Married students with babies shared their struggles to balance school and work while raising a child, but also the blessings and the joy of having a child can bring them.
Munkh-Od Altansuk, a senior from Mongolia majoring in information technology and his wife, Bayarsaikhan Amarjargal, another senior from Mongolia majoring in accounting, said they have been married for four years. They came to study at BYUH as a married couple and now have a 6-month-old girl.
Altansuk said, “You can imagine how much sleep we get through the night. We took turns taking care of the baby at midnight. When one was tired, another one took the whole night shift. When the baby was hungry, she would get up and we feed her, burp her, and put her back to sleep. The process took an hour and then we slept for two hours…then it was morning already.”
The couple shared how they were inspired by church leaders to have a baby, and how it was a difficult decision at first.
“We were thinking of having a baby after graduation. My wife used to play volleyball for BYUH. We thought it was good for her to keep playing, and she was supposed to play for one more season. However, as we were constantly praying and watching general conference, President Monson said, ‘Choose the harder right.’ Starting a family is the right thing. It is definitely hard, but it is the right thing to do.”
Amarjargal said, “The overall experience was difficult, but definitely worth having. Even though I was tired, when I looked at my baby, I just forgot my pain and how tiring it was.”
Altansuk continued, “I just keep reminding myself why we are doing it. We are doing it for our baby. That is the motivation. That is all I can say.
“Sometimes you want to go out and have fun with your friends.” He said one of the challenges is sacrificing your own hobbies to take care of your child. “That is your natural man telling you about your selfish side,” he said.
“As you think about what matters the most, you would realize that you are actually doing much more important things, not just pursuing your hobby and meeting your temporal needs. That is building up your relationship with your spouse and family in the long run as you are strengthening yourself toward the future. It is all your family and your spouse.
“The words of my friend stuck in my mind when my baby was crying at 4 in the morning and I was really tired. [They said], ‘To be a good dad is really hard, but you have to try.’ I am not the best dad at this moment but I am trying to be… It is not easy at all but definitely worth it.”
Delta Ho, a senior from Hong Kong majoring in TESOL, said she has been married for a year and hasn’t had a baby yet. “I have been asked a thousand times about that and our answer was obvious - absolutely not. I answered that without any hesitation. Both of our families supported our decision.”
Ho said she has heard stories about students in Temple View Apartments who got pregnant but had miscarriages “due to the pressure caused by a tremendous workload from school and work during pregnancy. It is tough to have so many responsibilities at the same time: take care of babies, cook, work, school… I also have to take good care of my body before I give birth to a baby.
“That would be a harmful influence on the development of babies if they are raised in a problematic family with chaos. Parents cannot handle their duties well and thus conflicts arise.”
Nikki Credo Soloa’i, a senior majoring in graphic design from the Philippines, said she has been married for a year and nine months and has a 7-month-old son.
She commented on what it’s like to have a baby while studying. “It is fine. “When the baby comes, let it be. We didn’t plan for that, but the baby came. I have seen couples who have three to four children while studying. They can still manage it.”
She said she didn’t understand until after she had a baby how difficult it was, but she said she figured out how to manage.
“I was still confident enough to multi-task. I didn’t have a choice. I really had to deal with it and I just had to try my best. I set a list and finish the things on the list one at a time. I realized that if I always tell myself I can’t do it, I am just going to lay down there, not doing anything.”
Soloa’i shared how her husband’s love and support has helped her in being able to continue to raise their son while attending school and working part time at the BYUH Bookstore.
“Having my husband to take care of the baby helped me a lot. In the face of the struggles when we had the baby, at least we still had each other. What kept me going was everyday when I went home, I saw my baby. My stress was released.”