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Lives of Doctor Wives: Having a Baby During Intern Year

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Having a Baby During Intern Year

How I Survived Becoming a New Mom Intern Year
By Kelly Adams

**Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert, "supermom", or Baby Whisperer. I am continually amazed by the ladies who have multiple kids and seem to do it all. I am NOT one of those ladies:) This is simply my experience having a new baby and being a new mom, all during my husband's intern year. Although at times I may seem sarcastic and a bit jaded, believe me when I say having my son is the single best thing I have ever done. And although this has been a challenging year for my family, I would not take it back for anything. So here is my story...
 DrH is PGY-1 Family Medicine at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL...yes, the school with the National Champion Football team for a bazillion years in a row; yes, they take football VERY seriously here, and NO we are not Tide fans...which makes it an interesting place to live;)
We  have a beautiful, ACTIVE  10 month old baby boy, James, who inspired this very post and was born at the beginning of DrH's intern year. DrH and I have been married for 5 1/2 years now but we've been together for 11. We were married while he was getting his Masters right before Med School started.
We have been through the ups and downs, highs and lows of this "adventure" like so many of you. The sacrifices, time spent away from one another, one income, lousy resident salary...the whole shebang.  Naturally, I was the breadwinner for our family since DrH could not work through med school (side note, it's so amusing how people question why he couldn't "at least get a part time job.") Anyway, I was proud to support us. I was an advertising support manager over national accounts, and I was good at my job. But we decided, as a family, that once the baby came and we moved for residency, I would leave my job and stay home with the baby- a new job I was also proud to take on. I could always have found another job in our new town but after lots of prayer, I knew that was not the path God wanted for us. Kudos to those ladies who do continue to work outside the home after having a baby... I honestly don't know how you do it!
We were overjoyed when Match Day came and he got his first choice of residency. We immediately started the preparations to move to our new city and find a new home. DrH packed the house up while I worked...yes, he packed the boxes. I can't think about it too much or it makes me sick to my stomach to think of how unorganized all those boxes really were. DrH moved us to our residency home while I was working, then he and his mom unpacked us...It's been 10 months and I am just now getting things organized and in the right place. We "moved" to a new home a few weeks prior to the birth but I had no desire to change doctors this far into my pregnancy so we lived with my parents in our same town until my son was born. I was 40+ weeks pregnant when my beautiful bundle of joy arrive June 4, 2012, 2 weeks prior to DrH starting intern year.
So there I was, a new baby, in a new house, in a new town, with a new "job," and an intern husband. It was only a few days after we came home that the screaming started. Yes, babies cry...this was not crying. My precious bundle of joy screamed...constantly...unless you were bouncing him on this blue exercise ball we bought hoping to induce my labor...in retrospect, I can't believe I was trying to induce labor. Anyway, I soon learned this form of screaming was called "colic." I had no idea what colic was...and I read SO MANY baby books. But the topic of colic only gets a small paragraph, maybe a page in the baby books because it's so terrifying they don't want to call too much attention to it:)
11 weeks later bundle of joy was diagnosed with a breast milk allergy...We don't know if this is really what he had but the doctors could not figure out what was causing his ongoing bloody diarrhea. I tried eliminating every possible thing from my diet but nothing helped and alas I had to stop breast feeding and put him on hypoallergenic formula. I was devastated that I could not nurse him. That was not part of "the plan." But so much that has happened this year was not part of "my plan."
 10 months later I can look back at all of this and almost chuckle...almost:)
Of course I haven't even touched on the whole residency part of the story but you know the drill; DrH was gone all the time, on call, I was a single parent, yada yada yada. I am sure so many other women have similar stories to mine, in fact, I probably had it easy.  But the truth is having a newborn and becoming a new mom is challenging. Throw in the whole residency package and it becomes a whole other survival story.
Had I not been a new mom during intern year I think this story might be a lot different. At least I am hoping the next time around it will be a little easier:)
But don't fret...it's not impossible to start your family during intern year and truth be told, it really was great timing for us. Here are some things I learned along the way:
1. Find friends-ANYONE! You need some form of human contact but even more than that, a support system. You are in a new town with new people and a new baby...and you need to make some new friends. Your DrH will not be around as much as either of you would like so you will have to reach out to other people. Find a church group, MOPS, library group ...I have a wonderful  Moms support group at church that has seriously saved my life. I found them when my little bundle was 3 months old, and I so wish I had found them earlier! Having a newborn is HARD. Yes, you love them more than you ever thought humanly possible, but the sleep deprivation, crying, second guessing, anxiety that comes along with being a new mom is hard. Having other women in your life who have been there and can empathize, sympathize, and walk around with a screaming infant for 5 minutes while you sit and have a somewhat adult conversation is one of the best gifts any new mom can get.
2. Prepare to be a single mom- please don't take this the wrong way. In all reality you are not a single mom. Your loving DrH is in this with you but as an intern his time is limited and you really have to rely on yourself to take care of your bundle of joy. You almost have to get into "single mom" mindset in order to survive. There may be times when DrH comes home early and can take over so you can take a nap or grab a quick shower. These wonderful, scarce moments are to be treasured...But don't expect it to happen often.
3. Learn to be flexible...it's going to be a hard year and it probably won't turn into the beautiful painted picture you have in your head...and that's okay. In no way did I plan to have a colicky baby or formula feed my child. But things happen and you have to go with it. Before this year I was not an easy going person" per se so I'm kind of amused that I am including this in my list. But I learned to be much more flexible and I'm better for it.
4. Understand that this is a season in your life. Newborns are only crying, pooping, eating machines for a short time when put into perspective of their whole lives. It seems like eternity when you are elbow deep in poo and haven't showered in 2 days, but breathe and know that in a blink of an eye it will be over.  Same goes for intern year. It will be a tough year but it's only a season of your life...and seasons change:)
5. Treasure the time you have together with your little family. Especially in the beginning there were very few times when DrH was home and the three of us were together. It was in these precious moments that I could put things into perspective and reflect on our crazy wonderful life. Some nights when DrH came home a little early we would go out for ice cream and drive around in the car until the little guy fell asleep. I learned to enjoy these moments together and you will too:)
6. Don't worry if your house is dirty, if laundry is piled up and if you eat fast food or PBJs for the first 2 months...it's okay! If your baby will only sleep while laying in your arms no matter how many techniques you have tried, let him sleep in your arms. It won't last forever and the reality is sleep is better than no sleep.  I love this saying:
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
~ Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

