Tuesday, August 19, 2014

MiM Mail: Two parents in residency possible?

Hello! I am a pre-medical student and wanted to share with you how much your blog has comforted me about my future in medicine with a family. Although I do not see kids in my near future, I have been with my boyfriend since freshmen year of high school and am confident that we will end up married (side note- he is also pre-med). I am one of those people who needs to have all their ducks in a row, so to say. I obsess over the future and planning, which I know is not always convenient when it comes to both motherhood and medicine. Upon looking for advice about when the best time to have children was in the medical career, I found many people who said that it was best to give birth during medical school. This just seemed extremely difficult to me because there is so much studying that needs to be done, and I don't want to add years to my training as I plan to do a general surgery residency and then continue to specialize for about another 4-5 years afterwards. I went on to search for advice/experience from women who were juggling babies and residency, and that's when I found your blog! It has been immensely comforting to read from women who have made it through and to not have to read comments from male doctors that "a woman should either be a mother or a doctor, because each one requires 100%" (seriously, one doctor ranted about this on a discussion board, but failed to explain why it was okay for him to work full-time and barely see his kids just because he was a male...)

My boyfriend and I are the same age, so we would be in the stages of our training at the same time....is it possible to manage children with 2 parents working in residency? (if it helps, he is interested in a radiology residency, although I know that both our choices could change over time). I know many of you have had such difficulties when only one parent is in medicine, so it scares me that my situation may be impossible.

Thank you again for writing such a wonderful blog for anyone interested in the medical field to turn to. I believe that as women we shouldn't have to give up what we love to do for our children, but I still want to be able to have a good relationship with my children. I realize my questions might seem premature considering I'm only pre-med, but the ducks must be in a row for me...... :-)


  1. My husband and I had our son while we were both in residency (he was a PGY-2 in a radiology residency, I was a PGY-3 in an anesthesiology residency). Now our son is two and I just became an attending, while my husband is still in residency. It has not been easy to be parents in residency. You need a lot of help. Our son goes to daycare but both of our sets of parents live within an hour and pick him up when we are both working late. We have friends who are resident parents and if they don't have family nearby, they have a nanny (although where we live, a nanny can make more in a month than a resident salary). Some of our friends even have a parent come stay with them for a month to take care of their child if they are on a particularly rough rotation. It takes a lot of planning ahead and coming up with many backup plans. And you definitely don't get to see your child as much as you would like.
    That being said, the best thing we ever did was have a child. If you are both going to be doctors, there is never a "good" time to have a child. It will always be busy and difficult, but the joy of coming home to a child who loves you is completely worth it. If I had to do it over again, I would do it the same way!

  2. It depends on how much family help you have and/or how much they are willing to help you out financially.

  3. I was a resident and my ex was a practicing anesthesiologist when we had two babies - third year and chief year for me. It was really tough. I had a nanny, but the stress was inordinate. We did not have family available to help with babies and young children. I don't mean to be a voice of doom, but I kind of went into it all headfirst - following my biological clock, the paths of my friends, wanting a girl then a boy two years apart (got that!). Everything's good now but back then, yikes.

    And I echo above despite my marriage failure kids are a gift more than a stress (there is a lot of stress involved I don't think you can really imagine it until you do it). If I had to do it all over, I might do it better since hindsight is 20/20, but I wouldn't trade my kids or their ages or where me and dad and stepmom and new little sis in their house are right now (learning to be a happy supportive blended family) for anything in the world.

    1. My partner in private practice has a wife who is a full time mom (which is a full time job, as we are all aware). He used to help feel babies at night (has three kids) during our residency because he handles sleep deprivation better than she does. Look at this in your partnership. I can handle sleep deprivation, but nursing two during training almost made me lose my sanity. If you can't share night duty consider hiring night help or getting family to help at night for the first few months when it is really frequent.

    2. I meant feed not feel ha ha ha I did lose my sanity (or at least my ability to rapid proofread).

  4. I'm not sure if the long reply I just typed got lost or what, but I'll retype just to chime in.

    My husband (a PGY4 Surgery resident) and I had our son midway through Intern year, so we have gone through almost all of residency with a child. On one hand it's impossible....and on the other hand here I am newly graduated, 2nd week into my Attending job, not exactly *loving* life just yet bc I am stressing over boards but liking it a hell of a lot better than residency and spending a lot more time with my precious little one.
    We have zero family in the area.
    We did have a 65 year old babysitter that has basically raised our son for the past 2.5 years. She never called in sick. She showed up at 0530 every morning. She also made my resident's salary....pricey but worth it bc how else would we have done it.
    Our family's helped financially both by sending money every month but also by flying in from different parts of the country to babysit when our call schedule overlapped.
    I'm sharing some details of how it worked for us. Lots of other good tips on this thread too.
    If I had to sum it up in a word, I would say whatever word means "it felt impossible on every level every single sleepless day, but we made it." Best of luck to you in whatever you decide!


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