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Lives of Doctor Wives: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

We all sacrifice in this life we’ve chosen

"My first year out of college, I lived at home with my parents. I guess I should be 100% transparent—I lived at home for my last 2 years of school, in order to save money and work more. Full time school plus full time nannying job equals a really busy college student. And then I graduated, got a job in my hometown and paid back my loans. Besides going to see my future husband at his med school, I didn’t have much to do. None of my old friends came back to our town. So, I did what anyone who worked night shift 4 days a week would do--I spent those lonely nights off practicing what I loved. I baked.

I’d quietly toil away in the kitchen, kneading bread, mixing dough, rolling cookies.  Most mornings, my parents awoke to fresh baked something or others to be brought with them to work.  Oh, it’s your boss’ birthday tomorrow? Here’s a three layer Chocolate Guinness Cake for you to bring.  Early morning meeting? Homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.  I remember one morning I had a work meeting. The previous night, I baked up 3 loaves of fresh bread. I grabbed some butter, some of our homemade jam (from the most recent strawberry season) and took that warm bread to the most delicious meeting ever.  
The food was always so well received. It seemed to me that baking was a lost art, and for me it came naturally.  It was a way for me to relax. To decompress after having a tough night working at my “real” job—a nurse.

Then, I got my dream job at a children’s hospital. And I moved in with my DrH. I was truly so excited and happy to finally live with this man who I had been in love with since high school. After 5 years, we were finally at a place in life where we could live our lives together, and not just intersecting every other weekend for a few days at a time.  But with this wonderful change, came a really small apartment with an even smaller kitchen.  I mean really small—standing room for one person only. Can’t open the fridge and the oven at the same time. Only one small square of counter space.  Soon, my favorite hobby and way to relax became a distant memory.  I stopped stocking the kitchen with *the essentials*--they kept going stale before I could use them up.  My first big post-college purchase, my coveted Kitchen Aide Mixer became dusty in the back of the closet.

My husband knew that I missed it.  But really, there wasn’t anything either of us could do about it. We couldn’t afford to move to a bigger apartment with a bigger kitchen.  He didn’t want to live farther from school.  And it really wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of things. I was willing to sacrifice this part of me for the good of our relationship and our lives.

I gave up an important part of my life. I sacrificed. I continue to sacrifice for the sake of training. We all do in this Doctor’s Wife life we lead. We’re now in our first year of residency, and things are a little better. Now, we have dual income which means a better apartment with a HUGE kitchen.  We aren’t poor, but we’re not rich. We’ve come a long way in the last few years.  And it’s an adjustment.

I’ve been baking a bit here and there. But I’m not as drawn to it as I once was.  The measuring and feeling and tasting that used to come naturally don’t anymore.  Maybe I’ll get it back. Maybe I won’t.  I’m really worried I won’t. I’m worried it will be the part of me that I lost to training. It seems so silly, but to me it’s not.  Baking was one thing I always pictured myself doing with a couple babies under my feet, helping me pour flour into a bowl, spilling it on the floor in the process. It was something that I treasured for the art of it, for the simplicity, for the deliciousness that resulted.  Now, it’s gone.

We all sacrifice in this life we’ve chosen. We sacrifice our husbands, our families, our friendships.  We lose days upon weeks upon years of time that could have been spent in other ways.  We lose pieces of our relationships with our husbands, with the hope that one day we’ll be able to sew all of those pieces back together.  And sometimes, we lose pieces of ourselves."

Alli Chan (Alli RN on facebook)

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Friday, January 24, 2014

What (Or WHO) is the AMA Alliance?

What (Or WHO) is the AMA Alliance?

Many readers of the Lives of Doctors Wives Facebook page may see occasional references to “the Alliance”.  You probably scratch your heads and say “Who are these people?  Why do they care about me and the others on LDW?”  That’s where I come in.  In a nutshell, the AMA Alliance is the nationwide network of the spouses and partners of physicians, both MD and DO.  At our national level, we have approximately 10,500 members in 36 states; on the state on local levels, we have many more.  We’re your IRL connection to other physician families in your home community.

The Alliance, as we’re called in shorthand, was founded in 1922 as the Auxiliary to the American Medical Association.  Originally an organization of doctors’ wives looking for ways to connect with one another as well as to think of ways to give back to their local communities, the Alliance has changed not only our name but also our composition over the years to meet changing demographics.  Back in ’22 most physicians were men; now we know the majority of medical students are women.  Our membership is open to divorced spouses as well as unmarried couples.  We also warmly welcome physicians. You can become a part of us at any point in your medical journey whether it’s in medical school, residency, “it gets better” stage, or beyond. Our mission has also evolved over time to reflect the current society.  However, at our core, we’ve never lost our main reason for being:  to connect and to serve.

