By Kiran Dhillon, MD, CCFP
I’m going to have a proud new parent moment here, and show off my 15-week-old baby, Josh.
Yup, I’m now a mom… it still feels a bit strange to say that to be honest. I know of so many of my friends and colleagues who decided to start their families while in their first five years of practice, so given that I have a whopping four months of motherhood under my belt, I thought I’d share some of my learnings and realizations in the hopes that it might help some other new or soon-to-be new parents out there (disclaimer, of course, that everyone’s experience is different and this is just my perspective!).
- On-call shifts don’t really prepare you for what’s to come. I don’t mean to start on a downer, but yes, sleep is so precious with a newborn! Sure, I might have made it through a couple nights of waking every couple of hours without it taking too much of a toll on me, but the sleep deprivation will undoubtedly start to affect you. When I had family over, I was reluctant to take the time to catch up on sleep because I didn’t want to miss out on any moments with my baby. I just tried to remind myself that a rested parent can be a better parent, and find time for some zzz’s when I could.
- Priorities change. After having a baby, my career goals have changed. There are only 24 hours in a day, and now I need to devote a lot of that time to this little human. That’s not going to change when I start back and work, so I’m starting to realize that my practice might not look the same as it did when I started my maternity leave.
- I remember leading up to my maternity leave, I felt a little bit guilty about taking a full year off for maternity leave. But then one of my patients said to me, “I don’t know of a single person who regretted taking time off to spend with their baby.” Maybe 6 weeks is right for you and your baby, maybe it’s 6 months… whatever it is, don’t feel guilty about taking the time off.
- Parent groups. Given the pandemic, a lot of in-person mom groups and activities you can do with baby have unfortunately disbanded for the time being. But there are a lot of great parent groups online, in particular a Facebook group for physician moms (CPMG Fourth Trimester). It’s so reassuring to read about other people going through similar things, and nice to have some support from other physician parents!
- Say yes to things. This tip might not apply to everyone reading this, and might just be more personal to me. Usually, I try and remind myself to say no to things because I’m used to being quite busy all the time. But when it comes to having baby, I would sometimes find myself saying no to meeting up with people or taking baby out because everything takes 350% longer with a baby and it can be quite a chore to prepare for feeding/changing/calming a fussy baby on the go. Getting out of the house can be such a nice change of scenery these days, so I often remind myself to say yes!
- My last realization is that I’m quite grateful for a lot of the committees and meetings I have for my non-clinical work these days. If I’m home all day with baby, and all my friends and social connections are at work, it can be nice to have the chance to talk to other humans who can actually talk back!
As I’m only four months into motherhood, I can’t really comment on the challenges of juggling parenting while actually practicing medicine, but I know that will be a whole new ball game to navigate when I get there!
**Just a reminder to those that may not know, the AMA has a parental leave program to offer some financial support to physicians on parental leave**