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Old Feb 5th, 2011, 16:50 PM   1
A_Z
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Anyone planning to TTC during PhD?


I'm wondering if there are any other women on this board WTT because they're in a PhD program. More specifically, are any of you planning to TTC while working on your PhD? I'd love to hear from grad students in general, but the schedule of a PhD is fairly specific. I'm a second year PhD student in the sciences, and I'm hoping to begin TTC in May. We've pushed our start date back a few times already because it's important to me to have a dissertation plan in place before we have a baby.

I have to admit, though, that I'm still sort of terrified about the timing. I know a lot of women in PhD programs wait until they're ABD (all but dissertation) to have a baby, but in my program most students don't do their proposals until they have less than a year to go, so I'd be waiting another another two and a half years or so. I'm a little too impatient for that, and also I like the idea of finishing my program and having the kid be almost old enough to begin nursery school.

There are a lot of positives to starting a family now (more flexibility, good health insurance, parents nearby, more freedom to start a career once I graduate, and worst case I can take a semester off without pay and be able to go back without losing my spot), but it's still scary. I've heard so many stories of women dropping out of PhDs because of a lack of institutional support (I'm in the US) and because they end up being totally overwhelmed. Also, we live in an expensive city, and day care for infants costs as much as our rent! We're hoping that between the two of us and our parents we won't need to pay for childcare, but I'm definitely worried about getting delayed in my program. And even though I know I shouldn't care what other people think, I'm worried that people in my program will think I'm not serious, or that I'm not making my research a priority the way I should. I'm expected to put in about 60 hours a week.

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts, concerns, and experiences with starting families during a PhD (or other types of grad school)! What programs are you in? Do you already have kids? Do you know people who've done this? Thanks!



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Old Feb 5th, 2011, 17:21 PM   2
kintenda
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I am not doing a post grad qualification, and I'm not in the US - but I am in the middle of a nursing degree as a mature student! We are planning to TTC at the end of November. If we were lucky enough to get pregnant straightaway then I would have a year to go on my programme.
It is a bloody tough decision but I hear you with not wanting to wait any longer. I have also had (and still continue to have) the worries about whether people think I am committed to the course etc etc. I think that I am coming to the conclusion that as long as the path is still the right one for us, that we will do what we want to do. I personally feel that this will actually be a better time for us as I will be able to have a full year out with little one, and then I will be on placement for most of the last year.
Hope you manage to get some answers from people in the same boat - but I just wanted to stick my oar in and tell you that I think you'll be fine! Best of luck! x


Also: would like to say that we are lucky due to OH having a good job with decent pay, but if anything changed then obviously we'd have to reassess the situation.



 
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Old Feb 5th, 2011, 20:16 PM   3
A_Z
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Thanks for your response! It sounds like you're in a similar situation in a lot of ways. I think you're right with your point about doing what's best for us. It would be nice if everyone else was in the same boat, but I can't make my decision based just one what other people are doing.

Good luck with your plans! I've heard nursing is a tough but very rewarding path.



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Old Feb 5th, 2011, 21:21 PM   4
PineappleRock
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I'm sorta in the same boat. I am a teacher, and I'm in grad school to get my master's - but we weren't waiting to try. We got pregnant, but miscarried in December. Now by the time I get pregnant again, the baby would be due just around or after my graduation in December.



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Old Feb 6th, 2011, 02:38 AM   5
OmiOmen
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I am not exactly in the same position. I was doing my degree but changed course and took a year out to have my son so he was 4 months old when I went back and I am planning on TTC a few months before my end date of the degree. I was going to go right back as I had 2 MMC's before my son so was not even sure I would stay pregnant. But I took the year off so I could have him but also I had REALLY bad "morning" sickness the first 4 months which put me off going back and it turned out I had a bit of a rough pregnancy (will not go into it all as it is not the point to this really) so had a few stays in hospital. I know that everyone expect a easy pregnancy and I did everything by the book but it does not always work out like that. I am under so much stress from having a baby and doing a degree, I have switched my subject around a bit in the hope I can cope better but I am on two diffident types of medication for stress and it is all a lot of work. I just can not begin to tell you how hard it is and if you have a baby like me that almost never sleeps on a night you have to do it all with maybe 2-4 hours of broken up sleep a night.

