Last week I received word that my request for sick leave was approved, and applied retroactively to September. The university credited me this year's tuition, and I'll go back in the fall. In the meanwhile, my library card doesn't work, and I'm not supposed to be engaging in any research/academic work. (Ha.)
It's a strange feeling, suddenly having that weight off my shoulders. It's now okay that I've been useless for the past year. I've spent the year doing was doing what I was supposed to be doing: taking care of myself and my family. I was sometimes a little hard on myself about my lack of progress, because I know people who finished their dissertations in the midst of being pregnant and having a baby. Of course, I constantly have to remind myself that it's not fair to compare myself to anyone else, because I've been a rather exceptional case. (So exceptional, in fact, that I was granted leave after the terms of my extension explicitly stated that I didn't qualify for leave!)
It's funny how my brain is more full of ideas and strategies for finishing, now that I'm not registered. I'm going to get myself an alumni library card, since I qualify for one here. I'll start practising my German while the baby's napping, and since it requires the use of a headset microphone, I've ordered a baby monitor, and will watch the little lights for signs of the kid making noise. I'll also take this opportunity to review my primary sources, since it's been a while, and the review will be good for getting my brain going. That's all I'll really do this summer (and meet with my supervisor when we go back to the Island in the summer: he'll want to see the baby, and then we'll draw up a timeline for completion).
But I'm also going to allow myself some space. I'm on leave, and I'm going to make sure that I appreciate that. This is the first time I haven't been a registered student in a decade, and I want to take some time and enjoy being home with Li'l E.
This has all coincided with the good news that E won't need surgery (there was some concern, but it has thankfully turned out to be unfounded), and so we now have fewer health professionals in our lives, which means fewer appointments. (Okay, in the next few weeks, she has a physical therapy appointment, 6-month checkups with both her family doctor and her pediatrician, and then her next round of shots. But then we get a break!) More importantly, we no longer have that anxiety hanging over us, and we can just move on with our lives, dealing only with normal baby stuff.
And so I'm grateful for this bit of respite from all the craziness of the past year. Normal is a nice change from the usual.