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When should I try to have the a baby?

  • Spring 2018 and stay on track for Internship

    Votes: 3 30.0%
  • Summer 2018 postpone internship for a year

    Votes: 3 30.0%
  • Wait until I am completely done with school/post-doc and risk having only one child

    Votes: 3 30.0%
  • Something else

    Votes: 1 10.0%

  • Total voters
    10

Dr. Graymatter

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Hello,

I am nearing the end of my 3rd year in a Clinical PsyD program. Next year will be my last year of classes and my advanced therapy practicum before going on to internship. My school also requires us to defend our dissertation before going on to internship 5th year.

My husband and I have been talking lately and realized that since we want more than one child in the future, that if we wait until I am done with school and post-doc, he would be nearly 40 by the time we try to have a second child...not ideal for us. So, we've been considering having our first child before I go for internship. I would ideally get pregnant next year and either have the baby in the spring 2018 when my classes are done and I only have to go into practicum a couple days per week so I can bond with the baby for 4-5 months before starting internship, or have the baby in the summer of 2018 and postpone internship for one year. However, I can not figure out if Title IX would protect me from getting fired from my practicum should I opt to have my baby In the spring and take off a couple of weeks. I don't want to talk to anyone at my school because I don't want anyone's nose in my personal business.

Additionally, I am apprehensive about being visibly pregnant while interviewing for internship and wonder if it may be better to just postpone for a year so I am not visibly pregnant while interviewing.

Has anyone had a baby while on Practicum? What did you do? Which one of the two options I mentioned above sounds the most feasable?

P.S. My husband's job has already told him they will let him work from home for a year if I get matched with an internship out of state. So, there are no concerns about the family getting split up whenever I go on internship.
 
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I don't think you could get fired from your practicum any more than you'd get fired if you were in a car accident. If it's a paid practicum you prob won't get paid of course, and if there are hour requirements to pass the course you might conceivably have to make up those hours and take an incomplete on your coursework if you were out for a really long time, but if you're pregnant it is something you know about for MONTHS so you would have ample time to consider and discuss the best way to manage it with your practicum site, whether that was putting in more hours at the start, or however they'd prefer you to get in your hours around your anticipated "out" time (you'll probably want to take a bit longer than 2 weeks though). I've known women who have had kids on practicum but I don't know how they worked it out- but it never seemed to be an issue. Regarding internship, I would also be a little concerned about being visibly pregnant during interviews even though it shouldn't matter, but then again, if postponing applying for internship is an option then what does it matter anyway? You could interview even if you were visibly pregnant, and if you didn't match, just try again the next year.
 
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PsyDr

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It's not being pregnant that is the issue. That's a protected class.

It's inability to complete the requirements for education in a manner outlined. You could have numerous causes for that. Most practica do not allow for extended leave.

We all have choices to make and those choices have consequences.
 
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AppsAintNoThang

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Several of my cohort had babies during practicum. People are more understanding than you think! There's never a perfect time, you can't leave your life on hold waiting for it.
 
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Dr. Graymatter

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It's not being pregnant that is the issue. That's a protected class.

It's inability to complete the requirements for education in a manner outlined. You could have numerous causes for that. Most practica do not allow for extended leave.

We all have choices to make and those choices have consequences.

Well, my intention wouldn't be to get away with not putting in the required time and services. My concern is more so whether they would allow me to make up the time or extend my stay at the practicum site a couple of weeks. I have no intention of staying out for a few months or anything like that.
 

PsyDr

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Well, my intention wouldn't be to get away with not putting in the required time and services. My concern is more so whether they would allow me to make up the time or extend my stay at the practicum site a couple of weeks. I have no intention of staying out for a few months or anything like that.

Most sites outline how much time they give for sick leave, family stuff, vacations, etc. If you're gonna try to get more than that, they can fire you and you're not protected at all.

Your attempts at aggressively protecting your privacy, while understandable, are likely working against your own interests. Taking more than the allowed time off is not protected. So your options become: delaying family planning, rolling the dice and hoping for the best, returning to practicum and only using the allowed time off including prenatal stuff, or discussing your plans with a supervisor and throwing yourself on their mercy.

If you go around and try to throw the law at people, they'll get defensive and try to get rid of you as quickly as they can using terms created by their attorney.

