How Becoming a Parent Not Only Changed Me as a Person, but as a Pediatrician
Random House has a contest going on regarding the release of Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also A Star. The focus? They want you to answer the difficult question of “How has love changed you?”
Why is this a difficult question for me? I’m lucky. I’m surrounded by love and I always have been. I have an extremely loving family and extended family, and I have the best family that I chose/made on my own in my husband and my three girls, even if one is not physically here with us. So why is this question hard?
If you haven’t already realized it, I’m wordy. I need an editor in all of my writing. And I’m okay with that. (If only I had been wordy in the years I was doing NaNoWriMo then I would have won!) The reason it is hard for me to write about how love has changed me is because love has changed me in so many different ways, depending on where it is coming from. I can’t even get started on my lovely husband, who has been patient, kind, loving and a true partner for the twenty-four years we’ve been together. (Yes, it’s been 24 years, and, no, we’re not that old.) Or I could write about how much having and losing Macy changed me—because her life—no matter that it was too short—taught me so much about unconditional love. Unconditional love as a mother, but all the unconditional love that was showered on me during that most difficult time. Even those family members who didn’t fully agree with my choices supported me one hundred percent. And I believe that’s why we had such a good experience overall in the death of my daughter (an oxymoron if ever there was one)—because we had the love and support that unfortunately some people don’t have while facing similar circumstances.
What I want to focus on, instead, is how becoming a mother in the first place has changed me as a pediatrician. I may have not been the smartest resident in my class or in my medical school (and believe me the latter was a hard one to reckon with as I’d always had top marks in school including undergrad). However, as I resident, I worked hard to be the best doctor I could be. That may have meant running around like a mad woman, that may have meant looking up labs when I came back home at night, that may have meant probably micromanaging my poor fellow interns when I became a senior resident (sorry for that), but I worked hard and I was a team player. What I lacked in knowledge, I made up for in determination. (And, yes, I studied too. I didn’t ignore that knowledge part.) As I’ve said before, being a good doctor involves a combination of the science and the art of medicine. And I thought I was getting it.
Until I became a mom in the last part of residency. All of a sudden, the knowledge that I gained, that I thought I knew went out the window. What do the statistics of colic mean when you’re sitting with a crying screaming baby as a first time sleep-deprived parent? Nothing. Now I’m not saying that you have to be a parent to be a good pediatrician. I’m not saying that at all. What I AM saying is that for me, becoming a mom changed me inherently in the ways I looked at problem-solving for my families in the real world. Theoretically something could work to help at bedtime/for tantrums/for potty training, but what really worked for one family may not work for another. And somehow, for me, I changed my decision-making to see it through the eyes of being a parent. I could actually put myself in the parents’ spot and see what I would want to do. It changed me, for the better, as I truly believe I am a better pediatrician now for having been a mom. That's how love has changed me.