Showing posts with label having kids during training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label having kids during training. Show all posts

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Story of My Life

Do you ever feel like your life is like a TV show, but not in a good way? More like a Seinfeld kind of way, when all you can do to keep from crying is shake your head and laugh?
Episode one. I present for a labor check at 38 weeks (determined to be false labor), and find out baby boy is BREECH when at my appointment the week prior, he was firmly declared vertex! The plan is to do an external cephalic version immediately, as I am an ideal candidate. I wait nearly 11 hours, NPO, cranky, uncomfortable, and tethered to an IV pole, and at last the Ob team assembles to do the version. AS they are putting on gloves, all their pagers go off. Oh no. No. No! It’s a gyn surgical emergency, a stabbing!! A resident returns to give me the choice to wait several more hours with no guarantee of doing the version, or to schedule it for first thing the next morning. My hangry state tells me to postpone… which in retrospect is likely the wrong choice. My “false” contractions progressively and subtly transition into excruciating ones over the next 8 hours at home (I’ve lost confidence in knowing what’s real after the false alarm earlier), and at 2:30am I find myself driving alone to the hospital, jaw clenched, sobbing, and pulling over for contractions (my husband is at home with our daughter). I am 9 cm dilated - time for emergency C section - and our perfect son makes his debut with a bang thirty minutes later.
Episode two. I find out a week after our son was born that, by some miracle, I’ve received a research grant I applied for last winter. The catch? I’m required to attend the organization’s national meeting in 4 weeks to accept the award at a formal dinner. After weighing all the options, we decide to go as a family. It’s a fun city, only a 3-hour flight, expenses are partially covered, and I‘d have the opportunity to attend an awesome conference. A two year old and a 5 week old in a small hotel room together? No problem! The reality? Every day we desperately invest hours in the possibility of achieving overlapping naptime so we, too, could sleep.


Needless to say, I don’t get to attend much of the conference. I try going to talks, I really do. It’s a lot to ask my husband to watch both of them, so I go to a few presentations with the baby strapped on, hanging out by the exit door. The night of the awards ceremony finally comes. Milk pumped, baby topped off, toddler excited, husband feeling strong. But alas, this is how the evening ultimately ends.


Episode three. The number one question I’m asked during prenatal care? By multiple people at every single appointment, from 6 weeks through the bitter end? “What method of contraception do you plan to use afterwards?” This is to the point where I can only assume they think I got pregnant on accident and are doing anything possible to prevent me from letting it happen again. Every time, without fail, I say, “IUD.” Even while being prepped for my emergency CS, crying in pain, someone manages to come around and ask me if I’d like the IUD inserted... “NOT. NOW!!!” I scream. Finally, the big day comes to do my IUD insertion, at my 6-week postpartum visit (which of course requires me to bring my newborn along). When I make the appointment, they ask again if I want an IUD inserted so they can allot enough time. Mid-way through the appointment, my Ob tells me, “I’m sorry, but the administrator who gets insurance approval for IUDs is out for the morning unexpectedly, so we actually can’t do the IUD today. But don’t worry, we’ll schedule you for next week, no problem!” CUE FOREHEAD SLAP.
The stories go on and on. I will share a few more.
Feeling the sweet warmth of a blow-out spread across my sleeve as my son, who won’t nap in the crib, sleeps in the crook of my arm as I frantically try to get through the RISE exam before he wakes up (I don't stop taking the test, by the way).

Watching cake batter overflow and drip down the oven rack gratings in a million little chocolate stalactites at 4:30am while baking a birthday cake for my mother in law.
Dropping said mother-in-law off at airport. So out of it and exhausted, I accidentally drive in the buses-only lane at departures. I have never ever done this in my life. An airport official runs over and tells me to leave immediately before I get fined ($500!!) and I get out of there… but alas, a cop is waiting for me at the very end. Sigh. (But with a wailing newborn in the backseat, I fortunately get off with only a formal warning.)
We have a few warm days last week. I smell something weird. I am fearful it is something with the sump pump or crawl space (we live in a renovated brick rowhome). Long long story short, there is a dead rat in the crawl space. Yes. A. Dead. Rat. Next door had an infestation, exterminators came, rats ate poison, and one managed to get through a crumbling brick and into our crawl space. And died. No words. This is an ongoing saga. Involving the services of a mason- I never imagined I'd need a real mason, but apparently I do. But it will be ok.
 
And the clincher. What inspires me to sit down and write this. What drives me to actually throw my head back and laugh with tears in my eyes. Baby has his 2 month immunizations this morning, and poor thing is angry and uncomfortable… he just needs to take a nice long nap. And THIS is what I come home to- view from his window.

This is when all you can do is laugh. And be grateful for health and for even the capacity to laugh. And embrace all of this self-inflicted chaos, the q2-3 hour wake up calls that still aren't stretching out after 8 weeks, the blow-outs, projectile vomit, and laundry. So much laundry. Laugh at the fact that your parents, who had lived just an hour away, decide to move to Asia a month before baby is born, leaving you again without family support postpartum (we tell each other it's building character). Accept the frustrating feeling of hard-earned knowledge seeping out of your brain even after a few short weeks, trying to have the will-power to study and attend resident didactics and research seminars (sometimes with a sleeping newborn hidden under your jacket), but often failing. 

But there are some TV/movie moments. When I sink my lips into the soft pillows of my son's cheeks, also becoming aware of my daughter's pudge melting away silently. The indescribable joy of seeing our daughter transform into a sibling. When my heart explodes witnessing first smiles and giggles. The sacredness of feeling the body of such a vulnerable little human relax in your arms. Awe that I can muster up secret stores of energy and patience that are fueled only by love when I have nothing left. And awe at the magnitude of this love. So it's time to celebrate- although it hasn't been pretty, we've made it through the newborn trenches once again.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Let the Mystery Be

Our little man will hopefully make his appearance (hopefully in a much shorter and less painful way!) in the next few weeks… I hit 37 weeks a couple of days ago, and for me, this is uncharted territory as I went into labor with our daughter at 37 days on the dot. This has really felt like a milestone- as residents, we live our lives in month-long blocks, and the past two blocks have been the most intense physically and hours-wise rotations we have in our pathology program. We're all still in one piece though, and for that I am grateful. We met with our volunteer doula this past weekend, finally acquired a car seat, and took inventory of all the leftover clothes I had stashed from my daughter (mostly gender neutral, thankfully!) that we’ll be able to use again. This is finally feeling like a reality.


I wanted to share the strangest experience I had this weekend which I haven’t been able to shake. I’m sure many with multiple children relatively close together can commiserate over how different subsequent pregnancies are from the first…  Beyond our work, our focus has been survival and spending as much quality time as possible with our daughter and being a family of 3. It’s been easy to forget about the pregnancy, and actually I’ve done a pretty good job at ignoring it so I don’t worry haha.. But this time, there have been no photo diaries week by week, no journal entries to my fetus, no shopping trips to buy anything special.


One experience we really treasured the first time around was going to one of those recreational 4D ultrasound places to find out the sex and see her face. We actually went twice- once around 15 weeks and once later on, maybe 25 or 26 weeks. I remember how much we stared at those photos- we even had one framed which I brought to my delivery haha. Her face was so beautiful... I still love looking at those photos in utero and seeing her face in them, her little button nose and full lips. Anyway a couple weeks ago, while feeling guilty realizing how little time was left and how little we had done, my husband and I decided to try to find a similar U/S place in the city we live in now. The place with the best reviews was far- over 30 minutes away- but we thought we owed it to our fetus to be appreciated for a morning and to let our daughter see him, haha. But it was actually disappointing… it was sort of a weird sterile office, not at all a warm fuzzy baby-friendly environment like we experienced back in California. Also, previously, we had to sign that we were receiving prenatal care and write down the name of the hospital and Ob practice in case there were any abnormalities that needed to be reported;  at this place, all they took was our name and EDD. And unfortunately, our little guy was totally covering his face with both hands and feet at the session, so they invited us to come back for another look in a couple weeks.     


So this weekend we went back to test our luck, and while in the waiting room, the doctor/owner of the business (radiology IMG, not practicing here; his wife seems to be the ultrasound tech) came out and asked if I could come help him with translation issues with his current Brazilian client that couldn’t speak English. He knew I had an MD, but I was caught off guard. Without thinking too hard, I shrugged and said, sure, I only had patchy Spanish and Italian to offer but maybe it could be a bridge to their Portugese. I entered the room to find a young couple with their two older sons, maybe 7 and 9. The woman looked scared. I started to feel scared. According to her LMP, she should have been around 10 weeks along. No cramping, no bleeding since. Regular periods prior. Apparently, no insurance and she hadn’t seen an Ob or PCP- only positive HPTs. The problem was that no heartbeat was detected, and she was measuring only around 5 weeks. My heart sank. It was clear they had all come to share the joyous occasion of seeing the baby for the first time as a family. I was so sad for them as I had been in the same position a year prior, the ultrasound planting the first seed in my heart of the possibility of miscarriage to follow. We tried to explain as gently as possible that time will tell whether the pregnancy will continue. But I was upset that I was in this unexpected position. I was upset that she didn’t have a doctor of her own. I was upset that she was receiving this information in this setting. I tried my best to encourage her to establish care with an Ob as soon as possible, but it seemed unlikely that it would happen.


I keep thinking about her today and wish the best. I truly hope this is a dating issue and that her pregnancy will progress. I keep thinking of my own miscarriage, the ordinariness and near universality of the experience and how isolating, unique, and devastating it still feels. I think of the miracle of our family now ready to welcome a boy just a year later. Of all the health we take for granted. I think of the fragility of our children, that this is all the beginning… by gaining so much in love we also have so much to lose. But I remind myself that the alternative, of not opening our hearts to the potential of more love and family, is also a sort of loss. I was reminded of this old song by Iris DeMent, called “Let the Mystery Be,” which expresses her coming to terms with rejecting organized religion (she grew up in a big religious family I believe) in a really beautiful way... I often sing this to myself when I feel like I need to let go and not worry... so much unexplainable mystery in life.     

Here is the brief and only glimpse our little one gave us of his face in the two ultrasound sessions. He wants to stay a mystery and I accept that. I just can’t wait to kiss those chubby cheeks and lips and see what the rest of him looks like… well, maybe I can wait just a couple more weeks :)  



Monday, February 8, 2016

MiM Mail: A hard pregnancy during residency

Hi,

I've been a lurker on the Mothers in Medicine blog for awhile, and let me just say, the stories and posts have been so comforting to me, especially on my tough days. I'm a third year resident, currently in my third trimester of my first pregnancy in a two-resident household. I wanted to share my pregnancy experience to see if I could gather some advice from fellow mothers in medicine. I feel quite isolated as the only resident in my male-dominated program to be a new mother/pregnant in a long time, and at a hospital system where few female residents are mothers/get pregnant during residency, in general.

My pregnancy has been hard, to say the least. I envy all of those mothers who have the pregnancy glow, who have boundless nesting energy, and who just "love being pregnant!!!" My pregnancy has not been like that. First, it was unplanned, and happened about a month after my husband and I got married. I found out the day after my 24 hour call; I was so nauseous and I was late. I took the pregnancy test two times before I could truly believe that the two lines were actually there. After I confirmed the positivity and announced the news, it seemed like everyone was happy about it, but me. I had unknowingly performed multiple fluoroscopy procedures, and I was so worried about what the effects would be on the baby. I consulted my OB, a radiation physicist, and multiple radiologists, who assured me that this early, the effects should be all or nothing, and if the baby had made it through to this point, everything should be fine. My husband and I made the decision to proceed with the pregnancy. We felt that women go through pregnancies in worse situations and conditions, and we should be so lucky to get pregnant this easily with a supportive environment there to welcome the baby when he/she arrives.

Anyway, fast forward through first trimester, which was fraught with all- day morning sickness that even lasted through my night shifts and into my second trimester, to third trimester, where I now find myself having failed the 1 hour and 3- hour glucose tolerance tests. Just barely. I'm now diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and I feel like a failure. Prior to being pregnant, I was skinny, fit, and perfectly healthy. The only risk factor I had was being Asian. The news was terrible; I had been feeling like I couldn't excel as a resident, and now, I felt like I couldn't handle my duties to be a healthy pregnant mother. As someone who has been usually been able to balance multiple plates somewhat successfully, these two losses felt like huge blows.

I've been dealing with gestational diabetes the way that I deal with most challenges in my life; through hard work. I've been increasing protein intake, decreasing carbohydrates, logging my food religiously in a diary, pricking my finger 4 times a day, and walking at least 5 miles a day. My post-prandial sugars have been great. They're super tight, and well below the cut-off of 140. In fact, I haven't had an abnormal number. On the other hand, my fasting sugars in the morning are a touch high. The cut-off is 95 at my physician's office, and mine ranges from mid eighties to mid-to-upper 90's. Actually, there have only been 3 values from 95-100. My physician has given me until Monday to get the values down, before I have to go on insulin. I've tried everything to no avail. I still have 2-3 values hovering at 96. I feel like considering these numbers high is like splitting hairs. But I think my physician disagrees.

It's not that I'm against using insulin. I'm all for using insulin... that is, if I'm truly and outrageously hyperglycemic. I've done my research (on primary literature resources) and read that physicians will use cutoffs of less than 90, 95, 100, even 105. My range is in a gray area. There's also been a paper published showing that if the pregnant woman has no risk factors (the baby is not measuring large, there's no polyhydramnios, etc.), then the physician will let the fasting glucose ride to 105 before initiating insulin. The paper showed that aggressively treating lower risk gestational diabetes women (below 105, and with normal to smaller fetuses) with insulin may be associated with restricted fetal growth. I would be considered a "lower risk" mother, as my latest ultrasound this past week showed the baby was measuring below average, and everything else was normal. I also don't want to run the risk of being hypoglycemic, which I think is a valid concern, given that I'm about to enter a much busier rotation in which it will be harder to eat, and in which, if i become hypoglycemic, would be disruptive to patient care.

Do you guys think that my hesitancy about insulin in my situation is unreasonable? How should I approach the conversation with her? Of course, if more of my numbers are abnormal, then I'll definitely initiate insulin. I already superficially brought up this concern to my OB, which is why she has let me wait until Monday. But it seems like she is pretty set on starting me on insulin that day no matter what I tell her. She dropped the cutoff, saying that normal pregnant patients' fasting blood sugars run from 70-90's, and that tight control is necessary to prevent macrosomia and to improve the baby's transition (and to lessen NICU admission). I don't want to be "that patient." But at the same time, even though this is not my field of expertise, I do have health literacy, and I don't want to act too aggressively to make an already stressful situation more stressful. I don't feel like I'm as high risk as she's making this out to be.

I really appreciate your thoughts and opinions.

By the way, I have been and will continue to work 24 hour shifts and nights into my 9 month. But that's another dilemma for another day.

Thank you!

Monday, February 1, 2016

MiM Mail: Hope it gets better

I hope things get better. At least that is what I tell myself everyday as I leave my house at the crack of dawn to get to work, barely having seen my child the day before. Better I do this now than when she is older are the words of encouragement I get to help me cope with my situation. I knew from an early age that my greatest desire was to become a mom, a working mom that is, until, Miss A arrived. I received the news I was pregnant halfway through my residency interviews. Scared, upset, sad were the emotions going through my head when I found out I was pregnant as this wasn't planned. I just got married and we wanted to wait at least a year. How the heck am I going to manage beginning intern year 9 months pregnant??!!?? I dreaded telling whichever program I matched into that I would have to take maternity leave so early in the start of residency. But, I thought I could do it. I was strong enough. Fast forward almost a year later. Every day I wonder if I made the right decision to not delay starting my residency. I miss so much of her development with my crazy hours. I see all my friends who could afford to be stay at home moms and become extremely envious. How lucky are they that they can be there for their child while I'm stuck working 70+ hours. Why did I become a doctor??!! Right now I am in the midst of reapplying to a more lifestyle friendlier residency but I'm constantly wondering if it gets better. If it is worth it. If I didn't have the massive loans, I would have quit already. I never imagined how something so small could cause you to rethink you life decisions. I fear that whatever little bond we developed during my maternity leave will dissolve. That I will be viewed as a stranger. God, I miss her. I just hope it gets better.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Things I wish I knew before starting med school with kids

1. That tired drinking out of a firehose analogy...unfortunately true. I remember being appalled when I read that med students study multiple hours a day on top of going to class. I foolishly thought on my days that end at noon (Monday and Friday) I can pick my daughter up from preschool / go to the gym / twiddle my thumbs. Instead, I am thankful for an afternoon with no class so I can hole up in the library and study. The endless studying is not death, falling behind is.

2. Wearing a half-face respirator during anatomy lab makes me look like Bane from Batman. But hey, that's a pretty good trade-off for formaldehyde-free breastmilk. And the puzzled looks I get when people see the lingering lines on my face after removing the mask -- extra giggles.

3. The lactation room is the mecca of multi-tasking. Pumping can be accomplished while eating, studying, napping, crying, making phone calls, etc. Bonus points for attempting three things at a time.

4. Whatever makes your life easier, and if you have the means, do it. Examples include ordering food, dry shampoo, a breast pump car adaptor, skipping a bath or two for the kids (hey they could have dry skin?).

5. GET YOUR CHILDCARE SITUATION FIGURED OUT AND SET (x10000000)

6. You will be older than some of the MS2s-MS4s, the same age as some residents or even attendings. Bless your eye cream and good genes, although four years of this will probably negate all of that.

7. Saying no is okay.*
"Want to study together at extremely-far-from-my-house coffee shop at extremely-inconvenient-hour?" - No.
"Want to go rage after block exam and stay out all night?" - No.
"Want to join a thousand interest groups and shadow everyone possible in the hospital?" - No...maybe second year?

8. *It is also okay to say yes.
"Need help?" - YES!

9. Your classmates will be amazing people who have done amazing things. Everyone is incredibly supportive and no one is trying to sabotage you unlike the undergrad premeds.

10. And now, a visual representation of your life:

still smiling though!!! 



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

MiM Mail: Advice for an ex-husband of a MiM-to-be

Hello!

Being a father not interested in medical school makes me a somewhat non-traditional reader I imagine.

I am ultimately writing for advice. I read a number of great posts on your blog, but I am coming at this from a different direction and was hoping one of you would be able to point me in the right the right way.

My ex-wife is a brilliant woman in her Junior year of her undergrad and planning to start applying for medical schools. We have a good co-parenting arrangement and try to do our best by our three boys (4, 5 and 7). I am no longer in the medical field but do have 8 years experience as a critical care paramedic so I can appreciate both how talanted she is and how hard her road is going to be. She is going to apply locally but is also looking at the Virginia area due to family there. I am willing to consider relocation if I can find appropriate work (I work in IT in a rather specialized area).

My question is, how can I best approach the subject of custody? I don't want to take the kids away from her by any means (she is a fantastic mom!), but I am concerned that raising three young school age boys while attending medical school will be overwhelming. She can accomplish anything she sets her mind to, but even she can't accomplish *everything*.

My initial thought is to offer/ask to take the custodial role, freeing her up to apply herself 100% at school while still affording the boys a stable home life and predictability in routine. I don't know for sure how she would receive this, but suspect she would at least be willing to consider it. Then again, as a divorcee my ability to mis-read her intentions is a matter of public record. : )

There has to be a mutually beneficial way to handle this situation that benefits all of us, and I am looking for advice on where I could look for information. I have looked at some of the schools websites for information on family services offered by medical schools but it's hard to find in a lot of cases.

If you have a moment, would you be able/willing to point me in the right direction, or even offer some insight from your own experiences?

Many thanks for your time!

