Monday, April 28, 2014

Guest post: I'm more like the night-time babysitter

Sometimes I feel like the night time babysitter. I am an Ob/Gyn resident and leave every morning before my 16 month old wakes up (she's a great sleeper, I should be happy). I come home and feed my daughter dinner and supervise the bath, zip up the PJs, watch a cartoon and cuddle while she drinks her bottle, and then its "night night time" and I'm done being a mommy for the day. I could keep her up later but she's tired, and I don't want her being on a special schedule just because her mommy is a doctor.

I hate being a doctor these days. I don't feel important or empowered like people say I should. I know my daughter will one day look up to me as a role model and feel proud of my career, but right now I think she just needs a mommy at home. I don't envy anyone except my stay-at-home mom friends. I wish I knew what it was like to be totally frustrated after a long day of cleaning up plastic toys and missed naps. I wish I knew what it was like to be lonely from lack of adult interaction. Instead I'm stuck taking care of people I don't know all day and getting yelled at by attendings.

I know I'm a "grass is always greener" type of girl, but many days I think I could walk away from this job and never look back. But what would everyone else think? What would my father, who paid for medical school, say? I'm "almost done" with residency-1 year and 2 months left to go, but it feels like forever. I'm already counting down until the day I graduate, so I can take a few months off, and then start whatever Hospitalist job will let me work the least amount of hours. Exactly the kind of career I used to think was an unambitious waste of a medical degree. 

I don't give myself a break or a pat on the back for managing everything. I make sure my house is fully stocked at all times, I sign my daughter up for all of the best classes and lessons (to go to with her nanny). She has an impeccable wardrobe and fresh cooked vegetables in the fridge at the start of most weeks. But I torture myself that I'm not home enough. I cried when my daughter had food poisoning for the first time and I was stuck at work overnight. I refuse to sleep during the day post-call -- what a waste of bonding time. Being a working mom is hard. Being a resident and mom is even harder, but I don't regret having my daughter, she's the best thing that's ever happened to me. I guess I'm crazy, because despite what I've been through these past 16 months, we're trying for baby #2 right now!


Sara, Ob/Gyn Resident (PGY-3)

14 comments:

  1. Aww, as we often say in this blog, it will get better. She does know your smell and your voice and your dinner and your bedtime routine, she knows and loves mommy. Our kids did stay up a bit later, I hedge on whether it's because M&D are doctors or because it was their natural tendency. Baby #2 will put it all the more in perspective! For what it's worth, I'm proud of and amazed by you for keeping it all together, fresh cooked veggies for the week and all. I hope for you that there comes some satisfaction (and a little thanks once in a while!) from your work because that's the best way to leave and then return home again day to day. Post again for updates. Hang in there!

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  2. I totally hear you with everything you said! I'm a psychiatry resident (so obviously much less demanding time-wise than your job) but I completely agree with everything you said. I wish I knew what it was like feel like the unappreciated stay-at-home-mom. I wish I could just schedule some activities for the baby and say, "No problem, we'll be there." But that is never the case for me. I often feel like I'm cheating motherhood--I've never been frustrated with my baby. I love every minute of whatever she throws my way, even if it's a temper tantrum, because I have such limited time with her as it is.

    And I NEVER sleep post-call either. Maybe a nap when the baby is napping but that's it. I get so sick of hearing my co-residents complaining about how they are so tired and haven't recovered after that busy call earlier in the week after which they only slept 6 hours. But motherhood is the most amazing thing in the world. My baby is my universe! She makes the world turn. This is what the others are missing while they sleep :)

    Residency is tough, but you've made it so far! Stick it out, it will be worth it. I started a countdown as well, but I've got longer to go then you. Still, it helps! Good luck!

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  3. Just a suggestion but is there anything that you could give up? She would probably survive on jarred baby food for example. In other words can you cut out everything else at home except spending time with her and sleeping? I'm not kidding here, this is what got me through residency with 2 small children.

