Today I bring you another post from Amanda…the OB’s wife. I asked her what it was like being the spouse of someone doing their post-med school residency. Here’s her answer.
My husband and I will be celebrating ten years of marriage this August. That blows me away. People always say that it goes by too fast, and only recently have I understood their meaning. What astonishes me even more is that on December 13, 2011, Brian and I will have been together for fifteen years.
To say we’ve experienced a lot is an understatement. I met him when we were both undergrads with lofty dreams of saving the world one credit hour at a time. I wanted to be a teacher. He wanted to be a doctor. We stuck with our dreams (and together) until graduation day. Although my career as a teacher was very short-lived, Brian stayed on target…and I stayed with him every step of the way.
Medical school was rough, especially on us newlyweds, but like most grad school families, we managed to get through it. I’m fairly certain that during his four years of classes and constant studying, NetFlix and the Internet had become some of my closest friends.
Then, Match Day arrived—the day when every graduating med student in the United States finds out where s/he will be spending the next several years training as a medical resident. I won’t go into the details of residency matching, because that’s a story for another day. When Brian opened the envelope containing the name of the Ob/Gyne program to which he matched, we were floored. It happened to be his second choice, but it was also located further from our families and friends than any of the other programs to which he applied. Somehow, we managed to pack up our old life, find a new home, and move into it just days before his first day of orientation.
Thus began our adventures in a residency program. It was probably the hardest part of our married life together. It was also the best thing that could have ever happened to us.
First and foremost, it was a job, and Brian was getting paid to do it. Because I was working full-time too, we were able to buy our first home and trade in the old, hand-me-down Jetta with over 200,000 miles on it for a brand new Prius. Also, we could start taking vacations together. Most of our traveling was for medical conferences where Brian had to spend much of his time in seminars and workshops. Still, we were on vacation in places like Phoenix and Las Vegas and San Diego, all of which totally trumped our honeymoon in a little arts and crafts village just thirty miles from where we’re currently living in the Midwest. (That’s not to say our honeymoon was terrible. It was a wonderfully quiet and much-needed respite during the two weeks Brian had off between his first and second years of medical school.)
Residency also forced me to become more independent than I’d ever been before. Brian’s ever-changing rotations and 36-hour-call-shifts made me realize that I needed to create a life of my own if I was going to survive in a new city. I found a job that kept me busy during the day and made lasting friendships with some wonderful people, many of whom became Brian’s friends, too. I even joined a gym and got into the best shape I’d ever been in my entire life. I was healthy and I was happy, even though I sometimes missed my husband terribly.
It was during residency that we realized I’d been a closet gamer for most of my life. Brian had always enjoyed playing games, and I decided it would be a great way to spend more time with him. I discovered that playing games challenged my mind as well as relaxed me, and they also helped to strengthen my relationship with Brian. We played with our friends often and found some fun game conventions to attend together nearby. Over the years, our favorite convention has also become our annual “couples” vacation.
During Brian’s second year of residency, I got pregnant with our first son. It was fairly easy as pregnancies go, which was a good thing, considering how busy both of us were with our jobs. The fact that Brian was training to be an Ob was a bit of a perk, too. I mean, how many women can say their husband performed the very first ultrasound to find the tiny embryo with the even tinier heartbeat? It was definitely one of the happiest and coolest moments of our marriage.
After our son was born, the first four months were difficult, as they are for most new parents. Ours were compounded by our son’s terrible latch while trying to breastfeed and his erratic sleep schedule. When he was two months old, Brian had to work a complete month of night shifts. It was a lonely time for me, trying to care for a young infant while my husband slept at home all day and went straight to work after he awoke in the afternoons. Luckily, it was only a month, and we moved on with life. A small group of moms invited me and my son to join them for weekly play dates, and we made some wonderful friendships that I still cherish to this day. Having such amazing support from those ladies helped me get through the roughest times of being a new mommy.
After his fourth year of residency was over, Brian and I moved to a new city, so he could start practicing medicine. This time, it was easier for me to begin again. It helped that Brian’s work schedule became much lighter than it had been before. He’s home more often in the evenings and on the weekends now, and he’s able to spend more time relaxing and having fun with our sons and I. Residency was a long, sometimes difficult period in our lives. In the end, however, it made Brian a great Ob/Gyne, and me a much stronger and healthier wife and mother.