Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why My Christmas Tree Has No Theme

I like things with character...personality.  It's hard to explain but I'm the kind of person that loves mismatched forks and spoons because there's just something about things like that that makes a house feel like a home. It's as if things that are too perfect feel stiff to me.  It's something I've yet to figure out how to explain in a way that makes someone get exactly what I mean, but it is just a feeling I've always had (one that my husband appreciates very much and indulges by adding to my mismatched silverware on occasion ;).

When I was a little girl, I would sit and dream about my future Christmas tree.  I hated the plain ball-shaped ornaments, especially the kind made out of thread (yep, we had those and they always unraveled and got tangled in EVERYTHING). They were so...generic.  Like they could be anybody's Christmas ornaments. And there were dozens of the exact same one, which I found very boring.

I loved ornaments that had meaning...special memories behind them.  But even if they didn't have specific memories, I at least liked unique ones. I won my mom over to this way of thinking slowly.  I made or bought my family members ornaments as presents each year.  And each year when we pulled out the Christmas decorations, less and less of the plain balls made it on the tree (the string ones are now so rare that you have to dig deep into the left-over newspaper that we use to pack away ornaments to even chance finding one).  We made a habit of reminiscing as we pulled out our eclectic assortment of decorations:  a cross-stitched snowman I'd made in junior high, a glass snowman on ice skates we got at Opryland in 2001, an angel made out of a coke can by one of my Mom's mentally challenged patients, and many many more.  My brother's kindergarten picture inside a felt wreath circa 1985 and a reindeer I made from a clothespin circa 1995 were some of my favorites.  I love this tradition to this day.

I vowed as a child that my tree would have even more memories nestled on its branches someday.  My husband and I have been married since 2011.  Considering that we've only had our own "family tree" for 3 years, I think we're doing well on keeping my childhood promise.  (It definitely helps that my Mom gives me ornaments each year now too ;).

I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.

The ornament on the left was made for me in high school by a friend.  It was the first decoration given to me to save for my own tree.  I love that my initials have changed since I was given this.  It is a happy reminder of how much I've changed since then.  The one on the right is a relic of the days in which I still had time to wear perfume and make-up.  I was obsessed with the Very Sexy scent by Victoria Secret so my mom got me a mini bottle that came with an ornament one year.  A wonderful reminder of how far I've come in being secure in myself and my body (oh, high school girls!).
I was given these ornaments in college.  I was a Freshman and lived in the Ford Buildings which we at Berry College lovingly called the castles.  Each year, they have a celebration called Christmas in the Castles.  These bring back sweet memories of my first year "on my own" and of all the friends I made there.
These are from 2011, our first Christmas together as a family.  I love the picture on the left of our first dance.  It is beautiful.  It makes my heart and mind go back to that day we became husband and wife.  I'm one lucky woman!  I love the ornament on the right for the exact opposite reason.  This picture is not a professional one but it captures our excitement for our first Christmas as a new family (as well as our love for our furry babies).   It has a "rough around the edges" appeal for me that brings back a lot of memories of those first few months as newly weds.

In 2012 we became a family of three.  I am a mother so of course I will always melt when I see a picture of my newborn baby.  He was so tiny and new this time last year.  It always makes me stop and remember how quickly time flies and that I need to treasure each moment I have with my angel.
And these are this year's additions.  Of course, it is conjecture to say they are some of my favorites but I'm hoping they become that.  That I will look at these ornaments in years to come and remember the fun (and crazy) time that we had making the ornament on the right and marvel at how much our little guy has changed since our family picture on the left.  I hope I always remember this wonderful month of December in which I got to play stay-at-home mom and how much I loved it!

I understand that my tree will never be featured in Better Homes and Gardens for having some amazing theme but honestly, even though many of these "perfect" trees are beautiful, they aren't my style.  A tree is a beautiful display of a family in my opinion.  It should be filled with character and memories.  I can't wait until my kid(s) can make their own ornaments to add!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Not So Picture Perfect

This is our family picture for our Christmas card this year.  We look happy, smiley, together, and in my opinion, the cutest little family I have ever seen. I love this picture!  Don't get me wrong, I am blessed with the two best guys out there!  But, believe me, we are in no way as perfect as this picture seems to suggest.  Last night reminds me of the truth that we never know what lies behind the pictures we see on blogs and social media.  People aren't as picture perfect as they seem so there's no use feeling like you don't measure up!

I was thinking about this as my husband and I tried to address and stuff the almost 30 Christmas cards of this picture to our friends and family (and this was the shortened list because I knew this would be no easy task).  My husband, always the letter writer in the family, was meanwhile hand-writing short notes to each of his aunts and uncles.  It sounds like a magical night during the Christmas season.  Mommy, Daddy, baby boy and holiday traditions (and don't forget the beautiful picture on the cards!).

In actuality, the scene was anything but picture perfect.

My son, in between pulling my hair and attempting to prevent me completely from writing, scattered an entire bag of Christmas candy across the living room and threw each and every item (envelopes, cards, paper, stamps, return address labels, my list) from the coffee table to the floor (multiple times).  Every few seconds my husband or I seemed to throw out a half-hearted "don't eat that!" "that's not yours, Liam; put it back" "there's no reason to whine" "play with one of your toys" or "let Mommy write, PLEASE."

We barely managed to address and label 3/4 of them (which became my goal for the night part-way through because one can only handle so much crying!).  There was no drool or serious folds in any of them (who knew that could feel like such an accomplishment?). Liam had multiple tantrums/crying fits and there was snot running down his face by the end of it.

I really wish I had a picture of our living room and his face.  It was in stark contrast to the pictures we sent out today, but, you know what?  I wish I had a picture not only because it would be fun to share it with you, but also because that is a memory I know I will cherish (and laugh about) someday with my husband.  "Remember that time when Liam was one and we tried to get our Christmas cards together just a bit too close to his bedtime?"

That memory isn't quite as pretty as the card we sent out, but isn't real life better anyway?

This hits home for me because I often find myself comparing myself to other moms.  Craftier moms, ones that make pancakes in the shape of snowmen and a sandwich that looks like Rudolf.  But, you know what?  There's more to every story than what we see on blogs, Facebook, and Pinterest.  We don't know what's behind all those pictures.

I want to challenge us mothers to be real with each other. That's how we can best help each other through this crazy beautiful mess called motherhood.

Parenting is messy, stinky, slobbery, urine-soaked, snot-covered, and in general, just not picture perfect.  But it is beautiful, fulfilling, heart-warming, love-filled, kiss-covered, and snuggly.  Now, tell me, what could be better than reality???

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Fun

I love Thanksgiving (you get to eat so much good food! What's not to love?) We had a so much fun this year!  It's crazy to see how much Liam has grown and changed since last year.  We thought it was funny that it worked out that he was Mommy's little turkey last year and Daddy's this year.

It has been years since the hubby and I have had such a long weekend off together.  We spent Wednesday night through Sunday morning with my parents. It was a much needed break filled with family time.  I think Liam's favorite part was our trip to Starbucks (crazy I know, but he LOVES coffee).  Nagyi and Nagypapi spoiled him and got him his very own decaf Pumpkin spice latte. They spelled his name completely wrong (Lea). I guess this is understandable since I ordered it and I don't think they picked up on the fact that it was for my toddler (I can't imagine why not ;P). But Liam did not mind at all! That boy was in heaven! (Don't worry...we aren't bad parents.  This was his first coffee and definitely a special Thanksgiving treat not an every day thing.  Plus, we figured it was better than him having sips of ours with the full caffeine load and boy can he beg and gulp!)

The hubby's favorite part was feeding the ducks and playing on the playground with Liam.  This is the first time we've done either as a family and it was a blast!  I can tell he is excited as Liam grows and changes into toddlerhood.  So much to look forward to!

My favorite part (other than the food and family time) was putting up our tree once we got home.  We have a tradition of getting the tree from Home Depot and carrying it home on foot (we aren't super strong or crazy or anything. We just live really close to Home Depot and drive small sedans and happened upon this tradition by accident one year when we had walked to Home Depot "just to look" at trees and of course found "the perfect one").  It was cold this year though so we broke tradition and strapped the tree to my car and drove it home.  We are both hoping to start a new tradition next year in which we go to a tree farm and pick a tree ("chop one down" in my husband's imagination). We got a beautiful tree this year, though.  One of the employees asked me what I was looking for and I said "fluffy".  He sure found one to fit the bill!

I loved watching Liam "help" with decorating.  He surprised me and wasn't really interested in the lights.  He loved the little plastic ornament balls though. (It would be my child that wants to eat ornaments instead of staring cutely at pretty lights ;).

