Post # 1
I just found out I am pregnant and due late summer. DH and I are absolutely thrilled and I know our families will be when we tell them in a few weeks. I am terrified of telling my doctoral advisor. I know that she thinks negatively of other women who have children in graduate school. When another student in our program announced her pregancy and my advisor found out, her reaction was, “Uh, was that PLANNED?!?” (FWIW the student finished on time and is on track to get an awesome job after graduation.) I know that my advisor waited to have children until she was in a faculty position, yet she talks about how difficult it was to have them at that point in her career. I just get the sense that to her, no time is a good time. And it really impacted my thoughts about having children and made me feel depressed. After years of talking with my husband, I realized that I have to live my own life. We decided the time is right because 1) we definitely want a child 2) we are settled into a home, and 3) we have extremely flexible schedules. Maybe her negativity just a reflection of how she feels about herself as a mother? I don’t know, but it’s hard to listen to.
I am in my third year and plan to take my qualifying exams soon, submit my dissertation grant in April (it is nearly complete) and potentially propose my dissertation before the baby comes, if not, right when I get back. I will be on track to finish in 5-5 1/2 years, totally normal for my program. My husband has a flexible, well-paying job that will allow us to only need daycare a few times a week. I can imagine that my ILs would want to stay with us for a period of time to help out as well. So I’m optimistic about starting our family and continuing on with my program.
I guess I’m looking for advice about what to say to my advisor when she’ll surely throw some negativity my way. And any other tips for balancing a baby and a dissertation will be much appreciated! I have read Mama, PhD and found it to be mostly miserable so I’m looking for more positivity.
Post # 3
- Wedding: March 2014 - A castle!
@kenziemt: No advice here. My advisor is the same way. He straight up told me last summer that he hopes I don’t plan on having any kids until I’m done with my PhD 🙁
Post # 4
@FutureDrAtkins: Ugh, so disappointing! Are you currently pregnant or TTC?
Post # 5
I’m not the one in the program, but my husband is a 4th year medical student and I’m pregnant currently. I’ll actually be having the baby his first month of residency so should be stressful for him but he was determined for us to start our family on our own terms. He actually knows quite a few people in his medical program who are female with children and he said none of them had complaints aside from that they wish they could be there more often. But definitely it is possible to do and none of them had any regrets. I think only one of them decided to take a year off too. From our experience, academic advisors always make it out to be awful and would definitely call us crazy for having a baby right as residency begins but if you’re in long-term education you either have to be willing to not have kids until later in life or you decide you’re strong enough to do both I guess!
Post # 6
I kind of agree with your advisor–no time is a good time for a woman in acadaemia to have children. That being said, however, I’m doing it anyway, just as soon as I can! 🙂 I’m a bit ahead of you; I’m planning to submit my dissertation in the next couple of months. If I managed to get pregnant last week (hopefully!!!), my advisor’s probably not going to make much of a fuss because I’ll definitely finish my degree before there’s any chance of having a baby. That really isn’t good timing either; if I give birth in August or September, I won’t be able to start a new job in the fall. If I waited until I were established in a tenure-track job, though, I’d probably be at least 35 before I had my first baby. I think that you just have to decide what you want and go for it!
In terms of advice, I can only say that, in your position, I’d genty assert to my advisor that my plans to finish my degree and move into my field haven’t changed. Your personal life, your career, your choices. 🙂 You will find a way to make your life work for you. I definitely agree that your home and your flexible schedules sound really promising. Good luck!
Post # 7
- Wedding: March 2014 - A castle!
@kenziemt: No, neither right now.
Post # 8
Congrats! I don’t have advice but we are planning on TTC during the last year of my grad school. There is no good time and we figured why wait? As long as it works for you two that’s all that should matter. Good luck with your advisor!
Post # 9
@bloodgo1: If it gives you any hope, a friend of mine got pregnant while she and her husband were both in residency (pulmonary critical care for her and plastic surgery for him). Her husband ended up getting into a super competitive fellowship and had to move away from her and the baby when the baby was only a few months old. They made it work! Good luck with your pregnancy!
