Pregnant in Law School | Part 3: Staying focused

KU Law students with Professor Bill Westerbeke

From left: Law students Jennifer Hackman, Professor Bill Westerbeke, Joni Bodnar, Ashlyn Lindskog, Andrea Horvath and Suzanne Hale at a baby shower that Westerbeke threw for Bodnar.

By the time the fall semester began, I was almost halfway through my pregnancy at 18 weeks. I had made it through my summer internship and, most importantly, the first trimester!

I was feeling so good at that point in my pregnancy that I was able to get up early every morning and work out before I had to get the two oldest kids up and ready for school. Now, if I could recommend anything to any pregnant woman, let alone a pregnant law student, it would be to try your best to work out regularly, if possible. I did not exercise much during my first two pregnancies, but it made a tremendous difference during the third one. I felt physically better all around as a result, and it allowed me to have an hour each day to forget about school and the billion things I constantly had to manage.

That fall semester was a busy one for me. I took an additional 3-hour course when I found out I was pregnant (so I could take fewer hours when the baby arrived), giving me a total of 15 hours. This may not sound so bad, but add in the fact that I commute an hour each way every day and have two older kids in a ton of sports and activities, and things can get a little crazy. But this was the case even before I was pregnant, so my pregnancy did not really impact my schedule too much.

The biggest obstacle that semester was my lack of ability to focus for extended periods of time, which is a fairly common issue during pregnancy. I read a ton of articles online claiming that pregnant women can’t perform as well on tests because of this, so I was honestly a little worried about taking finals in December when I was 8.5 months along.

Though I did get distracted easier while studying throughout the semester, I now know not to believe a word of those online resources regarding any correlation to test performance. I am here to officially say that, after taking my finals — including an intellectual property exam that ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — there is no truth to that!

Looking back on my fall semester being pregnant, it was honestly one of the most enjoyable times I had while attending law school. Maybe it was partially due to finally reaching 3L status, or maybe due to the excitement and anticipation of my new baby. Honestly, though, I believe all the wonderful friends and professors are what truly made that semester so amazing. I received so much support and understanding on all fronts. One of my professors even threw me a small, intimate baby shower with the help of one of my closest law school friends. I don’t know how many people can say their professor gave them a baby shower, and for that I am truly blessed in knowing that I picked the absolute best law school to spend three years of my life!

— Joni Bodnar is a third-year law student from St. Joseph, Missouri. This is her third post in a five-part series about being pregnant during law school. In future installments, Bodnar will address planning for and delivering her daughter, and returning to school after her baby’s arrival. Her first post recounted her reaction to finding out she was expecting a baby during law school, and her second post detailed how she got through her summer internship during her first trimester of pregnancy.