Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MiM Mailbag: Advice on marriage survival and being a resident mom


I just came across your blog and really enjoyed reading the posts (while I put off another question set as I procrastinate studying for Step 3).

I’m an Internal Medicine intern, and I have a 10 month old baby boy. I had a mentor prior to medical school - my boss (a psychiatrist) while I was a research assistant for her had two kids in the beginning of her research career. She told me several times “being pregnant during your 4th year of medical school would be ideal.” My husband and I are a little older than the average medical student and wanted kids sooner rather than later, and thus our son was born right before match day.

This year, as I’m sure most people can relate, has been tough, being a new mom and a new doctor. My program is a rigorous academic center where few women have children and as one attending said in my first month on the wards back in July “oh you have a baby? Wow… good luck.” And chuckled. And she was a woman.

Now, I’m so tired. So so tired. I just finished up three months of call (one of which was q3 in the ICU) and capped it off with two weeks of night float duties. And now I’m on a short clinic rotation but spending my precious three day weekend studying for step 3. I can’t seem to catch my breath.

I’m pleased to say that through all this, I still find moments where I love my job (strangely enough in the ICU, never thought I would actually WANT to be there) and my son is thriving. My marriage, however, is taking a hit. I just don’t know how to stay connected to him. He is not in medicine and seems less and less interested in the cool stories about patients that I have. We still definitely bond over our baby and he is doing an amazing job with him while I’m at work. I know intern year is hard on every couple, but if there are any other stories out there about marriage survival when you have a child and a resident, I would love to hear them. I need a little boost to help me through the rest of the year (because every R2 and R3 keeps telling me “don’t worry, it gets better next year…” – and I’m really counting on that).

Again, thanks for all the great posts on this blog. I will keep reading (when I have time!).



  1. I think even if you weren't an intern, the first year of your child's life is going to be hard on the marriage. Before I had a baby, I honestly didn't understand how people got divorced and could never see it happening to me in a million years... then after I had a baby, I sort of understood. Things got better after about a year and half, and my husband learning to understand that I needed some time in the day where I wasn't either working or watching our daughter. Now things are back to where they were before... although I'm a little scared of a second baby for the same reasons!

  2. If you notice things are getting bad, don't pretend they're not because you're just too damn busy and think you can fix it later. Intervene somehow. Make your marriage a priority.

  3. I was going to say sort of the opposite of Fizzy - even if you didn't have a baby, internship would be very, very difficult. My husband was in grad school when I was an intern and he worked even more than I did some weeks. I can't say we figured it out - we survived, but that's it.

    I wish we'd taken even a little bit of time to actually nurture our relationship - even an evening once a month when we didn't work and didn't study and sat and talked. It wouldn't have mattered to me if we'd done that at home or out.

    Have you asked your husband?

  4. It's hard to add to the wisdom that's already been posted - I agree with all of the above. Marriage is never the same after a child, and adding internship into the mix is difficult. I think that sitting down with your husband and sharing your fears - as well as your hopes for a little more time during the next few years - is probably one of the first steps. The rest will follow - and this year is already more than half over!
    Good luck,

  5. You have to SCHEDULE time with your husband. Remembering that your a wife before your a mom. Yes easier said then done, I know.

    After I just wrote that, I stopped to think for a few minutes.... How did my marriage do my intern year? Much like myself, it just survived. Barely. But life and marriage got better after intern year. So I agree with above, sit down with your husband and let him know that this sucks but it will get better. When life slows down a little take a weekend away together. Plan it now so you have something to look forward to. Good luck with your training. LIFE DOES GET BETTER :)

  6. Thanks everyone. I did talk to my husband this week and resolved a couple of things. I'm sure we'll survive. I know this will sound strange, but my husband is so efficient (a.k.a. clean freak) and has such a solid system at home with our little boy when I'm on the wards all the time, I find that once I get home, I feel a little lost. It sucks to have to ask "how much food does he usually eat at dinner now?" or to have my husband say "oh, no babe, that's not what he likes." It's sad for me. Almost like I'm not even needed around here anymore. I know that's not true, my son will always need his mommy, but it's tough to feel like a stanger in my own house sometimes. Anyway, I'm sure things will get better, they already have after talking to him.

  7. I have found as an intern mom that some days I'm a good intern, some days I'm a good wife, some days I'm a good mom, and on the very rare day, I'm good at all three :). Be patient with your shortcmings this year...we're trying to be a lot of things to a lot of people!

  8. I just have to reply to this post.

    My husband is a 4th year med student. I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant. I laughed at your comment about 4th year being a "really good time to have a baby"--we thought so too!

    Well, until it doesn't seem that way. My hubby is matching tonight. Yes, tonight. (He's going into urology, which is an early match specialty.) He's been on a rugged Q4 call schedule in medicine/ICU. I'm as big as a house at the end of a difficult pregnancy, and I'm trying to begin my own dissertation as an English literature Ph.D. candidate. We don't even know where we'll be living--much less a job for me, or childcare, or a house!

    I don't really have anything to add but sympathy, from someone on the other side of the table. Thank goodness I found this forum--I have a feeling I'm going to be needing all of you.

    So good luck!


Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated as a spam precaution. So.Much.Spam.