In Pursuit of a “Well-Rounded” Education

This is a story of becoming “well-rounded” while attending USD Law School, figuratively and literally.  How so, you say?  By getting pregnant during law school.  If you have babies on the mind, please listen up because I have some pros and cons for you to weigh in on and some unsolicited advice as well. 

Here’s my tale.  I returned to law school in August sporting my baby bump, not realizing the impact it would have on my peers.  Suddenly, other students starting sharing their desires to start a family, and I realized that having a baby is a taboo subject in law school.  A lot of students think about it, but no one really talks about it.  This is presumably because all of us at USD are on a professional track, and who needs a major league distraction like that in the middle of Torts, Contracts, or Crim Law.  Personally, my husband and I did not want to wait three years to start our family.  We are expecting our little one in December. 

Now, I am no expert but I did have the fortune of consulting with recent USD graduates who earned two titles during law school: Mom and J.D.  So, if you are thinking about rounding out your belly and your education, here are some things for you to consider. 

PROS 

  • If you are ready for a family, you don’t have to wait three years.  Getting pregnant is also a little like gambling in Vegas—you don’t know when you will hit the jackpot, so starting in law school means less pressure to make it happen right away. 
  • It may help you find a job after school, if you can tout to a prospective employer that you will not need maternity leave in the near term.  The fast track to partnership doesn’t exactly leave time for making babies.   
  • As a student, you have more flexibility in choosing your schedule than you would with a full-time job.  Part-time study is also an option that offers more time for baby and studying. 
  • Making time for class and studying is easier if you have family members nearby or a nanny to help take care of your little one.  If you have the support system in place, you are miles ahead.  If not, see the con argument below. 

CONS 

  • Law school is tough enough without having the toll of pregnancy and the time demands of taking care of a newborn.  Your GPA might not get along well with morning sickness, labor, and lack of sleep. 
  • It is difficult to know how you are going to “feel” during pregnancy; some days are better than others.  I have had a relatively nausea-free time, but everyone is different.  It may be difficult to plan when you are going to feel well.  I would suggest trying to stay ahead of the syllabus and outline early for those bad days when you are unable to study. 
  • Pregnancy and motherhood could hurt you in a tight job market by limiting your time for clerking and networking.   
  • Help is essential when balancing a baby and law school, and child care is expensive.  Law school may not leave much room in the budget for a nanny or day care if you don’t have family around to help. 

The best way to balance pregnancy and law school is to be prepared.  Have an idea of who is going to help with the babysitting, and choose a feasible class schedule.  Once the due date is near, make sure you plan for the baby’s early arrival.  Set up the room, install the car seat, wash the clothes, study and write your papers in advance.  Did I really just write that?  Try to plan ahead; try to study and write your papers in advance.

Bottom line, getting pregnant and having kids in law school is a very personal decision, and no soapbox is high enough to stand on and preach otherwise.  It is important to be able to manage stress and multi-task, but I believe moms are the best multi-taskers in the world,  aren’t they?  So, should you choose to take the path to parenthood, just know it is possible and that there are other moms (and dads) who have already paved the way.
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