Guys!! It’s July 1st! I LOVE this day! For a lot of you reading this, you might be thinking….. Yeah, so?
I’ll tell you why this is such a big deal – July 1st is the “New Year’s Day” for doctors and their families. It’s the first day of the Medical New Year.
Today marks an end and a beginning. For some physician families it could be the end of the medical school classwork years and the beginning of clinical rotations, where the student finally gets to put his learning into practice. It could mean the end of medical school and the beginning of residency, where the brand new doctor learns his craft. It could mean the end of a grueling intern year (hallelujah!) and the beginning of another year of residency, where the doctor delves deeper into his chosen specialty. Or it could mark the end of residency or further training all together and the beginning of the doctor’s brand new career.
With these ends and new beginnings come other changes as well. There is the packing up of the old home to move to the new one. There is saying goodbye to friends or family and having to start over in a new place. There is leaving behind the former job to start a new one, with challenging yet exciting new responsibilities.
With this Medical New Year, my DrH finished his grueling intern year. We both survived his first year of residency and he is starting his second year of anesthesia training. We are both ECSTATIC to be done – we have been looking forward to this new year for a very long time. DrH has been dying to start working as an anesthesiologist, and now he will finally have that opportunity. We have also heard from friends that his second year of residency has better hours – we are hoping that’s true!
I realize that as a doctor’s wife, with each new Medical New Year that I leave a part of my old self behind and I come out of it a little different. Not completely different, but each year I learn, grow, and change from my experiences.
This past year was no different. This blog post will be a little more personal than usual, but I wanted to share with you a few of the things my husband and I have done, learned, and accomplished over this past year. Just like at New Year’s at the end of the calendar year, the Medical New Year is a fantastic time to review and celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and set new goals and priorities.
Just like me, I’m sure you have some fantastic accomplishments to share as well from this past year. Please, tell me in the comments! I would love to hear about them.
And so, in no particular order, here what I’ve learned as a doctor’s wife in the 2015-2016 Medical Year:
to love where i live
I learned that I can grow to love anywhere I live. This is something I’ve actually learned in previous years, but I definitely put that learning into practice this year. If I put my heart into getting to know my new city and the people in it, I can truly love anywhere this medical journey takes me.
We moved from Nevada to Southern California a year ago. That move was hard (like all moves are for me) but I love my new city now. We were able to move from a small, 3 bedroom town home to a 3 bedroom house, complete with a two-car garage and a gorgeous backyard. Needless to say we are loving the upgrade!
how to be a stay at home mom
I went from working as a nurse during medical school to a stay-at-home mom. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but not going to lie – the adjustment was hard for me! I love my kids and was so grateful I could stay home with them, but it was hard to go from being busy with my work as a nurse to being home. ALL OF THE TIME. I started doing a different kind of work with two little people who needed me so much and hardly any adult interaction.
I feel like being a SAHM is a way harder job than being a nurse, but I feel like I found my groove this past year. I figured out how to be a mom without totally losing myself in the process. And I have adult interaction regularly, because mommy needs it to stay sane. I learned to schedule playdates, girls’ nights, and time with friends.
I also learned that I need to have ME TIME every single day. I need to spend some time everyday doing something I enjoy, OUTSIDE of being a mom.
How to be a mom to Two Kids
My husband and I also adjusted from having one child to having two. It really took me almost a WHOLE year to feel like, “Yeah, I can do this two-kid thing!” Up until that point I really wondered how in the world people had so many kids. But we figured out our new normal. Which is a new, chaotic normal. But I’ve learned to just accept that the messy house, sleepless nights, and endless games of chase and hide-and-go seek are part of this stage of parenthood. I’m trying to enjoy the good parts as much as I can.
My husband and I also raised our baby into a busy, squirmy 15-month old. I am proud of this one because our baby was 2 months old when we moved. So while I adjusted to residency, unpacked a house, and had my husband gone all of the time I was also nursing a newborn. That is no small feat, my friends!
how to support a new resident
This time last year was my husband’s first day of his internal medicine year in residency. He left medical school behind to take the next step in his training. He started the life of long hours, working 12-14 hour shifts, sometimes 6 days a week. Weekends and holidays included.
One of the things I learned about supporting a new resident is to celebrate their accomplishments. The Medical New Year is a PERFECT time review and celebrate all of the great things your husband has done this past year! Here are a few things my DrH accomplished this year:
During this past year he learned how to care for a full patient load on his own. Yes he always has an attending physician overseeing him in residency, but attendings oversee patient care in the big picture. DrH learned how to manage most of the details of patient care on his own. It was a steep learning curve but now, at the end of this year, he is comfortable and confident in caring for his medical patients. It’s been so much fun to see his growth as a doctor.
With this new job and new responsibilities came something else new – A PAYCHECK. Something he hasn’t brought home since undergrad! You can’t really work and go to medical school at the same time, it’s too much. So up until residency I was the one working and bringing home the bacon.
This past year he has stepped eagerly into the role of breadwinner. He said it was hard for him to watch me be the only one supporting the family, so he was very excited to finally be earning money. It isn’t much, but we are so grateful for anything at this point! I am so grateful to him, everyday, that he works hard for his family.
how to Rebalance Our Responsibilities
This past year we learned how to reevaluate and rebalance our responsibilities as a couple. I’m sure this is something we are going to have to do throughout the year, every year! It isn’t an easy thing to do but we both learned that it’s essential.
At the beginning of the year, I took care of certain things as a wife and mother and he took care of certain things as a husband and father. But once the long hours hit, I had to shoulder the majority of the responsibilities at home and with the kids since he just wasn’t around. It was hard and I got burned out.
Once in a while my husband would be blessed with an easier rotation for a month. He had shorter, more predictable work hours. But he had gotten so used to how I had picked up the slack during the busy rotations that, at first, he did not step up to do his part in the home and family.
And I was really angry about it. But over time I learned that it was just hard for him to switch his brain suddenly from never being home to now being present. His schedule was changing month to month. I learned that he needed a few days to “adjust” to being home more often so he could remember how to be a part of this parenting and marriage team. I learned what I could do. I learned to be patient with him and to give him reminders so he could remember to step it up at home. And I learned to just accept that when he was working the crazy hours, I would be doing most of the work at home and with the kids. It’s just how it is!
And he learned what he needed to do too. Now when he’s on an easier rotation he remembers, “Oh yeah. I’m working less so I need to help out at home again like I used to.” This past year, almost every month we were trying to rebalance our responsibilities between the two of us. It was hard and it caused a lot of strife and heartache in our marriage. But, finally, at the end of this medical year, I feel like we have figured out what works for us. We have finally figured out how to do this process of constantly rebalancing our responsibilities as the demands of his work change. I am so grateful he didn’t give up on me and was willing to figure this out together.
to become more independent
This past medical year I grew way more independent as a person. Yes, I was already independent to begin with, but residency made me even more so. I go by myself with the kids everywhere. I attend social functions and family vacations on my own without even thinking twice about it. If there’s a problem I usually make it work and find a solution on my own since sometimes it’s hard to reach him at work. Residency has been so hard but it has made me stronger and more capable.
to make time to create new memories
My favorite part about this last medical year is all of the new memories we’ve created. Since we live in SoCal we’ve been able to enjoy all of the fun attractions that are here. We spent my husband’s days off at Disneyland, the beach, hiking, and playing in the backyard. We were also able to sneak away on a cruise, just the two of us! That was probably one of my favorite highlights from this past year. These new memories are so valuable to me. See? You can still have incredible experiences as a family, even in residency!
Those are just a few highlights of our past medical year. We are so excited for this next year! What are some of your highlights of this past year? What have you learned as a doctor’s wife? What are you most looking forward to in the New Medical Year?