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Lives of Doctor Wives: What does it mean to be a DW?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What does it mean to be a DW?

I thought I'd share what I'm calling my GET REAL perspective on what it means to be a doctor's wife (DW). If you're like me, you've cringed internally when a casual conversation turns to "wow, your husband's a doctor?" One of two things happen--either the person asks you for medical advice (hey, I've had this rash...) Yeah, because that medical education rubbed off on me, ya know. OR, that person starts to look at you differently, with an understanding that you must live a rather cushy life.

It's ok. I get it. But I don't fit your stereotype. Most of you DWs probably don't, in fact.

Here's the real life of this DW:
(hey, maybe we can start our own version of Real Housewives)
  • I'm alone a lot. I've learned to enjoy my own company. I don't know what it's like to have a husband with "banker's hours." If he's home in the morning, he won't be that evening because he's working. And vice versa.
  • Sometimes when the hubs is home he's coming off working a 10pm to 2am shift three or four days in a row. I know what it's like to live with a zombie.
  • If my little guy has a fever, it's me picking him up from school, not my hubs leaving the hospital to do so.
  • When he's not working, he's running like hell to catch up on things that he hasn't had time for: the lawn, the fix-it list, his laundry, etc. etc. So, it's very hard for me to make him "present" in my life and the life of our son.
  • The debt. Oh, the debt. Need I say more?
  • I'm tired. He's tired. We have a 1 year old. 'Nuff said.
So, DWs, what have I forgotten? What am I totally off base about?

I will say that I know it's a privileged life. I count those blessings every day. But it's not without it's own sacrifices and that's the point of this entry.

About me: This is my first post, but I've been a long time reader/lurker. Hubs is an ER doc (he graduated residency in '09). I say that I earned my PHT (putting him thru) degree during those long years. I'm a 30-something mom of an 18 mo. old boy. I work in the publishing/marketing world in Nashville. I married my high school sweetheart and while he was in med school, I got my master's degree. What else would you like to know? I'm game to answer any or all questions. :)


Blogger Mrs. F said...

Oh to work "banker's hours." I wish my husby could be home for dinner every night, but no such luck. I am SO GRATEFUL for people who work beyond the 9-5 realm.

Doctors. Nurses. EMTs. Firefighters. Policemen. I could go on and on.

July 21, 2011 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I don't know anyone that works bankers hours, actually. :) Thankfully we don't so that we can be home every night for our kids/pets/etc.

July 21, 2011 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Sybil said...

I agree with everything...except the part when the hubby is doing chores. My husband is a fellow (we've been married since end of college - 9yrs) and he RARELY does chores...I have to BEG. And then he pleads out with everything he has to do for work and I eventually do it all. Did you grow up in Nashville? Both my husband and I are from Nashville!

July 21, 2011 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger Shana said...

I agree that the stereotype of what it means to be doctor's wife needs to be changed. And while I try not to gripe to my friends, I do let them know how hard it is. Not just for me, but for my husband. No one I know works harder.

I would add the following to the list:
-I have had to learn so much medicine and science if only to understand what it is my husband's job is.

-Attending social events alone is only compounded by the constant question "Where's your hub?"

-Disproportion of stress & emotional toil: Yes, I had a bad day when I ran out of creamer. He had a bad day because 4 patients died in the ICU.

-His time is literally worth more than mine. (Unless I'm fixing a plumbing problem...)

Another Nashvillian here, btw. Kristen, are you on the Facebook Group?

July 21, 2011 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger The Westbrooks said...

I think we need to address the elephant in the room: money. When I tell people my husband is in medical school, they waggle their eyebrows at me and say "Oh, he's going to be a doctor?!" As if to say "How financially exciting for you!" My hub is in his 4th year of med school. We're $300,000 in debt and still living off loans; I don't know what gives people the impression that we're somehow more well off than they are!

July 22, 2011 at 1:09 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Don't forget that we essentially pay for our husbands to go to work in the hospitals for their 3rd and 4th year of school for free. What other profession do you pay close to $50K a year to work for free? And then when you do get paid in residency, you are not even making $50K a year. And you have insane student loan payments to make.

I know several med student families that are using government assistance just so they can have health insurance for their kids, get food for their kids, etc because even after taking out student loans, they still are having a hard time making ends meet. Yes one day, many many years from now we might have the big bucks.

I believe that if any couple who worked and saved their money and lived on only as much money as we do (@$25,000/year) in the beginning of the medical practice journey, they would have just as much money as we would later on in life.

July 22, 2011 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

WOW. Amen, sisters!

