[Parentsgroup-list] Dear parents, I need your help and support

Deborah Freedman Woods dwoods at cfa.harvard.edu
Mon Oct 29 15:04:39 EDT 2007

Hi Liza,

First, congratulations on your pregnancy.  The timing may
not be perfect, but I expect you can arrange your schedule
to accommodate it just fine.  Given how many
responsibilities you're expected to handle this spring and
fall, you may want to consider a leave of absence or
reducing your enrollment to part time.  Harvard
allows for this to care for family.  Check out:
(Search for "Part-Time Students" in Chapter V)

My advice would be to try to keep up a regular schedule this
spring, if you're feeling able, and start your leave of
absence after the baby arrives.  The students in the class
you teach this spring will manage fine - another grad
student who's taught the class before or is teaching
another section of the same course could fill in for you for
a couple of weeks in May if the baby arrives before the
final exam.  At least in my dept., students have been happy
to help each other out.

You could finish as much of this spring as you're able, then
take off until next January or June to have some time with
your kids.  You might enroll for 1/4 or 1/2 time and fulfill
just one requirement in the fall of 2008, such as teaching
or taking classes to keep active in the department.  Then
in the spring 2008 you can do the lab rotations or start on
the next set of requirements.  But I wouldn't try to teach,
rotate in labs, take classes, and find an adviser all while
caring for a new baby.  It's not worth the stress.  There's
no reason you should have to do it all at once.

The timing of this pregnancy may delay the start of your
research projects and the completion of your PhD, but
that's no big deal in the long run.  I know it seems
overwhelming right now, but you can make it work with a
flexible schedule.  You should talk potential advisors on
the expected work/life balance when you get around to lab
rotations.  It's important to find someone you'll be happy
working with because different advisors have very different
expectations.  Personally, I think it will be easier to have
children at this stage in your career because of the
flexibility of being a student.

Good luck with your decision.  I'm happy to talk more by
e-mail or in person.

Deb Woods, mom of Miriam (age 2), expecting #2 ~Feb. 1,
and 6th year PhD student in Astronomy

> > Dear Harvard parents,
> >
> > I m' sorry for bothering all of you, but I desperately need an advice and
> > help.
> >
> > I'm first year grad student in GSAS (chemistry) and I came here with my
> > husband
> > and son who is 10 month old now. After I started studying here I found that
> > I'm
> > expecting again and the due date is around the beginning of May. This
> > pregnancy
> > is absolutely unexpected.
> >
> > Now I'm extremely stressed: I don't know how to plan my next couple semesters.
> > I
> > have to teach in spring and fall 2008 (which I'm most nervious about, because
> > if
> > I disappear in the end of semester, what will happen to my students, they have
> > to pass exams etc), I also have to take classes (which I'm not too concerned
> > about though, I think I could deal with it). I also have to rotate in the labs
> > and find an advisor for my graduate research, so I don't think I could take
> > next semester off.
> >
> > I know that there is something like a leave of absence, I'm not sure for how
> > long you can leave. My husband will be able to take a leave from his job for
> > May and June.
> >
> > In my department apparently there are no students with children, maybe here
> > people had similar situations (especially students)? How did you deal with it?
> > Any advice or your experience would be so much appreciated!! I just keep
> > thinking about all these problems over and over and keep feeling guilty and
> > stressed.
> >
> > Thank you all so much in advance! Hope I'm not bothering you too much
> > Liza
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > Parentsgroup-list at lists.hcs.harvard.edu
> > http://lists.hcs.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/parentsgroup-list
> >
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