Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MiM Mailbag: Giving up the baby

Dear MiM,
Has anyone else had to temporarily give up their children in order to facilitate their career in medicine?

I am a junior general surgery resident a few weeks away from delivering my first child. The pregnancy was a surprise, but I am eagerly awaiting the baby. I wrote "I" rather than "we" on purpose- although I am married, my husband lives in another city, some 1500 miles away, where he is at the top of another incredibly demanding, long-hours, "mistress" profession. We did originally live together in intern year, but with my blessing he accepted his current position and moved away. It was shortly thereafter that we found out about the pregnancy.

I have had a dream pregnancy with absolutely no problems- no morning sickness, no cravings, no complications, a total weight gain of 15 lbs, and no stretch marks! My clinical performance has not been affected and I remain passionately committed to surgery- it is absolutely the right specialty for me.

Here's the problem: I have 4 wks of maternity leave. The baby will come in February, which means I return to work in March. My husband will get a month of paternity leave and spend it in my city, which he will take for the second month of the baby's life. This puts us through to April, but I will have 2.5 months of the academic medical year remaining. The hours of a surgical resident, it goes without saying, are not conducive to single parenting- how on earth could I arrange for nannies/ au pairs / daycares to cover 90hr weeks, weekends, night call, unpredictable hours, etc-- especially on a resident's salary? We have no family within 2000 miles, and no family members can take off 2.5 months to be the primary caregiver. So, we have concluded, the only thing to do is to send the baby away to be cared for by relatives, who will love and adore him and give him the 24hr, unconditional attention I cannot.

This arrangement will only be for those three months. I'm starting my gen surg research years in July, and the lab I'm entering will be in my husband's city. So we will all be reunited and normal again after a few months.

We have received a variety of comments on this arrangement, some of which are meant to be helpful ("don't do anything you will regret forever"; "you should sue your hospital;" "why can't you just take a normal 6 month maternity leave."). Many others are to the effect that I am an unfeeling monster who is a defective female and should never have children in the first place. Most people- especially at work- assumed that I would terminate the pregnancy, and were shocked to learn that was unequivocally not on the table. I won't deny that there has been a lot of guilt (my husband, who is unbelievably excited about being a father, feels a great deal of blame) and concerns about emotionally managing the separation, but we truly believe this is what's right for our family and our unborn son.

I was wondering if any other mothers in medicine have had to make a similar choice, and what their coping strategies were? I know, for example, many foreign-trained residents have to leave their children behind when coming to the States for residency. I would really like to hear some stories from people who have "been there," and not to feel so alone.

Thanks very much for the blog- I really enjoy it and its variety of perspectives, particulalrly the advice from the women in long-hours specialties.

Best,
L

35 comments:

  1. I'm sorry that your program is forcing you to make such a difficult decision. I can't offer any advice from my own experience; is there a residents' association or a trusted female mentor that you could go to for some advice?

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  2. You know what... as long as your baby is somewhere that it is loved and cared for, that is all that matters. You will not be a resident forever.

    I had a baby during medical school and have since discovered that we have fertility issues... I am so glad we had him then even though it has changed the direction of my career. If I had had an abortion, we might never have had a single baby. Not that this will happen to you, but you don't know what the future holds.

    You have been blessed with a healthy pregnancy and the fact that you have others who are willing to pitch in is wonderful. I think this will be much harder on you and your spouse than you can imagine. But, you will both figure it out.

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  3. I agree with Anon. I can't speak to the experiences of other doctors, but my husband works in basic science and tells me that during his post-doc women in his lab would get pregnant and have babies.... and then send them back to their country of origin (often in Asia) to be raised by their grandparents, sometimes for years at a time. It was not that uncommon.

