New baby + diss defense, can this math work?
May 28, 2013 10:09 AM Subscribe
Wrapping up a pregnancy and a dissertation at the same time. Given the inherent badness of this idea, when is the least ill-advised time to schedule my defense?
posted by anonymous to Education (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My second child is due in a few months… which is also about the time when, in the organic flow of things, I would finish writing and revising my (humanities) dissertation. I know that the ideal would be to defend before I give birth; but the norm of my program is to submit the completed dissertation ~1month before the defense date. That means, if I allow a minimal three-week safety buffer before the due-date (and defending at 37 weeks is still cutting things awfully close), that still I’d be trying to crunch so as to finish writing a full 7 weeks ahead of schedule. This option is not absolutely unthinkable, but at this point it falls in the “Nearly Suicidally Impossible” range, particularly with job-market stuff to accomplish as well.
So: the other option is to submit the diss just before the birth of the baby, and to plan on defending soon afterwards. My question for the more experienced, then: just how soon might this be psychologically feasible? I would think 4 weeks post-baby should be the minimum: every week thereafter would make me (with luck) more stable and marginally less sleep-deprived, but also farther from the actual work I’ve done on the dissertation, and thus less capable of defending it. The past defenses I’ve been to didn’t seem overly grueling; but then, of course, I wasn’t the one defending. It’s also been long enough since my first kid that I’ve largely blocked out the stresses of the first months, so I don’t have a great sense of how much of a basketcase I’ll be, and for how long.
Other possible considerations:
--It’s a very good grad program. Thus, while I know the defense is supposed to be a formality, I am fairly anxious about what might happen if I defend poorly. On the other hand, I am also extremely anxious about what might happen if I half-ass the final stages of the dissertation in an effort to make an early defense happen pre-baby.
--I will be primary caretaker for both kids after the birth, but I do have a partner with a flexible 4-day-a-week schedule, plus some family help nearby. So I’m not immediately concerned about getting enough rest the night before the defense or finding someone to watch the baby the day of, etc.
My advisors (while wonderful) are all single, childless men. I haven’t announced the pregnancy yet, and I already feel othered enough having to walk in all bloated and talk to them about birthin’ babies, so I expect only very limited opportunities for useful dialogue and advice from them about this timing. I suspect my best political bet is probably going to be to figure out an acceptable schedule on my own, then propose it as something I can confidently make happen, reproductive considerations be damned. How should I go about thinking through this timing? And does anyone have advice on other important factors I might be missing?