I had big dreams as a kid. Somehow I just knew I was gonna be somebody when I grew up. I wanted it so badly that I could feel the ache in my toes, the gnawing in my gut… every single day.
Medical school became a reality and I figured I was well on my way.
After residency, I started a job with a large group of physicians. Within two years I was elected to the executive committee (essentially the clinic’s governing body). A year later I was on the hospital’s quality committee, the hospital executive committee, and then was elected Chief of Family Practice. I was on the Patient Satisfaction committee for the entire system and helped make system wide policy. I had plans. I wanted more. Chief of staff? Board of directors? Yes, please.
Then I got pregnant.
Pregnancy was NOT in the plan. I never, ever saw myself as a mother. I did not understand those women who were and regarded them generally with scorn and suspicion. I knew that to BE somebody by my current definition I could not also be a mother. If there was one thing medical school taught me, it was how babies were made. I was on the pill and by golly I took it religiously. I tried to avoid sex as much as a married woman could and required the use of condoms whenever I could not.
But that one damn night…
All it takes is once, folks. Get a little cocky, a little careless, let love/lust get in the way of rational thinking and BAM! You are changing poopy diapers.
I put the positive test in the top drawer of my desk. For weeks between patients I would peek into the drawer and stare at the pink line feeling the panic well up from my uterus.
What was I going to do?
At the time I was practicing both inpatient and outpatient adult medicine and pediatrics. I was there for meconium deliveries and ICU admits at all hours of the night. I worked many Saturdays doing the acute care clinic when I was not on call at the hospital. Then, there were all of those committee meetings.
How would I breast feed? How could I work a sixteen hour day on my feet while 39 weeks pregnant? What about a sick baby or sick toddler? Childcare?
So I walked away from it all.
I moved to another clinic where I would only do outpatient medicine. I gave up my hospital privileges and committees and meetings and ambitions. I was no longer the Chief of Family Practice.
At first it felt odd.
But when my son was born, there was no question I had made the right decision. Evolutionarily speaking, this is why babies are so cute. They HAVE to be to survive. My definition of who I was shifted and interestingly I was at peace with that.
I hate just griping and complaining. This blog is therapeutic but I like being involved in a solution. Doing something instead of merely pacing the floor, wringing my hands. Now that my kids are older I am ready to get into it all again, just not to the level I was before.
Last year I applied to join the EHR (electronic health record) committee for the system only to find out my arch nemesis was now the gate keeper for all system wide committees. I promptly received a rejection letter hand signed by him with what appeared to be extra flourish (I admit I may have imagined that extra flourish) and I resigned myself to staying involved only at the clinic level until he retired at some unforeseen date many years in the future.
Then, an email…
An invitation to join an EHR subcommittee arrived in my inbox last week. Just like that, I am back in the game. Section chief? Board of directors? President of the system? Nah. I don’t want any of that anymore. I just want my voice back.