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Monday, January 19, 2015

Guest post: Loneliness

Cross country move to start a second residency, otherwise known as a long fellowship. Getting pregnant in residency. Health issues in the family. Yearly in-service exams. Patient care. Having a baby. Board certification for the first residency. Learning curve. Conference presentations. And now there is job search. I get by in most of these situations. I must say I have excellent family support, but a physician spouse can also only help so much. I find myself exhausted, sometimes nervous, mostly looking forward to the days going to work and coming home. But I also find myself extremely lonely. There is no time or energy to go meet other mommies. No time to hang out with your single or non-parent colleagues. (They don’t invite you anyway) No time to form new friendships. Hardly some time to hang on to the old ones you have left behind in another city and another country. I love my husband, who is also a hus-friend! But, a girl needs some girl friends.

I find myself making awkward attempts at trying to set up playdates with other moms, who apparently have their baby’s social life all dialed in.

Do any of you other mothers in medicine experience this loneliness? Or is it just me? Should I even allow myself to feel lonely when I have a lovely child and husband. Can you be busy and lonely?

7 comments:

  1. I definitely felt this way when I first started residency in a new city but slowly (slowly) it got better. I found colleagues that I liked enough to not just hang out with when I had energy, but to also hang out with and order pizza when both of us had houses that were messes or we were basically falling asleep in our dinner or one or both of us had brought along sick toddlers. I reconnected with old friends who happened to be in my new city (some of whom I didn't even now were here). At my loneliest, I made friends through meetup and social media (when I was on elective, of course.) And all of that has really, really helped. And it's true what they say: the more friends you have, the easier it is to make friends: it's easier to invite someone I just met to a party when I know enough people to host a party than to just invite them over for dinner, and it's easier to meet someone at someone else's party when I know people who through dinner parties!

    All of that being said, I have very few mommy friends. I have one friend with a son who's the same age as my daughter; one friend with a daughter a year older than mine and one friend with a daughter a year younger and none of my other friends have kids. I was at a birthday party yesterday where all of the children, except mine (of course), were from the same "birth month" group and I found myself sad that I don't really have that, but I think it's better (for me at least) to have super close friends that I love, rather than have friends who have built-in friends for my toddler.

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  2. We were both very lonely when we moved for my residency. In particular I missed my girl friends. All of my fellow resident's were male (there has since been a few women to match) and I really missed female companionship. Husbands are great but they aren't women. It just takes time. I now have several female friends - mostly wives of co-residents! We have babies about the same age. Someone told me it would take 12-18 months to really settle in and they were right. Hard to believe it takes that long but it did for us!

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  3. Oh, yeah. Me. Definitely me. I was 39 when my daughter was born so most of her friends' parents are 10+ years younger than I am...and my friends are empty-nesters when I have a 14-year old...and I don't currently have any friends at work that I see after work and everyone is too busy to set up social events in advance, so since I don't run into my friends I never see anyone. It's depressin.

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  4. Definitely. I feel like I'm perpetually in a different life stage than everyone around me, and on the outside looking in as a consequence. I still feel that way, and I've been in the same city over 8 years now.

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  5. Oh gosh, absolutely! We moved cross-country to a new state for residency and made some really wonderful friends, then once I finished we moved all over again to another new state, this time for DH's job. 6 weeks later I had our first child, and it was terribly lonely. I had very few pre-baby friends in our new home and I felt so isolated. I ended up staying home for a year, but I never felt like I totally fit with all the stay-at-home moms (maybe my own self-conscious perception) and when I did return to work it was so much harder to make time for friends. DH's job is very demanding and we don't have much family time, so I always feel guilty leaving him with DD to do things on my own or with friends. Of course, I want him to make that time for himself and we are both supportive of each other, but it's easier said than done. We have finally made friends with a few couples and we've been doing impromptu hang-outs more often. Two things that helped me a lot: 1) I let go of wanting the house to look perfect before I felt ok inviting people over. We are going to be covered in cheerios and yogurt for years, might as well share in the fun. 2) I realized other people weren't as "dialed-in" as I'd assumed. It turns out I'm not the only one who doesn't make exciting plans weeks in advance - lots of other people are sitting at home on Saturdays looking for something to do, too. Once I figured out those things being social got a little easier, though I definitely still have lonely times.

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  6. I definitely have been busy but lonely. Especially seeing pictures of my friends together at events that I now live too far to attend. When I am finished with residency I plan to join a progressive, diverse church, a local mommy group, and a graduate chapter of my sorority - just right off the bat and I'll attend what I can.

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  7. Hi, long time lurker here. I completely 100% empathize with this post. I live in Manhattan and have an 18 month old son. I work part time and love it but I get so lonely. My husband is a surgical fellow who spends many hours at the hospital. When he is home, he is usually exhausted. Most of my friends are still childless. It's hard to do things with them because I'm available during the day when they're working. Don't know too many mommies and most of them aren't close to me. Thank you for this post!! Glad to know I'm not alone.

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