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Any Advice: MS0 w/ pregnant wife

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by drumdoc, May 8, 2008.

  1. drumdoc

    drumdoc Dr. of Drumming
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    Hey everyone,

    The last thread w/ a similar topic was posted last year -- and has been quite dormant. Just wondering if any of those individuals or others with a similar experience would like to share how they made the transition into parenthood & med school. My wife is pregnant with our first and I'm anxious :scared: and thrilled :love:.

    I'm holding fireside chats with my dad and reading select fatherhood literature to start prepping. I've heard that raising a child can at times be like continuously enduring 1000 MCAT's and making 40's every now and then. Probably the worst analogy ever... so don't quote me.

    I don't have any specific questions, but I'd like to leave this open to anyone wanting to share tips (studying, childcare, etc) and obstacles (insurance, cost) from birth to school age. I'm hoping that people won't mind sharing. I get tons of unsolicited advice from clerks at stores -- so I figured I'd ask some people who know! :laugh:
     
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  3. lilnoelle

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    Well, I'm not exactly in your situation, but I'm one of frequent fliers here with kids, so I guess I can contribute. I'm a mom.... (picture to the left) with two children. They were three and one years old when school started. I'm at the end of my second year now.

    It really hasn't been that difficult to be both a parent and a med student during the first two years of school. I suspect next year (and residency) will be quite a bit more difficult. My daughter will be entering kindnergarten (she's getting so big:love:) and my son SHOULD be out of diapers by then.... as they get older and are more able to take care of themselves, things get easier.

    I hate to say it.... but a male med student with a pregnant wife is likely to have it easier than a female student with kids. I know thats not the case in all situations, and the amount of time you contribute to your family will obviously effect the amount of time you have available for school.
    That being said, theres no reason that you can't take a break from studying for 2-4 hours in the evening most evenings to spend with your wife/baby.
    Spending time with my children isn't really the difficult thing.... its getting everything else done. (Cleaning the house, bills, groceries, cooking, etc).

    Depending on what your wife does will determine the financial difficulty of being a full time student. I have to borrow the maximum amount of loans available AND extra to pay for daycare. I've managed to rake up some debt during my first years on low interest credit cards to cover our expenses during the summer and during Christmas break because we had run out of my school loans. Daycare is VERY expensive... depending on where you are and what type you get. For a newborn, its not uncommon to pay $170-200 a week for daycare. I pay $255 a week for my two children - which at least will go down next year when my daughter goes to kidnergarten.

    Good luck, feel free to ask more specific questions if you want.
     
  4. soonereng

    soonereng Double Trouble
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    This is all definitely situation dependent. I get the kids up and ready for daycare in the mornings, usually pick them up from daycare as well, and help in feeding, bathing, and putting to bed at night. I also take care of the kids most of the times when they are sick (which they have been a lot this year) since my wife works and I'm a homeschooler. This has put me weeks behind this semester, but my grades are still doing pretty good.

    For the OP: It all depends on where you are in life, the things you've been through, and your ability to deal with stress. For me, I had a literal hell of a summer before M1 and an even worse first semester. My wife was put on bedrest towards the end of June and wasn't due until Nov. Since she was supposed to be our breadwinner, that really put the squeeze on our finances, not to mention that I was trying to sell my house in another town and already had an apartment in the city where I attend school. My wife kept having premature contractions and her cervical length was getting dangerously low even after a cerclage, and this was at 24 weeks. We were in and out of the hospital for quite a while. I even spent a week going to just mandatory anatomy labs and back to the hospital.

    Finally, still 5 weeks early, they called with some labwork results and said we had to have the babies that day and took my wife in for a c-section due to her declining health. We had a baby boy and girl! My son was put in the NICU because he was having some respiratory distress, but 3 days later, we all left the hospital safe and sound, and you better believe I drove very carefully home!

    My house wasn't looking like it would sell, and I couldn't afford to have two places indefinitely, so we moved back to our house and I commuted the 3 hr round trip for the last block of the first semester. The very night that we moved, my son developed an incarcerated hernia so we got to spend the night in two separate emergency rooms, including the one back at my school's children's hospital that 1.5 hours away. They finally got the hernia reduced and thankfully didn't have to do surgery on my 5 wk old son (who was just now reaching his term date), but we did have to come back for a surgery to repair the hernia the day before Thanksgiving.

    The point of me telling this story is not to scare the crap out of you about all the things that could go wrong, but to say: Take it all in stride. It will work out in the end. You will figure out the right balance between study and family, but it may take some time. I'm still figuring it out myself. Medical school is a marathon not a sprint.
     
  5. lilnoelle

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    Impressive. You are very different than my husband.

    Very wise.... I tell myself that at least once a day.
     
  6. drumdoc

    drumdoc Dr. of Drumming
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. Rather than freak out, I can only be prepared to deal with the day to day. I can be a bit of a micro-manager with contingency plans for the contingency plans, so I'm imagining this will be an exercise in patience. Has anyone found moderate success with treating school like a job (9-5pm) on weekdays and still having family time/dinner most evenings? I've heard that the difference between getting a B or an A in med school can be oceans apart in terms of time and energy. I'd like to be somewhat competitive, but I don't have a dream specialty in mind.
     
