When it gets hard…

In the early days during the newborn period, some days were much harder than others. Both parents being sleep deprived. We certainly benefited from help from our parents during this time.

One month in, I was left alone with the baby. This was by far the hardest day for me. It was memorable, indeed. I remember being sleep deprived (we all were), and baby was crying no matter what I did. I could just not get her to calm down. It made me feel like I was failing my baby, and I was anxious and frustrated. I am pretty sure were both crying at some point. In that moment, I also felt so alone and in a fog, and decided to leave the baby to cry in the crib, while I called my mom and my husband at work for some advice.

This was the hardest day I can remember experiencing. It is really challenging to do this all by yourself. I have a lot of respect for my parents who came to Canada with almost nothing and raised three young children, including a newborn while building their business. I have a lot of respect for those who do all this without any other support. I have a lot of respect for organizations and individuals who help new parents. You are all amazing!

I think the best thing I did on that really challenging day was to take a step back and breathe. I left my baby where I knew she was safe, and I could come back to her. After that break, and chatting to my loved ones (my support network), I went back into being a new mommy, with fresh outlook and never looked back.

A few days after this, my baby cried out at 4am for a feed. I picked her up from the crib and she gave me the biggest, most beautiful smile. I ugly cried. Yes, I did. In that very moment, everything was worth it.

Every moment, I cherish my baby. Every new development is something to absolutely marvel at. I am ever-enchanted by the developing mind, the developing child. As a paediatrician with a special interest in development, I get the privilege of  seeing a lot of babies grow and develop and that has been a really rewarding experience. Seeing snap shots every few months is wonderful. Seeing the changes everyday is mind-blowing. 

It is really hard being a new mom – your body is all different and weaker, your hormones are all over the place, you feel like you are going through it alone! This is where talking to other moms has become so helpful for me. I would love to read about your experiences and how you overcame any challenging moments.

The airport

No, we are not flying. Not even flying anytime soon. But I do wish we could go on vacation soon! I’d be lying if I said the awareness of increasing our carbon footprints 👣 due to travelling isn’t impacting my decisions to travel 🧳.

But, that’s not the topic of this post. We are simply just driving past the airport right now. It may be because I travelled a lot in my 20s that I feel a sort of warmth, and comfort looking at airplanes and airports. For me, it feels as though time stands still when I am in the airport. There’s a sense of calm that comes over me. Perhaps, that’s how it is meant to feel to be completely “present”. Aidan feels that airports remind him of a lot of waiting, but that it can sometimes be nice to be forced to wait.

There is also the aspect of knowing you are now away from your worldly responsibilities, and will be on a plane where you will be taking a break from daily stressors and distractions. It’s as if it is a time to be at one with yourself. I often found I would read a self-help book and re evaluate my life and goals while thousands of km in the air! One of the aspects of camping that Aidan loves is being disconnected from the rest of the world and focusing on being present. This is something similar with being at the airport and on the plane.

So, vacation technically starts when I check in my bag. I feel a sense of relief. Vacation is not over until we pick up our luggage from the conveyor belt.

We would love to hear your thoughts! What sentiments do you feel when you think of the airport and flying?

Motherhood

In some aspects I have become more anxious after becoming a mother, but in most aspects, I have become a momma-bear!

For example, if I saw a spider, pre-baby, I would curl up into a ball and call out for my husband to get it. If he wasn’t around, I’d escape to another room. Now, I worry about the spider getting to my baby, and I will have to get rid of it. I get goosebumps and scream and almost cry, but do I get the job done? Yes! Because, mommas, my fear may be great, but my love is greater!

In all seriousness, it’s really hard being a mom. It feels like the biggest part of my heart is living outside of my body, in the world for the rest of my life. It can make me feel vulnerable at times. I try to remember, we are all in this together, and to my strong community of mommies all over the world, I hope you share in my sentiments – I take solace in knowing people generally love children and are hard-wired to look after these little humans. I remember reading about this in “The Organized Mind” by Daniel Levitin. Children, as they say, are the messages we send into a future we ourselves will not see.

