Becoming a Parent (Part 2): Finding a Work/Life Balance

In part 1 of becoming a parent, I discussed my pregnancy, the birth of my daughter, and a little on adjustment to life post-pregnancy. I left off by discussing my return to school, getting a job as a freelance writer, and my first few months of parenting. At first, things got off to a great start, but as I went  along I  realized that juggling school, working, parenting, and other responsibilities are quite overwhelming. Despite all of that responsibility, I continued to push forward.

After five months of working as a freelance writer, I quit and began to focus more on school and parenting. My school schedule consisted of  Monday through Friday beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 11:30 a.m., sometimes I had afternoon or evening classes. It was an early start every morning. I had to awake at 6 a.m. sometimes 5:30 a.m. to get my daughter and I ready for the day and get to class on time. My daughter attended a local daycare during my school hours until 4:30 each afternoon so that I could have some time to study after school.

Everyday I usually arrived home between 11:45 a.m. and 12 noon if I did not have any other stops or errands to do. Although I quit working, just being a student and a parent (including household chores, and extracurricular activities in the church and community ) was still overwhelming with all the responsibilities that I had on my plate. It was just not enough hours in the day to be both and my school work was very hard and time-consuming. In addition, I felt that I was not giving my daughter the time and attention that I needed to. At the time I was attending Francis Marion University, one of the best schools in my area and one of the top schools in the country since 2001.

From 2001 to 2007 I was in and out of school struggling to keep my grades up, parenting, keeping the household afloat, and extracurricular activities in the church and community. School was my biggest stresses and there were many times I just wanted to quit, but I would encourage myself to keep on going because I have come too far to go back.  Some way, somehow I was going to finish school. I have been contemplating an alternative to the brick and mortar classroom, online courses since 2003, but I was hesitant. I was hesitant  because I did not know if I would do well without an instructor in front of me, which is the way most of us  have been  learning if not all most of our lives.

In the late summer early fall of 2008, after much pondering (a few years to be exact) I decided that I would try the online route to completing my degree. Becoming an online student would give me more time and flexibility between being a student and a parent. It would also provide me the opportunity to finish my degree faster than I would have on the traditional route. That fall I transferred from Francis Marion University and  enrolled into the University of Phoenix (UOP) online degree program to finish my degree in Communications which was Mass Communications at my former school.

When I started my first class with UOP I had some anxiety about becoming an online student for the first time. My anxiety  quickly departed when I discovered how easy it was and how the university provided students with many tools to navigate our way through the virtual campus and classroom. The professors were also very helpful by providing contact information along with the syllabus and virtual classroom instructions in case we needed help. We were also required to share contact information with our classmates, especially when working in teams to ask for help when we needed it. Another great part about online schooling is that I could log in at any time all day, all week to work on and complete my assignments.

I completed my Bachelor of Science Communication in 2010. In July 2011, I returned to the online classroom to pursue a Master of Science Psychology and completed that degree in March 2013. I am very proud of myself for accomplishing these two degrees; two of some of the biggest milestones I have reached in my life. I had to do it not only for me but for my daughter; she was my inspiration.

Switching from traditional school to the online school route was one of the best decisions that I made regarding my education. Caring and parenting a special needs child has more challenges because of the amount of care and attention the child (ren) need. Online schooling gave me the work/life balance that I needed as the parent of a special needs child. I am able to spend more time with my daughter giving her the care and attention that she needs while getting my work completed by the deadlines.

If it wasn’t for the option of online school, I don’t know if I would have finished my education given my life situation. It was an arduous journey, but I persevered and was determined to finish and I thank God for it. THANK GOD FOR THE INTERNET!!! So, if you are a mother (or father) of an autistic/special needs child and you want to pursue an education, GO FOR IT! If you choose, go the online route because it is flexible and gives you the work/life balance that is needed for parents of special needs children.

This concludes part 2 of becoming a parent. Thanks for dropping by! Stay posted!

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Becoming a Parent (Part 1)

I became pregnant with my daughter the summer prior to my second semester of my college freshmen year. I was scared to tell my parents, worried whether she will be healthy, and afraid of becoming a parent. It was the start of my freshman year and I struggled to make it through the fall semester because of morning sickness coupled with the adjustments that come with getting use to college work and life. Somehow I managed to get up every  morning to make it to class. I had a lot to deal with. Needless to say, my grades suffered, although some were average, some were failing.

Unlike some women, my morning sickness lasted through my entire pregnancy, which was PURE HELL. The only time I had any relief was when I was asleep. I didn’t know what to do to relieve my sickness and I was not about to ask my mom so I suffered. My daughter’s father manage to get me to prenatal care without my parents knowing, but I knew at some point I would not be able to hide it from them anymore. All the while, I was thinking about when, where, and how I would tell my parents.

It was before the Thanksgiving holidays that I decided to tell my mom.  I made the decision to no longer hide the fact that I was pregnant because she asked me if I was pregnant one morning after noticing the bump in my belly. I  told her yes I was. She then asked me questions such as: Who’s the father? How far along was I? Have I been getting prenatal care? Next, I had to tell my father who was sitting by the kitchen window. I told him with a tear coming down my right eye. He gave a surprised look. I kept my pregnancy a secret as long as I could because I was afraid of how my parents would react. Not saying that they weren’t upset, but they reacted more calmly than I thought they would. I recall my mom saying that my paternal grandmother asked them not be angry at me and to support me, in which they did.

During this time, I continued to get prenatal care, enrolled in a local childbirth class, baby shop, and other baby preparation tasks. I remember my dad making a cute comment, “Our daughter brought us home a Christmas present”, referring to my at the time unborn daughter. Now, I thought what my dad said was sooo darn cute. That comment continues to make me smile to this day.

The following April on a Sunday, my daughter was born and we were soooo happy to welcome our baby daughter and granddaughter into the world and our lives. She was born at 8:45 p.m. and weighed 6 lbs. 8.5 ounces. I was happy that there were no complications during the pregnancy and that she came out beautiful, healthy, strong….and hungry. Lol. I was eager to put the parenting techniques I read about in practice, buy cute little outfits and toys, and receive visits and gifts from family members and friends.

After my daughter was born I stayed in the hospital until the Wednesday following her birth. I was eager to leave the hospital to bring her home and continue physically healing. Her first day at home was wonderful, but she had a hard time that night. She cried most of the  night and would not go to sleep. I learned that it probably was because she had become adjusted to the hospital environment and had to get adjusted to being home. Once she got adjusted to home, she slept both day and night. She also had a good appetite. I decided to try breastfeeding; I did, but I found that it was rough starting off and was concerned as to how I would continue to do so once I started back to school. I ditched the breastfeeding and bottle feed instead.

I spent the rest of that spring and summer up until mid-August preparing to return to school.  I have also gotten hired as a freelance writer at a local newspaper in June to get some  practice and experience as a Mass Communication major. I decided that I would continue work as a freelance writer while attending school and raising my daughter. Things have gotten off to a great start!

After some time of working, attending school, and raising my daughter on top of that other duties and responsibilities at home, I found that juggling all four was quite overwhelming, so I quit my job at the newspaper and just concentrated on school and raising my daughter. Time management was a big issue because there was just not enough hours in the day. It drove me crazy. Lol. I couldn’t image how much of a job it was to raise a child while working and attending school.

This concludes the first part of my story on becoming a parent and juggling school and a job. I will continue my story on becoming a parent, part 2 in my next post. Thank you for dropping by! Stay posted!