Following my heart…

That must be the most cheesy title I picked for a blog title so far..

I’m at home, with my 1.5 year old peacefully sleeping upstairs and my 6 month foetus kicking around šŸ™‚ I’ve got a stack of old cancer research grants to read, as I asked people for examples so I get a bit better feeling of what should go inside and start making a draft for an application of my own. Exciting times šŸ™‚

But social media are always luring and I decided to read a short piece about the troubles of a lactating mum at a conference, by Rebecca Calisi Rodriguez. You can find it here. She went to a conference, despite a caesarian only 5 weeks earlier!! Here in Germany and also Holland, that isn’t even allowed I think… No work until at least 6 weeks after delivery. It sounds pretty stressful, mostly because of lack of facilities and understanding, although from the piece it looks like she found her way in science and hopefully family perfectly fine in the end.

However when I read something like this, I’m also happy I didn’t make that choice. I stayed at home over a year with my baby (unemployed!) and am planning to stay at home with the next at least 5 months too – official, paid maternity leave this time. I’ll also happily admit that at times during that year with my baby, I was bored, I wanted to do science and not be at home changing diapers! I was wondering whether I was doing the right thing. I think a middle way, staying at home a few months as I’m planning now, would be ideal.

Anyway, that doesn’t matter as it largely depending on personal preferences. Which is the whole point I wanted to make here: I could only wish people would make their choices more with their hearts too. When I left the lab in Oxford after 2.5 years, I knew I wouldn’t publish anything and when I took such long maternity leave, I also knew some people will frown on it. Because of these circumstances, my last first author publication is from 5 years ago… And know what? I don’t care (of course I do – but I can’t change it, can I???). If I had stayed longer in that lab in Oxford, I probably would’ve ended up with a burn-out and in the end in a much worse condition than now. Solely due to a toxic boss. If I hadn’t stayed at home with my baby, I would’ve regretted it all my life. Breastfeeding is such a beautiful thing. Missing out on a potential paper and a year more in science instead of a gap in my CV, is that going to be the thing I regret on the day I die? So many women I talked to in Oxford admitted they regretted some of their choices – especially continuously thinking that that one more experiment will make the difference, and then it’s time for children. Until some of them realised they already passed the point where it’s too late for children and the science is still not coming along as they wished…

It might turn out all right for me, as right now, there’s one last authorship paper in the pipeline, with some of my Oxford data, and another one perhaps towards the end of this year. Smallish ones, but perhaps enough to apply for more funding and build up something. Maybe those two papers can make up for the gap in my CV??

I am hoping that future reviewers will show some understanding… And if they don’t, I will ask myself whether this is really the world I want to be in! What I won’t do, is regret the choice I made for happiness.

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