Friday, May 10, 2019

When I first became pregnant with Levi, I had the perfect plan:
When he was three months old, my (now ex) husband and I would move to Chicago for me to finish my clinical rotations, he would sleep through the night at 4 months old, nurse until he was 2 years old, I would match my first try and I would have everything I want in life.

When Levi was 2 years old, I had finished the last two years of medical school after living alone in Chicago, I was divorced, Levi still didn’t sleep through the night, I wasn’t matched, but at least he was still nursing.

Levi just turned 3 years old, he just started sleeping through the night, he finally stopped nursing 6 months ago,  I matched into my dream program and will be moving away to a new city. Finally, just as a thought I would have a few years ago- I have everything I want at this point in my life.

In just one month, Levi and I will be moving to Indianapolis, once again in a city where we have not yet developed a support system. The raw truth- sometimes I am extremely overwhelmed by this, particularly when I think about overnight shits and finding childcare for the holidays or if Levi is sick. Other times, the majority of the time, I am confident we will make it work and excited to see how.

Why? Because we made Chicago work even when being there alone was unexpected, I had no consistent income and I had significant stress in my personal relationships.

This time I was able to plan for this (and will have stable income 😜).

I know I will be busy, but I hope I find the time to write about some of our accomplishments and obstacles during residency. I hope to encourage others to go after their dreams- whether you are a single mom becoming a doctor or a big dreamer!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Comprehensive Exam Guru Review

When I entered my fourth year, it was like the floodgates of obligation burst open. ERAS, Step 2, CS, CK, interviews, and etcetera were quite overwhelming. After navigating the first half of interview season, I finally completed Step 2-- it was as if a large weight was lifted off my shoulders.

In order to prepare I used ExamGuru, Uworld, and attempted to used Step-up to medicine.
 Exam Guru was by far the most comprehensive and useful tool that I used. My first impression was that the website was visually pleasing and extremely organized. It was clear that the program designers intended to alleviate any frustrations and/or nerves associated with using ExamGuru software. Exams created enough stress.

Software: The Software was organized and easily navigable. Also, the fact that the program is website also speaks to the software’s ease of use and access. Creating test was simple. No download was necessary allowing me to pick up and study on any device.

Explanations: I found that Exam Guru was superior to other aids including physical books. I discovered this through my studies, where I found it difficult to retain the information when using the books. However, ExamGuru's explanations were easy to read and comprehend.

More control over test: In ExamGuru, in addition to choosing the regular topics of concentration (cardiology, pediatrics, etc) for each exam you can also choose specific tasks, allowing you to really fine tune your exams to address your weakness. Task you can choose to focus on through each exam including Diagnostic Technologies, Healthcare Delivery, Health Promotion, Disease Prevention, Management, Establishing a Diagnosis, and Scientific Understanding of Mechanisms. I also liked that you are not limited to 40 questions a block.

Duplicate Exams: The "Duplicate Exam" feature was essential. As a mom with a toddler,
studying between naps and meals was a way of life. Often times I would get distracting mid-block to attend to Levi, letting time run out and not thoroughly going through the explanations.  The “Duplicate Exam” feature is like a reset button for the question block.  No more wasted questions!

Guess feature: In addition to the traditional "Mark" feature, Examguru also allows you to label a question as "Guessed" and provides you with additional feedback on your guessed percentage. This allowed me to really fine tune my studying based on true knowledge instead of gaining false confidence in questions I only guessed correctly.
Difficulty: Exam Guru classifies its questions based on difficulty and complexity. This allows more insight into my knowledge of the materials. Additionally, it built my confidence when I correctly answer questions that were marked as difficult.

Check out all the other features:

Overall I was very pleased with Exam Guru and my complaints are relatively minor. I believe the mobile app could be better designed. Taking practice exams was cumbersome because it required constant scrolling up to submit the answers and back down read the explanations. I would have preferred the "submit my answer" button to be present at the bottom of the question instead of the top. Lastly, I believe subscribers would benefit from practice in abstract and statistical questions. These were present on my actual Usmle Step 2 CK, but I did not feel that I had practiced a large amount of those.

