Thursday, July 9, 2015

Feeling like the worst mom in the world...

My introduction post was mostly about how I get to know Mothers in Medicine, which was when I found out I was pregnant. I also talked about where I am today. I never talked about what happened in between those 2 and a half years.

So during those 2 and a half years, I went from first year radiology resident to fourth year radiology resident. I just took my boards last month!! (Ask me again in 1 month how I felt about it, which is also when I'll get the results.) My husband, big C, went from 4th year orthopedic resident to a 6th/chief orthopedic resident. He just graduated last month!! Currently, I started my first month of my last year of residency and my husband is actually, right now, taking his orthopedic boards. He'll be moving to the east coast in exactly 2 weeks to start his spine fellowship.

So basically, I'll be a single mom for a year. But what you don't know about me is that my little C has been with my parents in a city 1 hour away from our  city of training for the past 2 and a half years. That is how we did it. So your recent blog post Anita Knapp really resonates with me! It was an extremely difficult 2+ years. But given my husbands 80+ hour work weeks and my most difficult years of residency ahead (combination of both majority of my calls during my 2nd year of radiology residency and studying for radiology boards/multiple board review sessions during my 3rd year of radiology residency), we felt that this was what was best for little C. 

I have had my share of mommy guilt during this time. I questioned my decision all the time. I felt like a horrible mother. It definitely put a strain on my marriage with big C because who likes being around a negative and sad person all the time? But little C was my heart and soul and it just didn't feel right being away from her Monday to Fridays and some weekends. 

Well little C is all moved down. It's so funny how kids can be so resistant to change at times and also so easily adaptable. I took 2 weeks of vacation to help get her situated. In less than a week, it was as if she already forgot about her 2+ years with grandparents (much to my mom's dismay). During those 2 weeks, she and I attended her 2 week orientation at the pre-school associated with the university, which basically meant spending 1 hour a day for 2 weeks with her at the pre-school. That part went fine. In fact, the entire 2 weeks was awesome for our relationship. I got to just be her mom without even thinking about residency once. 

I thought the transition to pre-school would be easier. She attended part time pre-school during her last 5 months with grandparents almost as a preparation for what's to come. She had a hard 1st month but eventually grew to love it and was out the door to go see her friends as she would say.

However, she must feel like her whole world is upside down now. It's been almost 2 weeks into her new pre-school, which is obviously now full time and every day she cries and cries. Drop-offs are so painful. I spend the mornings just thinking about her crying little face screaming for mommy.

She refuses to eat at pre-school. She's potty trained at home but refuses to pee on the toilet at school. She also doesn't nap. When I go pick her up, she seems okay but I can't seem to shake it off that this is just a transition period. Is she ever going to adjust? Am I just the worst mother in the world? Was this a mistake? Was I being selfish by taking her away from the princess treatment that was given to her by her grandparents? 

I don't know if I can go back to the former life. I love picking her up. I love eating dinner with her. I love putting her to bed. I love that she runs over to me and wakes me up in the morning. But do I need her more than she needs me? Am I not able to give her what she needs? 

It almost feels foolish that I thought the mom guilt that I carried with me for those 2+ years since maternity leave would disappear once she lived with me. 

But right now, I can't help it. I'm feeling like the worst mom in the world yet again.

How am I going to survive once my big C goes to the east coast? 

Days likes this. Cutter's blog post comes to mind on whether this (as in medicine) is worth it? I simply say "no." 


  1. It's a transition period for her, it will pass! You said she had a hard first month at the other preschool, right? I've been there with the crying child at preschool drop off. It happens. They get over it. It's definitely harder for you than her right now, and I promise, there will be no lasting ill effects from this transition. Enjoy your time all together as a family for now.

  2. If she's not happy at the end of the day (some kids are just bad with transitions), then you or your partner may need to observe the preschool and/or just switch preschools. Not all preschools are great fits for all kids and there may be a better match for her out there. We've had the experience where switching schools takes dropoffs from being traumatic to no big deal.

    This sounds like a problem that needs solving-- figure out if anything is wrong, what is actually wrong, and what you can do to make it better. Guilt doesn't have a place in that and is counter-productive.

