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Someone once told this doctor she couldn't be a good doctor AND a good mother. She has proven that person wrong.
18 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was early morning rounds and I had just come off night call. My attending looks at me and says, “Which one are you?” He sees the perplexed look on my face and continues, “You have to choose. You can’t be a good mother and good doctor so which one are you?”
I was very upset but too shy to say anything, too scared to upset the attending! How dare he!
For years, I have been proving myself to the doubters. To my math teacher who felt girls didn’t do well with math, college professors who didn’t think women belonged in medicine, and now this. When I was pregnant at 38 weeks, I RAN the stairs to a code to prove myself.
Present day. I am enjoying a warm cup of coffee, it’s 5:30 a.m. and I just returned from a cold, peaceful early morning run. The house is quiet and I contemplate how far I have come as I turn on my computer to check my work for the day. I look over the list of patients and prepare their charts. I answer labs and get my day organized. At 6:30 a.m., I wake my husband and our four boys. I help them get ready for the day. Yes we are busy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I see my first patient at 7:45 a.m. The morning runs relatively smoothly until I get the bad news. A patient has advanced ovarian cancer. I have her come in to discuss. We talk, we cry, we hug and then we say “Let's get this” and we work on a plan of attack.
Lunch is filled with answering phone messages and tackling more labs with a quick bite of food to sustain me. I open my mail and read a very heartfelt thank you note. My afternoon is full and I have to stay on time so I get to my son's soccer game. I see several patients including a newborn baby girl. Being the first baby for the parents, there are a lot of questions but she is thriving and the parents are doing a superb job, they just need reassurance. Next up is an older patient and we discuss assisted living as his memory is failing. I meet with him and his family to help them make a very difficult decision.
At the end of the day, I answer more phone messages and address any critical labs. I pack up and head to the soccer game. They play well and we head home. My husband and I make dinner and help the kids with homework. We talk about their day and what things are happening in their lives. I do a bit more work from home and put the kids to bed by 10 p.m. As I close the door to my youngest son's room , I tell him “ I love you buddy” he replies, “ I love you more” I smile and think-I choose both. I am a good mom and a good doctor.
Antoinette Hildwein, DO is a family medicine physician in Muskegon, Mich