Saturday, September 29, 2012

Transitioning

I've been back to residency after my time in the lab for a full three months now.  This transition has been quite a roller coaster.  Here is my reflection of transitioning.

#1 Our lives have totally changed.

Positives:

  • I have managed to keep breastfeeding and actually making milk.  I have no idea where my body finds this milk reserve, and I can no longer breastfeed in the mornings because I leave before she wakes up, but this has allowed me to maintain a very precious part of my relationship with my daughter.  With all the change in our lives right now,  I cherish being able to continue our "bu bu" time.
  • I truly LOVE surgery.  I love operating and as a more senior resident, it is even more clear to me how much I truly LOVE being a doctor to my patients.  I now get to see my patients in clinic, operate on them, make decisions about their post operative care, and meet with families in a much more meaningful way than I did as a junior resident.  
  • Being a mother has CLEARLY made me a better doctor.  I have an additional way I can relate to my patients.  It has enhanced my empathy.  There are so many intangible, hard to describe ways in which I have become a better person, and I can already see this reflected in my work.
  • My husband and I have become CLOSER!! Yes, I said closer!  We were struggling post baby.  As my love was exploding for this little perfect human we had created, my husband and I were having a hard time relating to each other in these new roles.  The strain on our relationship was significant.  This is another thing on the list of stuff people never tell you about having a baby (up there with peeing when you sneeze).  One of our issues was me feeling like he didn't respect the work I was doing in the lab. Well, his support of what I do as a resident is unquestionable, he is constantly building me up and teaching our daughter that when I'm away I'm doing something that matters.  We also appreciate each other more because we are both working so hard to make this work.  I appreciate how he takes care of our daughter and our house when I can't be helpful. He appreciates how hard I work to contribute when I am at home.  This has been probably the best outcome of me going back to residency because I seriously worried what would happen to our relationship as I got busier.  
Negatives
  • I MISS my baby SO MUCH!!!  I MISS HER, I MISS HER. I MISS HER!
  • It is such a struggle to balance.  Trying to study, prepare for work while maximizing my home time with my family involves lots of juggling and making choices to do something less well.  I'm developing strategies.  I sometimes come home after work, have family time, and then set a certain time where I do back to work to finish paperwork and notes and prep and study.  I also have times where I choose to spend time with my beautiful girl knowing that I will suffer tomorrow.  Evidence - this Friday, I BOMBED my case conference presentation - BOMBED IT! But the night before I let my husband stay at his work function because he already gives up a lot for me. And since I hadn't been home before 9pm all week, my daughter literally refused to sleep.  She wanted to play princess with me, watch Dora with me, read books, you name it.  She was literally forcing herself to keep her eyes open.  So after hours of fighting it.  I just let her hang out with me while I tried to prepare for conference.


Transitions

One of the harder things about transitioning back to residency is managing the daily transition from home to work.  With less quality time with my family, I want to try to be the best version of me that I can be when I'm at home.  This can be hard to pull off after a crazy day.  It requires a mind-shift.  It requires me pushing out of my mind the patient who I watched realize his own mortality as he prepared to go to hospice for what will likely be his last few weeks, it requires pushing out of my mind the berating I received at the end of the day from my least favorite attending, it requires forgetting the young moms with cancer, letting go of my mental step my step operating in preparation for tomorrows cases.  It requires me realizing the importance of princesses and shapes and coloring and bath time.  Sometimes I go to Dunkin Donuts, buy two munchkins and sit in the parking lot in silence for 10 minutes just to clear my head.  Sometimes I stop by Krogers on the way home and walk around aimlessly until I feel like a grocery shopping mom (that's when I know the switch has occurred).  Sometimes I listen to breathing exercises on the way home.  And sometimes I fail, and I come home all revved up and worn down and I feel like a bad mom.  

This is hard.  Being a working mom is hard and rife with guilt.  But we have to do it.  We have to find ways to do it our way.  I receive encouragement all the time which gives me the little push I need to keep going.  Yesterday, the coffee cart lady who brings coffee to patient families on the floor just randomly tells me I'm setting a beautiful example for my daughter and that I'm a good doctor, just because she overheard me talking about my beautiful girl.  I had never even really spoken to her before this.  It can be hard to find role models, but occasionally I do and they keep me going, and encourage me to be a role model for those that are to come. 

Thats all for now.

Cutter 

8 comments:

  1. I get so excited when I hear about residents who are developing a love for surgery! I think it is an awesome gift to be able to do it, do it well, and still have compassion for their patients!
    I am hosting Medical Monday Bloghop this coming Monday. I hope you'll be able to link up your blog, because it is a fantastic read!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cutter - Thanks for this post. I found it really encouraging.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, this post made my heart hurt. I wish I could say it gets easier with older kids. It does and it doesn't. At least you can explain to them why you're not there and you're a bad mom. Or, they can explain to you how they look up to you and you are a good role model.

    Good luck! Beautiful post, and thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I totally agree with you, we have to just find a way to do what we want to do. It is definitely hard when you have a child but remember that you have to think about your future too as a mother and as a woman. My DD is 2 now, and we are making a switch from Dora to Caillou, and Curious George because I AM SICK OF DORA ( sorry to tell you this).

    I come here on weekly basis to find encouragement and motivation, so thank you for your wonderful post. I cannot wait until I make to medical school ( 2015 hopefully).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Really enjoyed this post - we are rooting for you here at MiM.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love your posts. They are my favourite because you represent the kind of woman and surgeon I would like to become. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and showing us that it is possible to stay passionate about our job and still love our family and make time for them (and keeping everyone happy including ourselves most of the time :)) Now I just need to build up the confidence to send you that email I wrote ages ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Send the e-mail! I'm so touched you would even think of me enough to write an e-mail!

      Delete
  7. Walking around at a grocery store is a GREAT idea!

    I love your posts. Please keep them coming. I love hearing about your strategies.

    ReplyDelete

Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated as a spam precaution. There may be a delay between submitting your comment and its publishing. Thanks for commenting!