Resuming a PhD with a baby at home

I had just presented my candidacy exam three days before I found out I was pregnant. Between the incredible joy of adding a new member to our family, the anxiety of having a human being growing inside me, and the roller coaster of emotions that motherhood was about bring upon me, there was a very loud and sound question: “what about my PhD?”. Not a clue, i just had a more pressing matter. But, one thing I was certain, and it was that the plan I just presented the week before to my committee will be delayed.

During my pregnancy I did my best to keep the pace. First trimester with morning sickness, being tired all time, nausea, and peeing every 5 minutes.  Second trimester, a total bliss, I wrote a paper, read several more, designed my infrastructure, worked on my thesis milestones. Third trimester, already heavy, tired, breathless, an unexpected pregnancy complication, and getting ready for this baby that was getting very real kicking and keeping me awake, a constant backache. That last trimester I did not do much progress. And then, the baby came, just my husband and I, alone in a foreign country, away from all family members, totally clueless with a baby in our hands. For the next months I tried to write a paper, but motherhood was taking everything from me, learning how to live with this new person, trying to understand him, and at the same time figuring out a new routine.

Finally the day came, after 5 months of being a mom exclusively it was time for me to wear my PhD student hat. I returned to a new term at the university, my desk was just the way I left it, my papers half-read, and all my files “in progress”. It took me a while to read everything again. I started with my dissertation proposal, I lined up my milestones, and for the first month I worked on my new plan to finish my milestones. I discussed it with my supervisors, to which both agreed I would hardly make it for the end of this year. Bummer. So I have a new plan, which includes to take a step back half way to my research, find my zone, and find another way to stretch the boundaries of knowledge, because, unfortunately, during the past year, someone else made my research real, so I need a new PhD plan.

The good news, if some one else did it, it might be that I am in the right track. I took my papers, references, and organized, resorted, and updated them. Got three new books, all from last year, got the proceedings to the conferences I missed, I started again. The mission to find new challenges, opportunities for me to unveil the unknown, to make progress, to create and produce new knowledge. The next step is to find myself a new research problem. And the obvious, do that while being a mom at the same time. It is time to find balance.

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