How My Labour Class Taught Me How to Survive Grad School with a Baby

When I was six months pregnant, I eagerly signed up for a labour class with my partner. I was determined to have a drug free labour (despite the “Don’t be a hero” comments from my friends). The class was an intensive weekend course with an enthusiastic (and amazing!) doula.

Life had different plans – and I ended up with an emergency c-section, and many, many, many, drugs – but atlas! The class was not a waste and I learned a lot of valuable life lessons that I use in my current crazy life.

1. Labour at home as long as possible.

Nothing is cozier than your own home. Both my doula and midwife advised me to labour at home as long as possible- take a bath and *controversially* have a glass of wine. I was induced so my initial stages of labour had a lot more crying and screaming- but the bath and wine idea sounds nice!

I have a 2 hour commute each way to my school’s campus, so I “labour” from home as much as I can. No wasted time commuting, cheaper coffee, and sweat pants- think of the sweat pants!

2. “You ARE doing it.”

I’ve heard Transition is a tough labour phase. I never actually got to that point because I was in the operating room well before I had the chance. (Kudos to those moms who experienced transition and lived to tell the tale). The advice our doula gave us, was when we say/feel like we can’t do it anymore- remember, you ARE doing it. Of course you can do it, you already ARE doing it.

I’m 6 days into my program and I’m absolutely drowning already. “I can’t do this, I can’t do this” echoes in my brain more than once a day. But the reality is: I AM doing. I’m going to class, I’m doing work (maybe not all of it, but I’m doing everything I can), and I’m surviving. I AM doing this.

3. Breathe.

Simple, but so helpful. Breathing grounds you and helps reduce stress. Just breathe.

4. Pain is temporary.

Labour is such a small amount of pain, for such an amazing, incredible, life-long gift. Most, if not all, mothers will tell you that the pain of giving birth is minuscule compared to the joy that a child brings. 

Kate 5-6 years from now owes me big time for this one. I’ve never had so many demands pulling me ten different directions before. But oh man, it’ll be so worth it. A lovely colleague of mine said to me today, “you’ll be the person, who people say ‘you can do it, Kate did it!'” And yes, I will be that mythological creature who was able to survive the course-heavy section of a MA program with a baby/toddler at home. No pain, no gain!

5. Get moving!

If you opt for the drug-free route, you have the advantage of being able to freely move around. Bring a yoga ball to bounce on or roam the hospital halls- do whatever makes you comfortable! I’m pretty sure I was physically pinned down during my labour, so I definitely didn’t get to use this tip- maybe baby #2?

Exercise! It’s still important to take care of yourself and your health. Exercise does wonderful things for our stress levels, short and long term health, and helps us stay focused during the rest of our day. I highly recommend maintaining an active hobby.

What are your survival tips?



Extra Cuddles.

Baby E is a huge cuddler. I cosleep for both naps and at night. I has it’s disadvantages of course- I don’t get as much work done around here- but I love the snuggles. I start back at school in September, which means this time alone cuddling is numbered. Cherishing each moment. 


– K.

Daydreamer: Stress Reduction Post #1

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been a little stressed lately. There have been lots of changes happening in my life, and my proposal writing is in full swing. One of my favourite ways to reduce stress is to take a short break and daydream. I imagine myself somewhere else and all the current stresses of today temporarily disappear. (I also use this technique before bed and I fall asleep very quickly!) These are a few of my favourite daydream escapes:

– being with my partner in the Maldives, staying in a cute little private hut. I imagine feeling the warmth heat of the sun, the silky sand between my toes, and taking a dip in the salt water ocean.

– picturing our first home and how I would decorate it. Pinterest helps fuel my creativity for this one. I picture a large backyard with a calming fountain, colourful playroom for baby E, and a big white kitchen for entertaining.

 – owning a cottage in Muskoka. My dream one day is to own a nice property up North where all my friends and family can visit. BBQ-ing, boating, and watching the kids play sounds like a perfect weekend retreat.