@victorianghost: Fingers crossed for you!
@MrsN14: Yes, we can’t wait to live our lives to the fullest!
Post # 10
i’m struggling with this now too. i’m at the end of my PhD career and we just found out we’re pregnant. i’ll be defending within the next few months and for years never wanted kids because i felt like it wasn’t the right time. turns out, there’s never a right time and you’re exactly right, you have to live your own life. what sucks now is that i feel like i’m so far behind. i’m not done, i don’t have a job (fortunately, my husband has a great job), and i don’t even know what i want to do with my life. the day before i found out i’m pregnant i was bawling my eyes out thinking about all of these things and how i feel like i’m going to just be a moocher off my husband once i finish. it’s the worst feeling ever. especially when you have people who have high expectations of you, like your advisors (and parents, etc).
i wish i could be more postitive, but i understand what you’re going through. the thing you have to think about is, it’s your life, not your advisors, so they can’t dictate how you run it. if she has a problem with your pregnancy, that’s her problem, not yours. i especially think that female bosses can be extremely judgemental, because they want you to be like them. i had a boss like that before i started grad school and it was the WORST. i’m very fortunate now that my boss is awesome and i know if i told her she would be excited (she loves babies).
good luck! if you want to talk, let me know! i totally know how you’re feeling. it’s overwhelming for sure.
Post # 11
@patchie: I totally feel like my advisor wants me to be just like her! We ARE alike in many ways (we even look alike, which is sort of creepy) but that doesn’t mean I have to follow in her footsteps in every aspect of my life. It’s great that your boss is supportive. Thank you for sharing your perspective.
Post # 12
@kenziemt: I’d love to hear how this has all gone for you. When I told my PhD advisor that I was (am) pregnant, her response was a pleasant “Was it a mistake?” Clearly, I work for a very supportive woman…
I have to say, though, for as stressful as everything has been at times, my pregnancy has been a real motivator to work harder and more efficiently. I found out I was pregnant this past fall at the beginning of my 5th PhD year in the life sciences, and have since interviewed for jobs, and am now preparing for a March defense so that I can start a new job across the country a few months before taking leave. I promise, now matter how you juggle it, it will be exhausting but you’ll make it work.
Post # 13
- Wedding: September 2011 - Baby boy 12/2015
@kenziemt: I am curious to know how your advisor took the news?
I am not pregnant yet! I am in 4th year of the doctoral program but have been in graduate school for the last 7 years, and I am sooooo ready to be done. I also thought for a long time that I just couldn’t have babies because the time wasn’t right, and as I just come to find out it never is. I think for us getting pregnant would not be as easy as just trying, but I figured we are ready, and if it happens that would be great, we would just need to learn how to move on. If it doesn’t happen soon, I guess that would only give me more time to focus on my program. One thing I wanted to be done was my courses, and I’m very close to finish them and pass my qualifying. I see all the male doctoral students having babies, and here I am still waiting.
Post # 14
I’m a doctor doing speciality exams – and also was dreading telling my supervisor. I have to say that even though I had reason to think that it was going to be terrible- andi’m sure that things a re being said behind my back- to your face they cannot discriminate. Good luck x x x
Post # 15
@candy11: I’m only 9 weeks so I haven’t told her yet and don’t plan too until after 12 weeks, potentially later if I can still hide it!
@CycleBee: Thank you for your encouragement!
Post # 16
- Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort
I was trying to finish my dissertation when we got pregnant. That lit a fire under my butt. I wrote 2.5 chapters in the subsequent 2 months and defended 3 months later and graduated. My advisor was my biggest supporter. She was one of the first people I told. She worked so hard to help me finish, reading chapters I would drop off outside her front door at 3am by 10am that morning. The hardest part was teaching as an adjunct instructor for next to nothing while I was pregnant and then immediately after giving birth. I’d have killed to have still been in grad school.