Life, Pre-med

Self-care

Hello everyone!

Wow, this week has both gone way too fast and dragged! It was a tough one; the boys completely switched and didn’t seem to want to nap and kept fighting. My study time has significantly gone down this week, but I still managed to preview, review, and do some MCAT prep. It wasn’t perfect, but something is better than nothing, right? That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. 🙂

This week has been particularly difficult in terms of self-care. I haven’t gotten nearly enough sleep, even when I tried to go to bed early. I felt pretty burnt out… so this is what I did to try to help me through it.

After taking care of my favorite alarm clocks, I made some tea. I love tea, it always helps me relax. I opted mostly for black tea so I could get my caffeine fix too, which helped me wake up.

After the boys nap, if they napped, I put on some makeup. I realize I always feel better after makeup, so I made it a point to it even if I was too tired. It made me feel so much better; I felt pretty and I ready to take on the world! (I can’t be the only one that feels this way, right?)

Finally, once I got home, I waited to study until after I was done working out and showering or after I watched 30 mins of TV. This made my night a little longer, since I still needed to get studying done, but it was so helpful in the long run. I was able to concentrate more, and even though my sleep wasn’t as great, I didn’t feel like I had done everything for everyone except for myself. Once I was done studying, I did some guided meditation before bed to help me relax.

Here’s some other ideas for self-care that I try to do when I have a bit more time:

  • Bubble bath
  • Dance
  • Hang out with friends
  • Watch a movie
  • Listen to music
  • Read
  • Go for a walk
  • Get my nails done
  • Grab some coffe with the hubby
  • Visit the animal shelter (it’s been a while since I volunteered there, but this is by far my favorite thing to do!)

Here’s hoping I can get a better night’s sleep this weekend! Just not tomorrow because I’m forcing myself to take a practice MCAT under test conditions. 🤤

Have a wonderful weekend!

Andrea.

PS: If anyone is wondering, the movie from the picture is called Sing. I love it, it’s one of our favorites!

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Life, Pre-med

Mom in Grad School

Happy New Year!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year and all the wonderful things that have happened. Going forward, I would like to write more helpful posts pertaining to grad school and not just updating you all on how I’m doing although there will be plenty of that too!

This first post will talk about being a mother in grad school and how I’m trying to make it work. I’ve only been in class for a week but I haven’t felt like I’ve missed out on anything studying while caring for my almost three-year-old twins. It hasn’t been easy, but with some planning, I’ve had a pretty successful week!

To keep myself organized I use a planner. The one I have is from popflexactive.com and it has everything I need; a monthly calendar to put important dates in, like quizzes and exams, a weekly schedule with space for goals, ideas, reminders, projects, and things due, and daily to-do lists, space for water intake, food journal, workout journal, and notes as well as a doodle space. This one is sold out, but I’m sure they’ll have a new one for the next school year.

I’ve used planner since 2016 but I had to force myself to use them. After finding one that was specifically made for school I’ve actually looked forward to writing down everything. It helped so much last semester when I wanted to remember when my biostats assignments were due! So far, this semester it has helped keep me accountable for studying for the MCAT, which is the hardest thing for me to study for (Physics and I don’t get along).

Here is what my last week looked like:

Staying organized.jpg

You do not need to get a fancy planner like this. You can use a notebook and personalize it however you want or use an app on your phone. For me, writing it down and being able to see it without using my phone is more beneficial; I’m more likely to start studying without going through Facebook.

So now that I have a schedule, how do I use? It’s easy to write stuff down, but it gets more difficult to actually follow it. If we’re being honest, I don’t follow this exactly; it just isn’t realistic when you have potty-training toddlers. However, if I have it written down, I know what needs to get done that day and will try to follow it. Certain things I do not move, but they don’t have set times during the day. The best example is my MCAT prep; if the kiddos are napping, mama is studying! The time varies but it’s usually 1-3 PM during weekdays. I’m hoping to put in closer to 3 hours a day during the weekends; I’m making a study group with some friends from school to keep each other accountable. According to my Kaplan course, you’re supposed to take one day off a week, but I schedule it in any way to keep things neat.

