Mom Musings... my experience as a working mom.
When I was pregnant with my son, I did everything I could to hide my pregnancy. My clinical practice was thriving at the time. I worked tirelessly to establish myself in a city I hadn’t lived in for over 15 years and I was fearful of what my career would look like once I became a mom.
I actually never formally announced my pregnancy to my patients. I hid my belly as long as I could and it was only once I “popped” that I had no option but to address the elephant in the room when people showed up for their appointments.
I recall from a newsletter that I sent out towards the end of my pregnancy that said: “I’m going to be taking some time away from clinic.” I never wanted to use the words “maternity leave” because I feared that people would look at my practice differently.
Where did this fear come from?
When I first started practicing (well before I ever thought of having children), some patients told me in passing they stopped seeing their doctor (hair dresser, physiotherapist, etc.) once their provider was pregnant. Other patients told me they didn’t like the disconnected care that happened when a working woman becomes pregnant. Many patients told me they typically stick with male healthcare providers since they never take time away from practice. In another situation my co-workers would tell me that some patients wanted to get ND care, but they weren’t sure if they should because *whisper* “Dr. Cayla is pregnant”.
All of these circumstances created fear in my mind of becoming a working mom. I am pregnant and I am also mom, but I’m not incapacitated at being a successful working professional. Arguably, I’ve become better at my career because I now have the personal real-life experience of sleepless nights, toddler tantrums and juggling the parenting-work-life-balancing act that so many families live through. I am resilient. And honestly, raising my son while working full time and being pregnant is not the hardest job I’ve done in my life… but that’s a story for another day.
I can’t say it was all doom and gloom. I am grateful to have THE MOST INCREDIBLE patient base on the planet. I truly feel so lucky to have connected with the best group of patients who were always understanding and supportive. You receive the energy you put out into the world - I believe this to be true with every cell in my body. Thank you!
I am proud to be a working mom, and I am so incredibly proud to be a naturopathic doctor. My path to get here wasn’t linear but I couldn’t imagine working in any other profession - it truly brings me so much joy!
Being an ND stimulates my intellect, which I’ve realized I need a job that challenges my brain each and every day in addition to wearing my mom hat. Being an ND allows me to grow my knowledge in health which is my biggest passion in life. I really don’t even think of it as a job most days because if you followed me around for a week, you’d see that I eat sleep and breathe learning about all things health. I exercise to health podcasts, I read healthcare books in my “spare time”, I exceed the continuing education courses I need each term because I want to grow my skillset. When I have a question about something, the first place I go to is PubMed - a research engine for scientific publications. I can be a naturopathic doctor and a mom… and I’ve come to realize I can be really good at both.
All of this to say that I wouldn’t have been able to go back to work if it wasn’t for the support of my spouse. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to be a single working parent - you are truly the most inspiring people on the planet! In our experience, my spouse and I didn’t have any external childcare help until our son was 14 months old and started daycare. We had to juggle both of our careers AND work around our son’s needs. This meant one of us working during the day and the other going in for evening and weekend work shifts (I was the latter). Our son also didn’t take a bottle and was exclusively breastfed alongside solid food introduction for nearly 21 months (13 weeks into my second pregnancy), which made the work-mom-juggling act especially challenging for me. But we made it work somehow. I took our son to meetings, brought him to clinic and worked around his nap and feeding schedule. Everything’s just a season is a motto that I live by.
So if you’re a working mom or working dad, this message is for you. You can be an incredible parent but you can also live your lifelong passion. You don’t have to choose one or the other. While I know we’ve come a long way as a society, we still have a long way to go when it comes to supporting working parents or accepting pregnant women as career oriented people.
One day when my kids grow up I hope they can look at me and see that they can do whatever they put their mind to. If they want to be a mom or a dad themselves, if they want to have a career or if they want to stay home with their kids full-time… I want them to know that they can choose any path that fills their cup. Being happy and fulfilled will look different for everyone but I want you to know that whatever path you chose in life, I support you.
My pregnancy this time around has been quite different. I made a formal early pregnancy announcement and I won’t be fearful of announcing my time away as a maternity leave. Every pregnancy should be celebrated. I also look forward to returning to my clinic-appointments and get that much needed mental stimulation that my brain needs.
You deserve to go after everything that fills your cup. Sending love to you all!