Sunday, July 25, 2010

Something's Gotta Give

After approaching burnout faster than I thought possible, I came face to face with the reality that my life needs to change.

I have fought against, ignored, resisted, and tried to be stronger. But none of those methods are working.

After days of talk with Hubster and some intense moments of doubt, discouragement, and self-examination, I'm finally in the process of accepting some of the changes my life needs.

I know that I've blogged about it on numerous occasions, so much that you might not be able to stand hearing about it again, but my job is tough. It's intense. It's a full-on, adrenaline-filled, emotional-roller coaster, exhausting job. Don't get me wrong. Despite my complaining, I'm (usually) grateful for the amazing job that I do have (and the fact that I even have a job.) But it's hard. Much harder than I thought it would be.

I have another job that's the hardest, most rewarding job there is. I'm a mother. I have a wonderful husband and two precious boys that need me.

I don't want to sound like I'm generalizing or stereotyping, but I'm convinced that trying to do the whole career/parent thing is much, much harder for women than it is for men. Men seem ingrained by society that they will go to work each day. Regardless of family, children, or anything else, it's what they do. For women, we have two different paths. We either work or we stay home. And it's the wondering if doing one impacts the other that makes this so much harder. Every minute of my life I feel that I should be somewhere else. While I'm at work, I worry that I'm missing something at home. While I'm at home, I feel that I should be studying for work. I'm lacking the ability to focus on where I am.

For the longest time, I've been trying to do both jobs full time, 100%. I'm working the 60-80 hours a week required by my job, plus trying to find time to study at home. I've also been trying to be the perfect wife and mother. To make as many meals as possible. To clean, garden, launder, wash, bathe, read, snuggle, sing, calm, sweep, wipe, mop, hug, rock, tidy, dust, kiss, love.

And here's the truth.

I can't.

I'm exhausted.

It's not the kind of tired that a good night's sleep can fix. It's the kind of tired that fills my bones and seeps into the rest of my life. It's made me unable to focus at work and unable to care for my family.

It's not sustainable.

Something's gotta give.

That's just what Hubster and I have talked about for the last several days. And as much as I don't want to, change is necessary.

This is what we decided. No more television. No more Facebook. Hubster will take on more household chores. We will be firmer about bedtime. Monday-Thursday, between 9-10 pm will be dedicated study time. Friday will be our couple/television time. Saturdays that I'm not on call will be dedicated family time. Sundays that I'm not on call will be light study and prepare for the week time.

Part of what this means is I have to be willing to cut back on blogging. On reading blogs and writing. I can opt to use some of my Sunday time for blogging. But not much more.

When Hubster mentioned this, I wanted to cover my ears and hum loudly. La-la-la, I can't hear you! But he's right. Something's gotta give, and it's not going to be my job and it's definitely not going to be my family.

Blogging has been my coping mechanism, my emotional release, my relaxing spot, my voice for sharing my joy and my sadness. It hasn't just been my ability to share that has become so important. It has been the support and encouragement that I've found. It's been the friends that I've made. It's been you.

I'm not going to disappear. I'm going to still be here. There won't be as many comments on your blogs. There won't be as many posts here. At least not right now. But I'm still here, still living out this adventure, and still sharing as much as I can with you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

While you were out...

I'm guest posting over at A Peek at Karen's World. It's my first time (I've been so nervous!).

So take a moment and stop by...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Who Knew?

Who knew we could do so much in a weekend?

I came home unexpectedly early on Friday and was in such a good mood that I told Hubster we needed to do something fun. Like go to Chicago! Or go camping! Right now! My sweet, not-spontaneous-husband replied that he would instead make cookies and we could talk about it. In the end, we agreed, over chocolate chip cookies, that camping would be easier, more affordable, and less stressful than a impromptu weekend in Chicago. Hubster just asked that we leave in the morning, instead of "right now!"

So, in the morning, we drove to Dubuque and toured the Crystal Lake Cave.

While much smaller than other caves I've toured, I did appreciate that there was no initial hike to get to the caves. And honestly, it was about as much cave as Monkey could handle.

After the cave, we attempted to find a near-by campground, but everything I looked up on the Internet before hand was mysteriously missing from the GPS and every thing on the GPS was completely undesirable.

So, after a little more convincing from me, we drove to Backbone State Park, a place I had heard about from several people, and had been desperate to visit.

Who knew that Iowa could look like this?

Yes, most of Iowa does look like this, and we drove through plenty of this (which I absolutely love. It's soft, gentle, and homey.)

But Iowa can also look like this.

Who knew?

Who knew how much I was missing clear, sparkling rivers? Not even I knew how much until we came across the beautiful little Maquoketa River, with its crystal clear water and soft sandy bottom. It was perfect!

Although in the quickness of getting ready, several things were forgotten. Among the forgotten items were swimming suits. So we rolled up our pants and waded right in.

Initially, the rule was to keep your clothes dry. I know, we're slightly delusional parents, aren't we. This rule lasted until Bug pretended to splash Monkey, who tried to run away in a panic and slipped into the water. As he came up sputtering and soaked, we decided to just let them have fun and get wet.

Who knew camping in Iowa would be so much different that camping in Utah or Montana?

I brought mounds of bedding, jackets, extra warm pajamas, and lots of socks. All my camping experiences involve the temperature plummeting overnight and my nose nearly freezing off, even if it is July.

Here, camping was mild, weather was (nearly) perfect (just a little drizzle during the night) and no one got cold. In fact, the jackets and extra bedding went unused.

We spent the evening and into the night telling stories, singing songs, and eating classic camping food of hot dogs and s'mores. According to Monkey, "Burning hot dogs is awesome!"

Who knew I would have yet another favorite place? We hiked, explored the lake, and played in the river again (and again!)

We spent the weekend teaching the boys valuable life skills such as how to roast the perfect marshmallow, how to skip rocks, and appreciate the stillness that is nature.

We've arrived home dirty, tired, but relaxed and happy.

Who knew that a single weekend could provide so much?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ummm, Thanks?

After standing for 13 hours a day, my feet are screaming at me by the time I head home. So I got a prescription, and between doing paperwork and "pre-op"ing patients today, I went to get fitted for orthotics.

I easily become self conscious. Make a random comment about my nose, my teeth, or my laugh, and I'll do the best to cover them up and become invisible.

So when I took off my shoes and the orthotics guy proclaimed, "Holy cow! You really do need orthotics!" my self esteem hurt almost as much as my feet.

He proceeded to exclaim over my loose first metatarsal and my extremely high arch (who knew?).

He asked if I had problems finding shoes that fit, followed by "I assume you do, given how wide your forefoot is. " He then gave me instructions to make sure when I picked out my shoe style to get ones that came in "D width" because I'd never get my feet into anything narrower.

He asked if I had problems tripping while I walk and issues with balance while running.

Well, probably. Since apparently I've got deformed giant clown feet.

Thanks for the confidence boost, Mister Orthotics Guy!

When I do finally get my cute grey and pink shoes with orthotic inserts (in 3-4 weeks), I'm going to be so excited to have them and the comfort they provide, I'll easily forget that they are double wide.
Until I trip while walking.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Happiness is...

...seeing that vines have already almost completely covered the little wooden arch we put beside our house only two months ago.

It's also being home to enjoy the early evening sunshine under the arch.

Stop by Leigh vs Laundry for The Happiness Project and post a photo of something that makes you happy!


Monday, July 12, 2010

That type of family

My children are becoming Midwesterners.

I would like to shake my head in disbelief and claim I have no idea how this happened. But since we've lived in the great state of Iowa for a year, I shouldn't be too surprised.

I liked to think of us as a "Western United States" type of family. You know, laid back and relaxed, outdoorsy, slightly hippie-ish, type of family. Normal sounding accent type of family.

But my kids are definitely Midwesterners.

Monkey still talks about how much he misses the snow.

Bug prefers brats and cheese to all other foods. Only he says is "brahts."

Monkey shouts out "Oh my gaush!" with the strongest Chicagoan accent you can imagine.

Bug has fallen in love with baseball.

We've never had a baseball fan in our family. It's always been basketball and football (and the strange segment of Hubster's family that can't get enough soccer.) He watched an entire baseball game. He stood up and cheered. He sang "take me out to the ball game." (with his funny half Utahn-half Midwest accent.)

I shouldn't be surprised. Monkey has spent 25% of his life here in the Midwest. And there is nothing wrong with being a Midwestern family. A hard working, down to earth, friendly, tough family. A funny sounding accent family.

But I draw the line at drinking "pawp." It's soda, people!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

There Are Days

Every time there was a rough time during my intern year, I looked forward to the time I would do anesthesia. As I drug myself though the tediousness and exhaustion of internal medicine and cardiology, I thought about how great it would be to leave it behind for anesthesia. I daydreamed how anesthesia would be all rainbows and daisies and sparkles and pink unicorns.

Well, it's not.

Most of the emotions that I'm dealing with I know are irrational. I know it's because it's all new and scary and will eventually stop being that way. But at the same time, it's hard to cope at the moment.

My days are tough. I leave the house at 5:30 am, so that I can be in my scrubs and setting up the OR by 6 am. I work until 6 or 7 pm. And by work, I mean flat out run, both physically and mentally. There is no way to work fast enough to satisfy either my attendings or especially the surgeons. And everything is so new that I fall asleep the moment I sit down at home. I've fallen asleep both at the dinner table and while reading bedtimes stories to the boys.

Everything terrifies me. I feel like I don't know enough, that I'll never know enough. Obviously, I'm not supposed to know every thing right now. That's why I have three years of anesthesia residency, to learn all that I need to. But every time I provide anesthesia (under the watchful eyes and trained hands of my attendings) I feel that there is no excuse for the gaps in my knowledge.

There are days when my feet hurt so bad from standing for 13 hours that I limp to my car. There are days when I'm at the hospital until 8 pm that I want to throw things and give up. There are days when things go wrong in the operating room, things that I do know how to fix, and I'm shaking so bad that I can barely stand up. There are days when I feel that I'm not cut out for this.

I kept looking forward to anesthesia because I kept hoping to feel that medical school wasn't a terrible mistake. That I can have something good so I can stop feeling that I've given away my youth, my energy, and precious moments of my childrens' lives for something that just wasn't worth it.

Do I think it will always be this hard? No. Eventually I will feel comfortable, things will be second nature, and I'll know what I'm doing. Do I think it will always be so discouraging? Hopefully not. I'm counting on it not. Do I think it will be worth it? This is the question that takes more faith that I have some times. I hope so. I need it to be worth it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Snapshots from the Weekend

I couldn't bring myself to post a well-versed, thoughtful holiday post, as I was too busy either recovering from last week or actually celebrating.

But the weekend was wonderful. We had wonderful discussions with the boys about the founding of our country, what it means (or should mean) to be an American, and the meaning of liberty.

And while we were not involved in deep, meaningful conversations with three-year-olds, we were soaking in American past times.



Waiting for the parade. Which is synonymous with free candy.

Pride is having the only barefoot child at the parade.


Home-made ice cream.


Waiting is the hardest part.

Home improvement. Because nothing says freedom like realizing there is no landlord coming to your rescue when the ceiling leaks.

Hope your 4th was wonderful as ours.

Friday, July 2, 2010


I think of myself as a mother before anything else.

But motherhood does not define me.

Like all women, I'm much more than "just" a mom. I'm an amateur photographer, a reader, a DIY enthusiast, a painter, a doctor. I'm a feminist, a conservationist, an optimist, an idealist, a romantic. Each of these things is a valuable part of myself. Through the demands of parenting, it can be hard to remember all those parts and to be consumed by the role of mother. Meals, housekeeping, errands, activities, school, homework, bedtimes. The tasks of caring for our children can demand every second of our lives. We hear so much about seeking for balance, but achieving this is something else entirely. I often, as all mothers do, put all the parts of me that don't immediately pertain to my children, on hold or on the back burner, to get to "when there is time." (As if there is ever time.)

But those things are important to me. Granted, not as important as my darling boys. But being a artist, a scholar, an improver, a physician are integral parts of my being.

I am not defined by my role as mother.

What motherhood did was redefine me.

Yes, I was all those book loving, photo taking, project doing things before. But without purpose. What motherhood did for me was give all the parts of me focus and meaning.

I have my world spin, coming to revolve around the newborn baby in my arms. I have had my heart filled and broken as never before. I have gladly sacrificed and fiercely defended. I have been tried and rewarded more that I could have fathomed. I have had my faults made obvious and my talents challenged. I have seen the future- my future, their future, the world's future- in their faces. I have loved without expecting anything and been given everything.

Motherhood is the most amazing thing I have done. My children are precious, sacred to me.

I am not just a mother.

I am more because I am a mother.

Go visit Heather at Theta Mom to see why other women are Theta Moms.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Today Is Not a Good Day

When it rains, it pours.

Apparently, my life has decided to confirm this saying.

As of noon today, our dryer (yes, the one we just bought off Craigslist less than two weeks ago) is in pieces all over the basement floor.

My car is dead in my work parking lot.

And the family room ceiling looks like this...

Because the pipes and toilet in our upstairs bathroom decided to give up and leak water in a huge stream through our family room ceiling, onto our family room floor while I was reading to Bug last night.

Because every blog needs at least one picture of a broken toilet

Add this to the fact that in the last month, our air conditioner has gone out and had to be replaced, the furnace fan had issues, our room has started leaking, and we got the bill for our family's dental appointments for the last six month.

Let's just say in the tree in our backyard falls on our house during the night, I won't be surprised.