Monday, November 23, 2015

MiM Mail: Making residency safer for pregnant residents

Mothers in Medicine! I am seeking your advice/expertise on the difficult subject of how to treat pregnant residents. A little background: I am a chief resident at a busy anesthesia program that takes frequent and draining 24 hour calls in the OR. Those calls are such that, most of the time, the call room is a distant fantasy. I am also a mom to an active preschooler and pregnant with #2. All was going well until after a particularly exhausting 24 hour call, when I started having frequent, regular contractions at 20 weeks. I had to take several days off work and (thankfully!) things calmed down. I'm now trying to ease myself back into the OR call rotation.

My question for all of you who have been through a resident with tough, frequent 24 hour calls or night shifts... how did your program handle pregnant residents? I've heard from friends at other programs about policies that were put in place to limit calls because so many pregnant residents were going into preterm labor. Other programs limited night shifts for the same reason. Obviously, these changes put strain on non-pregnant residents. Was there widespread resentment to enacting such restrictions?

Amazingly, I'm the first resident to be pregnant at our program in over a decade, but I know there are many women behind me hoping to do the same. I'm hoping to find some common sense changes that can be made to keep pregnant residents working, but in a safe way for mom and baby.

Thanks in advance!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

From premed to med

So in the last two months I managed to do most of the things on my list. We moved nearly all our stuff down and unpacked while I was 37 weeks along. SK's birthday bash went smoothly. Our house is rented. Baby #2, SE arrived and is happy and healthy. We waited until she was two weeks old, packed up our remaining items in a U-haul and made the ten hour drive to our new home. (It's really only supposed to take six hours, but every 30 miles someone either needed to be fed or had to pee.) And now we are here, adjusting to life with a new family member, in a new city, with new schools and jobs. Everyone I've told about our moving experience has thought we're completely nuts, which we are, but we had a plan, stuck to it as much as we could and anything else that came up, we decided to just roll with it. In fact, these last four words have really become my motto as of late, so much so that I can basically take a picture of our crazy lives at any moment and have #justrollwithit be a fitting caption.

My first week of school was packed with such moments. No one to drop off or pick up SK from school on Monday? Just stay home with grandma and do some crafts, eat lots of treats and watch too much TV (#justrollwithit). Get to school and realize I brought my pump but forgot all my pump parts at home? Use the lactation room's backup pump and try to ignore the idea that others have used the same pump (#justrollwithit). Motion-sensor lights turn off in lactation room while pumping, leaving me fumbling around in the dark? Dance like a mad woman in the chair, still attached to my pump until the lights turn on (#justrollwithit....ok there might have been some expletives here and there).

I'm starting to realize that my med school experience is going to be a little bit different than what I had envisioned. I missed out on most of the socializing opportunities my first week because I had to run down to the first floor lactation room to pump while everyone else ate lunch. In fact, it is lunch time right now as I write this and I'm being serenaded by the gentle pff pff pff of my lovely pump. When our social calendar first came out I foolishly rsvp'd to several different events which I'm now realizing was a tad bit ambitious. I guess having a preschooler made me forget what newborn schedules are like; I forgot about the eating every 3 hours thing and the getting up multiple times at night routine. I am feeling a little bit left out, but I know the social aspect of med school will come with time, especially when the little one is a bit older. My biggest struggle right now is trying to figure out when I'm going to find time to study and I'm hoping with some trial and error I'll figure it out. Yesterday an assignment took me 5 hours...maybe 1 hour of actual work in total, 1 hour playing DJ for SK so she could perform dance routines in the living room, 30 minutes of reading Fancy Nancy books, 30 minutes of redirection, timeouts and talks, 1 hour of snuggles and cuddles, 45 minutes of breastfeeding and 15 minutes of accidental sleeping. By the time everyone else is actually in bed and I can study without distraction, I'm about to face-plant into my laptop.

I am loving what I'm learning though and I'm thankful to be in a great program. It's the logistical part that's scaring me right now. I can feel the dreaded "what have I gotten myself into" question creeping into my mind sometimes, but I'm pushing it aside for now. I'm rolling along and I'll be rolling with it for the next 4 years and probably thereafter.



Monday, August 10, 2015

MiM Mail: Lost

Hi, I just started a 3 year residency program, and I'm feeling desperately close to quitting. In fact, if it weren't for the huge financial investment I've made up to this point, I almost certainly would have quit before I even got to this point.

I have a daughter who was born at the beginning of 4th year, and I think 4th year was probably the best year of my life. I loved spending time with her at home (despite being bored and lonely for parts of it). Now that she's older, she's even more wonderful and funny and fascinating, which I didn't think was possible. I dreaded the start of residency, which was, unfortunately, a black cloud over that otherwise wonderful year.

Now that it's here, I don't know whether it's worth it to continue. I don't find the work difficult or all that unenjoyable; I kind of like it and I definitely like the idea of contributing to our family financially. I feel like I could surely handle it all if I didn't have a child. I grieve every single day the lost time with her and the opportunity to watch her grow and be there for her babyhood, which is so fleeting and the part of my own life I want to experience more than anything. Add to this some chronic health problems that I am dealing with, and I feel so depressed. And of course there's no time to seek out treatment or professional help. I really have nobody to talk to about it. I feel like I'm drowning.

