On newborn reflections (or baby chronicles: Part Five)

So much has occurred over the past 13 days of life. I could write dozens of 500+word reflections without scrubbing the bottom of the pot for material. However, as a new parent of a newborn, I have neither the energy nor the dedicated time to start such an endeavor. So rather than jumping headlong into one topic, I will list some quick points to broadly cover the gamut of the past two weeks. Also, this better reflects my scatter-brained mind-space.

We have had three interactions with the healthcare system as parents of the patient.

  • First, during the delivery and first few hours of life.
  • Second, upon returning home and initially learning of elevated bilirubin levels and increasing jaundice.
  • Third, which is ongoing, a concern for omphalitis, or an infection of his umbilical stump.

Being on this side of doctor-patient relationship is far more challenging than I had imagined. The logistics of preparing for even a few hours away from home with a newborn in our care requires time and effort, two resources in short supply. I am glad that Joonsu appreciates car rides, and is usually soothed into a slumber by the time of arrival.

As medical students, soon-to-be-residents, we know too much. We know the complications of minor physical exam findings. We know what can go wrong, instead of imagining the ways in which our little flower can wilt.

This is an inoculation period for us, as parents, to witness Joonsu without allowing fear to overwhelm us. And this is certainly a practice, not something that we have mastered. For now, I will build differentials and list the objective findings that support the diagnosis: otherwise, what is the value of the past four years of education?

Dad strength is lifting a really heavy thing a couple times. Mom strength is lifting one moderately heavy thing all day.

I say this after hauling load after load of laundry and picking up our 80# pooch to give her a bath, then seeing Mackenzi clutch Joonsu for hours and hours a day while breastfeeding. She navigates holding a 10# bundle of squirming life almost constantly. And as a result, is battling joint and muscle pain throughout her shoulders and upper limbs. 

I cannot imagine the struggles of a single parent. I cannot imagine the depths of despair that Yehia Mishriki must have felt going into labor with a pregnant wife and a toddler, only to come back alone from the hospital with two children. 

This whole process is nearly unbearable with a loving, physically capable partner and essentially two MDs between us. I cannot imagine the emotional strain that a single mother or father with limited education faces as they navigate the medical system and sleepless nights. 

To be raised by a single mother and to raise a child as a single father means so much more to me now. 

My first interview this past Friday. Very late in the season for a first, most of my peers are in their double digits for completed residency interviews, and thus a much deeper rank order list for the Match. 

The whole day went well. At my home institution of LVHN, so I knew the cast of characters that populated the day, either personally or by reputation. Afterwards, I realized this was the first time in over a month that I put on my professional clothes and spoke at length about something other than my son or my partner’s pregnancy. It felt good to be simply Eugene, even for just a few hours. And of course, Joonsu and Mackenzi came up regularly throughout the day.

My general impression? They like me and want to retain me as a resident for their founding class of psych residents. I like them and will rank them #1 for many reasons:

  • I would be functionally adept at navigating the EMR and hospital maze on Day 1 of my internship, something that might take months if I started fresh at a new institution.
  • I have working relationships with almost all of the psych attendings, nurses, and techs. When touring the inpatient floors, I waved hello to many folks. 
  • I love the idea of setting a tone for a residency program as a founding class member. 
  • Mackenzi loves the sister Family Medicine program.
  • My parents are discussing ways to support us, easing the burden of childcare if we Match here.
  • The simple knowledge that if the Program Director says she will rank me highly, I know that I can trust her. I will have a very sparse rank order list come February, and trusting that I will Match is a balm to my concerns as a new father. 

I envy Mackenzi’s connection and love for Joonsu.

I love my son in an abstract sense.

I have no concept of his personality, of his desires, or even his needs. I can bounce him when he fusses, I can rock him while he coos, and I can read to him when he slumbers. I feel he is a beautiful nugget of life, writhing with possibility. 

I do not think he knows who I am, yet. I still feel irritation and impatience when he cries in my arms, knowing that I cannot offer him a (useful) breast to soothe him. 

I know we are in the fourth trimester, when all he wants is mother and mother’s breast. I look forward to the coming months and years, so that “dad time” can mean more than just the moments when he squalls in my arms. 

I love my son, I just want to feel that he loves me.

Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

4 thoughts on “On newborn reflections (or baby chronicles: Part Five)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s