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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Oh where, oh where has my ambition gone?

Today was a bit of a strange day for me. For the past 11 months I have been trying to juggle being a full-time mom with also being a full-time student, lecturer, and trying to complete my dissertation (I say "trying" because I am not doing a very good job). I am a good mom and a good lecturer (at least according to my course evaluations), but am having a difficult time trying to squeeze in the role of good student, as well.

This morning I had a meeting with one of my committee members. Her role is to help keep me on track, and to provide support and mentorship, where needed. She is also a sounding board for any ideas I come up with regarding the direction that my dissertation should take. We haven't met in months but today I had to do some follow-up interviews with former clients, so I scheduled in a quick meeting with her beforehand. I got to her office, sat down, ... and drew a blank. I realized that I didn't have anything to tell her - there were no new developments in my research, no grand ideas to share, and no questions to have answered. As I sat there in silence, I had no idea what to say to her. I could have told her that McKenna just learned to fall asleep on her own. I could have told her that my house is a colossal mess, my dogs haven't been walked in days, and I haven't done any of my Christmas shopping, but I couldn't come up with anything to tell her about my research. So I told her the truth. I told her that I am having a hard time balancing the roles of mommy and academic. I am finding it difficult to shift mindsets from diaper changes and walks through the park to statistics, academic language, and the competitiveness and isolation of research. Two years ago, if you had told me that I would be sitting around in my pyjamas, playing peek-a-boo, and contemplating dropping out of my graduate program, I would have choked to death on my own laughter. And yet here I am. Do I still want all of those things? I think so - but more than anything I want to be a good mom. I want to be there for my daughter for the next few years. I don't want to entrust her early learning, exploring, and development to a daycare. Part of me is disgusted with myself for this sudden change of heart. This is not the direction that I pictured my life taking. I have not been able to keep up on new developments in my area of research, my motivation is at an all-time low, and I feel like I am letting a lot of people down. I am close enough to the end that it doesn't really make sense to give up now, but I am struggling with summoning the motivation and the drive to finish this thing. What have I gotten myself into???

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

"The Vaccine Book" by Dr. Sears

I have just finished reading The Vaccine Book (Sears, 2007), just in time for McKenna's scheduled 12-month vaccinations. In NL, babies get vaccinations at 2, 4, 6, 12, and 18 months, and once before they start school. So far, M has gotten vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, as well as pneumococcal disease. I didn't consider any of these to be controversial - all are serious diseases, with major consequences for young babies. However, we're now coming up on some of the "less important" vaccines, as far as I'm concerned: The MMR vaccine, the flu vaccine, and the chickenpox vaccine.

As a researcher myself, I can appreciate the drudgery of going through piles and piles of reports, papers, and meta-analyses. I can appreciate the difficulty in trying to make a boring topic into something worth reading. And as a mother, I appreciate what Dr. Sears has done in this book - he explains each and every disease, components of the vaccine, risks and benefits, as well as arguments both for and against having your child vaccinated against each disease. Overall, he seems to come across as being pro-vaccine, but is able to play devil's advocate and explain why some parents might choose not to vaccinate against certain diseases, or at all.