My PhD baby...

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When I started my Masters of Education I was five months pregnant with Erik. By the time I finished it four years later, Lukas was 18 months old. I took a five year break from study and during that time had Bryn, but then when I started my Master of Creative Writing I was five months pregnant with Ari.

So, this PhD is the first time in 15 years I do a degree and am not pregnant.

I suspect my body/brain isn't coping too well with this anomaly.

You see in early May I started having dreams about babies. Vivid dreams about being pregnant or giving birth. So vivid, in fact, I started to wonder if I could be pregnant. The thing is, if I was pregnant I would have had to have been at least 20 weeks pregnant in early May, and I had not skipped a period all year.

Obviously, this does happen, women do get pregnant and still experience regular bleeding - often called deciduous bleeding (yes, I have researched this, thus was my paranoia). And there was an entire television series dedicated to women who gave birth without even knowing they were pregnant - all sorts of women; young women who had never had babies before and very overweight women who never looked pregnant even to their partners and close family, but also mothers with several children and very skinny women who had photos of themselves in bikinis at 7 months of pregnancy. It does happen.

What also happens is phantom pregnancy. There are sites and Facebook pages dedicated to women who have been pregnant for almost a year, and no one will believe they're pregnant despite their rounded bellies, because home pregnancy tests, blood tests and ultrasounds all come back negative. Yes, I laughed too.

Then I read two or three stories about women who had negative pregnancy tests, negative ultrasounds and lo and behold gave birth to full term, healthy bouncing babes anyway. One women is suing because she was treated with contempt by medical professionals even in early labour.

I did a test.

I know, I know, paranoid much... It was negative.

I pushed the thought of pregnancy to the back of my mind as best I could, but at least once a week I had the vivid dreams.

I put it down to stress, I have been very stressed leading up to the colloquium.

That's right, I haven't told you how the colloquium went!

I was confirmed on the day, which is, I was told, a rare thing, indeed. I am ecstatic to have this behind me. I raring to get on with more work. My supervisor implored me to take a couple of weeks off now, but I'm on a high and I want to just keep going. I can't do anything on the exegesis as I have been asked to read up on literary philosophers and theorists and to pick someone to underpin my own work, I was given some names to look up, but I don't remember anything specific from the meeting and have to wait for notes to be send from the convenor of the meeting. But yes, it went very well...

Yesterday was a very busy day after the stress of Friday. I was in bed by 9pm and did not wake up for 13 hours. When I did wake, I still had the headache I'd gone to bed with, but more disturbingly I had had vivid dreams about a baby rolling around in my belly. I could feel its spine and the distinct shape of its round little head as I lay in bed. When I woke up I was relieved to realise it was only a dream. Then I must have dosed off again because suddenly I felt the baby roll again and I was thinking, this is not a dream, how am I going to tell the Grumpy Old Man? How am I going to manage a newborn and going to the conference in November? Will this ruin my chance of completing my PhD?

And then I woke a second time, dazed and confused, but eventually relieved when I, again, realised it was only a dream!

I am being haunted by a PhD baby. My body has realised I'm doing a PhD and as I'm not physically pregnant it is compensating by creating a dream baby.

They say doing a PhD drives most candidates a little crazy - I guess this is how crazy has decided to materialise for me.

I wish it would quit though, it's very disturbing and I really do need my sleep!

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