We are also asked if we’re just a branch of the AMA.  The answer to that is no.  We are our own organization with our own board of directors, banking, strategic plan, and goals.  While we support the AMA in many ways, our mission is to support physician families through education and advocacy.  That means our focus, first and foremost, is on the needs of our members.  We want to be the place you turn, as physician spouses, when you have questions about dealing with stress, about contracting, about medical marriage, frankly, about many of the questions that often appear on LDW.  Since our members pay the bills, we know we have to invest in our members.  And investing in our members means finding resources from all over the country that can help you in your every day life.

In addition to our AMA Alliance, we have state and county groups as well as physician-in-training alliances in some training programs across the country.  Those are the places where you’ll get the most connection and interaction.  That’s also where you’ll have a better opportunity to give back to your community by doing things like work on immunization initiatives, fundraise for local shelters, go into the schools to deliver anti-bullying messages, and work to convince legislators that yes, seatbelts ARE a good idea and smoking is bad! On the state and local level our members are focused on those emerging public health issues that most directly impact them and their communities.

Now the next question I hope you have is “This is GREAT!  How can I join?!  I want to be a part of this!”  If that’s the case, feel free to PM me or go to www.amaalliance.org.  If you’re not yet in practice, your dues are $10/yr for AMA Alliance; for those of us making the big bucks (HA!) it’s $50.  Once we have you in our system, we can help to find your state or local Alliance.  Or we can do it in reverse; contact me, I’ll get you connected, if I can, and then you can join at all levels then.  But whatever it takes, I really urge you to become a part of the AMA Alliance and join the bigger picture!

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Definitely contact me at any time either through Facebook (I promise to check my “other” folder) or through email at julienewman64@aol.com (I know, but I only use AOL for email, have had it since 1992)

Julie Berkowitz Newman

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Residency Roundup: Run A Match

Last Tuesday was DrH's residency program's final interview day for the entering 2014 class!  I was able to attend their applicant dinner that evening and met six of the interviewees.  I was impressed by their kindness and hope them each a successful match.

The feelings that surface during this time of anticipation, pressure, chaos, excitement... are exhausting, and I empathize with each applicant.  This year, more than the previous two, has me on edge for the match.  This is mainly due to the fact my Brother-in-law is eligible for the 2014 match, which could send/assign my sister and her family anywhere!

I'm sure many of you MS4 families are having to explain over and over again what exactly is 'the Match'. While reading the nrmp.org site I found the following information helpful.
  • The Matching Process- a general synopsis. 
  • Run a Match- a document describing the process of algorithm that matches each MS4 and residency spot.  My family would have found this interesting during our match...and would have saved them from hearing my simplified analogies;)
Here are some important dates to have marked on your calendar (if not already!):
February 26, 2014- Rank Order List Deadline.  Must complete and certify your list by 9:00pm ET.  Three years ago we decided to put a preliminary list in the system to avoid any last minute computer glitches and then updated the list with minor changes the day or two before the cutoff.
March 17, 2014- Matched?!? Applicants receive notification of a successful match!  Or the beginning of the SOAP process for unmatched MS4 students.

March 21, 2014- MATCH DAY!!  www.nrmp.org even asks for pictures of the 'Match Face'!   Make contact with your program director or residency coordinators to show your excitement!  Congratulations!

If your DrH has previously match and you have any pearls of wisdom please share!
Best of Luck!!

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Tipping my hat

Tipping my hat 

by: Laura Saunders


"Bleeeeh--Waaaaaaaaah!" And suddenly my lap is covered in throw up in the middle of an interview dinner while my husband stares frozen in shock that our sweet adorable little charmer just turned into an exorcist baby spouting copious amounts of, well, you know...

I'm trying to contain or at least direct the liquid bombing, find a burp cloth or anything to mop up, soothe my poor baby, and apologize profusely to the upper level resident next to me whose purse may or may not have been splattered. David still plays statue ( I wonder if I blink if he'd suddenly be in action. Helpful instead of deathly Weeping Angel statues? Yes. My name is Laura, and I'm a Doctor Who fan.).

Though it seems like forever, we manage to grab all the baby gear, wipe and strip Ethan down in the car, and drive home listening to our son's coos of glee because now apparently all is right in his world. Yay for being naked in a car seat! And welcome to our son's first onset of a cold.

