This award goes to students who have shown excellence in research in the past year!
This award goes to the best graduate student in the department and goes to exceptional students that have demonstrated excellence in research and some of the best work in the department!
Weeks: 23 (as of 8/28/16)
Name: Isaiah Zachariah
Name Meaning: Isaiah means “YAHWEH is salvation” and Zachariah means “God has remembered.”
Due: Dec 25th, Christmas Day
So, as I’ve previously announced my pregnancy, and it is no longer possible for me to hide it, I chose to attempt to have kids in graduate school. What follows are my thoughts on this decision, why now and other questions.
Why now? Isn’t graduate school not a great time?
Unfortunately, I’ve been of the opinion for some time that there *is* no good time to have kids.
After graduate school, I will do a post-doc, most likely, and after that, my goal is to be a research scientist in industry or academia. A research scientist is basically like being a permanent, fancy graduate student. Time just doesn’t come easily in any of these positions.
Because of this fact, I decided that my cut off factor for waiting to have kids was getting through the 2nd year report of my PhD – the pass / fail point – and moving into candidacy. Then, all bets were off.
I also really wanted to have kids before I hit 30. I turned 29 this year.
Won’t having kids hurt your career?
Yes perhaps. However, I’ve always wanted a family, and if I have to choose, I will always prioritize family over work. That is just the way I’m wired. However, that ABSOLUTELY does NOT mean that I don’t love science with every fiber of my being. I HAVE to work and I want to be GOOD at it, even with kids. To stay home permanently would make me feel trapped. I love solving problems, using my mind, thinking, experimenting – without that – I’d feel only half alive.
Dr. Weinert's Thoughts. As Dr. Weinert told me, when I told her the news, there are a good number of professors at Emory who have children and others continue in their science careers and also have kids – some even with three or four. She advised that one should not give science so much that you had nothing left without it, and wake up at age 60, with no family and nothing outside of it. That was a lonely life. One had to live, and family was part of that. I really appreciated those thoughts.
Wishing does not make it so
Even though I ended birth control after my second year report, it still took us 1 year and 7 months to get pregnant. I struggled with worry that I was barren or something was wrong with me. I went to a specialist to get checked out, but as it turned out, I was then pregnant at my first appointment, and didn’t know.
Even so, one can’t necessarily count on pregnancy happening right away. It could take time – even years – to get pregnant, which I think one should factor in, especially if one hopes to have more than one child.
Emory is an incredibly supportive environment
The biological division of the chemistry dept at Emory is unusually supportive of family and children. We also have excellent insurance and benefits through Emory. I get 8 weeks of paid maternity leave.
When I told my PI the news, he gave me a hug and congratulated me. You can’t get more supportive than that. He has two kids himself. He also said he’d be willing to work with me, if I needed more time off than 8 weeks, and I could arrange to work at home for a few weeks.
All my labmates are so excited about the coming baby, will “Ooo and ah” over ultrasound pictures with me, and even gave me some baby things. Everyone I’ve met has expressed nothing but congratulations, even though many would never consider doing so themselves. I respect that, but appreciate that they can still congratulate me anyway.
The reality – fears and insecurity
However, even as supportive as everyone is, I know there is a general stigma against having kids in graduate school, and that some still feel this way, especially other departments, like inorganic and organic, which I’ve known have traditionally been more old school. I worry that now that I’m pregnant, people will not take me seriously as a scientist. Be that as it may, I will continue giving my very best to my job, and some day, I hope that stigma will become irrelevant.
I have trouble feeling insecure, and really hate *looking* pregnant, as it’s a constant reminder to everyone of my condition, and I feel really open and exposed. Being at social events is particularly hard.
However, I tend to hang out with my graduate school friends who have kids and bring them to events. It helps me feel better, and their kids are downright adorable.
Other worries: Motherhood. Am I going to be a good mom?
Being pregnant has been a roller coaster of emotions. Part of me would wish to never leave my young son, as I do not want to miss his growing up. I also worry I won’t be a “real mom” if I work. My mom stayed at home with us, and I always considered that to be the model of parenthood. Therefore, not only do I feel insecure and inadequate at work, but as a mother as well.
My faith helps me in the midst of my fears
What gets me through these fears and insecurity is my faith in Jesus, that He will take care of me. He gave me this child, and I know that He will be there with me to the end and supply what I need to take care of him. Verses of Scripture give me a lot of comfort, such as Ps. 62:1-2 (KJV),
“Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. 2 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.”
And it is amazing the peace that the Lord can give to me, as I rest in His care. I am so grateful for Him, every day.
Also excited! Being pregnant is a unique experience
Though I am scared sometimes, and wonder if I can handle a baby, or a two year old, I am also excited! It really is a privilege to be pregnant and a completely unique experience, that I’ve looked forward to. As I have been able to start feeling my baby move, it’s been even more fun. It feels like I have an alien in there. It’s very weird, but so cool.
I also look forward to having a baby to hold and take care of. There is just something nurturing about it that I really look forward to. I cannot wait to introduce my son to the Lord Jesus, who is forming him, and to so many books and adventures! And it will be so cool to relive my childhood and watch him experience life for the first time. We are going to have such fun.
So much family support, and excitement: arrangements after birth
Fortunately, in addition to the support at work, I also have incredible support at home. John is one of the most supportive, patient and consoling people I know. He is such a great husband, encouragement and strength.
We have made arrangements with my mom, that she will watch our son while we are working. John gets Thursdays off, so he will take over on that day. And my mom, who works at Gwinnett Medical part-time as a mother/baby nurse, will work on Thursdays and Sundays, in her new schedule. If my mom needs a break, I’ll take him to daycare at Emory. Such is our plan right now. My mother-in-law will also be available to watch him some in the summers, when she isn’t teaching.
My mom is so excited about having a grandchild – her life’s goal and dream was always to have children, but she could only have two. I hope that my brother and I can give her many grandchildren for her to enjoy.
In conclusion, I couldn’t be more blessed, in the people surrounding me, and in all the support I have, to start this new family adventure of children. John and I will have been married 9 years this year. We’ve had our time together, and we are excited now to have kids and begin this new journey.
What's going on in my corner of the science world? Find out here!
Rolling Statuses: Technical journal blog. Here you may discover what the daily life of a grad student looks like: day-to-day snippets of life, clutter, rolling statuses and unimportant fluff.
Progress Updates: Will include entries with more meaningful science.
Weekly lab report: My write-ups on what I did each week (I posted these publicly during my rotation but not as much now. That may change.)
Here is a link to collected writing, poster and presentation tips.
As of February 8, 2014 I have officially joined the Salaita lab!! Very exciting. Stay tuned for updates. "Micro Min" category equates to grad school journaling; most of these have moved to my status updates blog under Home tab. See "progress updates" on this blog for more important news.