Wednesday, July 23, 2008

9. There will be times when you'll feel like a married single parent. You're not alone.

Wow, I realized I'm almost at the end of my list of "Things I Learned During My Husband's Residency". It makes me wonder what I'll talk about after I reach number 10! Actually, it won't be difficult for me to come up with SOMETHING to discuss, since it seems as though SOMETHING usually comes up at just the right time! I think I thought up the idea of being a "married single parent" while chatting with a fellow mommy in my son's play group and trying to describe what it's like to live with a spouse who at that time was constantly working and away from home. I touched on this briefly in my last post. Residency can be difficult enough on a couple without the addition of a baby. Bring a child into the world and the equation, and it's a whole other ballgame. I was very lucky after our son was born to not only have my husband home with me for a whole week (per his employer's paternity leave policy and some saved vacation time), but I also had both my mother and my mother-in-law spend time with me after he went back to work. I needed their help while I recuperated from the C-section and tried to get my son to breastfeed successfully rather than chew me to bits. It was a very trying time for me, and I couldn't imagine doing it completely on my own as many single moms do. After the "honeymoon" phase and our moms went back to their homes and it was just us and the baby, the realization hit me that I was pretty much on my own when it came to raising our son. My husband did the best he could with helping out, but as I've said many times, his work schedule didn't really accommodate for parenting time. I think the worst month for both of us was when our son was just a couple of months old, and my husband had to work a night float rotation. I truly discovered what it was like to be single with a baby because B worked four nights a week, slept during the day when he was home, and was awake at night during the weekends while I slept, giving us very little time during the day together to enjoy our new son. This schedule did help us out extremely well when our son still wasn't sleeping through night, and my husband could take him for a few hours while I got some much needed rest during the weekend. However, during the week, I had to figure out how to manage night time feedings, day time housework, and the growing demands of a newborn. Luckily, we got through it and moved on, and the whole parenting thing got a little easier day by day. One of my biggest worries about B's occupation and having a new family was the amount of time he was able to spend with our son and to see him grow and develop. It was hard to have B come home and hear all about how V rolled over for the first time, or scooted across the floor for the first time, or said his first recognizable word. I know in my heart that he really hated missing all of that. However, having me home full time made up for that a little, I think (I hope). When V's first birthday rolled around, B realized that he was scheduled to be on-call at the hospital. Luckily, he was able to switch his shift with another resident and be a part of our little celebration. I know we could have had the party any time during the week, and our son wouldn't have known the difference, but the first one is always special, and even though it was just me, B, my father-in-law (he was in town helping us with some landscaping), and the birthday boy, we had a wonderful time watching V try his first chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Now, our son is almost 2 years old, and though things got even easier over the past year and B had more time with us occasionally, it was still very busy for all of us. My son and I have been so lucky to have this small amount of time with my husband between residency and his first day of "real" work. We've been able to settle into our new home, go on a real family vacation, and spend time with friends and family who we haven't seen in months or even years. It makes me a little sad that my husband will have to start working in a couple of weeks and will start missing out on V's little moments, again. The fear of the unknown is there, too, because we have no idea what to expect with his office hours, surgery schedule, and home calls for the office and hospital. He reassures me that it'll be very different from residency because he joined an OB/GYN practice full of other parents like us, who know the importance of family. It all sounds very promising. We'll discover the difference between residency and "the real world" on August 1. Keep your fingers crossed for us! ;)
Best to you all,

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