Kids during med school?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by lolli, Apr 21, 2004.

  1. lolli

    lolli Member
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    So, there is a thread on the pre-med forum right now about med school being the best time to have kids, and I was curious about current med students' opinions about this.
    Anyone out there have any thoughts/experiences to share about having kids during medical school, as opposed to during residency, when life really becomes hell?
     
  2. Pilot

    Pilot Senior Member
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    Started medical school with one kid, finishing with 2 kids. My wife stays home with the kids, so my stress level is relatively low. I can say doing away rotations has been difficult at times (i.e being gone up to 2 weeks at a time), but we have not run into any major problems. Would have been much more difficult if my wife was working and not able to accomodate for my school schedule. Many of my fellow classmates have had children during the clinical rotation years, and all have gotten along fine.

    Overall, I would say it is possible to achieve successfully with an understanding spouse.
     
  3. chirurgeon

    Physician Faculty 10+ Year Member

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    Ditto and kudos to Pilot. My wife delivered our first child at the end of my 3rd year clerkships. I also had a number of visiting electives so I was parted from my family, sometimes as long as 3 weeks. The personal enrichment and joy of being a parent in my mind trump any logistical concerns. Having said that though, I am much more conscious about how much time I spend at the hospital. This is something to definitely talk with your spouse about with regards to scheduling logistics (for example - 1st half of MS-IV year will be very busy shining on your sub-internships, getting rec letters, ERAS logistics, and interview traveling so your energies will be significantly taken up by the application process).
     
  4. Vincristine

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    in general, many people agree that giving birth at the end of M3 is quite managable
    (that means planning ahead, obviously). Personally, I think it's highly rediculous to struggle having kids in medical school (or residency) if you are the primary care giver -- and yes, most of the time this is still mom. With enough help, sure it can be done, but being the primary caregiver and the medical student *I* think would be very difficult (no matter your sex). But interestingly enough, the only two replies you've gotten are from men......
     
  5. BUmmedic

    BUmmedic Member
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    My fiance and I are getting married next month and we're having our first child in October. This would be during my fourth year, but I'm taking a year to complete a MPH degree at another institution. I can't wait to experience this :D , my wife is going to be a stay at home mother, and seeing how I'll be doing a graduate program rather than med school, I'll probably have more overall time available to spend with my family. Housing and financial aid have been a little of a burden lately, but I think it will all be worth it! Wish me luck!

    - Fred S. :cool:
     
  6. omores

    omores sleep deprived
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    I'm a third year student and just had my first baby this past New Year's Eve. My situation's a little because I'm at Duke, so this is research year, which works out great. I took a few months off, and now work half-time at the lab and can set my own schedule. I've opted to do an extra year of research after this one, so will graduate a year late. My husband has a very flexible, freelance-y kind of job and is able to do alot of work at home, so we take turns being the "primary caregiver".

    This ~50/50 split of childcare duties was something we had planned even before I got pregnant, but when my daughter was born I ended up doing most of the work: she was a cranky, screaming monster and my husband really had trouble coping. I thought I'd have to take an indefinite leave of absence to care for her. At about two months of age, though, she mellowed out dramatically. She hardly ever screams anymore, and when she does it's usually obvious why. She's also very playful and interactive. This, my husband can handle.

    I had planned to maybe have another kid during residency, but now I really don't think it'd be feasible. Alot of residency programs only give you 6 weeks off, and if I had another child like this one, it wouldn't be enough.

    Also, my daughter is a lousy sleeper; she still wakes up every 2-3 hours to eat all night long. With my half-time schedule, this is no problem at all: I just sleep longer. But if I were a resident, I wouldn't have that luxury. I'd be thoroughly exhausted, and that would be bad for me, my family and my patients.

    So I'm all for having babies during school. Even if you don't have a built-in research period, you can still take the time off that you need without having to make other folks (i.e., your fellow residents) take up the slack. And I'm with chirurgeon: the enrichment and joy is so worth any logistical hassles. It's wonderful (most of the time), and it's great to be in an environment that's flexible enough to allow me to experience it.
     
  7. beriberi

    beriberi Senior Member
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    Remeber that residency programs may only "give" you six weeks off, but you have significant rights under the FMLA (I think it is an additional 12 weeks). A lot of programs are family friendly enough that they have systems in place for maternity/paternity leave that does not "screw" the other residents.

    Just a few things to think about when thinking about babies in medicine.
     
  8. omores

    omores sleep deprived
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    Good point. Certain fields, and certain programs within those fields, are much more amenable to pregnant residents than others.
     
  9. ms. a

    ms. a Senior Member
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    It's not an additional 12, it 12 weeks total. And it doesn't have to be paid. I ended up having to take all 12 weeks unpaid leave when I went on maternity leave. Also, if you have to go on bed-rest or anything of the sort before the delivery, that time starts counting against your 12 weeks. Of course, employers are more than welcome to give you more than 12 weeks off, but the FMLA (family Medical Leave Act) specifically says that, in a 12 month period, you must be allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family medical reasons. Some employers pay for the first 6 weeks (for vaginal birth) or 8 weeks (for C-section), then won't pay if you want to continue your leave up to 12 weeks.
     
