My maternity leave is quickly winding to an end. Where did the time go?
As I get closer and closer to returning to work, many friends and family have asked me, “So how do you feel about going back to work? are you ready?”
I always have to pause and think about how to answer this loaded question. For the past few nights now, I’ve had difficulty falling back asleep after feeding the baby. I lay awake thinking about the balance of how to be a good physician and how to be a good mother.
My biggest fear about going back to work is the fear of being a suboptimal physician because of my children. I worry about showing up late for work because the kids are having a tantrum about getting dressed in the morning. I get twinges of anxiety as I make a mental list of all the stuff that I have to remember to load into the car, I stress about getting that dreadful call from the daycare about someone having a fever/ diarrhea/vomiting and needing to be picked up right away…leading to potential last-minute cancellations that affect an entire day of scheduled patients.
You would think that since this is the 3rd time that I’ve done this, it would be less stressful. However, given that I now have more children, that equals more little bodies to get dressed in the morning, more things to forget, and more fever-diarrea-runny-nose-inducing germs. And unfortunately, since we do not have family that live close by, or a regular back-up childcare system/nanny, there is always this inner deep sense of worry that it will all be too overwhelming.
These are the fears that are keeping me awake during this past week of maternity leave. It is a bittersweet time as I really do look forward to seeing my patients and colleagues again, yet I can’t stop worrying about all the potential things that could go wrong if I am not available as a stay-at-home-parent. Such is the plight of the working parent, I guess. I know I’m not the first person to stress about these things…how do other working mothers deal with this guilt?
Well, here’s to hoping for strong immune systems for my children and smooth morning drop-offs!