’m really proud of: Plants and Pipettes. In a blog and podcast we present, discuss and have fun with molecular plant science. I’m quite in love with the stuff we created and still create. We are so free and independent in our work that it is a pleasure to try out things, do everything the way we like and just have a good time.

Plants and Pipettes is also a way for me to play around with illustration as I draw pretty much every figure we publish. I always wanted to learn more about drawing and now I can say that I did. Here is a drawing of a confused mouse and an Arabidopsis plant.Funnily enough, we were not the only ones growing new humans. A good friend shared pretty much the same due date with us, and others followed in the weeks after. Suddenly, a pretty baby-less world was all about babies and only babies. Weird what an age group can do for you. 

Looking back at the months leading up to birth day, my photo stream doesn’t tell too many exciting stories. I ate a lot of Japanese food with friends, cooked a lot of karaage chicken and traveled for work to Münster. Basic stuff. 

One of the last things we did before the day was to enjoy cherry blossom in Berlin. 

And then, it happened. On April 6th we began a new part of our lives. What followed were the hardest 8 weeks we ever experienced. The joy about having a healthy boy lasted only briefly before we were crushed by exhaustion, desperation and pain.

I don’t really want to lay out all the details here. Instead, I’ll summarise it like this: Sometimes you’re lucky with childbirth. More often, you’re not. Downstream of a bad start is a worse first period where healing overlays with figuring things out and where a newborn struggles with basics and the parents struggle with everything.

It’s weird. I know that the first 8 weeks were the absolute worst. I had never felt worse in my life. Thanks to hormones, time and sleep deprivation however, this period feels harmless and tame. Only when looking back at some photos I remember how bad it was.

Here is me at 2 am with a screaming baby in a carrier.

All bad things come to an end. Almost to the day, after 8 weeks everything changed for the better. The boy learned to drink, we healed enough to begin to share some work and all of a sudden we could begin being a family.

I hope I never experience anything like these first weeks ever again. I know that I’m incredibly privileged to have only suffered once, briefly and just by caring for a newborn and not by being subjected to violence or terror. Still, this very first time was no time of joy.

Today, however, stands in stark contrast to the first 8 weeks. We are a happy family, I am enjoying my parental leave after my contract at the sci-comm office ran out and the boy is developing beautifully. He is far from being an easy child but he is a happy and bright one.

Here is me, begin a cool dad in the subway.

I still sometimes wonder whether this is real. Us, being parents, him, being here for pretty much ever (if all goes well), and the focus being on just that: raising a child.

So, that’s what I have been up to. Small stuff. Big stuff. Busy stuff.

I don’t know what will happen with this blog. Yearly updates? Turning this whole thing static? Shifting focus and becoming a daddy blogger? I don’t know. I guess both of you have to just roll with the punches.

If you care for more updates, check my instagram and consider following plantsandpipettes.com. I think it’s really cool.