  10. Pilot

    Pilot Senior Member
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    Congratulations on the tax deduction. Barely got it in time.
     
  11. TexasRose

    TexasRose Gotta run
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    I'm starting med school having already had my 3 kids. I will tell you this. It's a lot more diificult to plan than you may think. If you truly want a child in med school, then I would recommend having one during your classroom or research years. That way, if you have to be on bedrest or your baby is early and can't be in childcare for a while, or any number of other bumps in the road, you have more flexibility.

    Unless your husband is extraordinary, you will still be the primary care giver and you will need to be able to get enough sleep and have sick days, etc.

    Good luck!
     
  12. 12R34Y

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    My wife had our first child at the end of my first year......had the whole summer off to do nothing but be a dad and a husband.

    2nd year is done next week and so far so good.

    plan on having another during 4th year.

    my wife is also a stay at home mom so that helps tremendously!

    later
     
  13. English Chick

    English Chick Senior Member
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    I think it's very sweet that so many dads replied to this thread, but honestly, as a woman hoping/planning to have my first child while in medical school, it doesn't surprise me (or encourage me, particularly) to hear that male medical students find it "do-able" to become a parent during medical school, especially since they are married to stay-at-home moms!

    Any other women out there who have made this work?? Please! We need to hear from you!
     
  14. TexasRose

    TexasRose Gotta run
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    If you don't get good replies here from moms who have babies in med school, try MomMD. I know of at least a handful of members there in med school with babies.

    It is nice to see Dad's posting, but it isn't the same.
     
  15. efex101

    efex101 attending
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    I was thinking the same exact thing while reading this thread. Usually (of course like everything there are exceptions) the mother is the primary caregiver for any child. I would assume (having two children myself) that having a child in medical school might be doable during the first two years but not so doable during the last two years. I can remember (fondly now...) of multiple nights getting up with the baby, sick days, me not feeling too hot, etc...just beware that babies can suck up major chunks of your time.
     
  16. zeebs

    zeebs Junior Member
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    I'll be an M1 this fall with a one year old baby and a supportive husband. I'll let everyone know how it's going sometime in the first semester.
     
  17. Pinki

    Pinki Sassy Member
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    So I'm MS1, and pregnant (14 weeks) with our first child, due October 31 - my friends in class call it my "boo date!" I'm the first gal in my class to have a baby - it's a great honor and since we're doing endocrine in phys right now, I feel as if all eyes are on me, wondering what hormones MY placenta is churning out! Something like 5 or 6 of the guys have pregnant wives, but I agree English Chick, it's an entirely different "do-able" situation for the guys and the girls, since our society still equates women with the primary caregiver, and in many situations, sole, caregiver. No debates please.

    Believe me, it's always "Gee, what are YOU going to do next fall?" Not one single person has asked, "What's your HUSBAND going to do next fall?" I'm lucky that my hubby, as an architect, works out of the house 3 days a week, so we too will have a 50/50 caregiver schedule.

    I REALLY think that your first or second years are ideal for having a baby - that way your child will be at least 3 or 4 before intern year and able to understand that mommy needs to go help the sick children. As for #2 or #3, I'm not quite sure and think we might do that at the end of 4th year, so that I can take some time off before starting residency...one baby at a time, however!!!

    Much of your choice will depend on your school - do your homework and talk with your dean of student affairs, other students, see what resources you have. At our school where we get all of our notes on Day 1 issued from our professors and only have to show up for tests and the occasional small group/PBL session. Our school is also VERY family friendly (a reason I chose it over other "name" schools - I've seen some of the guys bring their babies to class when their wives were busy, there are lactation rooms in the adjacent University Hospital and our financial aid will be upped to pay for any and all childcare as a necessary school expense, much like books or your stethoscope!)

    Personally, our baby is already helping mommy out by "choosing" a due date 3 weeks after midterms, but still 7 weeks before finals. The pregnancy has also been rather easy, thusfar, with the expected but limited nausea and fatigue. My biggest complaint is that I keep fainting when I'm working with my preceptor or during volunteer clinics and preclinical rounds during electives and medical interview in the hospital - I've learned to just quietly take a seat, even if I am the only one sitting besides the patient!!! It's better than a full on Victorian Swoon!

    If I'm not on bedrest or experience complications, I'm planning on dramatically cutting back on lecture attendance and we are hiring one of the wives of one of my classmates to "sit" for us 3 afternoons a week while I study in the next room. I plan on finishing up 2nd year, taking the boards and then taking 3-6 months off before startng clinical rotations - another option at our school. I've done enough electives and community service as an MS1 to have some time in the bank, if you will, that I should graduate on time or at the most, a semester late. HOWEVER, my hubby and I have a pact (we shook on it) that flexibility and adaptability is crucial to our family's and our personal success. With that in mind, if we get a "spirited" baby (i.e. fussy) or find it's too taxing, I will go part-time for the next two years. It doesn't bother me - I just feel so priveleged at the prospect of being both a mom and a doc, in that order.