I have a supportive non-medical spouse who has a good job, though it would still be a blow of course to give up a future physician income. And I do have some loans, though well below the national average. So...I guess I'm looking for advice. Do I stay or do I go? Or should I approach my PD about some sort of part-time compromise (guessing that's a huge long shot). If I somehow make it though, and don't destroy all relationships in the process, my husband and daughter would probably be better off long term. If I go, I can start to recuperate some sense of sanity and mental and physical health, and I think it's better for me personally. Maybe I could convince myself it's better for my daughter since she'll be in a less stressful environment. I feel lost. -J

Monday, August 3, 2015

Every little bit

2 weeks into attendingdom, I am starting to realize how life has changed fundamentally. Gone are the days of working 75 hours a week. Gone are the days of calculating TPN and anion gap. Gone are the days of being questioned about details that you struggle to remember and know you’ll never need again outside of residency. I now work 4 days a week and can pick up a weekend day if I want to. We haven’t had an office emergency that I have managed yet, but I’ve got emergent management for the 15 or so minutes until EMS arrives down. I’ve got that!

In spite of my nice schedule and awesome colleagues, I realize that it will take a while to let go of my resident mindset. During residency, a resident-mommy-friend and I would chat and comment about how guilty we felt missing out on things. Not being able to care for a sick child. Not being able to make it to bedtime. Missing out on weekend fun. And I realize now that although I won’t be able to always take off to care for my sick child, I have more flexibility to. I now can make it to bedtime every day of the week. And other than my one Saturday a month, I’ll be around for the weekend fun.

Last week on my off day (every Friday), I attended Zo’s first summer camp performance and the joy on his face when he saw me cheering in the front row was priceless. It’s taking my breath away now to remember it. I took him home early, we played at the playground and then went home for family dinner time. I am at a coffee shop now writing this post before restarting a timed section of the 2014 Prep pediatric board questions. This week, I got to attend his second performance and it was just as cute. This week I was strong enough to let him stay for a few more hours while I study (last week I just couldn’t - since in the old days I very rarely could pick him up early).

I want to be able to enjoy every little bit. I want to be a present parent. I want to be a present provider. And I am (for the most part, I was kind of late for his performance today, but I just had to do 5 more questions and get that samosa from the local shop)! After so many years of waiting to “get there”, it’s here and it’s mine and I’m committed. Next time they ask who wants to work overtime I think I’ll pass and stay at home to snuggle with my family. Here’s to enjoying the little bits, the fundamental shifts, and this new phase in life. Question 151 here I come.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

MiM Mail: Studying in residency

I'm a 4th year medical student with young kids wondering how others carve out time to study in residency? Of course I'm sure I'll be learning quite a bit "on the job," but I'm certain I'll still need to be learning and studying more outside the hospital as well.

I recently finished my MS3 year and was able to have a strong performance on the wards and shelf exams this year because my husband was a rock star; there were so many times that I stayed at the hospital after a 12 hr day studying and he put the kiddos to bed on his own. I also got babysitters on the weekends before exams so he wasn't doing everything on his own. And of course I carried around study materials and studied whenever I could like when I was waiting to pick up my kids from activities. I'm just curious what other solutions people have come up with. I don't want my husband to feel like a single dad forever; needless to say 3rd year was tough for him because he also works full-time. My youngest (and last!) will be 2.5 years old when I start residency and my older children will be in elementary school. I'm going into anesthesiology.

Thanks so much!

Monday, July 27, 2015

MiM Mail: Spacing of siblings

I am a third year medical student interested in pediatrics and my husband is a 4th year medical student applying to EM. We have always wanted a large family and lately our (almost) three year old son has started asking incessantly for a baby as well. (When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday this year, his response was "a brother and sister.")

Our original plan was to have our second child during my relatively less busy 4th year, but now that I've started 3rd year rotations, I'm starting to wonder if it is a good idea or not. Balancing motherhood with being a student for the first two years was one thing, but these last few weeks have been an entirely new level of chaotic and stressful! Is it really realistic to add another baby to the mix right now?

On the other hand, having a newborn in residency seems like it would be just as daunting, and waiting until afterwards would mean that my son would be almost 10 before he has his first sibling and I would not have enough reproductive years left to have the big family we envisioned.

I know that there never is a "good" time to have a baby, but in your experiences - what has been the better timeline?

Thank you all so much! You have no idea how much this blog has helped me survive these last couple of years!

-K

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Attending Status: let's go!

I woke up to the sounds of the birds chirping and then “Mommy!” as my almost 4-year old tried to start his day at 6:45am. Quick detour for a potty-break and then promptly back in his bed because, “It’s still too early. Time for sleep.”

As I sit at our desks, I double and triple check that my Epocrates app is up to date so that I can quickly calculate drug doses. Today is my first official day as an Attending. I am returning to my dream health care system to work in the pediatric clinic I did my third year community pediatrics rotations in. The Attendings and many of the front desk staff remember me back when I was a medical student and they, like me, are super happy that I have returned.

