Parenthood and Ethnomusicology

This month, Beryl Yang, a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa writes very candidly about her experiences and challenges raising a daughter while finishing her degree.

Beryl and Lilian

I think the biggest challenge I had was attending SEM last year as a breastfeeding mother.  Lilian was about 10 months old at the time, and I was still feeding her about six times a day. Since she couldn’t come with me during the trip, I pumped every four hours (including at night) and stored my breast milk.  It was a crazy five days, pumping in the airport bathroom, on the plane, and at my hotel room in between panels, and carrying my breastmilk everywhere. I know many people have done it, but I never realized how hard it is until I did it.

It’s true that having a baby takes a lot of my time and adds some financial stress while being a graduate student. At the same time, it’s a great motivation for me. I know I’ll never get a few hours or days free anymore, so that I should best prioritize my time to get work done. Things that don’t matter as much are no longer part of my routine these days.  We’re actually very lucky, since my parents have been with us to help out, so I can teach and write my dissertation while my husband, Carl, can do his work too.



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