I began medical school single with 2 large dogs and a cat. People thought this was absurd. How can you find the time to take care of these animals? This was simple: my mental health is a priority. The dogs don’t care if I have a test tomorrow and they certainly don’t care whether I make an A or not. They have no care for what happens tomorrow or in a year…throw a tennis ball for them, and they have it made!
But my final retort was always: “some students do this successfully with kids; I just have dogs.” (and you can’t put kids in a crate!)
In the meantime, I met a non-medical man – a writer, a professor and a breath of fresh air from the smog of medical school. He reminded me of who I was before medical school: I liked to read and write; I liked creativity and conversations. Long story short, he moved down here and we were engaged and married in a little over a year.
Continuing the quest to balance my personal life and mental health with my medical training, I am going to become a medical student, then resident, with not just 2 dogs and a cat (well, 3 dogs and 2 cats now…I’m an animal lover), but also a husband AND a baby. Is this absurd?
Once interview season is over I will be back on rotations at the community hospital where I have done my core rotations. After spending almost a year here, I feel like I have a big hospital family. Revealing my pregnancy has been met with nothing but enthusiasm. I feel secure in balancing baby with the last of my rotations here. But before I can take that deep breath…I have to take boards, go on away rotations, apply for residencies, HAVE A BABY, and after my maternity leave, go on interviews…and hopefully match!
First, I debate over how open I should be with programs about having a baby. During one of my audition rotations, I will be noticeably pregnant. I suppose this is a good litmus test for the family friendliness of the program. However, by the time I am on interviews, I will be at least 6 weeks past delivery and will not necessarily have to disclose that I recently had a baby. Of course, depending on the length of the interview day, I may need to pump! Perhaps I need to be confident that I can be a mother and a good resident and thus be open to programs. But this is the problem: will I be a good mother and resident? Or are these two things going to be mutually exclusive?
I am also debating where to apply and concurrently having the ultimate debate over what I want to be when I grow up. Fortunately the debate has been limited to psychiatry versus neurology or perhaps both? And has been limited to such parameters since undergrad, maybe before. I now wonder what's going to change when this little boy arrives? How am I supposed to know who I'll be 5 months from now let alone 5 years?
My thoughts race from one obsession to another. Neurology vs psychiatry, neurology vs psychiatry, neurology vs psychiatry. Graco vs Chicco. Graco vs. Chicco. And boards! Oh no! Last night I had one of those ugly recurring medical student dreams of nephritic versus nephrotic disorders...
Sometimes I feel like my head will explode.
I’ve concluded it is easier to just make decisions. There is no way to determine the perfect decision, and I imagine that there is, in fact, no “perfect” decision. I decided to go for neurology. I am intimidated by the work hours, the larger hospitals and the fact that there are no programs in my hometown where my mother could help with our baby. But I don’t want to live my life afraid of a challenge. Besides, I probably haven’t said enough to explain that I have the most supportive husband. He’s even willing to put my career ahead of his (yet again) to be a stay at home dad.
Life is scary and thoroughly exciting, and these feelings are never mutually exclusive.
And I really have no idea what I am getting myself into…