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.

Features on Glamlife

You may have noticed articles similar to this one appearing on Glamlife in recent weeks. You can find an overview of all features here: http://glamlife.glam.ac.uk/features

If you know of any students who have an interesting story to tell, please get in touch. We’d like to cover the stories that you want to read about.

New: We’re now offering the opportunity for students to gain work experience on Glamlife. If you are interested, please email worktasters@glam.ac.uk for more information.