Uworld vs. Exam Guru
After completing approximately 50% of the Exam Guru program, I registered for Uworld, and would alternate back and forth between both banks. I was able to properly compare and contrast the features of both programs. My preference was for Exam Guru as it allowed for more customization and control over my studies. Also, I found that Exam Guru was easier to navigate and use. I feel the in-depth and well-organized explanations of Examguru laid a strong foundation.  At the end of my study period, my average between the two programs only differed by 3 points.

Update January 5, 2018:
I Opened my exam scores Wednesday morning and was in absolute shock! I scored significantly higher than my goal and my score was way higher (like double digits) than my highest practice exam. My score from first practice exam increased by over 20 points. I could not be any more elated!

Disclaimer: I received a free subscription to ExamGuru in return for this review. All information in this review is my true and honest opinion

Additional information:
-On my final score report my Examguru percentage correlated with the Uworld percentage column of the commonly used score predictor:

Friday, August 4, 2017

9 Reasons Breastfeeding Sucks! (Pun intended)

I am not writing this post to discourage breastfeeding what so ever. In fact, I am currently nursing my 15month old son, who was EBF (Exclusively breastfed ) for 6 months and is nursing with no end in sight. I went into breastfeeding with an unrealistic expectation of cuddles and bliss. The articles I found online only highlighted the flowy dresses and flower crown side.  Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but that doesnt mean it won't be challenging. No matter how beautiful it will be, there may be hiccups so here are my  unedited thoughts- 9 reasons breastfeeding sucks!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pumping By Rotation

Pumping while completing my rotations has been awkward, even though no one has ever made me feel that way.  Before third year started I wasn’t’ sure how I was going to get pump breaks or who to email. One day I sucked it up and emailed the clinical coordinator about having to pump. Fortunately, the clinical coordinator was someone who breastfed their son for a year and had just recently ended her breastfeeding journey. She completely understood. I met with her before school started and she actually took me to my first attending doctor, let him know I would need to pump, how frequent and asked if I would have a room there to pump. I was also lucky that the hospital provided me with a lactation room that was ah-maz-ing. 

Amazing door to my pump room

    Dimly light, cozy, comfortable and with relaxing background music.
It is located within the Women’s center and every time I entered I am greeted warmly and met with encouragement!

When I first thought about pumping, I thought it would be a relaxing break every few hours. Even though I would be hooked up to a machine, I could get a few minutes of studying in. In reality I could of, but most of the time I am frantically massaging -trying to get at least 12 oz. out and back to the hospital floor as soon as possible.

My biggest concern was looking like an absent student, even though I all attendings said they understood. Because of this, I was able to make it so I could survive on one pump session a day without significantly dropping my milk supply. I just had to be sure to get the same amount of milk as I would before. I was able to accomplish during my first rotation, though I don’t recommend it because I feel like I was just lucky. A week before 6 months my supply did start to go down, and I was on my psychiatry rotation. Which meant my days ended early so levi wouldnt need as much milk sent. Also at this time I added a 2nd pump session earlier in the day.

Overall pumping can be time-consuming, inconvenient and annoying, but overall, it is so rewarding knowing that no matter how busy medical school is, I can provide the best for my son.

Pumping by Rotation

Pediatrics was my first rotation. Even though I was nervous when I had first started my pumping journey, I knew that pediatricians would be the most likely to understand and welcome the pumping breaks. I found that I could easily manage my patients and attend any teaching session without my pumping breaks interfering. For this rotation, I just used one of the empty exam rooms in the outpatient clinic. This saved so much time.

