Can I do it all?: Juggling school and motherhood

I just found out the greatest news – I have been accepted to graduate school! A Ph.D. program, to be more exact, which means another 6+ years of training. On the one hand I feel ecstatic, but I’m also a bit worried. I’m 32 years old and I’ve been married to the best, sweetest, and kindest guy for about 5 years. He’s 4 years older than me. We’ve always known that we want kids eventually, but I’m just finishing my Master’s degree and he’s been trying to build his career. So there hasn’t really been time to have a baby. We’ve also been paying off his student loans and I’m continuing to accumulate debt as my years in school keep adding up.

Having a kid while struggling to pay for rent and pay off our loans hasn’t really seemed attractive to us, so we’ve put it off for a good part of our relationship. When I was applying for my Ph.D., we decided that if I didn’t get into the program this time around, that we’d try to have a baby this year. But now that I’ve been accepted, it means that we need to put our baby-making plans on hold. The doctoral program I’m going into has the reputation of being really grueling – most of the other students I’ve talked to said that they found it difficult to even be in a relationship while completing their degree. And a kid?? They shook their heads and laughed at me when I suggested that I also wanted to have a baby and wondered if I could somehow fit it into the program.

I do the math in my head thinking, “Ok, I’ll be 33 when I start this program, and then 6 years later (at least!) I’ll be 39!” I have friends who’ve tried to get pregnant in their late 30s and had some problems. One friend had 3 miscarriages – it was heartbreaking. Another needed to do IVF 3 times before she got pregnant. My sister had trouble getting pregnant when she was 35. I worry that maybe fertility problems could run in our family! And my husband and I want at least 2 kids. So I really don’t think I can afford to wait until I’m 39 and finished my PhD before I start trying. Added to that is the fact that I’ve been on the pill for so many years. I’m not even sure how fertile I am now, at 32.

The bottom line is, I don’t think we can wait until I finish my PhD before we start trying to have a baby. I’m sure there are other women who manage to combine graduate school with motherhood. And my husband is willing to take a paternity leave from work, so I won’t have to miss too much time from school. If it takes me longer to get this degree, so be it. Better that than missing the chance to be a mother.

Tags:, , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *