Episode 17: Mary Walworth on Fieldwork with a Baby

URL: https://fieldnotespod.com/2020/05/15/ep-17-mary-walworth-on-fieldwork-with-a-baby/

[introduction music]

Martha Tsutsui Billins (host): Hello, and welcome to Field Notes, a podcast about linguistic fieldwork. I’m Martha Tsutsui Billins, and today’s episode is with Mary Walworth. Mary is the co-leader of the Comparative Oceanic Languages Project at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany. She received her MA and PhD from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where she focused primarily on documenting the understudied languages of French Polynesia. She specializes in the historical relationships of Oceanic languages, examining both direct relatedness and indirect, contact-based linguistic development. She has worked with many communities throughout French Polynesia and Vanuatu, most recently on the islands of Emae and Epi in Central Vanuatu.

I’m really excited about this episode today with Mary, because she’s going to be sharing her experience of doing research and doing fieldwork while she was pregnant and then later taking her child as a very young baby and then again as a toddler into her field site. And in this interview, Mary discusses how taking her child into her field site changed her relationship with the community that she was working with and also how she managed to prioritize her research and her family. And yeah, I think there’s something that, whether you children or don’t have children, are planning to have kids or not, there’s a lot that can be learned from her perspective and from her story.


MTB: Thank you, Mary, so much for coming on Field Notes.

Mary Walworth: Yeah. It’s really nice to be here. Thanks for having me.

MTB: Yeah, sure. Of course. So you’re here to talk about something very specific.

Mary Walworth: Yeah.

MTB: Can you take us through your fieldwork biography and like what your experience doing fieldwork with your child has been like?

Mary Walworth: Sure. So I’m a fieldworking linguist. I’m a language documentation person, but my sort of true love of linguistics is historical linguistics, so I do language documentation and a lot of language fieldwork and linguistic fieldwork as sort of a means to the analysis, the historical analysis. And so I’ve been… I work mostly on Oceanic languages, and I started during my Master’s and PhD in Polynesia, in East Polynesia, and spent a lot of time floating around French Polynesia, so to speak, and did my PhD on a small island called Rapa Iti. And then I did a postdoc also in French Polynesia, and then now working for Max Planck Science of Human History. My primary focus is in Vanuatu. So a few years, about a year and a half into my work with the Max Planck, that has a heavy fieldwork focus for me, I got pregnant with my now two, almost two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and I had some decisions to make as to whether I was going to sort of keep doing fieldwork or stop and kind of focus on the armchair side of things and the analysis side of things, but we were… Because a lot of these languages that we were trying to work out their historical relationships for, because a lot of them are understudied, it’s kind of hard to do the analysis side of things without the fieldwork side of things. So we decided to go for it and do the fieldwork.

MTB: And you found out really close to when you were leaving for fieldwork, right?

Mary Walworth: Yeah. Exactly, yeah. So I found out, I think, two days before I was supposed to get on a plane from Germany to go over to Vanuatu, and it was like very, very early days, and way too early to talk to my boss about it or any of my colleagues about it or any of the team, and tickets were already paid for, and it wasn’t a totally unplanned thing, but it wasn’t planned for that exact moment.

MTB: Yeah.

Mary Walworth: So we talked with my partner, and we just decided, “Okay, I’m just going to go and see what happens and talk to doctors there,” and I talked to my doctor in Germany, and she was sort of like, “I kind of know where that is, so I guess, go. Whatever.”

MTB: Oh, wow.

Mary Walworth: Yeah, and yeah. So, I mean, I did the whole thing. I was in the field pregnant. We took our daughter together when she was eight months old, eight to ten months old, and then again this last year when she was about a year and a half. So she’s been in the field since in utero.

MTB: That’s amazing. Yeah. I feel like that’s such an amazing story.