I love our tree!  Full and fluffy with lots of lights and full of personality and memories! I  love looking through our ornaments and reminiscing every year.  I try to make my mother and mother-in-law an ornament most years and I usually make us one too. We've also gotten presents of first Christmases for our wedding and for Liam's first Christmas last year too.  I'll have to do a post about these sometime because there is too much to share here.

Liam loves the tree too but he seems to disagree with my decorating ;).  He LOVES pulling ornaments off of the tree.  We're still working on learning how to hang them back up.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

You're Doing Better Than You Think, Mama

I'm not patient enough.  I don't take enough time away from things that need to be done to play with my son.  I get annoyed by his whining when I'm tired.  I don't read him enough books.  I choose sleep over spending time with him sometimes.  I have to ignore him and do school work.  I've even told him to "shut up" once: I was on night shift and slept less than 4 hours a night and would get up with him the next morning.  I said it because he would NOT stop whining and screaming and I had no energy to be patient.  I sent him to daycare after giving him Tylenol when I wasn't sure he was completely over his cold because I couldn't miss another day at the hospital.  I've gone back to sleep after muting my son's monitor when he was crying because I just could not will my body out of bed.

I struggle with these guilty thoughts and others.  I feel like a failure as a Mom some days, sometimes many days.  I look on Facebook and other blogs and see other mothers who make homemade Halloween costumes, decorate their houses for each season, have spotless homes, home school, are constantly crafting, and have beautiful smiling children clinging to them and I don't feel like I measure up.

But then there are videos like this.  I realize other Moms often struggle with feelings of inadequacy too.  That it's natural to not feel like you measure up, because this job we are entrusted with is BIG.  It's a precious life that we are raising.  It's ok to feel like this because we love our children so much that we want perfection for them and we are far from perfection.  We are human and can only give so much. 

But perfection is NOT what our children need.  This video reminded me of that.  They need us.  Our best.  Our love.  Our example of how an imperfect person can be used to do wonderful things. They see our efforts.  The struggles.  The love. 
This video made me cry.  Hard.

My son can't talk yet like the kids in the video but I hear him.  He's telling me I must be doing something right.  He knows how much I love him.  He remembers all the long nights that I've spent rocking him and nursing him.  How that usually I'm the first to come to him when he needs someone.  How I can't put him down after he falls asleep in my arms because he is just too beautiful and I love holding him so much that my own sleep is not so important as a few more minutes snuggling with my sleeping angel.  How I'll put his needs above mine each and every day.  How holding him and kissing him is one of my favorite things in the world.  How I'll do silly things to make him giggle...over and over again.  How I crawl around on the floor playing with him when I get home after work.  He sees how he is my world and that I would do anything for him.
My son is a Momma's boy.  Just now, his daddy was saying he'd show me a cool trick.  As Daddy held him and spun around with my son in his arms, my son's gaze stayed fixed on me.  He would turn his head toward me no matter which way his daddy turned him.  He squeals when he sees me.  He cries when someone else takes him from my arms.  He gives me big wet kisses and sweet hugs when I come home and randomly throughout the day even when I've been home with him all day.  His first word was "Mama."  I can dry his tears by just picking him up and cuddling him.  And sometimes, no one else but Mommy will do.
He is well taken care of and so so loved.  So what if I'm not perfect?!  I'm his Mommy.  And I'll keep trying to be the best Mommy I can be. And that is the best gift I could ever give him.
So how about some confidence Mamas?  You're doing better than you think!  Grab a Kleenex and watch this video.  It's a great reminder.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Chemical Pregnancies are Losses Too

Chemical pregnancies are losses too. I say this because until I had a chemical pregnancy I didn't understand this. To me, it seemed not much different than the disappointment of many negative pregnancy tests followed by the arrival of your unwanted cycle. No baby. Disappointment. Same thing right?

But, it's different. This I can say for certain now.

My husband and I have been trying to have a second baby for 3 months now. Last month, I got pregnant. I know this because I felt pregnant: slight nausea, uterine cramping, lack of energy, ovary pain...and I just felt pregnant. I've been pregnant before so I don't think that's too presumptuous to say. Then we got a positive pregnancy test. We were ecstatic!

This pregnancy was a little different than the last. There was no implantation bleeding or nipple soreness like last time (which not everyone has either of those). I've heard that every pregnancy is completely different and I was looking forward to experiencing this truth.

We waited until I'd gone to the OB at 8 weeks to tell our families last time. I was planning on the same thing this time. But we were so excited! We couldn't wait. Especially my husband was excited to tell. And I was excited that he was so excited. We had decided to tell the family over FaceTime since the in-laws live in California and, while my parents are only 2 hours away, it would have been a few weeks before we'd see them. We wanted to get a big brother shirt for my son and have them notice it during our FaceTime conversation. So, after my 9-5 shift at the ER, I picked up my son, and rushed to the baby store. They didn't have one exactly his size but I figured he'd grow into it and it would do the trick. I couldn't wait to get home. I'd already told my mom we would be calling her that night. I was so excited!

I'm a paranoid person with a lot of medical training. So I took another pregnancy test to be sure before we called our families. I was now over 5 weeks so the positive would be strong, based on what had happened in my first pregnancy. So no need for  the whole first morning urine jig. I'd test, see the positive, then we'd call the parentals.

But it was negative. One line and stark white where the second was supposed to be. I was so confused.

I had heard of false negatives. Was this it? Should I have used the first morning urine after all? No, I knew, it should be a strong positive by now. The hormone doubles every 48 hours. My heart sank. I didn't want to accept it yet but that meant...I was going to miscarry. It was a chemical pregnancy. But I still held on (because logic and pregnancy hormones aren't often friends). Maybe it was a false negative? A friend advised me to send the hubby out for another test. That sounded good. No way I could sleep without knowing for sure anyway and two false negatives would be unheard of. I was already a sobbing mess.

I went to the bathroom and got my answer before I ever asked the hubby to go. Blood.  I still have 6 months left until I'm an MD but I know what that means. "Inevitable abortion" is the medical term. Or a "chemical pregnancy" or "early miscarriage" colloquially. But to me, the mother, it was a loss.

That's all I felt. Loss.

Then the cramping started. It hurt. Emotionally and physically. I wanted nothing but to curl up into a ball and cry. My husband is wonderful but he didn't get it. He was disappointed too. He kept saying that. But I wasn't just disappointed. Even though that would've been the "normal" response, I guess. Disappointment, after all, was what I imagined I would feel if I ever went through this. I was wrong. It was more than disappointment. I grieved.

My son crawling all over me is usually a joy, one of my greatest joys. I love his hugs, kisses, smiles. I love how he's a momma's boy and prefers me over everyone else. But I felt fuzzy, numb, angry. I didn't want him. I wanted to be alone. To wallow. To cry. My husband was loading firewood. I was angry because he left the baby with me. He didn't understand because I NEVER mind being left to take care of my son. But I wanted to stop being crawled all over. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to curl up and cry. And sleep.

My husband could understand the physical pain. He's always so much better at making me take something before I let pain get horrible. He gave me something strong I had left over from my son's birth. I took it. I cried, nursed my son in bed next to me, cried some more then slept, while the he
put our son to bed (I almost always put him to bed).

Then came morning. I had to live with myself. I had accepted the loss. I was ok. "It happened for a reason." "Mother nature knows best." The most likely medical explanation was a gross chromosomal abnormality incompatible with life based on how early it was. I was grateful it happened so early. The later, the greater the loss I assume. All these things my husband had told me the night before but I wasn't ready to hear them then. Now, I accepted it all. I was more rational. Less blinded by emotion.

But I also began feeling a lot of guilt (another stage of grieving, I guess). Guilt for being angry the night before at the two people I love most. For ignoring my son when he was trying to play with me. For being so emotional instead of rationally disappointed like my husband. Also, I felt guilty for the loss. Was it my fault somehow? I felt guilty for taking melatonin to try to adjust from night shift to day shift the week before. For getting an MRI 2 weeks before when I didn't know I was pregnant. For drinking a diet coke one night to survive a 16 hour shift when I was deliriously tired. Could I have somehow harmed my unborn child?

Today (2 days later), this guilt has subsided. I know that my role in this was minimal to none. Chemical pregnancies are common. All I can do is next month avoid all these things I fear may have harmed my unborn child. And try again. I am ready to try again. And, from what I have read, that is ok to do. 

I share this not so glamorous moment of my life because I think it's important for us women to be real with each other. To share our struggles so that the standard of motherhood is not so ridiculously high that we all feel like failures. Because there are many moments where that is exactly what I feel. Overly emotional and a failure. 

But it's ok to be emotional. It's ok to grieve differently than a man. I wish I had someone telling me this while I was going through this. Telling me that it was ok. That this was what I needed to do to move forward. So, this is my message: Grieve.  Cry.  It's ok to feel loss in whatever way you need to.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How Motherhood Changed Me

Having a opens something inside of you.  It's almost like the world splits in two, you're so open.  All different sorts of things can rush inside of you, can fill you up.  Some women fill with's hard to explain. Loving something so much--you're not prepared.  It's so big, so ancient and animal.  It's terrifying...It can make you feel crazy.
                                                                           ~The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

Before I had a baby, I was a type-A student.  In high school, I actually read textbooks and studied.  I was that annoying kid that would ruin the curve.  I didn't feel satisfied with getting all A's.  I wanted all A+'s.  (I swear I wasn't a pompous jerk...I was never in your face.  My parents are first generation immigrants so the pressure to achieve was very strong.) And, I was blessed with a brain that had the capacity to learn and a thirst for knowledge so A+'s was what I got.  In high school and college.  Medical school wasn't much different.  There were no A+'s but despite all the terrifying introductory speeches about all of us formerly being the upper crust and how that would no longer be possible, I did it again.  Top student in a few subjects and top quartile overall.  This was what I had been raised to view as success.  I was on track.  My parents were proud, my teachers were happy, and I felt accomplishment and pride in my hard work.

Then, my world shifted.  I was pregnant.

My husband and I wanted kids (a big family at that!)  but the timing was not perfect.  I was in my second year of medical school.  And if you know anything about medical school, you know that the most demanding year as far as hours spent away from home is 3rd year.  I boarded the roller coaster we call pregnancy hormones at this point.  I was up, elated about the thought of a life created by me and the love of my life growing inside of me.  Then I was down, questioning my very ability to be a mother, fearing pregnancy and labor then sleepless nights and active toddler years.... all in the face of the hard months I knew would come before and after my baby's birth.  I also feared losing all of my hard work, of failing, of quitting, of falling off track.

But then time flew (although when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy I would have said time crawled at a snail's pace).  As I began to feel my precious child move inside of me, I bonded in a way that I will never be able to do justice with words.  That baby became my focus.  I spent nights and study breaks organizing, dreaming, decorating, and picking out outfits for the hospital.  I still worked hard during the days (night shifts too) but my heart and focus were already shifting.

Then on a beautiful day in October, my world shifted even further.  The most beautiful (and very loud) baby boy was placed in my arms.  I was a mommy.

This tiny person became the center of my world.

The next days were a blur.  Someday I'll write about all the craziness that went on the week after he was born, but to fast-forward a bit, I spent two months at home, each day fearing how quickly the days were passing.  I dreaded January and starting back to my rotations like nothing I had ever dreaded before (I was one of those kids that actually looked forward to going back to school after long summer breaks.  Not that I didn't love summer but there's always excitement in a change of pace and seeing friends,etc.).

I knew leaving my baby would be hard.  But I didn't know how hard.  I don't remember silly details of that first morning but I will never forget how I felt.  I felt like my world was caving in.  Like I was trapped in some horror movie.  My mom stayed with us the first week and a half so it wasn't that I feared my baby wasn't being taken care was that he wasn't with me.  That base, animal instinct the author refers to in the quote above.  She describes it in horses separated from their foals later in the book:

    After we separated the foals from their mothers, we all stood around, watching their grief.  They screamed and rammed their chests into the fence, running circles in the little pen, colliding with one another in clouds of dust.  Their heads lifted, crying thin, anguished whinnies, slicing the air with their pain...there was nothing {we} could do to make it easier.

I needed to have my baby with me.  The separation felt like torture.   Nothing seemed important in comparison.

I have never been a big crier.  Until I became a working mommy.  I cried on my way to the hospital  every morning for over a month.  And most mornings for months after that.  I lashed out at everyone around me.  Like a wounded animal.  Especially at my husband.  For his love, I am eternally grateful.  His patience seemed boundless at times.  The hugs, the back rubs, the encouraging words...all despite my lashing.  I cried, I screamed.  I claimed that I was being tortured.  I can't imagine what he thought but I honestly was too wounded to care.

I hurt. But who was torturing me? My attendings?  No, they were only pushing me to excellence in a field that deserves nothing less.  My husband?  No, he was my greatest ally.  He was encouraging me so that I could go on not because he was forcing me to continue.  My parents?  While they would have been disappointed if I quit and the pressure to continue was undoubtedly great, I could not blame them.  Then who?  God? No! Even worse, it was a torment of my own devices.

My husband was right (of course).  I had signed on for medicine.  I had wanted a baby during school (granted we were a year early but it really wouldn't be much different intern year). Me.  I wanted all of this.

 That's when I had the greatest realization of all.

I had changed.  Me.  I was different. As a mother, my rosy image of finishing school and working part time once I finished residency had a big flaw.  I had to sacrifice about 5 years of my children's lives.  I would miss out.  And it wasn't until I became a mother that I understood what a great sacrifice that truly would be.  I wouldn't be there to see all the firsts.  These would be reported to me by someone else.  I wouldn't be the primary care giver.  I wouldn't know what soothed my child best, what he ate for lunch (unless I asked), what times he napped, or even what kind of day he had.  All I had was crappy second-hand reports.  I missed the smiles and the coos and the cuddles.  I wanted those.  I wanted them more than what I was spending my days doing.

But I felt stuck.  Expectations (of me, my colleagues, my school, my family) surrounded me.  To quit would waste the time I'd already sacrificed and that was unthinkable.  It was not something I could live with.  So what to do?

After a half a year of torment, I took the boldest step I've taken my entire life.  I stepped off the path.  I decided not to enter residency immediately after I graduate next year.  I am taking a year off.  And for once in my life, that's all I know.  I don't know what lies beyond that...residency?  working from home?  just being a mommy?  I don't know.

But I do know that I get at least a year as a stay-at-home mom.  And I need that.  I need to find myself.  My new self.  My mommy self.  I know she has been in torment these last 12 months.  She deserves a chance to speak.  I need the time to listen.  I don't know what my path will be but I do know that I deserve to find it.

I Am Surviving and Somehow Maybe Even Thriving

I was asked to write an essay about myself for an honor society recently. I think it explains how I feel on days where I can look back and feel a sense of pride and success over the past 3 and 1/2 years of medical school and last 1 year of motherhood. I thought I would share it as my first post so that on days when I am feeling like a failure, I can remind myself that I have done the best I can.  And honestly, that best is pretty darn good.

Here it is:

"I am a senior medical student who has made all A’s and two B’s thus far.  And I am graduating with my class in May 2014. This may seem like an obvious statement, but for me, it is not so obvious.  You see, my medical school journey has been somewhat different than what many would consider ideal.  In my second year, I discovered that I was pregnant.  Originally, I was overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty.  Medical school was challenging and time consuming enough without adding another generous helping of responsibility to the mix.  However, looking back, I see things differently now.  I cannot even begin to explain how my precious surprise has enriched both my life and medical practice.

As a future pediatrician, being a mother has provided continual and invaluable lessons on parental perspective.   I understand more than what a book explains or what observing other caregivers can teach a student about the incredible journey of raising a child.  This knowledge has affected my ability to see humanity in all of my patients.  I was surprised that I began seeing how everyone is or was at some point someone’s beloved child or mother/father, etc.

I admit it.  Motherhood has softened me.  Some would view this as weakness, but I feel it is an immeasurable strength.  My capacity for empathy has grown three sizes, along with my heart.
 As a medical student who was breastfeeding during clinical rotations, I learned time management even more so, I believe, than most of my classmates.  I had to be better, faster, and more efficient in order to make up for the time I spent away from the group while pumping.  At home, my studying became more efficient and focused as I learned to split my time between family and work.  I slept even less than my colleagues because I had a small infant consuming part of the very little sleep time we were afforded. 

The journey was difficult and there were times I doubted my capabilities.  These were times when my juggling act felt as if it were more than I could handle.  More than my human self that needed to eat, sleep, and have time to unwind, could emotionally survive.  Not only did I survive, but I believe I have thrived.  Becoming a mother in medicine has shown me a capacity to be more than I ever imagined. I have learned what it is to have to focus on more than just my medical career yet excel in it, regardless.  Perhaps I could have had better grades or higher scores and better reviews but I am proud of both my medical career and my family.  I have truly given my all in both areas. 
So, let me end by saying it again so that you can understand my meaning better.  I am a senior medical student who has made all A’s and two B’s thus far.  And I am graduating with my class in May 2014."