Friday, March 11, 2016

Our Official Rank List

In my previous post, I discussed the process of getting thyself to Match Day.  In this post, I'll discuss our actual list.  As I briefly mentioned previously, the rank list decision was a difficult one to make.

As far back as I can recall- even prior to Austin being in med school- he and I have dreamed of living on the east coast...specifically in Portland, ME.  About two weeks before Austin started school, we took our first trip to Maine and the fell. in. love!  From that point on, we discussed how, ultimately, we wanted to land in Maine for residency.  At the beginning of med school, residency was so far away that it didn't actually seem real.  We talked and dreamed, but really it always just felt like some eventuality that probably wouldn't ever come to fruition.

In the blink of any eye, we found ourselves in the middle of his third year, the point in time when, as a student you must start making serious decisions regarding your speciality.  If you have any residency programs of particular interest, you apply to do an externship with those programs. I was just starting my third trimester with Greer and we quickly realized that if we were serious about matching at Maine, now was the time to do something about it and that something would likely mean Austin leaving me at home with a newborn for a month.

Austin sent out just two applications for away rotations- one to Kalamazoo, MI and another to Portland, ME.  Shortly after, he was offered spots at both.  Ultimately, he accepted the rotation in Maine, scheduled two short months after the birth of our baby.

There were many tears and a bucket-load of anxiety leading up to his time in Maine, butn the end, the things worked out very well- as they do. I stayed with my parents for a week. Then, my parents surprised me and generously flew Greer and me out to Maine to visit Austin during my final week of maternity leave.  To round out Austin's time away, mom came down and stayed with G and me for two weeks as I started back to work.  Upon his return home, we found ourselves between a rock and a hard place. We were just as enamored with the east coast as we ever were, but now there was a baby to consider.

His other interviews brought surprising new geographical interests...specifically, Upstate New York.  Who knew?  In the end, we found ourselves with a solid top three, but no idea how to rank them.

KU in Kansas City (aka home), Rochester, NY (the dark horse), and Portland, ME (the long-time dream).

Oh, how we agonized.  We changed our mind by the day, and sometimes- no exaggeration- by the hour.  Our talks went a little something like this:

Staying in Kansas means moving back to our beloved Kansas City, living near all of our extended family, constant help with Greer (and any other children that should arrive during the next three years), Greer getting to know all her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Kansas City means affordable cost of living, the possibility of buying our first home, putting down roots, finding friends that will likely last a life time.  Kansas City brings with it the opportunity to start really, truly working toward our goal of moving out to my parents land and building a home. Kansas City is a virtual guaranteed match, so it takes all the stress and wonder out of the process.

Going to Maine means following a dream we've had for years.  It means a chance to get out of Kansas for just a handful of years- something we've always wanted to do and likely won't have the chance to do again.  Maine means ocean views, every outdoor activity imaginable, incredible scenery, a new type of independence.  Maine means abandoning fear of change and really going for it.  It means new friends, new adventures, and then the chance to come back home after.

Ultimately, we ranked Maine number one and KU number two.  We still don't know if we made the right decision, but we felt that if we didn't at least try, we would always wonder.  This means that more than likely, we will match at one of these two locations, given that Austin is basically a lock at KU KC.  But we truly have no idea which place we will end up at.  He has a pretty good shot at Maine, too.  Either way I'll be happy and either way I'll be sad.  We have one week until we find out.

And just for fun, a few photos of our week together in Portland, ME last October.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Road to Residency // Match Day

It's been four years in the making, but we have finally arrived at what is the pinnacle of Austin's medical school career: The Match.  Match Day is a mere 2.5 weeks away.  It's quite the ordeal to make it to this point.   Allow me to elaborate.

The entire process begins in the Fall semester of your fourth year of medical school.  To be fair, the entire process starts with realizing about a year prior to graduating with your degree in Aerospace Engineering that you don't actually like engineering, but you go ahead and work as an aerospace engineer, just to be sure before saying, nope, I don't like this. Then you apply medical school. Four times. Then you get accepted and work your ass off for three years which brings us right back to fall semester of the fourth year. 

