Monday, December 30, 2013

MiM Mail: To be a stay-at-home mom or not?

Dear MiM,

I am an OB/GYN in East Texas and mother of 2 boys 9y/o and 3months.  I recently discovered your blog and am delighted to find a place where real women are having real discussions about the challenges of this balancing act. 

My question is have other MiM taken a break while their children where small 2-3 years and then jumped back in?  What challenges did they face?  Any regrets?  In my specialty I fear the "re-entry" - being given a chance by employer and gaining patient trust.  I have worked hard to be where I am and love what I do but given an option to stay home with my children for a few years and I find my heart screaming yes.  Am I over thinking this?



  1. I'm not a doctor and don't have personal experience, but I have taught classes on health economics and labor economics... and a lot of doctors, particularly women, cut down to part-time when their children are young. Others move to HMOs and larger practices so they don't have to deal with paperwork and can just focus on the medicine parts of medicine. (Group practices and HMOs can also make hours more predictable.) They take pay-cuts, but they don't leave the labor force entirely. Could you cut back without cutting out?

  2. I'm a general internist, all outpatient, currently working part-time. I was contemplating whether to keep working after baby #3 arrives in May (with a 4yo and a 2.5yo), but it turns out that we're moving overseas in July (military husband). So while I'm not there now, I will be for the next 3 years. We shall see . . .
    Prior to the overseas orders it was basically coming down to childcare issues - I'd have to work full-time to afford the care needed for 3 kids and I really don't want to work full-time at all. My husband has a completely inflexible schedule, and we live >3000 miles from our nearest living relative. I am nervous about re-entry later, but there are physician retraining programs if it comes to that, or I may pursue a non-clincal aspect of medicine that would have more flexible hours.

  3. I took off 9 months during medical school. Being a stay-at-home mom was one of the most difficult yet rewarding things I have ever done. It was a bit disconcerting going back, but I'm glad that I did it. I gained newfound respect for stay at home mothers and really bonded with my Little One.

  4. I'm an OB-Gyn who has gone to PT (2 days/week) and it was worth it. Yes, financially we took a hit. But the freedom to be able to schedule things and not have to juggle or coordinate with the other parent is worth it.

    But there is no right answer, just the "right for right now" answer.

  5. I stayed home with my daughter right before medical school. I quit my job of 5 years to do this. From my own personal experience, while I adore my children, I felt that I lost myself a little those 3 years. Having felt so independent my entire life to now give up all of that "power" and be taken care of by my husband was a HUGE adjustment. I can only imagine after med school, residency and actually being in the field to give all that up is hard. I think leaving to take time off will be fine, coming back will be an adjustment, you will learn a lot about yourself in that time and be better off for it. Make sure you have some money saved up before doing anything and make sure health insurance and how bills will be paid is discussed with your partner. My husband did not expect to miss my income so much. Good luck...

    ***I'm currently an M4 working on an independent project for school on mothers in medical school. Just 10 simple questions, who ever can contribute I would greatly appreciate it.

  6. As a fellow ob/gyn, have you looked at the feasibility of locums or laborist positions to maintain clinical activity but with much more control over your schedule? That is a viable option. If avoiding the label of needing to "reenter" medicine can be achieved you can beef up on any skills that may wane without being under prejudice. I also think up to 2 years hiatus will not be a problem in most situations, but longer could be problematic.


Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated as a spam precaution. So.Much.Spam.