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Lives of Doctor Wives: Having kids...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Having kids...

In previous posts, we've talked about the timing of our marriages relative to med school. Now I'm curious about your experiences with having/raising kids while your husband was in med school/residency.

*When did you have your kids or when do you hope to have them?
*Did you have a support network of family and friends nearby or were you in a city far from your families?
*Any great stories? advice?

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Blogger Married to a med student - Marissa Nicole said...

Where we are placed for residency will dictate when we have kids... If we are close to family it may be in the first year (of 6-8 years) of residency... otherwise we will wait until year two or three - I want to have my first one before/at 30 if possible.

July 16, 2009 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Melisa said...

Our first was 6 months old when we started med school. Our second came during mid-terms during MSII. Our third was during MSIV.

Thankfully, we had family in town during the birth of our kids, but then we moved out of state for residency. That's been hard. It was great having family around. I miss it. I miss being within driving distance to family.

Um, I remember when Brad was on an ENT rotation of out of state when I was 8 months pregnant and had two little boys at home. That was a LONG month. I cried a lot of it. But I just made it through 7 months of living in a different state than him, so a month sounds pretty reasonable to me now. LOL! Sad, huh.

I guess my advice would be to ask friends when you need help if you don't have family near-by. Take advantage of childcare (the gym, mom's day out, church activities, etc) if you need a break. It's okay to go to bed with dirty dishes. Sometimes laundry doesn't get put away. Survival mode is perfectly acceptable when things get crazy.

Just some thoughts. :o) It does get easier!

July 16, 2009 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

When we got married (he had just graduated from med school) we had planned to wait until the end of residency. We are living far away from both of our families and we always thought it would make more sense financially. But now as we begin pgy4 (out of 5), I'm ready but he's not. So it looks like I'll have to wait it out like our original plan. This is just another part of "me" that needs to submit to "us" a.k.a "his job". ;)

July 16, 2009 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger MorrowFamily said...

I worked all while my husband was in medical school and we planned to start our family once he began residency so that he'd have an income and I could stay home with the kids. We had twin boys his internship year, a little girl towards the end of PGY2 and will have another baby in 2010 while he's a PGY4. Our family is about 4 hours away so at least we're not across the country from them, but it's far enough away that you never have someone right there when you could use some help. My husband is a great dad but due to his schedule it's very much like being a single parent majority of the time. It's definitely important to have activities/friends to allow time for yourself whenever possible!

July 16, 2009 at 6:31 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Our #1 was born during MS4 (200 miles from family)- he was actually done with rotations in January, baby was born in February, and he graduated in June...so I took my maternity leave, went back to work while he stayed home with her, then I quit my job to stay home when he started his internship.

#2 came in PGY2 (800 miles from family), #3 in first year of practice (back closer to family).

If you wait for a "perfect" time to have kids, you will never stop waiting. You will never be in the perfect situation, the perfect location, and you will never have enough money, so my advice is to do it when it feels right or when it's the best possible time - again, it will never be the "perfect" time.

No matter when you have kids, you will need support. I found support with #1 through a fantastic playgroup; #2 I had very good friends who didn't have family close by either - we were family to each other; and #3 I had family, but few friends. That was probably the hardest.

There will be many times you will be a "single" parent, and it will be hard, but you can do it. This is just what we do as doctor's wives. Parents Day Out/preschool programs are a lifesaver; playgroups and medical spouses groups are also invaluable. Find time for yourself and friends who are moms, doctor's wives, or both.

July 16, 2009 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Davita said...

We had our first while we were still in undergrad. He was our surprise baby. We lived about 30 minutes [w/o traffic] from my family and about 6 hours [400 miles] from my husband's family. I worked while he finished school and he worked while I finished school.

We had our second during winter break of MS2. We were about 1500 miles from family. Because of the distance and lack of familial support and stability, we decided that I should SAH when we moved for medical school. My MIL and FIL#1 came out for the birth, MIL stayed for a week or so. We had our third during the last month of intern year. We live about 1200 miles from family. My MIL and FIL#2 came out for the birth. MIL stayed for a week. My mother and brothers [ages 8 and 11) came out for 3 weeks after my MIL left. Luckily my last two were scheduled c-sections and I didn't go early. We had contingency plans arranged with friends and neighbors in the event that I went early. My MIL was so paranoid about missing the births. WIth the first one she got in the car and just drove up [called us when she was on the road] the weekend before I was due because she was so scared that she was going to miss the birth. She has a job as a PICU nurse manager mind you, so it was pretty hilarious that she just up and left. Lucky for her, I had been dialating for WEEKS and when I went in on Monday, my due date, the doc agreed to induce me the next day. So she got to be there for the 21 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing, and the c-section and birth of her 10.5 pound grandson.

