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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Halfway Through Intern Year: Some Honest Thoughts.

In case you're new here: My husband graduated medical school in May and we moved to Gainesville for him to start surgery residency. Intern year in surgery is supposedly the worst thing ever, blah blah blah, okay now you're up to speed. 

I've promised to write honestly in this space about the things I know about. I wrote honestly about what it was like to have an unplanned pregnancy (I still get mean emails about that, by the way), about what it was like waiting for Match Day and being married to a med student. etc. I'll write honestly about parenthood and residency and any other thing I experience. There's no sense in making something out to be rainbows and butterflies if it's not, and there's no point in going along with a negative stereotype if it's untrue. 

So, in the spirit of all that honesty, I thought I'd give a little update about life halfway through Chris' intern year. 

It is both somehow worse than and way better than I expected. Chris is the greatest dad. When Jack was born, he was on a break between school and residency and he did everything. He woke up at night with me, washed Jack's bottles, cooked us dinner, everything. We were 50/50 co-parents and it was wonderful. So I say intern year was worse than I expected because no matter how you try, there's no way you can actually prepare yourself for going from having an all-in partner to months where you see said partner for a (very sleepy, groggy) hour a day and suddenly everything else falls to you. It's tough. 

But it's also been better than I expected. There have been months where I've seen him way more than I thought. We've gone to the beach and to Universal. We got to celebrate Christmas. We get date nights and can have people over. This weekend we went to church and brunch and then built a firepit in our backyard. I did not expect to ever be able to have those kinds of weekends, and that's a really nice surprise. 

Take everything you hear with a grain of salt (even this). I cannot count the number of times I have heard someone say how having kids during intern year is the worst decision ever. Sometimes someone will actually say this to my face before their brain registers the fact that the baby I am currently holding is probably mine, and that's always awkward. 

I think having a baby this year has been awesome. He's kept me so busy! Now, if I didn't have a baby, would I think this was a good year to do that? Absolutely not. Point is, everyone is doing what they think is best, and that's the advice they want to pass on to others. Some of that will be great advice, and some of that will be great for them, but not for you. Smile and say thank you and then do what you think is best. 

Not everyone will understand, and that's okay. This one has been harder than I expected. I think we just all want someone to understand what we're going through, and it's frustrating when friends or even family don't understand. I have friends outside the medical world who don't understand why I can't say yes or no to dinner that weekend because I have no idea what Chris' schedule will be. We've had family get upset that we can't come to a birthday party. It is what it is, not everyone will understand and that's okay. Be irritated and then move on. But this brings us to...

You have to find your people. I'll be honest, I hit the jackpot on this one. I've made a friend who lives two streets over from me who's husband is also in intern year. Having someone who does understand does wonders for your sanity. One of the first times she was over for dinner I got a phone call with news that literally brought me to my knees, and instead of being awkward and polite she went into crisis mode with me and asked, "What do you need? Here, I'll watch Jack. Do you need me to drive you somewhere?" Because she understood that just because I got bad news didn't mean Chris could just decide to not go in to work the next day. 

Find someone like that. I know making new friends is hard. I know it's awkward to step out of your comfort zone. But whether you're married to an intern or you have some other sort of stressful lifestyle, find someone who understands. It makes a world of difference.

No year is all bad or all good. This is something Steph said to me in regards to 2016, and it really rang true for me in relation to intern year. Have there been some very sucky parts to the last six months? Absolutely. But have we made some really great memories in between those? Yes. Will I be glad when it's over? For sure! But will I write the year off as a waste? Not in a million years. It's been a year with my family, and no matter what, that is a blessing.

One day at a time. When all else fails, take it one day at a time. At the beginning, I decided I would take things one rotation (four weeks) at a time. That got too hard, so I switched to one week at a time, and here we are at one day at a time. You can handle anything for one day. 

Is your life anything like this? I want to hear your honest thoughts, too!
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