  7. soonereng

    soonereng Double Trouble
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    I like to think I'm special...at least in that Stuart Smalley way. :laugh:
     
  8. soonereng

    soonereng Double Trouble
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    I can pretty much pull the 9-5 thing off when I don't have a sick one.

    As far as the A vs B thing, this is probably very individualized with the added fact that many schools just do H/P/F (not mine). I pulled a 4.0 for my first semester (I'll likely have at least one B this semester), but there are many in my class who are single with no kids and happy to just pass. Med school is definitely a different world when it comes to test scores. A lot of people were very shocked with that first anatomy test grade (like 15% didn't pass).

    Again, you'll find that right balance for you between school and family. Good luck! :luck:
     
  9. lilnoelle

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    As soonereng has said, this is very different from individual to individual.
    I think 9-5 is pretty manageable, depending on how many required attendance activities your school has. I'd probably plan on studying for at least one weekend day in addition to the above schedule.
    I've been getting high passes pretty much straight across the board (less two passes). I've never aimed for honors, I know (at least for me) it would require a lot more work than I've been putting in and I don't necessarily have the attention span to do what would be required to honor.
     
  10. pharmcam

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  11. HanginInThere

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    Wow, that must have been a super-stressful few months! Congratulations to you guys on getting so close to term.

    To the OP: As these guys have said, everybody's situation is different. You and your wife will figure out what's right for your household as you go. And I agree with lilnoelle that as men, you and I (I'm an MS0 with a 3yo and a 1yo) will generally have an easier time than our female counterparts.

    I'm lucky that my wife wants to stay home with the kids as long as possible, and that we're in a financial situation where she can at least for a while. We've developed a system that works for us - I do a reasonable share of the kid stuff before and after my work day, but my wife takes the major share of the household responsibilities since she's the one at home. For the MS1 and MS2 years I'm hoping life will be pretty similar, and I'll try to do most of my studying in the evenings after the kids are in bed. (All this will change drastically once I hit the clinical years and residencies, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.)

    And lilnoelle, I'm sorry to hear [in this thread and others] that your husband doesn't seem to be willing to his weight at home. Hopefully he'll get a reality check and start to step up once you disappear into your rotations...
     
  12. Mr. Freeze

    Mr. Freeze Not right. (in the head)
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    I was gonna say something smart-***, but I'll refrain. The best advice I can give is that you must be willing to accept that quite often, your grades will not be the focus. I think the following applies to everyone, but certainly a new parent: you must be willing to concede that maybe all you have to give will not be enough to achieve the level of success with which you have grown accustomed.

    Everyone that knows me knows how old my son is because that's about 3 weeks less than we've been classmates. Have another on the way, to kick off third year. I won't lie and say it's easy. Sometimes it absolutely sucks. But it sucks without kids.

    Oh, and buy diapers. Now. Before you're even more poor.
     
  13. Instatewaiter

    Instatewaiter But... there's a troponin
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    Mifepristone (kidding...)
     
  14. lilnoelle

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    I probably come down on him too much on SDN... he's actually been doing substantially better about helping me out lately. Theres still a lot of room for improvement, but he is doing better.

    I do think next year will be a big adjustment for him. Hopefully our kids don't suffer because of it.
     
  15. Mr. Freeze

    Mr. Freeze Not right. (in the head)
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    That's pretty freaky, since that was my withheld comment!! And only because I just reviewed it.

    If anybody needs it, it's the lady expecting her 18th ****ing kid. What a bunch of parasites. Let's get preggers with our 18th during GREEN WEEK.
     
  16. SocialistMD

    SocialistMD Resident Objectivist
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    Not to downplay the difficulty you are going to have, but there are many residents, both male (your's truly included) and female, who have their first child during residency and still manage even with a (typically) more demanding schedule and more on the line (again, not to downplay the importance of getting good grades, but there are no "lives on the line" so to speak during med school like there are during residency).

    Just adding perspective to show that it is something that many have done before without difficulty. Just make sure you are very organized and stick to a schedule. Congrats and good luck.
     
  17. roja

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    Congrats! Realize there is never really an ideal time to have a kid. I had mine during my third year of MS.

    Its tough but I don't know when having a kid isn't. :)

    Keep it all in perspective! (meaning you don't have to avoid seeing your kid to get all A's).

    Best of luck!
     
  18. meister

    meister Senior Member
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    Does anyone make it work without private loans if the spouse isn't working? Or is that pretty much impossible?
     
  19. lilnoelle

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    I think that would be pretty difficult, unless you could live in your parents basement or something. I guess I don't know how big of a difference governmental help would make, but it seems like it would be very difficult.
     
  20. Mr. Freeze

    Mr. Freeze Not right. (in the head)
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    You won't be able to apply for gub'ment aid. Or at least we weren't, on account of the fact it appeared on paper that we "made" the Stafford Loan max as income. We probably could have pushed the issue but...

