T minus

This summer (my maternity leave) is rapidly coming to a close. I am not ready for this. After several weeks of very few if any emails from school, the onslaught has picked up in the past few days. Tonight I have a meeting for an event for this fall. Next week, the meetings really start to pick up as we prep for the coming academic year. The week after that… is Orientation Week for the MS1s. Today is the one year anniversary of the phone call that changed our entire master plan (as dramatic as that sounds, it’s true). Ladybug is almost 6 weeks old already, and has gained almost 3lbs and 2in.

There is so much that I wanted to finish this summer that I haven’t even gotten to yet. I still haven’t even sent out my thank you cards for the baby shower back in mid-May.

I’ve contacted my mentees for the fall (and beyond), and they seem like good people and are very enthusiastic for school to start. I waiver. I’m so excited to start back and get into the nitty gritty of med education… pathology, micro/immuno, and pharmacology. (You can tell I’m a nerd because these things make me so excited, LOL).

And at the same time, I am scared to death. New mom + hard classes + the monster, Step 1.

The one thing I have gotten done this week is found a daycare for Ladybug. I really didn’t want to have to put her in a daycare, but when our babysitter backed out on us, it really left us no other option. I love being home with her every day right now, but I can barely get the day-to-day house stuff done. I need a routine, and so does she. This way, I hope to be able to focus on school during the day so I can just “be home” when I get home. Second year is much different from first year for us, with block exams instead of individual class exams. I hear we get a week to 10 days off between the last set of notes and the big exam (to prep us for the rigor of Step 1), and as much as I’d love to think I could still study and be at home with her during that week, I really don’t think I would do well. Having a daycare is the best thing for both of us right now… I think. I hope.

For awhile, I was really considering taking a year off to stay at home with her. The more I thought about it though, the more it didn’t seem like that was a viable option. Dragging out med school an extra year?! I’d rather be done and working and moving on with our lives than postponing (yet again) finishing.

I hope these are all good decisions. I really do. As my days off are rapidly running out, I’m getting more anxious because I don’t yet know how it’s all going to work out. I guess all I can do is wait and see.

Can I Say I’m an MS2 Now?!

Ever since we finished our last final of first year, there have been plenty of statuses proclaiming “MS2!” and “1/4 MD!” I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Relieved to have passed every class and survived the entire academic year, even while pregnant, yes. But did I really feel like I was ready for the assumed maturity of a second year medical student? Not really.

I can’t lie: first year was difficult. Especially because I was pregnant. Getting out of bed was a victory in itself, some days. Making it to class with clean clothes after a shower was another victory. (Hot showers made the morning sickness worse…) Just functioning was a struggle at times.

How about now? It’s been a month and a half since I submitted that last final. Since I haven’t been studying lately, my mind feels totally empty. I definitely don’t feel like a medical student right now. Over the summer so far, I’ve been answering questions from our incoming MS1s about moving to the area, what books and equipment to buy, what extracurricular opportunities exist, how I liked my first year at ULSOM, what the professors are like… all of the same stuff I was wondering about myself a year ago. Yet I still don’t feel like there is anything special about being done with M1 yet… because there is still SO MUCH to learn, and I’m still just a beginner.

Our tuition bills have posted for the fall (YAY! /sarcasm), and the courses are listed in our gradebook. I get anxious when I think about second year. I’ve heard it’s a lot harder than first year (granted, I’ve heard every year, except for fourth year, is the worst), the material is more relevant to Step 1, gotta study for Step 1, work on my pet projects… and now add in Ladybug. I’m more than a bit unsure of how it’s all supposed to work out. Not being successful is not an option; not because of my ego but because of my family, and continuing to work toward the end goal. Someday, just maybe I’ll start earning a paycheck again, although that day feels ages away. 

Not working bothers me. Not being as productive as I’d like bothers me. And yet, I couldn’t wait for this break from school. And yet, not long after finishing those finals while being miserable, swollen, and enormously pregnant, I already had the itch to return to the classroom. I must be an incredibly strange individual. In just a few short weeks, I get my biggest wish and fear, by returning to campus. As I sort out all of my anxieties, I’d really appreciate any prayers/good vibes/etc. Being a student and a mom is uncharted territory for me, and I’m hoping I can be successful at both.

G1P0 to G1P1

6/27/2014

Today was the original due date. Our little miss Ladybug has now been with us for almost three weeks, and I can’t believe how much she has grown in size and personality already. I still can’t believe that I made something so cute! David has stepped into his role as a new daddy marvelously; I love watching him interact with her.

I learned that I am not good at being a patient. I didn’t really enjoy my time in the hospital. I was so ready to go home and be in my own space after she was born, having had enough of people I didn’t know knowing my business. The constant interruptions right after birth were also a bit much for someone who is already sleep deprived and stressed out. On the bright side, we are both very healthy and happy to be home.

Being a new mom has already been harder than I thought it would be. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to be able to be a new mom, stay on top of my studies, and work on my own projects once school starts (in just over a month!!). I’m stressed out about that too, but I know there’s nothing I can do about it but take it one day at a time and adjust when I need to… much like how school + pregnancy was. It’s been a real help that we’ve had so much support at home with family and friends. While David is home tomorrow I’m planning on running to the salon with my mom to get a haircut… my first since December (I think)–I can’t even tell you how excited I am about something so simple, but I am hoping that afterward I feel a bit more like my old, pre-pregnancy and pre-new-mom self.

I’ve been told that I hold her too much. But the way I see it is, she won’t be this little forever. She won’t want to cuddle like this forever. And I won’t be on summer break forever. So for now, I will hold her and love her and forget about school for a bit.

A year ago, we were heading out on our grand adventure to the American west. We never would have thought that all of this would have happened in one short year, but I am beyond thankful that things don’t always go the way I hoped or planned.

James 1:17. Every good and perfect thing is from above.

Bed Rest

What’s the easiest way to make a Type A workaholic frustrated?

Put her on bed rest.

As our Ladybug’s due date approaches, I’ve been trying to acknowledge my limitations and take things easy when I need to. It seems that my body has met its match with this little lady on board. So now we are on Baby Watch and I am confined to strict bed rest.

Which means my summer plans are kaput. No Pediatric Externship in the NICU for me, despite my efforts to somehow still participate. I am so disappointed; that was the one thing I was going to do for myself this summer to have a little fun while we waited for Ladybug to make her debut. The one thing I didn’t want to do this summer was twiddle my thumbs while we waited for her arrival. Apparently, Ladybug takes after her momma and is incredibly impatient; every time we give her a due date, she decides it’s not soon enough. The goal is to hold out for a few more days.

That being said, I am bored out of my mind. Why is there nothing on television worth watching during the day, even if just for background noise?! (Thank you, reruns of Grey’s, House, and How I Met Your Mother for providing some semblance of entertainment.) But since I can’t just lay here all day, I’ve been trying to get some things done that don’t require much energy output. I’ve read through a few chapters of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 to pick out my review books so I can make a budget; worked on a lit search for my global health track scholarly project; edited my manuscript now that I have feedback from the NSRF; submitted abstracts to two more conferences; looked into flights from here to Atlanta for October so I can budget; scoured the internet for Step 1 study schedules; wrote a few articles; helped a friend apartment hunt; packed my hospital bag, and pretty much anything else I can think of to be somewhat productive.

This pregnancy is really weighing heavily on me now, physically, mentally, emotionally, and even at times, spiritually. This has not been the best experience, which sounds inexcusably selfish. I cannot wait to be able to do everyday little things again. I would love to be able to wear my favorite clothes (right now I’d settle for finding clothes that actually fit), to give myself a pedicure, to go for a run if I feel like it. Anything at all to make me feel like myself instead of like a beached whale. I don’t remember the last time I felt thin, pretty, or just like me. I cannot wait to hold our little girl, to count her fingers and toes, to kiss her chubby cheeks and to show her the world. Her daddy is more than ready too. Come on, Ladybug! Aren’t you ready to come out and play?

So here I am, day 6 of bed rest, and I’m running out of things to do.

First Piece

A few months ago, I was contacted by the co-founders & Editors-in-Chief of the new online forum for med students by med students called in-Training.org to be either a columnist or contributing writer. (I chose contributing writer because of the magical words “no deadlines .”) My first piece went live on Friday!

http://in-training.org/mere-words-enough-thanking-donors-families-6648

Stay tuned for more exciting things in the works! =D

Lightning Strikes Twice

Today I got some unexpected but very exciting news! I’ll be presenting my work in NICU bioethics at the Gold Humanism Honor Society Biennial Conference in Atlanta this October! This will be my biggest conference yet, and I’m now closer to my goal of presenting at a conference at least once per year in med school.

I should also mention that Dr. Christine Montross, author of the book Body of Work that I love so much, is one of the conference featured speakers. I am so very excited!

Fortunate

It’s hard to imagine that I’ve been on summer break for almost a full week already. In that amount of time, I’ve had a baby shower for our little Ladybug, finished a book (at David’s suggestion to read a “non-school” book, I chose…. Genetic Rounds by Dr. Robert Marion. And of course I am now researching Peds/Med Genetics combined residencies. I really need to reevaluate my use of free time.), and started to work on some of my own projects. Oh! And sleep! Oh, glorious sleep! It’s been so nice to not have to rush off early every morning for a change. I finally feel rested, or at least the most rested I’ve felt since last summer.

These past few weeks have been less than fun. As I get closer to my due date, my limitations have made themselves more clear. I was really hoping that I would be able to prove–at least to myself–that “pregnancy brain” was a myth… not so, for me. Being able to concentrate on what I’m studying has gotten progressively harder, and my recall is not as sharp as it used to be. Battling this while preparing for finals has been stressful. All in all, though, I passed all my finals, passed all of my classes, and I feel like I accomplished a lot this year. Could I have done better if I hadn’t been pregnant? I’m pretty much certain of it. Did I still do well while juggling that added stress? Even with the fatigue and sickness, yes. I even went above and beyond some goals I set for myself, so that makes me feel pretty good about where I stand at the end of M1.

If I ever forget just how fortunate I have been, and am, I need to read this following article. If you’re a premed who gained an acceptance this cycle, congratulations to you! My best advice is to not squander this opportunity. There are so many people who would love to be in your (or my) shoes. If you’re a premed who did not gain an acceptance this cycle, it in no way, shape or form means that you are unintelligent or unworthy, not driven enough or not passionate enough; there are simply just not enough spots for everyone who is qualified that would make a terrific doctor.

http://m.startribune.com/?id=259674871