At this point, you spend an excessive amount of money applying to programs in the speciality your choice.  Then you wait on pins and needles for interview offers to start rolling in. As this happens, you remain glued to your phone, responding as quickly as possible to said interview offers, because if you don't respond to an offer basically the moment it arrives in your inbox, you will lose that spot to someone who responded quicker.  That's right, the programs offer interview slots to more students than they can actually accommodate, because this process isn't already painful enough.  As the interviews roll are accepted, you also must book travel to all accepted interviews.  But don't do it too soon!  You might get a new offer to a program of higher interest at the last minute, in which case, you cancel the previous offer (and some other student receives a last minute offer to your now-open slot, leaving you both precisely two days to book cross country plane tickets.  It's great for the bank account. 

The interviews themselves are affairs that takes place over two days. The morning prior any given interview, you head to the airport at an ungodly hour.  You spend the travelling and praying for no delays or missed flights, hoping to arrive with 30 minutes to spare so you can brush those teeth prior to your evening activities. The evening activity is always dinner with the program's current residents.  This portion is paid for, but the transportation to and from isn't. The evening is spent schmoozing and attempting to get a feel for the type of person accepted into said program, as well as how happy {or miserable} they are.  Hopefully you make a good impression, because these residents give feedback as to who they think would make a good fit.  The following day is the interview itself.  You don your finest attire and spend four-five hours being shown around the facilities, interviewed by several different attending physicians, the chief resident, and the program director.  Sometimes simultaneously, sometimes seperately.  It's all very nerve-wracking.  The day concludes with a lunch of hospital cafeteria food in the company of your competition.  Then you race back to the airport to catch the flight home, again praying for no delays or missed connections.  You land back home around 11pm, climb in bed by midnight, spend the following day doing laundry and likely start the whole process again the next.  This goes on for approximately three months.

Finally, after the ultimate interview has ended, you sit down with your spouse to develop a rank order list of the places you interviewed.  You discuss which is better: staying close to home, free daycare, lots of help from family, good pay, cheap housing, and familiarity OR , taking a chance on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, moving the the east coast, and living by the sea in Maine, as you've always dreamt.  While you discuss the programs, the programs also discuss you.  Each program across the country complies a rank list of those students they interviewed. 

Once everyone has submitted their lists, a computer algorithm works its magic and {almost} everyone is matched up with a program.  Theoretically, you should be able to submit your rank lists the evening that they are due and be provided with a match the following day.  This is not the case.  Instead, you must wait 2.5 more weeks until the Monday of "Match Week."  That Monday, at 12pm Eastern time, you can log into your official match account where you'll find a message that either says, "Congratulations, you've matched!" or the ever-dreaded "You did not match."  Let's not even discuss that second message.  Of course, if you do match, they do not tell you where.  You are again made to wait- this time until Friday, which is officially "Match Day."  Again, at 12pm Eastern time, all medical schools across the country begin their Match Day Ceremonies during which each student is called to the front of the room and handed an envelope containing precisely the rest of their lives.  One by one, the students open their envelopes in front of their families and cohort and announce where they have matched.

And that's it!  You finally know!  Four years, $200,000 of student debt, and one baby later, you've made it!  Hallelujah!  Holy Shit!  Where's the Tylenol?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Photo an Hour // Greer @ 7 Months

I've seen a few of these posts floating around the blogsphere and I always adore reading them!  I love getting a nosy peak into the day to day activities of others.  Some feature gorgeous photos for each hour, but that just isn't the case for mine.  I'm not even close to capable of that.  It is, however, a pretty typical peek into a day with Greer as a 7 month old!

6am:  I have been making an effort to get up between 5:30-6 most weekday mornings to snag enough time to enjoy a cup of coffee and some blogs before G wakes up.  This was one of my favorite pre-baby rituals and even though it doesn't happen nearly as frequently or for as long, I'll take what I can get.  

7am:  I hear G cry out from here crib, so I go fetch her.  I'm lucky in that she sleeps until 6:30ish most mornings and from there will typically play happily with her pacifiers for 30ish more minutes before she wants to get up.  I've found that if I got get her before she calls out, she's not as happy.  She needs her morning alone time, just like mama! We spend a few moments each enjoying our morning beverages before playing on the floor for a bit.

