Showing posts with label Juggler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Juggler. Show all posts

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I matched!

Match Day has come and gone, and I have to admit that life looks so much brighter on the other side of that big white envelope. The months leading up to last Friday have been filled with more ups and downs than I care to count. I know I'm not alone in feeling grateful that the entire process of residency applications, interviews, ranking programs, and waiting, waiting, waiting is finally over!

Now that I've got that Match letter in hand, telling me that I matched at my first choice program (my home institution - hooray for not having to move across the country with a toddler and baby-on-the-way!) I am feeling humbled, grateful, and honestly somewhat astonished to be at this point. There have been so many times in the past 4 years that I wanted to walk away from medical school - studying for Step 1 while trying to conceive, battling first trimester nausea during my surgery clerkship, leaving my baby girl in the care of others when it was time to return to rotations, pumping when I'd rather be nursing her, hearing from my husband or mother-in-law or babysitter about the milestones she reached rather than experiencing them first-hand, tiptoeing out of the house before she awoke in the morning and coming home long after she'd been in bed...the list could go on.

But I count myself blessed to have had the support of my husband, parents, in-laws, and wonderful community of friends during this time - I know from reading this blog that many mothers in medicine are shouldering far heavier burdens with far less help. And it's largely because of those supports that I made it to Match Day. They are the ones who listened when I was frustrated, cared for me when I was exhausted, and lifted me up when I was discouraged. They are the ones who made sure that my daughter always had a safe and nurturing environment to be in (and that mama always had plenty of pictures to keep her going through the longer days and nights). My Match Day belonged to them as much as it did to me.

Even though we are staying put for residency, there are big changes on the horizon. I am thankfully finished with all of my clinical requirements for medical school, but there are all those little administrative odds and ends to take care of. And Baby #2 is due in less than 5 weeks! I still need to dig out the newborn clothes and bassinet from the first time around, maybe review our birth plan/what to expect during labor, think about preparing some food for after the birth (emphasis on think about rather than actually prepare) and pack that hospital bag. Now that the stress and excitement of the entire Match process has subsided, I'm grateful to have the time to prepare, physically and emotionally, for our transition to a family of four.

Congratulations to all the other medical students out there who matched last week - I hope that you are enjoying some well-deserved relaxation after passing this milestone in medical education! I know that Match Day is not necessarily a joyful occasion for everyone, whether it be due to an unexpected placement or not matching at all. So to anyone who is not celebrating this year, I wish you strength and courage for the discernment that lies ahead.

Please share your own stories of this Match Day and those past!

Friday, August 7, 2015


I love routines. I am the kind of person who is perfectly happy to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, while cycling through a handful of choices for dinner. I like knowing what I am going to do, and when, and with whom, and for how long (and then what I am doing afterwards). Not surprisingly, I have found the lack of routine to be one of the most challenging aspects of the clinical years of medical school. As one of my classmates said: "Going through your MS3 year is like having a new job every four weeks". With each new rotation comes a new schedule, new preceptor, and new set of expectations.

One of the perks of the research year sandwiched between my MS3 and MS4 years has been the freedom to set my own schedule - which has meant the freedom to develop a routine for my family. These summer months have been particularly wonderful. I am loving the daily habits my 18-month old daughter and I have developed. In the mornings before daycare drop-off, we go for a walk around the neighborhood. She starts by insisting that she wants to walk, trotting beside me and excitedly pointing to various objects with an exclamation of "diiss?!?" (this), then nodding in agreement ("yah") when I identify them by name. After a few blocks, she puts up her arms for me to carry her - which thankfully doesn't last long (the one-armed toddler carry while pushing the stroller is something of a feat these days). Finally she consents to sit in her stroller, sipping on some milk while we walk to the nearby market or just around the block.

The content of my day may vary (lately including thesis edits, manuscript preparations, half-day clinics, and residency applications), but I know that in the afternoon I'll pick up my daughter from daycare and we'll spend a few hours at the playground or splash zone while we wait for my husband to finish work. In the evenings after dinner, I give her a bath and brush her teeth before settling in for some board books (Corderoy is the current favorite, followed by Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Goodnight Moon, and Machines at Work). Then we turn off the lights, put on some jazz, and snuggle for a few minutes before she falls asleep.

My research year is coming to an end, however, and soon we'll be back to living life four weeks at a time. I'm excited for the rotations I have scheduled for my final year of medical school, but I'm also sad to leave behind the daily rhythm we've developed. With only a few more days of our summer routine left, I'm soaking up as many walks and baths and trips to the park as I can.

Any tips from other MiM's on how to maintain some semblance of a family routine while on busy services or when working long or unpredictable hours?

Friday, June 12, 2015

When I grow up...

It's residency application season! ERAS opened a few weeks ago (coinciding with the sudden onset of palpitations among fourth-year medical students across the country...) As I work on my personal statement and gather letters of recommendation, I've been doing a lot of thinking about why I came to medical school and why I'm choosing my particular specialty.

I came to medical school fueled by a love for biology and a deep desire to help people in need. I'd always liked studying and was willing to work hard to learn how to best help my patients. Yet, after my daughter was born, I began to seriously consider whether or not I wanted to finish medical school. Suddenly, all of the caring energy I'd poured into my patients was directed toward one tiny little human. Morning rounds were replaced by silly songs and walks to the park; sign-out by baths and bedtime stories; overnight call by q2 hour feeds and diaper changes. There are plenty of people who want to be doctors, I thought, as I cradled my daughter in my arms. I'm the only mother she has.