Having kids during residency is a single parent kind of deal. Especially when you have no familial support around. I subscribe to the "you could wait forever for the perfect time and that time may never come" camp. However, if our first wasn't a surprise, we probably would have waited until PGY4 to start having kids. That said, we are in PGY3 with 3 kids and I could not imagine not having them here with us during this journey. It is definitely challenging and lonely at times. But, if kids are a part of the picture of your life [I have friends and family who have no desire to have children so I know that children aren't always a part of everyone's picture] it's like they say, "you never regret the kids that you have, only the ones that you didn't."

I have always told myself that if I could make at least 3 really solid friends that I would be "ok." I have been able to do that in both of the places we have lived [away from family] and I have been "ok." Without them I would seriously be insane. Friends definitely help you through but there is really nothing that can take away the emptiness felt by the absence of family, especially during the holidays. I have learned to accept this and live with it, knowing that it could be much worse and that one day it will hopefully get better.

July 17, 2009 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences! My husband is a MS3, and we're about 2.5 hours from both of our families. Knowing that we are likely to only move further away for residency, we are hoping/planning to have our first baby before then. :)

July 17, 2009 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger JLee said...

Our first (#1) was born a couple months after MS1 year started. I took my maternity leave and went back to work when he was 3 months old. A couple months after that I quit my job because we had a surprise. We were pregnant again when my son was only 5 months old!
We had my daughter (#2) over winter break of MS2.
We live a 2 hour PLANE flight away from both of our parents and friends. Medical School/Residency areas have a high turnover of people. We made friends quickly when we started med school. We've had friends leave at the end of both years that we've been here.
It has been a challenge being away from help with two babies 14 months apart and a husband who is very busy. We are blessed to have parents that come and help out whenever they can.
I actually recommend having kids during the medical school years if you can manage it financially. Most med school programs have class work the first two years and so everyone is home for dinner most nights. I hear that residency is so unpredictable and I think that that would be a harder situation for a new first time mom with a new baby.
People at my husbands school suggest having a baby during MS4 year because of the lighter load and many weeks off for interviews, etc.
Having our kids also helped keep my husband happy and motivated through the year 2 duldrums and questioning medicine as a career stage :)
It is challenging, but life is challenging and marriage and family is about making sacrifices and making it work and just enjoying the moments.
Funny/Pity story:
In the months before step 1, both my kids and I were sick for an entire month. (i'm talking out both ends if ya know what i mean) My husband was gone a lot studying and I had to not only try to take care of my newly post partum self, but also a 5 week old and 15 month old who were also as equally sick.
Guess what? We made it through. Step one is done. We are more than halfway through med school and everyone is currently healthy!

July 17, 2009 at 1:49 PM  
OpenID joz1234 said...

We had #1 at beginning of MSIII. Our program was awesome because they let him take off 6 weeks and push his psych rotation back to the end of MSIII year. (basically he just went straight through from MSIII to MSIV without any break)

Our second came at the end of PGY-1. He took off 1 week.

All has been good. I stay at home, because my hubby cannot always help out when a kid is sick. I have started my own math tutoring company to bring in extra money (I was a math teacher before). I work at home and am able to work around the kids schedules.

It is true that if you are waiting for a good time, it most likely will not happen for a very long time, if ever. I had no interest in being an older parent, and we realized that 4 years of med school, 4 years of residency, 1 year of fellowship, and also the beginning of his career outside of medical training when things were busiest would probably take at least 10-12 years. We were 22 and 24 when we started med training and didn't want to wait until we were in our mid 30's to have more than one kid.

We have been about 7 hours from family all this time. We are possibly going to be days from family for his fellowship--won't know until Nov. I have had a wonderful relationship with several other wives because of our Medical Spouses Alliance. It has been a wonderful source of support and friendship.

July 17, 2009 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

We just had our first at the end of PGY-1. I guess technically it's the beginning of PGY-2 since she was born on July 2nd!

I wish we had started having kids during medical school. Both of us had more time back then and we were near family. Also, money is going to be a problem for so long that waiting until you have more is just silly.

