Post # 1
- Wedding: March 2014 - A castle
I’m looking for some advice on how to juggle career with being a mom. Currently, I’m 26 and in a PhD program. I have about 3-4 more years to go. After my PhD, I’ll have to go straight to a Post Doc to get more publications. By the time I establish myself in my career, I’m estimating I’ll be anywhere from 31-33 years old, maybe older. I know it’s possible to have children later, my mom had my brother at 34, and women are having kids later and later in life.
Most of my friends are at the age where they already have kids or are just now having them or planning pregnancies. I feel like I’m going to be so behind everyone else… if I ever even have time to have a baby. It’s a little discouraging and disheartening, thinking that I’m working so hard to be able to provide a good life for my family… a family that I might not have time for 🙁
Is there anyone out there that had their babies later in life? Or anyone with advanced degrees that has advice on how to balance their career with being a mom? Did anyone have a baby while in graduate school… is it possible??
**PS – I don’t want to at all imply that moms in any other career field or education level don’t have it just as hard. I’m open to all perspectives!
Post # 3
@FutureDrAtkins: My mom isn’t a Dr but she was a hairdresser and had her own salon which was quite alot of work and she was 37 when she had me and 39 when she had my brother. It can be done you just have to know what you’re willing to sacrifice to make family life/work life do-able for you personally.
Post # 4
you have at least ten years before you have to worry. I say relax 🙂
Post # 5
- Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA
@FutureDrAtkins: It seems like a lot of people have babies in the last year or two of their PhD. I’m not sure what field you’re in, but in mine (wildlife biology), people are done with their fieldwork and classes and are mainly just writing at that point, with a somewhat flexible schedule. I’m sure it’s not easy though… (I did an MS and peaced out of academia!)
PS – I didn’t get a “real job” until I was 30, I’m 31 now, and I need to work for a couple more years to save money before thinking about kids (I’ll have to quit my job cause I travel constantly). Planning on having kids in your early to mid 30s is pretty safe – it’s not til mid to late 30s where you start to see real declines in fertility and increases in complications.
Post # 6
There’s no way your PhD friends are having kids right now. You’ll be so enveloped in that “world” that you’ll feel much more normal once you’re there (that’s what my PhD experience was like, anyway).
Lots of people have babies during their post docs. That’s a good time to do it. Your life will not get easier once you are beyond your post doc – so just have them then. Also, with the state of academics right now, 5+ years of post docs is not uncommon. Just have kids when you are ready, not when you are 3 years into your first professorship. You could be waiting a loooooong time for that.
Post # 7
I know quite a few Phd friends that had babies mid-Phd. But they were able to take maternity leave from the degree (in UK and Canada) and come back.
Post # 8
I was 31 before we started TTC. I also work full time. It’s tough, but not impossible- especially if you are healthy and have a good support system.
Post # 9
@FutureDrAtkins: I could’ve written this post! What is your PhD in? Are you planning on staying in academia? I’m about 2 years ahead of you, just turned 28 and in my first postdoc. It’s just not possible to have a baby during this time (I work with things that would be very dangerous to a fetus and I just don’t feel comfortable getting pregnant under those circumstances), and I will likely have to do another postdoc before landing a professorship position. The second postdoc will probably be pretty similar, and then the challenges that follow in assistant professor positions, associate professor positions, etc. are DAUNTING! Not to mention the fact that postdocs make little money at all and typically have poor benefits (I don’t even get maternity leave at my university) and that’s very stressful in and of itself.
When I do the math, I just don’t know when or where kids fit in. Most scientists I know start their families very late, like mid 30s- early 40s, but many of them are men and I worry about the implications of being female in this career path…
Sorry, I wrote that whole thing and realize I don’t have much advice to offer. At least I can offer some commiseration…? I’m interested to hear what other bees say!
