Advanced search

PhD TTC moan and procrastination woe: getting it off my chest

(21 Posts)
Brodicea Tue 04-Sep-12 17:31:22

I am looking the end of my part-time PhD in the face - or should I say, 'I think I see it on the brow of the hill but it may be a mirage'. Aiming to finish next September, and upgraded this year: been at it part-time for three years.
Anyway, have just started TTC which I know is madness - everyone says wait until you have a post-doc for one year and then have a baby.
But I am in the humanities so I am not convinced any kind of full time job will be forthcoming. I have a vague instinct that as work will probably be piecemeal so maybe it is a good time to start trying, and hope to pop one out around submission.... finish it off, look for part-time contracts and hourly paid work... plus I have been working in Research Support so could get a highly paid admin job if all else fails.....
Alas, I am 32, really really broody and just beside myself about putting it off for another year.
The thing is I have been totally distracted about TTC and am now really struggling to get back into the studying. Even though I know the more I do now the better? How do I stop being a headless chicken and oscillating wildly (heads up Mozzer) between baby-fantasising on the internet, worrying I am stuffing up my career and doing some bloody work!
My mantra at the moment is that I will be at work for another 30 years of my life at least, but the eggs will probably dry up in 6-8... grinS
Any one else taken this crazy road?

HardlyEverHoovers Wed 05-Sep-12 01:57:02

Hi, I started PhD, had baby 2 years later, went part time, have been TTC number 2 for the past year but have had 3 miscarriages. It has been disruptive, had lots of leave of absences, decided to stop TTC until finished (6 months left) but I don't regret it at all. The thing is, you could wait until the 'ideal time' to TTC, then it could take ages, it's so variable. Have faith it will all work out!
The good thing is that academia is so flexible, so as you said, part time work, a bit of lecturing...
The only warning I would give, as I was totally naive about pregnancy, is that it can be a tough time, especially the first 3 months. Just depends really as everyone responds differently, but this, as well as crazy baby thoughts and browsing the internet for the perfect changing mat, can affect your ability to work.
On the plus side, in my case I was interviewing (elderly) participants while heavily pregnant and got some lovely hand knitted baby clothes!

Brodicea Wed 05-Sep-12 09:50:10

Thanks Hardly. Sorry to hear you've had a rough ride the second time around.
Funnily enough I am doing interviews with people in fashion so will keep my fingers crossed! Although I doubt they'll be knitters... must meet some craftivists...
I think I am on the right path, but there is something maddening about being on TWO voyage-in-the-dark paths - TTC and TTWU (trying to write-up).
We'll get there!

Sophrosyne1 Thu 20-Sep-12 14:49:01

I had handed in my notice at work in order to work part-time & study for a PhD when I discovered I was expecting my eldest. I did a year, took a leave of absence, returned for a year and then decided to have another baby! I am now back at university with a 4 year old and a 21 month old. It's been tough but I feel that becoming a mum has focused me in a way that just wasn't possible when all my free time was my own. When I decided to go ahead with a second pregnancy, I did think about whether I should wait until the end of my course but decided that, whereas I have the whole of my life to work and study, there is a small window in which one is able to conceive and it is best to make the most of it.

I would probably like a third baby eventually, but s/he will definitely have to wait until I finish the thesis. I think this will work out as I'm 33 and have between 1 & 2 years left on my PhD, although that does depend on how quickly I write!

TheCalmingManatee Thu 20-Sep-12 14:58:18

I had a baby at the end of my PhD, trying to write up my thesis on top of post natal depression was interesting to say the least - and now, seven years on, because i chose the SAHM route (and i dont regret it) I can't get a job because i have no post doctorial experience. It is now very unlikely i will get a job in my field sad I fully intended to go back to work when i had DD but didn't for many reasons, one of them being because i didn't HAVE a job to go back to, if that makes sense. Had i been on mat leave i would have gone back. I would seriously consider postponing TTC, getting your PhD finished and getting a year post-doc work under your belt. One of my other friends became pregnant in her writing up year - her priorities changed (as mine did) and she didn't finish her thesis, such a waste, she was uber bright (still is, but sans PhD)

dotty2 Thu 20-Sep-12 14:58:31

I have been doing a PhD full time (officially, part time in reality, with work and family commitments) for 2 years, and aiming to finish in 3. I don't really have advice as I had my family before I started - they were 5 and 3 when I started. I did think long and hard about TTC another one (and even tried for a bit) during, but it didn't happen. But I did just want to say - there's always something that can distract you - like MNing when you should be transcribing interviews (that's me, now).

