My adventures in mommyhood started with the birth of my first child, Mia, who is now 2 years old. At that time, I was a fourth-year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh and about to start my residency. It seemed like nearly everybody’s congratulatory remarks after Mia was born were tempered by statements such as, “well, we all know there’s no perfect time to have baby” and “thank god your family is so supportive.” My husband and I smiled politely, squeezed each others’ hands, and kept our fingers crossed that an intern mommy and a resident daddy could successfully balance the demands of a new baby. After all, we felt we had carefully dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s. We had bought and fixed up a cute three bedroom house in the Fox Chapel School District, complete with a future playroom. We had lined up childcare carefully, recruiting our mothers to stay with us for the first few months after starting residency and then employing a live-in, bushy-tailed, bright-eyed Turkish au pair. I had carefully chosen my field of study in medicine and my residency to allow for more time at home. Hell–I had even scoped out secretive locations in the hospital for breast-pumping and stockpiled a supply of fenugreek to aid with my breast milk supply.
Well, that year revealed the two greatest surprises of my life. First, raising children is HARD. Really, really hard. Not in the way that a mathematical problem is hard until you drink enough coffee and spend enough time poring over numbers and rearranging them until you have an “Ah ha” moment. No, parenthood is hard because there is never that “AH HA” moment. The variables are too complex and too much is unknown. So you plod through and hope to be doing your best without any real positive reinforcement. The other great surprise of that year was that my love of mommyhood far exceeded my love of medicine. For those who have known me since childhood, this fact may be a shock. I was the straight-A, type-A, gunner-type who envisioned a career in neurosurgery, or perhaps cardiology, or something else quite challenging and noteworthy and prestigious. And yet, deep down, there was always a whisper…a faint note in my soul that told me that mothering was my calling. After having Mia, that note was resounding. And despite my best efforts and ceaseless worrying, the choice was made by me long, long, long before I accepted it. I was going to leave my medical training to be at home with my children. On Mother’s Day 2011, after a morning spent rounding in the Intensive Care Unit, I left the hospital for the last time as a resident and become a full-time mommy.
Since leaving medicine, I have of course looked for others in my situation. Unfortunately, it is hard to find other female doctors in my boat. Perhaps they don’t like to talk about their experience because they feel judged. I have certainly felt people’s condemnation when I share my story at dinner parties. Perhaps these women simply don’t exist in any
significant volume. After endless Google searches I have been able to locate some resources on the web related to women leaving professional jobs to stay at home with their children. Here are some links for those who are interested:
Why Women Still Can’t Have It All A recent and incredibly controversial article that got a a lot of women talking, including many in my own social circle
Women Leaving Medicine The homepage of a blog dedicated to women leaving medicine. The hostess is an entrepeneurial life coach helping women adjust to life outside of medicine. This blog is FULL of guest posts by women who have opted to leave medicine and was a source of hope for me
Article about Female Doctor who Decided to Stay Home
New York Times Article about Professional Women Leaving the Workforce to be at Home
http://www.nytimes.com/1997/09/21/nyregion/women-leaving-medicine-for-home.html The link says it all
http://barkingdoc.com/2010/12/13/confessions-of-a-worn-out-pediatrician/ Another similar article
I don’t, by any means, believe that staying at home with your kids is the best choice for every woman (or man). However, I do believe that it can be incredibly helpful to discuss options with other people, especially those who have faced a similar choice. So, please feel free to comment on this post if you are facing a similar decision and feeling alone in it.© Copyright Nadine Champsi, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog
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