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pregnancy and grad school

Douglas Spracklin sprack at u.washington.edu
Sat Jun 17 15:17:18 EST 1995

>Does anyone else have any ideas of how to work in grad school and having a
>baby?  I have heard that it is a good time to do this, and I must agree, since
>I am on summer break right now.  The flexibility of lab work is very good
>since I have been sick, and _very_ tired these last two month.

After posting the suggestion about the misc.kids.pregnancy newsgroup, I
checked some old articles from that group.  Two in particular were quite
inspiring.  I thought I would repost them here as a teaser . . .
From: kpaige (Kerrie Paige)
SUBJECT: Re: Need Some Encouraging Stories
Date: Mon, 22 May 1995 10:27:34 -0700
In article <3pj7nd$e6r at agate.berkeley.edu>, Luz Casquejo Johnston
<lcjohnst at library.berkeley.edu> wrote:
> I am finally de-lurking and would like to hear from any of you out there
> with inspirational stories.  I am 24 and pregnant with my first baby.  I
> initially took this year off after graduation to catch up on loans and
> apply to medical schools.  Well, ...SURPRISE!!! Blubs could not wait for
> his appointed time in our ten-year plan.  I am happy but apprehensive.
> Are there any stories out there of people going through graduate or
> professional school AND juggling being a new mom.
> Mom-to-Be to either Sophia Marie or Gabrielle Elyse
> Due Date 9/29/95
Yep,  I'm one.  In fact, I may have taken the grad school and babies
thing to an extreme :-).  I had my first son when I was 20 and a
sophomore in college.  He was due right in the middle of the semester, so
I took a one semester leave of absence from school and returned when he
was 3 months old.  The first semester back I took 16 units of upper
division mathematics and did just fine.  I graduated in a total of 8
semesters (had to, I was at a very expensive
private school on full scholarship that ran out after 8 semesters), so I
actually finished faster than many of my friends.  I graduated with an
overall GPA of 3.92 (4.0 in my major - it was that music class that got
me!).  Don't mean that to sound like bragging, but you said you wanted
success stories and I want it to be known that not only can young mothers
finish school, but they can finish well.
I had always planned to go to grad school and saw no reason that I
couldn't continue with that goal.  Because of the one semester I took
off, I graduated in December and all of the graduate programs I applied
to started in August.  We wanted Coleman to have a sibling who was
reasonably close in age, so we decided to plan another baby to be born
right around the time I graduated (B.S.), so that the new baby would be
at least 6 mos old before I started.  Figured it might take a few months
to get pregnant, so started trying for a late December 91 due date, just
in case it did take awhile.  Well, first month it worked and I was due
only 2 weeks after graduation.  Turns out Alex was born 4 weeks early,
which meant two weeks before graduation.  I actually took a take home
exam in the hospital! How's that for crazy!  I wouldn't recommend being
that extreme by the way :-).
So, I started a PhD program in Applied Mathematics with a three year old
and an 8 month old.  I must say that I have a wonderful, supportive
husband who has done many, many dirty dishes, diapers, laundry, etc.
while I studied.  In May of 1994, I finished an M.S. in Applied Math. and
next week I take my comprehensive examinations for the PhD.  If I pass
them, I will only have the disseration left to complete (minor detail :-)
).   I was planning to finish up by next spring, but with our third baby
due in November, I think I'll allow myself an extra semester!
I am 26 now.  If all goes according to plans, I will be 27 with three
kids and will have completed a PhD in 4.5 years.  BTW, I have also worked
full time as a mathematician (for a research organization outside of the
university) for the last 2 years.
Things can be crazy and before I got my current job, we were beyond
poor.  But somehow, everything has worked out.  If anything, children can
keep things in perspective for you.  For example, all of the other
students studying
for comprehensive exams were going crazy this weekend.  Me - I got to be
the proud mama at a little league game (so cute).
Sorry to have rambled so long.  Having been a very young mother, I got my
share of comments like "Oh,  you were such a good student - it is really
too bad that you won't finish now".  Luckily, none of these comments came
from anyone who mattered to me, and I was always led to believe that I
could still reach my academic  goals.  I just want to pass that
information along to anyone else that I can.  YOU *CAN* DO IT!
BTW, I have two friends who have also done the grad school with babies
thing.  One has two babies and has just finished her M.S.  She's 25.
Another is 24 and gave birth to her second son 8 weeks ago -  just 6
weeks before she graduated with honors from law school.  I'm sure there
are many more cases out there too.
Bottom line:  believe in yourself and enjoy your kids!
Mom to Coleman (4/21/89), Alex (12/8/91) and ?? (11/?16?/95)
From: jdt0p at faraday.clas.virginia.edu)
SUBJECT: Re: Need Some Encouraging Stories
Date: Sun, 21 May 1995 17:49:54 GMT
In article <3pj7nd$e6r at agate.berkeley.edu>, lcjohnst at library.berkeley.edu
>I am finally de-lurking and would like to hear from any of you out there
>Mom-to-Be to either Sophia Marie or Gabrielle Elyse
>Due Date 9/29/95
Well, let's see.  I started graduate school for my  PhD in molecular
biology at 25, and met my husband after my first year.  We got pregnant
after five months of wedded bliss.  My first two thesis projects didn't
work out, so I started over in my fourth year, with my new girl.  My
advisor then left the university, never to be seen or heard from again,
so I had to finish in another lab, although I did get to continue my
project.  But I did finish, and publish in a top journal, so it worked
out fine.  One of the good things about being a student is that you have
a lot of flexibility, so that my husband and I avoided full-time
child-care for 2.5 years by switching off and going into lab at odd
hours.  I did feel that I always had something to prove, that I could be
a scientist AND a mother, but on the other hand, going in to lab when I
was in labor was one of the smartest things I did- these guys can't top
that!  I'm now a post-doc, our first is five and a half, and  we have an
11 month old daughter, too!  And now my husband is going to law school.
So, yeah, you can do it.  Just don't fret too much, and DON'T let them
push you around!
Julie Lathrop

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