Rating 10/10
Based on ease, timing and my comfort level

My second rotation was Ob/Gyn-another field that is very pro breastfeeding. The first day I went to pump at 1pm and both of my patients delivered during the 30 minutes I was gone. I was a little letdown (no pun intended), but lucky this wasn't the pattern for the rest of the rotation. For the most part, I was able to balance predicting when a patient was going to deliver and would sometimes go and pump sooner so I didn't have to worry about painful engorgement or missing the delivery..
My rotation partners have really included supporting me as a part of 'team work"
One time during this rotation while pumping one of my patients was going to have to be brought back for a C-section and my classmate texted live updates so I was able to make it to the OR just in time.
I did push pumping a little too late once and leaked, but overall I was able to make it through the rotation Without any significant difficulty.
-I did have overnight shifts and that was a little tricky. I would have to pump during the shift for milk during the day, and while sleeping during the day I would still have to wake every few hours to pump for milk. It really threw off my rest and puming at night was hard to balance because I had no idea how much Levi ate overnight.

Rating 8/10
-Points lost because of missing deliveries and possible difficulty detecting appropriate pump breaks

With shorter shifts, I thought psych would be one of the easier rotations to pump on, but during this rotation, I found pumping to be the most inconvenient. Even though we were at the hospital for 7 hours. We were only with the doctor from about 9:30-130 or 2. An hour of this time we spent on our lunch lecture and about 1 hour a day was spent pumping (two breaks about 30 min each). The psych unit is locked and often times the psych team was asked to do multiple consultations within three different buildings of the hospital. I felt like I wasted a lot of time in transport, waiting for someone to open the psych ward door or chasing the team down on one of the consults. During this rotation I felt like having to pump significantly impacted my learning experience.

Rating: 6/10.

The potential of a 10-14 hour surgery had me nervous about this rotation, but it was actually pretty relaxing and I didn't feel uncomfortable at all. When I told the neurosurgeon I would have to leave to pump he was like ' 'that’s’ so cool!' Not that I was pumping, but the fact that I have a son & breastfeed. He even made a short Comment as how awesome it is for long term benefits. He left it up to me if I wanted to get scrubbed back into a procedure after pumping. 
Also the OR is located right under my pumping lounge, so no scrambling between buildings.
The PA would talk about the details of the operation that allowed me to adjust the times I pumped to align with slower parts of the procedure, while patients were being prepped or in between operations without to much discomfort.

Random story: In the middle of an operation the surgeon asked me how long I plan to breastfeed. (everyone could hear). I told him at least a year and he was like "Well I really think you should go longer than that!" Apparently, he has family members who are very involved in Le Leche League! I do want to go longer than a year but am normally questioned about that decision and didnt want to "risk' having to defend it in te OR, so I downplayed my answer. Itgreat reat to have some pro breastfeeding encouragement, even if it was akwardly in the middle of a quiet OR!

Rating: 9.5/10
Even though pumping was manageable, I did have to leave procedures to pump.

I was pretty nervous about neurology because it has a busy schedule but the time in between rounds were pretty independent. You were expected to see all your patients, new consults and write your notes before afternoon rounds. It was pretty easy to manage, I never even told the attending I needed to pump, and was never behind. On an occasional busy day, I would skip lunch or snack on the go, but overall it was manageable

Rating 10/10

Overall I have found the hospital to be very supportive of my breastfeeding goals. I look forward to updating you more on this journey!

Love Well,

Sunday, October 9, 2016

My Birth Story

Short Story: 3 days after water broke,induced, no epidural, natural birth

Long Story: 
4:30 Am on a Tuesday Morning, Ben and I just settled for the night and cuddled up into bed. Thirty minutes later I felt a sudden gush of water. I sat up quickly and told Ben rather calmly that I think my water just broke, so he should start packing his bags. I even gave him some suggestions, like 
“Don’t forget to bring extra shorts in case you want to get into the birthing pool with me” and “Lets take Nopey Bear on a walk”. 

Knowing what the midwives would tell me to do, I skipped calling them right away, put on a pad, and rested in bed for thirty minutes, stood up…. Yup, another gush. I didn’t pee on myself, my water actually broke.

-Contractions would start any minute now…

I called the midwife, and after she told me to lie down for thirty minutes and check, I informed her that we already confirmed it, and off to the hospital we went. Contractions never came, and an induction was almost started, but the doctor of the practiceknew my goal for natural birth. He came and informed me that What the hospital was starting was an elective induction and informed me on waiting for contractions to start on their own
. I agreed to wait, but we were hoping they would start within 24 hours. We were almost certain they would start in 24 hours actually,but i was still surprised when I was sent home to wait. More than 2 full days passed, and I was living like a baby. Waking ever 30 minutes to an hour to change my adult diaper. 