    I'm "older" - 33 and so my window of fertility is perhaps not as open as others - if you're 23, you might want to consider waiting until you are my age. But my husband and I knew that of the next 7 fertile years, these were the most flexible and least regimented as far as time and availability.

    I also think your personality is important, too. I'm not a gunner, I consider myself an ambitious, albeit balanced student with good time-management skills who is not afraid to ask for help. I'm the likeable, young looking (no-one believes I'm over 25), atheletic type with a positive attitude and an open-mind - real easy going and extremely flexible. That sounds like a personal ad! Really, I'm just trying to make the point that it's all in how you approach it, so dont' stress!

    One caveat, be prepared for a small cohort of disproportionately loud nay-sayers and just realize that their perspective is different from yours, if you have a baby in med school. I realize I'm generalizing here, but it's 100% true - a handful of the more "conservative/religious" men in my class have been openly tsk-tsk about me shirking my maternal duties and staying in school. One even asked when I was going to QUIT school! I'm not sure if I threaten them or their beliefs, but it's been a study in psychosocial behavior how they suggest it won't work, we're set up for failure, how "lucky" they are that they don't have a wife who works outside the home, how I need to make a choice between being a mom or a physician. I just smile and usually say, again, how fortunate I am to have a husband who is truly a partner who wants to really provide 50% of the baby's care. Again, no debates. This is just a warning, based upon what I've observed.

    So there's one gal's perspective - hope that helps. Better get back to those aforementioned time management skills!
     
  18. kaos

    kaos Web Crawler
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    Mad propz to those who have very supportive husbands. As a med student who entered first yr w/ a 3 yr old and a husband who is simply unable to keep up due to a full time work schedule, I found my grades do nothing but go downhill. I'm just glad I have my mother to watch over my daughter while I'm in school. And quite honestly I'm not sure how the situation will be resolved, but I feel like I'm going to lose my mind. I'm the only woman in my class who has a kid, there are a bunch of men who do, and it makes me feel guilty to listen to them talk about how they go home to their part-time working wives and families and how wonderful things are, just because I get the short end of my husband's patience and instead have to hear him complain about how he can't deal with raising my daughter practically alone while I'm off studying. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with things, because I know my schedule is only going to get worse as school goes on.

    Oops, didn't mean to rant. But the moral of the story is that having a very supportive spouse is a huge plus in raising a kid while u're in med school. If u don't, it's very difficult.
     
  19. Pilot

    Pilot Senior Member
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    Wow. This turned into a man-bashing session. Get your hormones in order, ladies, and quit your moaning. I gave my opinion, as did other helpful fathers, and we get berated???

    Your Conservative Male Medical Student (for 3 more days)

    Pilot
     
  20. lessismoe

    lessismoe Momma to Ronan
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    I didn't think it was man-bashing.

    Pilot, I thought your input, as well as that of the other fathers, was very valuable. Your first post was what started the discussion about supportive spouses, which has been very helpful to me, at least. I thought earlier posters were just saying that it would be more pertinent for their situations if they got responses from women docs.

    Kaos, your situation sounds really stressful and taxing. Thanks for posting it, though; I've seen much more posts about med school and motherhood of the feel-good variety, and your post really demonstrated that it is NOT easy to pull it off. It has really made me reconsider what my husband and I will do. I think he really wants to be a "big kid" for a couple years more, and I am not sure what his reaction will be to that much responsibility all at once. Thank you for grounding me, and best of luck juggling career and family.
     
  21. JBlue

    JBlue Member
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    I am an MS1 with a two year old and like the other posters have said it can be done but is not that easy. I opted to do the five year program at my school which makes it easier. The hardest thing for me is that I rarely feel that I am being a really good mom or a really good student. Something always has to give in either direction. School work suffers more than motherhood but that is the way that I want it. I have adopted a 'pass/above class avg.' mentality which means that if I am passing and slightly above my class avg. on my exams that I feel successful. Kids are just the great unknown when it comes to time. You can plan your studying the best that you can but you never know when the stomach flu or some other unforseen event will pop up and throw the whole plan out of whack. So, you really need support, be it family, a husband or even a nanny or babysitter. My husband is very supportive and we have family nearby but like other posters have said the primary caregiving, especially for infants, most often falls on the mother.
    Having said all of that, I really feel like having a child helps me stay well rounded and forces me to take a break from school when I might not otherwise. So, I wouldn't change it.
     
  22. celticmists18

    celticmists18 california dreaming
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    Amen! Of course its easy if you have someone else having them and watching them.
     

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