I will be honest with you and say if you can wait until you are done it will make life a lot easier but if you go for it and finish a phd while pregnant and with a baby then you will really have achieved something. Good luck no matter what you do.



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Old Feb 6th, 2011, 05:38 AM   6
shx
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Im in a similar sort of positiong but Im a degree student waiting to graduate in July. I have a job lined up already with company I have done placement with so if im honest I've been really lucky. Me and OH werent going to TTC for another 12 months, atleast I would be back in work after my degree.

But now... I think I'm pregnant!!

OH has a really good job and weve just bought our own house. So obviously money would be tight if I couldnt go back to work in July but it would just be like a year out after university before starting work I suppose if I am pregnant??

We said yesterday we couldnt afford a baby but we would manage. I suppose most people think they cant afford it but always seem to be fine, there are people we know who have children in far worse off than us so im sure we would be fine!



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Old Feb 6th, 2011, 13:30 PM   7
Mrs Eleflump
 
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I did my PhD in the UK, so I know it's a completely different structure, but as I'm sciences too, the thought of TTC while doing lab work absolutely horrifies me!! I was never so tired and overworked as I was then, and even right up to the day of my viva I was stressed and tired, and I couldn't imagine doing all that while pregnant or caring for an infant.

I know there are certain things in place that make it more of a possibility to have kids while doing a US PhD, as you tend to be a bit older when you start over there, and of course the whole thing takes a lot longer, but I would say to you that if you can wait, then it might be best to do so!

However, only you know how you will cope, and if your uni has allowances in place for women to start a family during their studies, you may be able to do it.

Good luck whatever you decide!



 
Old Feb 6th, 2011, 18:17 PM   8
snowflakes120
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My hubby is still in undergrad. getting his bachelors in Electrical Engineering. He also works part time during the school year. He still has 2 years left and is on schedule to graduate in May '13.

We plan to start TTC our first in July. This way we can hopefully have a child during the 2012 summer months between semesters and when he will be able to help me out more (no schoolwork!) and he can work full time while I am on maternity leave only getting 60% of my salary. We take the insurance through the school which is wayyyy better than the insurance at our jobs so we know we def want to have a LO using this insurance while we can.

But I too worry about his senior last year of schooling with an infant. Just him finding the time for everything. I am afraid he won't have time to study and do homework - his program is quite demanding compared to my Bachelors in Business. We do not have any family in the area so we would have to use daycare which is expensive (I wish his school offered daycare there!!) and him only working part time might put a stress on money but I've worked the numbers and it def seems doable..... And I figure it's only one year right??? And everything finds a way of working itself out too!!



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Old Feb 6th, 2011, 18:25 PM   9
Star7890
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I doing a degree here in the UK, we will be TTC about five months before the end of my course so if we do catch our bfp straight away I wont be heavily pregnant barging around the place! haha! Thats our plan anyway, Im sure if we got pregnant before then that I would manage with my degree and work with a LO... it depends how much motivation and drive you have I think.. because if you think you can do it.. YOU CAN!



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Old Feb 7th, 2011, 07:13 AM   10
A_Z
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Thanks for the responses, everyone! It's interesting to hear everyone's plans.

Mrs Eleflump, how long does a PhD typically take in the UK? Mine will probably come out to around 4.5 years, which is on the shorter end for the US. And I'm not doing wet lab work, fortunately. I can imagine that being on my feet all day would make this a lot more difficult.

I have six weeks guaranteed paid maternity leave, which isn't great, but is standard over here. My school also has the option of taking off a semester for medical leave, which is unpaid, but at least I can get my spot back afterwards. The US academic system isn't known for having much institutional support for new parents, especially mothers. The problem is that there's often even less support once you graduate. I don't know what I'll be doing after, but if I choose to stay in academia and want to pursue tenure, it will become extremely hard to have kids for several years. Most women in academia in the US will say that your only choices are to have kids during your graduate program or after you've achieved tenure, which can take quite a while (and isn't guaranteed). Also, I'm impatient.

OmiOmen, you're definitely right that I can't automatically expect a pregnancy to be easy, or to have an easy baby. That's something else I'm worried about. I'm lucky that my degree doesn't require me to be on my feet, but I know that even a "normal" pregnancy can be absolutely exhausting regardless.

Lots to think about, and again I appreciate everyone's comments.



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