It's Working Project

“I told my Ph.D. advisor when I was about 6 weeks along ... I wanted to be honest with her and not make up an excuse.”

What is one piece of advice you wish you could offer your former expectant self?

Having a newborn will actually be a lot like being in graduate school. You will be up at all hours of the night and be very tired in class the next day. You will get the baby that refuses to sleep and pulls all nighters with you, so practice typing one-handed because you will be doing it a lot for the next several months. Expect to be up crying, while your baby cries, while you nurse your baby and finish an assignment at the same time. But somehow you will get it all done.

What was your primary motivation for deciding to return (or not) to work? How early did you tell your employer?

I told my Ph.D. advisor when I was about 6 weeks along. I had to miss a weekly meeting to get an early ultrasound, so I just let her know the reason. I wanted to be honest with her and not make up an excuse.  I was also comfortable telling her so early on because I miscarried my first pregnancy and had to tell her that as well.

How much leave did you take, and how comfortable were you taking it?

Because I am a part time research assistant, my “leave” was a bit different.  I still had to go to class and work on my projects, but I took 3 months off of paid lab work. I returned to the lab during the summer semester after having my baby in April. My plan and reality were pretty similar. I was fortunate that my hours were flexible. I eased into it. I started back 2 days a week for 10 hours a week with no coursework, then moved to working 3 days a week for 20 hours along with 2 classes.


Who was your biggest source of support in returning to work? What was your biggest pregnancy indulgence?

Probably the other doctoral student in my department. We share an office and have the same advisor. We work closely with one another on lab work and research projects. You grow really close with the other doctoral students.  No one else understands the experience.  Even though she isn’t a mom, she was very supportive.  She was perfectly fine with my pumping in our office with the door closed, helped maintain my lab projects while I was away, and kept me in the loop about all lab happenings.

Fill in the blanks: As a working parent, I never expected ____ would be so hard and ____ would be so much easier!

As a working parent, I never expected that writing a dissertation would be so hard and dealing with a toddler tantrum would be so much easier.