Within your first year of marriage the average couple is excited to celebrate a lot of “firsts” together. Like every other newlywed girl in the world, I was excited to spend our first married Christmas together and start our own traditions. This was rather naive of me, knowing that I am married to a neurosurgery resident and the likelihood of us spending Christmas together was pretty slim. DrH was scheduled to work the week of Christmas and was given the week of NYE off. This was a pretty decent deal, I originally thought. Leading up to the holidays I was mentally preparing myself to spend Christmas with my parents, brother and sister-in-law while DrH worked. I thought I had fully accepted it and I was going to be a grown-up about it and just be happy that I had family to spend the holiday with.
Christmas came and I would be flat out lying if I told you I handled it well. Yup, I cried, a lot. That day, it didn’t matter that my family was around, I was feeling crappy that my husband was not there to celebrate our first married Christmas together. Yes, I think I was more emotional since last Christmas DrH was in the hospital since he just had surgery to remove his thyroid cancer, but overall I think it just finally hit me that DrH is going to miss out on a lot being in medicine. Which in-turn meant, I was going to miss out on experiences with him. You know this fact going into this life, but knowing it and living it are two very different things.
I was sitting in church in the middle between my brother and sister-in-law on my left and my parents to my right. I was officially the 5th wheel for the first time. I looked around the church and all I saw were couples and families together and I just sat there with tears welling up in my eyes. Then when it came to say “peace” to your family and surrounding parishioners (I’m Catholic) my parents turned towards each other to kiss and my brother and sister-in-law turned to each other to kiss… I just stood there in the middle feeling so uncomfortable and frankly alone. It was horrible.
My family is wonderful and they did their best to be supportive and understand, but no one quite gets it like a fellow medical spouse. But, they did their best. My brother even offered that we all wait to open gifts until DrH got home and my mom prepared dinner later with the hopes that DrH would catch some of it. They altered our family traditions to accommodate the best we could.
DrH got home around 9:30pm on Christmas Eve and 8:30pm on Christmas. He caught the tail end of dinner and he stayed awake for about 1.5 hours before he passed out.
That was our 1st married Christmas… that is the reality of being married to a surgeon in training.
Now, I don’t say any of this for sympathy and I’m sure many of you reading this don’t quite understand. But, please remember that physicians truly sacrifice to take care of others and their family also sacrifices for them to be able to take care of others. They miss out on holidays, birthdays, their kids births, anniversaries etc. They do it because they love taking care of others. But, as a wife of a surgeon in training, I’d like to say that their family loves them and often wishes they could have them around more.