Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Refining

So this is my introduction to you! I’m excited to be a regular contributor to Mothers in Medicine. I practice family medicine by day and wrangle my brood of three small children by night. My oldest just finished kindergarten and my youngest just turned one. I’m approaching my ninth year in a busy primary care practice in the Pacific Northwest. I enjoy the privilege and challenge of caring for a variety of patients, from newborns to nonagenarians. I used to practice obstetrics as well, but haven’t since having my own babies. I miss it sometimes.

After finishing residency, I studied tropical medicine in London and have worked at a rural teaching hospital in Kenya. My teacher husband and I dream of living and working abroad with our young family; maybe when the majority of them are out of diapers.

I began writing in earnest after I had my first child in 2011. I did write throughout medical training but it took the refining aspects of motherhood to get me to take my writing seriously. Nothing like even less time and an unveiling of your faults for some forced self-introspection! I’m curious if any of you have found motherhood to be similarly clarifying? I’ve studied narrative medicine and bioethics and have taught narrative medicine workshops. Particular interests include medical ethics, global health, motherhood as vocation and the intersection of religion and science. I blog regularly on these topics, among others, and I’m currently working on my first book. I still always cringe a little when I hit “publish” or “send.” I imagine it will always be hard, as a type A introvert, to put myself out there.

My third, and presumably last, baby just turned one and I finally feel like I can breathe again. It feels like a milestone, reaching this point, after having three children in five years, settling into my primary care practice, letting myself take my passion for writing seriously and expand into that vocation.

My life has been disrupted many times in the past year with unexpected challenges and writing and community have pulled me through. I think much in medicine and in motherhood is refining: the pressures of medical school and residency, the intensity of caring for babies and children who need so much.

I’m excited to join you all in this journey; to learn from your wisdom and laugh alongside you. If medicine and motherhood have taught me one thing, it’s that we all need each other desperately - for kindness, for encouragement, for understanding. These are the things to cling to and to provide for each other in this world. Thanks so much for having me.

14 comments:

  1. Welcome! I'm impressed by your ability to find so much time to write in the midst of a very busy life. What is your book about?

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    1. Thanks! It's definitely been a process and a sacrifice to find time to write. I mostly write in 15-30 minute chunks before my kids get up (I was never a morning person before I had kids, but felt I was forced to morph into one to maintain some sanity) and I try to take online writing classes that require some sort of assignment and reading to be done each week. That's how I got my nonfiction book proposal done, by taking an online class. For me, it's like exercise; I need some goal to work toward and make it a part of my daily routine. My book is actually a collection of lyrical narrative medicine essays. I would love to write fiction someday but just don't have it in me right now; I'm in awe of novelists. I respond to deadlines, although it usually means something else goes by the wayside - like laundry!

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  2. Welcome! And yes, motherhood has exposed my biggest weaknesses! Excited to hear more about your ex-pat plans!

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    1. Thank you for the warm welcome!

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  3. Love the bio. I have some life similarities; I am also from the great PNW, have a teacher husband, and a background in bioethics/intersection of religion and science. Career-wise, I am a non-traditional student, as I am just beginning med school next month and recently spent five years overseas (South America). I also hope to go into family practice. My own kids range from age 4 to 15, so we are out of diapers. Would love to read your writing! Hope to meet you in the "real" world sometime.

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    1. Kindred spirits! Would love to connect and hear more about your time in South America. Wishing you all the best with the start to your medical training!

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  4. Looking forward to hearing more from you! I am a full spectrum FP by day and wrangle my two girls, the oldest with autism and other special needs, by night. If my life goes according to plan I'll have three kids in 5 years. Can't wait to hear how you do it all.

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    1. Total honesty, Emily: three is really tough! I'd heard the transition from two to three is the most challenging and I believe that now, at least for some families. She is adored by our two oldest and adds wonderful layers to our family, but it has been nonstop draining in ways I hadn't anticipated. I'm sure I'll write about it more in coming posts. I think something that's key, for all moms actually, is outsourcing what can be outsourced and letting go of guilt and perfection. Easier said than done, I know!

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  5. Welcome! Such an interesting variety of interests. Motherhood and medicine both do carry significant weight in shaping our personality - I don't feel like I really took the world seriously until I had children. I'm so impressed with your life goals with such a young family - I was not as brave as you back then. I hope you share your lyrical essay info here so we can all read it.

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    1. Thanks, Gizabeth. I love that - "I don't feel like I really took the world seriously until I had children." They certainly add a whole new perspective! I'll definitely shout it from the rooftops if I ever get my manuscript finished and published. Getting a book published is no joke. I had no idea the extensive process. Some of the essays have been published online and in print as stand alone pieces in various places already, which are available on my website. Thanks for your interest and encouragement!

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    2. Ok great I just found you in about us! You are not anon like me. So I'll find your blog to follow this weekend I'm excited new reading for me:)

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  6. Yay, I have been eagerly awaiting a family medicine contributor. I am a MSIV with a 1 year old heading towards family medicine but wondering every day if I should pick a specialized field in order to gain more time with my kids. Is family medicine as exhausting and work heavy as it seems, have you found a way to pay the bills and still have time with your kids?

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    1. I know every situation is different, but I'm really happy I chose family medicine, for several reasons. I do work part time and feel that this has given me a balance for my work and home life and allowed for other pursuits and interests. That said, there's definitely a trade-off regarding pay and prestige. For me, I'm interested in global health and family medicine is a good choice for international work because it gives you knowledge and skills in many different areas. Primary care definitely has its challenges, but I think each speciality has its issues and burnout is a problem, unfortunately, for any physician these days. I'm grateful to work for an organization and in a city that values and respects family docs and part time providers - so where you choose to work after residency makes a difference too. I know it's a difficult decision but we need great family docs so I hope you'll decide to continue along that path if it's right for you.

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