Mary Walworth: It’s pretty crazy. I mean, a lot of it is… Especially because in the beginning, I was a little bit like, “Okay. I’m supposed to go to Vanuatu for four months now to…” Like the kind of work that we were doing in the project at that time was to do word list elicitation sort of all over different islands, and that year, I was set out to go travel around basically like on foot a lot an entire island, the island of Epi. And I was going to do that for three, four, months, and I was like, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this. Like is this safe?” I wasn’t even really sure, but I just thought, “I’ll go and I’ll figure it out.” And I decided, talking with doctors there, that maybe it wasn’t the best decision to start go walking and putting a lot of strain on myself in my first trimester, so I found consultants to work with in the capital city and sort of was able to stay in a little bit more comfortable, reliable accommodation and really, speaking in terms of food, like more reliable access to food and clean water. So I did that for about a month, and then I took a break and went to Australia to ANU and did some office work, and then went back in my second trimester and did sort of an abbreviated tour around the east, only the east part, of Epi, and I did that with my partner. And yeah, so at that point, I was feeling good, and everything was in good shape, so yeah, it was just being flexible and trying to adapt and guess was the way to go.

MTB: Yeah. Did you have kind of a backup plan, like if you had gotten there and you were like, “This is not working out”? Do you think you could have just been like, “I have to leave,” or did you feel like you had to stay and just see it through?

Mary Walworth: Yeah. I mean, I think the pressure that we can put on ourselves, I was like, “I’ve got to stay and see this through.” And then I was so sick. I was so just sick the first month or so just nauseous all of the time that I was like, “I got to get out of here.” So at that point I was like, “I can’t… This is not happening.” So at that point, I was able to kind of tell my boss, “Hey, I’m pregnant.” And he was totally great and really super understanding, and he was like, “Get out of there. Go where…” And that’s where we decided that we had lots of collaborators and colleagues at Australia National University, and that was a nice little home away from home and had people, friends, that I could stay with, and we thought that would be a good break, but yeah. No, I was really… I was lucky to have really good support and sort of a very supportive boss and a good situation. Yeah.

MTB: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so awesome. I’m just wondering, did you use your travel insurance to pay for your doctor’s visits when you were in Australia, or did you have to go out of pocket?

Mary Walworth: When I was pregnant, I had to go out of pocket, yeah. Yeah, so yeah. It wasn’t so much. I think we did one ultrasound… I think we tried to get it covered by insurance when we came back — because I had travel insurance, of course — but yeah, it didn’t cover sort of pre-existing conditions, which… [laughs] Because I got pregnant in Germany before, I went over to the Pacific, then I guess it was a pre-existing condition.

MTB: Oh, my gosh. That’s so wild.

Mary Walworth: Isn’t that funny? Yeah. I think if something had gone wrong, they would have covered it, but since it was just like a routine checkup…

MTB: Checkup.

Mary Walworth: … kind of thing…

MTB: They were like, “We don’t care.”

Mary Walworth: Yeah. “We don’t care.”

MTB: I mean, were you nervous about like your productivity or your safety?

Mary Walworth: Yeah. I mean, I think the fieldwork, being pregnant was one thing, but then fieldwork when we actually took our daughter was just a whole different thing, and like that was kind of crazy. I mean, it was great. It was a wonderful experience, but it was incredibly challenging, and I think the preparation for it was challenging, but actually like being there was sort of mentally and physically challenging. All of that being said, there were moments, and lots and lots of moments, daily moments, that made the challenge worth it, but it was definitely a challenge. And I think like emotionally, I was constantly worried. I was anxious all of the time that we were in the field. Like I’d see a mosquito, and I’d be like, “Is that a dengue mosquito or is that a malaria mosquito? Or is it just a regular mosquito? I don’t know,” and I got really good at just smacking and killing mosquitoes. Or I’d worry if the sun was too strong, and had I put enough sunscreen on her? Were we running out of sunscreen, and, “What is she putting in her mouth? I don’t recognize that object. Where’s that object been,” or like, “There’s rotting metal over in that corner that she’s crawling to,” and just everything everywhere I looked was, felt like anxious and there was an obstacle. And first-time parents, that’s sort of par for the course in any situation, and then adding this extra layer of being…

MTB: In the field.

