Friday, March 28, 2014

Life of a Doctor (in trainig) Mom

Dearest Chloe bear,

I can't believe you are already 15 months next week! It's been awhile since my last blog post. I've been so busy with residency lately so I thought this entry would be a good time to actually talk about residency. After all, the link to this blog is titled "chloeandresidency." I haven't really talked about the residnecy aspect of my life. Obviously because being a mom is so much bigger than the residency part but it is still a very big part of my life. After all, it is the reason that we are not together physically all the time.

However, before I go into that, I just want to talk a little about you and what you've been up to since you won't remember being this little! You are now running. We have put up baby gates in grandma and grandpa's house but you are SO smart if we don't put the safety lock also, you have figured out how to open the gate. You're currently experiencing your second sickness since you've been born. Seriously, props to grandma for that! It's nothing major like the last time. Just a little bit of a runny nose but I think it's good, we need to build up that immune system! Dad and I started taking you to gymboree classes on Sundays. We've been to two so far and you're a little shy but you're doing great! Couple weeks ago, grandma and I checked out the pre-school near grandma's house so that you can start part time once you turn 2 (don't worry not for another 7 months!). In addition, I just started ordering furniture for your room in San Diego. It was such a painful process taking down your nursery over a year ago when I realized that you would be staying in Irvine with grandparents but now that you're older, we have decided to start bringing you out to San Diego on weekends! But first, we need to give you your room back so we're working on it! Hopefully by this summer, you'll get to see some more of San Diego, my love! And best part, next summer, in 61 weeks to be exact, you'll be back with me!

So back to the residency part, so here I am on a Friday night at 10PM, at work... This job is definitely not as glamarous or nowhere near as glamorous as depicted on TV. Being a resident seriously sucks. But at least I have your dad who goes through this pain with me. Working nights and clocking in almost 80 hours this week is not so bad. In all honestly, I think my medical training teaches me to tolerate a lot of pain. What I am not so good at is the mental and psychological "warfare." You learn to take a lot of critique as a resident. You're always under the microscope. It's a lot of emotional turmoil. A lot of which I don't really talk about because it's one of those things that unless you're going through it yourself, it's really hard to understand. Because of this, it's hard for me to even relate to my close friends and family.

All in all, to the outside world, it looks like I have it all with the cute family and promising career. However, sometimes, I just feel like a huge dissappointment. Nobody critiques me harder than myself. I feel horrible to grandpa and grandma, especially grandma, for being a bad daughter. I feel horrible for not being there and I feel so selfish. Grandma has done nothing but support me but I know it's taking a toll on her. She's supported my decision to become a physician and it came with nothing but hard work from her part, which she continues do so in raising you. For her to give up being the grandma and actually becoming the primary giver to her granddaughter when she's nearly 60 was not an easy decision but she does it because I'm her daughter and she wants what's best for me. I will forever be grateful and I want you to realize just how lucky you are and despite everything including the fact that you won't remember your life with her, you will be reminded to be grateful.

I feel like a horrible sister to my brother, your uncle. I have not been there for him in so many ways because I was selfish. I went off to college, went off to medical school, got married, had a child and is doing residency. He's sacrificing so much of his current free time to help grandma raise you. He has done nothing but give and I can only hope one day I can pay him back for everything he's done for you. It's another one of those things that you won't remember but I will make sure you know. We're so lucky, little bear that we have so many people rooting for us and by so many people it is our family. There's nobody better than family to take care of you and raise you but the pain away from you is still not easy to deal with and it is something that I try so hard at work to hide. In addition, the sad truth despite the people rooting for us, I feel like sometimes there's more people waiting for us to fail. I don't want to share my cynicism with you so early so I won't go there today.

However, that is the thing about residency. You can't show weakness. It's like poker. You always have to bring your poker face, your game face. It's a constant stress of being "okay" when you're really not. It's when I get comments about having a child during residency and how it's a distraction. It's when I get comments from other moms who aren't doing residency that judge me from being away from you. And even worse, it's the comments from people I think that should be supporting me that crtique how I raise you. But I have to just keep it cool and plaster a fake smile on my face.

Right now I am at work, and I am so relieved to tell you it is my LAST day of working as the night float (which means I work all night for a week at time) and I have been doing so since January so I am now about 8 hours short of being done with my responsibility of workings night at least for this academic year. It's been one of the hardest things I've done (definitely not as hard as taking care of you as a newborn...but we won't go into that now!). And I thought it would be fitting just to describe my emotionanal and mental state with you as I remember it in the moment.

It's so hard, little bear. I know I'm suppose to be mom and to you, you'll see be as somebody invincible and I hope you see me as super human! But when you're older, you'll realize mom is just as human as anybody else. I fall victim to the same emotions as to anyone else under stress and hardship. I try hard and I do believe I'm better than most at hiding how I feel. If residency teaches anything, it's definitely how to hide your emotions. I hate it but it's part of a game. But I can be honest with you, my daughter. It's definitely NOT easy. It's really is so hard. I feel like nobody understands sometimes. I know your dad does beause he's going through it too but in some ways, his struggles are a little different than mine. I struggle the most as a mom being away her child. I think the emotional abuse of residency is something I've learn to let go as I realize that I am doing this for you. I like the idea of having a career to show you that you can be a mom and a physician and I also need it to make sure if anything happens even the worst case scenario, I am prepared to support and take care of you.

But there are times, I am weak. I start comparing my lives to my friends and to people who are basically not residents. I see them going out and having fun. I see myself not being able attend my friend's weddings and birthdays or I see them enjoying life, having date nights and going on vacation. I can easily get bitter and on a week like this, I am truly tested. It's very easy to fall into the trap of self pity. But I want you to know that I do not regret anything. Sure, I may sleep a little less. I am definitely a lot more stressed out. And no matter how many donuts and french fries I eat, I can't seem to put on any weight. I am sitting in a hopsital reading room on Friday night but this is my life. This is the life that I chose. This is the life I am so blessed to have. I have a career that truly matters.

There's a reason why it is so hard. Because one day and what is I am working for is at times will truly effect somebody's life and I am given a chance to have that responsibility as a physician. How many people can say that? But at the end of the day, being your mom is truly the most blessed career I could ever have so even this, even this great career that I could potentially have, is really all for you. You are truly my light at the end of very very long tunnell and I thank God so much for blessing me with the role of a life time, your mom.

I love you so so so much. I can't wait to see you tomorrow!! And if you're feeling better, maybe we'll go see the Easter bunny! Love, mom

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Advice on love, marriage, and life from the 28 year old version of your mom

Dear Chloe,

You are now officially 1 years old! We celebrated your first birthday! I know you won't remember any of it but I will remember it for the both of us. It was a perfect day to celebrate both your birthday and my first year of motherhood. It was beautiful and you were the happiest baby! I want you to know I meant every single word I said in the slideshow that we showed you at the party and one day when you're older, I'll let you watch you again.

My vacation also ended so I'm back in San Diego doing the whole residency and missing you thing. Your dad is currently in Boston, Massachusetts for his fellowship interviews. Being alone (well, not completely alone since I have Po here) makes me realize even more just how lucky I am to not be alone in this world.

This entry is one that I wanted to write for awhile. As I get older, I am sure my outlook on life will change but I want to remember how I am as mom right now. In my daydreams, I always think of the future and your well-being. I think about how there is this huge responsibility now that I have brought this tiny little human into this world. You will ALWAYS be my biggest accomplishment and being your mom is the most rewarding role I have ever been blessed to have. Some of my thoughts go to what I hope to teach you and if I will be able to guide you in the right direction.

So here it is!

1. Travel the world! I can't stress this one enough. Do not be afraid to see the world. I will make sure you do. I am so lucky to have grandpa and grandma, despite not being the most well-off family during my childhood, show me the world. We had vacations every summer and at that time, I didn't really care for it but as I got older, it gave me the courage to explore the world on my own. I went to Spain in high school with my Spanish class, which showed me the world has so much to offer. Grandma took me on Korean tour to see all of Europe in 2 weeks in summer of 2005. It was awesome but it wasn't enough for me. I wanted to see more so summer of 2006, I went abroad to Cambridge, England. It was the one of the best summers of my life. Here is proof that your mom was once cool!

Cambridge University, Formal Hall


Tower Bridge in London, England

Paris, France
Eating snails in Paris

Trying gelato in Italy!

