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Exams 4weeks after birth....am I mental??? Help!

(22 Posts)
maryann970 Mon 11-Feb-13 20:06:32

Hi all

I would like some advice/reassurance please smile

I am 25 and have been studying for a law conversion part-time in the evenings whilst working full time for the last year and half. It was hard last year doing work and exams but I got through it with a bit of time off from work and a lot of headaches.

This year I have my four final exams 4 weeks after I am due. As you may suspect this was not a planned pregnancy!!!

When I first discovered I was pregnant I thought I didn't really have a choice but to go ahead with the studying. I had paid the (extortionate) fees already and thought even if I deferred a year it would be harder to do when I was working full time and had a baby.

Now I am having a serious crisis of nerve! I feel completely stupid for taking this on.....3x 4 hour exams one day after the next with a 4 week old baby......absolutely crackers??????

Has anyone else balanced study/new baby??? Any tips?

My fiance is taking off the week before and week of my exams so that I can try to study a bit. I am also going on maternity at 30 weeks so I can revise. The idea is to be ready for when the baby comes.....is anyone ever really ready?

I really don't want to fail and in fact can't afford to as this is a path to a better wage for me and my family. It's stressing me out so much. This is my first baby and i want to look forward to it but all I can do is worry and stress over my course and future jobs.

Any tips on chilling a out would also be much appreciated! Xxx

KatherineKrupnik Mon 11-Feb-13 20:12:40

I had my dd1 during my MA exams - I deferred those that came after her birth so not the same as your situation. I then sat them a year later. It was hard finding time to revise with a small baby.

If you are doing well at the moment & are on top of your stuff, have a straightforward birth & cope well with sleepless nights you'd be fine. There are a fair few ifs though - what if you are two weeks late & end up with a physically rough birth - at 2 weeks post partum you could still be physically weak. If you are planning on breastfeeding you will find it hard to be away for a 4 hour stretch from a newborn.

Can you see how it goes & defer last minute if you're not up to it?

maryann970 Mon 11-Feb-13 20:17:52

I can defer them all but would need a doctors note and they may not accept it. They will only be deferred for 6 weeks though so would I be any more settled then?

You are right about the ifs and buts. I suppose I can only hope all goes to plan! Thanks for the vote of confidence though. I do tend to do well when I'm up against it exams wise (I have been ill before) so I think i Will be ok with sleeplessness.

I do want to breast feed but will have to bottle feed as well i suppose. Not really sure if that works????

grumpyoldbookworm Mon 11-Feb-13 20:24:21

I did MBA exams 6 weeks after having DS1. I was doing the course as a block release/ distance learning thing from work. Mum looked after DS1 in the staff room and I was ok until about two thirds through when I fretted about him and got weepy and milky and became a soggy puddle with everyone round me writing reams of stuff! I thought I'd always regret it if I didn't pull myself together and finish the damn paper so I kept going in a rather damp sort of way! Passed though. Phew.

grumpyoldbookworm Mon 11-Feb-13 20:28:52

Also - it is amazing what most mothers do all the time to get stuff done- you just focus hard in the few minutes you can grab and revise, cook, clean, get the washing on, go online etc and people without that pressure never realise how wonderful those minutes of peace can be! You'll be ok, honest

ruthyless1 Mon 11-Feb-13 20:29:17

Really hope it all goes well for you... I've been balancing my DS, working and completing the final year of my degree for the last year! It is tough but worth it! I think if you'll be fine especially if your partner can take time off and you can get baby to take a bottle. I gave DS a bottle once a day from birth and it worked really well as meant I could get time off to study- I found it much easier to study if DH took DS out because found it really hard to be upstairs studying listening to him crying etc..any way could you do the exams a couple of weeks early i.e. before baby turns up? Surely if they'll let you defer they might consider letting you do them early?

KatherineKrupnik Mon 11-Feb-13 20:29:55

TBH yes I think you would be more settled just a few weeks later.

You would have to leave baby with a bottle while you were sitting in the exams, but it could be expressed breastmilk. You'd probably have to express for your comfort during the 4 hr exam I think - I would anyway.

Are you due aoon?

KatherineKrupnik Mon 11-Feb-13 20:31:31

It is definitely doable btw, just possibly a bit hard too! Does wonders for your productivity too when you know you only have a small window before baby returns/awakes!