8am: Crazy as it may sound, G is already down for a nap 1.5 hours after waking.  I take this opportunity to clean up from breakfast while taking in a podcast on managing PCOS.  I was hoping after my pregnancy that my body might figured itself out, but no...my PCOS symptoms have come back full force after about 6 months postpartum.

9am:  G is still napping away, so I use some of the time to squeeze in a quick HIIT workout- an important aspect of managing PCOS and something that I need to make a priority.  Jillian Michaels is my go-to gal!

10am:  G is up and ready to play.  I bring her mattress out to the living room in prep for you 7month photo shoot.  The light isn't quite what I want, so I just leave it out for G to play on.

11am: G and I take a quick trip to the grocery store.  We were running dangerously low on La Croix.   A bunch of tulips ended up in my cart as well.  With this 70 degree weather in February...I couldn't help it!

12pm:  G is back down for another nap, so I used this time to get some computer work done including making a call to insurance (woof) and adding my name to the wait list for a couple of library books.

1pm: G is still snoozing!  I'll take it!  I spend this time tidying the rest of the house.  I adore a clean house.  I had so many people tell me that I would have to learn to live with a messy house once children came along.  I haven't found this to be the case at all.  Austin's and my two tricks include seriously limiting the amount of baby items we have (I'm pretty sure some of our friends/family think that Greer has no toys) and doing a daily tidy.  Austin is a huge help with this, so it doesn't fall all on me, especially on days that I have to work.

2pm: I spent a good 30 minutes desperately trying to capture a photo of Greer laying on her mattress for her 7 month picture and hardly got any I liked.  I got a lot of cute out takes of her sitting up, though, so...there's that.

3pm: Enter the witching hours.  At some point during the photos, Greer slipped into a bit of a mood.  Sometimes a change of scenery helps things out, so we took a trip to our local thrift store in search of new duds for G.  Always looking for cute, affordable clothes..double points if I can find pricey brands second hand!  Today we found nothing and the outing didn't do much for Greer's mood, as evidenced by the photo below.

4pm: Dad is home from his rotation!  Hallelujah!  We take advantage of the incredible weather and head out for a walk through College Hill.  We somehow managed to land a rental home right across from a park in one of the more desirable neighborhoods in Wichita.  It will be so hard to leave this home in a few months.  It's been a great place for us these past four years.

5pm: Our walk crossed into the five o'clock hour and we took advantage of the empty swings on the playground.  Swinging is a new favorite activity for Greer!  Bad mood be gone when you've got your dad, gorgeous weather, and a swing!

6pm: More outdoor activities!  Greer and I sat out on the deck and watched Austin grill up some chicken for dinner!  G eventually had her bottle, while Austin and I cracked open an adult bottle of our own.

7pm: Baby is in bed!  So thankful we have a good sleeper!  She is absolutely ruining us for future kiddos.  She is asleep anytime between 6 and 7pm and generally sleeps for 12-13 hours.  Praise!  Now that Greer is off to dreamland, Austin and I enjoy our dinner and wine on the back deck as the sun sets.  Afterward we made our way inside for a couple of episodes of Fixer Upper before hitting the hay!  All in all, a day I'm happy to remember!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Taking Stock // 01

