What it Really Means to be a Doctor Mom

What it Really Means to be a Doctor Mom

#realtalk, sometimes I feel like I am absolutely drowning. On social media, we typically show our best selves, which may lead others to believe that I have a ‘perfect life’ or have it all together. The truth is, the path to get where I am now has been HARD.

I started college as an English Major, deciding my senior year that Holy & I actually want to be a doctor. It took me 2 years of a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program, 4 years of med school, 3 years of residency, and 1 year of fellowship after college to get to where I am now. (A DECADE!) I missed birthdays, weddings, Mother’s day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, you name it. My mom recently said she felt like she had missed so much of my life because of my medical training. Cue the tears.

Some people think we have super glamorous lives. Doctors are so rich. Save lives. Have perfectly blown out hair every day and look cute in our white coats and leopard print flats. Not a worry in the world. Truth is, I am half a million dollars in debt. I made LESS than minimum wage per hour as a resident, and even now, in my third year as an attending, I worry each month about paying our bills. That is NOT glamorous. I have a husband (a brilliant med student soon-to-be ER resident) and beautiful 6 month old baby boy that rely on me. I can’t fail. And about the hair, I feel lucky if I get to take a shower every day.

Being a doctor Mom means going to work and finding time to pump every 3 hours when you have 10 patients in the waiting room who need you. It means watching Mason on the baby monitor after he goes to sleep and you are still at work because you miss him so badly. It means cleaning pump parts and bottles when you get home from a 12 hour shift so you can fall into bed and do it all again tomorrow. It means no energy for exercise because you haven’t slept and even if you found time, your baby is consuming 1,000 calories a day from your body by breastfeeding and you are exhausted.

Being a doctor mom also means seeing a smile light up your little man’s face when you walk in the door, getting to hear earth shattering giggles, snuggles that warm you from the inside out, showing your son what a hard working, smart, strong woman looks like, and a love like nothing else in this world.

Being a doctor wife means accepting that your husband will be gone for 1/3 of your son’s first year of life because of medical school. It means working opposite schedules and some weeks not seeing each other at all. It means not knowing where you are going to be living a year from now because of ‘The Match.’ It means moving every few years JUST when you develop strong friendships and finally feel settled in. But it also means being the proudest woman in the world seeing your husband finally realizing his dreams.

Being a doctor also means healing. Helping. Instilling hope in people. It means relationships with patients, with families. It means taking care of babies who can’t tell you what’s hurting them. It means carrying the elderly through their last years of life with dignity. It’s about the friendships you develop with nurses, radiology techs, and support staff. It’s everything. I wouldn’t change it for the world. But don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy!

Dr. Shelly R Follow

Well, hey there! I'm Shelly - a Sports Medicine and Family Medicine physician, wife to an INCREDIBLE medical student and a new mama to the most mischievous and giggly baby boy! I’m from the big city but currently exploring life in the country, living next to some cows with my two loves and our two energetic pups. We love exploring the world, cooking new foods, drinking wine, and having spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen. I love being active, whether it is hiking in the mountains with our dogs or doing CrossFit, and we are so so excited about what life has in store for us now that we have added a little one into the mix!

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