At its very worst, that is how it feels. Like two nights ago, while lying in bed with CindyLou, who was bubbling away about her class Christmas party which was happening the next day when she stopped and said earnestly to me, "Mommy, you know, you can come to the party tomorrow if you want!" And, ugh! That familiar little stab of mommy guilt shot through me once again. It is never that I don't *want* to attend her daytime school Christmas parties, sign language presentations, or field trips (scarcely ever announced any earlier than 2 or 3 weeks prior to the actual day they are happening, assuring that my clinic schedule will be full, and if that isn't the case, I am likely on call). Every morning as I am leaving for work, my kids ask if I am on call. If I say "no," it is met with cheers. If I say "yes," it is met with boos, extra hugs, and sometimes tears. So, yeah, my kids are definitely affected by my chosen profession. (And we are in a situation that is *light years* better than the one we were in prior!)
Unfortunately, as many have stated, medicine is not as "family-friendly" as many other careers can be, and to many physicians, we don't stop working when we leave the office/hospital. Our chosen profession is all consuming in general, and Ob/Gyn can be demanding in particular. I feel you have heard the following from me before, I am having a distinct case of writer's deja vu The hours? Horrible. Babies have no concept of time and generally it seems that labor gets good and active sometime between midnight and 4 am. The pace? Grueling. In a medium sized practice, in order just to cover the cost of your staff and overhead, you have to do a set amount of deliveries just to break even. We get very scant education about the whole "running a business" part of medicine in our training, and while it would be great to see one patient an hour, the practice would go under in a year at that pace. As others have astutely pointed out, part-time in medicine is hardly part-time in any other sense of the word, and for Ob/Gyn, with malpractice costs, you just cannot feasibly make it work. If you want to do Ob, you have to be all in. That means call, and most of us work 24 hour calls followed by a full office or surgery day the next day...way more than what residents are doing in their training these days (makes for a rough transition to the "real world," to be certain.) No one is looking over my shoulder and counting how many hours I worked this week (hint, more than 80!!) Malpractice environment? Scary. No really. It is.
I can't say how many times I've bemoaned my career path, pulling myself from my cozy bed at 12, 1, or 4 am to make the mad dash to the hospital. I've thrown too many one person pity parties to count for myself as I work on nights and weekends and holidays while it seems the rest of the world is spending time with their friends and family (before anyone jumps me, I know this is *not* the case, but, pity party, you know, work with me here), but, by the same token, if I really try to sit and think of anything that I would love to do better, I couldn't tell you a thing. Because in the moment, I really do love my job. Once I am in the door of the hospital and with my patient, bringing her baby safely into the world is the focus of my attention. I never cease to be amazed at the miracle.
My family knows that the work that I have the privilege to do is important, and this is the reason that sometimes I can't be with them....even when I really want to be. I hope they grow up understanding that having a job they are passionate about is important, as well. My house isn't spotless, I'm not homeroom mother, I barely know any of the kids in my children's classes, I don't pick them up or drop them off at school, I don't go to Zumba, and am seldom well put-together (read: schlepping about in scrubs). So no, I don't "have it all." I have a good career. I have wonderful friends and a great relationship with my children and my husband. I think that is the best for which I can ask.