February 10, 2011

3 More Tag-alongs

Allow me to introduce myself and tell a bit about how I got here. My name is Stephanie and my husband Andy (MS1) and I will celebrate 8 years of marriage this June. We are both Christians and met in college in San Luis Obispo, CA, where I studied biochemistry and he studied biology. We got married after school and I worked at a lab while he got his teaching credential also in SLO. He got a job teaching biology at a small Christian high school in my hometown of Reedley, CA, and enjoyed everything about it, especially being able to coach soccer and football.

Andy began pre-requisites at night and studying for them MCAT, while teaching and coaching. While he liked his job, he felt that he would really love the type of challenge a medical career would bring and that his gifts and talents might be best used in a different type of scientific occupation. So he began to pursue an M.D. rather than look back in 20 years and wish he had tried. I was totally supportive of his decision and knew it would be a long road, especially since it was a priority for both of us for me to be able to stay at home (primarily) to raise our kids, only a daughter at the time, Annaliese, born in 2008. She was our miracle baby, conceived naturally without any drugs or procedures after a year of trying to conceive naturally, then a year of various treatments, and one miscarriage.

Last May we got the great news that we would be able to stay in CA since he was accepted to Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California (USC), a private school in Los Angeles. By that time I was 5 months pregnant with our surprise little boy and we had already secured an apartment in Upstate NY where we thought we'd be living for med school. We had our second child, Titus James, last September, just 7 weeks after moving to L.A. Since last summer, Andy left his teaching job of 5 years, we've both turned 30, become landlords, begun life in a new city and rental home, borrowed over $70K in student loans, adapted to student life again, had our second child while learning to parent our toddler. Andy also recently joined the Air Force, which will be paying for all school-required expenses starting in the fall for the next 3 years, then he will then complete residency with them and repay 3 years of service.

Needless to say, it has been a whirlwind. I know that God has ordained everything that has happened at the time that he had planned, but I've also gone through the gamut of emotions through it all. Thankfully we've had years of rock solid, Christ-centered marriage to draw on, as well as godly Christian friends and family for encouragement. While some days I feel like a poster child for promoting having a family during medical school, some days I just wish I could get out of the house to be away from the kids and my husband too.

While having 2 kids, age 2 and under is both fun and challenging, the hardest part for me has been the loneliness. Because we've moved away from our family and friends, Andy's program is so intense (as you all know), and our kids are so young, I've really felt a void. While I know in my heart that Jesus fulfills all my needs, I've struggled with wanting more from my marriage while Andy is trying his best to juggle time at school, studying at home, spending time with the kids and me, he really doesn't have more to give. When we've talked about my problem, it has been repeated that from my perspective I feel that he doesn't give/do/share enough with me and from his perspective I am just lonely from moving away from everyone we know and love.

If I had written this on certain days over the past few months, it would have been more of a pity party, but recently I've been encouraged by my best friend from college. Although I am in a tough situation overall and I really do miss my friends and family and it is hard on our marriage, I need to remember to make sure my husband's needs are fulfilled and I will be satisfied, it's a win/win. Not coincidently, it is similar to how I am most satisfied when God is most glorified, in other words, I am to love and serve my husband as the church loves and serves Christ. It is not that my needs are less important, but that it literally brings me joy to see my most beloved person happy.

As for coping with my loneliness, I've also been very proactive about this from the beginning in many ways. We've attended a local church immediately since moving here, been in a committed small group through the church, and met some of our neighbors. I've done mommy-n-me dance classes, play dates and library time with my daughter, joined a MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group, and even handed out my cell phone number to moms I've met at the park. It is just a slow process, getting into deep and meaningful friendships. Keck has also started a monthly support group for significant others, which has been helpful too. I'm still longing for and praying for a close friendship with a woman believer with whom I can relate down here. As you all are aware, it is just not that common for med students to be married, let alone have more than 1 child so there just aren't as many people that I/we can relate to as easily.

But lest I deter anyone who is thinking about having kids in med school, I'll leave you with a few things to think about... 1) In a similar way as it is to be married, it is a sacrifice to have children but they give you even deeper and greater joy than you've ever known previously. 2) You may think you can time having children to your ideal time frame - and it might work just right, or it might not when you plan, or it might not work at all. God is the giver of life in his own time, but it may become more difficult as you get older. 3) Your kids won't know that you're strapped for cash and living on loans etc. They just look to your response to things to know how to interpret them. 4) And finally, just for a smile that only kids can bring, a couple of random and hilarious things that my daughter said to me today (she's two years old), "Mom, you have boogers ("buddahs") in your nose and I'll help you in 5 minutes." I cracked up, but then went to check to see if she was really trying to give me a hint! :) Another time, she came running inside from the backyard and said, "Mommy, you're so pretty!" I had to check to see if my husband had come home early and put her up to it. He hadn't, but must have prepped her previously! :)

Anyway, I've followed this blog for over a year and thank you all for your posts and comments. It has been a blessing to me. It is good to know that we're not alone in this journey. (And sorry for the novella.)

5 comments:

Ogg Defying said...

Thanks so much for sharing. It's nice to hear from a couple who was married for so many years previous to med school and realize you experience some of the same "loss of relationship" hurts. My husband and I were married for a little over a year when he started so, sometimes it's hard to tell what is a change from time or from med school stress. I only have one baby and we were waiting until after med school but, she was our 3rd year surprise. I agree with you about the blessings. We have had the hardest last two years of medical school and I'm not sure we would have made it this far without her rays of sunshine each day. And God bless you ...your love for Him and your family is so apparent.

Jeremy said...

Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for your post. I too, have been reading this blog and others like it for over a year now and while our situations vary there are some definite similarities!

I will try not to be too long winded...My husband and I will have been married for 10 years this coming August and we have 4 kids 12,7,5 and just turned 3. My husband had a fairly good job and I stayed home for over 7 years with our children (who attend a small Christian school). About 2 years ago now my husband felt he had more to offer and decided on a medical career. I was on board after MUCH discussion. In Feb. 2010 we sold our house and moved in with my in-laws (my father in-law then passed away that April. I believe God's plan was in play because we are now able to provide distraction and company for my mother-in-law. In May my husband left his job to start a pre-med post-bacc program about 45 min. away and I went back to work...full time. My parents are able to watch my children and for that I am so grateful, however, I miss being home with my kids more than words can express! In addition to going to school full time my husband has also taken on a job scribing in the ER. He's actually working tonight and then tomorrow 11 p.m.-8:00 a.m.! So, needless to say, life has changed dramatically for us. There are so many days were we both question this decision (especially given our age - 31). We are praying that 1 - he gets into medical school and 2 - that he will be able to get into the one that is closest so that we don't have to take our kids away from everything and everyone they love. I can not wait until the MCAT is over the spring,applications are in and we have some sense of certainty for the next 4 years!I am so happy that you are able to stay home - that is wonderful! I will keep your family in my prayers as well. Sorry for my novella but your story is inspirational to me and it motivated me to finally write!

Jeremy said...

I just realized my post is under Jeremy - my husband's name. Mine is Kelly!

Steph D said...

Elizabeth- thanks for your comment and blessings! One friend explained the joys/difficulties of having kids in general, but I think this specifically is true of having kids in med school... Higher highs, lower lows :) God bless you as you find out where you'll be going on to residency soon!

Kelly- thanks for sharing a bit of your story! Your story is close to ours in some ways and I wish I had friends like you that were in our same boat here. I'll be praying for you and your family as I remember the uncertainty of feeling like you're on the edge of a plank with your former life behind you, but not knowing what was ahead, all the while trying to be strong for your kids and trust the Lord. Keep in touch if you'd like! s t e p h 5 9 1 {a t} yahoo.com

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