May 3, 2020 is the day that changed the entire trajectory of my career as a physician. It is the day my son, Remi, was born.
Being the geek that I am, I attempted to “study” for motherhood like it was a board exam. Rookie mistake…
As anyone who’s been there will tell you, NOTHING prepares you for the immense sense of responsibility, purpose, worry & joy that comes with becoming a parent.
Motherhood changes everything.
When I returned to work, I saw everything through a new lens. I thought about the Herculean effort it takes for so many women to actually get to clinic. I thought about how little time I actually got to spend with them. I thought about the risk of COVID exposure for both of us & our families. I thought about how every minute I spent answering messages after clinic to help patients avoid a visit was a minute I was not spending with my own son.
As a patient myself, I felt anxious sitting in crowded waiting rooms, frustrated filling out endless forms, exhausted by the entire process and surprised by how much it all cost, even as a healthy person with great doctors & “good” insurance.
When I returned from my maternity leave, the pandemic was in full swing, my baby was still waking up 2x/night & I was seeing more patients than ever before.
Those first few months are a blur. I just remember being desperate to sleep and grateful for my 5 minutes alone in the shower everyday. The entries in my son’s baby book stopped. I wondered how every other working mom did it.
Things got better as Remi started sleeping longer stretches. I got vaccinated which helped me worry less. I found a wonderful nanny who treats my son like her own.
But things still didn’t feel right. On days I had clinic, I would see Remi for 2 hours before he went to sleep & I found myself having to muster every last ounce of emotional energy I had left to try to make that time count, which of course didn’t leave much for my husband who was working long days in the ICU.
I tried my best to be more efficient in clinic. I started dictating my notes. I bought noise cancelling headphones. I accepted that I might not have time to cover everything. But what I wasn’t willing to compromise was being truly PRESENT with my patients. And being present for patient after patient, many of whom were under tremendous stresses of their own, was exhausting no matter how efficient I was.
I didn’t feel like I was doing a “good job” as a mom, a wife or a doctor. I also realized that the traditional healthcare system was not serving me or my patients in the ways we wanted, needed and deserved. So I decided to walk away.
Over the past few months, I have thrown myself head first into designing the type of medical practice I believe patients and doctors deserve.
To all the patients and colleagues that are reading this, I want you to know that I take my commitments seriously and leaving you was hard. Thank you to all of you that have supported me even though it means having to switch doctors or take on extra work. Please know that I am using this time to regroup, recharge and reconnect with my family and purpose, and also to prepare to serve you even better.