Mary Walworth: Yeah, in the field, and even though it’s a place that I knew and it’s a place that I was comfortable in by myself, it just was a whole other layer of anxiety. And yeah, it was really hard, and I was fortunate that I could share that load with my partner, who was also with me, so that was a little bit of relief, but it was really intense, and it wasn’t just kind of the mental charge of like, “What’s going to happen to her, and is she going to be safe,” but also it brought a whole new obstacle into my work, like it wasn’t just, “I’ve got to walk to the next village with all of my equipment, and it might rain, so I’ve got to keep my equipment dry,” like all of the things that you usually think about. It then was, “I’ve got to do all of that, and then I’ve also got to keep this baby safe and dry and attached to me as I walk to the next village.” So, it just became like another thing, of course, to think about. I’d be bouncing her and like breastfeeding her sometimes as I was talking to people and preparing for an interview or meeting people and introducing myself with this baby and sort of bouncing her. She’s like attached to me in the carrier. And then if she would sleep, then I could record somebody. And those were also sort of obstacles. One of these very vivid memories I have of this time is, she was asleep in the carrier on me, and I had met with this chief in another village from where we were staying, and I had sort of limited time with him. And she had, thankfully, fallen asleep, but it was sort of one of the situations where I couldn’t… I knew if I sort of kept my voice low and monotone, that would be okay, but any sort of abrupt movement would be the end, and she would wake up, and I wouldn’t be able to really record, so I was like gingerly putting the microphone on him, on his head, and then putting the headphones on my head and just like moving very slowly. And he’s sort of smiling and then it was like, “Okay. Everything’s set. Let’s press record. I think we have like an hour to do this thing. Let’s go through this word list, and let’s just do it,” and it was fine, but this is the scene that I remember from that time is like, “Got to get my business done when I can.”

MTB: It’s like a really extreme version of the time management struggle that you see all parents, stereotypically, go through.

Mary Walworth: Yeah. Totally. Totally. And, yeah, I mean, absolutely. And then you add in like the physicalness of like…

MTB: Exhaustion.

Mary Walworth: Yeah, and like being in hot weather with a human attached to you, and in this baby carrier that became like a second skin to me, she was always in that thing. But then it was also really great, because it was like, in a way, all of these sort of challenges made me like — it made me very vulnerable, I think, and I think that made me sort of more open and made me appear more open, probably, which is something, I think, before, when I would do fieldwork on my own, I wasn’t really experiencing. Before, when I do fieldwork, I went into it very confident and very sort of with a neutral professionalism, I guess you could say, and a lot of that comes from just the challenges that can come from being a woman alone in the field. You have to have a little bit of this confidence and be very professional, because especially, at least in my experiences where I’ve worked, there are challenges that you can encounter. So in those times, I was really reluctant to sort of open people or let people in to sort of my personal life. And in fact, I’d sometimes even have to lie about my personal life, like wear a fake wedding ring — I think I did a couple of times during my PhD — or sometimes say that my boyfriend was my husband, or after the questions of, “Are you married?” or, “Why don’t you have children?” or “Are you here to find a husband?” And so, you have to embellish a little bit and sort of refocus that this is about the language work, and, “No, I’m not here to find a husband. I’m interested in your language,” etc. But so that was sort of my experience before, and this was a whole different thing, because having my family with me sort of put my life on display whether I wanted it to or not, and people had this sort of view into my personal life and my inside world instead of how it usually is, which is kind of the other way around. Right? Like so I wasn’t just looking in and looking at people’s language and asking questions about language, but we were sort of looking at each other, in a way. I think that made me more relatable, and it certainly made me feel less of an outsider in the end. Because people were just curious. They were curious about how we were parenting, and especially women were really curious about how I was interacting as a mother with my baby. They were almost as interested in me and my daughter as I was about their language, so it was really fun in a lot of ways to sort of ask each other questions. And women were constantly asking things like, “Oh, you breastfeed? Oh, you’re breastfeeding your baby? We do that too,” and, “Let me see how you do it.” And so I sort of breastfeed my daughter for people. No, not really, but… [laughs] I remember one woman was watching as I was breastfeeding, and she was like, “Wow. That’s how I do it too,” and it was just…

