My tenure process has been set in motion. (For those of you who don't spend tons of time around academics, this is an elaborate evaluation that will determine whether or not I get to keep my job FOREVER, so it's supposedly a big deal.) This stage of the process is not inherently stressful, but just knowing it is afoot creates some ambient anxiety. In addition, next week is spring break, and WOW, I was supposed to have accomplished A GREAT MANY THINGS before then. WHOOPS. The semester is more than halfway over and my ability to focus on my research is...nonexistent. I keep thinking it's just a question of making a list and a plan and having a hearty go at it, but then my brain floats off and I think about babies.
Leading to an amazing revelation: I didn't appreciate the ways in which this was going to be hard.
Just as I was an asshole about infertility before I had some personal experience, so I was blasé about the physical and psychological effects of gestating a fetus before I had some personal experience. I always imagined that when pregnant, I'd just push through the pain and work smarter. That knowing I had a Major Life Change coming would motivate me to be super productive. That I would churn out massive quantities of top quality research in this remaining semester. And importantly, that having a baby wasn't such a hurdle in the life of an academic woman. That the life of a female academic parent isn't that much harder than the life of a male academic parent. That women who let motherhood get in the way of their careers must not have cared too much about their careers.
I know. What an ASSHOLE I was.
I'm not sure how much infertility has skewed my perceptions. I mean, I'm coming to the experience of pregnancy with two years of depression under my belt, and it's possible I would have operated more like my Model Lady Academic had I not felt that a certain degree of focus on my fetus was justified. Had I not been so terrified of losing him for Part 1 and so overjoyed to have him with me for Parts 2 and 3 that I felt like it was pretty much FINE to spend every moment thinking of him. But even had I not gone through IF, it would still have been exhausting to be pregnant and very, very hard to stay focused on intellectual shit when I can barely remember what words are. And I've had an extremely easy pregnancy. (KNOCK ON WOOD.) And pregnancy is the easy part of being a parent.
Anyway, I would like to revise my former opinions. Having a baby is a massive hurdle in the life of an academic woman. The life of a female academic parent is massively harder than the life of a male academic parent. (And I don't even know that from personal experience yet, but as I watch some of you deal with career/family challenges, I can tell.) Women who let motherhood get in the way of their careers may or may NOT have cared about their careers. At the moment, there's a tiny...something or other... poking out of my belly, and I can't image caring about anything but that.