Another thing that has helped a lot has been meal prepping. You know, that thing everyone tells you to do and you say you’ll do it but never get around to it? Or is that just me? On Sundays, I take a couple hours to find vegetarian/vegan recipes, prep them, and put them in gallon-sized zip lock bags that go in my freezer. I take whichever one I want to have for dinner out the day of and thaw it a little bit before throwing it in my slow-cooker. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner; it saves me so much time! You can do this with every meal, but so far I’ve only tackled dinner. I might start doing it for my breakfast smoothies as well, so we’ll see how that goes!

As far as my study schedule goes, I try to study while I watch the boys play. I take plenty of breaks to join them in the fun and take them to the potty. Sometimes I put on a movie for them if I need to get something done right away, but I try to avoid this since I don’t want them watching too much TV. This isn’t really the greatest way to study, but it’s more of a quick review to make sure I get it done. That means I do a quick review in the morning and MCAT prep during nap time, so what about the rest of the day?

When they wake up from their nap it’s time for me to spend uninterrupted time with them. We eat together, make silly jokes, and play until our wonderful nanny gets here so I’m able to get to school early. Some self-care takes place on my drive to school; I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter audio-books while I drive. 10/10 recommend the British version; the voice actor is fantastic! If I’m not listening to books, I put on my favorite music and pump myself up for class. Once I’m in school I take the time to preview my lectures and whatever time I have left I use it to finish reviewing previous lectures. I get home around 9:30 PM and this is where my schedule is a bit more flexible and where most of my self-care takes place.

Let’s take a moment to talk about self-care…IT’S SUPER IMPORTANT! If you don’t practice self-care you WILL burn out! My self-care during the day is focused on my kids so I feel like I get a little break throughout the day, but by the time class is over I’m pretty tired. I take this time to do things that make me happy!

This is what my self-care looks like:

If I haven’t worked out, I will do a quick 15-minute workout. I’ve been following the daily workouts from Tone It Up and I love it! It’s simple and it doesn’t take very long, which is exactly what I look for in a workout. I try to do this at least every other day, but I’m going to try to get it in every day since I always feel better afterward.

If I don’t work out that night, I take a 10-minute break before I start reviewing the lectures from the day. I will do this until 10:30 PM, but sometimes I don’t do it at all. At that point, I get ready for bed and try to relax by spending time with the husband, watching TV or makeup videos on YouTube I’m obsessed, and texting family and friends. I like to play video games, but I can’t keep those sessions to 30 minutes so I try to avoid them during the week. I usually save it for the time after an exam when I’m too exhausted to do anything but play Sims 4 mindlessly while the TV is on. I’m trying to find books to read as well, so if you have any suggestions let me know! I’m concentrating on pre-med books right now, but I also love fantasy. I’m still working on the third Eragon book; I keep forgetting I have it on my phone! The boys wake up around 7 AM, so I try to go to sleep by 11:15 PM to get enough sleep. Make sure you get enough sleep! I function best with 9 hours of sleep, but that doesn’t happen unless it’s the weekend, so I aim for 7-8 hours. Residency will change this, but until then I plan on getting plenty of sleep!

The last thing that needs to get done during the week is the cleaning. I take one day a week where I clean EVERYTHING. I did it yesterday by myself, but I usually do it on Saturdays or Sundays so I can get my husband’s help. The only thing I do during the week is wipe down the table and kitchen counters, take care of the dishes, and clean up any food that falls under the table. Sometimes I do laundry if my sons are out of clean underwear, but I try to leave that for the weekend if possible.

That’s it! That’s how I’ve been trying to make it work and I’ve honestly been surprised at how much I’ve been able to get done. I was really nervous about it before classes started, but a bit of planning and some help goes a long way.

I hope this was helpful! If you have any tips and want to share them please leave a comment! 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend!

Andrea.

Life

Happy Holidays!

Hello everyone!

Just wanted to write a quick post wishing you all a wonderful holiday season! It’s been crazy at our house; we finally moved the babies out here, got everything set up, found a babysitter, and are ready to take on next semester.

I ended up with a 4.0 from my very first semester of grad school! I’m very proud and excited to see how the next semester will go. I will do my best and will aim for a 3.5 at the very least. 🙂 I’m also trying to figure out a new MCAT study schedule so we’ll see how that goes!

Hope you all have a happy new year!

Andrea.

Life

Farewell Utah

Hello everyone!

