I've been working really hard to get everything I would need to do in my first year completed ahead of schedule in order to be able to take 2-3 months after the baby is born, before gradually working back up to full time by september/october. In order to do that, the plan is to have my first year upgrade document, which is submitted in may, written to a decent standard by the time I go on maternity leave. We've arranged supervision for the 21st february and that will be the point at which we stop and allow me to have a bit of time to myself before the baby is born (assuming it's not arrived by then!) So if the upgrade document is ready for then, it means I will be 4 months ahead of schedule -and my supervisor basically said that over the summer, no-ones really expected to do that much anyway, so it's not as if I'd be falling behind or anything. Getting the upgrade document done means that I won't need to take an official suspension period, because if I do, the funding I get stops, and we can't afford to not have that income. Even if we're not really spending it, it means we can live comfortably without having to worry about bills etc as it'll all be taken care of and we can concentrate on enjoying those precious first few months with our new baby.
My supervisors are thrilled with what I've been producing - the policy review I sent to them last week is pretty much perfect, so they've said now the task is to pull the policy review and the brokering review together in order to develop my research questions and start to really direct the project. We've decided that I will work alongside him and a couple of other researchers on a project looking at discharge and re-admittance of elderly patients because it means I can be written in to the ethics approval (which makes my life easier) and I can share data with the other people involved (again making my life easier). I will be responsible for looking at knowledge brokering within the process so will be able to co-ordinate any papers written on that, and write sections for other peoples papers. Justin said it also means that we can switch roles for a few months, where i'm doing the conceptualising and thinking things through, while he does all the leg work to get everything put in place ready for me when I return full time in october for the data collection phase.
I am so happy it's all coming together so well and really pleased that we can now see an end point for me - having something fixed to work to is really good for my focus and motivation, especially with the due date getting nearer and nearer. It's important for me to see a point at which I'm comfortable to stop and where I will easily be able to pick things up again once my brain, and the baby, will let me. Everyone thought I was being really ambitious at the start of october when I said that I was going to get everything done by the end of february and I wasn't going to suspend my studies because I didn't think I would need too. People really doubted that I'd be able to really get going on the phd because of my pregnancy and the impact that might have - but I was so determined to make it work and if anything I was driven even more by people doubt and I hope those people now realise that they shouldn't have doubted me because I can achieve things, often against the odds. Anyone who really knows me, knows that I'm driven and motivated and when I say I'm going to do something, I mean it. I worked so hard to get on the PhD course that I was never going to let anything stand in the way of that. I've been very lucky that my pregnancy has been smooth enough to allow me to work as efficiently as I have, and hopefully that will continue in the next few weeks and once the baby is born. Of course, I am prepared for the babys arrival to completely change everything, but in the meantime, I plan to continue working hard to get my upgrade document done, because thats what I set out to do at the start of they year and thats what I need to do so I can relax and not worry about uni once the baby is here.
Yesterday was my 24th birthday. I would never in a million years have dreamed that I would be on the verge of being a mum on my 24th birthday - 34th maybe - but not now. I had a lovely relaxing day with Him - we spent the afternoon at his mums & she did an amazing roast dinner & he made the most incredible chocolate fudge cake. I had lots of kind messages from friends and family, and really enjoyed just spending time with people I care about and not having to do the whole going-out-drinking thing that usually dictates whether you have a good birthday or not. In previous years when I've organised things they've been a disappointment, or I've not been well, or theres been exams at that time and people can't com, so this year it was good to not worry about organising anything and to just have a good day. Unfortunately, as the day progressed, I did develop a pretty nasty cold which mum had last week and I must have picked up from her. I'm so used to reaching for the lemsip and the ibuprofen when I'm ill that it was really strange not to - you can only have paracetamol during pregnancy - so I've been taking that, eating lots of throat sweets and trying to up my vitamin C intake with lots of fruit. I'm currently eating a bowl of watermelon and grapes - I can't have citrus because it makes my heartburn unbearable and quite often makes me sick too. I had a hot water bottle last night to soothe my aching muscles and went to bed at 8.30pm to try and sleep off the worst of it. I'm feeling better today, and am really uplifted by such a positive meeting with my supervisors.
I'm going to spend the day chilling out and looking after myself and probably tomorrow too. Mum and Steve go to Sri Lanka for 2 weeks on weds and I'm house/dog sitting so will do lots of work on my upgrade document while they are away. Staying there is really good for doing work because theres less distractions, and its good for me in general as I can eat well and get lots of fresh air when taking the dog out. I could probably get most of my upgrade document written while I'm there to be honest, as theres no reading that needs doing really, its just pulling everything together and making something coherent from it. I'll probably be able to start writing my methods section too, depending on what I decide my research questions are going to be - after all the more I can get done now before the baby comes, the better for me in the long run!