This Saturday, December 8th, I will be walking across the stage at Southeastern Louisiana University to receive my Master’s degree in Psychology. I am very excited to see that all my hard work, sleepless nights, and all the money I poured into Starbucks on campus finally paying off. I will definitely say that graduate school was difficult. The standard and expectation of graduate work is significantly different than that of undergrad. Plus, writing a thesis was one of the greatest challenges in my academic career. Not to mention.. I was working almost full time, paying all my own bills, and pregnant.
After my finals of my first year, I found out I was pregnant with our son, Israel. When two faint lines showed up on the pregnancy test, I was terrified, but then I was filled with joy. Christian and I had the opportunity to love and raise a beautiful baby together. We were excited. For the next two semesters, I worked my butt off before Israel was born at school and work. I saved money for my maternity leave, I presented posters at conferences, and I proposed my thesis. While all this was going on, we had our gender reveal, three baby showers, and numerous doctor visits!
Luckily, since we live in Southeast Louisiana, his birth fell on Mardi Gras break (we were off from school). Israel was born on February 13th, 2018 on Mardi Gras day at 5:41 p.m. Christian took a week off from work and school (yes, I know he’s crazy too). I returned to class to take a test two weeks and a half later! I was also breastfeeding so I was pumping between classes and at work! It was chaotic, crazy, and so worth it.
My greatest advice for any soon to be moms or moms that are in school is to keep pushing and know you are doing your best. And here is what worked for me.
- Communicate – Communication is critical when planning the arrival of a new child. I spoke with my employers, professors, and family regularly to keep everyone informed in case our son arrived early and to anticipate any roadblocks. I found all my professors, coworkers, and employers very helpful. They all want you to succeed so they are usually pretty willing to assist you as long as you talk to them ahead of time. Most importantly, talk to your partner regularly about both of your expectations and needs (whether or not you two are together).
- Write down your dates – My planner has and always been my best friend. I always say “paper never forgets.” When pregnancy brain hits, it will be hard for you to keep up with everything going on. You’ll have doctors appointments, school work, tests, baby showers, and materntiy/baby photos!
- Plan out what you can – Yes, we cannot predict the future. But a plan keeps everyone focused and helps reduce stress and anxiety. When I mean plan, I do not mean plan out your birth perfectly. I just went in with the mindset I wanted to have my son vaginally at a hospital, but if I had to have a C-section I would. Yes, plan where you will have your baby (pick a hospital/ at home/ at your midwife’s) and if you want certain music, water birth, or photographer plan that too. But just be prepared to anticipate any changes. Schedule doctor appointments regularly, plan when you will take maternity leave, pack your hospital bag early just in case (mine was packed at 35 weeks!). At the bottom of the pages, I’ve listed some helpful pins and guides that I used during my pregnancy!
- Manage your time wisely – Beyond planning, managing your time is so crucial to college life and even more so with a baby. Find small ways to utilize your time rather than binge-watching Netflix (you may feel this is all you can do sometimes and that’s OK). While Izzy was napping, I would make notecards to study for a test. While I would pump, I would review them. Also, prepping some meals before the baby is born and freezing them is another time saver. I also love love love to-do lists.
- Ask for help – Yes, you are Super Woman. You had or are about to have a baby, and you have so many things going on! Go you! But you are just one person. Let your spouse paint the nursery. Let your coworker carry that heavy package. Let your mother take care of the baby while she is over for an hour so you can nap. You are going to be exhausted and if people are willing to help, let them. Do not be proud. One of the greatest blessings for us was that everyone wanted to cook us food! Let them! You only get free food for a month once, twice, or maybe three times in your life (however many babies you have)! Also, my professors and classmates were so helpful. My classmates would record lectures for me, and I’d listen to them while nursing or when Izzy was taking a nap. My thesis chair and graduate coordinator were amazing as well. But it took me being willing to communicate and ask for help when I needed it.
I hope this post was encouraging to all the mamas who are out there trying to earn degrees! I am so blessed to be able to share my story with you! I could not have achieved this without the love and support from Christian, my parents, my sisters and brother, all of Izzy’s aunties, friends, classmates, coworkers, professors, and my Heavenly Father.
Please feel free to comment, send in prayer requests, and email me if you have any questions or want some mama-to-mama advice! Below are the links to the guides I used during my pregnancy to prepare me for Israel’s birth.
Praying for you all!