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