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Hi Everyone,

I am so so grateful that I finally got in to my first choice PA school, but am not feeling very torn about my decision to attend. I just had my first child (found out I was pregnant right after applying) who will be three months old at program start. I have support from my husband and family, but I am so nervous about the experience negatively affecting my marriage and my mental health. Will I be able to manage studying and spending some time with my baby and husband? I really just want to start school already, but I'm starting to second guess myself that maybe I should defer for a year. I'm feeling sad about missing out so much of my daughter's early life, nervous I won't do well academically, and scared that I will be constantly stressed out.   I'm looking for advice, encouragement, anything!

Sorry for rambling....

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If it were me, I would 100% defer for a year. Save yourself the stress, spend time with your family, and start school when you know you'll be able to fully commit yourself. Talk to your program ASAP to make sure your seat will be waiting for you, and so they can give your seat to someone else for this year. I've talked to a couple of people that tried to manage having a very young infant while starting PA school, and both ended up leaving partway through their didactic year. I'm sure it's not impossible with the right support system, but why put yourself through that if you don't have to? PA school isn't going anywhere, and a year goes by so quickly!

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My friend in PA school has a 5 year old child and she was always stressed out about her child. She managed to pass school but it was marginally passing. I don't know if she passed the Pance.  Her family support system was not great and her husband was always working which impeded her learning greatly.  She always had to leave early and try her best to find a sitter. Fortunately, she had friends like me who would send her notes and give her the "must knows to just pass the test" 10 minutes before the test! 

I highly recommend deferring.  Maybe do a small trial run with your family to set up your future schedule in PA school? Try taking one free/cheap community class in like medical spanish or microbiology (something that will help you as a PA or in PA school). It can even be one hour of youtube classes and tests on quizlet but make sure you are gone from home!  Slowly start adding more classes to help you, your husband, your family, your friends, and most importantly your baby get used to your schedule and all those classes you've taken will refresh your brain to make your didactic year somewhat easier.  

Also, take this time to find a baby sitter you trust. Family members can suddenly become unavailable to babysit even if they are retired. 

I do believe with the right support system, you can definitely make it.  Best of luck!

Edited by funinthesun
would like to add well wishes
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My situation was similar, but different in that I was a new father, not a mother. I truly believe that being a new mother would be more difficult, especially if you plan on breast feeding, etc. 

Having said that, I'll tell you that my first son was 2 weeks old when my program started. It was extremely difficulty of course, but IT IS POSSIBLE, and as long as your husband is 100% committed and on board with your schooling, you can do this. Everyone's situation is different, but I am so glad that I didn't defer. When I was at home studying, I would study for a couple hours, then take 30 minute breaks to play with my new little family. Then get back to the books. 

The above posters bring up great points. I just thought I'd add my different perspective for you. I've now been out practicing almost 2 years and have no regrets. 

If your husband will be staying home with the baby, I say go for it. If he'll be working full time, that's a different situation entirely. 

Good luck!

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It is possible, one of my classmates started last year with two babies still breast feeding. She even moved down away from family, just her husband and her, so no local family support. On lunch hours she will pump. She's even on the class governing body and I know she gets good grades.

So yes it is doable! I would not defer. It seemed like a couple of the moms with older kids in the 4-6yr range had a tougher time because they would cry when they would leave as well as when the parent had to focus on their studying at home. 

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Hard decision no matter what.  Deferring just means you'll miss baby's 2nd and 3rd years instead of 1st and 2nd.  

Either way, as above:  you need strong support, reliable child care (and a back up!), and be mentally prepared to miss out on things.  This is more than going back to work after maternity leave - you're gone all day and need to study at home.  Rotations can be rough as you are expected to commit to the hours required (i.e varying shifts, 12+ hr days, commuting, etc) regardless of personal situation.

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  • 3 weeks later...

First - your feelings are valid and I see and hear where you're at. It is a HARD decision to make. 

I found out I was pregnant shortly after my acceptance, and decided to defer a year (I would have had baby middle of second semester). I ended up starting school when babe was 8 months. The months leading up were HARD HARD HARD HARD. Honestly, words really don't convey how torn and guilty and uneasy and scared I was to start school. I had the same thoughts you are having - will I fail? will I miss too much? how will I balance it all? I wavered every day about whether or not to go, and finally, 3 weeks before school started, decided to go for it. It has been a great decision for us - I like going to school and my daughter is thriving at her daycare. It's HARD though, don't get me wrong. Pumping was tough. Being away late night and being unavailable even when I'm home because I have studying I need to get done is hard, especially when she is crying for me. There's never enough time to get all the studying I probably should do done with a little person and a family to take care. Sometimes, family needs to take precedent and I slack on studying and sleep, and other times, I absolutely have to study and I need to ask for help or let things (the house, home cooked dinner) slide. My husband is in a high stress job and we live far from family, yet we have found a way. Long story short (I'll stop rambling), it has been hard but it has (so far, though some days I'm like why oh why am I doing this) been worth it.

