Use Your Maternity Leave to Find Clarity

your maternity leave could help you identify your ideal life

Maternity leave is a great time to bond with your baby, do some tasks that you aren't usually able to do and/or take a trip that you've been looking forward to.

But it can also be the BEST TIME to see if you are living your ideal life or instead suffering from some compassion fatigue/burnout.

I say this because coaching other mom colleagues, they contact me during maternity leave often. During leave, you have somewhat "normal people hours" to talk to others. But also, as physician moms, we have time away to reflect on work and maybe realize that our work or work environment is not the best for us and our families.

I had one mom explain it to me...

She said, "Maternity leave to me was like coming up from the deep end of the swimming pool and getting a breath of fresh air. I was able to go on play dates with other moms. I was able to pick my kids up from school. We were able to do just things I had always wanted to do but couldn't because of my job. Now as I'm getting ready to go back to the office, I'm really fearful of losing this. I want to know if I can still be a doctor but also have these other great experiences."

And you know what I told her, I said, "Absolutely you can have this! It's going to take some work and negotiation but if this is the life that you want to live, then that's what we are going to work towards."

Mama, if you are having a similar experience, just know that change is possible.

Your maternity leave can show you the life that you could be living. As a break away from healthcare, perhaps it will renew why you love medicine. It may also show you where you need to modify your practice. 

Consider these:

  • What are you loving about life during this time?
  • What things are you ecstatic that you don't have to do while on leave? (For me, it was no call responsibility. I realized that call was more draining than baby!)
  • What are you dreading when you think about going back?

If you feel like you're drowning in the deep end, it's time to come up to the light for a breath of fresh air. You can stay on the surface and live in this wonderfulness. You can modify your life and I want to help!

Feeling Exhausted

Is this normal pregnancy fatigue or more (like Burnout)?

Hey Mama! So you're pregnant and still hustling your ass off in the office or the hospital. You are freaking tired.

Not just physically tired with big old swollen ankles but also just emotionally and mentally spent. So many times, you just pushed it off as, "I'm just tired because I'm pregnant."

But I want you to consider: Could you just be experiencing a more magnified version of burnout?

I say this because looking back, I best identified when I was burning out in my physician career when I was pregnant or postpartum during maternity leave. I don't know if it was because of the pregnancy brain or what but things got a lot more clear during those periods of my life. I wish at those times I would have acknowledged that what I was feeling was burnout NOT just pregnancy.

Answer the following questions and see if maybe you fall into some criteria for BURNOUT:

  • Are you physically exhausted to the point that even adequate amounts of sleep does not rejuvenate you?
  • Are you emotionally exhausted when you leave the office or hospital that no amount of self-care or energizing activities helps restore this?
  • Does your brain feel so fatigued that you are to the point that you don't even open your medical journals or attempt to learn anything new because you're just trying to get through the mental tasks of your day?
  • Would discouraged, dissatisfied, and disengaged describe how you are feeling?
  • After all the patient care is done, do you just sit down in front of your computer and instead of thinking about the person that you're charting on, you're just trying to get the notes done?
  • During clinical hours, have your patients turned into tasks that you need to get through? 
  • With some soul-searching and getting really honest, are following statements true for you?
    • I do not find fulfillment in my job.
    • I do not love my job.
    • I do not find practicing medicine energizing.
    • I don't know how long I'll be able to keep doing this.

So how did your answers come out?

If you answered any of these yes, I would challenge you to say that you're not just experiencing pregnancy fatigue but instead you are experiencing some burnout.

If you're interested in talking with me more about these, click HERE. Or check out my program Doctor Me First to see how you can stop progressing towards burnout and towards a life that is all about thriving!

One canoe trip with one big lesson

Hey Doctor Mom,

You’re probably a little sucked dry from the aspects of your life then look at my pictures and think, "How in the hell does she do it?"

"How does she take her 6 and 4 year olds on a 3 hour, 7 mile canoe trip?"

First, let me start by saying...this was a first!