MTB: It’s like a universal thing. Right? Like people can relate to everybody has babies everywhere, so…

Mary Walworth: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah, and I think it was very personal. I think it was a very… I didn’t intend for it to be such a personal thing to bring her with us, but it was. It was definitely personal. But in terms of like planning, kind of coming back to your question about worrying about productivity and time management and those kind of things, yeah, I mean, I think safety was sort of my number one concern, like both before and definitely during. As I said, I was anxious all the time about anything to do with her safety, and just constantly worried that something would go wrong. And happily, nothing did, and we were really lucky. Everybody stayed safe and healthy, so much so that we did it again the following year and brought her along. But yeah, I was definitely worried about productivity. I mean, I think I made all of these really great field plans while I was pregnant in the time that I was pregnant for the kind of the next field season, and as a first-time parent, I had no idea what I would be capable of with an infant. And I think there’s this kind of… There can be this pressure, especially in academia, to kind of not stop. You can’t really…

MTB: Yeah 

Mary Walworth: … stop your work, because everything you do and every job you get and every grant you get looks at the accumulation of your publications and your fieldwork and everything, and pauses are more and more recognized, especially if they’re related to children or illnesses, but it’s not always. So there is this pressure to…

MTB: Produce.

Mary Walworth: … to just… Yeah, to produce and to just keep going, and I think I had that in mind somewhere and was like, “No, I can do it, and we’ll be together, and we can totally make this happen.” And so we just made plans like normal, and I had in my mind that I would be able to work like normal. And that’s just totally not the case. I think that was a big adjustment, because I was able to be somewhat productive, but certainly not as productive as I normally had been and not as productive as I had planned, so it was an adjustment.

MTB: Was that hard? Like did you feel like you were trying not to beat yourself up the whole time, or could you…

Mary Walworth: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Totally. I mean, it was such… That was one of the biggest challenges, I think. It was trying to accept that and not be frustrated by that, and it took a little while, but eventually, I had to. Like if I was going to get anything done, I had to sort of shift gears, use the time that I did have productively, try to be looser with my schedule in terms of time management. I was always somebody who was flexible when things didn’t go as planned, but I’m a planner. I’m an organizer, and so this was just sort of a bit of a surprise, so it was frustrating. But once I got over it, once I found my groove, it was fine, and at that point, the time management was actually pretty easy to handle. And once I got over not being as productive as I had hoped, I just work when I could and work without having perfect recordings, so I’d record when I had the moments to record when somebody could hold her and I could run off for half an hour, an hour, or if she was sleeping, I’d do my computer work in the evening by flashlight, like you do in regular times. And I got sort of back to more like ethnolinguistic work, so a lot of just talking with people about language and not necessarily talking to them in language or trying to elicit something about their language or trying to capture a recording of language, did a lot of talking about language and about language history and just taking good notes and just trying to do what I could with what I could. It actually was really fruitful, in the end.

MTB: Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. What backup plans did you put in place to prepare yourself or your partner? Was it your partner’s first time at your field site?

