Post-Degree Baby

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 - By Amy Kilvington

When you’re approaching the end of your undergraduate degree, you have several options. You apply for an MA, or opt for graduate schemes, or travel the world in the hope of self discovery. You might be one of the irritatingly organised few, smug with the assurance of a position at the company of your dreams. The most likely situation, however, is to join the masses of hospitality or retail, where you’ll skivvy for six pounds an hour while you decide what you want to do ‘when you’re older’. These are the typical situations: further education, money making, or life experience. Being the conventional individual that I am, I chose the Masters. My housemate Jo is doing the same. Other friends are travelling and applying for undergraduate jobs, continuing to live the student life while they ponder their options. And there are a lot of options. Too many to choose from, really. But I also have a friend whose options are limited. Her path has been decided. She’s not going to be an academic or a traveller or a skivvy. She’s going to be a mum.

She’s my other housemate, Charlee, and she’s three months pregnant. She didn’t intend for it to happen. It just sort of… appeared. And even though she didn’t plan for it, she’s very excited about the prospect. She’s made plans for the coming year, organised finances, bought baby clothes and drastically altered her unhealthy student lifestyle (and let’s not deny it, the student lifestyle is very unhealthy). She’s thought about baby names and prams, and visits babycentre.com to check on organ developments and sprouting hair (the baby’s, not her own). She keeps an eye on the changing shape and size over the course of the month, describing it in terms of food. ‘It’s a pea now,’ she says. ‘Now it’s a baked bean. Or maybe a kidney bean?’ It’s a relief that she’s looking forward to being a mum, rather than dreading the prospect. Before the discovery, the thought never crossed her mind. She didn’t think it was possible.

Surprise surprise, it’s possible. I don’t want to sound like a preacher or a doctor or your mother, but it’s likely to happen if you don’t take precautions. Duh, right? If you’re participating in baby-making activities, then it’s likely that you’ll make a baby. It’s simple. It’s the mindset of ‘I’m invincible!’ that’s the problem. Well guys, I’m afraid you’re not invincible… unless you are actually a guy, obviously. Just because you’ve never considered the scenario, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Charlee is a prime example of this attitude: she never considered that she could get pregnant. 

 She took a while to admit it to herself. To this day she will admit that the only reason she discovered her ‘walnut’ was because she wanted to spite pestering housemates. Charlee ignored her sudden cravings for olives, unexpected mood swings and unusual stomach pains – she brushed them off as vitamin deficiencies, deadline stress and that ‘time of the month.’ Fortunately, we disregarded her excuses and proceeded to suggest the dreaded: pregnancy. ‘There’s no way I’m pregnant,’ she said. ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ We continued to be ridiculous. ‘If I was pregnant I’d know.’ We knew. ‘I’m probably not even fertile, I drink and smoke too much. My body isn’t a suitable environment for a baby.’ It was definitely a suitable environment. Eventually she took a test, a 99p dipper from the corner shop. Affirmative. ‘It’s a cheap test, it won’t be accurate,’ she said. We told her it was accurate, and it all added up: olive cravings and mood swings and stomach pains and a positive pregnancy test. Being as stubborn as an ox, she wouldn’t accept it. She continued to deny and justify and concoct ridiculous explanations. It took a sprint to Sainsbury’s in the pouring rain and a two Clear Blues to make her accept the truth. 

And now here we are, a few months down the line, stressing over Dissertations and making plans for the summer. Fortunately the morning sickness has subsided (she’s coming to the end of her first trimester, I know the lingo) and she experiences minor discomfort. She’s still studying hard and enjoying university, just with the added addition of a little life in her belly. She’s accepted that she’s not going to be a Master of Arts, a jet-setter or a professional, at least not for a while. But she’s happy, and that’s the most important thing, right? 

Who would have thought it, leaving university with a baby. You see students running around like headless chickens, worrying about seminar notes and grades and exams. They stress about how much of their loan is left, and how much vodka is left for tonight, and if a substantial meal be put together with the remnants of the fridge. I know this, because I do it. And following Charlee’s situation, I feel a bit silly. Fair enough, seminars and grades and exams are important, but the other minor issues are insignificant upon reflection.

The typical undergraduate thinks about what they want to do, where they want to do it, and how they’ll get there. They work hard and party harder, and then leave university with priceless experiences, great friends, and a degree.  Others leave with the degree, and a pea. Or rather I mean, a walnut.

 

Amy Kilvington

22 Student Writer Redhead

Website: amykilv.tumblr.com

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