Page 86 - Summer 2020
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   DATA, DINNERS, AND DIAPERS
I considered the conference a success. I presented my research, had some important meetings, and got caught up-to-date on the latest research in my field.
My second conference was the ASA meeting in San Diego (CA). Even though this would be a five-day affair with a long plane ride, I was much more optimistic going into this conference. The ASA has always felt like home, and I was downright giddy to show off my son to all my ASA family (Figure 1). Furthermore, I was awarded the Women in Acoustics Dependent Care Subsidy (see acousticalsociety.org/grants-subsidies/), which allowed me to hire a babysitter through a licensed, bonded, and insured company the hotel concierge recommended, who would watch Nathaniel right in my hotel room when I had committee meetings and talks. I reached out to the company in advance of the meeting, and they helped match me with a sitter specific to my needs and who was available the whole week I was at the ASA. My sitter was a caring grandmother who treated Nathaniel as her own and sent me countless pictures and videos throughout the week. I felt completely comfortable with Nathaniel in her care. If I didn't have the financial support of the Dependent Care Subsidy and the help of the babysitter, I would not have made it to San Diego.
The ASA is always a busy conference for me, and this one was perhaps the busiest: one workshop, three talks, and two committee meetings. In advance of the conference, I again reached out to many colleagues. I knew trying to juggle all my ASA responsibilities would be challenging even with the help of the babysitter, and I wanted full disclosure that I would be bringing my child.
As expected, I got nothing but enthusiastic responses. Some colleagues met me at the airport to help with my mountain of baby luggage and transportation to the hotel. Others invited us to dinner and were more than eager to play “pass the baby” so I could eat a proper meal. I felt comfortable bringing Nathaniel with me to informal meetings or sessions when I didn’t have childcare.
During the conference, the number of parents, includ- ing ASA members I had not previously met, who came up to me to share their own stories of bringing chil- dren to the ASA was so heartwarming. I particularly enjoyed my discussions on work-life harmony with members of the Women in Acoustics Committee (see
the Sound Perspectives essay in this issue of Acoustics Today by Tracianne B. Neilsen and Alison Stimpert). Most importantly, Nathaniel had a wonderful time. With the childcare, he was able to stay entertained and well rested, which ensured that he was in a good mood when I took him to events. As I walked the beach with Nathaniel the morning of my last day in San Diego, I reflected on how my time at the ASA allowed me to see that I could be both a scientist and a mom, the perfect transition to ending my maternity leave.
Throughout both of my conference experiences, the one thing that helped me the most was support. Whether it was formal support, such as the ASA Dependent Care Subsidy, or informal support from colleagues, knowing that I had someone willing to assist helped me ease my concerns of bringing my child to the conference. I am certainly not the first person to bring a baby to a confer- ence nor will I be the last. So, to all of you parents who came before, thank you for helping set an example and sharing your stories and advice with us new parents. And to the parents-to-be, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. You’ve got an army of support ready to help you achieve that work-life harmony.
  Contact Information
 Laura Kloepper lkloepper@saintmarys.edu
Department of Biology
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA
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