We had an all-day orientation yesterday that was truly inspirational - yes, I’ve drunk the Koolaid as they say and am already one of those super happy people to work where I work. Providing care to children in our nation’s capital is truly an honor and one that I do not take lightly.

During times like this I refer back to my favorite book The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho). I was tested immensely in these last few years, but every second of the journey brought me closer to the realization of my dream. Every struggle. Every triumph. And I’m here. In this moment. Feeling the immensity of years of pre-medical studies, MCAT struggles, public health school, medical school, biochemistry challenges, clinical year excellence, pregnancy during USMLE Step 2, birth, and being a mother in medicine.

I am totally ready for this aspect of my journey. I vow to do great things. So let’s go. Let’s get it. Pediatric Attending status 2015! (happy dance, happy dance, happy-praise dance!)

Monday, June 22, 2015

MiM Mail: Medical school timing

I have wanted to pursue medicine since first being exposed to it in nursing school. Throughout nursing school and my career as a nurse I have had a desire for the knowledge, skills, decision making and leadership that comes with being a physician.

I will be finishing my prerequisites in the fall and can take the MCAT in the spring with the potential of going to medical school in 2017 with an almost 3 year old and 16 month old. (I am currently 8 weeks pregnant!)

My question is, should I apply as soon as possible or should I spend a few years with my babies while they are still babies? Would it be easier to complete school if my wee ones are are at least potty trained?

A handful of physicians encourage me to do NP, CRNA or PA but I know I won't be satisfied as a mid level. On the other hand I'm not thrilled about all the time I'll be missing with my babies!

I'm 27 years old and my husband is very supportive. We could also get a nanny at any time if needed. Looking for some words of wisdom from those of you who have gone down this path! Thanks!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

MIM Intro: Doctor Professor Mom


Hello, I am Doctor Professor Mom.  No, that’s not my real name but it’s a name that makes me really proud.  My oldest son coined it a few months ago when he learned that I am not only a doctor but I am also a professor and I am also a mom.  He seemed genuinely proud when he coined the name and, of course, I was equally proud both at his creativity and at some of my accomplishments.

Even as a Doctor Professor Mom, it’s hard to feel accomplished.  Maybe it’s something about academic medicine where I feel pulled in a million different directions. I teach; I do research; I see patients – it’s easy to feel like a jack of all trades and master of none.  Add on a busy family life and mastery is not in my cards.  But academic medicine has given me incredible flexibility, variety, and satisfaction.  Plus, I get to proudly say I am a doctor and a professor.

Of course my proudest accomplishment is not that I am a doctor or a professor but that I am a mom to three boisterous, energetic, and absolutely wonderful sons.  They are ten, eight, and six (gasp - how did they get so old).  After ten years of motherhood I have a lot to reflect on in managing a household with two equally ambitious working parents and ever changing challenges of parenting. 

I became interested in writing about my experience as a doctor and mother after my first son was born.  I spent 18 months crying every day when I went to work and decided (with the incredible support of my husband) to leave my job and stay home.  Then I struggled trying to find my identity as a stay-at-home mom (I wrote about this experience in an essay called Dr. Mom).  I returned to work and decided to focus on research and a career in academic medicine.  For me, it was an excellent choice.  That being said, the struggles of being a working mom, finding meaning and satisfaction in your work, and all the other challenges of life never go away even when you feel like you’ve found the perfect job.

When I wrote Dr. Mom in 2007, so many women contacted me and thanked me for sharing my story.  I promised myself I would write more, but, not surprisingly, life got busy.  I’m thrilled to have a place to write, to be a part of a community of women in medicine and hope that something I write will resonate with someone else. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

The end?!?

This morning I walked into my final official overnight call shift of residency. It is surreal to think that just 3 years ago, I began residency. I had absolutely no idea what it took, but having been a pretty good medical student I thought, “I can do this!”

Premedical studies, medical school, marriage, motherhood, and now residency have taught me about my ability to persevere, to thrive, to love and be loved. More so than the extreme highs and lows that come with providing care for a broad range of children from the critically ill to the chronically affected, you realize it is the day-to-day provision of care that is the most long-lasting. What you do on the average day at work, if your colleagues feel supported or unsupported, if your work leaves patients feeling cared for, if you managed whatever major things they were seeing you for, that’s what matters the most.

I think at the end of my shift tomorrow I’ll do a little happy dance to mark the end of an era. I am a lover of daytime work, of seeing the sunshine in the morning, of being at home when my family wakes up. I gladly mark the end of leaving home in the dark and trying not to wake up our toddler as I hustle to find my shoes. I gladly mark the end of back-to-back consult calls from the Emergency Department or outside hospitals for admissions. I sadly mark the end of seeing my favorite overnight nurses and of running efficient rounds. I sadly mark the end of being the “Senior Resident on call” answering questions for outside providers.

