Towards the end of 2017, I made the decision to go back to school. I had been in my new job for almost six months and was already feeling the pressure to advance myself and learn more. As a mother to an already hyperactive four-year-old, I was a bit nervous about the decision.
Earlier that year my boyfriend and I had decided to try for another baby. However, at the point of making the decision to go back to school, we’d been trying to conceive for a full year with no luck. The truth is, we were losing hope so we thought of doing something else to relieve the pressure of the “Mission to conceive”.
During this time, my boyfriend also decided that he’d apply and register to do his Master’s degree. We basically moved from trying to have a baby to being students. Such a cool family – or maybe crazy?
In January 2018 we were both accepted into the schools we’d applied to as well as our chosen programmes. Things were looking up, until that one February morning when I took a pregnancy test. Suddenly, our lives became so much more interesting. I was pregnant.
My boyfriend was due to start school the week after I’d taken the pregnancy text, so it was a bit crazy in the house. I quickly realised that I would have to stay home for a month with our four-year-old, while battling morning sickness and I’d have to decide what I’m would do about going to school.
Needless to say, I survived that long month of first trimester madness and I decided to carry on with school.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I had a lot of things to consider and more research to do before I registered. Thankfully it all worked out and I registered successfully at school.
It has been almost five months into my journey as a student and I’m now in my third trimester and about to welcome our little baby boy into the world. My daughter is turning five and school has not always been easy, but I wouldn’t change any of it.
In the process, here is what I learned:
- No question is a silly question. As soon as I got a positive result on the pregnancy test, I fired up an email to my school faculty to find out all I could before I actually registered. Even the “silly” questions had to be asked.
I asked if the university had any policies regarding pregnant so that I could know exactly what to expect once in school – and what the school would expect from me as well. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
- Thorough research is necessary. For someone who hadn’t been in formal tertiary education environment for almost seven years, this was my saving grace. Things like the distance from my house to the campus, what time classes are scheduled, and whether these were physical attendance classes or online learning became important.
I needed information on financing and fees payments. Would they refund me should I not be able to attend classes after registering? Or did they have an option for me to pause my studies while I get through my pregnancy? As an expectant mom, I didn’t want to find myself in a situation where I would be legally obliged to pay for school fees for a course I wouldn’t be attending.
- Planning ahead. This might be an obvious one but it’s also often overlooked. Making sure that I knew when school started, the duration of classes as well as where they would be held, and what the first module would be helped me to take control of my school-life balance. I was able to plan for my daughter’s care while I was in school and book my flights and accommodation in advance, which saved me some much-needed Rands.
- Get approval from your doctor/midwife. Pregnancy can be a very stressful time. The additional pressure of school can be a recipe for disaster. Regular doctor and midwife check-ups to make sure that my pregnancy wasn’t high risk and that I could handle the extra work load did wonders for my well-being. I’d recommend this to anyone who finds themselves suddenly dealing with a whole lot more than expected during pregnancy.
- Set a priority list. As soon as school started, I was overwhelmed with assignments, reading materials and endless submission dates. On top of that, I still had my usual day-to-day responsibilities at home and at work. Setting a priority list came in very handy for me. It helped me realise that half the time it’s not that I wasn’t able to get through my tasks, but rather that there was poor planning/prioritisation on my side. Once I got the ball rolling with my priority list, the load got a lot easier to bare.
- Consider taking time off. When the pressure of school and pregnancy becomes too much to handle, don’t be afraid to take time off. Universities offer time off from postgraduate studies (not sure about undergraduate) while you recover and when you are ready, you can pick up where you left off. Just make sure to talk to the faculty administrator to get all the details.
These are the things I swear by to this day in my journey as a student, employee, expectant mom, and mom to a very active little girl. I have managed to do my studies, submit all my assignments on time, spend quality time with my daughter, bond with my unborn son, get to work every weekday, and still keep my head on. I believe you too can do it!
My name is Olerato Moiloa. I am a working mom with a 4-year-old little girl (Kamohelo) whom I call Kbear and another Little one on the way. During the day I work as an IT specialist and in the evenings, I am mostly Mom. In an attempt to find the *ME* in Mommy, I document my journey as I go through life exploring who I am as a Person, and how that affects my abilities as a Mother. All this I share on my blog Mommy and Baby Approved and through lifestyle videos blogs on my YouTube Channel.