Mary Walworth: Yeah. He came when I was pregnant, and at that time, he wasn’t working on the project that I was working on, and then by the time we went back with our daughter, he was formally part of the project as well. So he’s an archaeologist, so was doing definitely different kind of fieldwork, but we had sort of a collaborative interdisciplinary project going on. Yeah, we had backup plans, and as much as we could. I think I will say we were really well prepared in terms of all of the logistical things. We both kind of knew that we wanted to do this kind of thing as a family and take children into the field, but when it was a reality, we… For me personally, I’ve done fieldwork in really remote places. Almost every place I’ve done fieldwork has been really hard to get to and, critically, hard to get out of, and doesn’t have frequent access in or out or doesn’t have a plane or easy access for a helicopter, these kind of things. So, I think knowing going in, I knew I was uncomfortable with being in a super remote place, so we worked together on finding a field site that worked with our collaborative project that was easier access to the main island, so they’re in that easier access to the international airport if we really needed to get out quickly, more frequent flights.

MTB: Like if you hadn’t crushed the dengue mosquito.

Mary Walworth: Exactly, if I hadn’t crushed the dengue mosquito. Exactly. Right. Exactly. We were closer to a hospital. We were closer to the doctors that we talked to in the main city. It was a place that did have way lower incidents of mosquito-borne illnesses. We did our research on this kind of thing, and, again, critically, we wanted to find a place that made sense for the project where we could both be doing our work simultaneously so that we could be together as a family.

MTB: Yeah.

Mary Walworth: So that was sort of the one line of preparation. We had really good travel insurance, of course, and as I mentioned, we established relationships with local doctors in the main city, and then I had contacted like a medical evacuation service and had them on speed dial.

MTB: Wow. Yeah. Good idea.

Mary Walworth: I mean the phones… When we finally got to Emae, I mean, there’s not a lot of phone service there. There’s service in lots of parts of the island, but where we were in the village, where we spent this particular amount of time, there was no service. I mean, we could have easily got it had we gone on a little walk, but I came to find out when we got there that there was no service, so my good intentions of having the evacuation helicopter on speed dial was maybe… Luckily, we didn’t have to use it, but it probably still would have been okay.

MTB: Yeah.

Mary Walworth: And then there’s the hospital that’s close by on the main island, so we had that as a plan, and then, in terms of budgeting, we had kind of put aside some money for if we needed to change plans, if we needed to make any changes or have any travel plans or that would shift and made sure, of course, that our travel insurance had evacuation, that that would be covered if we needed to go to New Caledonia, which was only an hour away, to a better hospital if there was something serious. So, we were ready.

In terms of food and waterborne illness, that was another issue that we were concerned about. When she was really little, she was a really good breastfeeder, and so I kind of made the decision that happily she went along with to just continue to exclusively breastfeed her, so she wasn’t really eating anything when we were there, and she wasn’t really drinking water, so all of her nutrition was like coming direct from the source, so to speak, from me, and so we didn’t really need to deal with that, but we did prepare… We met with our doctor here in Germany before we even left and made sure all of her immunizations were up to date and got prescriptions for every possible thing that she could have and just understood when to use what in all of that, so we were armed with a good travel pharmacy. And I think, critically, having the preparation and the foresight to have funds and also the mentality that it’s okay if things don’t go well, we can leave. And I think that was really, really important. And in terms of work, I was probably less honest with myself than I was with my colleagues and with my boss. I mean, they were all… Nobody cared about productivity other than me, so everybody was actually really supportive, so, again, I was really lucky in that respect.

And then last year when we took her when she was about 18 months, she, of course, wasn’t breastfeeding. I mean, she was, but not her sole source of nutrition, so we brought a lot of food for her, and we brought more than enough, so it wasn’t like a situation where we were just preparing food for her and not sharing, so we brought food that we knew she would like and that was healthy for her that we could also share with other kids and other people, and then we had like a camping stove so we could sort of monitor the preparation. We prepared her food for her, because our field situation usually, you eat with everybody, but she would eat earlier than us and everybody else, so it was actually very easy to just sort of do her stuff on the side so we could have a bit more control over it.

MTB: Yeah. Was it okay? Like did people accept that your daughter was not going to eat the same food that they were eating, or was it a little bit delicate?

Mary Walworth: I think it was okay, because, I mean, for the most part, she ate a lot of the food that was prepared by other people in the end, so it was fine. I mean, I think it was received well and it was fine, yeah.