The end of residency overnight inpatient call and the beginning of Attending at-home call. Sounds nice to me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

MiM Mail: Planning for baby #2

I'm a resident, wife, and mom to one, hoping to have one or two more children. My first was born during intern year, and we're planning for a second during residency. With my first, I ended up with multiple third trimester complications that eventually led to 2 weeks of bedrest and delivery a month early. I've been an avid follower of MiM since before my first pregnancy, and I'm hoping for advice and encouragement from some of you.

I'm in a field that requires a separate intern year and am now working with people unfamiliar with my first pregnancy. All they know is what I choose to tell them. I think my current PD knows I had complications, but not the specifics. Thanks in part to an amazingly supportive PD my intern year, I finished PGY1 and started PGY2 on time. From a residency timeline I'm right on track, and I have some sense of when the "best" times could be to have another baby during my program. We'd end up with about a 2.5 year spacing. Our preference would be somewhere closer to 2 years rather than 3.5+.

My spouse is great with baby #1, does a lot around the house, and picked up a ton of slack during my first pregnancy. It was hard, but we made it through, and my upcoming schedule will be easier than it was last time.

Medically, my odds for the healthiest possible second pregnancy considering my complications are higher if we choose not to wait until after residency. Besides, at that point I'll have written and oral boards and be trying to establish myself in a practice, so I'm not convinced it would be much easier.

In many ways, I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place. When I think about attempting #2 during residency there's a part of me that wants to believe we'll make it through just fine, but the realistic side of me expects a great deal of physical, emotional, and mental strain. I wasn't deathly ill, but it wasn't fun, and both baby and I could have gotten very sick very fast. I expect to deal with some problems again, but hopefully not all, and hopefully not the one that led to bedrest. I'll be meeting soon with a new OB to talk through everything.

I don't want to sell myself short, and if I feel like having a second soon would risk compromising my training. On the flip side, ultimately we don't want to stop with one kid, and waiting would only compound my risks. Jumping to adoption is not the right answer for us.

Where we are now, we have a lot of support outside of residency. Even if we move after training, it makes sense to have another baby while we're here. I think there would be support from my program, but I don't think it could be as robust as it was with my first. My previous PD was amazing; few could measure up. My peers have verbalized a mutual intent to help cover for each other when circumstances arise including babies, but I haven't gone into details of my first with them and don't care to unless it becomes necessary. I don't see how they could understand what I was up against, or how it would help to talk about it right now. I sure hope I don't need weekly or twice weekly appointments until the last short stretch, but we might end up there again.

I guess I have an idea in my head that if I do decide to pursue a fellowship and don't finish residency on time, I can look for a job for a year, maybe a couple years, and then continue training. I may also be happy without a fellowship. I know people say it's hard to go back to a resident's salary (or worse) after being out for awhile, but we could knock out a lot of debt in a year or two and be in a better place for me to take a pay cut, even with 2 kids in daycare. I don't think the financial side would prevent fellowship down the road if I wanted it.

Anyone have advice for how, when, and what to communicate to my program and my co-residents if we do get pregnant again? Thoughts on trying during residency with high probability for some (manageable) complications vs waiting and dealing with recurrent and possibly worse complications? What else do we need to consider? Anyone else make it through a difficult pregnancy without feeling like you lost your competence as a physician?

Ladybug

Thursday, April 16, 2015

MiM Mail: Having children with both parents in training

Hi Mothers in Medicine,

I am a longtime reader of the MIM blog, and really appreciate being able to read your stories. You are inspiring! I am writing to request advice, especially from those who had children during medical training with a medical spouse (or spouse with a very demanding career).

I am nearing the end of my 1st year of med school, and my husband is a resident in a surgical subspecialty, with 4 more years to go. We would love to have a large family (4-5 kids), and are a bit older than the average med student/resident so waiting to have kids until after training isn’t realistic. We are ready to start our family, but I am a little nervous about being the primary caregiver (with outside help) as a medical student. I know that my husband will make a wonderful father, but given his 80 hr weeks at the hospital he won’t be able to contribute as much time-wise. Having kids is super important to us, and some days I question whether medicine was the right choice for me, but I am doing well academically and I think I am on the right path.

Our tentative plan (acknowledging things don’t always go as planned!) is as follows, and I would love to hear your thoughts about pros/cons, other ideas and tips on how to make it work! We are considering aiming for baby #1 at the end of 3rd year. I would like to take a semester of maternity leave, then complete my year of elective rotations (daycare or a visiting Grandma for childcare), have baby #2 and take another semester off for maternity leave before starting residency. Has anyone tried to/ succeeding in taking 2 separate semesters off rather than a year at once for maternity leave? Is completing 80% of my clinical rotations while pregnant realistic? Any advice about the timing of clinical rotations? I hesitate to talk to my school’s administration, when did you approach them? Is starting residency with a 2 yr and 6 mo doable? Is it really possible to do a “part-time” residency? How difficult is it to take the full 12 wks of FMLA for maternity leave during residency? Am I crazy for thinking that this sounds like a reasonable plan? Have you been through something similar and barely survived, or were you able to thrive? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

-K