This is not your average book review, let me tell you, and you will soon find out why.
When I first learned that this book was going to be edited I could not contain myself, I was beyond excited! It was like a dream come true!!! How I needed and how I had longed for such a collection, so I could learn from the experiences of women like me and not feel so alone! Moreover, what a perfect a book to submit an essay to, and so I did (after interacting briefly with Caroline, one of the editors, whom I knew from blogging, and with proofreading help from her sister Libby, a contributor and also one of bloggers in the Inside Higher Education Mama PhD Blog -- isn't it exciting that they have a blog in the IHE website?).
And now comes the really hard question: how can I simply review a book in which I could have been published, but wasn't? So, there is only one thing to do, and I hope you (or the folks at Mother Talk who selected me as a reviewer) don't mind -- I just have to share my contribution. Here, and now, since I was unable to post it on the day of my dissertation defense the way I had dreamed about.
Browsing through this book was not as painful as I thought it might have been. I have to admit that getting it in the mail, touching, and opening it for the first time was hard, though. If it doesn't sound too preposterous to say this, I miss my voice in there, but, thanks to blogging, you can still read my contribution, and I hope you will (it's under the cut below).
But first, let me say a few words about the book. The full title is Mama, Phd: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life and you can check out the book's website, the trailer, and the IHE blog. The editors are Caroline Grant -- a fellow blogger with a Ph.d. in the same discipline as mine and whose eldest son was born only a few days before my own, and Elrena Evans, practically my "neighbor," since we live in neighboring towns -- she has visited us a couple of times and it has been a great pleasure to meet her not only "virtually," but also in person. I also have "virtual connections" to several of the contributors, the main one being my dear blogging friend Alissa. Another famous blogging mother, Bitch Phd is also a contributor, among many accomplished women.
The essay that up to now (I have yet to finish reading all of them) has caught my attention the most is, not surprisingly, "Nontraditional Academics: At Home with Children and a PhD." I felt mightily comforted to read about the experiences of the three authors, Susan Bassow, Dana Campbell, and Liz Stockwell, and I can't wait to participate in the website and resource for NTA (nontraditional academic) parents that they are planning to set up! Perhaps I can feel happy and fulfilled academically as an NTA. I will be blogging more about this issue in the future, that's for sure! I could go on and on as to how I identify with the essayists and their experiences, but I really want to take this opportunity to share mine, OK?
Note: the event of my essay's first paragraph took place in May 2006. It was written from June-Sept. 2006. Even though I submitted it, I consider this to be still a draft since there much to be improved on (it's too long, too many details regarding the cultural differences in medical care, etc. I could have edited it before publishing it here, but I left it as it was).
Of Babies and Academic Milestones
Two weeks ago, I had a meeting with my advisor and a committee member to go over the early chapters of my dissertation and the committee member looked at me and laughingly remarked that this was the first time in years that she wasn't seeing me pregnant. It was not a joke, though, because four years earlier I was practically nine months pregnant when I passed the oral part of my comprehensive exams. Then, two years later, when I defended my prospectus in the same room where we were meeting that day, I was eight months pregnant with my second child. The decision to have babies while in graduate school has meant that it is taking much longer for me to finish the Ph.D. – it has been eight years so far – but I still think it was the perfect decision for us. Looking back, I can actually see that most of my academic milestones are linked to my pregnancies and the birth of my sons.