Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Very Special Christmas

This year marks a particularly special holiday season for me. Not only have I finished the preclinical years of med school (and apparently the last full-time classroom work of my life!), but this is also my first Christmas as a mother. In addition to my role as a medical student, I am also married to another medical student and a mom to an adorable and chubby 8-month-old boy named Raymond.

As an undergrad, I was accustomed to juggling multiple responsibilities, having been a pre-med student at Duke while also a varsity pole vaulter and a lab researcher on the side. I would be constantly switching gears between the classroom, lab, track, in addition to a myriad of other extracurricular activities I had taken on.

This past year, the juggling act was a bit more hectic, to say the least. I gave birth in late April and powered through the rest of my first-year courses until the end of June. Penn's administration graciously allowed me to Skype in for small group sessions right after I delivered so that I could stay home with my newborn and keep up with school at the same time. In the fall, I came back to class in person again and fell into a nice routine - when I was at school, I tried to study at maximum efficiency so that when I went home, I could put schoolwork aside and be fully present for my family. Even with class and a four-hour roundtrip commute (more on that in a second), we managed to cook and have dinner together pretty much every night, as well as go to our fair share of happy hours at neighborhood establishments (baby-friendly, of course). The commute I mentioned is the 100-mile trek I do Monday through Friday between Baltimore and Philly on the Amtrak because my husband is at Hopkins, and we wanted to stay close to my in-laws in the DC area. Sometimes I love it (protected study time can be wonderful), and sometimes I hate it (is it really going to take over 2 hours to get home?!). But I'm happy that there's a way to make everything work. All in all, starting a family while in medical school has actually been really fun.

Right now, my husband, son and I are spending time with my parents in San Diego. We are enjoying the 70 degree weather and sunny, clear skies. Though we both love med school, it is really nice to have a break from lectures and studying and just hang out and relax. It is also really special for me to have more time with my baby boy. Usually I leave before he wakes up and once I'm home, we only have a few hours together before he goes to bed for the night, so it's really great just to be able to sit and play with him for hours and hours on end. He has grown so much this year, and it seems like's he's just getting cuter with each passing day (but I'm biased of course!).

Another reason I'm really relishing this break is that I know it's about to get truly crazy soon. My clinical rotations start in just a matter of days, and I'm starting on the surgery block. The hours are going to be substantially longer than what I've been used to for the past semester. And Ray will be getting older, becoming more interactive and wanting to play more. I have a feeling this whole juggling act is going to become even more complex. However, I am truly excited for the clinical rotations as well, and even with a husband and baby at home, I trust that somehow it will all work out. I'm looking forward to blogging more about my experiences as the year progresses, but for the time being, I'm going to enjoy my last few days of freedom!

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