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
Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

14 Comments on My Story: From MD to Mommy

  1. Thank you for including my blog in your reference list. I can completely relate to the experience of a “calling,” and how hard it can be when that calling is at odds with the expectations and messages of others. Let me add an epilogue to my own story. After ten years of teaching and writing about healthcare I am back in clinical pediatrics – more passionate and energized than ever. That hiatus was so important to me, and so was the calling to return. this is not to say you should go back to medicine some day, but rather that we will find the most meaning in our lives when we do what we know we must, rather than just stay on a fixed path. Good for you.

    Best of luck!
    Maggie Kozel

    • Maggie,
      Thanks for your message of hope. It is certainly great to hear that you have continued to follow your heart and your instincts throughout your journey, even when it led you back into medicine. I must believe that I will do the same, wherever it takes me. I certainly do still have my occasional crises of doubt, when I think things like, “Oh dear god, what have I done with my life?” But I am always able to put these doubts to rest when I remember that throughout it all, I have always tried to do what I believed to be right. I have faith that when the next life branch comes my way, I will recognize it and take it willingly, with an open heart and devoid of regret.

      Best of luck to you too!
      Nadine

  2. Hi Nadine – this is lovely. I’m so so glad you have found your passion, and as expected are one of the best mama’s that has ever walked the earth. You’ll have to forgive me for being just like everyone else who second guessed your decision – it took me a while but I can recognize now it was my own personal jealously that clouded my better sense. I look forward to reading some other posts :)

    • Jill,
      Thanks for the comment! I’m so pumped about this blogging thing that I’m checking my email constantly to see if I get any comments…so I was very excited this am to see one from you! Anyway, I think it has taken me equally as long as you to stop second-guessing my decision. But i think I”ve finally managed to silence the guilt and self-doubt and I no longer worry about what people in my family or others think about it. I guess I just started trusting myself. ANyway, it has worked for me and I certainly feel like I have a life rich with passion and love! You were the one who gave me the blogging idea! Do you have one?

  3. This is definitely your calling! I am so proud and supportive of you and the decisions that you have made for you and your family. You really are an inspiration!

    • Tanya, thanks for showing me that there is the possibility of happiness after leaving medicine. Before I left, you were the only person I personally knew who had done it. When I had moments of intense self-doubt, I would always reassure myself by saying, “Tanya did it and she’s happy she did.” Cheers to us both for following our hearts!

  4. I’m happy you found out early that being a physician wasn’t your cup of tea. But I’m wondering for which specialty you were training? What do you plan to do with your loans? Will you ever consider a healthcare career once your child(ren) are older? I feel like having kids made me more efficient with my time during residency.

    Dr. D

    • Dr. Doris,
      Thanks for your comment. In answer to your questions: a) I was training for family medicine b) we will pay off my student loans and c) I am open to all possibilities about my future. At this point in time, I’m happy where I am. Later, going back into medicine may be the best option (if it even is an option for me, which is of course not a guarantee). I suppose I’ll have to wait and see what the future holds… What specialty are you in? How many kids did you have in residency?

  5. Hi,
    I am not a MD, but I am a PhD (a different kind of doctor!) 😉 and after 12 years of schooling and 3 of working for the university system I decided staying home for my child(ren) was the best option for us. It enables us to raise the kind of child we want, to give him what we think it’s best for our lifestyle and it makes me so very happy! I am about to have our second and I do not miss work at all.
    I have put things into perspective and told everybody that being a mom is my new full time job, and I undertake it with the same seriousness I took every other job before deciding to stay home. I look forward going to work in the future, but for right now, I am going to enjoy this very difficult and rewarding job as much as I can.

    By the way, I am a Pittsburgh mom too! :)

    • Constanza,
      Thanks for sharing your story with me. I completely agree with everything you said and a lot of the same considerations went into my own decision. I am working on another story related to the idea of leaving work because I have had a ton of conversations with women since posting that article. It seems a lot of women need an outlet to discuss these decisions. Anyway, saw your site. I love your art and it seems as if you too have found an outlet for your creativity while being at home with the kids. Keep it up and I’ll keep my eye out for people who might be interested in it!! See you around, I hope!

      • I will be waiting to read your next post!
        I am glad you liked my artwork! I’ve been working on it for years trying to achieve a professional look!
        I also blog in Sensibly Green, which you’ve found through the Pittsburgh group :)

  6. I’m so happy to have found your blog. I quit academic medicine after 5 years of residency and 3 fellowships. I’m now staying at home with my 2 month old son. I love him and don’t want to leave him with other caregivers especially when he’s little. I’m still dealing with ambivalence and remorse over leaving medicine, but at the same time, I remind myself how I felt so disillusioned by the thanklessness of the job and how it took everything from me, all my time, my energy, my patience, and left nothing for the ones I love. I don’t know what the future holds for me. I try not to have regrets about this decision and it heartens me to see that you’re at peace with your choice.

    • Anne,
      I am so happy that you found my blog too! It is always reassuring to find another mother who made a similar choice to mine. I know you are probably dealing with a crazy mix of emotions right now–love for your new baby, insecurity about your professional decisions, fear about the future, liberation from the yoke of medicine…I certainly faced all those and many, many more during the first year or so after I left medicine. It took me awhile, but now I really, really do feel at peace with the decision. I know without a doubt that I couldn’t have made another choice at the time I left. It was the only thing my heart would let me do. It sounds like you might have felt the same way and I really believe you have to follow your gut instinct at times like that. I’m never sure what the future will hold–whether I will go back or not, whether I will have more kids or not, whether I will completely redefine my life and do something new…but I know with confidence that I’m living my life the way I think is right for me and that brings me solace. I am always here if you need someone to talk to..and most importantly I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Other people made similar choices to you who are completely normal and psychologically healthy individuals. Anyway, BRAVO on making an incredible choice for YOU and YOUR FAMILY!

  7. Nadine, I really enjoy your blog and my children and I have been enjoying some new activities. I just read your MD to Mommy story and I am impressed by your determination to follow your calling to stay home with your children. I too am a doctor and a mommy. I had my first son during my fourth year of medical school and heard similar comments as the ones you mentioned. I was blessed to have a very supportive non-medical husband and a supportive residency director as I had another son at the end of my intern year and then my third son within 48 hours of completing residency. It was very difficult to get through those years of training with young children at home. Fortunately, I am now able to only work 2 days a week and spend the rest of the time corralling my boys and enjoying the activities you mention on your blog. Thanks for sharing your story and talents.