7. Don't be afraid to express your feelings without fear of judgment. Talk to your spouse, your mom, the cashier at the grocery store, anyone! Sometimes you just need to talk about how you are feeling. I think so many times women keep the feelings of how hard things may be to themselves for fear people may think they don't have it all together. In  reality we are all doing the best we can just get through the day! Post something on LDW facebook page and allow other women to encourage and lift you up when you are struggling. ( Side note, PPD is a very real thing so if you are feeling more depressed than just blue please reach out to your doctor for help.)
I know it sounds like I have had the year from hell but honestly I am such a better person, wife and mom because of this year. I don't let things stress me out as I once did, I feel more connected to my faith and in my marriage, and I enjoy life. I don't know that I could have always said those things:)
For those who are considering becoming a new mom during intern year or who are expecting,  I can tell you having my son is the best most difficult thing I have ever done...and I would do it a thousand time again for that little guy. You won't regret it and I can't put into words how much it will change your life.
My final piece of advice...here it comes.
Give yourself a hand!!!
Having a newborn is tough but having a newborn with a husband in a career like ours are in, is downright crazy. Give yourself a hand, a hug, a BREAK! and tell yourself what a freaking rock star mom you are!
We all need to hear that every now and then:) 



Blogger Janice said...

Great advice! I too became a mom for the first time during DrH intern year. She is now 7! Definitely the hardest year of my life and I only survived because of great mom neighbors that befriended me in a brand new city (3000 miles from family). Our 2nd came during 3rd year of residency and was much much easier (granted she wasn't colicy like my first).
Thanks for reminding me that I am indeed a rockstar mom!

April 28, 2013 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Heather Christensen said...

Kelly, you are a great momma and wife! Your boys are lucky to have you. You are exactly right--PPD is very real and talking with your doctor can help. Asking for help--to treat PPD or just asking someone to watch your little one so you can take a nap or do something just for you--is not a sign of weakness.

When Lo (baby #2) came I was in tears for much of the first 2.5 weeks. I was overwhelmed with lack of sleep, nursing, and trying to care for a newborn and an energetic toddler. E, our toddler, welcomed Lo with open arms, but would get mad at me when I tried to hug him and only wanted to do things with Daddy. I knew it would be a big adjustment for all of us, but it still reduced me to tears every time.

After 2.5 weeks, my DrH finally convinced me that all the tears weren't just from exhaustion. With the help of medication and a few close friends coming over to visit (and help entertain our toddler), I was feeling much more like myself and capable of being a momma of two boys.

May 2, 2013 at 10:48 AM  

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