Pregnant PhD-ing

Following on from my positive mindset post of a few weeks ago…

I’m now 32 weeks pregnant (i.e. 8 months). Now more convinced based on experience that attempting a PhD while pregnant is harder than “just” being a PhD parent. I started my PhD studies when my baby was around 11 months old, and that presented its challenges as I – or rather, we, as a family – worked out how to fit in studying, parenting, everything. Now she is a strapping toddler who demands a lot of brain-exertion (answering “whyyy?” countless times a day). As previously mentioned, the start of this pregnancy was the usual sickness/nausea/tiredness which floored me. That lasted until around week 20 of pregnancy. Our paid-for childcare arrangement is a 45 minute average commute away, which I now reluctantly admit is more-and-more physically exhausting for me. I am bad at studying in the evenings at the best of times – I’ve always known that about myself – but now after a day combining commute, reading, writing, toddler wrangling, I’m just too shattered to do much at all after 6pm. I’m proud of myself I manage to prepare our evening meal! On top of it all I’m sleeping poorly as it’s physically uncomfy what with the mega bump and achy hips and waking in the night to wee (yeah yeah, tmi), and then unlike the first time round we have a small child waking us up before 7am so recovering sleep in the mornings is not an option!

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It’s hard to remember the first time round (when I was pregnant with the now-toddler), but I was working in an office job so had better control over my workload and therefore my mental and physical exertion. People keep telling me to take it easy, but it’s impossible when the majority of my time is actually spent looking after a very active small child. A friend of mine in a comparable situation (pregnant with a toddler) points out that her child is in nursery 8 hours a day, so she is able to take it easy, and I should cut myself more slack. But I go stir-crazy if I stay in the house with the kid all day, and we don’t have a car, so I inevitably end up walking or taking a bus to a playgroup, friend’s house, or playground to keep her entertained. It would be more mentally tiring not too. So combined with the occasional commute to childcare, physically I am certainly not “taking it easy”.

It’s been 5 weeks since my last supervision meeting. I am working on a specific chapter and wish I had more to show for it. I don’t know where the time has gone. I know I spent one nursery/workhub session shattered from lack of sleep and trying to recharge by mooching online and then round the shops. Not proud of that. I’ve even been into uni and to the library a few times. I’ve certainly done some reading. I finished a separate chapter/article to submit for publication – a conference paper of sorts – which took longer than expected. Unfortunately for my PhD, I have also completed other “nesting” tasks including writing a to do list of what we need to get before Baby #2 (not much, mostly a mattress and a cot) and buying Christmas presents for family (due date is Christmas so I wanted to be ahead of the game!). It’s not a lack of motivation – I’m very keen to get this chapter done before I take maternity leave – it’s just everything’s taken even longer than before (with “just” a child to took after) as my body does its thing and grows another baby.