    My husband and I have talked about what we would do if I ended up matching for residency in a different city from him. We're expecting our first child over the next couple of weeks, and we agreed that during residency if that happened, he would become the primary caregiver and the child would live with him. If for some reason he was not able to do this, we would most likely end up sending the child to Italy to live with my husband's parents until whatever crisis here could be resolved. My mother is disabled and my father cares for her, and though my parents have verbally committed to stepping in if necessary, I don't think they could realistically do it. So, while I hope to never be in your situation, my husband and I are fully cognizant that it could happen eventually.

    Screw what everyone says. You are making the best decision for your child and for your family. It is a TEMPORARY situation, and I am certain you're not the first person to do it. Think about how other people you know have their relatives move in with them to help during situations like this. What you're doing isn't that different except you'll be moving your child to them. All will be fine in the end. If the commentary bothers you, try to avoid talking about it with other people (not always easy, but sometimes better than getting dumped on).

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  4. I had to go to Officer Training School for a month when my daughter was 3 months old. I was forced to stay in the dorms, so if my husband and baby came with me, they'd have to stay at a separate location. Plus I wouldn't be allowed to see them except on weekends. I was also not allowed to have extra time to pump, so I had to give up breast feeding before I left her.

    It was hard on me emotionally, but we all survived. In hindsight, I should have sought legal counsel to at least be able to pump and ship milk home.

    When she was 2 1/2, I was deployed for 3 months. My husband is an OB. We were blessed at that time to have a wonderful babysitter, who was willing to keep her long hours and overnight, and treat her as an extension of her own family.

    Again, we survived. My daughter is now 14, and remembers absolutely none of it. She's a good kid. Typical teenager. We're clearly bonded.

    If you need to send your child away to a safe and loving environment for a few months...do it. It will be hard emotionally for you, but it will be more stable for you and your child than you running in and out of his life from daycare to work and stressing every time you can't get to him because you're stuck in the hospital. What if he gets sick? Daycare won't keep him. What if the nanny gets sick...who will back her up?

    It is OK to focus on your career and get through what you need to do.

    Whatever you decide, it will be difficult. People will say stupid things to you. You must be strong, and do what you know in your heart is right for your own family, whatever the decision is. Don't allow others to make you feel bad for your choices.

    Best wishes.

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  5. Like OMDG, I think this is actually not uncommon among some Asian families. I don't know anyone personally who did it, but I know *of* lots of women who did it. When I was pregnant, my residency director told me about a bunch of former residents who did it. And we're just a PM&R residency, not surgery!

    When I was a pregnant resident with my first baby, my mother (who lives far from me) offered half-seriously to take the baby while I was in residency. I never asked her to do this or wanted it, and as I said, I don't know if she was serious. But then she said, "It will be like Horton and the Egg." If you don't know that story, it's about how Horton the elephant sits on a bird's egg, and then when the bird is born, it sort of looks like an elephant and is loyal to Horton as its mother.

    I went into a pregnancy hormone-fueled rage over that suggestion, but really, it's not true at all. Babies don't remember much day to day during their first six months. I've got one that age, and I always say that I think she barely knows who I am. Your baby may get kind of fussy when she returns to your care, but I bet within a few weeks, it will all be fine. It will probably be harder on you than on the baby.

    It sounds like you're doing what you need to do to ensure the safe care of your baby.

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  6. You are so fortunate to have family memebers help you. I had to move in and alternate my family
    member(s) for years. And even though we all lived together, I have not seen my child(ren) for 36 hours at a time on a regular basis, and other times I was there for an hour before their bedtime. My kids of course remember none of it, and great care they received pays off till this day.

    Now we made a decision to send our youngest to Europe to a top music school, since his american teachers did not know what to do with him, he was too good for them. It is hard miss your child every day as it is, yet of course we had endured a lot of well meaning comments and "opinions" stating directly our child will be damaged forever. He lives with his close relatives who he knows, he is well adjusted and happy, he does not need us there he says, And he WANTED to do it.

    Every family makes their own decisions, and if it does not please everyone, oh well. I had to tell one of our commenters who worked herself into frenzy, she must be careful with what she says. Negative thoughts tend to come around and go back to the source.

