Being a mama in med school is a lot harder than I anticipated. Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mama and I love being in med school, but each one makes the other much harder.
Anika started daycare a few weeks ago. Day one was pretty hard, but I didn’t shed any tears. However, as each day goes by I feel more and more guilty for leaving her there. She smiles when I leave and when I pick her up, and she seems generally happy and well taken care of, but I can’t help but worry. I think about her all day long. Whether or not she is getting enough attention. Whether or not someone is comforting her when she cries. I speed all the way home after work because I just can’t wait to pick her up and take her home.
Getting ready in the mornings takes a lot longer than it used to. I always have to factor in time to feed Anika, get her bag of stuff ready to take to daycare, and get my own bag with my pump and all my accessories ready for the day. I have so many things to remember. The other day I forgot my cell phone. Believe me…you do no want to be on rotations without a cell phone. I spent half the day wandering the halls looking for my preceptor.
Pumping has been the biggest stressor for me since I started back to school. I dread starting a new rotation. I don’t worry about anything except the moment when I have to explain to my new attending that I need to pump. So far I have had two male preceptors. Let me say that just because these men are doctors, it doesn’t mean they know any more about breastfeeding and pumping than any other male. “So…how often do you have to do that? How long does it take you…like 45 minutes?”
The worst part is finding a place to pump. My first preceptor let me use one of the exam rooms that wasn’t in use. During my second rotation I found a nurse in the hospital who was pumping, and I started using the break room she was using…until they closed that floor. Now my preceptor is nice enough to lend me his name badge so I can get into the physician’s lounge, which has an on-call room which is a nice place for me to pump. But it is SUPER awkward when other doctors try to come in. They’re like…what exactly are you doing in there!? And sometimes there just isn’t anywhere to pump. It is pretty gross having to sit on the floor of a public bathroom to pump…but I guess I just do whatever I have to.
Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day for me to pump as much as I should. I have learned a few tricks of the trade, though. For instance, I started to pump during my commute home at the end of the day. I just try not to make eye contact with anyone and pretend that what I’m doing is perfectly normal. It isn’t…but this is my life now.
And at the end of the day, when I get home with Anika, I try to think of something to make for dinner. I wash my pump accessories and Anika’s bottles. I do laundry and wash her cloth diapers. I pack her bag and mine for the next day. I give her a bath, feed her, and put her to bed. If there is any time left I try to write the reports my preceptor has assigned me. By then it’s usually bed time. I start getting ready for bed about 9. That way if you take out all the times I have to get up in the middle of the night to feed Anika, I might get a decent amount of sleep.
I know that my Internal Med rotation has longer hours than some, and I am hoping my next rotation will give me a little more time each day to actually study. I am also hoping I will have weekends off, because now that my husband has school every day, I have to find a babysitter, and I always feel guilty asking people.
Anyways, I am busy…and overwhelmed…and tired…and happy. I love being a mama in med school. I love coming home to those cute little chubby cheeks every day. The smile my baby gives me each morning makes it hard to leave her, but I know she is happy and healthy and she loves me even though I can’t stay home with her.