Platform 93/4 at King's station in London, England

Jumping photos in front of Versailles

Jumping photos in Madrid, Spain

2. Choose your friends wisely. I know when you're young that your friendships can only be superficial. Unfortunately, it will be a painful process when go through puberty and have to figure out who you are and what kind of person you want to be. As I got older, I realized that I can act like an extrovert but I really am not. I can function very well in social settings but I prefer the company of small groups or just one-on-one. I am lucky enough to have friends in my life that I can really depend on. You don't need 500 facebook friends but you do need friends who will hold you hair back when you've had too much drink, who will cry with you because the sashimi wasn't up to par, and who will be a part of every single important event in your life and want to grow old with you.

 From my white coat ceremony...

 to getting married...

to graduating medical school and to now, supporting me through motherhood and residency. I can't wait to grow old with these two.

3. Do not be afraid to be proud of yourself. I will teach you humility but I will also teach you to be proud of yourself. There is a fine balance. I believe that self-worth is how you become a secure person. It's how you know who you are and what you believe in. So you can bet if you bring home an A, it'll go on the fridge! But if I see you ever using your talents in the wrong way, there will be consequences! I have your grandparents to thank for how I turned out. They were always my biggest fans, supporting me every step of the way. They never had to say anything. I knew through their actions and their sacrifice. They were and are still so proud of me that I became and am now proud of myself.

4. Nothing in life worth having is easy. Trust me, baby girl. I tell myself this every single day. This blog in itself is for me to show you that this life you will eventually have did NOT come easy. Your dad and I are working every single day and it means so much more because you are in the picture. We have every intention of giving everything you need but there will be rules and constant reminders of all the sacrifices that were made to get to this point. I will never forget because this future that I envision for you is the only thing that is getting me through this time.

5. Do not be afraid to be different or to stand out. This piece of advice is also something I have to tell myself on the daily. People never root for somebody else to succeed. Unfortunately, that's the harsh reality of the world and human nature. On the outside, I know I look like I have it all and on the inside, I can tell you personally that I know I have it all. But like I said before, it's not easy and a path like mine can be very lonely. Nobody really understands what I'm going through other than your dad. People that love me are sympathetic but I always say there's a difference between sympathy and empathy. But I've gotten to the point in my life where I have that self-worth I was talking about and I am very secure. I love my life. I love just how different it is from everybody else's. I fight everyday to keep it and I will never stop fighting to be different. Doctor. Mom. Resident. Wife. I say bring it.

6. Do not take anything for granted. Have you heard this one enough yet? I will keep this one short. Life is short. Make it meaningful. Be grateful. You are so blessed. You were brought into world with so much love surrounding you. You have all the resources you need at your finger tip. It's up to you how you want to use it.

7. Be respectful. I will try not to pull the "I am your mom so you have to do what I say" card too often. But I am your mom. So you have to respect me. I don't mean just me. Respect your elders especially your grandma. You won't remember this time in your life but she's the reason that you are getting raised in an environment full of love. She's the reason that mom and dad are able to finish residency without any distractions. Be respectful to everyone, including your enemies. There are times where people will do you wrong. But let it go. Be the bigger person. Everyone makes mistakes. I do it all the time. But I try to be respectful. I recognize when I'm wrong and move on. At the end, as long as you're conscience is clean that's all that matters.

8. Respect yourself. There are so many people in this world rooting for you. Don't disappoint them. We don't expect you to be a doctor or whatever. Right now, all I can ask you stay a healthy baby. As you get older, all I can ask is that you respect yourself. It all goes back to that clean conscience. Can you be proud of who you are and what you do at the end of the day? You won't be a baby forever as much as I like. I want you to grow up to be lady (as much as I'd like to keep you as my baby...).

9. Never settle. My dream is one day for you to meet your prince charming and for you to have your happily ever after. I can say with confidence that I am living mine in my marriage with your dad. I don't mean with just boys. Don't settle with settle with anything. I could have been a pharmacist. My life would be hell of a lot easier but when I do something, I do it all the way. I have this mentality and so does your dad so that's why we get along. I don't want you to do anything that doesn't make you happy but when you find something you really like, go for it. Do whatever it takes. As for your future prince charming, you'll know when you know. Trust me.

10. We are always here for you. I can't emphasize this one enough. You are so important to me and your dad. You are never ever alone. No matter what happens in any moment, our love for you will never ever cease. We are your biggest cheerleaders, advisors, and supporters. We live and breathe for you now. You are our world. You make us a family. We love you so much more than these words can say. Don't you ever forget that!

My hope is that when you're a teenager or maybe a college student in your early 20's and you yell at me  at how uncool I am. I can show you this post. Hey, rude teenager or aloof college student, I wasn't that much older than when I wrote this entry so maybe you'll listen...

I love you so so so much.

Love, Mom

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chloe's upcoming birthday is also an anniversary of my first year of motherhood.

Dear Clo Bear,

I can't believe you are almost 1 years old! Before I start this entry, I will go over your milestones. Everyday that goes by, I love you even more. Every minute that passes, I am positive that being your mom was my true calling. Your personality is becoming more and more evident with each day. You are so ridiculously stubborn. I know you are definitely my kid.

You now have 7 teeth!

You have an angry face!

You can stand and kind of walk. You have been pulling to stand for months but only lately have you been able to stand on your own completely and you now you can take lots of steps! But you still fall on your butt a's super cute!!

You had your first photo shoot!

And most recently you met Santa! You weren't very impressed...but it further convinced you really are mine!!! 

It's been awhile since my last entry. Somebody told me the second half of the first year of baby's life goes by so quickly because there are so many milestones that occur at this time and it really is true. You went from barely being able to sit on your own to walking all over the place in these short six months. You also went from male pattern baldness to a whole patch of hair! 

Time really has been going by quickly but it doesn't make the time away form you any less painful. Every week (that I can) see you is a reminder of just how grateful I am to have grandpa, grandpa and your uncle watch over you while I can't because you are growing up so beautifully. 

Today I just wanted to reflect on my first year of motherhood. As you went through all the changes you are suppose to this year, I went through a lot of self-reflection and maturation as i have been blessed with the role of being your mom. 

Being a mom has been the most challenging and rewarding role I have been allowed to have. Medical school and even residency pales in comparison. Those first few months of sleep deprivation still haunt me. It was so difficult for me to realize that I am not the one in control. You are! 

Then there was the guilt of coming back to residency. It was definitely a humbling experience that I could not give you everything that you needed. Sure, I could put you in daycare at week 6 and I'm sure if I had to I would be able to survive both motherhood and residency in San Diego. However, I know I would be doing such a disservice to both of us. How can I beat family to take care of my baby girl? But the guilt never leaves me. I still want to be the one doing the day to day tasks for you. However, I have grown a lot from being able to let these things go. I know very well that completing residency has a different meaning with you in my life. It's not just a career ambition or a financial mean. Your father could very well finish residency and take care of both you and me. However, I want to show you that your mom is not just a mom. I really want to be your role model. I want you to look up to me as a woman that has it all, a mom who is caring, nurturing and loves you more than life itself and also as a strong female individual who is smart, ambitious and was able to chase her dreams of becoming a physician. 

Every single morning as I am driving to work, I call grandma and hear your sweet voice over the phone and I know this will all be worth it. Thank you my sweet baby girl for teaching me to be a better person. From you, I have learned the true meaning of patience and that there is no better feeling in this world than loving your own child.

I may not seem the most conventional mom to the rest of my world but this is me. I am your mom. I love you more than life itself. You are my everything. Everything of mine is yours. Don't you ever forget that. 

I told dad recently that every weekend spent with you feels like a "first date." Every weekend, I am so excited to see you and each weekend, I convince you that I am mom and by the end of the weekend, you believe me. I do this every time I see you. I fall in love with over and over again.  So it's now week 24 of 100 until you're with me forever. Here's to 76 more "first dates" with my baby girl.

Love, mom

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My two weeks as a stay at home mom and Chloe's first fever.

Dear Chloe Bear,

I really can't believe you're already over 9 months now and less than 3 months away from being 1 year old! Mommy just finished her two weeks of vacation this past weekend. Grandma was given some time off during this time and went on a trip to the east coast with Grandpa. I had 1 week with grandma and 1 week solo (including your dad) but this is foreign territory for us. This was my first time with you alone without grandma by my side.

The first week flew by. Grandma and I spent some time planning for your first birthday. We booked a venue and decided on a photographer and an event planner. It was a great week! We went to your first party. It was nice waking up to you every day and be the person doing the day to day. Every bottle, every diaper change and even every cranky outburst, I cherished. It made me feel like a real mom.

During my second week of vacation, grandma and grandpa left and your daddy come down to start his 1 week of vacation. The first couple days were great! The three of us and sometimes four of us if your uncle Arthur wasn't working would just hang out. We had daily morning walks to get breakfast and I was again very thankful to do the day to day activities with you. In a short period of time, you adjusted to grandma being gone and I became your number one person. I felt so blessed and grateful that despite the lack of time I spend with you that you still chose me.

