Saturday, March 26, 2016

Zara Rose

It's been just over a month since Zara was born and boy have I been slacking on the blog!

Welcome to the world little Zara Rose!!!
Born Feb 19 at 12:28pm
7lbs 2 oz
Lots of hair!!



After nine months and an almost 2-day long induction we were over the moon to meet our new Blackwell!! (I think she was ready to meet us too!)

Bonus for me: I'm no longer the shortest Blackwell!

Adjusting to motherhood has been so different than I expected. 
The emotions at birth were completely overwhelming...I wanted everyone to meet her, but I also wanted her all to myself. 
I love baby snuggles more than just about anything. 
Chris and I had no idea babies made so many little "sounds" while they are awake and asleep! 
We also didn't fully appreciate how difficult feeding her would be, but thankfully we have worked out a system! 
Making up dialogue to fit with the funny baby faces she makes is pretty entertaining!
Now that she has gained a little weight, dressing her up in cute outfits is super fun!
We love sending daily pictures out to family and seeing their responses. 
We had no idea a newborn's skin was so soft!
Turns out some diaper brands are better than others!
And this list is a perfect example of how I am dealing with motherhood - overjoyed, amazed, challenged, and scatterbrained!!!

Zara, you fill my heart in a way nothing else has. 



I probably won't be sharing a full-detail birth story here, there are many Type 1 blogs out there with personal accounts. However, as always, if you have questions about my Type 1 Diabetic pregnancy and delivery please send an email!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Maternity Leave Reading

Wow, do I have an amazing "Space Publication Critical Evaluation" or SP[A]CE for you today, just in time to stock up on some good reads before your maternity leave! [Let's be honest, baby books aren't really all that interesting ;-)] And don't worry if maternity leave isn't looming over your head like it is mine, take a "mental health" day to knock out that space-nerd bug with some spectacular space infographics!

Cosmos The infographic book of space by Stuart Lowe and Chris North

Just when I was feeling like space books were getting a little "stale" Cosmos showed up at my door step. I assure you this book is anything but stale. The general premise is a compilation of beautifully crafted "infographics" (read: fun ways to interpret and graphically display data) about a wide variety of space topics. Initially I thought that the book may open to a Buzzfeed-type conglomeration of graphics made by a variety of different sources, but no!! Lowe and North have gathered, organized and presented space data in a cohesively cosmic collection!  

The book is quite the conversation starter -- my husband and I talked for over an hour about launch sites at Kwajalein, since this tiny island he grew up on was mentioned in the book! Besides just trading atoms with the couch while ingesting the enormous amount of data, it would also be a fun trivia game source, or serve as jumping off point into a tangent of wikipedia articles (of course I never get on crazy wikipedia tangents ;-). 




By far my favorite graphic showed a map of the world with launch sites and trajectory lines, the length of which represented the number of launches from that site into a specific trajectory! I also loved the statistics about which types of Astronomy Picture of the Day is shared most often on which social media platform (i.e. pictures of skyscapes are the most popular amongst Facebook and Twitter users). That data may not be particularly useful, but it IS particularly interesting!!

This rocket scientist enjoyed the pages about astronaut genders and space debris and launch timelines and telescope sizes and lunar eclipses and well, you get the point. Essentially if I could sum up my reaction to the book in an infographic it would just be one of those giant toothy-smiling emoji with the rocket emojis on either side (because, emotions are hard to infographic). 

Cosmos, The infographic book of space receives a full 5 stars overall (from the sun to Wolf 359), 5 Hubble Space Telescopes for literally an entire book of beautiful graphics and 5 orbital mechanics equations for scientific accuracy presented in a fun way (what? orbital mechanics equations can totally be fun, don't judge me!)!! That's Nerdy April's first 5x5x5 review, great job Cosmos!


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Full Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of Cosmos The infographic book of space from Aurum Press. All opinions, including successful launches (yays) and exploding failures (nays) are purely mine, feel free to engineer your own!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I see the moon....

Even in the middle of the night,
when I'm "stuck" literally in the dead center (vertically and horizontally) of a concrete building,
controlling the most advanced vehicle ever built,
I get these amazing views of the full moon. 


My kindergarten yearning is satisfied in so many ways. 
I never want this feeling to go away!

