Fieldwork's tough enough without having someone kick you from the inside
July 27, 2017 10:53 AM Subscribe
Suzanne Pilaar Birch was seven when she caught the archaeology bug on a family trip to Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. “Oh this is so cool!” she declared. “I want to come back here and dig.” So when, 24 years later – and now a professional archaeologist based at the University of Georgia and still devoted to digging – she was invited on a field trip in Cyprus, it should have been a no-brainer. Except that she would be six months pregnant on the trip.
“It was irresistible, though,” she says down the phone from Athens, Georgia. “It was a neat project and it had funding and often that’s not the case. I thought, ‘Oh man, how can I say no?’”
Pregnant women are always pictured so clean, dressed up nicely, in a yoga pose or something
Still, she wanted some reassurance that accepting the offer wasn’t crazy. People from outside of her profession were shocked when she told them her plans: “Like, ‘Oh wow! You’d better take care of yourself’.” And googling only turned up a solitary blogpost. “I had nobody to personally contact and ask, “What was it like for you?” she says. So she turned to social media. Fortunately, she had a ready-made online community to ask, having co-founded TrowelBlazers (previously) in 2013, a website celebrating female archaeologists, palaeontologists and geologists from history – “awesome trowel-wielding women” – which had grown into a virtual support network of women. So in March this year she tweeted: “Anyone else #pregnantinthefield? How far along were you, how far did you travel, how long was fieldwork? (Maybe even, what did you wear?)”