Over My Head

So I’m a couple days into my residency orientation, and I’m starting to fear that I might be in over my head.

It’s not the being-a-real-live-dentist thing that has me worried, although I am a little nervous about treating patients on my own for the first time.  It’s the on-call hours that are making me twitchy.

The call hours at this residency are pretty minimal because there are 19 residents, which is why this is the only residency I applied to.  Basically, we rotate through the 19 of us and see emergency patients for a period of 24 hours, from 6pm one day to 6pm the second day, at which point we hand the beeper off to the next resident.

6pm is not a very convenient hour for a single mom or actually for any mom in general, let’s be real.  Daycare closes at 6.  Dinner is at 6.  Caroline needs to be fed and bathed and rocked and read to and put to bed… all of that starting at 6.  And in my case, all of those jobs are all mine, all the time.  So I’ll have to have someone else pick Caroline up from daycare and do all of those things for her, while I take the pager and stay at the hospital until 10pm, at which point I can go home but could possibly be called in during the night.  And then I have to go in around 8am and stay there until 6pm when I can hand off the pager… except daycare will be closed, and both daycare and my apartment are 20 minutes away from the hospital, so I guess I’ll have to have someone else pick Caroline up again?

My mom is happy to help me but she lives an hour away (and works over an hour away) so I feel badly about making her drive back and forth all of those times.  I could have a friend help me occasionally, but then I’ll have to get another carseat.  I am not afraid or ashamed to ask for help, but I don’t want people to feel like I’m using them and anyway Caroline is really my responsibility and no one else’s.

Also, what if I get called in during the night?  It supposedly happens very rarely.  But I guess if it does, Caroline’s coming in to the ER with me at 3am to learn how to write a prescription for Vicodin.  Baby’s first drug-seeker. It’s a precious milestone, not to be missed.

For the millionth time I sat in my seat in that lecture room and looked around the room and thought, why can’t I be one of these other people who can just come and go as they need to? Some of my coresidents are also mothers, but they have husbands or family close by to help.

I guess residencies are just not designed for single parents.  But I am gonna do this. I’ll figure out a way.

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  1. by sally

    On June 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Just keep your head up! You have made it this far and your doing s dam good job of raising that little girl of yours. One day she will realize all that you had to do as a single mom and she will love you even more.

  2. by Megan

    On June 24, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Julia, I raised my son by myself, no child support or anything, until I recently got married, he is 6. You’ll get through it, and there is nothing better than the bond you will create with your little one when they start to realize how lucky they are to have you, and that you’ve sacrificed everything because you love them so much. It’s empowering for them

  3. by klc

    On June 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I feel you! I’m a single mother and own my photography business. It’s great to be home with my son most of the time, but when I have weddings I’m out of the house for sometimes up to 14 hours. That’s a big (and expensive) chunk of time to try and find childcare. Caroline is so lucky to have a hard working momma as a role model!

  4. by Berit Thorkelson

    On June 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    You can do it! One step at a time. You can do it.

  5. by Sue Henderson

    On June 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    You go girl! You will get through it. I am a single mom and I started an online jewelry business a number of years ago. It wasn’t easy – especially at 6 a.m. throwing the ball for my dog outside my front door as my boys were too young to leave the house. Now, life is easier, I’ve grown my business to nine jewelry reps and the boys are older and I can leave them to walk the dog:)

    You will be a wonderful role model to your daughter. Best of luck!

  6. by Erinn

    On June 25, 2011 at 12:46 am

    No “future-tripping”!! Have a small semblance of a plan, and a plan B in the back of your head, but just like every great parenting triumph, you won’t know how great you are gonna handle it til you’re in it!! Think about something simple – Like the first time she barfed her formula (or breastmilk) all over you and how you handled the cleanup of her…you…the chair…the floor… like a champ. Same thing – You will handle it and it will be FREAKING AWESOME.

  7. by Lillian

    On June 25, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Hi Julia! I love your blog, and just wanted to say that I know you can do this! I had my son during my surgical residency. I got a lot of advice from other women who did medical residency while having children, and I wanted to pass some of their tips (as well as my own) along to you.

    - Take out more loans. Really. I know how stressful that it is, but do it. You will be a dentist and will be able to pay the loans back eventually. Buy two new carseats and teach two of your friends how to install them. Keep those friends as back-ups for emergency situations. You will not be a burden. Your friends love you and will be happy to do this for you. You would do it for them. If there is one things I’ve learned, its that you can’t do residency and motherhood (single parenting or not) without a bit of groveling and begging for help. :-)
    - Also use the loans to hire a nanny. If you will only be on call every 19 days, you could hire a nanny/sitter to stay with you and Caroline overnight those nights. This way, if you get called in, Caroline can stay safely in the house. Additionally, since you know the call schedule in advance, hire the nanny to get Caroline from school on those and to stay with her until you arrive at home. This will allow you to be more relaxed and (very importantly) not to engage in any reckless driving rushing to get home. (I know from experience that after a night on call, driving can be a dangerous prospect … so take your time, and be careful.)
    - Make meals beforehand and freeze them. I do this religiously every Sunday and make meals for the entire week. I like to think that even when I am not there, my son is eating food I have cooked for him. And, on the nights I am there, it frees up my time so that I can spend it with him.
    - Write notes to Caroline telling her how much you love her. When you can’t be there, your nanny/mom/friends/ex-husband can read the notes to her.
    - This one is silly: but make a few batches of cookie dough and store them in the freezer. Inevitably at the very busiest time for you, it will be someone’s birthday at daycare or there will be a bake sale and they will ask you to send in treats. If you have cookie dough stored, you can just pop cookies into the oven and wa la!
    - Finally: Remind yourself as often as you can why you want to be a dentist. Keep your eyes on the prize. If you love what you do, you will be setting a good example for your child.

    You can do this if you really want to. Best of luck!

  8. by Julia

    On June 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you so much, everyone, for your support and encouragement!

    Lillian, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to type out those tips for me. I really, really appreciate it. I am gonna have to think about the loans and the nanny… I’ll probably have to do the loans no matter what because residency pay is so crappy (sigh). They are all fantastic suggestions and make me feel like this is much more doable than I had originally thought. Thanks again! I feel much better about it now.