MTB: Yeah. Yeah. I imagine it would be, like I’m just thinking about my own personality, and I feel like if I wanted to parent my child in a certain way but that was not the way that community was used to parenting their children, and if they questioned me on it, I think I would feel self-conscious. Like, “I don’t want to be saying that your way is bad, but that’s not how I’m doing it.”

Mary Walworth: Yeah. No, definitely. And I think we’ll run into that. We plan to continue to take her, and I think we’ll run into those kind of things in the future, too, and it is kind of a delicate balance, but I think if you can… It’s just setting boundaries, I guess, and just sort of like, “This is the way it is,” and for us, like we kind of have to do this for her because she’s not… I think I was really frank about it. I was just like, “She’s not used to the same things that we as adults are all used to, and we need to make sure she doesn’t get sick, because we want everybody to be here and…” You know?

MTB: Yeah. Yeah, totally.

Mary Walworth: And people, I mean, people seem to understand.

MTB: Yeah. For sure. Well, I think we actually went through all the questions, because my last one was, “Before you had your daughter, was going into the field with children something that you had considered when you were planning out your career,” but you said you did want to do it before you had kids.

Mary Walworth: Yeah. I mean, I had kind of… Like I’ve always fantasized about it, like I always knew I wanted to have a fieldwork kind of career, and I also knew I wanted to have kids. And so, I always sort of fantasized about having my kids with me in the field, and whatever that would look like, but in my fantasy, it was always sort of like older kids coming of age in like a field. Now that I think about it, it seems really ridiculous, but I never really imagined or thought about having an infant with me in the field. And it’s the way I kind of have structured my life as a scientist and the way my partner has done the same, it was a natural step for us when we got there. But I don’t think either of us could have expected how it was in the end.

MTB: What advice would you give to your former self or someone else who wants to take their kids into the field but maybe feels a little intimidated by it?

Mary Walworth: Yeah. I have a lot of things to say about those. So, I think anybody who does fieldwork knows that it can be unpredictable, and the same sort of thing applies here, so I would say preparation is key, but also be prepared for things to change and to not go according to your plan. And I think that’s general advice for all fieldwork, but definitely for this. And being flexible and being adaptable, and, again, being okay to leave if you need, or even feel like you need, to leave. I actually had to leave two times. So, when she was really little, when we were on Emae, as I said, we had done all this research to make sure that there hadn’t been cases of malaria on island recently. And there hadn’t been, but then while we were there, we heard about a case on island in a village that was kind of far away, but the island was really small, so it wasn’t so far away, and it was sort of like this boundary that I had set for myself and a hard line that if malaria was on the island, then I would take my daughter off island because I just didn’t want to risk it. And even though we had been in the groove of fieldwork and being there for like almost a month at that point, and so this hard line that I had drawn for myself before didn’t seem so concerning after a month of being there, but still, having set that boundary before going in kind of pushed me to say, “Okay, I’m going to get on the next plane and go back to the main city, and whatever, I’ll end my fieldwork a little bit early.” And I’m glad I did, because obviously, it’s way more important to keep everybody safe than it is to get one more word list or to have one more conversation about something. And then even this last year, we were in Tahiti, and we were supposed to be there for a month, just sort of catching up on some fieldwork from a few years ago, and they have a dengue outbreak, so it’s the same sort of thing. Like, “Okay. She probably wouldn’t get it, but in the small chance that she would, it would be really serious and bad, so we’re just going to shift gears and change travel plans, and we’re ready for this. So it’s no big deal.” So I think it’s really, really important to be ready to change your plans, to be ready to leave, and to have a plan to do so and the funds to do so.

