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Lives of Doctor Wives: Being poor was expected and scary

Friday, September 12, 2014

Being poor was expected and scary

by: Christie from Kansas City
This summer a miraculous thing happened. My husband had two blissful months off for summer vacation. The first year of medical school splatted me flat like a cartoon character being crushed by a falling piano. It was something we had worked and dreamed about for years; and then it was finally here and it was as if someone had gifted me a big flaming bag of poo. I did not expect my part of this journey to be so hard.

Being poor was expected and scary.  However, it was the doing everything solo that killed me. Being ripped away from lifelong friends and family, leaving my career, having a new baby in an unknown place, never seeing my husband; it was a lot of life changes all at once. I flailed and faltered and tried my best to gain my footing. I did whatever I could to cope and make our lives better here, but it was hard.

Then summer finally arrived and I could feel the ease and joy of life creeping back into my heart. Its amazing what having an extra set of hands to help carry the groceries up the stairs can do for a girl. For the first time in a year I feel relaxed and happy and I am so scared to let this go. So while my head is on straight, I'm going to write down the most important things that helped me survive the first year as a medical school family matriarch. That way when my husband is studying for boards and the baby is teething and the house is a mess, I won't just survive - I will thrive.

Tips for thriving as a wife/mother during medical school:

1. Accept that you will be alone, a lot. Remember that you will feel lonely, but you are not alone.  Technically I was with my toddler 100% of the time, so I was never literally alone - but that is another blog post entirely. Remember there are thousands of medical wives going on this journey with you, and we are all in it alone together! Also even if you are physically alone in caring for your kids, household, yourself etc; you still have a partner in your spouse! Sure, he doesn't help with the midnight feedings, he doesn't take a turn scrubbing the toilets, he may not even have time to eat dinner with you; but you are still on this journey together! 

2. Friends matter. I didn't realize what a huge role friends would play in my new medical life. Without a husband to help you, your medical "sister wives" will help pick up the slack. See if your husbands school has a spouse or partner group you can socialize with. Join the "lives of doctor wives" group on Facebook for virtual support. Make friends at church, the library, playgrounds. Hell make friends at the McDonalds play place if you have to. Just make friends. They can distract you from your loneliness, swap free babysitting, and more importantly give you someone to talk about "The Bachelor" with. When your husband is going on a study bender, you will need the moral support. 

3. Embrace adventures in your new city. I moved to a supposed non descript mid west town. I was not excited, but I have been blown away with what I've found! Museums, parks, markets, restaurants, attractions. Every city has them, it's your job to go find them and make fun memories in them. Life doesn't stop for you just because your spouse is studying. Distract yourself with adventures sightseeing. It's a lot of fun. 

4. Become a frugal guru. Medical students are poor, it comes with the territory. Find confidence and even a hobby through being budget savy. Learn how to coupon, find sites that share free activities in your area, start thrifting. It's fun and often necessary. Every month I get free magazine subscriptions, free photo prints, free samples, and more all from just from a little looking around online. There are so many little tricks, fun rewards apps, it's addicting and a real tangible way to give back to your family's bottom line. 

5. Accept charity. This one can be hard, but you will need peoples help. I have been given great hand me down toys and clothes for my son, extra vegetables from neighbors gardens, leftovers from church dinners. People understand medical school is difficult on young families and they want to help. It can be hard, but let them. You can pay it forward when life gets better. 

6. Remain positive for your spouse. It can be easy to misplace all of our resentment towards the hard process of medical school onto our husbands. If you are having a pity party all the time, it will effect your sweet husbands outlook and ultimately it will effect both of your futures. Plaster positive quotes around the house, go on dates after tests, say lots of prayers. Make goal charts, send him encouraging texts, leave love notes in his books. Whatever you can do to stay positive, do it. If you focus on what you can do to make him and your kids happy, its truly works that in turn you will be happy.

7. Have an outlet. Journal, learn a language, do yoga, watch trashy tv, host a book swap with friends. Do something just for yourself that you love, it will do wonders. 

8. Reset often. You will be tired and make mistakes.  You will skip play dates with your best friend. You will nag your husband before you catch yourself. You'll buy something you can't afford at Anthropologie. It's ok, be kind to yourself. Give yourself a pep talk and start over. Medicine is a marathon, not a sprint. 

We can do hard things. We will be better for it. My heart is with you all



Blogger Stefanie Askeland said...

You are so right, doing many things alone was the hardest for me. My husband has 290 days left of his 6 year residency, it was hard, really hard. So glad it's almost over!

September 12, 2014 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger thehappyredhead said...

Oh, how I needed to read this today! We're 5 weeks into MS1 and I'm still trying to find my footing. Wonderful, timely advice!

September 15, 2014 at 11:55 AM  

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