Thursday, February 4, 2021

Materni-tine

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times to have a baby. 

For starters, I don’t want to be a pregnant healthcare worker in a pandemic again. No thank you.

We tried to induce Baby Girl early in November when the COVID was really hitting the fan here in the Midwest and we didn’t know if it would get worse. Didn’t matter, she didn’t budge. She ended up (as her older brother) needing a for-real induction a week after her due date. After the delivery, we struggled with a retained placenta so it seemed like the never-ending pregnancy - even though we had a baby, we still. weren’t. done.

There are definitely pros and cons to taking maternity leave during a pandemic. It has been so nice to keep my entire family at home for twelve weeks, although twelve weeks at home with a fussy baby and a three year old with minimal visitors has been trying at times. I am somewhat of a germ-a-phobe with small babies even in non-COVID times, so COVID gave us an easy out of crowded holiday family gatherings. It did get lonely. We made a grandparents-only visitation rule which worked out great until one side went south for the winter and the other actually came down with COVID so stayed away. I had to be intentional about Zooming everyone from college roommates to high school besties - and I definitely found some solidarity in their loneliness as well. It’s hard for everyone here as winter in the Midwest doesn’t really lend itself to outdoor socially distanced gatherings. My husband and I don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything by staying at home with our kids - because that’s what everyone else is doing too.

I will be ready to go back to work in the next couple weeks. I’m a little nervous about jumping back in at full speed with an extra little body to coordinate, but I’ve decided to “give myself grace” (a phrase I stole from one of my patients) and remind myself that it will be messy and it will still turn out OK. I got my second COVID vaccine which is reassuring. I did decide to vaccinate and continue breastfeeding which is consistent with AAP/ACOG/Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine guidelines. The doctor in me reviewed the evidence, weighed the risks and benefits, and made the decision to vaccinate. The mother in me called my mom immediately after my first vaccination to get reassurance I was doing the right thing. 

This is how I know I did maternity leave right: I rewarded myself with a post-COVID vaccine haircut (10+ inches gone! Hello mom cut!). My hairstylist asked what I’ve gotten done during my maternity leave and I couldn’t think of a single thing outside of snuggles and legos. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kicks



Friday, January 22, 2021

The Match: It will all work out

 It's been a while. Hope you are all staying safe and sane and welcoming a new year with a sense of optimism. I know it's tough, but all we can do is hope, right?

I found this blog over 10 years ago. I was newly married, pregnant, furiously google searching "mom in medicine" and "can you be a mom and a doctor." Luckily, I stumbled upon this blog, read archives and old posts, and mustered up the confidence and gumption to take on medical school with a newborn. It was not easy. I recently celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary, and, as someone who got married right out of college, my husband and I realized that for the entirety of our dating life and marriage, I have either been studying for the MCAT, applying to medical school, in medical school, in residency, and now in a fellowship. The third wheel of responsibility and demands on my mind, emotions, sleep, and time, was not anything like we could have imagined bringing in to our relationship. But as I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I'm amazed at how far we have come. 

Thinking back to January 4 years ago, I remember the fear with which I submitted my match list. I knew the programs near my hometown were notoriously competitive, especially in my chosen field. Being 8 months pregnant with my 2nd during Step 1 did me no favors and I had an unlikely chance to match at my medical school's program or the other local programs. So we looked around America. We kept an open mind. And I submitted a list that was part hopeful, part practical, and part prayer. 

I didn't invite my parents or anyone aside from my husband to match day. I was dreading it, honestly. I didn't want to move away, I didn't know how I could possible do residency without that supportive backbone my parents gave me throughout medical school. I knew that I would most likely end up on the other side of the country, near my husband's 1 relative, and without the support of my family and parents and friends and everything I knew. 

When I matched at a smaller program 3000 miles away from home, at first I cried. It was confusing. I loved the program and knew in my heart it was the best fit for me. It was family friendly, supportive, great staff, respectful of the lives and time of its residents, and an unbelievably rigorous place to train. But in the beginning, those feelings were hard to reconcile. I hated the match process, doubted medicine, and questioned what the purpose of the whole thing was. It was hard. But now, looking back, I am so so glad I did it. 

My mentors in medical school and various blogs tell residents to "trust the process." Trust that "the match works itself out." For some, it doesn't. But for me, those words rang true. We created a community in our new city, explored a different climate and culture, and really had a wonderful adventure. I am now doing fellowship in the midwest, slowly inching closer back to my home in the West Coast. But I am fortified in my relationship, as a parent, and have learned to lean on community and friends, not just family. My kids are resilient and adaptable. The feeling of "us" in a little bubble- amplified by the pandemic- has only made my relationship with my husband stronger. Had I quit or compromised my goals during match, I don't think I would be as fulfilled, happy, and motivated as I am now. 

Good luck to all the applicants submitting their rank lists. Stay open minded. I'm sending good vibes that it works out.