Editor’s note – A big part of a PhD candidate’s identity is often centred around the PhD. One of the first things (sometimes the only thing) we discuss with them is their research. It can sometimes be easy to forget that just like everyone, a PhD is only one aspect of any candidate’s identity. PhD candidates are people first. Friends, partners, siblings, employees, business owners, spouses, parents etc. All stakeholders – PhD candidates, supervisors, institutions etc. need to have this at the centre when we engage, supervise and provide support. Our #MyPhDStory articles provide a platform for postgraduate researchers to share their authentic lived experiences with our readers. In this article, Frances shares her experience of having not one but two children during her PhD and other expected and unexpected events during her PhD journey.
I am writing this article few years after the successful completion of my doctorate studies in Microbiology. I currently work as a public health microbiologist in California, USA. I got married in the first year of my two-year Master’s program in Massachusetts. At the time, my husband was living and working on another continent. That same year, I applied for doctorate studies in Alabama, and I was offered a place. A few months after getting married, I became pregnant. Being pregnant in itself wasn’t a problem as I felt fine, however I experienced some challenges. I experienced a spectrum of emotions; embarrassment, the appearance of being unserious, stigma and later on, the occasional forgetfulness, tiredness and of course, heaviness. At this point, living away from my husband became very challenging and towards the end of the pregnancy, depression struck! a cocktail of loneliness and hormonal changes.