– my wedding. I imagine walking down the aisle, after ring bearer baby E, in my backless lace dress. I also imagine letting loose and dancing with my favourite people.

– soaking in a tub. I found this picture on Pinterest a while back and I found it to be so calming. Water has such a soothing effect on me and the view of nature brings internal peace.

What daydreams do you find relaxing? Where’s your happy place?

(Happy Gilmore reference, anyone?)

– K.

Life Changes.

How many life changes are too many? This sounds like a philosophical question. But it’s not. I have a concrete, numerical answer for you. Seven. Seven life changes are too many.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. My partner and I are in our early to mid 20’s so we’re going through a lot of common transitional phases in our life. However, we’re also going through the transitional phases with a baby- adding a lot more stress into the mix! Babies/children love stability, and we have so many unknowns in our life that stability seems like such an unrealistic and unattainable goal at this point in time.

Here are the seven life changes I am simultaneously going through. I hope by getting all these thoughts out of my mind and into the universe, my head will feel a little clearer.

1. New baby! This is a big one, of course. There is no bigger life adjustment than adding a child into the mix. Every decision we make from here on out, impacts our child. Life isn’t about me anymore. It’s not even about “us.” It’s about him- baby E.

2. Starting school. I’ll be leaving the workforce (and leaving mat-leave!) behind and heading back to hitting the books. Except graduate school I’ve heard is a lot more work than undergrad.

3. Spouse changing careers. My spouse has been bustin’ his butt trying to get into a new career. He’s be applying in multiple different cities and we’re still unsure of where his job hunt will take us.

4. Moving. Related to point #3, we will eventually be moving. The exact city is TBD adding to the confusion. Will we continue to rent? Will we officially become grown ups and get a mortgage? Where will our new city be!?

5. Physical changes. My body has been through a lot. The most obvious being that I gained 60lbs, had a major operation (c-section) and lost 50lbs. Who’s body is this, and where did mine go? My latest struggle has been transitioning baby E to solids. I was exclusively breastfeeding up until 6 months, and as I introduce more foods into his diet, my hormones are allover the map (re: lots of irrational crying).

6. Wedding/marriage. My partner and I are making the leap from common-law to married. I’m not sure exactly how this will change our relationship- I’m thinking very little- but we’ve decided to celebrate with a wedding. Given our hectic lives, we’ve decided this one may wait until 2+ years from now… Although eloping is still on the table and very enticing.

7. Social life. Or rather lack thereof. 99.9% of the plans my friends make are not breastfeeding/cosleeping mom friendly (I need to be home by 9pm). I’m patiently waiting for play dates and birthday parties.
And as a poor student, money woes are creeping around on top of everything else.

Needless to say, I’m a little stressed out. But life doesn’t give us what we can’t handle, so we’re taking all of these massive changes one day at a time.

Hope you’re all taking care of yourselves,

– K.

Commuter Baby.

We have officially decided on our daycare for baby E, and I’m feeling comfortable with the route we’ve chosen. We live an hour away from my school in the city, so I will be commuting- which added the stressful question of: What city will our child care be in? There’s pros and cons to both, and after weighing all of our options, we’ve settled on the ‘closer to school, in the city’ learning centre.



– my 2 hour commute each day will be spent with my favourite person
– if baby E is sick, I can be there immediately for him
– I can pop in to breastfeed
– the daycare can take baby E for 50 hours a week, and I can utilize all of that time working, rather than wasting 10 of it on a train
– the daycare on campus is perfect, and hits all of the important points I look for in child care (nutritious meals, cloth diaper friendly, outdoor play, educational. And having worked in research, I appreciate the research-based programs he’ll get to be apart of!)
– no late fees if there’s a delay with my commute
– we may be moving cities, but I will not be moving schools. This means that even if we move, we won’t be disrupting baby E’s routine too much (ie. won’t have to change daycares)
– I “feel” more comfortable knowing that baby E is just a few steps away from my lab


– if baby E is sick, poor guy will have to spend an hour commuting home
– daycare costs more in the city
– I can’t work from home or take a lazy day, unless I want to miss a day of paid daycare (pro & con?)
– if I’m running late at school, there’s no one in the city who can pick up baby E, which means I’ll have to abandon school at 6pm everyday, no matter what (pro & con?)

