I knew this day would come...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Photo by Vafa-Koffman - they took some amazing newborn photos for us that I'll share later

Last Monday was my first official day of residency, Stephen Gabriel's 3.7 week birthday, and my first full day leaving him. Before I started residency, I had a lot of comments from friends, family, acquaintances, etc. to the effect of "I can't believe you're moving with a two week old" and "I can't believe you're starting residency with a newborn" usually followed by "I could never do it"...but here's the thing, when you have to do something, you just do it.

I didn't get off to the best start for the day; my institution requires a full suit for orientation, meetings, etc. so I had my suit all ready (which thankfully fit, albeit just barely). I laid out several shirts the night before that were looser on me pre-baby, but I guess I had underestimated the effect of breastfeeding because after trying on 5+ shirts that morning that were either too short or too tight in the chest area, I resorted to a plain black t shirt that I never would have worn with a suit pre-baby: normally this would have been a small crisis for me but having a baby sure puts life into perspective ha.

I didn't cry when I left. I had been preparing myself for this day for months...10 months really, since I knew from the moment that I saw that plus sign that I would need to start residency with a newborn. It helped also that I knew I'd be spending a month on maternity leave after orientation. It felt weird though without Stephen Gabriel...walking downtown among the huge clinic and hospital buildings empty-handed.

The hardest part was when Stephen brought the baby to me during my first break so that I could nurse him. The boys had a hard time finding my building and the lecture went a little later than planned, and by the time I got to the car to pick up baby Stephen he was crying his little eyes out, that unnerving newborn hungry cry that is completely heart-breaking. That's when I felt myself retreat into a sea of guilt, and the tears that I had held back that morning started to silently flow.

I know that there will be a lot of moments like this, and I'm not going to try to analyze it or downplay it or justify it. I'm excited to be a doctor and I feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to train at one of the top hospitals in the country, but at the same time I know that my baby will always come first. I'm not sure how I'll do it, but for now I'll just trust that I'm going to figure things out along the way. In my favor are that my residency program has been incredibly understanding and kind (in a way that I'm certain other residencies wouldn't be with a new resident coming in with a fresh newborn), one of my fellow first year residents has a two year old and has been a huge support for me, and most of all, Stephen Sr. has been a rock star in all sorts of ways. We can do this...I know it won't be easy, but few things in life that are worthwhile are easy...we can do this.


  1. Good for you! For continuing with your dream while having a newborn! Don't listen to all those people who say "I couldn't do it" like you are crazy. It's not crazy.. it's awesome!

  2. You can do it really. If people try to make you feel bad about your choices, just do not listen to them.

  3. Erika - What a heart felt post! Thinking of you, and excited for you and your new journey. You are a strong and wonderful woman/mother! God Bless.

  4. *hugs* God gives new mothers an extra helping of energy! You can do this!

  5. I admire you and your decisions, especially keeping your newborn at the forefront! I totally think having a career as demanding as yours and being a mom can be done and I can't wait to read about your journey. Praying for you and your family!!!

  6. Keep on keepin' on, mama!!! I love thinking of you at Mayo b/c I can picture the buildings from when I interviewed there for post-doc fellowship and from having a close friend who works there (and lives in Rochester right near St. Mary's). My mom was hospitalized there a couple of summers ago and I spent a week wandering the grounds with my little girls and eating in the cafeteria, too. :) Anyway, you can do it. It will be OK. Hang in there!! xo

  7. This: "but here's the thing, when you have to do something, you just do it."
    I got goosebumps reading that. It is beautiful.

    I just want to tell you... It means a lot to see a very hard-working young mom be real about the sacrifice without complaining or throwing herself a huge pity-party. You have made a choice with your time and your life, and you are standing by it. I could not respect you more!
    I am the happiest, most enthusiastic SAHM, but I do believe that God gives us each different callings. You are clearly called to be a doctor, and He is giving you the grace and the burning desire to keep after it!

    He will provide everything you need to do it while being an amazing mother. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. And I really am so inspired by your example. We should all be ready to learn what God might have in store for us, even if it seems crazy! :)

    1. *When people talk about "Mommy Wars" - when they talk about Mom Guilt, or all that nonsense... the big thing is... the only real way to be an amazing mother is simply by choosing joy. And giving your all. No matter the amount of time your kids get to be in your presence. No matter how hard or how simple you life may be. That is what matters. Choosing joy. And giving with generosity, not gritted teeth. This post is such a beautiful reminder of that! Thank you for sharing your sweet heart. Your Stephens are lucky guys. :)

  8. ^^^What Kallah said.

    You are so right . . . When you have to do something, you just do it! AND YOU ARE DOING IT!!!! It is super inspiring to see you achieve everything you've set out to do and eloquently sharing it with us little people to boot. And for the record, just because you choose joy doesn't mean you don't get to complain about your struggles every once in a while. ;) We're here for ya!

  9. I, for one, am super grateful for men and women like you who are talented and have the drive to help others through the medical profession. I'm really lucky to have a very holy, dedicated Catholic OB and I'm so grateful for her. We need more people like her and like you. Thank you so much for what you do! And I just know that little Stephen and whatever siblings he might have one day will be very proud of you and will strive to live up to your awesome example.

  10. You got this mamma!!! So glad to see how resilient you are!

  11. You will indeed figure it out - and you'll do your best! That's all baby Stephen wants from you... he's not expecting perfection :) So glad you've got the support of a great husband and understanding program/co-residents.

  12. I feel for you and will keep you in my prayers; I held in the tears my first day back, too, and Callan was doing the same hungry cry. You can do it!


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