Married to a Resident (plus new baby)
Married to a Resident
I am married to my son’s father, living the “traditional” marital life: living together, sharing expenses, monogamous…well, the monogamous part is where it gets a bit blurry. You see I share my husband, Jason, with the hospital, 30/70. The hospital gets the 70 percent. He is in his second (out of four, or five if he decides to do a fellowship) year of his anesthesiology residency. Just on a side note, if you break down Jason’s salary to the number of hours he works he is paid 50 percent less than minimum wage. This fun fact is not a pro for his overall frustration level fueled by sleep-deprivation and perpetual days in windowless buildings. I am a newly stay-at- home Mom and housewife (I personally prefer Domestic Specialist) with our 6 month-old son, Gavin. Am I a single parent? Technically no. Mentally, physically, exhaustingly yes.
I have conflicting feelings about our whole situation. I can’t really be mad. We knew what we were signing up for when we began residency (kind of – looking back not at all), and we actively tried to have this baby. I can’t be resentful. My husband is working his body and soul to the core, pulling 24-hour shifts and 16-hour days six to seven days a week to give our family a solid secure future. I know he isn’t choosing the hospital over his family. I know it breaks his heart to miss basically Gavin’s first everything: holding his head up, rolling over, smiling, blowing raspberries and there is only more to come – or miss. I know a huge part of Jason’s overall frustration is he feels he is missing out on his son growing up.
However, when he walks in that door after one of his 24-hour shifts or 16-hour days with his exhausted look and short fuse (which, only naturally, I take personally – not irrationally projecting at all) I am instantly annoyed. I try so hard not to react to this boiling of my blood. I literally say mantras to myself as I hear the keys in the door: “Jenna, he’s tired. Jenna, bite your lip. Jenna, let it go. Give him time. Let him sleep. Don’t react. He needs time to decompress.”
But the second, “Ugh, just let me be. I just worked a 24-hour shift” comes out of his mouth, my blood boils over and the wrath is unleashed: “And I didn’t work a 24-hour shift?! My whole life is a 24-hour shift! I might not be doing intubations and IV lines but changing diapers, cleaning up spit-up, feeding the baby and the cat and dog, Target and grocery store runs, keeping up with napping schedules and laundry, which is a never ending conveyor belt of basically our entire wardrobe, is no day at the beach. Who am I kidding? My whole life is a never-ending conveyor belt. And let me remind you, my nighttime does not mean my day is over. Babies know no clocks.” Of course, none of this actually comes out of my mouth; more of running monologue racing through my head as I just sit giving the death-stare.
I understand Jason’s life cannot exclusively consist of Hospital and Baby. Jason is human too and needs his “me time” also. The nights Jason is home bath-time and bedtime feeding are Daddy and Baby time. Jason wouldn’t miss it for the world. However, the other 90 percent of the time the age-old problem antagonizes us relentlessly; there are just not enough hours in a day.
The last thing Jason and I want is to become resentful towards each other. In addition to all of this, we still have a marriage to tend to, which currently is on the most back burner that exists – it’s actually in a whole different kitchen. We have begun this new adventure of parenthood a meager six months ago. The navigation of our new life has just begun. I have stock in open communication as our GPS getting us where we need to go. The first step is acknowledging there actually is a problem: we’re lost. The second step is identifying the problem: enter destination. Third step: calculating. (I confidently predict there will be a number of “recalculating” instances before we actually successfully reach our destination.)