When my daughter was 8 weeks old, I went back to school to finish my third-year clerkships. Those first months were harder than I'd expected. I hated being away from my daughter, hated scrounging for time and space to pump, hated feeling like I was less than half the mother and student I wanted to be. I had a hard time switching between hospital-mode and home-mode - it seemed that by the time I'd settle back into being a bumbling first-time mom, I had to leave again to be the clueless third-year medical student who couldn't remember the names of nerves or the proper technique for position patients on the operating table.

Many nights were spent with me crying to my poor beleaguered husband (who was taking on most of the childcare responsibilities while I was back on rotations) about how I hated all things medical. We went over all the possible scenarios we could imagine, looking for an exit strategy: maybe I should just drop out and save us all a lot of misery; maybe I should graduate but not pursue residency; maybe I should keep going and hope it would get better.

On many occasions, I came close to choosing one of those first two options. In the end, though, I always stuck with the third. And as time went on, it did get better. I finished the rotations I'd been less fond of, the world miraculously emerged from winter, and life began to look a little more hopeful. When my daughter was five months old, I started an Acting Internship in the specialty I'd been planning to pursue - and to my relief and even delight, I found that I enjoyed it just as much as I had before she was born. Although I still felt sad when leaving in the morning, I was quickly engaged in pre-rounding on patients and discussing management decisions with the residents and attending. I looked forward to seeing my patients each morning and found it exciting to collaborate with other providers to find the best diagnostic and treatment options. I began to feel a sense of professional identity that had faded somewhat in those first postpartum months. When I came home, I was eager to talk with my husband about the diagnoses I'd made, and even more eager to throw myself wholeheartedly into feeding, bathing and snuggling my daughter until bedtime.

Those four weeks of Acting Internship - during which I felt for the first time that being a mother in medicine was not only a possible option but actually a life-giving one - are part of what has kept me motivated to finish medical school and complete post-graduate training. I feel that I have rediscovered the passion that brought me to medical school in the first place, and am grateful that it has been proven in the testing fire of new motherhood. I know that residency will bring many challenges, both familiar and novel, but I am encouraged by the fact that as I advance in my training, I will move increasingly into the areas of medicine that I most enjoy - the areas that give me a sense of purpose distinct from and complementary to that which I find in motherhood.

What about the rest of you MiM? Were there times when you questioned whether medicine and motherhood were compatible? What motivated you to become a physician, and what keeps you going in your field?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

MiM Intro: Juggler

Hello! I'm so pleased to be joining the MiM community as a new poster. I'm a rising fourth-year medical student with a fifteen-month-old daughter. I'm currently wrapping up a year of research and will soon be starting my final clinical rotations before the residency interview season commences.

Just shy of two years ago, I took Step 1. I was 8 weeks pregnant at the time and came to the testing center armed with acupressure bands, ginger and saltines in the hopes of keeping my first trimester nausea at bay. Adrenaline turned out to be a more effective remedy, containing my queasiness all the way through the final question. I left the testing center wondering if I'd passed, but mostly feeling relieved to be done. Before long, however, tendrils of uncertainty began to creep into my consciousness. I felt suddenly overwhelmed by all that lay ahead - pregnancy, labor, an infant to care for...all while on my 3rd year clerkships. I was still learning to survive as a medical student - why on earth had I decided to add learning to be a mother on top of that?

Fast forward to today, when I sat for Step 2 CK. This time I came to the testing center armed with tissues and lemon tea (because if I've learned anything since being a parent in medical school, it's that the week of a board exam your kid will get you sick). I made my way through the sections, feeling only marginally more knowledgeable than I did two years ago. As I was signing myself out at the end of the day, the ladies staffing the testing center kept commenting on the cute little girl who'd been popping in. My test-addled brain didn't quite make the obvious connection ("Who's just letting their kid wander around the building?" I wondered vaguely as I waited for the biometric scanner to register my fingerprint).

As I turned to leave, I saw that it was me (or, rather, my husband), who'd been doing just that. My daughter stood in the waiting room, her face breaking out into a huge grin as she ran to meet me. I swept her up into my arms and covered her with kisses. In that moment, everything in the past two years - the weeks of dragging my pregnant body through ORs and wards, the hurried pumping sessions in call rooms and restrooms, the 3 am diaper changes when I had to be at the hospital to pre-round only hours later - everything felt worth it.

Today, with the hardest parts of medical school behind me, and only residency interviews and a handful of electives (plus one pesky Acting Internship) ahead, I'm feeling excited about what the future holds. I'm looking forward to welcoming all of you along as I hit the interview trail, agonize over my rank list, and wait impatiently for Match Day. I hope that I can offer encouragement to other women who are parenting or contemplating parenting in medical school, or maybe just a sense of solidarity during those moments when none of it seems worth it (or even possible). I'll be posting here under the name "Juggler" - a role I'm sure all of you are intimately familiar with.

Thanks for reading and for making MiM such a vibrant, dynamic community for women at all stages of motherhood and medicine!