Beatrixpotty Mon 11-Feb-13 20:31:52

Don't wish to be negative but I would have really struggled if I had had to sit an exam 4 weeks post delivery.I was so exhausted from being up frequently through the night breastfeeding that I could barely concentrate on anything & struggled to read a newspaper.Nothing had prepared me for how tiring it was,even nights on call as a junior doctor.If you plan to breastfeed I would defer for as long as possible.If you are going to bottle feed then at least someone else can help you,at least until the exams are over.Although if you do loads of revision & preparation before the baby is due you might be ok.Good luck!

maryann970 Mon 11-Feb-13 20:35:16

i am due 5th may so still time to prep.

A bottle a day seems good advice! As does eh taking baby out and leaving me. I suppose the more used to being apart from the baby and baby having bottles the better!

A soggy Jessie my biggest fear haha! No way to know what emotional state I will be in I suppose.

Thank you all for your response. it's really helpful to hear other people's experiences and advice. Xx

maryann970 Mon 11-Feb-13 20:37:01

Haha I meant soggy mess! Not Jessie!! Damn you spell check...

mysteryfairy Mon 11-Feb-13 20:58:50

I did a part time law conversion whilst working full time but when my children were older. Both years I had a week off before the exams and was literally studying 14 hrs a day. I practically ignored the children.

I was 24 when I had DS1 and I found that incredibly overwhelming. None of my friends had babies as we had all just left university. As we were relatively young all grandparents still worked full time so I had no support.

Having gone through both experiences my own personal thoughts are I could not have done them simultaneously. Sorry I know it's not what you want to hear.

I had to do an extended research project as part of the law conversion (assume you do too and have virtually finished it!). I got in a real mess over mine as I hated my supervisor and there were significant developments in the very dry area of law I picked, meaning my research was going out of date in front of me. I actually ended up deferring that module of the course and submitted for the second round which I think gave me a deadline in August. The university I was at was incredibly supportive of me doing that. I needed to request it but I was very reassured it was only a formality and I don't think anyone had a request to defer refused when I was there.

I think the rules were if you failed and then resat a module you could only pass the course which obviously is not the best for future employment. By actually deferring I could still pass with distinction. This might be something for you to think about in deciding what to do as no point scraping through if you could do much better later.

Also in my first year one of my children was critically ill and spent 6 weeks in hospital in the spring term. That time I had an exemption whereby I sat the exams but also had the option to resit if I failed without the first set of exam results being taken into account. Unfortunately I can't remember the terminology for that. The university was much less inclined to agree to that arrangement fir students but the course leader suggested it to me as appropriate for my circumstances and once submitted it was agreed. I think the arrival of your baby at such a critical time might count as similarly exceptional.

For any deferral you won't be able to register and carry on to the LPC in September though - you'll end up having to take a year out. So if the plan is to be back studying this September you might have to grit your teeth and somehow get through it.

Best of luck whatever you decide!

ThreeWheelsGood Mon 11-Feb-13 21:08:42

Just to add to what others are saying, the I lack of sleep (baby likely waking/feeding every 2-4 hours all day, all night at that age) will be a real challenge, no matter how much revision you've managed.

lottiegarbanzo Mon 11-Feb-13 21:15:53

I took one three-hour exam when dd was almost three months old last year, (went well, phew!)

Thoughts:

- Do as much work as you can, especially the thinking part, preparing answers, practice exam questions, that sort of thing, beforehand. My experience, though this is partly how I work anyway, is that I could revise but not do in depth thinking, in the smaller bits of available time post-baby. There's no way I could have gone in even with good knowledge of the material and devised meaningful essay answers on the day. I relied on having drafted answers selectively to likely questions based on past papers. Lack of sleep can suppress 'thinking on your feet' ability but shouldn't stop you delivering what you've prepared.

- I found that my brain worked fine - don't believe anyone who tells you it won't, before or after - the potentially confounding factor was lack of sleep. Organise a routine with your DP from two weeks or so if you can, so that you get enough hours asleep each night / day, though this won't all be in one go.

I actually feel that preparing for my exam at the 6 week to 3 month point was easier than it would have been at five months and I think I may find this year's exam trickier because, though I was up for an hour in the middle of every night, it was regular and I got about 7.5 hours sleep every night, just with a gap in the middle. Later, surviving on less and now, with unpredictable disruption, is harder to manage. Four weeks may be too early to get settled into any routine though, depends.