And then I think another thing is being really honest about your situation and really running through the risks. So it’s like we definitely took risks, right? But we took ones that we knew we could handle to some degree, like we knew our field site well. We felt like we had planned well. We were extremely privileged to have support from our boss and our colleagues to have each other in the same field site, to have everybody generally healthy. All of these things were positives that allowed us to be able to make this decision, so I think really addressing ahead of time like what your situation is and being honest about that and being really running through the risks is important. And then I think, yeah, preparing for medical emergencies and finding and accepting help from people. So when she was really little, this first time we took her, she was constantly breastfeeding, and I was so nervous that it was hard for me to let somebody watch her. So she spent, as I said, all of her time sort of strapped to me in the BabyBjörn or playing on a mat nearby while I was working, but on her second visit to the field with us, she was older. I was much more relaxed, and we had a lot of help, and we actually found somebody specific to help us look after her, so…

MTB: Oh, that’s a good idea.

Mary Walworth: She could stay and like hang out. Yeah, it was great. And she could stay and hang out with her friends in the village and be a kid and not be tagging along with Mom and Dad, and we could go and do some work, and everybody was happy, and it was really wonderfully productive, too. Yeah, and then I guess the last bit of advice is something that is hard to do because there aren’t a lot of resources, but talk to people who’ve done it. Talk to other parents who’ve done any sort of fieldwork or travel with young kids and with baby — if you’re taking babies, definitely talk to your doctor and talk to other parents who’ve taken babies to the field. And, again, resources for this are totally minimal, but more people are doing it, I think, and I found the people that I was able to reach out to, they were really receptive, and their advice was really good. And I’m, of course, available if anybody has questions and wants to have an honest conversation and more details about the crazy things of having an infant with you.

MTB: Yeah. I mean, so I’ve honestly been looking for someone like you for like since I started the podcast, because…

Mary Walworth: Oh, okay.

MTB: … I knew it was something I really wanted to have discussed, but there’s just not a lot of people who take young children into the… And I can see why, but it kind of then means that, “Well, I guess I have to take this five-year hiatus from the field,” and how do you keep that connection going with the community? It’s really tricky.

Mary Walworth: Yeah. I mean, I think it definitely doesn’t mean a hiatus. Like even if, in retrospect, like I think I said when I was… I made these fieldwork plans while I was pregnant, and I had all this, I felt all this pressure. No one was pressuring me, but I felt pressure. I was pressuring myself, and in retrospect, looking back at that, had I chosen to not go to the field, it would have been fine. I would have gone last year, and it would have been different, but it would have been fine. And at the same time, I’m really, really glad we did what we did, and I think it was a really enriching experience for our whole family. But I think it’s got to be the right decision for the individual, and if it doesn’t feel right, it’s also really important to know that it’s not going to ruin your career to not go do fieldwork for a year or two. It’s totally okay. Yeah.

MTB: Yeah. Yeah, that’s cool. Thank you, Mary, so much for coming on the podcast.

Mary Walworth: Yeah. It’s a pleasure to be here, and, yeah, thanks again for having me.

MTB: Yeah, of course. Where can our listeners find you and learn more about your work?

Mary Walworth: Sure. So I’m on Twitter, and I —

MTB: I’ll link your…

Mary Walworth: Okay, awesome.

MTB: …handle.

Mary Walworth: And mostly tweeting about linguisticky things, and Vanuatu, and French Polynesia, and also coffee and being a parent to a toddler. And then in terms of the project that I work on, you can check out that project, which is the Comparative Oceanic Linguistics, or CoOL, the CoOL Project, and you’ll have a link to that, also.

MTB: Yeah, definitely.

Mary Walworth: Okay. Cool. Sounds good. Great.

MTB: Thank you so much.

Mary Walworth: Yeah, thank you.

You’ve been listening to Field Notes, a podcast about linguistic fieldwork. This podcast is hosted and produced by Martha Tsutsui Billins with production help from Laura Tsutsui. Our music is by Lobo Loco, and our logo is by E.Vill Designs. If you have a question or a fieldwork experience to share, you can email us at fieldnotespod@gmail.com. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram @lingfieldnotes. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please leave us an Apple Podcast review. Thanks for listening!

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