Hey everyone! My name is Landri Christiansen, my husband, Ryne, just finished his first year at RVU. I was asked to share our story about what it was like to have a baby during Ryne’s first year of medical school. I’m hoping my post can help give you insight into whether or not you should start a family if you’re considering it, and provide useful information for the students/wives/partners who may already be expecting a baby.
We found out in April of 2022 that we would be expecting our first baby in December, which happened to be during my husband’s first year of medical school. We were due on December 26th, and were thinking that was perfect since it would be during Christmas break. However, as some of you know, babies come when they want to! My water broke over Thanksgiving break while we were up in Salt Lake with family, and we ended up having our son, Lincoln, a month early on November 26, 2022. This just so happened to be a few days before Ryne’s final respiratory exam, and interfered with the rest of his schedule due to our baby needing a 2 week stay in the NICU. Luckily RVU was great at working with him, and they helped him reschedule his exams for later in the semester. Ryne did have to travel back down to St. George while Lincoln was still in the NICU to take his respiratory exam, but was able to take his other exams after we were home. His last exam was scheduled during the first part of Christmas break, but he was fortunately still able to finish out his semester, and enjoy his break, despite this slight setback.
SHOULD I HAVE A BABY MY FIRST YEAR OF MEDICAL SCHOOL?
I decided the easiest way to convey my ideas was to compose a list of pros and cons to having a baby your first year, to hopefully help you figure out if it’s a good choice for you! I personally had a really hard time coming up with the cons of having a baby, haha! But I tried to think of what other people might potentially see as the negatives!
Motivator for husband to study since he has a new dependent
Rocky Vista is extremely family-oriented and understands that babies come when they want, and they will work with you if your baby comes at an inconvenient time.
You have a sweet baby to snuggle while your husband studies, and someone to keep you company when your husband has to go into school.
First year is traditionally one of the easier/less demanding, and is more flexible than following years. A lot of the lectures can be watched from home!
There are lots of medical school spouses with kids who are there to support you if you need it!
Provides a cute study buddy for your husband!
Sleep deprivation, especially in the newborn stage (it’s worth it though!)
The adjustment can be hard when your student first goes back to school and you’re more on your own
Can add stress if you’re working and there’s scheduling conflicts with husband
May add a daycare expense
MY ADVICE FOR CURRENT AND FUTURE MOMS:
I honestly would say that if you’re wanting to have a baby, the first year is a great time to do it. Your student will have a more set schedule and the ability to be home more often to help you. Having a baby definitely isn’t easy, but there are so many resources available to you to help you get through. If you are unable to work, there's medicaid, WIC, CHIP, and SNAP (food stamps), that can help eliminate some of the biggest expenses that come with having a child. RVU also has so many other spouses with kids which provides a safe and supportive environment for both you and your baby.
My biggest advice to survive the first year would be to try to get your baby on a schedule as early as possible, which isn’t really possible during the newborn stage but will get easier as time goes on. Also, if possible, allow your spouse the opportunity to bottle feed your baby in the morning. I typically had Ryne do the 6 and 8 AM feeds, so that I could get a few consecutive hours of sleep before he needed to go into school. I would also stress the importance of making friends with other medical school spouses and going to activities when you can. It makes life so much easier when you surround yourselves with others who have gone through what you have. Also make sure you are taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. Motherhood is a hard adjustment and you need to be at your best to be able to care for your new little baby. It is totally okay to take some time for yourself! Let your spouse take care of the baby while you do something you love! Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your baby, cleaning, or whatever else you may need to make the transition easier. Lastly, snuggle your baby and enjoy every moment. They grow so fast, but it is so fun to watch them hit all their new milestones! I personally have no regrets and would encourage you to have a baby if you are thinking about it. Lincoln is one of the best things to ever happen to me and has only made my life better, even as a medical school wife!
MY ADVICE FOR CURRENT AND FUTURE NICU MOMS:
I did want to add one last paragraph to help parents who might have to endure a NICU stay while in medical school. The best advice I have for you is to surround yourself with a strong support system and to remain optimistic. There may be days when you feel like your baby took a step backwards after making progress, but I promise there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
The days and nights are long and hard, but try to stay as optimistic as possible. Celebrate the little achievements your sweet baby makes, and remember that they are trying to learn and grow too and that can be a little difficult for them. If any of you end up with NICU babies, please feel free to reach out to me if you need someone to talk to. A NICU stay is hard no matter if it's a single day or multiple months. Going home without your baby is never easy and requires a good support system to get through.
I am seriously here if any of you need me! I understand how hard the transition can be and how important it is to have a good support system to get through. Please feel free to reach out to me if you ever need ANYTHING, and I hope my blog helped answer any questions or clear up any concerns you may have had about having a baby during your first year of medical school!