I believe you can do it. It will be hard, but you can do hard things! Get a great support system, an awesome sitter, if you have family and/or a significant other, get them on board now. Get good at time management - you might need to cut out TV, extra events, hobbies, or even some friendships to have the time you need for school and your family. It's hard, but know there are people just like you who have done it and are (mostly) thriving, and at the very least, surviving. 🙂

Please reach out to me if you need encouragement or have questions.

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you so much all that replied! It is very encouraging to hear from students that went through school with children and succeeded!

@MT2PA Exactly, that is what I tell myself every time I think about deferring. And I assume an older child would be more of a distraction and sleep less. 

@acceptedtopaschool123 I am going through exactly what you described, constantly feeling guilty and sad about leaving my baby! Nervous about having time to pump, nervous about being tired from breastfeeding, nervous about baby being sick while I'm in school or teething and being up all night etc.  I know I want to attend school, I've worked so hard for the past 5 years I can't let go of my dream. I'm starting school in two weeks and I cry every day thinking about how I'll be missing out on my baby's first two years. Thankfully I do have good family support in town, my mom will be watching baby twice a week and I'll have a babysitter the rest of  the time. My husband will be working full time, but he'll leave a bit earlier to be able to take care of dinner and some housework. I'm trying to keep myself positive, telling myself that I'll dedicate at least 2 hours a day (unless there's exams) to my baby and husband. Is that doable? My program is mostly 8-4:30.

I'm hearing from several PA students that the school is brutal, all they did was study, and barely got any sleep. Would appreciate any encouragement that it is not the case. I know there will be times when I'll need to study more than others, but for the most part can I get away with 2 hours of studying a night? 

Any scheduling tips or things that would be helpful for me to take care of before the program starts? I'm trying to stock up on household essentials, and writing down dinner ideas. 


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So so hard, but if you have a husband 100% on board and your travel time is minimal, you'll make it. The regret about missing out on things will always be there, but it's a decision you have to make. When you do spend time with your child, enjoy it thoroughly and make some wonderful memories for all of you. It's not going to be easy, but you've got to do, what you've got to do. Don't be shy about asking for help with housework or school work. When you come across someone else later in life who needs help, extend a helping hand. Form a network of support - it takes a village to bring up a child. Today you take help, tomorrow you give......cycle of life. 🙂

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Younger is better! I started school when my kid was 10 months and they really don't miss you (you will miss them dearly but that's another story). We had a combination of in-home daycare, family members helping here and there, and then full-day nursery school to take care of her while I was in school. I spent the evenings with her and then started studying from 8-12ish each night. The days are long and hard but having a kid focuses you. I would also spend at least a 1/2 day at the library each weekend because studying with her around was near impossible. I would say that a half dozen students in my class had kids and we all survived, most graduated with honors! Just stay on top of childcare logistics, have a backup plan if it fails, and make sure school is aware of your situation. Hopefully they are accommodating. I had to miss a day or two for sick doctor visits and I made up the work on my own time and it was never an issue. They knew I was committed and was working as hard as I could. Good luck to you.

Edited by hbanninger
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@hbanninger Thank you so much for your input, it's really helpful to hear from a mom who went through school with an infant! I know she won't really miss me, and that's why I prefer to just go through it now. But I feel badly for myself that I'll be missing out on her baby years. But I'm really glad to hear that you were able to at least spend the evening with your baby! Also reassuring to hear that you didn't need to spend the entire weekend studying. Unfortunately, there's only two others in my class with children, and theirs are older. 

@Zoeyw Thank you for your words of encouragement! If not for my husband I honestly would not be going through with this. What'll I need  to work on is enjoying the little time I'll have with my baby and not be thinking the whole time about the time I don't have

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  • 3 months later...

I think it's possible, but you need to believe it is. I have no personal experience yet, but recently spoke to a PA student who started the program with a 7 month old. I am 7 months pregnant right now and will be in her shoes when I start the program next summer. You have to analyze you situation...I have great family support and two people (husband & mom) who can watch after baby. I plan to breastfeed, but will pump (using one of those automatic ones you don't have to constantly check) in school. I can see how your situation is a little different starting with a 3 month old. But, you are already accepted, which is a great accomplishment. I know the mom guilt because I feel it and haven't even started, but your child will not remember those two years. They will be tough but certainly pass. I would not want to start PA school with a 2 year old either, I feel it would be tougher then, so your situation never gets better in my opinion you just need to bunker down and get it done. Remember you will most likely have classes 8-4 or so and be able to be home and spend some time with baby before studying for 2 hours or so every night. You will have weekends and breaks every once in a while. Clinical year from what I hear is a little easier and will feel more like a job. Good luck!!

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I’m in PA school now with a 10 month old. It’s hard but totally doable, especially if you have a strong support system. I’m lucky enough that my husband was able to take this year off and handle everything with the baby. Like the person above said, they really do not remember this young. I’m studying like crazy during the week and weekend and I still find time to spend with them. They are people in my class with multiple young kids. There is even a single mom. You can do it. It’s all about time management. There are times I feel bad about not spending a lot of time with my daughter but then I think I am doing this for her and it will be better for our family in the long run.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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