If you go to a supervisor and explain your plans, and how you'll make sure your plans won't screw up their work; then they might be nice and help as they can.
 
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Dr. Graymatter

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Most sites outline how much time they give for sick leave, family stuff, vacations, etc. If you're gonna try to get more than that, they can fire you and you're not protected at all.

Your attempts at aggressively protecting your privacy, while understandable, are likely working against your own interests. Taking more than the allowed time off is not protected. So your options become: delaying family planning, rolling the dice and hoping for the best, returning to practicum and only using the allowed time off including prenatal stuff, or discussing your plans with a supervisor and throwing yourself on their mercy.

If you go around and try to throw the law at people, they'll get defensive and try to get rid of you as quickly as they can using terms created by their attorney.

If you go to a supervisor and explain your plans, and how you'll make sure your plans won't screw up their work; then they might be nice and help as they can.

By supervisor do you mean academic advisor? I have not started my advanced practicum for next year yet, so I do not have access to a supervisor to talk to. I also had no intention of up front throwing a law in anyone's face but rather wanted to know if there were any laws in place to protect me should I approach a supervisor to discuss planning out my hours etc. and they fire me on the spot. But it is good to know that there isn't one.
 
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I kinda smiled when you were worried about your husband being 40 and having a baby. (My own husband was 40 when our first was born.) How old will you be? You are the one with more age considerations!

Aside from that gentle teasing, I waited until after licensure to have a child. I work in private practice, so I could take as much time as I needed (although sadly unpaid). This worked out well when I had serious complications and was hospitalized for 5 weeks. That's one hard thing about pregnancy. It can be a bit of a wildcard. You can plan to take off three weeks, but who knows how things will turn out.

Good luck in your decision-making!
 
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That's one hard thing about pregnancy. It can be a bit of a wildcard. You can plan to take off three weeks, but who knows how things will turn out.
...or you can plan to get pregnant within a certain several-month time period, and that doesn't work out either. Lots of wild cards floating around re: pregnancy Lots of ppl find it's not something easy to plan around, that's for sure. :)
 
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bmedclinic

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I kinda smiled when you were worried about your husband being 40 and having a baby. (My own husband was 40 when our first was born.) How old will you be? You are the one with more age considerations!

Aside from that gentle teasing, I waited until after licensure to have a child. I work in private practice, so I could take as much time as I needed (although sadly unpaid). This worked out well when I had serious complications and was hospitalized for 5 weeks. That's one hard thing about pregnancy. It can be a bit of a wildcard. You can plan to take off three weeks, but who knows how things will turn out.

Good luck in your decision-making!

First off, glad to see Dr Eliza back! Second from my observational data collection I'd argue pregnancy is almost always a wildcard. Like, who has a perfectly uneventful pregnancy? Nearly no one I know, at least.

OP talk to your DCT, like PsyDR stated and just be honest and open and they'll give you feedback. So many of my cohort had kids during grad school. It worked out. They graduated, got licensed, etc. I dont know exactly how they worked it out, but afaik none of them faced any "consequences".
 
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AcronymAllergy

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Agree with the others--discuss it either with your academic advisor or, perhaps more ideally, DCT. There are situations in which it's "better to ask forgiveness than permission," but this doesn't seem like one. And as others have mentioned, it's not uncommon for grad students to have children while in school; it just may require some creative "juggling" and time management on their part. I don't know of anyone who was outright dismissed or failed to complete training for that specific reason.
 

aly cat

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I think much of this discussion has the potential to be moot -- while you can certainly *try* to aim and get pregnant in a certain window, it may or may not happen. I've had many friends who tried for 6 months, 9 months, 1 year + before getting pregnant (and not just like oh we'll see how it goes.. I'm talking ovulation tests, charting, plotting, using all of the evidence-based tactics available to them). I've known others still who had no problem getting pregnant but miscarried multiple times.

I say this as a currently pregnant person who is a tenure-track assistant professor. I, like you, tried to plan along the way and revised that plan several times. I finally heard enough of people saying "just go for it, there's never a good time and you'll figure it all out when it happens." They were right. I don't know of anyone who has had a baby in grad school/internship/fellowship and were unable to make it work. Do what's best for you and your family and everything else can be worked with.

That said, I'm personally happy that I waited until after grad school and internship. My current university has a VERY generous maternity leave policy that will make for a much smoother transition to motherhood for me. Best of luck!
 
