I wanted to post an update on my mental health, since I had shared that my first trimester was rough for me, psychologically. I was feeling really shitty about my lack of ability to work efficiently in my first trimester. I had two grad program milestones that were supposed to have been met by the winter semester: my dissertation proposal and my qualifying exam. The semester ended 2 weeks ago and I had completed neither. Well I had actually written two dissertation proposals, but nothing had been accepted yet.
My new, by-the-books, critical co-advisor suggested that, if my summer semester was going to be as unproductive as my winter semester, I should take a Leave of Absence over the summer, because I couldn’t miss any more milestones. This was highly stressful to hear because I am only allowed to take 3 consecutive semester LOAs, so taking one before the baby is born would mean finding and paying for childcare when the baby is 8 months old. In Canada, we are accustomed to 12 months of leave for birth parents. Also, I would feel WORSE about myself taking a whole summer off, making no money, not eligible for EI, doing nothing productive (besides growing a baby).
I had to take a chance on myself. I had to make a decision based on my unknown ability to be very productive throughout my third trimester. My original advisor, who is amazingly supportive and understanding of life circumstances, backed me up, and now I have a plan that works for me. I am going to put my dissertation on hold until I am back from my maternity leave, because it is against policy for me to collect data while on leave anyway, so no sense rushing to get the proposal approved before I leave. Over the summer I am going to do my qualifying exam, which involves 3 months to write a paper and then an oral defence of the paper in August. After all the bureaucratic crap is dealt with I will only have a month and a half to write instead of the recommended 3 months, but if it’s the only school stuff I’m working on, I should be able to manage it. And then I can have the baby and go on leave feeling like I’ve accomplished something. And I can work on a new dissertation proposal (3rd time’s the charm…) as I find the time and energy during my 12 months off with baby.
I feel motivated. I feel capable. The fog in my brain is clearing and I am able to string a sentence together again. Although this week I did put the ground coffee directly in my mug and the carafe in the fridge…