A few weeks ago I had quite the interesting day. With starting my job as a staff physician in September there are things that I have to organize, a lot of things... Besides just starting as staff as opposed to my past role of McSkut resident/fellow, I am also involved in starting an entirely new medical service here in Edmonton known as the Interventional Pulmonary Service (basically this service involves heaps of procedures, will act as a bridge between pulmonary doctors and thoracic surgeons, and a big portion of my job will be to stage patients with lung cancer). Because of this, I have had to attend several meetings... meetings with other doctors, surgeons, nurses, administrative staff, meetings with people who used to be my bosses and who I am now supposed to call my "colleagues". Weird how that works.
Because I am on mat leave and my husband is finishing up his PhD currently, our 5 month old son Nathan often comes with me to these meetings. We do not have family members here to help us with babysitting and we don't have a nanny. In fact we are going down the whole daycare route and will be starting the transition in August .... and that is a whole other kettle of fish to talk about. Something that I'm dreading to be honest. Anyways... these days I take Nathan practically everywhere with me and I love it. Don't get me wrong, I have gone for a pedicure alone, and I have gone to an occasional meeting alone but for the most part I take him along to the majority of these meetings. Most times he is accepting of it, most times the people that I am meeting with are accepting of it (or maybe I just think that they are accepting of it...) Regardless, this is what we do and I'm not sure I would change it even if Nathan's granny or grandma were here to help. You see, I don't want work to take me away from him, especially when work doesn't really have the right to do that at this time ... I am on mat leave. Besides, I don't think that work ever has the right to "take me away from" my child. Life is about choices. And I know I made a choice to go into medicine and I made a choice to start this career, my husband and I made a choice to have children. I am also making a choice to bring my little boy along to these meetings.
Well on this particular day, this particular meeting was an important one. It also just so happened that it was scheduled to occur at the same time as our last "New Moms' Network" potluck class. But I figured no worries, we will do both... we will just be late for our Mom's class. So Nathan and I planned as we always do pre-meeting. We get to the hospital early, I make sure that he nurses just before the meeting, as usually he will either fall asleep or just be very content that I can rock him in my arms during the meeting. This was not the case on this day.... I received an email exactly 5 minutes before the meeting was to start saying that the surgeon who had organized the meeting would need for it to be delayed by an hour.... And that's the way physician's lives run. Of course it's not the way mums' lives run... or not this mum's. We try to keep a schedule, I like a routine, Nathan likes a routine. But c'est la vie, right... So of course, Nathan was not very accepting of this new turn of events. Throughout the meeting he chatted, he giggled then he fussed and he cried ... So there I was swaying him back and forth while talking about the resources that I would need for my job, etc. Of course Nathan settled eventually but wow...
We then drove across town to our new moms' class that was just about over :( I walked into the classroom and saw several moms nursing their babies, another mom changing her baby's diaper and heard the lovely sound of crying babies. Okay, it's not the most lovely sound but at that moment on that day it was. I let out a sigh of relief and just smiled at Nathan. He smiled back and my heart melted, like it always does. There was no place that I would rather be. No place at all. Amazing how that is.
I am not sure what other moms think of this. I went home and thought about the day. I thought about professionalism and what it means. Is it unprofessional of me to bring my baby to these meetings? I don't think it is. Or maybe I don't care if it is. I'm not sure. It is such an interesting topic of discussion. Those of you who live in Alberta may remember a story that was in the news several months ago. A female municipal government representative had complained about one of her colleagues who had brought her baby to a meeting. The complainer found that the complainee breastfeeding her child was distracting and unprofessional.
On that note, I would recommend this article by Anne-Marie Slaughter "Why Women Still Can't Have it All".
It's a long read, but it's a great article. It brings up a lot of very good points. I could talk about this article for days but I won't. I hope you read it. All I will say is that after that meeting and after reading this article, I thought to myself that I was okay with bringing my son along. Since then we have evolved in how we do things. Instead of driving the 30 min drive to the hospital and pre-planning down to the minute, all to have last minute schedule changes, I decided that this was silly. I now do most meetings via teleconferencing and will go to the hospital only if it is completely necessary for a face-to-face meeting. Often I try to schedule the teleconference meetings during Nathan's naptime but if he wakes up I can cuddle him, play with him, even nurse him, all while still being present at the meeting to discuss what needs to be discussed. It likely wouldn't be ideal for everyone, but it's what works for us.
Would love to hear others' thoughts.