From My Inbox: Hayley, a Med Student, Needs Advice

From: HayleySubject: Back to School

Message Body: Hey Michelle,

I have emailed you before about finding any early mamas who have gone through Medical School. Well it looks like that is going to be me! My husband and I found out that I am pregnant (very much unplanned) at the beginning of this past summer. After many tears and worries, my husband and I decide to embrace this and find all the positives (which there are many)! I took the MCAT this summer with plans to enter medical school in the fall of 2014. I have since put a lot of thought into it and have decided to take a year off between my senior year of undergraduate and medical school. I realized starting medical school next fall with an infant would be setting myself up for an extremely difficult journey, where I wouldn't be a good mother or a good student. My plans are still the same, I WILL go to medical school and I WILL become a doctor, the timeline is just a little different.

Anyways, I started my senior year at Creighton University in Omaha, NE this past week. It has been SO hard. Its not the physical aspects, or the educational aspects — I bring snacks, I have told my wonderful professors, and I got connected to all of the resources here on campus. I am having the hardest time feeling normal with my classmates. At a small school where everyone knows everyone (and judges) I have felt so out of place, so awkward, even embarrassed. On top of being emotionally unstable as it is, I dread going back to classes this upcoming Monday. I have never cared what people think of me until now, and as hard as I try I can't seem to ignore it. I can't hide my pregnancy much longer, some argue I can't now, and I don't know how to breach the subject with my classmates. I have small classes of 12-30 students so it is not like I can fade into the masses. I feel lost and overwhelmed.

I am due January 28th, 2 weeks after my spring semester begins. I have family coming up from Colorado to help so I can finish my senior year, but it's also something I worry about.

I want this baby, despite all of my fears and worries and the fact that my life will look so different. Outside of school I am excited, and embracing the change and my new journey. But I need to feel OK on campus too. Help!

Hayley

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How do you/did you feel comfortable on campus? With your peers?

And related: Has anyone here gone through med school or another intensive grad program as a new mom?

My only advice to Hayley (via email) was that judgment/embarrassment is something almost all young pregnant women face — on campus, at a new job, in the grocery store, etc. — and that the more confident you feel in your choices, the less bothered you'll be by the looks and comments.

I reminded her that sometimes people don't know what they're saying — maybe they're reacting from their own uncomfortableness, maybe they're just filling the silence, maybe they're just mindlessly insensitive. But none of those things are our problems. Pregnancy is scary — her fears and worries are completely normal — and it can make the judgments and rude comments sting deeper.

I also sent her these past EM posts to embrace the positives and boost her confidence:

Why having kids young might be best for your career

Q+A: One Baby, One Doctorate

Slate reports what we knew all along

GIF reactions to annoying "young mom" comments

What would you say to Hayley?