    Screw every negative comment. Congratulations on the baby!

    MomDoc

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  7. I agree with the above sentiment - you know whats best for you. You have this wonderful gift of a baby and loving people willing to take care of him so that you can continue to do your amazing work. You have a timing glitch and a wonderful solution. You will miss him terribly of course, but once your research years start you will have amazing time with your new baby and your husband. Life happens - you've found a great way to make it work. Ignore all negativity, you don't need it.

    Now to some advice from the street - Is it possible to take the extended leave and just stop your research 2.5 months early to make it up. This should actually not interfere with RRC guidelines and since you are a junior resident it would not affect the time when you finish. We had a surgery resident who had to take extended leave and she had to just extend her chief year.

    Also, this is random, but as far as a "been there" comment. I have an aunt who was ill and had to send her kids away for a few months to be taken care of by other family members. Everyone survived and it didn't affect her relationship with her children. Its a short term situation with very little likelihood for long tern consequences.

    Good luck and congrats on your new baby.

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  8. You're in an unfortunate situation, but it sounds like you and your husband have found the best solution for you. I wouldn't second-guess it. Babies (and kids) are resilient. It will be hard for you, but it's not for that long and it will work out fine. Congrats on the pregnancy and good luck.

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  9. As long as it is just for a couple of months, I don't think it will have much of an impact on baby- he won't remember it and everyone's right, it will be much harder on you than on him.

    What will you do after your research years, though? Will you be in the same city then? Will your schedule be more regular, allowing you to use a more traditional daycare or nanny situation? I know it is very common in some Asian cultures to do this, but I definitely wouldn't continue the pattern of letting someone else parent the baby long-distance for the duration of your residency, especially once he's older.

    Congratulations and best wishes on the delivery!

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  10. (Part 1)
    I was in a somewhat similar situation as a single anesthesia resident. I think you have a solution that you should feel good about, and that is best for everyone involved, given the parameters you laid out.

    However, you ARE legally entitled to more time off if you need it, and also to time for pumping when you go back to work if you need it.

    My child was conceived "accidentally" in a long-term relationship while I was an anesthesia resident (taking q3 call on some rotations), and her father left me as soon as he found out we were pregnant. I also completed three years of general surgery residency in a grueling program PRIOR to RRC work-hour restrictions, so I am familiar with the kinds of hours and attitudes with which you are dealing.

    I, too, had absolutely no family w/i 2000 miles. I definitely had no official "maternity leave". However, I was surprised to learn that even as a resident, one technically acquires "sick days" (even though I am well aware NO resident in surgery or anesthesia training program ever takes them or even knows they have them). But in a situation such as yours, or anyone who has a true medical reason for prolonged "illness" or "disability", one CAN used them for at least a few weeks of paid leave. As a third year resident when my daughter was born, I cobbled together a few weeks vacation I had saved up plus a few weeks of "sick days" acquired over the prior 2.5 years to get about a month of "paid leave". Then, since my daughter was preemie who had special medical needs, I took an additional month of unpaid leave til her needs stabilized. My medical benefits (and therefore, those of my daughter) through my program were protected for up to 90 days of leave, after which I would have lost them all.

    (...continued...)

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  11. (Part 2)
    And while NO ONE wants to be viewed as the needy "mother" or even "single mother" who needs time to pump, my daughter NEVER learned to breastfeed and I pumped exclusively for ten months. With no skin-to-skin contact whatsoever (I tried like crazy for 10 weeks, but she never learned at all), the breastfeeding consultants recommended 100 minutes/day of pumping to keep my supply up. I wouldn't have made it so long had I not gone to four pumps at 20min/each per day. The morning and late afternoon sessions were performed with a hands-free bra thing WHILE I WAS DRIVING to&from the hospital, the evening session was right before I went to bed, or I set my alarm for, and I pumped ONE TIME midday or mid-afternoon, usually with a hands-free bra in a call room while writing notes on the computer or eating my lunch, etc etc. If that's all you ask, and you're productive during that time, you ARE legally entitled to this right, and you should feel NO guilt about demanding it. Like you, I didn't miss a step in my clinical or call duties when I was pregnant, postpartum, or the single mom of an infant, and aside from my short leave (I graduated two months late), I think I really eventually earned the respect of my colleagues and program administrators for my work ethic.

