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Studying with a Newborn: the juggle of a new mum
Ildi Wardlaw is a 30-year-old mum of 1, who was in her 2nd year as a student when she fell pregnant. Here is her new mum story of studying while having a newborn and the juggle this brings with it, especially when your husband works long hours and no family support nearby. She now owns the Interior Design business Eco Bairn Interiors.
Through our Journey to Parenthood series, we are exploring various paths to parenthood and the journey of parenthood itself. Showing different perspectives of how there is never a straight-forward route and going through tough times, especially as a Mum, can be completely overwhelming.
The decision to start studying
At the age of 27 I decided to get back into studying. I started taking an interior design course at Edinburgh College. I already had 2 qualifications from Hungary (Post Office Administrator, Aerobics Trainer), but I saw my husband going up on the career ladder and I wanted the same. A good job with good money. Then I remembered that I always had an interest in Interior Design. Watching all the design programs on TV, pushing around furniture in my own room when I was a kid… SO I just thought let’s try interior design. The course was 3 years long after that you had the option of applying to university for 3rd year. So I had big plans…
I was young and didn’t think I wanted to have kids any time soon… How wrong I was ?!
I started thinking… By the time I finish uni, find a job, and build a career, I will be 37 and I thought that was too late to have a baby. So me and hubby decided to have a baby while I was studying I only had to attend 2-3 days at college, so I thought it’s going to be manageable.
I did my second year while I was pregnant. It wasn’t too bad other than having heartburn for 9 months
My due date was the 25th August 2017. College started on the 31st August. So I thought I’ll have time to rest before I start college…
Baby and reality's arrival
Obviously, that didn’t go to plan. I gave birth on the 27th and got home from the hospital the following day. My husband was on paternity leave for 2 weeks College started on the 31st and I was there! 4 days after giving birth! I looked like a zombie, felt so tired and couldn’t sit because of the episiotomy I had during birth. After a couple of hours, I was allowed to go home.
During the first 2 weeks I had baby blues. I was crying every day over everything! I had barely slept at night or during the day. Every time I went to sleep during the day, when my hubby was at home to look after Duncan, I would wake up in a cold sweat, feeling this sadness and fear that something happened to my baby. I didn’t trust my husband! I didn’t want him alone with our baby. It went on for days/weeks. I tried everything: herbal teas, sleeping pills, lavender oil in bath etc. Nothing helped. Sometimes when I took a bath I was sitting there hysterically crying without no reason. I thought it was because of the tiredness plus the stress of college, but it may have been more…
My husband was promised Mondays and Thursdays as off days to stay home with our son, while I was at college. Well unfortunately, his manager changed his mind and told him “Sorry but I’m taking Mondays to be home with my own child”. So for 4 weeks, I couldn’t attend college on the Mondays.
Baby and reality's arrival
When Duncan was 6 weeks old, we put him into nursery on the Mondays. That was the minimum age requirement. My heart was broken, seeing somebody else taking care of my baby. I still didn’t trust anybody!
While I was at the hospital nobody showed me how to properly breastfeed. I kind of did what I saw on pictures, read in books. When I came home we bottle fed Duncan as I didn’t know that the colostrum is enough for a newborn. After that we had problems latching Duncan onto the breast.
I went to see a breast-feeding clinic, a breast-feeding support group and the midwife was on hand too. It just wasn’t happening.
I felt like a failure. I was crying a lot. I was impatient, and felt like I didn’t have time for any failure as I had to study. We had to do lots of self-study from home. I was expressing day and night. I took my manual expressing machine to college with me. It was a pain. Sitting in a tiny room by myself expressing in my break as my breasts wanted to explode. To make it worse, the precious breast milk had to go down the loo I finally decided that for everyone’s sake, I should stop expressing and move to formula.
I think our situation was made even more difficult, as it’s just me and hubby. Our families live far away from us. So we didn’t have any help. They didn’t visit when Duncan was tiny… And with hubby working 12-14 hours a day, being home on the days when I was away, not doing things around the house properly (dishes, cleaning etc.) or at least to my liking almost broke us. We were arguing a lot. I mean every day. I had enough on my shoulders already. Duncan, college, housework plus these daily arguments. I felt I didn’t get any support from him either. I was all alone. It felt like I was a single parent!
It was really hard, when I was home, he was working. When he was home, I was at college or working. By the time he got home, I was already in bed. Thankfully we have things got sorted, for now at least…
Making it through the other side
But despite it all, I made it. We made it! I finished college in 2018 and I graduated as an interior designer, with one of the best grades in my class. Me, with a newborn! I did it!
It was definitely a hard experience, but I’ve learnt so many things along the way. Time did the trick.
Since I’ve graduated, I decided not to go to uni, but instead to find a job and I’ve actually gone one step further and set up my own business Eco Bairn Interiors. I design nurseries, children’s and teenagers’ bedrooms and playrooms with eco friendliness and sustainability in mind.
After finishing college, I started working full time Monday to Friday 9am till 5pm. Duncan was at 11 months old at this time. I’ve soon realised that although my boss knew he hired a mum he gave me a hard time for it, verbal abuse on daily basis. “Leaving straight at 5pm again…. Is Duncan ill again and you have to go? Why can’t Billy pick him up from nursery??” I felt I already missed out on so much when he was a newborn because I was studying constantly… I didn’t want to miss out on anything else. This is the reason I’ve started my own business. To set my own hours so we can have time together as a family, so I can be there for Duncan and not miss out on anything, so I can pick him up from nursery/childminder when he is ill without anybody moaning at me and I want to be my own boss.
It’s been a difficult journey but it’s going to be a rewarding one.
If anyone has any questions about being a student whilst having a newborn, Ildi would be willing to answer any you may have.
Eco Bairns Interiors: https://www.facebook.com/ecobairninteriors/
If you can relate to this story and would like to connect with other parents in your situation, our Dribble Facebook Community is full of advice, support, chat, events and much more to meet other Scottish families. We also try to take the online offline too by arranging some Dribble events, including our monthly Breastfeeding Meet-up.
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