But having kids focuses the mind and makes you cut out lots of crap. You can work in the evenings when you can't go out anyway. And as others have said, TTC could take years, though of course I hope for your sake it doesn't. But don't put it off - if you need IVF/any less drastic help or just lots of time, your chances are better if you are younger. I sort of regret missed career opportunities, but not in the way I would regret missed family opportunities. Good luck.

Quodlibet Thu 20-Sep-12 15:04:48

OP, I am in a very similar position to you, but am full time. Just started 'writing up' (4th) year, with the aim of completing in the spring. I am also TTC #1 after about 2 years of 'when shall we TTC?' convos with DP, who has been meanwhile completing his own complicated career milestones. My original 'plan' was to take advantage of the maternity leave that my funding would have provided (am freelance SE otherwise so no other paid mat leave will ever happen). But that has not come about.

Absolutely emphathise with the disjucture between baby head and the level of focus necessary to get stuff cracked out with PhD. I have been guilty of spending far too much time on MN!
My funding doesn't cover this writing up year so I am now having to be incredibly focused not to let it drag on - basically, this means constrcting my day so there can be no Internet browsing during work hours. I have also spent a lot of time trying to reconcile the TTC and TTWU double unknown - plus the added bonus of the arts company that I run alongside all this, which lurches from project to project funding. Have decided as it seems you have that the biological thing has to come first - and as it turns out you can't just 'decide' to have a baby when it is convenient - we have been TTC on and off since December with no joy so far. Crossing my fingers that if we do conceive soon I don't get totally debilitating MS which makes me liable to vom all over my keyboard right when the pressure is already on.

Good to know there are others out there in a similar position - although not easy huh?

TheCalmingManatee Thu 20-Sep-12 15:06:05

I think dotty makes a good point about having children focuses the mind. I have a science based PhD which meant i was in the lab for three years, writing up for a year - I had my DD just in the middle of my write up - at first i didnt write anything, then with ten WEEKS til the deadline (Having told my supervisor i was quitting) having written two chapters with a furhter four to go!!! I used the three hours a day when DD slept, then worked at night to get the bastard thing finished. Staying up for two nights with no sleep to get the thing printed was the maddest part!

YEs, its do-able wiht kids, i had DD1 before i did my degree - why make your life harder than it needs to be?

Quodlibet Thu 20-Sep-12 15:13:05

Wow OhTheCalmingManatee, that is somewhat awe-inspiring.

TheCalmingManatee Thu 20-Sep-12 18:19:18

blush thanks Quod, although i rather think it was an example of how NOT to get a PhD grin

EyesDoMoreThanSee Fri 21-Sep-12 12:35:21

Can I check in on this thread?

I am crying out for support from other mum PhD'ers and just posted on another thread in here

I am halfway through 2nd year (delayed start). I had my DD 5 months before PhD started. I am really quite honestly broody, my DD has SN due to birth trauma and the urge to do it all again and have a healthy baby fills my waking hours.

That said I do want to finish the PhD, I really do, but can see more benefitss in finishing my data collection, having a baby and then writing up on return from 6mo leave and then applying for jobs while 'in the system' than waiting (and I am older than most) and putting TTC off until I complete - whereupon I may find it very hard to get back in the system.

I have a feeling I have outed myself as well to anyone that knows me!

EyesDoMoreThanSee Fri 21-Sep-12 12:40:05

Also - those who have done the madness that is PhD and Pregnant how did you tell your supervisors and what was their reaction?

Quodlibet Fri 21-Sep-12 13:05:12

Eyes welcome. That sounds like a sensible plan to me - what is stopping you doing it? If you started your phd with a 5mo what is stopping you writing up with a 6mo?

It occurs to me that we all have this ingrained assumption that we shouldn't get pg during that 3/4 year period, and that it's essential that our commitment to the phd is continuous and unbroken. I can see the advantages to this - but it's not the only way surely?

EyesDoMoreThanSee Fri 21-Sep-12 13:55:00

Honestly? I think the pressure from the academic community that I wouldn't be taking the PhD seriously.

I do take the 'job' seriously as seriously as any person can who has watched their child survive NICU and HDU I have done a lot of reading and I have done a lot of work as such, but as yet I have no real data due to massive (6months) delay in ordering the technology that I use. I also have no literature chapter - just a pile of long ago written notes, my intention was to go away for a week and write early next year to get the structure for my chapters.

I agree though - the ingrained assumption is there and very real, I don't know any woman in my dept who is pg, let alone another phd student who is pg. I know those who have managed it but they are spoken about in hushed tones.

And not in a nice way

TheCalmingManatee Fri 21-Sep-12 14:57:05

Oh im sorry that your department seems to be letting you down Eyes sad We were all busy getting pregnant in my department - we blamed the "baby chair" it seemed that anyone who sat in it got pregnant!

My supervisor was thrilled, really pleased for me, he did any dodgy experiments that i needed to do that involved mutagens just to be on the safe side, was really really supportive. If you are not being supported i think that is a serious HR issue and i would consider reporting it.

The only thing i will say is this - be careful extending things for too long, i did this (maternity leave and then extension due to bereavement) and whilst i had done my literature review (this is what i based my introduction on - i really had to refresh myself, especially when it came to the viva). That is something you need to consider as well, your data will need to be up to date, especially if you are dealing with stats. (the work of satan!).

My advice to you is to update your literature review/notes now and that will set you up to finish the rest. Collate your data and start "messing around" with it. This will spur you on to do the rest of what needs doing.

I found like a looming deadline concentrated my mind significantly.

EyesDoMoreThanSee Fri 21-Sep-12 15:06:48

^ thats one reason why I have not gone in all guns blazing to write the lit review and introduction - because I know it will need a very great rewrite and refresh prior to submitting.

I have my main papers and my main idea structure, my research plan and methods, i have two abstracts accepted and two conferences to talk at this year (well one in Jan) and I have done several poster presentations and community focus groups.

I enjoy it. I just feel something or more to the point someone is missing in our lives

TheCalmingManatee Fri 21-Sep-12 15:08:50

Yes, tahts true i guess, people generally write the introduction last smile I MISS doing my PhD (how mad am i!)

Good luck with the TTC (to be honest, some things in life are more important) x

EyesDoMoreThanSee Fri 21-Sep-12 15:12:29

Thank you Manatee - We are not TTC ATM, just my ovaries banging together each time I see a newborn or a bump!

EyesDoMoreThanSee Fri 21-Sep-12 22:13:32

I killed the thread sad

come back!

dotty2 Sat 22-Sep-12 14:16:54

re. reactions to pregnancy - I think it very much depends on the culture of your department. One of the part-time PhDs in my department has just had a baby and I haven't heard anything except positivity towards her. She came to speak at an event earlier in the year about her PhD experience and had to bring her baby because of childcare difficulties and no one batted an eyelid. (And I know someone else who had a baby while doing a PhD in a similar subject area, who claimed to have breastfed said baby while giving a seminar, to a similarly positive reception.) However, I work in a humanities/social sciences discipline, where lots of people are older/part-time/dipping in and out of their career and women outnumber men by a big ratio.

Eyes - sorry to hear that you're struggling with the broodiness at the moment, and to hear about your DD's SNs. Hope she's doing OK.

EyesDoMoreThanSee Tue 25-Sep-12 13:02:47

Come back OP

<killed the thread>

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: