I finally did it. I wrote a blog. I have been dragging my feet for weeks! You see, I had been told that I had stories to share, and I have always been a champion for mothers in medicine, but I have always told myself that I wasn't a writer. I am going to change that this year.
I can't remember when I started reading some of the posts of the MIM blog. When I was in fellowship I had my first daughter, and I used a breast pump behind a shower curtain in the small nephrology fellows office. Often times, the other fellows (all male) would come in and talk to me over the rhythmic whirring of the pump while I was behind the curtain. I have to give it to those guys - they were brave! And respectful. I had a hard time making enough milk, mostly due to fatigue, and so I joined my first listserv, PumpMoms. My online community experience had begun. I learned so much, and felt so supported by other moms that I was elated to find the Mothers in Medicine website. It does seem to be so very different being a mom in medicine rather than not.
Fast forward thirteen years. I know, I wouldn't doubt that I am the oldest blogger on the site. My oldest daughter just celebrated her 13th birthday. I have three daughters ages 8, 11 and 13 and two bonus daughters ages 10 and 13 and a husband who is a pilot and not keen on blood at all. Most people's jaws drop and then pat my husband on the back giving him kudos for living with so much estrogen! We have two small boy dogs, but I have to say that they are prissy dogs and don't add a whole lot of testosterone to the mix!
Many of you may be visiting this site trying to find peace or solace about your choices regarding when to get pregnant, how to breastfeed, find child care, whether to work full-time or part-time and how to shape your career along the way to accommodate the ferocity of motherhood that can overtake you. I have been there, struggled through all of those events, had many, many funny stories, buckets of tears, and loads of self-doubt as I worried it if were all going to turn out ok.
But here I am, thirteen years later, pretty well settled into a full-time position at an academic university with all these girls to raise. I still have a lot of great stories, still cry from time to time, but I am reassured that all will be well if I continue to listen to my heart. It has guided me pretty well along the way.
As part of my first blog, I wanted to share the story of my daughter's 13th birthday party. It was a rare day. Seems like all 4 of the other girls had something to do that day, as well as my husband - that NEVER happens. My oldest had invited two of her best friends to shop, visit the makeup counter and head to dinner and a movie for the evening. My presence was requested at the make-up counter as my daughter was nervous about approaching the sales lady for a makeover for the three of them. I met them that afternoon, made the requisite introductions between the makeup artist and the girls and gave minimal instructions about "light" makeup. I headed off to browse the jewelry counter and give her some space. At the end, three lovely ladies emerged only slightly lovelier and we proceeded to dinner.
You know, once your daughter is thirteen, you struggle with the fact that she is slowly separating from you. You know that this is necessary and unstoppable, but you so desperately want it to be like when they are little and want to always sit in your lap, fix your hair or climb into bed with you. When your daughter is thirteen, you anticipate the increasing possibility of eye-rolling, one syllabic answers to your questions and that your presence will be undesirable. So, I offered to sit at the bar so that my oldest could be with her friends alone. Instead, my daughter said she really wanted me to sit with her and her friends. What a rare opportunity to participate in her life and see her interact and engage with her friends. I had the best time at dinner, and my fears of ugly adolescence were totally put out of sight. My mother heart was overcome listening to the three of them talk about difficult relationships with girls at school, their occupational dreams, where they would like to travel, and what they thought of the charcuterie board we ordered. It was an experience that I shall not soon forget, and one that I hope I can have with all the girls individually along the way. She is growing up. I cannot stop it, but I am going to enjoy the heck out of it!
All those decisions about how much I was working, whether I was always present in the moment at the playground while answering calls from the office, was it ok to skip that meeting to go home early?, did anyone think I was crazy for pumping behind a curtain? It was one of those experiences where you tell yourself - I did ok. Self-doubt getting smaller by the year.