Having a Baby in Medical School

One of the things I get asked about most related to being married to a medical school student is what it’s like having a baby during school, if it’s even a realistic possibility, etc. So I thought I’d go ahead and write a little about our experience with having our daughter during Duncan’s second month of med school.

I was 30 weeks pregnant when we moved from Missouri to Jonesboro, AR. Thankfully I knew of a couple of people living in Jonesboro, so I was able to get recommendations on OBGYNs. Figuring out insurance, on the other hand, was much more confusing. I spent hours on the phone with the hospitals and my insurance company figuring out which hospital and doctors took my insurance and what exactly would be covered (I knew literally nothing about insurance prior to this). It was also an adjustment switching to becoming a patient at a big clinic versus the small, one-doctor-clinic I’d become accustomed to my first 30 weeks of pregnancy.

The chaos of your significant other beginning medical school is an adjustment, especially if you’ve moved to a new town. The transition into parenthood is another major adjustment. But honestly, I feel like you can either choose to let the chaos pull you apart or grow you closer than ever. We had difficult transitions both together and individually; I couldn’t completely understand what he was going through with schooling, and he couldn’t totally understand what it’s like being 30+ weeks pregnant; however, we chose to still communicate and cling to God and each other. I have no doubt that’s only made our marriage better and stronger.

Two months after our big move, Lively was born! I went into labor on a Friday, we went to the hospital that night, and Lively was born at 8:01 the next morning (I hadn’t had any contractions or anything prior to that morning, so I had no idea what to expect and basically thought Lively was never going to come out). The timing really couldn’t have been better, and although it was sad, Duncan was able to return to school that Tuesday. Both of our moms came down for a week, one after the other, then my sister came down the third week. This made the adjustment a little easier, especially since Duncan still had to go to school for labs and classes.

Insurance for Lively was another thing that was a little difficult to figure out, as Duncan and I were still both on our parents’ insurance. Thankfully, Arkansas has an amazing Medicaid program for children called ARKids First. It has been such a blessing for us, and has allowed Lively to have excellent medical care for not only her arrival into this world, but also her regular checkups and all the normal “sickness” stuff that comes with having a young child. We are also on WIC, which provides some checks for groceries each month; every little bit helps when you’re on a budget, so we are really grateful for WIC, too.

I breastfed Lively until she was 14 months old. For the first few months, I pumped a couple bottles a day, so Duncan could give her an evening bottle and have that special time with her (this was something one of his faculty members recommended, as it’s what they did after they had a baby, and I really think it was good advice). He also intentionally spent time with us when he got home from school, as well as when taking breaks from studying. I can’t speak for all medical students, but Duncan is really good about still prioritizing Lively and I, and not making it seem like he’s too busy for us. As far as middle-of-the-night feedings, I did all of them since I was breastfeeding and really wanted Dunc to be able to get rest, so he could study effectively and not be falling asleep all day (and newborns sleep so much, that I was able to pretty well catch up on sleep when Lively napped).

Another aspect of having a baby with my spouse in med school that was difficult was feeling a little isolated. He had school to go to every day, but in the beginning it was hard for me to get out of the house too often (anyone who’s had a newborn can totally relate, I’m sure). We were still new to Jonesboro and didn’t have family who we could just hop in the car to go see. Thankfully, there are other med school wives who are in a similar position, so you have each other. I also found how beneficial social media can be, especially for connecting with other moms who are in a similar phase of life. As Lively has gotten older, it’s become easier to go to a weekly Biblestudy and have play dates.

Obviously, medical school is very expensive. Unless you go the military route or your parents or spouse are able to pay for your schooling, it is necessary to take out substantial loans. Even the maximum amount of loans per semester is still a pretty small amount for a family of three or more to live on. I knew I wanted to stay home with Lively, as that’s always been something I’ve wanted to do and we don’t have family here, so child care would have basically cancelled out anything I made had I worked outside the home. We tried to be as frugal as possible, but once the second year of school started, I got serious about finding a work-from-home job.

The fees of second year add up a lot more, especially with needing to pay for boards and board prep material (boards are the massive tests they have to take between second and third year, in order to move on to rotations); not to mention, paying for diapers and now food for our little toddler (I kind of took for granted how cost-efficient breastfeeding was). I was so incredibly happy when I got a job with VIPKid (I can talk more about this in another post, but here is the link to their website), teaching English to children in China. I’m able to work before Lively wakes up and after she goes to sleep, so we never are having to pay for child care, and I don’t feel like I’ve had to give up my time with her. If you’d like to know more about my new job, don’t hesitate to e-mail or message me!

Honestly, if most people waited for the “perfect time” financially and circumstantially to have a baby, very few people would ever have children. Life is expensive and crazy, and medical school is no different; however, in my opinion having a baby during medical school is totally doable if it’s something both you and your spouse are on board with! Yes, it can be exhausting and stressful at times, but more than anything, it is amazing having and raising a little human, it gives you perspective/forces you to prioritize, and grows your relationship with your spouse (and those first couple years you have Christmas breaks, spring breaks, and a summer break, which are just the best!).

When having a baby in medical school, my biggest advice would be to give yourself and your spouse grace, communicate about everything (tell him what you and the baby did while he was at school, and ask him how school was/what he did), and be in community with other moms (whether that’s online, in a Biblestudy, with a playdate group, etc.). Also, make time to do the things you love together. We love to travel and see new places, so we try to travel on Duncan’s school breaks and on the weekends when we can; this way we can still make new memories together, aside from just our lives as related to med school.

Becoming a parent and the journey of parenthood is amazing, no matter where you are in life. You are not alone, and you can do this! Here are some of my favorite snapshots since Duncan started school and Lively’s been born:

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32 weeks pregnant at Duncan’s white coat ceremony.

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The day Lively was born!

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Bringing our girl home for the first time.

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Spending time with Lively after a day at school.

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She loves her daddy.

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His last day of first year!

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Santa Barbara, CA summer trip

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She loves pretending to use the stethoscope to listen to our hearts.

*Click here to pin this on Pinterest!*

 

Always and forever,

Alex

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Crunch Time at Christmastime

Christmas is by far my favorite holiday! My family grew up with lots of Christmas traditions, with my favorite being our “25 Days of Christmas,” where my parents had a festive Christmas activity for us each day. Some of the activities were more grand, like a carriage ride through Christmas lights or the Dixie Stampede Christmas show, while others were simple, like a family snowball fight with paper snowballs or making our own snowflakes out of printer paper to hang in our entryway.

I love Christmas traditions, and having a daughter now makes me want to start some traditions of our own even more. Last year Duncan and I didn’t have the chance to put our tree up, since we were planning to move to Grenada just 2 weeks later (funny how God keeps us on our toes and how this Christmas looks so much different than I’d imagined). I’d come to terms with the fact that we probably wouldn’t be able to get our tree up again this year, as it’s crunch time for Duncan in his schooling, but Duncan was so kind to set aside a little time to grab our tree and a piece of garland out of the attic last weekend!

My family always grew up with a real Christmas tree. Each year we went and picked out a live one, which I would love to do with our family someday! This year, however, I am just so thankful we were able to get a tree up. It’s pretty bare, with only a handful of ornaments (less than 10 to be a little more exact), the lights that came on it, and is lacking a tree topper, but in my eyes it’s beautiful and perfect for the season we’re in.

I hate to admit it, but I’m one to get pretty wrapped up in expectations. With having Lively now, I’d love to start some special Christmas traditions. It can be hard not to compare or stress out when I see countless families all over Instagram and Pinterest doing all kinds of family Christmas traditions all December long, like elaborately decorating the tree together, going ice skating, and a variety of other Christmas activities seemingly every night. I don’t mean to complain or seem like a victim; it’s humbling and reminds me to cherish the little moments we do get together, like a quick run to look at tree ornaments or watching part of a Christmas movie as a family, instead of focusing on what we don’t have/do.

There’s nothing wrong with traditions, and even though we’ve had minimal time together this past week and the next two weeks, I can’t complain because Duncan will take a short break from school  for Christmas break, and I really appreciate how hard he’s working and finishing out the semester strong. He has some big tests in the next couple of weeks, so if you think of us, please be praying for him!

While we haven’t had tons of time with the three of us, I am thankful to spend my days with sweet Lively! She makes my daily Hallmark movie marathons even more enjoyable and loves dancing around the kitchen to Christmas music (“A Pentatonix Christmas” is currently our favorite!). I think we’ve almost marked every Christmas Hallmark movie off our list :). “Let It Snow” and “A Royal Christmas” are our favorites so far!

On a not-so-Christmassy note, I have had quite a bit of time with Duncan in the past couple of days as his practice patient. By the time Duncan finishes his degree, he’ll be a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, and I’ll basically be a professional patient… is that a thing? Anways, I’m so proud of Dunc and cannot wait for a week and a half from now, when Lively and I will have him all to ourselves (no studying allowed! :))

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{Even though we didn’t get a real tree this year, we did get to go with my family to help pick theirs out at Sycamore Creek Family Ranch!}

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{LOVE this view: Lively with our Christmas tree}

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{Despite with demanding schooling, Duncan is still the best daddy to our girl}

 

Always and forever,

Alex

Date Night

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*Picture from our date night at the fair!*

New seasons can be intimidating and change can be scary. Before Duncan began medical school, countless people told us how much our marriage would change and how difficult it would be. It was really discouraging to hear and made me terrified Duncan would never have time for me.

Instead of allowing the fear to cripple us and the change to create distance between us, it has actually brought us closer. One of my favorite things about Duncan is how intentional he is with communication. He sets aside time every day when he gets home to talk distraction-free about both of our days. We also have made sure we set aside time for a date night each week, no matter how stressful or busy the week is, because our marriage is high priority and time together is our favorite!

Last week the NEA Fair was in town, so we spent our date night at the fair! Even though we couldn’t ride any of the rides (they’re not really made for women who are 38 weeks pregnant), it was so much fun spending time together laughing and walking around… we walked probably 7 laps around the fair for a grand total of 3 miles (apparently Lively didn’t want to be “walked out”). We also enjoyed sharing a refreshing frozen lemonade, playing fair games, visiting the petting zoo, and watching other people ride the assortment of rides.

It’s the absolute best being married to your best friend. Of course, no one will ever be perfect, and we cannot fulfill each other, because only God can; however, it is so encouraging doing life with with my best friend and walking through new seasons side by side.

Side note: our precious daughter will be here a week from today at the latest! We cannot wait to meet her and become parents!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

A Month of Memories

This week marks one month of living in Jonesboro. Time is a funny thing… it feels like we just left Branson and like we’ve been here for months, all at the same time. It’s been tough being away from our friends, family, and the town we grew up in, but it’s been a month of growth, new experiences, and big changes.

It has been so humbling to watch Duncan begin his journey through medical school. Duncan and I have been praying for this opportunity for years, and it’s so cool watching God open doors and helping us overcome obstacles.

I’m adjusting to Duncan’s busy school schedule and all of the studying required, spending lots of quality time with Cannon, and cherishing Duncan’s and my weekly date nights. Honestly, Duncan’s been amazing about keeping me informed on what he is learning and not letting me feel alone. I cannot say thank you enough for the way he intentionally tells me about his day and asks me about mine. There’s no one else I’d rather go through all these crazy changes with.

It would be easy to be negative and discouraged amidst these new challenges and this drastic change of pace; however, I’m choosing to seek the Lord and what He is going to teach me in this season. I’m choosing to treasure the good memories we are making and learn from the obstacles. Below are some of my favorite memories from this first month:

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I love making new friends. It’s such a blessing spending time with wives of some of the medical school students Duncan goes to school with, who are walking through the same new season as we are.

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We loved having Duncan’s family come visit us for his White Coat Ceremony!

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We went to Memphis for an evening with the Porters, exploring the city and even going on a horse-drawn carriage ride!

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I love my quality time with Cannon! We go on walks every morning and basically spend all day every day together. He’s such a good buddy.

Not every day is easy, but I will continue to focus on the good. We’re taking things one day at a time and are not taking a single day for granted. Our Father has never failed us, and I know He won’t start now. There is always something to be thankful for, and perspective is everything. This month we’ve laughed more and harder than ever before. I’m grateful for this unforgettable first month of memories!

 

Always & forever,

Alex

Little Life Updates

Since I last posted several months ago, Duncan’s and my lives have changed pretty drastically. We graduated from College of the Ozarks, found out we are having a daughter this fall, bought a house, and moved to Arkansas for Duncan to begin medical school.

In the midst of finding out about all the transition to come, I couldn’t bring myself to blog. I could hardly process through all the upcoming changes and needed time to start working through all of it before I could even think about blogging.

Up until the middle of December, we were planning on moving to the Caribbean for Duncan to start medical school there; we’d sold my car and packed up our entire house. Then, two weeks before we were supposed to move, Duncan was accepted into a school here in the States. After seeking the wisdom of various friends, family members, and physicians, we made the decision to stay in the States for Duncan’s schooling. Even though I understood it was probably the smarter decision for us, I struggled with the last-minute switch. I’d prepared myself for the island life and had a difficult time getting past the “glamorous” and “adventurous” life I thought I’d be missing out on. The Caribbean sounded exciting and new, while Arkansas was a place I’d told myself I never wanted to live… it’s shallow, I know, but I didn’t want my first “big move” to be to Arkansas.

My attitude was something I had to give up to God and wrestle through with His help. I can’t follow God wholeheartedly and allow Him to grow/mold me when I’m constantly getting caught up in my selfish “dream” desires and comparing my life to the lives of others. I’m realizing it’s not living in a breathtaking place that’ll make me happy, nor anything else circumstantial; rather, joy and contentment are based on seeking the Lord, allowing Him to shape me, and embracing where He has me.

A few months ago we bought a house in Arkansas. We came down one day, and by the end of the day we knew which house we wanted to put an offer on. By God’s grace, the house was ours just about a month later!

Despite the fact we’re only four hours away from Branson, the process of moving has been more challenging than I expected. We’re constantly learning new things every day, and I’m working on taking it one day at a time. We’re discovering what is involved in buying a home, moving to a new state, figuring out insurance, delving into the world of school loans… and a myriad of other things. In the midst all the big unknowns, I’m trying to see everything as a learning experience and not stress out.

We officially moved down here three days ago and are enjoying getting settled in.. making our house a home! I love hanging up our decorations on the walls and making our home cozy, getting to know the town better, and spending as much time as possible with Duncan before his classes begin. It’s hard not seeing our families on a daily basis, but we’re beyond thankful for their endless support. It’s hard to believe that (God-willing) our daughter will be here in a short couple of months, adding to our little family!

With all of this being said, I’m ready to embark on my blogging journey again! I want to keep everyone posted on our new adventure, share what we’re learning, and hopefully encourage some of you along the way! I’m learning to boast about my weaknesses and give them over to my Savior, so His power can be made perfect and my strength truly comes from Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I’ll be posting about our house, pregnancy, motherhood, life being married to my medical school student, and more :).

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Coffee at Shadrach’s (the BEST local coffee shop) before our moving crew headed back to Branson!

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With my sister on the front porch of our new house!

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In front of our new home!

 

Always and forever,

Alex