Making: an effort to have more patience.
Cooking: Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup.  #lentenfridays
Drinking: Coffee Orange La Croix, Red Wine, in that order.
Reading: Obama's pick from 2015: Fates and Furies.
Wanting: so many things for our new house, but I'm on a strict spending freeze until we've actually moved.  I'd hate to buy something and end up not have a place for it.  And there is no need to buy more things that we'll just have to move in four months.
Looking: for cute, simple PJs for Greer.  We never seem to have enough and finding non-garish baby PJs is difficult and/or expensive.
Playing: silly games on the floor with Greer.
Eating: too many lara bars.  I really need to start snacking on veggies instead of nuts.
Wishing: someone would make Austin's residency rank list for us.  We cannot decided how to rank the programs.
Waiting: for March 18th when we will finally know where we are moving for the next 3 years.
Planning:  A huge garage sale and a farewell photoshoot in our little house in May before we start packing up.
Enjoying: my current job schedule only working 2-3 days/week.
Loving: being back upstairs in our lofted bedroom.
Wondering: if we might be able to possibly buy our first home during Austin's residency.
Hoping: that I can stick to my Lenten promises and make some small changes that really last.
Listening: to what I'm pretty sure is some sort of an animal living in the walls of my house.
Needing:to get serious about getting some core strength for my next pregnancy.  I do not want to deal with the pain that I had with G's pregnancy.
Smelling: Theives wafting from the diffuser.
Feeling: Mildly perplexed about what Greer might want at any given time.  She's got the 6-7 month fussies.  Are those a thing?  Feels like it.
Wearing: Scrubs or yoga pants, depending on the day.  I should probably check to see if my jeans still fit.  
Watching: I'm late to the game, but just started watching Fixer Upper.  I love the show, but boy do I ever hate JoJo's decorating style.  I'm just not a shabby chic-distressed wood-shiplap kinda gal.
Bookmarking: Fun ideas for Bullet Journaling...my little list-making heart is head over heels for this idea.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lofted Bedroom

We have lived in this old airplane bungalow for nearly 4 years.  It's 110 years old and chock full of character.  My favorite room is this lofted bedroom. It is the only upstairs room in the house, has 3 walls of windows, and as long as the sun is up, it is flooded with gorgeous, natural light.  When I became pregnant with Greer, we ended up moving downstairs due to back pain and the fact that I had to use the bathroom four times a night.  I was sad to leave the beautiful space, but glad for the newfound convenience.  I figured a move was inevitable once the baby arrived.  Fastforward one quick year and we now have a sweet six month old girl who is an excellent 12-hour-a-night sleeper.  We decided to savor the last few months we have in this home and move back to the loft.

This past weekend, Greer went to stay with  my parents so that I Austin and I could prepare for a yard sale we will be having this spring prior to our move.  This upstairs bedroom had become nothing more than a glorified storage area.  We spent the weekend working hard to declutter, to sort through items to be donated, sold, or kept, and to rejuvenate this space to be used as a bedroom once more.  This light-filled room has become an afternoon retreat for Greer and me.  She loves to play on the floor with her toys and I love to watch her from the bed while reading a good book.  Here's to enjoying these last few months in a home we've grown to love so dearly.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Greer Josephine // A Birth Story

Greer Josephine was born at 5:24pm on July 16, 2015. It was a hot, summer evening, four days after her due date. The road to her birth was a long one, for many reasons.

I had an appointment with my OB the day before she was born. The appointment was supposed to be two days later, but I was beginning to lose my mind from constant back pain, lack of sleep, and overall anxiety. Austin's Step 2 board exam date was looming ever closer and the thought of him either leaving us for three days less than a week after she was born or potentially missing the birth was starting to become a very real possibility.  I called my OB's office and asked to move the appointment up.  At the previous week's appointment, I was dilated to 1.5 centimeters and was 40% effaced.  My doctor solomnly informed me that it could easly be another week, despite my due date being a mere two days away.  Needless to say, I was quite upset to learn that despite a week's time having lapsed since the previous appointment, I had made zero progress other than my cervix having "ripened."  Again the doctor warned that it could be at least another week, possibly two.  Upon hearing that news, I asked for an induction.  Two more weeks, I did not have. I think he could see the desperation in my eyes and, thankfully, consented-- provided there was room at the birthcare center. 

Twenty minutes later, a sweet older nurse came into the room and told us to go home and pack those bags because we needed to be at the Birthcare Center at 8pm that evening.

We left the office with the biggest, dumbest smiles on our faces.  We were going to go have a baby.  In eight hours!  The remainder of the day was a mishmash of loose ends- Austin crammed in a few extra hours of studying (how?!). I frantically washed our bedsheets, cleaned our floors, set my out-of-office reply, and packed the final items into my hospital bag.  Austin and I went out for woodfired pizza and gelato that evening.  It was the same restaurant we ate at the night we found out I was expecting with the baby that we lost.  It seemed appropriate for our final celebration as a family of two.  When the gal behind the gelato counter took our orders, she asked us if we had big plans for the evening.  We giggled and told her "we're going to go have a baby!"

The drive to the hospital was quiet. As we walked into the birthcare center, I felt myself relax in a way that I had not throughout the entirety of my pregnancy.  For all those months, I struggled with intense anxiety and fear that something terrible would happen to my baby.  But in that moment, I knew that we had made it and I was really, truly going to meet my daughter.

Immediately upon check in, I was instructed to change into my hospital gown.  There was no pomp and circumstance.  My night nurse simply said "Take everything off and put this on with the opening in the back.  Then we will get your IV started."  I remember looking at Austin, wide-eyed.  He just smiled and nodded. Labor was induced by 9pm.  The night was long.  Contractions started almost immediately and came regularly at two minutes apart throughout the night. My nurse was kind, but overbearing, and frankly, a little loud.  She cared deeply, which was obvious, but she exacerbated my discomfort by loudly asking about my pain and bringing me juice that I did not request.  Austin slept beside me on a cot, miraculously undisturbed.  By 6am, the contractions were growing ever more painful and I was running on very little sleep.  I buzzed for the nurse to ask for something to help take the edge off.  A new new nurse appeared- a sweet older woman named Evelyn.  She was quiet and firm and exactly what I needed to get through the process.  After speaking with the physician, she gave something through my IV to help with the pain and eased me into a warm bath.  The next hour was easily the very best part of my labor.  I was finally able to sleep with a little bit of pain relief and the warm water felt like.  By 7am, it was time to start pitocin since my body wasn't making much progress on its own.  The next 5 hours were a complete blur spent walking around the room, leaning on Austin, crying, and making strange noises.  By noon, I could no longer labor without medication. My body was making incredibly slow progress, only dilated to a four after nearly 15 hours of labor.  I couldn't imagine continuing without an epidural.  Within 30 minutes, anesthesia had been paged, my epidural had been placed, and suddenly, I could relax.

Despite being pain-free, the events of the day remain foggy.  At some point, Evelyn checked me again and I was only at a 5.  She said it would be unlikely that I would have the baby on her shift.  This somewhat frightened me because I couldn't bear the thought of my night nurse returning for the ultimate event, but there was nothing to be done, so I dozed once more.  At 3pm, Evelyn checked me again.  "It looks like this baby wants to meet me afterall," she joked.  "What am I at," I eagerly asked.  "You're complete," she smiled.  She told me the doctor would be in soon to break my water and that afterward, I would labor down for a bit longer.

My doctor arrived around 4pm and broke my water without issue.  A quick cervical check later and he announced that the baby was "right there" and we would soon begin the real work.  Not long after, room came to life with people.  The warming light was turned on above the bassinett by my bed and I knew it was time. I was instructed by Evelyn to try a practice push and after one eight-second count, was told to stop.  My doctor reappeared and asked if I was ready.  It was 5pm.  With each contraction, Evelyn told me when to push and quietly counted to eight.  My doctor was less involved with the process than I expected. He calmly stood back and remarked "You're pushing exactly the way you should be.  That's perfect."  With each contraction, I squeezed my eyes closed, held my breath, and pushed with all of my might.  After three pushes, Austin told me she was almost here!  My doctor had me give one final push, pause, and another half push.  Then it was over.

I will never forget opening my eyes and seeing her sweet little body being held out for me to take.  I began to weep.  At that point, I forgot everyone else in the room.  I never saw the numerous hands wiping her down or Austin cutting the cord. I didn't see anything except her little pink body against my own.  She was perfect and she was mine.

It was quite some time before everyone cleared out and it was just the three of us.   We came to the hospital with a list of possible names- eight, to be exact.  But immediately upon seeing her, I knew her name.  In fact, I honest to goodness, couldn't remember the other names on our list.  When everyone finally left, Austin asked me what I thought her name should be.  I told him that I knew what it was from the moment I saw her.

"She's Greer," I said.  And she most certainly is.