    Now: about the childcare situation: You really CAN do it. You really CAN have a live-in nanny or au pair. Yes, I know they say au pairs who come through an agency (with a total cost of about $300/wk) can only work 40hrs/week, but it's way more economical and you may be able find one somehow. Finding a live-in nanny was my primary "job" during my maternity "leave". And the one I found DID clock well over 70-80hrs/week some weeks (fortunately my work hours were no longer on the order of 120hrs/week). Yes, it's expensive, but if s/he lives under your roof and you provide room & board, the monetary "allowance" shouldn't put you back as much as a day-time hourly-paid nanny. I used a lot of my on-call meal benefits as a resident to supplement my fridge. I had to borrow money from family SIMPLY to help cover the nanny expenses (as before I even had my daughter, I had merely a few hundred dollars leftover per month after paying my rent, utilities, and EXORBITANT student loans that had almost all run out of their lifetime limits of deferrals and forbearances by that time), no savings account to speak of, etc etc. It was extremely difficult - and my family didn't have a lot of money to lend me. But it was what I had to do for the remaining 6 months of my residency to get through, and I don't regret a single one of my decisions. I don't know what your husband makes in his "mistress" profession, but I would bet if he is actually brining in anything (unlike me in a position as being a truly single mother with no family around), that should help you pay for a few months of nanny help until you hit your research year. To this day I STILL need live-in help since I STILL take overnight call at least once/week, have very unpredictable and long hours in the OR with surprise add-on cases, etc etc, and I'm on "back-up" call from home quite frequently too. Live-in is the ONLY solution that could possibly work for me and my daughter given my work demands, but she is a wonderfully healthy and happy well-adjusted just-turned-four-year-old, and none-the-worse for having someone else take over her care for many a long night from the time she was an infant.

    (...continued...)

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  12. (Part 3)
    And I am VERY mainstream, not an extremist by ANY means, but I felt very good about my decision once I read the BASICS of attachment theory - especially for the bonding when my daughter was a young infant. No, I never co-slept beyond those first weeks of attempting to breastfeed, was not an extremist baby-wearer or anything, but I think if you read some real basics (even those outlined in Dr. Sears' The Baby Book), you may have some fodder to seriously consider if you want to consider other possible solutions to your situation that are VERY VERY doable!

    Not to make you feel like your own decision/proposed solution is a bad one. It sounds very feasible and obviously you've heard lots of people have done similar things. However, as one who HAS been there, and who HAS made it, I want to let you know that you CAN keep your baby with you. You CAN have a bit more time off if you want/need it postpartum. You CAN pump even with the demands of your job. And you CAN find live-in help to help you manage long hours and overnight care of your child - ESPECIALLY if you only need it for a few months, and may be able to help pay for it with your husband's or family members' financial assistance.

    Good luck!!

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  13. Your decision is SANE and Right.

    A baby needs love and attention - it does not matter where it comes from, as long as it is unconditional.

    And babies have this attraction in them, despite the crying, poop, and the throwing up etc, which makes them irresistable - perhaps God's way of ensuring that they are well cared for.

    AND, the age of 3-6 months is fairly easy to look after, rather than earlier, when everything is unpredictable or later when there s more recognition on baby's part.

    Go ahead, and get it all!

