Friday, December 4, 2009

How I Spent My Maternity Leave

I am winding down from an extended maternity leave. I decided after having my third kid in April of this year that it was time to take some time off from being doctor, and focus on just being Mom. I am now in my 7th month and I have had a wonderful time. It's amazing how fast time has flown. I found a list yesterday that I made before I had my baby, of all the things I wanted to do in my time off. Fortunately, I have done most things on the list - the last thing on the list is to make a scrap-book for the kids, which I'm not sure will get done.

I spent most of my time being Mom - doing activities with the kids, thinking about their diets, their sleeping habits, organizing their toys and arranging play dates (most of which I could barely find time for in my juggling act prior to leave).

Over and above being Mom, I seemed to have gone through various phases during my leave:

The first couple months I spent in a post-partum state. Sleepy, emotionally labile, sensitive about my weight and just trying to establish new coping mechanisms with three kids. Fortunately, that phase seemed to go by quickly.

The next two months, while my baby was temporarily sleeping through the night, I spent most of my time on me - I worked out every morning, read a book, started a global health blog, established a presence on twitter, got involved in some volunteer work...yes, a busy couple of months.

The next phase was in the fall, flu season started and the baby stopped sleeping through the night. I spent at least one month again sleepy and this time driving to doctor's appointments or vaccine appointments all of which seemed to be inefficiently staggered.

Last month, I focused on doing research on schools (since my eldest will start kindergarten next academic year). I'm trying to determine my answer to public vs, private school and get to know the options in my area. I had been meaning to do this for the last year and I finally made this a priority.

Finally, in the home stretch, I am now interviewing for a full-time nanny. I've met at least a dozen ladies from all walks of life and have yet to find the right match. This process has taken much more time that I anticipated and after spending the last 7 months with my little one, I'm much more attached than I expected.

After deliberately neglecting my medical journals for the last few months, it's now time to dust them off and get reaquainted with the medical world. I'm nervous about all that I must have forgotten and all the patient follow-up that always follows me home. Yet, I'm excited to start being a doctor again - having spent so much time on myself, it will be nice to focus on my patients.

4 comments:

  1. Ah! Rather than day in the life, it's month in the life of maternity leave. Thanks for sharing your journey! Sleep is such a dominant theme. Better the journals get dusty than the kids. Glad you accomplished so much and that you see the excitement of returning to medicine. Wonder how it'll be different for you returning the 3rd time around. After my first, I "knew" I'd have one more maternity leave, but after my second (I only have two), it felt weird going back without "knowing" I'd ever have another.

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  2. I am jealous. You are making me think of having a third child so I can take some time off - now that I am out of residency. I had both of mine in the midst of training, and reading your post makes me feel like I missed out on connections that can be made in the first year of life.

    I have a friend that had her third after training, and took time off, like yourself. She said, "I never really knew what I was missing."

    Good for you, for not missing out. I'm still playing catch-up. My kids are doing great, and I know I can't just wallow in regret, but my goodness. You just described pure doctor-mom bliss!

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  3. Hey Mom

    Great post today. It's great that being a physician is just a small part of what defines you and your life. I try to live my life to that theme as well.

    Great writing. I'll be back for more. If you get a chance, check out my new blog site! thanks

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  4. Thanks fellow Mom's - I'm glad you enjoyed the post and I highly recommend some time off from being doctor - I'm convinced it will make me a better physician and mom. Maternity leave is an easy excuse to take this time to renew the balance in life. The bigger challenge is to figure out how to do this on an on-going basis.

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