Six Years… and Counting

In the hustle and rush of a med student’s schedule, I often don’t get to spend as much time with my friends and family as I’d like. But there’s one person in particular that I feel like I’ve put through a particularly hard ringer in the past two and a half years, and that is David.

When I first met him, he had just moved home from a job in Iowa, was living with his mother, and didn’t have a job here yet. I was particularly miserable when I met him… I felt lost. I had been through a bad breakup earlier in the year, had been rejected after months on the waitlist of my dream medical school, had left behind many friendswas working a job I wasn’t sure I even liked, and enrolled in a graduate program I wasn’t sure I fit into, all while trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I’d considered dropping everything I was doing to join the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps… I had the applications filled out but had not had the courage to hit “Send”.  I imagined a life of loneliness, being married to my work, and maybe someday adopting children if I still wanted them. In reality, at that time, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to meet anyone until after I got my own life figured out.

But…. he sure was handsome. And he was kind. He had a sharp wit and understood my science jokes. He had his own science jokes. When I talked about all of the trips I dreamed about taking “someday”, he was the first guy that didn’t balk at me…. but instead, added in his own. And when I rattled on and on about my dream of becoming a doctor, with one unsuccessful application cycle under my belt… he didn’t try to talk me out of it, as others had. He is always encouraging, always supporting, always pushing me to find new horizons. In the past 18 months, he’s had to deal with my insanity of becoming a mom… and endured all the silly songs I have created to make our daughter smile (sometimes, I am sure he thinks I have lost my ever-loving mind).

This year, we celebrated six years of our fairy tale. Things haven’t always been easy. There have been many obstacles that we didn’t foresee: funerals, sick family members, two more unsuccessful medical school application cycles, a successful application cycle, last-minute switch in medical schools, getting pregnant during medical school…. This year alone we’ve dealt with the stress of Step 1, moving, juggling a toddler during a long and draining surgery rotation, an unexpected funeral… In the year to come, we’ll deal with the stresses of the Matching process, together.

In these years, he is unchanged. He continues to surprise me with his thoughtfulness. He has never once told me my dreams were too big… instead, he stretches their boundaries and makes them ours.He has never once told me things were too rough. He lets me vent my frustrations when I need to. He has his own frustrations that sometimes I feel he keeps to himself because he knows I am stressed. However, this life is still pretty sweet, and I love him more each day. I never thought that this life was possible. He is a treasure, and my perfect match. I am so thankful for our  we have built together.

Very often, I remember what life was like pre-David. I remember all of the things that ran through my mind, and I remember that I didn’t like where my life was going. This all makes me realize just how lucky I am that he chose me.

David, my handsome…. I can’t promise white Christmases or always-clear skies…. But I can fuel your adventurous side, and walk those trails hand in hand. Happy anniversary, David. Six years of adventures behind us, and hopefully many more still to come.


Sometimes, There are Just No Words

There has been radio silence on this blog lately. I’ve tried writing this post several times and just can’t seem to do it.

Surgery was a very rough rotation for my family. It wasn’t just the change in schedules because a normal day was 5am to 5pm for me, with call days being 5am on call day through at least 8am the following morning. When I was home, I was exhausted. Part of the required assignments was completion of online video modules; on more than one occasion, I literally fell asleep on top of my laptop doing the modules. That is just the nature of this particular rotation–it was exhausting, but the majority of the time I was still having fun, even if I didn’t see myself going into surgery.

There are just some things that you can’t prepare for. My strategy for the surgery rotation was to keep my head down, work hard, be helpful, and move on. I didn’t think I wanted to go into surgery, but I was looking forward to the experience and learning a lot.

On the night of Memorial Day, David got a phone call. From his mom. Which wasn’t exactly unheard of, but this time things were different. My father-in-law was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in July, and he was going downhill fast. After a couple of hours of panic at the sudden change in status, the ventilator was withdrawn. With the diagnosis, we knew there wouldn’t be much time, but we were not prepared for this so soon. This happened after midnight and I was due to get up at 4am to be in the hospital before 5am to see my patients. I still went into work that day, because 1) short notice 2) there was nothing I could do for my family as we were all in shock and 3) I deal with grief better when I am busy. That was the first time I have ever thought that I really didn’t want to spend time in the hospital on a particular day, so it was quite unlike me.  I did let my clerkship leadership know, and they did let me take off a day to comfort my family and help with the arrangements. The funeral was on my post-call day, so I didn’t need any extra time off for that. I am not the type that likes to ask for help, or likes to have special arrangements made, but this was one time that it was nice to have supervisors that were understanding. The situation put me into a mental funk that I still don’t think I have recovered from, on top of still having some guilt for missing a day of work–I totally felt like a slacker even after I made up the time and assignments.

The most difficult part, though, was being home. My father-in-law was a good man, and I loved him, but I’ve only known him for 6 years. It was much harder for David, and I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job of comforting him when I spent so much time away. This is why I feel medicine is a tough profession for families–the perception is that time away is weakness (especially in surgery). Many people have asked me how I balance being a mom, wife, and med student. Most of the time, it’s not too bad, because I get to do so many of the things that I love on a daily basis. However, there are plenty of instances where I feel like I have stretched myself too thin. This was one situation where I definitely felt like there just wasn’t enough of me, or enough time, to go around.

There were a few other things that happened during my surgery rotation that were beyond my control, and that are beyond the scope of this post, but I have learned from them and moved on. This particular rotation was Murphy’s Law for me… everything bad that could have happened, did happen, and happened at the worst possible time. I haven’t really felt much like writing/blogging since, especially about this topic. After several weeks, I am just now getting back to feeling like I know what I’m doing again, and with that, comes the need to write.

Year in Review: 2014

Following the sappy trend of reflecting upon the wonderful year that was 2014, below are my responses to 50 questions about the last year and looking ahead to the next:

YOUR 2014

1. What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?

This was the year we welcomed our firstborn. This is the year we will never forget.

2. If you had to describe your 2014 in 3 words, what would they be?

Studying, sleepless, blessed.

3. What new things did you discover about yourself?

That I am capable of much more than I imagined, but also that I need to scale back some things…. sure, I can kill myself through working too hard, or I can relax a bit and be much happier and much more fulfilled. I’ve discovered that I rather like the latter these days.

4. What single achievement are you most proud of?

I am really excited that my writing is seeming to take off. I’m excited to see where that trail leads. That was always a huge dream of mine, and to have an outlet like in-Training to share my work, and even have an article picked up by Student Doctor Network was a huge accomplishment.

5. What was the best news you received?

That Ladybug is healthy. 100%, perfectly healthy. Having to go through both Medical Embryology and Biochemistry/Genetics while pregnant is not the best idea… you learn absolutely every tiny thing that can possibly go wrong. It turns out that hearing about such awful things like holoprosencephaly and the mucopolysaccharidoses makes you think that it’s inevitable that your growing baby will likely have one of those horrid things.

6.What was your favourite place that you visited in 2014?

When we went on our road trip to Galveston in April so I could present my research at the UTMB conference, we side-tracked on our way home to visit, for the first time, our long-lost friends who live in Louisiana. That has to be at the top of my favorites list, since we didn’t get to travel as much as we’d hoped, and this was a bonus state and bonus layover with great friends (who selflessly gave this 8-month pregnant lady a warm, comfortable bed for a great night’s sleep).

7.Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?

Hands down… perseverance.

8.Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?

David is my hero when I need one, my comedian on occasion, my travel buddy, my partner in crime, my co-daydreamer… my other half.

9.Which new skills did you learn?

I learned how to really use my stethoscope, and I’ve been practicing with heart sounds. I know this sounds extremely nerdy and not very useful in the long run, but since the sounds are difficult for me to hear correctly, to me, it’s a big accomplishment to gain this skill.

I am also much, much better about keeping my mouth shut these days. It’s really hard to do around friends who are anti-vaxxers or when friends and family members ask me questions about their health, but I’m learning discretion in my remarks. I have a feeling that this will be a very valuable skill.

10.What, or who, are you most thankful for?

I can’t just say one person and do justice to anyone who has helped me through the past year. David was my hero every day of my pregnancy, and my parents help us out so much now so that I can continue to pursue my dream. Dr. H, Dr. F, Dr. B-C, Dr. T, G, A, and Dr. C were all instrumental in helping me finish my first year strong. I couldn’t have done it without all of these lovely people.

11.If someone wrote a book about your life in 2014, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?

It would have to be a comedy. Me, waddling everywhere for half the year. Me, sleep deprived ^1000th degree. All of my mishaps in first year and the first few weeks of Ladybug’s life. Yep, a comedy.

12.What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2014?

How much I value calm, relaxed days at home. I used to be such a busy-body. Now I value my time to relax, regroup, focus, and rejuvenate so much more. I realize that I have to make time for myself, and it’s ok to ask for help–even if I just need a morning to sleep in and have one of the “aunts” come over to babysit. Calmness, the need for less “stuff” and more memories, is something that I have appreciated even more this year, and I’m ready to start downsizing and enjoying life more than stuff and clutter and tasks. Downsizing will be good for the long run as well… looking ahead to moving for residency.

13.Which mental block(s) did you overcome?

There were several times where I thought that I couldn’t do this…. “this” being, being pregnant and a student. When I got to the point where I got overwhelmed when I was slow to get ready in the morning, couldn’t tie my own shoes, and had trouble with getting winded just walking to class, I wanted to give up. That was really tough. I’m so glad that phase is over.

14.What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?

Aunt Sherry and Uncle Mike; David; Ladybug; and the other Aunt Sherry. All people I either take for granted, don’t get to see often, or enjoy down-time with.

15.What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?

When I realized that I really was made for this. Every time I get to see a patient that really sticks with me, I am so glad that I chose this path, and this path seemed to also choose me. I am always amazed by how many things there are to do with a medical degree, and I am encouraged that all the things I want to do, eventually, I will be able to with all of these skills.

16. How did your relationship to your family evolve?

It became much stronger. I am ever so amazed by the intense love my parents feel for my child, and we have grown much closer with her arrival.

17. What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?

I grew up watching the 1980’s cartoon version of The Hobbit. When I was a bit older, I read the Tolkien books. And now, the cinematic adaptations have come to an end. While they’re not dead set on the book plot, I love all of them, all 6. But seeing the last Hobbit movie, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, was harder on me than I had predicted. Now that they are over and there are no more to look forward to seeing, it feels like a bit of my childhood has died, and this makes me immensely sad.

18. What was your favourite compliment that you received this year?

That my daughter is a great baby. I know this sounds totally cliche, but it’s true. The whole time I was pregnant, I was hoping she would be a happy and healthy baby. The first 8 weeks were the hardest part about being a mom, because I’m learning how she likes things, and she’s learning to cope with being on the outside. It was really, really rough for what seemed to be a long time. But in all honesty, she’s a great baby. She hardly ever cries; she gets fussy when she’s hungry, or sleepy, or needs changed. That’s it. We’ve gone out to dinner with family and friends, and no one can believe she is already as well-behaved as she is. I prayed so hard during my pregnancy that she wouldn’t have colic and that she’d be a calm, happy baby.

19. What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?

Once Ladybug goes to bed and I can have some quiet time with David. Everything is always so busy… and I’m of the frame of mind to “quit glorifying busy-ness”. It’s nice at the end of the day to relax and remember who we are as a couple, not as parents or employees or students, but as “just us.”

20. What cool things did you create this year?

I am working on a project for Ladybug’s room: a travel map of everywhere she’s been. It’s not done yet, but I love this little project and I hope we instill a love of traveling and adventure in her as she grows up.

21. What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?

Worried. Ever so worried. Worried about how I’d survive the semester pregnant… worried that what if I had to repeat the year, or needed to take a leave of absence… worried that maybe she wouldn’t be healthy…. worried about how my relationship with my husband would change… worried about how I would juggle school with being a mom… worried that I’d made the wrong decision and should have taken the year off… worried that I wouldn’t be a good wife/mom/student. Always so worried, with no need to be!

22.Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?

Of all the things I could choose, I’m going with this one: observing an autopsy. Hats off to the pathologists who have a stomach for this endeavor. While I was fine with the physical work that was involved, as I learned more about the case from the coroner, the more I did NOT want to know… and I think the “knowing” about these cases, and having to testify for cases as part of my job, would wear down my soul. I firmly believe that forensic pathology is out of the question for me. I cried on the way home that day–the case was just too overwhelming.

23. What was your favourite moment spent with your friends?

Taking Ladybug to see one of my best friends for the first time. This friend likes her dogs more than she likes kids, but she took right to Ladybug and I’m pretty sure the love was mutual.

24. What major goal did you lay the foundations for?

For a long time, I’ve wanted to be a runner. Even when I was in the best shape of my life in high school running track, I was mostly a thrower–discus and shot put–and running has always been a challenge for me. I do not have the hips of a runner… but I’ve wanted to overcome that and start to actually enjoy running. While we lived in Indianapolis, I convinced (conned?) David into running a 5k with me (The Color Run), which was tons of fun, but my goal was to run a mini marathon. My dad started running several years ago, and has run 7 mini’s. If he could do it, I could too. So we trained, and we finished! That medal is something that I’m extremely proud of. But it’s not enough. Not long after, I started school, got pregnant, and couldn’t run the second mini I had already signed up for. (Dad couldn’t run it that year. So I wanted to finish it, 7 months pregnant, with a shirt I made that said “For my Dad… (and my grandpa!)” and present him with the medal. But this was not to be. At 7 months pregnant, I could barely waddle from the parking garage to campus, less than a mile.) So my goal is to run the Derby City Mini Marathon in April of 2015, with hopes to keep running after that. I’ve recently found out about the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital mini marathon, and a series of races in the national parks that I really want to participate in, in the future.

25. Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?

Worries are always, always, always unnecessary.

26. What experience would you love to do all over again?

The holidays with Ladybug for the first time. Sure, she won’t remember it, but since she means so much to all of her family members, their reaction to her was my favorite thing about the holidays so far, and I’ve really relished it.

27. What was the best gift you received?

I don’t want everything to tie into having a baby, but she is definitely the greatest gift… I am also so thankful for our health, insurance, family and friends…. but if I have to pick just one gift that someone gave to me this year, I would have to say that the luggage tag that David made for me, custom with one of his photos from our roadtrip vacation to Glacier National Park, is probably my favorite.

28. How did your overall outlook on life evolve?

I have discovered what I want my long-term life to look like. It seems like so much of my life has been working toward just getting to the “next step”… high school, college, med school…. or just making it from exam to exam. Now, though, I’m learning what I want my life to look like when I am–finally–working. (I miss working.) I don’t want my child to feel neglected. I don’t want to keep my focus on the “next step” of climbing rungs on a ladder. I’m the type that is a badass at her job, uses all of my vacation days to their fullest, and strives to be happy. I don’t think I would do well in hospital administration or any type of work where climbing the ladder is expected.

29. What was the biggest problem you solved?

The biggest problem that I needed help with, especially once the semester began, was how to manage my time most effectively so I could save time, be less stressed, and make as much time as possible to spend with family. It was a learning process, and took awhile with trial and error to get down to a science… Now that we have our routine, I can study effectively when I need to focus, and once I come home I can relax and not worry.

30. What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?

David made the mistake of telling me that his mind is a colander, and this has definitely came back to bite him on several occasions. This has made me burst out laughing many times, but I guess the story is only funny if you were there at the time.

31. What idea turned out to be the best decision ever?

Using my “last summer ever” as my maternity leave. I was uncertain about what this would mean for my career, but I’m glad I had that time at home to recover and focus on myself and my family instead of worrying about how a few weeks would affect my entire, decades-long career.

32. What one thing would you do differently and why?

I would not listen to the hospital staff about breastfeeding. The best advice I got came from another OB in the group practice that came to see me when mine had the day off–and he was male! I stressed out so much over breastfeeding in the beginning, something that is supposed to be natural. In the long run though, I think it’ll make me a better doctor because I know what it’s like to be in a tough situation as a brand-spanking-new mom with a brand-spanking new baby who are both learning how to fill those new roles. And, note to self: if I’m ever in a private practice pediatrician’s office, hire a full-time lactation consultant, and don’t rely on nurses for such services.

33. What do you deserve a pat on the back for?

Continuing with M2 without taking time off. I’ve wondered if I made the right decision many times, but pursuing this so I can graduate on time and move on with life has been a great decision for us, even though it has been much, much more difficult than I had imagined.

34. What activities made you lose track of time?

Showing Ladybug the world… reading to her, watching her learn and play. She’s such a smart baby already, and curious about everything. The days of breaks go by so quickly now that we have her.

35. What did you think about more than anything else?

Vacations and trips. I have had intense travel fever for about a year. When I was working full time, I could go about three months before I needed a trip somewhere to clear my head–even if it was only an extended weekend. I tend to feel better about myself and am able to focus better if I have had a trip somewhere new.

36. What topics did you most enjoy learning about?

Over the past several years, I’ve started following blogs written by medical students all over the world: Canada, South Africa, the UK, Australia, the Philippines, etc. I love learning about all styles of healthcare and medical education. What I find to be endearing is that even though the countries are different, the systems are different and the curricula vary dramatically, is that we are all going through a lot of the same things as we grow as physicians-in-training. It’s nice to see other students’ lives and how we manage all of the stress, the unknowns, and life outside of medicine.

37.What new habits did you cultivate?

I am not an optimist by nature. I tend to always think about worse-case-scenario first… and my lifelong motto has been “always be prepared.” So this year I have made a conscious effort to be an encourager. This academic year is stressful by nature, with the constant reminder that Step 1 is just around the corner. I don’t like seeing people so overly stressed when we are already pushed to our limits. Simple things, such as a smile or a hello or a complement, can really turn someone’s day around. I try to do that for everyone, every day. It’s made a difference in me as well; I’m not nearly as pessimistic as I have been in the past.

38.What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could)?

I would tell myself not to worry so much. Lord knows I worried way too much about how things would turn out with having the baby and then going back to school. It all has worked out far better than we imagined.

39. Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?

The things that I worry about, and even worrying itself. There are some things that I used to care a lot about that now, I simply don’t have the time for, and letting them go has made me a lot more stress-free.

40. What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?

Dr. T has played a huge role in my school life, and she’s been a key player in formulating what I want my future career to look like. She also has a family, so she is a great mentor.  I hope I can adopt her outlook on life. I have never, ever seen anything but a smile on her face. Her husband is actually in the first year class this year, so she understands a lot about what is going on in the lives of students.

YOUR 2015

41.What do you want the overarching theme for your 2015 to be?

Learning/Leading/Random Acts of Kindness

42.What do you want to see, discover, explore?

I am dying to get back to the mountains. Being in nature and not thinking about school or work does a wonder for my mind. I can’t wait to go back.

43.Who do you want to spend more time with in 2015?

My baby girl. I love her so much. She is growing so quickly and let me tell you, this kiddo is already so smart. I cannot wait to take her to the Smoky Mountains for her first birthday, to teach her all about hiking and exploring. I can’t wait to see how much she continues to grow and learn from now til then.

44.What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?

I still want to learn medical Spanish so I can optimize my time with patients. I’d still like to get better with suturing. I really, really hope that I can work my way up to being an avid runner. I want to be a great mom. I hope I grow in Christ, and love my husband well. I want to get back into yoga again, and improve my own health overall. I hope to start reading more for fun instead of just studying or avoiding fun reading. Improving my SOAP notes and clinical knowledge and experience are always high on my list.

45.Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?

I want to continue to strengthen my generosity. Since moving home, I’ve had less opportunity to serve the homeless in my community like I did in Indianapolis.

46.What do you want your everyday life to be like?

Happier. Sure we’re more stressed because Step 1 is approaching, but there is no reason we shouldn’t still be having fun while in the preclinical portion of our medical education, the very last year that we’ll ever be in a classroom.

47.Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?

My laziness. I’ve been so lazy this year. The habits that I cultivated while pregnant (take it easy!) have persisted and I’m working on getting back to the before-pregnancy mindset and being more active.

48.What do you want to achieve career-wise?

  1. Get a great score on the USMLE Step 1 so that when it comes time to Match, I don’t go without a job, and hopefully we wind up somewhere that all 3 of us love.
  2. Solidify my global health research project.
  3. Spend more time in the NICU–I really miss those tiny babies. I have much to learn from them.

49. How do you want to remember the year 2015 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?

It is my hope that 2015 will be the year I gain more confidence in my clinical skills, and sets me up well for my first job, residency after graduation.

50.What is your number one goal for 2015?

KILL STEP 1. This “silly summer quiz” has taken over so much of my life and my friends’ lives, and it has such a huge influence on what we can do for our careers and where we can train, that I cannot wait to get it over with… and hopefully have a score that reflects competence, hard work, and dedication.

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.

23 Weekers

We have our first big physio exam tomorrow, and all day today to study for it. So naturally, I am camped out in the library with enough provisions to last me a week. It’s about time for a quick lunch break though, as I’ve made a lot of progress already.

A few weeks ago, I shadowed again in the NICU. There always seems to be a few 23-weekers on the floor; it’s an incredible feat of medicine and miracles that we’re able to sustain such tiny, tiny bodies that are on the brink of being able to survive outside the uterus. As we were rounding on a few of these little guys, I couldn’t help but worry about my own little bundle of joy, just a couple weeks younger than these babies in their isolettes. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have a baby that early, with the complications that come with it.

So now that I’m in the library trying to study, and this little jellybean is messing with my concentration by kicking me to his or her heart’s content, I just hope this kiddo stays put for several more months.

The Master of Surprise

If there was ever any doubt in my family about who is the Master of Surprise, I have clearly won it now.

This year has been… a gigantic mess. From having to uproot all of our plans to move to Iowa, to having family members with health concerns, to moving again during school, to facing blow after blow that just seemed to knock us down… it’s been a tough year. Something needed to change, and we all needed a bit of good news. David and I knew from the beginning that this first semester would be challenging, but if we could just make it to the other side, things would be so much better and we could breathe easy again.

As we finally approached December, it seemed that our streak of madness was finally coming to an end and we could see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. As David approached the end of his college career, the job interviews (and offers!) started coming in. I was so proud of him! All of his hard work was finally, tangibly paying off. He accepted an offer close to home and was happy. The best thing for me was to see him so happy.

So like always, I was scheming. We were past due for a surprise.

I had been planning a surprise dinner for David in conjunction with both sides of our families as a way to celebrate his graduation. Much to my surprise, everyone could make it work on a day that fit my busy end-of-finals schedule. Getting everyone together in the same place at the same time was nothing short of a miracle in itself. But this whole plan turned out to not be the real surprise.

The day before the surprise dinner, David got a phone call about a job offer for THE BIG ONE–the job he really, really wanted– and all of a sudden things turned upside-down again. The first offer he had accepted he now had to turn down at the last minute. Imagine that, us having plans and at the last minute everything changes… it’s never boring around here, that’s for sure!

And so, the “surprise” dinner now had an even bigger surprise… sharing the news about this big new job!

I love seeing the look on David’s face when I pull off a surprise. I loved that it all worked out so well. Hugs were shared, a great meal was had, and David got to share his big news about the job. It couldn’t have been more perfect, and everyone was so happy. Our family has desperately needed some good news in the past few months, and it warmed my heart to see everyone smiling and having a good time together.

Only…. David knew about the surprise dinner the entire time I was planning it. Because there was even bigger news.

Under the guise of a graduation present, David opened his small gift from me while I handed out small gifts to everyone else.

It has been so hard to keep our little secret for the past three months.

Everyone else’s gift was a wrapped frame of baby’s first ultrasound picture.

The look of surprise on everyone’s faces and the squeals of excitement were exactly what I’ve been hoping for as we’ve been planning all of this for months. The look on my mom’s face was priceless! My mom, who automatically senses when someone is pregnant, had no idea… and that was the ultimate surprise.

And to make it that much sweeter: my cousin and her husband are also expecting, and we are due only four days apart!

Things couldn’t have worked out any better. Our families finally got the good news we’ve all been waiting for. I’m healthy, everything is progressing normally, school is going well, and David is ecstatic over this new job.

In all honesty, I’ve been waiting for someone to make a negative comment about me being pregnant while in school. We’d already been planning on starting our family sometime during school anyway, so it’s not like we haven’t put any thought into it beforehand. The worst part of it has been being so sick during the past three months. Some days, I was so nauseous and just useless, I got nothing done. Having the stomach flu during finals nearly pushed me over the edge, and for a day or two I was scared to death I’d end up tanking the finals and having to repeat the entire semester. My anatomy professor, who is a saint in my book, has helped me out so much at the end of the year–but she’s also expecting, so maybe that is why she took pity on me. She was the only one who actually knew about our little one; another professor, one of my favorite neonatologists, just happened to figure it out by herself (sick + pale + not herself = the hallmarks of pregnancy, apparently). Everyone has been SO supportive, which has been a big surprise, but a welcome one. If there is anything I’ve learned about school so far and juggling outside responsibilities, it’s that there is a way to make everything work, it just has to be prioritized. I’m hoping that this stays true once the little one gets here–but I’m not the only student in my class that is either expecting or has a very young child at home, which gives me hope. That’s not to say that having a baby next summer (my last “summer” break ever) hasn’t disrupted our travel plans–our vacation to Costa Rica, and medical missions trips to Ecuador and Brazil are all canceled–or better, postponed. There will be opportunities for those things later.

Although, I’m pretty much convinced that if I can exceed nearly every single goal I’ve set for myself for the semester while being unbelievably sick (and a terrible student) for half of it, then I can do just about anything.