ACOFP Women in Leadership Committee Member Brenda Pecotte de Gonzalez, DO, shares how she balances being a new mom, a wife and an osteopathic family physician.
By Brenda Pecotte de Gonzalez, DO; Member, ACOFP Women in Leadership Committee
As I sit here on this sunny morning, it is almost 7:30 am and I will be leaving for work shortly. This morning, I have been up for more than two hours already because my almost eight-month-old daughter decided she wanted to be up at 5 am, and so we got our morning started with some extra play time. Sure, I am tired, but that sweet two-front-teeth smile is worth it. I am currently enjoying some snuggles as she fell asleep on my chest while watching the morning news, which I try to do before leaving for work. It helps to keep up on what is happening in the world, which feels heavy currently. My husband comes to take my daughter so I can grab my bag and second cup of coffee. This is the hardest part of the day—kissing them goodbye. My husband has always been amazingly supportive of me and my career goals. He is currently adapting to his new role as a stay-at-home parent for which we are blessed. It also allows for a few photos and video clips from the day’s happenings.
My 45-minute drive to the rural clinic where I work allows a chance to catch up with family and friends, listen to a medical podcast or complete another chapter in an audiobook that my sisters and I are listening to together. I am not a fan of driving but try to maximize it and use it to help transition my mind.
As I get settled at work, I log into my laptop and review the day’s schedule. It is full for today—including a number of prenatal patients, baby well child checks, adult chronic care follow-ups, a procedure or two—and the same day slots begin to fill as well. As would be expected of a busy family medicine clinic, the unexpected happens—some patients are early, some are running late and some require more time than anticipated. I recall guidance I received from a trusted attending during medical school that, as I knock on the door, I take a breath to start each patient encounter calmly and set my mind on what is going to happen in the room. It helps to keep me present with the patient, leave the bustle of the clinic on the other side of the door and keep the visit focused.
In between patients being roomed, I have a chance to follow-up with the clinic manager as we obtain various supplies for an upcoming procedure. As I am walking through the clinic to see another patient, one of the front office people is trying to track me down to let me know about a patient on the phone asking about a medication refill. I take the patient’s information and let them know I will get back to them once I have a chance to review the chart.
As a new physician mom—regardless of how busy the clinic day may become—every 2–3 hours comes a pause for a lactation break. I retreat to my office and set up to pump for the next 20–30 minutes. Once set up and going, I work on refilling medication requests, reviewing my inbox, finishing notes and responding to emails. I also see that I have gotten a picture of what my daughter had for breakfast (and sometimes a picture of what came out after!).
The rest of the clinic day runs similarly. By the end of the clinic day, once all patients have been seen, I sit down in my office once again to see where I am at for finishing up notes and inbox tasks. Tonight and this coming weekend, I am on call at the hospital downtown where I am a volunteer faculty member for the local family medicine residency and take calls on the family medicine/obstetrics patients and newborns. I check in with the off-going attending and touch base with the night residents. With no labors currently, I text my husband that I am on my way home. My husband is the one who loves to cook (and everything he makes is delicious), but we decide that tonight is pizza night. He calls to place the order, and I pick it up.
As I come in the front door, I am greeted by loud giggles and that two-front-teeth smile again. I am happy to be home. The three of us settle down to eat; of course, my phone is near me since I am on call. My husband and I discuss the happenings of our day and decide on a movie to watch for the evening. I sit down with my daughter in my lap who not long after falls asleep again on my chest. As the movie finishes, I receive a phone call about one of the babies on our service. We all head to bed, and I take in a few more baby snuggles as I will be up early to round.