  3. This is likely just a difficult transition time for her. I would talk with her and the school, to see if something is actually bothering her, or it's a phase. If she has a hard time at drop off, then is happy at the middle of the day and end of the day (can you take a midday or post call time off and suprise visit the place at noon?), then don't worry. If she's really unhappy, you may need to find a better daycare. But being a SAHM does not make kids turn out better. In fact, some recent studies show that having working moms makes kids more resilient and happier (although I read this in a newspaper, not a journal). Good luck, and no need to feel guilty.

  4. If you are the worst mom in the world, so are TONS of other people. Including myself. It would have been unexpected if there wasn't an adjustment period to a new environment. Agree with N&M above to make sure it's a great place and a good fit for your child, but the idea that we're the "worst" by using childcare -- I really disagree with the entire premise.

    I am not trying to be unsupportive; I can tell you love your little one very much. However, I guess I have trouble with this post because it seems like it is catastrophizing what is in fact a very normal situation for many.

  5. I can understand why the poster feels the way she does, even if millions of parents the world over have to struggle with similar daycare drop-off tears. She has spent 2.5 years being apart from her child. Every little discomfort her child feels likely will trigger that same heart-ache the poster felt when she was away from her child. I think it will take some time to recover from that. X-Ray Vision, my child was in a very supportive daycare and even then, he cried every day for the first 6 months. Some days, after I had dropped him off, I wanted to come back, snatch him and run for the hills. To hell with work, my son needed me!!!! Of course, I didn't because I knew he would only cry about 10 minutes after drop-off then go off and play with his friends. Still, it was tough because for a long time, the last image I see of my son in the morning would be him with outstretched arms reaching for me while struggling to get away from the hug of his teacher. He has no memory of this and now complains when I come pick him up from daycare too early--he wants to stay longer to play! Sometimes, when I drop him off now, he runs off to play without a glance back. Ouch! That also tugs on my heart-string a bit, my baby doesn't need me! I just don't win!

    If there are no red flags at the daycare, your child will transition fine. It may be a short time or a long time like my child but it will happen. You can also call in mid-day to hear how long your child did cry for and what she did afterward. You may be surprised to hear that right after you left she stopped crying and played fine. Good luck!

    1. Thank you!! I think you captured how I feel perfectly. My mom doesn't seem at all concerned by little C's behavior and stated that this is the same behavior she exhibited when she first started pre-school near my parent's place. Teachers tell me she does fine at school but has a difficult time with transitions (when they go inside from playing outside but can be comforted). The pre-school has been great. It came highly recommended from my own attendings who send their kids there and has a 3:1 teacher-student ratio for 2 year olds. I don't think it's the pre-school at all. I believe little C is having a hard time with a transition of a new school, new environment and a new primary caregiver and the reason I feel guilty is not because of just the morning drop offs that millions of moms do. I can't help but feel guilty that the reason she has to adjust to all these "new" things is because of my work and because I'm a resident that has limited control of my own schedule. At the end of the day, I know I am very lucky to have the support of my family. Thanks for the kind words :)

    2. I have one kid who is an orchid and one who is much more resilient. Transitions with the first kid continued to be traumatic for years. The best thing with a new day care is structure, consistency, and patience. And if there is one teacher a kid really connects to.

  6. You're not a bad mom, and this scenario sounds totally consonant with my experience with daycare drop offs around that age when we switched daycares as well. Check with the teachers about how she is after you leave. Honestly most likely she will be fine in about 6 weeks or so. When I do the drop offs my daughter asks me to stay and play with her all day. Oh the guilt! But if she didn't ask I'd feel guilty for other reasons. We really can't win this one.

  7. As the parent of a resident, I read these forums so I can understand and be supportive, my kid has no children yet and I had never really considered the live with someone else scendario, but honestly, difficult as it must have been for you, I can see how that could have provided a very strong stable couple of years for your baby/toddler and also have allowed you and your husband to perform strongly in residency.

    I commend your bravery as a Mom and your willingness to put your daughter's overall well being ahead of your immediate desires. Well done.

    I had one who always fussed about being left at pre-school and at the time I was a stay at home Mom. She became my most independent, try not to view the difficulty with transitions as a reaction to your time apart!


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