    BC

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  14. Please do yourself a favor and don't read anything by Dr. Sears. As a pediatrician, I find his theories offensive and dangerous and not backed up by rigorous research. My parents took care of my twins for the first six months. Babies just need someone who is consistent and loving. Please don't feel guilty. (I know it's easier said than done.)
    --AcademicPedsMom

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  15. I can't comment on your child care choices, but would suggest as another poster has above that if you can pump and fedex your milk to your baby while they are away it may help you to cope with the separation- a very concrete thing you are doing for your baby on a daily basis while you work through this difficult time. And if you decide to do that i would suggest seeing a lactation consultant before your baby is born to get some good adivce about maintaining supply during a long separation- it can be easier to plan and process the advice if you aren't seeking it in the midst of newborn sleeplessness and about to be separated stress. Good luck, whatever you decide :)

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  16. Maybe I'm the only contrarian voice here - but I could not leave my baby for 3 months. And I didn't. I took an extended leave and stayed home till he was 9 months. I'm so glad I did - it facilitated breastfeeding and that time in his life will never return. If women in medicine don't stand up for our rights to mother, the macho culture of medicine (and surgery in particular) will not improve. If you want to have time with your child, ask your PD for that without guilt. Extending residency is not the worst thing in the world.

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  17. You are not alone. I know of other women physicians who have made similar tough choices. Congratulations on your baby!!!

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  18. I think this arrangement is going to be the hardest on you. Your baby will be fine. One of the worst days of my life was when I realized my daughter (not yet one) preferred my mother in law - who was living with us at the time - to me. Now, almost two years later we have a very strong relationship. It sucked, but we got through it.

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  19. Thanks to everyone who commented-- I really appreciate your time and your candor. It's such a wonderful feeling to have this choice uniformly validated, as nearly everyone around me here has questioned it. My mentor (female, in the subspecialty I hope to enter, with two kids) and program director (female, with a child) have attempted to discourage me-- all the while insisting that there is absolutely no way extended leave will be granted in the absence of medical complications.

    Sure, I have a legal "right" to a minimum of 6 weeks of paid leave, and 12 weeks of FMLA. But I think we all know how the balance of power works in residency. Surgical residencies in particular are already stretched so thin-- we run on a permanent skeleton crew. To take someone (even a junior someone) out of the mix for 3 whole months would basically make everything explode. It's just not the same as the IM residency with 35 residents per year and lots of elective time.

    Anyway, as to what happens in 2 years-- lots of 'ifs,' but *if* my husband is still in his same job and *if* my research time as gone well, I am hoping to pick up a residency spot down in my husband's city, even though I have been extremely happy at my current program. His income potential is much higher than mine and I think we should be able to afford the usual childcare options.

    Thanks again for all the advice, commiseration and validation. It's much appreciated.

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  20. 37 years ago, my parents, two FMGs, came to the US for residency but left me behind to be raised by my grandmother, aunts and uncles. I was loved and well taken care of. It probably was a difficult decision for them but after 2 years I moved to the US to join them. Initially, I was reportedly distant with them. After a month, with the help of my grandmother coming over to ease the transition, I warmed up to them. It was a "necessary evil" to send me away but it has had no lasting repercussion on our relationship.

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  21. I agree with most of the other responses. I think you are making the best decision you can based on your circumstances. You should not feel a bit guilty for doing this.

    My biggest concern is for you. I remember being amazed at how powerfully postpartum hormones affected me, against all my usual rationality. You may find yourself extremely emotional when your baby leaves to be with your family, even for only several months. That initial separation will likely be very hard on you. Just be prepared for this, know that it's the hormones, and resist the temptation to change your mind at the last minute.

    And don't mind what anyone else thinks of YOUR decision about what is best for YOUR family!

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  22. I am sorry you are having to make this decision. It is not an easy one.