- You should be all right feeding / expressing just before you go out and as soon as you get home - 6 hours was as long as I could comfortably go and was fine.

- So much will depend upon your particular experience and baby, that's impossible to predict. The other factor is your DP and other people's support, which can be planned. You need as much time, of whatever length suits you and the baby's feeding pattern, perhaps 2 hours at a time, away from the baby as possible, allowing free mental space, knowing that someone else is looking after him/her but can come to you if necessary, so you're not listening out and worrying. It's really hard to do anything while they nap at that age because they often want to be on you and as soon as you get into anything they wake up.

You have no control over when the birth happens or how it goes, so don't worry about it, there's no point, it is completely beyond your control. If you're still in hospital at exam time you'll have a medical note, if you're not, you'll do what you can. That's it. Good luck!

CeceliaStrange Mon 11-Feb-13 21:20:10

I think 6 weeks later would make a huge difference. At 8 weeks old I could now do an exam, if your dc was 2 weeks late they'd be 2 weeks old and at that stage an online Tesco delivery was tough for me! Also after my first I was still not healed at that stage and would have been very distracted by physical discomfort (tears). My second was not discharged from hospital at that point and my third was re-admitted with jaundice then (I sound like I don't have much luck!)

Also if you breast feed that time will be difficult, a bit later means your supply would be established and you'd be less leaky.

lottiegarbanzo Mon 11-Feb-13 21:23:36

I should point out re feeding that I expressed exclusively (as dd couldn't latch on, I would never recommend it as a choice, it just isn't a sensible one) so DP did the last thing at night and first thing in the morning feeds, allowing me to sleep quite well, bar the 2-3am feed. That is an unusual amount of flexibility for an EBF baby.

maryann970 Mon 11-Feb-13 21:36:33

Thanks for the advice. I am thinking more now that deferring is the sensible thing to do. I will discuss this with my tutor again as to the exact options I have. Like you say a few weeks could mean the difference between grades?

Thank you all again! Very helpful advice xxx

KatherineKrupnik Mon 11-Feb-13 21:40:52

if your options are 4 weeks post due date - which could end up being 2 weeks post due date if you go late... - & 10 weeks post due date, I would personally defer. 10 weeks post due date would be much easier, IMO, specially if you nailed the revision pre-birth. Really good advice from lottie on that I thought.

grumpyoldbookworm Mon 11-Feb-13 22:24:35

I was fully breast feeding but had managed to express a bit although I wasn't very good at expressing then. It was only 3 hours and he survived the exam. I revised when he was asleep, at all hours of day and night. Couldn't have done it if he was not the first though, with DS2 didn't get any sleep at all for years it seems!

lottiegarbanzo Tue 12-Feb-13 08:45:51

Good plan. I didn't dwell on deferring as it wasn't clear how easily you could but, if you can, those six weeks will really help. You'll be able to relax and enjoy the first few weeks with your baby, knowing you have time to revise once you've got the hang of the basic baby stuff.

It is likely the baby will be late, very possible you'll need stitches and be uncomfortable for a while and you'll take time to get used to feeding. All reasons why you'd hope the examiners would allow deferral but all part of normal birth, so depends on their rules.

I planned to take 4-5 weeks 'off' post-birth and the thing that extended it to 6 was visitors staying - you'll need to be very strict!

Enjoy the control over your own time you have for the rest of your pregnancy. Such freedom!

TTCmay Tue 12-Feb-13 13:11:24

Hi
Probably not what you want to hear, but if i was me i would really want to defer. The last thing you want to do is fail and have to essentially give excuses in job applications - it is such a competitive industry (i entered it 10 years ago and it is even more comptitive now... ) - presuming you want to enter law having done the course !

I would add that baby might not be on time (mine was 15 days late), you might not get an ideal birth so recovery longer (i had C section) and it can be v difficult to express milk, esp in early days (otherwise they are latched on every 2 hours). Also some babies simply refuse bottles - as mine did!

Having done the exams, and had a baby, I would not want to do them at the same time (or within a few weeks of the birth)!

Good luck!

MightBeMad Tue 12-Feb-13 15:17:39

You might be fine op, some babies are 'sleepers' from birth so that may not be an issue <hopeful> but to throw my experience into the mix, I had an episiotmy and forceps delivery (not planned!) and I could not have sat down for 4 hours 4 weeks after delivery. 6 weeks after that I'd have stood a much better chance although it would still have been uncomfortable! Good luck!

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