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  4. Residency, especially toward the end with small children, was very depressing for me. I say stick it out and try to get rest/carve a life for yourself. I have a good friend who completed a grueling residency and decided to be a full time mom. She moved to where her husband was recruited (also M.D.) and found she was starving for adult interaction/intelligent discourse a few months in. Two hospitals recruited her for a part time job and she spent time negotiating and researching before choosing her best fit. She recently relayed that she enjoys reading articles for the first time because they have practical application to her job, not just to be successfully pimped by attendings. I work full time (as a pathologist - not as stressful as yours) and found that control made a world of difference to my worldview and happiness. Good luck to you.

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    1. Thanks so much, both for reading my post and for your advice. This is exactly what i hope for, a part-time (or more part time than now) career that i can actually enjoy. I've realized i may never like my job as much as I like being a mom, and theres nothing wrong with making my job my second priority. It may be a waste of a lot of money and time, but how was I supposed to know how i'd feel once i had a child? Thanks again!

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  5. I feel your pain! I am on nights (actually at this very moment) and I agree about feeling like the night-time babysitter.

    Question: how do you find time to keep your refrigerator stocked? We are kind of struggling with that right now and have found a local fresh market that will prepare a week's worth of made-from-scratch meals that we are going to try out next week.

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    1. We usually grocery shop once a week. My husband owns his own business so he can go weekdays, or I go late-after the baby is in bed, or if I'm lazy I order from Fresh Direct and groceries get delivered.
      The meal service you found sounds great!!
      Good luck on nights, I have 3 more nights left in my last EVER month of night float!

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  6. Where are people finding these amazing meal services? Any suggestions for a meal service in the Philadelphia area?

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    1. At my institution many of the Attendings gift a week of meals to Residents with new babies. A Resident-friend got it as a gift and he swears by it; it is offered by a local organic market/restaurant. Also, where I trained in the mid-Atlantic there was a Nurse who had a side-business who would cook meals for folks. I would ask around.

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  7. I've felt all these feelings. Early on, we decided it was important to us to have more time together as a family, so our children have a later bed time. Even though it only ends up being an hour or so more a day, it makes such a difference. It gives us time for meals together, walks together, stories, games, homework, etc.

    And it's ok to not have everything together all the time (even though I know that it's so much easier to say this than to do it, since being onto of everything is how we compensate for not being there all the time.)

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  8. Hang in there...I am s/p OB Residency...almost finished with my PGY-6 year (MFM fellow). Life gets much MUCH better!

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  9. After finishing residency and a chief year last summer, I've been home with my daughter (8 months), and I can tell you there are days I've wished I could be working. I feel very lucky to have had this time with her, but I do miss adult conversation and intellectual stimulation. Know that once residency is over you'll have so many more choices and control over how and when you work - that's one of the benefits of a medical career, I think. Hang in there!

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  10. My kids are older now (10 & 12) and I'm just a med student BUT, when my kids were little, a friend of mine's husband was a newspaper man of some sort. Their family was on a schedule just like ours, just shifted ahead a few hours. The kids stayed up so they could see their dad after the presses were rolling (or whatever) and then they slept later in the morning. As they got older, their schedule shifted for preschool & school but before they were 3 it was just about the hours they slept, not the schedule they kept and it allowed their family to operate in a way that worked for them. YMMV, but I recommend thinking outside the box to solve this one. You want more Mommy-time? Take it and let the Nanny start her day with a sleeping baby!

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  11. I really needed to read this! Thanks for the post. I am almost done with my residency (1 year 4 months) and almost quite! I started my residency with 6 months old and got 1 during. It was so difficult and still is. But I always say what would they remember in their life at such an early age? I try my best to be with them whenever possible. Once I'm at home I try to be 100% with them. Although I have to read and study, I am lagging behind in that compared to other residents. But I'm ok with that. Sometimes I cut my sleeping time just to find time to study. Best of luck to all the moms out there who try their best!

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