On childbirth...and Stephen Gabriel

Saturday, May 31, 2014

1. It's been 9 days since the arrival of our precious little bundle. It's amazing how much love I feel for this little being. I still look at him sometimes and am in awe he's ours.

2. I'm looking forward to sharing Stephen Gabriel's birth story, but I need a little time to let the craziness of it all wear off. I have to admit that giving birth was nothing like I thought. Ina May's book was wonderful and all, but I felt sort of betrayed in a way...it was all just so much more painful than I thought it would be. I had so many (good) reasons that I didn't want an epidural, but after doing it without my perspective has maybe changed a little. But I better not share too much so that I can leave you in suspense for his birth story...

3. My hemoglobin had a nice drop from 12.5 when I arrived to the hospital around midnight to 8.5 after I delivered our little man. I shudder to think what it was the following day since physiologically it would have continued to drop, but I didn't stick around long enough to find out. Stephen was disenchanted with sleeping in a recliner and I was disenchanted with sleeping in a hospital bed along with all of the middle-of-the-night vitals checks. I full-on passed out the afternoon after I delivered (waking up via some ammonia salts to about 6 people surrounding me in the bathroom...childbirth certainly does a number on modesty ha) so the nurses were not too keen on me leaving, but my doctors agreed to let me leave a day early. I think this was pretty much only because I'm a doctor (albeit a super fresh one) but I happily took it.

4. Our little man weighed only 6 lbs 11 oz when he was born....so much for my concerns about birthing a 9 lb baby due to my post-term status. I actually didn't believe that he was that little and asked the nurse to weigh him again, but 6 lbs 11 oz it was. He was absolutely swimming in the 0-3 month sleepers I brought to the hospital (lesson learned, should've brought at least one newborn outfit) and required preemie diapers for his first few days of life. I never felt like I got super enormous at the end of pregnancy and I knew that Stephen Jr. had always measured a tad on the small side, but I really thought he would be pushing 8 lbs at 40 wks 5 days. He actually just barely met the criteria for small for gestational age, which made me super concerned (I wondered if being so sick with asthma/the flu in January played a role) but the pediatrician wasn't worried at all (and Stephen's brother was only 6 lbs 13 oz at term so maybe it's his genetics). The little man weighed only 6 lbs 3 oz at his first check up but then proceeded to put on a whopping 13 oz over the next week for a one week weigh-in at 7 lbs. Grow baby grow!

5. I'm feeling sort of overwhelmed about moving with a two week old. Fortunately my mom and a couple of my sisters are coming with us to help for the first week. The little man will be only 3 weeks old when I have to leave him for orientation, but I'm taking things one day at a time and happy that I'll be on maternity leave in July.

6. We are having Stephen Gabriel baptized tonight. We had the choice of either baptizing him this weekend or waiting until the end of July, when we come back here for my brother's wedding. Stephen and I did some reading about the sacrament (and also talked to our wonderful Catholic pediatrician) and our conclusion was that the sooner the better to give our little guy the graces of the sacrament.

7. And lastly, some picture updates from my instagram.

First time in the rock n' play - holding on for dear life (favorite picture ever).

So peaceful. He always has his hands up by his face when he's sleeping, just like he did inside of me. Also, the Aden and Anais blankets are hands down the.best.

We're still trying to decide if he'll have red hair like his daddy - but so far it's looking good.

So happy to see his face filling out!

First time using the Ergo swaddle carrier (it only took us 30 minutes and two videos to get the carrier on, and it's clearly only on half right) and baby's first hike (we went to the same place we walked when my water broke - details later). 

Linking up with Jen.

Stay tuned for some guest posts in the coming weeks from some amazing mom blogger friends.

He's here!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sharing seven moments from our little guy's first days of life and linking up with Jen. Despite being five days late, the little guy weighed in at only 6 lbs, 11 oz so I guess he had a reason to wait a few days to make his appearance (and thank you so much for all of your encouraging words after my post on Sunday). Although he's teeny (and of course I only had 3 month outfits packed in our hospital bag - oops) he is a strong and healthy...I keep thinking "though he be but little, he is fierce". We are so enthralled by this life that God entrusted to us!

This post wasn't supposed to happen...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Obviously I'm a little crazy for posting pictures of myself at 40+ weeks and I'll probably regret this, considering that my face looks like a little puff ball. I actually had decided not to post anything until after the baby came (mostly due to Stephen's encouragement to avoid "all social media" after witnessing my serious frustration at seeing people due after me delivering their babies). But here I am, 40 weeks and 3 days, with no baby yet and starting to go a little stir crazy.

So let's talk about being three days past my due date with an impending move 8 hours away that was supposed to happen two weeks from now (with a four week old baby of course after my delivery at 38 weeks - ha). After said move, we were supposed to travel 10 more hours (although we were probably going to fly) to Stephen's brother's wedding at which I was going to stand in a bridesmaid dress. All this providing that the baby was born at a nice 38 or 39 week mark which would mean the baby was around 5 or 6 weeks when I start residency orientation mid-June.

But here we are, and I have to admit that I didn't mentally prepare myself at all for this...which in retrospect was pretty ignorant since I know from my fairly extensive time rotating in the OB clinic that first-time moms tend to deliver late. Honestly though, I just didn't know how we would handle it if the baby came at all late so I preferred to just plan on him being early, which happens really often with residents and med students anyways because of the stress we induce on ourselves and the ungodly amount of time we spend on our feet.

So I feel...frustrated...bitter...anxious...and most of all, sad. Sad that each day that passes means one less day that I get to spend with our little guy before I start residency and one more day of the anxiety/stress of not being able to plan our big move and this transition in our lives. My mom keeps telling me though that the baby is safe and happy inside of me and while it doesn't change how hard it will be for me to leave him while he's so very new, he becomes more bonded to me each day he spends in the womb.

And some nitty gritty (skip if you don't want 40 weeks prego details). When I first found out we were expecting, I told myself that I would ask to be induced around 38 or 39 weeks if it didn't happen naturally because of the crazy timing with residency starting - I simply just didn't know how we would do it if we delivered on my due date or afterward. However, after a lot more research into natural birth and realizing that induction before 40 weeks wouldn't be best for me or the baby (however convenient, if it worked) I decided to wait until the end to be induced. But the reality is, I didn't think I would go until the end and while I could wait until the end of my 41st week according to my doctor, since the baby isn't that big (although I'm quite sure he's at least a decent size this late in the game) and the pregnancy has been healthy, I told Stephen this weekend that I don't think I can go past Friday because of my current mental/emotional state about everything we have going on...so that is that (please please pray that it happens naturally - I would be eternally grateful). And now for a (not) brief list of the natural induction strategies I've tried (and clearly aren't scientifically based, for the most part, since they have done a whole lot of nothing):

- Red rasberry leaf tea (starting a couple weeks ago, 2-3 strong cups/day)
- Evening primrose oil (2000 mg daily for the last few weeks)
- Fresh basil
- Pineapple
- Walking (as in an hour/day lately of mostly power-walking)
- Squats/plies (30-45 min most days for the last 6 weeks, courtesy of Summer Sanders)
- Lots of "tylenol" and nip stim (see Anna's post)
- A prenatal massage with acupressure on the supposed labor points (sacrum, ankles)
- A pedicure/foot massage
- Meditation (courtesy of Fr. Benedict Groeschel's Joyful Mysteries - whether or not this has helped speed things along, it has helped me feel more at peace).

Moving on...

Wedges: Old Navy

This is what I wore Sunday, to my future sister-in-law's shower yesterday. With all my lovely sisters + mom:

We went to mass Saturday night and while I was sitting there I got the sudden inspiration to hike up a small mountain 10 minutes outside of town. There's lots and lots of hills and stairs and more hills so I thought it might finally do the trick (wrong), and I dragged Stephen with me. We may have gotten a few looks as I huffed and puffed at full speed up the mountain at 40+ weeks but I made it (I did have Stephen check my heart rate once - 132). Despite no resulting contractions, it did feel like an accomplishment when I got to the top, and made me grateful for all the exercising I've done throughout the pregnancy.

After the hike:
my sisters told me that I'm smiling with my lips and not my eyes in these pics - probably right
also, hello periorbital edema! courtesy of no sleep, not preeclampsia

Thanks for reading through my insanely long (and somewhat therapeutic) post. Hopefully the next you'll hear from me will be a baby announcement? 

Getting back into running {guest post}

Theresa is a first-time mom and lawyer with a great sense of humor who blogs over at The Brez Blog and is one of the 'blog friends' that I've been fortunate to make. I'm really looking forward to getting back into running this summer so I was happy when she agreed to post about running after having her little boy.

I am someone who firmly believes that you should schedule some time in your day to decompress. Whether you are a student, a professional, a mom, or all of the above, take the time to do something that gives you energy. Pencil it right on in to iCal. Not that I have an iCal calendar anymore. That’s for fancy people. What I’m trying to say is, make it a priority. It’ll be worth it. For some people, it’s obvious – take a nap! For others, it’s reading a blog, or writing a blog, or maybe cooking or gardening. You get the picture.

Mine happens to be running. And I would not have my sanity without it.

A little background. I played college lacrosse and for as long as I can remember I’ve been involved in organized athletics and required to do physical activity on a regular basis. Flash forward to my first year of law school and I went 2+ months without any exercise whatsoever, besides feverishly typing every word of the professor’s lecture into my laptop. The day before my torts final, I decided it would be a great time to start exercising again to work out some of the freakish stress that accompanies first semester law school finals. I ran 1.78 miles, could barely breathe, and felt that I was surely dying. But afterward, paradoxically, I felt wonderful. At this low point I decided I would train for a marathon, started running regularly, and I never looked back.

That is, until I got pregnant and stopped running. Then I looked back. 45 pounds allll the way to the back.

Nowadays I’m a work-from-home mom with a 3.5-month-old. The daily struggles are a little different from my life as a student and professional (i.e., poop, poop, and more poop. Oh and some spit up and so. much. baby. gas . . . . in addition to the deadlines and the research and the writing.) I need some quiet time to myself, not because I am competing with 398 other law students, or necessarily because there is no case law on an obscure area of law I’m battling, but because I have a tiny human depending on me for his every need. I don’t know about your baby, but mine is, like, really needy for some reason.

I am that stereotypical first-time-mom with too many parenting books at her disposal.  My very own worst enemy. To combat the crazies, I started running again with reckless abandon at one month postpartum. I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and do something for myself. I finally felt physically recovered from childbirth, all my postpartum helpers had come and gone, and my husband was gone for military training for the next 6 weeks. As a new mom feeling totally on my own to figure it all out, it was the one part of the day where I wasn’t wholly focused on only Will. On his latch, his weight gain, and his diaper output. On his routine, his sleep cues, and his REM cycles. It became about me, my cadence, and my breathing. On the sweet fatigue of my muscles, my running form, and my (oh my gosh oh my gosh so slow) pace. It was just what I needed and what I still find myself needing daily. Not to mention that after a long, hard run, I feel totally justified in eating anything I want. Because if running is my favorite therapy, ice cream is a close second.

So even when my house is a wreck, I’m approaching a work deadline, I’m feeling particularly sleep-deprived, or my blog is collecting dust, I figure out a way to make running a priority. It helps me be a happier, healthier person to better serve those around me: God, family, and beyond.

Post-pregnancy style by Anne {guest post}

Friday, May 16, 2014

I love Anne's blog and style and I was so excited when she agreed to guest post! Check out her blog, In Residence, for style inspiration, new mom tips, pictures of her adorable baby Hendrik, and thoughts on life as the spouse of a physician.

Hi! I'm Anne from In Residence, where I blog about the things I love wearing, reading, and making, and about life with a baby boy and husband in residency. While Erika is spending time with her own sweet boy (and getting to start her own residency!), I'm happy to be filling in for the day. Since I finished my own journey through pregnancy & maternity style not too long ago, I loved following along with Erika's and seeing her twist on making her style work with a baby bump. And now that the little one has arrived, I thought I'd share some of my favorite things for being stylish post-pregnancy.
favorites for the stylish new mom
nursing top: I was so excited to get back to "regular" style after maternity style, but I quickly realized that nursing style has its own restrictions. So I think a few cute but access-friendly tops are a good wardrobe addition. This Isabella Oliver nursing top is also great with the ruching while everything in the midsection works on getting back to normal shape... nursing scarf: a nursing cover that doubles as a go-with-everything scarf is perfect for a stylish lady out and about with her little one. Bonus: cover up any spit up that might get on your shirt! pretty robe: being up in the middle of the night - and/or not managing to actually get dressed until 10am - requires a robe for warmth and (ahem) frontal access, so why not have a nice one that makes you feel snazzy? fancy bag: I love the Lo & Sons travel/gym bag that I'm using as a diaper bag, but I considered lots of great diaper bags like this Kate Spade one. I don't usually spend a lot on bags, but for something that's going to be replacing all other purses for years to come... I say it's worth it to have something stylish and fabulous. teething necklace: as a lover of wearing statement necklaces who has now had to put them away for a while to save them from my little Mr. Grabby-hands, I can tell you Chewbeads necklaces are great. And they're even cute enough to start wearing before baby gets old enough to put everything in his mouth. And in case you're interested, here are some other baby-related favorites I've posted about in the past:

5 Favorites: Beauty edition

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I've been planning this post for awhile because I love, love reading blog beauty reviews and have found some of my best products this way. I used to be sort of a product junkie, always trying new things but never totally satisfied. Now though, I feel like I've found what products work for me. Part of this is trial and error, part is reading great reviews, and part is being willing to pay more for more expensive products that are better for my skin and just seem to work better in general. So without further ado, here are my favorites!

1. Face
  • Foundation: After years of using either Neutrogena or Clinique foundations (the two that never made my face break out), I recently started using Tarte Amazonian clay foundation. I wanted something with a little more coverage and a smoother finish and this fit the bill. I've been using it for a few months now and haven't noticed any increase in breakouts. I've received several compliments about how good my skin looks (even Stephen noticed a difference). I could go on, but overall I just love this stuff. I use the Light Sand shade although the Light Neutral is also a good match for me.
    • For special occasions: Dior Airflash Foundation is what I used on my wedding day. It truly creates a flawless finish and I think the price is worth it for a super special occasion. I still have a little left and am saving it :) A word of caution that this will probably not work for the super fair, I have light but not super fair skin and the lightest shade was almost too dark for me.
    • Runners up: Clinique perfectly real foundation (used this for years) and Neutrogena Healthy Skin foundation (although I admit that I hate the glass bottle - so messy).
  • Concealer: After applying foundation, I add a little concealer to red spots, blemishes, and dark circles (I read once in a beauty magazine to apply concealer after foundation and have done this ever since). I've found that stick concealers cover better than liquid or compact ones, and my favorite was the Clinique city stick until they discontinued it. I found Benefit Playsticks two years ago and they are really the best (Sephora stopped selling them last year and I immediately bought three because I was worried they would discontinue them permanently). I use Spin the Bottle, which is the lightest shade, although I have also used Tea Party and these blend so well that both shades worked for me. If I could only have one make-up product for the rest of my life it would be the Playsticks.
2. Cheeks: I always, always brush a little bronzing powder on my forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin after I apply foundation and concealer because otherwise I look way too pale. I used the Neutrogena bronzer compact for years and was happy with it, but I received Clinique loose bronzing powder as a gift last year and admit that I like it a little better than the Neutrogena stuff. And then after reading tons of positive reviews, I recently purchased the Nars mini compact with the Laguna bronzer and Orgasm blush (not a fan of the name) and am convinced it's the best bronzer ever (but it's also a splurge)

3. Eyes: I love Grace's mascara posts and am always tempted to try something new, but I'm so attached to my Urban Decay Supercurl mascara that I am on my fourth tube (and they last a while). My mascara requirements are that the wand has a curling shape (I've never been one to use an eyelash curler), it washes off easily with soap and water (eye makeup remover is just too high maintenance for me), and no clumping.
As far as eyeshadow, I like to apply a lighter shade on the lid, extending up towards the brow and in the inner corner of the eye, and then a darker shade just on the lid. Urban Decay's Naked 2 palette is amazing, with lots of options for both the lighter and darker shades (I like a cream color or pale pink for the first shade and a darker brown or taupe for the second). The palette also has some great options to create a smokey eye for special occasions.

I typically only wear eyeliner for special occasions, and my favorite is Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof eyeliner in Penny (a coppery brown). It goes on super smoothly and lasts. It's pricey, but since I rarely use eyeliner it has lasted awhile (and I've seen a big difference how cheap eyeliner applies and stays versus the more expensive stuff).

4. Lips: I used to always be a gloss girl, but wearing everyday lipstick is a recent addition to my make-up routine and started actually when I was doing my residency interviews. Urban Decay Revolution lipstick in Naked, a nude-pink shade, is my favorite. I also recently discovered Nars lip pencils which are great for long-lasting coverage and come in lots of fun colors (Isola Bella and Descanso are my favorites, and Rikeugen is a nice all-purpose shade). I always add a coat of Burt's Bees on top of my lipstick or lip pencil.

5. Nails: Painting my nails always, always frustrated me because I have a hard time applying the color evenly and it tends to chip almost immediately after I apply. However, I recently discovered the CND Vinylux weekly polish (thanks to the Small Things Blog) which comes in a lot of neutral colors (I'm a fan of pale pinks, greys, and taupes). It doesn't last quite a week, but last week I went chip-free for 4 days and it still looked respectable on day 6. Using the Vinylux topcoat is a must for shine and long wear. I'm not kidding, after applying the stuff it looks like a gel manicure from Ulta but lasts longer and is way cheaper. You can find it on Amazon.com or Beauty Brands.

So there you have it, the favorite products in my makeup bag. I'm not opposed to finding more affordable lipstick and eyeshadow alternatives but for now this is what works for me. What are your favs?

Linking up with Hallie.

39 weeks + graduation thoughts

Monday, May 12, 2014

Well, we made it to 39 weeks. I think everyone is a little shocked, including me. Yes, I know all too well that it's most common for first-time moms to go right around their due date or a little late, but with all the cramping early on and stress that I was under courtesy of medical school, no one thought that I would go late. And I know that I'm not late yet...but baby M is not showing any signs of coming any time soon. So what have I tried? Well, raspberry leaf tea, evening primrose oil, pineapple, a pedicure, a prenatal massage, long walks, tons of squats (I've been doing either prenatal pilates or Summer Sanders just about every day), and a few other things. All of which has only served to reaffirm that a) there's a reason that these strategies aren't scientifically proven (at least to my knowledge) and b) baby M will come when he very well wants to.

All in all, 39 weeks isn't that bad. Regardless of how I may look, I don't feel that huge (for the first time in my life, I'm so thankful for my uber long torso) and the fact that the baby dropped way down two weeks ago has taken away a lot of my pregnancy symptoms (hardly any more acid reflux! yay!). I will admit to continued crazy mood swings (so sorry Stephen...and everyone else that I've been around). The main reason that I'm so anxious though to have this baby is not preggo symptoms but the fact that we need to move in the next few weeks so that I can start residency orientation June 16. If this baby decides to wait past 40 weeks, we will be in quite the situation (also complicated by the fact that Stephen's brother is getting married the weekend before I start orientation, it is no where near my residency location, and we are both in the wedding). It's all in God's hands though, right?

This past weekend was a little tough. I decided not to go to my medical school graduation - chances were just too high that I would go into labor and deliver 7 hours away from home...and if not that, I was afraid that the car ride (14 hours total) would be miserable. I guess I didn't realize that it would feel so bittersweet. It was sad not to see my classmates and say goodbye before we go our respective ways, and it also kind of felt like the end of medical school was anti-climactic. I know that part of my feelings were from pride too. I was one of three people in my class to graduate as a member of both medical school honor societies, and I guess the human part of us always secretly wants to be recognized. The end of the story though, is that this new baby and our family are so much more important than any of that. I feel some regret right now about not going (easy to say now that I did not go into labor this weekend) but I know that it will be the very last thing on my mind after this little guy arrives.

Dress: Gap
Cardi: J. Crew (my favorite!)
Sandals: Birkenstocks
Necklace: Express (old)

Prayers for baby McMahon are much appreciated! And a very happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Sweet Stephen brought me these in honor of my first Mother's Day (even though baby has yet to arrive ha):

Linking it up with FL&P.

Spring shopping + some birth stories

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I figured that since I've been getting so much use out of my maxi skirts, I should try a maxi dress. I picked this one up for 40% off at Gap thinking that it would be postpartum and breastfeeding friendly (I did order one size up to accommodate for both). I like that I can dress it down with a jean jacket and sandals or dress it up with heels and a cardi (I'm thinking rehearsal dinner dress for the weddings that I'm in this summer?)

And a couple other spring shopping purchases were this denim jacket from J. Crew Factory and these awesome Old Navy sandals that I blogged about last week (they are suprisingly comfortable). I bought the J. Crew Nolita denim jacket a couple years ago on final sale, but I ended up giving it to my mom who is a few inches shorter than me with a shorter torso. It never quite fit me right (too cropped for my frame) and I'm way happier with the cut of the J. Crew Factory version.

Maxi dress: Gap
Denim jacket: J. Crew Factory
Shoes: Old Navy 
Necklace: Madewell (old)

The sun is finally out and *most* of the snow is melted (still a few piles here and there) so I'm thinking it's a good time for baby M to make his appearance? I've been taking my evening primrose oil, drinking some rasberry leaf tea, and continuing the many, many squats I've been doing these last  couple of months but I don't think any of it is really doing much. If anything, I have less cramping that I had between 33 and 36 weeks ha. And baby is only getting bigger...and bigger. I'm thinking about trying this Hypnobaby "Come OUT baby" track, suggested by my sister-in-law, but Stephen is definitely against it.

And for Five Favs this week, here's a round-up of some natural birth stories that I've been reading:

1. Anne's birth story was really encouraging to me, since she makes a natural birth seem totally feasible (not easy, but feasible)

2. I can't believe that Martha was 10 cm when they first checked her at the hospital - that is awesome.

3.  Sarah's birth story is another great natural birth story.

4. And so is Katrina's.

5. Lastly, for the craziest of them all (and then some), is Indiana's.

Let's hope mine isn't nearly as crazy. Linking up with Five Favorites and What I Wore Wednesday.

On interviewing for residency...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's time already for another Medical Monday (except that today's Tuesday, sorry), and I thought since Match Day has come and gone, I should do a recap of residency interviews and the things that helped me along the way. For anyone that isn't familiar with the process, residency interviews entail first filling out an online application complete with medical school grades and activities, board scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement and then sending that application electronically to a bunch of residency programs in the field you are interested in (or in my case, two fields - emergency medicine and OB/GYN). Shortly afterward, the interview invitations starting coming and interview season officially starts. In February, a rank list of programs is due, both from the applicant and the programs. And then sometime in March, the rank lists of both the programs and applicants go into one big computer algorithm to give medical students their match, the culmination of four years of hard work and many years of dreaming of becoming a doctor. So let's talk about residency interviews!

White coat ceremony just before med school started

How should I write my personal statement?

I really like to write, so this was one of the least painful parts of the process for me (although I've heard otherwise from many medical students). For my personal statement, I used my typical essay-writing format of starting with a story that touched me (I told a story from my time working in Haiti, this one - if you happen to watch the video the girl in the white tee/navy scrub pants is me ha). I then mentioned four strengths/qualities that would help me become a good physician and developed one in each paragraph, backing them up with anecdotes from growing up, college, doing volunteer work, working as a nurse, etc. There are a million different ways to write your personal statement, but this one worked for me. A couple tips that I've heard pretty universally are to keep it to just over a page since program directors don't have time to read a 5 page personal statement (mine was close to two pages) and try to open with something that will catch the program director's interest and set yours apart from the million others that they will read. Lastly, have a few people read it - I had several family members and friends read it including one of our assistant deans, my dad (a family physician), and my best friend's husband who has a master's in English.

Where should I apply?

Most people recommend that you should apply broadly, although it definitely depends on the specialty, the strength of your application, and your own personal/family situation. I originally put in 10 emergency medicine applications and 6 OB/GYN applications, but I added a few more based on our school's recommendation to apply to at least 15 programs for EM. I got interviews at most of the places where I applied and then ultimately ended up going to 10 EM interviews and 2 OB/GYN interviews. It's good to go to interviews at programs with a varying level of competitiveness. My husband and I are midwest people, so I didn't want to fly all over the country (although retrospectively Florida would have been nice) but I did fly to the east coast for a couple of interviews.

What should I wear?

Probably my favorite topic, which I already talked about here :) I recommend a dark suit (black, navy, or charcoal) in a solid color or a subtle pinstripe. One applicant on my interview trail wore a pale grey suit, but keep in mind that this will set you apart (the program director actually commented on it during our interview tour, jokingly but still commented on it). Either a skirt or pants is fine (I love skirt suits but pants are definitely more comfortable for walking tours) and I met a few people who wore a suit dress with a blazer. It's nice but not completely necessary to have two suits (there were weeks where I had 3 or 4 interviews in a week so having two made it easier). I had one black suit from Loft (that I found on clearance for a ridiculous price) and another charcoal pinstripe skirt suit from J. Crew. Ultimately I ended up wearing my Ann Taylor black blazer with a pair of black maternity dress pants, so I definitely could have gotten away without the J. Crew suit but oh well (speaking of which, if anyone is in the market for a J. Crew charcoal pinstripe suit only worn a few times let me know - I'm normally a size 8 or 10 but this is a 12 since I wore it when I was 5-6 months pregnant). A shirt in a fun color, style or pattern is a good way to show your personality underneath a professional suit. I'm wearing this J. Crew jeweled collar shirt in my residency picture and I also like this onethis one (I found sleeveless blouses to be the most comfortable under a suit jacket) and this one. As for shoes, a pair of pointed heels is nice, but I only wore these for the first couple of interviews - after that I stuck with a pair of buckle toe short heel shoes similar to these (so much better for long walking tours).

Residency picture

Residency interview outfit (loose shirt to conceal the baby belly!)

What should I say? 

What I found is that as my interviews progressed, I prepared less and less, partly because you just become more relaxed about the whole thing and partly because a lot of questions repeat themselves from interview to interview. For every interview, it's important to look at the residency program's website the night before and familiarize yourself with a few unique characteristics of the program to bring up during your interview. You should also have a few questions ready to ask the program director and the faculty that will interview you. Yes it gets old after you've already done 10 interviews, but if you don't have any questions you'll look a little uninterested in the program. My fallback question if I had nothing else was "What in your opinion sets your program apart from other residency programs in this field?"

As far as preparing for the interview questions that you will be asked personally, I practiced with Stephen in the car during my first couple of interviews (we had about 25 hours in the car total driving from Michigan to the Mayo Clinic to Buffalo, New York and back - it was especially fun with a pregnant bladder). I googled "common questions asked during emergency medicine residency interviews" along with the same for OB interviews, found a couple of good lists, and went through them with Stephen. As far as what I was actually asked, most of it wasn't a surprise. A few repeats that I got:

- What makes you want to go into this field?
- Tell me about one of your weakness and what you've done to combat it.
- What field of medicine would you chose if this field didn't exist and why?
- What career would you choose if medicine weren't an option for you?
- Describe an ethical situation you encountered recently and how you dealt with it.
- Tell me about a mistake that you made and what you did about it.
- How would your best friend describe you in three words?

And the weirdest question that I remember: "Is it ever ok to lie?"

Stephen and I at a medical school honors dinner

How should I rank them?

This is by far the hardest question (unless you're like me and undecided between two specialties until the last minute) and is one that only you can answer. Many, many people told me to "go with your gut feeling" and this was a factor in my decision. Ultimately the program that I chose was the one where I left saying that I could see myself there for the next few years and where I also felt comfortable around the residents and faculty. Overall I got the feeling that the residents supported each other, felt that they were getting a great education, and were happy there.

Some of the best advice that I received about ranking programs was from the residency coordinator at Johns Hopkins. She told us that after we finished interviewing, we needed to go home and sit down with our spouse/significant other alone in an environment where we wouldn't be interrupted. She then told us to look into our spouse's eyes and ask where they wanted to go for residency. She talked about the sacrifices that our spouses had made for us and would continue to make, and emphasized how difficult residency is on relationships and how important it was for our spouse to be happy during these intense years. Stephen and I had this conversation a couple of times, and I'm grateful that we ended up at our top program which we mutually agreed was the best place for my education, but more importantly for our family.

More posts on residency:

What to wear for residency interviews
Tough Decisions
I finally know what I want to do with my life...
Match Day

White denim + 38 weeks, baby

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Another Sunday, another week closer to baby, another maxi skirt (see exhibits A and B). My recipe for 9+ months preggo style is either loose yogas or a maxi skirt (obviously more church appropriate, hence today's outfit), one of my H&M Mama jersey tees, compression tights (see yesterday's post) and maybe a jacket, scarf, and/or fun earrings if I'm feeling especially motivated.

And we are, quite obviously, 38+ weeks. I'm still not really sure how I got to this point, and still a little bit in denial that this little guy is making his appearance any day now. My belly button is probably as close to being an outee that I will ever come, and painfully obvious through shirts (see above). I guess it's just a waiting game now...I have no idea when our little guy will show face. Since the cramping and nausea that kept me awake on Friday night, I haven't really had much of anything to speak of so your guess is as good as mine (and probably much better if you're not a first-time pregnant mom). Right now I'm voting for Mother's Day, which would be so sweet and happens to be 5 days before his due date.

Jacket: J. Crew via Twice ($10 referral credit link), current version here
Fav pregnancy tee: H&M
Maxi skirt: J. Crew Factory
Scarf: thrifted

I wasn't so sure on the white denim jacket thing, but then I found this J. Crew one when I was browsing Twice (link to $10 referral credit link here) and it looked just like this one which is approximately $100 more than the one I purchased on Twice. When I got it in the mail, I kind of loved it (and if I didn't, Twice has free returns which are the best - I don't shop on Thredup for that reason). Anyways, I think it'll look great with jeans and a grey tee (or black, or navy, or pretty much any color) and I also like the white-on-white thing. I asked Stephen whether I should wear my regular denim jacket with this outfit or the white one; he voted 100% white.

And a little close up of the jacket and the 38.3 week bump:

Happy Sunday! Hope it's a lovely one.

Linking up with WIWS and Sunday Style

On the best tights and yoga pants ever, smoothies, shoes, and a giveaway

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ending the week with 5 favs (linking up with Hallie) lumped in with Friday Quick Takes (linking up with Jen...is that cheating?)

Five favorites this week:

1. Preggers tights: If there's one thing that I could change about this pregnancy, it would be to start wearing Preggers compression tights earlier. I purchased a pair of grey ones early on in my pregnancy which I wore constantly with dresses but never under my scrubs or dress pants, despite how comfortable and durable they are. I'm kind of in disbelief that I spent so many weeks on my feet at 6-7 months pregnant on my surgery rotation and didn't wear any compression stockings (contrary to my mom's warnings about my genetic predisposition to varicose veins). Well, it came back to bite me because the last month or two, I've had awful, crampy leg pain along with a couple faint-but-still-there veins showing up on my calves. Needless to say, I've been wearing the Preggers every.day. and was thrilled when they wanted to collaborate and sent me another pair of my beloved grey tights (I love, love all the fun colors they have but grey is just so practical and arguably more fun than black) along with a pair of their amazing pantyhose. I have to honestly say that I like the Preggers compression tights 10x more than my prescription maternity hose which have a saggy, uncomfortable top, versus the supportive but uber comfortable Preggers waistband. They are offering a $50 (!) gift card to a reader and you can enter at the end of the post.

A bunch of maternity outfits with my Preggers tights

2. I have to give this Isabella Oliver dress a shout-out because it has been my go-to dress for graduation (see #7), Easter, maternity pictures, work, church, etc. It was worth every penny because of how much I've worn it and the fact that I still feel good in it even this pregnant. Bonus that it's really, really comfortable (it's made of this stretchy but forgiving jersey fabric) and the blue/green color is just beautiful.

3. I've been obsessed with smoothies lately. I like this Strawberry Oatmeal one for something a little more substantial as well as this Strawberry Orange Oatmeal one (kind of like a healthy orange dream smoothie), but my go-to lately has been this smoothie that I modified from an old concoction that I pinned from Grace. I add a banana (half a banana is fine too), a cup of frozen berries (I love the antioxidant blend of cherries, pomegranate, raspberries, wild blueberries, and strawberries that I picked up on sale at Target), a cup of vanilla soy milk, a large dollop of plain greek yogurt (I like Fave or Chobani), a generous spoonful of honey, and a big handful of fresh spinach. The spinach may seem a little weird, but I can't really taste it and it's a great way to get in a little extra veggies (Stephen hasn't braved the spinach yet but I'm determined to get him to try it this weekend).

4. Yoga pants: I've been living in them ever since I finished my last med school rotation. I didn't find maternity yogas to be necessary (my pre-pregnancy ones work just fine, tucked under my now large-and-in-charge bump). My absolute favorite pair of comfy pants are the J. Crew dream cotton pants (on the right of the picture below)- I've had my black pair for a couple years and wore them over and over again throughout this pregnancy. They are starting to get a little threadbare, so I picked up a pair of navy ones during the J. Crew 30% off sale (still going on). They fit just loose enough through the legs and butt to be flattering. I also picked up a pair of J. Crew yoga pants (on the left of the picture below)- I'll be honest that although they're so very soft and comfy, I don't think they're the most flattering pair of pants on me right now (really though, what pants do feel flattering at 38 weeks pregnant?) but I kept them because the fabric is a-mazing and I think they'll be perfect for after baby.

5. Old Navy has been killing it in the shoe department lately. First up, these heeled clogs that look so similar to Swedish Hasbeens (I ordered the tan pair):

 Old Navy ($32.94 + 25% off)

Swedish Hasbeens ($218.95)

And next, these wedges (I'm 100% a wedge-over-heel girl) that are a dead-ringer for the J. Crew Lillian wedges:
Old Navy ($29.94 + 25% off)

J. Crew ($129.99 on sale)

Annnndd adding two quick takes at the end/linking up with Jen:

6. For those of you who have been following along with my mundane pregnancy details (and don't mind reading about cervical exams), we had our 38 week check-up yesterday. My doctor was shocked that the baby's head had 'dropped' (not a medical term ha) dramatically and apparently his head is now engaged in my pelvis (yay!). My cervix is thinning but not dilated yet. I was up for a few hours last night with nausea and cramping, so I'm not sure if that means anything or not...honestly though if he could wait until Friday that would be great (I'm scheduled for a spa pedicure on Thursday with the gift certificate Stephen gave me...I know, I sound so selfish, sigh).

7. I made the bittersweet decision this week to not go to our medical school graduation ceremony on May 10 based on the fact that I will either be almost 40 weeks pregnant with a good chance of delivering on the way down or back (it's a 7 hour drive each way) or my water breaking as I walk across the podium to get my diploma OR we will have a brand new babe. We did have our rural medicine program graduation last week (there are 10 of us in the track) which was lovely:

And make sure to enter the Preggers giveaway if you are expecting/soon to be expecting/etc. etc.:

a Rafflecopter giveaway