When out and about with the babe, we often have strangers come up to say hello, with big smiles and just pure warmth. I say hello to babies too! Sometimes, I wonder why it is we don’t do that to one another as adults without babies, but that’s a post for another time. As I was saying, people generally love babies! I know I am guilty of it too! It’s also one of my most favourite aspects of my job – the well baby visits!

Despite the increase in fears compared to pre-baby states, I feel like my love increased exponentially more.

I would love to read your thoughts and expressed sentiments, mommies!

We both managed to run today

Since I have started working again and Aidan has been on paternity leave, neither of us have been able to go for a run. Today, it’s snowing for the first time in a while, but because it is Saturday, that won’t stop us!

My solution: run in the gym in our building.

Aidan’s solution: run in the snow, anyway!

We each took turns looking after our lovelight while the other ran. It’s been so nice for us to prioritize getting exercise and helping each other achieve our goals. Aidan has set a goal to run a 10km trail race this summer, so is training for that.

We sat down this new year’s eve and wrote down our personal goals for the day, month, year and 10 years. It was a nice little exercise. We had done this before, but this time, with a baby, we could see how intertwined our lives and goals have become.

We like to ensure we are able to continue to make and keep personal goals. Getting exercise is one of our priorities.

How are you guys managing to keep up with your personal goals as new parents? I would love any tips or stories!

Running for inspiration: Thinking about grandparents

If you’re anything like me, you have ideas firing through your mind constantly. So many, and so fleeting, it sometimes feels impossible to just slow down and grasp one idea and run with it. Something I have found to be quite helpful through the years has been to run. While physically running, my thoughts slow down. It’s almost meditative. Well, today, I was grateful, after a long week at work, to have had the time to go for a (short) run. My wonderful husband made this possible by looking after our little lovelight.

While I was running, I was thinking about things that generally make me happy. I was thinking about my grandparents, and how I have two surviving grandmothers who are great grandmothers to our baby. Aidan also has one surviving grandmother, so our baby has three great grandmothers! How lucky? I never knew any of my great grandparents, but I knew I had one surviving great grandfather in India whom I had only seen photographs of, and heard stories about. Black and white photographs that had had their fair share of wear and tear. Nowadays, we take tonnes of photos – sometimes the same one to get it just right, and yet, it never seems to feel like enough. I wish to capture every moment on camera, and end up sometimes losing the purpose – just being present in the moment.

One area where I feel like I am good at being present is when my baby and parents are together. I absolutely love watching them with her. Watching my parents gracefully and lovingly step into their roles as grandparents has been a joy like no other. The grandparent bond is something I cherished so much growing up, as I was privileged to have all 4 until I was in my final year of medical school. I also find I get glimpses into how they were as first time parents with me (as I am their first child and eldest of three). Watching their smiles grow as wide as they do, and their voices become as high pitched and sing-songy as they do is food for my soul. I do not have many physical photos of these moments, which I wish I did so I could share them with her when she is older. But, my mind is full of snapshots of these moments in time. I cherish them so much.

I have always believed grandparents are such an important influence to have around children growing up. They bring with them wisdom from having lived a long life full of experience. They bring perspective, and often gave me the feeling that, “everything will work out”. They bring immense love. A deep and unwavering love. I remember asking my grandfather, who was a retired school Principal, “GrampChamp, what’s it like to be a grandfather?”. He responded, “My child, your grandmother and I are the roots of the tree, your parents are the branches and you are the flowers – we get to sit back and watch you flourish”. I just simply loved that and have remembered it to this day. I even drew this for him in family tree form when he was sick in the hospital at 92 years of age with a stroke. Grandparents can impact our lives so deeply. Provided they are loving and supportive, they can be a protective factor in a growing child’s life, where other experiences in their worlds have the potential to cause harm.

I remember my paternal grandfather trying to teach me how to ride a bike, teaching me yoga, teaching me how to treat other people with respect and love. He taught me to value health over wealth. To love thy neighbour. To give back. To belong where you live. He would always say, “the day you stop learning is the day you die”. That rang true for him. He was on Facebook at the age of 94 and was still travelling the world with my grandfather. He taught me to value the relationships in my life more than anything else. We lost him when he was 94 years of age.

