By Susan Landers, MD
Together with her husband of thirty-eight years, she raised three children, one son and two daughters. Her story underscores the plight of a hard-working physician mother, one which is universal to all working mothers. She intended to be a perfect mother, but three small children and full-time work proved her otherwise. Each chapter weaves together her motherhood experiences with stories of her professional challenges. The benefits of participating in a “Healing the Healers” physician couples’ support group is described. She endured the trials of relocating to a new NICU and settling into a new city seven years into her career with three children under the age of seven.
Her experience with a major depressive episode after having a baby at forty years of age, is revealed. In later years, her children tested her in many different ways, the worst being a dog bite to the face of a three-year-old and an adolescent daughter’s eating disorder. Each maternal trial is illuminated along with the concomitant, unrelenting demands of work in the NICU. Leaving academic medicine lead to private neonatology practice in Austin, TX. This change produced new opportunities and a late career advancement into breastfeeding medicine. At the end of her career, the author is older and wiser, but very tired. She grew weary of suffering babies and became hardened to medical mistakes. She also grew intolerant of deviant clinical practice patterns and unnecessary complications. Her personal experience with burnout is illuminated, and some antidotes are offered. After retirement she gained perspective on her life as a physician and a mother, recognizing each as its own virtuous endeavor.
Louise Morse commented, “This is a good read for everyone who has an internal drive and desire to be the best at whatever it is they wish to engage in and having done so, to feel the deep pleasure from the good they have accomplished as well as the extreme fatigue and burnout from having devoted so much of their time, thoughts and actions to that end. In other words, having experienced life’s best and worst emotions at the deepest level, which is something most people who live a more mundane life do not have to live through or have the privilege of feeling.”
Kelly Fradin, MD, author of Parenting in a Pandemic: How to Help Your Family Through Covid-19 commented: “As a part-time pediatrician and mother, I’ve often struggled to find frank and uncensored mentorship about balancing parenting and navigating practice as a woman. I found Dr. Landers’ book full of excellent anecdotes and ripe with the valuable perspective of a working mother who has seen her children through all sorts of ups and downs. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the moments when Dr. Landers was deeply affected by her work as a neonatologist such as her awareness that it could have been her child with the congenital heart defect. I found myself rooting for her success when she joined an all male private practice and had to advocate for her needs as a working parent. All parents can relate to how she coped with feelings of guilt and unease as she worked to help her children through common struggles (like moving a tween) and more difficult challenges (like learning disabilities and ADHD). I highly recommend the book for mothers looking for guidance and perspective on parenting.”
Rev. Tracey Beadle commented: “Engaging and relatable for women struggling to balance two passions: career and family. A beautiful peek into the life of a strong and determined woman balancing the challenges of her two greatest passions – motherhood and medicine. Her vulnerability makes it easy for working mothers to relate and find strength and encouragement for their own journey. Love the book!”
Samantha Smith, RN, MSN, NNP commented: “It needs to be voiced to all the mothers out there. Beautifully written about the balance of being a mother and a successful career with all of life’s challenges and joys. I really enjoy the personal NICU stories. Really love this book!”