The next few days would be snot covered and full of wailing (baby or me?), coughing, and late night fevers. And let me say that I am so glad that my husband is a doctor and is in Peds rotation right now, because he helped keep me less anxious when Ethan's temperature hit 101.1*

Lately, I've been caught up in being a busy Mommy/housewife--wiping a little nose constantly, applauding my boy when he pulls up to stand, and sweeping him up when he loses his balance and falls on that chubby little booty. I've rushed around looking for Christmas crafts/decorations that I can repurpose into something somewhat elegant, sewn curtains and pillows, and crocheted baby sweaters and hats. You see, I'm hosting Christmas for the first time in our first house with our first baby, and I want to make beautiful picture perfect memories, darn it! And while I wear my Mommy hat that gets switched with my Homemaker hat back and forth, I sometimes get frustrated with my husband who just seems to make my hats topsy turvy.

Now, I know that he works really really hard for long hours days and days in a row. I know that his job is demanding both mentally and physically. I know that he works and wants to spend as much quality time with his little family as possible. And I know that he tries to help out when he can. However, I also know that he has forgotten that dirty dishes can go ~gasp~ in the dishwasher, or at least in the sink. Someone also has a tendency to refer to taking care of baby Ethan as "babysitting" when he does so... Um, you mean Being a Parent? This person also volunteered to clean off the Foreman grill after dinner one night last week. After a few days, I decided to wait a little bit more just to see how long it might take... I broke down and washed it yesterday.

So I get stuck in this Mommy Homemaker mode and then get frustrated when my domain isn't running the way I want it.

Then, we had a golden day. The sun was a cheerful marigold in a clear blue lake of a sky. The air was fresh and crisp with just a hint of pine. It was David's day off, and we were going to get a Christmas tree and have a date night.

Listening to Christmas carols and singing along, laughing and checking at odd moments to make sure that our tree was still tied securely to the top of our car, we made our way home and successfully got our beautiful, dense, Douglas fir set up.

Later, we dropped Ethan off at his babysitter's house (an angelic woman from our church who volunteered to babysit for free) and went out to dinner.

We chatted over an appetizer, shared our hearts over dinner and sangria, and prayed over our family. And sometime during this dinner and walking around afterward, we became just a young, goofy-in-love couple again. I hung onto his arm as we walked and talked and giggled and teased. He teased back and talked more, and we left the everyday busyness and business behind. David said that he hadn't seen me that giddy in a while.

I need to put on my Effervescent, Cheerful, Confidant, Infatuated with My Man Hat more often. It is so easy to get caught up in my new and different roles that come with staying home with my precious baby and forget that other part of me and the other parts of David besides Daddy and Doctor.

I have been so blessed with a treasure of a little family. My husband is compassionate, intelligent, driven, hard-working, loving, goofy, helpful, and God-loving. My son is so sweet, smiley, determined, alert, social, and mischievous. I love both my boys so very much! I just need to make sure that my care for my little boy doesn't overshadow my care for my big boy. And most of all, I desire to honor my Lord and seek a closer relationship with Him each day. He should come first before anyone and definitely before daily busyness.

All of my hats should be perched on a foundational head of faith and love and grace that makes each one more and more beautiful as time and trust go by.

I want to always wear my Love the Lord My God Hat...

Besides it's the one that turns into a sparkly crown some day :)

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Monday, January 6, 2014

...and Anna needs a lot of prayer...

My mother-in-law is June Cleaver incarnate. 

There is never a speck out of place in her house. She is in her 50's, but still wears a size 2 with perfectly styled long blond hair. She is beyond perky. Everything is like a Norman Rockwell painting in their family, including her "Night Before Christmas" rhyming Christmas letter that describes, in detail, the perfection of my sister-in-law and her husband, and my husband, whom she says "aced the MCAT". 

He got a 37.

After several stanzas of beaming wonder, there is one line that rhymes the fact that I lost my job and need a lot of prayer. 


She didn't mean anything by it. I know she loves me like she birthed me (which would be weird), but I was kinda in shock. When I brought it up, in a laughing manner, I was told that I am just included in DH's success. 

Several friends at church received the letter, and came up and said a family that prays together stays together, and that with all that perfection going on, it shows I am a vital part of the family as the prayer project. 

This made me laugh and see that I was not losing my mind or being too sensitive, as well as appreciate those in our church (pastored by my father-in-law) who care enough to be sarcastic with me.

This letter made something clear to me though; My husband's success will never be enough to fulfill me entirely. 

He did awesome on his MCAT, and I supported him through it by working two jobs and cooking and laundry etc, but I couldn't have gotten a 2 on that test. That was our success, but it was mostly his. I supported his success. This is a vital role, and one that I do find satisfaction in, but I can not fool myself into thinking that that is enough for me. 