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CWard12213

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Someone from my cohort had a baby a few months into her predoctoral internship. Her site was very accommodating, she either started her internship early or ended it late, or perhaps both I don't fully recall, in order to complete her required hours while still taking 12 weeks for maternity leave.

I am male so the physiological particulars are different, but my wife and I also wanted (and now have) multiple children and did not want to wait until late in life to do so as the women in her family have a history of early menopause. Our firstborn was 18 months old when I started internship and while this certainly had its challenges, it was very manageable. Try to get your dissertation done first, and get some early studying in for the EPPP in order to try and minimize the "not enough time in the day" bottleneck that babies can cause.

Edit: I just realized you are asking about having a baby during your practicum not your internship. While that might be a bit harder, I would think just check with your program requirements. Our therapy practicum was 600 hours in 9 months minimum, but some practicum sites kept students for 12 months. As long as the site and your program would allow you to start early or end late, or put in extra time before the baby is born, you will be fine.
 
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soccercat

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There's no right or wrong time to have a baby. I think it depends on you and your partner and a variety of aspects of what you can deal with while in school. Everyone's situation is going to be different and people will share both positive and negative stories on here. I think the bottom line is, if it seems like it could be doable, it's probably more doable than you think.

As for practicum, if you have a contract with a placement you may have to edit it or it may protect you from health related "issues" depending on the site so they wouldn't be able to terminate you.

Every clinical supervisor I have ever had who waited said they regretted it and encouraged us to try early if we could make it work. I chose to do have a baby my last year before internship because I had the most flexibility with my schedule (including a practicum supervisor who let me drop down to half time after the baby was born. Side note: She had her first baby on postdoc and delayed graduation as a result. It had little impact on her career). The baby was born in very early spring. I took 2 weeks off and then went back and finished on time. I was visibly pregnant on internship interviews as was a friend of mine. That was interesting but not horrible...If you want to talk more in private you can PM me.
 

Anxiety

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You won't get fired for "being pregnant" but you might not complete practicum if you don't meet the required amount of hours in the required period of time (600-800hrs in 9-12mos is the norm).

I got pregnant and gave birth during my diagnostic practicum. I only took one week off from classes and 3 weeks off from practicum but I had already finished 5 batteries at that time and only needed to do 1 more and I had two months to do it so I was fine. Everyone is different and everyone's body is different. Also, you don't know if you will have complications during and after pregnancy that will require you to bed rest. But if you can, get pregnant and give birth during practicum rather than internship as practicum sites tend to be more lenient and internships have APA requirements that make it less flexible.

Here's two ways to look at it:

1. Getting pregnant during Advanced Practicum: pro - more flexibility with sites and time (you're not working 40hrs/wk). con - you'll start internship with a newborn
2. Getting pregnant after advanced practicum and delaying internship for a year: pro - more time spent with baby, less stressful. Con - you're a year behind

Both options are hard but doable. My case worked out well for me and I didn't have to delay anything. I'll be starting internship this year with a 2yr old and I plan to get pregnant later in the year so that I'm due after internship ends. Hopefully I have enough time in between internship and postdoc to give birth and recuperate, if not I might delay postdoc a bit. But I definitely do not want to delay internship.


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psych112815

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I had a baby in November of my third year, right in the middle of practicum. Feel free to message me if you have any questions. My supervisor was very understanding. I told him and my program as soon as I was out of my first trimester as I have a history of miscarriage. I was nervous, but everyone was very understanding. I think that it helped that I was very determined to make sure that I did not have to take a semester off. For my placement specifically, I started 2 months early and took 2 months off after my son was born. I still met all of my requirements, therefore I didn't face any issues. I would be more concerned about looking visibly pregnant for interviews. I found while on interviews this year that male colleagues/applicants tended to be more up front about their home/family life (disclosing if they were married and had kids) whereas I felt that disclosing the fact that I have a young child would have hurt my rankings. My husband and I actually decided to delay trying to conceive our second child until after match day. Having a young child does make graduate school harder, but it by no means is impossible.


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nicsaminechce

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One thing you will do wrong is not to be open about the wish to have a baby during your phd studies and not talk to your DCT.
They all may say that "we will support you" but what does that really mean? Will they understand that if the baby gets sick (and he/she will get sick) will you be allowed to stay with him in the hospital or ant home for 3 days?

