Surprise! You’re Expecting…in Grad School

This week we are expecting a hurricane with up to 60mph winds and Baby No. 2 during my husband’s first clinical rotation year of medical school. Hurricane and baby all in one week pretty much summarize our lives.

Our first week into medical school we found out we were pregnant with Baby No. 1. Evelyn Paige is now sixteen-months-old and such a joy to be around! We had been talking about starting a family sooner rather than later because you just never know how long or what direction starting a family will go. We married when I was 30 years old and had been married just over a year. Could we have waited? Sure. In fact, if you live in any state above the Mason Dixon line no one is even thinking about kids before their 30s. Shocking, I know for those from the South, right?!

We didn’t expect to get pregnant immediately the first time, nor the second and therefore felt it was better to not hinder the potential through natural family planning or contraception. Maybe starting a family would take a few months? Maybe years? Maybe biological children would not be God’s plan for us and in that case, I was well aware that years of waiting for adoption could be ahead of us. We had no idea nor control and felt opening our hand to His plan was the next step, even if it meant children before Tom could financially be the provider.

We got pregnant quicker than expected! Twice! We are very grateful for early fertility but know that it’s not something we get to choose. Full disclosure, other than the first three months of marriage we did not use birth control and I just monitored my cycle. We also were picky about the food we eat, personal care, and household cleaning products we choose, because there are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today and less than 10% have been tested for personal safety. In fact, scientific studies have indicated that serious health issues like breast cancer and infertility and allergies are likely on the rise due to our exposure to toxic chemicals. I’ve also personally experienced and seen the negative effects of oral and implanted contraception on those who desire to have children and we decided it wasn’t worth the risks. Our son was conceived when we had decided that it was time to ween our daughter from breastfeeding at 8 months and open our hand again to a second child. The timing of our children may not be your timing, it certainly isn’t my mother’s timing as she reminds me pretty much everytime we see her :/ Love you, still, Mom! She is the best grandmother though and loves Evelyn Paige so much that she Facetimes daily (insert hands up emoji).

For those of you who are asking, WHEN? Having children at the beginning of medical school has been wonderful. In fact, I believe they will probably see more of their dad now than at any other time in his medical career. My husband studied from his two home offices, one in an alcove of the living room and one in the guest room for the past two years when he needs a quieter space. We purposely bought the house because it had two spaces for a home office. He had the privilege of working on clinical research from home his first summer when Evelyn Paige was born and he just happens to have his break month this month when Baby No. 2 is due and can be there for Warren’s first week. Crazy how God has provided for him to be “off” for both our babies’ births! I realize that’s not everyone’s experience and there is a really good chance that if you have children while your spouse is in the middle of rotations or residency, he may not be available for the birth. Or in the case of a female medical student, you will have to continue your studies while figuring out the new mom thing. And yes, I know women who are doing both too! Will it be tough, yes! But, if you have surrounded yourself with a community of friends and are lucky enough to have help from family, it’s completely possible.

Two disclaimers: We do have long-term and did have short-term savings prior to starting a family and medical school. We also have both of our families within three hours and they have helped purchase diapers, clothing, given extra cash, and have provided date nights out!

There is a need to be fiscally responsible, but I do feel so many couples wait until they are a two income family with two graduate school degrees behind them before waiting to consider beginning a family. I also feel this pressure can be one-sided if its the wife of a medical spouse who longs to be the provider. Don’t worry! You are preparing with your more than full-time studies and hospital work. Wife, he needs to be reminded of his provisions through preparation…often!

If both pursue graduate school, there is the immediate need to pay off graduate school loans which puts pressure on to either wait longer or choose for one spouse to stay at home with the children. This often has resulted in guilt on the stay-at-home spouse who has invested time and finances for a better position in their field of study. What if your graduate degree wasn’t for you to use immediately after graduation? Our millennial minds are often hindered to see beyond a year or two due to our culture of instant gratification and changing social pressures. The degree might have been more for building your convictions, your network, and who you are now, rather than what you do now. Be quick to see your degree as more than an opportunity for employment in one field.

For us, working outside our home would have meant taking home one-third of my salary AND I still would have work to be done after hours, taking time away from my family. Even with eight years on my public school license, paying insurance for my husband and children, the added expenses of working outside the home, and paying for childcare would have eaten up my salary. When we choose for me to stay home with our daughter, this decision also came with its own stressors. On student loans alone we would not be able to afford vacations, fun seasonal clothing purchases, or put away for future savings. For the first time, we looked into and receive government assistance for family medical coverage and food allowance. We have been blessed to find a job that fits my desire to be an entrepreneur, training in mentoring women, and a passion for advocating for family health that is both financially rewarding and offers flexible hours. It has taken time and investment to build my business, but I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity Beautycounter has given us, especially as we have endured many unexpected cars’ and home expenses in the past year. By no means am I trying to say that working outside the home is less than staying at home. However, I would encourage you to the weigh the $$$ cost, not just the financial, but also stress load put on the children and spouse with a career in medicine.

As with all my posts, I hope our story will inspire yours in some way. I am also always an open book if you read this post and want to learn more about how we are balancing life on loans, working a small business, having two kids under two, and third-year clinical rotations.

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Most people by the time they are 30 years old have graduated college and been established in their career or hometown for a few years, but that isn’t my adulting story. Living a nontraditional life I have learned a lot of maybe not so random skills, which has lead me to start this blog. I love helping women and their family find safer solutions to the not so regulated personal care industry, staying at home with Evelyn Paige, and dreaming with my husband.

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