I have been a little MIA here since I've joined the chaos that is being an attending!
I was once told that the first year of being an attending would be the hardest. That is quite the understatement.
I was going through so many changes this past summer. I moved out of San Diego, a place that has been home for 14 years. I joined my husband in Los Angeles and after 2 years of long distance, we are finally under the same roof! Little C started her new school. It was basically a lot of change. It was all good but with any transition, it is never smooth sailing.
Fortunately, all that stuff mentioned above went pretty smooth. Kids are so resilient. Little C had a best friend by week 2 and by the second month, she was completely adjusted. It is definitely nice seeing my husband's face in person and not via FaceTime! But it turned out, the hardest transition was my new role as an attending.
I joined a private group. I remember posting on this website about what to ask in a job interview. To sum it up, I was way too excited that I was actually getting a job that I forgot majority of the advice given to me and signed a contract without really knowing what I was getting myself into. I had a sense of what the group would be like but I went along with their assumption that as my first year out of training that I would want to jump right in, make a lot of money and be on the full-time schedule, which included a lot of weekend call and evening shifts.
Initially, it didn't seem horrible compared to residency and fellowship. But my biggest dilemma now was how do I juggle being an attending and a mom without my own mom? My mom has been more than a grandma the past 4.5 years since little C was born. She was her primary caregiver for 2.5 years and the following 2 years of my long distance with my husband, she was available for every single sick day, call, evening shifts and weekend obligations. But I wanted to hold true to my promise that she would be a grandma once I became an attending. I think I really burnt her out the past almost 5 years and I think it was starting to put a dent in our relationship so this was new territory for me.
I found an incredible nanny to help with picks ups and drop offs but I was often very frustrated as to why I was working this hard and still not getting the work life balance that I thought I would ultimately have once I became an attending. I grew very unhappy, bottled it all up inside and did something I never thought I would do.
But the most surprising twist of all was that my resignation wasn't taken and instead I was asked what would be my ideal schedule. I was shocked. I didn't expect such encouragement and flexibility. It took some convincing because I didn't think I deserved this kind of special treatment being so fresh out of training but it turns out, there were many people in the group who had different contracts that accommodated their lifestyles.
I thought I would let the group down if I didn't work the regular full-time schedule. I thought I was selfish asking to be taken out of the call pool and to only work from the hours of 8-5. But trying to quit ended up being the best decision ever. I got my dream schedule. I finally have time to work out for the first time in 5 years. I have the luxury of dropping off and picking up little C from school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And the idea of second child is exciting now, rather than terrifying!
I feel like I can finally breathe now after 6 years of holding my breath and just trying to survive during residency and fellowship. I finally did it. I got my work-life balance. It's never perfect but I can work with this. So my take away lesson from all of this is don't be scared to ask for what you want, preferably without having to go through an almost resignation like myself!