Magnum, PI is very supportive and has no problems with his post-docs starting families. In fact, he was quite excited when I told him I was expecting and immediately told me not to worry about any decreased productivity that I might experience during the time before and after I gave birth. He went on to tell me about several other female post-docs that started families while in his lab that were able to balance work and life and move on to successful careers. This was wonderful news and it was a relief that he was fine with and understood that a decrease in productivity would to occur. Unfortunately, I was not fine with this then and I am still not fine with it now. It nags at me.
The fact that my project went to hell in a hand-basket this summer does not ease the constant nagging voice that tells me I am falling behind, that I am not producing enough data, that I am not getting as much done each day as I possibly can. I know that I just can’t work the hours that I used to, yet I refuse to except that this means that my productivity must also slow down. (I know, it's silly, but it's how I feel.) As a result, I’ve tried to make up for the lack of time in the lab by trying to utilize every single minute of time. I make plans, I organize accordingly and I multi-task like it’s going out of style. Unfortunately, I still find ways of not getting everything done and it drives me crazy and makes for a cranky MXX.
Take today for instance. I chose to stay home for a few hours this morning so that I could write and submit an abstract for ASM. I can’t seem to get a lot of writing done at work due to constant interruptions, but by staying at home, experiments are not getting done. I prefer to write the abstract at work during incubations, PCRs, etc. I tried this initially, but it didn't work out. On to plan B; work on the abstract at home during the evening. Unfortunately, my husband is working around the clock this week as a major deadline is approaching for him, so all child care falls 100% on my shoulders. Mini-xx goes to sleep at 7:30, but that’s when the never-ending chores start. After that I just want to go to pass out. So, on to plan C; take a few hours at home and push the abstract out the door while simultaneously NOT doing experiments. This is what I did, but I feel like it wasn't the best use of my time. I always think I can be doing something else while writing, especially something as lame as an abstract.
Anyway. The decreased productivity is constantly on my mind. I recently brought this up to Magnum, PI during a brief conversation. I stated to him that I was not pleased with how far behind I had fallen regarding my project. Specifically, I anticipated a paper being submitted at this point. He looked at me like he thought I was crazy and told me he was more than pleased with my work since joining his lab. He told me he thought I was too ambitious and that my expectations were slightly unrealistic. I’m glad that he is happy and it’s great that he is pleased with my progress, but somehow this doesn’t quiet the voice in my head and unfortunately, I still can’t see how my expectations are unreasonable.
To me the expectations aren’t the problem, I am. Cutting myself slack is not something I have ever been able to do. Instead, I’ve decided that I need to find a way to add another 5 hours to my time in the lab…at least until I get back on track. Putting in an extra hour or two everyday is not going to work. This would completely fuck up things at home and besides, I need a chunk of time. So, I’m thinking that if I can stay until 10pm two days a week (instead of just one), then maybe I can begin to get back on track. The downside is obvious, I will miss another night with mini-xx. On the plus side, it will keep me from putting in serious hours on the weekend, which I don’t want to do as these are the only two full days I get to spend with my family.
Oh I don't know. Now that I am reading what I've written, it does sound a bit crazy.