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Science Mom: Top 10 Reasons for Having a Child While in Graduate School

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Illustration by Jillian Varonin/BMS4

By Debbie Ruelas
Staff Writer

There are a lot of reasons why having a child in graduate school is difficult, but on the other hand, it can also be very rewarding. Below is my Top 10 list for why having a kid in grad school at UCSF is awesome:

10. Graduate student insurance. I think my baby literally cost me about $20 out of pocket. All my ultrasounds, check-ups and blood tests were totally covered.

9. Free baby stuff from postdocs and PIs. When I was pregnant (and even now that my kid is older) I had a ton of postdocs and PIs asking if I would like to use their children’s old clothes, strollers, cribs, toys, etc.

8. Access to absorbent pads from lab. Changing diapers can be messy.

7. No competition for PCR machines at 8 a.m. Yes, people with kids get up earlier, but it’s kind of nice having the lab all to yourself early in the morning.

6. Changing poopy diapers makes the mouse-house seem like a walk though a rose garden.

5. Confidence that your colleagues and people around you are vaccinated. With more Bay Area parents opting out of vaccinations for their kids, it’s nice to know that the vast majority your colleagues are in favor of vaccinating their families.

4. Flexibility. I can take time off if my kid is sick, and I can leave work early to take my kid to the pediatrician. Because little children can get sick often, this is a big plus.

3. Greater appreciation for developmental biology. I always considered it schmaltzy when people would talk about the “miracle of birth,” but it really is amazing how one tiny sperm and egg can develop into a perfect human being. 

2. Best health care in the world! You can’t beat UCSF when it comes to pre- and post-natal care.

1. Coming home after a day of failed experiments is more fun when you have a kid at home who’s satisfied playing a game of peek-a-boo with you.

Debbie Ruelas is a sixth-year Biomedical Sciences student.

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