I personally had a rough 2013. I almost felt a bit of relief when it struck midnight and I got a kiss from my dog to usher in 2014 while DH was at work in the ER. It was over. It had been a pretty good year for us, but all good came from him, and all bad came from me. 

DH at first also tried to get me to accept his accomplishments as my own. I asked him that if I had gotten a great job, but he had not been accepted to med school, would that have been enough to make him not feel like a failure. He couldn't argue. 

Sometimes, I want to be successful for my abilities, not just in my support of his. 

I believe that all spouses need to remember, it is ok not to be 100% about their spouses success. I am in a 100% support, but that doesn't mean it is bad to have success, dreams, and goals of your own. Our spouses, as they go through training, are going to be pulling all-nighters, moving us all over the place, racking up debt, and causing us to live in near-poverty. Children may come and, at times, we will feel like single parents. Don't forget to have something that makes you feel like more than a live-in nanny/cook/housekeeper. 

It isn't selfish, it is survival. It's healthy. It's life giving. 

Hopefully, 2014 will be a much better year for me and I can have my own paragraph of perceived perfection.

I mean, I can't be the family prayer project forever... can I?!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Night Float Sucks

Night Float Sucks                                                                                                                                       by: Guest Author  Kelly Adams

The dreaded Night Float. There is really no other way to sugar coat it...it just sucks. They come home exhausted and need sleep but you haven't seen them so secretly you just want to keep them up and have adult conversation for 5 minutes. And it doesn't end after just one night it goes on and on!
It's just horrible!
You don't get to see them, they don't get to spend time with the kids, and overall everyone is cranky! Our son is now 15 months old and DrH would get home in the morning about the time he would need to go down for his morning nap, then when DrH got up the little guy would be down for his evening nap...And no offense, but I am not waking up a sleeping baby just so you can hug him and leave me with a crying cranky toddler!
I also stay home with our son so DrH would need to sleep in the same teeny tinny house that our screaming toddler was running around crazy in! It would stress me out to no end so I end up trying to stay out of the house all day. Have I made it clear how much fun this is?!
Our first month of night float was horrible. I remember crying a lot. I took the baby and we left for about half the month and went to visit my parents. But it was still so hard to be away from DrH, and he was so pitiful not being able to see us. So the second time around I was determined to do something to make it suck less. Granted it was still awful but I feel like we handled it a little better the second time around.  These are a few thing we did to lessen the pain:
1.) We talked a lot. We talked, texted, FaceTimed, etc. any time he had a break or a few seconds to spare so we could stay connected. FaceTime is a great invention and he really liked seeing our son interact and show off for him:) I would also send lots of pictures and videos whenever our little guy did something cute or funny.
2.) We ate dinner with him almost every night. This may or may not be possible for you depending on the program but it's worth a shot if it is. We just needed some form of normalcy so I would either cook or pick dinner up and take it up to the hospital with the toddler in tow. Granted some nights he was too busy for us to eat together so I fixed him a plate and we left. But on the nights it did work and we could have 30 min of a normal family meal time, it made all the difference. DrH got to see his son and hug on him for a bit and he got a good meal. I tried to cook his favorite meals so he had something to look forward to-he loves pot roast and its super easy:). We have a wagon so I would load up the wagon with the food, strap in my son, and wheel it up to the residents lounge for dinner. It's definitely not the easy way to do dinner but it was worth it.
3.) Weekends were off limits. I made sure the weekends were stress free and had zero commitments. It was time to sleep and relax as a family. We took our son to the park, went out to dinner, watched football, etc. For two days I wanted him to be relaxed and stress free...as much as possible.
4.) On the weekends we have some us time. We put the baby down by 8pm so that gives us some time to cuddle on the couch, eat ice cream, and watch a movie. I'm not the needy type but having down time with my husband really helps me get through the challenges of residency.
5.) Lastly, and so very important...I do things just for me. You spend so much time alone during this time that it's important to do things just for you, to make you happy. For example, I get really absorbed in books and tend to block off the rest of the world when I am reading, so this is a perfect time to get a good book. I also pick up my favorite ice cream at the grocery store, I record all the "chick" TV shows that he hates to watch, or I might talk for an hour on the phone with a good friend and not feel guilty about it .  Basically I find things to get excited about to make the time go by and suck less. 
So that's it. Nothing mind blowing.  We have out next night float in February and you can be sure I will post about how much it sucks...because it just does.
What do you do to make night float bearable?

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