Women balance school, pregnancy

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

Wendy Morrison has dreams of attending Oxford University and get her doctorate in European archeology. Her husband, John, has always dreamed of a big family. Now she’s trying to accomplish both.

Morrison has been trying to complete her degree since 1992, but she’s had to take time off to raise her children. She finally returned to school in the 2003 spring semester, but later learned that she was pregnant, again.

This time she decided to stick it out and continue on with school.

“I knew it would be a long time to get back,” said Morrison, who is majoring in history.

Women who are pregnant and going to school often have to balance work, school and the prospect of a child. Even simple tasks like sitting in a desk and walking to class can present a challenge

This semester, 20-year-old Randi Diehm transferred to SDSU from USDSU in Sioux Falls knowing she would be giving birth two months into the semester. She never thought about taking a semester off. Diehm knew that if she did, she wouldn’t come back.

“If you’re going to go to school, you’ve got to keep going, because a baby is going to be with you 18 years,” she said.

Tami, who asked to keep her last name confidential, has been trying to complete her degree for the last 10 years, but has had to put her plans on hold to raise her three children. With a fourth child on the way, she decided to continue going to school.

Tami actually saw her pregnancy as a way to start school again.

“I had to cut my workload, so I figured I would go back to school,” she said.

Tami is in the early stages of her pregnancy and is expected to give birth in January. She said that going to school and being pregnant isn’t hard, but she expects that to change as her pregnancy progresses.

“It’s going to be a lot harder to be in class,” said Tami, who is a parks and recreation management major.

However, both Morrison and Diehm, who are both due in October, say it’s not difficult to be pregnant and a student at the same time.

“I figured I can do this,” Diehm said. “It’s a little easier to be a full-time student than having a full-time job.”

The three women agree that their dreams are what make balancing pregnancy and school easier.

“You have to have the big picture in mind,” Morrison said.

To make things easier, they take small class loads, and agree that fewer credits have made their pregnancies easier.

Each woman plans to miss some school after her baby is born.

Diehm said she will be out of classes for two weeks, Morrision plans to take a week off and Tami doesn’t plant to take any time off.

“I can’t afford to miss class,” Tami said.

Like other pregnant students her age, Diehm had to get the university’s permission to live offcampus. She said that was a little bit of a hassle, but she hasn’t had any other problems with the university during her pregnancy.

“It was a little difficult, but that was the only thing,” Diehm said.

Connie Carndall, Residential Life staff development specialist, said that pregnant students are required to fill out a form saying they will soon have a dependent. If they choose to live off-campus, they need a doctor’s note.

“We require having a note from their doctor confirming the pregnancy,” Carndall said.

The assistant supervisor of Residential Life processes the request, after which the student receives a notification letter allowing them to live off-campus, Carndall said.

But not all pregnant students live off-campus. Some females live in the dorms for part of their pregnancy or until they give birth, she said.

“They are more than welcome to stay on-campus,” Carndall said.

Marysz Rames, Dean of Student Affairs, said some women like to live on-campus, because they always have others around them.

“They have a support system,”she said.

There are other types of support for pregnant students at SDSU. Students who are pregnant can receive extra financial aid because their family will soon be expanded, said Jay Larson, director of financial aid. He said pregnant students can receive extra financial aid when they report changes in family size on their financial aid forms.

Pregnant students can also find support from Student Health and Services, said Janet Mullen, director. Students can take pregnancy tests at Student Health for a fee. Pregnancies are referrd to an OBGYN doctor for prenatal care. Pregnant students can also talk with physicians and counselors about other options for the baby.

“What we are trying to do is let the students know all the options,” Mullen said. “We think it’s important for them to make their own decision, but our job is to give them the resources.”

#1.886059:4098372729.jpg:pregophoto.jpg:When Randi Diehm wears baggy clothes, she looks like every other student. However, she is different from average students because she is pregnant. Diehm, a health promotion major, is eight months pregnant with her first child.: