28 May 2012

Yr 1 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Shaila

Q: Give us a little background of your family, your education/work, and where you came from before coming to Lebanon.

A: Matthew and I are both from Central Washington, Matthew from Moses Lake and I, having divorced parents and moving many times in my childhood, claim my hometown as Ephrata, as that’s where I went to most of high school and graduated. But I lived the longest time in one place with my dad on his farm in Quincy. Matthew and I met through the affections my sister had for Matt, after I returned home from a semester (and the only semester I attended there) at what was known as Ricks College (BYU-I) at the time. We soon found love for each other and have now been married for 10 years! Yay! We’ve gone through a lot of transitions with Matt and schooling, as it took him a long time to figure out he wanted to be a doctor, and he has been in school nearly our whole marriage, so we’re really good at being poor. I returned back to school at our local community college for a year and a half as Matt applied and interviewed for medical schools, but had to be done with it when Matt went back to school, as I couldn’t maintain it all. We have 3 handsome boys, Malcolm who will 9 in July, Quinn who will be 7 in July and Winston is 4. We will also be adding another handsome boy (yet to be named) to our family soon, by the beginning of July, and hoping for end of June so I don’t have 3 birthdays in the first week of July.

Q: What are your responsibilities while your husband is at school?

A: I’ve been blessed to be a stay at home mommy since I’ve had our second son. My days are spent doing the usual mom duties. I get the kids up and ready for school and the day. I entertain and talk and cuddle and have “cuddle time” aka naps with the 4 year old, who doesn’t take much entertaining as he loves to play without the interference from his brothers. I scrub bathrooms, clean dishes, clean floors, do laundry and all that comes with that, pay bills and run errands. Then the boys get home from school and I give snacks, make them clean their rooms and do their homework and hope they can play outside so I don’t go insane from the loud, fighting and wrestling boys. I also love to cook and bake, and that is a big part of my life, along with the eating of it all, but I do share some with my family. I also find it my responsibility to occasionally hang out with friends at play dates to help ease some of the humdrum of the daily life.

Q: What resources did you find in the community that are supportive to you and your family?

A: One the main resources we used prior to moving here was from our local church. We had never been to Lebanon prior to moving here, as my husband didn’t have to interview here. He contacted our local bishop here and asked for advice on some of the places we were looking at renting that we had found online. Then when we moved into town, there was a group of men from our church that were there to help us unload. Then through church we were able to meet several medical students and family. The other resource I have found is through the Complements Club. It has been a great way to get to know many SO’s and to create a bond through this process together. Occasionally going to the meetings has been a great way to have a night out, and book club has been the greatest way to have a fun night out bonding with the other women.

Q: What did you find was the best way to support your husband while he was studying this first year?

A: I’ve always supported Matt by letting him know that whatever amount of time he needs to put in, or be away from home is okay. Together we chose for him to go to medical school and that means I have to play my part in letting him put in as much time as he needs, so that he can provide for our family. When he needs a break from studying, I let him have that break, whether that means playing with the boys, or playing video games after they go to bed. Matt usually studies at home, so sometimes I have to restrain myself from going in and having conversations with him while he needs to be busy. If I’m missing him, I’ll just go watch him study for a few minutes and just be next to him. I’m easily pleased just to have him in my vicinity.

Q:Did school become stressful on your relationship at any time? How did it effect the relationships he has with other family members and friends?

A: Being married for 10 years now, we’ve endured a lot of stressful things in our marriage, and I feel that medical school hasn’t been any more stressful on our relationship than anything else we’ve encountered. We have a good sense of how to communicate our needs, stresses and feelings with each other and that has probably helped keep the stress out of our relationship. Matt also is usually home for dinner and bedtime with the kids so they still have their dad around to feel his love and presence every day and I think they have yet to feel the effect of medical school taking time away from them.

Q: What solutions have you found for dealing with the stress or burn out for either you or your SO?

A: I think communication is key at all times in marriage, and even more importantly in medical school. I have Matt’s Google calendar for his class schedules on my phone, so I’m always aware of what his day will probably consist of. I will let him know of activities I would like to attend or activities our children have, in advance so that he can either let me know if he has a conflict in his schedule, or if he can be around to make that doable for me or to be there to support our kids. I also make sure I’m aware of any upcoming tests, as I know he will be putting more time and energy into his studies prior to the test. I don’t ever expect Matt to help me with any household chores. Though there are times that I wish he would still help me clean up the kitchen at night, I know that he needs his downtime, or time with the kids more. Matt’s priority is in school and mine is maintaining our home. Matt is still great at seeing when I feel stressed or having a bad day, and does come home and pick up the slack sometimes, helping get dinner on the table, or getting the boys to clean up, but it’s nothing I expect from him. I try to be aware of the times that he needs to unwind and just do nothing and let him have that time. If I feel he is extra stressed, I try and be encouraging to him. I like to tell him how smart he is, how proud we are of him, how much I love him, how much the boys love him, and what a wonderful husband/father he is. Prior to medical school, we decided that Sunday’s would be the day that we can expect to have Matt home, have family time and attend church together. We thought it was important since we have older children that will remember this time and know if their dad was around or not. Matt also is home most evenings for dinner and to help get the boys bathed and in bed. We love having these times with him and take advantage of any little time we have with him. Having these times together as a family has helped feel less stress. We also make sure to spend time together as a couple, though we occasionally go out on a real date, we usually just hang out together at home, whether that means watching a movie together, or just sitting next to each other while we do our own thing, Matt studying and me reading or playing on my phone next to him. When he wants to go out to a movie with friends, I’m totally supportive of him having down time. We also love to entertain and feed people, and that can be a fun activity to enjoy friends and forget the stress of them studying.

Q: Do you feel connected with other signicant others of students, and have you found good friends?

A: Moving to a new place always brings the fear of making new friends. I’m so thankful that I feel I have many great friends with other medical student wives, and that I could call on them at any time that I would be in need of something. Complements club and church has been a great resource in getting close to the other wives. I couldn’t be happier with the great relationships I’ve made in this first year.

Q: Any advice you would give to new medical student wives?

A: Communicate with your spouse about each other’s schedules, needs and concerns. Be supportive and encouraging to your spouse and aware that they will spend the majority of their time focused on school. Let each other both have outlets and hobbies, and down time when needed. Don’t expect too much from your spouse at home. Do what works best for your family and circumstances, which might not be the same as others. Make friends with other SO's. Lastly, budget your money as much as you can, because it makes it less stressful on each other when you know you can pay the bills.