    I had twins at the end of my first year of medical school. I had to leave them and my husband for a month during my 3rd year clerkships while I studies to pass Step 1. My mom and inlaws stepped in and became the primary caregivers while my husband worked full-time. Because of my extended medical school track, I had 10 months off between graduation and starting residency, at which time I had baby #3. She was 4 months old when I started residency. My residency was in a different state and we had a terrible time securing housing due to the mortgage crisis (trying to get a home loan on a resident salary with student loans was almost impossible) and when it was moving day, we didn't have anywhere to live! My husband and I moved into a 1 bedroom apartment and left our 3 kids behind with our families (the twins age 4 and the baby 4 months). They didn't join us for another 6 weeks. It was absolutely the most stressful time, however I knew they were ok because they were in a loving environment and it was only temporary.
    I am currently in my 3rd year of residency and baby #4 is now 4 months old.
    I have received many unwelcome comments over the years regarding my choices to have a family during training, which I have chosen to ignore them. You HAVE to do what is best for YOUR family, and only you and your husband can decide what that is.

    I wish you luck. You can do it!
    and CONGRATS on having a baby!

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  23. Last comment - do not worry about YOU. Baby AND you will be fine. I loved a comment from a grown (obviously also doctor=successfully raised)
    "abandoned" child. Families that are closer together raise better offspring. I was raised by grandparents and saw my parents on the weekends only due to better school system in my granparents neighbourhood. The best thing that happened to me in my whole life. I was as close to my grandparents as to my parents. And I owe all my life success to my grandmother who was a professional and worked full time till 70 yo.

    What surprises me is such stories cause righteous anger among "tradinonal parents". But I know some families who sent their kids to boardng schools so they can lead socially comfortable life style and entertain actively. And those parents do not get as much disapproval from public.

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  24. Congratulations on your baby :D

    You've found a solution that works for your family, and don't need to apologize for it. I don't *remember* this myself, but my grandmother loved to tell stories: as a baby, I was sent to live with my grandparents for a short period of time, and it was the best solution given the situation.

    When people ask, you can simply say that your parents are looking forward to being grandparent, and will be taking care of the baby for you. No more details are really needed. Your coworkers are most likely wanting to know if they'll have to cover your shifts, and don't need details about where the childcare will occur. Your husband's coworkers can simply be told that the grandparents will be taking care of the baby and you're both looking forward to the time when your entire family will be reunited in the same city.

    Best of luck! Congratulations!

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  25. I would like to echo the support from others. I know a woman from China who left her son to be realised for a few years while she was doing her PhD. He is now grown up and in medical school. It is not a choice I would make but do what works for you. Do not feel bad. You are just trying your best. We don't hear about all the different solutions because I think most people just quietly get on with their lives the best they can - the critics are always the loudest.

    Enjoy your baby - it is a gorgeous time.

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  26. PS typo I mean "raised".

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  27. Perhaps this is an indicator of how much my medical training has warped my tiny mind, but I think your solution sounds like a perfectly reasonable one.

    You are lucky to have a loving, supportive family, and there is no one you can better trust to take care of your little one. (My life plan is actually to import my parents to wherever I end up for fellowship to "raise my children for me" -- we joke about it, but it's a dead serious plan -- because I can't imagine more perfect childcare.)

    You will be able to continue on with your training, Junior or Juniorette will be the object of lavish attention from people who think he/she is perfect in every way AND are not sleep deprived, and your relatives will feel closer to you and your baby for the rest of their lives after those short 2.5 months.

    Congratulations to you and your husband for making it work -- and pretty brilliantly, in my opinion!

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  28. You have found the perfect solution :-) yay ...
    I have 2 kids and am a attending - surgical and am married to yet another one.

    In the middle of my residency i had a surprise pregnany and surprise Twins :-) My mom came here for the delivery from India , stayed 9 weeks, adn tookt he babies back with her, we went there about 3 weeks before they turned 1 , celebrated their b'day and brought them and my mom back to the US, my mom left after about 2 months by which time they were well adjusted in day-care and to us and we to them , they are in med school now and don't remember a thing. I would gladly do the same if i was needed to for them ..( unfortunately they are both boys , i would have loved a girl) but didn't dare try the baby thing again.