Many times in the past, we did activities because I thought that's what we were supposed to be doing but, honestly, my heart really wasn't in it.

I look back on the pictures now and I see the fake smile and know that deep down inside I really wasn't engaged with my family on those activities when I was burned out to the core. I mean, I love love love my kids but doing those activities just felt like another thing on the to-do list that I needed to get done.

So what made the change? The following advice is what I did:

I encourage you to take a personal time for yourself. Figure out what's important in your life and what's not. Start making small steps forward in that direction. Sounds really simple but in reality I'm still working on it!

It took me years to get to the place where I was this past weekend when I loaded up the boys, got a borrowed canoe and set out down river. I don't think I even could have done that a year ago. It has been a process.

So, I want to encourage you that this can happen in your own life and your motherhood really can be wonderful. Your life can be great. You don't have to stay where you're at right now.

I got your back,

Errin (your future coach)

Anger Talk with Local MOPS Group

Anger takes away the calm, the peaceful, the rational. In our anger, we no longer are neat and put together. It exposes our raw emotions and wounds. We do stupid things as rage happens.

Have you ever said, "OH MY GOD why did I just yell at the kids!" or "WHY am I so angry?!" or "I shouldn't be angry!"

You are not alone. Anger is a part of being human. It's part of our brains and make-up. It's a stress reaction/instinct, like "fight or flight". Did you know that behind sexual attraction/arousal, anger is the 2nd most powerful emotion we experience!

In the heat of the moment, it's impossible to think and tease out your feelings. Here's an example that took me years to figure out...

My Mother’s Day Will Have More Meaning This Year

I had not really embraced Mother’s Day. I always perceived it more of a “Hallmark Holiday.” I very much appreciate the women in my life who have molded, protected, nurtured and endured me. Small gifts, flowers, cards tell them thanks but never really seemed more than superficial.

Until now.

Perhaps, it’s the sleep deprivation of a newborn or that I’ve become more sentimental having added a little girl to Team Weisman in the last 3 weeks. But this year, the week of Mother’s Day 2016, I feel like a true mother. It’s taken 4+ years to sink in but now, I finally have had the time I needed to reflect and fully embrace my motherhood.

Here’s what happened:

  1. I took a deep look and actually mourned my “before children” self, accepting she would never return and letting go of that life.
  2. Then walked down memory lane, cherishing the small celebrations and big moments of the past few years but also forgiving myself where I felt I had failed or been defeated as a parent.
  3. Finally, I accepted today, fully embracing the beautiful mess that it is while looking forward to the future days to come.

So this Mother’s Day, I want more than it to be “happy” for you. My prayer is that you also embrace your motherhood. Dive in, feel the emotions that go along with everything mom. Relive the pains, aches, anxiety along with the all consuming, marvelous peace, love and joy. Swim in the depths of memories.  Float in the blessings of your children.

Not only are your children uniquely created, but you, beloved, are fearfully and wonderfully made as well. Time to claim it all, you will not fail!

Let me share a beautiful song "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman that touched me during this journey.

Treating Chronic Pain (Mommy-ing Well Series)

Treating Chronic Pain (Mommy-ing Well Series)

If you are one of many that are living with chronic pain, the reality you wake up to daily is that you will never be totally pain-free. Sad but true.

Physicians want to help, not hurt. Our vow is to “First, do no harm.” Pain medications are easily misused and abused. Dependence of these medications leads to abuse and addiction. I spent too many years training and learning that I refuse to become someone's drug dealer/supplier. But as a primary care physician, this is reality that I daily struggle against.

Breastfeeding: Where was the Magic

Breastfeeding: Where was the Magic

One side of me is a totally pro-breastfeeding, “breast is best” banner-waving physician. Yet, on the other more personal side, the experience I had as a breastfeeding mother is kinda dark. Let me explain…

I'm a family medicine doctor. I was supposed to breastfeed. I was to be the example. However, I felt defeated, inadequate, a failure. I was broken-hearted and depressed.