Today is going to be a little different. This won’t have anything to do with school, but rather my goodbye to the state of Utah yes I am cheesy like that. Everyone always asks me if we will be coming back, and unless I end up here for med school or residency, the answer is no. Since we’re 99% sure we won’t be coming back, I felt like I should write my farewell somewhere I could find later on. If I write it down on a piece of paper, I’m going to lose it, so here it is for your viewing pleasure. 😀

Dear Utah,

Wow. The past 13 years have flown by. I remember when I started 10th grade that I had all these plans to move out as soon as possible. I remember in 11th grade after meeting one of my best friends, shout out to Kat, that we would all get a big house in Washington and our group of friends would live there. We would live close to Canada so we could go to school there. We have life figured out, didn’t we? Then our group of friends became just Kat and me. We’re still very close, but we never got that big house.

12th grade was a rough year. It was a very low point in my life, but I stuck it out. My psychology professor encouraged me to go to college for Psychology, a subject I had fallen in love with that year. I was gonna go to school for that and acting, because I still held on to my dream of being an actress I don’t think I was very good. Graduation came and went… I started college that Fall, and I picked Psychology as my major. I got engaged in December and I started planning a wedding. I didn’t pay much attention to my classes that semester, but I passed all of them with okay grades. We got married the weekend before finals; I don’t recommend that to anyone!

You weren’t easy on us after we got married though. We lived with my parents with the hope that we would only be there for a year. My husband had a hard time finding a good paying job for a long time, and that year turned out to be seven. Say what you want about my parents, but they are the real MVPs for putting up with us so I could finish school. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to go to school in the first place. My dad paid for my first year of school, and after I was married I was able to qualify for financial aid that allowed me to keep going.

Four years in  and we were expecting out first child! I had a year and half left of school and I was so nervous. I knew I was going to keep going and I wanted to graduate on time. Since I have the most amazing family, they helped me every step of the way. Our first child ended up being two! You know the story if you’ve read my blog; my twins were high risk and I was stuck in the hospital for 7 weeks and 1 day. Our twins were in the NICU for 3 weeks and 2 days. I continued to take classes during this time, and as difficult as that was, it helped keep me distracted. I met so many amazing doctors and nurses there; my love for medicine grew during this time and I realized there is nothing else I would like to do. Thank you for bringing these wonderful doctors to this state, especially Dr. I who delivered the twins and let me shadow her.

That year wasn’t easy, but I graduated. I was so proud of myself! Our graduation was at the same place my high school graduation had been at. I wasn’t done with my pre-med classes though; I had two more semesters to do. Thankfully, I had an amazing pre-med advisor; he encouraged me to keep going and helped me have faith in myself. During my last semester I applied to grad school, and that wasn’t easy either. My advisor resigned and it was difficult to get a hold of him. It was like pulling teeth trying to get him to send my letters of recommendation. I was angry. He had everything I needed to submit and he kept forgetting. I took matters into my own hands and sent two letters from doctors I hunt down by myself.

Then it happened. June 2017 I got into all four programs I applied to. It felt surreal… we were moving! What were we going to do so far away from family? I’ve never lived in any other state, let alone live away from my mother. Could I actually handle being an adult? None of that mattered, I was determined to make it work. I made my choice and picked where I would be going for my Master’s.

Now it’s August and I leave you tomorrow to go to my first choice grad school. My dreams are coming true! I never thought this day would come! As excited as I am for this new stage in life, I can’t help but feel a little sad. A big part of my life has been here. As much as I hated you for various reasons, my family and most of my friends are here. It’s bittersweet. You are the place that shaped the person that I am today. I made my family here. I donated so much time to the community here. I’m truly sad to be leaving. My husband and twins are staying behind for a bit until my husband can find a good job out there, but after they join me we don’t know when we’ll be back. I know, it sounds kinda whiny, but I still haven’t gone back to Peru and it’s been 13 years. Who knows where life will take us?

So thank you, Utah. You allowed me to grow up here and have a relatively good life. You allowed my family to have a good life, something we couldn’t do back in Peru. You allowed me to make my own family. You taught me to be more outgoing instead of the shy, quiet girl I was when we moved here. If it wasn’t for moving here, I wouldn’t be fluent in English. I met so many wonderful people that I would not have met if I wasn’t here. I even rescued two beautiful kitties from two of your shelters, one of them being a place I volunteered at for four years. Thank you for giving me opportunities I wouldn’t have anywhere else. I’m sad to be leaving you, even after all those years I spent complaining about you. “Thanks for the memories, even though they weren’t so great” from that Fall Out Boy song comes to mind, ha ha.

Here’s to new adventures and to making dreams come true.

Thank you for everything,

Andrea.

Life

Late Afternoon Thoughts

Hi everyone,

Today’s post will be a little different. There’s something that’s been on my mind lately that I’m hoping some of you out there will be able to help with.

I’ve been struggling this summer a bit. I haven’t gotten back to my volunteering or shadowing, let alone studying the way I wanted to. I feel like I’ve been stuck in this “shame spiral” my neuro professor talked to me about. I can’t bring myself to call anyone to set anything up because I’m afraid to leave my twins home, even if the person watching them is someone I trust (husband, mum, aunt, etc). Studying is difficult because they always need something (like any normal baby) and they like to take turns. By the time they sleep, it’s time for me to sleep so I can get up and take care of them.

I have two semesters left before I graduate, so the classes I’ll be taking are difficult and aren’t offered online. I also need to find a job during the weekends to help support my family. I’m worried that I won’t be able to keep up with everything… Then those thoughts turn to medical school and residency. I know I wouldn’t want to do anything else, so I’ll keep pursuing my dream to be a doctor, but maybe surgery isn’t the way to go. Maybe a specialty that isn’t as demanding would work better for my family. But what if I fall in love with surgery? Would I be able to balance it? I know it’s far enough away and that I shouldn’t worry, especially since I haven’t even gotten into med school, but I guess this is the kinda thing you worry about when you’re a parent or maybe just when you’re me.

To all working parents out there, how do you do it? How do you find balance? If you are a doctor, did you consider what field to go into if you had/have children? I could use some advice.

Thanks in advance and sorry for the rant.

Andrea.

Life

Happy 4th!

Hi everyone!

Happy 4th of July! I hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday. I’m spending it with my family, sick from a cold that I caught from my 5 month old twins. First sickness for them, whoo hoo… it has not been fun.

I plan on writing another post soon. I have my notes from my shadowing two weeks ago so it’ll be a shadowing post. It might also be a reflection of my journey so far and how terrified I am to be on my last year of college (finally).

Anyway, Independence Day!

Andrea.

PS: My blog turned 1 last month and I forgot to write about it, so… happy 1 year, blog!

Life, Pre-med

MCAT Study Schedule

Hi everyone,

I started studying for the MCAT today. Since I don’t have a ton of time, I’ve decided to study one hour a day during the summer. During the weekends I will probably increase it to two hours a day. It’s not a lot but since I’m about a year away from taking it, I figured this is a good way to start.

Wish me luck!

Andrea.

PS: This is the only way I’m allowed to study. Better than not getting anything done, right? This little one is Syrus, the oldest. Sirius is sleeping peacefully on his crib. The dog in the background is Harry; he thinks he’s their babysitter.

image

Life, Pre-med

Long Time No Talk

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I posted anything… the twins are taking up all my time! So here I am… Finally a mother to two beautiful little boys that were born at 33 weeks and 5 days on February 3rd, 2015 and stayed in the NICU for 3 weeks and 2 days. They are now almost 11 weeks and they are absolutely perfect. They are relatively healthy and don’t seem to have any developmental delays so far. Life couldn’t be more perfect… although it is challenging.

School wise, Spring semester is almost over! It’s been so challenging to keep up with everything while taking care of the boys. I’m somehow managing to do well in all my classes… which is beyond me. I don’t know how I’m keeping up with it… I guess I just work better under pressure. 🙂

Since being pregnant I haven’t had any done any extracurricular activities. I hadn’t found a new hospice patient, I didn’t hear back about getting a new Little, and I quit the shelter because of the risk of toxoplasmosis. I was going to shadow doctors while being at the hospital but with everything going on we decided it was too much for. I haven’t even gotten certified as a CNA because I couldn’t lift the mannequins by the time I finished the class.

To be honest, I’m worried about how that will look on my application. Four years of volunteering and suddenly… nothing. Volunteering has become a part of who I am, so it was hard for me to go from doing everything to nothing. I’m waiting until the semester is over to start back up; I wanted to give myself time to recover from my C-section and spend time with the twins. For some reason I’m really nervous about it; I think it’s much harder to start back up once you’ve stopped and I’ve forgotten that it’s nothing to worry about.