@Sybil: I know, I'm lucky the hubs does chores. I don't think I'd survive otherwise. The guilt? Oh, the guilt..that's another entry entirely. Oh, we grew up in Knoxville. :)

@Shana: I LOVE the additions you made to the list. I think the disproportion of stress & emotional toll is my favorite. Great stuff for future blog entries here, too. I'd love to join the FB group--what is it called?

Yes @ The Westbrooks, the elephant in the room is ALWAYS money. We're 300K in debt, too and that sum of money seems like a dead weight to carry around sometimes. And when we think about mortgages, etc. it just feels like we're adding to the pile of debt. It's a vicious cycle. I feel like the money is that proverbial carrot on the string.

July 22, 2011 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Marisa said...

If you're a career woman, too - I just graduated law school, I'm studying for the bar exam, people overlook your career. Hello, I have a job, too! I've achieved things! I also have to be superwoman because when he comes home he's exhausted and doesn't want to be bothered with any chores. After I've studied for 12 hours, I need to do house and yard work.

July 22, 2011 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Melisa said...

Kristen, there is a page at the top of this blog with info on the group. Just request to join and I'll accept it when I get internet access again. :o)

July 22, 2011 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I agree with you, Marisa!! Everyone we know so proud of my fiance and sometimes wish they would acknowlege my accomplishments. I really have a 2 jobs if you count managing the house and our little family unit.
Yes, it bums me out, but I wouldn't change a thing...

July 25, 2011 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Tif said...

GREAT post! Love it! And, I particularly have to agree with The Westbrooks and Marisa! This is why I love this group because you all get it!

July 25, 2011 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Keely said...

Sybil- My husband doing a chore is somewhere near hell freezing over too...

Shana- The his time is worth more than mine really irks me sometimes. Sadly, it's true. And most the time I feel like I should wear a shirt that says "he's at the hospital."

July 27, 2011 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Rissy Roo said...

I'm a DW for 9 years now. Done 4 years of residency and 3 years of fellowship. But I'm a retired Nurse, I get what he does at work. However, we have a 2 year old and a 3 year old and one on the way and he's a Perinatologist. Today a train wreck rolled in and he won't be home for our daughters 2nd birthday and all she wants is for her Daddy to take her to donuts. So forget the chores right!?!? We just want him home for the big things. Residency and Fellowship was SO much easier than the real world, because at least then they actually got home when they were supposed to and didn't have all that responsibility of their practice.

July 28, 2011 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger Newlymeds said...

I have really enjoyed reading this blog and everyone's comments. It is great to hear from people who can relate! I started a blog on what it was like to be married to a resident on one of my many nights alone.


August 2, 2011 at 2:05 AM  
Blogger Claire said...

Thanks I feel better reading all this!
Hello from France!

August 5, 2011 at 5:05 AM  
Blogger Brigid Kim said...

I loved your comment about being alone a lot and learning to enjoy your own company. It can be lonely, so you really have to like yourself and have a great network of girlfriends. I've been really busy with my 14 month old. Before she was born, I was totally bored. I would just go shopping and hang out. I was a school teacher and we moved to the opposite end of the country as the teaching year began. I was in a new area and alone. So... it is fitting. You must like yourself; if not, your life is a little like the movie "Groundhog's Day."

There are a lot of cons, but my family is so blessed. I'd feel awful complaining. And guess what? I have to do it all over again because we are moving from Hawaii back to the East Coast. Thanks for sharing. I've added you.

Brigid Kim

August 30, 2011 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Selby said...

OMG! Love this post...could have written it myself!

September 4, 2011 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger B&K said...

I was just introduced to this blog. It's fantastic. My husband's in his first year of residency and we have an 11-month old. I loved all your bullet points especially "banker hours". All of my friend's husbands have 8-5 and boy would that be nice. I would add
- At social events you either get the "oh, her husbands not here again" look haha
-Yes, my husbands a doctor and no we're not rich. In fact, with the hours added up he makes less than min. wage.
-My little one goes days without seeing her daddy
-You get to hear some awesome/funny/interesting stories..almost as good as a Greys Anatomy episode...almost

October 29, 2011 at 1:39 AM  
Blogger Megan W said...

I so appreciate this blog! I've been feeling more and more isolated as I realize my husband still has 3 more years of Ortho residency before we can move out of a city we both hate!
I'm not sure if this is the case for everyone, but we are so far from our families that the thought of having a baby keeps getting pushed to the side. We don't want to do daycare but can't afford to have me stay at home right now (with all the student loan payments!). I'm essentially giving up my dream of starting my family at a younger age. Sometimes it feels like the next 3 years will last Forever!

September 26, 2012 at 12:02 PM  

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