Tuesday was like any other day and after I put you to bed, I soon fell asleep next to you. Couple hours into the night, you rolled over and hugged me. You were burning up! You had been teething that week and you didn't seem to notice just how hot you were. I took off your pants and tried to cool you off but my mommy instinct said something wasn't right. I woke up your dad. We took your temperature and we gave you some tylenol. You are such a good baby. Despite all of that, you went back to sleep. The next morning you were still hot. I did a formal rectal temperature and you, my poor baby was 103 degrees. At that point, medical degree or not, I was just like any other mom. I freaked out! It didn't matter what I learned in medical school. Despite the fact that you were still eating, making wet diapers, your snot was clear and your fever responded tot tylenol, I didn't care. You were my baby and you were sick and nothing was good enough until you were back to yourself.

Anyone that knows me will know that I am a perfectionist and I have obsessive compulsive disorder tendencies. The biggest adjustment to being a mom is learning to be flexible. Coming back to work this week reminded me of coming back to residency after maternity leave and the pain and anguish I felt of being an inadequate mom. I don't have those feelings anymore. I see you growing up happy and healthy and I can't ask for more. I can only look forward to the future and how one day, you'll see a woman in me that you can look up to and there is nothing more I can ask for in life.

People who don't have children have no idea just how hard it is. People without children ask how my vacation was and I say taking care of a sick, febrile 9 month old is not vacation. People with children would completely agree but those without say "at least you're away from residency." They have absolutely no idea.

I guess the point of this entire is that being your mom has been the most challenging and at the same time most rewarding experience. Residency is a close second but I know it is a temporary challenge. I am already in year 3 of 6 of my training. In a matter of less than 4 years, I'll be an attending physician. Being your mom is something I signed up to do for a lifetime.

It has been so difficult on my part to accept that I am not perfect and that I cannot be everything. During my pregnancy, I fooled myself thinking I could do it all including residency and motherhood with the orthopedic surgery resident husband.

What I realized now though, which took a long time was that I am doing it all though. It's just in a different way than I imagined. It took almost a year but I can safely say that those initial criticisms that I've had from other people (omg! I can't believe you're not breastfeeding the entire first year to why have a baby that you can't raise?) I can now ignore and feel confident in my decision to leave you with grandma.

I make the most of my time in San Diego. If I'm not working, I try to stay on top of my reading and other expectations of residency outside of work. I try to work on bettering my relationship with your father because two people doing residency in itself is already a high stressful environment in a marriage and marriage is work. Marriage is another commitment you make for a lifetime and being the perfectionist I am, I work on it every single day with your dad. The rest of my time is spent on thinking about you. I hope you know just because you're not physically here with me that you aren't on mind all the time. My heart breaks every time I see another baby but I'm no longer running to the bathrooms and breaking down in the middle of the reading room.

I still call grandma every day, twice a day and you're always on speaker and I tell you every single day that I love you and I miss you.

By the time you're able to read this blog, you're not even going to recognize the girl in this blog. You'll look at mom and think mom's got it all. Mommy is an attending physician. Daddy is an attending physician. My parents are doctors. They love each other and I hope one day to have a marriage like theirs. And I hope one day, you're going to look at me, you'll see somebody who is happy in both career and family life. I want to be a role model to you not just as your mom but as a female who didn't chose between having a career and a family. Nothing worth having in life is easy. Residency is not easy. Doing residency with motherhood is near impossible but I am doing it with the help of others. It took me a long time to realize what I am doing is now is my best and when you're older, I hope you agree with me.

Because one day my love, you're going to be a beautiful, grown up and mature woman and I want to be that person you look up to you and say "one day, I want to be just like her." That is what keeps me going every single day. Because you're not going to be a baby forever. At some point, it won't matter who does the day to day activities because one day, you'll be capable of doing that yourself but doing what I am now will provide the ability to give you a strong female role model and an example of someone "having it all" and the chance to one day to be your best friend and not just your mom.  Getting to that point in our lives will be work but it is going to be a wonderful future. Just thinking about it gets me excited!!

But for now, I just look forward to finishing my boards and bringing you to San Diego.  June 2015 can't come any closer for me! 85 weeks to go!!

Love, Mom

Some pictures from our vacation!