in which I take my own advice

June 27, 2018

Last night I received 2 work pages* just as I was walking in the door at 6pm.  I ended up having to deal with a somewhat complicated clinical situation while all 3 kids seemed to need me more than life, URGENTLY.

I couldn’t put G down so I was trying to type/call/etc with her in my arms**, and A&C were begging for my attention in part by attacking each other.  They were loud.  I basically handled it by yelling at them while on the phone, which felt:

– sad
– unprofessional
– stressful
– chaotic
– annoying

I found myself insanely and bitterly jealous of my colleagues who still find call stressful but literally can just focus on work whenever they want or need to.   After a harrying hour I texted our nanny (and Josh) that I think I need longer childcare on call nights — at least until I get G to bed so I’m not dealing with 3 needy ones at once AND patients/clinical matters at the same time.  She responded immediately that she’s happy to stay***.

ANYWAY.  What will probably happen is that I will not get any calls in that time frame for the rest of the week, and I will feel silly.  But I 100% know that if someone were to call into our podcast with the question: (“I’m in a 2-physician family with fairly light but sometimes unpredictable after hours duties when on call.  It is extremely stressful and difficult when I do get patient calls or need to enter orders when I am on my own with my 3 young children.  What should I do?”) — the answer would be so obvious.

So, I’m going to extend my childcare until G is in bed while I’m on call from now on (unless Josh is home, but when he comes home before 7 it’s like a pleasant surprise, and last night he was also on call doing an emergency case so it wasn’t like he would have been able to be there).

In other news, G is sleeping a little better at night!  Just one wakeup the last few nights – 1 am and last night 11:30 pm (and it’s 5:46 as I type this).  Both A&C were sleeping through the night entirely by this point (a little over 6.5 months) but I think both were getting supplementation (A from the freezer, C from formula) whereas G pretty much just eats what I produce (and food now, of course!).  One wakeup/night doesn’t bother me.  Two is fairly doable but tough.  Three is misery!

you’re worth it, G

* I still call them this, though these days they are just texts through a secure app!

** In retrospect, I should have put her in the Ergo b/c she is tooooo heavy (almost 19 lbs) to just hold for prolonged periods

*** She is amazing and she is never rushing to leave ever, but I hate to extend her already-long hours.

**** I mean honestly – the idea of just working and then coming home to focus on only myself sounds like a freaking beach vacation at this point.  This goes a bit against my BoBW script, but it does beg the question: why do people work so hard during these intense kid years just to retire when they don’t have these kinds of responsibilities (though of course with time elder care and other health issues may come into play adding new challenges)?


  • Reply Gillian March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Oh definitely get more hours if you can afford to! I am an adult endocrinologist and though I will sometimes get absolutely no calls when I am on call, sometimes someone’s pump breaks or they take short acting insulin instead of long acting or … you know badness is happening. I used to have 50 hours of care that basically only covered my when I was at work. I expanded to 61 hours per week in the last 18 months at it has been revolutionary! Not just for call but for 1:1 time with my kids (I have 4) and generally enjoying my time at home more. We have two caregivers now–an au pair and a parttime sitter/house keeper and I finally feel adequately staffed (11 years into being a parent).

    Separate note–I enjoyed the longer BoBW this week. The 48 minutes exactly matched by 48 minute drive home, you must have known every highway in the great NY area is under construction this summer! 😉

  • Reply Sarah March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Funny story (now, NOT at the time) about on call time… I am a NP and take call about one night a week. That hour between getting home and dinner on the table is always when the most calls come in… combined with daycare pick up, letting dog out and feed her, trying to cook dinner and get it on the table!
    When my twins were about 18 months old I was talking with a patient about a serious issue when I looked over to see my girls dipping dog food in the the dog water bowl and then eating it! I shrieked and told the patient… I am sorry to interrupt but my children are eating dog food and i have to go get them!
    Luckily they are almost five now and are great about when I am "on call". I even have videos of them pretending to be doctors talk to their patients!

  • Reply Tyra March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I”m on the other side of this – my husband only finished his training in February, so this year has been our first real foray into the call world. Initially our son would go really silly when Jared was on a phone call – yelling and trying to get his attention. He”s more used to it now, but if the kids are going a bit wild Jared will just walk out the front and shut the door to get some peace and quiet. Which wouldn”t be an option if I wasn”t home…

  • Reply Jen March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    To answer your last question- because kids are expensive! Mine are 11, 10, 6 and 3. As they get older they get more expensive 🙂 Just sent 2 off to sleepaway camp, the other 2 in day camp…so yes, my husband and I will both be working for a long time!

  • Reply Irene March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Oh my gosh that situation sounds like my worst parenting nightmare. I would be breaking out in hives just knowing I had the possibility of that scenario happening every night! Definitely get more help for call weeks. Like Gillian said you can use it for more 1:1 time if you don”t need it for work!

  • Reply Katie March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    We’ve been contemplating the same- newly with three kids, my calls don’t tend to be terrible, but it just takes one parent to call or ED doc with a question for me to need some quiet focused time. There are just so many evenings that we wouldn’t need it, it feels a little extravagant to add to already long child care hours. I’ll be interested to hear how it works for you.

    BTW, i learned on your podcast today that you are exactly three months ahead of me on this journey- my third was born 3/5, the day you went back to work 🙂

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Yes, that is the worst situation and its happened to me a few times. SO stressful and ruins my mood and the atmosphere for the whole evening. My children just go INSANE when I’m on the phone. Usually my husband is around, so we don’t need to hire childcare for this situation, but I’ve alerted him that when I’m on call, he really needs to pick them up and bring them home so I don’t have to handle that part while I may be getting calls (not every call night do I get called, but when I do, it tends to be in that early evening 5-8 time frame)
    re: your last point about why people are working so much during the little kid time—I feel like its just the bad luck of biology. If you want to up your salary and position you need to push hard in your 20s-40s so you actually can build enough $$ for retirement and get into the positions you desire before age discrimination begins to crop up (this is such a problem, particularly for women)> I do have some career goals that I’m saving for a later stage—more community work and advocacy, traveling, maybe leadership. But for now I have promotion coming up in 2 years and I absolutely have to put my nose to the grindstone and crank out papers and generate data (so that I can crank out more papers…) there is no way I can put this off until my kids are older.

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Extending our childcare until 8 p.m. was one of the best moves we ever made. I was tired of being the lone parent on many evenings when, hello, I work too. We would have had to make a change anyway, as 4 kids’ activities easily require 2 drivers, but it’s been nice to always have a set of extra hands, and know I can do stuff and travel too (if someone stays until 8 p.m., staying overnight is less of an ask than if they’re usually booked only until 5:30. Someone working until 8 doesn’t have something else they were planning to do that you’re then asking them to not do). If it’s too long of hours for one person, then hire two. Adequate staffing (as Gillian put it!) has made me feel more relaxed, and as I’ve adjusted to having that space, I’m definitely more than covering it financially – that’s the upside of a job that’s not salary based.

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