Shell shock and raspberries

Part-time mature student. Full-time mother. Johana’s take on student life

A rubber duck

by Johana Hartwig

In the spring of 2008, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was 29, employed and in a stable relationship so this wasn’t a bad thing – but I was hoping to do a part time Masters at Glamorgan. At the time I was still waiting to hear back from my employers regarding funding. Could I study with a baby? Could the course actually complement my maternity leave? Maybe it could give me an adult focus in a world of baby. Two weeks before the course was due to start, I received a letter to say that the funding for my Masters in Interactive Journalism had been granted. I decided to go for it, aware that if I didn’t succeed I would have to pay the funding back.

I completed my first practical module in the last stage of pregnancy, whilst still working full time. Being a part time mature student puts a different slant on the university experience. A Masters is not an undergraduate degree and generally does not involve copious amounts of drinking, especially not for a pregnant student. As a part time student I had to work a little harder to form relationships with other students. Fortunately, being a mature student gave me the confidence to do so.

The Stork lands…

baby Taryn

I gave birth to a beautiful boy, Taryn, in the last week of January at the Heath Hospital birthing pool. On the journey to the hospital, contractions rampant, I had noticed every pram and looked at the mothers pushing them with a new sense of awe at what they had gone through to bear their offspring. When I arrived at the Heath I was already six centimeters dilated and ready to waddle into the pool – I was lucky it was free, so off I waddled. Six pool hours and several primal screams later, out swam Taryn. My partner lifted him out of the water and we stared in shocked amazement at the life I had just bore. That week I did not attend classes.

The snow coincided with the second week after Taryn’s birth, and Glamorgan closed. After three weeks of sleepless nights and a new life revolving around a totally dependent little being, I made it in for two shell shocked hours. I continued to attend classes, with the support of my partner and mother on babysitting duties. Attending slowly got easier and I appreciated the adult time. At home I grabbed sleeping baby hours to study and write between nappy washing and expressing milk. It wasn’t easy. Pumping enough milk to keep Taryn full whilst I was in classes was a struggle.

Final year hopes…

So now I am entering my final year and I have a super alert, semi-weaned, raspberry-blowing baby who likes to be entertained. I wonder how things will go. I enjoy a challenge and I hope that I will continue to juggle work and home commitments, dropping the odd ball whilst bouncing the baby and not the other way around.

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