I remember my maternal grandfather teaching me to be of service to those around me. He would volunteer at the seniors club, buying groceries and doing other things for those who could not get out – snow or shine, nothing could stop him. Even when he was looking after us, I remember asking him for popsicles on a cold and snowy day – and he went out and got them for me! Sadly we lost him 9 years ago.

Although we have lost both our grandfathers – their teachings and their genetics will forever live on.

Watching the joy in my grandmothers’ faces when they interact with our baby girl is priceless. My grandmother who recently lost her husband has told me time and again, that her great grand-daughter has given her a reason to look forward to another day again.

I am aware I am one of the lucky ones, because my grandparents have been so wonderful to us growing up. Do you share in these sentiments? I would love to read your stories! Write to me in the comments section!

5 things to consider getting done for your baby after birth:

  1. Birth Certificate
  2. Social Insurance Number
  3. Health Card
  4. Passport
  5. RESP

3 Things to consider doing while you’re pregnant:

  1. Consider signing your baby up to daycare while you are still pregnant or shortly after birth.
  2. You can also consider finding your baby a paediatrician/family doctor prior to delivery.
  3. You can also consider signing your baby up for a newborn photography session. Many photographers book well in advance, so you may want to try doing this while you’re pregnant!

I was holding our baby on the sofa, while my husband was preparing breakfast for us. I suddenly was consumed in my thoughts and felt myself choking up. Before I know it, and before I am ready, these precious moments and years will fly by. I must cherish every moment deeply. If these precious little moments lasted forever, we may not cherish them as much, right? Who knows?

I wrote a little poem encapsulating my sentiments today. I went in to work to finish some administrative work while my husband who is on paternity leave looked after our baby. Now that I am home and have thoroughly played with our baby, she is sleeping and my husband is out for a run. So, I get a moment to reflect and write. So, here goes:

When I look at your face, my darling, my stresses are washed away. When I touch your skin, my baby, sunshine takes over the grey. I promise to love you forever, no matter who you turn out to be. I’ll always be beside you, even if you cannot see me.

Bibs and Stethoscopes

Just a couple of Mommy and Daddy Docs sharing our journey!

This part of our website is dedicated to the ways in which we work toward balancing our professional and parenting goals.

We had our first child about 6 months ago, and we learnt a lot, some expected, some unexpected. There are a lot of things we wish we knew, and we would love to share the lessons we have learnt as we continue this wonderful journey.

We would also love to learn from you, so please do write back and share any tips or lessons you have learnt!

Parenthood

As I am back at work part time, I have been able to keep one day of the week off for Aidan to keep up with his professional goals. Today, I stayed home to look after and play with our baby, while he went to give a presentation. In preparation for this, we managed our time differently over the past week. I think of it as a parenting win when we are able to meet our personal and professional goals outside of being present with our baby! These moments are challenging to achieve, but are precious!

Being a parent has certainly changed our outlook on life. Of course, now we have a shared goal like no other, but we both feel:

We want to see our children grow and thrive, all while time stands still…

7 Lessons I learnt as a New (Paediatrician) Mother

A little bit of background about me:

I am a paediatrician, who has been a physician for eight years. I trained in paediatrics for four years and have been a Paediatrician for one year. I have gone from Paediatrician, to mother, to Paediatrician mother within one year. It’s been a wonderful journey with many challenges and curve balls along the way. It certainly makes for a much more interesting experience in life.

I am passionate about child and adolescent health and well-being and my special areas of interest include child development and adolescent development.

I am also involved in medical education, and believe that for similar reasons, I love to be part of a very important process – the formation of a solid foundation on which our future generations can build. I find many parallels between teaching and being a physician, and now a parent. It’s all one big intertwined, exciting journey!

Our baby is 6 months old and is the light of our lives. My husband is also a physician – he’s called an internist – which is a specialist for adults. He is currently doing further training in infectious diseases.

We decided to split our parental leave such that I do 6 months and he does 6 months. This way, we felt, we could both remain in touch with our fields of practice, and also ensure we each spent some good bonding time with our baby.