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  29. Hi,
    Your predicament is very similar to mine. I became pregnant with my first baby while an orthopedic surgery intern. My husband is a cards fellow in another city halfway across the U.S. So, after having the baby and facing a lot of discrimination from my program, I had to send my baby away to another country to be looked after by his grandparents. We missed our baby a lot but its impossible to look after an infant being a single parent and a resident in a grueling specialty. On the plus side, my baby has bonded very strongly with his grandparents.

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  30. I had a baby my last year of medical school and got a mere two weeks off for it. I was fortunate enough to have my parents retired and close by and my partner with job flexibility to make it work. It was tough but wow, nothing compared to yours.

    You are trying to make the best decision for your family. Screw anyone who thinks they have the right to judge you for it. It will be horribly hard for you but it will not hurt your baby. It will be with people that love it and can give it plenty of attention and in the grand scheme of things it is only a short amount of time and may bless your child and the relatives that care for it for that time a much closer releationship than they would

    Be strong and keep your eyes on the prize and on the calendar and most of all remember you are not hurting your baby, you are not a bad mother.

    I think you are setting a great example to your child of
    what a woman can be.

    Good luck.

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  31. First, congratulations! Having your kid(s) is going to be the best thing you ever do (medicine included). Good for you for keeping your baby in the first place. The culture of medicine (and lots of other workplaces) is never going to support you in your family life. You need to be able to stand up for what you want and what you believe, and others will fall into line. They will probably even admire you.
    As for the child-care issues - no kidding, it's terribly tough in some residencies. But your baby will be fine and will love you no matter who looks after him/her in the early months. They are so small - they really just need love and food and they will be just fine. Two weeks after you get your baby back, he or she will have forgotten life was any other way. Try not to worry! It's going to be great.
    - Mom of 2 (aged 6mo and 2.8yrs, both during IM / pulmonary residency)

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  32. That is an outrage. It is frankly unbelievable you've slaved in school for as long as you have to create better opportunities for yourself. You are an ASSET to the community and these are your only options?!?! The MALE DOMINATED medical community needs to do better in terms of our valuable FEMALE physicians. Yep, I said it folks, this is SEXISM in all it's glory! I do hope everything works out for you dear!

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  33. I cannot speak from the point of view of being a mother or a doctor - I can, however, speak as a child who had to be raised by my grandmother for various periods of time while my mother worked and supported the family.

    While I was a baby and until the age of probably 5 I had to be sent to live with my grandmother for sometimes months at a time because my mother could not attend to me due to her hectic schedule. All I remember from those times spent apart was great admiration for my mother, the amazing attention I got from my grandmother, and knowing that both loved me very much. I did not feel insecure about it then, nor do I now, and I am thankful that my mother did what she did. She was able to concentrate on her job more peacefully, and I got to spend time with my wonderful grandmother who spent every moment of the day with me, making sure I was well fed, reading with me, going outside with me, etc. I still remember those days with joy, and do not feel any more distance between my mother and I - if anything, I love her even more now, knowing how hard she worked to provide for me as I was growing up, and how difficult it was for her to spend time apart. I am really thankful my mother did what she did, because otherwise I would have witnessed many more stressful situations at home.

    This turned out to be sort of a long post, but basically what I am trying to say is - from the point of view of a child who has been through this, I think it is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I don't remember being apart as a baby at all. And as a toddler I did not feel any separation anxiety, or resentment - was just happy I would get to spend time with my grandmother, and knew that in time I would get to come home again. I only have good memories of those days.

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    1. Make the transition as smooth as possible. That the baby can get used to the new people in his life and get used to be with you afterwards. Its not good to change one day to the next day the person who is only there for him. But when you overlap the times, it is better.In my country they say its the best for the baby to be with the mom 24/7 for the first year of life, but of course thats an unrealistic ideal and no on in the States would be able to do that. I think the most important thing is just to change the care person as less as possible and to make the transfer smooth, to make the baby used to the new person or back to you.

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    2. I do know kids who grew up the first years at their grandparents, only seing their parents on the weekends and they are perfectly fine.

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