Wednesday, June 18, 2008

4. Take time to care for your relationship with your spouse and your family.

Making sure you're taking care of your family relationships is easier said than done, especially if your spouse is in the medical field. The long and erratic hours as well as call schedules at the hospital can make it difficult to have some quality "Mommy and Daddy" time. Be prepared for your physician spouse to come home dead tired, wanting nothing but dinner and sleep. And, for me personally, out of all of his rotations, my husband's night float rotations were the absolute worst! He'd work four nights a week, and have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off. However, every weekday and most of his weekends at home were spent sleeping to keep his body on his nighttime work schedule. When I worked full-time, we usually wouldn't see each other until Friday evening, and our weekends were usually spent doing separate things (him sleeping, me doing chores or other things). After I had our son and became a stay-at-home-mom, B had a night float rotation that was scheduled soon after V was born. That was an absolute nightmare of a month. We had been having a difficult time getting our very young son to sleep at night, which meant hubby and I weren't getting much sleep, either. B would come home from work each morning during night float and go straight to bed, so even though he was home, he really couldn't help care for our baby. I really looked forward to the weekends that month, when he could take care of V throughout the night while I got some much needed rest. Luckily, we made it through that month and sort of managed a sleep schedule for our son, though it's still very late when he finally falls asleep. And, unfortunately, my husband and I still go to bed at different times each night. That's something we're hoping to change once he starts practicing in our new city. I think we'll really feel like we're a couple again once we get on the same bedtime schedule and (hopefully) get our son to sleep in his own bed! Something we've found that has really helped our relationship is having a group of reliable babysitters. I'll speak more about asking for help, later. I will say that it was harder for us to ask for help, I think, because our families are a state away and so, not as easily accessible for child care. However, once I learned that our son was perfectly fine with other respected adults outside of the family circle (a fear I think many new parents have), I truly realized how important (and how fun) it was to have time alone with my hubby at the movies or at the theater or at a restaurant or wherever. And, I must say that the spontaneity of scheduling this alone time can be just as fun as the time spent together! Usually, our plans have been last minute, so it's been very nice to have such understanding friends. Last December, we took our alone time to new heights by flying to Las Vegas for a few days. We were technically there for a medical conference, but this was the first time we'd gone on an actual trip without our son. He stayed with grandparents and an aunt and uncle, and I think he had as much fun without us as we had without him. Not only did my husband and I get quality time together in between his scheduled conference lectures, but I also got some quality time for myself at the hotel's spa and in the local shopping malls! ;) I was so happy to see my little guy once we returned from our trip, but I also had a great time feeling as though B and I were in "date" mode again. I never knew I missed that aspect of our relationship until we went such a long time without doing anything special that involved just the two of us. I've also learned how important it is for my husband to have quality time with our son. I think the beginning of fatherhood was kind of difficult for him, especially when he had that night float month. It's hard, I'm sure, coming home tired from his work at the hospital and trying to be "in the moment" with V. Of course, young babies aren't always the most fun to be around, since the extent of their skills is eating, sleeping, crying, peeing, and pooping. However, I've noticed that as V has grown older, his and B's relationship has become closer. V's really starting to show separation anxiety whenever B leaves to go to work or to run errands. And, when their together, I really see that special father/son bond. It makes me happy to know that, though his work with patients is very important, my husband's relationship with his family is even more important to him. We haven't had a family vacation in a long time that doesn't involve B working too, but that will be remedied at the beginning of July when we'll be taking a road trip to Myrtle Beach with my in-laws. I can't wait! It'll be V's first extended time on a beach and near the ocean. And, it'll be some true quality time for me with both my son and my hubby. Just thinking about it reminds me of how good I have it in life!
Best to you all,

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