So in a week I'll be winging my way through the air back to the Q-Zone. That would be Qatar, for all of you who don't live in my brain and know all the shortcuts. I've managed to convince the dig director that I can work for seven weeks (I tried to convince him that I could work for longer but he seems to be very leery of the idea) and finally it looks like I'm just about on my way!
I lack dig maternity wear. I lack maternity wear that is appropriate for warm weather. I lack maternity wear that is light enough to be worn in warm weather, covers enough to be decent by Qatari standards, and is sturdy enough to handle finds processing which usually involves rusty nails, broken pottery, and a lot of dirt and crumbling plaster.
My camera is dead and so's the iPod.
I'm 4 and a half months pregnant, I can only touch my toes because I'm very bendy in certain spots. For example, that ability of mine to put my feet behind my head? It's because of talent like that that I can still clip my toenails. But I see the day in the not to distant future when I'm going to need help tying my shoes. Or I'll just switch to flip flops because I'll be living in the desert.
It's going to be AWESOME!!
There are those who wonder why on earth a pregnant woman would go off a do such a thing? I mean, shouldn't I be home taking care of myself? Shouldn't I be there to share with my husband the joys of every painful bowel movement and exciting gas bubble? I mean, it's not like I'm just working a 9-5 in an office - I don't get to go home to my husband at the end of the day.
For those who wonder, yes, my husband will miss me, but he would much rather that I go and do what I love to do than sit around not doing it. He knew what he got into when he took up with an archaeologist. He also knows that my last husband disapproved of me going off to digs without him and I left him and moved to another continent AND I'M NOT ABOVE DOING IT AGAIN.
Still a bit confused? Okay, although I know it is in no way similar, it might help to think about archaeology as kinda like the military. We aren't shot at (usually, but I've friends who excavate in Iraq and parts of Central America are really hairy), we aren't defending the innocent or freedom or democracy or our homeland, we don't risk death every day, and we are certainly not heroes. But we do often work far from home for extended periods of time and form strong team bonds that are really hard to explain to the layman. We also see our job as something more like a calling or vocation. You don't just do it from 9-5. You may only dig from 9-5 (or from 7-3), but you do paperwork for several hours and talk about what you did and plan for the next day right until you go to bed. "Bed" often happens to be on location. Yeah, of course we sit back and relax. But give us the opportunity and we'll often volunteer to work longer, harder, and on our days off. We're sick, we know.
So even though I'm pregnant, *not* going would be very upsetting. I'm rather frustrated that I have to leave after only 7 weeks. My team will still be in the field!!! These are not my co-workers I'm talking about, these are my comrades. Go ask someone in the military about their unit. I can't say archaeologists share the same strong bond, but it's sort of similar.
Alas, I'm sort of on track to give birth before they're out of the field... bad timing on my part.
Strangely, if I was in the military, I'd have a better chance at continuing my career even with maternity leave. Archaeology is really backwards in some ways. No one really wants to hire a pregnant woman, even for a short duration. Most archaeology jobs are currently short contract anyway, so there is no maternity leave. Get knocked up, get knocked out. And once you've given birth, there is a great amount of pressure to stay out of the field. I know only a very few female archaeologists who have had a child and then returned to fieldwork. They are far outnumbered by the women who "retired" to have families. Some female archaeologists have pointed out that they felt they had no choice but to give up the idea of having a family in order to have a career. I do expect to face a problem getting back to work. Women without children and, obviously, men will be chosen over me because there is less risk of them getting homesick or having to fly home for a family emergency (at least in the eyes of the director). But I'll persevere.
In the meantime, I'm going to waddle around the camp, eat enormous amounts of curry (there's a local Indian restaurant for the men who work the fishing trade and it's FANTASTIC), and continue to scare the living daylights out of any tourist (native or foreign) that sticks their head into my tent.