If you could do it all over again...

mmphillips at stkate.edu mmphillips at stkate.edu
Sat Jun 13 01:16:17 EST 1998

Laura and others,

I'm not tenured and didn't do a postdoc (I got a teaching job without a
postdoc), but I'm not sure that matters.  The choices are hard whatever
route you take -- meaning there is never an easy time to have kids.  There
is no magic answer.  If I had had my child during grad school it would have
made what was a long Ph.D. even longer.  As it was, it has made my first
years as a professor all that more stressful, but I am blessed with a
wonderful, supportive department (filled with parents of both sexes
actively involved in their children's lives).   I brought my son to work
for the first six months and used student babysitters while I was in class.

I think the key thing you have to consider is that biological clock.  Time
DOES run out (for a woman) and you cannot control conception.  I had my
first child at 35 and have yet to conceive a second, despite the fact that
I know when I ovulate.  Declining fertility is a reality.  Looking back on
it, I wish the child at 35 was my second (but I didn't find the man of my
dreams until I was 33, so I didn't have much control over that either).   I
had no trouble conceiving my son, so I thought another would not be
difficult either.  Not true.

I guess my message is "you're not in charge" (to quote my 3 year old).  Try
starting a family before you're 35 (the age when fertility really starts to
drop) if you can and work around the career stuff.  If you're going to have
kids, they have to be an equal priority to your career.  You may have more
control over career moves than conception.

Martha Phillips
Biology Department
College of St. Catherine
St. Paul, MN

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