I’m a PhD student in economics at the University of Iowa. I found out the day before I started classes in 2011 that I was pregnant. This was happy news for my husband and me. We welcomed our first son a couple of weeks before the end of my first year. Since then, we’ve had another son, and are now expecting a daughter in December. My goal is to graduate in 2017, along with the rest of my cohort.
I have thought about dropping out quite a few times since I started. I always consider that to be one of my options when I’m feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how to make things work; it just isn’t one that I’ve chosen yet. Every now and then, someone will say something to me like, “I don’t know how you do it all!”, presumably referring to being a student with young children while my husband works full time. I’m not very articulate on the spot, but here is what I would say to that if I could think more quickly on my feet:
First, I don’t “do it all” in the sense that I don’t go to school AND do everything that my stay-at-home mother did when I was a toddler. My mother watches my children 8-10 hours a week, we have a wonderful babysitter who comes four hours a week, and my husband’s job is 40 hours a week, not 50 or more, like many other full-time workers.
Still, I have genuinely achieved things so far that were actually beyond my natural abilities. For example, I had to take my qualifying exams three months after my first baby was born. When he was six weeks old, I was diagnosed with mono. By the time I got to the exams, I was so tired and frazzled that I had decided if I didn’t pass both the first time (which is fairly unusual–most people need to retake at least one), I would have to drop out. I passed both. I absolutely attribute this to divine intervention. That was just the first in a series of things that God has done to help me along the way. I’m glad I didn’t turn away from this path just because I couldn’t see from the beginning how it would work.