I have wanted to discuss the topic of motherhood and medical school. I have had many a blog post composed in my head about this, full of excerpts of conversations and experiences, but I never seem to end up writing the post. My head seems so full right now, and being a mother in medical school is so much of my reality it is hard to step back and look at it, much less comment on it. The subject is more mental masturbation when I allow myself briefly to drift off during class. Ever so briefly.
I was surprised to find the diversity in parenting experiences among my classmates. One of my favorite new friends is a member of my academical (sic? not my word!) society who is a grandmother. All three generations live in her house. She was at her grandson’s birth at a local birth center, and got to catch the baby, supervised by midwives. She is working 37 hours a week while in school. One other member of my society has a four year old daughter, who she had when she was nineteen years old.
I was surprised that the two other moms in my society are not living with the kids during medical school, in one way or another. One of them lives across the street from campus all week and goes home to her four kids on the weekends, and the other has a child living with her ex husband a seven hour drive away, and may only see him a few times a year. I was shocked and surprised, and then I was angry at myself for judging them. Would I think the same thing if it was a father? Maybe, maybe not. I knew a woman who shipped her kids off to China while she stayed here and worked in a gas station slinging fried rice. What choices are “valid” and which ones aren’t can be really subjective.
I have gotten in a discussion with almost every single female student that I have talked to for more than five minutes about children. Whether they have them, whether they want them, if they are going to have them during school, or during their residency, or when Mr. Right Sperm Donor comes along, or when all else fails. Many of them have expressed concern about infertility as they wait until they are done with school, or residency, or whenever they think the right time is to finally stop and try to get pregnant. I don’t know if it is because I am the outspoken class mom of sorts. I have noticed that not many men seem compelled to discuss fatherhood and how they will balance it with their looming medical careers.
S is in the Dominican Republic with his dad, aunt and grandmother. Z is in the Keys with his grandparents. I am one of those kid free moms this week. I am going to study my ass off (as soon as I am done writing this post…ha ha ha.) And, I am going to watch the videos from the show they filmed at the birth center with some new friends in my class who are interested in natural birth. (I MET COOL KIDS!!!)
Oh, right. One more thing. I am the M1 rep for our chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association. Woo hoo! We are going to be training to work with domestic abuse victims and child victims of sexual assault. We are also doing various charitable events for the local domestic abuse shelter, and we are having a Take Back the Night event.
I never ended up ranting about the money thing. (I told you I composed a lot of posts in my head.) The preschool associated with the university is beau coup expensive. Fantastically wonderful, but expensive. We are on the extensive waiting list. There is no favoritism extended to students, and no discount. The allowable budget of student loans (LOANS! That I have to pay back with interest) only covers half of the cost of their tuition. I hate complaining about this, because I know there are moms in worse conditions than this who don’t have the job security I am looking forward to, but I don’t see how I could make this work without the income of my husband, measly as his teaching salary is, and the support of our families.
Umm, there was one more thing about getting into a good discussion with a student who going to school for the Navy, and wanted to get in a dialog about women in medical school and in medicine on Facebook. We had a fantastic discussion. He wore dress whites to the white coat ceremony, and I thought of my dad.