Here are the lessons I learnt:

  1. Efficiency: I have not always been the most efficient in my work – primarily because I like to be thorough and like to take time with my patients. I always put myself in the shoes of my patients and I personally love to feel heard by my doctor. That being said, I have areas I can improve on, and having a baby at home who depends on me definitely makes it easier. Before her, I could stay at work for as long as I needed to finish paperwork, for example! Now, I have worked out efficient ways to complete my paperwork so I can get home to her while she is still awake. I have also adjusted my schedule to work part time and some half days. We try to be efficient at home also – one of the most important things is to ensure we are eating healthy, and so we order a food service that sends us fresh ingredients and three meals a week. The surprising benefit has been that we have started enjoying bonding over preparing these meals together and it has inspired me to start cooking dinners on the other nights. We use Google Calendar which we have a synchronized schedule on, to enter our engagements so we minimize any clashes and ensure communication. We use a joint Wunderlist for grocery and baby items. I also have my own personal Wunderlist for To Do items.
  2. Empathy: I always thought I could not get more empathetic, but I have learnt it is true that you can truly understand the depth and breadth of something once you go through it. Having a child changed my outlook and priorities, as I was aware it would, but in ways unexpected. It also changed me as a physician. I could put myself in the parents’ shoes all I wanted, but without living it day in and day out, there would always be a piece of the puzzle that was missing. I find myself feeling even more for the parents of my children. Reassurance coming from a doctor who is also a parent adds an additional layer of comfort. I found this to be the case in my personal experience as a patient’s parent and took this lesson forward with me into my practice.
  3. Confidence: There are some areas of paediatrics that overlap with parenting advice. These are areas we generally don’t learn from textbooks. Having lived through these experiences and having the same questions myself, I have been able to answer these questions reliably and with the best evidence. When my baby was unwell, I took her to see the paediatricians in the emergency room, and it took almost everything I had in me to remove my “paediatrician hat”. I felt several fears I could imagine my patients’ parents feeling should they be in this situation. Having a baby who you adore and feel entirely responsible for enables parents to resonate with one another.
  4. Mom Guilt: I was worried about the guilt I would feel being away from my baby after 6 months of building a deep and special bond. However, as humans, we do have the ability to “compartmentalize”. I worked very hard to build my career, and I find it very rewarding. This in turn makes me happy and fulfilled in another area of my life that is important to me, outside of my family, and only makes me a better team member (at home and work), and mother. I believe in the mantra, “do what is consistent with the way you see yourself”. I learnt that going to work did not mean I left my baby, it just means I am looking after my well-being, so I can show up as fulfilled a mother as possible. To each of us, the definition of this would be different.
  5. It’s not “All or Nothing”: We all have different priorities and up-bringing. Therefore, I would like to preface this section by saying, working mothers, stay at home mothers, and every combination in between are all doing hard work.  In fact, I agree with the popular belief that motherhood is the hardest job. Hard work is in my blood. I watched my parents work hard to build a better life for their children when they moved to Canada with almost no money, and having left their stable careers behind. I watched my mother function highly as a working mother. I watched my grandfather worked until 92 years of age – most of these years, post-retirement. To me, working is important. Giving back is important. I have been privileged to have achieved my dream job, and I find it very rewarding each and every day. We are lucky we live in a time where we can split parental leave with our partners, and even work part time. My husband is off on paternity leave for 6 months and I am working part time.
  6. Support System: As with all areas of our lives – having a support system is absolutely necessary. Whether it is one friend, colleagues, family members, community members, or even your doctor. I have been lucky to have a supportive husband and supportive family who also live nearby. This has been absolutely key along our journey into new parenthood and even more important as I have transitioned to the world of the working mom.
  7. Trust and Delegation: Learning to trust and delegate tasks related to my patients draws a parallel to learning to trust and delegate tasks related to caring for my baby. As I have gone from Paediatrician to Paediatrician mom, I have had to work on becoming more efficient and this is one major way I have been able to manage. This helps to focus on the tasks that I am trained for as a paediatrician, and the tasks that require me as a mother.

What are some lessons you have learnt as a working mother? I would love to hear your insights!