I think it’ll be okay though. I just have to have courage and be kind… and yes, Cinderella was a fantastic movie and that is my new motto. Seriously, I even have a necklace that says it and I wear it everyday! As soon as school is over I’m going to study and get certified as a CNA. Everyone at the hospital I stayed at told me to apply after I had the twins, so I hope I’ll be able to work there. I’d love to see everyone again and help them as much as they helped me. I’m also going to bother my volunteer coordinator and get another hospice patient to visit… I’ve missed doing it. I also want to find another child to mentor, so I’m also going to bother my match specialist Is that what we call them? I don’t remember anymore and see if I can find a new Little. I’m a little worried about being around so many kids… I don’t want to get sick and get my premature sons sick. I think as long as I wash my hands often it’ll be okay, but I guess being overprotective and overly worried just comes with the territory. 🙂 I’m also going to find another shelter to volunteer at; there’s a kitten nursery that they have in a city relatively close to where I live, so I would love to get a chance to help out!

The last thing I plan on doing is shadowing; I’ll be calling my doctor and set up a time and date to follow her around the clinic. She’s probably the best doctor I’ve had and I can’t wait to learn from her. She’s a family medicine resident and she will be doing an OB fellowship this year after her residency is over. I’m very curious about why she chose that path; I think it’s awesome that she gets to see all kinds of cases and then deliver babies. I guess it’s just another thing for me to consider in the long list of specialties I want to pursue…

Speaking of specialties I want to go intk… the list goes something like neurosurgery at the top, family medicine, pediatrics, perinatology, neonatology, neurology, and psychiatry in no particular order. I think the more I learn about medicine the more things I want to do!

Since I put off the MCAT and applying to med school until next year I haven’t started studying for the “big test.” I’m now a little over a year away from taking it, so it’s time to start studying! I have a set of MCAT flashcards that I’m taking with me everywhere so I can look them over. I’m also gonna find a study guide and start studying a few hours a week. Once I’m about six months away from the test date I plan to take one of those Kaplan or Altius courses to help me study. I’m going to work really hard so I can make sure I earn a high score. The though of it is really exciting but also nerve-wracking… my journey as a pre-med student is almost over!

Anyway… there’s my update. I’ll try to come back and make another one after finals. Hopefully by then I’ll be certified as a nurse assistant and be well on my way to finding a job!

Wish me luck!

Andrea.

Life

It’s A…!

Hi everyone!

First of all, Happy late Halloween! This isn’t really a pre-med post, but there’s a medicine-related subject some of you might find interesting.

On Friday my husband and I went in for our 20 week ultrasound. We were extremely surprised to find out we were having twins! The first thing that came out of my mouth was, “Oh my god, your mother was right!” My mother-in-law thought my belly was way too big to be a single baby, and what do you know, she was right!

The next surprise came next when we found out we were having boys! My husband got his wish and I was a little disappointed I wasn’t getting a little girl.

Then came the big news; our babies share an amniotic sac. We’re having monoamniotic twins. This happens in 1% of all twin pregnancies, so you can imagine how rare this is. You can learn more about this here. Monoamniotic twins occur when the fertilized egg splits after the amniotic sac has formed. I guess we were kinda lucky; had it split a few days later, we’d have conjoined twins.

Twins have a membrane that separates them, but since ours don’t, their umbilical cords can become entangled or one of the twins could compress the other’s cord. There’s also a chance of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome; you can read about that here.

So our happy news turned into even happier news, only to end in extreme fear. Our babies are currently doing fine and are growing accordingly. However, because they need to be constantly monitored to make sure they aren’t running into trouble, I will have to be hospitalized until they are delivered. I go in for the next ultrasound in a month and that’s when we’ll determine when this will happen. We’re hoping to wait at least till mid-December so I’ll be able to finish the semester. If everything goes well, our babies will make it to the end of January/beginning of February.

What all this means is that I will have to take a break next semester and take classes during the summer instead. I’m really disappointed because I was truly looking forward to having a nice, easy third trimester while going to school and doing research. Life just doesn’t always work the way we want it to. That’s okay though, because my main concern is the health of my children. That still sounds so weird to me…

Anyway, I suppose you’ll be hearing a lot more from me once I’m stuck in the hospital. I’m going to try to take that time to research things I’m interested in and maybe go over all the O-Chem I learned last semester.

Wish me luck!

Andrea.

PS: This semester is going very well! I’m very happy with my progress!