Here is another very successful WomanOfScience’s story about how she decided to have kids in GradSchool.
Being half Mormon (other half Jewish–crazy mix I know), I decided to get knocked up at the tender young age of 30 when I was in graduate school at MajorMedicalSchoolinCA. Why? I went in for a general check up to obtain more birth control pills and the nurse, a non-native English speaker, asked me if I was planning to have children. I said the usual, “yes, eventually.” Her response: “Well, I wouldn’t wait too long or you will have mongrels,” (Yes, mongrels!) I think she meant mongoloid, as in Down-Syndrome, but that scared me into action. I thought about it on my way home: I had been with my boyfriend for ten years, I did eventually want to have kids, we weren’t getting any younger, and probably there was a lot less pressure in grad school than in the later steps of my career. In Utah, where I was from, I would be a grandma by now, whereas in San Francisco, I was a virtual teenager. The other thing that my women friends in school and I were noticing is that all of the women faculty that we knew at MajorMedicalSchoolinCA never had kids and many of them didn’t even have a significant other. While we looked up to these magnificent women, we thought it was time to push the process a little further and try to ‘have it all’. Damn the torpedos full speed ahead! See if it works, at least! I also had two other important graduate student role models in this respect, who also had kids in grad school.
Despite birthing the kids under the auspices of Student Health, which I am afraid we nearly bankrupt, I had a wonderful experience having my babies as a student. My boss, BigFancyProfessor, who was also starting a family at that time, was incredibly supportive and my lab was fantastic–bringing me in smoothies when I was pregnant and dinners after the baby was born. With my first daughter, my now husband had just finished his PhD and got to take care of her for around a year. I really wish that I got to do the same with our other child–putting her into a large daycare at six months felt too young. I did try to plan parenthood strategically–the first while writing up a publication and the second at the end of my PhD, so I could have more time off (while writing the thesis and fellowships). The other benefit I had was that I had worked in labs and industry for ~three years before and had money and stocks saved to help afford taking time off. Really, though, I think having kids as a scientist can work pretty well at any stage, as our jobs are more flexible than most. The main thing is having a supportive partner in crime, and I have been blessed that my girls have a great dad.
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[…] issues on this blog. For example: When should you have kids (see these blog posts: flexibility, grad school, pre/post tenure, postdoc)? Should you take a job when you don’t have one for your spouse […]