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Balance: Having Children During Medical School and Residency

There really is no perfect time. My wife and I have always felt called to have children but the thought of having children during medical school and then into residency did scare us. It took some careful discernment and great patience to take the leap to have children starting in the end of my third year of medical school.

One of the things that encouraged us most to make that jump was the mentorship of a physician I admire. During a conversation my wife and I had with this physician he out of the blue said we should have kids now. We were taken aback but encouraged, as this was something we had both been talking about seriously. My wife and I spoke more with this physician, with each other, and prayed about it, finally feeling at peace and excited that this was the right move for us.

My daughter was born right in the midst of probably my most trying rotation. I happened to also be studying for Step 2. Just like anything during medical school, and into residency, balance is the most important thing. Yes, I had to continue studying, I had to continue my research, I had to attend rotations and care for my patients, and I had to continue tutoring for MST, but I knew most importantly that I had to spend time with my family. At first I thought that time I spent with my family would take away from time I could be spending on all the other things I had to accomplish.  I began to realize the time spent with my wife and daughter is rejuvenating, making me a better physician, student, and overall person.

Life is not supposed to be easy, but by no means does this translate into any lack of joy. Medicine isn’t easy, marriage isn’t easy, and having children isn’t easy either. When I come home everyday and my daughter runs to me saying “Daddy!” with a big smile and outstretched arms it makes all of the difficulties worth it, and all I am left with is the wonderfulness of the moment. Living in the moment, patience, and forgiveness make any challenge possible and full of joy.

With all that being said here is some practical advice:

1. There really is no perfect time to have kids.

If you are married, your relationship is stable, and you and your spouse want to have kids at some point, then go for it.

2. Having family around for support is super helpful.

One of the biggest reasons I ended up in my current residency is because of proximity to a supporting family.

3. Like I outlined above, time spent with family is rejuvenating and required.

Let time with family be your break, enjoy it, relax. Your family will appreciate your presence and your work will be more efficient after the rest.

4. Keep time for yourself and give your spouse some alone time without the kids.

For my wife and I, we try and give each other time to pray alone each day, or it could be something as simple as letting your wife go out to run errands on her own instead of with a bunch of crazed little humans. Time spent alone is also rejuvenating.

My wife and I welcomed our son into our lives during my first few months of residency and we continue to feel blessed by our children everyday. Is there a perfect time? No, and there never will be, but with serious discernment and the support from your spouse and family, finding the balance between everything brings so much joy.