Is graduate school a good time to ttc?

Discussion in 'Waiting To Try' started by mamaphdtobe, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. mamaphdtobe

    mamaphdtobe Member

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    Hi everyone. I am new to this forum (and any forum)

    I am wondering if anyone out there has experienced having a baby during their PhD. I am 28, in my 3rd year, I've finished my course work and comprehensive exams and will finish my data collection this winter/spring. I have been thinking that my last year would be a good time to have my first kid (I have step kids too but no experience with a baby...only preteens and teenagers...I guess I'm working at it backwards lol)

    Do you think I am fooling myself into thinking I will be able to write with a newborn or is it doable?
     
  2. Mrs Eleflump

    Mrs Eleflump Guest

    I didn't have a baby while writing up, but I did work a few days a week and studied on a part-time undergraduate course...

    It took me 10 months to submit, and it was HARD. And that was having pretty much finished my literature review before properly starting to write up. I couldn't imagine doing it with a newborn.

    You haven't said which country you're in - I'm in the UK and I know it's very different to the US, here you usually get no financial support for your write-up year, you're not eligible for maternity pay etc, and you have to jump through about a billion hoops to get an extension on your deadline. I'm guessing from the fact that you've mentioned comps that you're US though. I can't offer any advice about how easy the system might make it for you, as I have no experience of the US system.

    All I can say is that writing up takes up so much of your time, energy, and thought processes, and I can only imagine that a baby would too...would you be able to do either one justice? Personally I'd advise waiting until you'd submitted/defended before getting pregnant, or make sure that you will defend before you give birth!

    Maybe someone with some more specific advice on the practicalities will be along to help? :flower:
     
  3. junemomma09

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    Honestly I wouldn't while in Graduate school. My OH is in his second term and even though he still has five terms to go, we are waiting til he secures a job in his field. The amount of time he's gone and has so much on him with school, I couldn't even imagine trying to fit a pregnancy/labor and birth in the mix. Plus taking care of a newborn takes up a lot of your time. I hope I'm not sounding too negative, just trying to be realistic. I do hope you're able to figure out what's best for you and your OH. Xxx :)
     
  4. mamaphdtobe

    mamaphdtobe Member

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    Thanks mrs eleflump, Im in Canada so it's a little different for me. I have funding for my last year and will also have mat leave from my part time job (and insurance go Canada!) I'm going to try to get as much written up this semester and summer so that if we do decide to ttc I'll have a less stressful year...I have 1 chapter finalized so far.
    Junemomma09, I don't think you were too negative. I really appreciate honest feedback!
     
  5. Pearls18

    Pearls18 Well-Known Member

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    I am needing to do a masters to get me fully qualified for my job, I work 37-40 hours per week and already have a DS. I am dreading starting the masters distance learning as I feel like I don't get enough time as it is, and I want to TTC in 2013 which would coincide with it as it takes 2-5 years. Obviously a PhD would be a lot more work, if I were you and you were close to finishing up I would get finished first. It's not just a matter of time but there's a lot of emotional pressures with having a child and if you have a baby that doesn't sleep well it would be the end of you lol. When you have a baby you want to enjoy every last second with them and not think "ah I've got read this, got this deadline etc etc". I wish I could have waited but DS was unplanned so just finding a way to make it all work now. So IMO wait, but things always work out in the end so see how you go!x
     
  6. aliss

    aliss Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't do it, I would wait. You could drive yourself insane depending on the type of baby you have. I would not have coped (my son had a birth injury and acid reflux). Now, at 17 months, I could probably handle it (although it was be extremely hard - my field is different though - TESL, but I'm sure yours involves a lot of lab work).

    If you only have one year to go, I would do that year and then TTC asap after (or within the last few months).
     
  7. magnacarta

    magnacarta Well-Known Member

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    I'm in the same boat as you-- 3rd year towards PhD in the sciences...and trying to make the same decision. Being a woman in the sciences is really hard for this reason (well, among others...).

    I've been told by every male faculty member not to have kids -- period -- and that, on top of that, grad school is a bad time.

    I've been told by every female faculty member (both with and without kids; some had kids while in grad school, and some after) to have kids now in grad school, and not to wait until I start a faculty position.