Post # 10
@FutureDrAtkins: i am 32 and getting married next month. would i have liked to get married and start a family when i was younger? of course. but i didn’t meet my FH until i was 29. i didn’t want to settle before that. when we started dating, i didn’t know he was the one. he proposed after 2 years of dating. we are going to try to start a family right away.
in the meantime since i’m not a young mom, i have a masters degree, i traveled, and i have a fabulous job.
Post # 11
- Wedding: August 2012 - Historic Lougheed House
Best time to have babies in academia:
1) During your last year when you are writing up. Not only motivates you to finish, but motivates your committee to pass you, and also they’ll go easier on you at your defence if you’re 8mo pregnant 🙂
2) During postdoc
Waiting until you’ve established yourself and have a tenure-track… you will be at least 35 by then.
Post # 12
In my program we call babies “degree killers” because I have yet to see someone have a baby and finish her PhD (in my specific program). I’ve got one friend who might just make it… but she had the baby at 31 and hasn’t finished her diss., so time will tell.
FI’s mom has a PhD in bio-chem and had him at 38ish. My BFF’s mom had her at around 37 and, well, dropped out of her PhD program in the humanities because juggling a baby and her diss. didn’t work out.
But, I guess the real issue here, is that even my non-grad school friends didn’t start having babies until they were at least 29/30. You’ve got plenty of time to finish your studies, get established, then have kids, particularly if you finish the degree in your late 20s. It’s definitely up to you, though, if you’d prefer to have a child THEN deal with the academic stuff. When push comes to shove, what is your priority?
Post # 13
@FutureDrAtkins: I didn’t personally, but I know plenty of women who had children while in a PhD program and even in residencies. I also know many women who had children starting in their mid-late 30s. There are pros and cons to both having children younger and having them older. I wouldn’t let school/career stop you from having children if you want them and are financially, emotionally and physically prepared. Good lucK!
Post # 14
- Wedding: March 2014 - A castle
@crayfish: Yeah – the guys in my PhD program have kids…some have LOTS of kids already actually, I honestly don’t know how they can afford it. The women, not so much. Actually my advisor straight up told me to not plan on getting pregnant when he found out I became engaged. Pretty sure that’s illegal, but, not much I can do about it.
@littlegraykitten: I’m in bioengineering, but I work in regenerative medicine/tissue engineering/gene therapy/mechanotransduction.. all around harsh chemicals and carcinogens, so yeah, I think we are in the same predicament! 5+ years as a post doc sounds awful :/ For me, I really want to go into industry because I’m getting really burnt out on academia, but with the current economy/job market I’m preparing myself for either one. I think probably during a post doc would be the oportune time, but it will all most likely depend on my benefits, time allowed for maternity leave, and ability to stay out of the lab while pregnant. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in this!
@ArtDecoDC: Thanks for the input! Priority wise it’s me, myself, and I, lol. I definitely will be putting education and career before having a baby. I’ve made way too many sacrifices and have come to far to give it up. In my department, as far as women go, babies are most definitely degree killers. The only women that have had children have been a PhD candidate that got kicked out of the department and left with a master’s shortly after having her baby and a post doc that got pregnant and stopped showing up for work and was fired :/
@MrsWBS: Thanks! Unfortunately, the financially prepared part isn’t going to be there if I have them during my PhD. Grad students definitely don’t make enough to support children and my benefits are horrible. I’d probably end up having to pay around 10k out of pocket for delivery.
I’m a natural planner so I guess it’s just my nature to be thinking ahead like this. I know I have about 10 or so “good years left” but all of a sudden I can hear my biological clock ticking and with the recent influx of babies on my facebook feed I thought what better time than now to start asking for advice. Thanks for being so helpful ladies.
Post # 15
I’m 32, my husband is 34. We are expecting our first baby next spring, when I’ll be 33. NBD.
Post # 16
@FutureDrAtkins: If you’re really worried about the timing of your kids, could you take a couple of years off mid-degree to have some? Then when they go to preschool/pre-K/school, you could finish it up and do your post doc!
It would be a good way to show your kids the importance of education!