I am often asked how we are doing with Justin in medical school. Our first year was pretty great after the first couple of months went by. We were able to find a good balance between school and family life. Justin was learning how to best study and take tests for school. Also my morning sickness was easing off after a couple months and I was able to be a productive member of the family again.
The same time second year it felt like life/school was trying to swallow us whole. The school schedule was more difficult for me to get used to, Justin had even more credits and other responsibilities at school (i.e. Student government, tutoring, etc.) and I was trying to learn how to be on my own with two kids one of whom was still getting up multiple times a night. I felt drained and frustrated. I felt like everything I did was almost useless because as soon as I cleaned it up someone would mess it back up again.
Here are some examples of my thoughts I would have multiple times a day:
“How many freaking times do I have to wash this counter off?!?!?”
“Why do I even bother sweeping it gets dirty almost instantly?”
Then I would skip sweeping the floor for a day and realize I why I swept everyday.
“I just can’t seem to get a head!”
I questioned our decision to go to medical school multiple times because sometimes it would be nice to actually see my husband. That’s why I married him!
Then I got sick. I got horribly sick and ended up being hospitalized for several days. When I got home I couldn’t take care of myself let alone my kids. I eventually recovered but it took over two weeks for me to be able to take care of my kids and almost a month for me to feel back up to my normal self. As awful as those weeks were I am grateful for the lessons I learned from it. Even though I am afraid the stress of those weeks might have sucked two years of the Germs life away (I may have just watched The Princess Bride).
The first lesson I learned was how much I loved being a mom even though I would get frustrated at times. I remember being stuck in the hospital being so sad that I couldn’t hold my babies. Someone else was rocking San-Man to sleep and reading books to Nena. I never yearned to have a normal day where “nothing gets done” more in my life.
The second lesson was how amazing a support system is especially, my ward family. When we moved to Washington I was nervous because I had always lived close to family. When something happened they were the ones that came to help. In Washington it wasn’t going to be that way. My one comfort was knowing that the church was there. I would have a ward family to help. Little did I know how amazing my new ward would be and how grateful I would be to be apart of it. They have welcomed and taken care of us since day one. When I had San-man they took care of Nena for several days and brought us dinner for a week. They provided us with friendship and love. When I was sick they took it to a whole other level. They took care of the kids even bathing and dressing them. They brought meals for several weeks. They checked in on us. Wrapped Nena’s birthday presents, made a birthday cake, and called doctors for me. They even drove me to doctor’s appointments when Justin had school. This was my first time being utterly helpless and dependent on others (a difficult pill to swallow) and they made sure my family and I wanted for nothing. This generosity and true charity was so humbling that I still get choked up thinking about it. It’s an example I have been trying to emulate.
The third lesson I learned was how important it is that I take care of myself. I realized how truly important my role is in our little family. If I am not functioning my whole family suffers. The weeks and months before I got sick I was slowly allowing motherhood, medical school, and every other responsibility slowly swallow me up. I was losing myself in it all. I had stopped exercising because an injury caused during San-Mans birth and I was extremely exhausted (later to learn not only was it from multiple night feedings but I was also anemic). I also wasn’t doing anything that was fun and fulfilling to me. Then I got sick and was forced to take care of myself and focus on what I need. I realized I wasn’t doing anything that fulfilled me as a person and individual. I started simplifying some areas of my life so I could make time for the things I needed. I started to take better care of myself spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I have been making more time for exercise (and receiving Physical therapy to help fix the injury), scripture study/listening to talks/meditation, and making time for art. In essence I became more conscious about my life focusing on those things that are most important which includes myself not just my family.
These changes have made a huge difference on how I feel about life and how I would answer the question “how is medical school going.” Right now I can honestly say medical school is going pretty good.