I didn't have a tough pregnancy health wise, but emotionally it was very hard. I was a hormonal rollercoaster. It was hard being in a new city with very few friends, pregnant, and starting a new job. My husband was dealing with the stress of PGY-1 so he couldn't be there for me as much as I would have liked. This put a strain on our marriage. So if I could do it again I wouldn't be pregnant during PGY-1.

That being said, now that our little one is here, I am beyond happy. J's schedule for PGY-2 is horrific, and I'm certainly already living the single parent life, but I now have a great group of friends helping me. And I have a beautiful healthy daughter that we are both deeply in love with.

Long story short, if I could do it again I'd have a kid before residency started, but regardless of when you start, it's the most amazing thing in the world and I'm so glad to be a parent. While some times are easier to have a kid than others, whenever you have one it'll be amazing. :)

July 18, 2009 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

We got married between MS11 and MS111. We decided to wait until residency to start our family. Since his program allowed residents to moonlight in their third year after getting their license to practice medicine, I got pregnant during his second year. I had our son soon after he started his third year of residency, and because he was able to moonlight during that time, I was able to become a stay-at-home-mom. We were in a city far from our families and friends, so I didn't have much of a support network at first, except both my mother-in-law and mother stayed with me during the first few weeks after our son was born. I found a great group of moms to join on play dates when our son was about eight months old or so. I'm so glad I did that because they really helped me during the rest of that first and throughout the second year of being a mommy. My favorite story to tell is that because our son was breech at the end of pregnancy, we ended up scheduling a C-section--on our fifth year wedding anniversary! He was our present to each other. So, we'll be celebrating 8 years of marriage and his 3rd birthday in just a couple of weeks!

July 19, 2009 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your stories! My DH and I are beginning to think about when we would like to have our first, and it's encouraging to hear that there's no "perfect" time. I'm not quite ready, but I'm thinking PGY3 or soon thereafter (he's PGY1 now).

July 22, 2009 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Kathi Browne said...

I want more pictures of babies. Heather's baby snapshot is precious!

July 24, 2009 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Lacie said...

My husband and I have chosen not to have children during his residency/fellowship years. We are sooo excited to start our family, and await anxiously for that time. (we are PGY6, 1 more year to go)

The first reason we've chosen to wait is that my husband is really looking forward to being a dad, and he wants "to be around to enjoy his baby"..oh I love this man. Now, in his chosen profession, cardothoracic surgery, he's still going to be busy/on call/late nights even in practice. But his residency/fellowship have kicked his rear! He leaves for work at 5 am, and on a normal (not on-call) day, we're lucky if he gets home at 10:30 pm. Tonight, as I write this post at 12:30 am, he's in the middle of a 5 hour emergency surgery.. The hours he works, he would have NO time with a baby.

Secondly, during residency, he was Q4 trauma call. That means he spent the night in the hospital every 4th night. I went up to the hospital and hung out in the lounge/call room on those nights...I'm one to do whatever I can do to hang with my husband. I was friends with all the residents. His chief year, I would always bring food and usually a desert for his whole team. I cannot tell you how much this helped! If we had children, I wouldn't have been able to do this.

Now, that has worked for us, but that doesn't mean I don't have major baby fever! I'm so ready to be a mom! Especially nights alone while he's at the hospital I think it would be so great to have my children to keep me company. Also, we're not so young anymore! I'll be 33 and he 35 when we're through with his fellowship! I think you have to make the choice that is right for you!

July 25, 2009 at 12:37 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

There is never a perfect time, so if you want kids, just have them. The money, timing, or location will never be perfect but it makes you stronger to have that home support system when going through stressful things like medical school and residency.I think if you can "rig" it to where you will give birth during spring break, summer break of MSI-MSII, or during rotations during MSIII or MSIV(then you can take a month off to be together)that makes it easier, but we just got lucky that we were due during easy times.

Grant was born in March 2007, on spring break during MSII year and of course Morgan was born June 11th this year, while we were just about to start PGY1. So we had time off together each time, so that was nice. Tommy's family live in the same city with us, but since they aren't in our lives at all that didn't really matter, but my parents were 2.5 hours away so they could come visit every once in a while, that was nice.

Being home alone alot with the kids takes some getting used to, but it makes you grow as a person and be self sufficient and makes those times when everyone is at home so much sweeter....and it's like having a full time hobby, so time flies!!

July 27, 2009 at 11:04 AM  

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