You’ll Be A Great Doctor’s Wife {Surviving My Husband’s Medical School and Residency}

The beginning of second year of medical school and the day of his white coat ceremony.

“Oh you’ll be a great doctor’s wife” an older coworker told me the morning I returned to work after my engagement the night before. It seemed an odd way to offer congratulations.

Whatever I thought it might have meant to be a doctor’s wife, I had no idea.

I didn’t know what that meant 8 years ago and I guess I technically still don’t. I am currently a resident’s wife. Previously I had been a medical student’s wife.

My husband and I met our freshman year of college. I don’t remember exactly when I learned he wanted to become a doctor, but I’m sure it was early in our friendship. He was applying to nursing school when I was first introduced to him and medical school was always his ultimate goal. We remained very close friends all throughout college and began dating our senior year. He was always the smartest person I knew. I was attracted to his intelligence and his drive. He had a long term goal and was working towards it.

The first few years of our relationship and into our marriage, he was working full time as a nurse while also taking some upper level science classes for medical school. I remember the day he got accepted to LSU Medical School, I was working in our home office when he came in with our then almost 1 year old on his hip wearing a LSU Medicine baseball cap and said “I got in.”

The day we found out he was accepted

Those 3 words would forever alter the course of our lives.

When my husband began medical school, we had a 1 year old. By the time he graduated, we had a 4 year old, 1 year old and I was pregnant with our third. There have been many hard times during these years, and I know they are far from over. Back in the early days of medical school, my husband would be in class all day and then he would stay in the library studying until I had put our toddler to bed and then he would come home and continue studying. Once those few years went by, he would be working long hours doing his various rotations. Once he did three months of away rotations, and I was home by myself with a 3 year old and an infant and working full time.

This time has tested me, it’s tested him, and it’s definitely tested our marriage.

I recently talked with a group of friends about this and I heard the phrase “joy in the struggle” a lot. I am not exactly sure that’s where I am. I feel so deep in the struggle that at times it’s hard to imagine that there is joy living here too. We definitely have happy and lighthearted moments but most of the energy gets spent on simply surviving.

It feels so easy to get bogged down in comparing our life to other people’s. This family has grandparents who help all the time, or this family seems to have zero money struggles, and that mom is blessed with good sleepers. But the truth is everyone has struggles and I can’t possibly know what someone else may be dealing with privately. It also doesn’t matter; this is my life and this is where I am.

Graduation day

Our family has to make the most of this time.

I realized that as much as the thought of fast forwarding through this period may sound appealing, it just wasn’t going to happen and I shouldn’t wish it would. There has been so much struggle; whether it be financially, or emotionally, and many times simply just logistically. I’ve struggled with resentment and he’s struggled with guilt. I complain I feel like a single parent and he worries he’s missing too much.

But these years are still important.

They need to be lived and I need to be present for them. These are the years babies were born and first steps were taken. This is the first year of big kid school and kindergarten graduation. There is no rushing ahead. Times are hard. But this is our time, and we simply have to make the most of it.

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Tara grew up all over south Louisiana and currently lives in Metairie with her husband Josh, and their 3 kids Dax, Dane and Delta. Tara is a buyer for a local food-service distribution company and Community Director for New Orleans Mom. During the week she can be found replying to emails, carpooling kids all around, giving out hugs and kisses, and looking forward to bedtime. Weekends are for family adventures, naps and cheering for LSU and the Saints. She loves trying new foods, travel, and she and her family love all things New Orleans, but especially Mardi Gras.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I can definitely relate to all of this. The struggle is so real. But knowing the outcome, that it will never be this hard and there is a light at the end of the tunnel makes it so much easier.
    My husband is a second year LSU resident as well. And with a very precocious 3 year old, and a brand new baby. Those months of long rotations, long call, night call, months where he has to work at a hospital down in the bayou and isn’t home at all. It makes it hard. Not having any family in he area to call for reinforcements makes it harder.
    But as moms, we make it work.
    And damn it if we don’t do it with class.

    Here’s to you strong momma. ❤️

  2. My mom was there where you are 47 years ago. Once the schooling ended and the bills were paid, our family had a great life. Hang in there, even though you must be very tired, cherish every minute with your little ones, those days are long but those years are short.

  3. As an attending spouse I can only say it gets better. Make sure you have some solid friends so your family has the support it will need. And have fun, it goes by faster than you would think.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I am currently struggling with husband being in residency and I am experiencing many, many of the things you write about. Your positive words are so helpful.

    • Hang in there! I know how tough it is, we’re still in residency and some days/weeks/rotations are better than others. I do finally feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s so so hard.

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