I am not really sure how so much amniotic fluid could just.. keep…coming!..but it was.
It was miserable! 

I could not sleep well constantly soaked. In between attempted naps and diaper changes, I walked, bounced, stretched, begged, used any method to induce labor… Nothing! 

When it was getting close to 3 days of my water being broken, I called the practice. I wanted everything to be as natural as possible, but We couldn’t wait any longer. Once your water breaks, you are at increased risk of infection… I had had 4+ internal exams at the hospital… all which increases that risk even further. Blah blah blah

So, Thursday afternoon, it was back to the hospital. I was planning to have an unmedicated water birth, but that plan changed. Pitocin it was, but even with the impression that Pitocin makes contractions a million times worst than natural birth without it, I was determined to still have water birth, no epidural. I was terrified of Pitocin not working and getting a C-section, but overall my perspective changed. I was ok with anything medical necessary, but I would feel really let down with myself if I got an epidural. Once I checked into the hospital, I just knew I would be very dilated… nope 1 cm! and it stayed that way for hours!

Around 2am Friday morning the midwife checked me again. I was only 4cm, disappointed and exhausted! I had not slept more than 2 hours since my water broke on Tuesday. It was the most exhausted I have ever felt. The excitement of my son was the only thing keeping me from crashing. I, still to this day don’t know how I managed to stay awake as long as I did. At this point, I was extremely anxious. When I heard I was only 4cms I almost had a panic attack, I never told anyone that
(my birthing partners aka Mommy and Ben will just find that out reading this post)

Through my contractions, I would frantically repeat what the midwife would tell me in my head...

…(Ok her version was more calm and wholesome).. 

Even though I was panicking, I still was expecting labor to get worst. I had my aromatherapy, music, etc. But I never unpacked my labor support bag. I didn’t want to use my “tools” too soon and find them ineffective by time the real pain started. I mostly used the birthing ball and actually found rolling my hips in a circle during contractions very helpful.

The midwife offered me something for anxiety. Also by making me less anxious, it would take the edge of the pain. I needed to get some rest considering the past few days. This was the first time I somewhat slept in days! I was able to relax. To be honest, the pain was still the same! But I was able to breathe through it… the thoughts in my head stayed the same, but their tone was different. I was now calmly repeating “You’re taught to be afraid of pain, but this pain is natural, its only temporary, it will be over soon, just breath”. And I did, I was able to breathe and at some point I actually fell asleep between was more like a haze, its hard to explain… but in less than 2 hours, the contractions were so bad and my panic went from 0 to 100!.


Ben had to rush over and unplug me from the machine and walk me to the bathroom. I saw some blood in my underwear and had the nurse come. Oh it is just natural they reassured… Back to the bed I went, contractions now quite severe.

At this point I started calculating, ok I remember the medical school lecture that said you dilate about 1cm an hour.. I was four cm so the max I am at is 6… At this point I told Ben 

    “I don’t think I can do this anymore, I am done, I think I want the epidural”.

 I was pretty heartbroken, thats when Ben said
       “Its ok, you can do this, the worst part is over”. 

I told him, no its not, and started telling him my reasoning, but I told myself I will give it one more hour without an epidural and decide how I felt. I am so glad Ben “lied’ and said the worst part was over. I knew it wasn’t true, but it got me to wait it out..first and last mention of the epidural. I didn’t want it but got scared and tired. That’s why it’s  important to have a birthing team who knows you and your goals. I think I would have been heart broken otherwise. 

Less than 5 minutes later:

I had the strongest contraction ever, and I feel like I was going to.. um well use the bathroom on myself :/ … Ben and my mom were not moving fast enough. I was literally jumping into Bens arms because he wasn’t picking me up fast enough. Why was my mom just opening the bathroom door.. she needs to run over here and yank me off of this machine.

-Why is everyone moving so slow! They don’t understand how URGENT this is! I need to get to the bathroom now, i need to push! this hurts!!..

