The pandemic has changed how most BYU students experience college, but for new moms, it brought both challenges and unexpected benefits.
Master’s of public administration student Marieka Creek gave birth to her daughter in August of 2020. As a first-time mom and student, Creek said she had to learn to juggle motherhood and academics.
“I never thought I would have to nurse in between classes in the mother’s lounge or hand off a baby to my husband in the middle of campus as I sprinted to the Tanner building for my next class,” Creek said.
It was very hard that first semester of being both a mom and student, she said. The pandemic was still an emotional, stressful time for Creek and her little family, although she said it did bring blessings in unexpected ways.
“The pandemic was honestly a lifesaver. My husband’s summer internship in New York turned remote and he was able to be there for the birth of the baby, and we could spend the whole summer together without being apart,” she said.
Creek said she felt confident in pursuing motherhood while still in school because of the examples she saw in her peers, as well as benefiting from the resources BYU and her master’s program offer.
Mother of twins Jessica Lopez said she was told she would need to drop out of school to take care of the demands newborns bring — let alone twins.
However, Lopez has taken motherhood and school in stride. She said the pandemic proved to be an aid to her and her husband in this time of family growth.
“It’s definitely more difficult to manage my schoolwork and me and my husband’s schedules, but it always works out,” Lopez said.
Both Lopez and her husband are home more now and can take turns working on school, taking care of the babies and spending time together, she said.
A lot of their classes went online because of the pandemic, which she said “has been a major blessing.”
“Having school online makes it so much easier. I have a lot more flexibility and can focus on my babies more during the day and school more at night,” Lopez said.
She said more classes being offered online has opened up a lot of doors of opportunity for her, and she can graduate a semester early as a result.
New mom Emmily Brown was in school up until the end of her pregnancy. She said she and her husband decided she would take a brief break from school when the baby was born.
“When we decided to get pregnant we made a plan for school. My husband and I both still want me to get my degree, but we decided that I would take a bit longer to get it,” she said.
Brown said there were definitely shifts in parenthood she didn’t expect because of the pandemic. She hasn’t had play dates with other moms or had friends come see her new baby. But the hardest part, she said, was not having her mother there when she had her first baby.
Juggling motherhood, Brown is soon to throw school back into the mix. She said she has plans to resume her family science degree this summer.
“My plan for this summer is take fewer classes than I normally would and do the homework mostly during naps and at night after my little one goes to bed,” she said.
Brown said she looks forward to working with her husband in taking care of their baby while still striving for her education.