Your baby woke up fussy and pulling on her ears. You call her doctor’s office and get a same day appointment. Score! The receptionist asks if you can be there by 10 a.m. You reflexively say “yes,” but as soon as you hang up the phone panic sets in. How are you going to get yourself and three kids ready, out the door, and to the office in time? Gone are the days when being late was seen as fashionable. No one wants to be the frazzled late mom. Despite your efforts, you arrive, but fifteen minutes late. Will your doctor understand?
As a mother, who also happens to be a doctor, I know the feat of getting kids dressed, brushed, and out the door. There is inevitably a meltdown because a sock is the wrong color or a favorite toy can’t tag along. I would equate that moment when everyone is buckled in and seated in the car similar to crossing the finish line of a race. It’s a struggle whether you have one child or multiple children. Only fifteen minutes late is rather impressive in the time zone of motherhood.
To the Moms who are always late: I understand.
The baby is examined and the exam is perfectly normal. The doctor reassures you that she’s likely just teething. You feel relieved, but also embarrassed for worrying over nothing.
Worrying is a normal part of being a parent. In fact, a lot of pediatric visits are simply reassurance. Even doctors themselves aren’t exempt. I remember when my son, a newborn at the time, projectile vomited after a feeding. Rather than consider the more obvious explanation such as reflux, the doctor in me feared pyloric stenosis, a serious gastric obstruction. Luckily, we had a well visit scheduled the next day and our doctor assessed him and basically told me everything I already knew. But to hear that he was fine from someone else—to get an objective perspective—made all the difference to me. There are no “silly” questions or concerns when it comes to your children.
To the moms who worry: I understand.
After the visit, you rally up the troops and exit to the lobby. As the elevator doors open you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. You’re sporting a milk stained t-shirt, sweatpants, and messy bun-the postpartum uniform of sorts. Horrified, you think to yourself, “Did I seriously just go out in public like this?”
As mothers we’ve all been there. That first year becomes a blur. The demands of caring for an infant in the midst of hormone changes and sleep deprivation makes us wonder how we survived. In addition to the physical changes there are also so many emotional ones. But it does get better. As women, we can absolutely love our children but still yearn for who we once were. Our bodies may never go back to our pre-baby days but that doesn’t mean we have lost ourselves or “let ourselves go.”
To the moms who don’t always recognize themselves in the mirror: I understand.
I have no doubt that becoming a mother has made me a more understanding doctor. Moms deserve the support of other moms. Whether you are a doctor mom, a nurse mom, a teacher mom, a business mom, or a stay-at-home mom, we’re all in this together.