Friday, April 24, 2015

Best of Both Worlds

We have been a little shocked by how many people's first response to our pregnancy news is either,

"So, does getting pregnant mean you are nixing your plans for graduate school?" 


"Was this baby a surprise because I thought you had been planning on getting your master's?"

No people, absolutely not!

Let's back up for a minuet and I'll tell you the history of my quest to achieving a graduate degree. A few years ago I applied to a master's program in dietetics at the University of Utah. Despite getting accepted, for one reason or another I felt like I should reject the offer and instead begin a full time job. As it turned out, working was a tremendous blessing for our family; we were able to graduate sans any student loans and save a full down payment for a house. Working also offered me many things personally as I was able to put some work experience under my belt, meet some of my very best friends, and most importantly, decide that the field I had applied to was just NOT for me. 

Now fast forward two years; Justin graduated and was offered his dream job at the Denver office of Towers Watson. As a result, I quit my own job to allow for relocation to a new state. After such a big transition and suddenly have an open schedule, it seemed like as good a time as any to give grad school another go.

Lo and behold, I got accepted!!! This girl will be pursuing a master's of public health with an emphasis in epidemiology at Colorado University Denver starting this summer. I guess studying those 81283616 GRE vocabulary words and writing and-rewriting my statement of purpose has finally paid off. 

You can probably imagine my surprise when shortly after completing the application process we also began to feel like this might be a good time to start a family. A baby and a grad program at the same time? I must be crazy, but we went for it anyways. We were shocked (and truthfully, so so so grateful!) that getting pregnant was such a breeze. I almost couldn't believe how quickly those two pink positive lines appeared on the end of a pregnancy test. We were pregnant!

As for juggling a new baby with grad school, this is where things get a bit sticky. I will start by taking a full course load this summer semester to get some general classes out of the way. Because I will be giving birth in October, I will take a leave of absence for the fall semester so I can spend time preparing for and caring for a newborn. Then I will jump back in in the winter taking a combination of online, hybrid, and in person classes which will allow the flexibility I need to balance motherhood while also making progress on my degree. Of course none of this would be possible were it not for my incredible parents and sister who have anxiously agreed to baby-sit regularly while I am in school. Living in the same state as my family again is just about the best thing that ever happened to us!

I fully anticipate this being a challenging, busy, hard time, but I know it will also be incredible and growing. Obviously, I have never been a graduate student OR a mom, which makes it difficult to fully anticipate the rigor of combining these two endeavors. But what it really boils down to is that being a mother and getting my master's have both been lifelong goals of mine, so it was impossible for me to reconcile a life in which I could pursue only one. Although easier alternatives exist (one at a time, etc.), we have worked out a plan for me to have the best of both worlds. 

If you ask me, perfect timing doesn't exist. There will always be some other job, relationship, trip, responsibility, or experience that could come first. If you get in a mindset that the timing has to be perfect (which trust me, I am guilty of all the time), you are likely going to miss out on a lot of great opportunities. The truth is, there is NEVER a perfect time. Life is hard and busy and messy and crazy and hectic, but you have to do it anyways!

I truly believe that pursuing my master's degree while raising a family will not in any way hinder my ability to parent or be a wife. Rather, I hope it will have the opposite effect and enhance my role and capabilities within my family. A big perk of getting my master's will be better career options and the opportunity to make more money, but it is about so much more that that. I want to show my children by example that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. I know I am capable of accomplishing so much more that I sometimes feel like I can. One of the biggest mistakes I have made in life is thinking to narrowly about my potential. It's time to see the bigger picture and start achieving these dreams of mine. Here we go!


  1. I received similar comments when I became married in my was kind of shocking to me because I literally only had one semester left. The only perfect timing that ever exists in life is when God gives you and your spouse an answer to a prayer and it feels right. Nothing is ever truly "convenient." We began praying a lot about trying to get pregnant last October and we got a giant no. I was really surprised (and honestly a little frustrated), but three weeks later I was in a bad car accident as someone hit me and three weeks after that I was a passenger in a really horrible car accident.

    I'm hoping we can join the baby train near the end of the year and then we can both be pregnant and in grad school at the same time! :) I don't have a lot of people that I can relate to right now in my boat and I'm so excited to read someone who seems to be doing something similar to me.

    1. Autumn, thanks for sharing your experience! The timing of big things in life always seem to be unexpected, but it always works out. I am nervous for grad school to start but am confident that it is the right choice! I have loved reading about your experiences in grad school so far--it gets me so excited to get back into school! I have really missed learning and studying. We'll be in it together! ;)