I benefited from a scholarship to attend #CitSciOz18, in return for sharing my reflections. It’s been several months since the conference now, which have felt like forever and no time at all (an album on high rotation at home), as in that time I’ve become a new mother. What a time of joy and no sleep!
I’m writing this at 4:30am when my son is nearly six months old and hasn’t woken to breastfeed. I am in the habit of being awake at this time, so suddenly have a moment to write (while listening out for him, ready to save this as a draft for another day and resume active parenting).
Back in the days before social media I used to blog voraciously – between Twitter and parenting, my blog posts have become like hen’s teeth. Marginally more common though, given this one.
I presented at the conference about some of my citizen science work, professionally and as a volunteer, in humanitarian disaster response and mapping projects.
It was fantastic to have a full house for our #EngagingCitizens session.
The conference was especially fun for me as it was the first conference I’d attended since graduation from my PhD, so was the first for which my name tag said ‘doctor’. Having recently submitted the final version of my thesis, I particularly enjoyed the parts of the conference I saw through the lends of my PhD research.
Given my impending motherhood I was interested in research about women’s experiences with workplace breastfeeding spaces.
I was happy that the importance of encouraging ‘don’t know’ responses for data quality was emphasized in one presentation, something I’ve learnt in disaster response work.
The best thing about the conference for me, however, were not presentations but people. In particular, people who actively supported me attending a conference while heavily pregnant.
Most notably, a woman (who I’m not sure wants to be named) who noticed I was looking a little shaken when I arrived on the last day of the conference. I’d been to an obstetrician’s appointment that morning, where I’d been advised to have an induction by 40 weeks. Also, the conference was happening during a heatwave, so getting to the conference in the city from the hospital in the heat was harder than I’d anticipated. However I was enjoying the conference so much that I wanted to attend what I could of the last day.
She noted I seemed different to yesterday and asked how I was going. I explained where I’d been and that I was processing information I’d been given. She suggested we skip the next session and instead have a one-on-one discussion. She listened, then sensitively shared her experiences having her children and reminded me of my right to informed consent for interventions. It was exactly what I needed at that time. It’s not surprising that professionals in the field of citizen science also excel at evidence-based patient advocacy. A citizen science conference was an apt environment for living my dual roles of doctor in one field and patient in another.
So thank you to the organizing committee and this person in particular, for making my experience great personally as well as professionally.
For those wondering, yes I did have the induction, but was still able to give birth naturally without pain relief, as it happened on my terms. I’m loving being a parent, as well as finally a doctor!
Update: a video of my conference presentation is now online: