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Aug 14, 2015


It has been a long, long time since I've been here.

I read through my last few posts and it was like reading someone else's writing, glimpsing into a different family, reading a blog written by an acquaintance. When I last visited here, I was a new doctor, still learning how to work the computers and OR instruments. My kids were babies and, while I can feel the fatigue in the words written, the world was still sparkly and new.

And don't worry, the world is still wondrous and beautiful, but the sparkle has changed.

I finished residency a few months ago. Shortly following graduation I took the first part of the OB/GYN Board Exam, which gives the coveted "board certified" title. The push to the end of residency was on a road made of textbooks, study guides, and highlighters for this exam, which I took on a rainy Monday at the end of June.

And then it was all over and I had six weeks of vacation, during which time I relearned how to sleep and read books and hang out with friends and family like a normal person. While Patrick still worked quite a bit, the kids and I were inseparable, making messes and memories in a way we had never, ever done before. Weeks stretched on and we lounged in the luxury of time and love. It was not until the last few weeks that I finally felt awake again.

The last four years were incredibly difficult. There is no way to describe the level of exhaustion following residency. Profound, pervasive, endless exhaustion, which seeped into every aspect of my life. There is no denying that I gave my best at work and mostly left it there. What little was left was earmarked for the children to allay my fears of incompetence as a parent and that left nothing for myself or for Patrick. While I neglected friends and ignored my family along this journey, it was my marriage that suffered most. It is nothing short of a miracle that we are still married. It may be because we were too busy to bother separating.

As I recovered, my sisters said, "It's like we haven't seen you in years" and my kids remarked more than once "Mommy, you've never been this fun before", which is at once exhilarating to be BACK but also heartbreaking that I subjected everyone to this, including myself.

I have never once regretted my decision to go into medicine, but I often questioned my motives. Was it for equal respect as my husband and father? Am I trying to prove my competence, intelligence, worth? If so, to whom? With physicians in my family, I knew how hard this would be, and yet it was so much harder than I could have imagined.

Not to say that the last few years were miserable, not at all. I love my work and it makes me truly happy, which carries over into my mood at home. The joy I feel with my kids (despite tantrums and fights and the usual family drama) is relatively unaffected by my exhaustion and occasionally helped to refill my draining emotional reservoir. For this, I am eternally grateful. People often said, "I don't know how you do it, being a doctor and a mom!" but I don't think I could have made it without them.

Last week the kids started school. Colin is now 6 and in the first grade. Caroline is 4 and in preschool at the same school, one that we love. After getting them settled, my grown up job started this week. I am a licensed, credentialed, actual physician, my friends. I have my own office, an administrative assistant, and OR pick sheets. People are interested in my opinion and want my involvement in their projects.

Somehow, when I wasn't looking, I grew up.

After my summer vacation, I am ready to be who I really am again. I am obligated to be the best I can be, not just to myself but mostly to those who put up with me through this journey, who believed I could do it, who waited for me to come out the other side.

This blog has been a source of joy, confidence, and opportunity for me. Residency was too overwhelming to write about, but I am ready again. I promise ridiculous stories and lighthearted jabs and too many photos of my kids in the near future, but I needed to tell this story first to break the silence.

2 Readers rock!:

Katie said...

I've missed you, friend! Glad you're back :)

Carrie said...

So glad you're back to writing so that I can see a peek into your life from afar!