    Here's the thing though... it definitely won't be easy to have a kid in grad school, but I don't think it gets simpler after that (assuming you plan to become faculty at a university afterwards). Once you get hired as faculty, the tenure clock starts ticking-- in the US, we typically have about 7 years post-graduate school to get tenure. To get tenure (in the sciences) means a whole lot more writing than in grad school PLUS extra teaching PLUS mentoring students PLUS running a lab.

    So, assuming you want a kid, you can either:

    (a) have kids in grad school [and before you go on the job market, since, at least in the US, pregnant women rarely get jobs in academia in the sciences]

    (b) have kids as new faculty when you're setting up your lab/getting students/learning the ropes [gah! so busy!]

    (c) have kids 2-3 years into your faculty position [right when you need to be publishing a lot]

    or

    (d) wait until you have tenure [and not start ttc until your mid-late 30's].

    I think I'm going to go for (a), though I'm still not sure. I'd be interested to hear from others with experience in this issue. It's a sensitive topic at the university where I study (there, when you say "I'm pregnant", the faculty hear "I plan to leave science for good, sorry!"), but one that is sort of unique to the sciences/academia, since the whole kids-and-career thing seems to work differently for other fields and other kinds of jobs.
     
  8. MyMomToldMe

    MyMomToldMe Well-Known Member

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    I am jumping in from another forum.

    We waited to try until after I finished my PhD and dissertation, which was this past June. However, I only met my husband a year ago, so I really didn't have anyone to try with.

    Going on the job market and being pregnant sucks. I am on the job market, but newly pregnant. So, I am speaking from the "word on the street". Even though they can't bring it up, the job committee is judgmental of new mothers and the things they bring to the table.

    I have heard that grad school or a post-doc are the best times to have a baby. With grad school, you should probably be funded. They can't kick you out for taking maternity leave. You should still be getting insurance when you take a break. You can still do research (depending on your area) when you take your break. You probably have a cohort, who will be excited as heck that you are having a baby. Once you are past examinations, it is usually pretty self-paced (again depending on the field). Depending on your advisor, you can do most of your write-up at home, while caring for the baby. My advisor let me do most of the write-up at home, as I have a little ADD and don't write well in the lab. You can also work on fellowships and such to help with finances. These aren't an option once you are done. Grad school is often a "guaranteed" job for a few more years, if that helps.

    Post-doc is a little more tricky, as you are not familiar with your advisor. You will probably make a bad impression starting to work and then saying, "Hey, by the way, I'm pregnant".

    As new faculty, it is a little rough. I know someone who is going through tenure and got pregnant. She is in a bad position because she has to take time off. She is only taking SIX weeks off. I think it is kind of crazy.

    After that, it is really an issue of how long you can wait. I'm 35. I was not waiting any longer.

    As long as your support structure is good, then the right time is the right time for you.

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  9. ZubZub

    ZubZub Well-Known Member

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    That's a tough one. I fell pregnant soon after starting my MSc. The plan was to get it all done before baby arrived. Ha ha. Naive, ignorant me. My brain went to mush the minute I fell pg. And didn't return. My concentration span shrank to minutes, my ability to process information disappeared, I couldn't develop a logical argument... (I was 27). OK, I did have LOADS of labwork with analysing over 1500 samples, which took years in itself, but my 2 year MSc was finished last year. My son was 5 years old. And I took ritalin to help with my concentration. I think it's the fact that a) you're sleep deprived - and will be for at least a year and, b) more importantly, you've now got something else on your mind, that on its own can take up all your brainpower. Planning sleep times, feed times, immunisations, check-ups... For a new mother it can consume you. It's a full time job. Get the PhD done, I feel very strongly. The problem with being a woman in your field is once you've had kids your career takes second place. The men streak past you in terms of published papers and generally getting ahead. But that's all they do. We often talk about it here, how the men are so successful in academic science careers compared with women. It's how it is but I think they lose out in the end. My two little science experiments are the best thing I've ever done! Good luck and FINISH that phd!!
     
  10. I Love Lucy

    I Love Lucy DS and DD

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    I personally wouldn't want to try while in graduate school. Being pregnant you could end up with morning sickness or be incredibly tired and if that was the case I know I wouldn't want to do any work. But that's just my opinion. If you think you can handle pregnancy and graduate school then I don't think anyone can tell you no. :)
     

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