You need to have an open discussion, get specifics, find out whether you university has a maternity leave policy or anything in place. I have given a panel discussion about this issue at the SEPA conference in NOLA last year. I was 38 years old and ending ym first year when I got pregnant. I wanted the baby. I spoke to DCT who said "we will support you". that being said, it was really had to deliver the baby in spring of my second year. my husband is PhD student too. he went to school 3 days after the birth. I went to school 2 weeks after the birth - after c-section. My mom came for the whole spring semester and was with the baby.

I was able to be excused when my baby got sick and was able to take exams at other times - week later. I still saw clients but when baby got sick, I re-scheduled them.
It was terribly hard. I also breastfed and was allowed to pump in the private room every 3 hours, regardless of what. I did that on my externship too.

I would not change my decision. I just matched , my husband matched and we will eventually get degree. But I would make sure to be open with your school about what kind of understanding and accommodations you can get. because there in no way you can keep it "private" and then fight for something once baby is born. It can be done but you have to speak for yourself and you will need accommodations - as the situation comes and requires.
I still had to deliver and meet milestones so...

we love our baby and we are so happy, I also think we have had a plenty of quality time with her. I also get help form community (babysitting for 2 hours over weekend, or cleaning my kitchen) cause you will be exhausted.
do not be afraid to ask for help. people have no idea what it is to have a baby while in the PhD studies.
one thing i learned, keeping it a secret and playing that you are a wonder woman who "does it all" will not work.
 

nicsaminechce

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I also woudl not disclose that I have a baby in the match process. the field is just not ready for the mothers who are applying for the internship. that is just fact. it will hurt you... some women do not wear wedding rings. try to conceive maybe after match day.
 
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I also woudl not disclose that I have a baby in the match process. the field is just not ready for the mothers who are applying for the internship. that is just fact. it will hurt you... some women do not wear wedding rings. try to conceive maybe after match day.

Counterpoint: though I didn't dwell on the fact of having a baby during my internship interviews, I did make the fact known because it was important to me to observe the kind of response I got. I matched and found a great work-life balance mentor in the process.
 
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Central_Perk

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I also woudl not disclose that I have a baby in the match process. the field is just not ready for the mothers who are applying for the internship. that is just fact. it will hurt you... some women do not wear wedding rings. try to conceive maybe after match day.

I've heard arguments as to why women shouldn't wear engagement rings, wedding rings, etc. during job interviews. While I understand the rationale, I don't think I'd want to be in a place that would hold being engaged/married against me. Given the high percentage of women in clinical psychology programs, I would think that it's fairly common to have applicants with families or planning them in the near future.
 
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nicsaminechce

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common sense and how things actually are = two different things. I am all for equality and promoting women while pregnant in the field but unfortunately, I have not seen it worth risking to disclose anything in the interview.
 

nicsaminechce

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you likely will get a sense of how much interns work and what is work life balance when talking to faculty and students. you do not need to disclose anything but they will disclose their attitudes and work life balance.
 
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I've always found the wedding ring debate befuddling, my thought being that if you're in a stable and supportive relationship (presumably what would be assumed if you're obviously married) then statistically you might be better equipped to handle the stresses of grad school than someone who may be planning on juggling the ups and downs of the dating pool simultaneously with the stresses of grad school. But that's just me; maybe most people handled the stresses of the dating game better than I did. Thank goodness that part of my life is over :) I was already married when applying for grad schools, and I did make a point to mention that my partner was easily able to relocate with me.
 

WisNeuro

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I've always found the wedding ring debate befuddling, my thought being that if you're in a stable and supportive relationship (presumably what would be assumed if you're obviously married) then statistically you might be better equipped to handle the stresses of grad school than someone who may be planning on juggling the ups and downs of the dating pool simultaneously with the stresses of grad school. But that's just me; maybe most people handled the stresses of the dating game better than I did. Thank goodness that part of my life is over :) I was already married when applying for grad schools, and I did make a point to mention that my partner was easily able to relocate with me.

Yeah, that one is baffling as well. Maybe it's because I'm married, or just don't care, but I don't even really notice whether or not applicants are wearing wedding rings. The only way I know if they are married is if they mention their spouse during the interview in some way.
 
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