Although the thought of sending baby E to daycare still makes my heart tighten with anxiety, I’m glad we’ve chosen a daycare that I do feel very comfortable with. And now that daycare is all sorted out, I’m going to hug baby E extra tight until the day he goes!

– K.

Social Anxiety.

In just 3 short months, I will be attending graduate school full-time with an 11 month-old boy. If I think about it long enough, I can physically feel the waves of impending doom. Time management, finances, and failing at both school and home are a few hot topics for my anxiety levels. My most recent stress? Social Anxiety.

I was bursting at the seams with pregnancy at my cohorts ‘meet and greet’ back in August. I was 9 months pregnant with a 9lb 5oz baby and everywhere I went I got looks that read, “Please don’t have your water break on my carpet.” When I signed up for the meet and greet, I was in the glorious (and deceiving) second trimester, and considered myself invincible. But on the day of the meet and greet, I admit I regretted my decision to attend – and not just because a homeless man yelled, “Damn Miss, you’re huge!” on my way there.

IMG_0869 copy

I’m an introvert and a room full of people asking personal questions about my baby bump was quite stressful. I wanted to slip away into the corner, but my huge belly would not allow for it. Additionally, I wonder if I’ll always be the “pregnant woman.” My colleagues met me as a mother first, and graduate student second. Will I always be known as the “mom” of the group, viewed as less serious about my career as my family life flourishes?

My university has not shown any signs of motherhood discrimination thus far, but it is still a potential stressor etched into the back of my mind. Many people still think that the order in life should be 1. School 2. Career 3. Marriage 4. Buying a House 5. Baby. I fear judgment from more traditional colleagues and professors. My partner and I did things a little backwards and I hope no one judges me too harshly for it.

Motherhood aside, I hope people like me. My mat leave has been low-key with most days lounging at home alone in sweat pants and an oversized T-shirt. I’ll need to shake the cobwebs off my social skills and remind myself that discussing poop is no longer an appropriate topic of conversation.

I know it’s painfully cheesy, but at least at the end of the day, my baby boy loves me unconditionally.

– K

Hello, my name is Kate.

I completely bombed my first year of undergrad. I failed 3 courses, dropped 1, and landed myself a modest, very modest, 43% average. In hindsight, it was one of the greatest experiences to ever happen to me. My mom told me that university success did not equal success as a person, and I could go to college, straight into the workforce, or move back home to figure life out. Her unconditional support had me thinking, “What do I want? Why am I here? Am I in university because everyone else is?” After deep soul searching, I realized that I wanted to be there, I wanted to learn the information, and I was there to better myself. I also quickly learned that grades would not be handed to me on a silver platter. I worked my butt off, taught myself how to study, juggle university course load, and more than doubled my average since my rocky start.

My passion to learn still motivates me daily. I feel as though education is the key to solving a multitude of social issues and pursuing a career in research is how I can best help others. I applied to graduate school and was absolutely delighted to be accepted into my dream program.


Shortly after applying to graduate school, my long-term boyfriend and I discovered that we were pregnant. I navigated the awkward and stressful route of telling my brand new advisor the news, and postponing my grad school start date. 60 pounds, 10 months, 24 hours of inductions, and 1 emergency c-section later, my beautiful baby boy entered the world! With the support of my loving common-law husband, and tremendously selfless mother, I will be a graduate student mother in September 2015.

My first year of undergrad was an enormous challenge, and I anticipate my first year of graduate school to be an even bigger adjustment. As a young mom, I do not have many friends with babies (and even fewer with babies in graduate school!), and my intentions for this blog are to 1) meet other parents in graduate school as we navigate this busy, stressful, and rewarding time in our lives and 2) create a sanctuary for my student-mom rants to keep me sane!

I look forward to connecting with you!

– K.