I guess it is safe to say the “anti-anxiety” was having little effect now.. When I was in the bathroom, there was blood again… a lot of it!

“Ben get the nurse now! This is NOT normal!”

The med student in me came out... severe pain, gush of blood, had a sudden loss of amniotic fluid earlier. .placental abruption!! Oh my god, I'm terrified!!

But Nope- calm down Kristin, it’s a normal contraction and your mucus plug. Dramatic much! smh
The midwife came in and calmly and cheerfully said “Its time to have a baby”! There wasn’t even time to set up the water birthing pool, or call the photographer.

Using a naturally focused practice, I was able to birth anyway I choose, Something I will forever be grateful for. I was laying somewhat on my side with my arms fully around my husbands and his around mine. It felt so safe and so intimate, what better way to bring our child into this world than in each others embrace. Looking back on it there were several medical staff around the room, but during the birthing process, I barely noticed them. It felt like it was just us. Me and Ben with my amazing mommy for support. For the most part I was able to push when I pleased (except when the midwife was preventing tears or unwrapping the umbilical cord from around his head). I remember my mom telling me I could reach down and touch his head, but I refused. I knew I would get so emotional, and at that point, I needed to stay focused on pushing. 50 minutes later he was here, on my chest, and not to be touched by anyone else for the first hour. Knowing his mama, he cried right away, thank goodness because the anxious mess I was would not have lasted a second of silence.

I thought when I first saw him I would cry, I cried during all the videos I watched of other births, but I was silent. I had this absolute overwhelming feeling of calmness, of peace. All pregnancy I was anxious, after being told I would have fertility problems and a pregnancy loss, I never fully celebrated my pregnancy. I was always too nervous that something would take this away. It was too good to be true… But now he was here, real and immaculate.

Medical staff completely cleaned me up, changed the room setting, even changed me, but I barely noticed. We were in our own perfect and tranquil world.

Other funny labor moments:
I didn’t scream during labor, but was making a really weird “eeiiiffaa” sound… Even in pain, I randomly burst into laughter at how I sounded.. Ben didn’t know why I was laughing so I pretty sure he thought I was crazy.

At one point I felt really exposed down there… In response I yelled out “MY BUTT HOLE!”. The midwife understood what I meant and covered it with some gauze.

My mom was trying to get into Bens phone to take pictures and kept asking him for the password.. through a push I started yelling out his password. I was also really afraid of kicking the phone out of her hand into the birthing area haha

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

Maternity Photography: Key West Florida : Iris Moore Photography

After Zika Virus scares canceled our initial baby moon plans, Ben and I opted to stay closer to home and flew to Key West booking a last minute photoshoot for maternity photos. I was initially let down when I had to let go of my international plans, but I am so happy that I did. Having my maternity photos done by Iris Moore was worth more than any international trip ( I can always take later). I described how I imagined my maternity photos and it is like she read my mind. Amazing is an understatement! Key West was suppose to be a "consolation prize",but it actually turned out to be one of my most memorable trips! On top of an amazing photo session with Iris, Ben and I went for a dessert date. The waiter made my ice cream scoops and a piece of chocolate to look like genitalia and put congrats on it..  A hilarious way to celebrate our a baby boy!

Welcome Forest Friends: My DIY Woodlands Baby Shower

 So, before I got pregnant (when I pinterest planned my entire life), no one told me you don't plan your own baby shower. Well, I already had my mind set on a woodlands themed shower and brainstormed all the DIY ideas around it. I pretty much begged my way into taking over my baby shower... Not really. I was pretty much like you host it, but I will make everything *angel face* Without med school I had a lot of extra time this year off, but this ended up working out well with my friends own demanding personal commitments... As tiring as it was, I was happy to have the perfect Woodlands themed baby shower, held in a cabin of course, with 20 forest animals (stuffed animals I still have no idea what to do with now) and all my family and friends. I loved this neutral theme for a co-ed baby shower! If you have any questions about how something was made let me know. I made every thing pictured, except for the cake, lamp, oh and my grandpa.