    And not that it matters much since she already is prego, but like Roja said (pretty much how any good advice is prefaced :D) there isn't really a GREAT time. And I know there are people who have kids that probably do very well. But I personally just made adjustments to what I thought "very well" actually is, a process I might have done even if it was just the wife and I.

    Probably the best thing you can do is from DAY ONE, make a schedule of school time, make a schedule of family time, and do everything in your power to keep them from encroaching on each other. I think that is pretty much the way to serve two masters. Now that I've gotten more regimented in my time with boards coming up, it seems clear to me that I should've approached it this way in the beginning. I did to a degree, but not with such fervor.
     
  21. umlungu

    umlungu Junior Member
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    I have 3 kids 8, 5, 3 and a wife. I am finishing MSII with mostly HP and a handful of honors. I strongly second the school time/family time schedule. Be a little flexible the couple days before a test but I think, unless you are failing the more you stick to the schedule the better. I know a few of my classmates are envious that I can just pack up at 5 and go home.

    The last month I have adjusted my schedule for Step 1 studies, I work 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. to facilitate this my wife has taken over the morning school run. Prior to this I would take my daughter(and sometimes my boys if they were up) to the bus stop or school before going to class. I am home for supper/baths( I do the bath 90% of the tiem since she has had the boys all day). I tried to study 2 hrs after the kids were in bed with 2 evenings a week reserved for my wife. I also spend all day Sunday with the family.

    A couple of things that have helped my wife. I always ask if there is anything that I can do for her before I start studying in the evening. and ask what her day has been like( And shut and listen, I have to resist the urge to say/fix things).

    A few general rules of thumb:

    It takes 2 months for mom and new baby to settle in to a routine of eating and sleeping.

    The more time you invest parenting the first three years the less you will need to do the next twenty.

    If you take care of your money there will be enough, I take the max federal loans and we decided we would live off of what ever was left( I go to a state school in the south). Probably higher end of public tuition but lower cost of living. we have a couple of fortunate circumstances: an extremely low rent through a medschool/local church scholarship, a PT job as an AV asst at the school, freelance work for my wife, and my parents provide a safety net. though we have never used as much as we budgeted before school.Kid and mom will qualify for WIC and possibly food stamps. we have one paid off car, I walk to school. ( I will have to get a junker to drive to the hospital in the next couple of weeks, Yeah!!)

    Well this has turned into a dissertation. Hope it helps someone.

    Best Regards and God Bless
     
  22. Mr. Freeze

    Mr. Freeze Not right. (in the head)
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    I do something real similar: work throughout the day (barring something required, which always f's things up), take the evenings off when momma gets home til the crumb-snatcher goes down, and if I don't pass out rocking him to bed while listening to Goljan, I hit it for a little bit after (sometimes the books, sometimes Mrs. Freeze :eek: ZING!). And then take one day completely off over the weekend, unless it is getting down to nut-cuttin' and the tests are soon.

    But my son is old enough to be somewhat cool with this. During first year there were many times I'd be up quite a bit with him, since I was already up studying, so I'd just have a bottle in one hand, BRS Phys in the other. Or doing flashcards on the computer while he chilled in my lap. As hard as it is sometimes, I usually get up when he cries at night. Early on I probably did 60:40, but now I take "the call". The more you let your wife sleep, for some reason the less she complains during the day about you needing to do your thing.
     
  23. Wylde

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    You are a machine haha, impressive! (and scary, I don't think I could handle that situation)
     
  24. Thanks for the advice. I'll be joining the club somewhere around the first week of M2.:hardy:
     
  25. soonereng

    soonereng Double Trouble
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    Nah, but I did formerly design machines. :D I'm a nontrad, so I was used to trying to balance a stressful "worklife" with family life. I'm actually going back to engineering this summer to make some bank before I give it up for good.
     
  26. drumdoc

    drumdoc Dr. of Drumming
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    Great insights. Soonereng, you sound like superman!

    Happy Mother's Day, Lilnoelle and all other mothers checking the thread! :hardy:
     
  27. barasch

    barasch Member
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    I just wanted to chime in to re-iterate the fact that you can have balance in medschool.

    There are some things you'll have to give up, though. Chances are, if you spend time with your family, you won't get elected to be class president. If you spend time with your family, you won't get to go to the after exam parties, etc.

    When things get really busy for me, I skip class. I hate to do it, but reading is a better way for me to learn than lecture.

    You'll have to be organized and be ready to prioritize. You need to make decisions about what is important and take care of that stuff first. Procrastinate - NEVER! Remember, you are older and your memory is not as supple, but you can be better organized, and more determined. After all, more is at stake for you.

    I usually leave campus every day at 4 and spend time with my family and help put the kids to bed. Usually, I hang out with my wife after the kids go to bed, but on exam weeks, I have to study after bed time.

    We're hanging in there.

    The other day my duaghter said to me, "Daddy, let's go to the study. I'll play quietly and you can read your book. Then, you can show me some pictures from the Big Book of Ouchies (AKA Robbins Pathology)."

    Remember to take time each day to value what is truly priceless.
     

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