Still never giving up on the dream of seeing a full moon from space ;-)

Monday, October 26, 2015

T1D Preggo at 23 Weeks

Hello little pregnant belly of mine! Baby girl is nearing 23 weeks of life inside my tummy and she has been reminding me of her presence constantly. I feel so many little kicks now and have even seen movement on the outside. It's a constant reminder that all this hard work to maintain tight Diabetes control is worth it.

Type 1 Diabetes is tough enough for one, but when you are a Type 1 Diabetic growing a whole other person it is particularly challenging. Luckily I have hit a rhythm, and with an A1c reading of 5.7 I would say its working out pretty well. As a side note, that is my lowest A1c ever, since being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 17 years ago (which is a good thing!).

Celebrating a 5.7 A1c with a decaf coffee and pumpkin cream cheese muffin with my stud muffin!
Chris and I met with a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor who specializes in patients with insulin pumps. I had been emailing him downloads of my Continuous Glucose Monitor for a few weeks before the appointment and when we got to the appointment he was so full of energy! In his thick Italian accent he looked down at the downloads and exclaimed, "I think you have the best blood sugars in Texas!!" Well, I doubt that's correct, but man it made me feel awesome. After feeling pretty alone in this whole Type 1 pregnancy journey, he validated my efforts. Unfortunately, my endocrinologist situation is not ideal and I have made all of my pump setting adjustments myself. Chris and I download my CGM data every week and he helps me weed through it while I figure out if any adjustments are necessary. So to hear someone say we are doing this right was very encouraging!

After discussing my current control, we chatted about the logistics of Type 1 Diabetes combined with labor and delivery. He recommended leaving my pump and CGM on and basically taking care of the disease myself. Chris and I have some further discussing about how to best make this happen as a team, but I do think this is the best plan overall. As my new favorite Italian doctor said, I know my body best and I will be able to hone in on the right levels faster than a baby-savvy nursing staff. He wants me to continue sending the CGM downloads, which I am more than happy to do. It's always nice to have an "outsider's" opinion, especially when I have a less-than-helpful endo.

Beyond the Diabetes aspect, Chris and I have all of the monthly growth ultrasounds scheduled until her arrival and the OB appointments will start picking up in frequency shortly. We are also signing up for some birth/baby/parenting classes soon since we really have no idea what we are doing! I think we are both hoping and praying the "instincts" kick in, because neither of us has much experience with newborns or babies in general.

As far as life in general, I am working Thanksgiving in mission control, and by Christmas we'll be into the 30+ week range, so it will be different experiencing the holidays with just the two of us. Anyone have any Thanksgiving recipes for 2? Maybe we'll just have to share a turkey breast and some frozen rolls, haha.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Which Rocket Will Launch?!

Pink or blue? Guess our crew!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

In the Thick of Manned Spaceflight

It's been a little less than 5 months since I passed my final simulation to become a certified Attitude Determination and Control Officer for the International Space Station. As I was typing up a blurb for my manager the other day it really hit me how many cool things I have already been a part of.

For starters, by the end of this month I will have accumulated over 225 hours of "console time" flying the space station, or supporting from the backroom (although the majority of the time was just me, sitting in mission control, in the middle of the night, keeping her straight and level). In that time I supported an "Optimal Propellant Maneuver" (i.e. flipping the space station around for a docking), a Russian Solar Array Efficiency test, several thruster disable periods required for robotic operations, and the install of HTV-5 (a Japanese cargo vehicle currently attached to ISS). I have also met several astronauts who serve as the "CAPCOM" position (they talk to the astronauts onboard), and even received a call from one of the crew members currently on orbit. Yes, you heard that right, I received a personal call from space, how many people can say that?! And maybe most rewarding, I have enjoyed receiving texts or emails from friends and family when they see the ISS fly over them, knowing I'm at the helm!

I'm here, in mission control, at NASA Johnson Space Center, in the thick of manned spaceflight. I honestly never thought I would have an opportunity like this, and I'm so thankful to be a small part of this amazing adventure.

A picture I snapped during some of the HTV robotic operations. This was my first "dynamic" activity alone, we had a thruster disable to support the activity. 


Any one else out there feel like their heart is full, like their job really represents their greatest passion?!